Stroop

The quiz picture this time is of an old fun favourite game from my younger days

The last quiz picture was correctly guessed as A Fake Artist Goes to New York one of many simple but elegant games from Oink.

I missed last week so a bit of a catch up here

Last week the games played at the club were :-

The course in Flamme Rouge

The course in Flamme Rouge

The crackin' figures that you get in Blood Rage

The crackin' figures that you get in Blood Rage

Tzolkin - which I lost by 1 point !!!

Tzolkin - which I lost by 1 point !!!

Tonga Bonga

Tonga Bonga

Table 2 – Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar, Tonga Bonga

Table 3 – Spyrium, Art of War

Two weeks ago we played :-

Rheinlander

Rheinlander

Duel of Ages II 

Duel of Ages II 

Table 2 – Duel of Ages II

Tiny Epic Galaxies with Pilot expansion

Tiny Epic Galaxies with Pilot expansion

I would have liked to have done the spotlight on Duel of Ages IIas it is an excellent game, how I missed it when it first came out baffles me but hey-ho some good games are missed by us all, however despite my enjoyment of that game a couple of weeks ago I have been persuaded to do Stroop instead a game that I am not entirely comfortable playing. I am not sure what category Stroop falls into (puzzle game, speed game, party game), but it is certainly engaging and quick. The box contains a large deck of cards which are split into 2 games, the basic game uses the majority of the cards whilst the advanced game has some additional cards added to it and is played exactly the same way but is more difficult.

(apologies for colour) A sample card from the advanced game, a yellow BACKWARD written forwards

(apologies for colour) A sample card from the advanced game, a yellow BACKWARD written forwards

The cards themselves have one word written on them and each word/card will have 4 factors, the first is that it will be one of 4 colours, it will be written in block capitals (big) or lower case (little), it will contain a certain number of letters. The words themselves will be one of these parameters e.g. YELLOW could be written on the card it is written in red has 6 letters and in capital (big) letters or big (meaning Capital letters) has 3 letters is written in lower case (little) and is blue. Following me so far I hope, so what are the rules of the game. 15 cards are dealt to each player which is put in a stack face down in front of them and on the word go a card is turned face up in the middle of the table, players now can use 1 hand to pick up cards one at a time from their deck to fit into their hand and play a card to the middle of the table if its criteria matches the word on the card – HOWEVER - as soon as someone does this their card becomes the one to be matched, there are no turns and it is the fastest to get rid of their cards that wins the first round. so a sequence of cards played could look like this :-

As soon as someone runs out of cards or cannot go having picked up all their cards they call stop. Players now pick up all their cards still left to play and add this to a new hand of cards dealt to everyone, then round 2 begins which is harder. In round 1 you read out the word on the card to help everyone, in round 2 you also read out what is written on the card however this is no help as you are now trying to match a criteria on the card with the correct adjective from your hand thus YELLOW – big – THREE from above would still be correct as a sequence as the word yellow is in big letters (in the first round big was a yellow word), three now says how many letters in big (in the first round three was written in big letters (capitals)) however there are 5 letters in three so “six” is incorrect but “five” would be viable as the next card in the sequence.

Believe you me, it was equally baffling playing the game, these types of speed games I have never been good at, I have a similar problem with Ricochet Robots, and SET the card game, that does not mean I will not play them I will just be setting myself slightly different (achievable) targets than the other players i.e. in our second game of Stroop I aimed to have less cards at the end of the game than when I started, sadly I failed that as well but I was close. Overall it is a fun game, there was laughter and a little cursing as incorrect cards were played and if you enjoy these quick speed style card games with brain acrobatics then I can highly recommend it. The advanced game adds a new dimension, words can be written backwards as well as forwards.

Sagrada

The quiz picture this time is a party game and although they are not my preferred type of game there are quite a few (including this one) that I find a lot of fun.

The last quiz picture was correctly guessed as A Fistful of Penguins a fun filler game from Wattsalpoag Games who tried to launch Echidna Shuffle through kickstarter earlier this year and although the designer Kris Gould has some excellent titles under his belt (Claim It, Buccaneer Bones, Jet Set and Switching tracks to name a few) sadly this one did not get its funding.

