Catch the Moon

I have gone for something less dramatic this time, the three on the left are official the three on the right are not. See if you can find the game without googling/bgg searching the word “Duck”, cryptic answers only please this time, non-cryptic after Friday or ask me at the club.

The last quiz picture was correctly guessed as Nuclear war which if I remember correctly got heavily criticised by one of the national newspapers many many years ago as glorifying nuclear war obviously by someone who did not have a clue what it was about. A nice game but with a high luck factor though this can be mitigated by a simple rule change.

Scythe mid-battle

Scythe mid-battle

A Fistful of Penguins

A Fistful of Penguins

Die Holde isolde (library picture)

Die Holde isolde (library picture)

Sushi Go! - not a high score here.

Sushi Go! - not a high score here.

The spotlight again falls on something fun, I have chosen Catch the Moon an interesting balancing game that I came across recently. The box contains a plastic base in the shape of a cloud and a large number of wooden ladders with side rails and steps at all sorts of angles (some even with broken steps), a dice and a number of wooden teardrops. Three of the ladders are straight and true, two of those are inserted into the base to start the game, the third ladder joins the others to create a random draw pile.

The base and the set-up ladders

The base and the set-up ladders

On a turn a player rolls the dice takes a random ladder and attaches it to the ladder(s) already in play, a placed ladder must follow the directions of the dice, which are that it can only touch one ladder, it can only touch two ladders or that it must create the highest point (touching only one or two other ladders). If in placing a ladder any ladder falls or touches the base or ground you collect a wooden teardrop and your turn ends immediately all fallen ladders and your own if unplaced being discarded from the game, the player who has the least teardrops when the last ladder has been used from the stock wins.

The structure after a minor collapse, the lost ladders are to one side and now out of the game

The structure after a minor collapse, the lost ladders are to one side and now out of the game

The concept is simple and the game has similarities to other balancing games in that you take a piece and add it to the stack, however the lightness of the ladders and the strictures on how many other ladders it may touch makes the balancing more tricky than in other games of this nature, the delicate balance reminded me of an old game I had as kid called Vertigo where even the weight of a small piece of paper would change the structures appearance and its integrity, however the ladder pieces themselves are quite robust, another nice aspect is that despite the appearance of them easily interlocking it is often awkward finding the ideal spot to balance the ladder, the game can be made easier by placing the starting ladders closer together thus making for a firmer base for the central structure. Overall I like the game, it may not be as silly as Rhino Hero or as structured as Junk Art but it has its own beauty and plays simply and quickly and I have certainly had pleasure from playing it.

A Linnet at Oare Marshes

A Linnet at Oare Marshes

Stroop

The quiz picture this time is of an old fun favourite game from my younger days

The last quiz picture was correctly guessed as A Fake Artist Goes to New York one of many simple but elegant games from Oink.

I missed last week so a bit of a catch up here

Last week the games played at the club were :-

The course in Flamme Rouge

The course in Flamme Rouge

The crackin' figures that you get in Blood Rage

The crackin' figures that you get in Blood Rage

Tzolkin - which I lost by 1 point !!!

Tzolkin - which I lost by 1 point !!!

Tonga Bonga

Tonga Bonga

Table 2 – Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar, Tonga Bonga

Table 3 – Spyrium, Art of War

Two weeks ago we played :-

Rheinlander

Rheinlander

Duel of Ages II 

Duel of Ages II 

Table 2 – Duel of Ages II

Tiny Epic Galaxies with Pilot expansion

Tiny Epic Galaxies with Pilot expansion

I would have liked to have done the spotlight on Duel of Ages IIas it is an excellent game, how I missed it when it first came out baffles me but hey-ho some good games are missed by us all, however despite my enjoyment of that game a couple of weeks ago I have been persuaded to do Stroop instead a game that I am not entirely comfortable playing. I am not sure what category Stroop falls into (puzzle game, speed game, party game), but it is certainly engaging and quick. The box contains a large deck of cards which are split into 2 games, the basic game uses the majority of the cards whilst the advanced game has some additional cards added to it and is played exactly the same way but is more difficult.

(apologies for colour) A sample card from the advanced game, a yellow BACKWARD written forwards

(apologies for colour) A sample card from the advanced game, a yellow BACKWARD written forwards

The cards themselves have one word written on them and each word/card will have 4 factors, the first is that it will be one of 4 colours, it will be written in block capitals (big) or lower case (little), it will contain a certain number of letters. The words themselves will be one of these parameters e.g. YELLOW could be written on the card it is written in red has 6 letters and in capital (big) letters or big (meaning Capital letters) has 3 letters is written in lower case (little) and is blue. Following me so far I hope, so what are the rules of the game. 15 cards are dealt to each player which is put in a stack face down in front of them and on the word go a card is turned face up in the middle of the table, players now can use 1 hand to pick up cards one at a time from their deck to fit into their hand and play a card to the middle of the table if its criteria matches the word on the card – HOWEVER - as soon as someone does this their card becomes the one to be matched, there are no turns and it is the fastest to get rid of their cards that wins the first round. so a sequence of cards played could look like this :-

