Le Havre, Between 2 Cities and Bang Dice Game

The quiz picture is a little different this week, I do not expect anyone to get it (I will be impressed if they do) however I am open to any and all comments.

The previous quiz picture was the 1987 release by Ravensburger Flying Carpet an intriguing race game. The picture was of the buildings and clouds all of which are obstructions in the game.

We went straight into the meatier games this week Table 1 started with Tiny Epic Galaxies, this space exploration game is quite nice and is a lot bigger than the box gives credit to. The aim of the game is to score victory points these are obtained from increasing your technology or from colonising planets, 21 VP’s is the game end trigger. On your turn you get a number of dice dependent on your technology and roll them you get one free re-roll, with these you can gain energy or culture dependent upon where your spaceships are in orbit, or you can colonise planets by diplomacy or conquering.

 The planets in play in Tiny Galaxies, colonised planets are replaced

The planets in play in Tiny Galaxies, colonised planets are replaced

The game is a balance between climbing the technology ladder as quickly as possible (which gives extra dice and ships) and leaving yourself enough flexibility to do other things if the dice roll does not go your way, an excellent small box game. BQcommented :-

  • Tiny Epic Galaxies was even better, for me, than the first time I played it, because with 4 players rather than 5 it was a bit shorter, and I felt it ended just about the right time. I begin to see how the planet colony powers can interact - the ultimate winner had a nice little combo set up, of which I was jealous smile emoticon

Table 2 went with Takenoko which I have covered a couple of times before but for those who have not played it before the game is about achieving objective cards which come in three different types, Bamboo plots (specific configurations of land tiles), Panda food (specific segments of bamboo) and Gardener ( specific bamboo growth). On a turn you roll a die which gives a random action after which you can take 2 additional different actions to grow bamboo, collect bamboo, take an objective card or place a new land tile.

 The Takenoko playing area slowly expanding

The Takenoko playing area slowly expanding

It is a light fun game where you have quite a few choices but decision making is fairly quick, there is a bit of luck in what goal cards you draw however this helps steer the game towards some interesting decision making. This is an ideal bridge game with minor resource management and low level decision making, together with a cute panda and wooden bamboo pieces it is a pleasure to play for gamers of all levels, highly recommended. One player stated :-

  • We had an wonderful game of Takenoko. Our winner was first to table 5 cards and was able to eke out a win with an awesome draw.

Table 3 went with the much heavier game Le Havre designed by Uwe Rosenberg (he of “Agricola” fame) in 2008, despite being released in consecutive years they are both excellent games with different styles of play and themes. Le Havre is definitely a resource management game, there are nine different resources, all with an upgraded version which are needed to build buildings (clay, wood, brick, Iron and steel), feed people (meat, bread and fish), produce energy (charcoal, coal and coke) and gather victory points (money, leather, hides). On a turn a player must put 2 new resources into play from a predetermined list they then get one action. The one action is to either collect all the resources from one resource pile or to place your playing piece on any building in play and undertake the action permitted by that building.

 the board showing piles of resources collecting plenty of fish on the second space from the left

the board showing piles of resources collecting plenty of fish on the second space from the left

At the beginning of the game the only buildings in play allow you to build other buildings however as the game gets under way more buildings come into play allowing you to gather fish, turn cows into meat, bake bread or smoke gathered fish amongst many other abilities. At the end of each seven actions players must take a feeding action, the number of food required increases slowly throughout the game, failure to feed attracts cash loans which must be paid off by the end of the game or they attract severe victory point penalties. I have only covered the basics here, it is not an overly complex game but there is a requirement to plan ahead, for instance later in the game if you want to build the bank you need to gather Iron then turn it into steel for which you need to turn coal into coke, you will also need bricks made from clay and some wood – this is a minimum of 7 actions and in a 4 player game this is 3 complete rounds of feeding so you need plenty of food before you start. There are some short-cuts and it is planning ahead using the right short cuts that will get you victory whereas mismanagement of food can sink you badly.

 Four of the building cards, Red has converted wood into charcoal, when the charcoal kiln was built it cost 1 clay to build.

Four of the building cards, Red has converted wood into charcoal, when the charcoal kiln was built it cost 1 clay to build.

