China – Part 1

Right, so I meant to post these ages ago, and I never quite got around to it. A friend asked me about blog posts though and it seems a good idea to throw them up!

I actually wrote them on my trip to China in February, which was an utterly awe inspiring experience, and one I’ll never forget.

(Also – Disclaimer: I took pictures for lots of these which may or may not be attached, sorry if it doesn’t make total sense ;P)
(Disclaimer 2 – I wrote these on a phone, so there’s probably millions of little grammatical errors I was/am too lazy to fix ^^)

Day 1 and 2 are together, ’cause I actually got around to talking about the flight for the second post. Although that also means I say practically nothing about what I did with the day – Probably lots of being very shy about going anywhere (I can’t wait to go again, much more confidence in travel and I’m a bit better at 中文 now, though I’m still pretty bad).

Post 1 (Day 1)

The view outside my window. I’ve not achieved much today! I spend something like 2 hours just to buy a phone (I don’t have my phones unlock code because I’m an idiot). I had a bit of a nap and followed up by going for a walk down Wangfujing street to get food..and failed, as the people trying to convince you to go somewhere with them were many, and I got a bit panicky..soooo I found a newsagents and day 1’s food is a pack of prawn crackers… I hope I do better tomorrow when its light and I haven’t had an hours sleep in 30 hours (I fail when it comes to sleeping on planes ^^). I’m thinking I should have worked out a tour guide for the whole trip though, alone is..overwhelming.

Post 2 (Day 2, Kinda)

[Picture of my bag of PG tips tea I took along, not that it got used more than a couple times, Chinese tea was a way better option when available)
Yep, that’s just PG tips, cause screw paying £5 for a hotel cup of tea ;). I forgot to write about my flight yesterday. The longer flight I didn’t talk much, but the short one to Amsterdam I sat between 2 中国人 (Chinese). Catherine on my right spoke English well, but Aili on my left only knew how to say she doesn’t speak English. I mostly talked with Catherine, but I put Chinese into what I said when I could, and Aili understood what I said when I did! :). Aili was going all the way to Beijing, and I walked with her to the gate for the next plane (as English signs are not helpful for people that don’t read English!), before she met with a Chinese girl she recognized, so I parted ways and went for food. We met briefly at Beijing airport too, as I was looking very lost and she pointed where I should go. I was able to find Tina, my tour guide (from Wednesday my tour starts, but they arranged picking me up from the airport) who helped me to the hotel and I spoke about the rest already. It was really nice to meet them both, and the Chinese girl next to me on the 2nd flight too (though she slept most of the flight, and I was feeling too tired for conversation ^^). Anyway, I should probably go and do things, 11:50 and I have not left the hotel!

Changes Part 1 – Games & China

Right, I’ll try to keep this fairly short.

I’m going through really big changes in my life at the moment. One of the big things I’m trying to figure out is what really makes me happy, and I have my doubts that games are really one of those things. The problem comes down to the fact I want ‘real’ experiences, life experiences, ones with people of all types and of unique opinions and takes on the world. Video games don’t provide this, and I’ve cut them out and I feel much better for it.

Board Games are a little different. I got into them a couple of years ago because it opened up social opportunities where I felt comfortable. I met lots of new people all of a sudden, I was happy, I even met a girl I fell in love with through them. But…that stopped being the case quite a while back – I fell into a routine where I just went along and saw the same people every week, and I didn’t notice that it had stopped putting a smile on my face.

So…I feel a bit lost. I’m still happy to have the board games I own, and I still hope to use them to meet people, but I don’t think I want to go to regular games events any more. I’ll still go to games things from time to time, but it’ll be for the people, discussions and opportunities that might provide, and not to kill time as it has been.

So why am I posting this?…Well, because I think this means me posting a blog is going to be less regular, and about unique experiences I have, not just ‘this week we played X, Y & Z.This weekend, I’m going on a 3 week trip to China. I’m kind of terrified, because I’ve never gone on a holiday alone before, and I’m going to be closer to the person I love than I have been in months, yet unable to see her (For anyone that doesn’t know – we broke up), as I feel I’ve had my chance and ruined it. That wasn’t how this paragraph was meant to go…take two.

This weekend, I’m going on a 3 week trip to China. I’m extremely excited, as I have some parts on a tour, some free-form and a part where I get to meet with someone I know (My language tutor), and its’ going to be fantastic. The tour ended up being private, as apparently February isn’t a particularly warm time of the year to attract tourists, which means I get one on one time with a guide for many days, which will be fun for learning Mandarin. Other than that, I don’t know much, but I hope I have the courage to talk to many Chinese citizens and learn a lot, as I’m rather hoping this will be a precursor to a longer visit somewhere down the line.

For anyone who’s interested, I’ll be going to Beijing from the 2nd to 7th, be in Xian 7th to 10th, Chengdu 10th to 14th (Where I get to meet up with my language tutor!), Guilin 15th-16th, then back to Beijing until the 21st in the swanky ‘Hotel Prime Wangfujing’ (Which has a pool, yay!). So be sure to ask me about these places when I’m back, as shy though I may be, I’m sure I’ll want to talk about it to all the people =)

And this is me, signing out, until some-time in the future, to talk about China, or some other trip that I hope to go on (I rather don’t want to let any weekends go to waste any more, not when I could be travelling to hostels ^^).

Halesowen Board Gamers – Power Grid Deluxe, Europe (17/12/2014)

At this, last halesowen session of the year (With Christmas Eve/New Years Eve not being ideal dates ^^), there was a fairly small number in attendance of 8. Mark had eminent domain out and seemed eagar to play, while Dave got Power Grid: Deluxe out, with the europe map for it being the only PG map not played this year. I really have no desire to play eminent domain, so I joined in the Power Grid group with Dave, Simon, Suzy & Mike (I may be remembering incorrectly…but I think the only other time I’ve played power grid was again just because I wasn’t interested in eminent domain =P).

Power Grid

I don’t know that there’s much in the way of differences for this power grid ‘deluxe’ map, although I think the low numbered power plants that weren’t out from the start getting shuffled into the main deck is a difference to the norm. From what the regular players were saying, I think the market also changed more than the 1st to 2nd phase, but I didn’t really notice anything special with that. There’s also a couple of small ‘ease-of-play’ changes, to make some elements clearer (Like who’s bought a power plant in a given round), which I quite appreciated having only played once before. Finally, the map is prettier, which is a bit over-whelming before you start, but clear and functional as soon as there’s pieces down on it.

Gameplay, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a race to have the most generators across the map, which you can actually power up in a given round. Each round consists of a few parts – Players buy power plants in a basic auction (The 1st player picks one, players take turns bidding, when everyone passes the last bidder gets the plant and pays their bid, each player can have a maximum of 1 plant per round). Next players buy resources, starting from last place, with a market that works such that the more people buy, the more expensive things get (I.e. being in last place is good, because fuel is cheaper for you). The next thing to happen in a round is that people buy power plants on the map, paying a cost for each connection followed, and for actually building a plant – At first each city can have only one, but later a 2nd & 3rd can be placed in a city by different players, but at a higher cost.

Finally, players can spent the fuel they have to power up their plants. They then receive money based on how many cities have hence been powered, which is roughly 10/plant at first (Plus 10 ‘free’), but on a reducing scale, such that as you approach endgame you’re gaining maybe 6/additional plant rather than 10. At the start of the next round, player order is updated (The player with the most plants built going first), resources generated and it begins again. When someone first builds their 7th plant, ‘phase 2’ begins which just changes resource generation rates and allows a 2nd plant on each city. ‘Phase 3’ begins when the power plants deck is gone through once, which changes generation again and allows a 3rd plant on each city. The game ends in the round that someone builds a 15th power plant (Regardless of whether they can power it), with the winner being the person to power the most in that round.

* I should mention, the blocked off areas were Russia and the area south of Russia.

I’m not sure what to say about our actual game. Start positions seemed somewhat favourable to me/Suzy (To me anyway), as we blocked off a corner each, while the more experienced players clustered rather aggressively in the middle, where connections were much cheaper but there was less available space for expansion (I did still start very close, but grabbed 2 cities that made it very expensive to push past into the area behind me, which is to say Sweden/Norway.. I think).

In terms of early power plants, I was first player but let the first couple of plants I bid on go to other players (A coal and an oil plant), ending up with a gas/oil combined plant as noone out-bidded me (The player starting the auctions would lose out on buying a plant if he passes, so you have to bid at least the minimum for the first turn at least) – although this did mean I could power both of the cities that I started with.

For the next few turns, I pushed out into the heavily contested area as much as I could, as it both made it even more expensive for people to get into the area behind me and was generally cheaper than expanding there yet anyway. Dave carved a little corner for himself where he could hold 4 cities that were cheap to power, Simon went Southwest and Mike just pushed out through the cracks (He was surrounded so fairly limited I think on where to go). Suzy also pushed into the middle rather than into the corner behind her. My first somewhat aggressive move of the game was to slip a plant in behind Suzy in Birmingham, which was a bit more expensive than the area behind me, but not too much (I think 22+10 instead of 17+10), and was somewhat necessary as the middle area was too tight for me to spread out into. My confidence got a bit hurt when she revenge-expanded, paying a ton of money but slipping a plant behind me into Stockholm, which was a pain as that would be an expensive space to skip over.

As we came close to phase 2, there was a bit of a tense round where just about anyone could have pushed it into happening, but noone really wanted to. Had I been earlier in placing plants I think I would have triggered it (Mistakenly), but as I was in 1st place (Hence last to build) I had the benefit of knowing noone else would and left it for a round. In the following round, noone else seemed to want to push it again, but I was no longer last to build, so burnt a ton of money in expansion to get another city in the corner by Suzy, another one protecting the corner from further ‘invasions’ and a couple East of stockholm at fairly high cost due to Suzy’s annoyingly placed plant in Stockholm ^^. I was only able to power 8 of the 10, but I think it was worth it thanks to having a fairly safe area for another 3 plants (While Suzy was sharing the area, that actually made it less likely for anyone else to push in, and still had some decent priced areas to build in that I almost certainly wouldn’t get blocked out of thanks to being in phase 2).

