Rome : Rise to Power, Cornwall and Metro

The quiz photo this time is of one of my most recent purchases, the artwork is the big clue here.

The last quiz photo was of Intrigue an interesting abstract strategy game where you choose a wheel and keep moving it until one of your marbles falls, the winner is the first to get all their marbles home, despite its appearance this is not a game of luck or dexterity but of looking ahead and planning.

The first eight at the club started off with Incan Gold, I have covered this game several times before and it is interesting how different numbers of players affect the dynamics of the game structure, it seemed to me that with 8 of us chasing the treasure players were dropping out quite quickly to secure their small gains whilst with fewer players the rewards tend to be larger and therefore the incentive to remain and take bigger chances is greater. I may have this wrong, however I am correct about this being a great warm-up game.

 Cards in Incan Gold - beware the Mummy.

Cards in Incan Gold - beware the Mummy.

I missed the first game on Table 1 which was Vom Kap bis Kairo a card game from Gunter Burkhardt who has brought us such games as Seeland, Maori, Copper Kettle and Darjeeling. In this game players bid for terrain and track cards to build a railway. BQ reports :-

BQ > Vom Kap Bis Kairo - When this came out (way back in 2001), it was all the rage in the group I used to play games with at the time. I never played it then, but as I was recently looking for portable games that play with two, I thought I'd give it a go - even though it's a train game :P. In the auction phase, you auction terrain areas with money (pounds), then in the track building phase, you build track across the terrain (for which you receive some money back), paying for that track with track icons shown on terrain you already own, and track icons on cards all the players turn over one by one. I enjoyed it - it was light, and seemed primarily an auction game, with some very minor decisions during track building...but all of us at the table felt like we had too much money and felt confused by that: you start with 100 pounds, and we were initially bidding less than five each per auction. When I got home, I re-read the rules, and realised that - although I *had* explained the rule concerned - none of us (including me) had been using the ability to pay 10 pounds in place of a track icon. That would indeed have added another element - one could move ahead much more quickly than one's opponents, if one were to use up one's money for that purpose, and - given that money available for bids would then likely become tighter - it would make the coins from the track building more important, and thus add to the decision factors during the auction itself. Since the game's pretty short, I'll bring it again very soon, and underline that rule to the players, so we can see if I'm right about it making a difference.

 

The first game on my table was a recently delivered kickstarter game, Rome: Rise to Power, it took a while to go through the rules especially as there seem to be a number of different mechanics (dice rolling, worker placement, set collecting, deck building) within the game but once you know them things tick along quite smoothly, it only lasts 5 rounds and the aim is to collect victory points however these are only awarded at the end of rounds 3 and 5 so you have to be quite targeted with your play to ensure you score well. A round is split into different phases the first phase is setting up the game for the round this consists of laying out some Province, Senator and Arena cards, the next phase is to roll 4 dice and in player order assign one die at a time to either the Province, Senator or Arena track, however the rules on dice placement create some interesting situations, first off if a die placed is of a lower value than another players die placed on the same track then the dice are re-arranged so that they are in numerical order, any die you add to where you have a die must be of a lower value than that already placed and sits with your other die however it is your first placed die that dictates player order (sounds odd and took me a few turns to get it straight in my head.

 The province track

The province track

Each track is then taken in turn with the lower positioned dice having first dibs of the cards on offer, from the province track you collect provinces, you need 5 die-pips for each province you want to take at the beginning of the game, they increase in value/cost to 9 at the end of the game. Taking a province gives one of 3 commodities recorded on a commodity track, you get to place an owner marker on a map where the provinces are grouped in areas in 2’s and 3’s and the province card will also show one of 3 senator icons, the senators when claimed with a die of any value provide in-game bonuses but only when you match them with the relevant icon on a province card in your possession, lastly the arena cards bought again with die pips depict various Beasts, Romans and Barbarians for which you get points for creating specific sets during scoring rounds.

 The province board

The province board

Points come from controlling areas on the map board, Senator special abilities, production of goods and from arena sets, however the points gained in each category are not a lot so doing well in as many categories as possible is what is important. Overall the game is quite nice, players are completely involved in what is going, there is very little down time and although the die placement rules are a little confusing they will become second nature, I have since played it 2-player and although it worked it did lack the interaction in the 3-player game at the club and I feel it may be at its best 4-player. lastly for those who become familiar with the game there are some intrigue cards which can be added, they are Senator cards with abilities which can directly affect other players.

Table 3 played Tongiaki this was last played at the club 18 months ago so it was nice that it got another airing.

