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The Plucky Plank

A recap and my opinion of games tried at various game gatherings or conventions.

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Hulk X-90 SMASH!! or how to program your robot to fall in a hole. - 11/10/12

Kearn Reif
United States
Howell
Michigan
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Greetings and salutations my loyal readers. I am sorry about the lateness of this report but job searching and family medical problems held it up. I am so grateful to have a distraction like board games at times to keep me sane. Enough of Debbie Downer, lets look at the games played last month by me and my fellow B.L.O.B. members.




RoboRally
I arrived in time to join 7 others for a massive game of Roborally. I was handed a nicely painted mini and laughed at my green robot with purple highlights. His name is Hulk X-90 and I just couldn't resist saying "Hulk Smash!".



So what happens is each turn you are dealt a certain number of cards each turn. These cards are what you use to program your robot. The cards have arrows that show straight,right,left or backward and you place them face down on your robot card to show your planned movement. This brings about one of the funny parts of the game as you watch everyone twist and turn their bodies or hands to make sure they are turning their robot the right direction. After everyone is done, players flip their cards over and based on the number in the upper corner determines the player turn order.



The organized chaos now begins. Robots start to move and if another robot is in your way, you push it in the direction you are moving. You more than likely just messed up your opponents plans and they will curse your name. There are plenty of hazards on the board from fire to pits. There are also conveyor belts that move and twist your robots or walls that impede your movement. The goal is to get your robots to the various flags on the board. They are numbered and you have to stop on each flag in order. If at any point you die, falling down the pit or by driving off the board, you can restart at the last flag you touched. Sort of like a re-spawn point in video games. After all movement is resolved, you get to fire a laser and any robot in your line of sight takes a point of damage. Damage is bad because at a certain point it forces you to keep a direction card locked in your program area. This means that every round until you repair you are stuck going a certain direction.



We were playing with 8 people and the game began to drag and certain players interest waned looking at what other games were about to start. We also dropped the race from 4 flags to 2 since several players dropped out. What did I think? I like deciding my path for my robot and hoping no one else interferes with my plans. I like the elements on the board, like flame throwers, that also need to be part of your plans. Now I also felt the game was starting to drag on as only two of us had gotten to the first flag after an hour. The game can also be hard for some people spatially as they get lefts and rights confused because of the robots orientation. That said, I would like to play this again, maybe with less people and on a tighter map.

Play time with rules: 2 hours 35 minutes
Final Scores: 2 Flags-Joe;1 Flag-Mary,Chris,Kearn;0 Flags-Mike,T,Blade,Sam


Stock Car Championship Racing Card Game
This is a game I can't believe I played. If you know me, you know I hate NASCAR and that people consider it a sport. I don't want to start a rant so I will discuss the game. The game has a predetermined number of laps and a deck that simulates the track. Players use cards to pass, block, draft or challenge the other racers. I chose the Tide car because I wanted a clean win. laugh



So a typical turn goes like this. You flip the top card of the track deck over and a lap count is on the card. There also can be hazards too. From the cards in your hand, you have to discard cards that add up to be equal or greater than the lap count. If you can't, you are considered out of gas. After that we determine player order. It is based on the speed rating shown on the top of the card in your discard pile. Action cards let you try to pass other cars either inside or outside. The car you are passing can attempt to block you. Once everyone goes new cars are drawn and you start all over again until the lap count is met.



We were playing a pimped out version with the Hot Wheels and I personally liked it better than generic cards. This game didn't do much to improve my opinion of stock car racing but it was a bit more fun than I thought it would be. The game is random due to the cars and some of the high lap counts can leave you short of Action cards useful to you during your turn. Also shorter races don't leave you to much time to advance very far. It was a fun distraction but I don't know if I would play it again.

Play time with rules: 45 minutes
Final Placement: 1st Chris, 2nd Tom, 3rd Rhonda, 4th Joe, 5th Kearn, 6th Mike


The New Era
Are you looking for a game that captures the feel of Mad Max, then you might want to try New Era. In New Era you each play a faction, set on supremacy of the new world. You do this by gaining control of locations you discover or by influencing your rival factions locations. The game starts each round with a draft of face-up cards. Each person ends up drafting 2 cards and then 1 card off the top of the deck. You have some options available to you but nothing too brain burning.



Production comes next which gives you resources, workers, cards or victory points to use in the Action phase which is next. There are a lot of actions to choose from such as develop locations, take faction actions, trade cards or get workers. You keep preforming one action until you have to pass. Once passed, your locations are closed to the other players, which is a nice way to protect your buildings from being conquered or other players workers. After everyone passes, you check to see if anyone has reached 33 points (we totally missed this phase) if they do the game ends. If not proceed to the cleanup phase, basically get rid of anything unused and pass the first player token to the left.



I really enjoyed this game and after a round of play grasped the game. You have to plan ahead with your locations to help you get more resources each turn. Using neighbors locations is key to help when you can't get the card yourself. The number 3 is everywhere in this game. You can't have more than 3 of anything on or under a card and only 3 places for your location cards. The symbols in the game aren't overwhelming and become intuitive but can be a turnoff to certain players. I am tired of all the card based games but I found plenty to enjoy here. New Era is a solid game that I would play again anytime.



