Tag Archives: Viticulture

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! ^^.

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Weekly Gaming 26/02/2014 (+ Halesowen #5)

I usually try and write up Halesowen within a couple of days, but I seem to have been busy a lot of the week and it’s taken me some time to do it. As a result I rolled it into my ‘weekly gaming’ post instead ^^. Apologies about the incoming colossal walls of text but lots of gaming happened this week!

Wednesday – Halesowen Board Gamers

At Halesowen last week I got to introduce 3 new players to Viticulture. I’ve talked about the game in previous posts so I’ll save you the introduction to what it’s about, but suffice to say I really love this game and think the mechanisms are highly thematic and hugely enjoyable. In fact the expansion is being kickstarted on the 12th march which I’m looking forward to, it will be interesting to see how this one goes as Jamey (The designer) is looking to stop using exclusives in his campaigns, something which is often believed to draw a lot of backers in.

Our game started off with players looking a bit too far ahead and trying to think about how they’d get their orders filled, while I appreciate the reasoning it’s interesting seeing what people go for to try and make it happen before realising that it’s going to take a few years to get their vineyards up and running. Mike Started with a cottage, which was set to give him a lot of options throughout the game, although perhaps too many for a first time round (There was a lot of time spent trying to work out what he could manage with the huge number of options ^^). I also got a cottage, as I feel it’s extremely powerful, with a tasting room and Irrigation being other early buildings I saw (Don’t remember who had them, it was a week ago sorry! ^^).

As we got through the game all players managed to get a reasonably well running system, with 2 of the new players being ahead of me for a while in the game. I spent a lot of time building up and let a lot of grapes/wines sit and age throughout the game for a rush later on (A bit cheeky really as new players don’t really know to do so) of orders. The game actually ended very close between me and Mike, with me being able to hit all the way up to 25 in the final year (I think) and Mike hitting 22 that same year by managing his cards effectively. John came third with 17 and Ian with 10, not quite being given enough time to capitalize his vineyard. It was a good game, although this is a very poor report as I’ve been too busy to get it done earlier!

We finished up with a game of Carcassonne with Me, Ian & Mike as John had to head off. The game went by fairly friendly, although in an absolutely haphazard layout as I was doing some silly placements to try and nab features and take points off the others (Mainly off Mike). In the end as it turns out that was probably pretty stupid, as I left myself trailing in 3rd place with ian 2nd & Mike taking the lead with his French-city building experience proving superior ^^.

Thursday – Games with Mum

On Thursday I went to my parents house for the evening, and took along Caverna to introduce it to my Mum, who bought it for me as a late Christmas present. While an intimidating looking game with a crazy amount of components she was up for it nonetheless so I got it set up after dinner and dived into teaching her how it all works. I’ve got to compliment my Mum here as she’s absolutely amazing at listening to and picking up the rules to games, and while it clearly had her a bit confused managed to work everything out in no time at all (Better than many people who play board games all the time and not just when their son pesters them to ^^).

I usually go for weapons and adventuring for my dwarves, but decided on this occasion to go for a farming route. Mum opted to go for weapons and push for adventurers, spending the first couple of turns excitedly wanting to know how to get her dwarves geared up while getting tiles out into her fields/cave a little bit. While I got myself some wheat planted nice and early, Mum got herself a level 3 adventurer as soon as able and got to work leveling him up. I must have not emphasized feeding enough as at the first harvest she struggled with food and had to take a beggar token to keep her dwarves alive, but this helped her get the gist of the challenges in managing what you should plan for in this game.

Once I’d got my farm in a good state (grain, vegetables and all animal types) I focused for a little while filling in my Cave and having some Dwarven newborn. Mum got her adventurer high enough to furnish caverns and got herself a slaughtering cave before deciding to go for a 3rd dwarf, at this point she asked an…er…interesting question “Why can’t I keep my newborn dwarf in the slaughtering cave”, while perhaps not in those exact words I found it pretty hilarious and explained that she needed a dwelling ^^. She also managed by this point to get her fields well planted with grain and vegetables making her troubles with feeding absolutely no more.

At the end of the game I’d gotten a well built farm and cave (Although it was lacking in mines) with many animals that net me a lot of points. I’d also capitalized on a heavily built up ore spot and taken the ore-storage to net 9 points from that. My Mum had a well balanced finish with an ore mine in her Cave and 2-4 of each animal, as well as plenty of grain & vegetables on the side, but lacking in VP furnishings (I didn’t buy any at all my first game so the slaughtering cave itself was a cool thing to see ^^). The score was 60-34 in the end, and I look forward to playing again. I suspect a couple of games down the line and she could trounce me, so maybe just one more before I introduce her to something else ;).

