Horses, Gold and Penguins

Operation stack took its toll on the game club last week preventing 1 member attending and making me 20 minutes late but not too late to join a game of Royal Turf a newer version of Turf Horse Racing.

In this game seven horses are displayed with movement possibilities shown dependent on what face of a racing die is showing. The players in turn place betting chits on the various horses after which a race takes place, during the race the players in turn roll a die and apply the results to a horse of their choosing provided it has not moved yet, once all seven horses have moved the movement restriction is removed and once again there is a choice of all seven horses.

The race ends when 3 horses have crossed the line and the game ends once 3 races have run. It is a nice game and plays fairly quickly, in addition over the 3 races the vagaries of the die should even out, our games winner played a good game throughout obtaining a steady income in all the races. I managed to not only fail to win anything in the last race but lost money by backing the last placed horse.

We then split onto 2 tables with my table choosing Macho Kori a relatively simple card collecting game the aim of which is to build 4 special buildings held in your hand, the first to do so wins. All buildings cost money to build and you earn money from buildings previously built, fortunately to start the ball rolling you already have 2 buildings given to you at the start of the game. 

On your turn you roll a die which may activate buildings in your display and other possibly other players displays as well, blue buildings activate on everyones turn, green ones only on your turn and red ones on other players turns, a building activates if the die roll matches its activation number.

Tactics vary some go for a spread portfolio with a variety of buildings so they get something on every turn whilst I prefer stocking up and taking just the occasional big payout on monopolies, normally to progress you need the railway station which then gives you the choice of rolling one or two dice on your turn but in this session someone won very convincingly with a one die strategy.

The other table had started with a game of King of Tokyo, a fun and certainly very colourful game, the idea is to earn 20 victory points, to do this you undertake the role of a giant monster and terrorize Tokyo.

On your turn you roll 6 dice and in time honoured fashion re-roll as many of these as you want twice more, there are 4 types of faces :- 1) an energy point symbol for which you collect an energy point, 2) 1,2,or 3 victory points for which you need to get a triplet to score the points 3) an attack symbol which damages your fellow monsters that are in a different location and 4) a Heal symbol to heal a damage point.

The game is not about die rolling though it is really about the power cards you collect which are bought using the energy points you collect off the dice. These cards may have a one off use or a continual use and it is the collecting the right cards that will win you the game.

It is a fun game however it does suffer a knockout rule, if your monster takes too much damage you are out of the game, okay for conventions where there are always other games you can move onto but I am not so sure about a games evening.

Biblios was the next game on the other table, a card game which we have covered before. It has a nice intricate card purchase/auction mechanism where the idea is to build up a strong hand of cards to gain control of various companies whose value is influenced by other cards.

On our table we played Pingvinas, aka “Hey Thats my Fish”, an abstract strategy game of moving your penguins over hexagonal tiles in a straight line, the tile your penguin left goes into your score pile, in this way parts of the board start to disappear, penguins cannot move over gaps but if your penguin is alone on a cluster of tiles then they all go into your score pile. It is fun, quick and strategically testing.

We finished off with a new purchase for me “Korrigans”, in this game the idea is to collect as much gold as possible the winner being the player who collects the most. The board depicts a number of fields each of which has a Menhir (standing stone) and a small stack of tokens therein, each field will also have 2 or 3 entry points with an animal (usually different) depicted at each entrance.

Each player has 2 pieces which they place in different areas of the board and take their choice of token from the face down stack. A token will either have a number of gold pieces shown on it or one of the various animals shown on the board. On your turn you must move one of your pieces to an adjacent field through one of the gates and select a tile from the stack in that field, to use the entrance you show an animal token matching the animal on the “gate”, for the rest of the game you may now move through any entrance showing this animal.

As the game progresses you collect gold, animal tokens and Menhirs which are taken with the last token in an area and grant either gold or a random event. The endgame is played a little differently, each round of turns a coloured disc is drawn from a bag, when the seventh different colour is drawn the game enters its final stage and a crock of Gold is placed on the board and the game pieces now have to get there using their animal tokens except each animal token can now only be used once, extra gold is handed out to players who get 1 or both of their pieces to the crock of Gold.

The game is fun and light hearted and there is a little bit of luck in the disc drawing and Menhir collecting, but on the whole it is quite well balanced, in our 4 player game the scores were all within 5 points of one another making it a very close game.