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.


  1. OK, I actually typed this up a few hours ago, but then lost it all, due to a slight cockup. I'll start again.

    I think the problem was not so much a shortage of 5 player games as deciding to play Vegas at the beginning. By the time that and Klunker were out of the way we couldn't guarantee finishing one of the longer games and couldn't find agreement on a mid length one. I'm inclined to agree with Donald that although fillers are OK as fillers, 5 in an evening is bit much.

    As to the games, I seem to remember that when Ravensberger launched their alea line, it was supposed to be for more adult heavier games that wouldn't necessarily fit in with their more family orientated fare. I wonder if that has gone by the board now as I can't otherwise see how Vegas made it into the line, there are certainly games outside the alea line with a lot more depth, the only possibility I can see is that the Casino theme was not considered family friendly enough, but this game is so abstract that any theme could have been pasted on. The game itself is a simple dice game with the choice to place a group of like numbers on the corresponding casino in order to win money by having the most dice on a location. This would be OK if it wasn't for the fact that the game suffers from a mechanic causing equal numbers of dice to cancel out, this being the sort of mechanic that I find really offensive. The game might be vaguely palatable if played for 1 or perhaps 2 rounds, but by the time the prescribed 4 rounds have passed, it has long outlived its welcome.

    Klunker, I think, lives down to its name, it has some of the hallmarks of Bohnanza and I thought perhaps this was an earlier game before discovering that it came along a couple of years later. Bohnanza is a far better game. The problem I see with this is that if anyone is lucky enough to get dealt a set of 4, they can simply play them to their safe and score them at full value, in the process emptying or near emptying their hand allowing a near full restock of cards for the next round. Even if they are not lucky enough to repeat this in the following rounds, they have probably achieved an early lead which will be difficult to overhaul. Other players with partial sets, have the choice of playing those cards into their safe in the hope of collecting the remaining cards from an other's shop window which is not a given especially as they will probably be somewhat down the buying order or keeping the cards in hand in which case they they will get reduced flow of cards through their hand, in any case there is a good chance of ending with multiple sets in the safe so reducing each in value. The game could possibly be improved by removing the requirement to buy if you have cards in your shop window.

    The other games are OK as long as you accept them for what they are, I've played them before and would again. The dice mechanic in Heckmeck is vastly more interesting than that in Vegas.

  2. I think the problem with changing the rule in Klunker as Dave D suggests is that it no longer acts as an incentive to put anything reasonable into the window, in fact it would just become a dumping ground.

    Dave D also had problems with the Vegas equal=automatic loss rule, which you often cannot avoid doing. I had a thought for a variant which allows more leeway. Drop the '6' casino and 6's become jokers, this would diminish the tiles unless perhaps you up the lower limit from 50K to 60k or 70k.

  3. The cancelling dice out mechanic in Vegas creates tension and is what makes the game fun!

    Deep, strategic? No. But as I like dice games and don't mind losing a game on bad luck if it's only 30 minutes, this was a lot of fun.

  4. The problem is it creates no tension (only irritation) and if the game lasted 10 minutes it might be OK but 30 is way too long.