The Games We Play

The Games We Play

A repository of reports on the Wednesday night sessions of the club and anything else related to the club or boardgaming in general, which may be of interest to anyone who may be passing by.

Thursday 17 May 2007

Session Summary - 16 May 2007

We had 8 people, including Ben this week, more than we've had for ages, we actually made a profit. This is much more like it.

We spread across 3 tables and played games.

Notre Dame - 100 Mins.
2Dave D47

This is a game I picked up when in Burton at the weekend. The game has had a lot of Buzz and I was eager to give it a try, unfortunately despite having read the rules and there aren't exactly a lot of them, I forgot about one very important one and this impacted Matt very heavily (I only realised what I'd done while lying in bed later).

In the game you control one of the boroughs adjacent to Notre Dame Cathedral in the 14th century and compete to gain the most prestige, while at the same time controlling the rats which will cause the plague and do you serious damage if allowed to go unchecked too often. There are reckoned to be multiple paths to victory and we each tried a different method in the first period, I went for some early influence in the Park which would give a constant prestige bonus throughout the game, Gordon went with moving his carriage to pick up messages and picked up gold, while Matt put 2 influence into Notre Dame and made big donations to get prestige that way, I also put a block into Notre Dame to share the influence with Matt.

It was at this point that the problem arose. Both Matt & I had managed to use all the influence blocks from supply and also run out of gold, so going into the 2nd period could not put any influence onto the board to get more blocks into supply and/or earn more gold. I was fortunate enough to draw my Trusted friend card in the first round and therefore get influence by moving him to the Cloister school to get things moving again, Matt was not so lucky, not drawing his friend until the last of the 3 rounds (and I didn't pass him one) meaning he could do nothing for 2 rounds during which time the rats were uncontrolled and not only did he gain no prestige he also could not get more influence on the board. Essentially his game was lost at that point. After the event I remembered the rule that says that if you have no influence in your supply you can move blocks from one sector on the board to another and activate the sectors that way. If this had been known then Matt could have got some more influence and/or gold and stayed in the game.

In the final part of the game, Gordon & I raced ahead and it was a close finish, he was forever on the edge with the rat track while I kept mine well under control, may be too well as if I had spent influence elsewhere I may be could have picked up a bit more prestige. After the game all said that they would play again and I think it will take a few plays to work out what we're doing. Matt was understandably a bit scathing about the situation of a simple early mistake essentially putting you so badly out of the game, but this should not happen again. Probably, neither Gordon nor Matt will be aware of the bad mistake in explaining the rules until they read this.

After Notre Dame there was time for

San Juan - 35 Mins.
3Dave D23

This is the clubs most played game in terms of games played and we are all well versed in the rules. In this 3 player game I don't think the Producer or Trader were used until about half was through as all went for the violet buildings. I was most disappointed by the fact that the gold mine I built on the first builder phase produced no return whatsoever, especially when the one that Gordon built late on did. The game was a low scoring game going to Gordon, I just missed being able to get a Guild Hall down which would have given me 2nd.

On the other table:

Pillars of the Earth, The - 110 Mins.
1Steve H53
3Steve P46

We seem to have been into Cathedrals this evening, this one is about the building of one in the fictional town of Kingsbridge. This is another game that has a lot of good press despite being licenced from a Ken Follet novel. Steve H has said he will report on play.

Formula Motor Racing - 15 Mins.
2Steve H5
3Steve P3

This is a game that I own but don't particularly like, being somewhat of a motor racing fan (maybe not as much as I once was) I find this simple card game just does not do the subject justice being a prime example of a mediocre Knizia with pasted on theme.

Meanwhile on the third table Ben was beating his Dad at

Memoir '44 - 25 Mins.
1Ben C6
2Dave C0

This was Omaha, Ben was the Axis, Dave the allies

Memoir '44 - 30 Mins.
1Ben C8
2Dave C3

This was Suomassalini (is that right?), Ben was the Russians, Dave the Finns

Memoir '44 - 45 Mins.
1Ben C5
2Dave C2

This was Knightsbridge. My knowledge of WWII, particularly on land is somewhat lacking, but this gives me visions of the Battle of Harrods. Ben was the Axis, Dave the British (apparently we were supposed to win this one) .

Dave has said he will fill in more details.


  1. I forgive you Dave. I'll definitely try Notre Dame again now. That rule has some nice tactical implications too.

  2. Pillars of the Earth

    This is a game that inevitably will be compared with Caylus, despite the fact that you're building a cathedral instead of a castle. Same production feel to it, eg coloured wooden blocks for resources, workers placed sequentially on the board in an effort to grab locations before other workers do. However, as mike pointed out there is less interaction than in Caylus and you have far less chance to thwart other players plans, particularly in the three player game.

    That said, this game is balanced, fun, a close contest and with a few interesting random elements like the worker order and the random events. It is Caylus-lite, but not so light that you think it's a waste of time.

    In this particular game, I certainly had the edge on luck (my worker placements on average cost a lot less than Steve's or Mike's), but I think luck alone can't win you the game. I let the first extra craftsman I took influence my strategy, so as it was a mason I collected stone. Unlike Caylus you are not forced to diversify in resources.

    As in most first-game experiences, I wasn't concentrating too much on the other players' strategies, but I did try to sustain a lead over them in VPs throughout, albeit narrow. Perhaps we could all have used the market more to sell resources because we were all skint at various stages. Mike did lose out on the last turn (he went third) when he was blocked from taking any stone. That made me wonder about the merits of spending a worker on turn order, which none of us did.

    All in all a good game, playable with three but I'm guessing best with 4.

  3. I enjoyed both games tonight. Notre Dame is a gutsy Euro. This and Pillars of Earth played on the other table are great additions to the clubs repertoire.

    I had the perfect start in San Juan. I went 3rd in the first round, Dave took prospector then matt builder allowing me to spend all my cards laying down the Prefecture then on my turn I took councillor were I got a library which I managed to put down a couple of rounds later. With those breaks I am surprised my final score wasn’t higher.