This page has notes on games played recently at the club. Please add a few comments or a short session report on anything you found interesting. If you have not visited us before, this page will give you an idea of the type of games we play.
March 21st Another busy week with 6 tables of assorted games, including as expected two of Pulsar 2849. Our group were having another try of Root, with everyone playing a new faction. While the basic rules are quite simple, one cannot really understand this game until you have played each of the factions at least once – they are so different. It was another win for the vagabond, although the final scores were all within 4 pts and anyone could have won on the last round. It is clearly very well balanced when everyone has a good idea of the basic game. We still had time afterwards for Ra. On the table next to us was a huge card-based game Food Chain Magnate, with slightly retro artwork, but clearly contemporary style of game-mechanics, and opposite there was a miniatures-heavy but medium-weight new game Cult of Barnacle Bay – please tell us about this if you were playing in that corner. Finally, I am happy to note that there has been a recent resurgence for Puerto Rico – it is good to see these classics returning from time to time.
March 14th We have moved on to round two of this year’s tournament and that brought out two games of Pulsar 2849. This is a dice selection game with a ‘points salad’ ie lots of ways to score points, accumulated over each of the rounds. The theme is flying around space, colonising planets, building girodynes (power plants) developing technology and satisfying members of the space corps . There are many options and the main thing is to concentrate on one or two of them at most, while working out which combinations of technologies work best with any one strategy. The rules are relatively simple but the variety of things to choose is enormous and will change on every game (randomised board planet-positions, characters, personal technology trees and public technology). It might have been because it was first game for 2 of us, but the level of player-interaction seems to be relatively low – there is some potential competition for board-spaces or technologies, but mostly it is about working on your own points-engine. The board itself, iconography and artwork is excellent for the theme and a game should not be too long (only eight rounds); we easily fitted in Via Nebula afterwards. Also in the main room one group played Puerto Rico and another Euphoria, followed by Perudo. I managed one visit to the other room too, where they had started with Castille (not sure about this one - please correct or comment if you were playing it) and finished with Wingspan.
March 7th We had a new record of 7-tables playing this week despite bad traffic on the roads in both directions. Apart from the last game of GWT (best not to mention), Steve had decided to have a themed evening of lesser known (and shorter) Martin Wallace games, including Toledo, La Strada and Steel Driver. I have not tried any of these, although MW is on of my favourite game designers. I am interested to know why they are less well known – are they less good than the calssics like Brass and Steam? Matt and Co were trying out Root with a win for the Vagabond (John). I also noticed Dawn of the Zeds, played as a 2-player cooperative and there were groups playing Lords of Xidit, Puerto Rico, and Last Will.
February 28th This week I decided to bring in Francis Drake a game that takes place in two phases (provisioning your ship and then plotting a course to raid the Caribbean forts and ships). Both parts involve trying to outguess the other captains as to where they are going next, whether it is pushing on to get top places in the docks or navigating to raid a location before they can get there first. The theme works very well for both parts, and we managed to comfortably fit in two games during the evening. On other tables I noticed Ticket to Ride and Australia.- there was a return for Panamax, the first reappearance since the tournament last year, and another game of Great Western Trail. I think I saw Euphoria too, (not so sure about that).
February 21st – another busy evening with 6 tables in action and two new visitors. I paid a few visits to the backroom where I saw Euphoria and Murano. Towards the end of the evening, they had moved on to Notre Dame and Kaken Laken Poker. In the main room there were three tournament games of Great Western Trail and one of the groups managed to fit in Gravwell. I think the practice games had allowed people to speed up as all of these games of GWT had finished well before 10. Our table started with Love Letter and then moved on to Alien Frontiers as the main event. Afterwards there was still time for Carcassone, something that I had only played once before many years ago. It is quite good and the rules are very easy to pick up. I can see why it has been popular for so long.
February 14th and my first try-out for Great Western Trail which is a very good game, but it is daunting to be confronted with a score sheet which includes 9 different ways to score points. Bill gave an excellent rules run through, and the number of options at each turn are usually quite manageable, so it did not take long to get going. The iconography on the board also makes it clear what can be done in each place, although the small size of the symbols meant that a lot of peering across the board was needed. I also liked how the theme and the cattle-drive mechanism worked well together. IMO, and this really is just my view, if the game had only the cowboys, the cattle, the buildings and the obstacles this would be a brilliant game. By adding the engineers, the station-masters the transport conditions and the bonus cards, it actually detracted and made it just a good game. There are so many interlocking layers of complexity that working out the consequential effects of any action is difficult and having 3 or 4 ways to score would be plenty. That said, I did enjoy it, and many people like their games more complex than me. Although I did not get to circulate much, Bill tells me that there were also games of Suburbia and Terraforming Mars, as well as something called ‘Tea at a whack can’ (really).