Secret Hitler, Sapiens and Ticket to Ride

The quiz photo is one of my earlier games that got many repeated plays this is of the box cover (minus the title).

The last quiz photo was of Lemming a great little game from 1990 where you are trying to make all the other lemmings run into the sea before your own disappear over the edge of the cliff however on your turn you can only move one of your own lemmings forward 4 spaces, not easy to do.

My table started off with Champions of Midgard, two of us have been contemplating buying a copy and wanted to give it another go before we committed, it is an interesting worker placement game of heroic Vikings gaining fame and glory through acts of valour and occasionally going down the market to buy some goodies. It is quite thematic with players battling Trolls and a variety of monsters, there are some awkward choices to be made although generally you are grabbing dice to get the best odds of victory in the battles. The game is a little unforgiving of bad choices or really bad luck as I found to my cost when I failed to roll a hit on 9 dice (0.02% chance) in a battle, this put me a turn behind everybody else but that sort of bad luck rarely happens and on the whole it is more about good play being rewarded as opposed to bad play being punished, I have since bought my own copy.

The other 2 tables combined for a print ‘n’ play game of Secret Hitler, this was launched on Kickstarter in November 2015 and closed with 34,565 backers, sadly the “retail” deal was for the USA only so I am not sure if it will reach UK shops. The game consists of a number of envelopes which are dealt out to the players at random, in each envelope are 4 cards, everyone gets a Yes card and No card, an affiliation card (either Facist or Liberal) and lastly an identity card one of which will be Hitler, the idea of the game is for the Facist players (minority) to get Hitler elected as Chancellor, the Liberals are looking to eliminate Hitler or for either side to have a set number of policies passed in their favour.

 What is in a Facists envelope

What is in a Facists envelope

As with other games of this nature everyone at the start closes their eyes, Hitler then identifies themselves by sticking their thumb up and all other Facists open their eyes and acknowledge each other and identify who Hitler is, then everyone closes their eyes again and then everyone opens their eyes again, after all this the Liberals (the majority) and Hitler know nothing, the Facists (other than Hitler) know who everyone is. On a turn whoever has the President (turn start) card announces who they want as Chancellor then everyone votes whether they are happy for those two to pass a law, if the majority are happy the President takes the top 3 cards off the policy deck discards one and passes 2 to the Chancellor who selects one to play and discards the other. policy cards are either Facist (many cards) or Liberal (some of the cards). The game is interesting and there is quite a lot of dialogue deducing who the Facists are (in our last game there were 3 Facists and 6 Liberals) whilst they in turn try to remain secret and manoeuvre matters behind the scenes. The subject matter may not be to everyones taste however the game is definitely one of the better ones of its genre.

 The Facists nearing victory with 4 policies passed

The Facists nearing victory with 4 policies passed

C > Secret Hitler was a great game to learn what your friends really think of you!! Jokes aside, I think it makes a nice alternative to Resistance with a stronger theme, it's crazy and chaotic and often you actually have no idea who is Fascist or Liberal. Would definitely play again to prove I am not always a Fascist!

J > I was pleasantly surprised how well Secret Hitler was received by the group. We played twice with 7 players and later on twice with 8 players. There was a lot of unavoidable meta gaming involved which made/forced the Fascist sides to be creative.
In the first game players clued in to the mechanics quite quickly even though the Fascists forgot to identify Hitler during the reveal phase.
I can't recall much of game 2 but I was surprised that the Secret Hitler was the same player in Game 1. I may have been assassinated.
Game 3 was won by the Fascists as a sly President nominated Hitler as Chancellor after the third Fascist policy.
Game 4 saw the 4 Liberal policies pass quickly leaving the Fascists to be more creative with assassinations and a veto to pass 6 Fascist policies to win the game.

BQ > I went from being completely bamboozled by Secret Hitler, to finding it very interesting. My policy was to be honest at all times, which didn't seem to work too well... tongue emoticon I was pretty certain fairly early who the Fascists were in both games, but there's always an element of doubt in one's mind.

The tables split and Table 1 played Ticket to Ride - India. I see TTR as an entry level game, the mechanics are fairly simple and it is very colourful, however among gamers it can be quite a tense battle for control of key areas of the map. The board consists of a number of routes connecting towns, on a turn you can either take cards or lay track, there is no restriction on where you can lay track however when you do so you must complete a chain between 2 towns and play cards of the same colour as that shown on the board you must also discard as many cards as there are links in the chain, you are also limited to completing one chain per turn.

The game encourages you to collect and hoard cards as this gives greater flexibility to create long groups of chains which reap large rewards, but spend too long collecting cards and key sections of the board will be snapped up by others. Victory points come from building the chains and for creating a complete route shown on bonus cards you are dealt at the beginning and collected during the game. There are a number of different maps you can buy for the game and there are some advanced rules for those looking for a bit more depth, I believe the map on this occasion was quite tight and the centre hotly contested from early in the game.

Table 2 played Sapiens a tile laying game where the tiles are domino–like and players are looking to match faces of adjoining tiles on their personal boards. I have played this before and found it to be a fairly basic game but my views are in contrast to those who played the game and I feel I must revisit the game before I should comment further and I will leave you to their views.

J > I've also been mulling about Sapiens. Other players definitely identified it as a brain burner but it may not be. In our 4 player game, I had a bear infestation early on which forced me to run out of moves so I had to start laying tiles from another cave. It was apparent at this point that the shelter points were hard to come by compared to the food points. Victory is determined by the lower point value of the two. I wonder whether it is a better strategy to start from as many caves as possible by forcing no moves to maximise the shelter points haul. The downside is that you make burn large areas of your valley. I need to check whether you can put bears in your own valley.

BQ> Sapiens was an interesting puzzle-like game and, as “R” said, it's definitely one you need to play more than once to have a hope of understanding it properly. I'll be bringing it again soon...

 End of the last round in Leapfrog

End of the last round in Leapfrog

My table moved onto Leapfrog a fairly simple filler game of frogs jumping one another however the fewer the players the more luck that is involved in the game and it is at its best with a full complement of 6 players.

We next fitted in a game of Incan gold which I have covered a couple of times before, this is a nice “push your luck” game. Our play was quite low scoring with the threats appearing early and a couple of times I was left on my own to collect all the loot, this did not happen the first time as I was buried by a rockfall.

 The loot pile in Incan gold that was hardly touched in our game.

The loot pile in Incan gold that was hardly touched in our game.

The evening ended with another game of Secret Hitler, definitely the fun game of the night and I hope the full version reaches our shores.