New Bedford, 3 Wishes and Chaos Marauders

The quiz picture this week is another recent release, this time the artwork from the box cover.

The last quiz picture was Dreamwell a nice game of route-finding on a changing map board.

 Arcane Academy in play

Arcane Academy in play

 Cyclades mid-game (I think)

Cyclades mid-game (I think)

More people at the club means more games to cover, I shall start off with those I know little or nothing about. The first is Cyclades  an area control game that despite sitting at 118 on the geek I have never got around to playing. The next two were played on Table 2, the first, Elder Sign is described as a co-operative dice-rolling adventure game the second was Arcane Academy on which I have no information at all but BQ writes :-

Table 2 had a good first part of the night thoroughly kicking the ineffably evil backside of the Ancient One Yig. Oh, and it's "Arcane Academy", not "Power". Speaking of that game, and kicking of backsides, congrats to Sarah for scoring more than Jo, Rory and I put together. I think I need to give that game another go soon - clearly there's something I missed... .

 Ice Flow at the beginning of the game, the dark blue pieces on the board are the ice flows

Ice Flow at the beginning of the game, the dark blue pieces on the board are the ice flows

Ice Flow is an English design and worth more of a mention than I have time for on this occasion but in short is a resource management game played across a board where the ice flows (board) keep moving. The last in this batch is Chicago Express which I have played before but remember little about it other than it is a share buying railway building game, I liked it enough to get my own copy, it is fairly light and 3 player it was done in about an hour.

We played BANG! The Dice Game which I have covered several times before, it is a nice filler game and it was played twice and oddly enough despite the shuffle between games everyone ended up with exactly the same role for the second game (there were 6 of us).

we also played Chaos Marauders by Games Workshop, released in 1980 it is not a particularly well balanced game but can be a lot of fun. In the box you get a large deck of cards, 4 playmats, a special die and 16 cones (4 in each of four player colours). Each playmat consists of three rows of 16 boxes in which to place the cards you collect, each row represents a line in your army and you end the game (or round if you prefer to play a longer game) when you complete three lines at which point the player with the most points wins and these (with a few exceptions) come from treasure cards and completed lines. 

 Bits on my layout in the early stages of the game.

Bits on my layout in the early stages of the game.

On your turn you draw a card, and add it to one of your lines, then you take another card and add it to one of your lines, you continue until you draw either a duplicate card that you already have on your display or you draw a green special card. The cards themselves come in five different types and each has a wonderful picture depicting various creatures from Snotling Slaves to Chaos Marauders, treasure cards are blue and generally score 40 or 50 points, War Machines are red and score for completed machines – even more if they have a crew, Warrior cards are purple and range in strength from 1-10, grey cards are fillers and have no special attributes, then there are the green special cards all of which have different effects on play.

 Various types of characters (Claws of Malal is supposed to be purple, blame my camera)

Various types of characters (Claws of Malal is supposed to be purple, blame my camera)

Each line on your playmat to be complete must start with a card bearing a unit carrying a Standard, must end with a Musician card and must consist of at least five cards with no spaces between any of them. When a line is complete you add up its combat strength and if it is stronger than an incomplete line on another players sheet you may attack that line, you roll a die with a 1 in 6 chance of losing, the winner of the conflict takes all the cards of the losers line, discards all purple and grey cards and adds the rest to their player sheet which may have a knock-on effect of completing more lines.

The game is colourful and fun but a trifle unbalanced, my best games of this have been 2 player and played as a set of three games, 4-player can be a bit long but we were fortunate and finished the game in about an hour with the balance of play swinging between all players.

 New Bedford Town Centre, players buildings are built in their seating orientation

New Bedford Town Centre, players buildings are built in their seating orientation

The next game I played is a 2016 release called New Bedford, the game is about the growth of New Bedford Massachusetts which was an important whaling town. The game lasts 12 turns during which players gather victory points through sending out two ships to go whaling and constructing buildings in the town; each player has two worker tokens which they in turn place one at a time on the board and undertake the relevant action, if you are the first to use a central building you get a small bonus, you can also use buildings built by other players by paying them a coin but all player buildings can only be used once a round. Buildings generally provide resources, small amounts of cash or victory points, you can also use them to build and launch a ship, when you launch a ship you choose a distance from the shore to send it and pay the required amount of food. Each round a ship is at sea it moves one step closer to shore and then has a chance of catching a whale, this chance reduces drastically the longer it is at sea and the more ships that are whaling. When a ship lands the player must pay the β€œlay” cost for each whale at which point they put it into storage as victory points.

