Author Archives: Smoothsmith

About Smoothsmith

I am a Software Developer situated in Birmingham with a huge passion for Tabletop Gaming.

Halesowen Board Gamers (05/11/14)

Not to bury the post about the weekend of games I just had, but because I got this mostly written last night and want to post before Dave does so he can link to this ^^. My account of Halesowen for 5th November 2k14 =)

Castles of Mad King Ludwig

To start off the night, while I was tempted to suggest Myth, I went with CoMKL as I understood Mike wanted to play. Of course we filled up all 4 spaces before Mike got involved, but I believe he got to try something else he was interested in (Imperial Settlers maybe?). Interestingly, Dave seemed to not be a fan and was fairly vocal as such, thinking suburbia as a better game. I think both are good, but Castles oozes theme while Suburbia is kind of bland on that front, and Castles is a touch lighter, making it appeal to me more as an individual ^^. I really like the fact the master builder arranges buildings too, as it gives you a powerful reason to care about what other players are building.

My starting bonus cards were..not overly pleasant. All were ‘Points for your rooms of size X’, so I had to have 2 of these, then a few turns in I completed a utility room and got…another ‘room of size X’, that’s 3 different rooms I wanted lots of, so no crossover of goals -_-. I tried anyway, and also aimed for the ‘most sq. ft of downstairs rooms’ goal (Which I was mainly in competition with Art for). I seemed to get very little built over the game, never taking a food room as I never felt they made a huge amount of sense for me (Particularly at the prices they were put at). Stan on my left ended up with a load, which is only really my fault for making them too low priced (There was 3 on turn 1, it was hard to price everything that was good out of range ok!).

From early on, Stan shot out into the lead. I ended up competing more with Art for 2nd place, while Suzy seemed to struggle a bit more, which I suspect is partly from too many turns passing and taking money. The end-game seemed fairly close, but I got barely anything for bonus cards (Again…yay for no being able to crossover the goals), so while Art didn’t get much either, he still won. Stan ended up on some ridiculous score out in the lead, so I’m thinking I’d better be more careful what buildings I leave to get bought by the player on my left next time!

Tiny Epic Kingdoms

Last game of the evening was Tiny Epic Kingdoms. When I suggested Tash’Kalar it looked like Suzy wasn’t interested and was set to leave, but changing to a less mathsy looking game seemed to keep her interested ^^. Art/Stan were both plenty happy to try this out too.

This time I was Valkyrie’s. They’re a really odd faction, as their core way of getting VP’s via magic is to quest your meeples onto your faction card, and leave them there achieving nothing unless you reach magic level 5. Rather than worry about trying to achieve that, I stopped at level 3 (A one off which makes all other players lose 3 resources) and concentrated on building up the tower and getting meeples out on the boards. I couldn’t quite keep up with Stan on the tower, but I was ahead of Suzy & Art (Art was way back, mostly ignoring the tower).

There was a lot more hostility in this game than some. With Art trying to deny Stan magic regions, and later in the game attacking someone to get a 3rd plains region (Which was worth a VP to him, though I thought it was 2VP). I counterattacked that to stop him getting the bonus (Again, thought it was strong than it really was, oops). Suzy, keeping pretty quiet, was able to rush 2 levels of the tower right near the end, slipping into a tied 3rd place with Stan on the year that 5 magic was attained triggering the games end. Unfortunately, while we could quest onto Stans regions to make him lose a VP (Meeples are 1vp each), we couldn’t do the same to Suzy as she’d smartly doubled up on her regions so they were non-attackable. The win went to Suzy, with me in 2nd on 14 (I did indeed attack Stan, as he had nothing to fight back with and it got me 2nd instead of 3rd =P), and Art in 4th (I really shouldn’t have wasted 4 magic denying him 1VP, he was about 4 behind :S).

Fun games both, had a nice evening! Looking forward to getting Myth/Tash-Kalar to the table, maybe next week ^^.

Apres-Essen Mini Con & Afternoon Play, Games Weekend!

UoB TT (Start of Games Weekend)

So, the last couple of times that I’ve been to the Uni Tabletop Society, there’s been a group playing Resistance with playing cards. I decided to bring along my proper copy of the resistance, as while there’s no mechanical different, it takes you that little closer to the theme ^^. (Also, I’d rather hoped to play with plot cards…though that didn’t happen).

Resistance

I was a Spy in both games, and took a different tactic to usual. Most games I try to act good, and people think I’m a spy all the time, so this time I just acted like a Spy, and commented frequently that I was making trips to Moscow to report. Remarkably, that worked, and I was able to get onto missions for a change and make them fail ^^..

The second game, the first mission was failed by a spy across the table. The next mission had 2 spies on it, and we both put in a success. The 3rd mission we both put success again. At this point the group was feeling very confident, with the double-fail mission up next. I was leader and added in the player that was new to the game (Sam?), as his reactions to certain things made it easy to argue that he was good and hence should be brought on the mission ^^. Naturally, me and the other spy both put in a fail, and caused a fair bit of mayhem as people tried to figure out the last mission where they needed to find all 5 good guys. The first couple of teams made were voted down (Rightly so), but the third passed, and the spies won ^^. Yay us!

Coup

After we moved to the learning centre, to avoid more Resistance (I’m not a fan of playing one game over and over in a night, and particularly not with social deduction games!). We played with Reformation which works great with high player counts (Think we had 8?). There was a couple of insta-deaths when people called assassins liars, and Charon went full dick mode and eliminated someone in the first turn (They’d already lost one influence from another player) in the first game (Which is generally poor planning, as the people with 2 influence left are in a stronger position and should be targetted first, at least until near the end when depending on the game state you can justify it – Also, I’d explictly asked everyone not to rush eliminate people for at least the first game -_-). It’s a shame to have that happen, but we all had fun in general anyway! I forget who won the games mind.

Forbidden Desert

As it was getting later into the evening, a couple of players took their leave and we ended up with 5. Sadly, there was no chance of Myth fitting, so I suggested Forbidden Desert or Bohnanza instead (We ended up doing both ^^). In general I don’t enjoy FD too much as it can be quite rng on the win chance (Random-Number-Generator), but its’ a nice one to introduce people to cooperative games (Or to just generally show off once or twice).

In this game, players all start on one of 24 spaces in a 5×5 grid (With one gap), with a pawn to represent their character, which each have a special ability. Trapped in the desert, your only hope is to uncover and repair an ancient airship that you were travelling here to find, and use it to get to safety. Players need to find the ships hull, and 4 scattered components, then get to the ship, oh…and not die of thirst throughout all of that, which can be a rather difficult thing to achieve!

We spread out fairly quick in my game, aiming to uncover tiles as fast as possible. A couple of early sun cards (Makes all players not in a tunnel or under a solar shield lose one water, with each players max being 3-5 depending on the character). Things looked to be going rather successful, and we even managed to get all 4 components and reveal the ship! I was low on water, but had a convenient tunnel, but had left it to pick up the last component…I died trying to make my way back, and the game was lost. So close! We made a few mistakes during the game to be fair, such as not using abilities too well (I could clear 2 sand instead of 1/action, but never really took myself near the large sand piles). Will have to try again with the same people sometimes if possible ^^.

Bohnanza

To finish up, I got out Bohnanza. I have a custom set of this, which I found on boardgamegeek and got printed by the awesome site printerstudio.com. I don’t generally like to be not supporting the designer of the game itself, but I like the art of this version more ^^ (Also, I’m sure I’ll get plenty other Uwe Rosenburg games in time).

If anyone doesn’t know, this is a bean trading game. Players have a hand of cards in fixed order, and must play from the front of their hand. However, if neither of their fields matches on type, they have to rip one up for the new bean. You can avoid such problems however by trading, as you can trade cards from anywhere in your hand (Although receiving a trade makes you plant it immediately, no switching back and forth to rearrange hands!). Sometimes you even want to give away a card for free, just so you aren’t forced to plant it on your turn ^^.

In any case, I got very lucky early on in our game, getting a set of 3 green beans (3 points) and 4/4 Cocoa beans (4 points, btw 15 wins ^^). It slowed down from there as people got more reluctant to trade with me, but I eventually managed to get myself set up to win! Unfortunatey for me, everyone else saw this, and all contributed to getting fire beans to the player on my right, letting him slip in a win one turn ahead of me. God damn! Had fun though ^^.

Saturday – Telford Games Day

Castles of Mad King Ludwig

I arrived a little late, so the few people I know/recognized were in game when I got there. This worked ok as I had stuff to pick up/pay for (Mice & Mystics, CoMKL & Some Smash Up Stuff). Rachael/Lee who I know from Halesowen were there, and when they finished their game we decided to play Castles of Mad King Ludwig (Using their copy, as mine was a just-punched with no organization mess ^^).

The idea behind Castles of Mad King Ludwig, is that you are, as I’m sure you can guess, building castles. Players do this by buying rooms that they then place into their castle, building off from the foyer by matching doors. When a room is placed, points are scored for it based on adjacent rooms (And adjacent rooms score base on the one placed). When a room is completed (All doors match other doors), a bonus effect is received, depending on what type it is (Such as activity room – gain 5 points, or food room – take another turn).

Each turn, one player is the ‘master builder’, if the buy area has spaces, they draw cards and fill up the area with the listed room types (The card will just show one of the 8 room types, and a tile from that room types pile is placed in the buy area). Then, they can rearrange the buy area, so rooms are as expensive as they want them to be. The aim here is to try and price rooms you want as cheaply as possible without anyone else taking them!

Once the arrangement of rooms to prices is complete, each other player can buy a room, paying the master builder as required. When it comes back around to the master builder, they can pay the bank for their room. If the master builder has placed things smartly, the other players will have paid as much as they were capable for the rooms they need, and will have plenty of money to get the room he/she wants ^^. The game ends when the whole deck of room cards has expired, bonuses are added up (Players get personal bonus cards, and there’s also 3 ‘most of something’ tokens on the main board which provide further points to players).

Our game of it was very interesting! I got a bonus card (The cards are secret) for downstairs rooms, in turn 2 or 3, so aimed for as many of those as I could get (Only 2 as it turned out, unfortunately). Rach/Lee were first off the line for sleeping rooms, and it was a long time till I even got one for third on the bonus points (They give 8/4/2/1 points). Rachael took a lot of the 100sq ft. square rooms, which unknowingly denied me from doing much for one of my bonus cards (Which was a weak one to be fair, 1 point/square room). A public objective of ‘large rooms’ also messed with one of my cards as each 450sqft room was worth 3VP to me, but everyone else wanted them too ^^.

At the end I actually felt like I was in a very strong position. I had a ton of bonus cards, and my last turn had scored rather well (Although it could have been even better had I got a food room, as I had a card that was 7vp if I’d got all 8 room types). Unfortunately for me, while I think I came in second, Rachaels tight array of small 100sqft rooms payed off well, and she finished above me. Had a fantastic time though, absolutely looking forward to more plays of Castles of Mad King Ludwig, great purchase!

Viticulture (+ Tuscany)

Next up, we opted to play Viticulture (Though I totally forget what sparked it coming up ^^). We gained a couple of players, Camille & Peter, who saw us setting up and came over looking interested, and set up with a couple of the Tuscany bits thrown in that I like to include – The Extended Board, Advanced Visitors and Mamas & Papa’s. (I believe Camille, who’s name I’m probably spelling wrong, is a backer of Tuscany, so was cool to teach someone that’s getting the game ^^). Quinn (Who was in Castles too, although he had far more garden than castle), dropped out in a round or two as the game wasn’t a good fit for him.

I’m not sure what to bring up about our game. Early on, all looked even and it was a while before points started to tick along, which was from windmills mainly when it did. I bought a red/white grape through trade in the 2nd year, funded if I remember correctly through dropping a couple of victory points. I got my vines planted a bit late (Had about 5 in my hand before I got to planting), but along with the slowly building ones I was able to slip a couple of low-requirement orders in the 3rd or 4th year at a point that only one other player had completed one (Rachael). I had a cottage from early, and after a couple of years of taking summer visitors to build up, I stuck with winter to try and make sure I had plenty of order-completion possibilities for late game.

By the middle of the game, most of us were up to sort of 8-12 points or so, although Lee was struggling a bit with the amount of options to work with. I wasn’t in the front at this point, and was feeling a bit unsure about my chances of a win. I opted to go last for a year to get first, on a gamble of when the game would end, which I almost thought was a poor choice as Rachael got to ~20vp and seemed to have plenty of grapes/wine to fill an order for a win. Fortunately for me, she was not quite able to get there and I got the extra year I needed (Not that I was far behind, but I had to spend that entire year preparing for the next one!).

In the final year I managed to pull off a lot of things. Going first I was quick to take the cube moments action to try and secure my position on the area map (I knew I’d miss out on at least one bonus, but taking the double move/place meant I could hold a better position on it). I had contemplated trading in spring, but chose to pass in case I needed longer in the winter to complete my final orders. In the end, I think 3 or 4 of us passes the 25 mark and triggered a game end, but I was able to leap to 30 something points, and even get another couple from the area map, while others weren’t much past 25. I had a lot of fun not having played in a while, and I hope the other players did too, despite being against someone who’s played a ton ^^.

Lost Legacy

At some point, possibly in the chronological order in this article, I played a 5 player game of Lost Legacy, playing as a super-size game with the Starship & Flying Garden decks crossed over. This of course makes the game a tad longer, and makes early elimination more of a slap to the face, but does work fairly well as a way of increasing the player count. We played twice I believe, and I didn’t won either of them, well darn ^^. I really like the flying garden deck though, I can see it being interesting to play it alone, and with card switches between the 2 decks ^^.

Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends

Next up I played a game with Debbie & Peter (Both were in the Lost Legacy game), Tash Kalar: Arena of Legends. This is one I’ve been interested in for a long while, but the original print run for English copies was a joke, costing £40 for small amount of cardboard and with ‘ok’ art. The new edition straight from CGE (instead of via Z-Man) is half the price with a well-deserved upgrade to the art to boot.

We played with a copy that had been put in the communal games area (Or whatever it was called ^^), which had both the new and old pieces, which was a tad confusing as none of us had played before to notice that immediately, but it was nice to see the difference! Peter was kind enough to read the rules through (Well, the quick-start booklet, while I scanned the full rules sheet), and we got into a 3P newbie deathmatch (Which the manual doesn’t recommend, but we wanted to play with 3!).

In Tash Kalar, players are wizards competing in a grand tournament of some kind. Players take turns to bring summoning stones into the arena and use them to summon ‘beings’, which is a pattern based affair, matching stones on the board to a pattern on a card in a players hand to summon, causing various effects to happen. In the deathmatch mode we played, players score points by eliminating enemy pieces, scoring 1 point per pair of commons, 1 point per heroic, and 2 points per legendary piece destroyed.

Our game ended up being a little one sided. The first few turns were fine, but once I managed to get a couple of beings summoned, it was a bit of a chain reaction. Most turns I was able to use both by actions for summoning based on my cards, while Debbie/Peter often needed to get common pieces down as actions to be ready for summons. I ended up being far ahead to the point that even with Peter using a flare every turn (Debbie didn’t use them for a while, busy thinking about how to match patterns I assume ^^), neither of them came close, and I won 12 points to ~2 from each of them.

