Fische, fun and frolics

 Sheep and fences playing 2-6 players.

Sheep and fences playing 2-6 players.

The quiz picture this time is my first ever purchase at Spiel in Essen where it was a nominee for the Spiel des Jahres.

Last weeks quiz was Advance to Marble Arch by parker quite an enjoyable game and can be picked up quite cheap at the odd boot sale.  

The warm up game was once again BANG! The Dice Game (I did put in a request for it) which for me was full of coincidences, not only did I end up with the same character and the same role (Deputy Sheriff) as last week but later in the game I found out that my colleague Deputy was the same player as last time as well, with seven players and random dealing quite improbable. Fortunately unlike last week she did not fill me full of lead though this did not stop me being the first one out. Last week the Outlaws won, this week it was the turn of the Sheriff who at one point counted at least five players all claiming to be his deputy.

For the main session we had three tables running, table 2 started with Stone Age probably one of the most balanced resource management games around, players start the game with 5 workers with which they gather 5 types of resources which are used to purchase cards which give abilities and victory points, they can also build huts with the resources which just give victory points.

 Player board with huts (bottom left) and bonus cards also tools (upper left on board) obtained from a special space on the main board

Player board with huts (bottom left) and bonus cards also tools (upper left on board) obtained from a special space on the main board

In addition to the resource collection points there are 3 special sites where players can get in-game bonuses of tools, farming ability or an extra worker. At the end of each round players must feed their workers or lose victory points.

 Workers at the wood pile

Workers at the wood pile

There is a lot of die rolling and although a bad roll or two can irritate it is not game destroying, in addition with the amount of die rolling the luck does tend to even out over the course of the game.

Table 3 started with Cosmic Encounter an interesting area conquest/control game, each player starts with 4 counters on each of the 5 planets in their home system and to win all they have to do is get some of their counters onto 5 planets in the other players’ home systems. On a turn a player turns over a card from a destiny deck which indicates which players system a worm hole opens up in, they then attack any planet in that system. Combat is undertaken by comparing combat strengths (number of ships + strength on a single combat card played) with the loser losing all their pieces to “The Warp” however there are a number of complications to add to this, first off both the attacker and defender can ask for assistance from the other players, then the players alien abilities may have an effect, lastly players may play compromise cards instead of a combat card which if played by both players sends all allies home and the players must reach a deal.

 The chunkier components of FFG version of Cosmic Encounter

The chunkier components of FFG version of Cosmic Encounter

I have an Eon edition which is all cardboard, Games Workshop released a version with plastic pawns, the newer (FFG edition) has chunky plastic pieces. From experience of the older game it plays best with four or more players and is even more fun if you can inject role-play into it.

My brain was half fried this week so I went for fun silly games on table 1 and we started the evening with Family Business. In this card game each player has a gang of mobsters and a hand of 5 cards, on a players turn they play a card from their hand, generally these will be “contract” cards which places another players gangster against the wall, whenever the wall reaches 6 or more gangsters “Mob war” starts and at the start of each players subsequent turn the gangster nearest the wall is killed and removed from the game.

 Two of Capones mob against the wall

Two of Capones mob against the wall

There are a number of defence cards which stop contracts or rescue players’ mobsters from the wall. It is a cutthroat game with a nice mix of cards which creates a lot of interaction and although I took an early lead I became a target which eliminated me from the game first.

The next one we played was Bluff, based on a traditional dice rolling game believed from the 16th century it has more recently been converted into a boardgame format, the version we played was by MB Games – check out those hairstyles. There are quite a few variants of Bluff, better known as Liars Dice and it is prudent to check which rules you are playing to before you start. In our version each player has 5 dice which they roll under a cup then secretly look at, on your turn you make a bid based on the dice you can see and deduce are under the other players cups.

