Wednesday, September 26, 2007

25th September - Pillars of the Earth/Geshenkt

The session this week looked as though it might be in jeopardy as Steve was working in Birmingham and Richard was in Austria (again!!). Luckily Neil and his girlfriend Aga were able to come along and make their Billygames debut. It was my choice and I knew that Garry had a copy of the Pillars of the Earth and really fancied giving it a go. This 2006 game designed by Michael Rieneck and Stefen Stadler had had a load of praise and was the winner of the 2007 Deutscher Spiele Prei.

Me with our Billygames guests, Neil and Aga

Garry had the Mayfair Games edition so we didn't have to struggle with german on the cards. The rules seemed quite a handful and took us a good half hour to get through, but as with a lot of games once you have played a round it all becomes clear......sort of. This game does have echoes of Caylus about it, where you place your master builders on the board to get certain benefits. The object of the game is to acquire VPs and the way you get them is by contributing to the construction of the cathedral. Your craftsmen can use the resources you acquire in the first phase, wood, stone, sand or metal to construct the cathedral and thus acquire said VPs.
There is a deck of event cards of which the top one is triggered at the beginning of the 2nd phase, these can be beneficial or detrimental. Ours were almost all bad, you can place a master builder to negate this effect if you like. Basically in the first phase you collect or upgrade craftsmen or collect resource cards. In the second phase all the master builders (3 each) are put into a bag and drawn at random, the first one out costs 7 gold to place or you may pass, subsquent builders are drawn with the cost decreasing by one each time, when the cost reaches 0 each builder is placed free, finally the builders that passed may be placed. They have to take what options are left, the best ones will probably be gone by then.

Final board position

Aga seemed to get the hang of it pretty quickly and led for most of the game, I had a privilege card that allowed me to look at the event card at the start of each round (when I remembered!). The game is played over 6 rounds with a section of the cathedral being completed at the end of each round, the lovely wooden cathedral at the centre of the board is really just a glorified turn marker, pretty though. As the game progresses the craftsmen get more efficienct and more expensive to buy. In the end it was all pretty close with Garry just getting the win. I think we all enjoyed the game and saw what all the praise had been for. It was great to meet Neil and Aga and we had a great evening. The game finished well within the 2 hours that was on the box and managed to get in a hand of Geschenkt which is always great fun.

Final Scores
The Pillars of the Earth
Garry 41, Aga 38, Neil 36, Colin 35

Garry -47, Colin -49, Aga -55, Neil -72

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

And another thing!!!

I forgot to mention that Garry has set up a Guild on BGG for gamers around the Horsham, West Sussex area. So if you are interested drop by and give it a look. Here is the link.

See ya there!!

11th September - Princes of Florence/Geschenkt

Little bit of a hiccup on the choice of game this week, should have been my choice but we thought it was the BGG Hall of Fame choice so we ended up playing the Princes of Florence instead. The last time we played this was at least 4 years ago so it was about time we gave it another go. This 2000 game from Wolfgang Kramer and Richard Ulrich is about getting your artisans to produce magnificent works of art and show them to garner wealth and VPs. Actually you only need the dough to purchase the buildings and landscapes and such at game end it's of no value at all, I had over 2,000 at the end so didn't utilise it to it's potential.

The Billygamers getting ready for Princes of Florence

PoF does have certain similarities with Colosseum, an auction phase where each player can only buy one thing, and in the action phase you produce a work of art (read put on an event) which needs to have certain things, the more of the things you have the more it is worth.Steve did happen to mention that the best games player he knew payed 1,100 for the first jester, Richard took that onboard and payed high prices for his jesters, he ended up with 3. It must have payed off because he won by a mile.

Princes of Florence layout

Garry managed to get 3 architects so could buy buildings for free, I didn't even get a second, which was a mistake because I couldn't place buildings adjacent on my board. Anyway, we all enjoyed the game and as I said Richard cruised to victory.

Final Scores
Richard 62, Steve 53, Garry 49, Colin 30

That seemed to play quite quickly so we had a bit of time left, a quick hand of Geschenkt was just the ticket. Richard was having a good evening and won that as well.

Final Scores
Richard 18, Colin 42, Garry 60, Steve 61

Looks like we'll be giving next week a miss as Garry is flying off to New York for a break and Richard looks like he's working. So it'll be the week after....see you then.

Happy Gaming!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

4th September - Marquis/Kathai

This week is card game week......Steve chose the 2005 game from LudoArt, Marquis. This game designed by Martin Gotz and Frank Czarnetzki is absolutely gorgeous to look at. The cards are very large and colourful, the coins are metal and the diamonds and rubies are plastic but quite realistic.

The very colourful cards for Marquis

In the game each player has his own deck of cards, eleven character cards and a veto card. Countess, Assassin, Diamond Dealer, Marquis, Prosecutor and so on. Each card has various symbols on it plus a special ability. In your turn you may first buy jewels at the rate on the card you played last turn, you then play a card to the table and then activate the symbols on the card, it may or may not interact with other cards in play. First you take money from the bank, then from the other players if certain cards are in play, then you may or may not use the cards special ability. The special abilities can be fun, the assassin kills one character in play and steals 2 coins from the victim, the robber steals one coin from each other player, the diamond dealer gets preferential rates for buying jewels and so on. One good card is the card sharp which reverses the order of play.
It took us a bit of time to work out the interplay of cards and all the implications of playing a certain card when certain others are in play, having the special abilities in german on the cards slowed things down a bit, although we did have crib sheets. I quite liked the game and once we got going the play flowed quite well. The veto card can be crippling, ending a players turn in his tracks, but the player it's played on keeps the card in front of him and can use it like a coin to buy jewels at the end of the game.

Final Scores
Steve 16, Colin 15, Richard 14, Garry 12

We still had some time so Steve got another card on the table, Kathai. This is a small card game designed by Michael Andersch and published by Adlung-Spiele. Players and sell gold, silk, spices and tea. The prices are always fluctuating so selling at the right time to maximise points is the name of the game.

The trading laoout for Kathai

I thought this was an OK game, but didn't really set the pulses racing.

Final Scores
Steve 20, Colin 18, Richard 17, Garry 16

Monday, September 3, 2007

August 28th - Caylus Magna Carta

With Richard in Birmingham again it was only 3 of us, Garry's choice and he chose Caylus Magna Carta. This is our second playing and I think we played with 3 last time.

CMC card layout

CMC is a good implementation of Caylus, in fact I think we all prefer it, cleaner, leaner and quicker. Do you go for the castle chits or concentrate on buildings, then blue buildings. In our last game we didn't get any blue buildings on the table. In this game Steve managed to build one worth 10pts which clinched the win for him from Garry and myself.

Final Scores
Steve 43, Garry 35, Colin 33

Sorry this post is a bit light, I will do better next time :)