Despite being a bit discouraged that the game can snowball as it did, I put it down to ‘first game’ woes, and immediately bought it from gameslore with the expansion =P Pattern matching like this is absolutely something I enjoy, and I can’t wait to get this played more, and hopefully to look forward to many expansion decks ^^.

Pandemic: The Cure

The final game I got played in the day was Pandemic: The Cure. This, as I’m sure many know, is the upcoming dice-version of pandemic, which was available to play as someone had picked up a copy at Essen Spiel. The goal of the game is still to cure the 4 diseases, but it abstracts out a little, and is more random/gamey rather than puzzly like pandemic.

The first thing that happens at the start of a game is a mass infection. 12 Disease dice are drawn at random from the bag of death (Not the official name afaik), and places in regions matching on colour. The different colours of disease have different numeric values (So the black might only have ‘2’, ‘3’, or ‘5’ as sides) so will only directly move to certain continents (There’s 6 ‘discs’ placed out, which are the locations we move between to deal with the diseases). Outbreaks are ignored at this step, and any dice with a ‘(+)’ side are rerolled.

Players then take turns to try and deal with the disease. Each player has a role card and a matching set of dice, which they roll at the start of their turn. The different roles have dice with special abilities (Such as ‘return 3 dice from the infection centre to the bag’), so to be most effective players should work together. The player then takes actions, determined by their dice rolls, to treat (Move from a continent to the treatment centre, or treatment centre to the bag), move (fly anywhere, sail adjacent), or cure (place a cube from treatment centre on character card with the dice used atop it – of course this reduces players dice pools, which they should be careful of!). You can also trade cures in progress to other players when sharing a location, so one person could potentially have one of everyone’s dice sitting on disease cubes that’re waiting to be cured.

Next, the player can attempt a cure.  To do so, they take all the disease cubes of one type that they have on their character card and roll – If they get 13+, that disease type is cured!

Then the infection step occurs. Dice are drawn from the bag of death equal to the infection rate (Oh! I should mention, if you ever roll biohazards on dice, they are immediately locked and the infection tracker moves up, causing an epidemic every 4 spaces it moves, which means all treatment centre dice are rerolled and strewn across the world, which is..bad). If you ever have to add a 4th dice of a disease type to a continent, it outbreaks, moving clockwise to the next continent and moving the outbreak marker up (At 8, Game Over, also if the infection marker goes up enough its’ game-over too).

Presuming the world has not yet ended or all 4 diseases are cured, the next players turn begins and the fight continues. (Another asides…One side of each disease dice is a (+), these are moved to the CDC when rolled, and can be spent to buy one of three abilities determined by the event cards. This might let you reroll a dice when curing, or move a pawn outside their turn, helpful when in a tight moment!)

In our game, I was the containment specialist, having a special die side that could return 3 cubes to the bag from the treatment centre (Good because epidemics would make them all be rerolled and placed out). Also, any time I moved someone, any disease type with 2 or more dice would have one automatically go to the treatment centre. Basically, my job was to run around the board and then move the cubes to the bag. The dispatcher also moved me a few times, and we even once used an event card to do it – What can I say, I was an excessively well travelled man.

In the end, our medic & guy-with-lots-of-dice (Most have 5, but his special ability was to have 7) got the first 3 diseases cured, and I ended up with the last set. I cured it with us on 7 outbreaks, so close to a loss!

But…it felt anticlimactic for me. I didn’t get that feeling of ‘oh-crap-things-are-going-bad’ that pandemic did, thanks in part to outbreaks only pushing one dice along (If it went both ways, like it splits into multiple parts in the board-game, that would be thematically scary ^^). The infection rate in our game only got halfway along too, so there wasn’t even a worry of different things, just outbreaks to worry about.

Still, it was good fun, and I like that each player has unique things about their dice (Although it does shoe-horn you into certain things a fair bit!). I’m a bit less excited for it that I was, but would still like to play again or pick it up sometime ^^.

—-

It was an absolutely fantastic day! Well worth going 50 miles for. The venue was great, being well lit and with plenty of room, and there was a load of people in attendance. Everyone I spoke to was friendly, so getting into a game was nice and easy (Albeit I did play with Rachael/Lee mostly who I know from halesowen ^^). Looking to next years similar event, and hopefully will go to the one they apparently hold in ~April too =)

Sunday – Afternoon Play

On Sunday I was so burned out from an entire day of games, that I went to Afternoon Play to spend the day playing games. In fact, I was accidentaly eager as I rushed out the house only to realise that the reason both cafe’s had no gamers in when I arrived, was that I was an hour early. Oops ^^.

Adam was first to turn up, and as we had a while I suggested Tiny Epic Kingdoms as a quick one to play, partly as it would be a learning game (First time with it) so cutting out halfway through would be no big deal. Simon turned up before we begun, and consequently joined in as a third player.

Tiny Epic Kingdoms

TEK is a 4X game (Well, 3X without expansion I suppose) in just about as small and short a format as you can get. Players compete to end with the most victory points, trying to control territories to gather resources, build a grand tower to show how awesome your kingdom is, and unlock magic levels to gain faction-specific resources, giving each player unique abilities.

In the game, players take turns to choose actions. To do so, one of the 5 shields must be placed on the action board – if all 5 shields are on the board, you retrieve them and have full choice for the next placement (In a 5-player game, the person that clears the shields misses a turn, to rotate 1st player). There are 6 actions to choose from (So one goes un-taken each turn) – Patrol, Quest, Build, Research, Expand & Trade. Everyone takes an action when it is chosen, but players other than the active player can choose to pass, generating 1 resource/region they control (The active player gets nothing if he passes).

Patrol & Quest is where you move your meeples out across the land to control regions, for better resource generation. If you move into a region controlled by another player, war breaks out so only one meeple remains (Unless both surrender, in which case an alliance is formed, though I’m yet to see it happen). Build costs ore and advances your tower level, Research costs magic and advance your magic level (Providing faction specific powers, each player takes a faction card at the start of the game), Expand gets you an extra meeple in a region where you only have 1, costing 1 food/meeple you have in play, and trade lets you swap as much as you like of one resource, for as much as you like of another resource.

The actual scoring of points, is that each meeple in play is worth 1VP, each level of magic reached is worth 1VP, the tower scales and is listed on the towers card, and any other bonuses (e.g. magic level 5 has vp scoring powers for all factions, and if you play with city regions or the exploration expansion, controlling certain places gives bonus points).

I was Elves in our game, which it turns out is a gloriously lazy faction to play. Elves revolve around turning all their resources into magic, but then being able to use magic as any resource (From your level 3 magic onwards). This means rather than having to think ‘Will I have enough ore when someone takes build’, its just ‘Do I have enough magic to do everything’. I forget what Adam/Simon were playing as, but if I remember correctly, I was able to eke out the win. Had a lot of fun and was very pleasantly surprised how well it plays!

Myth

Next up, I sheepishly asked around if anyone would like to play Myth, with the full awareness that while I’ve read the rulebook, an unofficial rewrite of it, and various other bits in the rules forums, that I was still unsure of how it plays and it could be a bit messy to get started. Awesomely I had 3 people join to play, Neil, Neil & um…Brigand, ok so Brigand was the character she played, but…names are hard alright =P.

We chose characters, myself as Apprentice, Neil1 as Soldier, Neil2 as Acolyte & Brigand as Brigand, and I went through the gist of how I thought it all works. We started off on a 12×12 tile, with an Arachnid Lair and with a chapter quest where a hopeful adventurer-to-be had asked to come along and see us performing some awesome heroics, i.e. someone needed to kill 4 foes with a single blow. Succeeding wouldn’t reward us immediately, but we’d get to add the next quest in the chain to the deck (Or as I realised later, we should have done it on the next tile, as we were doing freeform rather than a structured ongoing game).

We stuttered a bit at first to work out how to play, but thanks to a couple of rules I got wrong we had an easy time of it (When I read monsters attack as one, it just means roll all their dice at once, not roll once for them all, oops). Our Soldier completed the quest with a ‘Harvest of Bones’ where he took out 5 arachnids in an arc by spending a couple of rage, with the Acolyte keeping him going, me clearing up (Fingers of Ia is fun, burn my going bonuses to chain lightning a bunch of targets) and Brigand er, well struggling a bit actually – Unfortunately I wasn’t really sure how to help, so might have to play a solo game with the Brigand to learn it to teach it next time ^^.

At one point we had a captain come out, which ran the long way around to us as we had a large tile. Normally, the Stalkers (arachnid captains) can try to ‘burrow’ to the heroes, swapping with normal minions to get close, but the tile was so large there was space for it to come around so I don’t think it would have used the ability (But should check…as I’m doubing myself as I write this). Before it got to us I was able to boost the heck out of a lifesteal arcane spell and one shot the thing (They only have 3 health, but lots of attacks only do 1 damage and are more aimed at the normal minions that are 1 health each).

We made fairly short work of the lair, with the Acolyte igniting it with holy fire and the soldier pummeling it a little to take it down in one round. It was about there we realised we should have been putting treasure out on the tile, and quickly grabbed some things that we never used just to see the treasure system ^^ (You draw a token blindly from a bag, and draw from the deck matching the token, then return the token. Some quests can modify the contents of the bag so as you play longer games the chance of better loot improves).

Following on from that, we went for another tile, this time a 6×6 with a trap. The trap in question triggered at the start of each hero cycle, and targetted a randomly selected hero. That hero had to roll to disarm the trap, or take damage/be knocked prone. We kind of forgot for a while, but when we remembered it targetted me, and I was able to disable it and step aside to avoid damage. As far as what else was on the tile, 2 hunting packs! I put out a group of arachnids and a group of grubbers (Its’ harder to play with 2 enemy types so I figured it should be a challenge). We despatched them fairly easily though, as again, I was making a mess of the enemy rolls. We did pull some cool combos’ on them though (Like the soldier taunting to make them surround him ahead of area spells to rip the enemies apart.

Anyway, we stopped after that as we weren’t sure if we’d have time for another tile before moving on to the pub for evening play. I had a ton of fun and got lots of useful information about what rules to look up for next time (Which I’ve done, so looking forward to playing again!). I can certainly see why the forums for this game were ablaze with ‘oh-god-the-rulebook-is-terrible’ when the game was first available, but I think when you pass that hurdle its’ an awesome design, and the kickstarter came with such a ridiculous amount of great looking miniatures that just..I love it.

Elevenses,

We played a game one of the Neils had brought along next, ahead of moving to the pub, called ‘Elevenses’. This is a little card game with nice art, where you’re trying to get cards played out in front of you. The player with the most spoons in the top right of their face-up cards at the end of a round takes 2 sugar, next takes 1, then 0. After X rounds the person with the most sugar wins.

Got to be honest though, the mechanics just seemed too much in this for me. Lots of different face-down cards (8) to try and investigate and remember, and also then trying to figure out what everyone else has, it all just seemed a hell of a lot of effort to reduce the inherent randomness of it. I gave up after a round and left the others to it, though they seemed to have fun and I think the game isn’t to blame ^^.

Concept,

We headed over to the pub after that, as sadly cafe’s don’t stay open late. The first game I got involved with was Concept, with [redacted], [redacted], Adam, [redacted] and James (I totally remember their names, but you haven’t got the right security clearance to know them, citizen).

The concept of concept is fairly simple, and is to conceptually define concepts given by concept cards. Each turn, the current player draws a card and, between them and the player to their left, chooses one of the 9 possibilities. Then, they work together to place the various markers (4 plastic exclamation marks in black, blue, red & yellow, a green question mark, and a ton of cubes in the aforementioned colours) onto the game board to describe their chosen thing in an abstract way. (For example a main marker on ‘boats/marine/navy’, a cube on fire and a cube on water, for ‘steamboat’).

The other players at the table yell out what they think is being described, and when someone gets it correct they receive 2 points, the clue givers receive 1 points each (It can go to more than the 2, as you may invite additional players to help describe something), and the next pair play start their turn. If noone gets the answer, noone gets any points.

We had lots of fun with this, and for possible the first time I actually guessed one of the answers, though I forget what it was -_-. [Redacted] (Who’s name I should really remember) absolutely dominated the game, so congratulations to her ^^.

Tiny Epic Kingdoms

With [Redacted] and [Redacted] gone, we changed game. keeping it simple, I got out Tiny Epic Kingdoms again for another play. Not a clue how it went though, asides from that I don’t think I won…Guess I was getting tired to forget so completely =P

Smash Up,

I went for a drink and everyone seemed to leave or get into another game in those couple of minutes, except for Chris, whom I’ve met before at Bread & Games (He taught me Jaipur which I subsequently purchased a copy of ^^). Sitting around watching others play is boring, so I suggested Smash Up (’cause well, new factions =P). I played Gigantic Time Travelling Ants, and Chris Lycan Mad Scientists. He got the upper hand fairly early on, and I really struggled again how powerful the werewolves can be (Particularly when on mad scientist steroids). My pairing was pretty awful, as ants rely on power tokens on them, so using the ‘retrieve and place elsewhere’ ability of time travellers was hard, as it would lose the extra power.

In the end, despite my whinging a lot that I was going to lose, we finished on a close 15-14 (I mean, I did lose, but it was very close to be fair ^^). I’d love to play the ants with a faction with some big minions like the cyborg apes, as their power-token shifting could make for some awesomely strong plays.

Lost Legacy * 3

As a final game of the evening we played a few rounds of lost legacy. This was with the starship and flying gardens decks (With the starship card removed). I lost the first two, but on the last I got an opportunity to look at another players hand and swap if I wanted to. I exchanged with Nick, giving him a nice high number while I took the lost legacy and got my win ^^. Still looking forward to playing with just the flying gardens deck (Or a cross-over rather than ‘everything’ deck ^^).

Fantastic Day at Afternoon Play, as always. Very happy that I got to try Myth, just need to try and get some friends willing to play this a few times now, as it totally begs repeat play with one group. We’ll see!

UoB Tabletop, Jujitsu, Ninja Turtles & Halesowen Board Gamers (29/10/14)

Well, I’ve not posted an update for a little while, that’ll be because I keep being really busy! Here’s a bit of a catch up until Wednesday of last week, and I’ll try to get this last weekend written up soon (Which was UoB Tabletop Friday, Telford Games Day Saturday, Afternoon Play Sunday, so much gaming! ^^).

University of Birmingham Tabletop

Last Will

I got in another play of Last Will at UoBTT a couple of weeks back. Apparently I’m terrible at spending money fast, and seem to just make tons of mistakes in the game. In general I tried to go for a ‘grab mansions and depreciate’ strategy this time, but bought a farm too because it was a high price, then never used it, which was…not good. When the game was won (By..I have no idea how to spell his name, ‘charon’). Playing were myself, Anna, Charon, Matt and *Cough*, ha, I remembered who was playing, see how good I am.

Coup

We played a few rounds of Coup next, which was apparently pretty forgettable as I have no idea how things went, although if it was the night I’m thinking of, I won 3/3 as the other players kept in-fighting and letting me get away with it ^^.

It was a good evening, though I should have got it written up the next day, not a week later :P

Jujitsu

Monday this week I did something a little different! I’d mentioned to my friend Chris a couple days before that I wanted to play Smash Up, so he invited me over for both a game of that, and to go along to a Jujitsu session. I certainly didn’t have anything better to do with a Monday, so happily went along ^^. I had a fun time there, although find it hard to take it seriously for some reason (Someone telling you ‘finish him’ just doesn’t work as a serious comment in my head =P). I hope to go again sometime though for sure!

