Sunday, 12 May 2013
One drawback is that despite being 3-4 player we've long decided that 3 players is by far best, so I was really glad to get David and Andy S to try it on Wednesday. It's not for the faint-hearted, being nasty to the others is forced on you, and being the nastiest is often part of the winning strategy, and sometimes you really have to ride your luck, but under that pressure a win feels really satisfying. I did win against the 'newbies', and they perhaps felt that they were always going to lose out to the more experienced player, but 2 turns from the end I was in a desperate situation and possibly staring at last place. If the penultimate turn Limit Cards had been more harsh I could have reached 10 and missed the last turn, for a certain last place, but my chancing paid off for a good win. I suspect both of them, now they understand many of the nuances of the game, will fancy their chances much more next time!
Thursday, 28 March 2013
The earliest records of games played date back to April 2003 (it's possible that we had earlier records, but if we did, they are lost) and for the first 5 months they only include a record of the game and the result. In September of that year, the "Trophy Point" system was instigated by Gordon and part of this system involved calculating points using the number of players involved in a game and the length of that game. We stopped running the Trophy Points at the end of 2006, but since then I've still recorded the games like this, because Player-Hours seemed a good measure of the amount of play a game has received.
As at the completion of yesterday's session, that means that we have 10 years of records and I have collated a list of all the 383 different games played (excluding the RPG sessions Dave C used to run) here in order of player hours. Due to the five months of records with no time there are a number of games that would be further up the list.
One other point 6 different players are recorded in April 2003, 4 of those were at last night's session.
Thursday, 17 January 2013
So, Muria gives you more to think about, and therefore probably adds a little to the game length - our first attempt took nearly 3 hours, but the time didn't drag for me, because you're constantly having to watch what the others are doing while you - it's as interactive as the base game. It also gave a pretty close result, I think we all made mistakes (easy to do in this!) but Scott played the steadiest and deserved his win despite a little bit of luck right at the end.
You also get components for a 5th player, I'd like to try with this number but am doubtful it would be as good, certainly if any less-experienced players were included I think I'd try a 2-Phase 'tweaked' game rather than 3-Phase game to guarantee to keep it within an evening. On the whole it adds more to an already engaging game so I'd stick with keeping it in for the future.
On the other table, Gordon, Simon and Dave D were playing Galaxy Trucker. I played it once when it first came out and my thoughts are a bit like I think I heard Dave D say - a lot of fun for 30-45 minutes but the fun wears thin because the game goes on for at least as long again as repetition rather than development.
Wednesday, 2 January 2013
This is the 2012 review of games played at the club; corresponding articles for 2008 - 2011 are linked from the years. As last year I include a comparison with the previous year. I have also updated the Stats Pages on the website. For a rundown beyond the top 5, there is a geeklist of all the games played here. Note this won’t appear on the geek front page of the Geek.
We played a total of 183 games this year (which is 4 less than the 187 in 2011) spread over 87 different ones (compared with 98), when play was a lot more spread. 39 games were played for the first time.
The total player time for the year was 806 player hours up 4% on last year.
The most played games (in terms of player time) were as follows:
1. Power Grid (11 plays, 74.5 player hours)
Power Grid is top again and this year there were “new” boards to play with. Most used board this year was Baden Württemberg, although this is not actually new, having appeared in a special edition for a German power company, it was new to us. At Essen a UK board finally appeared and I expect that this will see a bit of play in the coming year.
2. Lords of Waterdeep (7 plays, 38.83 player hours)
One of the new games of the year, this is apparently a light worker placement game set in a D&D world. It saw a lot of play between April and July.
3. Eclipse (3 plays, 35.17 player hours)
All the play for this one was in January. It was a game I was keen to give a try, but I was deeply disappointed in it. All this “if you like Master of Orion, you’ll love Eclipse” proved to be false advertising.
4. San Juan (13 plays, 32.58 player hours)
This was played more in 2012 than in any previous year, now having an expansion from the Alea treasure chest that adds new buildings, some of which are quite powerful, causing a reappraisal of strategies to be necessary. The expansion also adds events, but I have stopped including those, since I discovered we were playing wrong in early play making them one offs. They are supposed to be recycled and can therefore appear more than once, which I don’t enjoy the idea of.