Play time with rules: 1 hour 30 minutes
Final Scores: Tom-64,Mike-25,Rhonda-46,Kearn-55


I also want to say congratulations to Rhonda and Mike who recently got engaged. You could always catch the two of them chatting, giving each other back rubs or holding hands. It's cute and I wish them the best.

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Wed Dec 12, 2012 5:03 pm
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Limon vert dans les châteaux de Bourgogne (Thanks Google Translate) - 7/28/12

Kearn Reif
United States
Howell
Michigan
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To quote Jimi Hendrix “Even Castles made of sand, fall into the sea, eventually.”


This month at BLOB, I played a game I have been excited to try (The Castles of Burgandy), 2 games of slight interest to me (Ground Floor and Scripts & Scribes: the dice game) and 1 I knew nothing about (Inca Empire). I also try to start my blog with a witty scene but I am at a loss this month on what to write. So Mr. Hendrix's quote sums it up for me.

Ground Floor
My Saturday started with a 6 player game of this recently funded Kickstarter game called Ground Floor. Tom backed it and put together a play test version of the game. So I will hold off on any comments of the components. After a lengthy overview of the game, we randomly received a play mat with a starting Technology upgrade. My upgrade was the Assembly tile which lets me make a supply cube for 2 times.


So before I go to deep into the game session report, I want to explain a few basics of the game. Basically you have a staff that is represented as time and you use the time to gather information, money, goods, and employees to expand your company. Information and money are the two main currencies of the game and you need plenty of both. You get both by selling goods on the market, forecasting the future market and through expansions of your business. The game ends after 9 rounds of when a player builds their 5th floor. This is an economic game at heart.

I managed to snag an empty floor and a free T.I. early in the game. I opted to go for building my 5 floors before anyone else. I got off to a nice start but I kept myself too money shy, which hurt me because I wasn’t able to get more workers. So I started selling goods and using the Consulting area to score cash and info. Then I started build more of my remodels to shave time off certain tasks and stretch my workers time out more. Finally, I got some more employees but missed out on a few expansion floors that I wanted.

Slowly we ended up grinding the game out to the ninth round. I managed to grab my 5th floor in desperation for more prestige points at the end. I misunderstood that you needed 3 information and 3 money to equal 1 pp. I would have scored more points by not getting my 5th floor. C’est la vie.


After one play, what do I think of the game Ground Floor? First, I don’t think this is a worker placement, I think it is more of a resource management game. Very rarely was I blocked from any location or felt I was taking the next best option for me. Secondly, I will never play a 6 player game of this again. The game lasted 4 hours and I was ready to be done after 2. I realize that 5 of us never played before but it just dragged at certain points. So to be fair to the game, I want to try it again but with fewer players. If it still drags, then I can’t see me playing this again.

Playtime with rule explanation = 41/2 hours
Chris-46,Mike-45,Joe-42,Rhonda-40,Kearn-39,Tom-32


Scripts and Scribes: the Dice Game
After the lengthy Ground Floor, a few of us wanted a game of lighter fare; Enter Scripts and Scribes. I have played Biblios many times and enjoy the game. So when I saw a dice version was due out, my interest was peaked. Would it be as fun as the card game?


So the goal is the same as the card game, collect resources and gold. The person who controls the majority of a resource, scores points and whoever has the most points in the end, wins. The auction is done differently and if you win it, you can get a good leg up on your competition. The game ends when one person’s marker is at the top of the Abbot track or if 3 player markers reach the top of 1 or more resources or if a player removes 4 of his markers from the board.

Rolling the dice and grabbing what is best for you out of the available dice is a basic turn. My goal was to be diverse and try to snag as many points from different resources. I succeeded as a fellow player realized from the last role I was going to win. He cussed and had a small tirade about his hatred of random dice rolls. I felt it was unnecessary, but some people just have to vent their frustration. Personally, I felt I played very well and made the best of my choices. I felt the game is a fun filler game just like the card version. I just don’t know if the differences justify owning the card and dice version of this game.


Playtime with rule explanation = 40 minutes
Chris-25,Mike-26 ,Kearn-41,Tom-15


Inca Empire
After the dice fest and a few slices of pizza, we were ready to tackle a new game. My options were Ninjato or Incan Empire. I own Ninjato and played it, I thought I would check out Incan Empire. I was told it is a route building game without trains. Ooooooo! <Sarcasm>. Tom wasn’t far off, since after the rule explanation roads were important to open up areas of the map. The card placement on the side board was also an interesting tactic. Some of the cards could really hamper your opponents.


The first question I had was could you block other players from accessing areas on the map. You could but the game had a card that let you build wild roads and get around being blocked. It still didn’t stop me as I constructed plenty of roads to the north. Your turn consists of building a road and then taking an action, which include build an extra road, build a garrison, city or tier. All of which get you victory points.

My strategy to close off the North was caught quickly and soon I was no longer alone. I quickly realized conquering areas was nice but I needed to build and connect to other buildings on the board. So I started heading south, connecting to garrisons and cities. Then things got nasty. My opponents played cards in my sector that only allowed me to build one road instead of two. Another nasty card made you spend two extra workers to build a city. Normally it takes 6, now with that card it was 8.