Smash Up

We also played a game of Smash Up (Well, we started before going to jujitsu and finished it up after). I was Cyborg Shapeshifters & Chris was running with Robotic Tricksters. I thought he had me beat from early on, but slipped ahead when I solo-captured a base with a ridiculous combo that meant one minion was on something like 20 power. (Basically, one card was ‘+2 Power per action played on this minion’, and I duplicated it with the shapeshifter ‘copy an action played on a minion’, ^^). Looking forward to playing again as the following weekend I picked up Monster Smash/Big Geeky Box ^^.

Ninja Turtles

I don’t even… This was a very meme filled affair, and while I enjoyed it, can’t really say its’ a good film :P Also…Wearing your weight in make-up does not fix bad acting (Megan Fox as a lead…why…)

Halesowen (29/10/14)

Got a relatively high amount of games played on Wednesday last week, with us going for shorter options rather than one or two longer games. First up of these was Steam Park, a real-time dice-rolling game where players compete to build steampunk theme parks and attract robot visitors to gain points.

Steam Park

Steam Park takes place over 6 rounds, during which rides and stands are built, your park is expanded, and robotic visitors visit your park and ride your attractions for eternity (They know what they like!). Points are scored throughout for your visitors on rides and bonus cards you play, although also lost depending on how much dirt you have in your park, which builds up through actions taken and from having visitors on your rides, requiring players to devote at least some time to tidying things up!

Each round, each player takes their 6 dice, then simultaneously roll as many times as they want looking for sides which align to particular actions. When a dice has an action you want, you move it to your piggy bank, locking it in. When all your dice are locked, you take the best available finish-position tile (for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th), giving you -4 Dirt, -2 Dirt, Nout, +2 Dirt respectively). When all but the last player have finished their selection, the remaining player has up to 3 more rolls before they must stop no matter what their rolls are.

Next, in order of when players finished their rolling stage, players take actions as determined by their dice. This is from possibilities of ‘Build a Ride’, ‘Build a Stand’, ‘Play a Bonus Card’, ‘Gain a Visitor’, Clear 2 Dirt or Extend Your Park (The first 3 of which generate 1 dirt/dice). Building things just costs the action, so you take the relevant thing and place it in your park (Obeying certain restrictions). Gaining a visitor has you place one meeple in the bag (of 6), then drawing one (There’s 6 colours, and you need matching colours to get them on rides, so by adding one before, you tilt the odds in your favour), clearing dirt is fairly obvious, extend park is just discard any dice (Non-blank) to add a 2×2 section to your park (Starts 4×4), and playing a bonus card has you use one of your cards from your hand to gain points for the criteria it provides.

At the end of each turn, you gain 3 points (money) per visitor in your park, then until you get to 3 cards, draw 2 at a time and discard one of the 2 drawn cards (So you get a bit of choice over what goals you’re aiming for).

In our game, I generally tried to rush blue rides (Because Blue), and aimed to grab a casino or two, then just worked my strategy based on what bonus cards I picked up. Sadly I missed the 3-size blue ride (As I finished last so someone else got it with their first choice), build a 2 & a 1 then proceeded to choose awful positioning for my stands, as there was none left of their type by the next turn (Where I was last to finish) which would have been the only thing that could fit. I spent a fair amount of time playing bonus cards and cleaning up dirt (Because well…coming last generates extra on top of your other actions), but did quite enjoy working towards the bonuses.

In the meantime, rachael grabbed I think all 3 pink rides, and I think by the end had a visitor in every space. Mate/Lee seemed to manage ok, although I think Lee made some poor choices by rushing more than he needed to (Because I mean…I was going to come last anyway so if 1st/2nd were gone anyway, might as well have taken his time =p). I came first in one round during the game, thanks to the casino (Lets you change a dice you’ve already taken) and because I had to expand in that round, costing another incorrect dice (So I only needed 4 as what I wanted).

In any case, Rachael won with her fairy park, while I came in last with my spread out mess. I quite liked the game, but I was so slow and just couldn’t reevaluate my needs on the fly, leading to endless rolling where I wanted specific actions. I think if I played again I might try just stopping after one or two rolls and taking an earlier position then worrying about actions after, rather than planning ahead at all. Problem is…Galaxy Trucker scratches the same itch and just does it better, so I’ll probably leave this one alone for a while ^^. (Which is easy enough as its’ someone elses game, quite glad I didn’t buy it a while ago when it was first announced and caught my interest ^^).

Voluspa

Next up, I believe, was Voluspa. This is a tile-laying game where players take turns to place tiles from their hands of 5. If the tile placed is the highest in the row/column its’ in, that row/column is scored, at one point per tile within it. Tiles have abilities (Except the 8 and one version of the 7), which provide alternate ways to score or manipulate the layout in compensation for being harder to place in a high-scoring position.

We played with an 8 tile type setup – Lightning Bolts, Dwarves, Hermods, Wolves, Dragons, Trolls, Thor & Loki. Having both Lightning and Dragons (Both tiles that place atop other tiles) made for a tight layout, which was particularly good for the lightning bolts (They automatically score the shortest of the row or column they are in, and a tight layout tends to leave plenty opportunity to score 7 points with them, the maximum line length).

A few mistakes (Well, in my eyes) were made, such as using hermods to extend lines before scoring (You can eke out more points if the hermod can score a line on its’ own separate to your placement, although if you do it to max a line to 7 it can be effective). Dwarves were used well, although someone (Rachael I think) gave me quite a few points trying to set herself up for a dwarf on a future turn and I nabbed the space ^^.

Final scores were Máté in first (Sorry if the accents on that are wrong), I think I was 2nd, Rach 3rd, and Lee a little further behind (Although he seemed to get how things work, he was dropped back a bit before he did unfortunately). The tileset was pretty nice to new players, which is a shame for me as I didn’t get to have a cheeky win by having played before ;P

Coup

I’ve played so much of this recently I’m really not sure what to say ^^. I think Máté had gone by this point, and that I won (Hooray for couples fighting among themselves too much in elimination games ;P). Sorry for lack of further info!

Biblios

To finish up we played a game of Biblios. This is a fairly simple draft and auction game, that plays fast and is remarkably fun. First, players take turns to draw #players+1 cards, keeping one, putting one face-down into the auction pile, and placing #players-1 cards face-up on the table, which the other players then take into their hands respectively. Players will gather money, potentially alter values of each of the 5 categories of holy stuff, and gather influence in those categories during this stage.

When the deck is empty, the auction round begins. Players now take turns to place a card face up, then choose whether to bid and how much to bid. Players must be able to pay for their bid (Or more than their bid), with the cards in their hand to do so. This generally goes up in ones, ‘I bid 1’, ‘I’ll go 2’, ‘pass’ kind of thing.

When the auction pile is empty, the game ends. Players reveal their strength in each of the 5 categories, and score points equal to the value the dice has finished on for that category. Someone may have gone all in for a dice on 6, but someone else could have won two at 3 & 4 and take the win.

I thought I was doing awful throughout our game, but did win two dice at the end. Unfortunately they weren’t enough, and I think Lee took the win with the 2 he ended up with. Rachael didn’t end up with too much, as the ones I unexpectedly won were ones I was competing with her for! Love the game, in my wishlist to get sometime (Although…there’s a Biblios dice game coming to kickstarter soon, will have to see what that’s like first ^^)

UoB Tabletop Society, Pathfinder & Halesowen Board Gamers (22/10/14)

UoB Tabletop Society

Friday of last week (17/10) had me along to the UoB Tabletop Society (Which seems to be a regular thing again, yay for people staying late ^^). I’d brought along Galaxy Trucker and it got suggested, so I was plenty happy to get it out as its’ been a good while since I last played!

Galaxy Trucker is a real-time tile-laying game where players rush to throw together a valid starship. The games ship pieces are placed in the middle of the table, face down, before each round, and each player takes a ship and centre module (Identical ship boards, the centre module is so each player has a unique colour). Ships start small, but over the course of a game you get large and more complex ships to build.

The first part of a round is the building phase. In real-time, players grab tiles, one at a time, from the centre of the table. They then decide to either place it in their ship matching the edges single-single, double-double, single-universal, double-universal or universal-universal, or return it to the centre face-up. Hence over the course of the phase, you get easier access to a variety of components, but generally lose out on the better pieces (ones with 4 sides for a close-knit ship for example!). Once a player is finished, they can start flipping the hourglass any time they wish, until it works its’ way from the round number to the 0 mark, at which point all players finish building no matter what.

The latter half of each round is the race phase. This is a fairly ‘automatic’ phase, as its’ little more than drawing cards from a shuffled deck and following the instructions. It’s also one of the best bits, as here you get meteors slamming into your ship, pirates attacking, invaders eating the cargo you just spend 3 days picking up, and so on. This drives a story of the adventures of your mighty galaxy trucking.

At the end of 3, or however many you fancy (There’s ships for I-IV and plenty alternative layouts with expansions), rounds, the game ends. The player with the most credits wins! Congratulations on having slightly less terrible ships than the rest of the players =P

The first round of our game went by fairly slowly, with players new to the game needing time to work out how to build up their ships. 2 of the 3 players new to the game seemed to do fine, but Dwayne had a bit of difficulty and took a little longer, with me giving a hint or two once everyone else had finished. There was actually remarkably little damage to players ships, but a combat zone hit hard on other things, and an open space took the close knit group of ships to being massively apart, and stardust made that even worse (Stardust = -1 flight day per exposed connector, I think 9 was the highest someone had, ouch).

At the end of the round everyone ships were intact (Kind of disapointing in Galaxy Trucker really =P), and I leapt into the lead from having an untouched pretty ship & a touch of cargo. For the second round, I grabbed a rough roads card for me and the other player who knew what he was doing…but the building round didnt’ even get finished. At about 7:20 (When we had the room till 8), we got asked to pack up to go because people wanted to play Magic: The Gathering. Disapointingly, rather than spend 5-10 minutes to finish the round, 3/5 players got up and left, leaving it to the other 2 of us (And I think John helped out) to tidy it away… I usually find people playing 24/7 MTG annoying, but got to be honest…felt pretty pissed off about that, kind of like having a friend around for a dinner you’ve cooked and having them leave halfway through for a McDonalds…

After moving to the learning centre, I suggested Xia: Legends of a Drift System. We set the fame-point target to 10 and I got explanation to the 4 new players out of the way before we got to playing. We randomised the starting ships, with me getting the Puddle Jumper (Started with it every game…including the 2 where we randomised the starting ships -_-).

Pretty sure it’s not too long ago that I wrote up how the game plays, so I’ll skip talking about that. Problem is I forget what our game went like! I know I won, getting the last ~4 fame points in one turn (Conveniently right as we were being asked to pack up to leave), but asides from ‘it was a combination of missions & trading’ I’m not sure what to say. One interesting moment was when a player who’d stacked up on weapons needed to repair, I paid him the 1K to do so with an agreement he wouldn’t attack me (I was on the opposite side of the map). This worked nicely for me, as my next turn I flew all the way over there for both a mission and to sell goods I’d picked up ^^.

Hopefully can play again with the same people so that I can concentrate more on the game than the teaching and making sure everyone gets it next time ^^.

Saturday

Pathfinder – Progress:
– Thistletop
– Clearing out well, druid almost insta-gibbed before getting a turn.
– Continue to go in on a group of 10 goblin refugee’s
– Promptly get asses handed to them, On 0 health, Ken just about manages to drag Chris to safety, but, Dave being too large, tries to hide him away.
– Next day, Chris recovered a little, stealths into the hideout and finds Dave gone.
– Returning to town, they discover hemlock has returned with additional guards.
– Offers his aid, and brings along Paul and Barry to round two. Dave takes control of Hemlock
– More successful this time, and break their way into the fort.
– Stealthier than before, and with a tank, light work of upper floor
– Paul & Barry die, missing their chance to earn surnames.
– Almost die to Orik, but get him low and accept his offer of his services.
– Now with 2 tanks, things going better and clearing things out well.
– Floor cleared, including the bugbear.
– End of evening, until next time!

Halesowen

I arrived upstairs fairly late this week, and found everyone to have worked out groups and picked games already (Although at least 2 people knew I was having dinner and would be up soon, who said nothing apparently!). None of the games out were particularly endearing to me, so I went with the ‘whoevers happiest to add a person’ approach, and ended up in a game of Power Grid with Mike, Steve, James &…Woman who’s name I don’t know/remember :P

This game is one that throws a few mechanics together – Area Control, Auction, Turn-Order Management and Resource Management. The aim of the game is to power the most cities, which you do by activating power plants (A maximum of 3 of them, because reasons) with fuel, and ‘owning’ those cities on the map. The game ends at the end of the turn where a player first ‘owns’ 15 cities, with 3 phases where choices available to the players escalate.

At the start of each of an undefined number of rounds, a series of auctions occurs to gain power plants. The ‘best’ player (Most cities owned) goes first, choosing a plant from the bottom row ahead of players taking turns to bid until all pass, at which point the winner pays and takes the plant (Replacing an existing one if they have 3 already). The auction area is refreshed immediately, so it sometimes pays to avoid taking anything until later in the auction phase.

For the rest of the round, the ‘worst’ begins (least cities owned), because…because. Players take turns next to take control of cities, paying 10/city (or 15/20 in later phases if you share with others) plus a variable amount based on the links between cities (So could be 3+10 or 21+10, depending if its’ a short and easy or long link crossing swathes of land). This has a large influence on player order next turn, which tends to be more important than how many you actually get control of.

Next, players take resources, again with the ‘worst’ first. Resources are bought from a track on the board which makes it so that the more that are available of a particular type, the cheaper it is. The result being that the players with the most cities pay the most resources to get fuel to actually power them, potentially to the point, although it didn’t happen in our game, that the required resource could run out or become too expensive for them, leaving them unable to provide as required. You can however only store fuel in power plants and only up to double their usual capacity.

The final part just has players paying fuel to activate plants and power cities. Its’ totally optional whether you do this, so if you want random blackouts to occur that’s absolutely fine, you just don’t get paid as much. Payment works by diminishing returns, so at first each city increases pay by 11, but by the 100 mark its’ only going up by 7 to power more places. (Although you’ll also have better power plants, so 1 plutonium might power 1 city at first, but 4 cities later on).

As far as our particular game I’m not sure what to talk about. As far as area control, Steve got left totally uncontested on one side of the map, I took a corner to try and do the same to some extent, with James, Mike & Female in the middle (James closer to me, Female closer to Steve). I’m not sure this was the best of idea’s for me, as James pushed in on where I was quite closely (Not that I wasn’t pushing back, plus he had Mike in his way the other side). Until phase 2 (Oh yeah…phases, when someone first controls 7 cities, phase 2 activates and we can start sharing cities 2 people/city, when the power plants deck runs out, phase 3 activates and you get 3 people/city) started I was certainly feeling pretty stuck where I was, but did manage to push out eventually.

