Tag Archives: Games

Halesowen Board Gamers #17 (04/06/14)

On arrival, a couple of games already seemed to be out on tables indicating what people wanted to play. Neither Power Grid (Although I don’t know that it was actually played in the end) or Legendary really interest me (Tzol’kin…I’d probably enjoy actually playing but it just doesn’t stand out). There just seemed to be myself and Ian having not jumped into a game, so I suggested we play a game of Hive while waiting to see if anyone else turned up.

Hive

I didn’t notice however that James was also not in a game, so he came over to join us. As Hive is 2 player, I suggested Ian/James play against each other instead with myself being a spectator, as it’s quite a short one and I was interested in how others approach the game. In Hive, players have a number of hex tile ‘bugs’ with various movement styles. If they can surround the opposing players queen (With any combination of their opponents/their own tiles), that player wins. Each turn players either place or move (Although they can’t move until their queen is placed, which must be done by the 4th turn), with placement having to be next to their own colour (black/white) tile and not next to their opponents (So you have to start pieces away from the target and use their movement to get them in).

Being their first game, neither James nor Ian seemed to go for any particular strategy, although there was a lot of use of grasshoppers I wasn’t expecting (Grasshoppers jump over a line of pieces), with ants coming out quite late (Ants are one of the more versatile pieces, which can move almost anywhere, though not into tight gaps which beetles/grasshopppers can). Both their beetles (Moves 1 at a time, but can go up on top of the hive, which also allows for ‘disabling’ tiles when its’ on top of them) got placed opposite a gap in a sort of stand-off, as I think if either had moved their beetle the other would have jumped there’s on top (My fault for mentioning you could do that during explaining probably).

It wasn’t too long before players started getting their pieces around their opponents queen. James made use of his queens movement to escape getting trapped before it could happen, while Ian mostly ignored his (queen) bee, leaving almost none of his own pieces surrounding it (Which I think is a fair thing to do, but you probably need to be capturing the enemies quickly or reducing how many pieces the other player has available considerably to get away with it). As Ian left it to be trapped however, he quickly ran out of non-defensive moves he could make, and while he made some pretty cool blocks on movement was unable to stop the last grasshopper jump into the remaining space by his queen, leaving victory to James.

I think it’s a really interesting game (I picked it up at the UK Games Expo btw), which has more strategy than I was mentally giving it credit for whenever I’ve seen it in the past (I mean…it’s just a few tiles, it’s hardly the biggest footprint of game ^^). I’ve only played 4 times but look forward to playing it lots and hopefully inducing some healthy competition with others as I do so!

Boss Monster

Nobody extra turned up, so our next port of call was to jump into Boss Monster, the Dungeon Building Card Game. Boss Monster is a sort of ‘tower defense’ with players building up dungeons leading up to their boss creature, in a bid to kill the various heroes that are attracted to visit their dungeon. The game is played over a few phases – Spawn, Build, Bait & Adventure, and continues until all but one player are eliminated (Take 5+ wounds) or a player reaches 10 Souls (Tiebreak – Least Wounds).

Spawn just has #players heroes come out into town, letting players see what heroes they might attract. Build has each player construct one room in their dungeon (Built to the left to a max of 5, or possibly over another room), hopefully adding enough damage to kill heroes, as well as the right treasure type (Each room has a symbol to denote that it has say, weapons, as treasure) to attract them. The bait phase has heroes in the town move to the dungeon with the most treasure symbols of the type they prefer (So a Fighter goes to a 3 sword dungeon over a 2 sword dungeon), with ties having them stay in town till next turn getting drunk in the bar. Finally, the adventure phase is where the heroes at the entrance to each players dungeon move through – If they aren’t killed they go face up to the side of the players boss as a ‘wound (There’s a symbol on the bottom right so they’re easily stacked and the wounds visible), if they are they are placed face down as a Soul (On the bottom again for neat stacking/splaying).

Players have a number of rooms & spells in their hand, which drives what options they have available to them over the course of the game. One room is drawn at the start of each build phase to hopefully provide options to players.

In our game, everyone got the hang of things very quickly (One of the best things about the game is it’s simplicity to teach). I got a couple of holy relics and a ridiculous amount of spell tomes (Come to me Clerics & Mages), Ian got plenty of Weapons to attract fighters, and James matched my holy relics as well as getting a spread of a bit of everything, but not enough for majority to attract monsters. After a few rounds, James had an unfortunate few rounds where he got no rooms he could place (Only advanced rooms – Advanced rooms must be placed atop a normal room with the same treasure type, replacing it such that there’d be no reason to stack them up or anything). I got a ton of Souls from attacting and taking out Mages, as well as a few of the clerics (Although they mostly just stayed in town as we kept tying with 2 relics each). Ian was doing well and had a powerful dungeon, but just wasn’t attracting quite so many heroes.

When we got to the Epic Heroes, James had a rather epic round where he was able to attract 4 heroes (4!), wiping them all out and jumping from 1 to 9 souls. I played a ‘Zombie Attack’ spell, which sent one back to the start with extra health to try and slow him down (And I think it made him change his building plans and potentially stopped him nabbing a sudden win, although he killed the now Zombified hero without issue). I found myself unable to attract any heroes in the last round, as I’d covered up some of my spellbook symbols and lost the mages interest (I was a bit unsure when I could use ‘destroy this room’ effects which could have changes how things happened. Ian was able to attract 2 heroes (On 8 souls), and while I feared one neither me nor James had what we needed to stop him, even past a jeopardy spell (Which forces a full hand discard and makes everyone draw 2 rooms and 1 spell, to try and find another useful spell). Win for Ian!

I like this game, and I think the art style is very cool, but I think it has a number of flaws. Most of all, its’ very random as to whether you have the right cards to build – rather than player interaction for who has the most of various symbols, it’s pretty much at the decks whim – in addition, its’ possible to draw exclusively cards you can’t even build, screwing you over for 1 or more rounds of the game. In addition, the ‘normal’ heroes range from 4 to 8 in health, but while that’s easy to deal with by about turn 4/5, they spawn from round 2, so some of the players end up taking really early wounds for well…no good reason. A ‘Novice Heroes’ deck with a round or two’s worth of 2/3 health heroes would be a small but much appreciated addition to the game. I think next time I play I’ll have to try a house-rule such as ‘draw 2 keep 1’ or have a few cards out each round to draft from (As I don’t like players missing turns), or use the in-rulebook variant of ‘If a player gains no souls on a turn, he may draw an additional room card’ which should also counter the issue. I really hope future expansions might improve either or both of these problems I have as I do thing its’ an awesome theme and cool game to play otherwise ^^ (Oh, I have the first expansion which we didn’t use – It puts items out for heroes to carry, which give the heroes a special ability making them more interesting than a pile of hit points, as well as a special ability for the player that kills said hero to provide more options ^^).

San Juan

When it came to suggestions for after Boss Monster, we were a bit unsure what to go for, as we’d already played 2 of my games and neither James or Ian had bought anything along with them. I had Among the Stars with me which would have fit in the time, but James saw a copy of San Juan (Dave D’s copy I think) and suggested we play that which we agreed to.

San Juan is a role-selection game, with each turn consisting of players taking one of 5 available roles, which provide a benefit to everyone (Well…except prospector, which is weak but gives no benefit to the other players) but a more powerful benefit to the player. Over the course of the game, players construct various buildings which produce goods or provide special abilities, with the aim being to get the most points by the end of the game.

In our game, as I haven’t played before, I just went for whatever seemed to work so that I could get a feel for the game. An early card let me keep an extra card when the ‘councillor’ role was taken (Doubling it’s benefit as far as I’m concerned), as well as another one I built that produced a good every time the same role was taken (So I pretty much just spammed  Councillor and relied on the other players picks to do everything else). I only built one resource location, which was a silver mine, so every time someone traded I could get a ton of cards despite not really paying attention to that side of the game. James’ strategy seemed to rely on cards where when certain things happened, a card was stacked under the building and was worth 1VP at the games end, and Ian I don’t know so much but he did play an annoying card that made for a 6 card hand limit instead of 7. I also built a crane, which allowed me to build atop other buildings (So I could replace my starting indigo mine) as well as making a Park, which let me built the 7 cost ‘Cathedral’ card…but wasn’t really worth bothering with, as between the other 2 players only 1 ‘6’ cost card got built. I lost, 24-28-32, but I think I’d have got ~27-30 points if I’d not consistently forgotten about my Chapel among other things ^^.

I think it was a very interesting game, and certainly quite different in style to anything else I’ve tried, as well as being quite elegant in style. I don’t quite get the seeming emphasis on goods production/sale, as I’d get 4-5 cards each time even though I’d barely paid it any attention, and with a 6/7 card hand limit any more would be pointless (By emphasis I mean that most things I spent to make buildings were more production things…I feel like the game expected more than just 1 silver mine from me). I did see a ‘tower’ card at the end of the game (Although I never picked one up personally) which allowed a 12 card hand limit, and I could see that being impactful, but only if you had it right from the start. Guess I’ll just have to play again sometime and see how repeated play changes things.

Cheers for reading, was a fun night ^^. Shame I didn’t get to bring out Space Cadets: Dice Duel (I got it via a trade at the Expo), as I think it’d be a great use of 30 minutes, but I don’t know that I convince 4-8 people at halesowen that a real-time dice-rolling game is a good idea ^^ (Particularly as I’ve read it’s better with 6 or 8).

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Halesowen Board Gamers #16, Games Days, UK Games Expo, Catchup Post!

Hey, so I went quiet for a little while, sorry about that! I just lacked motivation for a little while to write up on gaming nights. As it is I’m still going to breeze over things somewhat as I just don’t remember some of the games played particularly clearly at the moment.

The good news is that part of the reason I’m hazy on details of games is I’ve just played so many in the past couple of weeks! As I’ll mention below ^^.