5. A Brief History of the World (2 plays, 21.83 player hours)
Steve continues to champion this game and it got a couple of plays. The game is to be me not different enough to the earlier version to allow me to enjoy it, preferring to play Britannia when the time is available, for my fix of “sweep of history” game.
The most played game in terms of times played was San Juan. Interesting that there is no (what I would consider) true filler game getting the bulk of the play for that type of game this year.
What happened to last year’s top 5?
Only Power Grid is repeated from last year’s top 5, although all the other games there saw at least one play Caylus Magna Carta was down from 2 to 15, King of Tokyo from 3 to 23, London from 4 to 46 and Battlestar Galactica from 5 to 22.
Games that have stood the test of time
There are still 2 games, played every year since 2003 with both Vinci and Industrial Waste being played again this year although, again, with only 1 play each.
3 other games had been played every year since 2004, all three of these saw play this year, with both Power Grid and San Juan in the top 5. Perhaps unsurprisingly all the games that have been played for 9 or 10 years are in the “all time” top 10.
The number of games played 8 out of 10 years is only 2 compared last year’s 7 of 9 being 4. Kremlin, Ra and Citadels are missing. I’d like to get Kremlin played again in the coming year.
Games played in 10 of 10 years
Games played in 9 of 10 years
Games played in 8 of 10 years
Looking forward to 2013.
Friday, 21 December 2012
Here's wishing anyone reading this a Merry Xmas & Happy New Year.
Thursday, 13 December 2012
Tzolk’in, if you haven’t heard of it, is a game based on quite thorough research of the Maya Calendar, its Long Cycle, Short Cycle and the various periods which make up those (I’d be interested to know if the different cogs have numbers of teeth which equate to the various short periods which make up the numerous elements, but as I couldn’t remember what those period numbers were, I couldn’t check).
In essence, it’s a worker placement game (yay!, my favourite (not joking)), but with a twist: the main mechanism consists of a series of interlocking cogs which are an active part of the board. By active, I mean that the board itself affects your decision making, and it will change, not necessarily to your liking, dependent on player actions. For the most part, you could regard the board action as predictable, but you can’t guarantee it.
On their turn, players have one choice: place workers and pay the cost for placement; or remove workers and receive the benefit which results from their board positions. Players may not combine placement and removal - it is either/or, in a similar fashion to The Manhattan Project. The number of actions is limited by how many workers the player chooses to place or remove and, in the case of placement, whether the player has enough food to pay for the placement.
Once each player has taken their actions the turn has one last phase, which is for the interlocking wheels to rotate, thus moving all the workers to new spots where you may or may not like the benefits.
Now, I don’t want to spend too much time describing how the game works because there’s far too much going on in this game (FAR too much) for me to describe it adequately in less time than the game plays. (Maybe you can do that, but I can’t, or am not willing to. If you know me, you know what I mean and shall be thankful; or if you’re just browsing this, then you have to take it as read that, really, this is the easier option and you can all thank whatever god you pray to, or just shrug your shoulders and live-and-let-live.) Instead, try to imagine someone making a design decision to combine Caylus with Mousetrap (slightly facetious of me) and a funky mechanical version of the card-shifting function in Through the Ages… but you only get cards for which you have placed a worker on a previous turn…
Yes, it sounds shit when I explain it like that, but then I try not to compromise when it comes to quality.
So, here we are, with the genius of the game: the rotating actions/costs/benefits; which also happen to be, in my case, its downfall… or should I say, in everyone else’s case, should I happen to be one of the players. The problem is this: I have a problem. I am not a linear thinker. I do not absorb rules by reading the rule book and knowing what happens. I absorb rules by practical experience, by iteration and re-iteration, and I communicate my experience in the same fashion. I think this is a function of my employment - for more than twenty years, I have worked in an industry which demands prioritisation: thinking is cyclical and rewards an approach which discards everything but the most important and immediate event and its effect, then, once that event and effect is processed and accommodated, one can proceed to re-process the list of required events, select the most important, discard the others and work on the event required. This makes me quite successful in some game genres, especially those which are tactical rather than strategic.
