7th May 2019
It's a Tuesday, so naturally that means gaming down at 'The Sove...' er.. wait?
The Sovereign has its family dining area fully booked out and they didn't bother informing us? Marvellous! By that I mean crappy. So we need an alternative venue...
It's a Tuesday, so naturally that means gaming down at... 'The Wheatshef' in Woking.
The evening started off with 'Tiny Towns'.
Tiny Towns has a plot about being tiny animals building a town. It's strange because it's a meaningless addition to the game. Yes, it's a game about building a town, but whether it's tiny or not makes no difference.
What's in a game?
Game board: Each player has their own 4x4 playing board, in Tiny Towns you are building your own individual town and not a collective town.
Wooden cubes: Yes Tiny Towns is obviously a soulless cube pushing Euro. So the game comes with an abundance of wooden cubes in 5 glorious colours.
Buildings: Tiny Towns is always played with exactly 7 different types of buildings, no more, no less. What these buildings are will change from game to game. But there are 7 different shaped and coloured wooden blocks used to depict what buildings are used in the game.
Monuments: This is the 8th type of building in the game. Each player will have a single monument block to represent which monument they posses - all monuments are unique and generally confer some sort of bonus on the player
Cards: The game has a stack of oversized cards that represent both normal buildings and monuments.
Hammer: The game has a wooden hammer, used to represent who is the first player and thus also the round's 'master-builder'.
So all the components are placed in the centre of the gaming area and each player takes a game board.
The cards are used to determine which buildings will appear in this game. The cards need some explaining. Each of the 7 building types has 4 different cards (except the Cottage - there's only 1 cottage card).
Finally, there are the monument cards: 2 monument cards are dealt to each player at the start of each game. Each player will discard one monument and keep the other one (hidden until played).
Each monument is unique, they can give you a 'one-off' or ongoing benefit. They can give you points. When played well, a monument can help you a lot.
How's it play?
Constructing buildings is the name of the game. How is this achieved? Each building card will have a multicoloured 'tetris-like' shape on it. Generally this is always the same for each building type. Cottages always have 'L' shapes, yellow food producing buildings are always have a 2x2 square and green social buildings have a 'T' shape. However the colours of the shapes on the cards are different for each of the 4 types of each building.
To construct a building, you must place cubes on your personal board that match the configuration as depicted on that card.
For example: To build an Inn requires 3 blocks in a straight line and their colours must be 'yellow, grey and blue'.
The inn can be built from left to right, or up or down. As long as the 3 cubes are in a straight line and the middle cube is grey and the end cubes are always yellow and blue, then a tavern can be built (if you choose).
Then, to build it, the 3 cubes are removed from your board and a green building meeple is placed into one of the spaces vacated by the 3 cubes - and that's it. Well, that's not it, but that's a summary of the most important rule.
So this is how a turn goes.
When a player can no longer place a cube on their board, they are eliminated from the game. Eventually they'll only be one player left and they can continue playing until they too cannot place any further cubes.
Then scores are totted up and a winner is declared.
So, thinking about this game. I feel that there are two distinct levels of play.
The basic level of play involves maximising the placing of the cubes you receive. It is possible to place cubes in such a way that they can be used for more than one building. Especially since you do not have to construct a building if you have the cubes in the right place. This allows you to keep cubes 'in play' to be used for alternate buildings. It can give you strategies and options.
Then there's the higher level of play. Looking at the choices of the other players and trying to anticipate their strategies. Not necessarily to try and mess with them, (You'll mess with the other players accidentally more than anything else) but just to improve your own strategies.
Overall, I like Tiny Towns, it always gives you meaningful choices to make (Even if those choices are not entirely of your own making - which makes those decisions even more important!) and I think that's a good thing.
Tiny Towns also has a mechanic that I've never seen before - I always like that.
Play time is fairly brisk, a game seems to take no more than an hour. The first time I played Tiny Towns, everyone was up for a second game straightaway.
The one significant criticism I have of Tiny Towns is that it has player elimination. That's something I don't like. Luckily it seems that when players are eliminated, it's close to the conclusion of a game.
