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.

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Voting for UK Games Expo Awards - Simurgh (and Mistfall)

UK Games Expo awards prizes every year for the best boardgame in one of a number of categories. For the 2016 awards they are likely to receive 120-130 games to assess, and several have already been sent to them by the publishers. I've offered to help by bringing games to Halesowen Boardgamers. Each game needs to be rated by around 8 people in total - ideally I'd find that many over two sessions at Halesowen, but even a single play with 4 would help towards assessing the game. The first game I'll bring is called Simurgh - a fantasy-themed worker placement game that should play in 1-1.5 hours. I'll bring it along to the next two or three sessions. All you have to do is play the game then give it a rating from 0-5 in five categories.

Another game from the same publisher called Mistfall has also arrived - it is a co-operative fantasy-themed game. If anyone is particularly interested in trying this, then I may be able to bring it along in early January.

Sunday 6 December 2015

Stats Catch Up

Just to note I've finally got round to catching up the stats for the last couple of months, still spending time playing games on my PC, rather than doing things board game related, except for posting about the new Fury of Dracula on BGG. Top game for October - Through the Ages: A New story of Civilisation. Top game for November - Fury of Dracula

Stats page for October
Stats page for November
BGG list of October and November.

Friday 4 December 2015

Game Preview: Kingdom of Kiralysag

Kingdom of Kiralysag is a mid-weight euro game for 3-5 players. It is a retheme and redesign of a game of mine from a few years back set in medieval Hungary. After the Mongols had devastated the Kingdom in 1241, the Kings decide to repopulate the land with guests invited in from Western Europe. The various peoples - Saxons, Bavarians, Walloons, Flemish, Italians - work together to establish and grow settlements, while competing to dominate them. The game worked quite well, but was a little dry. By retheming to a fictional kingdom I have been able to introduce more variety e.g. with a random succession of kings, rather than the fixed order of the original historical game. I decided to go the whole hog and make it a fantasy kingdom with various races available to players. The game design is ready but now I'm working on the graphics, with the aim of having a play test kit finished for January.

A game of Kingdom of Kiralysag takes place over four Reigns. The four kings are selected randomly out of a total of eight. Each king has different attributes - Militaristic, Mercantile, Religious, Cultured - that affect the composition of the decks of Action Cards and Event Cards that are used for each Reign. In a 4-player game there are up to 6 Rounds per Reign (a king may die early, reducing the number of Rounds). At the beginning of each Round the next two Event Cards are placed face up. Then each player purchases an Action Card from among a row of 8 face up cards, which is then replenished. Each card has an inherent cost in coins and favour and an additional cost depending on its position - this mechanism will be familiar from Suburbia or Through the Ages. An Action card enables a player to settle 2 meeples among the 11 settlements in the Kingdom, "upgrade" an existing settler with a profession such as Merchant or Knight, or build a Temple or Ship in a suitable settlement. At the end of the Round the two events are resolved. Some of these events enable players to gain favour from the king and a small number of Victory Points. Other events impose a cost on players. Income is generated at the end of each Reign. A settler in a poor settlement may not provide any income, while a settler in a wealthy settlement may provide one or two coins. Merchants, Innkeepers, Temples and Ships generate additional income. Scoring occurs at the end of the 2nd and 4th Reigns. This consists of majority scoring for each settlement and also, in the final scoring, for money.

Thursday 12 November 2015

Games Played - 11 November 2015, featuring Favor of the Pharoah

Yesterday, Mike asked Dave D to write a blog post. I thinks that's because Mike can't log in to write one (he's forgotten his password - a common affliction these days), but he can reply to one that someone else has written. As I've got some time free, I thought I'd start it off myself. This week we had only 9 people attending. The two Marks and Steve K promptly decided on Agricola as their game for the evening. I was keen to join them, as Agricola is at the number 4 spot on my bgg top 10 list. However, I held back as it wasn't clear how the numbers would work out. Mike subsequently kidnapped a couple of the attendees - Rob L and James S -  for a game of Caylus Magna Carta, something that I very much want to try out, as I like Caylus but haven't tried the card version before. That meant that the remaining three of us - Stan, Dave D and I - were left to form a third table.

