Days of Ire: Budapest 1956 and Yamatai

The quiz picture this time is a favourite of mine played 2-player, the artwork on the cards is very nice and the game mechanics mesh well together.

Last time the picture was of the box of Planetarium, played at the club this week.

Last week we played the following games at the club.

Planetarium at game-start. The lines show permitted paths of movement. The iconography can catch people out in their first game, after that it all becomes second nature.

Planetarium at game-start. The lines show permitted paths of movement. The iconography can catch people out in their first game, after that it all becomes second nature.

End of a game of Battle Sheep Red suffered badly by being double teamed early in the game, you can even see some of the sheep crying.

End of a game of Battle Sheep Red suffered badly by being double teamed early in the game, you can even see some of the sheep crying.

Some sort of chart in Santo Domingo

Some sort of chart in Santo Domingo

Die Holde Isolde - looks like a 2-player game

Die Holde Isolde - looks like a 2-player game

Saturday 3rd June 2017 we are holding a special club day at the Style and Winch which gives us a chance to revisit some of our favourites which do not get a look in because of all the new releases. There will also be some of the more fun/party style games available along with some short “gateway” games available if people want to come and try us out, there will no doubt be the odd long game for the hardened gamer too.

The Eurovision Song Contest ate up all my time this week so no actual review just some brief thoughts on Days of Ire: Budapest 1956. This is a historical co-operative game with either a fully co-operative mode or a “conflict” mode where one player represents the Russian side and the others co-operate against them. Playing one of the revolutionaries I found the game a little dull mainly because of the amount of downtime between turns, the Russian player in contrast has quite an exciting time, a round of the game consists of the Russian player playing a number of cards which have effects on the game and gives them action points to then spend on various actions (bringing on more troops, moving, attacking), then the revolutionaries split 4 actions evenly between them, then the Russian player then gets more actions this time with local government forces. So it appeared to me that in a 4 player game the Russian player gets about 8-10 actions whereas the other players get 1 or 2 actions, this was highly disproportionate and I got the impression that it would play a lot better as a 2-player game (I have no idea how the fully co-operative version works).

The photos on the board are locations in Budapest, the red lines depict routes, the standees are the revolutionary players, green are revolutionist characters and the brown pieces are SPA forces.

The photos on the board are locations in Budapest, the red lines depict routes, the standees are the revolutionary players, green are revolutionist characters and the brown pieces are SPA forces.

On the upside this is a very atmospheric game crammed with information about the actual event, we barely scratched the surface of how the game played, some of the cards interact with one another so knowledge of the cards in the headline deck (which is stacked for various events) would be very useful for both sides. The two sides in the conflict seemed well balanced and I am sure with repeated plays hidden depths would be revealed however it is unlikely I would be willing to play the conflict version 4 player again.

Yamatai game set up

Yamatai game set up

BQ gives us a brief insight into Yamataï.  I enjoyed "Yamatai" rather a lot - whilst it had a minor echo of some of Bruno Cathala's other designs such as "Abyss" or Five Tribes" - in that you could recruit characters with a special power, similar to the Lords in "Abyss" or the "Djinns" in Five Tribes - the core of the game was pretty different from either of those games, using strategic placement to create chains of boats through the islands shown on the board, in order to open up opportunities to place buildings on the islands, and acquire the aforementioned characters (called "Specialists").

Yamatai later in the game

Yamatai later in the game

The key mechanism was the use of the "Fleet Tiles", which are chosen by each player at the start of each round, and simultaneously determine player order for the following round, confer a boat or two, and give a unique ability to be used during that round only (such as moving a boat from one spot to another, or giving a discount on building costs). As with Kent's experience of "Days of Ire", I felt like I'd only scratched the surface of the interactions between the various elements, so it's one I'd like to play again soon...  

Yamatai even later in the game

Yamatai even later in the game

New York Slice and Lancaster

The quiz picture this time is a very new game to my collection, lovely box artwork the piece of paper masks title and author.