Revenge was mine because I returned the favor by destroying roads in disputed areas. Roads can be built in an area you control but can extend into areas you don’t control. So the card allowed me to wipe those roads out and destroy their connections to buildings. Muhahaha! I did notice that Tom, our teacher, was just killing us with connections. He sat back and built his roads as the rookies battled each other. By the time I noticed, there was no possible way to unseat him as number 1. The final round, we played with the variant with the hidden ship so we were not sure when the game would end. I just built roads trying desperately to score more VP.


My strategy paid off and I managed to barely grab second place by a point. For a game I knew nothing about and was not keen to play, I actually enjoyed the game. It had enough confrontation to be interesting but at the same time it wasn’t a huge brain burner. Incan Empire surprised me and I would enjoy playing it again.

Playtime with rule explanation = 2 ½ hours
Tom-147,Kearn-132,Mike-130,Jim-131


The Castles of Burgundy
My last game of the night was Castles of Burgundy, a game high on my play list. The goal of the game is to use your dice to build your kingdom and after 5 rounds the player with the most points wins. You claim different hex tiles from a community board and eventually place them on your own kingdom board. Since it was our first play, we played the beginners boards. I decided I wanted the silvering so I could purchase the black tiles in the center. So by turn three, I had claimed all of my mines and finished the section.


After that a few knowledge tiles came out that worked well with items I already had on my board. The one I choose gave me 3vp for each good I sold and by the end game; I ended up selling all 6. Then I managed to get the knowledge tile that gave me 1vp for each good sold. So I figured by the time the end game came around, I would be set with plenty of end game points. So the rest of the game, I continued to gather goods, sell goods and fill in more areas of my kingdom.


It was a race between Chris and I in the end to see who built the better kingdom and scored the most points. Chris was scoring a lot with animals and finishing sectors on his map. I was sure it was going to be close and it was as Chris just edged me out by 10 points. When it comes to games of the “Euro” type, I don’t get excited to play them. I just don’t get excited to play a game where I am a farmer or a landowner. The Castles of Burgundy was fun and engaging as each turn rolled by and I would have played another game immediately afterwards.

Playtime with rule explanation = 1 ½ hours
Chris-196,Kearn-186,Jim-144


The End
I enjoyed the variety and depth of games, even if I played fewer games this month. I was thrown by the cursing during a simple die filler game and added a new name to my list of players to avoid. Other games played were Innovation, Power Grid, Ninjato and Dominion. Thanks for reading my blog and remember they are only games so have fun.
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Sat Aug 4, 2012 3:55 pm
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Bad Color! Bad, Bad Color! Green attracts Those We Do Not Speak Of. - 6/23/12

Kearn Reif
United States
Howell
Michigan
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S:Mother, when is dad coming home?

M:I've been dreading this day. Your father isn't coming home.

S: Why mommy?

M: You remember when your brother entered the church to become a friar?

S: Yes.

M: Well, in exchange of your brothers admittance, we had to take a plague cube. Your father happened to be of the first generation and since time drifted past the bridge, he choose to sacrifice himself.

S:sobs

M: But don't feel to sad, he will always be remembered in the village chronicle.

S: So <sniff> it's my brothers fault daddy's dead?

M: Ummmmmm.......


Pirate Fluxx
I got a bit forgetful this month and missed taking some pictures of a few games. Sorry.

While waiting for other to show up, Rhonda suggested killing time with Pirate Fluxx. I was surprised a few of the players had never played Fluxx. The rules are so simple that we started playing after a brief overview. At one point, we had to talk like pirates to draw extra cards and Rhonda got the Captain's Hat and we could only refer to her as Cap'ian.arrrh The game ended quickly as a forced goal play caused another player to win.

Fluxx will always be a humorous distraction to me and with all the various themes, there is surely a Fluxx for you.

Playtime with rule explanation = 15 minutes
Shawn-Won; Chris,Rhonda,Zach,Jerry and Kearn-Lost


Maharani

Maharani was taught to Chris and I by teacher extraordinaire, Tom. The game is just a simple tile laying game where you score points for your meeples and tiles. In the begining, the game was very close point wise as each of us looked for the optimal play with the available tiles. As you can see above in the picture, I (yellow) started off placing tiles in the area closest to me. I was so focused on majority in that area, I missed placing any tiles or workers in the quadrant directly above.

Once I figured out my folly, I tried to work my way into the other areas of the board. Unfortunately, I was too late and Chris ran away with the remainder of the game. I did manage a narrow finish in second but a whopping 20+ points behind first. So what did I think of my first play? I liked it. The whole time I was playing, I kept thinking my wife would really like it. There is tile placement and meeples which are similar to her favorite Carcassonne.

I really enjoyed the wheel which changed the orientation of the tiles. You had to decide to place the tile as is in the quadrant it was adjacent too or use one of your 4 coins to place it in a different quadrant or forgo a meeple and turn the tile in a different direction. Maharani is an enjoyable quick light game that looks spectacular when it is finished. I can see this being a good couples game and I will report how it plays with two in the future.