Fortunately, another new game was calling out to be played: Favor of the Pharoah, which I'd noticed that Dave had been bringing along for a few weeks. Favor is one of two reworkings of Tom Lehmann's 2006 game To Court the King (the other reworking being Ciub). Tom is one of that rare breed, a professional board game designer, and is the mastermind behind Race for the Galaxy, Roll the Galaxy and a number of Pandemic expansions. Favor is a game that uses dice as a key mechanism other than as random number generators - something that is increasingly fashionable these days, with the aforementioned Roll for the Galaxy and The Voyages of Marco Polo being just two recent, high-profile examples. At first glance, Favor seems as though it is going to be a relatively simple game. On your turn you roll a number of dice and use the results to purchase a tile. Each purchased tile provides you either with an additional die or two to roll on subsequent turns, or some type of modifier that you can apply to one or more dice. I initially though that the game might be something like Machi Koro or Artifacts Inc., but it plays quite differently. Favor might start out being quite simple, but as you accrue extra dice - some of them with special attributes - and various die-modifying abilities the possibilities for the die-rolling element of your turn multiply exponentially. The price for any given tile is either a number of dice with the same value, or a run of values, or some other combination, such as three pairs or a triple and a pair. The aim of the game is to purchase the Queen, who costs 7 dice of the same value. Her purchase triggers the final round of the game, with players then aiming to beat the score obtained to buy the Queen, either with the same number of dice but with a higher value, or with a higher number of dice.

During our game, all three of us occasionally neglected to use some of our die-modifying abilities or even dice themselves, so we were certainly playing sub-optimally, a sign that there is more to this game than first meets the eye. Dave accrued a higher number of dice than Stan or I, and was the first to purchase the Queen tile, with eight 2s. Stan and I had focused more on buying die-modifying tiles, and this stood me in good stead on my very final turn when I was able to achieve ten 3s. Dave had the very last turn, but wasn't quite able to beat the score I had just set. I would be very keen to try Favor of the Pharoah again. We only used a fraction of the available tiles - a different set is used each time, so there will be a certain degree of variability between games.

We finished Favor in under an hour, leaving us time for a longer game. Dave suggested World Without End, which Stan was keen to play. I have played it a few times before and always enjoyed it, though I keep forgetting just how good a game it is. Dave won, though the end result was fairly close, leaving me to think about how I could have played a little better to get those extra few points. I've now upped my rating of the game on bgg to a '9'!

Friday 16 October 2015

Game design news: This Cursed Rock

This time I'm presenting an early preview of a game by another budding designer, Jim Falkus, who you may have met when he came to the club in August. You can find some details about the game on his blog. In brief, it is a 2-player game recreating the Great Siege of Malta by the Ottomans in 1565. Despite the theme, it is not a wargame, as witnessed by the lack of hexes or defined areas on the game board, which was designed by me! The game takes place over about 20 turns. At the start of every turn each player draws an event card, most of which can be retained for later use. Then each player selects four action cards from their deck of 12 to use during the subsequent Action Phase. There are four types of card: Move, Build, Morale and Combat. Finally there is an Assault Phase, during which the Turkish player may attempt to seize one of the fortified areas on the board. Wooden cubes are used to represent the various types of military pieces: gun batteries, Janissary units, Turkish infantry units, Knights of St John and Spanish infantry units. There are also wooden Personality Discs and various types of markers for gun platforms, additional fortifications, siege equipment and divine intervention!

The game is still under design with early playtesting likely to start later this year. I would hope that it can make an appearance in Halesowen early in 2016.

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Game design news

Cromwell is still very much in active playtesting, especially as I have redesigned the cards (each player now has a deck) and created a scenario starting in 1644. However, many years ago I designed a Lord of the Rings-themed block wargame which I may resurrect if there is any interest...

Given the theme and associated copyright issues, it is a game that is extremely unlikely to ever be published, so it is destined to be no more than a very limited edition "fan game". It did receive some playtesting back in the day and showed some potential, but definitely needs a spruce-up in terms of graphics as well as streamlining of the rules - probably a few dozen hours of my time - and the purchase of new blocks. Based on a short passage in Lord of the Rings Appendix A, it is called "The Long Winter" and is set during the Third Age 2758. For scale and complexity it is comparable to the Columbia block games East Front or Victory in Europe. It features 160 blocks, 5 nationalities (Gondorians, Rohirrim, Corsairs, Dunlendings, Easterlings) which can be played by 2-5 players, both land and naval battles, siege combat, supply trains, weather. There is no magic and it is strictly humans, but there is personal combat between leaders to give it a bit of high fantasy feeling.

Monday 14 September 2015

Games Played - 9 September 2015 featuring The Capitals

We had 11 people last Wednesday and split over 4 tables with 6 games played, Agricola, Acquire, China, San Juan together with 2 new games to the club, The Capitals and Scott's prototype civil war game, currently known as Cromwell. More details follow

Thursday 3 September 2015

Games Played - 2 September 2015

Moving into September, we had 17 people at this meeting including 5 newcomers - Keith, Carl, Justin, Zoe & Vicki. Games played were Power Grid deluxe, Voyages of Marco Polo, Carcassonne, Santiago de Cuba, Dead of Winter, Love Letter (The Hobbit) and 3 new games Siberia, Ora et Labora & Traders of Osaka. That's more new games in one week this month than in the entire 4 weeks of August. A few more details follow.

