London, Codixit and Fury of Dracula III

 Not sure but may have done this one before but that should just make it easier for you

Not sure but may have done this one before but that should just make it easier for you

For the quiz photo this time I have some cute guys for you?

The last quiz was of the box lid of Patchwork  a highly recommended 2 player game from Uwe Rosenberg a nice tile tessellation game.

Table 1 started with Thurn and Taxis a route laying game where the playing area is a map of Germany showing various towns which are them-selves grouped into different coloured zones. On a turn you may play a special action, take a town card and lastly play a town card into a row in front of you. On future turns any cards you lay must be adjacent to a town at either end of your row thereby extending the path, after laying a card you can close a route and play pieces onto the board to show that it has been established.

 Thurn and Taxis board

Thurn and Taxis board

The special actions you may do consist of taking a second card, replacing the 6 cards on show, playing a second card onto your row or getting a route extension when closing your row of cards. The idea is to earn points by placing tokens onto the board, getting bonuses for placing a token at every town in a coloured zone and by making routes of increasing length. It is a good game which rewards the player who makes good economical use of the special actions.

BQ > Thurn and Taxis was light and just about what my brain could cope with last night...”W” trounced us by a lead of nearly 10 points. I replaced the card display too many times to be in with a shout - it's never a good use of one's special action unless there's no alternative.

Table 2 played Fury of Dracula (third edition) despite having got the first edition game I have never actually played it and so do not know anything about the game in any of its three guises, however I did note that it proved to be an absorbing game which although it had a slow start (there was a steep learning curve for all the players) it did gather momentum and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

C > Really enjoyed the hide-and-seek of Fury of Dracula - it was a little slow to start as most of us were new to it but once we got going it was really good and it ended the way Dracula should have: a fight to the death in the Mediterranean Sea with garlic.

My table started with London which is played on a map of the boroughs of Inner London, in the game players build up a row of cards (the driving mechanism of the game) which grant various benefits,  all with the aim of gaining the most victory points. On a turn a player draws a card either from the discard display or the top of the deck, then takes one action finally they then discard down to 9 cards. There are only four actions to choose from, the first is to draw three cards, the second is to lay claim to a borough paying the cost marked on the board (in doing so the player gets rewarded with Victory points and a quantity of cards), the third action is to play cards to the players personal display and the last is to “run” your part of the city.

 The London Board

The London Board

When you play cards they are played face up next to each other in “card slots” however for each card played the player must discard a card of the same colour, there is sometimes also a financial cost. When you “run” your part of the city you trigger the effects of the cards in your card row and collect the benefits of them which may bevictory points, cash or help reduce your areas poverty, however after collecting everything you gain poverty tokens based on the number of “card slots” you have plus any cards in hand.

 A sample of the cards - the centre box at the bottom of the Ship Building shows the rewards for when the card is activated

A sample of the cards - the centre box at the bottom of the Ship Building shows the rewards for when the card is activated

The game is about balancing cash against gaining victory points whilst avoiding the penalties of poverty. I have played this a fair number of times 2 player however my knowledge of cards in the deck did not help at all. I found the 4 player game to be totally different, money is a lot tighter and therefore loans much harder to repay (I failed to repay any of my 3 loans), similarly poverty was rife, the lowest number of tokens at the end of the game was 11 whereas in a 2 player game I would expect to get rid of them all. It proved to be an interesting and challenging game with a well deserved win for the victor who timed the games end to perfection.

S > I enjoyed London, not sure I knew what the best play ever was but the pressure to take just one action per turn was perfect.

In the meantime a late arrival tried out Tiny Epic Galaxies in solo mode. I have covered this game before but in brief you collect victory points by taking actions through die-rolling, the first part of the game is usually a race to complete the technology path before moving on to colonizing planets as fast as possible. The solo game pits you against a robot empire which takes its turn after the player, its dice are rolled one at a time which you may copy (at the usual cost) however as it starts the game with 5 dice (the player starts with 4) and colonizing actions affect EVERY matching planet it does collect victory points at an alarming rate; on top of this every 5 culture it rolls an extra 3 dice and every 5 Energy it gains a technology level.

