Octopods, Gems and Sailors

The warm-up game Red7 was already underway by the time I arrived this week, a nice card game with simple rules that was well liked at the club. Players in turn play cards either in front of them or to the centre with the aim of either beating the other players to the goal (the centre card) or changing the goal so they are currently winning. When one player is left they win the round and the points.

I started a rival warm-up game of Purzelspinne  a simple balancing game by Haba. The idea is to stack wooden pieces upon a base which is precariously held between some rubber bands or on any of the wooden pieces already there.

 Spiders stacked on the Mother Spider

Spiders stacked on the Mother Spider

The roll of a die dictates whether you place a light or heavy piece or turn the stack through 360 degrees, any falling spiders (blocks) on your turn gains a penalty point. A simple, quick and fun game.

Table 1 then played Port Royal, an interesting card game which I described last week.

 Some of the cards in Port Royal

Some of the cards in Port Royal

The winner this week was the same as the last game so there may be a perfect strategy that the others are missing, apparently a huge stack of money was mentioned.

Table 1 then moved on to Lords of Vegas, I still have yet to play this game so know little about it other than there is a certain amount of risk taking when making investments.

Beresford Quimby writes:  Lords of Vegas is, essentially, about controlling areas of the board by "investing" in casino groups, like the mega-resorts seen in modern-day Las Vegas.   On each player's turn, they reveal the top card from the deck of casino property cards, which both gives them permanent ownership of a "lot" - a location on the grid-like board where that player can later "build" a casino tile - but  also triggers a payout in both money and victory points for one of the five casino corporations, and, crucially that payout is for all players who have acquired an interest in the relevant corporation: for each casino, any player with an interest gets cash, but only the "boss" of the casino gets victory points - more on the "boss", later.  There are the same number of cards in the deck for each corporation, and so if a given corporation has already paid out a few times, it becomes less likely it will do so again, which introduces a kind of stock-market prediction mechanism.  This is complicated by the fact that the game ends when a "Game Over" card is revealed in the deck, and that will occur when roughly three-quarters of the property cards have been revealed, so there's always some uncertainty about the exact number of a corporation's cards that will come out by game end.

 Lored of Vegas board, with a "lot" owned by Blue on the right, and a 1-tile casino, with Yellow as "boss" on the left.

Lored of Vegas board, with a "lot" owned by Blue on the right, and a 1-tile casino, with Yellow as "boss" on the left.

The active player can then choose from a number of actions, almost all of which can be taken multiple times:  build a casino tile of one's choice - when a player does this, they place a six-sided die from a supply in their colour into the tile to mark ownership, and that die is set to the value shown by a die printed on the "lot", with the highest value single die in any group of tiles showing which player of all those with an interest there is the "boss"; sprawl (by taking over a "lot" that's not yet been acquired, though this's a risk, as if another player acquires that lot later, the "sprawling" player is kicked out!); remodel, where the "boss" of a casino can change the colour of all the tiles in that casino, often to merge it with another adjacent casino; reorganise, forcing all players in one casino to re-roll their dice there, usually so the active player can try to become "boss" there; and gamble, the sole action that can only be done once on a player's turn, when the player can place an evens bet against an opponent, the outcome decided by the throw of two dice.

It's a fun, easy-to-learn game, with lots of "take that!" player interaction - not for the faint of heart.  Theres's some other stuff around trading, and victory point progression, but I've said too much already, so back to Kent Gamer...

Table 2 played Das Amulett a game I played back when it was released in 2001 and did not like, for me it was a flawed game although I cannot fully remember why, other players liked it though and it was nominated for Spiel des Jahres. The game has since been re-implemented as Wizards Brew (not to be confused with Witches Brew a totally different game which I really like).

 Das Amulett main board

Das Amulett main board

Anyway back to Das Amulett, the idea is to collect a gem of every colour from the gameboard, this is done by use of spell cards which are auctioned off. The club played Das Amulett twice. The first game ended very quickly when it was found that due to the way the set up (done randomly), the first player could win and there was nothing the other players could do about it.

 Players hand in Das Amulett

Players hand in Das Amulett

The second game was balanced and provided quite enjoyable.

Table 3 played AquaSphere  by Stefan Feld, like a lot of his games the idea is to collect small amounts of points throughout the game and hopefully give it a little boost at the end through ongoing projects. I had played it 2 player a couple of times and was looking forward to a four player game, I was not disappointed.

 A segment of the main board showing different segments

A segment of the main board showing different segments

On a turn a player has a choice of programming a robot to one of seven tasks or sending a robot on one of those tasks. These tasks include collecting tiles to complete your pod, taking bonus ability cards, placing submarines to collect victory points, collecting crystals or time tokens, destroying octopods or going for a delay.

 Players board, the top of the board showing the seven actions

Players board, the top of the board showing the seven actions

The mechanisms mesh nicely together, a task board limits the options you can choose from whilst you need to collect time tokens to move and crystals to score, there is also a need to remove octopods as they attract a negative score. There is a certain amount of planning to do to make sure you undertake the correct tasks to maximise your points in each round. It is a good game which has you thinking throughout and rewards good planning.

 Overview of the main playboard

Overview of the main playboard

Table 2 finished with Red7  and thus ended the evenings gaming for all. A good turnout and some interesting games played.

 Some of the cards won in Red7

Some of the cards won in Red7