On power plants, well, no idea what everyone else did, but I started with an oil/coal combination plant to give me options and extended to have a green plant & nuclear plant letting me power things cheaply for much of the game. I did however struggle to get any high providing options, only getting one to power 7 cities in the last round at a slightly inflated price (Although I almost might have had to pay 90-something as I pushed Steve up very high on bidding for a 7 before that). James had nuclear power a lot of the time, and I believe Mike had a couple of 3 coal > 5 power plants (Or oil, not sure). I forget what Steve had unfortunatey.

By the last round, things were in a position where Mike owned 15 cities, Steve 14 (I think), Me/James 13 and Female 10. Female would have been able to power the most if I remember correctly, but needed another round to actually have them owned to be powered. Me/James powered all of our cities, but were limited to 13, not sure what Steve managed, and Mike did 15 with his 3 5 power-providing plants. (I have a 7, 4 & 2, would have had to get that 2 replaced to achieve much more, perhaps leading to ~16 power for another turn had there been one (Although it’s likely Mike/Steve could have powered much more than that then too).

I found Power Grid to be a rather interesting game, but one with lots of little things that claw at me about it. One thing that doesn’t bother me too much is that the game seems to rely heavily on the satisfaction payoff of solving simple math problems (Whats’ the cheapest way for me to spread out), with that making the area control here a lot more interesting than most such games – I liked this in Milestones not long ago too (Calculating the best cost of routes), so should probably try and look into more games doing it in future!

So…things that bothered me. ‘Owning Cities’ seems a good start, now I figure this probably is more of a ‘contract to power those cities’, but it bothers me greatly that you could control 13 cities and just decide you don’t feel like powering them, with no reparations – I think I’d have liked a caverna-style ‘feed or lose points’ take on this, perhaps losing a city each turn you don’t power all those you control. It also seems odd that we can’t share them at first, but…then we suddenly can. For less than 6 players, areas of the map get cut off, which is what ended up letting Steve have a 1/3rd of the map to himself as there was expensive links between where he was and everyone else, he didn’t win so it’s not like that caused major imbalance, but I find it…frustrating. Finally, while for the most part people kept their money in view, I don’t like that you get to keep it hidden if you want to…hidden trackable information is boring & annoying :(

All in all though its’ a good game, and I can see why a lot of people like it. Would definitely be interesting in trying with the robots sometime though, think I’ll enjoy it more with automated opponents ^^.

Halesowen Board Gamers #27 (10/19/14)

Ok, so I’m going to start with an apology, I was really tired/grouchy on Wednesday evening so probably a bit of a dick…sorry if that was so.

Last Will

First up, as I got this recently in a trade and wanted to get it played, was Last Will. In this game, your rich Uncle, who’s spent his entire life being Lord Business, wants to give his fortune to the relative who can enjoy it the most. His Will leaves each person an small but generous chunk of the money, and the player to spend it the fastest will be the winner and sole inheritor of the rest of the estate.

The game is a light worker-placement game where you want to manage your cards (Ways to burn money) and allotment of actions each turn to try and lose money more effectively than the other players. This is achieved through depreciating property, elaborate nights out (Being sure to bring your horse along to enjoy the fun), and just generally (and deliberately) foolish spending of money.

To start each turn, each player in turn (From the player with the ‘start player’ marker) chooses one of 7 similar spaces. Each has a number of cards to draw (0-7), a number of errand boys (1 or 2) and a number of actions (1-4). Rather than scale directly that placing later in order (For the 2nd part of a round) that they get worse, the actions vary – You get 5 cards and 2 errand boys for going in the first spot for example, but only 1 action, while the 2nd spot is 2 cards, 2 errand boys and 2 actions.

Once everyone has chosen, they draw their cards from the 4 ‘regular’ decks (Events, Assistants, Properties, Companions), taking from any deck, but without seeing what they’ve drawn until all their cards are picked up. With that worked out, players going into the second ‘placement’ stage – errand boys.

In this stage, players take turns in the order decided in the first stage to place either 1 or 2 errand boys (Represented by awesome wooden top-hat pieces!) in various spaces around the board, to gain cards (face-up so you know what you’re getting), get player-board extensions (Have more permanent cards in play), go to the opera (Spend 2 coins) or get 1 extra regular card at random.

With this completed, the 3rd and final stage of the round takes place with each player spending actions as per their order mentioned earlier (They do all their actions on their turn). It takes an action to place a card into your permanent area, and often to use either a white card from your hand or one of your previously placed permanents.

At the end of the round, players discard down to 2 cards, and the offering board (The face up cards) are cleared and replaced for next round. Any building that wasn’t maintained depreciates (So it’ll sell for less than you brought it for) and cards are reset (As the permanents are once/round). Play continues until someone announces bankrupcy (At which point the round plays to the end before it finishes), or the game gets to the end of the 7th round. The winner is whoever has the least money, or most negative money!

Our game started off with farms being rather expensive, leading to us all grabbing one in the first round. I also picked up a training ground (Costs money for each farm you have, and more per animal on those farms), a move duplicated by Stan the next turn. I also grabbed a steward that would make farm activations free, determining that farms would stay my main strategy for the game ^^. Stan picked up a mansion before long, and Mark did I have no idea what but seemed to get 2 really expensive farms (16 & 25 base cost, mine were 12/15).

It wasn’t too long before Mark switched around the market to make his farms sell for less (As he ran out of money, but you can’t declare bankrupcy while you have property) and chucked away his 25 cost farm that had cost him 28, for a still high 22 coins. In the meantime I managed to get myself a couple of horses and a dog onto my farms, building up a little engine but also realising I had a lot of money to lose to catch up (Never happened). Stan managed to depreciate his mansion a couple of times, and got a nice carriage to be driven aroudn in for a healthy cost of 5 coins per turn.

As it came into the last round, I was way behind (10 coins to Marks’ 6 & Stans’ 5, which also meant I’d got rid of my farms which were the only way I really had to lose money fast). I worked out a way to get to 0, and a bit of luck on card draws meant I got to -1 instead, but that was soon showed up as Stan dropped to -8 through his plays. Mark happened to have a particularly powerful card that basically let him funnel almost all his last turn actions into a huge spend of 14, taking him to -9 for victory.

I had fun, but…I don’t think I like starting with 70 (The recommended first game amount, which is also the lowest possible when you do it randomly), as the game was too quick for any engine-building to work. Rather than trying to burn my money through farming, I would have been better to just spam instant cards…but that just didn’t seem like a fun idea asides from the mad rush at the end. Looking forward to playing with a bigger chunk (100 at least!) and to picking up the expansion which has some really ideal features for what I want from the game (You have a job at the start, so you have to be countering the fact you’re earning as well as spending ^^).

Definitely one to get played again, and definitely staying in my collection. I have been thinking I needed more light/short options ^^.

Coup * 4

Speaking of light/short. Our next game was Coup, in large part because I really wasn’t feeling like playing anything too long, and wasn’t at all in the mood to try eminent domain or even bother with pandemic (Which there’s really not much point playing if you’re not really up for it, as you’ll just let everyone else take your turns). So as an artifact of my being a miserable sod, we went with the shortest game I had with me.

As I think I’ve mentioned before, its’ really difficult to talk about coup, as the interesting and intriguing bit of the game is in whether you believe other players and whether they believe you, which is a very ‘in the moment’ feeling.

The first of our games I won after Mark called a lie on my assassin and lost both his lives as I was telling the truth, and I managed to maneuvre myself into enough money to coup Stans last character (The power of lying!). The second game I won also, during which I think I told the truth once and got called on it, then used about 3 different roles despite having a pair of dukes to win ^^. Mark won the next, apparently by telling the truth (Yawn), and he also won the fourth, mainly as I just decided to call everything people did against me and lost in the whole of a turn or two – Unfortunately if you get the right cards in a small game its’ possible to win through truth, so I wish we could have had more (Where it becomes harder, as the slight increase in number of turns that tends to happen means people work out what you have an can capitalise on it).

We finished there as Stan wanted to head off for an early night, and I was more than happy to agree on the idea, feeling utterly shattered at the time. it was a good night, but I don’t think I was particularly pleasant for everyone else to put up with…oh well :(

Halesowen Board Gamers & UoB Tabletop Society, & The Weekend! (08/10 to 12/10 2014)

Wednesday – Halesowen, 8th

On Wednesday this week I went along with a few games, although most were destined not to get played (A shame, as I was hoping to try Last Will!). In fact, none of them got played first, with Stan suggesting Palaces of Carrera which he’d brought along. I was somewhat dubious, as the last time I played a game with a ‘rondel’ mechanism (Santiago de Cuba)…Well, I didn’t like it too much. On the other hand, Stan advertised it as an hour playtime, and this looked to use the rondel in a totally different way.

Palaces of Carrera

In palaces, players are competing to construct buildings in 6 different coloured cities. The colour denotes rank, going in order white > yellow > red > green > blue > black (I think) with white accepting buildings of only the finest material. I say that because the buildings requirements are generic ‘Requires 4 bricks’, but the type of bricks you use must be equal or better than the city you build in (So you can use any bricks for a black city building, anything but black for blue, etc).

Players in the game take turns to perform 1 ‘action’, which is either ‘buy bricks’, ‘build a thing’ or ‘score a thing’. Buying bricks is where the rondel comes in, with a turning wheel which has the bricks on in 6 segments. Around the edge of the wheel (Stationary) are prices for those bricks, and as you look clockwise around the track, they reduce in price by 1 at each step (To 0, so if you ‘buy’ when bricks have been pushed a few around, you can potentially get free bricks). You may only buy from 1 segment, so sometimes you have to leave a nice selection to push around because you need something else more.

So how do you score, and get money for more pretty bricks? Well, you construct buildings of course. When you construct a building, matching by brick colour as mentioned above, it builds up in a personal area for that city. When you decide to score, you move one of your (5?) markers to either the main board on a city, or to a building type on your personal board, then score everything either in that city or of that building type. What you score depends on the city and how much you’ve built there.

Victory Points
White, Red & Blue cities score victory points. The amount you score is equal to the quantity of bricks used to construct the buildings there, multiplied by 3 (white), 2 (red) or 1 (blue).

Money
Yellow, Green & Black cities provide money. When you score these, you gain money equal to the quantity of bricks used to construct the buildings there, multiplied by 3 (yellow), 2 (green), or 1 (black).

So as you can probably tell, you have to try to balance building in the money-earning cities and the victory point cities, as well as thinking about how much you’re spending to buy bricks (As blacks are always the cheapest, often free, but only get money at 1x rate). I should also mention you’re vying for a few general ‘goals’ with extra vp (Randomized each game), in our case a set of 4/2 of any building types gave 20VP, having 4 buildings on one city gave 3-21VP (depending which city you have the 4 in) and getting to 3 5-brick buildings gave something too. (Also, by getting these 3 things at least once each, you are then allowed to end the game on any turn, rather than waiting for all the buildings to be constructed).

In our game, I tried to focus somewhat on the cheaper buildings, the blue & black, under the assumption that I would go fairly uncontested (And I think I did get the most buildings around there as a result). I also tried to get just a few white bricks so that I could have a high-scoring building or two, lest I screw myself too much in being cheap ^^ (And to make sure the others didn’t get bricks too cheaply).

I also tried to go for 2 building types, hoping to get the ‘4/2’ bonus twice as the 20VP each time was nothing to be sniffed at! All 3 players seemed to go for a different building type from the start, and it was a while before any competitive choices were taken (Against me, curtesy of Stan).

Truth be told, I forget what the others went for in our game, but as it turned out player X (*whistles*) managed to shoot into the lead, having managed the 2 sets of 4/2, while I missed it by 1 building piece (I burned myself out of money a couple turns before the end and couldn’t recover enough to get anything). I know X won, but I totally forget how me/Stan were placed, although I think I was in a lowly last place with Stan in 2nd.

Coup

To make myself feel better about my loss (Although I enjoyed the game – The rondel is much better as a resource value system rather than choice of actions), I suggested Coup next, taking to short games for the rest of the evening, although we could probably have fit Last Will in had I been a tad more confident about the rules (I’ve since watched a video so hopefully playing tomorrow!), but no worry as its’ fun to get short games out sometimes!

Coup, is a game of bluffing and deception. You play with a set of 15 cards, which consists of 3 each of ‘Assassin’, ‘Captain’, ‘Ambassador’, ‘Duke’ and ‘Contessa’ roles. The deck is shuffled at the start of the game, and each player is dealt 2 face-down, along with 2 coins from the treasury. The 2 cards represent your ‘influence’, and if they are both killed (Turned face-up) you are out of the round.

So, gameplay, players take turns to perform actions until they are the last player standing. They can take income (take 1 coin, unblockable), foreign aid (take 2 coins, blocked by dukes), or perform a coup (spend 7 coins, choose a player to lose one influence), without needing any special cards. They can also use the various abilities of the cards:
Assassin – Spend 3, Choose a player to lose influence.
Ambassador – Draw 2 cards, return 2, blocks captain.
Captain – Take 2 coins from another player, blocks captain.
Duke – Take 3 coins
Contessa – Blocks Assassin.

Now, you don’t actually need to have those cards to perform their abilities. You can claim any role on any turn. However, if another player decides to call your bluff, you must either reveal the card to prove yourself (Then shuffle it into the deck and redraw), in which case they lose one influence, or lose one influence of your own.

There’s also blocking of course. If someone tries to steal 2 coins from me with the captain, I can in turn claim I have a captain (Whether I do or don’t) to block the move and waste their turn – But of course they could call my bluff and potentially make me lose an influence for my lie.

This all leads to very fast, interesting gameplay (Although the first game is perhaps a tad confusing, its’ <10 minutes per game and begs repeat play). One game perhaps I get away with calling Duke every turn without a Duke, but next game I get called on it and my facade is ruined, & so on ^^.

We played 7 rounds of the game, after we happened to end up 2-2-2 on the game we were going to finish on and decided we needed a winner. I forget the specifics (One of the curses of playing 7 times is remembering any specific game, not that I ever remember anything well…), but it was Stan that manages to win after I got eliminated very early in the last game. Congratulations to Stan, also curses, I’m supposed to win at my games! ^^.

Biblios

To finish up the evening, we changed to another short game, this time one Stan had recently picked up – Biblios (I’m jealous, Stan, was hoping to pick this up sometime ^^). This is a fast playing draft and auction game where players compete for sets in 5 categories, with the value of those sets being modified throughout the game.

Gameplay, naturally, consists of player turns. Each turn, the current player draws (2+#Players) cards from the deck (One by one! Not all at once), deciding as he does whether to put the drawn card in his own hand, into the auction pile, or face-up for the other players to pick from (You have to do the ‘to self’ or ‘auction’ once only, with the rest going to other players, who take turns clockwise to choose one to go into their hands.

This continues until the deck runs out, at which point the auction phase begins. Now players take turns to reveal the top card from the auction pile (Which is shuffled I think), then in clockwise order bid in increments of 1 until everyone passes – the winner pays up (Money is on some cards, so you should have gotten some via the draft phase) and takes the card into their hand. This continues until the deck runs out (Or, presumably, players run out of money).

At this point, players hands are revealed, and they take the dice for any set they have majority value of cards in (I should totally have mentioned the dice first). The dice, which begin numbered 3 each, change in value over the game when players get ‘+/-‘ cards (Which have to be played immediately) which increase/decrease dice values by 1 when used. It’s a bit of a trade off how you use them in game, between boosting the values of the ones you think you have majority in, and nerf-batting the ones you don’t have.

