29th June 2019
Gaming afternoon continues at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking and we concluded with 'Tiny Epic Galaxies'.
I've written about Tiny Epic Galaxies before here.
23rd June 2019.
Gaming day continues at 'The Sovereigns'.
The next game of the day is 'Celestia'.
Celestia is very similar to another game called 'Cloud 9', in fact both games are designed by the same person.
You can see my thoughts on Cloud 9 here.
Celestia is a fantasy-themed push your luck game about making a journey.
What's in a game?
Celestia contains a skyship placing piece that needs to be built. Annoyingly, when constructed, it does not fit in the game box! This means it must be constructed before and then deconstructed after every game session. Otherwise it's quite a nice prop for the game.
There are is a set of 'city' markers and several sets of small decks of 'treasure' cards for each of the cities.
There is also an 'equipment' deck of cards used to 'travel' in the game. Most of the cards in the deck contain symbols identical to those from on the dice (See below.). Some cards are 'power' or 'turbo' cards that give a different benefit.
There are 'event' dice; these are 4 custom six sided dice used to represent obstacles or events that must be overcome during the journey. Each die is identical and has 4 custom symbols on 4 sides and blank faces on 2 sides.
And finally there are 6 meeples for the players.
The components are pretty standard. But I feel I must add that the art on all of the cards and markers is excellent.
How's it play
Before play begins, the cities markers are set out in a specific order (From lowest to highest scoring.). Then the associated smaller treasure decks are placed next to each city marker.
The purpose of the game is to reach the last city (If possible.) to score maximum points. But if the skyship crashes along the way, then no points are scored by the passengers.
Players will be given the choice to abandon the skyship early and earn less points.
This is how play goes.
When a journey ends for whatever reason and before another begins: If one or more players have accumulated 50 or more points, they must declare it. Then all players tally their points, highest score wins.
Celestia is an easy to play and accessible push your luck game. It is a competitive game, but there are elements of co-operative play here. Because to reach the further destinations you will likely need other players to co-operate with you. This is doubly true if one player is rushing ahead in the scoring.
Comparisons with Cloud 9 are inevitable, they are both very similar, with similar strategies and mechanics.
But Celestia has a few tweaks that gives it a bit more depth.
Firstly, in the equipment deck, the 4 different types of card required to overcome obstacles from the event dice are not represented in equal numbers. This means it's less likely that certain cards will be dealt into players' hands. And this means that certain types of obstacles are harder to overcome. It's something to pay attention to.
Secondly, some of the power cards allow you to mess with the other players. Although in this game it seems strangely antagonistic. I've rarely seen these types of card used, possibly because of hidden scores means it's hard to know who to target.
And finally, hidden scores. In Cloud 9, there is a scoring track, so when a player reaches 50+ points, everyone else knows they need to push it in order to have a chance of winning. But in Celestia, with its hidden scores you can never know exactly what another player's score is. You can't afford to be complacent and need to keep accumulating your score.
It doesn't take too long to play either, meaning that it's a nice filler game. It's one to play.
11th June 2019.
Tuesday is here and we find ourselves at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking for Tuesday night gaming.
Whilst waiting for other people to turn up we decide to play a quick opener. This quick opener is 'Deep Sea Adventure'.
Originally my initial post about Deep Sea adventure was published as part of a blog post about a different game. So I am going to re-post my thoughts about Deep Sea Adventure below.
in Deep Sea Adventure each player is a treasure-hunting diver who is looking to score big. The game is played over 3 rounds and the player with the most valuable treasures after the end of the 3rd round is the winner.
Deep Sea Adventure packs a whole lot of push-your-luck fun into a little box.
Whilst this is a competitive game, it sneaks a co-operative little mechanic into the rules which in turn players can try to twist to their own advantage.
The game begins with all the players' meeples in a submarine. Beneath the sub is a winding trail of face down markers. Each marker represents a treasure that can be collected by a diver. The value of the treasures also vary, but the deeper you dive, more valuable the treasure. The more sides a marker has, the more potential value it has.