The next round was a buying fest, as phase 2 makes a lot of cities available to build in all of a sudden. Dave went from 4 to 8 plants for example, with everyone else having similar jumps in size. At the start of that round, I’d managed to swap one of my ‘powers 2’ plants for a ‘powers 5’ (I had 4-2-2 before, hence 8 powered), and I snuck a plant down South, as it was actually about the same price as my nearby options at the time, and secured that I’d have cheaper buys later. Suzy ignored my attempt at blocking out the area East of Stockholm and again, as phase 2 lets you share, stepped through to make things a touch more expensive for me there while also securing that she’d have plenty of plants for the endgame.

My next couple of rounds were all about getting capacity. I got to 13 plants (Leaving the 2 in the corner and noting what they were going to cost me so I could have spend as much as I wanted to get the capacity, knowing what amount to leave aside). I ended up with a renewable energy ‘powers 4’, which was not ideal but the best I could get, meaning I just wanted to try and get a ‘powers 6’ or ‘powers 7’ of some kind. In the 2nd to last round, Simon got past me in terms of plants build and the amount he could power, but fortunately I think just didn’t quite have enough money for a 15th plant that round (He was on 14!). This did however also have the effect that it made it clear the next round would be the last.

In said last round, Mike & Dave were both well, scuppered already. They’d unfortunately not been able to get the capacity to compete, so, post buying power plants which was extremely easy to do (We’d hit phase 3 a round or two before, which means 6 are available, and are all fairly good ones) as noone bothered to bid-war on each other, Mike took the opportunity to ‘brown out’ Simon, who was set to have 16 plants all powered (While Me/Suzy easy looked set for 15) – a ‘brown out’ being buying up all of the available resources, such that someone can’t obtain the fuel they need to actually power their plants, Suzy also had coal plants and did the same, such that Simon was only able to power 11 of the 16 he had at the end. Fortunatey for me, the plant I’d picked up in that last round was a renewable that powered 6. It had been a touch more expensive than other options, but meant I had 0 need for fuel (I had a gas/oil 5, but already had the fuel from the round before).

In the plant buying round, Dave/Mike did what they could to block the cheaper options for the players closest to winning, but, as I mentioned before, I had a cheap couple of options in a corner so far removed that it would have cost insane amounts to get there and block me, which wouldn’t really have made a huge amount of difference (I could have built elsewhere at higher cost, but I still had enough money to do so). Suzy was able to build a ton of plants in that round, doing her last 4 from 11 to 15 to match my number of them.

The game ended with a tie between me and Suzy with the tie-break on money going in my favour by only about 20 money (Considering the cheapest extra plant to build at that point was about 25+, that was close!). I’m not sure of the orders between the others, but I think Simon was dead last thanks to the heavy denial on fuel locking him to 11 maximum powered, while Dave/Mike were just a plant short of their goals (Mike actually wasn’t far off from the win only a round before, but had passed on a gamble of a good plant coming available, and lost that bet, so couldn’t get the capacity).

I had a lot of fun with this game of Power Grid, thanks largely to a strong starting position that meant I didn’t feel too much stress over where I could build (I tend to struggle to enjoy area-control style games when things are too tight, as it can feel more like work than play). I think that the experienced players (Although they were new to this particular map) made certain mistakes in terms of not putting enough pressure on me & Suzy (We’d both played just once before), but I enjoyed winning anyway =P

Afterwards, it was a bit of an early finish, but the only game set to be played looked like Love letter, which I don’t really like to play except with non-gamers (As its’ to introduce people, but a bit stale in gameplay for me personally), so I left people to it, wished everyone a Merry Christmas, and headed off till the new year! Thanks to all who were there, it was fun =-)

PS – My apologies that I left a dirty plate/glass up there…I remembered when I was already in the car and driving that I’d eaten upstairs, bit unfair of me to leave it to someone else to take downstairs, sorry =P

Uni of B’ham Tabletop Society and Bread and Games! (12th & 13th December 2014)

My Top 50 Games (2014)

If you watch this blog via twitter, you’ve possibly already seen my top 50 list, if not, and you’re interested, have a link!
https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/182805/smoothsmiths-top-50-games-year-two-2014

University of Birmingham Tabletop Society

Lost Legacy

As it was the last Friday of term for the Uni, we were set to change venue at around 7, and as such there wasn’t really time for any significant game on arrival. I broke out Lost Legacy though, as its’ a quick 5-10 minute game, and we ended up running 4 rounds, starting with just the flying gardens then shuffling in the starship cards when we gained a 5th player. I won, with 2 games won out of 4, with 2 of the others getting 1 win each. Its’ a really nice filler game, totally can’t wait to get even more decks to mix in ^^.

New Dawn

After moving to Nuffield, as I had no desire to join in the game of Battlestar Galactica starting up, I waited till we had enough for a game, and as there was 4 of us, suggested New Dawn. This is the second time I’ve got this to the table, unfortunately still with no MHQ’s (So Andrew’s Mobile Headquarters were yellow ticket-to-ride trains, perhaps less classy than the top-hats we used before, but still awesome).

We were pretty slow to start, with all 3 others at the table being new to the game (Andrew, Matt & Jay), but the ‘one-thing-at-a-time’ nature of the game helps to smooth out the complexity somewhat and by the 3rd year (of 5) people had about got the hang of it. I’d only played once before (And we had rules wrong for that), so we were all still in a state of ‘see what happens’ for the most part, although I’d picked up an ‘aid to the alliance’ card earlier than in the first game this time, seeing their value more, which naturally everyone else picked up on and copied doing ^^.

Moving on, I made a couple of mistakes, such as not taking opportunities to shift my MHQ’s when buying a new one (Such that I could get earlier captures in the next round), although this wasn’t much a problem as I kept being the last player anyway! The first player token in New Dawn rotates to the player with the least bases, and Matt, to my left, struggled a bit to get how to place them so he kept being first with me last =P. A couple of the others also missed opportunities where they could have placed MHQ’s better, but it all evened out.

Towards the end of the 3rd/start of the 4th round, I’d got myself set up to start scoring some decent points, and hopefully catapult from being on the least points to the front (Points are fairly tight, so being behind is generally not too far behind). At about that time, security came in for locking up, and we realised we had only about 10-15 minutes left. Our 4th round was done at lightning speed, and we finished part-way through it rather than finish off and create an angry security guard instead of a nice one. This was awkward for me, as I was set to score very good points on my next action! As it is, I came last, with scores something like 17-16-16-15.

Ok so not much happened this Friday, but I had fun, and I enjoyed New Dawn again, and looking forward to more plays, and of course to the stretch goals and metal credits arriving for it (And the missing yellow MHQ’s!).

Bread and Games

Myth

On Saturday, after a bit of a weird Morning where I woke up feeling like I was tipsy (No, I hadn’t been drinking the night before ^^) and spending a few hours just relaxing and wondering what the hell caused it, I invited my friend Chris (Handy) along to Bread + Games, a board games event near the centre of Birmingham. We turned up a bit late, but it wasn’t long before Tim came over and asked if we wanted to play something, then saw Myth and sounded excited about it. Naturally, Myth then became the first of the night.

I got everyone to pick their class before we started, as its’ just much easier to describe things with the mini’s on the board, particularly as each class is unique in some way so requires a small bit of explanation for each. We opted to try and start on a 12×12 tile, but drew a quest for 6×6 so put one out. We then read the rest of the text…and just got a bit confused. The quest had 5 crawlers starting on the tile, then running away unless we could catch them. They’d apparently run up to 2 tiles away, but the quest didn’t specify if those tiles are set-up normally, nor if the initial tile has normal set up…It was just weird, we drew again.

This time we got a quest that made more sense, so put out the 12×12 we’d been previously eyeing up. Lairs started with 3 extra minions to usual, and someone just needed to kill 4 enemies in one blow to succeed the quest (Done this one before actually, and it was way too easy, so..). Setting up the tile I chose to put out 2 lairs, one as orcs, and one as crawlers, and we got to work quickly with the soldier charging a line straight through 4 of them to immediately complete the (way too easy) quest.

People got the hang of what to do fairly quick, though Peter had an unfortunate initial couple of turns of not doing much (Curse of playing the archer, as you have to build up arrows or move into melee while being a very vulnerable class). What I should have made more of a point of, I realized, is that the lairs needed to die, and fast. By the time we realized, there was a swamp of minions between us and the lairs, and it looked like we were doomed.

A very sloggish session later, past our suicidal rogue Carl almost dying only to be saved by Handy the acolyte, we finally started on the crawler lair. In the meantime, Peter, who’d sneaked around to the left, decimated the orc lair solo with an Orion’s Tears (May use all ammo in one attack, 1 damage/arrow) and another attack. With both lairs dead, it was just a matter of time till we could have got everything cleared up, but decided to move on to other games at that point, as I don’t think any of us were feeling particularly incensed to carry on.

I think it was my fault for putting 2 lairs on the tile and perhaps a bit far away from us to be able to take out the lair fast enough for it not to drag. I am starting to worry about the games length a little though, particularly as I got the impression before I had the game that an act would be about 2-3 hours, but that’s how long chapters are taking (You do 1 chapter/tile, and an act is multiple tiles in general). I really hope I can get a group down enough with the mechanics for things to speed up though, as I’d love to start exploring the acts, stories and character progression parts of the game!

