Letters, Cargo and Trains

After an extended Christmas break the club saw in the New Year on the 7th January with 9 attendees including 2 new members, a warm welcome to you both and I hope you had a good time. As an introduction to the nights seriousness I put Roar-A-Saurus on the table.

 A set of dice - the game contains 20 dice allowing for advanced play.

A set of dice - the game contains 20 dice allowing for advanced play.

The rules are simple, first off there are no turns and all play is simultaneous, you have 3 dice which you roll trying to get 3 of a kind, you may re-roll as many of your dice as you wish and you may re-roll them as many times as you like, when you have 3 of a kind you yell out the appropriate noise – 3 reds is “Rawrr” and you dish out a damage point to the player on your right, 3 Blues “Grrrr” is yelled and a damage point given to the player on your left etc.

 Player board with 2 damage tokens and a Grrrr attack 2/3 complete

Player board with 2 damage tokens and a Grrrr attack 2/3 complete

When someone receives their 4th damage point they are out. Powers of healing and flame blast are 2 other options available. There is advanced play which includes various power boosts but the basic game is enough for a warm-up and is fun and fast. Each round lasts no more than about 3-5 minutes.

We split into 2 tables – table 1 went with Black Fleet a new pirate game from Sebastian Bleasedale who is a British designer and author of two other games I like namely “On the Underground” and “Keyflower “  however I did not play this game and know nothing about it other than it does have a huge map board requiring 2 tables to support it and I have been asked for my roulette rake for the next game to help move the ships around.

Beresford Quimby writes:  I'll just chime in here with a summary of the game.   And yes, the board is rather big, depicting a pretty and very stylised version of the Carribbean split up into sea movement spaces, interspersed with small islands.   The object of the game is to be the first turn over all of your set of five development cards, and you do this by paying the amount of doubloons indicated on each card (5,8,11,14 and 10 in our case, though you can replace the 10 with a 20 card, for a longer game - the 10/20 must always be the last card turned over, and triggers the end of the game).   You have control of two of your own ships (one pirate ship, one merchant ship), and also joint control, with all the other players, of two Navy ships, one yellow and one purple.  The needed doubloons can be acquired in a number of ways:  by picking up cargo from ports and delivering to other ports with your merchant ship; by sinking other players' pirate ships with one of the Navy ships; and by plundering other players' merchants with your pirate ship as they ply their trade, and possibly burying the booty on one of the islands.   On your turn, you move the ships a number of spaces by playing a movement card (chosen from your hand of two such cards), and these cards have a value for each kind of ship indicating how far it can be moved.  Notably, whilst you can always move both your merchant and your pirate each turn, only one or the other of the two Navy ships is featured on each card.  

  The Board of "Black Fleet".  It's  big ...

The Board of "Black Fleet".  It's big...

Mixing things up further are Fortune cards, acquired, or in some cases, lost, when many (but not all) movement cards are played.   Fortune cards can be played at any time on your turn, and give special one-time benefits, such as extra movement or interfering with the other players plans.  Also, the development cards themselves - except for the 10/20 values - confer additional permanent powers, such as extra doubloons from certain actions, once flipped over.  These development cards are randomly assigned at the start of the game from four decks, so the combinations of powers are going to be different for each game.

Black Fleet is a "family" style game, with fairly low complexity, a bit of chaos, and some fun "take that!" aspects.   It demands one play light-heartedly, and not try to overthink the situation - taken in that spirit, I had a lot of fun with it.   A deep strategic experience it isn't, but it doesn't pretend to be.   And the bits - beautiful little plastic ships, and real metal money - are great, and add to the atmsophere.

I now return you to the esteemed Kent Gamer...

 

Table 2 played Colt Express, released at Essen last year players play bandits on a train trying to rob it of its loot, however each player is independent and shooting one another is expected and in fact you get a $1,000 bonus if you empty your gun of bullets.

 Four player game with cash bags and Gems inside the carriages

Four player game with cash bags and Gems inside the carriages

The train itself is several carriages long with loot in the form of purses and gems placed inside each of them whilst the Engine carries the Marshall and a carry case containing $1000 cash.

 The Marshall in the Engine guarding the carry case of cash.

The Marshall in the Engine guarding the carry case of cash.

The winner is the player who has the most cash at the end of the game. Each player has a hand of cards which includes shooting your gun, swinging a fist, picking up loot, moving the Marshall, moving between carriages or climbing onto the roof of the carriage; on your turn you play one of your cards to a common pile either face up or face down dictated by a round card, then after players have played their 3rd, 4th or 5th card, again dependent on the round card the whole deck is played out in the same order.

 Player board, left stack is his gun showing 2 shots fired, middle is draw deck and right is discard with a hit from white on top. He has 1 gem and 2 cash bags.

Player board, left stack is his gun showing 2 shots fired, middle is draw deck and right is discard with a hit from white on top. He has 1 gem and 2 cash bags.

If you get shot you receive a bullet card which becomes a hand clogger and if the Marshall moves into your carriage he shoots you and you automatically move to the roof. Just to add another bit of confusion each players character has an additional power.

Table 2 then moved onto Cargo Noir a worker placement game where you collect resources which you trade in for victory point cards. The board is sectioned off into different areas into which are placed some random resources of which there are 9 different types. On your turn you send ships to the various areas each with some cash to bribe the officials at the destination, anywhere which is uncontested the ship receives all the goods. At a location where a player has been outbid they can make a choice of either withdrawing and taking back their coins or increasing their bid, if the latter this location may not be resolved until the following round – a missed opportunity as there are a limited number of turns. After this players sort their resources into sets of either alike (in which case value is square numbers) or different (in which case they are pyramid numbers) and use these sets to purchase victory points. Limited storage and choice of low cost upgrades make this an interesting game.

Table 2 then finished off with another bash at Roar-A-Saurus, in the meantime table 1 had moved on to Love Letter a simple game where on a turn a player takes a card and adds it to one they already hold, they then play one of the 2 cards applying its effects. Play continues until the deck runs out (only 16 cards) at which point the player with the highest card in hand wins a point. Simple but addictive, this game has been re-incarnated many times over by fans  of the game with various themes, Star Wars, Cthulhu & My Little Pony to name just a few.