Playtime with rule explanation = 1 hour
Chris-98,Tom-69,Kearn-76


The Resistance
Zach talked all of us into trying a game of the Resistance. I had always been curious about the game and was eager to try it. The rules are simple but the the meta game, Whoa! The tension was almost instantaneous as every one eyed each other. The first mission went off without a hitch, the second had a fail. What!?! We had a spy. Now the fun revved up, new people were choosen and failed. Then another fail, the third try passed and the assembled team went on the mission. Another fail card!

I was the last to pick the team and I thought I had it all figured out. Wrong! I drafted the two spies and we lost. NOOOOOOOOO! The game was fun and strangely addicting. I enjoyed trying to deduct the spies by watching for tells.

Playtime with rule explanation = 30 minutes
Shawn and Rhonda-Won; Zach,Jerry,Chris and Kearn-Lost


Alien Frontiers

More people finally arrived and I joined Eric and his son Liam for a friendly game of Alien Frontiers. Pairs eluded me for several turns, so I started collecting ore and alien tech cards. A few nice dice manipulators and I was on my way to adding more dice. I have a particular pattern of colony spaces I prefer to grab. Liam preferred to pick on his father which I tried to take advantage of but Eric is just too crafty of a player.

I managed to take a lead in points and solidified my controlling interest in certain territories. I was about one turn away from winning when Liam played his last colony sooner than I thought he would and instead winning himself. Alien Frontiers is not for people who like little to no interaction. You will be constantly cursing your opponents names as they block out space stations you need. I personally love sweating out where to put my dice each turn.

Playtime with rule explanation = 60 minutes
Liam-10,Eric-9,Kearn-8


Defenders of the Realm
Last months photo since I forgot to take new pictures.

After last months play of Defenders, I wanted to try again now that I understood what we did wrong. The game started off slow with none of the generals moving and minor minion placement. We kept the minions in check and each of us kept going for rumors at the inns. Sapphire moved twice is a row and several minions tainted several locations. The easy manageable game became a nightmare. Eric and I fought Sapphire and defeated him but emptied our hands of our cards. Liam cleaned up a few minions that looked menacing and once again the board looked manageable.

Balazarg fell next and we were on our way to fighting Gorgutt after a recharge of cards at an inn. Then the bad luck sunk in. One location became overrun and a chain reaction of minions and tainted land ended our run for victory. The game was more challenging this time but I still think it is manageable with the right characters and of course good dice rolls. I am not burned out on co-ops yet and Defenders is a solid game with great retro art.

Playtime with rule explanation = 100 minutes
Eric,Liam and Kearn - Lost; The evil - Win


The Speicherstadt

I had become the odd man out and was waiting for two 5 player games to finish. Thankfully I was waiting long as 2 new people showed up and we decided to play a shorter game while waiting for the others to finish. The Speicherstadt fit the bill. Ken (owner of the game) taught us the rules and we started bidding. I had a simple strategy, I wanted to stay competitive with firemen and avoid the negative points when the fire cards showed up. My second goal was to make everyone else pay more if they really wanted the cards for auction.

For those of you unfamiliar with Speicherstadt, there are cards with show firemen, shipps with goods, contracts and buildings. You use your meeples to bid by placing the meeple above the card you want. When everyone is done, the auction begins. The price you pay is equal to the number of meeples on the location. You either pay the price or pass, once passed the next player gets to decide. This continues until all the cards are resolved and then a new set comes out. Watch out for the fire cards, too few firemen and you take negative points. Goods on ships are used to fulfill contracts which are worth victory points at the games end.

 

Borrowed from richardsgamepack

Back to our game, Ken and Bill always seemed to have more money than me, but a few key cards slipped into my hands at low prices. The auctions were tight and from my point of view, we all seemed evenly matched for endgame points. The game ends with the last fire card and Bill and I scored our points while Ken suffered the negative points. Points were added up and we ended in a tie. I had more money left over and won the tiebreaker. I played Speicherstadt before and enjoy its simple mechanisms. The real fun is in the placement of your meeples and driving the prices higher for your opponents.

Playtime with rule explanation = 35 minutes
Ken-31,Bill-25,Kearn-31


Village


Games end

Our final selection of the night was the Village. I have been curious about the game since I watched an Essen video about it. Tom taught us the rules and it seemed pretty straightforward. The game seemed to be like many other worker placement style games. The main difference would be the time element and the numbers on the meeples. I started off placing a worker at the wedding and adding more workers to the farm. It always seems to me, that more workers are a must. I am not 100% sure if they are as necessary in the Village.

The game moved right along with everyone gathering cubes and goods. I focused on the Church and marketplace storing up VP chits for the endgame. I also kept sacrificing my meeples at key moments to fill the book and hopefully score lots of points in the end. What I failed to do was use the Travel section of the board. A grave mistake since there are lots of points to be made up there. Tom and Ken seemed to be doing good most of the game while Bill and I seemed to be chasing them all game. It ended close with Tom scoring the most points.


Ken showing off his hand model skills

Overall, the Village doesn't change to much from the typical worker placement model of games. The generational aspect of the game makes for some interesting choices of when to sacrifice or keep them for a life cycle longer. Also this has to be the first euro game with workers I have played where food is of little to no importance. Your choices are plenty which means multiple paths to victory and repeated plays.