Last time the picture was of the box of Fields of Arle. I had thought to add the clue that it was a 2 player game but then I thought that the farming association in the picture was enough to take you to Uwe Rosenburg and thence to the game itself. I was wrong.

Last week we played the following games at the club.

A players Pyramid in the game Pyramids

A players Pyramid in the game Pyramids

Costa Rica layout at game start

Costa Rica layout at game start

The special "Apple" piece in Santo Domingo

The special "Apple" piece in Santo Domingo

Although not my type of game I did enjoy playing New York Slice which is a simple set collecting game for 2-6 players. There are 69 slices of pizza which after shuffling are placed face down into 6 stacks of 11 slices (leaving 3 left out of the game), each slice has several pieces of information, the first is a number of pepperoni slices which each count as 1 point if you eat them, the second is there may be 1 or more anchovies on the slice, these each count as a negative point if the slice is kept face up for scoring, the third is the background toppings of the pizza, each different background counts as a different “suit” for collection, to help each different “suit” is indicated by a specific number, this number also indicates how many of that slice there are in the game and how many points it is worth at the end of the game for the player that has a clear majority of that “suit” (number).

The tiles in New York Slice, the presentation is brilliant

The tiles in New York Slice, the presentation is brilliant

On a turn one of the players becomes the “slicer” (this role passes round the table each turn) and takes one of the stacks and deals in the order of the stack the slices out into a complete pizza, they then divide the pizza however they wish into as many portions as there are players, they may not alter the position of any of the slices they just indicate what the portions are, each turn the player also adds a “Today’s Special” card which is a special ability to one of the portions. The players then around the table take one of the portions, they then decide what to do with each slice of that portion, keep it as part of a set or eat it for the pepperoni points, once the choice has been made that cannot be changed, if they take a “Today’s Special” card they keep it in front of them until used, they are all self explanatory. There are some special slices, a joker slice and some with two “suits” on, they act as half points for both “suits” (effectively tie-breakers). The game is quite quick and generally fairly intuitive, however as the game goes into its last 2 rounds it slows down a bit as some serious decision making has to be made. We played it twice 3-player and it was quite enjoyable, the win went to the player who had the most “Today’s Special” cards however I do not think they were the cause of the win, they just helped. It would be interesting to play it with more players however I cannot help thinking that 6-player there will be little control and it may be more of a lottery, but this is just a guess. Strongly recommended as a filler game, give it a try if you can.

Lancaster was released in 2011 and is quite an intricate game for the amount of rules you get, I will not be able to cover it all in these brief paragraphs but I will do my best. In short it is a worker placement game where you are trying to obtain victory points through placement of Knights (your workers). Each player has a pool of knights, 3 level 1’s, 2 level 2’s, a level 3 and a level 4, however you only start off with a level 1 and a level 2 Knight, these levels are important as level/rank is not only their fighting strength but also grants access to certain areas of the board. The board itself shows most of England with 9 cities dotted about, each city has a reward and three (in a 4 player game) Noble tokens, each City has a different type of Noble, at the bottom of the board is France where there are always 2-4 conflicts to be resolved, to the side of the main board is the “Laws board” which contains 3 current laws and 3 laws which may come into being.

England showing the cities and their rewards.

England showing the cities and their rewards.

Victory points come from three main sources namely conflicts in France, Laws in force and some end-game scoring which can be worth up to 52 points, there is also one city on the board that has a reward of 6 points. A round of the game (of which there are 5) is split into three phases 1) Placement of Knights, 2) Voting on Laws, 3) Collecting Knights and rewards. Knights are placed in 3 areas, either in a city (in which case their personal strength has got to be at least that of the City), on a conflict space in France or on their own castle, however Knights on City Spaces (for which there is only room for one Knight) can be replaced provided the replacer can match the City strength of the City and can beat the strength of the Knight currently holding it and for this purpose he may add squires each squire adding 1 strength), the usurped Knight goes back to the player and can be used again this round. Knight Placement continues until all players have placed all there Knights.