Smash Up

We played 2 games of this. For the first game, we just did a ‘grab a couple’ run at the factions, as I wanted to grab a couple monster smash ones to try (I went with Vampires and Mad Scientists), the new player to the game Josh got Dinosaur Somethings and Caz (I have no idea if that’s how I’m supposed to spell that..), being about as Brutally ridiculous as you can in Smash Up, went with Zombie Robots. If you dont’ know Smash Up, follow this link and scroll down to the second to last post, and check their ratings =P https://boardgamegeek.com/article/17686416#17686416

I’d tell you about all the drama, except it was just one ridiculous robot combo after another and an early mall crawl for the zombies to get the tenacious Z’s out. Caz won something like 15 to 4…

The second game was a bit fairer, and saw Neil joining us. I played Super Spy Werewolves, Josh Shapeshifting Geeks, Caz Dinosaur Bear Cavalry & Neil was Alien Elder Things. I got off to an awesome lead, making good use of the Werewolf temporary boosts to net 9 points before anyone else hit 5. Sadly for me, the result was I had about 4 or 5 turns in a row trying to get a mininon down and getting it thrown off the base I was trying for each and every time (The base was ‘Before this base scores, reveal the top card of your deck, if its’ a minion, play it here’, which is great with Spies as they get to fiddle the top cards of their deck).

In the end, Neil managed to grab the win with an epic combo where he dropped 2 Shoggoths and some other power boost onto a base to solo cap it with the crazy burst of power he had on the base. I wasn’t expecting to win, but I didn’t see it coming for sure ^^. I did get to have some good fun through the game though, as I managed to use Spies to get rid of both Caz’s King Rex (The best Dinosaur Card) and Neils Elder Thing (The best Elder Things card), funnily enough also messing with Josh, as his Mimic’s could have been very powerful with those minions in play ^^.

I had a really good night, and I think Chris did too (He was playing a game with very…black and white…art, ‘Cave Evil’ I believe, while I was in Smash Up). I got to chat to Jenny for a bit, and Greg, who I really want to meet up with sometime for a game of Wizard Academy. There’s some really fun people to play with at Bread and Games so I really should try to go more often (Though Saturday has a tendency to clash with other stuff =P).

Till Next Time, Play More Games! (Yeah I’m quoting Tabletop, =P)

Halesowen Board Gamers (10/12/2014)

This week, after messing up a bit in terms of bringing the main Myth box but forgetting the secondary one (Which is pretty much required), I opted to wait and see what else got played. Fury of Dracula got set to occur as someone had previously asked Dave to play it, and Mike wanted to get ‘Shipwrights of the North Sea’ played. I wasn’t really sure about either, but the 3rd game being looked at seemed to be City of Remnants, so I went for Shipwrights with Mike & Suzy =P

Shipwrights of the North Sea

This is a card-drafting game, where you’re trying to gather the craftmen and goods to build ships and buildings for VP, with the game ending when a player completes their 4th ship. Each player has their own board, with a money-tracker, 2 ‘workshops’ (To build ships), a Mill (To store goods) and your Village (To hold Villagers, shockingly). Players will be putting completes ships above the board, tools to the left, buildings to the right, and craftsmen below, throughout the game.

Each turn starts with a drafting phase, the player who currently has the 1st player token draws #players+1 cards, keeps 1 and passes clockwise till all have 1 card, the last beind discarded. Then the player who went last draws 4 and does the same, but passing anti-clockwise, then the 1st player does 4 again, so each player now has 3 cards.

Next, players perform actions. They can play cards (To start building a ship, get a craftsmen in play, gain 3 gold or w/e it may be), gather goods (spend 2 money + 2 workers for a variable amount of goods based on the current ‘next card’ in the deck (The backs of cards have that information on them)), or build a ship (Spend the resources required and move it from the workshop space its’ in to above your board).

That’s about it, some cards are tools, that you pay to get buy give discounts on building ships, some can be aggressive, such as stealing a craftsmen or good from another player, some are buildings, that usually cost lots of gold but give VP. All in all a perfect recipie for a <1 hour game (Its’ not <1 hour, but I’ll get to that later…)

In our game, I pretty much decided to go for any ship providing money. The reason for this is because you need otherwise need workers to generate money, but have to spend workers to get things, and that seemed far too much to think about =P Mikes first run was for extra worker-generation (Same kind of effect ^^), while Suzy got a bit of extra capacity and gold generation from her first ship and decent points (4, whereas my 1st ship was 1vp and Mikes 0vp).

Moving on a little, Mike got a 6VP ship build, which cancelled our his extra worker and reduced his capacity for goods (The higher VP ships have brutal negatives..). I consistently seemed to have no workers, but my second ship was another gold generator so it was less of an issue (I made sure to keep my one-legged worker around, wonderful chap he was, even if he couldn’t stand up without a crutch/another worker). Suzy’s second ship was another 4VP, but I soon got a 3rd ship so I had 4/4/1 (Each adding 1 to my gold generation ^^). I also got a ‘treasury’ VP card, which was 1VP/4Gold at the end of the game, which was a mistake as I’d mis-understood the card (Compared to Suzy having a straight 3VP building, when you have max 12 gold…). Mike got kicked about a bit, with Suzy playing a card that naffed him out of all his gold, and not much later a round where I murdered one of his craftsmen, then stole one of them (Suzy had none, it wasn’t personal!).

Moving on, I got another 1VP building, and Mike got a 3rd ship while Suzy struggled to do her 3rd as someone kept interfering (Can’t imagine who, but if I hadn’t the fact she had no low-VP ship like me/Mike would have won her the game I think). I was able to end the game when I (Finally) got given a Stone Mason (Cheers Mike =P), with both Mike/Suzy being only a touch short of what they needed to play cards to put them ahead on points (Well, sort of, I won the ‘most military’ thing where you get another 3, but I’d forgot about the fact we were competing for that ^^).

Hooray! I won! But oh god does the game drag on a bit. I believe it was about 2 hours, which meant god knows how many turns. The problem is, the gameplay is slick and each turn is a fast draft and playing phase, but you just never seem to get anything done. Everything you do eats away at your workers, and unless you’ve happened to build one of the few ships that increase worker generation, you have a maximum of one per turn. Each ship requires 2-3 so ~10 turns there, then each time you gain resources, which is roughly once/ship you build its’ another 2, so another 8 turns, then each building needs another 2-3 so maybe another 5-6 turns. On top of that you might not even be able to do stuff for many turns as you just don’t have the craftsmen you need and it means spending more turns just hoping for the card you need…

*Breathes*

Now, that’s not to say its’ not fun, and I did enjoy playing, but if I want to play a game for 2 hours, it needs to be deep and strategic, whereas the mechanics and cards here work as a light and easy style game (Particularly emphasised as there’s a bit of take-that. If they could have fit the same mechanics into a game half as long, then that could be pretty cool, but as it is I’m in no rush to play again ^^.

Tiny Epic Kingdoms

After that probably over-ly ranty description, lets keep it short this time. I played Lizardfolk, and did my utmost to get people blocked on moves, while pushing up my magic, as the level 5 was ‘1VP per opponent territory you occupy’ which seemed pretty good and easier than most to achieve. Noone attacked me all game, which was a nice surprise but reasonable seeing as I often had a lot of magic (And when Mike did attack someone went for Suzy, which was also worth doing as she’d probably have hit the top of the tower and won if he hadn’t).

Eventually, I managed to get to the ‘4vp’ level of the tower (Suzy was on the 7VP leve), as well as 5 meeples (Mostly scattered in Suzy’s territories, as I kept wanting to use my ‘when you quest, gain one resource of the type of region you moved to’ and Mike territory was full of meeples. Mike pushed quite hard at getting more meeples (He had some magic making it something he wanted to do, I forget what).

In the end, with my balanced approach of magic, tower and meeples, I eked out the win, my second of the evening. Hooray! It was a nice change from my shocking plays last Friday (of TEK) where I just did awful ^^.

Cool Evening, got to try a new game (Omg a kickstarter I didn’t back =P), and won twice. Or maybe I was just asleep in bed and it was all a dream…hard to tell ;)

University of Birmingham Tabletop Society (5th December 2014)

Unusually, I actually ended up being quite short on what I wrote this week, ^^.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf

We had a couple of games of this, but nothing particularly memorable. It seems to be remarkably hard to get this game going  thanks to people liking normal werewolf games more in the group, rather than having multiple small games which is why I like this one. Amusingly in one game though, the minion claimed he was trouble-maker to try and put suspicion on himself, then the werewolf in the game also claimed trouble-maker having not realised it was already called. Had the minion just waited until after he might have gotten himself killed for the win, but it was not to be ^^.

Dead of Winter

Splintering into 2 groups, one group went for Battlestar Galactica (Y’know, the full opposite of ONUW ^^), so I suggested Dead of Winter, which while its’ similar in having a traitor element (At least, a ~44% chance of a traitor), its’ much faster and more involving, with the crossroads cards providing a narrative and flavourful characters doing the rest.

For a main objective, we chose the one involving dropping lots of barricades – 10 in the colony, 1 for each other location, to keep the zombies out! We ignored this for a while as we geared up, with me heading to the library and cycling through there for nice blueprints while others covered food and trimming the zombie numbers (In particular at the school, where we got the 1,2,3…Barricades! book that lets you place 1 free barricade a turn, and a Hammer from somewhere that lets you place 2 barricades instead of 1 with a barricade action). I had Mike Cho, the Ninja as a character too, though he was more of an errand boy running around to deal with crisis’ or deliver blueprints than a zombie-killer ^^.

Everything was going great for us, and we had a huge pile of food (Something like 3 or 4 times what we were using per year) and were still at 6 morale halfway into the game. Things started going downhill when I got an outsider, that turned out to be the Doctor, moved once and got bitten to immediate death with her. We soon dropped more morale down to 3 when another players survivor also got bit, followed immediately by a fellow survivor at that location also biting the bullet. To make things worse, we then realised that we’d still not got a huge amount of barricades out. Fortunatey we had a couple rounds left and it looked like we’d just about make it, even if we did skip out on Christmas Dinner!

Then, the crisis. The awful, awful crisis. A horde of Zombies found us, and unless we could find 4 fuel (Not long after we’d used all our fuel for a previous crisis/people foolishly keeping themselves safe with it while moving), then all of our barricades at the colony would be lost then 10 zombies would spawn there! The coin drops, we’re screwed – We spent the turn scrambling to try and find fuel, but only got either 1 or 2 out of 4, nowhere near enough. All our hard work was lost and the colony was swarmed, and with no chance in hell of both clearing out so many zombies and barricading so many times in a turn, we accepted our new brain-eating lives with great sadness. GG, Well Played Zombies.

