Wednesday, July 26, 2006

No Billygames this week and Essen update

Well, a combination of circumstances resulted in no games this week, Richard got stuck in London and I was starting at a new location in London (same company, just moved) and wasn't sure when I would be getting home. Anyway, should be OK for next week.
The Essen update section of Boardgame news is getting more interesting now, Rick Thornquist has been working overtime updating it. There are some games that look as though they are worth a look and it's only July!!

Anyway, more from me next week......happy gaming!!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Originally uploaded by coljen.
After finishing Kreta we still had some time so Steve chose Packeis am Pol to end the evening. The game is pretty simple, moving your penguins over the ice floes collecting the fish. Each penguin can move along the diagonals and you pick up the tile you moved from. Pretty easy uh!! not so, can get quite nasty if you get a rogue penguin intent on carving up your space. An amusing and quick filler to end the evening. We managed to get through two games.

Final Scores
Game 1
Richard 39, Colin 22, Garry 22, Steve 15
Game 2
Garry 33, Steve 24, Colin 24, Richard 21

Tuesday July 18th - Kreta/Packeis am Pol

Originally uploaded by coljen.
Tonight we are all ready to give Kreta its first outing at Billygames. This 2005 game by Stefan Dorra is basically an influence game loosely themed around the island of Crete. This is a brief description from the publisher:

From the publisher, Goldsieber:

Settle the most important Cretan provinces with your followers. Build booming cities and increase your influence by building massive towers. Locate your fleet carefully but also try to harvest as many grapes and olives as possible. Only he who best places his Admiral, King, Farmers and Castellan will end up winning the race for power and prestige!

This is a bit of an extravagent claim as in reality it a tight, well designed game but not a blockbuster. Steve quickly ran through the rules and we were up and running. Each player has a hand of cards, each players cards are the same, the admiral, the builder, the abbot, the farmer a scoring card, the king, the felder and the baumeister. In turn each player plays a card and initiates the appropriate action. Like play a villager , the abbot, a fort or village or place one of your ships in a harbour.
There is a deck of cards representing the intersections between the provinces, at the beginning you turn the top two face up, whenever a player plays his scoring card you score the first one. That player then turns over the next card and has the option to accept it or put it on the bottom of the deck and turn another one over which he must accept. Each province that borders the intersection is scored, the player with the most influence scores the number of hexes in that province in VPs, second, half rounded down.
You score eleven intersections and that is it.... not quite, there is quite a lot decision making involved making Kreta quite an absorbing game, we all liked it, even if Steve wanted to start again after 10 minutes because he had done it all wrong to far. This didn't reflect in the final scores however, all the way through the game Garry and Steve were vieing for the lead with me in third and Richard bringing up the rear. I was gradually getting closer to the front two and on the final scoring managed to overhaul Garry and tie with Steve for first place. Definitely want to play that again!!

Final Scores
Steve 53, Colin 53, Garry 52, Richard 47

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Tuesday July 11th - Thurn und Taxis/The Bottle Imp

Originally uploaded by coljen.
Garry is back off hols so we are back to four, on the table Thurn und Taxis, the 2006 game from Andreas and Karen Seyfarth. We have played this once before and all thought it was pretty good. Hints of Ticket to Ride but that's a good game too so no problem there. Basically you are trying to complete routes for your postal service across europe. I covered the basic premise of the game in my May 9th post so I won't go over it again, I expect many of you have played it anyway. You do rely to a certain extent on what cards are showing on the display, I know you can clear the cards and draw 6 new ones, but uses your special action and you don't always want to do that. I got confused and thought that you didn't have to have a presence in Lodz to claim the chit for all colours and Richard was busy trying to keep his hand size down to 3 at all times. No, Richard, only when you claim a route :) This must have been hard for Richard as he likes to have fistfuls of cards at all times.
On the way to Garry's house Steve had said that he hoped Garry was going to choose Thurn und Taxis, ah, I said you obviously have a new strategy to try out. Well, I didn't figure out what it was but it showed in the final results with Richard narrowly beating Steve to first place. I was struggling to complete my final route when Richard ended the game by claiming the 7 route card. As an aside, I know the special action for clearing the board can be very useful if there is nothing useful to you, but it can be extremely frustrating for the subsequent players who have spent the last few minutes planning their next move based on the cards on the display!! Ah well, such is life!!!

Final Scores
Richard 29, Steve 22, Colin 15, Garry 9

We still had a bit of time left so Garry pulled out his bottle imp, well the clever little card game by G√ľnter Cornett, I bought a copy at Essen 2003 and when we first played it Garry liked it and bought his own copy. In this game you play cards to the trick following suit if you can. The Bottle Imp starts off at a value of 19, if the winning card is higher than the value of the imp then that takes the trick. If any cards lower in value than the imp are played then the highest card under the value of the imp takes the trick and the Imp is then the value of the card that won the trick . Easy uh! Before the game you select three cards from your hand pass one left, one right and one goes under the Imp. The player who gets saddled with the Imp at the end of the hand takes the Imps trick and scores minus points to that value. Bit of brain burner for the first couple of hands .......and it doesn't get any easier :) Unfortunately Garry got caught with the Imp in all four hands that we played, and he still likes the game.

Final Scores after four hands
Richard 142, Steve 84, Colin 68, Garry -42

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Monday 3rd July - Railway Rivals

Games night was monday this week, pulled forward a day so it didn't clash with the first semi-final of the World Cup. England crashed out in the quarter-final, what I expected really. Team wasn't good enough, tactics were crap. Eriksson didn't choose the right squad in the first place, then didn't play what we were good at.....4-4-2. Anyway enough of that, tonight Richard chose a blast from the past, the 1973 train racing game from David Watts, Railway Rivals. Considered a classic by many diehard fans neither Steve or myself had played, only three of us tonight by the way, Garry is off to the med somewhere.
This game is one of the first railway games, played on a hex map with the tracks drawn on with crayon. Basically first you build track until all the cities are connected, then have your trains race between two of the cities decided by drawing cards from a deck. Two races then another bit of building and so on. Obviously having the optimum route between the two points is the aim, with winners of the race getting 20,000 and second 10,000, the third place gets nada.
After Richard had gone through the rules, he had last played about 10 years ago, we decided on the map for south-east England. Over the years there have been many maps produced, a bit like AoS today. It all went smoothly, with quite a few rubbing outs and smudges on the map by the end of the first phase. Eventually we got to the races. You can use other people's tracks up to a max. of 10 hexes by paying them 1,000 per hex. We started about 7.45 and finished just before 11. We dispensed with the building phase towards the end as nobody really had anywhere else to build.
What did I think, well I admit I am not a fan of train games generally. I have played AoS a few times and it is on my list of games to play only as a last resort. I have played Railroad Tycoons once and enjoyed it. So how did Railroad Rivals fare,.......I enjoyed it to be honest, the building track phase can get a bit bogged down and the game is a bit too long for my preference but I would play it again. Definitely in preference to AoS (gasp from the AoS fans). Well that's just me.

Final Scores
Steve 233,000 Richard 213,000 Colin 204,000