The conflict part of the board, rewards for going to France are shown on the blue octagonal tiles

The conflict part of the board, rewards for going to France are shown on the blue octagonal tiles

3 Current Laws, the first gives 3 VP for every conflict you are involved in.

3 Current Laws, the first gives 3 VP for every conflict you are involved in.

The next phase is Laws, there are 3 new Laws which are voted on one at a time every round, if the Law is successful the oldest Law is removed from play and the new Law added to the end of the queue, it is possible that none of the new Laws are passed or all three are passed, it all depends on the voting, for each vote a player has a Nay and Yea vote to which he may add extra weight with voting cubes (each Noble provides 1 vote and further votes can be obtained as rewards). After all the voting the three Laws are processed one at a time and have a criteria which must be met and a reward early in the game it is an advancement of some sort but later in the game it rewards Victory Points.

A player board showing 3 Nobles (at top) 3 renovations to the castle, and some Knights on the left ready to be placed.

A player board showing 3 Nobles (at top) 3 renovations to the castle, and some Knights on the left ready to be placed.

In the last phase Knights are retrieved from the board first from the Cities for which a player may take either the Noble token for that City or the reward for the City or for a payment of 3 coins they may take both, rewards are 1) Increase a Knight level, 2) Take a new level 1 Knight, 3) Build a section of Castle, 4) collect 2 coins, 2 squires and the start token, 5) collect 6 points, 6) Journey to France for Conflict, there are 2 of each of the first 3 rewards. Rewards are then collected from Knights placed in your Castle and from built sections of your Castle (for which no Knight is required to collect the reward). Finally conflicts in France take place, the conflict is won if the total strength of all Knights present matches or exceeds the total on the Conflict tile if so victory points are awarded dependent on the Individual player strengths with the highest reward going to the strongest player, ties are broken in favour of “last to arrive” which can lead to some interesting situations.    

The scores at the end of our game at the club, the differences belie what was a close fought contest

The scores at the end of our game at the club, the differences belie what was a close fought contest

The game mechanics interlock excellently to make a nice tight game, resources (money, squires and votes) are hard to come by but you cannot be locked out from them, there is a lot of interaction whereby players fight for control of Cities and for dominance of the Conflicts in France. Although it plays 2-5 the 2 player version (with special rules) was nowhere as interesting as 3 player and 4 player games I have played. I can highly recommend Lancaster but not as a 2 player game.

Dragonwood is a winner

This quiz picture should be easy to deduce.

Last time the picture was of the top of the gameboard of Caylus, recognised by two people.

Last week we played the following games at the club.

The Caylus board in the last third of the game.

The Caylus board in the last third of the game.

Taj Mahal board mid game

Taj Mahal board mid game

Felinia board half showing the island

Felinia board half showing the island

Cockroach Poker, the more cards in front of you the worse it is.

Cockroach Poker, the more cards in front of you the worse it is.

Machi Koro with an awful lot of choices

Machi Koro with an awful lot of choices

Table 4 - Machi Koro + Expansion, Cockroach Poker

As it was the clubs 3rd birthday last week instead of doing a spotlight on a game I will just give you some stats, apologies if you follow us on facebook I have written something very similar there.

Dragonwood, a players winnings very early in the game

Dragonwood, a players winnings very early in the game

This year we have played 470 games (a slight increase of 2.8% on the previous year), there were 273 different games played 177 of which had only a single play. The most popular game this year was Dragonwood with 9 plays, narrowly beating Cockroach Poker which had 8 plays.

Usually the top places are taken by the fun light games for the obvious reasons that not only are they easy to play short playing time fillers but they are also FUN and therefore people enjoy playing them, normally there are usually a couple of heavier games that stand out however it is Scythe that stands alone this year at 4 plays all other games being mid-weight.

Over the 3 years we have been going, the club has played a staggering 1167 games with Sushi Go! at 17 plays being in top position whilst Russian Railroads takes top heavy game with 8 plays. 496 different titles have been played, interestingly the top 10 games account for just over 10% of all the games played, whilst just under 60% (59.6%) of the games have only been played once.

