29th January and we're back at 'The Sovereigns'
Published by the same company that published 'Lords of Xidit' is 'Seasons'.
Seasons is a bit different to anything I've played before. It combines card drafting, deck creation and dice rolling mechanics.
To start with, Seasons is played over 3 'years'.
Each year has 4 'seasons'.
Each season has 3 'months'.
Well that's obvious you're thinking? but this is important.
The game is won by having accumulated the highest amount of crystals at the end of the 3rd year.
There are several ways to do this. But it appears that the main way is to 'summon' cards into play.
This is where the seasons matter.
Once you can play a card, it can have an immediate, activated or continuing effect.
These effects are quite varied and can give you crystals, energy, acquire more cards or allow to steal from other players etc. There are 50 different cards in the base game. Most cards also have a bonus value which is added to your crystal score at the end, some have penalties.
There's a limit to the number of cards you can play that needs to be managed (it starts at 0, maxes out at 15 and needs to be raised - normally by dice results).
The card drafting mechanic I will describe though.
Each player starts with 9 cards, they keep 1 and pass the remaining to the left, rinse and repeat until every player has 9 cards.
Each player then creates 3 decks of 3 cards - 1 for each year.
You start the game with the 3 cards from the first year, when you reach the 2nd year, you get 3 extra cards and same for the final year. It's also worth noting that your final score is penalised for each card remaining in your hand at the end of the game.
The game is fairly straightforward and the rules will be picked up quickly, the only tricky thing is knowing which cards to put in which deck during deck creation.
The game is actually plays quite quickly for the first 2 years, but by then you'll probably have 6 or so cards in play and will need to start tracking their effects. The final year is probably 50% of the play time.
I would happily try this again. I'm tempted to buy a copy.
One Final thing I will mention is the game's colour scheme.
Water elemental tokens are blue - fine.
Fire elemental tokens are yellow- WTF, really WTF, yellow!
20th January - belated post!
Sunday morning and we headed over to 'The Sovereigns' in Woking for the 2nd session of Matt's 50 Fathoms game.
We concluded our battle with the shaggy red men and the giant monkey. Then we freed the remaining crew from their predicament. Unfortunately only 5 of them survived the ordeal.
Anyway, we scavenged as much as we could and made the skiff we had found as seaworthy as possible and set off away from this island. There were 9 of us in total, but the skiff only berths 8, so we had to convert a hold into living quarters.
We also named our skiff 'Delilah'. Why, why why, Delilah? I don't know (Sorry couldn't resist.)
We decided to head to 'Brigandy Bay' a lawless sounding place on a journey that would take about 10 days.
On route we encountered some flotsam and decided to investigate. The flotsam was spread quite widely and our searching revealed a crab-man stuck to the destroyed hull of a ship.
After rescuing him, he explained that the ship he was travelling aboard was destroyed by a giant shark! He also explained to us that his ship was larger than out skiff. We hastily went on our way.
As we journeyed on, the crab-man told us of his research: Caribdus was flooded by 50 fathoms of raincaused by the curse of 3 witches over a decade ago that casued most of the land to become submerged. The crab-man's observations have told him that the water level is slowly but steadily still rising. He has calculated that in 3-4 years, that all remaining land will be under water.
We with news we arrive at Brigandy Bay and as the name suggests we find it to be place with no governing authority.
we set about to do some trading and decide on our next course of action.
22nd January 2019.
Another game night at 'The Sovereigns', err wait - they were shut for the night so we relocated to the 'The Wheatsheaf' for the evening.
So... another game night at 'The Wheatsheaf'.
Orleans is a worker placement game set in medieval France. In most worker placement games, your 'workers' are generic. In Orlean, they are not. This games differenciates itself from other games in this genre by giving you different types of workers.
During gameplay, each player has their own board. To activate an option on your board requires 2 or 3 workers to be placed on the relevant spaces on your board, depending on what it does for you.
Example: Activating the 'villager' action requires you to place a farmer, fisherman and craftsman in the relevant spots. This allows you to recruit a fisherman, craftsmen or a nobleman.
If you cannot (or choose not to) place all the required workers to activate an option, then the workers remain placed on your board until all the required spots are filled by your workers. Whereupon they are removed from your board and placed into a bag (more on this later).