Friday – UoB Tabletop Society

On Friday at UoB tabletop we played Space Cadets for the first time. I got the game recently at a great price through the UK Math trade, and was excited to get the opportunity to try it out with 4 of us. I don’t know if we did a single rule correct, but this was an absolute blast and I look forward to my next opportunity to play, which will be after much watching of video’s and trying to figure out everything to be able to teach people in less than an hour+ ^^. In Space Cadets, players take the part of different members of the crew of a spaceship, performing their individual & unique tasks to try and come together and complete missions. The actual tasks that have to be done are fairly simple, but you get a very limited amount of time to do them! A timer is used throughout the game giving 30 second blocks for players to simultaneous work on their stuff, hopefully to the benefit of everyone.

The roles in the game consist of the Captain, who does little but flip the timer; Engineering, which involves laying tiles carc-style to generate and distribute energy; Tractor Beams, which means flipping tiles to try and grab nearby objects; Weapons, who has to load missiles with tetris-pieces and grids, then fire them by disc-flicking; Shields, which involves making poker hands to get energy to the various sides of the ship; Jump, to ready the ship and get it prepped to jump out of the system when the mission is complete; Helm, who has to navigate the ship across a map using limited movement cards, and try not to hit too many asteroids and leave the ship overy exposed, and Damage Control, which is for tracking damage to the ship and trying to repair it with a set of rather dubious success-rate cards.

Everything comes together in the game in a hugely hectic mashup where people try so hard and still struggle to complete their deceptively simple bits and pieces. We spent a long while fumbling our way through space achieving little but to take damage before we finally managed to tighten the reigns a little to take out some enemies, but it was oh so satisfactory when we did! We had to leave before finishing the mission, but had grabbed 2/3 crystals and killed half the enemies by that time, so I’m calling that we could have done it despite our half destroyed ship. Huge amount of fun and I look forward to playing this gem some more on games days to come, and perhaps it’s sequel dice-duel that sounds even more fun ^^.

Sunday – Zombicide Games Day

Sunday this week me, Grace & Handy got together to play some games at my house. A couple others were interested but couldn’t make it so we went ahead and three muskateered it. The first game played, which I picked up from the UK Math Trade was Carcassonne, a tile-laying game where players manage their small supply of meeples to try and gather as many points as possible before every tile is used up. There are 4 places you can put meeples (Done when you place a tile) – Fields, which get 3 points/completed city at end game, Cities, that are worth 2-4 points per tile when completed, or half at end of game, Roads, which are just worth 1 point per tile, and cloisters, which are worth one point + 1 for each surrounding tile. The latter 3 of those give you back the meeple (You have 7) when finished off, so you get them back available for other tasks.

Our game went by in a relatively friendly fashion, with minimal nabbing of each others stuff. We got some pretty large cities as we went by but ultimately everything seemed to come down to fields that are worth a ridiculous amount of points. I think I may have won but I don’t really remember, it was a cool looking board after though!

We followed up with Zombicide, which was the main aim of the evening as it rarely comes out (due to length) but everyone loves to play it. We went for a mission in the Prison Outbreak book, #6 I think, where we started with a split party in a prison, with one group trying to open security doors to reunite the party, before the other group get swamped by the spawn zones which are all in their half of the prison. We achieved the first task fairly quickly and all was seeming well, so we added an extra objective that we had to take the extra objectives in order to escape (We could have ignored them). As it turned out it was a real challenge fighting our way down there, as the 2 spawns surrounding that location were a real pain to deal with. Half our party started with dogs however, and these proved to be invaluable in dealing with threats early on, as well as improving Handy’s melee attacks to a silly level when he found a chainsaw. Grace managed to get a sniper rifle together which she made good use of to clear the way of toxics so my dog could melee and our other characters could move a little more freely.

