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.
September 7th The fine construction above is from the final stages of a game of Burano. It is a typical point-scoring Euro, but it has very interesting 3D construction element as the buildings score when the roofs are put on, according to the colour of the houses (cubes) underneath. Burano is an island, like Murano, in the Venetian lagoon which is famous for its lace-making and colourful houses. Our group played Merchants and Marauders, this time with the addition of weather and smuggling. Both of these options from the extension add very little to the complexity; the changes in wind direction make for an interesting extra set of decisions on which direction to sail for goods-markets, and the smuggling option actually makes the game slightly shorter, since it is possible to gain glory pts from smuggling contraband at the same time as all the usual activities of trading and piracy. We finished with a really neat game of Mintworks- a 15 minute worker placement game all in a tiny tin. On other tables there was a practice game of Voyages of Marco Polo, and I also saw Caylus and Saint Petersburg in the main room.
August 31st Everyone seems to be back from holidays and we had 6-tables of games this week. I only saw half of what was happening as I was engaged in Automobile all evening. This is a typical Martin Wallace economic game of the developing car-industry in America. It is remarkable in that each player only has 12 actions in the entire game, but each one has to be carefully calculated, so that you do not end up with unsold cars or salesmen with nothing to sell. With 4 or 5 players it is really competitive, but IMO works less well with 3. On other tables I saw Caylus and Shipyard, and several that I did not recognise. A double extension has come out for Terraforming Mars, and one group were playing on the Hellas board, including the South pole of the planet. The concepts are all essentially the same as the base game, but with extra opportunities provided by the new board layout.
August 24th The last tournament game of Blood Rage happened this week, and we are nicely set up for the final round, Voyages of Marco Polo, since nearly everyone in the top half of the league table still has a chance of getting into the final. There was a new, very large game Outlive on one table. I had little time to see what it was about, but the box-cover suggested survivors of a massive ship disaster trying to stay alive. Our group played Merchants & Marauders, using a few additions from the Seas of Glory expansion, including the brigs, that I suggested to Christian Marquesen, the game designer. This finished with a win for Andrew (merchant), after some interesting sea-battles a few close escapes and a visit to Davy Jones Locker for my own captain Souares. This meant that I did not get to see what was happening on the 4th table.
August 10th There were fewer people in this week, perhaps because of the holidays, but we still had 4-tables. Despite my best endeavor to play Merchants and Maruders, we actually played Brass, interesting because almost everyone’s strategy was thrown awry by the cards dealt to them. It was just a question of adapting to produce what was most in demand. For a change, I had decided to try to establish a good income, rather than relying on loans and development – this strategy is not tried so often, but it worked out well this time. On other tables I saw Capital and Suburbia. Finally Paul and Paul had decided on a 2-player game of Commands and Colours; ancients. This is my favourite of this group of games, as the rules reflect closely the battle tactics needed in this period of ancient warfare. At the end of the evening I saw Geistesblitz, which requires lateral thinking and rapid reactions – I am useless at this game, and of course Perudo.
August 3rd I had a first chance to play Xia: legends of a drift system, this week, which reminded me very much of Merchants and Marauders. Each player has a space-ship which can be equipped or upgraded, and then they explore the Xia solar-system trying to acquire fame by trading, smuggling, bounty-hunting, running missions or just exploring. To describe all these options would take a lot of space, so I will just make a few comparisons with other games. Like Eclipse, but unlike M&M the board is undefined and has to be explored with random tile draws. This is thematically good for a space game, but makes for great variability in what is found – you may find the perfect planet to trade with, or drop unexpectedly into a star (= instant death). Fortunately respawning is not too problematic. One advantage of the Xia board is the potential for long moves through star-gates although this depends on where the gates are placed. [In M&M it may take an unreasonably long time to get to the far end of the Caribbean to catch another player]Equipping your ship presents similar problems to cargo storage in Cornish Smuggler – pieces have to be fitted into a defined space; the options for ship-development are more limited than in Eclipse and they do not rely on a tech-tree, only on money. Missions are more pot-luck than in M&M, because the planet where the mission kicks-off may not be in play yet, or it could be right next door (lucky you). Combat is similar to Eclipse, but simpler (only 1 ship facing off with 1 ship) and it is much simpler (fewer decisions), quicker and less tactical than in M&M. There are fewer NPCs (enforcer, scoundrel and trader) than in M&M and the rules for their movement are more scripted. Game length is variable and decided at the start. We chose 7 points, which took ~2 hours and we still had time for K2 afterwards. So…. in short, I think this is a nice game. The minatures and other components are superb. There is a lot more luck than in M&M although both have a lot of dice-rolling. It is less confrontational, but more random than Eclipse, because Eclipse gives more control over tile-placement and exploration. It is quicker and simpler than Firefly and Merchant of Venus, but it does provide a strong narrative story for each player ( a big plus for me). I would be happy to play this game again. On other tables this week, I saw Caylus and Lorenzo. James and Richard had brought their families in (good to see youngsters), although I did not recognise the games they played. Also there was an appearance for Container, a bit of rarity. It is an excellent economic / delivery game, with rather austere components.
July 27th As I was learning two new games Blood Rage and Fields of Green, I did not have a lot of opportunity to circulate this week. So I will just say that I am very glad that Blood Rage is one of the tournamaent games, it is nicely confrontational, and fits very well in the ‘conflict game’ slot for this year. Here are a few thoughts on Fields of Green, a card game in which you are developing a farm by picking and setting out fields, livestock and buildings. It reminded me of a cross between 7-wonders (card drafting) and Quadropolis (arranging your 2-dimensional tableau in an optimum arrangement for scoring). There is also an element of economic engine development as early rounds need crops to feed the animals which come later, and buildings generally are put up in the 3rd and 4th rounds. Money is essential for extending the farm. The final score comes mostly from the values on the cards, as well as some intermediate scoring chits. There is a lot to think about in the arrangement of the farm, although the basic rules are simple. My main criticism is that there seemed to be relatively little player interaction. Competition comes by not passing on cards of benefit to the next player during the drafting phase, but this requires a fairly close eye on the strategy of the neighbouring player – not something we could do easily on a first game, and in any case this negative competition, is limited by what cards are in hand at any one time. There is also quite a lot of book-keeping during the harvest phases and at game end (a score pad). For fans of 7-wonders or Quadropolis this could be just what you are looking for. For me it was too much of a multiplayer solitaire. I noticed Century on one of the other tables, but there was a lot going on that I did not see – please add some notes if you were in one of the other groups.