Wednesday, June 27, 2007

June 26th - Notre Dame/Fiji

Sorry these posts have been a bit sporadic, a combination of circumstances has caused us to cancel several game sessions. This week Garry is away sunning himself in Sardinia so it's only Richard, Steve and myself. It was my choice and I have been wanting to play Notre Dame for a while so that is what I chose. I read through the rules once before the session so had a basic idea of what went on. Steve ran through the rules to clarify things a bit, both Richard and Steve had played before so I was the only one who hadn't.

Notre Dame in mid flow

For those of you who haven't played yet each player has a section of game board, each identical, with a small triangle representing Notre Dame cathedral placed in the centre. Each section is divided up into districts, hospital, park, coach station and so on. Also each player has a set of 9 action cards which are shuffled and you draw the top 3. You then keep 1 and pass the other 2 to the player on your left. When you get the 2 from the player on your right, you keep one and pass the other to your left, you end up with 3 action cards of which in each round you only play 2. You start the game with 4 influence cubes and 3 money. The cards let you do things like put cubes into districts and do the appropriate action. The actions include things like get money, more cubes, move the rat back on the plague track, move your carriage around the board and so on. I know this isn't the definitive rules explanation but you get the flavour.

Notre Dame board - close up

Steve had said that pays to keep an eye on the strategy of the player to your left so as not to pass him favourable cards, and also not to have a strategy the same as the player to your right as you won't get any good cards. Not having played before I just did what looked good and tried to follow that advice. The game is played over 3 periods (A, B, and C) and each period has 3 rounds, each round has 5 phases. The first phase in each round entails laying out the person cards, there are 2 decks of these, you turn up one from one deck and 2 from the other. In the bribe phase you are able to bribe one of these to perform actions for you, some of them are quite powerful.

Now that's a close up

The second phase you choose action cards, third phase play action cards, fourth phase bribe a person and finally 5th phase determine plague value. This involves looking at the number of rat symbols on the 3 exposed person cards and moving your rat along the plague track, if you reach the harbour you've got the plague. Not lose 2 VPs and a cube from the best section of your district.
I've just had a brief look at the comments on the Geek and they are a bit mixed, after one play I like it a lot and would like to play it with more players. Steve has played it with 5 and says it plays just as well. I got caught with the plague a few times and those VPs add up fairly quickly. Once you are on the end of the track it's quite hard to get your rat back down again, you have play those cards which let you do that at the expense of doing other valuable things. So a good first impression and as you can see the scores were fairly close.

Final Scores
Richard 50, Colin 45, Steve 44

We still had some time left so I suggested we give Fiji a run out, Steve and I had played before and Richard couldn't remember if he had or not. I think as we got into it he remembered it.

The colourful layout of Fiji

Another game from the prolific Friedemann Friese this is basically a blind bidding game, offering jewels to the natives to try to win shrunken heads. If your'e into shrunken heads this is the game for you! It's a lot of fun with not a lot of strategy and is very accecptable as an end of session filler.

Final Scores
Richard 6 heads, Steve 3 heads, Colin 3 heads

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

12th June - Tempus

No session last week, due to and things, anyway tonight the Martin Wallace game Tempus was on the table. Only 3 of us as Richard was in Birmingham again. I had played once before, Steve 3 times and Garry hadn't played at all.

Tempus board - mid game

Billed as a civilisation game that clocks in at under 2 hours I found it more accessible than the other Wallace game I've played, Byzantium. Steve ran through the rules mainly for Garry but I definitelty needed a refresher. First off you go round the table placing the terrain hexes which make up the playing area. This placement can be crucial as can the position you place your first pieces on the hexes, as it turned out Steve was first to place his men and picked the cornfield rich area in the south, then it was my turn and of course I chose to place my men in the north as far away from Steve as possible. When Garry placed his pieces I immediately saw that I had chosen badly. I am yellow and Garry was red, and you can see from the picture that I was trapped in the northern area and to expand would have to fight Garry. Steve had a relatively easy position with loads of space to expand unchallenged in the south.

Steve comtemplating his next move

Winning the progress position is very advantageous, and Steve won the first era and got 2 ideas cards, I won the next one then Steve won every other one until the end of the game.
Playing catch-up is always a disadvantage and with my position in the north I could never get enough progress points to challenge Steve. Fighting is a straight forward affair, but being caught without any cards in hand is bad as you never have any options available and can't even bluff your way to a victory. My bad initial placing had always doomed me and I knew I would be fighting Garry for second place. In the end Steve had a very comfortable victory and Garry an easy second. Even though I had come last I enjoyed playing Tempus and would readily play again, just give my initial placing a lot more thought.

Steve counting up the points at game end

Final Scores (men+cities+flight)
Steve 27 (11-13-3)
Garry 20 (6-14-0)
Colin 17 (4+13-0)