Thursday, March 30, 2006

Board Games with Scott

I'm usually the last to find out things so many of you will probably know about this site already. But for those of you that are unaware this site has video shows describing many popular board games. Here is the link:

Scott has just won the Gone Gaming award for best podcast/videocast site!

Just been looking at referrals on my site meter and it's nice to see that Bruno Faidutti has a link to us on his website. He says that we are strictly session reports, but interesting ones.....well that's nice to know.

I'm always surprised by how many people pop in and have a look at what we're up to. So a big hello and thank's for dropping by to you all.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Powergrid-Italy Final Position

Originally uploaded by coljen.
This is the final board position. As you can see Richard (red) has the south pretty well tied up, and the rest of us are mainly in the north, gradually spreading down towards the south.

By the way if anybody doesn't know, you can double click on any picture and a larger version will come up in my flickr account.

Tuesday 28th March - Power Grid - Italy

Originally uploaded by coljen.
Rhis week we were playing at my house, Garry was picking me up from the train at Horsham and we were driving over together. Simple plan, destined to go wrong. Two stations before Horsham, just as we were pulling out an almighty bang and grating sound and we ground to a halt and the power went off. Doh! Temporary electrical fault which delayed us by 20 minutes. Anyway finally got there, Richard and Steve had already arrived. It was Garry’s choice and he had chosen the Italy map for Power Grid. I really like this game and this was the final map we had to play. It looks really congested at the northern end of the map and opens out as you get further south towards Sicily. We decided the two northermost regions were out of the game. I thought placing your initial power stations would be vital and thought I had made a mistake when I went for cheapest at the north end of the map. Garry and Steve went slightly to the south of me and I thought I would get hemmed in. Richard went his own way and placed his right on the heel of the map far away from anybody.

Sorry I haven’t given a run through of the game as I am assuming that everybody is familiar with this classic game. Anyway managing your money for buying resources, power stations and fuel is very important and working out what you want to buy before you commit yourself is a good plan. Funny I can do this in Power Grid and enjoy the game but with AoS it just blows my mind. So I managed to find a way out down the western coast before Garry could block me in so I wasn’t too bad. Richard was just doing his own thing down south. Steve did contemplate building in Sicily and paying a huge build through cost just to try to foil Richard’s plans, but decided against it. Although I thought the map looked really tight nobody really got stuffed with nowhere to build. By the time we had reached stage 3 it still pretty tight. At one point Steve bought 12 coal and 3 oil to try and stop Richard from powering his cities. Uranium was getting cheaper and cheaper but not many power stations were on line, I had one that powered 3 but had to get rid of it for a more powerful coal station. As the game neared the end it was so close, I knew I wasn’t going to win because I could only power 16 and if I bought a more powerful station I had no money to buy houses.The final scores were very close needing a tiebreaker between 1st and 2nd and 3rd and 4th.

Final Scores
Steve 17 (13 money), Richard 17 (7 money), Colin 16 (3 money, 17 houses built), Garry 16 (3 money, 16 houses built)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Tuesday 21st March - Settlers of Nurnberg

