Tag Archives: Halesowen

Halesowen Board Gamers #4 (02/15/2014)

Halesowen – Wednesday 12/02/2014

Games Played – Eldritch Horror, Ra: The Dice Game

This week I bought along Eldritch Horror, as Dave D/Ian have both commented at some point that they’d like to play it and I figured it was a good choice for the evening. The game is set in a Lovecraftian world where GOO’s – Great Old Ones (Ancient beings of great power) threaten to rise again unless the investigators (players) can discover the plot at hand and stop it before it’s too late! In our game the blind idiot god, Azathoth, threated to rise and destroy the world in his rage.

WP_20140212_002

(Not entirely sure why this looked so bland, must have a setting messed up on my phone ^^)

You can find an account of this game from Dave’s perspective here:

http://blog.halesowenboardgamers.org.uk/

The game is played in rounds, with each round consisting of 3 phases – action phase, encounter phase & mythos phase. The game ends when either the Mythos deck runs out, or the doom track reaches 0 (Actually it can continue in the latter, but for Azathoth that’s the end, some GOO’s can still be defeated after that). For the players to win, they must solve 3 mysteries before those conditions can occur, to have discovered enough to prevent the…bad things…from happening. The Mysteries are cards specific to each GOO that you can fight and are themed accordingly, but mostly consist of gaining clues and using them in some way to progress towards solving a given mystery.

The first phase in a round is the action phase. Here players have 2 actions to move around and prepare themselves for the encounter phase, and can travel (move 1 space + 1 per ticket), rest (regain some health/sanity), aquire assets (try to gain useful items), gain a ticket or trade with another investigator on their space. They may also perform ‘component actions’, which may be spells, investigator abilities or various other things denoted by their cards. Each action can only be used once in a round however, so movement and recovery tend to be slow!

The second phase is where things happen and the game (hopefully) moves forward! Each investigator in turn draws an encounter card for his space, and resolves effects based on that encounter. There’s a fair variety of possible encounters, including generic (city/wilderness/sea), named cities (such as London, Tokyo, etc), Gate (portals on the board leading to other dimensions, and lettering horrific fiends into our world, these encounters let you close them), Research (GOO specific encounters for gaining clues to solve mysteries) and expeditions (Variety of effects, I never really pay them much attention, and we did none in this particular game).

The third and final phase of a round is where the game fights back. A mythos card is drawn (The mythos deck, I should mention, is generic cards, but organized in a different way for each GOO) and a number of effects are resolved. The top of each Mythos card has 2-3 symbols, and these make things happen such as the omen track moving (Which can advance doom), monsters spawning (All gates matching the omen track spawn monsters), clues spawning and more. Following this there’s a section of flavour text, then a special effects section which can do many different things, good and bad – sometimes the effect is ongoing, and can give the players another thing to worry about as well as the mysteries!).

The game continue doing those three phases until the players take their victory or the GOO rises and destroys everything. There’s a lot of luck in the game as so much is based on card draws, but it can generally all be mitigated if players are careful and work together.

In our game, against Azathoth, we (Myself, Chris Handy, Dave D & Ian) most certainly worked well together, with a set of investigators that turned out to synergize very nicely. My character – Charlie Kane – is a ‘support’ type character who I chose as it was a Handy’s/Ians first game, to be able to help them out a little throughout. I spent a whole lot of actions in the game acquiring assets, even increasing my influence skill to make it an even stronger ability. My characters ability let my give things I gained through it directly to other players, so I didn’t need to meet up somewhere to trade with them. I also managed to close a couple of gates along the way.

Ians role in the game turned out to be that he was master of clues. His characters ability let him trade clues with anyone anywhere on the board, and he spent a lot of time gathering them to pass them on to people who were moving around the board more. He managed to gain a ton of them throughout (6 at one point) and this greatly helped our chances. Dave D had a bit more variety (I think) than us and moved around dealing with gates and clues as he went. Handy ended up with some very powerful combat items (Sword of Saint Jerome + Lighting Gun) so he put some time into destroying monsters, as well as helping with solving mysteries and closing gates as he went.

