Patchistory, Codenames and Arctic Scavangers

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The quiz picture this time is a little different but quite easy.

There were 2 quiz photos last week the first was The Gothic Game where players enter a large mansion and explore its environs whilst avoiding the vampire. The idea is to outlast the other players, to do this you need special weapons from the different rooms which also contain a myriad of horrors and traps.

The second photo was of Dvonn one of a series of excellent 2 player abstract strategy games in the Gipf project by Kris Burm , Dvonn, Yinsh and Tamsk are my favourites.

The warm up game was 6 nimmt!, the big losers of this last week once again battled hard for the  wooden spoon but with my adversary’ scores of 29, 27 and 37 I was beaten and only took 6th place. A quick mention to the late arrival (who technically was not late we just started very early) who would have won had he not arrived after the first round and so joined with a score equal to that of the losing player.

With 11 attendees we split into 3 tables, table 1 started with Codenames a very nice team game where a grid of cards is laid on the table upon each of which is written a single word, the players are split into 2 teams (so even numbers of players is ideal). Each team has a team-leader they both can see a special card showing the grid but which also indicates words within the grid that belong to each team, which ones are neutral and where the assassin is hidden. In turn the team leader gives a one word clue and a number, the other team members then can choose a number of cards up to the number given which they think fits their leaders’ clue. The aim of the game is to find all of one our own teams words before the other team finds theirs – revealing the assassin is an instant loss. There are a couple of threads on the geek that indicate that this can be played with dixit cards, something to perhaps experiment with, there is also apparently an app for creating random grid set-ups.

Table 3 started the evening with a quick game of Sushi Go! this has been a firm favourite at the club being played almost every time it is taken and now leads the “games played” table being the most frequently played game, as a warm-up or chill out game it is ideal, fast, simple rules and with a level of tactics that keeps you thinking just above tick-over point.

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Table 3 quickly moved on to Arctic Scavengers: Base Game+HQ+Recon, the set that was brought to the club is the latest release which has the base game with HQ and Recon expansions, it is a deck-building game with the theme being set in the future and the idea is to survive an arctic wasteland environment. I only have the base game myself having picked it up cheap at The Works my one play of it I did not enjoy at all however as I am not a fan of deck-building games my view should be taken with a large pinch of salt.

Table 2 went with the thinker of the evening, Patchistory. I had played this only once before and I thank the other players for their patience with my lack of knowledge of the rules, there were parts I had not covered in my previous play and it was a steep learning curve for all. Patchistory is a civilization game in which you expand your own empire, set up trade routes and slowly increase your population all under the threat of war with the sole purpose of collecting victory points.

 Some of the cards in the game from the first era

Some of the cards in the game from the first era

The main mechanism of the game is the three decks of double sided cards which provide expanded territory, monuments and heroes; at the start of each round the players bid for the cards with cash and once everyone has acquired a card they add it to their own display with the rule that it must overlap or underlap at least one quarter of their existing empire, these new cards provide various extra commodities or abilities which are tallied on the players personal record board. The players can now take actions based on their empires abilities after which they can move traders on trade routes for extra commodities and workers within their empires to trigger extra benefits from bonuses in gold boxes. Workers must then be fed.

 The lands showing basic income, the extra income shown in the gold boxes is only triggered by the presence of a worker

The lands showing basic income, the extra income shown in the gold boxes is only triggered by the presence of a worker

Each 5th round an era ends, there is an upkeep phase for monuments and heroes in addition a vote is taken on victory point cards for additional scoring. There are three eras in total and the winner is the player with the most victory points at the end of the game. So far I have kept things simple here, there are many complications within the game, for starters the income from your empire is barely enough to keep you going every turn, the trade routes are a useful top-up so resources are very tight, secondly the cards you patch to your empire need to be placed all the same way up and within a 5x5 grid and with a scattering of seas and double squared buildings there is often very difficult decisions to be made on placement and you can easily be in a bidding war with another player over the best cards. When a trade route is completed there are several choices to be made including going to war; a successful well organised war can reap high rewards however equally beneficial is the forming of an alliance and creating an allied trade route.

 My position after a few turns, their are a total of eight factors to keep track of and the book-keeping in the first few games is not as straight-forward as you think

My position after a few turns, their are a total of eight factors to keep track of and the book-keeping in the first few games is not as straight-forward as you think

The true depth of the game can perhaps be illustrated by the fact that it took about 40 minutes to explain most (but not all) of the rules and that in our 3 hours playing we managed to get as far as the second round of the second era slightly under half way through the game, however some of this time was spent searching the rules for various clarifications or explanations.

 A players position after the first era

A players position after the first era

As already mentioned there is a very steep learning curve with this game, the rules seem simple but there are a lot of them, all dealing with different aspects which fit together well but the links are not always immediately intuitive. With regards to strategy nothing obvious has sprung to mind and with a limited number of actions a turn it is usually a couple of rounds before you see the benefit of a specific play by which time it is hard to say if your choices were good or not. No doubt repeated plays will make the game flow faster and strategies will become apparent, I certainly want to play again as I think there is a very good game here.

Table 1 next played Viceroy, I know nothing about this game however I have been given a very brief overview which is players have gems which are used to obtain cards through an auction process (which is not an ordinary auction), the cards you obtain go into a personal display which costs more gems dependent on where you place it, the card and its position determine what bonuses you get. The aim is to get the most victory points at the games end.

Table 3 next played Splendor a very nice game of collecting cards with Victory points marked on them by spending the different coloured gem markers shown on the card.

 This player has 5 points

This player has 5 points

Simply put a player on their turn can take three coloured gem markers or purchase a card, collected cards add to your future purchasing power, it is always worth checking out the bonus tiles and the higher value cards in the display t the beginning of the game as what is there should determine most of your game strategy.  

The final game on Table 1 was  Complots which reminds me a bit of the old Eon game Hoax. In Coup you have two cards from a deck of 15 each of which will be one of 5 characters. On a turn you can take any character action or take one or two coin from the treasury, however if you have 10 or more coins you must instead launch a coup against another player who will lose a character. Character actions can be challenged which will result in one of the two players in the challenge losing a character, lose 2 characters and you are out, the game ends when one player (the winner) is left.

The last game on Table 3 was more Sushi Go!

 Waterloo bridge looking East

Waterloo bridge looking East

Just to mention here that we had our first Saturday gaming session this weekend just past, sadly I was unable to attend so no photos from there – however here are a couple from London where I had been diverted to.

 Waterloo Bridge, London looking South-West

Waterloo Bridge, London looking South-West