22nd December 2019
Sunday is here at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking. 50 Fathoms is still on hiatus so for the final get together before Christmas we're playing board games.
The first game was 'Agatha Christie's Death On The Cards'.
Will the other players learn your darkest secrets? Will you catch the murderer? Or will you manage to get away with murder! Only the cards can decide in... Death On The Cards!
What's in a game?
Death On The Cards uses 3 different types of cards. Secret cards, game cards and the 'Murderer Escapes!' card , game cards are further divided into other cards:
How's it play?
First there's setup, which is a little different depending on the number of players.
What's social disgrace? When a player has all of their secret cards turned face-up, all of their secrets have been revealed and they're disgraced.
What does this mean? It means that when they become the active player, all they can do is discard exactly 1 card and draw 1 card.
It is possible to come back from social disgrace as there some cards that allow secret cards to be turned back face-down.
How the game ends will depend on the player's role in the game.
'Death On The Cards' plays with 2-6 people and what's interesting is how the game changes depending on the number of players.
With 2 players, there's no secret to who's the murderer. The game is a war of attrition.
Now, for some maths (Hopefully my maths is correct.).
Let's look at it with 3 players.
Now lets look at a 6 player game.
This means it becomes easier for the murderer to get away with it in bigger game. Now I don't see this as a flaw, but it is definitely something that changes the dynamics of the game.
With 3 players for example, 'Death On The Cards' can be played as a straightforward card game.
With 6 players, it's much harder to capture the murderer. Players will need to form alliances and target suspicious players as quickly as possible. But then, this gives the murderer and accomplice opportunities to bluff, lie, double cross and sabotage their 'allies'. It becomes a lot more like a hidden role game.
Anyway, regardless of the mathematics, the game mechanics fit the theme very well. 'Death On The Cards' can learned quickly and plays quickly too . It's a great filler game and even though I'm not a fan of hidden role games, it's a lot of fun.
It's definitely worth giving it a try.
3rd December 2019
It's Tuesday at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking with the board game club.
This means board games! And tonight we played 'Wayfinders'.
'Those magnificent men, in their flying machines.'
'They go up tiddly up up.'
'They go down tiddly down down.'
That's enough of that!
Wayfinders is a colourful little game about flying and exploration.
It's also a fairly light worker placement and resource management game.
What's in a game?
Wayfinders is played over a 5x5 grid of tiles:
Apart from the aforementioned worker meeple issue, all the components are solidly made and bright and colourful.
On the island tiles. All the resources are delineated by both colour and symbol except for the resource in the bottom right corner, which is represented only by colour.
However the resource tokens appear to have their symbols printed on them and they may wear off over time and use.
How's it play?
In Wayfinders, there are only 2 main actions, although the 2nd action has a number of sub actions that can be performed.
1st action, place a worker:
The endgame is triggered when a player has 2 or less hangars remaining in their supply.
The current round is completed and scoring commences.
Resource and Permanent effect tiles have a static score.
But scoring tiles tend to have scores dependent on what the player as achieved in the game. For example: A scoring tile might score 3 points for each tile in the same vertical line as itself that the player has put a hangar on to.
Unused resources and workers on the hangar board in the endgame also score.
Final scores are tallied, highest score wins.
Wayfinders is a pretty simple game, but there's a couple of interesting things going on in this game.
Acquiring resources is an unusual blend of worker placement and drafting with a dash of push your luck.
Players will probably find themselves competing over certain resources, particularly if that resource is scarce in the hangars.
This can lead to some tricky decisions. A player can keep putting down workers so that when they are returned, the player will get the maximum resources. But if that player needs a certain resource, this delay can lead to them losing that resource to another player.
Or perhaps a player needs a resource that is 3rd in line at the hanger. Do they try and play 3 workers to get at it? Or do they place a single worker and hope that someone takes a resource ahead if it.
Watching where other players put their workers can be insightful.
Whilst there is little direct interaction in Wayfinders, particularly on the tiles. Another reason to watch what other players do, is that when they place a hangar in a tile, that tile becomes accessible to other players for free. This can make it easier to reach tile beyond it and will open up the playing area and also open up more choices and strategies.
