Lumberjacks, Explorers and Merchants

The quiz picture this week is a game with quite a following, with over 4700 ratings averaging 7.32.

Last week was Lucky Ducks a game aimed at 3-5 year olds, battery driven the blue “river” rotates around the central island slowly gyrating 12 large plastic ducks, underneath the ducks are the colours of the players, the idea is on your turn select a duck hoping to find one of your own, if it is not, put it back, play continues until someone has found all their ducks. Oh yes, the main complaint from hardened gamers – “it is too noisy”.

The game does continually make a large mechanical quacking noise, but it is in theme and if you are playing the game with your kids then you will not notice it, If you have left the game with the kids whilst you watch TV then I can see it being a distraction but there again why watch TV when you can be having fun with your children.

On to the clubs activities – in celebration of “Canada Day” we started the evenings proceedings with Click Clack Lumberjack. In this game each player gets two strikes at the tree with a large plastic axe the aim being to knock pieces of bark off of the tree.

 Tok Tok Lumberjack

Tok Tok Lumberjack

Points are awarded for bark whilst minus points are given for knocking pieces of trunk off the stack. The game plays quite quickly and is usually over in a 15 minutes.

We split into 3 tables, table 1 playing The Voyages of Marco Polo, this game was reccomnded for the Kennerspiel des jahres, what is interesting is that according to geek is much higher rated than the three that reached the shortlist.

 Marco Polo Board

Marco Polo Board

From those that played it I gather it was an interesting game, simpler than the initial complexity of the rules suggested but a good game all the same.

Table 2 decided to have a light evening of fun and frolics and started with Madame Ching which I saw being played last week. In brief players are travelling across the board, each turn the players choose a card from their hand and reveal simultaneously, then starting with the highest played card they add the card to their display of previously played cards which must be numerically larger, if the same suit as played they move straight across the board if a different suit then they move diagonally.

 The board

The board

If the card played is lower than their last card the journey stops and a treasure tile taken from the display however the space you end your journey on dictates what treasure tiles are available for you to choose from. In addition some cards have symbols on them and playing sets of symbols will get you a bonus point card.

 I had to reach square 38 or beyond to win this tile which gave the gem rewards shown

I had to reach square 38 or beyond to win this tile which gave the gem rewards shown

The game is about hand management and planning a route to get to the best treasure tiles, however if that was all the game was it would lack replayability, to spice things up there is a deck of power cards which can be obtained by travelling a straight route across the board (which means poorer treasure rewards), some treasure tiles permit you to collect some cards as well.

 A  short journey with just 3 cards and 3 symbols

A  short journey with just 3 cards and 3 symbols

The power cards are a bit erratic in their potency but I was left with the feeling that the game cannot be won without them, however with thief cards and “negating” cards among their number they remove some of the control  that the rest of the game gives you, I am not keen on this destructive aspect of some games but I know I am in a minority and some players love the limited chaos factor.

Table 3 started with Switching Tracks, this is a new game from Watsalpoag who have produced a few nice games – A Fistful of Penguins and Jet Set an excellent route laying game to name two.

I know nothing more about Switching Tracks other than it is a pick up and deliver game, I will hopefully be able to play it soon and give you some feedback.

Table 2 had moved on to Augustus. This is effectively a card game, players have 3 cards in front of them which have a number of symbols shown down the left hand side, in order to complete a card and put it into your score pile you need to place a legionnaire on every symbol at which point you select a new card from a display of 5.

 The winning hand of cards

The winning hand of cards

There are veracious bonuses to be picked up during the game for completing sets of cards. One player acts as a drawer and one at a time takes chits from a bag, each chit has a different symbol and for each chit drawn all players can cover one symbol on any of their cards with one of their few legionnaires.

 A Pile of unhappy Legionnaires

A Pile of unhappy Legionnaires

One cannot help but liken it to Bingo, but saying that the bonuses you get from completing certain cards and the limits on the number of legionnaires make this a game of decision making and a good half hours fun.

Table 2 and 3 amalgamated at this point and played Medici, this excellent Reiner Knizia game from 1995 is a set collection game where players collect cards by out bidding one another with a view to collecting exactly 5 cards, the cards have different goods on them and by having the most of a particular good you collect points. 

 The end scores with White winning

The end scores with White winning

Other than myself this game was new to everyone round the table and as with a lot of bidding games it is hard to evaluate what an item is worth and initially bids were to my mind quite high, however everything is relative and as everyone (including myself) were bidding high to get the necessary goods our scores were quite close after the first and second rounds.

 The dye chart

The dye chart

With only 5 commodities and 6 players fighting for them it was going to be a hard game with some mean bidding, the win went to someone other than me and it was well deserved. I am hoping that this will get played again at some point as it is a very nicely balanced game.

Table 1 had finished their game and moved on to The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet which I briefly covered last time.

The last game of the evening was that popular favourite Sushi Go! which has made 8 appearances at the club so far, 3 more than any other game, I think this justifies me buying a pencil to keep with the game to do the scores.