Again, I’m not sure how to describe our game, but I intended from the start to go for blue (I forget the thematic ‘what it actually was’) cards (Because blue). I also planned to pick up a second (Regardless of dice-value) hoping that even if they got value-reduced I might have enough points for a win. By the end of the draft phase, I’d ended up with tons of ‘brown’ cards and money, but I was clearly losing the blue race to player X. Stan had 1 or 2 more of the ‘skull’ cards than me too, of which I was unfortunately well aware.

Fortunes changed in the auction round. At first, it was feeling a tad dire, and I was just trying to push up prices for others rather than actually win bids. Soon though, some blue cards that had been thrown in came up, and…well I lost the first couple as I wasn’t willing to bid enough. Soon though, player X ran out of money! More blues came up, and I nabbed them at low prices determined only by Stan, who was more interested in other cards, and as it turned out, I managed to slip into the lead for blue by 1 point!

In the end, I won 2 dice, Player X won 1, and Stan won two. Mine were the highest values (I think player X was pushing up the blue expecting to win them), and I got the final win for the evening, making it one each (X in palaces, Stan in coup, and myself in Biblios). Fantastic!

I really enjoyed all the games played, although Biblios/Coup more so than Palaces, and would happily play again. In fact I think despite my usual ‘avoid duplicates’ rule I may have to pick up biblios some-day as it has the rare feature of being auction-heavy but fun anyway. Huzzah =-)

Friday – UoBTT, 10th

Last Friday I went along again to the University of Birmingham TableTop society. Not that I’m even a student…or have officially joined the society this year (Silly guild of students, changing to a digital system making it awkward for external members =P). Besides, I can get away with it, otherwise people get stuck with only the society’s games every week ;P.

So, I took along Last Will, Among the Stars & Legacy: Gears of Time as bigger options, and Coup, Jaipur and Boss Monster as small ones (Not that I particularly want to play the latter, but it would be good fun for the guys that go along and play munchkin I think). It didn’t seem like there’d be much time after I got there for anything long, so I suggested we play a few rounds of Coup then went to get a drink.

On my way back, Grace called on Skype and we had a wonderful conversation, cheering me up a treat and leaving me with a cheesy as all hell smile on my face, er…Ok so that meant I didn’t get coup taught =-) They seemed to be managing ok learning it from the rules when I got back though, and we shortly headed to the Learning Centre (the ‘later’ venue for tabletop, for when the guild has an event on).

Coup + Reformation

On arrival, we had a ton of people outside of games, and again it seemed that I had the only games to be played (Aside from the ‘I won’t play anything but this one game over and over and over’ CCG crowd). Rather than try to split to 2 groups like the week before, I grabbed Coup, which with the expansion I got as part of the kickstarter, reformation, goes up to 10 players.

So what’s different with reformation? Well, 10 identical cards…and that’s about it. Each card has a red (Loyalist) and blue (Reformist) side, indicating allegiance. You are only allowed to attack/steal from players of the other team, which at the start of the game is just alternated between players. There’s also 2 additional actions, ‘switch allegiance’ for 1 coin, and ‘switch another players allegiance’ for 2 coins, both of which are pretty self-explanatory ^^.

This changes the game a remarkable amount! Suddenly on top of trying to bluff roles and work out other players roles, you have an added component of managing the teams to work in your favour. Perhaps an opposing player has 10 coins (10+ coins forces a coup), you might change your team so you’re not a target, or change their team so he has to take out a seconds before teammate. This is really nice in the higher player counts as it gives you a bit of focus (Although it does add to the play-time), although when you’re down to 3 can be a bit frustrating to manage. (2P it doesn’t matter, as when there’s only 1 team, they descend into in-fighting anyway, whereas 3P swapping someone’s team to make someone attack them is…annoying).

We had a ton of fun, playing a couple of games with 8 players, then having Dwayne join making it a 9-player game (Up to 5 of each role! Quite amusing when you’re convinced noone has a card because 4 of that role are already dead…but they do of course ^^). Very awesome, and I’d probably have played more but a couple of people seemed to want to switch to something else, and I wanted to oblige rather than pushing people away.

Among the Stars

We went with Among the Stars at Bens request (Well, requests, must have asked 10 times over the night =P), and I planned to get a game taught to the other half from the coup game. Unfortunateley they opted to leave instead/play yu-gi-oh, so I went back for teaching the last board game of the evening to the 5 other players.

Among the Stars, one of my absolute favourite games, is a card-drafting game where players are building space stations through placement of square cards adjacent and spreading out from their ‘Main Reactor’. The aim is to gain the highest reputation (Alright fine, victory points) by the end of four years.

Each year, players draw 6 cards from the deck (Which is a paaaaain to set up). They then take 6 turns, simultaneously, each turn using 1 card from those in hand and passing the rest clockwise to the next player. They either build the card (location) chosen by paying its’ cost and placing it in their station, or discard it for an action – Build a Reactor for 1 credit (For power cubes which some locations require), or Gain 3 Credits.

The next year, they repeat the same but change direction of passing. After 4 years the game ends and scored are tallied. Some cards throughout are scored immediatey (Those with a ‘white’ background on the text), and some are scored at the end of the game (Those with a ‘yellow’ background). Which is optimal varies from game to game, and even year to year (Its’ a very tactical game, rather than strategic), also depending on what you’re aiming for with the objectives (#players objectives are placed faceup in the middle of the table, and give bonus points to a player that can manage it (Such as ‘most military locations’).

Each player also has a unique race, giving them a special ability of some kind. Some of these are plain-right annoying to deal with so I avoid using them (Such as getting to look through a pile of cards outside of the turns, so everyone has to wait while someone sits their with analysis paralysis, ‘fun’), but are otherwise great fun and a nice differentiator to the game leading to differing tactics (For example in our game, Dwayne made good use of his hythian ability of having stronger power reactors to spam powerful military locations).

Not much for me to say about our actual game. I tried to aim for end-game scoring cards (Such as ‘1 point per 3 locations’, ‘1 point for the least number owned of red or blue locations’, etc), one player went all out for immediate abilities despite their being an objective for most delayed (His racial power was to have another hidden objective, and he’d chosen most immediate knowing he’d easily net it). In the end, at the bequest of Jay, we finished early on the 3rd round, totally screwing me out of catching up (A slew of cards that power up from having more cards in your station is awkward when you finish with 25% less cards than you should have!), aaand…I forget who won, though I think both Dwayne/Immediate-Location Spamming Guy did well.

Everyone seemed to have fun though, and that was the important thing (Although really, we could so have played on the 4th round…we didn’t actually get kicked out of the room and the group of ’em that kept pestering us to finish because of time stayed another 20+ minutes, the cheek!). Looking forward to going along this week, its’ awesome having another games evening to go to, so I hope they continue staying late! (Towards the end of the uni-year I go less because well..it sucks to go 30 minutes out of my way to realise noone’s actually left to play games ^^).

Weekend

I didn’t do a whole lot this weekend, aside from spend a chunk of money for no apparent reason, and mostly fail at organizing things. Saturday got used up partly by helping my Dad a bit with some heavy jobs he had to do that are too much to do safely alone. Alongside that I had to get my car to the garage, as on Friday, my engine warning light turned on. The trip to the garage cost £50 to have them plug in a cable and go ‘yeah, the sensor turned it on’ and surmise that nothing was actually wrong, with them also adding a £15 charge to put some ‘fuel cleaning’ stuff in which does nothing, and reset the sensor. (Which tripped again on Monday morning…yay, probably got to spend ~£100 now to replace the sensor, fun times).

I tried to organise a games evening after that, as a friend had suggested we meet to do RP but not everyone could make it. Neither Chris turned out to be available, Dave decided he had other things to do (I.e. doesn’t like board games), and by the time I got replies from Ian/Stan which were along the lines of ‘Can do it at Ians’ (Partly my houses fault for murdering phone signal) it was a bit late to bother, and ended up playing League of Legends online most of the eve with Ken (And watching Doctor Who, cool episode, although why isn’t Clara dead yet damnit).

Sunday went by with me doing even less, which is cool by me because well…Sunday. I did message a couple of friends and Emma replied that she was up for doing something, but had to be done in time for Sunday Dinner. I had offered to head over to harborne, but she came to Solihull instead where I possess paraffin, fire staves & fire poi to have fun with! It wasn’t really dark enough, but great fun to play with my fire stuff again (Albeit slightly terrifying, massive balls of flame are scary when you’ve not done it in a while ^^).

After near an hour of that, we went inside to talk about board games a bit. Emma mentioned that her boyfriend has Relic which they’ve played a bit, and was interested in getting some games to change things up a little. I find it really fun to talk about the games I have (I mean c’mon, when you spent a ton of money on a hobby you get attached ^^), and gave a brief overview of some games I have, and we grabbed a few to take downstairs and play. There wasn’t time before Emma shot off for her nice dinner, but we did get a partial game of concept and half game of Forbidden Island in which was a great deal of fun

It was really nice having a friend I don’t see often over on Sunday, and reminds me I should make more effort to try and make meetups with friends happen more often, even if I have to drive to their house to do so ^^. The only problem with not actually leaving the house is my phone got no signal all day until I moved it near the windowsill to charge, when I found out Lee was in Birmingham and I could have got him over too! Dang ^^.

TLDR: Started off sketchy, but turned out to be an awesome Weekend =-)

Halesowen Board Gamers & UoB Tabletop Society…& Pathfinder…& Afternoon Play (01/10 – 05/10)

I hope you’re ready for a super-lazy post…I just haven’t found time to flesh out some stuff so there’s a mix of ‘written up’ and ‘drafted’ stuff here…But its’ got to get posted sometime and this is getting on 2-3 weeks old of a post…

Wednesday – Halesowen

On Wednesday 1st, I took a recently received game along to Halesowen, Xia: Legends of a Drift System. I kickstarted this sandbox space game a while back, interested in having an epic-scale ‘Heres a space-ship, go have fun’ style game, particularly one that’s not just ‘There’s a space-war, ’cause reasons’. The games designer Cody was so enthusiastic throughout the campaign, and so dedicated, that I had absolute trust in his delivery of something great.

Its’ a tad over a week since the game and I can’t remember it properly, but we played with 4 of us. Ian stormed off to an early lead, but made a fatal mistake when he pushed into a corner of the map away from the planets trying to do missions/exploring, and lost the energy he needed to get back. Myself/mark followed similar trade/mission strategies & I kind of forget what the last player was up to (I think it was Steve, sorry I should really remember!). I was struggling early on, but after I managed to get a few upgrades on my ship I started following the merchants trade route and trying to pick up any mission that I could do without going too far off course. This turned out to work wel, with my taking the win!

Aaand laziness time, in the rest of the game, Ian managed to screw himself by going way too far away from the planets and de-energizing himself in a nebula, and I managed to catch up then jump into the lead for a win by a mix of trading/missions. Hoorah =p

Friday – UoB TT

On Friday, seeing as the new year at Uni has started, I figured that the tabletop society  would be continuing late into the evening, and decided to make my way over after work. I miss going along, but its’ a gamble as to whether people stay late enough and it often isn’t worth the wasted journey, but sometimes its’ nice to try ^^.

In any case, I took along a load of games (Xia, DoW, Belfort, AtS, Voluspa, Hanabi, etc..) to make sure I had something to interest a variety of people, parked way too far away (~20 minute walk, ok so not that bad…but heavy bags!) and went in to find a pretty darn full room of gaming taking place, hooray! Can’t say I did much for the first hour or so asides from food & conversation, but it was nice to be around fun people I don’t see often as well as meeting some of the new first years. I did have a quick game of Hanabi with Ben, which we won getting to 18 points, but (curse you fab) we had to vacate the building at 8, and headed to the learning centre to get into an actual game.

So, upon seeing I had Dead of Winter a couple of people (Ben, Ellis) had expressed interest in playing, so we got that out immediately at our new venue. Noone else had games with them (Aside from some playing tcg’s on the other side of the room) so I also got Hanabi out for the 5 people not in DoW.

Of course, noone knew how to play, except for Ben as I’d played a little while before, but he was in the Dead of Winter game… ^^. I ended up giving about a 1 minute very rushed hanabi explanation before moving back to teach Dead of Winter which was going to take much longer. Perhaps surprisingly, the hanabi table ‘seemed’ to know what they were doing from there on (I forgot to mention..the rulebook is in german =P), so hooray ^^.

Oh jeez…I would have stopped there when writing this one… I remember we had a lot of fun with the game, one of the more energetic experiences I’ve had with it even! We turned out to have no traitor, and were able to succeed at the main objective of the game. I have absolultely no idea what my secret objective or anyone elses were…left it too long to write this up!

Saturday – Pathfinder

Group headed to glassworks, Handy the priest introduced and comes along. Seen by public, but left to it after they saw the horrors inside and fetched the town guard. Few of them left so left to adventurer’s to look within. Party breaks in around the beach side and goes straight to the death-room. Easily despatch goblins, and tsuto albeit slower.

Then they head town into the tunnels and find the catacombs. Handy nearly dies so they reset and go in again. More success this time, then they turn immediately toward the end-dungeon room. Get there ok and win easily against elysium, partly as they 2 shot the sinspawn and partly as I forgot to make her invisible.

They win and clear out the rest of the place, getting a couple nice things from the levitation room. Other things are handled quickly, including handy channelling energy to mass-kill the zombies. All a success and the scenario ends. (Yeah that’s right…this was a half-arsed one too, deal with it =P)

Coup

So um…then we played Coup 6 times. What? You want me to tell you how it went…no =P I won about half of them, the last game being the most fun as I lied through the entire game about my characters ^^. Really glad my friends enjoyed it!

Sunday – Afternoon Play

– Before you die, mr bond…
I guess if I was in the right mood it could be fun, but this is a bland game with some push your luck and a vague attempt at humour.

– Love Letter
First time played in a while, played a ton of rounds as were playing to 4 points with 4 players, which is a tad long for my preference (As that means up to 13 rounds which it wasn’t far off, good or not, the same thing 13 times over is lame)
– Pandemic
Also first time in a while. Had a blast jumping around the research stations. We lost being 1 action short of curing the last disease (Last player had the 5 cards required and had the last turn, but…aaah so close).
– Android: Infiltration

Pretty cool sounding in principal, but not a huge fan of the synchronous play in this one as it can mean one person doing something and the other not. I ran ahead just so I wasn’t sharing a location with everyone, never even managed to get many tokens from doing so, and got trapped in the building having achieved nothing. Meh.

– Dead of Winter
Finally, by request, DoW. We ran the ‘We need more samples’ scenario, and did it easily, though I had no chance doing my objective as others just spammed survivors and well..screwed myself helping out (Such as making noise to find a tool to fix a crisis rather than keeping the outsider I had drawn). Fun game, but ack..I so rarely win.

Halesowen Board Gamers #24 (24/09/14)

At the start of the evening, I set up Village with full intent of playing it, as I’ve had it since the UK Games Expo and am yet to get it to the table. My plans got ruined and village got shoved back again however, as Stan turned up with Gluck Auf (Coal Baron) which I’ve been wanting to play for a while!

