$3.00

QWERTYUIOP

QWERTYmartin's Unabridged Insights On Play

Archive for qwertymartin

[1]  Prev «  1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [9]

Recommend
51 
 Thumb up
1.50
 tip
 Hide

Wir sind das Volk - second play session report

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
Don't fall in love with me yet, we only recently met
mbmbmbmbmb
Wow, this game played completely differently from my first one. I gave Joe the East as it's supposed to be a bit easier for first-timers to play, and I wanted to see how the West played. Mindful of the importance of West Berlin in my first game, I spent the early turns developing a backbone of industry through its supplier regions, allowing me to export living standard to Berlin (3 by the end of the game). But focusing on infrastructure meant I wasn't constantly dismantling and seeding unrest in the East (as Paul had done to me in my first game), so Joe was able to build much more of an industrial network of his own. He established one LS in each of his regions pretty early on and while he sacrificed Prestige, he kept the currency and socialist tracks on his side. With decent living standards and a strong socialist ethos, he didn't need the Stasi or the Wall to keep the population under control. The only police power card he had was a shared card that I activated and he never used any of his special events. Essentially he had built the fabled socialist utopia! His people couldn't afford quite as lavish a lifestyle as mine, but their equality and ethos kept them happy.

As we reached the fourth decade, I realised that the failure of socialism and economic collapse victories were well beyond my reach. My only hope was mass protests, and that relied on my realisation that Joe was propping his system up with shady Western currency deals. I ramped up my LS along the border, forcing him to respond and increase his liabilities even more. As the decade ended, the stage was set for a chain reaction as the Eastern populus came to see that the ideology they lived for was propped up by a lie. First the dismantling for flight and prestige let me knock a couple of his provinces below the threshold to gain Western currency. As a result he was short by 6 WC to support his living standard, causing all his factories to run down. In turn that meant a couple of his provinces could no longer hold their living standard, which gained them unrest through the internal comparison. And finally the external comparison added yet more unrest, pushing three Eastern provinces into mass protest.

But three isn't enough! Despite the growing disaffectedness of the population, the East had survived the four decades and Joe had won the game. I had realised too late where his weakness was - if I'd taken some decrease WC events earlier or seeded a little more unrest, I think his people would have overthrown the government. I realised that you can't do everything - by building up my infrastructure in the Berlin suppliers, I'd spent less effort in the border regions, meaning the external comparisons were ineffective until the fourth decade. Lots to chew on before my next play.

Both mechanically and thematically, this was a great session. Teaching took 30-40 mins, but then the full four decades played out in about 2 hours. I loved some of the tempo tricks with the card play - it seemed quite important to try to get the first pick of the cards in the second half-decade, as there would often be one standout first pick (to use or defuse!). Joe enjoyed it too and wants to play again soon; his write-up is here.
Twitter Facebook
33 Comments
Wed Nov 26, 2014 10:18 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
35 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

New-to-me October 2014

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
Don't fall in love with me yet, we only recently met
mbmbmbmbmb
The main event

Pax Porfiriana has become one of my top 5 games over 50+ plays in the last two years, so Greenland has been long-awaited for me. I've got to play three times so far, which is still pretty early to assess a game as thematically and mechanically dense as Eklund's tend to be. My initial take is that I really enjoy it, but that it won't be as much of a favourite as Pax.

Pax achieved the remarkable feat of offering a lot both to players who want to immerse themselves in theme and narrative and to players who care more about mechanics and competition. I think Greenland offers just as much to the former group, but less to the latter. There's a lot of game-driven chaos and each of my games has had a runaway loser. The time it was me was still an enjoyable experience though - I just had to shift my mindset to regarding it as a challenge to survive the 10 rounds rather than to win. However I can definitely see players who enjoy games more for competition and less for experience finding this off-putting.

The good

Last weekend was the twice annual London on Board gaming getaway so I got to try quite a few new games. I mostly steered clear of the Essen hotness and nothing blew me away, but there were some fun games.

Bucket King 3D was a perfect game to play at 1am both nights when my brain had almost shut down. It's a climbing game stripped to its barest essence, but with the hilarious twist that scoring is done by flicking coloured buckets out of a pyramid that you construct based on the strengths and weaknesses of your initial hand.

Melee is the new game from Rikki Tahta of Coup fame. Like Coup, it's a fast-paced (15 min) battle of wits and bluff. This time that comes in the form of a stripped-down dudes on a map game, with conflict resolved by the defender trying to guess the number of coins the attacker has placed in a closed fist. If you dislike blind-bidding and bluffing, stay the hell away, but otherwise it's another fun contribution to the microgame genre.