Setters of Nurnberg Board
Originally uploaded by coljen.
This week Richard wanted to play one of the variations of Settlers that we hadn’t played yet. Die Siedler von Nürnberg. I must say that although the Settlers franchise is very popular with a lot of gamers I didn’t warm to it for quite a while. Having played most of the incarnations of it now I find that I do like a couple of them. Settlers of the Stone Age I think I like the best, that is until last night. The Nürnberg version is now definitely my favourite. Unlike most Settlers the board is not constructed as you go but is preconstructed. It is split into two, one half portraying the city, where you can build workshops, city walls and towers. And the countryside surrounding the city, with five roads leading away from Nürnberg. Three of these lead to other cities. You can build settlements and toll stations on this part of the board. We decided to use the set-up in the rules to place the starting settlements and toll stations.
I won’t go into the rules in depth, you can find out more on BGG, but I found the gameplay very engaging. The added element of gold and being able to manufacture goods and sell them to the other cities made it a very different game to the other Settlers I have played. For a start I have always had bad dice rolls (that’s my story anyway) in other games and the introduction of a deck of cards with numbers on seemed to even out the odds a bit. Also the events on the cards adds yet another element to consider. I managed to build a toll station on the road leading to Frankfurt, and controlled it for the whole game. Unfortunately there wasn’t a settlement on it for most of the game so I didn’t benefit from any toll fees! I did build a workshop on the wood space in the city and used this to good effect when I was able to manufacture two lots of helmets and sell them to Frankfurt for double, that would be 16 gold. I controlled the road so I didn’t have to pay a toll either. We were all on about 5-7 VPs and I could see the game rapidly escalating to an end when the council cards started to come into play. I had built a workshop in the Bauhof, which enabled me to build towers. I was planning to build one on my next turn and grab the high council card for 4vp when Steve build 2 city walls giving him the 3 prestige points necessary to snatch it. Unfortunately nobody had noticed how close Steve was to winning and this gave him a total of 13VPs, the winning total.
All in all I really enjoyed playing and hopefully will do a bit better next time. I think Steve was the only one who had played before so not surprising he burgled the win.

Final Scores
Steve 13, Richard 9, Colin 7, Garry 6

Setters Nurnberg

Setters Nurnberg
Originally uploaded by coljen.
You can see Richard on the left and Garry getting ready to dive into the City of Nurnberg. Steve is making the necessary coffee!! Richard was just telling us how he managed to put 5 boardgames out for the trash. He looks surprisingly upbeat doesn't he :)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Tuesday March 14th - The Bottle Imp/Der Dreizehnte Holzwurm

Originally uploaded by coljen.
This week as it was my choice I thought we would have a change and play some trick taking card games. I took three along with me, David & Goliath, Flaschenteufel (The Bottle Imp) and Der Dreizehnte Holzwurm (The 13th Woodworm). The Bottle Imp is a game I bought at my first visit to Essen in 2004, this is the first time it’s hit the table. Garry and myself hadn’t played before, Steve had played a couple of times and Richard had played it too according to Steve, but when he arrived he said that he hadn’t so there!!

As trick taking games go I think is right there at the top of the pile. I had read a bit about the game on the geek and was looking forward to playing. Basically you have 37 cards, 36 of them divided into three colours, blue, yellow and red. The yellow cards are predominately low numbers, red are high and blue are more middle range. The nineteen card starts on the table under the bottle imp, a nice wooden bottle shaped dobber. The cards are shuffled and dealt equally, with four players that’s 9 cards each. Then you select one card to discard under the imp, one card you pass left and one card you pass right. The four cards under the imp become the trick won by the player who ends up with the bottle imp after the last hand and these count as minus points. So the player to the left of the dealer leads and plays goes clockwise, you must follow suit (colour) if you can, if you can’t you can lay anything. If all the cards played are above the value of the bottle imp (nineteen on the first hand), the highest card wins the trick regardless of colour. If any cards are below the value of the imp, the highest card under the value of the imp wins the trick. That card becomes the new value of the imp and is placed in front of the player with the dobber on top. As you can see the value of the imp will gradually fall and getting rid of any low cards you have gets increasingly harder. If after the last trick you end up with the bottle you do not count any cards from tricks you have won, normally these count as positive points, but you take the imps trick and count those as minus points.

We decided to play first to 150 points, and I was looking good for the win on 137 points. But then Garry, who was to my left, passed me the one card three hands on the bounce. Doh! Garry played the perfect game, managing to avoid ending up with the bottle imp altogether. I really like this game, there’s a bit of depth to the play but it plays smooth and fast.