Wednesday 2 September 2015

Call for playtester

It might seem like a modest proposal to call for a single playtester, but I already have an interested party (Steve H) and the game is 2-player! The game is called Cromwell and I have been developing it on and off for more than 3 years now. It is a block wargame very much in the mould of other Columbia Games titles such as Hammer of the Scots, Crusader Rex, Richard III, Texas Glory and Julius Caesar.  In its current form it has already undergone 10 playtest sessions and everyone who had played it has enjoyed it. I have recently resubmitted it to Columbia Games, but it is likely to be a month or two before they get round to considering it and in the meantime, the more playtests it undergoes the better.

I'll bring it to a Wednesday session and, while I could play it myself with Steve H, it would be better for him to face an opponent who is also new to the game. Please let me know if you are interested. Ideally you'll already have played another block wargame or, at the very least, be familiar with some board wargames. I'd say it is low-to-mid complexity for a wargame - which would put it in heavy Euro game territory - being a little more complex than the other Columbia titles mentioned above and certainly a step up from the likes of Command & Colors.

More information about the game can be found on my bgg profile and the game mapblock label graphics and some photos in my gallery.  

Tuesday 1 September 2015

August 2015 Recap

This is a recap of what was played during the month of August 2015. There were 4 sessions in the month and the average attendance was 14 with 21 different people over the month including 2 new visitors Nick & Peter O and also Jim F who came once before (back in November 2006, if I've got the right person). 30 games were played of 25 different titles (as last month I suppose that should really be 26 counting the 2 different Love Letter versions) and I include the list of these at the end of this post.

Thursday 27 August 2015

Just the details - 26 August 2015

14 last night and 8 games played on 4 tables including 2 new to the club in Pizzaro & Co./Magellan and Diamonds. No pictures this week, but the results are below.

Caylus Magna Carta - 80 Mins.
1James S41
2Steve H39
Istanbul - 90 Mins.
2Rob C5
3Rob L4
The Voyages of Marco Polo - 110 Mins.
Coloretto - 15 Mins.
Pizzaro & Co. - 45 Mins.
2Rob L44
4Rob C26
Panamax - 135 Mins.
1Steve W91
2Dave D66
3Mark W51
Santiago de Cuba - 60 Mins.
1Steve H51
2James S43
Diamonds - 20 Mins.

Thursday 20 August 2015

Just the details - 19 August 2015

We had 17 people last night, the highest Wednesday attendance of the year so far. One first time attendee and one who came many years ago when we were at the Conservative club and it was the Conservative club. 6 games were played across 4 tables and the results are below with a few pictures.

Medieval Merchant, note the dazzling colours


Saint Petersburg

Medieval Merchant - 90 Mins.
Canyon - 70 Mins.
Saint Petersburg (2e) - 130 Mins.
1James S169
2Steve W109
3Dave D102
The Voyages of Marco Polo - 150 Mins.
3Steve H61
4Peter O59
Love Letter: Batman - 20 Mins.
1Steve W5
2Dave D3
3James S2
Nations - 150 Mins.
NRSteve K-
NRMark R-
NRMark W-
NRJim F-

Thursday 13 August 2015

Just the details - 12 August 2015

We had 14 people last night, 7 games were played. The results are below with a couple of pictures.

El Grande

Eldritch Horror

The Voyages of Marco Polo - 90 Mins.
2Duncan B60
Bruges - 100 Mins.
2Rob C60
El Grande - 120 Mins.
1Rob L130
Carcassonne - 20 Mins.
3Duncan B48
Carcassonne - 25 Mins.
1Rob L57
San Juan - 30 Mins.
Eldritch Horror - 180 Mins.
3Steve H-
3Mark W-
3Dave D-

Thursday 6 August 2015

Just the details - 5 August 2015

We had 11 people last night including first timer Nick. 9 games were played in all and my camera stayed in my bag so no pictures, results as below.

Santiago - 60 Mins.
Deus - 80 Mins.
1Steve H45
3Dave D31
4Dave F28
Blueprints - 40 Mins.
Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game - 60 Mins.
3Mark W-
Santiago de Cuba - 50 Mins.
1Mark W29
Race for the Galaxy - 30 Mins.
2Dave F40
3Dave D35
4Steve H15
Katzenjammer Blues - 20 Mins.
2Mark W3
Splendor - 30 Mins.
Love Letter: The Hobbit - 25 Mins.
1Dave F2
2Dave D1
2Steve H1

Saturday 1 August 2015

July 2015 Recap

I have got out of the habit of writing a post every week, although I still might get back to that at some time. Until then I'll give this a try and write a review of the month of July 2015.

