Apologies for missing a couple of weeks, but I am back now. The quiz is a bit trickier this week, I have again gone for one of the older games in my collection, it is a lot of fun and like Pingvinas takes more time to set up than to play but I usually play 3 games in a row so it is worth the time setting up.
The answer to the last quiz is Carson City, a popular western themed game that I can never get to grips with, it is about gaining influence in a growing town where the shootouts can be catastrophic.
Three tables were at play this week but operation stack, several road accidents on the motorways and roadworks near to our venue all went to delay several arrivals which led to staggered game starts. Table 1 was up and running with Cockroach Poker one of three games by “Drie Magier Spiele” with a cockroach theme. In this one the deck is dealt out to all the players and on a turn a player selects a card and passes it to another player claiming it to be one of 8 creatures, the recipient either takes the card and states they agree or disagree with the claim or they choose to pass it on making their own claim (after peeking at it). If the first option is taken one of the 2 players will end up with the card. The whole idea is to avoid losing which is achieved through ending up with a set of four cards or not having any cards to play. The game is all about bluffing others and is at the “party” end of the gaming spectrum and lots of fun.
In search of a 15 minute game Table 2 started with a 3 player game of The Princess Bride: A Battle of Wits , although a clever little game of bluff it was not good with 3 players and needed (I would say) a minimum of 5 to make it play properly, however I needed a run through to see how the it worked and I appreciate the volunteers who assisted me seeing the mechanics in motion.
As Cockroach Poker was still running we went for another quick game, this time Labyrinth: The Card Game. The box contains a deck of cards each with one or more pathways and 2 treasure tokens upon it, on a turn a player plays a card to the tableau and if they link any treasure on their card to a like treasure elsewhere in the labyrinth they take that card as a victory point. Complications are added in that all tiles have to tessellate (path to path and blank wall to blank wall) and no cards may be left as an “island”.
There is preplanning but as the playing area changes as other players add and remove cards more often than not you are left with a lot of thinking to be done on your turn which leads to a bit of unused downtime.
The tables then split into 3 for the main attractions of the evening. Table 1 went with Canterbury which I believe is a very cut-throat game judging by the odd remonstration coming from that table. The game is about the construction of Canterbury by the Saxons and the winner is the player with the most prosperity which is gained by building various structures of the three different sizes available.
Buildings provide services and each district must be given services in a specific order with water being the basic need, you may demolish small buildings to build bigger ones but services must still be provided. There is a lot to the game and is one of those on my “To play” list.
Table 2 went with Russian Railroads an excellent worker placement game whereby you construct 3 different railroads, the skill in the game lies in collecting the in-game bonuses, I have played this a lot 2 player but the dynamics are quite different 3 player. One of our number took an early lead by rapidly achieving the high scoring goals a turn before the rest of us really got going.
I took the first Engineer and tailored my initial play to him however by halfway through the game the leader was doing my strategy and a lot better than I was, the third player went for the extra manpower but at the cost of Industry expansion. Entering the last round the leader was 100 points in the lead and although I had collected several game end bonuses I was never going to make up that sort of gap, it was a well deserved win and a good game with all three players well matched.
Table 3 went with Drum Roll an interesting action and resource management game. I love Drum Roll and along with Russian Railroads and Through the Ages is one of my favourites, the theme is that you are running a circus and touring Europe putting on a show in each of 3 cities, the player at the end of the game with the most points wins.
On a turn a player can collect cash, hire a circus act, hire a helper, collect equipment or take an Investment card. The game revolves around the circus acts you hire, they need equipment to perform and after each show you have to pay them, in return the acts provide extra resources and funds. Once a performer has been provided with all the equipment (represented by colour cubes) they need you can get victory points from them at which point their wages are reduced however they no longer provide any form of provision.
At the games end there are extra bonuses for various achievements such as largest troupe and most helpers however the majority of the points come from the performers themselves. It is certainly one of the most colourful games I have, the artwork on the cards is vibrant and adds to the feel of running a circus, there is a bit of mental maths as cash flow is important (your performers require wages after each show) and unpaid acts leave taking victory points with them, a costly loss.
Table 2 managed to fit in a quick game of Pandemic: Contagion unlike the other games of the Pandemic theme this is not a co-operative game and the players play various diseases doing their best to spread and cause mass infection in various cities of the world. Players play cards to increase their card draw rate, infection rate or defence against the W.H.O., each turn an event card is revealed which affects all players prior to them playing their 2 actions. Points are earned by being the earliest and biggest infection in the various cities when they reach infection capacity. It was a close game won by Mr Infection himself.
As there was still a little time left I wanted to cram in one of my other new games and rapidly rushed through the rules. The Princess Bride: Miracle Pill is the second of three games released by Game Salute with the Princess Bride theme. The game consists of 3 decks of cards each deck is slightly more powerful than the previous deck (not dissimilar in notion to 7 Wonders). Each deck consist of cards of 5 different suits (ingredients) which go to score players points in various ways, yellow suns are just victory points, orange fairies are multipliers for the yellows, red peppers score negatively for opponent, blue ribbons give discount on potions and the more green snails you have the more each individual green card scores you.
You are dealt 4 cards one of which you play simultaneously with all the other players, the other three get passed to the neighbour on your left, this happens twice more with the last card being discarded. A card may be played face up for its benefits and ingredient or face-down in order to become a joker ingredient. In decks 2 and 3 potions are introduced, in deck 2 each potion has 2 ingredients only 1 of which the player MUST discard from their display in order to play the potion (in deck 3 it is 2 ingredients from 3 that MUST be discarded).
I had hoped that like the points scoring the potion cards would be self-explanatory – I was wrong and much confusion reigned as players tried to work out first the effects of the potion and that they had discarded the correct card(s) and for potions affecting other players – the timing of them. It was my fault for 1. Picking a game I had never played before, 2. Choosing the end of a gaming session where brains had already done the evenings exercise and 3. Rushing through the rules instead of reading them out slowly (I had missed the playing a card face down rule because it was only written in italics) that perhaps caused the game to fall a bit flat.
Having now played it and seen how everything fits together I am hoping for a neater game next time and I have high hopes of this being quite popular in the future as the mechanism once understood is quite nice and as a game sits happily between 7 Wonders and Sushi Go! In complexity.