 Tongiaki (library picture)

Tongiaki (library picture)

They followed this with the route laying game Metro, in which you lay tiles on a board with the aim of creating as long a route as possible for your trams, each tile has 4 paths on it as soon as a route is complete for a tram it scores a point for each piece of track it runs over so with loops may score the same tile several times over and this is doubled if you feed the tram into a central shed as opposed to off the board. All in all this is quite a fairly neat route-laying game and quite quick.

 Metro part way through the game

Metro part way through the game

Table 1 in the meantime was playing Jenseits von Theben, I know nothing of this game, BQ reports :-

BQ >  I had forgotten how much I liked Jenseits Van Theben (Beyond Thebes, in its English translation). There's something exciting and thematic about pulling the dig tokens from the bags representing the various archeological sites...will I get a high-scoring artifact? Will I get some more knowledge to help me in other digs? Or will I just get worthless debris? Well, in the case of "I" and myself, the answer was mostly the latter :( . "W", however, seemed to have the magic touch, and plucked artifact after artifact out of the bag, even when the sites were becoming played out. Valuable artifacts are not the only way to score, though: exhibitions and collecting congresses are alternate strategies (though you do still need *some* artifacts for the former) so we were able to pull back a bit of ground, but not enough to counter W's impressive lead.

 Jenseits von Theben from above

Jenseits von Theben from above

Two tables then came together to give Secret Hitler a bash, the game was explained in my 8th February post, our game this time was a little odd, it did not help that I gave myself away as a facist before we even started in that when I was giving the introduction talk with all our eyes closed and I was telling the facists to look for Hitler I as a facist turned my head to look for Hitler too and a couple of players noticed my voice changing as I turned my head. This error was followed by my colleague facist when President choosing me as Chancellor and I passed a second facist policy and we were more or less “outed” from that point onwards.

 What is in the envelope - a player card, a yes vote and a no vote and finally a faction card

What is in the envelope - a player card, a yes vote and a no vote and finally a faction card

What had not helped matters was that the first President of the game just happened to be Hitler and had also passed a facist policy. However our play caused confusion in the ranks of the liberals and not only did they choose the Hitler player as Chancellor the choice got passed and against all odds the facists won. Despite my bad play and fairly quick win it was a good fun game. I highly recommend everyone giving this game a go it is a lot of fun and is at its best with 6 or more players.

I joined Table 1 and played Cornwall, I last played this last year (see post of 23/11/15), where I felt that options were a little restricted, I again felt limited in the choices left for me and although I was prepared for them there was still little I could do. This is a tile laying game where you match an edge and place a meeple to gain points dependent on the size of the area when it is scored, flexibility in play comes from coins gained by matching more than one terrain type when you lay your tile, however if you do not draw the right tile every now and again to give you a little fillip it can be a quite frustrating game especially if others are reaping the benefits, so although I am happy to play this game it will never reach my “to buy” list.

 Cornwall part way through the game

Cornwall part way through the game

BQ > I liked Cornwall more than the last couple of times we played. I think its strategy is not as readily accessible as some other tile-laying games like Carcassonne, and sometimes it can feel like one is railroaded into doing something against one's interests by the nature of the tile one had picked up. I'm coming to the belief that this isn't really so, as I think such issues can be mitigated by careful placement of one's workers, but I need to play some more to be sure...

Table 2 played Hex Hex, I have not played this game and know nothing about it, from an outsiders point of view playing on another table it seemed to be a game about discussing what effects the latest card that was revealed had on the current play position. There were 6 playing and they seemed to enjoy it.

 Some of the cards in Hex Hex

Some of the cards in Hex Hex

The last game of the evening was King of Tokyo, a very colourful die rolling game where you play a monster terrorizing Tokyo. On your turn you roll some dice which may give you healing, attack strength, energy tokens or victory points. To gain the victory points you need at least three dice showing the same face, the energy points are used to buy cards which may give victory points or in-game powers. The attacking in this game can be brutal and your demise can happen rapidly, it is a knock-out game and an early exit can lead to a fair amount of sitting around and in fact that is what happened in our game, the first two were eliminated very quickly whilst the last three hung in there for what seemed ages. Despite (for me) the drawback of it being a knock-out game it is a lot of fun and there is plenty of player interaction making it an excellent game.

 A monster in Tokyo looming over one of the K.O.'d pieces, if you survive in Tokyo for a whole round you get 2 VP's.

A monster in Tokyo looming over one of the K.O.'d pieces, if you survive in Tokyo for a whole round you get 2 VP's.