Conversely, getting to a tile that may prove popular with other players and putting a hangar on there first is a great way to earn resources as other players must pay to you instead of the bank.
This is a lot more useful than it sounds. After moving a plane and placing hangars, a player can only retain 3 resources. So even if that player maximizes the placement of their workers, they can only start a move and build action with a maximum of 8 resources.
However if during a round other players have to pay out to you to put their hangars down, it's possible to start with a lot more resources.
This can be a great advantage, as being able to put down 2 or 3 hangars in a turn really lays pressure on other players as they'll be forced to play catch up.
Remember, players start with 10 hangars, but 1 goes on the home tile, so in reality everyone starts with 9 hangars. And the endgame is triggered when any player reaches 2 or less hangars left. So a player only needs to place 7 hangars to trigger the endgame.
As well as being a fairly easy game to learn, Wayfinder is a quite short game and playing speeds up over the course of a game as the board inevitably opens up.
Optimizing your actions and taking advantage of circumstances are key to winning. A canny player can end the game abruptly, leaving their competitors in the lurch.
The only criticism I have is that it's a little too long for a filler game, but a little short for a main game.
But that criticism aside, Wayfinders is a easy to learn and fairly fun game to play.
26th November 2019
Tuesday evening at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking continues.
The second and final game of the night was 'Architects of the West Kingdom'.
As an architect it's your job to rebuild the errr.... West Kingdom!
So it appears that in this game, you'll be rubbing shoulders with virtuous members of the clergy and getting 'down and dirty' with shady criminals. The life of an architect, eh?
Architects of the West Kingdom is a pretty standard worker placement game, but a worker placement game with a couple of extra little twists.
What's in a game?
There's quite a lot to Architect of the West Kingdom and this is reflected in the components.
Hows it play?
There are 3 ways to place workers in the game, this is dependant on the symbol used on the game board:
And there's still a bit more to go in explaining the game.
Play continues until the Guildhall has been filled by workers (Different according to the number of players.). When this happens, all players get one more turn and then scoring begins. There are several factors that affect scoring:
There are a couple of interesting mechanics in Architects of the West Kingdom, particularly how they interact with each other.
Being able to put multiple workers into a space to gain increasing results seems overpowered. But when a player puts a lot of workers into a single space, they can just become a target for another player to capture. Obviously when capturing workers, players will want to do it as efficiently as possible, because there's money to be made when putting them in prison.
If a player can predict their opponent's moves, stealing their workers can really screw with them.
Another thing to consider is that players have no way to get their workers back other than having them captured by other players or capturing them themselves.
Being able to manage your workers in this way can avoid those pesky debt cards, which themselves are a clever little addition to the game.
The virtue track, black market and cathedral also add an extra element that helps differentiate the game.
I enjoyed this game, I think it's fairly good.Generally I felt like I always had options and meaningful decisions to make. Which all I really want from a game.
If you really like worker placement games, you'll probably like Architects of the West Kingdom. It's just different enough to justify its existence.
Or, if you don't own any worker placement games and you want one. You may want to consider this game,
29th October 2019
Tuesday night gaming at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking with the board game club continues.
The final game of the night was 'Grand Austria Hotel'.
It doesn't take much imagination to realise that this is a game about running a hotel. That's right, keep those restaurant customers happy. Manage all those hotel rooms. Maintain the prestige of your establishment. All the fun!
Joking aside, Grand Austria is pretty good game. The rules are fairly straightforward to learn, but there's a lot of things to think about and take into consideration. A lot of things!
What's in a game?
Grand Austria Hotel has a lot of components. They are all quite colourful and well made.
How's it play?
We begin with setup.
The turn order is a little unusual in Grand Austria Hotel. Every player gets 2 turns in a round. All players are given a token with 2 numbers on it - which is when their turns will occur.
Turns proceed clockwise until all players have had their first turn, then goes back anticlockwise so that the last player was also the first player.
In a 4 player game, the first player will have a token that shows '1/8' and the fourth player will have a token showing '4/5'.
The first thing the active player can choose to do is to take a guest card from the main game board. Depending on which card is taken, the active player may have to pay for it.
The further the card is to the left, the more it costs. Gaps in the row are replaced by sliding cards from the left to the right and adding new cards on the furthest left. This is a 'conveyor belt' mechanic.