At this point, with the group playing Battlestar Galactica on their second turn (Y’know, while we’d played an entire game), we had little time left (About an hour). I had a couple of games I wanted to play that would be roughly an hour, but the security in the building are pretty strict about the out at 11 rule, so we had to go for something quicker, and I broke out Tiny Epic Kingdoms.

Tiny Epic Kingdoms

Our first game I got Humans, John got Dark Elves, Rob Elves and Phil…I don’t know what Phil was in the first game actually, but it meant he could have 2 meeples in a region and gain a resource for both (Normally its’ 1/region rather than 1/meeple). John decided pretty early on to attack me, which was a failed attack costing us both a ton of resources, so he then attacked again costing even more, leaving us both hugely behind. Left alone with Elves and 3 forest regions, Rob straight up dominated the game, with there just being no way to get enough resources to attack him without removing ourselves from contention (Phil might have been able to, but John suiciding against me meant we were already both behind). Easy win for Rob through hitting magic level 5 (Which was kind of annoying, because I must have missed a research action somewhere which would have made me attacking Rob more beneficial to me and potentially worth doing (But probably not). Anyway grats to Rob for randoming elves…I mean for winning =P

In our second game, I was Goblins and well…I just didn’t seem to be able to achieve anything. Other players kept forming alliances rather than ever doing any damage to each other so they just steamed on ahead, while I just got my numbers trimmed down before I could achieve much. I was trying to push the tower more than others too, but just couldn’t push hard enough. I forget if Phil or Rob won, but I came 3rd this time around, attacking John on the last turn just so I could be in not-last place (I’m going to go with calling it revenge for his screwing us both in the first game =P).

Good Evening, though I wish I’d pushed harder to get New Dawn to the table, and I lost, a lot =P

Halesowen (03/12/2014)

Halesowen

So, among the ridiculous amount of packages I’ve received in the last few days, thanks to irresistible amazon lightning deals over black friday, there was also one from a kickstarter project! The project in question was that for Artipia’s thematic sequel to Among the Stars – New Dawn. The other things I got shoved aside (LoW, Alhambra and Betrayal at House on the Hill), as Among the Stars is among my favourite games and well…yeah ^^. I’d already mentioned it to Ian, and got it out on the table first thing at Halesowen this week.

New Dawn

Among the Stars follows a great war, whereby the remnants of the various civilised races formed an alliance on what little was left of the Galaxy. In that game, you’re building Space Stations as a testament to the effort to build a better future.

New Dawn goes forward a little, and resources have become scarce in the corner of the galaxy where people now reside. Now, the people of the galaxy need to push back out, and reclaim what was lost in the war. While the effort is seen as good for everyone, there’s naturally a desire from the individual races to want to come out on top…

Mechanically, New Dawn has lots of parts to it, but takes care to throw them at you one at a time, with each round being a series of steps where you just do one thing in each – Produce, Prepare, Explore, Obtain Technologies, Move MHQ, Then 3 Actions (You do 1, then everyone else does their first, then your second, etc), finally is aid to the alliance, where you can burn credits to buy VP cards for a few extra points.

Produce is simple, gain 1 credit per base you’ve built, of the type built (There are 3 types of currency, Military, Economic and Science). Prepare has you draw till you have a hand of 4, from your choice of the 4 card stacks (Military, Economic, Science or Hostile, with the latter being one of the first 3, but you can’t establish a base peacefully). In the explore step, you place one of your cards adjacent to any other card on the board in an empty space (Diagonal counts as adjacent), receiving the ability listed on the card immediately. Buying a technology is just buying one of the cards that are unique to each race, paying the value listed on the top right of the card to place it in one of your 5 technology slots (Technologies can be used once/round at any time).

The next action, move one MHQ, is a sort of preparatory matter for the actions phase. Your MHQ’s, or ‘Mobile Headquarters’ are your centrepoints for taking control of the facility cards placed on the board, and you may only establish bases or seize control of bases that are on or adjacent to a facility with your MHQ. They also provide extra dice towards attack/defense for the purpose of the ‘seize control’ action.

Finally, you have the actions phase, 3 actions each, done 1 at a time going around the table. Establish base lets you place a base on an empty facility by paying its’ cost in credits (With an MHQ on or adjacent). Seize Control lets you try to roll to take a facility, if its’ got noones bases’ on it, you roll to beat its’ cost+vp, otherwise you roll against the person with a base there, again you need an MHQ on or adjacent to do this. Use an Ambassador lets you take one of #players+3 ambassadors that are on the board and perform their listed action, which includes empowered versions of other actions (So its’ good to look at what they give before doing other things). Buying an MHQ lets you put out another MHQ at the cost listed on your board, then move all your MHQ’s. Finally, you can cop-out and just take 1 resource of any type, if you really really can’t do anything else ^^.

Then you rinse and repeat, over the course of 5 years (rounds). On the 3rd round the 4 facility card sets are swapped out with a ‘B’ set, which are higher valued and more geared towards the end-game, and you get to discard your A cards to pick them up if you wish.

It all sounds a little complicated, but splitting into being one thing at a time makes it surprisingly easy to pick up once you’re a round or two into the game. Players compete to have control of bases for resources and try to then spend those resources getting more stuff, VP are based on the bases you control, with a few extra things such as for getting lots of technology cards, having 5 bases of a given type and building MHQ’s.

The Actual Game

Everyone started with economic bases on the alliance card (You all get to place one base on it, hence giving yourself a minimum production of 1 for a resource of your choice), meaning we each had 1 economic credit. This meant we got no technologies for the first round (As buy technology is before actions), except Mark who got one through use of an ambassador (I think I might start next game with a Science base to rush my first technology card). We also all went off onto our own side with our first explores/establish base actions, though could see why you might move onto a card someone else explored.

In the second year, Stan tried to capture one of my bases to use its’ ability (We had a rule wrong, and thought abilities activate when you establish/seize not on explore), failing (ha), while Ian got I think another hostile facility out (He had the first turn too), and Mark got more technology (He was first to have the max of 5 in the game, though Ian got there too by the end).

In the 3rd year, despite us putting out better facilities, I was apparently a hot target as Ian attacked my facility that Stan had previously gone for, sadly with more success than Stan. Mark expanded his Science Empire, having a part of the map with little conflict (As opposed to me/stan/ian who were all getting a bit more in each others way, mostly because of Ian). I tried to attack Ian back, but didn’t realize he had 2 MHQ’s close and his dratted racial power meant that gave him really good defense.

In the 4th round, I picked up a nice military facility that let me seize control of an adjacent facility and pay 2 military credits for +5 to my roll. Naturally I placed it right next to the one of Ians’ I was after and used it successfully despite his strong defenses to take it over. (Leaving me with a neat line of military facilities on the edge of the map, out of the way from everyone else, and mostly facing towards the VP base benefit.

Edit: Base Benefits! Forgot to explain those. In each of the 4 compass directions is a ‘base benefit’ card. 2 orange, 2 green (I think one is more VP/Defensive and the other more token-gaining for one-off’s). When you Establish a Base/Seize Control or Re-orient a facility, you gain each benefit pointed at by arrows on the facility (Between 1 and 3), making part of the game trying to decide what direction you want facilities to point in to get the most useful bonuses.

The 5th round was more of a points grab. At this point Mark looked in a very strong position, and had doubled up most of his bases (Another rule we did wrong, you can normally only have one/facility). Stan/Ian were looking less healthy, partly because of bad dice rolls, but partly because of the decision to make those rolls in the first place, as there’s plenty ways to boost what you roll to avoid losing actions to a failed roll. Stan only had 1 technology card up till this point, so was also missing out on a lot of useful extra effects he could have been doing (I think he may have missed when we mentioned technology is once/round not once/game).

Something I managed to do in this game which usually fails in a ball of fire, is getting people to look the other way when I was doing quite well. The slew of military facilities I had on one edge of the map were all 3VP (The highest as far as I know) and pointed towards the bonus VP benefit (As mentioned earlier). I also had an aid to the alliance card I’d bought much earlier, which I think people had forgotten about, giving me another couple of points.

Aaanyway, the reason I mention that stuff is because I won, hooray! I had 28 points to Marks 25, Ians 19 and Stans 17 (Mark might have won, but Stan went all in defending against him from an attack in the last actions phase so he didn’t get the extra points needed).

Thoughts

I found New Dawn a really interesting game to play. We did play a couple of things significantly wrong though so its’ hard to make a good judgement or say whether the scores were fair. I’m super excited about it though, and I think its’ a fantastic thematic sequel to Among the Stars with more of the beautiful art style from it, while being a very unique and individual game. I hope they come out with more in this awesome universe of square cards =) (Seriously, totally love the square cards in these games, =P).

Tabletop/LAN Meetup Weekend (21-11-2014 to 23-11-2014)

So, last weekend, I had a few friends over for an awesome time playing games with friends. It was a mix of tabletop games and video games, but seeing as noone’s collectively got any multiplayer games for a good while it was a bit tinged towards tabletop (For me personally anyway).

Friday

Ahead of anyone arriving I got the room set up, putting the smaller table on the window side of the room for desktops, and the larger table (with nice black tablecloth) on the other, for laptops/board games. I also bought down my own PC and of course a ton of board games – Just the 25 or so that I really wanted to play ;P

Chris (Atkinson) was first to arrive, coming along with his desktop and setting up opposite me. We mostly messed about individually (I think he was getting some stuff done in Heroes & Generals, while I failed hard at League). After a while, I suggested a board game of some kind, and as Dave messaged me at about that time saying he’d be about half an hour I picked something that’s pretty quick – Last Will.

Last Will

I recently picked up the expansion for Last Will, ‘Getting Sacked’. With this included, you not only have to be first to spend a huge chunk of money, but you also need to get fired – Unfortunately for you, your boss tends to never be at work, so you have to put some effort in to getting demoted to the point he finally kicks you out. It also adds a variable setup and some extra cards which we made good use of.