So, one grumble aside. Tiny Towns is a good enough game for me to get a copy of it.
4th May 2019
Saturday gaming continues in the evening, which means gaming at Matakishi's.
The Oubilette campaign continues, you can find Matakishi's report here.
4th May 2019.
May the 4th and there are no Star Wars references in sight!
It's a Saturday afternoon, so this this means it's time for 50 Fathoms to continue at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking.
We now have the bare bones of a plan to get on to Coaker Island and need to acquire the military uniforms to do so.
Captain Shia decides that we should travel to Kiera and find a 'house of disrepute' that is frequented by Kieran soldiers, disguise ourselves as 'staff' and steal the uniforms from the clients.
Captain Shia appears to like this plan a bit too much and I'm now quite suspicious.
Captain Shia decides that Win, Baxter and herself will disguise themselves as prostitutes to acquire the uniforms. Luckily I'm out of the running!
We travel to Kiera, during the trip we spy a prominent building beneath the waves. We see some glinting emanating from the structure and come to a stop.
After some work we calculate that the building is 21 yards down below the waves.
Mongrel swims down to the building and then soon returns with his haul.
He has returned with some coin and a sculpture.
After this we go on our way. Later on we spot a distant ship that appears to be bearing in our direction. We press harder.
The following day we pass another ship heading on a different heading. We slow enough to pass some information between the two, but none of it is of significance.
During the night we spot the 1st ship again.
However, without further incident we manage to reach the port of Kiera.
The harbour is busy, there are many boats ahead. Frigates, galleons, junks, galleys etc.
The port of Kiera appears to composed of flooded tall buildings.
The top tier of buildings are black and gilded with gold!
The tallest building appears to be surrounded with a glow?
Before the flood, there used to be 9 tiers of building here.
Because our boat, 'The Delilah' is so small, we are able 'jump' the queue into one of the smaller docks. As we come in, we can see how overpopulated Kiera is.
Once we've tied up, the harbour master approaches and recommends some venues:
The Dragon Inn
The Whale Inn
The Clean Kehanna
And stay away from other establishments.
Anyway, it's time to put the captain's plan into action. Shia flirts with the harbour master in order to elicit some information from him. But it turns out he's not a soldier so Shia loses interest.
Shia, Win and Baxter head to the 4th tier looking for 'work'. The 3 of them are recruited into a brothel called 'The Black Canary' and 'put to work'.
Shia & Win get Kieran soldiers as 'clients', meanwhile Win gets somebody from The East India Trading Company.
Shia's client: Shia tells her client to undress and ties him up, promising him something 'special'. Shia then disappears with his clothes.
Win's client: He is clearly someone important from The East India Trading Company, he has charts and Win sees he has a signet ring of some kind and there is residue of wax on it.
Win plies him with alcohol until he falls unconscious and then steals all his stuff. But before she leaves Win leaves a note for him saying. 'I'm sorry, you seem like a really sweet guy. I promise to return your ring'.
Only Win, only Win would rip someone off and leave them a note.
Baxter's client: When I asked Baxter about his client and how he got his uniform. He refused to make eye contact, made his excuses and rapidly left.
Later on I discovered that Baxter was seen entering his room and saying. "Whatever happens, no more is said.". He was also seen leaving his room at the same time as his client. They fleetingly glanced at each other before going their separate ways without a word...
Part one of the plan is a success.
30th April 2019
The last day of April is a Tuesday, so this means gaming in Woking at 'The Sovereigns'.
We played Kingsburg. You can find my thoughts about it here.
27th April 2019.
Saturday continues. Evening approaches and that means it's time for gaming night at Matakishi's.
As always, the session number is one higher than the party level. You can read Matakishi's musings on the session here.
27th April 2019
It's a Saturday and we're at 'The Sovereigns' for session 8 of 50 Fathoms.
Location: The Teeth.
Upon returning to 'The Delilah' after out meeting with Tressa we spot a glow emanating from the flooded city below. The waters clear and we can now see the wreck of the Carcanus.
We know that a prize awaits us aboard the wreck, thanks to Tressa.
