Samurais, Sushi and Cacao Beans

The first game on the table this week was The Bucket King a card management game where each player has a pyramid of 15 buckets of 5 colours, in a round the players in turn play between 1 and 3 cards in front of them following one of the 5 colour suits and of between values 1 and 8.

 Pyramid of buckets (dull lighting has masked the colours)

Pyramid of buckets (dull lighting has masked the colours)

Each players total must beat the preceding players total, if they cannot or choose not to do so they fail and lose a bucket of that colour and all buckets within the pyramid which that bucket is supporting. No matter how many cards you play you only ever draw back 1.

 Cards used in Bucket King

Cards used in Bucket King

Bucket King is a simple elimination game which is quick and fun.

Our Table then chose to play Samurai Spirit a game I picked up this week at The Grinning Demon in Maidstone. It is a co-operative game based on the film the Seven Samurai in which the players have to defend a village against a variety of raiders.

 A sample of raider cards

A sample of raider cards

On a turn a player first checks the line of raiders he is holding at bay, the latest addition to that line inflicts damage either on the warrior or on the village, the player then has a choice of assisting a colleague or engaging the next raider, if the latter is chosen he has a further choice of adding it to the line of raiders or allowing it through for the villagers to deal with, however the villagers can only defend against 3 assailants.

 Three of the Seven available Samurai

Three of the Seven available Samurai

A player can continue until one of two occurrences, the first is that the line of raiders in value exceeds the warriors strength at which point he is overcome and takes no further part in the round, the second is that the raiders value exactly matches the warriors strength at which point he gets to use his special power and removes the first raider in his line.

 Player board with battle line to the right and village defence on the left with only 2 slots left

Player board with battle line to the right and village defence on the left with only 2 slots left

The game is about “hand management” of the raiders, get it right and the village survives and gives rewards to the defenders, get it wrong and you are weakened for the next round.  The game consists of three rounds each of which is stronger than the previous. I have played it twice now and it is a good game and contains a lot more depth than at first appears.

The next game for us was Red7, others had played it on previous weeks and enjoyed it, the game revolves around 7 different coloured cards numbered 1 – 7. On a turn a player plays a card from hand either to their display so that their display is now winning the round based on a goal in the centre of the table or they play to the centre of the table where it sets a new goal so that their existing display is the winning hand.

 Crib card showing rankings and possible scoring abilities

Crib card showing rankings and possible scoring abilities

No matter what, they must either pass or make a play where they are winning. If you pass you are out for the rest of the round. The last survivor scores their cards that fit the current goal card.

 Two cards from Red7

Two cards from Red7

It is an interesting concept and play is straightforward but for me (and I was the exception here) it did not work. There is little preplanning to be done as the centre goal card can change several times before it gets to your turn and other players dominance for the various goals also and therefore any preplanning is just wasted time, when it is your turn you then spend your it checking every card in your hand against the different layouts and what you can achieve, this means a lot of downtime between turns and sometimes after checking everything you are left with just one play anyway. I prefer my card games to be quicker, snappier and with a level of preplanning to be done so you have something to do whilst waiting for your turn rather than staring at the other gaming tables.

In the meantime the other table was playing Ciúb, a game I have yet to play, I gave a brief overview last time but will reserve a review of play until I have played it myself.

 Player board in Ciub

Player board in Ciub

However it is worth noting that Ciub was the 200th game to hit the table since the clubs start a notable milestone

After Ciub they moved on to Spellcaster a fairly simple card game where 2 sides vie against each other to either sap the opposing side of all energy or gain 15 Sapphires, the first to do so wins.

 One of the Centre Spell Cards - there can only ever be 1 spell of each colour

One of the Centre Spell Cards - there can only ever be 1 spell of each colour

On a turn instant spells in play that face the active player take effect after which they take a card and then take two further actions which are draw a spell card, play a spell card to the table centre (which holds 4 controlling spells) or activate a spell-card facing them. Although set for a 2 player game it does also play 3 and 4. A 4 player game was played at the club and I am informed it worked very well.

My table had 2 players who needed an early night so 2 of us settled down for a 2-player game of Cacao. This is an interesting tile placement game where players have a hand of three personal village tiles from a stack of eleven, each tile has a total of 4 meeples marked on them along various edges.

 Home Village board with places for cacao at the bottom

Home Village board with places for cacao at the bottom

On a turn a player places one of their village tiles adjacent to a jungle tile already in play then completes actions dependent on the number of meeples next to each jungle tile. Should a corner be created between two village tiles then the player places jungle tiles in those gaps at which point any meeples adjacent to newly placed jungle tiles are also actioned.

 Playing area partway through the game

Playing area partway through the game

In this way a chequerboard effect is created with village tiles and Jungle tiles. The actions that meeples get to do is collect or sell cacao beans, collect gold, attempt to control Temples and collect special action tokens. Temples give gold at the end of the game and it is the player who collects the most gold that wins.

There were 4 of us left for the final game of Sushi Go!, other than Love Letter I do not think a game has been as popular in one night.  It is a card drafting game, everyone gets dealt a hand of cards and on your turn you select one, place it face down in front of you and pass on the rest. Altogether everyone reveals their chosen card and then chooses their next card from the hand just passed to them. This continues until everyone has used all the cards dealt out that round.

 A players hand after a round (excluding puddings)

A players hand after a round (excluding puddings)

The idea is to gather points by collecting sets, as the round continues you get more information as to what cards are out there and what sets are going to be most lucrative. It has everything I like in a card game, it is fast, has a nice theme, it is fun and its balanced.