Coal Baron

Coal Baron is a fairly light worker placement game about, unsurprisingly, mining and selling coal. The game takes place over three rounds with an accelerated scoring mechanism, after which the player with the most victory points wins. After the first round, scores are based on goods in completed orders, then after the second its’ goods on completed orders + goods/completed transport, and in the 3rd round its’ both of those, and scoring for emptied mine sections of each type of coal. You also get some Victory Points immediatey on completing orders, and a few modifications at the end (£5>1VP, 3 unused coal >1VP, -1VP/Uncomplete order, -2VP/imbalance).

In each round, players take turns to place workers, from a pool of 13 for each player, represent chunks of time. (Or more in smaller player count games, we were running 4P). Using a space uses one worker, or, if another players workers are there, then the number of workers they’ve used +1 (Kicking them to the canteen, where they’re unavailable till next round, although they’ve already done their job so no worry!).

Each player has an individual player board, consisting of a 4 level mine shaft, and two sides, lit and unlit. This has an elevator in the middle which slides up and down to move coal around, which occurs by taking a main-board action giving you X action points to do so (Spent like ‘1 to move up or down any number of spaces, 1 to transfer coal to or from the cart to anywhere on that level). Players add to this board over time by buying mine tiles from the main board, and placing them on their respective lit/unlit side at their level (The deeper the coal, the more expensive it is).

Other things players can do:
– Take orders (1 at a time)
– Fullfill Orders (All of 1 transport type, of 4)
– Gain Money

Anyway, I think that was an awful explanation but hopefully you get the gist! The worker mechanism is particular is very clever, as it has you checking how many workers you have left, and whether you can afford to get the coal for one more order, as you’ll run out of workers to fill if someone else takes the space…

Early game I went for a bit of a rush on yellow coal (Forgot to mention, it goes yellow, brown, grey, black in ascending value), hoping to get an easy hold on it for ongoing points while then shifting to focus other things. I also planned to go for trucks as transport (For scoring in the second round), but Stan beat me to it and slipped easily ahead. Maté went for trains and black coal, getting a neat monopoly on both, looking very good with them being the highest scoring things in their categories (Best scoring coal, best scoring transport). I forget what transport type Mike went for (Carts maybe?) in the early game, but he certainly got lots of carts later.

The first round went by fairly simple, and I dropped into the back on points with my petty yellow coal scoring and cheap orders. Going into the second round Maté was in a good place with the train scoring coming up, and I took a few train orders to deny him (3 orders to his 3, as we didn’t realise it was to do with quantity of cubes shipped/transport rather than number of cards fulfilled), and spent the round trying to fill those. I also picked up my first black coal order, with horses as transport, and got the carts to fulfill that, but ran out of time to finished maneuvring it around my mine as I had to get the train ones shipped.

The rule we misunderstood was in my favour, with my 3 completed train orders I’d shipped 8 cubes to Maté’s ~4, netting me a ton of points for winning on train orders shipped. Noone scored horses as Maté perhaps inadvisably decided to wait until the 3rd round to finish a number of orders he had for them. Stan got trucks scored again and Mike carts, while scoring for filled order cubes went similarly, Maté on black by a mile, myself for yellow, grey/brown…um, stuff. After this second round I’d stepped into the lead if I remember correctly, although not by much.

In the last round, I aimed to get into second place on horse fulfillments (Maté filled 4 orders by horse so I had no chance of 1st, but 2nd place scores a few points too), and then concentrated on mining for yellow/brown coal for the last rounds scoring of ‘For each empty mine space/type’ – I was winning yellow easily, and Brown by a small amount too – Both were the lower scoring, but still higher than any previous rounds scoring criteria.

In the last round I was able to score most yellow filled, most by train, and most empty yellow/brown spaces, and I also denied Maté a few points by matching his empty grey spaces (He was second in it, and tying pushes us both to ‘3rd’ which is 0 points). I forget the exact amounts each person scores, but Mike/Stan were looking very close, and Maté managed to finish in second place about 10 points back (So it was probably reasonable that I made an extra ~4 point difference with the denial move). Through the power of deduction, you can work out that I won, hooray!

I found Coal Baron to be a very fun game, and one that felt ‘complete’ despite its’ short length. I don’t know that I’d want to play it over and over, but I’m very glad Stan brought it along to show us. I would really like to see the placement mechanism used in a heavier game where there might be more promise of variation from game to game.

Santiago

To follow up from Coal Baron, Mike suggested one of his games to fit into the ~hour we had left of the evening, Santiego. I was hoping to try out Taj Mahal or Village, but there wasn’t really enough time left for either so we went with that suggestion ^^.

The game is played around a rondel (I think). A little wooden car is moved around the action spaces track, and where it stops is what actions are available. Movement is free for 1 space in a turn, but you have to pay money to advance it further around the track to obtain the actions you want.

The standard abilities for each space (Which are randomly placed out so each game would have a different order of abilities to access) are fairly simple, ‘take a couple of cubes’, ‘gain 2VP’, etc, but they also have a coloured flower in one of 4 colours. Across the top of the board are 12 locations, 3 for each colour, which provide more unique actions. When you use the normal space you also move your meeple onto a tile of matching flower colour for an extra effect (Although it has to be unoccupied).

The spaces of those extra things range from gaining money, to changing boat dice to their 0 side, to disabling a building for a round. One of the normal actions lets you ‘seize control’ of one of these special spaces, and this makes it such that each time another player uses that space, you gain 1VP.

But wait, I mentioned a boat. Well, the driving force behind this game is that there’s a cargo boat with randomized demands for the goods you’re gathering. 5 dice (6-Sided but numbered 0-3 or 0-4) are rolled each time it empties, one for each different resource in the game, and 4 of these are placed on the boat to display demand (So there’s always one thing in 0 demand). The last space around the rondel (Before it jumps back to the start through, presumably, witchcraft, as its’ over a bay) is to fulfill demand, and has players take turns giving up to 1 type or resource at a time for VP (Which are 2-4 per good, based on a chart that fluctuates over the game based on what people are doing).

That’s about the game. After 7 shipments of the boat, the game ends and players reveal their scores (You keep resources/scores behind a little cardboard screen, so they’re unknown till this point (Although they’re trackable information if anyone can be bothered).

I’ve got to be honest, this didn’t appeal to me. First of all was the theme, as I’m just not remotely interested in gathering and delivering tobacco and cigars, but also the rondel mechanic. The first time I encountered it was with milestones, and as I recall I found that to be a fun game, but it was the spatial element of how you spread the roads that intrigued me and that was what felt like the core thing. Here, the rondel seems to take the stage, and…bleh, I don’t think I like the mechanic of paying to skip past crap all the time.

The game went pretty smoothly though, and the other 3 at the table (Maté, Mike & Stan) seemed to enjoy it. I seemed to end up with lots of resources and never had anything to do with them, Mike hoarded lots (Apparently, I mean I don’t know what he had but he commented he had too much stuff quite frequently ^^), Maté seemed to have a balance, and seemed to leave me with nothing useful to do a lot.

By the end of the game, I was assuming Mike was in the lead as he seemed to take VP’s a lot (But they were always small amounts), but on the last turn Maté got a ship fulfillment of 4 oranges for 3VP each for 12 points (Over half my score) leaping him way out ahead. Scores were along the lines of 30-something for Mr. Orange, late twenties for Mike & Stan, and 21 for myself.

I think its’ a clever game, but not one for me, and I think I’ll steer clear of any game with a ‘rondel’ core mechanism in the future. (Although as a secondary mechanic I’m sure that it’s fine).

Won one, Lost one, good evening =-)

Halesowen Games Day #2

I’ve just finished writing up last wednesdays games night too…but seeing as this post is crazy long already I’ll post it separately ^^.

On the 20th September, the halesowen board gamers group I attend held an all (Well, most of the) day event in the usual venue. Which of course I was more than happy to head along to!

That wasn’t the first games-related thing I did with the day though. The 4th edition of Space Hulk, for which pre-orders ran dry in all of half a day, was released to stores on that day. Unfortunately it was out of my ‘available money’ range, but a friend wanted it who’d missed on the pre-order, and I offerred to pick it up (It just gets so much ‘omg that’s my grail game’ on bgg I really want to try it!).

I was able to snag the only available copy (Well, they had 8 but 7 were tied to pre-orders!), so headed to Chris’ for a bit to open it up ahead of going to halesowen. I have to say, the components for that thing are absolutely beautiful, with super thick tiles/tokens and embossed artwork, very cool! As the models had to be put together and I was late already for halesowen, I headed on my way, but I am so looking forward to giving it a shot sometime ^^.

On arrival, everyone was unsurprisingly already in games. To accomodate people like myself turning up off-schedule there was some short games happening, and I soon got in on a table where we broke out Hanabi, which I’d brought along.

Hanabi

If you don’t know Hanabi, then tough, as its’ really hard to explain in text! To give a general idea, its’ a cooperative deduction card game where players are trying to pull off a successful firework display by playing 5 colours of cards in successive values to try and hit 17 or more. Oh, and you hold your hand facing away, so you have no idea what you have unless someone gives you information, which is rather limited!

Considering we had a new player (Or 2, I forget), it went really smoothly, and after a slow start on playing the 1’s we got a pretty good score of 20 points. We were playing with the ‘bonus round’ variant I tend to teach (You carry on playing when the deck runs out, but may no longer give clues), and that went better than the last couple times too. (It can be a bit slow and painful if people struggle with the deduction aspect (You can work out your exact hand at the end as all cards except yours are visible).

To follow up, Mike suggested Bohnanza, sticking to the ‘short games so that latecomers can easily jump in’ theme.

Bohnanza

Bohnanza is another game with odd ‘your hand of cards’ rules. In Bohnanza, you are not permitted to rearrange your hand of cards. You always play from one end, and draw into the other. The objective is to gain coins, which you do by planting lots of the same crop in one of your two fields. There’s a catch though. At the start of each turn you must plant the first card in your hand, and if you ever try to plant a type of bean not already in a field, you must rip up one of your fields to make space (Which might score it, but might not, or might get you less points than if you could keep it one more round).

Well, that all sounds very random and not much fun, but wait! The thing that makes this game fun is that on a players turn, all other players can trade with them. 2 cards go face-up on the table to choose from, and other players can either trade for those or cards in your hand (Anywhere in your hand!) so you can remove the nasty things that will ruin a big combo by giving it to someone else…but potentially helping them too much in the process. This is fantastic, as it forces cooperation if you want to win, but makes it really hard to make trades as you don’t want to give someone too many nice things!

This was my, I think, 3rd time playing the game, and having only had my standard 2 fields and getting screwed a bit by it before went straight for a third. (You can buy a 3rd field for 2 coins, but as coins are points, its’ a risk). This turned out to pay off as I got a hold of a cocoa bean, which are the smallest in quantity but best scoring (With 2 fields they’re a poor gamble, as you’re likely to get forced into ripping them up before they achieve anything, but I got to just sit on it half the game).

I’m not sure what else to say. Scores fluctuated a lot over the game, and while everyone seemed to think I was winning, the scores were actually extremely close. When it came to it, Myself and Mike had a tie situation, but unfortunately the tiebreak being most cards in hand gave it to Mike. 2 Players were at 14 (Mark/Player-4) and Player-5 at an unfortunate 12.

This Town Aint Big Enough

This is a tiny little game I picked up via kickstarter, which cost me a sum total of £ 2 ($3) (Well, £ 16 ($24), I got 8 copies ^^). It’s a tile laying game, with 25 tiles, and the simple objective of ‘most victory points’ to win. When a ‘corral’ is completed by being fenced in, it locks in place and in order of which players colour has most corrals to least, players score points equal to the next lowest number of corrals (E.g. Blue has 3, Red has 2 & Green has 2, so Blue scores 2, red/green score 0!)

It’s pretty fast playing and we slipped it in while we were waiting for food that we’d ordered. I think everyone had fun (More than you might expect for £2 of game), and myself and Mike tied again…and he won the tiebreaker, again. Twice in a row!

Dead of Winter

For the next game, we had a few of us (Myself, Gordon, Mike, Steve) looking to choose a game, and as Gordon made a comment about how he should get out of his euro-comfort zone more often, I suggested Dead of Winter, which is quite ameritrash but with more decisions than most games I’ve played in the genre.

I’m sure I’ve talked about how Dead of Winter works fairly recently, so I’ll save you the explanation ^^. On Saturday we played a scenario (I forget the name) which er…Actually I didn’t like from the moment I read it. The first bit was ok, to win we needed to have no more than 3 zombies across all non-colony locations. The second bit though, was that if we exiled a player, they get removed from the game, instead of just being exiled like usual. Great…player elimination, the most “fun” mechanic ever.

The first few rounds we didn’t achieve too much, mostly just holding on while trying to gather guns and equipment to help us clear the hordes safely, while managing our food and crisis requirements on the side. I got myself a bit stuck by sending myself to the grocery store for food, which didn’t help the objective but at least kept us fed!

A bit further in, I decided to move for my secret objective. I needed a couple of books to attach to a survivor, so I opted to move to the library. So, I moved my character, aaaand then I got bitten, dead character one! Well, I still had 2 survivors and still wanted to complete my secret objective, so I moved another one…and got bitten again. I suspect there was a large group of zombies moving by the library, so my third survivor didn’t repeat the mistake!

Mike was kind enough to pass me an extra survivor to bring me back to 2, and to help the colony I used the opportunity to get a character into the library. A turn after that I picked up another survivor from an outsider card I got myself, and sacrificed Mike’s surviver-gift to gain a morale (Because y’know, noone liked the Mall Santa so removing him gains morale ^^).

In the last couple of rounds we played, we made great strides towards clearing up the town, killing swathes of zombies and barricading the locations back up for safety. We got to the right number of remaining zombies (Aside from needing to roll a couple noise tokens which may/may-not have screwed us anyway) aaand Steve threw all his survivors at a location so that half of them died, dropped morale to 0, ended the game and gave him the win.

So when I said at the start that I didn’t think I’d like this scenario? I was right. Now, admittedly Steve kept himself well hidden, only screwing a crisis near the end and revealing on the very last turn, but also the scenario had made it so I didn’t want to exile even if I could, I just have no desire to eliminate players. Furthermore, although he killed the game in one turn, he had a double-turn to come too and could have really screwed things up even if we were doing far better on morale.

I don’t know, perhaps I’m just bitter about losing, but…what the hell plaid hat, why does that mission exist in the slew of fun ones =-(.

As an aside, I’m thinking of doing a slight houserule next game. 1st player will rotate clockwise, and each round the first player gets an extra turn at the end. It means someone gets 2 turns to potentially betray the group, but they’re spread out, and if they’re obvious at the start of the round then they could be exiled before their second turn. It’ll also make the game easier as we’ll get an extra turn/round, so might reduce the starting morale to compensate. Will have to see how it goes ^^.

Carcassonne

I think everyone’s probably familiar with Carcassonne that’s reading this. If not, its’ a tile-laying game where you draw and place 1 tile each turn, then may place a meeple on one of the 4 features on the tiles, which when they ‘complete’ return the meeple and score points. Whoever gets the most points at the end wins.

I don’t have much to say about our game, except that fairly early on 3 of us cooperatively made a very large city which the 4th player couldn’t block, and that I basically forced a large field with a road-ending cloister early on. As the subject of player counts came up, I mentioned how me/Grace don’t enjoy the game too much as fields always score so much as to pale anything else into insignificane, and decided to go all in for the large field while I was thinking of it.