 

Halesowen – Wednesday 21st May

On the 21st I attended Halesowen as with most Wednesdays for games, where I played Belfort, with Mike getting a first shot at the game & a (I think) repeat play for Stan. Belfort is a worker-placement game with a couple of ‘majority’ mechanics that give players cause to go different directions or to stock up on resources a few rounds ahead in order to get bonuses or greater points in a round.

In our game, I opted to try and rush for workers, going for the extra-worker spot when I could, and building 2 extra-worker buildings to further the method. This gave me a nice chance at the majorities when getting resources, but meant I was lacking in income compared to the other players, and I got very few points in the earlier half of their game due to minimal amount of buildings. I don’t remember exactly what Mike/Stan went for, but certainly by the end of the game they had enough buildings between them that I was pretty scuppered and couldn’t catch up – Didn’t stop Mike from screwing me with his last building though, mean! Mikes Win!

Following this, Mike left for the evening due to travel plans early the next day, so we merged with a few others for a game of Heckmeck. This game has players competing to get as many worms as possible, through a push-your-luck dice-rolling mechanic where players try to get high numbers in order to take or steal tiles with worms upon them – If you don’t manage to go high enough with your roll, you return a tile to the middle and the highest-value one remaining is flipped and becomes unavailable. The game ends when no tiles remain.

In our first game, Steve, with his unholy high rolling, which was apparently due to the sacrifice of innocents or some-such evil machinations in the game of Cosmic Encounter the others at the table player beforehand, managed to net a tied victory with Mark. This is past an amusing amount of passing of the tile ’23’ between players, which naturally made it the ‘curse’ tile, ^^.

In our second game, things went differently, with Steve’s luck having worn off and no longer giving him crazy rolls. After more silliness and the stepping in of Dave pointing out that we were playing with a significant rule error (Although we carried on the same) where we were taking a failed roll to not immediately end the turn, I took a valiant victory, woohoo!

Apologies that this is a very glossed over account, onto the random days of gaming I’ve been having! ^^

Games Day with Friends – Saturday 24th May

On the 24th, myself, Grace & some of my friends (Emma, Ken, Kimberley, Charlie) met up for something of a games day (Not everyone was in every game but still ^^).

First up we bought out the Resistance. In this game one team play the resistance, fighting against the oppressive evil government of the future, while the other team are government spies, infiltrating the resistance and sabotaging their attempts to fight the system. Players were Myself, Emma, Ken & Kimberley

In the first game, which we played vanilla, myself & Emma were spies, and while I think Emma got copped fairly easily (First game it’s hard to keep it secret!) I lasted only a little longer, with the game falling to the good guys after I voted against a success mission in a way that was probably a bit too obvious.

For the second game, I introduced every to plot cards. This is an expansion where each round the leader gives one player a ‘plot’ card that might make them vote publicly, or let them steal leadership, etc, either helping a good guy get information or letting a spy deceive the group smartly. Unfortunately for the dastardly spies, Grace was a bit obvious, with a few too many ‘I don’t get its’ (Which is a bit of a meta-gamey way to notice someone’s a spy, but people seem to grasp ‘good guy’ easier than ‘bad guy’ for some reason), and Kimberley just had a downright evil glint to her eyes, win for the good guys again! ^^. I think we’re all just a bit bad at being bad…^^.

Next up we broke out Galaxy Trucker, a hectic real-time spaceship building game where players rush to grab tiles from a shared lot to build a ship that hopefully survives the race/flight phase. I don’t really know what to specifically mention about our game, asides from it was a lot of fun, and really great to see how the new players ships formed after each build (As particularly in the first game or few games, players respond heavily to the last flight and get gradually better at filling the space on their board). I had a really quite unfair advantage as I’ve played the most (I think, Grace has played a lot too and her ships were closer to mine than the rest of the groups) – I should have had a handicap, and we gave me a rough-road in the 3rd round, which actually turned out to have almost no effect by plenty luck on my behalf (On open space, a random component from my ship would fall off, only 1 open space happened, which was my first and only piece lost all game). I won, but more importantly I got to introduce people to this fantastic game and I really hope everyone had a blast – Next time I’ll do rough roads right from the start for me!

Next up we headed to the pub for a while, dropping Kimberley who was going out somewhere (I forget where, oops) and meeting up with Charlie. Emma had pointed out Love Letter as a game she recognized before we left so we’d taken it along, and I introduced the table to the game. Love Letter is a little deduction game, which while it soon feels like an ‘automatic’ playing game, is a fantastic introductory thing to play, and a convenient game to carry to a pub with its’ tiny size. I think there was 4/5 of us up to 2 out of the 3 cubes needed to win before a rather foolish error on my behalf gave the game away to <redacted> (And by redacted, I mean my memory sucks).

After a couple of drinks, we headed back to my house and got out the last game of the day – Ticket to Ride: Europe (Also losing Grace who had other commitments to go and get on with). It was the first time for all 3 I think (Ken, Emma, Charlie) so things went by mostly friendly (Though I’m pretty sure Ken dropped a couple of deliberate blocking-moves in there). Thanks to a block that Ken did against me however, my circuitous route also let me complete a ton of extra short routes which I picked up over the game (I had and completed 10 in total!) which I figured was a fairly easy win – Not so, as Charlie also managed to complain a hefty chunk of extra routes to his starting ones, but still giving me victory, with a mere 2 points difference – I hope we can sort out another game sometime as that was scarily close for someone’s first run at a game. Ken/Emma were a bit further back, but both completed their starting routes which is what I tend to expect new-players to work on ^^.

It was a fantastic day, and I’m very happy to have been able to get friends from Uni involved with some of my games. I hope the opportunity to play with them comes up again!

Games in Bristol – 28th-30th May

I had the last week of May off as holiday, which was thanks to planning to do things on Thursday/Friday (Which I didn’t actually end up doing ^^) and figuring I may as well have the whole week. An old friend of mine, Simon, has his ‘weekend’ on Tuesdays/Wednesdays so by suggestion of my lovely girlfriend I gave him a ring (Well, his girlfriend Nat a ring anyway, seeing as his phone was being lame :P) and sorted out driving down to stay over on the Tuesday night. Last time I visited I threatened to bring some of my board games along, as they both enjoy games but have only the more mainstream/traditional affair, naturally I had to follow through and took a nice selection ^^.

I arrived in Tuesday around 4ish, meeting up with Simon after a brief hiatus of wondering how the hell to find the farm they live on. After a catchup Simon suggested Forbidden Desert sounded like an interesting game to try which I promptly fetched and set up. We did random roles, giving me the navigator & Simon the climber (Yay mobility!), and went with novice as the difficulty. The first few rounds were pretty much learning rounds, and he’d gotten the hang of it before long, with us absolutely kicking the games ass as we went. I think we finished with only 1 oasis having been flipped and enough water to last another couple of rounds – I think that the 2P game may be a bit easy on novice, particularly as it’s hard to get excited to play a coop again when you win it without issue the first time around, still, a victories a victory!

The next game we got out to play (I think) was Ticket To Ride: Europe. I bought this along as it’s just such a fantastic ‘gateway’ game, and seemed like a good choice for playing with Nat now joining us to play, who didn’t want to go for anything too complex. The game went by pretty smoothly, and I was able to get a very healthy amount of extra routes completed over the game with the power of stations, netting me a win, this time.

The final game of the day was Voluspa, which Nat bowed out from leaving it as me vs Simon. I was pretty impressed at how quickly he picked the game up, with the kind of ‘suboptimal’ moves most people fall into a lot in their first few games being few and far between, although I was still able to eke out a victory by the end, just certainly not without having to try ^^. The Jotunn tile was blamed I think, as it is in many games, as people seem to prefer the dragon (Dragon places atop another tile, Jotunn does the same, but pushes that tile to the end of the row/column), presumably as you don’t have to think so hard about placing it ^^.

The next day, with Nat having gone to work, Simon suggested Caverna, one I’d bought along a whim not really expecting any interest. I’m glad that the interest was there though as I think it’s a brilliant game. Simon went for his cave as a priority, using spaces that directly give food in order to feed his dwarves, while I focused on building up my farm – we each also had a single adventurer (I got mine to block him for an extra round, bit mean but meh =P). I came out on 61 points while Simon came out around 20ish give or take a few, but I think most importantly we both had a great time with it and wanted to play again ^^. We were supposed to meet Nat at 1pm as she had a break for a few hours before more work, but we kind of overshot a little with Caverna and didn’t make it to nearly 2pm, where we had lunch in a terrifyingly expensive chip shop/restaurant in Western Super-Mare & had a look in a miniatures/guns/lego/misc shop as Simon & Nat figured I’d enjoy it (Correctly, although tempting the wallet like that is cruel!).

When we came back, Simon suggested a game of Ticket To Ride, but I countered with Smash Up as I knew Nat would probably want to play later (I’m sure he wouldn’t have minded an extra game, but I don’t want to over-play it too much ^^). I think we had Steampunk Bears (His Factions) vs Time Travelling Spies (My factions) – I ultimately won, but I think this was the least enjoyed game we played, possibly due to our factions/player-count but partly as Simon seems to have a vendetta against card games ^^.

With Nat returned later on, we jumped into another game of Ticket To Ride: Europe. This went very differently from last time, as while before I was able to work on some extra short routes, this game I barely had my starting routes done before Nat had run out of trains, ridiculously quickly in fact, such that both me & Simon were stuck with something like 15 train pieces left each. I did get an extra couple of short ones done, but Nat dominated on points thanks to completing all her 3 starting ones and having used the 8-piece long track which gave a ton of points – We could have blocked her fairly easily but just didnt’ realise we needed to! Well played!

The last game of the evening didn’t actually involve me. I decided to get Nat & Simon to face-off over a game of Jaipur, a set-collection game where players are trading goods to try and impress the maharaja. The game plays quick, and as such such is done over 3 rounds in a best of 3. Simon won twice in a row for a swift victory, but they both had fun and I heard murmurings of wanting to buy it from Nat (Buahaha, I’ll get them addicted to ‘designer’ games yet! ^^).