During the game, we had a good number of Abominations come out (4-5 maybe) which I was able to deal with in short order with Brad as I had a 3 damage revolver to one shot them all. We were playing with a custom abominiation rule I made where they get extra abilities as you advance through danger levels (Starting off easier, ending harder) which worked out exactly as I’d hoped, in that it removed the feeling of ‘Guess we’d better search for the next 20-turns’ that they used to come with (Though ironically we got an early molotov anyway). Handy almost opened up the far side of the prison before we were probably ready to deal with it, but came into line as we needed a hand getting to the objective to open the exit door before he released the horde (To get out, you have to open a security door that also opens a ton of cells). By this point we were strong enough to tear through these enemies, and I think every character got up to red level to play with ultra-red weapons we’d had wasting inventory space until this moment. Grace & Handy opted to stick around in the prison a little to play with their new-found guns while I started clearing up ^^. This game is an absolute ton of fun and it’s a shame we don’t get to play it more often (On the other hand it would be a shame to never play other things if we did try to force it every game night). Till next time Zombicide!

We were a little lighter afterwards, breaking out Smash Up, a game that I think all 3 of us enjoy a’plenty. In our first game of this I was Elder Things + Aliens, Handy was Carnivorous Plants + Dinosaurs & Grace was Pirate + Ninjas. I never got the Shoggoths throughout the game which I think helped, as I usually get myself hung up trying to place the damn things, instead I managed to chain my cards well to throw a ton of madness at my opponents. Handy made good use of drawing a lot but ended up using most actions removing madness, & Grace made do quite well but had a very hostile pair of factions that didn’t get enough opportunities to grab points. I think I took victory by the end although it was close and decided by the madness in Handy’s deck.

In our second game, we cthulhu’d up a little more and had Me as Wizard Cultists, Handy as Local Zombies & Grace as Miskatonic Bear Cavalry. Wizards worked really well with cultists as I didn’t feel as much strain in getting rid of the madness they generate as usual, although I still failed to really achieve anything with them. Handy’s locals managed to get everywhere in crazy stacks, and Grace managed to use her bears to have strong control over the battlefield. In the end Handy won, with me coming dead last (Woohoo for the metagame of screw the last winner) and Grace in second place, good game!

To finish up the evening I got to introduce Grace & Handy to Legacy: Gears of Time. I’ve tried to hint at it a lot recently but for reasons unbeknownst to me most people just aren’t attracted to it, I guess they assume timey-wimey + board games = bad ^^. They gave it a chance though and we got to travelling through time screwing with the normal order of invention to no end to make our Legacy’s superior to our opponents. It’s an interesting game in how it really gets you thinking about how to make bigger, higher scoring technologies come into effect while keeping the lower ones under your control to stop them fizzling into non-existence (Which invalidates the higher ones!). In our game I got a lot of points early, but had Handy manage to leapfrog me and deny me a ton of points in the later rounds. Grace got the unfortunate end of having people steal her technologies and didn’t quite manage to catch up, although I think it could have been even closer! Both enjoyed it so I’m happy to have got it out =)

Tuesday – Gameses

My friend Chris Harrison came around on Tuesday evening for a couple of games. He agreed to Viticulture, as I’ve been wanting to try out some more stuff with it and we made the game a whole lot more complex in the process. I enjoyed it thoroughly and managed to net a lot of points, but I don’t think it was much fun for Chris, which seems to be a recurring theme among my Uni friends with this game (Which is a shame as I love it).

Following that up we got out Legendary by Chris’s suggestion. I’ve not played in a while as I felt pretty burned out on it, but seeing as a good number of my friends have said they really love it I decided it needs to start hitting the table again (Plus seeing as he didn’t enjoy Viticulture it only seemed fair ^^). I’m glad we did so, as with a custom scheme I got from the variant forums the game felt refreshed and challenging. We were fighting Dr. Doom, with the caveat that we weren’t allowed to fight him when more than 2 villains were in the city and every scheme twist increased his strength by 1 (8 twists). In addition the villain deck was just 3 villain groups, making them tough to deal with at all. There was 5 twists out before we could even hit the mastermind! Fortunately I got some lucky draws from Gambit’s ‘Reveal top, if X-men draw it’ despite him being by only x-men in my deck and managed to net a few turns where I could take our Doom as we neared the end. I think we were 3 villain cards from losing when I finally took him down a final time. Harrison’s blade focused deck turned out not to work as well against this scheme as it might on others letting me take the individual victory. We saved the world though, wooh! (Or whatever the schemes name was…may have forgotten, ^^).

So that’s my last week in games, which seems to have been quite intense judging from the amount I’ve written! Apologies to anyone from Halesowen that reads that it took me a whole week to get around to writing it up ^^. Thanks for skimming! (C’mon…like you read all that ;))

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