Player board in Russian Railroads at games end

Player board in Russian Railroads at games end

I am hoping that for the next year we will break 500 games in a year, will Sushi Go! hold on to the title after our 4th birthday I hope so it is a lovely game and deserves its crown?

Tantrix

The quiz picture is a game I keep bringing to the club but has only been played once there. It deserves more.

Last time the picture was one of the many maps available for Railway Rivals a game from my younger days which was instrumental in my current passion for boardgames. Railway Rivals was a main feature of British gaming for a number of years appearing in most postal gaming zines in the 80's and 90's where it was highly suited due to the downtime there can be between turns. It was Game of the Year winner in 1984 and designed by David Watts who designed a number of interesting games from his base in South Wales.

Millennium Blades - which is a type of deck-building game, it was explained to me however I got lost but sounds like a nice variant for those into deck-building games..

Millennium Blades - which is a type of deck-building game, it was explained to me however I got lost but sounds like a nice variant for those into deck-building games..

Dragonwood, the most popular game at the club in the past year

Dragonwood, the most popular game at the club in the past year

One players holding in Ra, it looked a lot stronger than the other players, i know not if they won in the end.

One players holding in Ra, it looked a lot stronger than the other players, i know not if they won in the end.

Table 3 – Ra, Traders of Osaka

Camel up with the expansion, the photographer gives an opportunity to get extra points.

Camel up with the expansion, the photographer gives an opportunity to get extra points.

Table 4 – Camel Up, CV

With little time this week I will take the easy option of putting the spotlight on Tantrix a route-laying abstract strategy game from 1991 that was played as a warm-up game on table 1. Players begin the game by choosing one of four colours (red, green, yellow or blue) and then taking six hexagonal tiles into hand, each of the 56 tiles in the game have 3 of the 4 colours represented on them as a path, either a straight line, a shallow curve or a sharp curve and no two paths share the same edge.

The tiles have an excellent feel to them and they are kept in a handy travelling pouch, no wasted space and no excess unnecessary packaging which appears to be the norm nowadays.

The tiles have an excellent feel to them and they are kept in a handy travelling pouch, no wasted space and no excess unnecessary packaging which appears to be the norm nowadays.

Early in the game Yellow has been steered into a long path whilst red struggles to close off a loop (a struggle he lost).

Early in the game Yellow has been steered into a long path whilst red struggles to close off a loop (a struggle he lost).

The aim of the game is simple, it is to score the most points from one of your colour paths, it can come either from your longest line (1 point per tile) or your longest completed loop (2 points per tile). Game play is straightforward in that when a tile is played all paths attached must link directly to paths of the same colour and no tile can be played to create a hole of 4 or more sides. The key to the game is “Forced Spaces” these are where gaps are created of 3 sides, whenever a player starts their turn they must first fill in all forced spaces replacing the used tile on each occasion however the forced spaces left to the player may be filled in any order, only when there are no viable forced spaces left can the player play their one tile after which they must again deal with all forced spaces before it becomes the next players turn.

Yellow has a convincing win with 33 points. This is the game-end position, in the last round the rules on placement are relaxed hence the two "4-sided spaces".

Yellow has a convincing win with 33 points. This is the game-end position, in the last round the rules on placement are relaxed hence the two "4-sided spaces".

I have played and lost many games of this 2-player to know there is a strong element of skill in creating and dealing with the forced spaces and perhaps knowing all the tiles in the game would also give a player an edge however 4-player personal control is quite limited. My original version of this game was just the game, later editions now come with a set of puzzles to solve which are for solo play. I would rate this quite highly as an introduction abstract game, it is colourful, the rules are quite simple and it plays in about 20 minutes it can also become quite a deep game played 2-player.

A wonderful carpet of bluebells (badly photographed here) just a little sample of what the woodlands are currently offering

A wonderful carpet of bluebells (badly photographed here) just a little sample of what the woodlands are currently offering

An "Early Purple Orchid" one of many different flowers we saw on a walk near Bluebell Hill

An "Early Purple Orchid" one of many different flowers we saw on a walk near Bluebell Hill

Capital by Granna & Anachrony (photos only)

The quiz picture is obviously part of Lloegr but what game is played on this board? 

