Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tuesday 29th August - Cleopatra....well it should have been

Yes, you should be reading of our adventure into the world of ancient Egypt, but, due the poxy transport system in this country I had to cancel the session. We were meeting at my house and the wife had arranged the table arrangements and made the sandwiches ready for us.....but of course my train home was cancelled and I would be arriving too late to really start, so reluctantly I cancelled. Shame really because Jo was going to make a rare appearance at Billygames.
I was looking forward to giving Cleopatra another go, we have only played once before and I got fed to the crocodiles. I ended up the richest but the most corrupt, and croc food. I was determined not to let that happen this time round. Anyway hopefully we can try again next week.

On another note, Rick Thornquist is doing a great job updating the Essen preview site on Boardgame News. I have added that and other links to this site. My list for potential purchases at Essen is growing, but as I am flying with Garry and Jo, baggage space is at a premium. One hope is that if Steve drives over there we can smuggle a few games into his boot for transport home! I think I will be a bit more selective this year and only buy games that I really, really want. I think we are going to compare lists and try not to buy the same games. That way we should cover more and have even more games to play.

I do like little trick taking card games and there is one that catches the eye, Null & NIchtig from Amigo. Basically you have 65 cards, five colours, numbered 0-11 with 0 occuring twice. Each player receives 13 cards, 3 of which are placed in front of you. Each player then plays a card in front of him and the player who plays the highest card wins the trick, regardless of colour. The winner then picks the cards up in the order they were played and places them into colour piles in front of him, with only one card of each colour showing. Play all the tricks and at the end only the card on top of each colour pile scores points. Trying to give your opponents zeros is favourite. I shall be picking this up, small and cheap.
You can find out more on the Essen Preview site along with tons of other stuff at Boardgame News.

Just one last thing, if you look down the right hand side you will see a tag message board, feel free to use it but keep it clean and civil please.

Until next time....happy gaming!!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Tuesday 22nd August - Antike

Originally uploaded by coljen.
After all the excitement over the bracket on Steve’s table we eventually got to play a game. Steve had forgotten it was his choice this week and quickly dived into his collection and presented us with a choice of Indonesia or Antike. Well, from all reports Indonesia took over 3 hours to play. Steve said he knew that we would’nt finish but we would get to know the rules, anyway Garry and myself fancied Antike as neither of us had played before. Antike seems to be very popular at the moment with gamers, getting a solid 7.5/10 on BGG.
So Antike it was, Steve ran through the rules for Garry and myself, both Richard and Steve had played it a number of times before. This obviously reflected in the final scores. Basically you get a card to give you a starting position, in the 4 player game it’s either, Romans, Germans, Greeks or Phoenicians. Richard got the Romans and Steve the Phoenicians with Garry and me sandwiched in between with the Germans and Greeks respectively. The game is driven by the Roundel on the board which you move round, giving you a number of options, like recruit, get resources, build temples and so on. Richard had said that it was entirely possible to win the game pursuing a peacable strategy, but as it turned out I don’t think Garry and myself were aggresive enough because Richard had a pretty clear run. Steve, with the Phoenicians was at the other end of the board and couldn’t really get at Richard to stop his all conquering. I had read on the Geek of games taking 3 hours to finish, maybe with 6 players, but our game took about 105 minutes, including rules explanation. As we neared what looked like a pretty easy win for Richard, Steve was explaining what Garry and myself could do to prevent it from being quite as easy. I was 1 short on money to get to the development segment to upgrade myself to prevent Richard getting the VP. In the end it was an easy victory for Richard, but I think in the next game it will be closer as Garry and I will have a better idea of the gameplay.

Final Scores
Richard 9, Steve 6, Garry 5, Colin 4

In a subsequent email, Richard said that we were playing the game slightly incorrectly. We had been playing that to move more than 3 segments on the roundel you had to pay money, when in fact you could use any resource. So I could have got to the development segment to prevent Richard from getting that VP. I don’t think it would had stopped a Richard victory, just slowed it a bit.

the bracket

Originally uploaded by coljen.
We played Antike this week and the report is to follow, but first some exciting news. It was touch and go all week which venue we would be playing at, mine, or if Steve managed to repair the bracket on his table, at Steve's. Here is a bit of background information, Richard, quite by accident had destroyed the bracket holding up half of Steve's table, not once but twice. Obviously drastic measures were called for, seating Richard away from the offending bracket seemed the obvious choice, but a major repair job was on the cards. Phew, on the Sunday we received information that the operation had been performed successfully and that Steve's table was now operational again. See the pic for the thoroughly professional job Steve did on the offending bracket. And as a severe test we seated Richard directly over it and it came through with flying colours. I'm sure you are all very relieved about that.......OK, OK, the reports coming next.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Tuesday 15th August - Caylus

Originally uploaded by coljen.
I wasn't able to make it last night and Steve, Garry and Richard played Caylus. There seems to have evolved the rule that if I am not there the winner gets the dubious pleasure of writing a report of the proceedings. Well Richard triumphed and here is his winners report.