Our game was quite tense up to the end with two of us struggling to pay off all our debts before the end of the game whilst a third suffered from a miscalculation in food; my previous experience in the game and heavy investment in steel ships saw me the victor but it was a hard won struggle as key positions were taken by the other players and it was never certain I would clear my debts before the games end. It is well deserving of its 15th position of all board games on the geek and if you enjoy a challenge I highly recommend this game and although it is definitely a gamers game with zero luck factor it plays light enough for medium weight gamers to enjoy as well.

Table 2 played Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game – sadly I still know nothing about the game but those that played enjoyed it. Comment :-

  • Portal went through the grinder on our table. Our first game took a while to set up buy ended quickly. Then we were eager to play it again but I ended up handing the game to the winner accidentally.

They then moved on to Love Letter: Batman which has been covered before, a nicely themed quick deduction game.

Table 1 next played Between Two Cities, another 2015 release with a nice twist on the tile laying mechanism. Each player is helping to construct 2 cities, one jointly with the player to their left and another jointly with the player to their right. Each turn you take 2 tiles from a small stack, all players reveal their two choices simultaneously then the players choose which of their two tiles to add to which city, what you actually place where may change with what your co-builders intend to play and some smart negotiations tend to take place. The game ends after all cities are complete (a 4 x 4 grid) and scoring takes place, different types of tile combinations score differently. Each player then scores points equal to their lowest scoring city, the winner is the highest of these scores.

 One of the Cities. Yellow scores 10 points for a row, red scores 9, blue scores 5, brown scores 8 and grey scores 6, 9, or 12 dependent on which city has the most factories.

One of the Cities. Yellow scores 10 points for a row, red scores 9, blue scores 5, brown scores 8 and grey scores 6, 9, or 12 dependent on which city has the most factories.

The game is interesting and the mechanism is sound giving some perplexing decision making dilemmas especially as you want both your cities to score highly (as does your two neighbours) and there is a lot chat about what to play and where, one of a very few games of this level that encourages discussions as opposed to the sitting around the table in silence thinking e.g. Splendor, however the scoring at the end seems a bit of a let-down for all the activity, thought and discussion that went beforehand and I do not know why, perhaps its just me. BQ said :_

  • Between Two Cities was unlike anything I've played before, and I don't know if I'll "get" it, but I really, really enjoyed it. Negotiating with one's partners around the table meant that - a bit like with 7 Wonders - there's zero "downtime". Winning seems to be a matter of optimising one's scoring across both cities - one's final score is that of one's *lowest* scoring city - but although I felt I had done that as far as possible, I think there were a couple of things I *didnt'* do in the tile passing part (where you give your pile of tiles to the person on your left/right, depending on the round) that could have made things better. I'll know for next time.

Table 1 then moved onto Traders of Osaka I want to play this again before I comment on it. The version I have played is Traders of Carthage and although I enjoyed it others gave it a luke-warm reception. I do not know if Traders of Osaka is any different rule-wise, it certainly seems more professionally produced but I would like to know whether it is just cosmetics that have made it more acceptable or something else.  

 The playing area of Traders of Osaka

The playing area of Traders of Osaka

BQ commented thus :-

  • With Traders of Osaka, I feel I'm now starting to appreciate the strategies. As I've said before, some people on BGG have accused this game of being "chaotic" with 4 or even 3 players. I now disagree even more with that. I think that there's lots you can do to "shape" the move of the other players - and not just the player to your left - by doing things like taking cards of a colour you don't really want to move forward; making the market more attractive to take; reserving a particular card; taking the market even with merchandise you don't want or need to force a bunch of "junk" cards to come down from the farm, etc.

The last game of the evening was BANG! The Dice Game, we have played this several times at the club and are now well versed with the rules and the player roles. As one of the Outlaws I had a lot of enjoyment spreading doubt as to whom the Deputy was, I do not think the sheriff was fooled but the doubt was always hovering in the background, in the meantime the Renegade put a target on her back with a rules question and got rewarded with plenty of gunfire from all directions. This left a self confessed outlaw to try and deduce his partner in crime (which he was successful at), the Deputy then collapsed from several rounds of arrow fire and bullets despite quaffing healing beer, this allowed me to concentrate on the Sheriff whom I managed to put 5 bullets into in the very next turn thus ending the tyranny of his regime in our small town.

 The Outlaw that gunned down the Sheriff

The Outlaw that gunned down the Sheriff