Saturday, October 29, 2005

Caylus - End of game board

Originally uploaded by coljen.
This was the position at the end of the game. As you can see no blue buildings were built at all, and nobody advanced very far along the favours tracks. I think we all will have a better idea of what we are doing next play. Nice board and components though, very colourful.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Tuesday 25th October - Caylus

As you can see from a previous post the Billygamers brought a fair few games back from Essen, and as Garry had snagged a copy of Caylus, which won the fairplay poll, I thought that would be a good one to choose. I had downloaded a copy of the rules from the Geek, and after a quick look sent everybody an email suggesting it might be a good idea if they could have a read before our session. The rulebook is 12 pages long and quite comprehensive. It takes a little while to figure out what the mechanisms are and what you are supposed to be doing. The ways that you can score Royal Favour for instance are scattered throughout the rulebook so it is easy to forget you’ve just earned one. The reading of the rules took well over half an hour and together with the set up we didn’t actually start playing for 45 minutes.
However once we had played for while it all started to fall into place. I’m sure that we played a few rules wrong, for instance if you played a worker in the castle but didn’t have the right cubes to build you got -2 prestige points, nope didn’t do that. The person who builds the most houses in a turn in the castle gets a Royal Favour, nope, didn't do that. Also we didn’t notice the space with the goldmine on it until after the final scoring. We had commented that it was proving difficult to get gold. Doh! Nobody got very far up any of the Royal Favour tracks, so I’m sure we’re missing something here. Not one blue building got built either, Richard had the building that allowed you to purchase prestige points and kept getting first dibs on that and scored a fair few points that way. I like the mechanism that the cost to place workers gets more expensive the more people pass. Gives you some interesting decisions. The pub was also quite a popular place, quite a few fights in there to get possession. I guess the game took us at least 150 minutes but I think this will come down next play as we all have a better idea of what is happening. Everybody will have different ideas of how to proceed, probably a lot different to this playing. As to the game components, they were good quality. Nice wooden dobbers, good quality tiles and the board is nicely illustrated.
Even though we misplayed a few rules I think we all enjoyed it. I’m sure our final scores are pretty low and the average winning score is probably a lot higher, but that will change next play I’m sure.

Final Scores
Richard 53, Steve 41, Garry 40, Colin 40

Sunday, October 23, 2005

East of Thebes

Originally uploaded by coljen.
Jo had got a copy of this limited edition game at Essen. I really don't know much about the game and couldn't find an entry on the Geek. Produced by an independent publisher they had forgotten to put in the wooden bits so we had raid a couple of Richard's games for the appropriate bits. Basically the game is about digging for ancient artifacts, you have five areas to dig in, Egypt, Palistine, Macedonia, Greece and Crete. You travel around the world gaining knowledge and equipment (spades, assistants, airships, horses and such) to help you in your execavations. The game is card driven with the four spaces on the board for the cards which are replenished as the players take them. The turn mechanism is quite nifty, each action, travel, digging or the cards you take have a cost in weeks. You move your dobber round the track the appropriate number and the player in last place then takes his turn. Every now and then an exhibition card turns up which is placed round the board a number of weeks in advance of the last players position. If you have the the appropriate artifacts and are in the correct city on the right week you can exhibit (ie you count your artifact cards and add the roll of a die) if have the greater number you take the exhibition card which is worth points at the end of the game.
The game lasts 2 circuits of the board, 2 years, and at the end the players score in a number of ways, very Knizia. The players with the most knowledge in each of the areas scores 4 points, kongress cards score for how many you have collected (1=1, 2=3, 3=6 and so on) exhibition cards, and finally artifact cards. Also the player with the highest score in his weakest area gets 5 points.
I quite enjoyed this game and I hope Jo gets his wooden dobbers soon.

Final Scores
Jo 55, Richard 49, Steve 47, Colin 46

Railroad Tycoon Close Up

Originally uploaded by coljen.
Close up of the board


Originally uploaded by coljen.
Here is a photo of the final board position. Pretty ain't it!!!