The last thing we played was on Thursday (I stayed an extra day after we played late enough into Wednesday that I didn’t fancy driving back ^^), which was Qwirkle, as it was the only game I’d bought that hadn’t been tried yet. Not much to say about it but I had a considerably score lead over Simon (Nat was at work since before we woke) taking the win, before he went to work and I headed home. Absolutely fantastic few days, great to see an old friend & his lovely girlfriend, and get to introduce them to some of the games I’ve gotten to try & own over the last couple of years!

UK Games Expo – 31st May to 1st June

So I originally planned to go to the expo on the Friday, but as I’m lazy, and as Starbound is obscenely addictive once you have strong weapons and drills I got slightly distracted until it was too late in the day. Hopefully next year I can get my ass into gear and do the whole 3 days ^^. I spent most of the time there just wandering around & sorting out passing on Archon & getting Space Cadets: Dice Duel (Yay Math Trade), as well as picking up Village which I’d agreed to on boardgamegeek.

On the Saturday I headed in at an ungodly early hour with a friend I met via my girlfriend, Adam. On arrival we also met with one of Adams’ friends Victor that I’ve met once before, although even though it got bought up I forget where, oops :P. In any case, they were eager to jump into some random game and Frankenstein’s Bodies was the first stall we happened upon after that thought.

In this game, each player has a board (Well, 2 laminated sheets, I presume it’s a single board each in the final version, which is being kickstarted now) with 2 operating tables, and a set of cards. Each round has players take turns to take a random card from the deck and 1 card from a set of face-up ones available, then play 2 cards. Cards are either body parts (In 4 Colours & 2 Genders), master-surgeons that block part-stealing and make stealing better for you or ‘take-that’ style action cards which let you steal parts from other players. This carries on until someone has 2 complete bodies in front of them. (Or the deck runs out twice, but there didn’t seem to be enough things resulting in a trashed card for that to happen). It was ok, but ‘take-that’ style gameplay where players screw each other over constantly is really not something I’m a huge fan of. In any case, I had to run off for a pre-arranged meet to buy Village from a bgg’er before the end, with Adam apparently winning the game in my absense (out of 5, 2 were random people that joined us). The gameplay is quite simple though, so maybe cool for a younger generation (Still…it’s also 50-70 minutes for what I was expecting to be 20-30 when I sat down, based on the compenents and style of play).

I met back up with Adam & Victor at Lunch Time, as well as 1 extra guy they’d picked up who they know…who’s name probably begins with a J but which I maybe slightly promptly forgot. I was the only one with any games on me, so we got Euphoria out (The only Stonemaier Game I got played while there sadly, as I was struggling a bit with confidence to go and introduce random people to them despite having bought them along to show off, a shame really but hey…maybe next time). In any case, I took home the win, having managed to maneuvre favourable trades to myself a few times while building markets, as people are suddenly more willing to do that 3:1 trade when they want to avoid the negative consequences ^^ (I should also note, this is the first time I’ve ever had people trade in a game! It was a nice addition so I hope I can convince other groups to do the same). After Lunch we split as I had to go find another BGG’er to give him Archon =)

Later on, when I decided to go find people again, I ran into a significant hitch that my phone went flat. I spent a considerable while wandering trying to find enough people I knew for games (If I’d just gone and stopped somewhere that wasn’t mind-numbingly hot then I’d have realised I could have just gone to the game-hall and set up Viticulture with a flag for players…duh), past which I came across various individual people I know but never finding a few together (And the individuals were generally on their way somewhere or leaving etc :S). After coming across my friend Greg and finding he was headed to the playtest hall to playtest his upcoming game Wizard Academy, I had one last look around then went to try and join, to find him leaving the hall for some reason while I got distracted by coming across Tim, who I know from a Birmingham games group ‘Bread and Games’.

This turned out to be great opportunity, as he mentioned that there was a copy of Dead of Winter in the trade hall *squeels excitedly* which I was definitely up for giving a shot. We got there right as a game finished, and after a while of looking for someone to show us how to actually play, were able to get started on the game. My survivors were both comically silly, being Sparky the (Wonder) Dog & Iforgothisname the Mall Santa. Unfortunately, we only got one round into the game (Albeit that was enough to get a feel for the core mechanics, and my god has that left my excited about this game!), although we did manage to complete the rounds objective and get a 3rd of the way to the main objective with some lucky rolls on picking up Zombie samples (Plus, my personal objective was 2/3rd complete as I needed 3 survivors to be removed by the time the main one was completed…Although sadly Sparky was one of those 2 that perished, after running around town and killing 3 Zombies in different locations in rapid succession. VERY excited, and very happy I pre-ordered! I went home not long after, as I just wasn’t feeling up to continuing to try and find people for games.

The next day I went in with my girlfriend Grace to have another quick look around. We weren’t there as long, only going in for around lunchtime, but had time to go around all the halls, and for me to pick up money from games sold and finish up sorting the math trade by grabbing Space Cadets: Dice Duel (Can’t wait to play, looks like a lot of fun, but eep 4-8 is a hard count to get ^^). Having sorted that, we headed to the halls to see if we could find a demo or something to get into and play, with the first thing that interested both of us being Hive (Although Grace had a demo of a sort of colour-based chess-style game from ‘Burley Games’, I forget the name, started with a K I think). Hive was a lot of fun, and interested me more than most abstracts, so we picked up a copy of our own (The beautiful tiles helped with the decision ^^). We then headed to the Monarch Suite to see if we could sort out a game of something there.

After a while of looking, we found noone with a ‘looking for players’ flag thing, so we sat on our own and found one to put out to see if we could get a game of Dice Duel in (We wanted to play something I didn’t own really, but as there was noone after players…). No such luck, but while I was putting away the components that I’d had out to look at (And for reading the rules) a guy next to us said hi and I played a quick game of Hive against him (Winning, buaha…I’m sure it won’t last but I’ve won all 3 games so far ^^), before he suggested we could play a game of his. Despite the fact I have my own copy sitting at the post office to be picked up, we were for Boss Monster.

In Boss Monster, players are the head-honcho’s of fantasy dungeons, and work to build up a deadly set of dangerous rooms before attracting adventurers to their doom. Each room has treasure symbols, which make theirs more attractive for specific things (So if you have the most weapons treasure, then a warrior/fighter will probably come to your dungeon). If your dungeon kills the adventurer you get their soul, if they get to the boss…to you, then you take a wound. 5 Wounds and you’re eliminated, 10 Souls and you win. The game seemed to be going fairly evenly, albeit I had more wounds than the others from some early beatings, but I was able to nab a whole slew of adventurers one round by destroying a ‘jackpot’ room which doubled the treasure value of my rooms temporarily. This got me to 8/10 souls, and despite the others catching up over the next couple or roudns (The guy having enough damage to take out any contender and Grace having better things to attract the heroes to her dungeon than me, I was able to eke out a win. Hooray…Seriously though…did we move to another universe, I’ve said ‘I Win’ a scary amount in talking about expo games…the one I didn’t win was one I left early in Oo.

In any case, the expo was a lot of fun, and while I’d have loved to have played many more games, and right into the evening on the Saturday, I struggling to find the confidence this time around, next time I’ll take less stuff or buy a back-pack so I don’t feel quite so demoralised from the heat/exhaustion of carrying stuff all day (Plus I’ll actually eat…My first bite of food was subway when I was leaving on the Saturday). I do hope the Bring + Buy is bigger next time though, as it was particularly cramped, but I sold the last couple of games I have that I don’t want so I can be happy about that!

If anyone gets to this paragraph, thanks for reading! Apologies that I went quiet for a while, but this post should catch me up and I’ll hopefully be back to writing about Halesowen each week now!

Halesowen Board Gamers #13 (23/04/14)

Euphoria

First game of the evening was by request from Mark – Euphoria. Euphoria has players acting as upper members of a future dystopian society where the remnants of the human race are kept in the dark about how bad the situation is through ‘bliss’ among other methods. The game is a race to gain control of the city, either for players own nefarious reasons or to incite rebellion in the masses, and to do so they must make use of workers in and around the city to gather commodities, trading them up for resources or artifacts & ultimately trading those in to gather influence (I.e. placing their authority tokens on the board, of which each player has 10 – First to run out wins).

I feel I should apologise here, as I was really bad at paying attention this week and just didn’t feel motivated to er, try very hard, getting distracted by my phone a bit too much (Windows Phone 8.1 Update, /geekmode). I’ll try to not do that again, but anyway, the game! From the start we had a bit of an almost ‘2v2′ split, with Mark/James both being Euphoria aligned, while myself and Ian had Wastelanders for initial active recruits. This split got emphasized as Mark used his starting roll – double two’s (Multiple dice of the same value can be placed in one turn) – to get energy, doing a turn 1 push on the allegiance track for Euphoria to the bonus-resource space. This meant James, who’s turn was right after, was getting bonus energy on his placements straight off, while myself/Ian weren’t able to get the bonus till turn 3 or so, ouch. I could have made up for it somewhat, with my recruit having an ability that could have got extra food from the farm, but due my lack of attention, I totally forgot for a good while and missed out on getting lots of commodities early on.

The first 2 markets in the game went to the other 3 players. The first I just missed because I was being dumb, the second I just had no chance at due timing of when it happened – The second being a block from using pairs of artifacts at artifact markets, which was a bit of a pain when I had a convenient pair that I could have used to get rid of any other negative effect. The other players (James, Mark & Ian) got their first 3-4 stars down before I even placed one, so even when I started paying a bit closer attention I’d already ruined my chances of success – plus I got no early doubles, with just 1 in the mid-game and 1 near the end (Which was just because I got a 4th worker as I was losing anyway and figured the risk was the only remote chance I had). The game ran fairly close between Mark/James, but a poor move from Mark on a Subterran market pushed the Subterra allegiance to the end, putting 1 of James’ last 2 stars down, and giving him the easy victory through his ethical dilemma. A nice win for James, who I’m glad had fun and seemed to enjoy the game much more with a second play (I believe he was less than enamoured before, having struggled to get the gist of the game from 1 play). Scores were I think 10-8-6-5 in the end.

