This sweet game I picked up last year although it has been around a bit longer.
The last picture quiz was of Armchair Cricket, a British game from 1981 and i quote here from the geek page on the designer Don Arnold – “Ex-professional County Cricket player. In the 80's, I first met him and he was selling his game by going from shop-to-shop, all over England. That is a very hard way to distribute a game but he had a passion for it and I admire that.”
This week Table 3 started the evening with a couple of card games that I have not come across before namely TotAN and Council of Verona.
Table 1 started with a very recent release World's Fair 1893 BQ gives us an in depth view. Some thoughts on World's Fair 1893: This is a strategy game at the lighter end of the complexity spectrum (around the Carcassonne/Ticket to Ride/Kingsburg level), with a nice and well integrated theme - take a wild guess as to what it's about! - and gameplay is based around a combination of set-collecting and winning the majority in areas around the board.
The board itself is modular, consisting of a number of segments which, when arranged around a central section depicting the original Ferris Wheel from the World's Fair, form a hexagon shape. Each of the segments represents one of the areas of human endeavour from which exhibits were drawn for the Fair, such as Fine Arts, Electricity or Transportation - this modular design means a slightly different game each time. There are a number of spaces around the Ferris Wheel (varying according to player count), and a marker showing a Ferris Wheel car is placed on the lowest space. This marker is the “clock” of the game – it is moved around the spaces on the Wheel, and each time it returns to the bottom space, a scoring of the exhibit areas takes place. After the 3rd scoring, the game is over.
To set up, each player places one “supporter” cube of their chosen colour on each of the exhibit areas, plus an additional supporter or supporters, based on player order. A couple of cards from a deck of 91 (from which some are removed at the start, again depending on player count) are placed next to each segment, and these cards are of three kinds: Midway Tickets (which score 1 point each, and move the Ferris Wheel car 1 space); Exhibits (which can be collected, and turned into tokens for scoring at game-end); and Influential Persons (who give the ability to add or move additional supporters on the board). Player turns are simple: place one supporter on one of the exhibit areas, play (or just discard) any Influential Persons cards you acquired on your last turn, take all the cards from the area where you just placed your supporter, move the Ferris Wheel car one space clockwise for each Midway Ticket you took (if any), and finally replenish three cards on to the board – one in the area from which you took cards, and then one each in the next two available areas clockwise (areas are “available” if they have fewer cards than the number indicated on the exhibit area, either 3 or 4). If the Ferris Wheel car is now back at the bottom (and it always stops there, even if the number of Midway Tickets taken should have moved it further), a scoring takes place.
The scorings are also pretty simple: one point per Midway Ticket you acquired, and two bonus points for the person (or people, in the event of a tie) who had the most Tickets, then discard all Midway Tickets. Next, the exhibit areas are scored: in a 4 player game, the person with the most supporters gets 2 or 4 points, and second place gets 2 points. Crucially, the first and second place also get to “Approve” a certain number of the Exhibit cards they’ve collected so far – remember those Exhibit cards? smile emoticon:) Well, when you first collect them, they are only “proposed” Exhibits, and can’t be used to score at the end of the game. By getting a majority in an area, you can convert some of them into “Approved” Exhibit tokens, by discarding each card you are entitled to convert, and taking the corresponding token. After each scoring (except, of course, the last one) each player “recalls” half of their supporters, rounded down, from each area, and – if that wasn’t the end of the third round - the next round starts. If it *was* the end of the third round, after the above scoring actions have taken place, players also then receive points for their Approved Exhibits, by grouping their tokens into sets of different kinds, and scoring them. Each set of all 5 different kinds gets you 15 points, 4 different gets 10 points, 3/6, 2/3, and finally 1 point per approved exhibit not in a set. Add up all your points, and the person with the most points is the winner
I really liked this game. It’s got simple rules, but quite a lot of interesting choices, and the fluffy exterior conceals a design that forces some actually rather tough decisions on you: I want the cards *there*, but I need a majority *there*…but I also don’t want player 2 to get that set of cards *there* because she’ll then have a full set of exhibits *and* be able to end the round before I’m ready for it...aargh! That tension between collecting the right exhibits, but needing to have the majorities to actually make use of them is intriguing, and not a game mechanism I’ve come across in quite this way before. The theme is very appealing to me (I love fairs and theme parks!), and the graphic design is both very pretty and highly evocative of the era and of the theme. The exhibit and Midway Ticket cards are all unique, depicting genuine exhibits and Midway carnival attractions from the 1893 fair, along with a little bit of text telling you about the thing they show – not necessary for the game at all, but charming and immersive. In terms of length, we took about 40 minutes to play our first 4 player game, but I suspect that would come down to around 30 minutes once players knew the game a bit, so it’s easily one you can fit in to a short playing session. I reckon this’d be a good one to play with non-gaming family and friends, but it also has enough depth to satisfy regular board-gamers. Good stuff!
Table 1 next played Madame Ching, a good light game of exploration which I have covered before, I am still not sure about the luck element provided by the “chance” cards but overall most games reward the explorer rather than the power card collector.
My table played began the evening with Takenoko which I have covered before. I had not realised how different 4-player games can be from one another, the dynamics change between games depending on what victory point cards players have and how they play towards those goals, in our game the green bamboo (the commonest available) hardly got a look in until towards the end whilst at the start over half the board was a mass of yellow tiles, in addition Bamboo was getting eaten as fast as it was growing making the “growth” victory point cards very difficult to achieve. This game does reward forward planning, however other than in a 2 player game the activities of the other players can influence your fortune towards obtaining the goals on your cards.
Our next game was Deep Sea Adventure one of several excellent games from “Oink”, despite its past appearances at the club I have always missed playing it before. The game is a little bit of push your luck and a little bit of “chicken”, players become deep sea divers and the winner is decided by who collects the most points of treasure from three separate dives. On their turn a player rolls the dice and moves that number of spaces down the line of treasure tiles, when they stop they may take the tile and replace it with a “blank” tile, on the following turn they may continue downwards or return towards the surface however once you decide to surface you cannot change your mind again. On each turn you may decide to take the treasure tile you land on however each treasure you take reduces your future movements by one, fortunately when you move over spaces occupied by other players they do not count towards your movement allocation. The timer for each round is Oxygen on the ship, before each players turn they reduce the oxygen level on the ship by one for every treasure they have, all players who are not back on board before the oxygen runs out lose all the treasure they are carrying and it drops to the bottom. After each round the “emptied” treasure spaces are removed bringing the bigger treasures (and in some games the piles dropped by failed dives in the first round) into temptation range. I think this is an excellent fun filler game that everyone should try, there is some decision making behind turning round, dropping treasures to move faster and greed in what to grab and a little luck in the die rolling.
Love Letter was the penultimate game on my table, while Polterfass was the penultimate on Table 1, both of which have been covered before. Love Letter is one of those games where I think I have all the dynamics sorted in my head and then I get it horribly wrong, the score on our table reflected my ability very accurately.
The last game on my table was Dragonwood, fast becoming one of the clubs most regularly played games, time to bring Sushi Go! back I feel and see how they compete head-to-head.
Table 3 in the meantime were playing Tales of the Arabian Nights a lovely story-telling game with great depth, on a turn a player makes a move which will result in a paragraph being read from a storybook which will leave the player with a decision to make, that decision may lead to another paragraph in the book which is actioned, then it is the next players turn. The fun part of the game is that as it progresses your character will begin to reflect your decision making and experiences, there are a large number of attributes which can be affected leaving you with a lot more problems than you started the game with and which may affect future paragraphs. This is a good game but not a short one the three players had been playing for about 3 hours and still going strong when we left.