Saturday October 22 - Railroad-Tycoon

Originally uploaded by coljen.
So Richard couldn't wait to play Railroad Tycoon and had rustled up a few of us to play this Saturday. Players in attendence for this post Essen game fest were Myself, Steve, Jo, Luke and of course Richard. I travelled over to Richard's house in Haywards Heath with Steve. I hadn't met Luke before as he plays with the group in Burgess Hill. Richard was punching out the hexes and we all pitched in sorting the various bits out. I had run over the rules with Steve as we drove over and everybody else had a rough idea of them. I think Luke was the only one of us who hadn't played AoS which RT was similar to. Anyway we were at last ready for the off, I took a note of the time as we were interested in how long the game was going to take, it says 2 hours on the box but I thought that might be optimistic.
As you can see from the photo the board is huge, hanging off of Richard's table. You have to stand up if you are sitting at one end so you can see what is going on at the other end! In the rules they had suggested that you not let one player gain a monopoly in the north east as there is a concentration of cities there. Consequently only Steve and Luke started there but Luke rapidly went north and west and Steve pioneered down the east coast. Richard started in the south and went west round the foot of the mountains and Jo started in the mid-west and forged a rail link all the way down to New Orleans. I went west across to Chicago and on to the western link city of Desmoines. Right at the start of the game we had a bit of a situation, the card that says 'immediately take 2 actions' is a very powerful one and both of them appeared in the 10 face up cards that started the game, so the player that went first could immediately take the first card and get 2 actions, and with the first of those actions take the other card and get another 2 actions thus getting an extra 3 actions total and of course denying the other players those cards. We hadn't realised that when we had the first auction for 1st player which Steve won. He agreed to do the auction again with the result that the price went up a lot for first player privilege. A five player game ends when 16 empty city markers are on the board, we had played 2 hours before the first marker had appeared! Taking shares to finance your empire is a big part in the game and Richard and Luke were taking shares freely, while Steve, Jo and myself were a bit more consersative. As the game progressed into the third hour Luke and Jo were pulling ahead of the rest of us. But I kept my shares well down and the others thought that my Railroad Tycoon card must be the one for least shares issued, actually it was for longest consecutive rail links, which I had no hope of achieving.
Once those empty city markers start appearing they soon mount up and finally the game ended on the dot at 4 hours. Luke had managed to achieve his RT card for an extra five points and finished a well deserved winner. The share issued were Jo 12, Steve 8, Luke 17, Richard 25 (I think!) and myself 6. I never did build the western link and I think everyone has thoughts on how they would proceed in another game.

Final Scores
Luke 75, Steve 65, Jo 62, Colin 51, Richard 47

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Spam Comments

Seem to have started getting spam comments so have altered the settings so that only registered members can post. Don't know how that works, any feedback welcomed.

Sheep in a Blanket

Originally uploaded by coljen.
As I said the playing pieces are really good, but they are not really protected in the box, only Roger the Ram and the Sheep Shearer are in bubble wrap. Well I showed the wife the game and she was really delighted with the cute little sheep and before I knew it each sheep had it's own little sleeping bag made of bubble wrap. So now they are really snug and well protected. Pity it is only 3-4 player I might have actually had a chance of getting her to play this one!!!! Ah well.


Originally uploaded by coljen.
Shear Panic is the offering by the Lamont Brothers at this year's Essen. I had heard good vibes about the game and as it was limited to 500 copies I pre-ordered a copy. The pictures that appeared on the net of the playing pieces convinced me to order a copy before I had even read the rules. Anyway after Raudritter we wanted to give the sheep a run out. As you can see from the picture the actual playing pieces are superb, high quality resin figures, and the game is very good as well. After Steve had run quickly through the rules, trying to ignore all the puns from the rest of us, off we went. Basically you travel through 4 fields, team tig, Roger's field, Black Sheep tig and the Shear Panic field. Each player has a control mat with 12 actions on, as you use an action you cover it with a 'mutton button', each action has a cost which moves the timer marker on. Your actions get limited as you use them up. In the first field you are trying to get your 2 sheep to touch, in the 2nd field the closest to Roger scores most, in the black sheep field you are trying to touch the black sheep. The last field sees the dreaded Sheep shearer appear, you are trying to get as far away as possible from him as the front row is taken out of the game (ie gets sheared) and the furthest row scores most.
The game flows smoothly with lots of awful puns along the way (ie ewe can't do that, you baaaastard). That said there is quite a lot of strategy in there all contributing to nicely rounded package. I am really glad that I got a copy.