When you recruit a worker, you move your marker down the relevant track (there's a fisherman track, craftsman track etc).
When you move down a track, as well as gaining the worker, you may also gain an additional benefit. Moving down the craftsman track gains you a 'technology wheel', going the fisherman track gains you extra money and so on. When all the workers of a particular type are recruited, no one else can move down the track.
Even though you acquire lots of workers, there are limits on how useful they are.
Firstly; all workers not placed on your board are placed into a bag (1 bag for each player).
Secondly; at the start of the turn, you draw 4-8 workers from you bag (depending on how far along the 'knight' track you are.
This can limit your options, because you won't always draw what you want. But also provides you with some intriguing choices in order to maximise your strategy.
The game also contains a mechanic to rid yourself of workers for a one-off benefit, if you feel that you've acquired too many or they've become obsolete.
The game also has a central map that represents the region around Orleans which you can travel around and acquire trade goods and allows you to build guild halls in other locations, (all done by worker placement activation).
Winning the game requires earning points by collecting trade goods, collecting influence markers, building guild halls and accumulating money.
The setup and explanation of the rules took a while (it's not too complex, but you have a lot of choices you can make) and We didn't manage to finish a full game. But it has a bit more depth than most worker placement games in my opinion and a bit more to think about. It will require a couple of plays to know what you're doing.
I enjoyed it and look forward to playing it again.
Saturday 19th January.
In the evening we played in the 3rd of Matakishi's Cthulhu Hack adventures. This was - as Matakishi informed us - actually the first adventure that he had written of the 3. It was also the smallest, having half the page count of the previous adventure.
The adventure or should I say investigation begins in media-res, which is always cool. We were close to the conclusion of a previous case when this investigation begins.
Without giving anything way, we proceeded to investigate some very sneaky cultists. Luckily, we're a suspiscious bunch and let's just say, we don't get fooled twice or perhaps thrice.
Since it was a shorter scenario, we concluded it in a single evening. Matakishi explained to us afterwards that there are several outcomes that can occur. I found our outcome was suitabily Lovecraftian.
Tuesday 15th January.
Another evening in 'The Sovereigns' with Woking Board Game Club.
On this evening we played 'Lords of Xidit', a game where you 'program' in your next 6 actions. The game is a fantasy themed 'pick-up-and-deliver' game, tasking you with recruiting heroes to fight against monsters as they appear on the board.
Cities (used to recruit heroes) and monsters appear randomly on the game board. Although, you can always see what the next tile is going to be. So astute players can take advantage of this when programming their moves.
What really makes this game stand out is the end-game scoring mechanic, which will influence how you play the game.
Throughout the game you will accumulate three types of 'scoring'.
These are; wealth, influence & reputation. Whenever you defeat a monster, there are rewards to be had in all 3 categories, but you can only choose to take 2 out of the 3 rewards.
Why does this matter, because scoring is done by rounds of elimination.
In the game we played:
In round 1, the player with the lowest wealth was eliminated.
In round 2, the player with the lowest reputation was eliminated.
In round 3, the player with the highest influence won the game.
But the order in which the elimination rounds occur is randomly determined at the start every game. So the rewards you need to choose will be determined this.
Furthermore, each of the 3 types of scoring is accumulated differently.
Wealth is kept hidden behind each player's personal screen and has no limit. Wealth is scored on a 1-to-1 basis. The higher, the better.
Reputation scoring is done in areas of the board which can be contested by all players, only the top 2 players in an area score for its reputation. Each player is limited to 20 reputation markers. A player's reputation score is calculated by adding up from all the areas where they can score.
Influence markers are placed on specific spots on the board, only one player can ever have influence in that spot. The most markers that a player can be placed in a single spot is 4. Players have 15 influence markers. Influence markers are scored in a 1-to-1 basis.
So all of this means that your approach to the game will need to adapt to the random placements that occur.
The only problem with this is that really you require at least 4 players to play the game properly, playing with 3 people requires you have a 'dummy' player that is added. And the game does not play for to at all.
We played it with 4 players and I enjoyed it (not just because I won ;)), I think everyone did.
The game was also enhanced by Andy B painting all the heroes prior to playing.