As soon as someone runs out of cards or cannot go having picked up all their cards they call stop. Players now pick up all their cards still left to play and add this to a new hand of cards dealt to everyone, then round 2 begins which is harder. In round 1 you read out the word on the card to help everyone, in round 2 you also read out what is written on the card however this is no help as you are now trying to match a criteria on the card with the correct adjective from your hand thus YELLOW – big – THREE from above would still be correct as a sequence as the word yellow is in big letters (in the first round big was a yellow word), three now says how many letters in big (in the first round three was written in big letters (capitals)) however there are 5 letters in three so “six” is incorrect but “five” would be viable as the next card in the sequence.

Believe you me, it was equally baffling playing the game, these types of speed games I have never been good at, I have a similar problem with Ricochet Robots, and SET the card game, that does not mean I will not play them I will just be setting myself slightly different (achievable) targets than the other players i.e. in our second game of Stroop I aimed to have less cards at the end of the game than when I started, sadly I failed that as well but I was close. Overall it is a fun game, there was laughter and a little cursing as incorrect cards were played and if you enjoy these quick speed style card games with brain acrobatics then I can highly recommend it. The advanced game adds a new dimension, words can be written backwards as well as forwards.

Sagrada

The quiz picture this time is a party game and although they are not my preferred type of game there are quite a few (including this one) that I find a lot of fun.

The last quiz picture was correctly guessed as A Fistful of Penguins a fun filler game from Wattsalpoag Games who tried to launch Echidna Shuffle through kickstarter earlier this year and although the designer Kris Gould has some excellent titles under his belt (Claim It, Buccaneer Bones, Jet Set and Switching tracks to name a few) sadly this one did not get its funding.

Table 3 – Abyss, Biblios

A very quick review this time as I have been reading several rule manuals and this has taken up a lot of time however I am now capable of playing and teaching Haspelknecht, Martians: A Story of Civilization and Papà Paolo. I have picked Sagrada a nice lightweight game of placing dice in a grid to score points, it plays in about 12-15 mins/person and it even has a solo variant which I have played and seems to work quite nicely. The box contains several small decks of cards 4 player boards and 90 dice in five different colours (18 of each), the first deck of cards contains frameworks for glass windows laid out in a 4x5 grid (these are what you place your dice on) 2 of these double sided cards is dealt to each player and they choose one each to play and slide it into their player board, this also gives a level of difficulty (3-6) which is equal to the number of tool tokens you get given.

The four player boards

The four player boards

Next 3 tool cards are dealt out, you may use only one per action and they will cost you tool tokens and they help you place the right dice in the correct positions, then 3 goal cards are dealt out, these show what points are available in the game e.g. 5 points for a multicolour column, lastly each player gets a secret goal this is just a single colour for which you get “pip” points at the games end.

An example set up of points cards and tool cards

An example set up of points cards and tool cards

The game lasts 10 rounds, each round you will get the opportunity to take 2 dice, therefore all players can complete their windows but there is no leeway for error, the start player takes one more die from the bag than twice the number of players and rolls them, each player round the table then may take a die place it on their window, the last player gets a double turn and each other player takes their second die in reverse order, the last die is placed on the turn track. There are numerous rules of placement, each die must be placed next to another die on the window (orthogonally or diagonally), no die may be orthogonally adjacent to a die of the same number or colour, a die placed on a non-white window space must match the number or colour shown on the card.

Three of the cards for sliding into the player board, hardest on the left easiest on the right

Three of the cards for sliding into the player board, hardest on the left easiest on the right

The game does play quickly but there is still plenty of challenge as players try to place difficult dice whilst also trying to score points from the goal cards and not leave any dice for your opponents, good planning ahead is rewarded however there are elements of luck such as the colours you need being drawn from the bag or your needed numbers rolled but there is also skill in choosing certain dice to keep as many future options open as possible also a keen eye on your opponents choices and needs helps improve your chances. Overall it is an enjoyable game and fast playing, very colourful and fun, our table had a good time, I trailed miserably behind the other two failing on most of the goals and missing 2 dice from my window at the end, I was definitely out-played by the others.

The bag with 90 dice

The bag with 90 dice

Kingdomino

The quiz picture this time is of a nice dice rolling game. I picked this as sadly the same company recently had a failed kickstarter for another game, the mechanics were again quite simple and perhaps that is what deterred people from backing it, however simple rules does not always correlate to bad game. Anyone know the quiz picture?

The last quiz picture was not guessed at all despite being one of the more popular MB titles among gamers it was Thunder Road. In it players race cars along a dirt road shooting one another. Last car standing is the winner.

