A Falcon, A Judge and A Grape.

It was a little quieter at the club tonight with only five attendees. However we were the only ones present to see some engine testing going on with the Millenium Falcon.

This wonderful model with working  banks of LED’s will be hanging over the entrance to the Style and Winch public house (the clubs home) during the Bank Holiday.

If you are in Maidstone you must give it a quick visit.

The first game on the table was Mascarade. In this game everyone is dealt a random character from a fixed set (so everyone knows which characters are in play) then each turn you have one action and there are three to choose from. Swap your card with another player, you take the character card of another player place it under the table with your own and shuffle deciding which card to give back to the other player.

 The King grabs 3 coins on his turn

The King grabs 3 coins on his turn

The second action is to look at your own character card. The third option is to claim to be one of the characters in play and undertake its action usually collecting a small amount of cash. With the third action the other players can challenge you, if you are found out to have lied you do not do the action, instead you pay a penalty, as does all false allegations as only the real character can make a true claim. When cards are revealed the next player must take the swap action.

 The Judge and winning card in our game reaping 6 coins from the courthouse.

The Judge and winning card in our game reaping 6 coins from the courthouse.

The aim of the game is to collect 12 coins. It is a very nice game of misdirection and mayhem, a healthy short term memory will help enormously, as will an ability to make deductions based on limited knowledge.

The next game was Viticulture, the second release from Stonemaier Games – the first being Euphoria. It is a worker placement and resource management game with the aim being to get 20 victory points. Each round of the game is split into two, a Summer phase and a Winter phase with two small admin phases of Spring and Autumn. The start of each round is taken with choosing turn order, the later in the round you are willing to go the greater the reward you get. Each player starts with 3 workers which they can place on the board in one of the 2 zones which is in play, actions consist of collecting cash, collecting grape vines (for planting), planting grape vines, building a special building, playing special action cards or selling grapes for cash.

 The Cockerels on the left indicating player order

The Cockerels on the left indicating player order

If you are the first player to take an action you get a small bonus. If you have any workers left after the Summer Phase, they can be used on the winter side of the board, these actions are gain a worker, harvest grapes, turn grapes into wine, play a special action card, collect a wine order or complete a wine order.

 The main board at games end with green winning and my blue token tailing badly

The main board at games end with green winning and my blue token tailing badly

It is the completing of wine orders that gives you the much needed victory points in the game but it is not a quick process, first you need to obtain grape vines, then plant the vines, then harvest the grapes, then change the grapes into wine, obtain an order then finally complete the order. The game follows logical steps, the various buildings you can build assist in various ways and picking up bonus cards can really help boost your actions; the whole game is well rounded and requires a certain amount of pre-planning.

 The orange players home-board, the glass beads indicate grapes harvested on the left and bottles of wine on the right

The orange players home-board, the glass beads indicate grapes harvested on the left and bottles of wine on the right

As to tactics all I can suggest is do not take chances I gambled my first few turns on getting bonus cards only to find that they were useless in the early stages of the game, in the meantime others had planted vines and grapes growing, gaining extra workers is only useful if you need the actions otherwise the money is better spent on buildings and cash is very tight so wise usage is necessary. Overall an excellent game, highly recommended      with my only reservation being the luck which the cards bring to the game a good rate of turnover however should mitigate this.

Last weeks quiz was guessed by Beresford at the club (well done) it was Small World. The next one is another easy one if only because it is the cutest picture I have come across in all my years of gaming.

 The cutest card in the boardgaming world

The cutest card in the boardgaming world