Playtime with rule explanation = 95 minutes
Ken-53,Bill-29,Tom-54,Kearn-46


The End
We had competition this week from MichCon, but still managed to have a nice turnout. Other games played were Innovation, Core Worlds x2, Black Gold, Natulius and Pret-a-Port. Until next month, keep gaming and remember to have fun.
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Sun Jul 1, 2012 3:59 pm
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Green Slime on the Runway - 5/19/12

Kearn Reif
United States
Howell
Michigan
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The fog hisses from the machine as colored lights dance through the haze and the rhythmic electronic beats thump from speakers above. Fabrics in vibrant colors and phony smiles are worn by women as they flaunt the newest designs of the season. Sweat beads on the foreheads of the designers, as they try to gleam some sort of reaction from the crowd. Will they be a success?

This month, I played an interesting mix of themes and games from classic fantasy to the fashion industry. Before I get to that, I wanted to take a moment to thank Chris Norwood from Gamerchris.com. He helped me with some answers to blog writing and photos questions I had. Check out his blog, he has an artistic eye for game photography and I enjoy his game session reports.

Defenders of the Realm

I started the day teaching 3 new players Defenders of the Realm. They all had played Pandemic, so basic game play was quickly understood by all. At first, the bosses didn't move as we all traveled around the map finishing quests or gathering extra cards from the inns. After a few turns, our sorceress and cleric choose to attack the demon general. Bad dice rolls hurt them and they failed to kill the demon general. As they healed, our rogue went after the orc general with 11 dice and only hit him 3 times due to rolling to many 1's.

A few turns later, the Demon general and Orc General were one step away from Monarch City and the Undead general was two spaces away. All looked bleak. The wizard joined the cleric and finally succeeded in slaying a general, the Dragon. He had not moved at all but we were heavy with blue cards. What ended up working out for us was a few quests that halted generals moves and a few well timed All's quiet. Soon the rouge killed the Orc general and the cleric and wizard teamed up again to slay the Demon general. One full round later, the Undead general fell and the game was won.


Defenders of the Realm is a good game but I find it to easy. I never lose and I thought this game was going to be my first loss. Since I am always teaching the game, I only play the basic version. I hope to try Defenders at a higher difficulty and see if there is a challenge. If not, I can see my interest in playing this game waning.

Playtime with rule explanation = 3 hours
Group Win!

Bohnanza

5 of us started...... bean farming. ZZZZZZZZZ! Huh? What?!!? Theme aside, I like this game. It's a fun set collecting/negotiating card game. Only Rhonda was new to Bohnanza so after a short explaination of the rules, away we went. Trades and donations in the first few rounds were nice and generous. Once a few people had their third field, the trades became tighter or were renegotiated to benefit one player. You could tell it was going to be a close game as coin piles looked to be equal around the table. It wasn't long before the we were through the deck three times and points were tallied. Suzanne managed edge a win by 1 point. Shenanigans!

Playtime with rule explanation = 1 hour
Suzanne-13,Jim-12,Rhonda-10,Kearn-10,Meri-9

Prêt-à-Porter
Now to my game of the day (thus the intro and title this month). Shawn and I were new to the world of high fashion and after a short overview of the game, we started designing clothes. At it's core, Prêt-à-Porter is an economic game with a few familiar mechanisms such as worker placement and area control.

We began placing our 3 markers in turn around the board. I will admit, several aspects of this game went over my head in the beginning. I failed to recognize the importance of certain employees or buildings. I also was a bit lost on how the loans worked and avoided taking them. I decided to focus on capturing one of the four areas our clothes were critiqued on in the shows. I choose PR with some light influence towards quality and trendy. After that I just choose to focus on buildings and employees who could help me achieve those goals.

Now clearly Zack and Mark had played before as they both knew exactly which employee or contracts to snag. They also were showing upwards of 5 outfits in the fashion shows, while the best I achieved was 3. So grabbing fabrics and new outfit patterns, I struggled and scraped to finish third in the game. You add up all of your money and stars you win from the fashion shows and the highest points wins.

When all the fabric had settled, Zack ended up in a commanding lead. He managed to snag quite a few victories in quality and second in PR. Looking back at my play, I know more plays and familiarity of the cards will help in multiple plays. My goal was to just earn more each show and not go into debt. I feel I accomplished those goals and hope with further plays to improve more.

This is a complex game with multiple paths to victory and iconography that once learned is intuitive. Not since Power Grid has an economic game grabbed me. I was ready to play it again but that wasn't meant to be. The area control and worker placement are so minor in this game. Very rarely did I fell blocked out of a location or that the remaining choices were poor. Prêt-à-Porter you have captured me and I must play you again.

Playtime with rules explanation = 2.5 hours
Zack-263,Mark-219,Kearn-218,Shawn-150

Hamburgum
The night was winding down and the players count dwindled into the few die-hard. The next choices of game was Dominion and I bowed out immediately and so did Suzanne. Looking through the stacks for something to play, she suggested a game with beer, bells and churches. I was intrigued and we proceeded to set up Hamburgum. The rules were quite simple and we began to play.

I opted to collect goods and start earning money so I could start building churches and guilds. Suzanne was on the same path so I felt I was making the right choices. I soon was building churches and gaining victory chips which influenced my guild choices. The interesting thing is when you build these guilds, you lower the price you will get when you sell the goods but you are collecting more of the goods. I started falling behind Suzanne as she started collecting multiple victory points for all of her boats in the harbor.