UGO! is yet another tricktaker with a twist. I liked it, but man is it overproduced for what it offers, with a huge box, individual player boards and tokens. The main twist here is that timing when you win tricks is really important - usually you want to win with your high cards late but not too late. And there's a clever way of balancing the power of low cards vs high cards too.

The not-so-good

I'd been interested to try Greed as I'm a huge fan of DXV's Kingdom Builder. It may have been influenced by learning it fairly late on a long day of games, but I didn't see much to excite me here. It's a very simple draft-and-play game but with an awful lot of text on the cards to be read each time you make a decision.

And finally Boom: Runaway is a 6-nimmt-like simultaneous play card-game. It might not be awful, but it made almost no impression on me. I'll just stick to 6 nimmt.

Already in the bank for next month:

Wir sind das Volk
Crossboule
Risk Legacy
Potato Man
Lost Legacy boxes 2 and 3
El Gaucho
Twitter Facebook
27 Comments
Sun Nov 9, 2014 4:57 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
90 
 Thumb up
2.68
 tip
 Hide

First trip to Greenland

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
Don't fall in love with me yet, we only recently met
mbmbmbmbmb
A new Eklund game is as big an event as a new Chudyk in my book. They're both masters of getting a big game into a small box and few components, and they're both doing things that are refreshingly different from anyone else.

Greenland showed up a few days ago and since then I've been poring over the rulebook and the forums preparing for my first play last night. Here are some very rough first impressions while it's fresh in my mind.

- I really enjoyed the session. What I don't know yet is how big the universe of possible games is. It doesn't feel like it's going to have the crazy variability of Pax, but I might be wrong about that.

- lots of echoes of other Eklund games, particularly Bios Megafauna and Pax. Two rows of six cards is becoming a bit of an Eklund signature. And the Big Ideas seem to be the ones explored in more depth in Origins - I'm going to have to read Jaynes I think.

- rules were reasonably smooth. I'd put in the homework to be able to teach it, and it was a lot easier than Pax. I've just rescanned the rulebook and the few mistakes I made were pretty minor. The guys I played with didn't get into Pax (this was before I was in the group) and one of them ended Greenland saying "it's like the fun version of Pax".

- we didn't explore the gamespace that thoroughly. There wasn't nearly as much fighting on biomes as I thought there'd be so there wasn't much negotiation either. Only one Sabine raid and few domestic animals.

- the resources are tight, especially iron. The only way to get it in our game was Vinland (where only one colonisation attempt was made, quickly wiped out by sharkbites) and a meteorite, which was hotly contested. Iron advantage is big if you do want to contest biomes as you get to attack first.

- I was the Tunit and my starting Markland colony seemed like a strong advantage. Most turns I lost one colonist to attrition but then regained him as a new baby. With four energy coming in each turn, plus two of my daughters reducing my energy need, I was always well-stocked, and was able to maintain a full set of elders for most of the game. In contrast, the other guys were always struggling for energy and were both down to zero elders for parts of the game. I'm not sure if this was lucky dice-rolling on my part (not losing many hunters to sharkbites) or that the others should have contested it more. Because I had the aforementioned iron advantage, if they did try to get in to Markland I could always attack first.

- we had almost all of the global cooling events in our selection of 10 so by the end of the game the whole of both rows was on the cool side. That meant my 5 colonists in Markland were worth double the usual VP too.

- we laughed a lot at all the crazy stuff that happened, and so did anyone else who came within earshot. The narrative was a lot of fun and so is the dice-rolling.

- they both say they want to play again soon now they've learned the rules.

- I need to write a review so I can call it "Energy and Ivory, together in perfect harmony".
Twitter Facebook
30 Comments
Wed Oct 22, 2014 8:47 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
14 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

A la carte!

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
Don't fall in love with me yet, we only recently met
mbmbmbmbmb
This year, my picks for Spiel des Jahres were Love Letter, Abluxxen and Port Royal but none got nominated and only Love Letter even got a recommendation.

To the rescue comes Fairplay magazine's 'A la Carte' award for card game of the year, regularly the best fit to my tastes:

1. ABLUXXEN Ravensburger
2. LOVE LETTER Pegasus
3. UGO! Playthisone
4. PORT ROYAL Pegasus
5. KASHGAR Kosmos
6. SKULL KING Schmidt Spiele
7. PARADE Schmidt Spiele
8. SOS TITANIC Ludonaute
9. FUNGI Pegasus
10. KORYO Moonster Games/Asmodee

Of the rest, I've only played Parade, and I love that too. So what else should I try?

