The picture quiz has been at the club and I am going to let last weeks second poser run until I get a successful guess. It may help if I lend an ear and as a reminder this is how it was written :-, the other is a game I have played in Taunton, Glasgow, Enfield, Southampton and East London but not recently.
Last weeks quiz picture was Civilization – this one is the Gibsons board. Civilization was the ultimate trading game until settlers appeared, however it is an excellent territory control game and it is the fine mix of these two elements that made it the ultimate game for a large number of years, the only down side is its playing time, at about an hour a player the game can easily last from 4-7 hours and I did see a game start playing at 8 in the evening which was still going at 7 the following morningwhen I woke up having been played continually through the night.
An early start this week with the warm up being Guillotine The idea of the game is to collect the highest score of Nobles before the end of three rounds. On a turn you may play an action card after which you must collect the Noble at the head of the queue and then draw a new action card. Some of the action cards move nobles up and down the queue for the guillotine so you can collect the best noble and avoid the negative ones whilst some allow you to affect other players. It is an excellent filler game being light-hearted with a small degree of strategy and playing in about 20 minutes.
Table 1 started with Glass Road by Uwe Rosenberg , the game follows his usual formula of presenting players with lots of options but very few actions, this makes for a very tight game however if you are not on the ball from the start your chances of catching up later are slim. The game revolves around increasing your resources on 2 resource wheels and then using them to purchase tiles for victory points, sounds simple however the driving mechanism is a deck of cards which all players have, you choose 5 action cards then play three of them.
When you play a card if another player holds that as one of their selected cards they get to do the action also which limits the benefits you get from playing the card. So if you accurately assess (ie guess) what the other players will choose to do, you should get the 3 actions off of your played cards and 2 more off of the actions played by others. However problems arise when someone plays a card which you have and you are forced to play earlier than you intended – you MUST play your card and as it is out of the sequence you were hoping for it is unlikely you will have the resources to action it properly – a wasted action.
When this happens every turn the game can be very frustrating, I felt I had less control in this game than any other I have played for quite some time, it is a feeling I like to avoid, I know there are a lot of games where player control is limited but at least they are kind enough to give you the illusion that you are in control, in this game I felt I had no control and the game system was happy to let me know that by rubbing my nose in it. I am sure that with replays I will become more familiar with how the interactions work and regain some of that lost control. This has been on my “to play” list for some time and although it does not advance to my “to buy” list I will happily play it again.
Table 2 started with Ca$h 'n Gun$, the idea is to accumulate as much cash as you can over six rounds, each player is armed with a gun, a set of cards and a character. Each round a number of cash chits are placed in the centre of the table, each player selects one of their cards and places it face down in front of them, the card is either a single shot (2 cards) , a rapid fire (1 card), or no shot (3 cards), after card selection on a count of 3 players simultaneously point their gun at any other player, guns are then left on the table still pointing at the victims, then again on a count of three, everyone decides whether they will hide behind the table or face whatever comes their way. Those playing chicken under the table collect a cowards chit and do not take part in the loot sharing, then rapid fires are played, those hit receive a wound token and do not take part in the loot sharing, any still standing play their single shot cards, those hit receive a wound counter and do not take part in the loot sharing.
Finally any still standing share the loot equally among them, anything left over is added to the available loot on the next round. Although this is not a knock-out game, there is an element ofelimination for if you collect three wounds and you are dead and out, but other than that its whoever collects the most loot in the end is the winner. The game is quick and snappy and plays best with its maximum number of 6. The advanced game brings in extra skills and weapons (I love the shotgun) and the latest edition has played around with the rules a bit adding extra loot tokens but for me not really improving the game.
Table 2 then went on to what can only be described as a marathon session of Port Royal, this simple card game was released last year and has proved to be one of the regular games I play at home. Like a lot of games of recent times it is a card collecting game and dependent on what cards you collect gives you powers for the rest of the game, cards also have a number of victory points marked on them, the idea is to collect 12 victory points triggering the end of the game and at the end of that round the one with the most points is the winner.
On a turn you turn over cards one at a time which may be ships (providing cash), people cards (giving in-game powers), special points or taxation cards. The active player can stop drawing at any time whereupon they may purchase a people card or take cash with a ship card, after that the other players in turn can also take a card from the display but on top of the normal price must pay the active player a coin as well. If at any time a player draws duplicate colour ship cards their turn ends without a chance to purchase.
There is an element of pushing your luck and apparently those at table 2 did this with alarming frequency, so much so that they were playing the game for about 2 hours, this did not detract from their enjoyment and a cheer was given when they moved into the last round. In 2 player games it is easy to collect cards from your opponent, however in a 5 player game this will not happen as frequently as others get to the only cards you can afford first thus lengthening the play time.
In the meantime Table 1 played Alhambra: The Card Game, originally released as Al Capone by db-spiele it is one of the games that I have always rated highly because of its easy playability yet depth of strategy, sadly for me it was unnecessarily tampered with when Queen released the game under the Alhambra title where tiles were added with an element of tessellation, from my point of view they took an uncomplicated but mechanically sound game and added a random element which detracted from the overall quality of it, so I was glad when they eventually released the game in its original format as just a card game which is what we played.
In short there are 4 currencies and 7 types of building cards, on a turn you can either buy a building card with the appropriate currency or collect a new cash card, if you manage to pay for a building card with the exact amount of money you get another turn.
There are 3 scoring rounds in which you collect points for majorities in building types.
Table 1 took a brief look at Port Royal still being played on Table 2 and decided to give Nations: The Dice Game a go, this falls into the light side of gaming being a roll the dice game and use what is shown on the faces to collect tiles, build monuments (also tiles), gain knowledge, feed and battle. It is a mini-civilization game but with a good replayability factor.
Table 2 had finished their mammoth game of Port Royal and so we thought we would give it a quick bash.
In the meantime Table 2 had not had enough of shooting one another and decided to play Colt Express, last time I played at the club it was with 3 players which although the game works was not really enough to appreciate the mayhem factor that this game creates. This week it was played with 5 players and it was a manic game with a huge fun factor.
Despite the chaos it is possible to plan your play to a certain degree, that isuntil someone goes out of their way to target you so it is important to hit them before they hit you.
The last game on the table for us was Tsuro, this lovely route-laying game is quick and fun, on your turn you lay a tile in front of your piece which must then follow the line in front of it to its end, any other pieces on routes created must also travel to the end. The idea is to be the last piece on the board so laying the correct tiles can send your opponents off the board while you move into empty territory.