The game went by fairly smoothly, with our ease of gaining useful items and sharing clues giving us a huge advantage. We had a couple of times as we went where investigators almost died, but nifty flesh ward casting from Ian kept us on the brink and alive. We got one rule wrong (My bad, seeing as I should have known) that the doom track should have advanced when the green comet was reached not the omen track (Azathoths effect) but at most it would have made a 2-3 doom difference and we had loads to spare. Fun game, and glad to have defeated the bad guy for once ^^.

Following on from Eldritch Horror, we played a ‘filler’ game at Dave’s suggestion – Ra: The Dice Game. In this game, players roll 5 dice yahtzee style (Roll, then reroll anything you don’t like up to twice) to make sets of symbols that you can use to advance various tracks and place cubes to set up point scoring for later in the game. The symbols on the dice are Sun, Ra, Ships, Civilization, Monuments and a wildcard. The wildcard can be used for anything, but not for the colour of that wildcard (Monuments and Civilizations have colour limitations and each dice is in one of 5 colours, so you sometimes need a specific coloured dice to be the side you want).

The various ways to score from these things are as follows. Any sun dice are played on the turn track, and are what pushes the game towards an end. If 3 go there however, it does not advance and you score 3 points. If 4 go there, it also does not advance and you get to cause a ‘disaster’ – this lets you do some damage to all other players on one of the various tracks used in scoring. The Ra symbol lets you advance the ‘ra’ track, the person furthest up this gets 5 points in scoring (And is moved down at that time) and the person with the least gets -2 points in scoring, but gets moved up when that happens. The ships let you move the ship track forward, or if you get 3 ship symbols you can cause a ‘flood’ that stacks a second cube on your ship and means it will score in that phase (If you don’t do this, it just doesn’t score!). Civilization gives you -5 for having none, 0 for 1-2 and 5-15 for 3/4/5 used up, and you can only have one of each colour, you need 3 civilization symbols to place one cube in this area. Finally, monuments are placed on a table on the board to gain points based on number of cubes in rows/columns.

Apologies that it’s not a very good explanation, but the gist is that it’s a simple dice rolling game with the strategy being in where you choose to place cubes and what you reroll. In our game, we each had a slightly different focus. Dave D’s focus was on the monuments table, Handy’s was on screwing other players with disasters, mine was on ships, and Ians was more all-rounder, although we all went for everything as a general thing. We didn’t roll all that many suns in the game in terms of moving the track forward, which meant the game took 2-3 times longer than it was supposed to, but we all had fun and got to completey fill the monuments track on the board, which a few people commented on as it’s not generally something that can happen.

We finished up with some very high scores, with me in the lead somewhere around 85 points, and I think last around 60. Lots of fun and I’m glad to have been introduced to it, though I think I’d want the game to be a little quicker next time ^^ (Then again, I’m not surprised people opted against pushing the turn marker forwards when possible, as it’s essentially 1-2 wasted dice when it happens).

Great Evening, such a great group to meet up with for games! Someone suggested an interest in Viticulture next week and as that’s a game I really enjoy I’ll be more than happy to introduce people to it. If I can resist making people play Space Cadets that is (If I even have it by then, receiving through the UK Feb Math Trade). Looking forward to it!

Weekly Gaming 10/02/2014

I got lots of gaming in this week, it’s been a good week! =)

On Wednesday I attended Halesowen board gamers, where we managed to fill up the time with just the one game – Caverna. The game turns out to be a lot of fun and not nearly as miserable as the Secret Cabal led me to suspect ^^. Check out my previous blog post for a more in-depth account of that!