A few finished churches and a few scored guild tiles and I was right back within a few points. I choose to stop her control of the harbor and built multiple ships and forced her out. Around and around the rondel we went until all guilds and churches were built. My takeover of the harbor and guild control of sugar and beer proved to work and I won the game.


I enjoyed Hamburgum and felt it played well with two players. I imagine the game has a much different feel once more players are added. This was my first time playing a rondel and I would like to try a few of the other games that have that mechanism.

Playtime with rule explanation = 1.5 hours
Kearn-192,Suzanne-165

A few of the other games played were, Nuns on the Run, Coreworlds x2, Mil, Sid Meier's Civilization, Five Crowns, Fluxx Pirates, Lemonade Stand, 7 Wonders, Penny Arcade and Dominion. Any players who wish to comment on the other games please do. I was surprised at the good turn out since warm weather has finally hit Michigan. We will see as summer comes how we fare.
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Wed May 23, 2012 7:22 pm
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Lords of B.L.O.B. - 3/24/12

Kearn Reif
United States
Howell
Michigan
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Gather yourself around the fire and listen my friends to the tales of courage and chance. The fine hall of the fair maiden Rhonda was filled to capacity with rogues and heroes gathered to test their metal against each other in battles of skill. Some faced the trials of Space Alert, whilst others joined in auctions of Modern Art. A particular foursome made kingdoms for hours in Dominion. I myself faced many a trial in Waterdeep, but victory was scarce and failure more rampant.

The Hotness was rampant this week as Lords of Waterdeep was played 3 times over the course of the day. Everyone who played seemed to be enthralled and enchanted by the game. Lords of Waterdeep is basically a worker placement game with hidden roles. During the course of the game you recruit thieves, warriors, wizards or clerics which are represented by wooden cubes. The “adventurers” or cubes are used on various missions and upon completion you gain victory points and other various rewards. There are also Intrigue cards which allow you to break rules or hinder your opponents.

You can also build buildings which offer better rewards than the fixed areas of the board. Some allow you to break the game rules and others amass cubes or VP each turn. Now I am not a big fan of worker placement games, I don’t like being locked out of choices because of my seating order. That said I never felt my choices were limited when playing Lords of Waterdeep. The buildings, intrigue and mission cards offer more opportunities to gain cubes and VP. I didn’t feel like I was playing a fantasy game, so it shouldn’t deter anyone from trying the game. I would also like to say, Lords of Waterdeep has one of the nicest inserts with everything organized in its own spot.

The Scepter of Zavandor was next to the table. It has auctions and tech trees to further your economic engine to gain more dust or jewels every turn. Every turn you should be earning more “money” than the previous turn. Certain artifacts help you hold more gems or take gems from your opponents. The ultimate goal is to purchase Sentinels to trigger the end game and get more victory points. I am lukewarm about this game. I always feel the turns are scripted based on the “magician” you start with in the game. I made an early mistake when I grabbed a sentinel a turn to early leaving me locked in first and low on funds in the late game.

The day was in full swing and over 25 people were playing games. A coffee table had to be cleared for more gaming. I wandered around and snapped a few photos since I am the official photographer of BLOB. I soon was odd man out and waited for games to end. I was noticed by Joe and he invited me to play Roll Through the Ages with him and his daughter. I was always curious about the game and gave it a go. The rules are simple, roll dice up to three times and decide what you want to keep. Build civilizations for more dice or build wonders for endgame victory points. There are also trade goods and coins on the die; they help you make scientific advancements. It felt a bit like Yahtzee but with more depth. I am always on the look out for more games to play with my wife and I believe this is one she would enjoy.

Suzanne perused the games I brought and wanted to try out Mystery Express. We gathered a few other want to be sleuths and boarded the train. The game is time based and searching for clues in train cars offer you new clues from the other players but takes time. Conductors, passengers and fellow inspectors all have cards, much like Clue, and are shown to you based on your train car choices. The time of the murder is handled in a separate fashion, three times during the game the time cards are flipped or passed for everyone to look at. A good memory is a plus since note taking isn’t allowed. As a child, Clue was always one of my favorite games and Mystery Express is a great addition for any murder mystery fans. The game was really close as many of us were even with clues but it came down to the Telegram to ultimately break the tie and capture the murderer. More important is that everyone seemed to enjoy the game.

We wrapped the night by playing Lords of Waterdeep again. My opinions didn’t change after a second play. It is a fast and fun game which I can see getting more table time in the future. We were packed to the rafters and if BLOB gets any more players we may need to build an addition on Rhonda’s house. Since warmer weather is on its way to Michigan, I could see attendance waning but we shall have to wait and see.




Thanks for reading and I’ll be back in a month’s time with another report.
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2 Comments
Tue Apr 3, 2012 1:31 pm
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2/25/12 - Cat hugs and plastic bits

Kearn Reif
United States
Howell
Michigan
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Hello all of my loyal followers. Once again it is time for me to recap the games I played at B.L.O.B and share some of my pictures as "Official B.L.O.B. Photographer". Which just means I am the only one who brings a camera. I am going to start off with something lighter this month, Cats. Rhonda has three cats who like to visit and get attention as you game. For some reason, one of her cats (sorry I forgot it's name) likes to lay on and hug the shoes by the front door. I found it funny so I took a picture to share with you. I make a few appearances in the photos this time, Rhonda snapped a few photos of me playing so I wouldn't be excluded.