Backstab attempts to swim down, but it's too deep. So we decide to send Mongrel. Mongrel rapidly returns and informs us that a pack of sharks surrounds and circles the wreck.
We taunt a shark to the surface and attack it. this causes a bloody churn in the water, but does not clear the waters like we hoped.
So, instead, we concoct a cunning plan...
We know that the sails are of value, we cannot reach them.
So Win uses here magic to convince a shark to help us. The shark cannot get the sail, so we instruct it to bring the entire mast to us. The shark returns to us holding the mast in its massive jaw like a dog holding a stick!
We lash the mast to our ship and detach the sails. The sails are leathery and turn out to be made of sharkskin!
We attach the sails and depart. The sails enhance our handling.
We press on and make good time as we 'cut through' Torath Ka. During this leg of the journey we spot a lot sea creatures and crocodiles close to the surface. We hear 'things' knock and scrape against the hull of The Delilah as we progress.
We then leave Torath Ka behind and after a few more days, we arrive at 'Victoria'.
As we enter the port we see that British flags (of a sort) fly everywhere.
After docking and disembarking we enter the settlement and discover a statue of 'Angus McBryde' in an empty fountain. Curiously, at the feet of the statue are small figures of what appear to be Egyptians.
Searching around we find Captain Domingo's ship and approach, the captain is not aboard. So we decide to go and have a meal and after an hour Captain Domingo joins us.
We spend the night discussing our next steps in rescuing Domingo's brother from Coaker Island.
It turns out that Coaker Island is basically one big penal colony where the prisoners are used to mine precious iron ore.
Coaker Island has 500 guards and 1 guard per 30 prisoners. So that's a lot of prisoners.
During our discussion, we decide our best course of action is to acquire Kieran Imperial uniforms and infiltrate the island.
23rd April 2019.
Gaming night at 'The Sovs' in Woking continues with the second game of the night; 'Splendor'.
Splendor is a engine building card game. Hang on! Just earlier this very tonight we played 'Race for the Galaxy' another engine building card game.
This is quite interesting, because they are 2 similar but different games. So without further preamble, here we go.
What's in a game?
The set up for Splendor is pretty simple.
There are 3 decks of 'Development Cards' (decks 1, 2 & 3) that you shuffle and place in a column in ascending order..
Then, from each deck you deal a row of 4 cards. So now you have 12 cards in total from the 3 decks displayed face up.
Then you place the 'Noble' tiles, you always put out one more noble tile than the number of players.
Finally you place out the tokens: These come in 6 colours, 5 normal colours and gold (which is wild).
That's it for set up.
How's it play?
Players can perform only one of three possible actions in their turn.
All development cards have a cost (In Tokens.), this might be 2 white and 2 black, or 1 white, 1 black, 1 red & 1 blue, etc. The cost increases according to the row they are in.
What does buying a development card get you? They give you 1 or 2 things.
Every development will give you a 'bonus' token in one of the 5 colours. This bonus is permanently available to you. Thus; if you have bought a card that gives you 1 'white bonus' and want to buy a card which costs 2 white and 2 black, you would only need to have 1 white and 2 black tokens - the bonus on the development card counts as 1 white token. The more cards acquired, the easier it gets to buy other cards. Eventually you'll reach a point where you be able to buy lesser development cards 'for free'.
The other thing that you get from development cards are victory points.
Level 1 cards will sometimes give you a victory point.
Level 2 cards tend to give you 1-2 victory points.
Level 3 cards will give you up to 5 victory points.
Noble tiles provide extra points to the player that manages to acquire them.
Like development cards, noble cards have a cost.
This might be 4 red & 4 blue or 3 green, 3 black & white etc.
However, unlike development cards, tokens cannot be used to buy noble tiles. Only the bonuses accumulated from development cards can be used to do so.
Additionally; acquiring a noble tile does not count as an action and it can bought immediately after a development card has been bought.
When a player has accumulated at least 15 points, then endgame is triggered.
The endgame is simple, all players who have not acted in the turn get their turns, so everybody has had an equal number of turns.
Splendor seems like a simpler engine building game than the mechanically deeper Race for the Galaxy. But there's hidden depth that emerges with higher level play.
