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.
July 18th An interesting mixture of old and new games this week, including a return for Gugong. Robin Hood has a bunch of miniatures, a board that looked like a chunk of Sherwood Forest and a lot of cards with very detailed art and characters. With a new visitor our table kicked off with Tsuro and then moved on to Alien Frontiers followed by Stoneage. I had not played this for some time and it is a lot simpler than I remembered. it ended up as a very close game with all 4 scores between 101-106. Some of the older games like these benefit from having only one mechanism to deal with (in these cases, dice-placement or worker-placement) so they can be learnt very quickly. In the backroom they played Keyflower, some railway game and then finished with Coup. The 5th table played Bullfrog Goldrush, making money by mining or building railroads; the consensus was that it is brutal and unforgiving – Steve said that a mistake on his first turn could never be recovered, and Robin told me that he lost half his points on the last turn – it sounds rather good.
July 11th We are moving on to the next stage of the tournament as there was an appearance for Kemet this week, with one group getting some practice in early, just as the final game of Agricola was completed in the back room. Also in the back another group were playing Gentes a new civilisation building game, based (as always) around the Mediterranean. Meanwhile our table were playing Root for 5-players with the expansion (lizard cult). It is like a completely different game each time one plays a new faction. I found the Woodland alliance particularly difficult to get moving as sedition was stomped on as soon as it appeared and the full board meant that there were no quiet areas to get started. This was another win for the Vagabond, which I have now seen several times – it is important that the other factions cannot just allow him to get on with his own plans unchecked. But who will take the initiative to stop him. You cannot leave it to everyone else. Afterwards we fitted in two games of Skull, and one of Fantasy Realms. This is a very nice 15 minute filler, simple (7-card hand, pick a card, drop a card), aimed at getting the best scoring hand. The rules can be explained in 2 minutes and everything you need to know is written on the cards. The artwork is good too. The 5th table were engaged in Villager, another card game, for most of the evening.
July 4th I have shied away from Tzolk’in previously as it has, literally, a lot of moving parts, and I had assumed that understanding how it all worked would take several plays. However, as numbers were short on that table I took the spare place. The game has a central worker placement/progression system. Although this does need some forward planning, it is easy to see exactly who is where and what is happening – there are no decks of cards to spring surprises or which need repeated plays to encounter. So I would just say ‘don’t be put off by the apparent complexity of this game’, it really can be played reasonably on a first outing. What is more we still had time for the Cold War CIA vs KGB afterwards. On other tables there were returns for Chinatown and Crisis. A group of 3 were playing Panamax, which we have not seen since the tournament last year and I would be interested to know if this works as well with 3 as 4-players. One of these tables also fitted in Perudo. The 5th table had a rerun of Carpe Diem, again with 3-players.
June 27th Another two tournament games of Agricola have shaken up the league a bit, but there were plenty of other games on offer this week. Race for the Rhine is a logistically game with 3 generals trying to move their armies across France as quickly as possible. This is by no means a war game, despite the setting. Also it is one of the few games specifically designed for 3-players, which only works with 3. Another table with 5 were playing Gugong; the description I had from John, playing cards to the board to allow actions from a particular area sounds, quite distinctive. It was first published last year, but I think this is the first time we have seen it at the club. Our table were engaged all evening with Automobile, manufacturing and selling cars, while trying to get exactly the right level of production to satisfy the market for different types of car. Each player only gets 12 actions in the entire game, but each one has to be absolutely right – well done to Robin for winning on his first game. And on the 6th table, next door to us there was a game of Carpe Diem and they followed on with Ra.
June 20th A newer game arrived this week Blackout: Hong Kong, by the designer of Great Western trail and Mombasa. It is a resource management game loosely based on the premis that you are trying to restore services after HK has suffered a total power failure. This involves trying to get the right sets of pieces together to complete objectives in the most efficient way possible. It does have a map of Hong Kong as the central board, but that is mostly for establishing control of areas rather than moving units. You have cards representing various staff/volunteers that are selected and played each round, and a device that resembles a rondel but dosn’t quite work like one. I had a look at some of the reviews, and the consensus is that it is a very solid game, but the theme is not strong. While this was happening there were three games of Agricola, two for the tournament and one for warm-up. In one tournament game there was a top-score of 45 from Paul-T, and high scores all round. After our game we still had time for Tinners Trail. It started with 2 rounds of the worst-ever tin and copper prices I have ever seen, but finished with a bonanza on copper, as everyone decided that now was the time to get it out of the ground. Interestingly there was also a return after some years for Caverna, which is the generic sequel to Agricola. The last group were engaged with Roborally for most of the evening.
June 13th As expected we again had a couple of tables playing Agricola. Our game was particularly tight with scores of 35,35,34,33. This prompted us to look up whether there is a tie-breaker on the game – apparently not, so if we have ties in the tournament, the points will be split. Afterwards there was time for Coloretto. In the main room I noticed three fairly new games, Auztralia, Crisis and a card game Villagers. Auztralia is based on an alternative reality, not dissimilar to A Study in Emerald (another Martin Wallace). However the game itself is not that similar – it is is about exploring, repopulating and developing the continent before the Old Ones awake and throw their oar in. In this sense it is a complicated hybrid, but this is a 2nd recent appearance, so it must have something going for it.
May 23rd This was my first chance to play Agricola in ~10 years, and it deserves its place in the tournament. It still holds up well against many of the later worker placement games which softened the system, allowing you to place in slots that had already been taken, but at a cost; not in Agricola though, which can be tough. Thematically it makes no sense (I have wood and people who want to build fences on my farm, but I can’t because my neighbour has already done it – why not?), but it works for a competitive game. A new worker placement game was also out this week Neta-Tanka, themed around native North American communities. There was a return for Chinatown and much negotiation on the next table, while the final group were playing a card-game Villager. Our group also had time at the end of the evening for Condotierre, which fills a half-hour slot quite well with some area control, competitive card-play and bluffing, based on occupation of regions of medieval Italy.