This weekend the majority of the tables seemed to be longer games as Arkham Horror and Mage Knight kept several people enthralled for hours and others caused a ruckus during a game of Wiz-War. A few played train games, while others fought through jungles for Incan treasures.
I sat down to play Sid Meier's Civilization: the board game based on the old computer games. While I am not familiar with those games, I am told if you "loved" the computer game, you will love this board game. So on the board you have plastic flags which represents the army and covered wagons which represent scouts. The 4 x 4 grid boards have different terrains from deserts to mountains and lots of symbols that represent goods to harvest or villages to conquer.

I set out to discover new areas of the world playing the ancient Greeks and competed against the Germans, Indians (India) and United States of America. The basic premise of the game is you are trying to enrich your civilization by conquering new lands, learning new technologies or by adding culture. Now I was very disappointed with the teacher of this game. He did a poor job explaining the rules and the rest of us took turns flipping through the rule book when it wasn't our turn. Now once I got the hang of what I was doing, the game opened itself up to me and I devised a strategy. Unfortunately, the three of us took a vote while the rule teacher went to the restroom and unanimously decided to quit the game. We just felt that after two hours, nobody was close to victory and chalked it up as a learning experience.


I would really like to try Civilization again, but only with a better understanding of the rules. After our abandonment, we debated on what to play next and the three of us ended up playing Kingdom of Solomon. T, Mike and I placed our workers on the map collecting goods to purchase buildings, build the temple or sell at the market. Unlike most worker placement games, I never felt like I was settling when it came to placing my workers. Turn order on the other hand can be brutal, goods are limited and if you are last to collect, you will be shorted. Kingdom of Solomon played fast and offered some tough decisions in resource management or purchasing. I liked the way the game played and though basic, the artwork was nice.


While playing Kingdom of Solomon, we keeping hearing cheers and groans from the backroom. T informed me they were playing a game called Wiz-War. I only recently heard of it but apparently it has been around since the '80's. The rules couldn't be any simpler, gain two points by collecting two books from your opponents or killing one of the other wizards. You get a handful of cards that help you move, destroy or protect you. This is not a friendly game as Joe and Jim started casting spells at each other and one time punching each other. T and I silently went about stealing books and staying hidden from the two spell flingers. The game plays quick and is total chaotic. I actually won but I owe the victory to T. Joe was going to win this turn, so T moved Joe's wizard towards me hoping we would slow each other down. I obliged and cast a 5 point fireball at Joe turning his wizard into a smoldering heap. I then proceeded to teleport to my home square with a book in tow and win the game.

The board layout reminded me of Pac-Man with it's maze like look and opening on the sides of the board. It was only missing the floating fruit and ghosts chasing you around. If you don't like confrontational or random games, avoid Wiz-war. After the game, we waited for some of the other tables to finish their games. I was asked to teach a everyone how to play Core Worlds. I feel I do a good job teaching but sometimes I see the glazed over looks and begin to question myself.


Core Worlds is a card drafting game that takes place over ten turns. You draft infantry, spaceships or tactics cards into your deck so you can attack worlds which provide you the energy you need to run your empire. I think the game was a bit long for all the first timers since it clocked in at 3 hours. The cards are a bit text heavy and can be daunting for new players. I still have to read everything and I have played it a few times. For me, Core Worlds is a great game. You can see the designer put a lot of thought into the creation of the cards and combinations hidden within.

Back to the game, Jim had to take off mid-game and instead of quitting, I took over playing his deck along with mine. I am sorry to say Jim, you didn't win. T managed to beat me by two points with Rhonda coming in a respectable third. General consensus from the players seemed to be positive. In fact Chris was at another table teaching a few other players how to play with a second copy that was available. I am very happy with the next generation of non collectible card games and will post a separate blog post of my comparison of Core Worlds versus Eminent Domain. Andrew Parks, I hope the sales are solid and you have an expansion in the works.


Since Chris was using T's copy of Core Worlds, he couldn't leave yet so Rhonda convinced T and I to play a game of Dominion with cards from Dominion: Intrigue and Dominion:Seaside. I will go on record and say Dominion isn't my favorite of the deck building games due to the theme-less design and lack of player interaction. Now the player interaction has be circumvented in the later expansions with Attack actions. Which makes it more appealing to me to play. T also voiced his lack of interest in playing but joined us. What was he going to do sit and watch us play? Heck no.

I was always curious how I would do against people who play Dominion more than I do. Does their familiarity with the cards give them a leg up? In this case, I would say no. I felt like I was neck and neck with Rhonda and T in both of the games. Sure Rhonda won both of the games, but not by much. She usually won by a Province at most (That's about 6 points to those of you who never played). Seaside offered some interesting cards that stuck around until the beginning of your next turn. You could draw extra cards or stash a card for use in the next turn and so on. I think that if you can find a few expansions you like of Dominion, you really don't need to purchase every set. I felt like some of the cards got repetitive, much in the same way as Magic the Gathering did.