Splendor requires all players to have their cards, tiles and openly displayed for all to see. Only cards that you reserved are hidden in your hand.
And in Splendor, you need to spend time looking at what your opponents are doing and trying to gauge which cards or nobles they are trying to buy. This stops you from trying to build an engine to try and get card that they're going to get first. Or gives you a target to try and get before them.
Hidden reserve cards can prove important too, because they allow you to spring surprises on your opponents.
I like Splendor, it's quick to set up and teach and quick to play - well unless your players suffer from analysis paralysis!
Overall: a worthy engine building game.
23rd April 2019.
Tuesday night rolls around again and to 'The Sovereigns' we go for board gaming goodness.
The evening began with 'Race for the Galaxy' an engine building card game about forging a cosmic empire in the vastness of the galaxy.
Race for the Galaxy is a 2-4 player game, but there is no interaction between players. The galaxy is a large place!
What's in a game?
Each player is given a hand of cards that are their 'Action Cards'.
Each player is then given a second hand of cards are which are their 'Game Cards'
Action Cards and Game Cards are always kept seperate.
Each player will have their own playing area where they can play their cards to create their empire (called a tableau).
A number of victory point tokens equal to the number of players x12 is placed in the central playing area.
A deck of game cards are placed into the central area
Each player will have a start world, which must be placed immediately into their tableau.
That's it for components and set up.
How does it play?
Each player will have a separate but identical set of action cards.
At the start of each turn, all players choose an action that they want to carry out and plays the relevant card face down in front them.
When all players have done this; then all players simultaneously reveal their cards.
Here's the clever bit: Not only do you get to carry out the action on the card you played, you get the opportunity to also carry out the action(s) on any or all of the action cards played by other players. This means several things:
Each turn consists of 5 different phases, played in this order. There is a basic description of what they do below.
That's it for the phases of the game, which which is most of the rules, but there are a couple of other things to mention.
Currency & Resources
I've been talking about currency and resources, but have not explained how they work.
For planetary resources, cards are drawn from the deck and placed face down on the respective planet card. When that resource is traded away, the face down card is placed into the discard pile.
With regards to currency: A players hand of cards is also their currency. Thus:
This is proper 'evil genius' stuff going on here. When having to pay for something, it's frequently agonising when deciding what your going to discard to do it.
The end is triggered when either all of the victory points have been claimed or someone has played their 12th card into their tableau. Everyone concludes the current turn and victory points are totted up.
Victory points also come from cards in your tableau.
Highest victory point total wins!
Race for the Galaxy is a good solid engine building card game.
As previously stated, the currency mechanic is genius. Constantly forcing you to make meaningful decisions. It can be so hard using cards to pay for things, especially since there are pretty much no bad cards in the game.
The engine building mechanics are great too.
Essentially there are 2 engine building areas in the game, one for developing/settling and one for trading/producing, although there are cards that work across all areas.
There is only one small criticism I have of this game: There are a lot of symbols and icons on the cards to remember. I mean a lot and it can make the learning curve a little steep.
Otherwise, if you like engine building card game. I have no hesitation in saying this is a good game.
20th April 2019
It's a Saturday and it's night - so i means it's time to go round to Matakishi's place.
On this evening we will be continuing 'Oubilette' a Black Hack campaign.
As our strange journey continues, we find ourselves in a strange city.
You can read Matakishi's report about it here.
18h April 2019.
It's a Thursday and it's time for a WFRP session, which is unusual as we don't play on a Thursday - always a Friday. But since the 19th is 'Good Friday' we make an exception on this occasion.
The party's investigations into the machinations occurring continue along with the looming threat of civil war.
Their journey to Altdorf continues and they encounter a mutants and beastmen attacking both Sigmarite and Ulrican priests. The party intercedes and help out.
The journey continues and they encounter the spot where - 2 game years and 4 real years ago they discovered an overturned coach that marked the start of their adventures.
A little later, the party entered Altdorf. And soon after that, they hear an explosion and see smoke rising from the direction of the Cathedral of Sigmar.
I play, I paint.