24th November 2019
Sunday at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking. The 50 Fathoms hiatus continues, so it's board games instead.
We began with 'Tsuro: The game of the Path'.
And that's what Tsuro is, a game about paths, quite figuratively. It's also quite abstract and there's not much to say about the theme.
What's in the game?
The game comes in a small package.
How's it play?
Set up is quick and simple.
Play continues until one of the following conditions are met:
Tsuro is a small game, quick to setup, quick to learn and quick to play.
It is essentially a light 'programming' game that requires a small amount of scrutiny and forethought to try and predict your moves.
The real danger in the game however, comes from the other players, it's impossible to predict what tiles they will play and its impact on you. Essentially you can't rely on planning more than 1 move ahead and have to adapt to other player's moves as they occur, this is particularly true later in the game as the board becomes fuller and options become smaller.
All this unpredictability makes Tsuro fun, as long as you don't try and think too much about what moves you can make.
Additionally, Tsuro plays with up to 8 participants, combined with it's accessibility make it a good choice for party games and fillers.
4th June 2019
Tuesday night and it's game time at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking with the board game club.
Does the idea of game about slowly growing trees excite you? If the answer is yes, then Photosynthesis is the game for you!
What's in a game?
All of the components of photosynthesis are made from card. All of the of the tokens, even the trees. There are no plastic meeples or soulless wooden cubes here.
And even though this is the case, they are still good components. When a bunch of trees are all on the playing board. It looks impressive.
In photosynthesis there is a main playing board and a sun marker to indicate the direction of the sunlight. Additionally, each player has their own board that contains most of the seeds and trees needed to play the game.
Players also start with some seeds and trees that are not on the player board that are 'available' to use. There is an important difference between the two that will explained a little further down.
How's it play?
The premise of Photosynthesis is to plant seeds, grow the seeds until they become the largest possible trees and then score points from those trees.
In a normal game, play continues until the sun has completed 3 revolutions of the board. It takes 6 rounds to complete 1 revolution. Thus players each have a total of 18 turns to win the game.
Each round consists of 2 phases.
So now that all the players have calculated their light points, play proceeds to the next phase.
That's it for the basic rules. There are, however a few other rules to remember which are very important.
All of these rules basically serve one purpose - to slow the game down. And that makes complete sense, this is a game about growing trees after all. It forces players to think a few turns ahead.
It takes time to score points. A tree can only score points when it is a 'large' size. It takes 4 actions to plant a seed and then go to a small, medium and large tree. Then it takes a 5th action to score it.
Furthermore it will take more actions and light points to 'buy' the seed and 3 different sized trees from the player board in order to do this.
Photosynthesis is a peculiar beast: It's a little bit like a worker placement game with trees earning light points from their positioning and it's a little bit like an area control game, where larger trees will shut out surrounding smaller ones.
It's simple to learn but forces players to adopt a 'ent-like' mentality towards the games varied choices, strategies and occasional hard decisions. It's slow place means players cannot burn light point to do one thing quickly. Sometimes it's possible to speed events by sacrificing seeds or trees, but this can be tricky choice as it's permanent. I'm sure there are ties when it is prudent to do so. But slow and steady, that's the way to go.
I think all of this good and makes for a good game. I'm sure Treebeard would agree!
19th March 2019.
Another Tuesday and another evening of gaming fun at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking.
Tonight we played in a 3 player game of 'K2'.
K2 obviously refers to the mountain K2. People on the internet who claim to know more about mountain climbing than me (and that's not hard, I know nothing about mountain climbing) state that K2 is harder to climb than Everest.
With that in mind, it's best that I conquer K2 from the confines of a board game sitting in a semi-comfy chair.
In K2, each player controls 2 climbers. The higher a climber goes, the more points they score at the end of the game (provided they're still alive at the end). Each climber scores, so your final score will be the combined score of both.
Climbers only have 1 stat for you to worry about and manage. That stat is 'acclimatisation'. If this drops to 0, then the climber dies.
The game rules are quite straightforward.
Each player has their own personal deck to draw cards from to create a hand of cards. There are basically 2 types of card.
Climbing to the top is simple, when you move one of your climbers to a new space on the mountain, it will have movement and acclimatisation cost that the climber must pay.
Thus; if you have played a 3-point movement card and you moved a climber to a space that costs 2 movement, you would still have 1 movement left.
At the end of a turn, climbers may gain or (most likely) lose acclimatisation points dependent on their position on the board.
There you go, rinse and repeat until you reach the top. Simple, right.
Except I've not mentioned 2 elements of the rules, which are what make K2 a good game.
The first is:
You see, the weather can influence the movement costs of moving to another tile and also the acclimatisation costs that climbers must pay.
Clear weather incurs no extra costs, but worse weather can affect, one, the other or both. Interestingly, the weather may only influence climbers at certain altitudes, it's possible to be above bad weather.
The game uses tiles to depict the weather, each tile shows the weather for the next 3 days and there are always 2 tiles turned face up. When the end of the first weather tile is reached, a new tile is turned over.
This means that players are able to see what the weather will be like for the next 3-6 days.
Why does this make K2 a good game? It makes K2 a good game when combined with the other rule I was talking about, which is:
The Hand of Cards
Each player has 3 cards in their hand at the start of a turn. Players then draw 3 more cards from their decks.
Giving them a hand size of 6.
From this hand of 6, players must play any 3 cards. Leaving them with 3 cards remaining in their hand
Why is this such a clever mechanic? Because it allows a player to plan their moves in for the future. Because you figuratively 'bank' 3 cards.
When you play cards, the weather will influence how effective they are.
This will influence which cards you play, but will also influence which cards you don't play.
So when the weather forecast shows bad weather ahead, you don't want to be climbing much, because you'll be hindered and wasting movement. Any good movement cards should 'banked' and not played.
Then, when eventually there's a stretch of good weather, hopefully you will have kept those good movement cards in your hand. So that regardless of what cards you draw, you'll have at least 3 good movement cards so that you can exploit the break in the bad weather to climb higher.
That's why it's such a good mechanic, it emulates the feeling of sitting around in your tent enduring bad weather, waiting for a window of good weather to open up and then surging for the peak.
There are some other rules about risk and turn order and like. But this is the gist of the game. And a good game it is.
I play, I paint.