Ugo and Koryo I've come across a few times and I'm interested. I don't think Fungi sounds particularly exciting, but I could be convinced otherwise.

Kashgar I know nothing about, but it sounds like it'll need an English version to be playable for me. SOS Titanic is likely too solitaire for my tastes. And Skull King sounds like another (unnecessary?) version of Oh Hell/Rage/Wizard.

Anyone got thoughts on these, or can think of 2013/14 card games the Fairplay jury missed?
Twitter Facebook
7 Comments
Fri Oct 3, 2014 7:12 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
34 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

New-to-me September 2014

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
Don't fall in love with me yet, we only recently met
mbmbmbmbmb
I played two hot new games this month but both fell flat for me. That leaves the winner by default being Merchants, a minor Knizia filler from a few years ago. It's a typically minimal stock-market game; just a small step up from Loco/Botswana. I played 2p, which was fine, but I could see that 3-4p would allow for more interesting shared incentives.

I also played Age of War, another Knizia filler, but I'm not counting it as new as it's just a re-skin of Risk Express. Still a fun enough dice-chucker, but the old theme fit much better.

I played a lot of the exact-bid trick-taker Oh Hell at university. Wizard is essentially the same game but with an absurdly extended play time and special cards that add nothing but randomness.

--------------------------------------------------

And on to the sacred cows...

I'll start with some things I liked about Five Tribes. All the action happens on a shared board, and as a consequence it's pretty interactive. It's not overly fiddly either.

But it seems to me to essentially come down to a series of puzzles to solve, each one mostly independent of the next. Sure, you can have something of a strategy, but the game is overwhelmingly tactical and the moves are far too easy to evaluate purely in terms of immediate VP gain rather than more interesting trade-offs.

And oh, the downtime if your players are overanalytical! There's a turn-order auction at the start of each round, but only the high-bidder really knows what they're paying for, because the board will have changed for the others. The game also has an odd structure of starting with an overwhelming number of options and then gradually removing them until none remain. As a result, it seemed rarely worth bidding anything for turn order until the mid-game; just take whatever's left when it gets to your turn.

The scoring system is also a bland 7-Wonders-like spreadsheet. A bit of area majority, a bit of set collection, season to taste. It's too bad, because the underlying mancala mechanism isn't bad but it gets smothered by everything else. Our feeling was that you could play slowly, really deliberating over the details of each move, or you could play badly, leaving huge opportunities for the next player. Neither is that appealing.

--------------------------------------------------

Finally, 1944: Race to the Rhine. On the plus side it has an interesting theme (the competition between the allied generals to be first to Germany at the end of WWII) and a first-rate production. It's also not Just Another Euro, even though it is more Euro than it is wargame. It's mostly a game of logistics - making sure your advancing troops are kept supplied with food, fuel and ammo to tackle the increasingly difficult obstacles they'll face. And it was quite fun for a while.

But wow, does the endgame not work. It became apparent that none of us were going to be able to cross the Rhine at all (and this seems a common complaint, not just a first-play aberration) and the game became a slog until we finally reached the alternate end condition of all the Nazi tokens being placed on the board. In that situation, final scoring is based on the number of medals gained (we had 5 each), followed by the number of Nazi divisions killed (we had 4 each) and then turn order. So I won by having started last.

The medals are way too few and too chunky to make a satisfying scoring mechanism. And even worse, a significant number of your medals are based on whether you randomly draw certain cards that let you buy them from your event deck. All three of my cards that did that were buried in the last four cards of my deck; while another player drew all three of his during the game. What a shame; there's a lot of wasted potential here.
Twitter Facebook
7 Comments
Thu Oct 2, 2014 12:36 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
26 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide

Q3 2014 review

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
Don't fall in love with me yet, we only recently met
mbmbmbmbmb
Just a quick look at what I've been playing and buying this quarter, and a comparison to Q3 last year.

Total plays: 100 (2013 had 199)

Distinct games: 54 (2013 had 74)

New-to-me games: 18 (27 in 2013)

Dimes: 0 (4 in 2013)

Nickels: 5 (3 in 2013) - Red7 (9), 6 nimmt! (8), Port Royal (8), Abluxxen (5) and Hanabi (5).

