Camels, Creepy Creatures and Monsters from the Deep

 Rules are simple, take a rod without moving any other rods, however those on the top cannot be taken. For dimensions the Wheel is about 10 inches across (25cm)

Rules are simple, take a rod without moving any other rods, however those on the top cannot be taken. For dimensions the Wheel is about 10 inches across (25cm)

For this weeks quiz I have dug out one of my dexterity games, the company responsible for this game also does others with nice wooden pieces although most are 2 player games.

Last weeks quiz was Euphoria which has made a couple of appearances at the club.

The first game on the table this week was Midnight Party, in this game players pieces are partygoers walking clockwise around the ground floor of a country mansion, as they do so Hugo the ghost climbs the stairs from the cellar.

 View of the board and rooms

View of the board and rooms

 The idea is to avoid being captured by Hugo, any partygoers captured are sent to the cellar where they attract negative points however players can escape Hugo but only once he has climbed the stairs from the cellar and reached the corridor tat that point he players can move their pieces into the safety of the rooms but only one player per room.

 Hugo back in the Cellar after a round and scoring, 3 eaten pieces still to return to the corridor

Hugo back in the Cellar after a round and scoring, 3 eaten pieces still to return to the corridor

 Hugo on the hunt

Hugo on the hunt

All movement is by die rolling and luck plays its part, but there are choices to be made and it is a nice warm-up game with minimal rules.

The second game on the table was Camel Up a betting game where players try to earn the most money. The race is played in a series of legs and in each leg every camel will move once. On a turn a player can move a camel and earn a penny, take a betting token to back one of the camels in the current leg, or place a bet on the outcome of the whole race.

 View of board showing camel stack on track and betting chits to the right

View of board showing camel stack on track and betting chits to the right

The sooner someone commits the better the return but also the riskier the bet is. The game is a nice balance of luck and probability and we had great fun with a huge stack of camels approaching the finish line where any camel could have won.

 Close up of the Camels all piled up in the home stretch. Yellow on top is in the lead

Close up of the Camels all piled up in the home stretch. Yellow on top is in the lead

It can sometimes be hard to make any money and usually there is at least one person who would have been better off just moving a camel for a penny on their turn however thiswas the first game I had played where someone ended up with less than the 3 cash that they started the game with and (if my memory serves right) a negative score.

With the warm up games completed we split into 2 tables, I had brought a selection of lighter games and my table played Escape from Atlantis. It is perhaps not surprising when I look at my games collection to see so many Waddingtons games, what is surprising perhaps is that there are quite a few good games there which can hold their own against Eurogames and Escape from Atlantis is one of them.

 Early in the game and there is a mad scramble for the few boats available

Early in the game and there is a mad scramble for the few boats available

In this game the players set up their population pieces on a central island with a view to getting as many of them as they can to the safety of the four other islands in the corners of the board before the island sinks and the game ends. The island itself is made up of plastic pieces all of which have a symbol underneath, nicely crafted but the symbology on the newer edition is at times awkward to decipher. A players turn consists of 3 parts, first they have 3 movement points with which they can move their pieces across the island, onto boats, between boats or even move a boat that they have control of, the player may also spend all their movement to move a swimmer one sea space.

 Not all these brave swimmers will reach safety, Sea Monsters and Sharks soon nibble a few.

Not all these brave swimmers will reach safety, Sea Monsters and Sharks soon nibble a few.

After they have made their movement the player sinks an island tile, pieces on that tile get a free movement point to escape the sinkage then the symbol is revealed which could be a whirlpool destroying everything adjacent in the sea, a monster which eats boats and people, a shark which just eats swimmers, an octopus which smashes boats, a boat (oh sweet salvation) or a friendly dolphin which can carry one swimmer to safety.

 All that is left is the Citadel surrounded by Sea Monster, Sharks (Black fin shapes) and Octopuses

All that is left is the Citadel surrounded by Sea Monster, Sharks (Black fin shapes) and Octopuses

The last part of the players turn is to spin the whirler to determine the movement of a random sea creature (this has been replaced in later editions by dice) with which the player can cause problems for their opponents. There is a huge fun element in this game from escaping catastrophe to whirling the whirler (to which there is a definite knack) in order to nobble your opponents.