 The bidding track

The bidding track

The next player can then either call that person out by saying that the bid is not in play or they can raise the bid by either increasing the value on the bid die and/or increasing the number of dice in the bid. Bids continue until someone is called on their bid at which point a check is made to see how accurate the bid is. The loser of the call loses dice and thereby loses flexibility in future rounds.

The third in our series of light games was Kleine Fische, this is a “push your luck” card game. The deck consists of 10 types of fish in four different sizes and an Octopus, on a turn you go fishing by turning over the top card of the deck.

 Some of the fish and an octopus

Some of the fish and an octopus

You keep turning over cards until one of three things happen:- 1) the player decides to stop in which case they take all the fish cards turned over in that turn; 2) a duplicate (type not size of) fish is turned face up in which case the player discards all the cards between the duplicates as well as the duplicates themselves and collects what is left; or 3) an octopus is turned over in which case all fish are lost but the player has an opportunity to steal fish from another players pile.

 My score (1) for one of the rounds . . . . .

My score (1) for one of the rounds . . . . .

 and one of my opponents scores in the same round (23)

and one of my opponents scores in the same round (23)

The round ends when the deck runs out at which point everyone counts up the shells on the biggest fish of each type in their catch. I did not do well in this game my second round score compared to another players is shown below.

As all games seemed to end on the different tables at this point we had a general swap round to play with other people. Table 2 went with Love Letter: Batman. This is a game I ought to play at some point as whenever this game gets played there is a lot of laughter from that table. I want to know what I am missing out on.

Our table played 6 nimmt!, an excellent card game playing best with 4 or more players, we had 8. The deck consists of cards numbered 1 to 104, ten cards are dealt to each player then 4 are set up to start 4 columns (or lines). Each turn everyone selects a card to play, all cards are revealed simultaneously then played in increasing numerical order onto the columns, each card must be played onto the stack where the last card is nearest in value but lower than the card played.

 The four columns cards are played to

The four columns cards are played to

When a 6th card is played to a column the whole pile is taken as penalties. The idea is to avoid penalties, this is one of the few games of this nature that I seem to do well at and fortune was with me again and I won though interesting to note were the two “random card” players who also did well.  

The last game on my table was Pit  – the original game was called Gavitt’s Stock Exchange Game and was designed in 1903 by Harry Gavitt, this was adapted by Edgar Cayce and released by Parker Brothers in 1933. Pit consists of a deck of cards with various 9 card sets of cards representing commodities, myversion has 7 such sets plus a Bull card and Bear card. We played 5 player and I would suggest that this is the minimum number you would play with, at the start of the game a “suit” is selected for each player, all these cards are shuffled together then dealt out (we played without the Bull & Bear which adds a bit more to the game once you know what you are doing). The idea of the game is to collect a full set of 9 cards of the same commodity before any other player does and shouting “corner” when you do so.

 Examples of some of the suits (points shown in centre for a full set)

Examples of some of the suits (points shown in centre for a full set)

There are no turns, a round starts when someone says “Market Open” at which point everyone starts trading cards from their hand with the other players, when you trade you just shout out the number of cards which you wish to trade with the restriction that they must all be of the same suit, anyone can trade with anyone else, a round in full swing is a very noisy affair and replicates a stock exchange trading pit only noisier. Our game went very well however I feel the seating arrangement may have advantaged the three who were sitting at one end of the table, although not a large table the other two players always seemed to be a trade short of completing a hand, otherwise the game was close and could have gone to any one of the three other players but in the end a tactical masterstroke was pulled and a winner found.

The last game of the evening was Hanabi, this is a co-operative deduction game, players have a hand of 4 cards which only you cannot see, all the other players can see your handand they try to give you clues about what it contains, but they can only mention a colour or a number. The idea is for each player to play their cards to a central display in numerical order for each colour. The deluxe version (played on the night) replaces the cards with some very nice tiles.

 The (rather small at this stage) firework display

The (rather small at this stage) firework display

On the whole I had a great fun evening with lots of light games, next week a return to the brain burners for me.

 The discards

The discards