There were 5 sessions in the month and the average attendance was 11.2 with 19 different people over the month including new visitor Duncan who came to a couple of sessions and Scott's daughter Emma who he brought to the last session of the month. 30 games were played of 24 different titles (I suppose that should really be 25 counting the 2 different Love Letter versions) and I include the list of these at the end of this post.

Sunday 12 July 2015

HBG at Barrage 2015, Stafford

I'm just adding this with a few quick notes about our visit to Stafford today, hopefully I will get round to posting some info about our weekly sessions on a regular basis as well. Anyway today Mike, Scott & I visited Barage 2015, a small wargames con run by Stafford Wargames. We were billed in the programme as the Big Boardgames Bash and the idea was to demonstrate some boardgames to the wargamers visiting.

I don't think any of us really knew what to expect as the last time we did anything like this was at Warfayre which used to happen at the Cornbow Hall in Halesowen and in those days we just had one game running which was Formule De, I think it was me, Mike and Dave C and was probably in the day before we had the room at the Conservative club.

So we each took along a selection of games, I'm glad I had the wheels on my bag as it weighed a ton, mainly due to the presence of Battlestar Galactic and Eldritch Horror, neither of which were played.

As it turned out I think most of the people passing had either the time or the interest in what we were doing, being much more interested in all the set piece wargames most of which had beautifully created terrain and nicely painted figures. That said we did manage to keep playing of most of the six hour time when the con was open.

Mike stuck to the shorter games and I know that he played Carcassonne and Love Letter, also Infiltration with me and Nottingham with me and some others. Scott I think played some in Mike's games early on before joining me in a 4 player Power Grid game on the UK map, later on he introduced Castles of Mad King Ludwig to 3 others. I started with San Juan, before the Power Grid game which just won by the skin of my teeth, having 3 coal plants when there was no coal left at the end. After that and lunch it was Nottingham and Infiltration which we started before and finished after the Nottingham game.

All in all it was an enjoyable day, although if we repeat it I hope to be a bit more organised, particularly with some kind of notice to identify our table, that said I did print off a few flyers which I distributed around our space and I notice half of them had disappeared by the end of the day.

Following are a few pictures of what went on.

Games in Play

Power Grid

Possibly not good for the environment

Castles of Mad King Ludwig


Thursday 11 June 2015

Games Played 10th June 2015

A real mix of games tonight, some old ones re-appearing at the Club after quite an absence (Der Ausreisser and Mystery Rummy), some new (Firefly and Bombay), a heavyweight (Nations) and some lighter fare (Colt Express and Bombay).   I (Mike) was on the 'fluffy' table with Suzy, Steve K and Stan, starting with an interesting pick up and deliver game called Bombay, using cute elephant pieces to move cubes around a map, a bit like "Age of Steam - lite" I suppose, just the right length at 60 minutes.  "Colt Express" is definitely "RoboRally - lite", programming your moves and attacks (punches and bullets rather than lasers, as befits the Wild West setting) to pick up booty, it was a lot of fun, except perhaps for Stan who ended up with no booty at all as I couldn't resist punching him in the face one last time.  Finally a truly evil game first released in 1991 called Der Ausreisser based on long-distance cycling, I had hoped that I'd cracked the others after a brutal 3rd race of 4 saw them all ship lots of penalties, but the wheels fell off for me in the last race and Suzy narrowly overhauled me for a deserved win.  A really enjoyable night's gaming on our table.

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Games Played 4 February 2015

We had 12 in attendance this week including 1 newcomer in Steve K, who came along with Mark R. As I entered the pub, I noticed a couple of people playing Magic: The Gathering near the interest, so I pointed them in our direction and invited them to join us sometime. One of them noted that he was a fan of BSG and I learnt later that Mark W knew one of them. I don't know if we might see them in the future.

Games played this week were Castles of Burgundy, Antike II, Battlestar Galactica, Machi Koro and Carcassonne.

Sunday 1 February 2015

Games Played January 2015

First month of the year and another monthly round up. I will endeavour to get back to writing weekly, but I'm not finding much I feel like writing about at the moment.

During the month we had an average attendance of 10.75  with one new attendee, Rob who's a local. We played 20 games (14 different) including first plays for Steam Donkey, Camel Up, Splendor and Roll for the Galaxy. Read on for the results and Stats.

Sunday 4 January 2015

Stats Review 2014

This is the 2014 review of games played at the club, corresponding articles for 2008 - 2013 are linked from the "Previously" box to the right, usually under January of the following year, but sometimes under December of the year in question. As last year I include a comparison with the previous year. Full details are on the Stats Pages on the website. There is also a geeklist of all the games played here.