Ginkgopolis, Mach Koro, Russian Railroads and The Resistance

The quiz picture this week is of a crazy fun race game from 1990.

The last quiz picture was of Dino Race one of the nicer lightweight racing games with excellent chunky playing pieces.

The evening started with just two tables however Table 3 started with 7 players and played The Resistance an interesting deduction game in which I am usually (the correct word is “always”) on the losing side.

Players are either on the blue side or the red side (decided by cards dealt secretly to everyone at the games start), the game then starts with everyone closing their eyes and the red players opening their eyes to see who is on the red team, they then close their eyes and everyone reopens their eyes. There follows a series of rounds in which players vote for who goes on a mission and when a team is decided those players only put in a success or failure chit, these chits are shuffled and revealed, if all tokens are success tokens the mission succeeds (a point for the blue team) otherwise it fails (a point for the red team).

There are more blue players than red but as the blue players do not know who the red ones are each mission is very risky but should reveal a little information. I am not sure how balanced the game is and there is usually a lot of double talk and illogical logic going on that makes your brain fizz, however the game is an excellent ice-breaker and plays from 5-10 players, we played it twice the second time with 9 players and yes I was on the losing side both times.

Table 2 began the evening with Machi Koro a nice card game in which the goal is to be the first player to build your four special buildings. Each player starts with a couple of buildings in play, and  on a turn a player rolls a die, all players starting with the die roller activates any appropriate buildings they have after which the die roller may spend any cash they have on purchasing a single building. This is a simple game but there are choices and tactics such as whether to have a spread portfolio or to monopolise, which “chain” of cards to adopt and which special buildings to build first, all of which can affect your future turns. It is the ideal warm-up game.

 The winning layout - a diverse portfolio.

The winning layout - a diverse portfolio.

BQ > Machi Koro: Light, easy to understand, and plenty of cheers and good-natured groans as the "right" or "wrong" numbers get rolled. Moderating your luck is the order of the day, and whilst I feel that one *could* suffer badly from a run of bad luck, or cruise to victory on a good streak, there's enough choices to keep things interesting, plus it doesn't outstay its welcome.

After The Resistance Table 3 split into three tables (1, 3 & 4), Table 1 commenced with a game of Ginkgopolis  an interesting game of territory control, the winner is the player with the most victory points at the end. The game starts with a grid of tiles in the middle of the table, each player then goes through a drafting process with a small hand of starting cards ending up with three which are laid face up in each players personal display, these start cards also dictate a players starting goods (points, tiles and tokens) then each draws a hand of four cards. The cards are the driving mechanism for the game and contain 3 pieces of information, the first is colour (red, yellow or blue) a number (from 4-20) and a bonus type once they have been played into your personal display.

 A sample of the cards, the bottom section of a card shows the bonus for that type of action, the right hand card is showing a game end bonus.

A sample of the cards, the bottom section of a card shows the bonus for that type of action, the right hand card is showing a game end bonus.

On a turn all players select a card from their hand (compulsory) and may also play a tile with it, the selection made allows a player to undertake one of three actions, to take a tile or token, to extend the city or to place a building on top of another building, the last of these actions also permits you to lay a card into your display. The action you take may also trigger bonus points tokens and tiles, all from the cards already face up in your personal display. These cards and tiles are played simultaneously after which the hand of 3 cards is passed to the left and a new card drawn to bring it back to 4 thus you need to be aware that any card you do not use your opponent may use.

 The Ginkgopolis city near the games end

The Ginkgopolis city near the games end

The game ends when the stack of tiles runs out for the second time at which point players get extra points from all areas of the city where they have dominance. The game is about controlling the city but at minimal cost, there are various tactics that can be employed and the interaction between players can make for a tense and interesting game, not one for novice gamers though.

Table 3 went with Russian Railroads which is one of the best worker placement games I know, players are constructing three different railways and a variety of industry to gather victory points, the game last 7 turns during which players undertake a number of actions to build and improve railways, purchase Trains and industry, advance Industry, purchase an Engineer and hire extra workers. A round ends after everyone has placed all their workers then there is scoring during which each player scores for each of their rails and their Industry. Each rails score depends on how far they have been built, what quality they are and for the distance served by their attached locomotive.

