Nitro Glyxerol, Das Speicherstadt and The Grizzled

This quiz picture clue is that this is a second edition two player game.

The last quiz picture was of Mijnlieff by Andy Hopwood a nice 2 player abstract strategy game playing in 5 minutes but has quite a lot of depth for its simplicity.

The evening started off with a few light games, Table 1 began with No Thanks! a short card game in which players have to give up victory point chips to avoid taking cards, all cards score negatively but if you have a run only the lowest of the run scores against you. The idea is to get the most points (very rare) or least negative points.

Table 2 went with Welcome to the Dungeon a lovely filler of push your luck which has been covered before, knowing your opponents and how they are likely to play helps but does not guarantee success.

 The mix of monsters in Welcome to the Dungeon

The mix of monsters in Welcome to the Dungeon

Table 1 then played Midnight Party another excellent 20 minute game where Hugo the ghost chases partygoers around a mansion, the idea is to get as high a score as possible however as with No Thanks it is generally the least negative score that wins. This game also has the advantage of playing 2-8 players however you do not have to stop there, I have doctored my edition to play with up to 22 players and I have had the joy of playing in a 24 player game.

 Hugo chasing a yellow piece whose legs can be seen in the top left of the photo, meanwhile Hugo has had a very successful round, his victims are shown on the stairs to the cellar

Hugo chasing a yellow piece whose legs can be seen in the top left of the photo, meanwhile Hugo has had a very successful round, his victims are shown on the stairs to the cellar

With that many players the game developed into sub-games with some trying to win properly, some  trying to get the biggest negative score (not as easy as it sounds with that many players), others were trying to end the game on exactly -50 (not a point more or less) some exactly -100. Anyway our nights’ game was just 5 player playing to normal rules (ie 3 rounds).

Table 2 moved onto The Speicherstadt by Stefan Feld a card collection game but with an interesting bidding mechanic. The players are trying to collect cards which help them to accumulate victory points, the easy way is to collect a contract card then collect the two, three or four goods cubes which are required to fulfil the contract, the cubes (drawn randomly from a bag) come on ship cards in batches of three. There are also cards which change cubes for cash or give a few victory points, some specialist cards and some fireman cards. The latter are required as every now and again a fire card comes out of the deck at which point the player with the most Fireman gets some points whilst the player with the least loses points.

 4 boats are up for grabs here (more cards are to the left) blue is looking at paying 2 for the 3rd boat if purple does not buy it for 3 first

4 boats are up for grabs here (more cards are to the left) blue is looking at paying 2 for the 3rd boat if purple does not buy it for 3 first

At the beginning of the round cards are dealt to the board, each player has three bidding tokens with which to lay claim to a card with, when a player makes a bid their token is placed above any other token which has already made a bid for the card, none of the cards though are given out until everyone has used all their tokens at which point each card is taken in turn. The player who placed first at a particular card has a choice of buying that card at a price equal to all the tokens there, if not wanted at that price they take their token off and the next player can pay a price equal to the remaining tokens, this continues until the card is bought or everyone has withdrawn. Cash is always short and bank balances in our game tended to be between 2 and 5 coins so you rarely get to buy all you want and even more rarely at the price you want. It is an interesting game, plays well and is balanced for any number of players, the others new to the game all liked it and I am hoping it will get played again soon.

Table 1 played A Study in Emerald a game I have yet to play but this is the second week in a row where players have almost queued up to play the game, I am quite intrigued and want to play. Unfortunately for those of you who wish to know more about this game you will have to wait a little while longer. BQ commented

  • I took away a couple of things from last night's play. First, I think it feels a bit more tactical than strategic - you just have to grab your chances where you can, I feel. Second, it's the kind of game where having played before does confer a greater advantage than usual, but it's still no guarantee of victory.

The next game on Table 2 is one that I have come to like quite a bit, it is The Grizzled a co-operative card game set in the trenches soon after the outbreak of WW1. Unlike a lot of other co-operative games this one does not have a solo version and in fact its strength comes from playing with 3 or more players (the box says 2-5 players). The players win if they can clear a small deck of cards by playing them all and having no cards in their hands at the end of a round, however as the deck gets topped up with a few extra cards every round from a reserve deck it is not that easy. The game is lost if the reserve deck is emptied. There are two types of card in the game, the first is a threat card which will have some of the six threat emblems used in the game, this could be snow, rain, night, whistle, gas mask or shell, these cards are played to a central area however if any emblem appears more than twice the round is lost.

 The flanking cards are threat cards whilst the 2nd card is a hard knock card whilst the third is the only positive card in the whole deck.

The flanking cards are threat cards whilst the 2nd card is a hard knock card whilst the third is the only positive card in the whole deck.

The second card is a hard knock card and these are played on the players character the hard knock cards contain phobias which add permanent symbols for the no-mans land tally whilst other cards have special effects such as forcing players to play all their cards. Should any player end a round with four hard knocks then the game is lost. The game is therefore a balance of everyone playing as many cards as possible but not the cards which could lose the group the round or the game. Winning a round allows one of the players to lose two of the hard knock cards whereas losing the round gets the cards played to no-mans land shuffled back into the deck in either case at the end of the round as many new cards are added to the deck as players hold in their hands. That is the nuts and bolts of the game there are a few more bits which I have not covered such as lucky clover or giving a speech, you will just have to play the game to find out what they are about. The game is interesting and the tension builds nicely, I enjoyed playing it 5 player and look forward to playing it with that number again.

Table 1 made their last game Taj Mahal a bidding game where you lay claim to prizes based on cards played in front of you, on your turn you can play one or two cards down in front of you provided you raise the bid on one of the prizes, the cards have symbols at the top which dictate what prizes you get for the turn, when you drop out of the bidding you get a choice of replacement cards, the earlier you drop out the better the choice. Points come from various sources however the real art of the game I tend to think is to avoid bidding battles, losing a bidding battle not only deprives you of points on the round you have the battle but because all bid cards are lost, win or lose, it will take another turn or two to gather together enough cards to lay claim to prizes again. BQ commented

  • Taj Mahal I had not played in quite a while, and was glad to do so. Ra last week, Taj Mahal this week...which ancient Reiner Knizia game will I try to foist on people next? (Tigris and Euphrates, I hear you say? Well, why not? :p).
 Taj Mahal in progress, the prizes are shown in the yellow box on the board at the bottom of the photo

Taj Mahal in progress, the prizes are shown in the yellow box on the board at the bottom of the photo

The next game on Table 2 was Nitro Glyxerol a new dexterity game from Zoch each player has a large plastic flask in which 5 glass cubes are placed, at the beginning of each round five cards are randomly placed on the table in a row then within a limited time period given by an egg timer players must try to shake the cubes into the handle of their flask in the order given. You can drop out at any point to take a turn over card.

 some of the cards in the deck only 5 are put out - 1 of each colour.

some of the cards in the deck only 5 are put out - 1 of each colour.

 A players flask showing a red counter in the handle/nozzle

A players flask showing a red counter in the handle/nozzle

Once time is called the players compare the order of their cubes to collect the cards as victory points with the turn over cards breaking any ties, so sometimes it is worth dropping out quick to secure the early point cards, effectively the longer you stay in the round the more cubes you must get in the correct order to score points. It is light entertainment and makes a great end of evening 20 minute game.

Last game on Table 2 was Family Business, this I have covered before, all I have to say about this game was that I became the target of the other Two players and was wiped out in a very short space of time.