I went for farms early in the game, due both to a boss line that required me to get caught buying a farm, and a pair of early estate agents, one being an action-less buy/sell on them each round, and one that activates up to 2 farms without actions in a round. Chris A also picked up a couple of farms, though he only had a ‘use one without an action’. We also both got an old friend around the same time, giving a little more freedom on #actions (Though I was going for more cards/workers over the number of actions each round).

A little further in and we’d both made good work on losing our jobs (In my case, acting, and in Chris’ case, teaching). Chris did get a touch behind, possibly from bad explanation on my part as to exactly when you can get fired for certain things :S. As we got near the end of the game, Chris started getting rid of some really big chunks of money each turn and had a couple of cards to do so without properties (All of my money-loss was my farms, awkward as you can’t bankrupt yourself while you have property). Fortunately for me, my farm based power-spending dropped me to 0 with Chris stuck with his last farm – I think he’d have gotten to 0 the next round though!

So at this point, with that game taking probably 3/4 of an hour, Dave hadn’t turned up so we assumed he was stuck in a well somewhere. Or…that he’d left at 5:30 down the motorway towards Birmingham…on a Friday. We went back to playing totally separate games for a bit then (Though we spent ages looking up free-to-play games to see if there was any people would play – As well…there’s not been a ‘multiplayer game everyone buys’ for years…We failed =P)

I think it was Dan and Gretchen to turn up next (Though not long different to Dave making an appearance 3 times the amount of time after when we expected him ^^). Little-beknownst to them but they’d be imminently joining for One Night Ultimate Werewolf (I wasn’t planning on giving anyone a choice – As soon as we had 3+ people it was happening =P). While I’d not yet played it, a fixed time-limit social deduction game seemed a nice way to start an evening/couple of evenings ^^.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf

(Edit – Never explained the game..simple really, each player has a role, with there being 2 werewolf cards shuffled in with the roles. A night phase lets players perform special abilities, then the day has a 5 minute discussion after while everyone points a finger at another player. Everyone with the most votes dies – If at least one werewolf dies, villagers win, if no werewolves dies, werewolves win. SImple).

Our first game of ONUW was a basic affair, using the recommended setup – 2 Werewolves, The Seer, The Robber and a few Villagers. It was a table of skepticism as I explained, and when we woke up from the first night (Well…second night, Dan ignored the ‘everyone close your eyes’ in true ‘someone refusing to cooperative with the silly sounding rules’ style the first time). After a bit of confusion, I pushed into asking people what their roles were, and when people started talking ‘Well, I was the robber and stole his card which was X’ everyone eyes lit up a bit as they realised it wasn’t as solvable as it sounds from the explanation ^^.

We had a load of games over the evening, playing while people turned up (Handy and later Grant/Lee/Rich), I didn’t really track but someone thought it was about 9 which seems about right. A couple of highlights include a game where Grant lied about his role getting him killed, but turned out to be the hunter (A special villager who, when killed, kills the person he was pointing at) – A brief moment of ‘well damn he’s not a werewolf’ later, and we noticed he was killing Dan, who we considered suspect #2 at the time…So then Dan dies, and reveals as a Tanner (A special role, if he dies he and he alone wins), god damn! ^^.

We had loads of fun playing, and everyone got involved at some point (Even Rich who’d sat out the first couple of games). The last game was another highlight with 3 people being on the most votes (2-2-2), amusingly being the minion and both werewolves – clean sweep on the entire werewolf team (The minion is on the werewolves side).

We had another bout of all playing random games then. I got a few rounds of GunGame in with Dan (Or whatever CS:GO calls it), where I didn’t do shockingly but certainly worse than Dan (So long since I’ve played a shooter!). I played a LoL game with Handy too (Just bots), but his laptop didn’t seem to approve of the updated graphics on Summoners Rift so we left it at just the one ^^. Pizza’s happened thereabouts, with me putting a few in the oven for the sensible people while some got ordered from rip-off-inoes. (I have literally no idea why people refused free pizza, but whatever).

People dropped off in general between 1 and 4am, with people disapearing to another room to sleep, asides from the 4 of us that slept in the LAN room.

Saturday

Saturday started with a plan, a plan to consume lots of Bacon and Sausages. Ian, who had only just turned up that Morning, volunteered to give us a lift to the supermarket by blocking everyone else in on the drive, so me & Grant went along with him and grabbed a ton of supplies. On getting back, my Mum/Gretchen seemed to happily take up the mantle of cooking it all, which I don’t think anyone had any particular need to argue with ^^ (Gretchen also did a ton of Eggy-Bread, which I absolutely approve of!). Full up on a ton of eggy bread, bacon and sausage later we got back to games ^^.

Smash Up

Just a 2 player game on this occasion, I played a game of Smash Up with Chris (Handy), which sadly noone else seemed interested in. We random-number-generated our factions, with me ending up with Elder Thing Carnivourous Plants and Chris with Secret Agent Cultists.

It was certainly an interesting game. As I was Elder Things, I spent a colossal amount of time throwing madness cards in Chris’ way, leading to the majority of his actions being spent to get rid of the things. He got a few thrown back at me when he got his star spawn, forcing me into rushing the base to get rid of the thing (Which was annoying, as I had a spores card that could have made it an easy base win for me, but would have kept it in play longer). I made a mistake following that as I played a card that had Chris discard any madness (He had none, which I unfortunately didn’t realise) then shuffle his discards back into his deck – I.e. I gave him back the bloody star-spawn!

Chris got into the lead and stayed there for a good while, but I was able to crawl my way up to the point I could trigger the endgame at a risk. The risk being that I had 3 madness cards (-1VP) and had no idea how many Chris had, when capturing the only base I could without giving him the win meant I was either tied or 1 point ahead – if he had no madness I was screwed. (Well, it would have caused a tie, but Chris was well set to win the next base, particularly as I was out of minions in hand). I also had no idea how much ‘before a base scores’ power Chris had, as the spies have a lot of such cards and can often muddy the waters greatly even when one person thinks they’ve won.

So, I dropped my elder thing (the 3rd or so time, yay for things letting you retrieve from discards and then being on the second run through the deck ^^). I also got spores onto the base so each of Handy’s minions were at -1. Further to his disadvantage was he had a cultist there which he could have buffed by 2 power by drawing a madness – That would have put him into leading I think (except he chose not to because madness) but I had a card that would have been ‘+2 power per madness in opponents hand’, direct counter ^^. Turned out to be a win for me, by a single point (15 to 14 I think, or 16 to 15). Can’t believe I scraped it back as I was a good few points behind up till near the end, ^^.

Command and Conquer Generals: Zero Hour

Moving back to video games, we decided to give Zero Hour a shot. The last couple times we’ve tried at LAN’s we’ve had problems where you get 1-20 minutes in and the game goes ‘synch error’ and kicks everyone. Fortunately Dave, Master of Daves, had a copy with a patch that fixes this and after a couple tests to make sure it wasn’t a trick got ourselves into a 5 player game (+ 3 AI’s).

In our first game, I played the USA Super Weapon General, while the others went a mix of China and GLA (I don’t think there was any other USA). My plan was simple, build ridiculous amounts of defenses (Emp patriots ho!), 6 or more supply drop zones and 3 airports filled with aurora alphas. The reason for my turtling with turrets was purely because everyone was whinging before the game that USA Super Weapon General was OP and I assumed I’d get rushed.

Nope. Actually I got totally ignored. Chris A was the first to attack me, dropping GLA tunnels in my base. They mostly just got screwed by my turrets, but he did get at least one in at the back making me half kill one of my buildings in killing it with an aurora alpha (I had literally 0 infantry or tanks). People also used general powers on my first airport a few times to destroy it, although they left my other 2 alone (Presumably they just didn’t know where they were) – an odd choice particularly as one was barely defended. Also going ignored were my supply drop zones, which pretty much meant I could afford to replace every aurora I lost.

Towards the end-game, the other players were having an intense war, and I bound my aurora-alphas’ in teams of 2 to numbers 1-6 and just played poke the strongest player. As noone teammed up or let up agaisnt one another to attack me, this meant everyone got wiped out fairly quickly, leaving me the win. Apparently USA Super Weapon General really is OP (Not that I built any super-weapons)…at least when you get left to your own devices. (I mean Chris A did attack me a few times, and I think a group of about 6 tanks were sent my way at one point, but well…they needed to do more than that when I had 3 times as many base defenses as anyone else).

Game 2

Next up, on account of the whinging, I avoided USA altogether and went for the China Nuke General (Not that I built any superweapon Nuke’s…I really don’t pick very smartly). I got my base built and..well then I got my ass kicked by the AI next door playing the GLA Toxin general, as apparently toxins > gatling turrets. This hit my really hard and lost me ~1/3rd of my stuff, before Dave also got annoyed from their other side and wiped them out. As I rebuilt a bit I started pushing at Dave, as letting him get too strong as the China Tank General would have been an emporer overlord death for all.

We possibly pushed against each other too hard, as following Chris A’s elimination (No idea what it was from) we got ourselves mostly taken out too, except I had a second base I was building up so Handy wiping out my first was only a setback. I also set up a third base and made a ridiculous amount of hackers that I spread around to keep myself rolling in funds, so I could try and build enough gatling tanks to beat his ridiculous mini-gunner armies (China Infantry General). Unfortunately for me, he did his due and kept knocking down my main (2nd main anyway) bases force despite his war with Ian, who was the only other person really still going properly.

A shock reentry on the field was Dave, who apparently still had a black lotus running around, which he used to steal my command centre for a fresh start. He swiftly took over the centre of the map to start building up anew (There was resources to farm there whereas the sides were pretty much empty). This wouldn’t bother me, except when I moved my secondary army up to try and hit Handy, I realised Dave had built a load of gatling turrets on their move route and I lost a ton of stuff before I realised it was just getting slaughtered.