Play goes like this:
And that's it, that's it for the rules.
Ok, there's a bit more.
And that really is it for the rules. Deep Sea Adventure is all about pushing you luck.
Pushing your luck in picking up treasures (so tempting to pick up one extra treasure, just one little treasure - it won't make much of a difference, right).
Pushing your luck in movement. The hop mechanic can prove helpful or can push you way too deep into the depths.
Finally, pushing your luck with the communal oxygen supply. This is the game's best mechanic. This is what turns it from a 'OK' game into a 'good' game. The communal oxygen means that you have watch what the other players are picking up. It forces you to try and think a whole round ahead.
When playing Deep Sea Adventure, there comes a point when oxygen starts to matter. For a couple of turns, no one picks up treasure. Everyone wants something a little better and is willing to dive a little deeper to get it. But then, it all changes, as treasures are picked up, oxygen is used up. The change may seem quite subtle, but can actually be quite dramatic. No oxygen being used, to suddenly 4-5 every round. Being able to spot and react to this change is key to winning in my opinion.
In a six player game, at some point every player will have picked up at least one treasure, that means six points of oxygen will be used up before your next turn. That's about a quarter of all the available oxygen.
Some players will try and load themselves with treasures to burn up oxygen as they return to the sub, (this is in itself a risky strategy as it also slows movement - several times I've seen loaded down players one or 2 spaces away from the sub and not move at all until the oxygen runs out).
All of this means that you can never be complacent about the oxygen supply and this Deep Sea Adventure is good fun and a good game.
17th April 2019
It's 'kebab night' round at my place. What's kebab got to do with gaming?
Well Matt has bought his copy of Kingsburg round to my place for us to play we did!
Kingsburg is a dice/worker placement game where each player has their own board to track personal advances.
It is a fantasy themed game that casts the players as provincial advisors who are seeking to influence the king, battle with invading armies and gain personal power.
Kingsburg is played over 5 'game' years and each year has 4 seasons and 4 'inter-seasonal' phases as well. So a total 40 'phases'. Although in reality players only get to do stuff in 3 seasons a year. So players only get 15 'actions' per game.
What's in the game?
Each player gets their own individual game board called a 'Province Sheet' that tracks their individual developments and advances. These all take the form of buildings that the player can construct. These can provide the player with victory points or other benefits. They give Kingsburg a slight engine-building mechanic, buildings give players little advantages here or there and buildings can also play off other buildings in your province for better advantages.
Each player is also given their own coloured set of 3 six-sided (3d6) dice.
The Game Board
The main game board tracks various elements of the game. Score, military strength, turn order, year and phase and so on.
There are also 18 spaces. Each space represents a different advisor and is numbered from 1 to 18. Is that a normal amount of advisors for the king of a fantastical medieval kingdom? I guess so.
Each space also generally has one or more resource markers on it. Resources include, gold, stone, wood and military strength.
How does it play?
Each year is divided up into 8 phases. I'll describe the even phases and then the season phases - 3 of which basically function identically.
Phases 1, 3, 5 & 7 are events.
Phases 2, 4, 6 & 8 are spring, summer, autumn and winter respectively. Player actions all occur in the first 3 seasons. Something different occurs during winter. During winter... there is war. Which is about the stupidest time to wage war. Maybe the designers are fans of Game of Thrones (Urggh, felt a little dirty mentioning that!)
And that's it for a general overview of the rules. As always I've left some stuff out.
How does it play?
Well... Well it plays... OK.
I'm trying to think of something I liked about Kingsburg and something I hated. I came up with zero for both. It's just... sort of... OK.
So the central mechanic is interesting, but seems quite weird. Being quite luck based, sometimes it could be infuriating. But conversely (and strangely), frequently it would feel like it didn't matter what I rolled, because there would be multiple routes to get what I needed.
I found this strange mix of sometimes needing luck and sometimes luck not mattering not very compelling.