Voluspa

We finished with plenty of time to spare, and we could have fit something longer than this choice in, but I wanted to introduce Voluspa to some new people (A game I picked up recently by trading the horrible horrible game Manhattan Project away). Voluspa is a tile-laying game where players vie to score points by placing a tile and having it be the highest numerical value in a row or column, at which point it scores for the number of tiles in that row or column. When the stack of piles runs out, the game ends and whoever has the most points is the victor!

The tiles have values from 1 to 8, with each of the 1-6 tiles having special abilities, and the 7/8 tiles just being a higher number that’s good for scoring purposes. I’ll just briefly mention them all in bullet points as a drawling paragraph doesn’t really suit talking about 6 different tiles ^^.
1 – Loki: All adjacent tiles are worth 0. (So put alongside a lone tile can score despite being worth only 1, as well as having other interesting uses).
2 – Valkyrie: If both ends of a row have a valkyrie tile, the Valkyrie automatically dominate and score, despite their ‘2’ value.
3 – Skadi: You may replace another tile with Skadi, taking the other tile into your hand.
4 – Fenrir: This tile is worth 4 + 4 for each other fenrir in the row or column you’re looking at (As such is the highest potential value of tile).
5 – Dragon: You may place this atop another tile.
6 – Troll: No tiles can be placed adjacent to a troll once it is placed, except for other trolls.

The game plays fairly quick, in 20-60 minutes depending how much people overthink things, so if you’re interested in how it goes the best way to learn about it is just to ask me for a game, but in any case: Our game went by with us all being pretty close knit on scores, Mark fell back a little early, apparently due to having valkyrie’s that he wasn’t sure where to effectively place, but caught up once he just got them placed and stopped worrying about it. The troll tiles seemed to come out fairly thickly in the first half of the game, making for a quite limited playing field (Likely why the game was fairly long, as people spent a long time convinced there’d be a good move when sometimes there simply wasn’t), with no Loki’s coming out till the second half (Which is a pain, as the can be convenient for starting valkyrie sets due to being the one thing that can get a row low enough for a Valkyrie to score without a paired tile on the other end of a line).

As it came to the last few turns, I kept back a Skadi as I knew it would give me one more turn than the others (The game ends when everyone’s out of tiles, so Skadi tiles can net you an extra turn or two) – I could only see one possibility to score enough to not come in last place, which involved taking a dragon out of a row to make it low enough that placing the dragon again would score it, but as it turned out the only other player left, Ian, had a dragon as his last tile anyway, and he swooped in and nabbed the opportunity before I could, leaving me with a useless dragon and in last place again ^^. I think the scores were the same order as Euphoria, but I’m not sure so check Dave’s post when it goes up…^^.

It was a good evening even if I was a bit lazy about my efforts in play (Apologies again). Looking forward to next week for more games, perhaps Caverna if people are interested (Just the basic game, I’m not interested in trying advanced), plus maybe Smash Up if there’s time as I’m excited for trying out the new factions (Me & a friend at work got some decks out at lunch for a quick look…steampunk time-travellers seem less promising than I hoped, with me having a hand with more than 50% ‘take X out of the discard pile into hand’ style cards in the 5-10 minutes we played, could be nice later in the game but useless with an empty discard pile)…aaaaanyway, till next time!

Halesowen Board Gamers #12 (16/04/14)

It was a fairly short Wednesday this week, with the session ending at 10:30 as everyone seemed to be in games that fit in neatly to that scale. The first game I played (With Mark, Steve W & Andy S) was Kings of Air & Steam.

Kings of Air & Steam

Kings of Air & Steam is a simultaneous, action planning, pick-up and deliver game. Andy mentioned seeing it on the side a couple of the times he’s been along, and seeing as I’ve been bringing it because I really enjoy it and wanted to play, I was happy to oblige by sorting it out as a game to play. Unfortunately the game doesn’t really play too well with 2-3 players (Being either too tight or too loose) but we managed to get 4 eventually (Although I don’t seem to be too good at selling the appeal of this one) to play.

A quick note on setup, is that I actually put out the boards to a custom setup where boards d,e,f,g are used, as the default rules are to use the 5-player setup which gives a similar issue to the lower player-counts where the play is too open, this works quite well as with these boards it keeps a factory-city balance while bringing everyone that little bit closer together. After putting all the bits & pieces out conveniently, I gave each player their ship & character boards (Ignoring the basic rules, variable player powers are way more interesting ^^) and we got to setting starting places. This is done in reverse order of priority (Slowest goes first for placing at the start), although Steve’s power was to place 1st and last (Despite being 1st in priority).

The game itself plays out in 5 rounds, with each round consisting of 4 turns of a move + action. At the start of each round, 3 market tiles are drawn (From a stack of 13) and resources matching the types drawn have their values increased on the market board, making those more valuable than others ($4>$5>$6>$8). Players then plan their 4 moves – Each player has 13 cards with various movements on them, and they choose 4 of these, in order, for the round ahead. The ‘moves/actions’ bit happens next which I’ll expand on next paragraph. After that upkeep happens ($1 to bank for each good kept in cargo of airship or in a train depot). Last, factories produce resources to meet demand (1 each + 1 for each market tile of a matching type to the resource being made) before the market tiles are removed to become a facedown ‘demand’ pile, and the next round commences.

In the ‘move+action’ phase, which happens 4 times (For each planned move), players first flip their next movement card along and move their ship on the board (Which happens simulaneously for the most part, with conflicts resolved on a letter for each movement card, or if tied there on individual players ships). At the end of the move, they get a free load/unload of goods, then an action. Actions are a number of things – Build a Depot (For dropping off goods to then ship to cities by train), Movement adjust (Move 1 space if movement went wrong), Upgrade ship/train (To hold more cargo & have better movement/increase distance respectively), ship goods (Move goods from depot to depot or depot to a city) or to elicit funds (Gain $3).

Airships aren’t permitted to land in cities, so they have to drop the goods off at their depots, using an action to then ship those goods to a city that wants them. When they do, the player immediatey gets payed for the goods. At the end of the game, the player with the most victory points (1:1 money:points + some bonus points for depots & upgraded airship/trains) is the winner.

In our game, I was able to get a very strong starting position away from the other players, where I had 3 factories nearby. One of the cities I needed to deliver to was also close (Each city in the game only wants one type of good at a time), with the others within reach if I used someone elses depots to ship via. For most of the game I was able to stick around this position, but in the last couple of rounds I moved out a couple of times to get different goods to deliver as I had the cities that were easiest for me to deliver to filled up.

I don’t remember how things went other than that unfortunately, but it ended up a very close one with myself on 157 points and Andy in a close second with 155. There was a bigger gap to the other 2 players of around 30 points, but they were close between them also. I think that a game played again could make for tighter-knit scores, with everyone being able to strategize better from the start of the game with their initial depot placement (Taking the nice start position I had for example, or using the 2 depot start to spread out more early on. I had fun as I always do with this one, really love the movement-planning mechanic!

Paperback

As KoAaS is fairly quick, we had plenty of time for another game in the evening. Seeing as I recently received my copy of paperback, which I kickstarted a while back, I was eagar to give it a go, and people seemed ok with giving it a shot.

Paperback is, essentially, deck-building scrabble. Player start with a deck of 10 cards, consisting of 5 wildcards (Worth 1VP each) and 5 letters (T,S,L,R,N). These are shuffled and placed face down as a draw deck. The buy area is then set up, consisting of 7 piles of differently valued letter cards, & 4 piles of wildcards (4VP,7VP,10VP,15VP respectively). Finally, each player draws the top 5 cards of their deck to form a starting hand, first player is chosen, and play begins. Each turn, the active player creates a word using the cards in their hand (And optionally the top of 4 ‘common’ cards, which are usually vowels), then uses the score of that word to buy cards from the buy area. Each letter has a point value, with all wilds being worth 0 (But usable as any letter). The 4 ‘common’ cards I mentioned are on a special card to track towards the games end. When a player first makes a word with 7 letters, they take the top common into their deck, then the first 8 letter word, 9 & 10 – After the 10 letter word has been made the game ends, or when 2 of the wildcard VP piles run out. Players then go through all their cards and count up the victory point values of them, the highest score wins.

I find paperback a very interesting game, as unlike other deck-building games I’ve played, I find it a real challenge to think what cards are best to buy. The higher scoring letters/double-letters (such as ‘ch’, ‘an’, etc) are great for longer/higher-scoring words but get steadily harder to place (With letters such as J & Z being the highest cost/highest scoring letters). This leads to needing either the right vowels to use them, or wildcards to substitute in, which is good for victory points, but are worth nothing towards words on their own. In addition, many of the letters you gain have traditional deck-building abilities (draw cards, trash cards, etc) which add to the complexity further, as well as sometimes having conditions that are hard to fill effectively (‘+1 card next turn if this is the starting letter of your word’ for example).

It was my first game of paperback at this session, and my strategy was to just try and get the highest value letters I could to make high-scoring words. Steve did very well, and I think he was able to get most of the common cards that push towards game end (The 7,8,9,10 length word thing I mentioned, each common is worth 5 points). What I didn’t really consider is that while going for well scoring letters has the potential for great words, it’s very difficult to actually make something of a random assortment of letters without any wildcards. I think if the game was to go on longer I’d have done much better, but I’d only just started getting the low wildcards and wasn’t often able to make full use of my hand (With a few more in my deck I think I’d have had much much better words). As it is, Steve was able to take victory by ending the game with a 10-letter word and trouncing us all on points, 34-20-20-9 (I was the 9, sad times ^^). Very fun, looking forward to more plays of this one!

