Mangrovia and Le Havre

The quiz picture shows one of my favourite games, do you know what it is?

Last week was of Warlord the predecessor to Apocalypse, this edition came with an extended board, I was so excited at seeing it I forgot to photograph the box so you get the board again this time all of it.

A few more games played this time across four tables, my table played Le Havre. As always when I play a heavier game 4 player as opposed to my usual 2 player games the dynamics are totally different and I am left struggling to break free of my usual playing style and adapt. Le Havre is a superb resource management game, on a turn a player places 2 items of stock onto the board as dictated by the position of their turn marker, they can then do one of two actions, take a pile of resources or place their character token onto a building and do its action.

 The resource tokens all of which (except coins) are 2 sided showing a base resource e.g. Clay and on the reverse an upgraded resource e.g. brick, wheat becomes bread, coal becomes coke etc.

The resource tokens all of which (except coins) are 2 sided showing a base resource e.g. Clay and on the reverse an upgraded resource e.g. brick, wheat becomes bread, coal becomes coke etc.

Every 7 player turns everyone must provide food or pay its cash equivalent, players who still cannot pay must take a loan to pay, this can lead to severe debts (I had 8 loans at one stage – a potential minus 56 points at the end of the game). The idea of the game is to make the most money, this can be either in hard cash by shipping goods in boats you build or by building lots of buildings which have a cash value at the game end, cash earned in the game can be used for building buildings as well as using resources. There is a lot to timing and managing your resources in this game, for instance to build certain buildings may take 3 or more actions to secure and upgrade the appropriate resources in the meantime an opponent may obtain cash and buy the building.

 Examples of buildings and ships

Examples of buildings and ships

This just skims the surface of this game which when played multiplayer has several possible paths to victory but no matter what path you take it is important to keep a close watch on what your opponents are doing, there is nothing so galling as playing 3 actions of a 5 action process to note at the last moment that one of your opponents is one step ahead.

SR > Enjoyed Le Havre, prefer it to Agricola though I'm not sure I'd know how to fully maximise opportunities for winning. I'd happily play again, but I'm still disappointed with resources that aren't nice wooden bits!

BANG! The Dice Game has become a regular filler-game at the club and plays well with 5 or more players, it was also well received at a convention I visited recently.

 Near the beginning of the game - the pathway of tiles

Near the beginning of the game - the pathway of tiles

This was surprisingly Tutankhamen first play at the club, a nice set collecting game where a long trail of artefacts are laid with players pieces set at the end. Each turn a player takes a piece from the line and then moves their piece to the vacated spot – movement is always in one direction so any you pass you may not return to and collect later. When the last piece of a set is taken it is scored, the player with the majority scores points equal to how many pieces in the set whilst second place gets half, the game ends when a player crosses their score marker over the score tracks finish line. It is a simple mechanism but full of second guessing and plays well with any number of players.

 Drunter und Druber board early in the game

Drunter und Druber board early in the game

Drunter und Druber has been at the club several times before, a nice “stitch-up” game without being too harsh and is one of my favourite lighter games. In brief players are dealt a type of building which will be represented on the board 5 times, on a turn players build a road, wall or canal with the idea of steering it away from their own buildings whilst demolishing the buildings of their opponents.

Histrio I know nothing about but it has been played at the club several times so appears well liked by others, being a fan of Shakespeare I have not had an urge to play this even if they are different.

 Ghost Stories board

Ghost Stories board

Ghost Stories is a game I have struggled with, I just do not seem able to get my head round the rules even when taught by others however everyone at the club seemed to be enjoying it without any problems at all, perhaps it is time to give this one another crack.

Red7 got 2 plays at the club, a simple card game with simple rules, it is just that the goal changes with every card played, you must have a winning position after you have played by either playing a card fitting the current rule and ending up with the best hand as a result or changing the rule so that you have the best hand in play with the new rule. If you fail you lose.

Biblios was played on table 1, covered before a card (share) collecting game with dice indicating set (share) values.

BQ > Mangrovia  was a nice "bowl-placement" game set in a mangrove swamp. "Bowl-placement? Eh, BQ?" I hear you say...well, yes: Competing to become tribal chief, you put your little wooden offering bowl on the pair of actions you want to take, chosen from 6 pairs, but the actions are taken in strict order (as a little boat paddles round the sacred island archipelago where the actions are depicted on the board) - you get to take your first action...then others take their first action...then the boat paddles up the other side of the archipelago and everyone gets to take their second action. The actions mostly revolve around building huts, placing them on the spaces of a grid printed on the board. You usually have to discard a "landscape" card, and some "valuables" cards to build a hut - the valuables cards have numerical values, as do the board-spaces, and you have to pay the exact right amount of valuables for the space.

 Mangrovia - the board

Mangrovia - the board

There's also four different landscape types, and you have to play the right landscape card to build a hut on a given space. Huts give you end-game points for majorities achieved in the rows and columns of the grid of spaces, and often immediate points when built, as well. There are also special bonuses for huts built in a couple of areas (the "stone" and "pole" areas), and "amulet" spaces - if you build huts on those, you can later use the amulet action to draw amulets from a bag - more amulet huts means more amulets drawn. Amulets score end game points, but are also the only way to build on some hut spaces - they are turned in instead of the usual "valuables" cards. As well as hut building and amulet actions, there are card drawing actions, so you can get the cards you need to build the huts, and an action that makes you first player on the next round, and also lets you change the positions of the "birds of paradise" - these are two little green birds that sit on a 2x2 grid showing the four landscape types, and during each round you can ONLY build on the two landscape types the birds are sitting on, so being able to change them is a pretty useful thing.

 Some of the playing pieces - Huts, bowls, boat and birds

Some of the playing pieces - Huts, bowls, boat and birds

This all carries on until someone builds their last hut, then hut majorities on the board are scored, there's some bonus points from the special hut areas, any amulets still in hand add points based on their face values, and we have a winner...

 Some of the cards in Mangrovia

Some of the cards in Mangrovia

All in all, pretty simple game flow, a fair amount of interesting decisions, and doesn't outstay its welcome. I made the error of blowing all my cards in an early turn to build a couple of quite expensive huts, and then, in a panic that I would not be able to build high value if I didn't grab lots of cards, I took a turn to build up a huge wad of them, without building a hut. Hint: don't do this! The game ends sooner than you think, and at game-end I had copious quantities of cards I could do nothing with. It seems a constant flow of hut-building is important. There were a couple of times where it did seem that me combo of cards was good for nothing, which was annoying, and I think the game could bind up a bit with analysis-paralysis prone players, but the traditional MAB threats of physical violence would no doubt resolve that... On the physical side, the board and components have well-executed, colourful and evocative artwork. Nice game.