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'!