 The Island has sunk all that is left are islanders swimming to safety, The Party Island is top left.

The Island has sunk all that is left are islanders swimming to safety, The Party Island is top left.

I lost this game badly, perhaps by not getting invited to the “Party Island” where everyone else had escaped to, this was due to blockage of the entrance by a boat thus making entry only by way of dolphin, I also had a lot of guys swimming making easy targets for the sharks. We all had fun (the laughter from our table was commented upon) and the other three players were very close at the end.

Cockroach Poker was our next game which calls for a strong bluff element, this hits my weak spot in gaming (my other is trading games) I am very bad at trading and completely useless in bluff games where my reliance on probabilities and my inability to hide my emotions means every other player knows what I have got. In Cockroach Poker there are 8 different animal cards, on a players turn they select a card and pass it to another player naming one of the 8 creatures. The receiving player then has to decide whether to accept the card or not, if they accept the card they then pass the same card to any other player not already having seen this card this turn and they can rename it or keep it the same.

 Some of the animal cards in Cockroach Poker

Some of the animal cards in Cockroach Poker

If they choose not to accept it to pass on they then must decide whether the passing player has named the card correctly or not, if they guess correctly the card sits in front of the passing player as a penalty, if they guess incorrectly they get the penalty. A player is out when they have 4 of the same kind of animal face up in front of them. It was a fun game but I did not do well, if one of our number had not kept trying to catch another player out (to his own detriment) I would certainly have lost and it was not until I was on my way home that I started to work out where I was going wrong, it was interesting to note that in the majority of cases players told the truth whereas I assumed they would not be, how this helps me in future games I do not know.

The lighter side of gaming continued as we went on to play Sushi Go! and finished the evening playing two games.

Table 2 played a couple of more serious games, the first was Yspahan a simplish dice rolling game where 9 dice are rolled and laid on a ladder depending on their value, each player then takes a set of dice and actions them either  to collect camels or gold (for the lowest and highest values), place cubes on the board in various souks to earn victory points, take a card or move the Supervisor.

 The green players board with 3 bonuses achieved.

The green players board with 3 bonuses achieved.

At the end of their turn a player may also build a building on their player board to help them gain advantages elsewhere in the game.

 Yspahan board, Camel train on left of picture to the right is the dice ladder with 5's and 3's yet to be picked

Yspahan board, Camel train on left of picture to the right is the dice ladder with 5's and 3's yet to be picked

The cards help greatly in the game and it is possible in a 2 player game to create an engine whereby the cards become more important than the dice set you take however the dynamics are different in a 3 and 4 player game. The idea is to gain points and this can be achieved by owning Souks, building buildings and having camels on the camel train, there are also a few cards that give bonus points. It is usually quite a tight game, though I understand that one of the players took an early lead by grabbing camels at every opportunity and building the bonus buildings early at the sacrifice of not competing for the souks on the board.

Their second game was a Caylus, this is a very nice resource collecting game, however lack of space in this article means I will be brief, I will begin by saying with a geek rating of 7.90 and a Boardgame ranking of 20 and a strategy ranking of 15 this is a very, very good game. It is also worth mentioning that this game has recently been rereleased though I know not what the latest edition has in it or looks like. This is a worker placement game where players place their workers on various buildings along a path to collect cash and various other resources, these resources are then used to build buildings which are placed on the path or to build parts of a castle, both for points, in addition buildings on the path then become available as spaces for workers in subsequent rounds gaining the owner small benefits.

 The board in Caylus with the path and a few buildings (coloured houses show player owned buildings), top left Castle and top right "Favour" tracks.

The board in Caylus with the path and a few buildings (coloured houses show player owned buildings), top left Castle and top right "Favour" tracks.

It is about as good as it gets with worker placement with Village and Kingsburg being two close competitors here but the game has extra levels of complexity which places it above the other them both. These are brought about by cash which is needed for placing workers and is hard to replenish, “favours” which are turn bonuses for building the castle and using “timing” in various places in the games mechanisms such as placement at the bridge which moves the provost and dictates which buildings are in play but also times when the castle is scored and the game ends and order of building at the castle. All in all an excellent package for any games collection. Previous experience of the games mechanisms and how they mesh together does help and means new players are at a slight disadvantage but this did not stop everyone enjoying the game.