Concordia with "salt" played on the Byzantium board

Concordia with "salt" played on the Byzantium board

(a poor picture of) the central board in Santiago, the dark lines are irrigation ditches for the fields

(a poor picture of) the central board in Santiago, the dark lines are irrigation ditches for the fields

Vikings player board at end of the game

Vikings player board at end of the game

My Warsaw in "Capital" - it did not win

My Warsaw in "Capital" - it did not win

Sadly a picture of the board did not come out so you are left with a picture of a player screen.

Sadly a picture of the board did not come out so you are left with a picture of a player screen.

Table 3 – Dice Forge, Touria

The spotlight this time is on Kingdomino by Bruno Cathala and although he is not my favourite games designer he has created a number of games which I think are quite nifty such as Madame Ching & Abyss, Kingdomino is I believe another it is a light game and plays quite quickly in about 15-20 mins.

The light brown at the bottom of the screen was speculation, sadly this player could not get any brown crowns. so it scores zero.

The light brown at the bottom of the screen was speculation, sadly this player could not get any brown crowns. so it scores zero.

2 of the dominoes

2 of the dominoes

The aim of the game is to score points by playing 12 dominoes to a 5x5 grid (each end of the domino fitting one square of the grid). Each of the domino halves features one of 6 terrains and a few of them also contain a feature with a number of crowns on one of the squares, when you play a tile to your area one of the squares terrains must match the terrain of a tile it is orthogonally adjacent to (the other terrain does not have to match), fortunately at the game start you have a multi-terrain single tile which any land may be placed adjacent to.

Bidding in a 2 player game (same as the 4 player except 4 different coloured pawns in 4 player) Green gets first and second choice from the new set of tiles to the left.

Bidding in a 2 player game (same as the 4 player except 4 different coloured pawns in 4 player) Green gets first and second choice from the new set of tiles to the left.

At the end of 12 rounds scoring takes place, each area is scored separately an area consists of squares of the same terrain orthogonally adjacent to one another and each area scores the number of squares multiplied by the crowns. The winner is the player with the most points. However placing tiles is just half the game, all the tiles have numbers on the back and each round consists of drawing 4 tiles, placing them in numerical order (the weaker tiles have low numbers on them whilst the stronger tiles and those with crowns on have higher numbers), players then in the previous rounds order (ie the one that had chosen the weakest tile last round) chooses a tile for the next round, this then dictates the player order for the following round.

The green player scores 20 for forests (10 tiles and 2 crowns)

The green player scores 20 for forests (10 tiles and 2 crowns)

Overall it is a light game though some smart thinking has to be done deciding whether player order is important or a particular strong tile, the art as in a lot of games is to try to make sure you are not competing against too many other players for key tiles. Our table played it twice 3 player and opinions were favourable, it is more a filler game but would also make an excellent bridge game and with its chunky pieces and simple mathematics (low multiplications) should also be attractive to younger gamers.

Skyline

I used to play this a lot in my late 20’s, sadly not so much these days, anyone got any ideas?

Last weeks quiz picture was from Octopus' Garden quite a sweet tile laying game with some nice simple mechanisms and lovely artwork.

Part of the Forbidden Desert

Part of the Forbidden Desert

Great Western Trail player board

Great Western Trail player board

No time this week for anything in depth so I will cover Skyline a light filler game about building high rise buildings and which uses dice as the building blocks. The box contains three types of dice (base, middles and tops), some victory point tokens and a base board. A player may build three types of buildings, purple (2 high), blue buildings (2, 3 & 4 high), and orange buildings (3, 4, 5 & 6 high), a building must first have a base die, the player may then build a top on a purple base or blue and orange middles on their respective bases (these are all on the middle die) the top die has 2 blue tops, 1 orange top and three blank faces.

The different dice types

The different dice types

The centreboard showing what may be built

The centreboard showing what may be built

On a turn a player may choose any three dice or they may choose the “pool dice” which contains 1 of each type and any other dice that the players have placed there on their turn, they roll their chosen dice then may use as many of them as they wish for building, provided they build at least one block they may re-roll as many of the other dice as they wish, before re-rolling you may place any other dice they want to keep to one side this re-rolling process may continue so long as they build at least one die each time. Difficulties occur if they cannot build in such a case they have a choice, they may put a die in the “pool” or they may destroy one their buildings under construction. At any point in their turn after building or placing in the dice pool/destroying a building a player may stop their turn and returned unused dice to the correct dice piles. Any buildings completed collect the player points, the higher the better e.g. 2 stories 4 points, 4 stories 16 points, 6 stories 36 points.

A players position with several buildings partially built

A players position with several buildings partially built

The game lasts 9 turns, is short (about 10 minutes 2 players if they know the rules) so it is an ideal filler however I would say that the luck factor is very high, generally a player who is lucky enough to roll orange blocks will win, it is not a game that will set the world alight its rating is 6.0 on the geek and I do not feel it should be any higher.