The trouble with Tzolki’in is it requires assessment of the current, future and far future possibilities simultaneously, and my brain just doesn’t work like that. The result is that I suffer from an embarrassing - and almost debilitating - level of analysis paralysis.
Now, AP is not something that I find predictable. In many games, I don’t feel I suffer at all (though my wife would disagree); but there are some in which I brain freeze like I’ve swallowed a pint of Cherry Garcia. Of all the games I’ve encountered, Tzolk’in is the Primate (in the sense of first, rather than ape-like). And this is my problem with the game: if I’d been playing against myself (not solo, because solo games bore the hell out of me - I mean, who wants to play games which don’t involve other people - surely that’s the point?), I wouldn’t have felt so self-conscious. But from the first turn, I knew I would be the game’s problem and started apologising. This is a good game (gimmicky, yes, but still a good - and perhaps even great - game). I liked what it did. I REALLY liked how it did it; I loved the fact that the game principles can be communicated in a sentence, though it needs an in-depth explanation to give details of what that place-workers-or-remove-workers mechanism actually entails; I was excited and entertained by the novelty of worker movement.
What broke the game for me was ME: because I was so consciously aware of the time I was taking, as the game progressed I felt I was getting wearing for everyone else. Whether this was true or not is irrelevant (it’s true, by the way): it’s how I felt. This meant enjoyment for me decreased as the game progressed, and my ability to apply my analysis to the game diminished as my worry about how I was impacting others outside the gamespace began to crowd into my play.
I won’t bore anyone else with further details, but suffice to say that this is the best and most interesting game I’ve played and which I’m unlikely to play again. I’m just too boring when I get like this. It’s no fun for anybody else, and it’s no fun for me when I know I”m affecting the enjoyment of others.
Seldom have I played a game when I’ve finished feeling so torn; and never have I played a game and finished feeling so psychologically aware of my own failings.
Make no mistake: this is a game I feel warrants extended play, and which I’m itching to play again, but I feel my inability to process its information quickly demands that I step away.
I am very disappointed.
Friday, 23 November 2012
Like Age of Steam, Suburbia involves cardboard hexagons, a track for income, wooden pieces and is a game that is good.
Anyway…. In Suburbia everyone is in control of a borough of one City, and the aim of the game is to make your borough the bestest (sic) in the City, with bestest defined as being the most populous. To make your borough the most populous you need to place building tiles which improve the reputation of your borough, so people will flock to it. However in order to afford tiles which will improve your reputation, you’ll need some industry or commercial tiles which will generate income but sometimes come at the expense of reputation e.g. no one wants a landfill site next door.
The gameplay itself is relatively simple, take a tile, and place it adjacent to your existing tiles. This may generate a one-off windfall in income or population, and may then affect your income or reputation. What’s quite nice about the game is that the tiles you place can not only affect the tiles you have in your borough but may affect everyone else’s borough. For example If I build a Freeway next to a residential tile, and next to a Commercial tile, it will damage my reputation for being next to houses, but increase my income for being next to Commercial buildings. And if I build a farm, every time someone (including me) builds a restaurant – my income rises. Or if I build a Hotel, every time someone except me builds a residential area it improves my income.
So improving your income generates cash, which you can then spend on tiles which will add population either through one-offs or by improving your reputation. Layed on top of this are goals. If you achieve a goal, and no-one else does you’ll gain a population bonus. Each person has a secret goal, plus there is one known goal per player in the game. In our game, I went for the win by building an affluent city with a high reputation – plenty of Commercial buildings, nice place to live and an International Airport – basically Solihull if you want a West Midlands analogy. My population by the end was soaring each turn. Andy S built Bilston, some cheap housing and lots of heavy industry, some growth and income but ultimately let down by poor town planning. I’m not sure what Mike built. A hodgepodge of lakes, and civic buildings with negative reputation throughout much of the game. Unfortunately for me, Mikesville generated a lot of cash, and was also consistent with most of the goals, earning him a massive boost in points by the end of the game for the win.
I really didn’t help myself with by accidently building a residential area, gifting a 20pt goal to Mike (which was coincidentally the winning margin), but hey ho, live and learn.