So that was the mid-april sessions games at halesowen, had a great time as always and looking forwards to tomorrow for another session of games!

International Tabletop Day in Halesowen! (05/04/2014)

At least 3 of the games here are new to me or new to the group, so this is a wall-of-text warning! If you already know a game just skip to the last 2-3 paragraphs for how the game went =)

This last Saturday was international tabletop day. On this day, initiated by Geek & Sundry, gamers & non-gamers alike are invited to lay down whatever else they had to do, and instead play, discover and introduce board gamers at public events around the world. The organiser, Dave, of the weekly board games group I attend was able to set up the normal room we have on Wednesday evenings for the whole of Saturday for an event there, where we could go to spend far longer than usual on gaming and could invite friends who might not be able to make the usual time. There’s no way I’d turn down the opportunity, so I went along, bringing my lovely girlfriend Grace and later going and fetching my friend Chris (Who shall henceforth be referred to as Handy due to the name clash!) to join the other awesome people at the group for a whole day of games.

Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game

On arrival with my slightly-more-than-I-should-have-bought games I was greeted with a wonderful sight of the whole room being full of people playing games, which I’m pretty sure is more than I’ve seen before at the group. Most were in for longer games (As we can’t usually do so easily on Wednesdays) but one pair were in a near-to-end game of Glen-More, so we grabbed drinks and waited the few minutes for them to finish before suggesting and jumping into our first game of the day – Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game.In Legendary, players are pitted against a Mastermind/Scheme combination that is chosen before each play. The objective of the players (usually) is to build up enough fighting power to defeat the mastermind 4 times, before either the hero deck or villain deck run out (considered a draw) or before the ‘Evil Wins’ text on the Scheme card is fulfilled. Players in the game are playing in a sort of battlefield control position as agents of shield, and will be picking up hero cards throughout the game to have them lend their aid to the battle. When the game starts, players have a number of weak Shield Agents & Troopers, and will be using ‘Recruit Points’ generated by this to recruit heroes from the Headquarters area into their decks to gradually build in power over the game. As well as the recruit points (Which is 1/agent) there is also ‘Fight’, (1/trooper) that can be used to attack villains that’re attacking the city and, ultimately, the mastermind himself.

Each turn, the active player draws a villain card from the villain deck and places it in the rightmost space of the city, moving any villains or henchman already there to the left to make space. If any are pushed off the end of the 5-card track, they ‘escape’ and a card is removed from the HQ, reducing the time the heroes have to gain victory. Villains have 3 things that take effect at various times, ‘Ambush’, ‘Fight’ and ‘Escape’, with the former happening right as the card is drawn, Fight happening when a player fights them, and escape happening if they go off the end of the track in addition to the loss of a hero card. There are 3 other card types in the villain deck, Scheme Twists (Which vary in effect based on the scheme in play), Master Strikes (A special effect unique to the mastermind in play) and Bystanders, hapless onlookers who get carried off by villains unless players rescue them.

Next in their turn, a player will play cards (She/He will have 6, which are drawn at the end of each turn after discarding current turns cards) in the order they wish. For the basic cards like troopers & agents, the order doesn’t matter, but the various heroes in the game have effects that are powered only by other cards already played, so it becomes important to work out the optimal way to play (For example there’s a gambit card that lets you reveal the top of your deck and drawn it if its an x-men hero – If you first use another gambit card ‘Stack the Deck’ you can deliberatey put an x-men hero on top for a successful use of the ability). Then, in any order, players can spend their recruit and fight points to gain heroes/fight villains in the city (You can recruit/fight as many things as you wish if you have enough fight/recruit to do so). At the end of their turn, a player discards any cards still in their hand and that they’ve played, then draws a new hand of 6 cards.

Players keep this up until they’ve fought the mastermind 4 times or lost the game due to the evil wins condition (You can always attack the mastermind if you have enough fight on your turn). Presuming they managed to do the former, the game is over and points are added up (Or possible the ‘Final Showdown’ variant occurs, where players duke it out for a few extra points off the mastermind). The points you get are to determine an individual victory, and are picked up by fighting the villains and mastermind – each player maintains their own victory pile of bad guys they’ve personally defeated (And bystanders they’ve saved), making this a semi-cooperative game as players must work together to win, but ultimiately want to nab more points for themselves if possible.

In our game, we were fighting against Dr Doom, against a scheme taken from my custom-schemes deck, which are mostly from boardgamegeek, which has a loss condition of 15 Bystanders KO’d and has twists KO’ing Bystanders directly off the top the deck (+ any in the city). We played reasonably friendly (Generally my preference ^^) and went for unique decks rather than competing for any in particular. The heroes in play were Electra, Punisher, Professor-X, Wolverine & er, one other. I mostly went for Professor-X, which I made use of to get rid of the more competitive punisher cards from the HQ as well as for fighing bad guys, Grace had a Wolverine Focus, and Rachael/Lee mostly went for the other heroes, although we all dabbled outside our core hero when good cards came up.

We were able to defeat the mastermind after 4 twists had come up (The 5th would have KO’d enough Bystanders to end the game). Everyone had managed to take out at least a few enemies over the game and contributed towards out victory, but as is the nature of semi-coops there were still points to be determined. Near the end of the game I’d had a couple of awesome combo’s in taking out a lot of enemies at once as well as the mastermind a couple of times, but Grace did well throughout the whole game and took victory. We played with final showdown rules, and I think it was Lee that just about won that for the final mastermind card for a few points, although it was not enough to catch him up at this stage. I enjoy this game a lot, with it competing with Smash Up for most played for me, and I love having a deck of custom schemes that’s 2-3 times the amount I have of official ones. On the them of L*y: *, we next moved onto Legacy: Gears of Time!

Legacy: Gears of Time

I think I’ve talked about this time-turning game before, so I’ll try to keep this short! In Legacy: Gears of Time, players are ‘antiquitects’, making use of a time-machine artifact to travel through time and ensure the Legacy of our race remains intact with the greatest of inventions. Over the course of 4 rounds, players travel back through time, play technologies, influence technologies and play ‘fate’ card special abilities to vie for points and ultimate prove themselves the greatest timelord (Um…well that’s how I’m choosing to see it ^^).

Each round is played over 4 turns. During the round players may only travel backwards through time, and due to limitations of how many technologies can be invented in each age, players may find themselves stuck too far back to make the impact they need. This creates an interesting headache-inducing puzzle of how to make sure that the Internet you just tried to introduce in recent history actually has electricity and computers to be successful. Placing technologies requires you to discard cards, so to get that high-scoring Flight card played you may have to sacrifice other useful technologies till a later time, making it harder still to ensure it happens.

At the end of each round is a scoring phase. First, any non-influenced or duplicate technology cards are removed. Next, points are calculated. Each card is checked and points are given to the player who influenced it the most, but also to the players who have the most influence over it’s prerequisite technologies – For example Red controls Space Flight & it’s successful, so she scores 12 points, blue created Flight, so he gets 6 points for space flight too, in addition to the points that flight gives already. The result is that despite bigger, better technologies being worth huge chunks of points, controlling the more simple things is important for the extra points gained when they’re used for other things! (Basic tools for example is worth just 1 point, but there’s 3-4 things that require basic tools and each give it 1 more point). Thirdly influence cubes are removed from each technology – Successful technologies return the influence to players ‘influence pools’, while failed ones return to the supply (So having lots of successful ones helps you influence things more in later rounds).

Confused yet? Well you probably should be, because this game gets beautifully complex while maintaining a fairly simple level of mechanics (If you want railroads to happen, you need to create a combustion engine, if you want a combustion engine, you need the wheel and fire) which are fairly intuitive in their tech tree’s. When you add in that there’s a lot of player interaction in the game through being able to infleuence other players technologies and go back before them to invent them earlier (Making theirs obselete) you have one heck of an awesome game.

In our game, I started with Space flight in hand, as well as a few other cards of lower levels to complete. I would probably have gone for the more basic cards first, but after another player put down Flight as their first technology, I jumped at the chance to put a high-scoring card down and tied myself to trying to make sure everything needed for Space Flight would happen throughout the game. Grace got Genetics fairly early in the game also, while Lee & Rachael had a bigger variety of things to go for, as well as filling in the infrastructure for our high scorers which net them plenty of influence for later in the game. The first 2 rounds went by very friendly, and we got the higher technologies working very quickly with everyone having just the right cards to make it happen. I got out into the lead a bit along with Rachael thanks to Space Flight working from early in the game, although it was giving Lee as many points as it was to me ^^. When the 3rd/4 rounds hit, things got tense, as we could no longer just help each other out due to the constraints of what we had left to invent. I invented another high-up technology, the internet, with Rachael discovering an analytical engine that let it work. A number of other technologies changed hands but for the most part everything stayed intact with the big technologies still working. Thanks to multiple counts of technologies being nicked from under me I went into the last round with only 5 cubes to the 7-9 of the others.

In the 4th round, a lot of under-handed control-switching went on! Grace stole Space Flight from me (That I couldn’t really do anything about as I had so few cubes), leading me to put 1 influence cube on her Genetics and use a fate card that made a tech I influenced worth 0, revenge!

San Marco

This was the ‘new game to me’ of the day, so I’m glad to have been able to try something a little different. San Marco is an area control game with players trying to get the most (aristocrats?) down onto the various islands for scoring. Each turn, half of the players draw 5 (action?) cards and 3 limit cards, then split that hand up before offering it to the other half of the players. As the other player gets first choice, you need to find a balance so that you get what you want. Within each round everyone keeps going until someone hits their limit (10), after which all other players get one addition turn before moving the round marker onwards.