Friday

It was the University’s tabletop society on Friday, and I arrived with the remaining people there (It starts at 2 and I arrive 6ish) play-testing for an upcoming game designed by a friend of mine – Wizard Academy. Unfortunately Greg had to leave before too long, so I just chatted to the only other person that was free while they finished up and discussed the games current state. I hope I get into a test sometime, as it’s a long while since I first tried this particular game.

There were 4 of us left by this time, so we broke out my Anniversary Edition of Galaxy Trucker for a gloriously hectic game. We started on the 1A ships, where I pulled off a ridiculously perfect ship and made a huge amount of points on the other 3 players. For round 2 we went for the wraparound ship (2B?) where things were a little more confusing to build, and I didn’t quite manage to build perfectly. We all did fairly even here I believe. The last round we stuck with the wraparound theme and went for 3C which I’d not yet played – This ship wraps around on both pairs of edges, and has no built in gaps for lasers/engines so you have to leave spaces for them in your ship. It’s not as easy as leaving a big gap though, as you have to pay exorbitant amounts of money if you leave more than a couple of spaces in one block (So lots of little holes is ideal). I did a pretty good job of building my ship, with a biggest gap of 2 and only one mistake, then proceeded to be out on the first adventure card thanks to evil, horrible, nasty invaders eating all my crew ^^. Over that last round all but Ben got eliminated with varying levels of cost for their decimated ships – The last 6 cards were all planets and nice things, giving Ben a massive amount of points and leaping him ahead of me for the overall victory.

Seeing the time, we opted to not have a round 4 and instead changed game. We went for Belfort, which seemed the most reasonable to fit into the amount of time we had, and which had caught the attention of a couple of people there. 2 of us in the game launched into the lead fairly early on, but my income was steeped in 3 guilds which led to people just refusing to use them. My higher tax from scoring high early dragged me back down and I struggled through a lot of the game. <guy that’s not me, Ben or Liam> built up a crazy income through a pair of banks and ultimately managed to set himself up that he was going to win the game through actually being able to pay his taxes. I found it difficult to build much over the game as there was a couple of ‘steal things’ guilds out so stockpiling resources was hard. We got kicked out by security before the game actually finished as it was getting late, but I think the winner was clear anyway as mentioned above ^^.

Saturday

On Saturday I attended Bread + Games, a board games meetup in town that I’ve not been to in a while, as they had a period where it was held in a pub rather than its typical awesome place in an art studio. It’s a long one, and it runs from 2pm till ~10:30pm so there’s lots of gaming to be had. I arrived a little late and sat out for a while, but was approached by another person out of a game after a while to play something while waiting for the bigger groups to finish. Jaipur was one of the options going, and seeing as I’m looking at buying it sometime it seemed like a good option to fill in the gap. As it turns out, it’s a very fun 2P game of trading goods and camels and one I look forward to picking up sometime soonish, particularly as I managed to eek out a victory (Although we only played 1 round rather than 3).

My opponent chose the next game, and grabbed a copy of guild hall as he was interested in trying it with 2. Fate interfered, and an imposter Chris who had been playing games with his son/daughter left them to it and asked to join us. In this set-collection game players play 2 cards from their hand each turn to build up guild ‘chapters’, which are sets of 5 of one profession, in different colours. When a chapter is completed it gets locked, and can be exchanged for points and possibly extra abilities on a turn. I found it pretty lackluster, but did feel a little excited in the last 5 minutes or so from playing a nice chain of actions to jump from 3 to 17 points (20 wins). I lost 20-19-(Er…can’t remember, but it was close). I think I’d play again if asked, but I certainly wouldn’t buy this game.

Following on from Guild Hall I hung around a bit until a few people were free, and had a group join me for a game of Euphoria. It was a full complement of 6 players (Not sure if I’ve done 6 before, 5 might have been the max!) all but me of which were new to the game. Explanation took me a while, as while people were attentive I struggled to be sure I was getting the right bits across to so many people at once! The game was fun, as it always is, although downtime got quite painful on some turns as an unfortunate side effect of Tim (Event organiser) needing to do some maintainance at the venue. Everyone was between 1 & 4 stars left when Dave took the victory with a surprise play (It looked likely for Cath to win, who was on 1 star left with her turn coming soonish).

