Wendy, Rob, Simon, Ryan, Anthony, and me just scraped across the line of mediocrity, getting seven out of 13. My favourite clue of the night came from Simon. The answer was "Fitzgerald". His clue, simply "F".
Century: Eastern Wonders is the second in the series of games that can be combined into a Boardgame Transformer Behemoth. It takes the "trade goods for better goods to fulfil contracts" core concept from the card driven Century: Silk Road and adds a spatial element.
As you travel round the board, you build houses that give you the ability to trade goods. Once you have the right goods, you can deliver them to one of the four ports to claim a VP contract tile. The first player to claim four contracts triggers the game end, and most VPs wins.
Interestingly, as you move houses off your player board onto the map, you uncover VPs. Remove a column of houses and you can claim a bonus tile for special abilities. So the game encourages you to build houses on every tile on the map, even though you might be able to fulfil contracts using only a few tiles.
It's a fun game. Essentially a race that requires you to build up your engine as quickly and efficiently as possible, with some player interaction and blocking. It probably needs to be played at speed (or with a timer) to avoid AP but it's very enjoyable nonetheless.
I certainly enjoyed this but need more plays before deciding if it's a keeper. The game is based on what might be the first recorded example of a stock market bubble, you're trying to buy tulips low and sell high in Holland in 1636. You don't even need money to buy them, the banks will lend it no questions asked. It's basically sub-prime with flowers.
The tulip price movements are decided by a heady mix of randomness and player market manipulation: if you sell tulips of a certain colour, that will increase the number of that colour in the market, and might depress the price. Conversely, buying a certain colour of tulip reduces the supply left in the market and could increase the price.
Besides selling to the market you can sell to private buyers who are looking for specific combinations of tulips, getting bonuses for fulfilling their orders.
At a semi-random point the market collapses and all tulips become worthless. Most money wins. Any tulips still in your possession bought on finance become negative money.
So it's designed as a push-your-luck game, the idea being you hold onto your tulips as long as you dare before the crash comes, which makes for a great game-end. I only have one issue, and that's the market mechanism seems to mean that prices rise and fall roughly evenly as the game progresses, with perhaps just a slight tendency to rising, so there wasn't really much of a bubble to burst. You still had to judge the best time to sell before all tulips became worthless, but if was more a case of market prang than a crash.
Druids is a great expansion for Isle of Skye, as it adds depth without changing the core flow of the game. It also mitigates one of the frustrating elements of the base game - having no tiles to add to your territory because they've been bought by the other players - with the introduction of a second purchase phase. This second phase lets you buy a tile from the new Dolmen board, and of course this is only possible if you have money left. These Druid tiles also provide special abilities or end-game bonuses, so the decisions get harder while keeping the basic structure intact. Really good fun.
Final scores: Simon 132, Anthony 105, David 92, Phil 66
Treasure Island is a fun, competitive, many-vs-one deduction game, where players play pirates trying to find Long John Silver’s treasure buried somewhere on a large island. Players take turns travelling round the island and searching areas. LJS occasionally offers hints, some of which may be true, so players also have the option of checking these hints. Remember however this is competitive and a race to the treasure, so players are also trying to keep vital clues from each other, while at the same time trying to deduce the location from your opponent’s actions.
The thing I really liked about Treasure Island is something I would normally have a problem with - it’s inaccuracy. You use fat dry wipe markers to block out areas of the map, and a compass and rulers to draw lines, and nothing is exact. You only ever have a rough idea of where the treasure might be, and that’s fine. LJS is told to give the benefit of the doubt to the players; if a search barely touches the location of the treasure then that’s good enough for a successful find.
And this is important because the spirit of the game is about having fun, and not really about being precise with the mechanisms. In this instance, inaccuracy is good and Treasure Island is a ton of fun.