Sunday, December 18, 2005

Tuesday 13th December - Byzantium

On the table today was Martin Wallace's Byzantium, his newish release from Essen this year. A game with many nuances and sublties. If you read this blog regularly you will have seen that we played this a few weeks ago, but didn't finish the game, it was more of a learning curve. This time we had a quick run through the rules, with the movement costs for sea travel and attacking cities getting some attention. I was randomly picked as the starting player and the opening moves seem to be claim cities and grab the emperor or caliph first. The place I picked to start last time wasn't
optimum as I ended up being caught in a pincer between two powers and squeezed out.

Well, the position I picked this time didn't turn out to be a lot better. The game is a fairly long affair, it took us about 3 hours and money is quite tight in the early turns. Combat occurred early on when Steve and Richard started on the Persians. Steve had grabbed a couple of 3 stack Byzantine cities and Richard activated the Bulgars to try and eliminate one of these, successfully.

As the game progressed Steve and Richard were battling it out in the front and I was reduced to attacking quite a lot. I actually attacked one of Garry's Byzantine cities 3 times and was repulsed every time. I sort of lost heart after that. Richard was building Mosques and Churches like they were going out of fashion and in the end it proved decisive as the final score shows. Garry was doing reasonably well and Richard thought at one point that he would vie for lead but as it turns out in the end the win was a close thing.

Final Scores
Richard 72, Steve 70, Garry 58, Colin 46

If you are a regular reader of this blog you will see my thoughts on Age of Steam, almost everybody hails this game as a classic. I seem to have a mental block regarding it and I have a sneaking suspicion that Byzantium is going to fall into the same category. I do like most types of games, the exception being dexterity games and games with lots of maths and caculations. Not that I'm that bad at maths but it seems to take the edge off of an enjoyable experience if my head is full of figures and stuff. Not that Byzantium has a lot of maths, I just don't know what it is. I can enjoy immensly a game that I don't do well at if I enjoy playing the game. I could come last but still enjoy the experience of playing the game. Puerto Rico is one of my favourites, one time I may win and another I may do disasterously, but I still enjoy playing. Railroad Tycoon is another example, although a derivative of AoS, I really enjoyed my one game, even though I didn't do particularly well. A lot of the maths had been removed, the ability to take shares as you go to pay for actions makes it a better experience for me. But thats just me.

Anyway have a happy and enjoyable gaming Christmas, the next session for
Billygames is not planned until January 3rd, so until then.........

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Tuesday 6th December - Durch Die Wuste/Diamante

Originally uploaded by coljen.
Tonight we a guest appearance of Jo, always a welcome visitor to our games night. It was Garry's choice and he wanted to play games that he had purchased at Essen this year, so Durch die W├╝ste was on the table. I think everyone had played except me and Garry. Jo quickly ran through the rules and considering this was a Renier Knizia game the way you score points seemed fairly straightforward. The colour of the camels were very pastel and could easily be mistaken in other than good light. A mistake I made once
during the game. Anyway as this is a fairly old game I expect most people are familiar with the concept, you form camel trains across the desert trying to connect to waterholes and oasis's and enclose areas to score points. At the end of the game the biggest group in each colour scores 10 points also you get 1 point for each unoccupied hex that you have enclosed with your camels. I managed to enclose a couple of areas and have the biggest yellow group and garnered a surprising win.

Final Scores (waterholes, oasis, biggest group, enclosed hexes)
Colin 23+15+15+11=64
Steve 14+10+20+11=55
Richard 13+15+5+13=46
Jo 15+15+15+8=53
Garry 22+5+0+10=37


Originally uploaded by coljen.
Garry also had a copy of Alan Moon's game Diamante which again only Garry and myself hadn't played. Jo ran through a very colourful description of the rules for our benefit. Of which this is an abbreviated extract, not verbatim but close enough. Each player has a playing piece shaped like a man in his own colour. To determine whether you are staying in or out of the cave you take your man in your hand under the table!! We then all place our fists on the table and reveal simultaneously. If your man is in your hand, then you are exiting the cave, if your man is in your hand under the table you are penetrating further in!!! Well, that was worth the purchase price of the game to start with.I found this to be a fun, light game with a short playing time. Ideal for non-gamers and to round off a gaming session. We played 3 games and Steve ran away the easy winner. Jo had the distinction of scoring no points in the last game. Richard was determined to get a good score in the second game and bravely ventured on alone into the cave only to get clobbered with a large pile of gems in front of him. Expletive deleted!!!
In the picture you can see Jo's expression after getting, not the 17 card he wanted, but an explosion which ended his little expedition this time.
Final Scores
Game 1
Steve 33, Jo 29, Garry 25, Richard 5, Colin 14

Game 2
Steve 43, Jo 15, Garry 8, Richard 14, Colin 20

Game 3
Steve 14, Jo 0, Garry 15, Richard 27, Colin 18

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Tuesday 29th November - Winchester/Packeis am Pol/Puerto Rico

Originally uploaded by coljen.
Garry couldn't make it tonight because of work commitments so it was only Steve, Richard and myself. Before Richard arrived Steve and I had a quick game of Packeis am Pol, a game I hadn't played before. The rules are simplicity itself. You place a series of hexes to form the board, these have a number of fish on them from 1 to 3. You take turns in placing your penguins on the board then you can move them in a straight line picking up the hex you start from. Trying to corner your opponent and secure sections of the board for yourself is the name of the game and Steve soon had me stitched up.

Final Score
Steve 52, Colin 47

Then Richard arrived, it was Richard's choice and he wanted to play something he hadn't played for a long time so he chose Kremlin. But as there was only three players he thought it might not play so well, fortunately he had bought along with him Winchester. This is an old game by David Rostherne of Railway Rivals fame. Basically it's a race game, trying to get your five dobbers round the track avoiding the obstacles and other players on the way. Movement is accomplished by rolling a die which has chess moves on it. So a player rolls the die and then each player moves one of his dobbers according to the rules of chess. If you take another players piece they are not removed from the game you just swap places. There is a scoring chart and as players get their pieces home they go on the chart and score points. There are various bonuses, first piece home, 3 pieces in a row, all pieces home and so on. The mechanic works OK, but I think we all found it a bit dry for our taste. Probably not going to come out again for a long while.

Final Score
Richard 49, Colin 43, Steve 28

Finally we just had time for a 3 player game of Puerto Rico, always a favourite in our group this turned out to be a very close game indeed. I opted to go for the construction hut and the hospice so that they came out manned. I didn't have many goods the entire game, just able to produce 1 indigo, 1 tobacco and 1 corn at a time. I did have the large market which helped me when I sold my tobacco and this combined with the 4 quarries helped me to get 2 large buildings. Richard was doing very well too and got 3 large buildings. Steve was doing a lot of shipping and did ship over twice as much as Richard or myself. I think my large buildings did give me more VPs than Richards (1vp for every 3 colonists, and 1vp for every violet building). In the end the scores were very close.

Final Scores
Colin 52, Richard 51, Steve 47