At this time people mixed around a bit, with ‘Masters of Commerce’ being one of the suggestions. I joined to get the group up to 5 players and sat down for a very unexpected game indeed. In this game players play either landlords or traders, and the game takes place in 2 minute rounds of realtime-bidding for the properties of those landlords. I think if I was in the right mood and with close friends that I was super-comfortable with I’d enjoy this, but my mindset was really not right for such a game at the time so I didn’t do overy great. The other players seemed to have fun though which is great, and I’d love to see an 11 player game of it sometime, although I don’t think I’d really want to be a participant ^^.

To finish up we played Belfort, which I suggested as I figured it should fit in the time we had left with the 3 players we now had. This plus a certain important rule I found out about the day before about majorities on resource spaces getting a bonus had me excited to play. In the game I aimed to try and get as much incoem as possible to make the tax step easier (After it screwed me on Friday ^^). I grabbed a guild as my first building (Gain 2 steel one) as I figured people would often want that over wasting workers by the other method. I also focused on master elf/dwarf upgrade properties to try and get a lot done with minimal workers early in the game to avoid hitting too high on tax brackets. In the end I came in second place, although I still got a good amount over 50 with a score I’m happy with. I really really want to pick up the expansion expansion for Belfort, as the extra options sound like they could make this a brilliant game from a good game for me.

Sunday

Not so much of games today, although I did seem to just do so much stuff in general (Swimming, Town, Board Games, Video Games, Painting, Watched a Film and I’m sure more I forget right now). While in town we went to Forbidden Planet where we discovered Ticket to Ride (Or Zug Um Zum in this case) sitting there reduced from £35 to just £20. It’s too good a game to turn down a good offer like that, and seeing as the game is language independant it’s no problem for the rules and such to be in German (Would love to learn to understand it anyway though). We had a game upon getting back, where I managed to hit well, a lot of points and take the victory (Mostly long journeys, completed 3 long routes and 1 short). Definitely worth picking up ^^.

Halesowen Board Gamers #3 (06/02/2014)

Another week, another gaming session In Halesowen. Wait, but it’s 2 weeks since I last posted about one…I’m afraid it was my Mum’s Birthday, so I was at my Grandma’s for the evening =)

I just want to apologize for my lack of names again. I really should know them by now, but will have to suffice with waiting for Dave D’s post again and editing my post accordingly ^^.

I only had time for one game this week, as it was a big one, with roughly a million components, which is to say it was Caverna: The Cave Farmers. When me & my friend Chris (Handy) arrived, there was already a group setting up to play, but as there was a few of us interested we set up a separate game with my copy. While the other group were going for the advanced game (Lots more furnishing tiles) we went with the beginner version with a few less for teaching purposes (I’m in no rush for over-stressing myself with extra things to teach until I’ve played a lot with the reduced options ^^).

So what’s the game about? Well, if you’ve played Agricola, then apparently it’s quite similar (I never have, but 2 people at the table have and had many ‘ah yeah that’s the same’ moments). In Caverna you’re using a small family of dwarves (workers) to manage a small farm, alongside a mining setup digging a starting cave into a mountain as their home. Throughout the game players can gather animals and crops on the farm side, and dig tunnels, furnish useful rooms and create mines in the cavern side of their personal board.

To play, each player puts down their workers in turn on a variety of action spaces that let them gather resources, clear land, dig tunnels or go adventuring. Each round new actions become available, drawn from a semi-randomized deck, making new possibilities come available for their dwarves. After 12 rounds, the game ends and players count up how many victory points they’ve accumulated to work out who the ultimate winner is of the game.