A couple of major interruptions to gaming in the form of the World Cup (I watched nearly every game) and two weeks visiting the in-laws in the US. But that trip did also allow me to enjoy a fantastic gaming weekend in Dayton with a few of my best geekbuddies.

Other than that, this quarter has represented the 'new normal'. I quit my teacher-training course (which left me zero time for games) at Christmas, having decided it really wasn't for me, and then spent 6 months job hunting and doing a bit of freelance work, allowing me to get in lots of lunchtime gaming with a friend in Bristol. At the end of June I started my new job at the UK's national statistics office and have settled into a pattern of regular Tuesday game nights plus occasional Thursdays.

And now a look at the collection.

Acquired: 5 - Lost Valley: The Yukon Goldrush 1896, Red7, Quantum, Impulse and Elements (4 in 2013)

Removed: 1 - A Study in Emerald

Owned: 136 (excluding expansions - up from 132 at end Q2)

Unplayed: 3 - Bison: Thunder on the Prairie, Glenn's Gallery and Trump, Tricks, Game! (exactly the same games as at end Q2)

A bit of collection growth but I don't feel too bad as all five are excellent, were good bargains and have had multiple plays. In fact most of the purchase cost was covered by my sale of ASiE. While it's a fascinating game, it demands regular play with an enthusiastic group to shine, and I don't have that.

Best new-to-me: a tie between two contrasting new Carl Chudyk designs: the intricate Impulse and the brilliantly simple Red7.

New 10s: none
Twitter Facebook
5 Comments
Wed Oct 1, 2014 9:05 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
54 
 Thumb up
6.50
 tip
 Hide

Blogging on Impulse

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
Don't fall in love with me yet, we only recently met
mbmbmbmbmb
I played Carl Chudyk's Impulse for the first time last night, and as a huge Chudyk fan I felt compelled to jot down some initial impressions. First a bit of a look at the game's DNA.

There are 4 different ways to take actions in the game, all by activating one of a hundred or so action cards:

1. You get to activate one of your two personal 'technologies' at the start of your turn, and you can build over those technologies with superior ones using a Research action. This is the bit that's most reminiscent of Innovation's melding and dogmas.

2. You add a card to a common row of four called the Impulse, and then execute all four in order with the new one last. At the end of your turn you discard the oldest one. Since this means you share the other player's actions, this works kind of like a time-delayed version of Glory to Rome's action selection. With three players it works particularly well as you get to do your own action twice but the other players only get to do it once.

3. During these activations, if you trigger any Command actions, you get to move ships on the map, which is also made up of action cards. Some ships activate the cards they land on. This kind of spatial action map has been seen in a few Euros recently - Glen More, Singapore etc.

4. If you trigger any Plan actions you get to add action cards to a personal row of cards called your plan. You can choose to activate your entire plan at the end of any of your turns and then discard all those cards. This reminded me of Foreshadowing in the first Innovation expansion in the way it lets you build up for a future super-turn.

The actions themselves come in 10 types, but within each basic type there are many variations. They're nowhere near as unique and wacky as Innovation's dogmas or GtR's building powers though; in fact they're more like the roles in GtR. Another interesting feature is that every action card has a number as part of its action text which can be 'boosted' if you have stashed enough matching-coloured cards in the 'minerals' section of your home area (e.g. move 1 ship becomes move 3 ships). This kind of reminded me of the way Patrons power up actions in GtR.

The thing that makes the game feel rather old-fashioned in a world where the micro-turn is prevalent is that you will usually use three and often all four of those ways of taking actions within one turn. If there are a lot of Command and Plan cards around in the Impulse and the map, this can spiral into crazy 20+ action turns, during which the other players don't have a lot to do. And if you're playing with people who want to optimise that sequence and start doing take-backs, god help you! I played it more for the ride, having a vague goal for each turn but not knowing exactly where I was going to end up when I started.

The way the game still gets done in a reasonable time-frame (our 3p learning game took an hour, much less than I feared) is by taking very few turns to race to the victory condition. We were done in about five turns each (admittedly I rushed it rather faster than the others, with the final scores 20-9-7). Few turns, but long, involved and rarely interrupted makes me think the game would be brilliant for asynch online play. Get to it, clever computer people!

If it was me developing the game, I'd have been tempted to excise one or two of the ways actions can be taken. The Impulse and the map are core features of the game, but if you removed the plan and/or the personal techs you'd cut the maximum turn length down considerably and also do away with two of the 10 action types. I'm pretty sure the game could function just as well with only 6 or 7 action types.

