I have had my delivery from Shire Games amongst which was this game, this is one of the sprus before punching out. What is the game?
The last quiz picture was correctly guessed as Elixir a deduction game from TSR although there is a luck element it is a fun and colourful game of collecting and mixing ingredients for magical potions .
Nice to see 4 tables running again, games played at the club this week were :-
A little bit of excitement at the club this week, I had got several rules wrong with Village, the first is that the game starts with the bag being filled from a reserve whereas I started the game with all cubes in the bag, this caused a big difference in the amount of plague (black) cubes drawn each round last week we had only 1 come out in the first round, whereas with about 30% less cubes to start with we had all 6 come out this week, however the “time loss” was mitigated by my other error that in the artisan markets you have a choice of using time or cubes to make your purchases as opposed to items costing both. With the correct rules it made cattle and horses much easier to obtain and a lot more tiles were traded in the market.
Spotlight is on Castles of Burgundy an excellent game from Stefan Feld currently sitting at 11 on the BGG listing and to my mind astonishingly at number 10 on the their Strategy game list and although I agree it is a great game and I cannot quibble about its position on the “all games” listing in my honest opinion it is outstripped by many others on the strategy front as it lacks direct interaction and I would put most of Kris Burm’s games above Castles of Burgundy on a strategy-game listing. So what do you get in the box? You get 4 double sided player boards, loads of hexagonal tiles, 2 dices in each of some dice in player colours, a quantity of trade goods tiles, some “worker” tokens and “ingot” tokens; the player boards have a hexagonal design consisting of 37 hexes in concentric rings, the hexes themselves have varying background colours and different value dice pips, some in groups and some singles. The hexagonal tiles come in different colours matching the background terrain colours on the player boards, there is also a central board which holds the hexagonal tiles and trade good tokens available for the round.
At the start of a round (of which there are 5) the central board is filled out with a number of randomly hexagonal tokens equal to the number of players placed in each of the 6 zones colors of tiles matching the background of the spaces, additional hexagonal tiles equal to twice the number of players is placed in the centre zone, 5 trade goods are placed at the top of the board whilst in the first round 5 further stacks of 5 trade goods are placed on the board as well, the trade goods are effectively the round and turn timers for the game as each turn a single trade good is put into play, thus the game last 25 turns. Having set the board up all the players roll their two dice, the start player rolls another die to see where the goods token is placed then he takes 2 actions one for each die, the other players follow in kind, when all have used both their dice the start marker moves on, a new good is placed and everyone rolls their dice again. Every 5 turns all tiles left are removed and fresh tiles put out.
So what actions can you do with your dice, each dice is taken individually to enact an action and there are 4 different actions you may do, the first is that you make take 2 workers from the worker pile, a worker may be used at any time to alter the value of any die you have, you may spend several workers in a turn. The second is that you may take any tile from the zone matching the value of the die you, any tile taken MUST go onto one of the 3 reserve spaces at the bottom of your player board. The third type of action is to place a tile from your reserve, to do so the colour tile MUST match the colour background it is placed on, it MUST also match the number on the die used and it MUST be adjacent to a tile already placed. The last action is to sell goods that are in your possession, again the pip value on the tiles must match the die. So why are you doing all this? Ultimately to make points, each time you complete any area on your board you get points dependent on its size, sold goods give you points (and an ingot), points also come from some of the special tiles (yellow) and animal tiles (light green).
All the tiles have effects most of the time when you add them to your map board, in addition to the above castles (dark green) get a free extra action, mines (grey) give an ingot each at the end of a round, ships (blue) allow you to take all the goods in one zone and improve your position on the start player roster, and buildings (brown) have varying effects dependent on the building. For first timers to the game all these different tile abilities can be a nightmare and a crib-card is essential, those that played at the club had quite a nice small crib sheet but the print was tiny, but this is probably more preferable to my crib sheet which is 2 sheets of A4.
So how does it play? It is a very nice game where you are trying to maximize your tile collecting within the limits of your die roll, keen management of your dice is imperative, you need to spread across your board as fast as possible to maximize your choices of placement whilst filling out areas as quickly as possible to get top points and although other players can take tiles you have your eye on it is essentially several players playing a solo game together. You are more likely to lose the game through unlucky die rolls than through another player actively looking to nobble you, aggressive players tend to take ships early to get first choice of tokens from the board each turn but other than that and putting a little thought into which tiles you take with your dice you can do little to directly affect other players. So as a strategy game it is over-rated but as a family boardgame it is well deserving of its high rating. The game is available on-line at Yucata (linked from the Ravensburger website as is another of their games Glen More), it is also at Boite-a-Jeux (which for me has the better interface) both of these sites are turn-based sites against real people and a game is likely to last at least a couple of weeks.