Pirates and Polo Ponies

The first game of the evening was Biblios an interesting and nicely presented card game, the idea is to gain control of as many dice as you can at the games end and the winner is the player with the highest tally of pips. The control of the dice is done by owning share cards and the highest shareholder wins, the winning mechanism of the game is its unique (and at the beginning very confusing) method of dolling out the cards. It is a game I will happily play again.

 The Treasure and bonus chip island...some captains have already failed to keep hold of their chests...

The Treasure and bonus chip island...some captains have already failed to keep hold of their chests...

We split up into 2 tables of 3, the first one playing Tortuga a dice rolling pirate game. (Sorry I know nothing about this game other than it is a Pirate themed dice rolling game– hopefully BQ can fill in a bit here).   BQ says: "Indeed I can :-).   We played this a couple of weeks back with some key rules accidentally omitted, and the game dragged out to more than an hour.   This week, with the right rules, it cracked along at a much faster pace, and finished in about 40 minutes.   A small strategic discussion was held at the end:  assuming the dice went in one's favour, could one simply ignore the aggressive actions of boarding and raiding other pirates, and focus on building and maintaining a large fleet and crew, whilst going treasure hunting on the island each round? Would the sheer volume of treasure accrued mean that the attacks of other pirates would not...?  I'll try it one day... :-)"

 Tortuga players board

Tortuga players board

This was followed by Polterfass a bluffing and risk management game with some intriguing barrel shaped dice.

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One of the group places all the play barrels in the cup, upends the cup on the table and reveals, all barrels which are not standing up are removed leaving a number of barrels standing with numbers on the lid (or bottom), this is the amount of beer in stock, players then select cards from hand to try to imbibe as much of the ale as they can, however if they drink the house dry they are penalised and the player playing the landlord wins the points, otherwise everyone scores what they drink  and the landlord scores what he has left.

 Two doubled barrels - Beer heaven

Two doubled barrels - Beer heaven

Further confusion is created by 2 special dice which can be used by the landlord to double or eliminate a barrel of his choice and even more confusion where he can roll again all the fallen barrels after players have made a declaration. The part of Landlord passes from player to player and as with other dice rolling games we cursed our luck of the dice.

 No Beer game is complete without Beer Mats

No Beer game is complete without Beer Mats

One of our number suffered badly from the “Fate of Four barrels”, the question of whether to roll again when left with 4 barrels, an apparent common occurrence. For this player, every time the cup was lifted it was to reveal 4 barrels on their side. Post game a short experiment in rolling 4 barrels revealed a 40% success rate – perhaps it was all in the wrist action.

Table 2 in the meantime played Polo Ponies or as it is correctly called Peloponnes an Empire building game where each round a set of tiles are auctioned off which are then added to the players empires. Every tile has a number of characteristics such as resource production, additional population, victory points and special effects.

 Player board for the Argo player (me) with land tiles to the left of the town

Player board for the Argo player (me) with land tiles to the left of the town

Resources are used to build town tiles whilst some of the specials help you to avoid the disasters which appear towards game end. The winner of the game is the player whose score is the highest, however each player has two scores, one from population and the other from tile VP’s, and it is the lower of these that they put forward as their score (the higher acts as a tie break).

 Tiles for auction in Peloponnes

Tiles for auction in Peloponnes

It is a wonderful resource management game well deserving of its 7.23 geek rating, the first play through though just gives you a feel for what it’s about, a second play through is needed with knowledge of the tile set to get the full benefit of the game.

This was followed by Buccaneer Bones , another Pirate themed dice rolling game with a very simple mechanism where getting pairs and three of a kind is the way to win so of course I had a game of rolling straights which get you nothing.

 My player board showing I am allowed an extra dice to help me with my straights!

My player board showing I am allowed an extra dice to help me with my straights!

As a result of your dice rolling you can earn more re-rolls (you get 1 for free), an ability to alter a dice by 1 spot and even get extra dice although this latter ability just helped me roll longer straights!

 Pirate Treasure for Buccaneer Bones

Pirate Treasure for Buccaneer Bones

It was another evening of fun games, Peloponnes being the heaviest game played. It was nice that for everyone who brought games, one of their games was played at some point during the evening. For the future I will be bringing a couple of heavier games Peloponnes/Stone Age/Key Harvest level each week. Not quite at the brain burner end of the spectrum but still games that must be played.