In the end we had a tie on the field between myself and, I think, Gordon. I was ahead oh him however as I’d been in that large city at the start and he wasn’t ^^. I leaped into 1st place on points, for a, to be honest, quite surprising win considering I’ve not played a huge amount and I was going ridiculously heavy on trying to take the field ^^.

Snowdonia

Our next game of the evening was ‘Snowdonia’, suggested by & taught by Dave [] to myself and Steve. This is a worker placement game, with the twist that while competing for points, you are thematically building a railroad together, along with the game itself, an ‘ai’ of sorts.

Players take turns placing workers on various spaces in the game, to gather resources (Ore, Stone, Coal), clear rubble, convert resources (ore > steel, rubble > stone), obtain contracts/a train, and advance their surveyor. Actions vary a little in strength, as the ‘weather’ changes over a game, with more getting done when sunny, less in rain, and none in fog (A card is drawn at the end of each turn determining the upcoming weather 2 turns down the line). Weather also drives how fast the game runs itself, so good weather = faster game.

I’m not sure what to say about our game, as for me it lacked that feeling of players driving what happens thanks to the automated-events mechanic. In general, Dave seemed to try and get his surveyor round (Often using 1 of the only 2 initial workers each to do so), Steve got a lot of ore/iron (For a train, which asides from a special ability is how you can get a 3rd worker), and I tried to clear rubble and build stations around the track.

One of the biggest negative things that hit me in the game was early on, I picked up a train, then immediately lost it by random-draw events happening to hit a once off that requires you pay 1 iron or lose your train. I trudged on but…why did that need to be possible in the games design? Unimpressed.

In the event, the game finished in less time than what I’m told is usual, thanks to unnaturally sunny weather for Wales (Almost 100% Sun building an entire railroad), which had the games auto-completion in overdrive. Steve won with 30-something points to my/dave’s 20-something scores. It was kind of anti-climactic, and to be honest, I don’t want to play again even if it does go longer. Cool idea…but falls flat for me this time =(

Lost Legacy

The final game played of the day was a couple of rounds of Lost Legacy. This is a fairly simple deduction card game with players taking turns to ‘draw 1/play 1’ with 1 card hands (So 2 to choose from each turn), aiming to survive the round and find the ‘lost legacy card. Round survivors get an ‘investigation’ round, where in order of lowest remaining card to highest, players get to guess where they believe the lost legacy is, if right, they win.

Anyway, we played a couple of games to finish off the night. If I remember correctly I won the first as I got the legacy in hand but noone had a lower numbered card to beat me in the investigation phase. I lost the second, but forget who won out of Mark/Dave.

Caravan 5th to 9th September!

So a couple of weeks ago I went on holiday with 4 of my awesome friends to Wales, where we spent absolutely 0 time admiring Wales and hung about in a Caravan playing games. It was absolutely fantastic, with each of us running an RP (Well, except Ken, who unfortunatley didn’t get to run ‘Everyone is John’ this time) and playing board games, drinking and generally chilling in between. So…my account…

Hackmaster

The first RP we played at the yearly RP weekend was a one-shot run by Chris (Shakespeare). The system chosen was hackmaster, although as I understand it was basic or cut-down rules, which left out some of the fun-sounding ‘what-goes-wrong’ tables that are in the full version.

I forget if there was a reason for our group to have been together as adventurers (Myself, a Dwarf Fighter, Tom a Halfling Rogue, Ken a Mage & Dave as…damn…I think he was a cleric, or a bard…um…Support). In any case, we were approached by a group of merchants in the town who were missing a shipment of important goods, and worried that something had happened to the caravan that was due. They were prepared to offer a tasty sum of money (50 silver) for the recovery of the stuff they were after (Which they were desperatey in need of, as their trades depended on it). One of the merchants, brave as a mouse, had gone looking himself, but came home after discovering a dead body some 5 miles up the road, for fear of being attacked himself.

Naturally we took the job (It would be an awkward one-shot RP if we didn’t), and headed on our way. We found the caravan with little effort, and there was a lot more than 1 dead body! The guards and merchants had all been slain, and a quick search revealed very little if not absolutely none of the goods we were hoping to retrieve. The carts had all been trashed, but we did find a trail heading off into some nearby woodland.

Tracing it back, we discovered the cart only to be set upon by a great and terrible foe! Er…sorry I mean a wolf-pack (Although wolves are pretty tough!). We managed to hold ourselves in check, with the wolves running off into the distance after a few rounds, avoiding any of their own getting too badly or dying, but fortunately saving us in the process (As well…they’d probably have won overall, albeit losing a member or two of their pack). This was a cool showcase of the combat system in hackmaster, where the GM counts through the seconds and its’ up the player to interupt with what they do on the right counts, or miss out/be late to act. Weapons have various speeds associated so you might be acting every few seconds or every 10.

In any case, we surmised it was unlikely that the wolves had killed the guards with arrows and dragged one of the carts into the forest, so continued on our search, following some tracks we’d found leading away to, it turned out, a lake. The prints went up around the north, but we could also see a pleasant cottage to the South (Which we were sure to confirm with Chris was not in fact a gingerbread house, phew). Tom, our rogue, headed off to the North to check things out, while the rest of us paid the cottage a visit.

Sorry…tried to pay the cottage a visit. We came across an apple tree on the way, which while it seemed unassuming, had a trap set and led to a basket of snakes falling atop my head. Being a fighter I had some hefty armour on and they had no chance biting through to my skin, so I chucked them in the lake (More controversial than my stocky warrior was expecting, the party being shocked I’d do such a thing…but snakes can swim, right?). Continuuing on to the cottage we had a short chat with a nice old lady who seemed uninvolved and totally oblivious to their being some creatures going around ransacking caravans nearby. On being asked about the North side of the lake she just hinted she avoided going there due her late husband warning her against the area. We bid her farewell and went to meet with Tom.

In his scouting, Tom had discovered a cave in the cliffside, just past a short section of beach. he could hear chatter from within, but in a language that was unrecognisable. It would seem we’d discovered our bandits, and we set about planning how to deal with them. Someone suggested we try to provoke them into a foolish attack, so I moved up and threw a stone (Someone elses suggestion…although yeah…I did go with it), which they heard and stopped chattering to briefly before continuing. I let out a great bellow in the hope of them coming to see what was going on, but it was just met by further silence.

Not particularly wanting to head into the cave now that I’d just told them we were there, we retreated a little and set up camp a bit into the forest, taking turns to keep watch on the uneventful night. Come the Morning, we planned to sneak into the cave and try to catch the bandits by surprise, which was going fine, until our “sneaky” rogue hit a tripwire (Like the one in the apple tree, to our total not-surprise), which had alarm bells ringing and bought our foes to swift attention.

I’ll admit that I was expecting…bigger..foes, but I guess the petty canine-like small bipeds that came out were mildly intimidating. Kobolds, as they were (Apparently they’re more lizard-like in later rpg’s, giving credence to their belief that they’re somewhat related to dragons). We didn’t have too much trouble taking them down (I totally didn’t nearly die or anything requiring Dave to save me…aaaaah). Half the time knocking them flying across the cave as we did so, due their small size (With one getting a couple-inch diameter hole burned through his head, nice Ken…nice). We found most of the food-items lost had been mostly eaten, but the majority of things were accounted for. The cave stank of piss, thanks to the containers that were keeping an artists lead in good condition having been emptied by the kobolds (Who I forgot to mention, thought was silver that we’d foolishly kept in wee).

The rest of the adventure was spent hauling the stuff back to the caravan the kobolds had dragged into the woods, (Including the leader who we’d taken prisoner). We got it back to the town with little effort, returning the items stolen to the various artisans of the area. Upon meeting with the main merchant for our reward, we were asked to accompany him to the nearby fort rannick where he could provide us with it (As to be fair, it would have been foolish for him to carry that much coinage around). Fade away as we walk into the distance…

Hanabi

Next up, seeing as we had a while till we’d want to sleep, I fetched Hanabi, a game I picked up recently in Germany. Hanabi is a cooperative card game with very simple rules. For each of 5 colours, play in order, the 1, 2, 3, 4 then 5 cards, and if the wrong card is played we lose a life (3 Lives). Of course…you hold your hand backwards, so you don’t have a clue what you’re holding.

To deal with that minor-mishap, players can give each other clues (Its’ cooperative remember, so you are trying to help each other or all your heads get chopped off by the emporer for the pitiful fireworks display). A clue costs a clue token (You start with 9 between you), and you can tell someone all the cards they have of a particular number, or colour (e.g. this and this are 2’s), but you must tell them everything, and are not allowed to emphasise your speech or suchlike (I.e. no shouting ‘THIS IS A 2’ then ‘and this one’ quiety!). The third action you can choose on a turn is to discard (So Play, Give Clue, or Discard) a card, which gives you back a clue token, but risks throwing away something important (There’s only one ‘5’ in each colour, so if you throw one away you can’t complete that colour).

The result is a very intriguing game where you’re trying to work out how to give information in the least amount of clues possible (Because otherwise people have to throw away cards and potentially ruin everything ^^). For example instead of pointing out to a player they have 2 3’s (A blue and a green), you could say they have a blue (Their only blue) because they can then infer that they should play it, etc etc…

I’m not sure what to say about our games, but the first one, the ‘learning’ game so to speak, we got our heads chopped, but got everyone into how the game works and how it flows. The second game I introduced the rainbow suit as I was feeling confident in our abilities (It counts as every colour, so if you’re telling someone about reds, you also point at the rainbow, i.e. you might then want to add ‘this is blue’ so they can realise the actual suit). This is a challenging difficult hike to throw at people, but we were able to pull off a successful play, and while it wasn’t the most fantastic display, we did avoid the emporer’s wrath this time!

I really enjoyed playing this with friends, as its’ a fantastic cooperative game, which eliminates the idea of an alpha-player as you’re totally reliant on the information of others. I think it was a great fit for an RP weekend to get people into the mood of relying on their team as much as trying to be a hero.

Mouseguard

On Saturday, it turned out to be Dave that was next up to run (We were drawing blind from a basket with our names in). Dave’s weapon of choice was mouseguard, and he gave us a set of pre-made characters to choose from. Sadly its’ not a game with mages (At least not for the game we played), so I went for an archer, Chris a very single-minded fighter, Ken another fighty-type character that deferred to Chris at types of danger, and Tom a scout, who was also my mentee.

I er…kind of forget what we were meant to be doing in this, but we went in search of a missing individual who was expecting to be between 2 towns, but was in wilderness somewhere that he could have taken many different routes. Three of us decided to try and work out where he was likely to have gone, with the other mice deferring to my opinion in the end, which left them with a debuff as they were a tad annoyed that their routes were disregarded.

We were fortunate enough to come across the cart with the, now dead, missing guy, without much difficulty, but…well, we found him to be dead. (I think he was a smuggler, with us finding proof of his illegit activities). It wasn’t long however before we heard something rustling in the bushes, and soon found ourselves faced with a snake, looking for dessert following the carnage that we now realised was caused by the snake.

Combat in mouse-guard is er…strange. Members of the fight split into teams, and their health becomes a pool, with them being a sort of joint attack/defend unit. Chris, Dave & Ken grouped with me on my own, staying back to pepper the fiend with arrows. In a turn of combat, one team fights the enemy, with each getting 3 attacks at the other. For the team of 3, this meant each got 1 attack, while the snake got 3 attacks vs their health pool. For me, I got 3 attacks to the snakes 3 attacks. It’s nice that players can be defensive and deal with low-health by pooling, but doesn’t really explain why I get 3 times as many attacks just for being on my own.

Anyway, a few strikes from our mighty weapons (Mighty for mice anyway…I guess =p) and the snake made the right decision and ran (slithered) away. All that was left to do was report back and the adventure was over.

I’m not sure how I feel about mouse-guard. I kind of like the idea, but without knowing any of the story of why we’re mice with weapons its’ just a bit odd. Plus I think I like systems with a bit of magic/technology thrown in, so just being a group of fighters was a shame. Was fun anyway, but because of good friends rather than a good system I think ^^.

Dread..Er, Almost.

Next up on the draw was Tom with an apparently Jenga based system (I’d bought along the Jenga tower, proudly!). I say apparently to try and represent the first-time impression when someone tells you its’ the core of an RP being run ^^. Character creation for it was a question-based affair, with a heavily templated set of questions which are designed to get you involved with your character and let you tweak it as you like.

I’m going to pause about there though, as er…I got quite stressed out with the affair. I can’t explain why, but being asked questions which felt personal but weren’t actually about me was something I found extremely uncomfortable and I had to leave the room for a while. On coming back the plan changed to tv/games until late.

After dinner was board games time, and we started with something a bit counter to the team-building exercise of hanabi – The Resistance. This is a team-based game, good vs bad (Or Government vs The Resistance, as you like). The good team (The resistance) are taking out missions against the government, but a third of the group (The bad team) are government spies, trying so sneak onto and sabotage the missions. 3 Successful missions and the good guys win, 3 failures and the bad guys win. One big caveat…the bad guys know who the other bad guys are, but the good guys know a whole load of nothing.

In our first game, me & Chris were spies. IIRC Dave was first as the team leader, and being on my right picked himself and me to go on the first mission (2-Man). Everyone approved (You all vote to approve/reject missions before they go ahead, if the vote fails leader-ship moves to the next player, but fail 5 votes in a row and the spies automatically win). Missions work by choosing a success or fail card (In secret) then shuffling the entries to the mission before revealing. Naturally I entered a success card along with Dave’s (Despite being a spy) to make myself look good later on.

The next leader was me, so I picked the other 3 players (Chris, Tom, Ken), which Chris promptly failed I think. Stuff then happened and we ended up 2:2, and the last mission being down to a good guy to pick the team. I got in on it, aaaand got the mission/discard pile confused so made it succeed…Oops. Win for the good guys I suppose (Unless you accept that it was a mistake).

For the next game the spies were…ahem, myself and Chris. We won properly this time ^^.

The third game was a false-starter, which would have been yet again me/chris as spies (Not fixed, I swear!), but Ken was a tit and opened his eyes too (Funnily enough, both me and Chris had only seen Ken’s eyes open, so he could have really screwed with us by keeping quiet, which fortunatey he didn’t ^^).

The actual third game was a wash…The 2 players on mission one happened to be good, and they picked themselves and 1 more for the next which was also a good guy, so me/Dave as spies didn’t even get to try and interact.

The fourth & final game I was finally a good guy! I copped Tom as a traitor as he screwed up a vote (Accepted a mission approval for 3 players. Seeing as there’s 3 good guys, you should always decline a mission that doesn’t have you on it, i.e. only a traitor would approve it). I think we still lost though as the other traitor was too hard to track down (I think it was Chris).

DrunkQuest

Finishing up Saturday we went with my ‘2-3 games a year maximum’ game, DrunkQuest. For anyone familiar with Munchkin, its’ similar, but you drink to fight rather than falling on pure luck of the cards. For those who aren’t familiar..