Actions in Grand Austria Hotel are determined by dice. The number of dice used depends on the number of players. In a 4 player game, 14 dice are used. The first player rolls all the dice and and places them as required on the action board.
There are 6 columns on the action board. After the dice have been rolled, they are placed in their relevant space. If 3 1's have been rolled, they are placed into the '1' column, this is done for all 6 columns.
This determines both the effectiveness and number of each action that can be performed. The more dice there are in a column the more effective that action is and the more often it can be performed. Every time an action is performed, a die from that column is removed. If a column has no dice, that action cannot be performed (Unless performing the 'copy action' action!).
The 6 actions are:
As well as the actions listed above, players can perform some extra actions.
Grand Austria Hotel is played over 7 rounds, thus each player has 14 turns to use.
Prestige is scored at the end of rounds 3, 5 & 7. During prestige scoring, before prestige is scored each player's prestige score is lowered by 3, 5 or 7 in each related round. Prestige points translate in victory points, but if a player's prestige points are too low, that player will lose victory points instead.
Additionally, if a player is above the prestige threshold, they get a bonus, if they are below, the receive a penalty. This depends on the 3 prestige reward/penalty tokens that were placed on to the main board.
At the end of the 7th round, points are scored from various sources, such as staff cards, occupied rooms, remaining food, drink & money, objectives and prestige tokens.
Any guests left in your restaurant loses points.
All points are tallied, highest score wins.
So Grand Austria Hotel is a game about acquiring customers, fulfilling their needs and preparing rooms for them in your hotel.
The game is quite a balancing act as it forces players to juggle preparing rooms and fulfilling the needs of their customers.
Players also need to pay attention to the prestige track, as failing to acquire enough prestige can be seriously detrimental.
The bonus objective can earn quite a lot of points.
Money too can be a problem, it's quite hard to accumulate money and is also something you need to think about.
Whilst there's a lot going on in this game, the rules aren't too complicated.
Optimising strategies is really important here. But the available actions and their effectiveness is unpredictable.
So Grand Austria Hotel forces players to both think ahead and be adaptable, whilst providing players with lots of meaningful decisions.
These are things that make Grand Austria Hotel a good game.
5th October 2019
It's been a Saturday evening of gaming goodness at Matakishi's place.
It's been an evening of small games.
The fourth and final game of the night is 'Iunu', which is actually pronounced as er... 'uh wah nu'.
Iunu is a card game set in the ancient time of the legendary Pharaohs of Egypt. With deserts and the Nile and the pyramids... or at least some four-sided dice.
What's in a game?
All the art on the cards is a clean and smooth almost minimalist style that is quite appealing. I guess it's also designed to resemble hieroglyphs?
How's it play?
So we begin with setup.
There's no mention of afterlife cards, what do they do?
Well when a 'priest' citizen card is played, the active player take a afterlife card and keeps it face-down in their area.
Afterlife cards provide the opportunity to gain extra points during scoring.
Players can only have 1 afterlife card each. If a player acquires more afterlife cards, they draw another one and keep one of the two. The other one is shuffled back into the afterlife deck.
Dice are rolled every round, what for?
Certain citizen cards make use of these vaguely pyramid shaped dice.
The 'noble' card will earn the active player currency equal the result of all 3 dice (The dices' values are lowered after this.).
The 'baker' citizen card can buy up to 3 bread tokens at a cost equal to the highest single dice.
Talking of bakers, what do break tokens do?
After acquiring bread tokens, the are placed on citizen cards that have been played to increase their value in the endgame scoring.
Additionally, bread tokens on your 'farmer' citizen cards will protect them from being 'enticed away' by pesky 'soldier' citizen cards.
Once the citizen deck is depleted and all players have had an equal number of turns, we go into scoring. There are 5 ways to score:
Iuni is a game with some interesting mechanics.
Having to return 2 cards to the forum during every turn forces players into making some hard decisions, because not only are you discarding cards which may be useful, you're also giving other players the opportunity to take them.
The dice are also an interesting idea and not something I've seen before in this style of game. The randomness can throw a real 'curve ball' into players' strategies.
