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.
November 16th A new arrival this week was Charterstone. When I first saw the board, I thought it looked a bit dull, but this is because it is a legacy game, where new townships and buildings are added permanently to the board on successive games, so that each version of the game is unique. It will be interesting to see how it develops. That group then played what appeared to be a new version of Geisterblitz, a mind-bending game of rapid evaluation and lightning reactions to grab the appropriate piece from the table before anyone else does. This variant appears to have the added complication of hiding one of the grabable items underneath a cup. I was bad at the original version of this game. I don’t think I would be any better at this one. After starting with Tsuro, our table played Alien Frontiers and K2 before finishing with two games of Perudo. There was a return for Clans of Caledonia, which appears to have some of the elements of Terra Mystica but without the cumulative scoring tracks, hence possibly a bit more straightforward. Power Grid on the France board for 6 was played on the 4th table and another group occupied the adjoining room with Concordia.
November 9th Games played this week included a new arrival, Clans of Caledonia, and an old favourite Power Grid for 6 players. Our table had 6 Bootleggers running the moonshine into the speakeasies. This game really benefits from lots of table-talk, negotiation, threats and extortion, which fit with the spirit of the game. However it is not for the faint-hearted – you will be double-crossed or have your bar shot up by rival mobsters at some stage. There was still time for Perudo afterwards. The 4th table were playing Trajan for most of the evening and finished with some piratey card game, which I had not seen before.
November 2nd The new Essen games have arrived and several were in play this evening, including Pulsar 2849 a space exploration game, Musafjord (presumably based on some Norwegian theme?), Alien Artefacts (which appeared to involved tableau building and was unrelated to Alien Frontiers) and Yardmaster (cardgame). Some of the more traditional games were also returning notably Ticket to Ride: Europe and Cartagena. Our table was engaged in the final tournament game of Voyages of Marco Polo. Given that I had only played this once, 3-years ago, I decided to go for the simplest strategy, that I could understand ie trading for contracts, and not travelling anywhere. While this did not win the game, it was surprisingly successful, and shows that it is possible to compete in this game without ever leaving Venice. I liked it a lot better than the first time I played when I had tried to do a bit of everything and ended up doing nothing effectively – a key strategy seems to be to capitalise on the special abilities of your own character. In this game each character is wildly different from the others. There was still time afterwards for Port Royale and Arboretum a surprisingly simple but deep card-game. Also I noticed a very interesting game that appeared to involve the physical construction of roadways and bridges, from various (wooden?) pieces. Unfortunately it had been deconstructed before I got to see what it was – perhaps it was Tokyo Highway as I did see a box for that.
October 19th – a busy week with 6-tables and a spillover into the
back room, where they played the 2nd edition of London. It is a Martin Wallace game, which I have not played, but Michel did comment that he did not feel like he was rebuilding London after the fire, which is the supposed theme of the game. In the main room, there were plenty of lighter games of Perudo and Skull & Roses as well as two tournament games of Voyages of Marco Polo, followed by Evolution: Climate. Our table started with Ticket to Ride -Nordic, before going on to scale the heights of K2. On the neighbouring tables there was Caylus, and a number of others that I did not recognise.
October 12th The first tournament game of Voyages of Marco Polo was played this week, with a convincing win for Ed. It puts him back into the frame for defending his title, after a bumpy start on the first few games of this year. Another group also played VoMP before moving on to Stone Age. Our table started with a quick warm up with Tsuro, before a 6-player game of Samurai & Katana, which took the rest of the evening. We have introduced a house-rule on this game which offsets some of the disadvantage of being Shogun – once per round the Shogun can play ‘Shogun justice’ as written on the card. This does mean that other players have to think twice before launching an ‘affront’ or ‘conspiracy’ against the Shogun, who is also disdvantaged by losing honour each time he loses a battle. Without this change becoming Shogun was just too much of a poisoned chalice. On the 4th table they played Terraforming Mars, for the whole evening.
September 28th There were a number of our more traditional games this week. Steve, Matt and Keith are canvassing for a mini-tournament of Power Grid (they would like one or two more players) and were having a warm-up on the Germany board. Meanwhile, the neighbouring tables were playing Village and Kingsburg. Nigel and I spent the evening on 3 games of Commands and Colours ancients, fighting the battle of Ilipa. Apart from the fact that it is easily possible to fit several games into a club evening, it is satisfying to swap sides on the same scenario, partly to see if you can adapt to the tactics needed by each side, and partly because some scenarios are unbalanced and you can then take a composite score from two games to see who does best overall. In this case the first two games followed quite closely the historical outcome with Roman victories, but in the 3rd game there was a total upset as the Carthaginians managed to get their main heavy infantry into the battle, and completely split the Roman centre. Looking up some of the history afterwards, Ilipa is regarded as one of Scipio’s finest battles; he reversed standard practice by placing his Roman veteran infantry on the wings and weaker Spanish allies in the centre. This completely blind-sided Hasdrubal, who deployed later in the day and with his own veterans crowded and blocked in the centre behind light skirmishers. Historically, Scipio’s strong wings overwhelmed the Carthaginians before they could bring their best troops forward. Our 3 re-enactments suggest that this was the likely outcome of Scipio’s force deployment, but it was not a certainty if the Carthaginians had managed to manoeuvre their central heavy infantry into position faster…. very interesting.
September 21st There was quite a mixture happening this week, including a new arrival The King’s Abbey which was produced last year and already has one expansion. This is a dice-placement game that plays in 7 rounds and 12 phases in each round. Some of the mechanisms will be familiar from Kingsburg, including where dice are placed to get resources and having enough archers to defend against an external attack. In addition there is a lot happening on the player boards – there are not many games where you have to get your peasants to the baptistry before they can go and do something in builidings and that will depend on the level of industriousness of your priests. This short review on BGG gives some of the flavour. Our group spent the evening on a Short History of the World. At the end of a 5-player game, the top 3 places were very close and it boiled down to the bonus chits that had been accumulated in the early stages. I like this mechanism, because it gives an incentive to stay ahead in a game where bashing the leader is a natural strategy, but it was not universally popular. On the other hand the Empire-card allocation and Event allocation system is very much superior to the orginal (much longer) History of the World, but the drafting mechanism could, at least in theory, be transferred onto the original. One of the other tables played Agricola, and then followed on with Istanbul. The 4th table started with a race game Power Boats, for 6 before splitting into two; one playing Castles of Burgundy and the other Taj Mahal.
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.