The game consists of a treasure deck and a monster deck (And a ships/realms/characters deck, but that’s just to give players unique abilities). At the start of the game, each player draws 7 random treasures to their hand. Players then take turns to fight monsters. To do so, a monster is drawn by the active player, then each player gets to play an action to affect it if they wish, finishing on the active player. They then can either run away (No treasures or level) or fight the monster, drinking its’ value plus whatever may have been added by actions along the way, to gain the treasures/levels the monster provides (Default 1 level, #treasures is printed on the card).

Gameplay continues like this until a player wins by reaching level 6. Throughout though, various instants get played (Such as ‘Silver – Choose a player, they take 2 drinks), effects (Vampirism – Player must talk like a vampire until they get rid of this card, if caught not speaking like a vampire, 5 drinks), and more. Everything is explained on the cards, which are fortunatey of a large jumbo size to make them handle-able while a tad inebriated.

The first game was the fastest we’ve ever played DrunkQuest, with a boss monster getting a ‘+1 level if defeated’ giving all players a huge boost (Everyone drinks on a boss, but also everyone gets the rewards). Ken got the win, and seeing as we still had plenty of alcohol, we inadvisably started game 2.

This second game was…um. I don’t really remember much except that I had Vampirism for a rather long time (Which eventually got cleansed by someone because I think they were sick of my awful attempt at the accept). Chris had seduced for a while (You have to quietly tell monsters you love them when they’re defeated), Ken had C.S.F. (Have to say meow at the start and end of every sentence), which later became contagious (So everyone had to also add meows’ until it got removed!). I’m afraid I was very drunk by the end of it so only the effects really stood out rather than the monster fighting ^^ (Which I hope there’s lots more of in future expansions ^^).

Got to be honest, DrunkQuest is the most fantastic drinking game I’ve ever come across ^^.

Dread

On Sunday, we opted for take 2 of getting Tom’s RP started. The other 3 players group answered the questions for my characters setup (Which I really appreciate, thankyou!) and we were able to get started.

The setting begun that we were on a summer camp and were a few days into the wilderness by river (So 10+ days hike if we were to try and walk back). At the camp, we hear a scream at night, and upon going to investigate find our guides tent ripped apart, and the guide mauled near to death. The only part of the guides body to be seemingly unaffected was around his neck, where a silver-necklace hung. My character, thanks to my (in-game) crazy romanian grandmother, immediately takes this as being that it’s clearly a werewolf, with the avoidance of the neck being due to the silver.

But…you probably want to know what’s up with the Jenga tower. Well, to perform a task in the game, you had to pull a Jenga brick (Putting it on top as like normal Jenga). You automatically succeed, but if the tower falls….you die.

Things started off ok. We made a stretcher out of the remains of the guides tent, and decided to try and head a little down the river. (We did try radioing first, but got nothing but useless static). We went a good distance before Chris got caught of rapids up ahead, and without the guide to help us through, and with our near total lack of survival skills (Chris knew a little), we shored up and moved to take camp. Occasionally people caught glimses of things moving, such as a wolf swimming across the river, or on that next night demonic red eyes glaring out of the darkness (I saw the latter…noone seemed impressed at my saying it was a werewolf…ignorant fools!). (My character stopped bothering to pull bricks for watch duty after that, feeling rather demoralised by the whole thing).

We spent much of the next day hiking alongside the river, leaving our rafts behind and hoping there wasn’t far to go. Unfortunatey Dave knocked the tower over while doing so, falling down a steep slope to his death, which also had us drawing a hell of a lot of bricks right after rebuiling the tower as we tried to cope with the loss. The remaining 4 of us (3 + the dragged along guide) continued on (Well, Ken/Chris checked Dave’s body first, surmising that he was very dead), and were lucky enough to find a nice place to camp.

That night, Ken got a hell of a shock, as the “not-a-werewolf” jumped onto their tent. We all piled outside to try and deal with this threat, regrettably short on weapons. (We had only a hatchet, which I fetched on the way in the hope of dealing with the..well, the werewolf. Ken had to make a pull from the jenga pile, and finding himself unable to safely do so, instead made a heroic sacrifice (You can do something heroic by smashing the tower down voluntarily, but it of course, ends your life). He saved us, burying the hatchet in the beasts head.

Me/Chris, left with a shoddily rebuilt jenga tower and a near-dead but still breathing werewolf (I think he probably accepted it was indeed one by this point). We burned the body of the werewolf, and spent much of the night cowering in our tent (I kept my head poked out to keep watch all night, I was kinda terrified). In the Morning, we found the guide to be dead (We totally forgot him in the commotion…It had been up to Ken to keep medical care of him and…and…yeah…).

Fortunatley for the pair of us, we spotted a steam-boat on the river, and were rescued…Its’ hard to be excited at the success, when we lost 3/5 of the group, but well…we live to jenga another day!

Dead of Winter

We next went back to the world of board games, as Ken was wanting to join in with his usual weekly RP. With him disapearing to sit on a video call, I broke out Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game.

Dead of Winter is a survival game, about a group of survivors and their interactions in the followup to a Zombie Apocalypse. Round on round players have to deal with food shortages, crisis (Which are basically ‘#players * randomitemtype()’ or something bad happens, the ever-present zombie horde (Which are interestingly a threat that often fades into the background compared to all the other stuff you have to deal with, a nice contrast to the usual zombie game ‘Endless slaughter’ mentality of er…every other zombie game ever.

For our game, we went with mission 1, 8 weeks of darkness (Survive 8 Rounds). Our survivors have formed the colony, but soon realised its’ something of a deathtrap, with limited food and supplies and no escape from the ever-present horde. Unfortunately, it’s the dead of winter (hey-o!) and the cold and darkness rather limits the possibility of doing anything about it. All they have to do is survive for 2 months and things’ll be looking up…right?

I’m not 100% on how to describe how the game went, so this might be a bit scatty…

I started off the game with the construction worker (1 free barricade/turn) and the principle (double-searches as the school). The first was very useful, partly as one of my secret objectives was to have 4 barricades in the colony at the end of the game ^^. I remember Dave had the janitor, which was used to good effect clearing up all the colony’s trash throughout the game. I forget what else he had & what tom/chris had though unfortunately (one of them had soemthing for grocery searching I think, as that deck got burned through fast!).

Early days had things going well. We had plenty of supplies to deal with the crisis at hand, and Chris found a guitar (From a crossroads card…I’ll talk about those in a mo), which motivated the colony so we all got an extra dice for a round. Chris/Dave seemed to gather all of the medicine in existence between them (You’d think someone outwardly saying they have 5-6 medicine cards would have you scream traitor…but we really did have almost no use for them for a few rounds ^^).

A general strategy we followed was to avoid using our outsider cards, which are how you gain survivors in the game. We did this because letting more people into our colony (Who often come with ‘helpless’ survivors that don’t even provide actions!) would stretch our food needs even thinner. The one detractor was Chris, who got away without being too suspicious as at least one of his was ‘1 outsider’, which means no annoing helpless one attached to it. This worked really well throughout, with us needing only about 4 food/round (When I did this scenario earlier in the week at halesowen, we got up to 7/8 food/round later on…and starved).

Somewhere along the way, our food supply got ruined, with someone (read: Chris) putting an invalid card into the crisis. Me/Tom were validated as we had put in food from locations only we had searched (The location cards are from is listed on the bottom), which left Dave/Chris (And I think Dave didn’t actually put a card in, wasn’t sure at the time though). Fortunatey for us, most of the crisis past that one had effects that would have hurt Chris/Dave to fail, and so long as were doing ok (Our morale wasn’t going too bad either) we felt we could afford to not start throwing out random exile votes.

By the last round of the game, we had by some miracle got back up to 5 morale (Started on 7…first time I did this mission we had 1 or 2 when we were this close to the last round). A crossroads card let us remove the crisis for the round for the cost of 1 morale, which meant whoever the traitor was would have one less avenue to screw us. With Dave having gone first in the round and done nothing but good things, it was clear that Chris was the one with the alterior motives, who was last to go. In fact, had we been on less morale, I’d have exiled him on my turn (Voted to, anyway), but we were so high that I let it be.

Naturally, he was happy to be uttery obvious on his last go on trying to think how to burn 4 morale in one go. Someone who’s played might think he could move his survivors around to try and make them die…but he had to have 2 more survivors than anyone else at the colony, utterly smashing that avenue. After a looooooong turn trying to figure it out, he conceded, and the game was won…well.

So I mentioned earlier about my secret objective (Everyone has one), all I needed was 4 barricades in the colony (There was about 12 ^^)….and a fuel card. Foolishly I threw away my last fuel, using it with a lighter to burn masses of zombies gleefully…loss for my survivors. Chris failed as he needed to get morale to 0, Dave failed as he’s mis-understood his card, thinking it meant he needed 2 of any card in hand, rather than 2 books, and Tom failed because reasons…I forget. At least the colony survived I suppose!

Pathfinder

For my RP, I opted to try and get started on Rise of the Runelords, as I’ve had the book for the adventure path for quite some time and well, got to happen sooner or later right? The first adventure (of 6) in this book is ‘Burnt Offerings’, and it was the first half of this that I planned to run (Actually..I was planning on doing 2-3 of the 4 as I thought we’d done part 1 before…but apparently not ^^).

Character generation took much of the Morning, partly while we were having our nice fried breakfast. Ken set himself up as a Human Sorceror, Tom a Human Bard, Dave an Elf Ranger and Chris a Kobold Bushwhacker (A continuation of what he’d used when I first did a pathfinder game, where we did the ‘Carrion Crown’ adventure, but I didn’t find myself wanting to pay £13 a book to carry it on…(Rise of the Runelords was a nice one-time purchase for all 6, something like half the price as a result…with a quality hardback instead of paperback).

The adventure starts with the group attending a festival to celebrate the rebuilding of the cathedral (A fire 5 years before had left the town with make-shift places of worship for the past half-decade). A bit of handwavy ‘entertainment’ later (Yay for being awful at GM’ing), with Tom earning a small amount for his performances, and we get to the start of the adventure for real, with Father Zantus using a thunderstone to grab attention as he prepares his final speech.

What he wasn’t aware of, and leaves his speech spluttering, was that the thunderstone was a signal for various groups of goblins to assault the town. Here’s about where I decided to go off the books rails a bit. I set up the town square with some marketplace tiles I’d bought ages ago, then used standee’s from dead of winter to represent the heroes, zombie standies to represent the goblins, and helpless survivor tokens to represent the townsfolk (And some random tokens for guards). I used another couple of survivor standee’s for the important NPC’s (Father Zantus, and the Sheriff, who I decided didn’t get enough recognition in the book).

Before I’d put out the goblins, I’d scatterred around the helpless survivors and let the players decide where their heroes were at the time. (Which was quite spread out, with Tom at the fountain in the middle performing, Ken manning a stall selling fruit/veg, and er…the others doing things). I set up various groups of goblins around the place, at each place where there was an entrance, (Which happened to be roughly 3/player…the adventure has all 4 against 3 as the sta

rt fight.. ^^). The NorthWest group was most intense, which fortunately for the PC’s is where the Sheriff and 2 of his guardsmen were hanging out (By the stage that Zantus was spluttering upon).

I have no idea how enjoyable the next part was, but it was a hectic battle with the PC’s having to dive in and out of combat as they went (Getting nearly killed a couple of times, with the fortune of having father zantus to run about healing them, or the helpless residents when they survived being hit (They usually didn’t…)). As I had way too many goblins to keep an accurate track of, I rolled their health only when someone attacked them, and in the goblins round just kind of went round the board activating as I went (they didn’t get to have individual initiatives, as that would have been hell to control), the Sheriff/Guards went right after the goblins, again with no specific initiative.

The result of the fight, was that ‘ahem’ all the guards died (I think I could maybe…a little bit, have made them too weak), and the player characters ended up in a tight group fighting together – i.e. a really cool way of getting them introduced to each other. I think in all ~30 goblins were defeated, which is a lot cooler than the 3 then 4 that they were supposed to handle ^^. They got little rest though before hearing a scream and bark from up North, where they found a mounted commando killing a dog (Which belonged to the noble cowering behind a barrel nearby).

This next fight was fairly swift, but challenging, with players needing high values to hit. One player got downed in the fight (I think it was Tom), getting picked back up post fight with a healing potion looted from the body. The noble introduced himself and offers a reward for the saving of his life, suggesting to pick it up soon at the rusty dragon inn.

Back at the town square, one of the goblins had trapped itself upside down in a barrel trying to grab food, and the sheriff had the goblin subdued. Feeling appreciative of the PC’s efforts, he’s happy to let the PC’s get information from him, who discover that while the goblin doesn’t know his leader is, its’ (probably) a human and that he’s on a secret mission to the graveyard.

Taking barely a breather, the newly formed group headed that direction, with the sheriff and a worried looking father zantus. Upon arrival and finding many tracks, the sheriff asked Zantus to await him in the church, followed by the sheriff and the pc’s following the tracks (Which they discover to be mostly goblins and one human). This brings them to a tomb, who’s entryway is supiciously ajar.

Ken lit up the room with a lighting cantrip, revealing a pair of skeletons, which reacted by..trying..to attack. One PC (Tom I think) and the Sheriff shoved themselves against the stone doorway with a skeleton halfway through, near killing it with crushing power. With Tom/Sheriff keeping the gap thin, Ken, Dave and Chris pepperred the helpless skeletons (Who couldn’t get through) with Magic, Arrows & Bullets respectively until they were dead.

Inside, they find the previous priests remains stolen and a robe of bones, now spent and useless, its’ job complete. After these shocking events and the hectic day before, the group retired to one of the towns 2 inns, the rusty dragon (I mean…I forgot the name of the other one so they only had 1 choice really…ahem). Aldern meets them there, giving a 50gp reward and inviting them to come boar-hunting the next day.

A few more small events happened before we finished up. The group went on the hunt with Aldern, which was quite comically poor (Heavily thanks to my awful gm’ing skills, but also because terrible roles led to very disobedient mounts ^^), but was successful (Although Dave kind of nearly died after the boar charged him in its’ last moments). Tom was invited to perform at the theatre, impressively reenacting the horrific events the day before (Or two days…I forget ^^). At the inn, the owner, Ameiko Kaijitsu had a row with Lonjiku Kaijitsu, her father (Who the Players remembered had absented himself from the festivals speeches). Trying to interfere achieved little but to foster a heavily dislike between the players and lonjiku (Tom managed to make him momentarily reconsider his innate distrust of the pc’s, but to little avail). The result was lonjiku storming out and disowning his daughter. (Who’d whacked him with a ladle of soup and thrown out a one-liner as he’d left).

The following day, one of the bars staff approached the PC’s on the quiet, worried that Ameiko hadn’t got up to make breakfast, and having gone into Ameiko’s room had found her bed unslept in and a note. She’d helpfully translated the note, but worried Ameiko could have got herself into trouble and asks the PC’s to help.

Aaaand we ended there, as Tom had a ~4 hour drive (To Birmingham to drop off Ken then to Oxford) ahead of him and didn’t want to stay too late ^^. We didn’t get to Ken’s RP (He was hoping to run ‘everyone is john’, but we’ll get around to it eventually I’m sure ^^.

The weekend as a whole was absolutely fantastic, and I’m very much glad that Ken organized this again for us all to do. Regardless of the fact we didn’t actually leave the caravan for anything (Except taking out the rubbish), there’s something to be said for being someone totally different and tranquil, and just chilling out with great friends – all of you are awesome =-)