That brings me to the end of another game night recap. Thanks for taking the time to read this and please leave me any comments or questions below.
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Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:12 pm
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1/28/2012 - We got a name

Kearn Reif
United States
Howell
Michigan
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Our second meeting was this weekend and we got twice as many people as the previous month. We have officially named ourselves as Board Gaming League of Brighton or B.L.O.B. for short. Now we need to get some one with artistic talents to make us a graphic for a logo.

I saw several people from Great Oak and several new faces. Plenty of games were played. T taught Eclipse again but I was in the middle of Shadows over Camelot at the time. One day I'll get to play it.


I didn't keep track of all the games played, but I saw Chris teaching Mike D. how to play Mage Knight and Mike, Rhonda, Suzanne and Jim played Airlines Europe. I will comment on what I played.

whitetrainpurpletrainblacktrain

TtR: Nordic was the first game I joined in. Vicki was a new gamer and had primarily played Settlers of Catan. I suggested TtR to give her another glimpse of a good light game. Since there were 3 of us, Rhonda suggested Nordic Countries. After a brief overview, (TtR isn't that complicated) we began. I anticipated a tight game with each of us blocking routes off from each other due to the tight nature of the map. I was wrong and we all managed to complete our tickets.

Vicki seemed to enjoy the game and afterword started asking us about all the other games on the counter. She couldn't stay too much longer but I figure she will be back again next month. I am glad we got to teach her a new game and she enjoyed the experience.

blacktrainpurpletrainwhitetrain

After wrapping up TtR: Nordic Countries, quite a few more players showed up and after introductions we jumped into our next game, Shadows over Camelot. I figured this would be played, since Rhonda asked several times last month for this to be played. As cooperative games go, Shadows over Camelot isn't a bad game. It manages to provide the appropriate tension as you struggle to survive the bad stuff. 6 of us assumed the roles of knights and battled our way to a victory.


Our victory was not without its losses; Sir Galahad (me) sacrificed himself in an honorable way for his kingdom. It resulted in a black sword but ended the game in a victory for the team. Shadows over Camelot is a good game but I never feel overwhelmed with the game. The bad stuff just never seems to make me tense like a game of Pandemic.



We were waiting for the other people present to finish up Eclipse. Mike D. recommended a small filler card game (No, not Tichu*). Tanz der Hornochsen was the game and I don't think any of us could pronounce it correctly. The game has a set of cards numerically circled in the center and each player places a card on a card it is higher than. Some of the cards are positive points with green cow heads and some are negative points with red bull heads.


Basically once you place the 5th card on a stack, you take all the cards to your score pile. The game gets more interesting since you have to play a x2 card and a +5 card. Rhonda just killed us by claiming two x2 cards and a pile of positive points.

coaloiltrashnuclear

A brief shuffle of players and some decisions on what to be played next, had me sitting down to a 5 player game of Power Grid. I was excited to play this with others who knew the game. In my previous plays, I learned it with other new players and won every time. So I wanted to see if I could hang with the big boys.

We did have one new player but she didn't seem all that interested, since she almost fell asleep multiple times during the game. The auctions and building phases were ruthless and a few curse words were uttered. T was 1st through the majority of the game but didn't seem to suffer any monetary problems. He was always powering a few more cities than everyone else and in the end won the game.

I ended up in 4th but had the second most cities. I was one plant away from victory. It was a challenging game and I felt I did a good job against the veteran players. Mike D. promised to bring some of the other maps for next time. I can't wait.

nucleartrashoilcoal

Next I sat down for a 4 player game of Eminent Domain. I would say Eminent Domain seems to be the hot game for the last few months. I always see it played multiple times and doesn't seem to be cooling off. The nicest thing was no one needed to be taught how to play so we got right into the game. It was a tight race to a close finish as everyone seemed to follow different paths toward victory.


I can honestly say I am not tired of this game and it is just a fun game to play. We all discussed the possibilities of an expansion and agree we all are excited to see what it brings to the game.

redtraingreentrainyellowtrain

The clock struck 12 and the midnight hour was upon us. We were down to 6 players and after some discussion on what to play, we decided on a newish game to us all. TtR: Team Asia. I'll admit I was excited to play the team version. A brief overview of the rules and we were on our way. T/I (Yellow), Mike D./Chris (Red) and Rhonda/Mike (Green) were the teams. The toughest part of the game is figuring out what to collect or tracks to claim for your teammate. You can't talk or give hints at all, so you need to watch what your partner is doing.


After a few rounds, you could see the teams starting to gel. The game ended up close but T and I ended up victorious due to completing 108 points worth of tickets. Even if I had lost, this version of Ticket to Ride is fun and definitely for players used to playing the game. I think it is my favorite way to play the game.



It was the perfect length and weight of game to finish off the night. After everyone pitched in to help in the clean up, we called it a night and drove off in our separate directions. This group seems to have a grass roots support as many people helped support and promote the group. I feel it fills a need missing in our area and can only get better.

Once again, I want to thank Rhonda for hosting and I look forward to reporting to you about next months festivities.

*This is an inside joke. Mike D. is a big fan of Tichu and everyone always teases him about it
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16 Comments
Sun Jan 29, 2012 11:44 pm
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