I guess all that sounds rather negative but I actually really enjoyed playing. Chudyk has packed an extraordinary amount of game into a double deck of cards and a few markers here. It really does manage to do all four of the 4X's. There's a map, technology upgrades, combat (we didn't even have a battle in our game!) and a crazy amount of flexibility.

I don't think I'd want to play with many more than three due to the downtime (someone should be shot for saying it plays 6!) and the way the Impulse works also seems tailor-made for 3p. But man, I do want to play again, and soon.
Twitter Facebook
23 Comments
Wed Aug 20, 2014 9:17 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
20 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Q2 2014 review

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
Don't fall in love with me yet, we only recently met
mbmbmbmbmb
Just a quick look at what I've been playing and buying this quarter, and a comparison to Q2 last year.

Total plays: 169 (2013 had 204)

Distinct games: 69 (2013 had 105)

New-to-me games: 17 (31 in 2013)

Dimes: 2 (2 in 2013) - Port Royal (37), and Manoeuvre (11)

Nickels: 4 (5 in 2013) - Quantum, Linko!, Hanabi and Love Letter

The latter part of the quarter was heavily affected by the World Cup. Other than that it was a great gaming period, highlighted by a 4-day weekend of gaming with the LoB crew over Easter. I didn't learn that many new games (good!) but those I did, I played a lot. One factor was a great run of 2p games at lunchtimes, but changes in circumstances will bring that to an end now, meaning Q3 may be a bit thin.

And now a look at the collection.

Acquired: 7 (5 in 2013) - Port Royal, Linko!, Taj Mahal, Havana, Pylos, 2 de Mayo and Trump, Tricks, Game!

Removed: 2 - Niagara and Wildlife Adventure

Owned: 132 (excluding expansions - up from 127 at end Q1)

Unplayed: 3 - Bison: Thunder on the Prairie, Glenn's Gallery and Trump, Tricks, Game! (same as end Q1)

Well my remark last quarter about reaching peak collection may have been a little premature Still pretty healthy though - three cheap card games, a gift, two bargains from The Works and a trade. Perennials Bison and Glenn's Gallery stay on the unplayed list - I just haven't tried to push them. San Quentin Kings got to the table a couple of times and was much enjoyed.

Best new-to-me: several good ones but Port Royal takes it with nearly 40 plays.

New 10s: none
Twitter Facebook
8 Comments
Sun Jun 29, 2014 3:22 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
119 
 Thumb up
13.85
 tip
 Hide

Playing to win or playing to play?

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
Don't fall in love with me yet, we only recently met
mbmbmbmbmb
There's an attitude I come across a lot on BGG that the only right way to play a game is for every player to be doing their utmost to win, which I take to mean always making moves that maximise their probability of winning (or at least their estimate of it). The high priest of this school is David Sirlin, whose 'playing to win' manifesto denounces those who don't exploit every opportunity the game gives them to win as 'scrubs'.

But while all games give their players a goal, I've never seen one that makes 'playing to win' a rule. And when I started brainstorming things we do in games that can actually reduce our chances of winning, I came up with a bunch.

- levelling the playing field. Handicaps are commonly adopted by players with mismatched skill levels, whether parent against child or Go master against novice.

- giving hints. For example, I often point out to a new player at the start of a game of Kingdom Builder that it's not a great idea to touch several different terrains with your first move.

- 'playing nice'. When I play Ticket to Ride with my wife, we have an informal agreement that we don't block for the sake of blocking, only if it's a route you need yourself. Carcassonne is another game that allows 'nice' and 'nasty' modes of play. I don't see nasty play as inherently superior.

- humour. Playing Love Letter, I'll often do something because it's funny, even if it isn't strictly my 'best' move.

- exploration. It can be fun to try out new strategies in a game, even if you think they might not work. I got bored of always doing the same thing in Puerto Rico and forbade myself from buying the Factory, even though I knew I was more likely to win with it.

- to keep playing. I've had games of Pax Porfiriana that ended disappointingly suddenly on the first topple. Sometimes we'll agree a 'rewind' so that we can keep playing without having to set the whole thing up again.

- to avoid 'brokenness'. Plenty of people are still having enjoyable games of A Few Acres of Snow by not learning or not implementing the 'unbeatable' British strategy.

I'm sure you can think of many more examples.

So if winning is not the only motivation, what's going on here? My thinking about this has been heavily influenced by a wonderful book I read recently: The Well-played Game: a Player's Philosophy by Bernard de Koven.