 One of the Robot cards for the solo game

One of the Robot cards for the solo game

Variety is provided in the Robot Empire by each of the player boards having a different line up of special technology powers. As with most solo games it does not replace the joy of playing with other people but it is a workable and highly playable version of the game.

Table 1 moved on to play Codenames a team deduction game where a grid of 25 words is laid out at random then one player (the leader) from each team sees a secret grid showing where 7 of their own spies are placed, the other 11 cards are neutrals and an assassin the revelation of latter immediately loses the revealing team the game. The leaders may only give 1 word clues and a number which relates to the number of words which match the clue they are giving, the others try to deduce where their spies are.

BQ > Codenames (classic version, not the "Codexit" or "Dixnames" hybrid smile emoticon ) was also not a brain burner - well, not in the complex decisions category anyway. Plus, I had a right gift of a grid when I was playing the spy controller - "Pitch", "Boot", "Match"...of course the clue had to be "Snooker". No, sorry, "Football". I know little about sports...

My table next played Pingvinas (probably better known as Hey Thats my Fish), the game consists of a large number of Hexagons with either 1, 2 or 3 fish marked thereon, these are laid out in a hexagonal grid pattern to start players then place their Penguins on a tile with a single fish, the idea of the game is to collect the most fish.

 Part of the play area for Pingvinas

Part of the play area for Pingvinas

On a turn a player chooses one of their a penguins and moves it in a straight line as far as they wish to land on another tile however they cannot leap other penguins or holes in the playing area nor share a tile with another penguin, when you move your penguin you remove the tile your penguin was on and put it into your score pile in this way the playing area not only decreases in size but holes begin to appear. Although the first few turns can just be a fish grab it can become quite a tense game as players jockey for position to cordon off areas of the board for their own score pile a tactic often more rewarding than taking part in the initial 3 fish tile grab.

Our table next played Fluxx  a simple card game where the rules continually change. The deck consists of action cards, rule cards, goal cards and keeper cards, the basic game is draw a card and then play a card, the keepers are played in front of a player and the goal card usually shows 2 keepers which if a player has them in front of them when the goal card is played they win the game. The rule cards expand the number of cards drawn and played whilst the action cards add another level of mayhem.

 My winning combination but the chances of getting the goal card for it were slim

My winning combination but the chances of getting the goal card for it were slim

This is can be a fun little game but (my viewpoint) with little control, I stopped being a fan when I ended up in a game lasting over 45 minutes once, the fun began to wear thin about the 15-20 minute mark however this has not stopped me from owning three different versions, the original, the Monty Python, and the latest Nature version.

Table 1 next played Biblios an interesting card game where the idea is to collect cards and have control of a suit (or preferably several) at the end of the game, there are a few cards which enable players to alter the value of the suits during the game.

 Share set up at beginning of Biblios

Share set up at beginning of Biblios

BQ > Finally Biblios...I always find it interesting - the auction phase particularly, as you find out what rubbish other players managed to dump into the auction pile smile emoticon .

The last game on my table was a hybrid of Codenames (described above) and Dixit, we laid out a grid of 25 Dixit cards then followed the normal rules of Codenames with the addition that nothing could be named that was on the cards – this caused some minor headaches trying to give clues to more than one card whilst not naming anything on them. The game raised quite a few laughs especially with some of the obtuse interpretations we could put on the clues one of which was “Predated” which was initially taken as “Pre-dated” a totally different meaning which seemed to make our leader squirm a bit but perhaps that is my imagination but he did start the timer to end the round an action which is normally reserved for the opponents.

 Dixit cards laid out for Codenames

Dixit cards laid out for Codenames

S > I think Codenames is more fun with pictures, partly because the words can make it feel quite dry, partly for the confusion some clues can present. It definitely forces different tactics for picking 'good' clues as a result.

It was an excellent evening of fun frolics with a bit of mayhem and minor brain burning thrown in.