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.

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

I brought The Capitals to the table, which is a city building game from a year or two ago. The idea of city building as a theme for games appeals to me, but the last one I played (Suburbia) didn't really do it for me, seemingly having too many moving parts without a commensurate return in depth, I found the similar game by the same designer (The Castles of Mad King Ludwig) an improvement because it was simpler. The Capitals is a game that I only found out about a fortnight ago, it looked interesting and looking around I found that it was being sold at a good discount by Spirit Games in Burton, so I bought a copy on impulse.

Political Track - When determining order for the coming turn cubes are moved from their space on the bottom row to one in the top row at a cost equal to the amount on the top row space multiplied by the number on the bottom row space moved from.
The heart of the game is the central board which has 6 tracks representing aspects of your city being Economy, Culture, Population, Employment, Public Services and progress, there is also a political track which determines turn order and is interesting in that the first player could remain first every turn, but would be paying a lot of money to do so compared with those lower in the order and money is tight in this especially early in the game.

The game is played over 12 rounds in 3 eras with scoring after each era and a final scoring phase at the end of the game. Each round is divided into phases starting with the political phase where turn order is determined followed by the Building phase where each player in turn order must build a building from the display, this is free if you take one from the top row and costs $2 or $4 if taken from the other 2 rows. The building must be placed in the player's city and there may be prestige point (VP) penalties if not placed according to the construction rules. Each of the buildings has various effects that take place at different times resulting in moving the owning players marker on various of the tracks on the board.

Next follows the Tourism phase where the position of the player's markers on the Culture track are compared, the top player will receive the Highest culture token giving them an extra activation in the Executive phase. In addition the highest culture player takes the tourist token from the lowest culture player and maybe from other players if they are sufficiently ahead on the culture track.

Following the Tourism phase is the Executive phase where players may activate the buildings in their cities. The number of activations allowed is determined by the player's power plant (1 at the start of the game) with an additional activation with the highest culture token. Activations have to be paid for using energy cubes provided by the power plant and tourist tokens and the cost is related to the numbers of cubes/tokens already on the activated building so the cost goes up with each activation until reset at the end of each era, unlike energy cubes tourist tokens can be reused every turn as long as they remain in the city, but must be moved to a different building. The main way of getting new energy cubes is upgrading the power plant and once spent you don't get them back, so it may be that available energy cubes are as much (or more) of a limiting factor than available actions. A player has the option to pass in this phase by forgoing all of their available action in exchange for 1 prestige or 1 energy cube.

The final phase of the round is the Administration phase where bookkeeping is done, moving the time marker, updating the buildings in the display and also the position of player's construction tokens (if required).

After each era there is a World Expo evaluation where players gain or lose prestige depending on their positions on the Population and Employment tracks and make other adjustments depending on the public services track. The game is interesting in that prestige is measured in received tokens, which come in both positive and negative denominations and based on our first play it seems that it is almost inevitable that you will receive some negative tokens early on. Also, at this point in the game, all energy cubes on buildings are discarded making the activation costs cheaper again for the coming era.

At the end of the game, after the third World Expo evaluation, there is a final scoring where additional prestige is received based on position on the Economy, Culture and Progress tracks, together with remaining available energy cubes on the power plants and special scoring for some buildings. Whoever has the most prestige at this point is the winner.

The game certainly seems somewhat heavier than Suburbia, but I think we should be able to get play down to a shorter time with experience, the biggest hurdle is probably getting used to the iconography on the building tiles, the main time taken is in the Executive phase, especially when players have more than 1 activation.

The Capitals in play.
In the game we played (the basic game not including the Prosperity tiles, which I don't mention above), Mark seemed to get into a good position mid way through the game by good movement on the progress track allowing him to get upgrade his power plant more time than the rest of us. He was able to spend the extra energy cubes to make enough activations to get into a lead. By the end of the game I had caught up regards energy, but there wasn't enough time to see whether I could have caught him in prestige. The game seemed to go down well and I look forward to giving it another try.


Elsewhere, Scott introduced Steve to his prototype Cromwell, which he posted about requesting a playtester a week or so ago. I have seen him posting pictures and other things about the game on BGG in the past. The game wasn't finished, I'm not sure whether that was because of expected length or getting used to it on Steve's part, but he was complementary afterwards, I wish Scott all the best with this, it would be good to have a published designer in the club.

At the beginning of the evening, Mike asked if Acquire had had its run out for the year and I said it had been played on a Saturday. It turns out it was also played on a Wednesday in March, so this makes 3 plays this year (2 on Wednesdays). Still Acquire is always welcome on the table.

Also played this week were Agricola for the second time this year, China (I shall have to dig Web of Power out again) and San Juan, for the 10th time this year over both editions (this with the fourth edition).



Results are below

Acquire - 90 Mins.
2Rob L40600
Agricola - 90 Mins.
1Steve K42
San Juan - 30 Mins.
2Steve K27
China - 45 Mins.
2Rob L41
The Capitals - 130 Mins.
1Mark W35
2Dave D24
3Rob C18
Cromwell - 150 Mins.
NRSteve H-

1 comment:

  1. I had a wonderful game of Agricola. Steve K is a very experienced farmer and I feel I did well to come within a point of his score. Duncan avoided getting any begging cards which is a great result for his first ever playing of this tough game.