In our game, we all took fairly different paths throughout the game. Handy went for a fairly early focus on building up his farmland and getting a lot of crops, Gordon seemed to focus on building up everything as a whole and filling space (You get -ve points at the end of the game for not using all of the available space) and player-3 grabbed a couple of early resource-generating furnishings and spent a lot of the game trying to work out how to use his massive stockpile.

Through to the middle of the game, I felt convinced Handy’s strategy would come out best, as we could all see his huge amount of fields and stacks of grain & vegetables. Early-Middle I got a weapon for one of my dwarves and struggled to find much use for it, but stuck with it and got a weapon for my second dwarf too, partly to block Steve from getting his own (I wanted as few of the others having a good weapon as possible or it would have become a bad route to take). Gordon made good use of a furnishing (or 2?) he had that reduced the cost of things he built, so he got a lot of fields/furnishings placed to make best use of it. Steve had only caves at this point, having ignored his farm side, but started going for extra workers (Gordon did too) so went to work on getting it into a useful state.

The game progressed with Handy sticking to 2 workers to keep feeding cheap while keeping his farm going, while getting some cave tiles just to fill up the space, but having very few furnishings (Other than to make wheat/veg more effective and worth more points). Gordon & Steve put a lot of work into getting more workers, with Steve also getting a lot of rubies along the way. Steve was my strongest competition for adventures, but as a result of his having more workers, I could easily take the better adventure spots on the board and that became my primary route to getting things. Myself and Gordon built up very animal-heavy farms, with his having a lot of sheep and mine being quite varied. Gordon used a lot of time trying to get food for his huge work force (5 in the end).

I’m not sure how everyone compared in individual scoring points, but we somehow managed to finish with a 3 way tie for first place! Me, Gordon & Steve had 76 points to Handy’s respectable 61. I think Handy hurt his chances a bit by not getting an extra worker or two – He had the best setup to feed them for a long time and pretty much just stockpiled them rather than make use of them. My strategy managed to pay off in the end, as I netted the level 4 adventure space every round since it came out and managed to built pretty much everything up from them. Gordon finished with a very all-rounder farm with his 5 workers, and Steve ended up quite spread too, with perhaps a weaker farm than everyone else, but a complete cave and a nice number of straight gold points he’d gathered.

All in all the game was a huge amount of fun. I’m glad that I was able to take a route that didn’t require a ton of workers, while being equal to someone with a heavy cave focus and someone going all round. I think the tie really speaks to this games balance in that we did very different things to come out so similar on points. Absolutely brilliant, I’m happy I brought Caverna along with me and had 3 great people to play with for my first multiplayer game (Done a couple solo to learn the rules). Thanks guys!

Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out my last post about some awesome kickstarter projects running at the moment, they’re all pretty damn cheap ($3 minimum on one of them!) and look great. Till next time! =)

Halesowen Board Gamers #2 (22/01/14)

I bought 4 games this week – Euphoria, Viticulture, Archon: Glory & Machination and Professor Pugnacious. I arrived a little later than usual, and numbers meant we ended up doing 2-Player runs at the first pair of the games I bought along.

First up was Euphoria. The guy I was playing with, Stan, has recently bought the game and was interested in trying it out to see how it plays and get a feel for the game. I was more than happy to oblige, seeing as this is one of my absolute favourite games ^^.

I kickstarted Euphoria back in June ’13 after watching the project for a while and being interested because it had cool looking dice. I really like steampunk, well, stuff in general, and the dice looked great so I was hoping to be able to pick a set up without worrying about the game! Sitting on a project by Jamey makes it extremely difficult to resist, as he’s hugely enthusiastic and communicative, so I took a longer look at the game, I changed my pledge to be for the supreme edition (Extra dice!) and went in. (I also obtained my viticulture kick-starter edition through a charity auction by Jamey, which I found out about through the Euphoria project.

Euphoria plays out in a dystopian Universe where the majority of the worlds population has been wiped out. The remaining people live in and around the city of Euphoria, being kept in the dark by the upper echelons to maintain their lifestyle and keep things as they are. These people are split into 4 factions, that each control particular resources necessary to live in this post-apocalyptic world.