Constructing a building doesn't feel like an accomplishment much of the time, nor does it feel like the bonuses it grants change the game much.
It's fairly straightforward to construct the first and maybe second buildings in a row, but because of the slightly haphazard way in which you gain resources, planning for the buildings further along is much trickier and your well-laid plans can easily be scuppered by a bad dice roll. The later buildings can be much more useful, but by the time you get to building them, the game will 80% over, thwarting their usefulness. You really need to plan to get these buildings, but the game seems to scupper plans. Quite often your forced to choose between trying to save resources for even longer to get a building, or giving up on it and getting something else instead.
Choice is always good as I've said in this blog before. But the choices here tend to be about choosing between the least undesirable option. It feels negative and leaves a little bitter taste in the mouth.
War in the winter season seems not so well thought about. Quite often I would completely ignore/forget about it and the dice roll alone was enough to defeat enemies in the first couple of years. During the 3 other seasons, you would probably get some military strength as a by product of playing. So I never felt the need to invest in military strength.
Overall, I don't think Kingsburg is a bad game by any stretch and if asked if I wanted to play it, I wouldn't immediately say 'no'. But I might ask what else they had to play.
9th April 2019
Tuesday has come around again, so it's time for some gaming at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking.
Perennial favourite amongst many people I play with and a good starter for the evening is Port Royal.
You can read my blog about it here.
2nd April 2019
The second game of Tuesday at 'The Sovereigns' was an old favourite - Port Royal.
You can read my blog about it here.
26th March 2019
Another Tuesday comes round and another evening of pleasant gaming at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking.
We begin the night with Pandemic: The Cure.
Pandemic is a popular board game that was released a while ago. It's a co-operative game in which the players travel the globe against the clock in the search for cures before the hideous diseases ravage the world.
Pandemic: The Cure is another co-operative game. It replaces the game's movement and actions with dice and a push-your-luck mechanic. It also replaces the global board with an errr acrylic ring?!?
The set up
So the acrylic ring is placed in the centre of the play area. 2 pegs are placed in holes in the ring to represent the infection rate and number outbreaks.
6 'region' discs, numbered from 1 to 6 are placed around the ring. Each disc representing a different region of the world.
The 4 diseases are represented by 4 sets of different coloured six sided dice. They are all put into a bag. When you need disease markers, you blindly draw the required number of dice from the bag and then you roll them and place on the relevant. This gives you both the type and location of disease markers.
It's worth nothing that even though these are six sided dice, they are not regularly numbered from 1 to 6. For example one colour might be missing 3 and 4 and might have an extra 5 and 6. This means that certain types of diseases are more likely to appear in certain regions. This is something important to remember.
Some event cards are laid out, during the game these can be bought to grant the action described on the card.
Just like in the board game, each player assumes a different role like a dispatcher or a scientist. Each role has it's own set of custom dice, a card granting them a special ability or two and a meeple. Before the start of the game, each player places their meeple on to region disc 1.
When a player takes their turn, the first thing they do is roll their dice. This will give them their choices. You 'spend' a die to perform it's action.
Those are the basic actions, each player will have actions unique to the role that they are playing, but there's no need to list them all here.
Once a player has spent all their dice, there are some other actions they will perform.
If you are on the same region disc as another player, you mave give them all the researched disease dice of one colour - and your research dice along with them!
If a player has any disease dice (and research dice) on the role card. Then they can attempt to cure a disease once in their turn.
To do this the player takes all the dice of one colour (of their choice if there are more than 1 colour available) and rolls them and adds them up.
If they get 13 or more then the disease is cured, otherwise not. It's worth noting here that it will normally take at least 3 dice to get 13. Some colours of disease dice may not have higher numbers such as a 5 or 6, that means it will require even more dice to stand a chance of curing a disease.
The final action of a player is to spread infection!
The players draws dice from the dice bag, the amount that they draw is equal to the current infection rate.
The player rolls these dice and then allocates them to respective region disc.