For de Koven, the real goal of playing together is finding the 'well-played game' which he describes as "a game that becomes excellent because of the way it's being played". He goes on "No matter who wins the game, if we have played well together, we have accomplished what we set out to do. That victory is not determined by who wins, nor by what game we play, but rather by the quality of playing we have been able to create together." Many of the examples above are cases of the players collectively deciding to play a certain way to increase their enjoyment, rather than anyone's individual chance to win.

Here's another quote from the book:

Quote:
What occurs to me now is that this search for a well-played game is already a radical departure from what we do, as adults, when we play games together.

Normally, the only common intention that we have been able to establish with each other is that we have each wanted to win. Though we have been playing games together, the only effort in which we are usually united, the only accomplishment that we have all been able to validate, is winning.

It is clear to me, now, that the result of such a union is separation, always separation.


The word 'only' is important here. What de Koven believes is that each player playing to win is not enough by itself to create a well-played game.

As for 'separation', it puts me in mind of an attitude that sometimes seems to accompany 'play to win'. What I'm talking about is a desire for the other players to 'play right' so that they can be reduced to just another factor in my win-maximising algorithm. I've seen a player get angry at another in a game of Puerto Rico for making 'suboptimal' moves that interfered with his strategy. And related to this are the interminable debates over what a player 'should' do if they no longer have any chance of winning. If we're only playing to win, we feel like this behaviour needs to be codified to avoid unfairness.

So does all this mean that I'm a tree-hugging hippie who hates competition? Absolutely not! I enjoy nothing more than four experienced players going at it tooth and nail over a game of Tigris & Euphrates. But that's because for that group that is the well-played game they're looking for right then. De Koven's notion is inclusive of, not in opposition to, playing to win.

Do I play to win? Sometimes. Do I play to play? Always.
Twitter Facebook
128 Comments
Mon Jun 9, 2014 2:22 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
43 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

London on Board on Sea: debrief

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
Don't fall in love with me yet, we only recently met
mbmbmbmbmb
Got back yesterday from an epic weekend of gaming at the seaside with 60 friends from London on Board. Here's what I played (new-to-me in bold) followed by some highlights.

_8_ Port Royal x5
_8_ Quantum x4
_10_ Race for the Galaxy x3
_9_ Tichu x3
_7_ Abluxxen x2
_8_ Coloretto x2
_7_ Dungeon of Mandom x2
_8_ For Sale x2
_9_ König von Siam x2
_10_ Love Letter x2
_8_ A Study in Emerald x2
_10_ Tigris & Euphrates x2
_8_ Die Sieben Siegel x2
_9_ Acquire
_9_ Container
_9_ Cosmic Encounter
_8_ Fauna
_8_ Kakerlakenpoker Royal
_7_ Kingdoms
_9_ Liar's Dice
_7_ Magical Athlete
_7_ Pala
_9_ The Palaces of Carrara
_5_ Patronize
_10_ Pax Porfiriana
_6_ Pit
_7_ San Quentin Kings
_9_ Sticheln
_5_ Sushi Draft!

Detailed sessions

A Study in Emerald

The table: Rich (woodnoggin, many previous plays), Paul (sorp222, several plays), Adam (two plays with me the other week), Rob (no plays, but one of those great gamers who pick things up instantly). This meant we had to teach, but that helped everyone else refresh on the details too.

Game 1: M/P/A Loyalist, R/R Restorationist (heh, weird)

I was delighted to draw a Loyalist as I'd only played them once before. My basic plan was to grab some good AA agents and go on a killing spree. I got Wilhelm Stieber early on and had a bid on Ezno Asef but didn't get round to claiming him. Then Moriarty came up and Paul and I got into a huge pissing war. With around 6 cubes each involved, Rob calmly placed a blocking disc and then overbid me on Asef.

Rich had grabbed Devil Island (permanent effect - playing a city card from hand lets you remove all of one player's influence from it) and Bismarck (lock a city for your sole use). So he went about taking cities, while making it very hard for us to contest them since we knew he had cards that could neutralise us. I started to put my plan into operation and used Stieber and my initial assassin to kill two of Rob's agents and Asef when he claimed him too. I also removed some cubes from Moriarty eventually allowing Paul to remove the blocking disk and claim him. Unfortunately for him, one turn later I noticed how weak Moriarty's defences were in Cairo and offed him too. This may not have been my best move, but it was fun I also hid a minor Royal and claimed the Necronomicom, so I was building a platform of points.