Final Scores
Garry 37, Steve 30, Richard 27, Colin 27

Tuesday 18th - Raubritter and Shear Panic

Originally uploaded by coljen.
So the first session since Essen, and Steve chose the new Rudiger Dorn game Raubritter, or Robber Knights. Basically it is a tile laying game with dobbers a la Carcassonne. Each player has their own set of tiles, some are lettered on the back, A to E. You arrange the tiles in a stack with all the E's on the bottom, then D's and so on so the A's are on top. You always hold 2 tiles in hand, so you play one then draw one. On the tiles are Castles, Villages, Towns, Mountains or lakes. The Castles, Villages or Towns can be on the plains or in the forest. When you lay a Castle you have the option to place up to five knights (ie dobbers) on the Castle and then move them off in a straight line orthogonally. The restrictions are that you must leave at least 1 (on plains) 2 (on forests) and 3 (on mountains). Lakes are impassable. There is a maximum of 4 dobbers allowed on any one tile, the tiles are scored at the end of the game. The knight on top scores as follows: Castles 1 point, Villages 2 points and Towns 3 points.
The playing area is restricted to a 10 x 10 square, so you are laying tiles and dobbers trying to score, and protecting that score and trying to limit the scoring opportunities for your opponents. I liked it even though I came last. The colours on the board ebb and flow during game as one player gets an advantage then it changes completely as another player lays a line of his knights covering all yours (doh!).
Final Scores
Richard 34, Steve 22, Garry 20, Colin 15

The Billygames Essen Haul

As promised here is a complete list of games lugged back by Billygamers from Essen via train, plane and car.

Colin (ie me, in Richard's car)
Railroad Tycoon (couldn't believe how heavy the box was or how big the board is)
Shear Panic (gotta love those sheep)
Memoir '44

Garry (train)
Durch Die Wuste
Power Grid France/Italy Maps
Warfrog Aos Steam Pack
6 Nimmt Special Ed.
Niagara Expansion
Arch Opti Mix
Raub Ritter
Hol's Der Geier

Richard (Car)
Railroad Tycoon
War of the Ring
Aqua Romana
Carcassonne - Neuland
Power Grid France/Italy
E & T The Cardgame
Scream Machine
Carcassonne - Der Fluess 2
1825 Expansion

Steve (Plane)
Go West
El Grande + El Grande Expansions
Raub Ritter
Packeis Am Pol

As you can see quite a haul, Byzantium seems to have been a favourite. We have already played Raub Ritter and Shear Panic, reviews to follow.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

So Essen 2005 has been and gone

Time flies as they say and this year's Essen is over already. As you know I didn't make it after all but my good friend Richard crammed a few games into the boot of his TVR and bought them back for me. The games haul for Billygames I will post later when I have all the info. Tonight we are playing at Steve's and at a good guess I reckon we will be playing something that made the trip back from Germany. I have been following a few blogs written by people at the fair, especially Rick Thornquist. It's not the same as being there but gives you a feel for the buzz and excitement that you get.
Garry has documented his trip with a write up and some excellent photos, you can find it here:

So I will post later in the week with a report of tonights session and a full list of games lugged back from Essen by the Billygamers.

Happy Gaming!!!

Saturday, October 8, 2005

Tikal End board position

Originally uploaded by coljen.
Here is the board position at the end of the game. As you can see there were a couple of battles, notably in the foreground between Garry (orange) and black (Steve). Also on the right between Richard (red) and myself (light coloured cubes). As Richard said getting his camps down in favourable positions definitely helped him to the win. I couldn't get my second camp down at all, this hampered my development so only second place. A nice game and one we don't play enough.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Tuesday 4th October - Tikal

Back to four players this week, and Garry chose Tikal as the game this evening. This Wolfgang Kramer/Michael Kiesling game won the Spiel des Jahres in 1999. One of a series that also includes Java and Mexico. I think we had all played this before except Garry and it was his copy on the table. Steve quickly ran throughthe rules with some clarifications from Richard reading the rulebook. Basically you lay a tile on the board then you have 10 action points to place explorers on the board, dig temples or treasure, build a new camp or swap treasures you have acquired with other players. The stack of tiles are numbered on the backs with letters A through F and as the game progresses 3 volcanoes will be turned over which triggers a scoring round. Temples are scored by the player with the most explorers on them, treasures are scored in sets of 1pt for 1, 3pts for 2 and 6pts for 3.
Steve was the first one to build another camp deep in the jungle, Richard promptly tried to find ways to seal his exits off. Garry had placed a 3 value temple hoping to build a camp near it later but I managed to get there first, luckily it was adjacent to a 4 value temple as well. Both of these had very expensive or no access for the other players so I was able to dig them up to 10 and 6 respectively. Richard declared that he hadn’t got a hope of winning so obviously you know who won this very enjoyable game. He had occupied quite a few temples and scored heavily in the 3rd scoring round and at the end.

Final Scores
Richard 95, Colin 87, Garry 79, Steve 72

Essen draws ever closer and the disappointment I have at not going now gets more accute. But I do have the week after Essen off from work so if Richard is able to get all the games on my list I will be able to drawl over them. LOL!!!!

Happy Gaming!!