Chickens, Koalas and Grrrrrr!!! Dice

Only 5 gamers this week which meant one table. Undaunted we plumped for the lighter end of the gaming spectrum and started the evening with Hick Hack in Gacklewack.

A simple starter game where you play a chicken card to one of 6 fields to pick up corn and gain victory points or play a fox to eat other players’ chickens for even more victory points. It is a balance of risk taking and all players were quite close towards the end.

 The chicken board with 1 Blue Corn (2 points) and the duck board with 1 Green Corn (1 point). 2 of the 6 boards to play to.

The chicken board with 1 Blue Corn (2 points) and the duck board with 1 Green Corn (1 point). 2 of the 6 boards to play to.

More often than not the winner is decided by successful fox plays, but not on this occasion, selective feeding on corn gave us our winner.

Australia is a much underrated game, coming from the Ravensburger stable it is often overlooked as being “too fluffy” when I believe it is heavy enough to comfortably carry the Alea label.

The board a map of Australia is divided into coloured zones into each of which is placed an industry token and a Koala token; at the junction of the areas are camps which will influence all adjacent areas. On a turn a player may take 2 actions from 1) Flying a plane to a location or 2) Playing a card to put explorers into a camp or 3) Pick up explorers.

 Black has flown to a red territory revealing the industry token and placing 2 men in the South Westerly Camp.

Black has flown to a red territory revealing the industry token and placing 2 men in the South Westerly Camp.

 Scoring comes from matching the number of explorers around any area to the industry tile and/or completely surrounding an area to capture the Koala token. Collecting coins allows players a few extra actions including teleportation of an explorer which if timed correctly can be very effective.

 Orange leads white on the scoring track whilst beige is looking for a huge leap in points monopolising a sea territory to the East of Australia.

Orange leads white on the scoring track whilst beige is looking for a huge leap in points monopolising a sea territory to the East of Australia.

Our game was quite a vociferous affair with advice being flung left right and centre as players were “encouraged” not to miss scoring opportunities where the “encourager” also benefitted and as the game neared its conclusion and scoring opportunities became scarce, unusually for a Ravensburger game a bout of rules lawyering took place, it was all good natured and humorous. The game had a well deserved winner.

 An aerial view of Australia at games end with Orange winning.

An aerial view of Australia at games end with Orange winning.

Alhambra is well known and has been released in many formats, oddly enough my favourite from this line is the original game “Al Capone” which was later re-released as Alhambra the card game, our last game of the evening was Alhambra the Dice Game.

On your turn you have up to 3 rolls of the dice to place a token on the lower board based on how many of your chosen symbol you have and how many throws it took you to get there. After everyone has placed their tokens first and second place in each field of the lower board get to move their other tokens on the upper board, after rounds 1, 3 and 5 of this scoring takes place based on tokens position on the upper board. The banter from Australia continued but slowly changed in nature to cursing the bad luck of the dice, so much so that in order to avoid the glares of the players coupled with the blame they got for not rolling correctly, several of the dice continually tried to escape onto the floor, not one of the players managed to escape the ignominy of losing dice to the floor.

 A close up of the dice track (left) and control track (right). On the Brown strip orange with the lead, will gain 3 points in the first scoring, if he maintains that lead he will get 10 points in the second round and 18 in the third. 

A close up of the dice track (left) and control track (right). On the Brown strip orange with the lead, will gain 3 points in the first scoring, if he maintains that lead he will get 10 points in the second round and 18 in the third. 

The last round of rolling commenced with one player trying the tactic of compressing the dice into one “Super die” to get the roll he needed, alas the dice became confused and completely ignored the roller’s wishes and none came up the appropriate colour, a fate suffered by all of us at some point in the game. This one ended with the tail-ender of Australia winning here resoundingly.

 The "Alhambra Dice Game" Board after round 1 scoring.

The "Alhambra Dice Game" Board after round 1 scoring.

It was an excellent evening of light hearted fun and I look forward to the next one.

Footnote : I realise that a lot of gamers would like to play some of the heavier games, this will be achievable when the numbers increase and we can get several tables running, at that point there will be enough variety of games on tables to suit all tastes, however until that time I ask everyone to be patient, the club is still young and I encourage everyone to pop along and play a few of the mid range games, these lighter sessions help people to get to know one another in an affable atmosphere and once we have the numbers we can bring out the more challenging games.