Cards have a variety of actions. First is to just place a cube in the shown territory, in order to vie for majority. Second switches out one opponents in any territory for one of your own. Third is to build bridges, which can hop a cube to another island when placed (Making the first cards slightly stronger as you get choices), 4th is an expulsion card, so you can remove other players cube from a selected territoy (2-5 removed, decided by a dice). Finally there’s the ‘Doge’ (Much wow), when you get this card you can move the Doge piece across any number of bridges and then score him based on who has the most/second-most cubes on the island he ends up on. You have to pay points to use other players bridges, or if he’s on an island with no bridges you can just pay 2 points to move him anywhere.

For our game, we had Mike strike out an early lead on points, while Grace kept pace not much behind and me & Handy lagged way back. Despite not getting a scoring card until the last round, I was ahead of Handy for the most part just from other players scoring Islands with my cubes on in second place. As we were quite far behind, myself & Handy generally did a lot to mess with grace & even moreso with Mike, which catapulted Handy up to near Mikes score. Naturally I started plotting with Grace after as the 2 players at the back, which gave her the chance to push back again. When the game came to end-game scoring (All islands are scored instead of just the ones the doge moves too) I was able to net a ton of points as my poor performance over the rest of the game had led to my having more cubes left on the board than anyone else. Myself & Grace ended up on a tie for first, which resolved to Grace being the victor with control of San Marco.

It was quite fun, but I’m not sure how I feel about how strong the king-making aspects of the game are. It was pretty cool to be able to manipulate how well the other players were doing despite being far behind earlier on, but it also resulted in a lot of sling-shotting on the scoring rather than much consistency. Still, I think this would be a great game for introducing new players to games!

Resistance

As a member of the resistance, it’s up to you to perform missions against the evil government and take them down. Between 4 & 9 others will join you to aid you in those missions, but a number of them have loyalties elsewhere!

As a spy, you and your cadre of traitorous kin have infiltrated the resistance and have been assigned to sabotage their raids. Unlike the resistance, you know exactly who’s on your team and you must work with them to keep the resistance in the dark to succeed at your task!

Anywho, this is a bluffing and deception game of 5-10 players and 2 teams. I struggled for a while on how to talk up how this game goes which is why I went outside the walls of text norml for those lines above ^^. There are 5 missions, each with a different #players requirement, and the first team to get 3 missions go their way are the victors. Each turn one player is denoted the teams ‘leader’, and must find a team to go on a mission with you (Of course you could avoid picking yourself, but why wouldn’t you if you’re a good guy..) to hopefully get a success on the mission track for your team. Once you’ve made your selection, all players vote on if they think it should go ahead, if equal or majority reject, the mission doesn’t go ahead and the leader token is passed around for the next player to build a team to do it instead. If 5 rejects happen in a row then the bad guys automatically win, so a team has to be accepted eventually.

If a majority vote for a mission to go ahead however, then the players in that mission get given a pair of cards – a success and a fail – and choose one to put in for the mission. The cards going in are shuffled (And so are the others to obscure who put in what) and then revealed. If even a single failure card makes it into the mission, then the spies win that round, otherwise the resistance are successful. The mission marker is then moved onto the next and the attempts track is reset to 0 ready for the next mission. As mentioned above, as soon as one team gets to 3 missions their way they win! The great bit about this game then is the deception and bluffing each person much manage to ensure victory for their team. The resistance need to try and prove themselves that way so that they’re accepted on missions, while the bad guys want to do the same, while trying to redirect distrust onto the innocent. A very simple game suddenly becomes hugely complex and interesting!

The unfortunate bit about the game being deeply tied into the discussion it invokes is that it’s really hard to talk about it after the fact! In our game, Myself, Suzy, Mike, Handy, Grace & Mark, all playing resistance members of course (Despite their being 2 spies, what) worked to complete the missions. The spies did well, with 1 being in the first round and letting it pass, and both being in the 2nd round and letting it pass threw a huge spanner in the works as it put them in good stead. The 3rd or 4th also had Suzy and failed, so I was somewhat suspicious of her, but I was totally oblivious to Mikes treachureus nature throughout! After those first 2 passes 3 missions in a row failed with us trusting the pair of them far too much, well done spies!

Resistance vs Resistance Avalon
A couple of people have mentioned not being sure what the different is between these 2 games. Well, for the standard game as we played on Saturday, nothing but the theme, the difference comes in with what things can be added to throw various spanners in the works! In resistance, there are a set of ‘Plot’ Cards (I haven’t played with these yet so not 100% on the following), each time a mission is to be made, the leader of that mission draws one plot card and gives it to a player of their choice. Each plot card has a special effect, such as looking at another players allegiance, or forcing them to play their mission cards face up. The effect of this be that individuals get better information over the game, but the spies have more opportunities for deception (People may trust them more as they know they succeeded a mission or two, but they can still fail the next for example!). I really want to try out a game using these to really get a feel for the effect it has on the game.

In Avalon, you instead get ‘roles’. These are similar in that individual players get abilities, but they’re instead tied to the allegiance card players receieve at the start of the game. The main two are Merlin & the Assassin. Merlin is a good guy, but knows who all the bad guys are, and the Assassin is a bad guy that, if he/she can guess who Merlin is at the end of the game can win the game for the bad guys despite what else has happened. This has a huge impact on the game, as the bad guys get a big focus on trying to work out Merlin, Merlin has to do his best to stay hidden while also pushing for good teams for missions, and the other good guys need to try and trick the bad guys that they are in fact the real Merlin players! Those 2 are used pretty much every game, but there’s more such as Percivil (Good, knows who Merlin is), Mordred (Bad guy, hidden from Merlin), Oberon (Bad, knows noone) and Morgana (Bad, Reveals to percivil as Merlin). I think Avalon has the better system, but picked up resistance as I’ve not tried it and Coup is in the same universe ^^.

Smash Up

In Smash Up, players choose 2 factions from a variety of uniquely themed possibilities, then ‘Smash them up’, i.e. shuffle them together to make their deck of cards to play with. In our game on Tabletop Day, Grace had Robot Pirates, Handy had Trickster Plants, I had Steampunk Elder Things & Mike had Alien Zombies to vie for superiority.

The aim is Smash Up is to have the most points, with the end of the game being triggered when one player hits 15 points. Points are gained by placing minions out on various ‘base’ cards that are drawn at random and laid on the table. Each minion has a power rating, and when the power of all minions on a base reaches or exceeds that bases ‘breakpoint’, it will score, giving points to 1st/2nd/3rd more powerful contributor. In addition, each base has a special effect that comes into play, such as ‘Each time you play a minion here, you may play another minion of power 2 or less’, or ‘After this base scores, return the highest power minion for each player to the bottom of its’ owners deck’.

Each turn, a player may play 1 minion and 1 action from their hand in any order. Most cards have instantaneous effects, but some also have ongoing, (Permanently doing something) talent (May use this once on each of your turns) or special abilities (At some specific time, usually ‘Before a base is scored’ or ‘After a base is scored’. Once they’re done with their turn, bases are checked for breaking, with any that have power at their breakpoint triggering to capture (At this point, players can play ‘before this base is scored’ cards – even if this makes the base go under the breakpoint, it will still score now). Scores are then distributed to the players with the most power, in the case of a tie, both players score the higher amount of points.

Some factions (Cthulhu ones) have another mechanic called ‘madness’. Some cards in these decks cause players to draw madness cards into their hand. Each madness card is identical, with the ability ‘Draw 2 cards or return this card to the madness deck’, and are worth -1VP at the end of the game (So even though you ended the game by getting to 15, you might actually have less than that when checking scores), as a result, it’s good to try and spend actions to get rid of madness cards if at all possible – Though the draw 2 cards ability might also be enticing.

As far as our game goes, I’m not sure what to bring up as it’s quite a tactical game with little long terms strategy (Which is fine for a 30-60 minute game ^^). I did very poorly, as I was unable to get enough minions out onto the field to get many points – I did manage to use my Elder Thing twice (10 power minion, unaffected by other players cards), but doing so requires destroying 2 of my other minions which led to the ‘nothing much out there’ situation ^^. I was also only able to get my powerful ‘Everyone else draws 2 madness cards’ near the end of the game so didn’t get much opportunity to spam it (Which I could have done with steampunk). The finally nail in the coffin is that the other players were being frustratingly ‘friendly’ in going for different bases more than competing – Some of my minions have effects such as ‘Each other player at this base draws a madness card’, which is powerful…If I can hit more than one person at a time.

The other players fared somewhat better, with mike picking up on how to effectively use the aliens to farm VP quickly (Place invader for instant VP, retrieve to hand, rinse-repeat), which is strong in that noone can stop you from doing it (Particularly with Zombies where you can retrieve from discard even if it’s killed) – I think his only mistake here was in retrieving it the same turn as placing it, as leaving it out to be killed would actually have been beneficial as Zombies benefit from minions in the discard pile. Handy did reasonably well and I think was roughly on par with Mike for points, while Grace raced into the lead as the ‘friendly’ nature I mentioned of little competition for bases also meant Grace build up powerful robot combo’s over multiple turns, instead of needing to find ways to do it in one. Grace took home a tidy victory by the end of the game.

Among The Stars

Among the Stars is an excellent Card-Drafting game, with mechanics akin to 7-Wonders in choosing cards, but in my opinion going far above-and-beyond with variable setups, variety among cards, and lack of silly icons to represent everything. In this game players are building Space Stations, which they build off of their Main-Reactor that they start with, to vie for the most points and the best station. Each player in the game gets a race that provides some special ability over the course of play and while they have small impact, can help to give some direction in how to build.

Each turn in Among the Stars has players choosing a card from their hand, building it (Or discarding for an action), then passing the rest of their cards onto the next player (Clockwise first year, Anticlockwise second, etc). To build a card, the cost in the top right is paid (Generally just credits, but sometimes power also) is paid to the supply, and the card is placed adjacent to any existing location in their station. Each card has an ability, described on the card, that provides either an instanenous bonus (white background) or delayed bonus (yellow background) as well as a direct point value (Delayed bonuses are calculated at the end of the game). Alternatively they can discard for an action, which is either take 3 coins, or build a power reactor (A cost of 1 coin location that provides 2 power). I should also mention that power is an area-limited resource, in that it can only pass 2 distance by adjacency, so to build power-hungry locations on the edge of a station first requires some power reactors built in the right positions.

