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.

Friday 19 October 2012

Dice & cards - 17/10/2012

Five of us on Wednesday, which proved an awkward number as we’d largely filled our games bags with 4 player games.

We started off with Vegas, a new game from Ravensburger. This is a fairly simple dice game. Roll a bunch of dice, choose one of the numbers rolled, and move all dice with that number onto a corresponding tile, then if you’ve got the most dice on it you’ll win the highest value money card, 2nd most, 2nd highest and so on. However draw with a player and you both win nothing. This isn’t a game in which you’d derive enjoyment from depth of play; however the draw and you win nothing mechanic provides the game with a fair amount of tension and drama, which proved very enjoyable given the play time. Dave D managed to win in the end after everyone had convinced themselves Dave F was going to win. Given the price point, and size of the box, this is definitely going on my maybe list.

Then as I’d forgotten to bring Dirge, Trite and Ball-ache (all from Thankless Task games), we played Klunker, which in breach of advertising standards was actually fairly decent. This is an old Uwe Rosenberg card game, and not too dissimilar mechanically to his many bean games. Dave F got a great first hand, and managed to keep the momentum going and win the game.

Then onto more Uwe Rosenberg with Space Beans. A card drafting variant of the bean series - place a card or cards in one of the two sets you’re building and pass all your cards to the right. One of the sets you’re collecting is open, the other secret – can’t add to either set, and you’ll have to ditch your open collection, which can be quite painful. Also quite painful is passing a load of cards to your right that you know they need. It therefore becomes a balancing act of trying to take the cards you need but not pass too many good cards to your right. Dave F won quite convincingly in the end.

Next was a Coloretto – and more set collection. However only 3 sets scores you positive points, the remainder score negative. Another quite simple game, either add a card to a row, or a take a row of cards. Do you push your luck and take another card or take some safe cards? Do you try and a set up a safe row of cards for yourself, or spoil them for other people. The rules to this game a super simple, yet the gameplay is relatively deep and offers some difficult choices, so I’m a big fan. Dave D and Donald had a bit of a shocker, collecting a bit of everything, and in the end I managed to pip Mike and Dave F for the win with a helpful joker card.

We finished with Pickomino / Heck Meck – a push your luck dice game I recently bought cheap on a trip to Berlin. This has a similar mechanic to Vegas above; you roll a bunch of dice and use all of one number. Then re-roll again, and pick a different number – if you can’t you’re bust. Again not a deep game, but the dice rolling and the ability to steal tiles from other players add a fair bit of tension, which is good fun. Another win for me – but with the amount of luck involved, I’m not exactly adding this achievement to my CV!

Overall some fun fillers, but I felt the evening sorely missed Bohnanza, so it’s going in my game bag for next time.

Friday 5 October 2012

03/10/12: Super-fillers

7 of us tonight, so we split into two groups. Dave D, Donald, Mike and Claire went off to play Power Grid (the Baden-Wurtemburg board I believe), followed by San Juan.

Dave F, Steve H and I setup Kingdom Builder, a game that seems to split the gaming community down the middle. But then again almost every game seems to split our game group down the middle, I say toh-may-toe, you say toh-mart-oh, but fortunately we don’t call the whole thing off, as club attendance is usually sufficient to allow for multiple groups to accommodate different tastes.

Steve H and had not played Kingdom Builder before, in contrast to me and Dave F who are fans of the game. However Steve destroyed us. The best thing about Kingdom Builder is the variety from game to game. The board changes, the special powers change and the victory point conditions change. With many Euro games that you become familiar with you can end up playing to a script, especially at the beginning. This is not possible with Kingdom Builder, where a new strategy is required each time you play, and this time I was way off. I had an idea, but I soon realised this wouldn’t pan out and ended up trapped in no-mans land, as Steve’s pieces spread like wildfire across the board.

We followed this with Rattus, another game that packs a lot of fun into a short space of time. This is a game you win by inflicting a painful death on the other players’ population whilst shepherding yours to safety. Steve’s population seemed to live a charmed existence, with the conditions causing deaths rarely being met in the areas Steve was heavily populating.

After this, more Rattus – this time with some of the role types from the Pied Piper expansion. The most interesting of which was the Pied Piper himself. This role allows you to move a population cube to an adjacent area, taking all the rats with you. This led to some hilarious kamikaze missions by Steve, as he spent a fair few turns leading loads of rats in heavily populated areas. This was quite effective, although it never occurred to Steve that the Pied Piper role could also be used for non-destructive purposes until Dave used it to take rats away from his population and win the game by 1 population cube.

Why this is only rated 6.93 on BGG is a shame, it’s a lot of fun in a short space of time, with enough depth to keep it interesting. My guess is the game can be really subject to group think, and if people keep moving the black plague pawn into areas where there is very little population - not much will happen.

We finished off with Ra: the Dice game. I like dice games, I like Ra, I like Ra the dice game. If I’m honest this isn’t a game I’d objectively classify as great game and it was initially a bit of a come down following the more raucous Rattus. However it is consistently enjoyable way of spending 30 minutes, with enough decision making to keep it interesting. I had a lot of luck building civilisations, but in the end Dave pipped me by 1 point - with the double disasters and 1 less turn taking their toll.