The Euphorians are those that live in the golden city and manage it’s generators to provide energy. The Subterrans live beneath the city in the sewers and pipeworks, where they have control over the water supply. The Wastelanders live outside the city, with control over the farmlands. Finally, the Icarans are the denizens of the sky, who harvest a resource called ‘bliss’, i.e. a drug to keep workers happy!

As you play the game, you send your workers out to the various places to gather commodities, resources and artifacts which can ultimately be used to exert your influence/authority over the city. The first to place 10 authority tokens claims control over the city and wins the game.

Earlier in the game I focused in large part on pushing the allegiance tracks up for my active (Wastelander) and hidden (Subterran) recruit, the former to obtain more commodities/resources for various actions, and the latter to try and unlock an extra ability and potentially star later in the game. I worked out reasonably quickly that Stan was also trying to slowly push up the waste-lander track, so I surmised that was his hidden recruits faction and left it to go slow and focus on the Subterran track.

The first market of the game was a joint effort, as I saw Stan stockpiling gold and quickly went for a piece myself so I couldn’t get locked out of the market he went for. The second went to me, as I gathered some stone with the water I was getting from pushing the subterran allegiance track, then made use of a double to take a market in one turn. (The negative made Scott lose a commodity or resource when he rolled a 1). The 3rd went solely to Stan and meant I couldn’t join a market he’s started, 4th to me (I think) which made 5’s negatively impact Stan  too, and 5th to Stan was another construction site limit, which didn’t affect me too much. Stan got hit a lot harder from the negatives from me, although he did have at least 1 opportunity to have locked me out from a market which he missed out on, likely as it was his first game ^^.

By the end of the game, we actually finished very close on scores, with Stan having 1 star left as I used up my last (he was ahead of me for a little while, but I managed to get 2 pairs of artifacts for a leap in progress). Good game!

No-one else looked likely to finish another game soon, so I offered up Viticulture as Stan had mentioned he was interested in it sometime, and I wanted to play it ^^. I talked about the game in my last Halesowen post, so I’ll go straight into how the game went.

I got an early windmill which worked well through the game, with Stan getting Irrigation/trellis fairly early to open up planting options. My first plant got me a 3red/3white field, which turned out to be extremely useful over the game.

My first wine order was for a 5 value red, nice and easy, which I got by letting a 3 age for a couple of years, the 2nd that I picked up was a 2red/2white and got completed first in the end. I feel lucky to have gotten 2 easy orders. Stans first order filled was a 3red/4red. After that I’m a little hazy, but Stan managed to keep close to me on the residual money track each game.

For buildings, I mostly had the lead, likely because it was Stans first game so he couldn’t see what was useful until he saw me get the benefits. I went Windmill > Irrigation > Med. Cellar > Trellis > Yoke > Large Cellar > Tasting Room (Only got the last as I had some money in the last year and it was a way to nab an extra VP). Stans I think was Irrigation > Trellis > Med Cellar > Yoke > Windmill > Large Cellar > Tasting Room. Stan got his tasting room straight after me on the last year so he didn’t get to reap the benefits unfortunately.

Early game I went ahead on points, mostly thanks to my windmill, but as we neared the end Stan managed to catch up putting us head to head ~15. At that point however I had a half full crush pad while he’d used up every single grape/wine token he had. In the 2nd to last year I grabbed some wine orders as well as blocking the harvest action to maintain my advantage, and in the last got an order filled, as well as 2VP from a visitor and 1 from the tasting room I’d built. The game ended 23-17 with my victory.

All in all it was a very fun evening of games – It’s interesting how much more you remember/pay attention to in a 2 player for playing strategically, even when a game scales well up to 6 ^^. Looking forward to next week as a couple people sounded interested in Archon, and hopefully on the 5th Eldritch Horror (I know both Ian/Dave-D are interseted in that).

Thanks for reading