Another new game from me (arrived on Monday) can you guess what it is?
Last weeks quiz picture was correctly guessed as Trajan one of the nicer resource management games where worker placement is achieved through a mancala process.
Table 1 started off with Via Nebula this report is from BQ on last weeks play :-
Via Nebula...slightly odd name, but very fun game. You're recolonising a fantastical land that was previously overrun by nasty monsters. They've now (mostly) gone, and what's left is a strange fog which blocks the way for progress in resettling the valley. Fortunately, you and your fellow players have the wherewithal to explore and eliminate the fog, so you can exploit resources and build new buildings. What this actually translates to is a big, pretty board overlaid with hexagonal spaces which contain either fog, ruins (where new buildings can be built), meadows which contain resources to be exploited, petrified forests (which are like mist spaces, but harder to explore), and forbidden spaces (where monsters still lurk, and you can't go - usually...). There's a pile of green "meadow" hex tiles, and these will get placed on the board throughout the game as you "explore". You get a well organised player board, with spaces for the meadow hex tiles, your buildings and your workers (two of them in a four player game). Players have two actions per turn to do a number of things. To start with, they can open up "exploitations" of resources - there are five different resources in the game, wood, food, stone, clay and wheat - by removing one of the exploitation tokens which were placed at the start of the game on the meadow hexes printed on the board, and replacing the token with the resource pieces indicated on it and one of their workers. The resources can then be used by *anyone* (though only the player who opened the exploitation will get some VPs for that exploitation action at the game-end). Players can use an action to transport a resource to one of their building sites they have created on a ruin hex, but they can only do that if there's a clear line of adjacent meadow hex spaces from the resources to their building site. Those meadows are created by the "exploring" action, where a player places a meadow tile over a fog hex - and, as an aside, if you place enough meadows, you earn end-game VPs. You can also explore petrified forest spaces, but that uses both your turn's actions. Finally, you can build a building from a "contract" card - you start with a couple of secret contracts in-hand, but there's also a display of four contracts available to anyone who can build the structure they show.
To build, you surrender the resources depicted on the contract card - of course, you'll need to have already transported them to the building site where you're going to build the building. When you build it, you replace the building site marker with a building piece, and you get to take a special action shown on the building, plus you keep the card and score the VPs on it at game end. You need to be careful not to overdo the resources though - if you have more resources than you need when you build, the remainder go on your player board and lose you VPs at the end! When the fifth building is built, everyone except the player who built it gets one more turn, and then you add up points from exploitations, exploring and buildings, subtract any points from excess resources, and the winner is declared. Via Nebula is a tricksy beast. You have to sort of co-operate, but not too much. For example, when you open up exploitations, you know other players are going to nab the resources, but you're going to get a small number of VPs for doing it. And you *want* the others to take the resources, because you only have two workers, and you can't get one of them back until all the resources in an exploitation have been taken (and, trust me, you can't take 'em all yourself!). And placing meadows is good for your future building prospects, but of course *everyone else* can use them to trace a supply line back to their building sites too... Timing is important, because if you can't build when you need to, someone else can swoop in and grab the contract you wanted...and you might get left with resources you have to store. I thoroughly enjoyed Via Nebula, despite coming last. There's a lot to think about, and the replayability seems high, what with all the random setup elements and card powers. Definitely on my "play again soon" list.
Table 1 went on to play Ciúb, a dice rolling game I am sure I have covered before.
The goal of the game is simple, establish colonies on 5 planets outside your home system, a turn consists of drawing a tile which depicts which system to attack (it could be your own), you then decide on a planet to attack in that system (allowing you to establish a colony elsewhere or oust an interloper from your own), once the battle site is chosen the attacker and defender get to ask the other players to ally themselves to one side or the other bringing additional units to the battle, then cards are played to determine the battle victor, losers lose all their units whilst victors get rewards usually a base on the planet in question.
However there are two major wrinkles to proceedings, the first is the players special “race” power which can cause all sorts of mayhem, secondly in battle if both combatants play a “compromise” card the battle is off and they have a limited time to come to a deal. The game is fun and best played as a role-playing game, it is more about the journey than the winning although winning is also nice.
My table started with Automobiles which I touched on last week, a car racing game using a “deck building” mechanic where the deck is actually a bag of coloured cubes. There are always 10 colours in each game, white, light grey, dark grey and black are “Gear” cubes and along with the brown “wear” cubes have the same abilities for every race, the other 5 colours abilities change from race to race and are dictated by random cards from a deck. Players before the race start with 12 cubes (yellow, white and light grey) in their bag and a cash amount to purchase more cubes, once they have got all their cubes the game begins. A player on their turn will have 7 cubes in their “To use” pile, they enact their cubes one at a time – if it is a gear cube they place it on the track where it allows their car to end its movement, this may open up opportunities to use other cubes, the darker the gear cube the faster you will go but all movement for a gear cube must match in its entirety the track travelled over. The other ability cubes may allow movement or may grant some special ability with the other cubes, when such a cube is used it is placed in the “used” pile. Once you have used all the cubes you want to you collect wear cubes for your movement and move your car to its new position, all these cubes go into your “used” pile. Any cubes still left in your active pile can now be used to purchase more cubes, every cube has a “value” to create a purchasing amount – this is shown on the bottom of cards whilst the purchasing price of the cubes is shown at the top of the relevant card, in this way you can improve your collection of cubes, sadly your mix will be soured by the wear cubes which serve no useful function but will clog up your collection.
Once you have finished doing your purchasing you move all cubes in your display to the discard pile then you draw seven new cubes from your bag for your next turn. A lot of the initial decision making is done early in the game when making the first few purchases to define your cube selection, cubes are limited and making the correct early choices can be important, from then on it is “managing” your cube collection with the various powers which can help you dispose of useless cubes, recycle some cubes or otherwise boost your movement on the track, race length can also influence how you manage your car. I do like this game a lot, I was sorely disappointed with Planes which from my point of view was dull with a high luck factor. Trains, also from AEG is another recommended game and amalgamates deck building with track laying on a board.
Table 1 finished with Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age, this is a dice game but shares very little with its big brother board game, on a turn you roll a number of dice equal to the number of cities you own, which will grant food, workers, money, goods and a disaster, two re-rolls are permitted with the exception of disasters, they just accumulate. You then use food to feed cities where starvation leads to penalty points, workers are used to build more cities (more dice) or monuments (for points), coins and goods are used to purchase technologies (points and in-game bonuses). It is a 20 minute dice rolling game and an excellent filler.