Table 3 – Abyss, Biblios

A very quick review this time as I have been reading several rule manuals and this has taken up a lot of time however I am now capable of playing and teaching Haspelknecht, Martians: A Story of Civilization and Papà Paolo. I have picked Sagrada a nice lightweight game of placing dice in a grid to score points, it plays in about 12-15 mins/person and it even has a solo variant which I have played and seems to work quite nicely. The box contains several small decks of cards 4 player boards and 90 dice in five different colours (18 of each), the first deck of cards contains frameworks for glass windows laid out in a 4x5 grid (these are what you place your dice on) 2 of these double sided cards is dealt to each player and they choose one each to play and slide it into their player board, this also gives a level of difficulty (3-6) which is equal to the number of tool tokens you get given.

The four player boards

The four player boards

Next 3 tool cards are dealt out, you may use only one per action and they will cost you tool tokens and they help you place the right dice in the correct positions, then 3 goal cards are dealt out, these show what points are available in the game e.g. 5 points for a multicolour column, lastly each player gets a secret goal this is just a single colour for which you get “pip” points at the games end.

An example set up of points cards and tool cards

An example set up of points cards and tool cards

The game lasts 10 rounds, each round you will get the opportunity to take 2 dice, therefore all players can complete their windows but there is no leeway for error, the start player takes one more die from the bag than twice the number of players and rolls them, each player round the table then may take a die place it on their window, the last player gets a double turn and each other player takes their second die in reverse order, the last die is placed on the turn track. There are numerous rules of placement, each die must be placed next to another die on the window (orthogonally or diagonally), no die may be orthogonally adjacent to a die of the same number or colour, a die placed on a non-white window space must match the number or colour shown on the card.

Three of the cards for sliding into the player board, hardest on the left easiest on the right

Three of the cards for sliding into the player board, hardest on the left easiest on the right

The game does play quickly but there is still plenty of challenge as players try to place difficult dice whilst also trying to score points from the goal cards and not leave any dice for your opponents, good planning ahead is rewarded however there are elements of luck such as the colours you need being drawn from the bag or your needed numbers rolled but there is also skill in choosing certain dice to keep as many future options open as possible also a keen eye on your opponents choices and needs helps improve your chances. Overall it is an enjoyable game and fast playing, very colourful and fun, our table had a good time, I trailed miserably behind the other two failing on most of the goals and missing 2 dice from my window at the end, I was definitely out-played by the others.

The bag with 90 dice

The bag with 90 dice

Kingdomino

The quiz picture this time is of a nice dice rolling game. I picked this as sadly the same company recently had a failed kickstarter for another game, the mechanics were again quite simple and perhaps that is what deterred people from backing it, however simple rules does not always correlate to bad game. Anyone know the quiz picture?

The last quiz picture was not guessed at all despite being one of the more popular MB titles among gamers it was Thunder Road. In it players race cars along a dirt road shooting one another. Last car standing is the winner.

Concordia with "salt" played on the Byzantium board

Concordia with "salt" played on the Byzantium board

(a poor picture of) the central board in Santiago, the dark lines are irrigation ditches for the fields

(a poor picture of) the central board in Santiago, the dark lines are irrigation ditches for the fields

Vikings player board at end of the game

Vikings player board at end of the game

My Warsaw in "Capital" - it did not win

My Warsaw in "Capital" - it did not win

Sadly a picture of the board did not come out so you are left with a picture of a player screen.

Sadly a picture of the board did not come out so you are left with a picture of a player screen.

Table 3 – Dice Forge, Touria

The spotlight this time is on Kingdomino by Bruno Cathala and although he is not my favourite games designer he has created a number of games which I think are quite nifty such as Madame Ching & Abyss, Kingdomino is I believe another it is a light game and plays quite quickly in about 15-20 mins.

The light brown at the bottom of the screen was speculation, sadly this player could not get any brown crowns. so it scores zero.

The light brown at the bottom of the screen was speculation, sadly this player could not get any brown crowns. so it scores zero.

2 of the dominoes

2 of the dominoes

The aim of the game is to score points by playing 12 dominoes to a 5x5 grid (each end of the domino fitting one square of the grid). Each of the domino halves features one of 6 terrains and a few of them also contain a feature with a number of crowns on one of the squares, when you play a tile to your area one of the squares terrains must match the terrain of a tile it is orthogonally adjacent to (the other terrain does not have to match), fortunately at the game start you have a multi-terrain single tile which any land may be placed adjacent to.