As we were 3 (Colin being absent) this evening Garry decided that we would give a Caylus a go as it would be easier to complete within an evening with fewer people.

It seems the last few occasions Billygames have played Caylus I seem to have managed to not be around - so it was good from my point of view to be in attendance this evening so I could play it again.

After a brief reviewing of the rules we started to play.

Money, as it always seems to be, was to be tight in the early game. Garry and Steve attempted to alleviate this by vying for the bonus 3 deniers whilst I tried to keep my costs down by remaining the Pub as much as possible.

As the game progressed, Garry concentrated on building buildings, Steve on advancing up the royal favour tracks and gaining money and Victory points whilst I built buildings by advancing up the Royal Favour track that allowed me to build buildings without utilising the appropriate building.

As the game came into the final stages Garry was some way ahead of Steve and Myself on the victory point track (he seemed to pick up a great deal of bonus points from points from Steve and Myself using his building). However I had advanced almost to the end of the Royal Favour building track and was able to use the last advance on that track to build the 25vp Prestige building.

With Steve also picking up VPs for advancing up the Royal Favour VP track it was all very close at the end - in fact the only the 2VPs I picked up for Cubes and Deniers in hand at the end of the game differentiated Garry and Myself when it came final scoring.

Final Scores :
Richard 72, Garry 70, Steve 66

Unfortunately downside of winning was that I won the right to do the write-up in Colin's absence!!

As a footnote (and this should cause enough controversy to stop me being asked to cover for Colin in his absence again J ), whilst I enjoy playing Caylus and view it as being a excellent game, I am also quite certain the rating it has on the Geek, given time, will slip slightly. Basically Tigris and Puerto Rico are cleaner games. Caylus I believe suffers from a slight excess of internal game mechanisms that can make it hard for players to identify the comparative worth of their opponents strategies and prevent/effect said strategies when required.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Tuesday 8th August - Nautilus

Tonight saw a guest appearance of Jo, who joined us at Steve's to play the 2002 Kosmos game Nautilus, designed by Brigitte and Wolfgang Ditt. I had never played before but all the others had, so while we waited for Jo who was running a bit late Richard went over the rules. Ah...well, that is after Steve had printed them off of the Geek, Richard had left the rulebook at home. Doh!!! Anyway, this is a game about undersea exploration, building habitats and research modules and launching subs to explore. The look of the game is fantastic with all the components being very colourful. I won't go into the rules too deeply, you can look them up on the Geek if you have to, but after my first playing I can see that each turn offers multiple options at every phase of the game. This can lead in my experience to analysis paralysis, as was the case here. I must admit that I had lost interest about halfway through and my turns were very perfunctory. I mainly play games for an enjoyable, social experience and these types of games, especially after a days work, just seem like hard work. I'm sure a lot of people find them immensely enjoyable, fair enough. In the end it turned out to be a fairly close game between Steve, Richard and Jo. My score reflecting my interest. Steve and Richard tied for first place, but a subsequent email from Jo clarified the tiebreaker situation, money in hand at the end of the game.

Final Scores
Steve 90+7 money (97), Richard 90+5 money (95), Jo 84+9 money (93), Colin 60+10ish (70ish)

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Tuesday 1st August - Goa

Originally uploaded by coljen.
Well if Richard is not throwing himself down a mountain somewhere, he is tied up with no Richard tonight. My choice this week so I thought that Steve, Garry and myself would give Goa another outing. This Rüdiger Dorn game from 2004 is all about founding colonies, starting plantations and buying and selling spices. We had played it before but I suspect that it was probably when it was first published, Garry in fact hadn't played it at all.
As usual the production values from Hans Im Glück are first rate, the board and all the bits of high quality. The only thing lacking is a way to keep track of the actions and rounds, I had made a small board using the graphics from the game to do just that.The main part of the board consists of 25 tiles laid in a 5 x 5 grid, these tiles consist of plantations producing spice or special actions that can used during the course of the game. The game starts with the player in control of the flag placing it on the board, either on the edge of the grid or in a blank space. Then the next player places his marker on an orthogonal tile and next player his marker orthogonal to that one, lastly the flag owner places a final marker. The tiles are then auctioned, with the money going to the owner of the marker, or if the owner buys it himself to the bank. When this phase is completed each player gets to perform 3 actions. Either moving a marker along one of 5 tracks, ships, harvest for spices, ducats, expedition cards, getting more colonists or you can try to found a colony.
The expedition cards let you perform special actions or give you extra ducats and such. Garry found all this a bit daunting at first, but as with a lot of games once you have played a round the mist starts to lift. As the game progressed you can keep a rough check of how many VPs your opponents have by looking at their tracks board and colonies and plantations, and I could see that it was going to be close. And it proved to be the case with only five points between first and third. Some people find the game dry but I thoroughly enjoyed it and perhaps it will see the table more often.

Final Scores (Tracks, Colonies, Expedition cards, Ducats, Bonuses)
Steve 18 - 10 - 10 - 0 - 4 = 42
Colin 22 - 10 - 4 - 0 - 6 = 40
Garry 25 - 6 - 3 - 3 - 0= 37