Evolution, Tiny Epic Galaxies and Codenames

The quiz this time is from the box cover of an excellent 2 player game.

The last quiz was Seeland a tile laying game by Ravensburger with the theme being bulb growing and windmill building. Sadly I was absent this week so the report is going to be a little shorter than normal, the evenings photos courtesy of J&P.

Table 1 started with Five Tribes, despite its several appearances I have not given it a try yet and all I know is that you move and place meeples as in Mancala, where you place the last one dictates the action you can take on that tile dependent on the colour of that meeple.

 The Gardens of Alhambra (aka Carat) near the games end

The Gardens of Alhambra (aka Carat) near the games end

Table 1 continued with The Gardens of the Alhambra, a simple tile laying game where the idea is to surround victory point markers through tile placement. It was originally released as Carat in 1993 and has been re-themed under the “Alhambra” banner, it plays very smoothly and has simple placement rules. It is an enjoyable game but I find it a little dry.

Their third game was King of Tokyo, a chaotic dice rolling game where you play a monster fighting for domination over Tokyo and the other players, the only drawback is it is a knockout game so an unlucky early exit can lead to sitting around for a bit.

 King of Tokyo with some sort of Ape terrorizing the city

King of Tokyo with some sort of Ape terrorizing the city

Port Royal made its 9th appearance at the club as the fourth game on Table 1 and is now second position in games most played, this card game I have covered before and plays equally well with any number of players (from 2 to 5).

Table 2 saw the lighter side of gaming and started with Exploding Kittens which is a new card game published via kickstarter. In this card game players try to avoid drawing the exploding kitten cards, other cards allow players to affect how the game is played.

J > Exploding Kittens: The aim is to be able to diffuse an exploding cat. Last human standing wins. There are the same number of exploding cats as players and each player starts with a diffuse card that gets discarded when used. The exploding cat, however, when drawn is placed back into the draw pile at any place the exploded human wants, in secret from other active players of course. There are other cards of course that allow you to look at the top 3 cards on the draw deck or shuffle the cards. You can also draw from other players' cards on special occasions . A very good light game. I've heard mixed reviews but it was fun to play.

Next on Table 2 was Hanabi  and although this is not a favourite of mine you have to admire the gorgeous pieces in the deluxe edition of the game.

J > Hanabi: I brought the tiled version of this game and thought that it would be a good game to introduce to two newer gamers to our table. New players were able to get the concept right away. Unfortunately, it was my gestures near the end that may have cost us a lot of points for a better result. Hopefully, the lessons we learned will make us wiser.

 The posh edition - you never see your own tiles until you play them

The posh edition - you never see your own tiles until you play them

Tiny Epic Galaxies was played next on table 2, a nicely put together die-rolling game. Players race to be the first to get 21 victory points through manoeuvring spaceships around the planets on display or the players home system. The players take turns rolling the dice and undertaking the tasks shown on the faces, one free re-roll is permitted, die faces used by the player may (at a cost) be copied by the other players. The game initially becomes a technology race, the higher your level the more dice you may roll and the more spaceships you have for taking planets, planets themselves grant either a one-off special power to a visiting spaceship or a continual power triggered by dice by a player who colonizes (captures) the planet.

 Player homeworld with a conquered planet (bottom left)

Player homeworld with a conquered planet (bottom left)

 The planets being colonized and visited

The planets being colonized and visited

J > Tiny Epic Galaxies: A couple of players got the culture stockpile early on and that helped with learning the game quickly. I learned as a sophomore player that I really needed to get into that so I developed my culture engine that gave a net positive culture earnings each time I followed. But alas, I only started to remember what I learned from the first play quite late in the game.

First on Table 3 was Evolution  an excellent game where players try to steer various animals through their early stages of existence adding abilities/traits to help them survive to the end, there is a continual battle for food a lack of which can cause the loss of a species as can being eaten by other players (or even your own) predators. The game ends when the deck of trait cards runs out at which point players earn points for their populations, traits and food in their reserve. 

 Two creatures in Evolution (picture from previous game)

Two creatures in Evolution (picture from previous game)

S > Evolution I like but I think is much harder to be competitive first time through. I think rushing to spawn more creatures early for card bonuses as well as reacting far more aggressively/defensively when carnivores show up would make it harder for carnivores to take over. I really like how the ecosystem effectively responds to pressure though; that monstrous herbivore was up in the trees racking up points for the whole game and was almost impossible to touch!

C > Evolution ended much sooner than the three player variant I had played before so it was more of a frantic dash for food than a gradual build up of creatures. The carnivore went largely unchallenged but it was great to imagine it trying to take a chunk out of another player's massive climbing fertile herbivore, who maxed out body size and filled it's fat stores....

Viticulture  was the other game played on Table 3, this worker placement game I have covered before, it is a lovely game which I enjoy playing.

S > Seriously close on Viticulture, I liked the fact that we were all so close despite the original differences in starting position. The cottage can really be a boon if you get it free from the beginning. I also like that a game can be won by a player on their first play through which is what would have happened but for some outrageous luck on the last turn.

 The Spring/Summer phase in Viticulture - lots of planting and building work I see.

The Spring/Summer phase in Viticulture - lots of planting and building work I see.

 A player board early in the game

A player board early in the game

C > A very unexpectedly tense game of viticulture - maybe with 5 players there was more fierce competition for the winter actions which eventually swung it. We played a different edition to the version I initially played, where everyone starts with a different 'inhertiance' of money and building thanks to their specific mama and papa. This possibly impacted the game, as some players started out with more useful structures than others, but it is a nice touch that works with the theming. That is definitely going on my wish list when I have a bit more money to play with!

The last game of the evening was Codenames, another on my “must play” list, an interesting deduction game played in teams where two players know the location of all the spies, double agent and assassin and through one word clues try to lead their team towards identifying the location of their own 8 spies whilst avoiding the assassin.

R > Can't wait to play codenames again!

 The viewpoint from the clue givers

The viewpoint from the clue givers

 Codenames cards - does anyone fancy playing a chaotic variant using Dixit cards?

Codenames cards - does anyone fancy playing a chaotic variant using Dixit cards?

C > Overall a really fun tonight topped off by Codenames, which is also a great spectator game for watching the team leaders faces. Cheers all!

Looks like I missed a good evening, Viticulture and Evolution I always like playing and Codenames and Five Tribes are both ones I want to try - perhaps next week.