Each year, players take 10 credits and 6 new cards from the deck. All 6 cards are used over the year either to build or for actions, which means stations get quite large and complex, making for an interesting puzzle in making best use of the abilities on the cards used. The 10 credits each year are quite tight, so it’s likely played will need to discard for coins a few times in a game if they want to be able to build the higher scoring locations in the game.

In addition to the above are a few extra elements to add in when players know what they’re doing. First is objectives (Which can be added first game really, but we had a high player-count and a time-limit on Saturday ^^), a few of these are drawn at the start of the game and placed face-up in the middle of the table – At the end of the game, these are checked and given to the player that fulfilled the conditions on each (Such as most military locations, or least power reactors). Next is conflict cards, which I still haven’t played with despite playing the game an absolute ton – These provide additional discard-actions that introduce higher levels of player interaction in the game, with the set in the base game letting you take one to compare a specific location type in your station to another players and stealing points off them accordingly (I don’t think they’re hard to use, I just haven’t felt a need for super-heavy player interaction, would be nice to try it though!).

Also not used on Saturday is additions from the Ambassadors expansion. This expansion introduces ‘ambassador’ cards, which also introduce an escalation style akin to 7 wonders ages where ‘1st phase’ cards are used in years 1/2 and ‘2nd phase’ cards in 3/4, with the latter being more tilted towards point scoring and the former towards building an engine (Note that even with the standard cards, the game escalates anyway as the configuration of each players station opens up possibilities for each card built). 3 ambassadors are made available at all times to players, and when discarding for an action a player can ‘buy’ one of the ambassadors, inviting them to their station. To do so they place one of 5 ‘bureau’ cards in their station and then keep the ambassador card in front of them to use over the game (The bureaus are no-effect locations in each of the 5 colours/types, which can be good to complete delayed abilities such as ‘build a 2×2 of purple/recreational locations’). Many ambassadors have player-interaction aspects, and are an awesome addition that I’ve played with a few times and look forward to introducing more frequently as I get more players into knowing the game. (There are also new locations and conflict sets with ambassadors, the former of which I just use in every game for variety).

Our game on Saturday was the last of the evening, with Myself, Grace, Handy, Ian & XYZ(Mark?) playing. After a messy start thanks to the cards not being quite stored properly, I got the game set up (With help for shuffling/sorting ^^) and ready for the 5 player game. One of my favourite parts of Among the Stars is seeing the different configurations people come up with, My station was pretty haphazard, partly thanks to my use of a section seal where I had to split my station in two to most effectively score points, and partly due to tireness ^^. Ians on the other hand was very tight, and revolved around a 4×4 square he’d built for his 2 racetrack locations, with the other 3 being other totally different shapes. Through the game everyone was fairly even (Although Handy dropped back quite far at one point, seemingly to do nothing but get piles and piles of credits, likely as his race let him score 1 point per 2 at the end of stead of 1 point per 3), with everyone having a neat mix of delayed vs immediate abilities (Objectives tend to mix that up more ^^). In the end, Ian struck out into the lead, with myself in second and the others in er..positions that you can see on Dave’s blog ;).

I had an absolutely fantastic day, and I look forward to opportunities to do the same again in times to come. Many thanks go to everyone involved, organizers and the rest of you there to play alike! In fact after playing games all day, myself, Handy & Grace went back to mine and played another game, also getting my housemate Ken involved!

DrunkQuest

Yes, that’s right, we played a drinking game, a gloriously ridiculous and punishing one at that! DrunkQuest is a game that takes very obvious inspiration from Munchkin, but presents it in a format that’s considerably more fun, and that works great for well, consuming large quantities of drink. The game comes with oversized cards that make for each reading, with there being 3 different types – Player cards, Treasure cards & Monster cards.

At the start of each game, each player takes from the player deck a random hero and either a ship to captain or realm to command. Their hero has a +/- ability that they can use as actions in the game to perform a unique effect, and the ship/realm have an ongoing ability of some kind (The ships are slightly more complex, as you have to ‘load’ them with treasures to active the ability, with you also being able to ‘fire’ the cannons with to give people drinks). Each player then draws 5 treasure cards and a first player is chosen, and the game begins.

Each round, a monster is drawn for the active player. A monster will have some effect and a ‘drink’ value required to defeat it. All players then get a chance to modify that value by playing actions – The active player gets an action, then each other player in turn gets an action, and finally the active player gets one more action before the ‘fight’ commences and well…someone drinks copious amounts of alcohol. Also, at any time players can play ‘instant’ cards, such as ‘copper – choose someone to take a drink’, ‘gold – everyone takes 3 drinks’ or other more interesting effects.

It was the second time I’ve played it on Saturday (The first being on my Birthday at the end of last year), and we had an absolutely excellent time with it! Throughout the game, asides from having many, many beers, we had a number of status effects going around (Which we didn’t play with the first time as they were bonus material from the kickstarter that I wasn’t sure about). Highlights being a ‘compliment’ effect that made my housemate compliment how great someone is every time they beat a monster, ‘vampirism’ that I played on him as soon as he cleaned the compliment effec, making him talk like a vampire to avoid drinks, a cat card that requires Handy to meow before and after every sentence and a number of others besides, on top of the standard modify-drinks and fight monsters mechanics. I wasn’t able to do particularly well over the game, only getting to level 3 (6 wins) while the others were on level 5 for a good amount of time before Handy won, but I guess that probably means I had less to drink ^^. Love it!

Halesowen Board Gamers #9 (19/03/2014)

I just want to briefly say that you should consider supporting Tuscany/MERCS:Recon on kickstarter as they’re both EU friendly and look really awesome =P (Also SDE…but you might get shafted for customs/shipping/taxes…I just want to play it when it’s out ^^).

First of all, I want to apologise to the guys I played with this week as I was a bit woozy, yay illness =P Still, we managed to fit 2 games into the evening and had a good time despite my making a mistake or two!

Archon

We started with Archon, which I’ve been wanting to play for a while but thanks to some minor design flaws (visual) has been difficult to introduce – I’ve got it out twice before with friends and they didn’t want to play past the first or 3 years as it was a bit of a strain to see the pieces on the board. I’ve painted the player pieces so they’re now blue, green, orange & purple rather than black, grey, white & unpainted. I’ve also replaced the resources, black cubes are now black cylinders, grey cubes are silver cubes & unpainted cubes are paper meeple things, the white cubes for stone I left the same – This makes them much easier to recognize representations of the resources they represent, iron, silver, paper & stone respectively. The board still isn’t great with it’s lightly coloured spaces in a light background, & resources are still shown as cubes on it (Might try and make stickers to show the replacement resources more clearly) but I’m happy with the look of it all now and feel it’s playable! ^^.

Archon is a relatively straight forward worker-placement game, in that you’re gathering resources to change into points as you go through the game, but it gives you lots of choices to go about this while having some interesting mechanics regarding the placement of those workers. The game is placed over 9 seasons, with 3 seasons to each year. At the end of each year an attack occurs, followed by a scoring phase I’ll go into shortly. Over those seasons, players gather resources, construct buildings, research science, contribute to religion & train knights to build up the city and set themselves up to receive points.

Before they can get to that however, players need to set up their starting workforce. During the game each player has 10 cards representing such, and at the start of the game everyone has 8 courtiers, with the other 2 needing to be made up from special workers to be ready to go. The options are Merchant (+1 resouce/gold/whatever when visiting certain bouard spaces), Scribe (Take a second action after, but not another scribe), Cleric (Use an action space even if full) & Tax Collector (Anyone visiting a space with a tax collector pays 1 to the player that placed it). There is a chart on the board to represent what each player has and how much each costs, and start resources prevent having 2 of the same at this point. When you take a special worker you also get points, so essentially everyone starts with a few points as this happens first.

With everyone up to 10 cards, players can begin with the game, almost. Each round only uses 5 cards, so first everyone chooses the 5 they want in the coming round – The other 5 will be used the following round, and then they’ll get to pick again in the 3rd, etc. I can see the choices being quite strategic with a few plays, but we were all essentially first-timing it so it was pretty much ‘split them fairly evenly’. We then take turns to place our workers, which we do by discarding cards. The worker placed is determined by what card is discarded, so discarding a merchant card means you’re placing a merchant etc. Some spaces on the board have 2 ‘cards’ shown, and you either need to discard 2 courtiers or 1 special worker to use those action spots. If a player finishes a round with cards left in hand, they move up in the player order for the next round.

The first thing players will want to focus on is getting some resources. Spaces to do so are the repository (Take 1 resource from a small selection which changes each round), the marketplace (2 transactions for buying or selling resources), the barracks (take 1 recruit) & the treasury (Take 2 coins). These spaces are quite tight so being earlier in player order is important to secure them (Particularly if you want to merchant the repository to take 2 resources instead of one). Next is spaces to advance science & religion, which take 1 paper/1 gold & 2 gold respectively, and can be done up to 2 times per placement, in the same vain is a spot to turn recruits into knights (1 recruit + 1 silver into a knight, again can be done twice with 1 placement), all 3 of which are generally important to do once/year at least (for points). The other 2 spaces are the ‘engine-building’ ones, which are the guild (replace a courtier with a special worker – note that this means you never get more workers, just varied ability ones) and the builders merchant, for constructing buildings which give ongoing benefits throughout the game (Such as take 2 paper each season, gain a cube when visiting the market, etc).