Next up…Handy defeated Ian. It was pretty much GG there, and in another half an hour or so of benny hill escaped from me/Dave he finished off the last of our stuff for the win. No idea if we could have beaten Handy had we worked together more (Me/Dave that is) but he controlled a hell of a lot of the map ^^. Had a fantastic time though, C&C Generals is just about my favourite RTS game of all time!

Galaxy Trucker

Also on Saturday we got in a game of Galaxy Trucker, with 6 players. Its’ a 2 to 5 player game, but tacking a 6th on just meant I had to use different ship boards to everyone else, and that we wouldn’t be able to do a 4th round (As there just wouldn’t be enough pieces, though that could be fun ^^).

One of the big problems with Galaxy Trucker is experience-advantage. As such I suggested that if me or Rich were winning at the end of a round we had to deal with a rough roads card the following rounds. In the first year however, Ian managed to take the lead by but a credit or two over Rich letting him get away with no penalty. In the second year, with me somehow only screwing up a little playing the ring-ship, I somehow got enough points to be leading, and got myself stuck with a rough roads as well as confusing ship board for year 3!

In our final year, things got a bit more interesting as both Rich & Handy opted to play alternate boards too (Rather than the boring space-invader-ships everyone else was running!). These were the base game alternates for round III, which is to say the Enterprise ships (3A). There was a fair bit of unfinished-ship syndrome this year (Though I suppose the same was true for the earlier years, but I suspect it was lack of tiles rather than experience this time). I was playing ship IIIC, which means I get no centre module and ended up with barely any crew (Which apparently was thanks to Ian having ridiculous amounts), though I managed to build my ship with again only one piece messed up – Its’ a really fun ship, as the edges all wrap around so you have to leave spaces for turrets/engines and you get to be all haphazard and silly in building it ^^.

In the race part of that 3rd round, lots of cargo-gaining opportunities came out earlier, and I dropped out with 26 value in cargo (So I had to sell for half) under a gamble that enough bad cards would come out to kill the points for anyone left in the round. Some pain did occur, particularly to Handy and Ian, who’s ships practically distegrated, but as far as winning for me was concerned, Rich escaped unfortunately near to unscathed (Along with the sole other survivor, out of 6, though I forget who ^^). He unfortunatey also had an utter ton of cargo and took the win! Should have forced rough roads on him damnit ^^ (Mine I should mention was that I’d have to pay 1 credit or cargo per crew before the last adventure card, but as I dropped out earlier, it had no effect). Such a great game though, super-happy to have played it!

I don’t think I did much else on Sat asides from conversation and League of Legends, which I’m apparently awful at in the presense of others (As while my mouse seems to get jumpy in the presence of too much electric, its’ at least partly me being bad ^^). I got sorted out with bed stuff by about 1am but didn’t sleep till 3 or so as Dave/Chris were still up (Well, chris was still up past that, but we had the lights off for sleep by then ^^)

Sunday

Ian did stay over Saturday night, but left Sunday morning, leaving just Myself, Chris, Dave and Grant still around (Lee/Rich being at MCM in the daytime). I’d set up Legendary the night before, but noone seemed particularly interested, so I suggested Myth instead which got much more of a response ^^.

Myth

Opting to play the Archer myself (I’m trying to get a feel for all of the classes), I gave the other 3 the choice of either one of the 4 other base classes, or one of the 3 extra classes I have from kickstarting Myth. Grant relucatantly took the soldier (He wanted the archer, but too slow =P), Chris the Trickster (One of the extras!) and Dave the Apprentice.

After briefly going through how the game works, we chose an initial tile and drew ourselves a chapter quest. The card had some text on it, but seeing as we promptly forgot about it (Leading to the 2 fighters that supposedly started on the tile being clearly dead) we set up 2 lairs (One Arachnid, One Rat) on the tile and got to laying down the pain.

Or should I say, the soldier and apprentice got to laying down the pain, while me and Chris prepared – The archer has to build up ammo while the trickster needs to get parts together, giving them a sort of wax-and-wane feeling. It wasn’t long though before we slipped in on the rat lair and ripped it apart with a powerful arrow from me and some hurty bangs from Chris. This pulled the arachnids from the other side of the tile (Which we’d carefully skirted away from), but at least there was only one lair for spawns now.

Of course, the problem with taking time to prepare and not being an immediate threat generating machine, is that rats, in their infinite cowardess, target you as a priority. Chris’ attack having generated more threat, I got the full force of remaining rats going for me. Worse still was that in a following round when I was tied to someone on threat, I had the lowest vitality, which is their secondary priority…I died. In the meantime, soldier Grant had moved off to the other side of the tile and happily tanked a ton of arachnids, as unlike the archer, the soldier isn’t comically squishy.

Eventually the 3 of them got the tile cleared, and we moved on. The chapter quest told us to move to a 6×12 tile set up as a tavern, and then have a drinking contest – We figured its’ unlikely we’d be drinking while fighting so spawned no monsters and got right to downing drinks in a vain attempt to outdrink the mighty marcus the ready. Each turn we had to roll a dice, and beat an ever increasing TN (2, 4, 6, 8, etc). Marcus rolled 3 dice, the priest in the room rolled 2, and the random fighter just one (like us). The fighter and our Trickster (Chris) turned out to be quite lightweight, out in a couple of rounds, while me, Dave and the Priest lasted a touch longer before being outed on the 3rd round. Marcus scraped through the TN8 round (was something like 2-2-8 on his dice) but Grant did not, leaving us passed out and shamed at our lack of ability to hold a drink, curses!

The next Morning, we moved to another tile and drew a chapter quest to kill the vermin, naturally we took this as being a way for us to pay for having a place to sleep after passing out, and happily went for it, onto a 12×12 tile with 8 rats per edge (32 of the bloody things!) – So many we had to proxy with arachnids and skeletons to make the numbers. To help us out, there were 4 traps on the tile which the quest said we should try to make use of to clear the enemies – Traps normally target heroes, but we figured that was a bit ridiculous and had them targetting whatever was closest instead (After all, they were set to try and wipe out the vermin!, and none of that cheek you!).

We weren’t long in, when a mini-boss got spawned (I forget how), for which we chose Keesi & Og (As Og is a massive Rat, being ridden by Keesi ^^). It looked like he’d hit hard so we focused the mini-boss while the traps shredded the lair (What…it was the closest thing to them ^^). Keesi & Og have 2 defense/health values, Keesi is 11 to hit but 4 health, and Og only 6 to hit, but 15 health – You can’t hit Keesi without buffs, but it takes some time to do 15 damage! Fortunatey I’d build up 4 arrows, and had a buff of 1 damage, and had an orions tears, with us already having got og to 7 health (I could deal 5!)…aaaand then I got murdered by rats. Did I mention that rats suck for the archer? ‘Cause rats suck for the archer.

Somehow, the others managed to deal with the rest of the tile (I was dead so early on I just went and did other things). I’m glad they did, but well, next time I play Archer I think the rats are going to be mysteriously absent no matter what the quests say! ^^.

Soooo…Yeah I think that was about it, =) Absolutely fantastic weekend, and I love doing it once (or more) a year as a way to get friends together and just have  good time =)

UoB Tabletop and Halesowen Board Games (19/11/2014)

So at last weeks Tabletop Society, while I had a few games with me, I pushed for playing Caverna: The Cave Farmers, and easily ended up with plenty of people (I was a bit surprised to be honest). In fact, we could have had 7, but I didn’t think we had enough time left, and there seemed to be at least 3 people milling about outside games, so I turned them away and we went with 5. I was a bit disapointed to realise that those 3+ people left soon after, and feel a bit guilty that I didn’t include them or change game so that we could easier split into 2 groups (As I’d happily teach 2 games and try to include everyone, but not when one of them is as big as Caverna). Oh well…:S

Caverna

As I recall, all 4 other players were in for their first time, although a couple of them (Liam & Jay. Luke & Rob I think were totally fresh to it) had played Agricola, the games predecessor. Explanation was fairly easy with everyone being attentive, although one guy who was in the 5 swapped out about halfway through for Rob (I forget the swap-out guys name :S), so Rob got a bit of a partial-explanation (He was listening a bit for the first half though I think).

Right from the start, one player focused on his caves (Luke), while I pushed for my farm half (Getting a wheat that I planted straight after, then a couple of vegetables in the next round), Liam & Jay seemed to go fairly balanced at this point. Rob tried to go a very direct route at gaining a worker, although (Yay for missing some explanation ^^) didn’t realise he needed to build a dwelling first – It didn’t matter much, he had the resources to build it instead as an action, but still ^^). It was only the next round he got it, and I think Jay/Liam weren’t far behind that. I got my third a bit later (Round ~6/7 I guess, and a fourth at ~9), while Jay also got a 4th (Think everyone else stayed on 2 or 3).

For much of the rest of the game, I stayed leaning heavily on the farm side, as there was high competition for cave parts with people building a huge amount of mines (I’m not sure there was any space spare on his board by the time Luke finished up). I did get to work on it before the end, but went pretty exclusively for double-caverns to get furnishings that would turn my animals into copious amounts of points (And food, which was a bit of a mistake as it meant my best food was also my points =P). Jay seemed to generally do ridiculously well throughout, keeping a good balance, and Rob/Liam struggled a bit while being tilted towards their cave sides (Which is probably why they struggled, as it meant over half the table was scralling for those spaces while me/Jay had it easy – Though Jay got in my way a hell of a lot, being to my right!

Coming towards the end of the game, Rob had mostly cave but a fair bit of a farm built up, and points coming in from a stone supplier. Luke had his ridiculously busy cave, a ton of ore and rubies and furnishings to give him points for those, Liam um…He messed up a bit but at least wasn’t totally starving (He had lots of vegetables!), Jay was well balanced, and while his farm wasn’t as over the top as mine, he’d somehow found the time to round out his cavern on the side, heavily thanks to having a decent level adventurer (I had one at level 6, but I’d only really taken it to block the weapons space in an early round).