That's it for what players can do. There are some other rules to note such as:
When things go bad.
There are a couple of things that can go wrong.
How you lose the game.
There are 3 ways to lose this game.
The players win the game, if they manage to research all 4 diseases.
That's it for the rules.
Is it a good game?
I like how Pandemic: The Cure manages to replicate some of the 'feel' of the original and also how it replicates the kind of decision making that will be familiar to players of Pandemic.
I also like how they've managed to incorporate a push you luck mechanic.
The game small and portable and has a small footprint on the table.
But, there seems one glaring issue with this game. It seems a bit too easy.
Whenever I've played Pandemic, there's always been a feeling of apprehension that you could lose the game!
After a couple of initial losses, we've never lost the game since really.
Tonight we played the game twice, once on moderate difficulty and the second time on the hardest difficulty.
We won the game both times, I think the second victory seemed even easier.
Maybe we were lucky, maybe we've gotten good at his type of game. I don't know.
But I do know that Pandemic The cure is a good game that is a little disappointing.
9th March 2019
Gaming night at Matakishi's continued.
The session of Oubilette had been short as it only part of chapter and the continuation of chapter 1.
This gave enough time to play something else. We elected to play a favourite of everyone; Port Royal.
You can find my blog on Port Royal here.
5th March 2019
It was gaming Tuesday at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking.
It was also a night of playing several small games instead of one long one.
We kicked off with 'Cloud 9', a sweet (both literally and figuratively) little push your luck board game.
The premise of the game is that all the players are passengers/pilots in hot air balloon. The higher you go, the more points you score.
How is it played.
The first thing to do is set up the board: The game board is long and thin, it depicts a column of clouds, dice and scores are depicted in every cloud cloud and the scoring track runs along the outside. Unusually it appears to made be of vinyl and smells suspiciously like being in old car!
The game also has a nice looking little model to represent the wicker basket. The basket has 6 spaces to hold up to 6 meeples (Cloud 9 supports up to 6 players).
When all the meeples required at placed into the basket, the basket is placed on to the lowest cloud on the board.
The game's custom 'Cloud 9' dice are 6-sided dice. However 4 sides on each die shows 1 of the 4 different colours. The remaining 2 sides are blank.
There are 4 Cloud 9 dice, these are placed into the playing area
One player is assigned to be 'The Pilot' at the start of the game.
Cards are then dealt out to all players. The remaining cards form a draw pile. There are 2 types of card:
The rules are basically quite simple:
How are the dice matched by the pilot's cards.
Talking of points, when a player earns 50+ points it triggers the end game. This means that the current trip continues until it ends (or crashes) and all final points from the trip are added: The player with the most points, wins!
And that's it for rules. There are some rules for what happens if only the pilot is in the balloon when it rises, but it's not really necessary to talk about them here, you get the gist of the game.
As a game it's simple to learn, it's a good introduction game for people who haven't played that many board games.
But it has some depth too. You need to think about how many cards the pilot has before making a choice to stay or jump. you can even try to remember what they did in a previous turn. EG, if they could not match a dice roll that included red and their current dice roll includes red, have they managed to pick up a red card from the draw deck?
Also; you need to remember if any wild cards have been played and by whom (there's 4 wild cards in the deck).
Another thing to remember is that when you're the pilot, you cannot jump out (unless you're alone in the basket). This means that you have to roll the dice even if your hand is empty! Well each die has 1/3 chance of coming up blank...
Finally, Cloud 9 has a curious element of co-operative play. It's actually hard to get to the higher clouds alone and you must work with other players to do it. Quite often after a couple of players have jumped, the remaining players will suddenly starting playing those wild cards to try and push it further - excluding the early jumpers from extra points.
Cloud 9 is a nice push-your-luck game that is a good starter or finisher game that plays with up to 6 players.
Another evening of gaming at Matakishi's place.
We started evening with a firm favourite; Port Royal
This is the 3rd time I've played it this year.
I play, I paint.