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.
August 15th We fished out a classic worker placement game this week Pillars of the Earth, and managed to fit in two games in the evening. For some of these older games, the theme fits perfectly, the rules are relatively simple and there isn’t a big pack of cards to spring surprises each game. The idea of replayability for games is theoretically very good, but when each game is different, because the set-up and card draws are very different, it becomes difficult to devise a strategy and try it out before having 50 plays under your belt. On other tables in the main room I saw Clans of Caledonia and Brass; Birmingham. In the back room there was a game about people trying to avoid or kill gigantic worms,, while collecting their eggs. – Terror Below looked like it might be loosely themed on Dune, but I really did not get a good look, as I was busy cathedral building. Unsurprisingly there was also a tournament practice game of Kemet.
August 8th We were back to 5-tables again this week, including 2 practise games of Kemet, one of them went on all night but the other group managed to fit in Sagrada afterwards. I am surprised at the variability in length, because this felt like it ought to be a 2hr game. There was a second appearance for Pipeline, but with a different group of players from last week – it would be nice to have some comments/thoughts on what this game is like. We had a new visitor, Andrew, joined our group and looking for a 5-player game we pulled out Puerto Rico, which is still as good as ever. Afterwards we fitted in a short auction-style card game Geschenk, with simple rules – it has a similar mechanism to Bausack – ie pay to reject something you don’t want until eventually someone cracks and decides that the item is not too bad, given the amount of money involved. We finished with avery close game of Cartagena. The 5th table were perusing the rules for Concordia; Salsa when I first looked, but I did not get to see how that progressed. Finally to note that the Website has just received its 100,000th visitor since I set it up a few years ago.
August 1st The onset of the Summer holiday period, with many regulars away, meant that we had just 4-tables this week and unusually a 2-player cooperative as David and Michel tried to keep the lid on the zombies in Dawn of the Zeds. There was a first appearance for Pipeline, a newish game about laying pipes (not in a particularly logical way) and moving stuff around on them. The third table managed to fit in 3-games of which the first two were Evolution:Climate which we see quite often and Cryptid a deduction game, which is not something we see that often. Finally our group had started with Kemet; I was keen to see what type of game this is, and am pleased to say that the rules and overall play are fairly simple. It reminded me considerably of Samurai & Katana and Game of Thrones, with hidden cards being used for battle being added to the forces involved. The major difference is the effective symmetry of the board- everyone is equally separated from everyone else and unlike S&K there are no interactive card/events or opportunity for economic competition. Also distinctive is the teleport mechanism which mean that no-one bothered to make any conventional ground-moves in the entire game – a bit weird. Like Eclipse there is a points premium for attacking and winning. Our game did not take long, even though two of us had not played before and we still had plenty of time afterwards for a little light exploration in Entdecker.
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.