I'm not a particular fan of programming game, but I do think this is a good game: It plays well and the turns don't seem too long or too complicated.
Not only that. It's only a TENNER on Amazon at the time of writing. - my copy is waiting for me at the post office. I'm off to get it right NOW!
Saturday 12th January 2019.
This was the conclusion to 'The Flame from Space', Matakishi's 2nd Cthulhu Hack adventure.
By this time we had committed some heroic deeds to foil - or at least delay the plans of the agents of unspeakable ancient horrors. However we reasoned that this might not be enough. So we went back to place we had fearfully left in the previous session to see what else we could do.
What transpired there cannot be committed to written word - it may spoil the adventure.
In the end our wits and experience won us through. Just don't ask Alan about it. He spent the entire session hidden in the fire engine!
Thursday 10th January was the first RPG session I've run this year.
This long running campaign is the classic 'Enemy Within' campaign from WFRP 1e. Although I'm using WFRP 2e rules.
The players (after 4 years) have reached the final part of the campaign. I am using 'Empire at War' as the final part of the campaign instead of 'Empire in Chaos'.
There's too much gone on during the campaign to even begin writing about here. But currently the party are in Bergsburg at the end of a futile investigation.
After some not so subtle prodding from me, they have decided to go on to Middenheim. A place they had to flee a while ago after being framed for murder.
The next session is in 3 weeks.
Tuesday 8th January 2019; the first evening back at the 'Woking Board Game Club' at 'The Sovereigns' pub.
Several games were played during the evening, including much talked about Wingspan. However we played Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle.
This is a co-operative deck builder in the vein of Dominion.
You start with a deck of 10 cards and use your turns to buy more cards to make your deck stronger.
The objective is to defeat various villainous characters such as Draco Malfoy before certain conditions are met and the game is lost.
Mechanically the game is quite solid - if a little shallow. The game has 7 'chapters' of increasing difficulty (and also match the number number of books).
We played level 2. Twice we collectively got our arses kicked, but on the 3rd try we romped to victory. I think we got better at the game, but also that luck (or bad luck in our cases) plays a big part too. But to be fair, that's generally always the case with co-operative games.
I'm not a particular fan of Harry Potter, but of the game had a slight increase in complexity, I'd definitely be interested in it.
The new gaming year kicked off on the 5th January.
50 Fathoms - Session One
Saturday afternoon at 'The Sovereigns' pub in Woking was the venue for the 1st session of Matt's 50 Fathoms Savage Worlds campaign.
We started with character creation and another addition to the Fluke family: Jacob Fluke, the even less successful relative of the Flukes. Bankrupt and on run from the wrong kind of creditors, Jacob fled a ship at night in a rowing into fog bank and emerged in the world of Caribdus.
Shipwrecked on an island with some companions, we encountered the bestial worshippers of a strange monkey god who they like to appease with bloody sacrifices. We now have to fend off the giant monkey thing they have summoned.
Savage Worlds: Often described as 'rules-medium', the Savage Worlds rules have been around for about 15 years and are designed to give some depth to mechanics, but to also lessen the burden on the GM.
50 Fathoms: This is a Savage Worlds campaign setting, a bit of a cross 'Pirates of the Caribbean' meats D&D! Set in the fantastical flooded world Caribdus, it blends swashbuckling, fantasy and the supernatural.
Cthulhu Hack - Session One
The 5th of January was a good day of gaming: Since, a few hours after playing 50 Fathoms, I went over to Matakishi's place.
The evening continued with the 2nd of Matakishi's Cthulhu Hack adventures - 'The Flame from Space'.
Our wayward characters were drawn into the mysterious events surrounding a meteor strike and the strange goings on in small village that lead to a shocking discovery.
Our encounters involved strange flame entities and a visit to a strange place.
It was all to much for Alan, his alpha-male yuppie bravado was all spent and the spent the latter part of the adventure hiding in a fire engine.
Black Hack: Written by David Black, this is a lite RPG that has a old-school look to it, but don't be fooled. The game sneakily contains some very modern game design to it.
Cthulhu Hack: This is Paul Baldowski's err hack of The Black Hack and contains several tweaks to make the rules fit the genre more.