Using these things together, players will prepare knights, religion & science which come into affect at the end of the yearFirst off, the city gets attacked and a card is drawn to determine the strength of the attack. If the number is greater than the total knights on the wall between players, the raid is successful and all players lose resources (Equal to attack strength – number of knights) or points if they have no resources to pay. If the number is less than the total knights on the wall, then noone gets hit. After, scoring occurs. Scoring is based on a ‘kings grant’ card (Which everyone can see from the start of the year), and gives points based on science, religion and knights. Each year will bring different demands from the king, and the area he cares most about will be the highest scoring for that year (The card also determines a new marketplace configuration each year). Being able to get the majority in the area he’s interested in is a key point to success in the game. All knights/religion & science is then returned to supply for the next year. After 3 years are up, the game ends and whoever has the most points wins!

Considering I claimed it’s relatively straight forward, that was a lot of explanation, oops! I’m going to try writing a little differently about our game, so not sure hoe well it’ll go… Anyway, firstly I’ll say what I did! My aim at the start of the game was to grab a couple of buildings as well as to try and put out my knights first (You can get a couple of points by doing so). I started with a Scribe & Tax Collector, with the aim being to grab all the important spots before they were lost and deny others from having easy money at the treasury. I managed to get a building to generate paper (2/season) quite early on, but then let myself focus too much on science/religion at this early point to be able to get any other buildings to go with it. I think I got all 3 scoring opportunities in the first year but drew for knights and came last for science. The attack against us was successful as it was 5 to 4, so I lost 3 resources (as did Steve, Stan lost 5). In the second year I decided that as I was finding it hard to get the resources for buildings to go for special workers instead, I got myself to 2 scribes so I’d have one every season, and used them first turn each round to grab 2 actions (With one being the hotly contested repository as I was 2nd place in order of the 3 of us). I tried to make good use of my paper in getting science, but lost the chance to compete over knights (Steve got a building to generate them) so just made the one to get ‘some’ points. As we did the second years attack (Which failed with 3 against 6 knights) and scoring, it became clear that Steve had taken a much better early strategy in the prior year, and pretty much took to competing with Stan, who I was within a few points of. In the last year, I finally went for some additional buildings, getting 2 of the 3rd tier buildings down to get a large chunk of points (One for a straight 9, the other for 2 + number of sp. workers, so 9 again). This managed to take me into second place with a little over 60 points for the end game!

I’m not sure what Stans early focus was, but he mainly kept neck and neck with me throughout the game. We both got a lot of workers, but he got a lot more buildings than me (4 to 1 at one point), however I think he put himself in a difficult position by letting himself stay in last in player order by always using all his workers (I stayed in 2nd after getting pushed back also) – This meant he never got to use the repository very effectively, needing to use a Cleric to go there at all and for slim pickings at that. I think a good number of his buildings in the game were to gain supplies when he placed workers rather than ‘each season’, which I think he missed a few times by mistake (Yay, as he’d probably have kicked my ass otherwise :P). I had a rule wrong so I messed up a scoring opportunity for him at the end, but I don’t think it would have got him ahead of me anyway (Close though), at least we know for next time how it works ^^.

Finally we have Steve, who royally destroyed us in points over the game and was the clear ‘teachers pet’ to the King. Early in the game he rushed a couple of good buildings (Beating me to at least one I wanted, unfortunateuly for me ^^), which had him getting huge amounts of reasources every season. He mostly didn’t bother with special workers until later in the game when I think he just got them out of having spare stuff to dump somewhere more than because he needed to ^^. The first year I think he may have actually been on par/small bit behind us, but he had already started shooting ahead by the second, and was a good 30-40 points over me at the end. Next game I’ll be sure to emphasize the need to rush buildings a bit more, and stare even more at the rules for them as they just feel so, so powerful compared to the special workers (Which I understood to be the sort of ‘alternate engine building’ path.). Very tidy win, it’s just a shame we couldn’t have given him more competition to be racing against!

Gunrunners

Following on from this we had a short gap of time so Stan suggested Gunrunners as the followup game. In this game we’re acting as detective teams trying to bust well…gunrunners, and confiscate the crates of guns they’re smuggling. Each player has a 13 card deck (Symmetric) with a number of agents with values from 1-6, with a few of those having special abilities. Each turn the active player rolls the dice, placing more gun crates into the #players locations that are out, or into ‘the warehouse’ if the number is greater than the number of locations. They then place a card, which can either be as a ‘probationary’ face down agent ready to move in (But not yet counting towards the bust), or a an ‘undercover’ operative directly facedown into a location (Max 1.). When a probationary agent is placed, it flips another players one at that same location face up into the location where their ability if there is one actives immediately. When a location reaches 4 faceup agents, it scores, and in order of highest number at that location players take turns to take half the available cubes (So an 8 cube location gives 4, then 2, then 1). The player who gathers the most cubes by the end of the game (All players run out of cards, or 8 ‘busts’ happen) is the winner, and presumably gets a gold star sticker on the police station wall.

I have absolutely no way of saying how the game progressed, as I wasn’t really thinking particularly strategically at this point of the evening. I can say however that I must have made a couple of mistakes in taking extra turns or something that led me to win, as I ran out of cards before Steve & Stan. Sorry about that, I hopefully won’t be ill next week! =)

Kickstarter Interesting Projects #3 (13th Mar ’14) – Tuscany: Expand the World of Viticulture & MERCS: Recon

Wow, March is an expensive month! 2 High interest (to me) epic games launched within a day of each other! I’ve backed games from both of these creators before, and while I’ve not yet received Myth it’s expected in a month or so and is shaping up to be very interesting (If apparently a bit in need of an FAQ ^^).

Tuscany: Expand the World of Viticulture

Stonemaier games, a company/pair of individuals I consider to be the most communicative, friendly creators on the platform, who also find ways to bring great value, are bringing an absolute stunner here, which takes their first game Viticulture to new levels with this Expansion pack. Viticulture is one of my absolute favourite games despite not even being a theme that would normally draw me in, and with these extra modules come something greater than the sum of it’s parts, that is absolute worth looking into. The pack is split into 3 tiers of modules, with the expectation being you unlock a module every 1-3 plays and unlock all of a tier before moving to the next.

The first tier has small impact additions, which work together to smooth out and refine the original game. Mamas & Papas adds variable starting conditions for players, which give people a focus from the start of a game & for me will never be excluded from a game again. Patronage adds a special wine order for each player, which they can fill for a couple of points, and if they fulfill a given condition, a few bonus points on top. Advanced visitors are a new set of cards which are balanced to help out through all stages of the game (Whereas some of the original ones may have had bigger impact earlier or alter). Property cards allow you to sell off fields for money, trading off the space for growing to build up other areas of your vineyard. These come together brilliantly, adding unique player powers & strategy and vastly improving the replayability of the game.

In the second tier are a few heavier impact changes which greatly change the feel of the game. First up is the extended game board, which takes the 2 season play to 4 seasons and adds some new action spaces. The extra seasons make being 1st stronger, but this is balanced by bigger bonuses for going later in player order, a very interesting thing to think about indeed. Special workers are new unique workers that cost a little bit extra but each provide a unique power to the player, 2 are used per game and make for even more unique plays. Finally there are an additional set of visitors, which have more complex interactions than before making for tougher chocies for those you want it.

Finally comes the third tier, which consists of ‘one-at-a-time’ expansions which add to the player boards and bring new elements to the game to consider alongside the making of wine. Arboriculture (Which was also available in the original kickstarter) adds ‘arbors’, which is to say lets you grow tomato’s, apples & olives to add to orders, which also introducing the concept of worker morale, which should be kept high to ensure success. Formaggio, the ‘cheese’ expansion, gives players cows to milk and process into cheese, which can be added to orders or sold individually, but has a management aspect to consider that it may go off if kept around too long!

This is just what’s available so far, with stretch goals adding yet more content to this awesome looking expansion to a great game. If you are at all into worker-placement games, I consider this a must have, and if you love wine on top you should certainly consider giving it a look! The game is scheduled to ship to backers for November, and I fully expect it to have aged wonderfully in that time ^^.

MERCS: Recon

Going a little bit up on the price scale is this intriguing looking miniatures game from Megacon Games. I first heard of these guys when I discovered (and subsequently backed) their campaign for their cooperative fantasy dungeon crawl Myth last year, and was drawn in by the quality and care they take to their products. While I won’t have Myth myself for another month or two, shipping has begun for American backers and it sounds like the game is as excellent a quality as I’d hoped if with perhaps a few shortcomings on rules clarity. Throughout that time they’ve been communicative and friendly, and that’s let me to looking into this new project from them.

In MERCS: Recon, players act as mercenaries infiltrating a ‘megacon’, where they must fight through narrow hallways to capture & interrogate employee’s or find and secure objectives. The game is set in their MERCS universe, an interesting near-future scifi setting with advanced weapons and technology.

The map for each game is created with a variety of tiles which fit together in a variety of ways to create a different layout each time you play. These different layouts will lead to the need for differing tactics as you fight your way through the office, as well as setting up situations where you might want to damage the environment  (Yes, destructive environments!) to open up new routes or even pass between floors to make your way to the objective of that particular scenario.

The endpoint of each game seems to result in what the Megacon guys are referring to as a ‘Breach and Clear’ situation. It’s not really clear to me what the point of this is, but you have an expanded tile to ‘zoom in’ on the action and play out the finale in some epic way (I hope it’s epic anyway ^^). Presumably some scenario’s change this up, with talk of civilian capture scenarios and more.

I’m not quite 100% on my interest in this one, but one backers comment summed up what I want from this nicely – a futuristic style board game that plays out like the popular video game Counter Strike (In fact, I’m hoping for some outdoor tiles that might help me to recreate cs_office ^^. If that sounds like the kind of thing you might be interested in I encourage you to browse on over to the kickstarter page and see what you think!

Ok I’ll shush in a moment. These are some pretty expensive kickstarters and they’re going to be putting me out of budget for games for a while, but I hope of some interest to you as the reader of this post! Again, if you’re interesting in Tuscany and in the area, come along to halesowen board games next week and I’ll show you how it plays, and if you back Recon and want to see their other project then come along to try out Myth when that arrives in a month or two! Till then, byeeee! ^^.