The final scores were quite spread, although mine & jays were close, sadly for me with him in the lead (~89 I think to my lower 80-something, 82 or so). Liam was fairly low down, but I think he had a good experience in learning how he’d update his strategy for a next play. Luke did ok (50 or so I think) but had basically all the negative points ever (He had 2 tiles towards his farm I think, and no animals), getting all his points from his ~30 ore and 10 rubies ^^.

Liam asked that I bring it again next (Well, this) week, but I’m hosting a games weekend with various friends so won’t be going along to the universities society for a week. Maybe next time ;-)

Saturday

On Saturday this week, the plan was to be running Pathfinder with the usual group (Sans Handy as he’s often unavailable). Dave/Ken were running a bit late, so myself and Chris sat down for a game of Coin Age, then started to give Myth a try when Dave turned up and included him too. Ken for whatever reason turned out to not be turning up at all, so most of the day went to playing Myth ^^.

Coin Age

First up though, with just the 2 of us and not knowing how long till others turned up, I got out Coin Age. This is a micro-size game where you compete over a map drawn out on a single card, and needs just a handful of coins to play (Or Cardboard punchout ones as I have from kickstarting it).

Each player takes four 1’s, 3 2’s, 2 3’s and 1 4 value coin. Then they take turns to shuffle them up and slap them down onto the table. Depending on the number of coins matching that players colour (Or matching them for heads/tails with coins), they get to perform actions to try and control the map. ‘Place’ just lets you put a coin from the matches on an empty space, or on top of a higher numbered coin; ‘Move’ lets you shift all the coins on one space to an adjacent empty space; ‘Capture’ lets you take an opponents coin from the top of a pile and add to your supply.

The game ends when all regions are full, or one player runs out of coins. Players score points equal to the value of visible coins (i.e. the top of each stack), which are doubled in any region where the player has majority control. As you can only place coins on higher numbers, low numbers give more powerful control and more potential for doubling, while high numbers give good flat points (So you might control 3/5 area’s in coindor, but they’re all 1’s and its’ worth 6, while an opponent has a 4 and a 3 in the same area for 7).

We played a few rounds on different maps, with me winning the first 2 (With us getting rules wrong, :P), then Chris winning the last one. It was quite a relief mind when he won that last one as once we had the proper rules nailed the game seemed extremely back-and-forth (As captures take a coin off the map, you can get within a turn of ending then get 3 capture turns in a row where you’re just turning back time…), but maybe that was a rare thing.

Myth

Our next up game to give a try, was Myth. This is a flawed gem, with beautiful components and awesome gameplay, but a poor rulebook and bad descriptions on some cards to explain properly how they work. Fortunately updated versions of the hero cards were posted to the creators website, which I have printed off making things a lot more pleasant – Still, its’ a shame there wasn’t more blind playtesting as when you’re taking part in the gameplay rather than looking up rules, its’ a brilliant game design.

Myth consists of a series of ongoing ‘cycles’. Core of this is the hero cycle, where players can in any order among them play cards to deal with the threats opposing them. Each time someone plays a card, it pushes up the darkness’ AP track, and when it hits 6, it triggers and the darkness cycle interupts the hero cycle, where the monsters fight back. As such, the more the heroes push, the more the darkness pushes back.

Another core mechanic of the game is ‘threat’. When a player damages an enemy, they gain 1 threat per damage dealt. If a players threat is ever at 10 when darkness activates, a ‘threat penalty’ can occur, which are generally hell for the group (Double Damage, Spawn a Mini-Boss, Double-Spawns, etc). Threat is reduces by empty action spaces however (of 4), and the result is that it forces players to work together and manage their threat, as one player trying to take the lime-light will just screw everyone including them.

Aaaanyway, in our game we were playing 3 of the core heroes – the expanded ones don’t have updated versions yet, so are a little janky – the Acolyte (Me), the Soldier (Chris) and the Brigand (Dave). We started on a 12×12 tile, which is nice for starting as it gives lots of room to maneuver. The chapter quest we drew had us approached by a priest, telling us of an alarming number of undead creatures that had risen, and asking us to investigate and deal with the problem. I was originally going to just set up some arachnids, but instead went with an undead lair with a ton of shamblers to suit the quest (Which also had a special rule that the priest blessed our weapons so the undead couldn’t resurect on death…kind of disapointing as one of the cool bits about the acolyte is that exact effect!).

We got off to a bit of a difficult start, more due to being new to the heroes being played than anything else. In fact I think we’d killed a lot of enemies before even taking damage (Helps than skeletons suck a bit). We got a few treasures popped (Last game I played with people I kind of forgot to do that ^^) getting me a ring providing +1 range to my relic attacks, and Dave got a flashy knife with a fate-dice recipie to let him stay in shadows after attacks.

We did however hit a bit of a hitch before we finished the tile! I hit 10 threat (By healing Chris I think) with darkness AP too high, so that I couldn’t lose it before darkness triggered. This spawned a mini-boss just after we finished off the lair, so we suddenly had a way more scary threat than the 5 shamblers remaining. To be thematic, we spawned Yardu, an undead mini-boss who can raise soulless (Undead captains), which asides from being bigger and tougher, can sometimes resurect the shamblers.

This was kind of scary, as…well, first time fighting a mini-boss! It was also very confusing, and it took a long time to figure out how he works (Fairly simple really, roll 4 fate dice, see what happens, but it doesn’t say that on the card as such ^^, plus he can spawn soulless, but we had no idea where we’re supposed to put them, though figured we just treat it as lair spawns with him being the lair). His attack was I think 4 Dice, where every hit (5+ I believe) counted as a damage, and he could hit multiple targets depending what was rolled by the fate dice (Fortunately for us, never multiple targets, so the soldier was able to take the hits easy enough).

A few turns later we managed to despatch of him, Chris grabbing the treasure (He had a ring I’d found that meant you draw 2 tokens and pick one from the treasure bag)…He still drew 2 white treasure tokens (He did that rather consistently actually, despite having twice the tokens drawn he had a worse rate of decent treasure than me or Dave, he only got the ring because me or Dave gave it to him!).

Victorious, we moved to another tile, a 6×6, to work on the next chapter in the same chain. In the first part, we’d found a mysterious skull, and this chapter let us use it to summon shamblers to fight for our side. I refused to have anything to do with it (Unholy evil thing!), and while the soldier was carrying it, he opted not to actually make use of the foul thing. This kind of meant we basically ignored the point of the chapter and just cleared another tile to get a reward for it anyway ^^.

We set up the tile with a Rat lair and a group of grubbers (My first time vs Rats, as Dave suggested I pick a minion type I’ve not tried yet). They’re a bit different, as they target the hero with the least threat first (Proximity/Most Threat being the norm till this point). Thanks to a darkness card, we ended up with a ‘Rath’ on the tile too, which is a rat captain with a repeating crossbow and full tile range, letting him sit safe and pepper targets with death. My death that is, as I didn’t last too long on the tile before getting murdered!

The Soldier and Brigand seemed to have things under control though, and a suicide run here and riding the edge there cleared things up, demonstrating how much I was needed (*sheds a tear*). Having completed a 6×6, they got to spawn a merchant, which they used to stock up on health potions (They even got me one for future occasions – you don’t ‘die’ as such, in that you respawn for the next tile..unless everyone dies when you’d have to restart the act/chapter/story you’re doing). I think they were a bit disapointed when they realised you don’t get to keep items between sessions though (Not without titles from completing stories anyway, though I may house-rule that you can keep a potion or two).

Had lots of fun and look forward to playing again! Hell, I even felt motivated enough to get started on painting (I’ve got the base-coats done on the crawlers) ^^. Absolutely looking forward to more plays, and well, to have all the stuff painted too ^^ (I feel a lot happier doing these than the Zombicide zombies that I got bored with – The most minions of one type is ~20, much more pleasant that looking at a pile of 100 of the same thing!).

Among the Stars

As we couldn’t be sure how long another tile in Myth would be, and wanted food, we went for something a bit shorter. I’d bought a few games down and briefly touted them each, and Among the Stars got chosen. This is a tile-laying drafting game, which I have played an absolute ton. I recently received my stuff from the latest kickstarter for the game, which was just for a few stretch goal things, plus glorious glorious metal coins.

We had a good time of it, with Dave building the worlds longest space station (There was an objective to have the most locations of a single type in a continuous line..He could have won twice over in the end as I gave up at 4 in a row ^^). Me and Chris picked up early race tracks, so ours were more square, though the contents were a bit different with Chris’ bigger military, and my better international relations (First time I’ve ever really built many green locations ^^). I also had lots of recreational locations, as I took 2 early restaurants and put montzeerian tokens on them (Turns an immediate into delayed, so I was able to easily get the max 5 points from them each). Still, Dave’s commercial powerhouse (The 10 or so in-a-line locations he had were all yellow =P) was the coolest looking ^^.

As far as points, I looked to be behind almost all the way through, despite having more immediate locations that I normally aim for (I like delayed, more to think about as you build ^^). What I was forgetting though was my 3 montzeerian tokens had turned immediates into delayed and meant I had loads more points coming than I realised. As a result, I leaped into the lead on end-game scoring for the win. I don’t think Chris/Dave were too far behind though ^^.

Halesowen

At Halesowen this week, I got into a couple of games with Mike, Suzy and Stan. I was tempted when I saw that Dave had and was punching out Panamax to join for that, but I find doing heavy euro’s with someone’s who’s just that moment taken it out the shrink to be an intimidating prospect (Though I’m sure he probably had looked up how to play beforehand). Instead, at Stans suggestion of Murano that he’d brought along I jumped into that.

Murano

Murano is a sort of rondel/tile-placement game. Players compete for the most points, which they do by gathering objective-based VP cards, then placing gondolia’s at the various islands to score in conjunction with said cards (The cards specify something to do with an island, so that island has to meet the requirements listed on the card).

Around the board are roughly 20 action spaces, with there being ~8 ‘ships’ placed around those spaces. On each players turn, they move a ship and take the action of the space moved to. Moving one space is free, but after that it’s 1 coin/space. You can move multiple ships (Its’ one free move overall, not one per ship btw!), but only the last movement gives you a usable action.

