Artifacts, Bosses and Caballeros

To make up for last week, games started early and I walked in with my Hot Chocolate (boy was it cold last night) to find a game of Love Letter already in progress.

Love Letter is quite a simple game but very popular, it consists of 16 character cards of which 1 is dealt to every player, on a turn a player takes a card and then plays one of the two cards they are then holding using that characters power to undertake an action, the aim of the game is to hold the highest ranked card at the end of the round. There is a lot of deducing to be done and as it plays quite quickly an ideal warm-up game.

As there was another person waiting I started off with one of my favourite warm-up games at another table. Animal Olympics is quite an old game, aimed at younger people it is quite nice and has fantastic artwork. There are 39 cards numbered from 1 -39, the deck is shuffled and a number of cards dealt face down in a row in front of the players.

 Part of a players layout

Part of a players layout

On a turn a card is taken from the deck remainder and the player places it face up in their row passing the card it replaces face up to the next player and so on. The idea is to get all the cards in your row face up first and in sequential order. The game can be made more difficult by each player having more cards face down in front of them at the start of the games.

 The cutest artwork I have come across in any game

The cutest artwork I have come across in any game

I went for middle difficulty of 10 to each player in a 2 person game and 9 in the following 3 player game.

After the warm-up games Table 1 moved on to El Grande . Sitting at number 20 in boardgamegeek boardgame listing it is well deserving of its rank requiring a lot of thought to play the game well as there is a lot of player interaction/interference. The board shows a map of medieval Spain showing a number of regions, the idea of the game is to score the most points and points come from having the most units in a region when that region is scored.

 Part of the board showing regions with caballeros battling for control for the points values shown

Part of the board showing regions with caballeros battling for control for the points values shown

To start a round the players in turn choose a card from a ranked deck of 13 cards they hold in their hand, this provides a number of raw recruits to put into play later and also dictates when in that round that player is to have their actions, the more you recruit the later in a round you will have your turn.

 The King action card

The King action card

In the new turn order players take one of 5 action cards available and then take the actions thereon, these cards allow you to place units on the board and then either score a region, moviethe King (who affects scoring and unit movement), move units and a few other events. The balance of increasing your unit strength in the various regions  against slotting yourself into the perfect position in the turn order, early to have best choice of power card but late enough to have an influence on the game is a fine line to travel.

My table opted for something equally testing and chose one of my favourite medium-heavy games , Pergamon . This game is about collecting artifacts and exhibiting them in a museum, it is these exhibits which get you the victory points, the path to success is intricate and requires some forethought and planning to do well.

 The first 3rd of the Pergamon board showing the cash track at the top and the artefact-tiles in the five levels of the dig.

The first 3rd of the Pergamon board showing the cash track at the top and the artefact-tiles in the five levels of the dig.

In the first phase of a turn players place their playing piece on a cash ladder, however there is a limited amount of cash to be shared, the spaces chosen also dictate how deep in a 5 layered pit players can dig for artifacts, the deeper you dig the more it costs. The second phase is taking artifact cards, however these cards are all incomplete showing 2 halves of different treasures, the idea is to collect them and marry the halves together, these are then exhibited the numbers showing their ranking when placed in the museum.

 An exhibit consisting of 4 complete artifacts and initially scoring rank 10 in the museum

An exhibit consisting of 4 complete artifacts and initially scoring rank 10 in the museum

Each scoring round exhibitions are given points based on their position on the ranking table. Depreciation and bonus points for the oldest artifacts add to the fun.

Our table moved on to Langfinger a nice fun game of thieving art, the board is split into five sections, in sections 1 and 3 players collect various tools, in sections 2 and 4 players use these tools to pick up works of art and gold and in section 5 they sell the items stolen to fences.

 Tools at the bottom which are then spent on items cards in sections 2 and 4, the fences are on the right showing what they will buy

Tools at the bottom which are then spent on items cards in sections 2 and 4, the fences are on the right showing what they will buy

In turn round the table players place their pawns in the various sections then after all placements the different sections are auctioned in pawn placement order. Players pick up victory points when the sell goods to the fences. It is a nice game and plays quite quickly.

The other table had moved onto Biblios , this has been played at the club quite a few times and I have explained the mechanics before, it is basically a card game where you collect sets, there are also some special cards which will affect the values of these sets at the end of the game.

 The winning hand in Biblios winning 2 of the dice and 5 points.

The winning hand in Biblios winning 2 of the dice and 5 points.

Only the biggest set (effectively largest shareholder) of each type will count at the end of the game.

The final game for our table was The Boss a recent acquisition for me. In this game a number of city bosses are laid out dependent on the number of players together with a face down card of that city, then the rest of the city cards are shuffled and dealt equally to the players.

 The layout part-way through a two player game

The layout part-way through a two player game

On a players turn they place a number of cubes on one of the bosses and then plays a card face up, so as the round progresses more information is made available and the value on the hidden cards can be deduced. At the end of the round whoever has the most cubes on a boss gets the hidden card which will be either a cash value or an event card.

 The score board also containing a prison and hospital for injured and captured mobsters.

The score board also containing a prison and hospital for injured and captured mobsters.

At the end of the game it is the person who has collected the most loot that wins, I have only played this 2 player so far where it works quite well, though I am keen to play with more players as it should throw up some interesting situations.