Last time the picture was of the box cover of Haspelknecht a game about the beginning of coal mining in Germany

Yspahan at the end of the penultimate turn.

Yspahan at the end of the penultimate turn.

This weeks games were :-

Table 1 - Yspahan. Capital (x2)
Table 2 - Sea of Clouds
Table 3 - Anachrony
Table 4 - Istanbul,

Anachrony and Istanbul being the 2 heavier games this time round, 

Two pictures of Anachrony in play, this game released only a few days before the club met.

Two pictures of Anachrony in play, this game released only a few days before the club met.

This week we played Capital by Granna a tile laying game played over six rounds depicting the growth and rebuilding of Warsaw over a 400 year period. The game consists of six stacks of tiles (one for each stage of the game), five bonus tiles, 4 starter tiles, some cardboard coins, a scoring marker for each player and a central board to store things on. The tiles which are the core of the game will be one of two different types either a specialized building or a tile split into quarters with each quarter containing coloured buildings of one of 5 colours (green-parkland, red-residential, purple-cultural, yellow-commercial and blue-industry), in the early rounds most of the quarters on a coloured tile will be the same colour, in later rounds the quarters become mare varied, each tile also has a cost in money to be paid if the player wishes to add it to their display.

At the start of the game each player has a start tile and six cash, a round consists of tiles being dealt out so that each player has four in hand, simultaneously each player selects one of those tiles and passes the remaining three to the left, players then reveal their tiles placing them into their display or discarding it for three cash. They then do the same with the three tiles handed to them and so on until every player has had four actions of either playing a tile into their display or cashing it in, after this there is a scoring and then the next set of tiles is dealt out for the next round. Tiles purchased are played onto a players personal display, they must be played so that it is orthogonally adjacent to at least one other tile alternatively the player may overbuild something already built in which case they only pay the difference in costs. The last stricture on building is that your area may never exceed 3x4 in size.

An example of some of the tiles in the game, these from the fourth age

An example of some of the tiles in the game, these from the fourth age

The scoring is split into three phases, the first phase is “war” which only occurs only after rounds 3 (foe WW1) and 4 (for WW2), after round 3 everyone must lose a tile (or stack if it is on a stack) and two tiles after round 4, the second phase of scoring awards a bonus tile to the player who matches the criteria shown on it, the last phase is the scoring itself, a player receives 1 VP for every red area next to one named park up to 3 after that the scale increases. The players get 1 cash for each red area next to all their yellow areas, purples give VP as written on the tiles and Industry is the same in relation to cash, however an area for the purposes of scoring consists of something that IS NOT adjacent to the same colour, so several tiles connected together with red adjoining red consists of only 1 red area even though it may have many squares making up that area. Lastly there are bonuses to be obtained from the special buildings you have in your display. The game ends after 6 rounds with the winner being the player with the most points.

My layout during the game, my park has 4 separate residential areas scoring 5 points, my commercial area gets me 3 cash but my special tile at the bottom doubles this to 6 cash.

My layout during the game, my park has 4 separate residential areas scoring 5 points, my commercial area gets me 3 cash but my special tile at the bottom doubles this to 6 cash.

To start with it is easy to draw parallels between aspects of this game and many other games (for example three cash for throwing away your tile and missing your action (7 Wonders), placing tiles into specific zones for scoring (Cities, Between 2 Cities), special powers on tiles (any number of games with special abilities on cards)) however it is distinctly different from all of them to enjoy playing for itself, added to this is the effort gone to with the special tiles to give some history in the rules behind the buildings represented. It is a tight game, first off you have to contend with cash-flow problems, then getting the right tiles to meet your game-plan, then the need not to let your opponent get their ideal tile, then you have the problem of fitting all you want into the 3x4 grid and then building a tile you do not want to lose to war. I have played it 3 times now and each game has been competitive with no one strategy beating any other, the special tiles seem powerful but they are not essential to win however they can certainly ease the way and an early park with plenty of residences will get the Victory points rushing in but at the loss of much needed income