Actions are there to obtain the 4 different building types, build them (And paths), place gondolia’s, gain money (Various spaces with different requirements) or gain vp cards. Money gaining spaces have requirements and are quite few in number (One for +2 Coins, one for Money from Shops, one for money from glassworks, one for trading in gondolia’s), making money a fairly tight resource.

There are I think 6 different islands in the game, but this isn’t an area control game. The ‘gain vp cards’ space, lets you spend money to buy vp cards which give you some objective to attain, for which you need at least one gondola at the island where you manage that objective. It costs 1 coin for your first card, 2 for your second, and each time you pay, you get to draw 3, keeping 0 or 1 of the drawn cards. These can be things like ‘Gain 12 VP if the number of shields and shops on an island are the same’, or ‘If you have a gondolia at island X, you may trade red gems for vp at 1 gem = 7vp (max 3 times)’.

My aim in our game was to go for glassworks to try and get a boatload of money to use in taking vp cards. I got a bit scupperred early on as Mike also took a liking to glassworks, and kept on taking the space to earn from them ^^. While he was doing that however, I managed to get 3 placed on the board, which meant when I finally got to visit the ‘capitalising on it’ spot I got 3 gems (Which also means -6VP, -2 per gem you take), which I then sold for 17 gold (A huge amount considering I’d been mostly on 1-3 for the rest of the game, and passed about 3 times more than anyone else – passing being to take no action but gain 1 gold). Stan and Suzy went for shops, both getting in with red shops on an island that had 4 (Later 5) red customers, meaning 4 gold from the shops money-gaining space, Stan also getting a black shop on the island making it even more valuable to him (There was only 1 or 2 black customers there, but you get money per island, rather than per type).

About halfway through the game (Though I thought we were nearer the end), I bought gondolia’s on the 3 busiest islands, then took the vp-card gaining space (You can take as many as you want in a turn, but it costs lots of money, but that’s what the glassworks silliness is for right ^^). I was able to get 4 cards which neatly matched to the islands I’d got with gondolia’s (Though I then had to get another 5 coins and build one more gondolia at one of them, as you can only score one card/gondolia). One of them was points for red gems, and on my next visit to the glassworks space I lucked out and drew 3 of them – which conveniently made up for the different between my points and everyone elses, as I was on -4 points to everyone elses 10-20 by then ^^.

I forget if it was Mike or Suzy that finished the game (Mike I think, as he’d done his goals and either needed to finish it up or extend the game a fair bit longer to do more), and sadly for me I couldn’t quite afford an action that might have got me another card completed (I should mention, I had 5 cards, I think noone else had more than 3, yay glassworks, being 20 points behind is fiiiiine ^^). I was able to get all the way around the board from my end-game scoring to 53 points, while Mike/Suzy got to 47 and Stan to 42. Had Stan been able to complete his last VP card it would have been another 12 points to hit 54, but luckily for me he did not ^^. (I missed one of mine too, but well…yeah ^^).

It was a really interesting game, and has that neat ticket-to-ride element where you can either take objectives early to know what to plan for, or just build up as you like then take objectives late on a gamble for points. I won the gamble on this occasion, but I’m not sure it would always be wise ^^. I do think some of the games objective cards should have a tough more scaling though, as there could be some crazy point swings from very small things happening (E.g. one of mine was ’12vp if the number of crests (Which’re on yellow buildings) and shops is the same on the scored island’, it would have only taken one shop or yellow building dropped there on the last turn to drop me into last place! (Though I guess that’s an incentive to fill islands so they can’t be messed up, which means taking objectives late would be stronger as you don’t know the state of and island till that point…) Still fun though =-)

Among the Stars

With about an hour left, I suggested Among the Stars, because y’know, metal coins ^^. The table agreed and we got it set up fairly quickly (I never really appreciated how nice it is to keep a couple of standard-decks in the box).

Race tracks came early in this game, with both myself and Mike picking them up early. Also early was much punishment from interactive cards, which are usually rare to come out, causing much theft of money between players. (From Stan in particular, who was playing the ‘feronsy’ race, which can 4 times in a game take coins from other players instead of from supply as a discard action). Suzy got a ton of money from her ‘4 coins from discard instead of 3’ race plus an early build of the ‘mint’ special location, one of the 5 large locations that can come up. Stan got a couple of early turrets, giving himself nice potential for scaling points.

In the 2nd (I think, maybe 3rd) year I got a couple of dual-locations for red/purple and red/green. I always like gettig these as they’re unlimited on scale so have a lot of potential for only 2 credits each. More shocking, was that in the 3rd year I got 2 more which were both yellow/green, and dedicated the rest of the game to getting yellow and green locations, as so long as they were balanced in quantity they were worth an extra point each. I also managed to get a couple of transportation platforms (Another fantastic points/cost location, 1 credit each and they give you 1vp +1/transportation platform, double vp from credits spent is good even with just one ^^.

Going into the 4th year I saw a race track in my section hand, and had a convenient gap in my station, so built a power reactor in range. I also discarded a turret so that it wouldn’t get to Stan (Suzy had built one at some point denying it too, possibly a bit overly harsh actually but oh well =P). A third transporation platform got passed to me in the year too, which was about perfect as I had 5 coins and had to keep 4 for the race track, which thanks to it not fitting in for anyone else, actually made it round to me for an extra 8 points.

I won the game, with I think Mike in second, Suzy in third and Stan in last place – I thought he’d been doing much better, having no seen that his delayed locations were low on point gains. I got very lucky in the game though and had everyone played before to know to deny me certain things (The 3rd transporation platform and that race track stand out) I think I’d have come in 2nd or 3rd place (As lots of my points were in that last round just because of those).

Awesome evening, can’t complain about winning both games played ^^. Bit of a shame it was first time for players on Among the Stars though, really want to include some of the extras I haven’t tried yet (Events and Experimental Reactors sound like great fun to me). Maybe next time!

Halesowen Board Gamers (12/11/2014)

Oops, thought I’d posted this a few days ago! Well anyway…

Castles Of Mad King Ludwig

The way people grouped up on Wednesday left 4 of us to work out something to play. After some discussion, we settled on having a game of ‘Castles of Mad King Ludwig’ first, which I’d brought along. This is a fairly straightforward game where players build rather crazy castles, but need to keep a close eye on other players if you want to be able to do well yourself. (Due to the ‘Master Builder’ concept, I think I talked about it more in depth in the ‘games weekend’ post a few back).

In our game, I started out with rather annoying initial goal cards (Points for rooms sized 350, and points for rooms sized 200). This is awkward because you don’t get nice crossover (e.g. if you had ‘rooms sized 350’ and ‘sleeping rooms’, getting a 350 size sleeping room is awesome). So, I kind of ignored my personal goals and picked one of the public ones to go for, which was ‘most sq. footage of sleeping rooms’. I had quite a lot of fun with that as its’ easy to get more sleeping rooms out to buy from completing sleeping rooms. I also hoped to get most downstairs rooms, and after completing my first utility room (Which got me a goal ‘1 point per 2 complete rooms’) I aimed to complete all my rooms, counter to a public goal which was out for ‘most exposed doors’ (Which was a stupid idea, really).

Later into the game, I got denied pretty hard on the downstairs rooms and by the end it was a 3 way tie (all on 2 rooms). Dave’s Luxurious castle of Luxury net him an absolute ton of points, which noone really tried hard enough to deny (Too busy denying me from things -_-). A lot of sleeping rooms went down (I completed 2 or 3 and used those completions to put more out =P) leading to a slightly extended game, though I don’t know if I really helped or hindered myself by making that happen. I forget what Mark/Steve had as general themes, as nearing the end it was very obvious it was just Dave to watch out for (And too late in fact). Near to the end we got a great opportunity to deny him (He got to 0 money), and Mark as master builder put a discounted room in the 1k spot…which he wanted, nailing the coffin shut for the rest of us.

The game ended with Dave in first, me in a not particularly close second, and Mark/Steve somewhere further back still. (I wasn’t looking in too good a position till late, but got a good amount of points from bonus cards, though the ‘3 points per 350-room’ was worth nothing to me at the end…Like I said, multiple room-size ones are annoying (Barely any came out, though I should have fixed that with the sleeping rooms really – Got plenty of 200’s though). Looking forward to my next play already, really cool game!

Greed

This…I cared less about. As it was introduced, first I got ‘Its’ a bit like 7 wonders’ (Which I don’t much like, thought Among the Stars I love), then ‘Gangster Theme’ (Le sigh, gangsters are lame), and ‘A bit of take-that’ (Well…fuck). Anyway…

In greed, players start with a hand of 12 cards. Each turn, they may take one for their personal supply, then pass the rest to their left. From the 3rd turn onwards, after the above, they may play one of their personal supply cards, which are either Holdings, Thugs or Actions. Actions are one-offs and then discarded, thugs provide special abilities and ‘icons’, and holdings provide icons and gain markers for icons (So if a holding has a heart, and you also have a thug with a heart, you gain 2 markers, which are worth 10k for endgame).

I screwed up the first 2 turns as I took cards with requirements I couldn’t fulfill. I then just went for holdings for the game, while Mark went for Thugs and Dave/Steve a bit all-round. I might have been able to get a good score, but (Yay for take-that mechanics) lost a load of the markers from holdings near the end. I ended with 125k to ~150k from Steve, ~175k from Dave and ~185k from Mark, who won.

Its’ pretty obvious I’m sure, but really not a fan. Drafting is a nice support-mechanic, but needs something deeper (Like the tile-placement in AtS) to make a fun game with it for me. Plus, I struggle to care about gangster themes, as it involves acting out a lowlife asshole… (That said, I do admit I want to try Nothing Personal, but that’s because of the designer not the theme ^^). Anyway, I hope I didn’t spoil the fun too much for the other players, as I realise I should have excused myself before the game (I was tired anyway and left straight after).

Speaking of Among the Stars…I have pretty metal coins and more stuff for it now, got to get that played some more! =)