Bidding in a 2 player game (same as the 4 player except 4 different coloured pawns in 4 player) Green gets first and second choice from the new set of tiles to the left.

Bidding in a 2 player game (same as the 4 player except 4 different coloured pawns in 4 player) Green gets first and second choice from the new set of tiles to the left.

At the end of 12 rounds scoring takes place, each area is scored separately an area consists of squares of the same terrain orthogonally adjacent to one another and each area scores the number of squares multiplied by the crowns. The winner is the player with the most points. However placing tiles is just half the game, all the tiles have numbers on the back and each round consists of drawing 4 tiles, placing them in numerical order (the weaker tiles have low numbers on them whilst the stronger tiles and those with crowns on have higher numbers), players then in the previous rounds order (ie the one that had chosen the weakest tile last round) chooses a tile for the next round, this then dictates the player order for the following round.

The green player scores 20 for forests (10 tiles and 2 crowns)

The green player scores 20 for forests (10 tiles and 2 crowns)

Overall it is a light game though some smart thinking has to be done deciding whether player order is important or a particular strong tile, the art as in a lot of games is to try to make sure you are not competing against too many other players for key tiles. Our table played it twice 3 player and opinions were favourable, it is more a filler game but would also make an excellent bridge game and with its chunky pieces and simple mathematics (low multiplications) should also be attractive to younger gamers.

Skyline

I used to play this a lot in my late 20’s, sadly not so much these days, anyone got any ideas?

Last weeks quiz picture was from Octopus' Garden quite a sweet tile laying game with some nice simple mechanisms and lovely artwork.

Part of the Forbidden Desert

Part of the Forbidden Desert

Great Western Trail player board

Great Western Trail player board

No time this week for anything in depth so I will cover Skyline a light filler game about building high rise buildings and which uses dice as the building blocks. The box contains three types of dice (base, middles and tops), some victory point tokens and a base board. A player may build three types of buildings, purple (2 high), blue buildings (2, 3 & 4 high), and orange buildings (3, 4, 5 & 6 high), a building must first have a base die, the player may then build a top on a purple base or blue and orange middles on their respective bases (these are all on the middle die) the top die has 2 blue tops, 1 orange top and three blank faces.

The different dice types

The different dice types

The centreboard showing what may be built

The centreboard showing what may be built

On a turn a player may choose any three dice or they may choose the “pool dice” which contains 1 of each type and any other dice that the players have placed there on their turn, they roll their chosen dice then may use as many of them as they wish for building, provided they build at least one block they may re-roll as many of the other dice as they wish, before re-rolling you may place any other dice they want to keep to one side this re-rolling process may continue so long as they build at least one die each time. Difficulties occur if they cannot build in such a case they have a choice, they may put a die in the “pool” or they may destroy one their buildings under construction. At any point in their turn after building or placing in the dice pool/destroying a building a player may stop their turn and returned unused dice to the correct dice piles. Any buildings completed collect the player points, the higher the better e.g. 2 stories 4 points, 4 stories 16 points, 6 stories 36 points.

A players position with several buildings partially built

A players position with several buildings partially built

The game lasts 9 turns, is short (about 10 minutes 2 players if they know the rules) so it is an ideal filler however I would say that the luck factor is very high, generally a player who is lucky enough to roll orange blocks will win, it is not a game that will set the world alight its rating is 6.0 on the geek and I do not feel it should be any higher.

Die Burgend von Burgund aka Castles of Burgundy

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 :-

Table 1 – Village, Century: Spice Road, Splendor   
Table 2 – The Castles of Burgundy, Pyramids

Table 3 – King Chocolate, El Grande, Harald

Table 4 – Ticket to Ride Map – India,   Santo Domingo

Ticket to Ride at the club on the India map

Ticket to Ride at the club on the India map

Century Spice Road fairly early in the game

Century Spice Road fairly early in the game

El Grande mid-game at the club

El Grande mid-game at the club

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.

A player board with helpful hints on tile powers on the left and possible actions on the right. 

A player board with helpful hints on tile powers on the left and possible actions on the right. 

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.

The central game board

The central game board

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).

A sample of the tiles in the game with a couple of goods counters to the right

A sample of the tiles in the game with a couple of goods counters to the right

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.

One of the boards from last weeks game, apologies for picture quality.

One of the boards from last weeks game, apologies for picture quality.

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.