Final Scores (running total of hands)

Steve -18 -2 -2 22 0 32 61 68 49
Richard 32 15 -4 -20 -16 19 43 49 90
Colin 0 51 75 106 137 117 99 87
Garry 11 20 41 62 82 82 107 139 155

Next up was Der Dreizehnte Holzwurm. I have had this game a while and played it a couple of times. The cards are in suits of six colours (red, blue, yellow, green, purple and grey). The cards are numbered from +10 down to -11. There is a -13 card that is set aside. The rest are shuffled and five are dealt off the top, these are laid out lowest to highest. The rest are dealt equally. Basically on your turn you lay a card to a trick on the table or start a new trick. You have five tricks on the table (not grey). The grey cards are wild and can be laid on any colour. The positive and minus values are not considered when you lay the card only the number. The card you lay must higher than the number of cards already in the trick. If it is equal or lower then you have to pick up all the cards in the trick and the highest card from the cards previously set aside. These go into your hand to be used again. That is it really, the game ends when one player lays his last card or the -13 card is won. If you get rid of all your cards you get 30 points. Otherwise you count the values of all the cards you have in your hand at the end, this is when the minus cards count against your score. Again an interesting game but not as good as the The Bottle Imp.

Final Scores (we played 2 hands)
Colin 29 + 18 = 47
Richard 9 = 37 = 46
Garry -9 + -28 = -37
Steve 50 + 10 = 60

We had run out of time so no time for David & Goliath, maybe next time.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Tuesday 7th March - Il Principe

Originally uploaded by coljen.
Unfortunately I didn't make it last week due to illness but Richard, Steve and Garry played AoS using the France map. I havn't got any details or even the result so I can't really tell you anything about the session. They had a good time by all accounts and said there was loads of money in the game and you couldn't go bankrupt!! Sounds like I might have actually been able to bear playing the french map.

Anyway, this week it was Steve's choice and he chose Il Principe, a new purchase of his although it was released at Essen this year. None of us had played before so we started off on a level playing field so to speak. Steve ran through the rules which seemed fairly straightforward. The components are very colourful and the quality was good. Little card markers with the players family shield on them are used in the game for various things but Steve felt that when you got a group of them onthe region map it would be a little difficult to see them so had substituted wooden blocks from another game which worked well.
Basically you have a deck of building cards with 20 cards each of five colours and a smaller deck of city cards that are available to build. The city cards have a cost to build, namely a number of coloured cards in various combinations and a cost in money. Each player starts with a hand of 4 cards, 2 of which are thrown away, these cards are placed face up and then auctioned. If you win a auction you have the option of building a city if you wish. Next you have the option of laying cards face up in front of you or building a city. On the board there are 2 jobs (cards) for each colour, a large card and a smaller card. The player with the most cards in front of him in a particular colour takes the large job and second takes the small job. The winner of the large job flips half of the cards he has of that colour rounded up face down. Ties result in another auction between the tied players.

Il Principe - cont.

Originally uploaded by coljen.
Each job has a special ability which is actioned as soon as you win the job. Such things like flip one face down card, place a shield on a region, get 2 money, get 1VP and draw a building card. The other advantage of being in possesion of jobs is that when a city is built, the owners of the colours needed to build that city get VPs. 2 for the large job and 1 for the small. The builder of the city also gets VPs but not forthe job cards he owns if they match the needed colours. They also get to put either 1 or 2 shields on the region map. So when you build a city you have to take into account
who has the jobs because you may be giving VPs to your closest rival. The game ends when you are not able to deal four cards to players at the start of a round or there are only a certain number of city cards left. There are a number of ways to score VPs at game end. Majority in a region, most cards in hand, most money, sets of cards on the table and so on.

I don't think I have explained that very well, but more info is on the geek. Anyway I thoroughly enjoyed playing, there are several interesting mechanisms interacting which involve making tough decisions. The game doesn't run too long and doesn't get bogged down along the way.

Final Scores
Richard 61, Steve 52, Colin 51, Garry 41