 Reds player board early in the game, Moscow-Kiev is being developed with the black rail triggering an extra worker bonus and the grey rail scoring 3 points because of the 3 train, the black rail is scoring a bonus 6 points.

Reds player board early in the game, Moscow-Kiev is being developed with the black rail triggering an extra worker bonus and the grey rail scoring 3 points because of the 3 train, the black rail is scoring a bonus 6 points.

The skill in the game comes from the timing and use of trigger points along the various rails, the Moscow-Vladivostok line gives an extra man and all the upgrades required for rail building whereas the Moscow-St Petersburg line has 2 token bonuses that when reached a player can choose a specific bonus to use, the Moscow-Kiev line is where a lot of early points in the game can be made and at its best provides 40 points a round.

 Some of the worker placement spaces on the main board and the score markers around the edge. A player board is to the right

Some of the worker placement spaces on the main board and the score markers around the edge. A player board is to the right

The industry when built gives one off bonuses throughout the game which are triggered when you choose the improve Industry action, the Engineers purchased during the game provide extra worker placement spots for the purchasing player and can be very useful. This just scratches the surface of the game and there are numerous strategies which can be adopted to gain victory, choice of strategy is usually based on what Engineers you obtain but can also be influenced on what other players are striving forand the best strategy may well be just avoiding being in conflict for worker placement spots. There is always a lot going on in this game and the first game will always be a learning game (against experienced players you need to adopt a solid strategy from the start), our game went well with me taking an early lead with the Moscow-Kiev bonuses, however in the last round a player who had concentrated on the Moscow-Vladivostok line made about 50% more points than me for that one round which made it a very close game.

Table 4 started with Om Nom Nom a nice simple dice and card game where the idea is to collect dice by second guessing your opponents may play on one of three food trees. The game was very much enjoyed and made another appearance later in the evening.

 The Blue players score at the end of a round, 2 pts for each red die and 1 pt for every other die and card. 18 points.

The Blue players score at the end of a round, 2 pts for each red die and 1 pt for every other die and card. 18 points.

Table 2 moved on to Above and Below which I covered a few weeks ago in Evolution, Tiny Epic Galaxies and Codenames.  I will leave this one for BQ’s comment.

 The building card display for above and below - the above ground cards are at the bottom!!!

The building card display for above and below - the above ground cards are at the bottom!!!

BQ > Above and Below is fast becoming a favourite of mine. I'm not usually one for "flavour text" in games, since it's usually spurious, but in this instance the decisions you make can actually have a genuine benefit - the scoring system gives remarkably close finishes, and so those one or two extra points from reputation that you got from being a nice guy to the little old lady or the fish-man can really make a difference...

Table 4 played Parfum a game which I have not yet played so cannot tell you much except that as the title suggests it is a game about perfume making and according to the geek it is a set collecting game.

 Parfum board

Parfum board

Table 1 next went with Welcome to the Dungeon, this is one of the better “push-your-luck” games with a bit of “playing your opponents” thrown in. I have described this one in depth before so in short on a round you decide to either take a card or pass, if you take a card (which depicts a monster) you may either put it in the dungeon to be fought or you can remove it from play along with an item of dungeon fighting equipment. Play continues until only one person is left (the last player to take a card) at which point they have to face the monsters placed in the dungeon with whatever equipment has been left. This is NOT a game of luck, careful choices at the right time can stitch up your opponents nicely.

 Om Nom Nom cards for the red player

Om Nom Nom cards for the red player

My Table joined up with Table 4 to play Om Nom Nom it worked very well 6 player and we played it twice.

In the meantime Tables 1 and 2 joined to play Codenames  (described last week) which proved to be the last game of the evening.

 Codenames grid card showing locations of red and blue spies and the assassin "X"

Codenames grid card showing locations of red and blue spies and the assassin "X"