Rich's score was getting ominously high but between us we knocked him back down. But what us Loyalists were forgetting to do was to get a Restorationist into last place. Adam fatefully took a city from Paul rather than from Rob, and that let Rich make his move. Thanks to me assassinating Rob's agents every time he claimed one, Rich was able to take out his main agent to end the game, winning by a single point with Paul in last.

Game 2: turned out to be an oddly similar setup with M/A/Rob Loyalist, P/Rich Restorationist

This one wasn't as good as both Paul and I hit a wall of fatigue during the game and Adam made a crucial rules error early. With us all on zero points, but me known to the authorities (due to assassinating an agent), he attempted to assassinate my main agent. He figured that if I was a restorationist, the game would have ended and he would have had a point for the kill to everyone else's zero. But he'd misheard the tiebreak for last as favouring Loyalists rather than Restorationists, so this wouldn't have worked even if I was a Resto. Instead the result was that we were both outed very early on.

Nevertheless, some fun stuff happened. Rob got Vampires and an Airship, which sounded terrifying but didn't really get up and running. I was trying to put together a plot to hide Gloriana with the Infernal Machine, and Adam was pushing the war track with Golovinsky. But I forgot to score any points and Paul was able to send himself mad for a pretty early win.

This is going to need regular play to avoid forgetting what I've learnt each time, but I really did feel like the promise was delivered on this time, particularly in the first game.

Pax Porfiriana

This was the best game of Pax I've ever been part of, and one of the best games full-stop. Three player is always the most brutal, and my compadres here were the experienced and bastardly Adam and Rob.

I was gearing up for a quick Revolution and used the first Topple to force Rob to flip to pink to stop to me. I was $1 short of winning on Topple 2 (which was the dollar Rob had stolen from me on the previous turn when he nationalised the Plantation I was about to slave revolt!), but instead Adam used it on Loyalty to flip me to green. I'd just completed my next turn and then had the horrifying realisation that there was a green/red strife headline in the market. I desperately hoped no one would notice, but it wasn't that kind of table. In one fell swoop I lost my rebel troops and two pink partners, including the Catholic Church, which I'd invested all my money in prior to triggering a 'discard half your gold' headline!

To make things worse, we then went into the first of two depressions and with no Enterprises or Hacendado income left, I actually went bankrupt, losing the only remaining card in my tableau. I still had enough pink cards left in my hand to challenge but after the short-lived depression I had to spend a few turns just buying, selling and speculating.

In the mean time, Adam and Rob got into a huge Loyalty war, building up long rows of partners and enterprises. Adam barely missed out on winning on topple 3, including me playing the Mexican Communist Party and paying the $8 to change the Regime to Anarchy. Once that topple had gone, we went into full tear-down mode. The highlight was when I bought a headline that forced both Adam and Rob to discard a Bank and half their gold, lose a partner to Strife and triggered the second depression.

By the time topple 4 showed up, I had enough revolution points to win, but not enough gold. Adam's huge economic empire fuelled by his Loyalty row and British financier Lord Cowdray was going to give him the win on gold the next turn, so I bowed out with a flourish. My final turn was to sell my last three hand cards (for zero) and discard my final tableau card to the depression expenses.

New to me

Port Royal

Played five times and really enjoyed. It's an unusual combination of fairly basic tableau/engine-building and push-your-luck card-drafting. The active player can keep turning up cards from the deck unless they reveal two ships of the same colour, which busts their whole turn (similar to the dangers in Incan Gold). Once he chooses to stop, he can buy one card from the row, but then other players get the chance to buy cards too if they pay an additional gold to the active player. It's worth pushing your luck to find the card you want and also because if you reveal 4 different coloured ships you get an additional buy. The cards include gaining money instantly, tableau cards with special powers, expeditions (big VP cards that need prerequisites to be claimed) and tax increases (which penalise players who are hoarding gold). First to 12VP wins and there seem to be several viable approaches.

I'm not often that excited by engine-building games but the PYL card-drafting is just fun and makes the engine-building more interactive than most. I also really like that it's just a deck of 120 cards - face-down cards are used as money - and the setup is as simple as making a draw pile and giving each player three gold. And since every card comes into play through the public draft, you can pretty much teach as you go, rather than having to give everyone a reference sheet for the iconography.

