Aquasphere, Discoveries and Kashgar

 These guys are doing their best to escape the lava that is slowly creeping up behind them.

These guys are doing their best to escape the lava that is slowly creeping up behind them.

For the quiz photo this time I have gone for something relatively new game released in 2014 and a little cute.

The last quiz was correctly identified by several people with BQ coming up with a cryptic clue that had me searching the internet and reading up on the actress Natalie Wood. The game of course was Splendor, the picture a crop of the box lid.

We started off this week with Martian Dice, a nice warm-up that can take as many players as you like though down time increases with player numbers but as you only have to concentrate on your turn it allows you to chat & chew the fat or even watch the special dice juggling show that one of us spontaneously provided.

 Special dice tray made available to us after the second dice juggling show.

Special dice tray made available to us after the second dice juggling show.

I managed to put my months luck of die rolling into one round and won the game, I despair of any other die rolling games I may have to play this month.

Table 1 began with Kashgar: Händler der Seidenstraße this (as far as I am aware) has not been released in an English version and requires vast amount of paste-ups, however there is a nice game awaiting those with the patience. The aim is to gain points by trading in various goods coming over the Silk Road.

 Three separate camel trains, only the bottom card of each train is available for use

Three separate camel trains, only the bottom card of each train is available for use

It is best described (by the geek) as an open deck building game, each player has 3 caravans initially of 3 cards which you build upon, when you use a cards action it goes to the back of the caravan and cannot be used again until all the other cards have been used. The game was well received by those playing it.

Table 2 went with Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia which for a second week in a row got a very favourable response. I was fortunate this week to take a time-out and left the rules explanation to another player whilst I wandered around looking at the other games tables.

 Three of the several Markets that are available. Each game uses only 6 of those available making each game a little different.

Three of the several Markets that are available. Each game uses only 6 of those available making each game a little different.

Euphoria is an excellent game and very well themed, the background fluff (which I erronously left out of last weeks explanation) helps explain the rules and brings the game to life. An excellent overview can be found on the comments link of the game above by Keith Jones (on the first page) which is so much better than I can put here but mirrors my views. Our game went well, I had a plan and worked towards it; most achievements take several actions/turns to achieve, however I found myself always 1 step behind the others who got to key points before me.

 Artifact cards and dice used in Euphoria

Artifact cards and dice used in Euphoria

This left me a few points behind, and even my lucky roll of a triple 3 allowing me an extra 2 actions in one turn failed to get me back in the game which was won by a first time player in a very tight finish.

Table 3 played AquaSphere, I like Stefan Feld games and this is another that leaves you struggling against each other to collect small batches of points from various parts of the board, it is important to be scoring just one or two points more than your opponents each turn if you can but there is also game-end scoring for various goals which if ignored will leave you behind in the points at the games end.

 The Aquasphere in the middle with 3 player programming boards and central control board (left)

The Aquasphere in the middle with 3 player programming boards and central control board (left)

The theme is that the Aquasphere is a research facility in the ocean depths and each player has a reserve of robots within the facility which he programs from the control room to carry out various actions within the facility, the actions are not only goverened by what has been programmed by the player but also by time tokens.

 Player board and personal lab of the yellow player

Player board and personal lab of the yellow player

The Robots can be programmed to equip minisubs, expand the players laboratory, undertake research, collect crystals (required to enter the next scoring zone) and to collect Octopods which infest different areas of the Aquasphere. If you get the correct balance of actions and time tokens you will do well, finding that balance is difficult.

Kashgar finished first and the players moved on to a game of Discoveries. This game is by the same author as Lewis & Clark and uses the same theme.

 Players holding of dice and helpers

Players holding of dice and helpers

The turn mechanism is as that in Euphoria, on your turn you either play dice to take exploration actions or you recover your dice, the explore actions allow you to gain tribe/discovery cards which assist in play and score points at the games end.  I have yet to play this one but it has entered my “to play” list and hope to give it a bash next week.

Aquasphere, Discoveries and Euphoria ending at the same time gave us the opportunity to swap among the tables, Tables 2 and 3 combined to play a couple of lighter more fun games, starting with Skull & Roses.

There is nothing I can add to last weeks report of the game, however it was very interesting to note that with different players the group dynamics changed. This week there were distinct styles of play and with open analysis of those styles over the table there was created yet another dynamic as players bluffed on their style as well as the discs they had played.

In the meantime Table 1 with additions played Montego Bay where the aim is to score points by loading your barrels onto waiting ships, however collecting your barrels is not straight-forward.

 View of the board early in the game, a few deliveries have been made to ships (cubes on boats)

View of the board early in the game, a few deliveries have been made to ships (cubes on boats)

In turn order players pieces move clockwise around the board dependent on what cards they have played which shows how far they move, no two pieces can end on the same space so if a piece lands on another with its last move it pushes the occupant across the board unless that space is also occupied in which case the moving piece drops back to the first empty space.

 Three of the Warehouses available which can be played either way round thus making every game a little different

Three of the Warehouses available which can be played either way round thus making every game a little different

Once all pieces have been moved the players collect or lose barrels dependent on which warehouses their pieces are next to, this is also done in order. It is a nice game with a bit of double thinking dependent on what you think your opponents may be up to.

The final game of the evening was Om Nom Nom another game of bluff and trying to deduce the plays of others around the table. I once again proved that I am totally incapable of reading what others are thinking and should never play Poker by coming last by quite a few points.

 Food dice in Om Nom Nom

Food dice in Om Nom Nom

For those who cannot remember this game 15 dice are rolled which represent 2 layers of food on 3 separate food chains (boards) ie 6 different types, the players each have 6 cards and each round all players select and play a card together, these are revealed and everyone splits the food equally dependent upon which card they played.