 My player board with my few resources, the wales on my 2 ships (stacks on the right of the board)  Wales in storage and thus scoring bottom left of the board.

My player board with my few resources, the wales on my 2 ships (stacks on the right of the board)  Wales in storage and thus scoring bottom left of the board.

The game runs smoothly and works well and plays quite quickly, but it struck me as being just another resource management game, there was nothing special in the buildings, how the whaling operates or the mechanisms that run the game, each player collects whales and then collects cash to pay for them (and the victory points) and that is basically it. There was an element of distaste at the subject matter and I can see that whaling could be a sensitive issue to cover in a game. Usually in games where sensitive topics are touched on the historical element takes us on a learning exercise, sadly for me this did not come across and the theme was actually a thin layer on the mechanism, it could quite easily have been any expedition game with a base camp, for instance treasure hunting or mining.

 The whaling board showing we are on round 11, 6 ships at sea and to the right are 5 town tiles which can still be built.

The whaling board showing we are on round 11, 6 ships at sea and to the right are 5 town tiles which can still be built.

A quick deduction filler was next 3 Wishes, this consisted of a small deck of cards, three were dealt to each player and three in the middle, with a card placed to one side. There are three suits and all a player has to do to win is to have three cards each of a different suit, in the case of more than one winner in a round then the player with the highest values on their cards wins. At the game start you get to see only one of your own cards, then on a turn each player can take two actions, 1) look at any card on the table, 2) swap any two cards on the table, 3) shuffle their own cards and look at one, or 4) as a first action declare the round over whereupon everyone reveals their cards.

At first this sounds like a deduction game, however in between your turns there can be a lot of switching of cards so any knowledge you may have even with a perfect memory will not aid you much; this sadly fell flat for me, it was too chaotic and hardly any control.

BQ > 3 Wishes was...odd for me. I mean, I'd like to give it a few more goes before I make a final judgement, and I'm not terribly good at games that require a decent memory, but it seemed kind of chaotic.

Small Star Empires was the last game of the night for me, the playing area is a hex board each hex representing a system containing 1,2 or 3 planets, a nubula (there are 3 each of red, blue and green) or an empty space. Each player has between 2 and 4 rockets depending on the number of players and a number of control markers, 4 being trade centres and the remainder space stations. On a turn you move one of your spaceships in a straight line along a hex row stopping on the hex of your choice and placing one of your control markers, in moving you cannot pass over any opponents pieces nor may you stop on any of your own pieces, thus as the game continues there are less options for movement. It is quite a quick game of area control and it is over as soon as no-one can move either through lack of movement options or having run out of control markers after which you score, 1 for every planet you control, then 2,5 or 8 points for each set of nebulae you control and 1 for each opposing piece next to a trade centre. the game plays in 15-20 minutes and is one of the better fillers I have got this year, highly recommended. 

 Small Star Empires in play, yellows trade centre scoring 1 for the star system and an extra 3 for the green pieces next to it.

Small Star Empires in play, yellows trade centre scoring 1 for the star system and an extra 3 for the green pieces next to it.

The last game running was Stellar Conflict which I did not get to play, but very basically consisted of the players placing cards showing different types of spaceships onto the table in real-time then firing the ships lasers, this was done with different pieces of coloured elastic. They seemed to be having fun and although it is a game I am unlikely to do well in I would like to give it a try.

 Two of the cards in Stellar Conflict - the lasers show the direction the elastic bands are stretched.

Two of the cards in Stellar Conflict - the lasers show the direction the elastic bands are stretched.

SR > Stellar conflict was excellent. I really liked how easy it was; against the clock set up made it tense and exciting and the minor randomness of shooting it out afterwards was very nice. Line of sight neon elastic bands are it's crowning glory!