Abluxxen

I enjoyed this a lot too. The cards are just 8 each of 1-13 (no suits) and 5 jokers. The idea is to play sets of the same number in front of you and to get rid of cards in hand, since your final score is one minus the other. But when you play a 'better' set than the last set another player has in front of them (the same number of cards but a higher value) you can steal those cards to your hand (to form bigger sets to play later) or force them to take them back into hand (or alternatively discard them and replace from a face-up pool). Seems like the first half of the game is about accumulating sets in your hand so you can get lots of cards played, and then switching at the right moment to playing them out so you don't get stuck with them when someone else goes out!

San Quentin Kings

Nate Hayden's first game, about prison gangs, looks home-produced and features somewhat disturbing artwork. With this theme, it could have been crass, but there's actually an interesting mechanical core. There are 7 possible actions, and when each is chosen all get to participate, Puerto Rico style. But instead of the actions being producing and shipping, they're fighting for drugs. And knives. And cigarettes. The fighting is implemented with card play reminiscent of Beowulf: the Legend, where you can either play a safe card from hand or take a risk with a draw from a public deck. The most amusing action is the gym, where you can turn your small cubes (weedy but smart gang members) into bigger ones. At the end, points for various achievements are distributed (a bit like Dungeon Lords) - most gang members of each type, most drugs of each type, most fight points and so on. An unusual and enjoyable game - I'm glad I picked it up now.

Dungeon of Mandom

The best of three Japanese Hipster Games (as we affectionately refer to them) I learned. It's another bluffing/push-your-luck microgame where players are daring each other to enter the dungeon and take on the monsters that lurk there. On your turn you can look at a monster card and either add it to the dungeon deck or throw it out and also discard one of the vital pieces of armour that the eventual adventurer will need to protect themselves. Different monsters are repelled by different items and you each have partial knowledge of what is and isn't the dungeon. When all but one players pass, the other player has to reveal the dungeon cards and decide his fate.

Patronize

Odd trick-taker with only 17 cards, each with a unique power. Without knowing all the powers it felt completely random. And I don't think I could be bothered to invest that much effort when there are so many brilliant tricktakers that don't need that level of complexity.

Sushi Draft

Weirdly, two games with 7 Wonders style drafting to collect sushi were published last year. Unfortunately, this one is even more bland than Sushi Go. You draft to try to collect the biggest set of each type of sushi or most different types. And that's it.

Other notable plays

Quantum

This was probably the hit of the con, seeming to be in constant play. I got 4 plays in and loved all of them. It plays much better with bastards who revel in the aggressive nature of the game. I was starting to worry it might be *too* aggressive and degenerate into tit-for-tat. But then I saw some fantastic wins with great combos, and we also tried a bigger map which opened things up for different approaches.

Tigris & Euphrates

I had 4th seat both times and lost on a bloody tiebreak both times! The second game was interesting because the one new player did unexpected stuff we had to respond to. No monuments were built and it ended on treasure rather than tiles. My last turn was to cause a black conflict that took me up to 5VP and handed a treasure to Rob to end the game, hoping it wouldn't be crucial. My final score: 5/5/6/6, his: 5/6/6/6. Damn!

Tichu

Our first-round tournament game was nuts. We went around 400 points behind, then I pulled out a Grand Tichu, followed by one of the craziest hands I've seen. I had a 6-7-8-9-10 bomb dealt then got passed the 4-5 of the same suit! So my hand was a 7-bomb, a run up to Ace, a King and the Dragon. And *then* my RHO called a perfectly reasonable Tichu holding three Aces and the Phoenix. That did not end well for them Sadly in the second game we got utterly smashed and I didn't even feel like we did anything wrong. Sometimes the cards love you, sometimes they don't...

Coloretto

Anyone played with the variant scoring card where bigger sets are worth fewer points than medium-sized ones? It's weird.

Cosmic Encounter

My favourite Cosmic opponent sadly couldn't make it but we still had a great 6p. My power allowed me to heal people's ships in exchange for cards, which let me build up a massive hand. Very helpful when I drew a flare that let me get +1 in conflicts for each hand card! The most amusing moment was when Soren and I agreed to negotiate in order to gain our last colony for a joint win. Of course I didn't trust him so I played a Morph (copy your opponent's encounter card). Unfortunately he did exactly the same thing. We had to look up the rules (there's only one Morph in the base game!) and it turned out we both lost the conflict. Fortunately I won on my own a couple of turns later

Phew
Twitter Facebook
31 Comments
Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:13 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls

[1]  Prev «  1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [9]

Subscribe

Contributors

Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.