Once players have gotten their heads around the slightly unusual way the game works, it's quite quick to play and would be good as a filler or finisher game.
5th October 2019
Gaming night at Matakishi's is underway.
The third game of the night was 'Campy Creatures'.
Put yourselves in the shoes of a 'mad scientist'. Misunderstood, never trusted and unloved. But there's a reason why the mad scientist is the way they are and why they kidnap innocent people. It's to stop those other pesky mad scientist from doing it first!!
Campy Creatures is a blind bidding game where you bid to capture teenagers and other hapless victims and put them into sets in order to score points.
What's in a game?
All of the cards in this game are nicely illustrated with art that wouldn't look out of place on posters for the 'creature feature' movies that this game is emulating.
How's it play?
As always we begin with set up.
Campy Creatures uses blind bidding. The highest bid gets to go first and pick the victim card of their choice.
Campy Creatures is played over a total of 3 rounds. After the final round, final scores are tallied, highest score wins.
Campy Creatures is a quick and interesting game to play.
This is down to the special abilities on the monster cards. They can really throw a spanner into the works (And player's plans.). Special abilities include cancelling other cards special abilities, acquiring 2 cards instead of 1, forcing someone to discard a card they captured etc.
Learning to watch other players is important. Looking at what cards they have collected gives you the chance to anticipate what other cards they will want. This means you have the opportunity to mess with them! It gives the game an extra level of depth, which without the game would be too simple.
Even so, with so few special abilities (That are identical for all players.), after prolonged play, the game could become 'samey'. But as a occasional filler game, Campy Creatures is a good game.
24th September 2019
Tuesday evening is here and we're at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking for games night.
It was an evening of several short games.
We begun with 'Sushi Roll', this game is a follow up to the rather good 'Sushi Go!'. Will Sushi Roll live up to expectations? Let's see.
What's in a game
Sushi Roll comes in a largish box and a whole bunch of components. These are solidly made and of a good quality.
How's it play?
We begin with set up:
And we're ready to go.
There's a lot to like about Sushi Roll.
There's a pleasant tactile sensation to be had when you slide or hand the conveyor belt tile over to another player.
The same is true when using chopsticks to snatch away a die from someone else's conveyor belt. The theme fits the game perfectly.
The mechanics with the dice is very clever. You can see what dice are coming your way, but since the dice are rolled again, you don't know exactly what you're getting. It does a very good job of replacing the card mechanic from Sushi Go!. No need to try and memorise cards now!
Everyone I've played this game with, preferred this version to its predecessor. It's less portable and takes a little set up time, but it feels more tactile, it's a little more 'open', therefore giving players more choices to make. The scoring and pudding tokens make it a bit more 'user friendly'. Meanwhile the chopsticks and menus lend the game a bit more strategy.
So, is it worth getting Sushi Roll if you've played Sushi Go!? In a word; yes!
22nd September 2019
Sunday lunchtime at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking. Unfortunately 50 Fathoms is still on hiatus. Instead we shall play some board games.
The first board game of the day was 'Roll Player'.
Have you ever enjoyed creating characters for an RPG more than playing them? Then maybe, just maybe, Roll Player is the game for you.
Roll Player is sort of a set collecting, dice rolling, worker placement game that's all about creating what is ostensibly a D&D character.
The main of the game is that players use dice to generate their stats, but it's not a case of just rolling the dice.
What's in a game
The components for Roll Player are of a good quality.
How's it play
Firstly there's set up: This is fairly straightforward.
After a player takes a die, they must place it on to their character sheet board. When doing this, there are 3 things they need to bear in mind in order to maximise their scores.
There are several different types of card available to but from the market. When a player takes a market card, it is placed alongside the character sheet board in it's specified spot.
A new row of market cards is dealt every round.
Play continues for 18 rounds until all 6 stats have 3 dice. Points can earned from several sources, these include:
Roll Player is a game with an intriguing theme. Because placing a die has so many consequences, play slows down quite a lot when both choosing and placing a die, so there feels like there is a lot of downtime between turns.
Apart from this, the game fine to play and when you complete Roll Player you will have an interesting character.
My first Roll Player character was: 'A concentrating, knowledgeable, intimidating, dedicated, honest, famous, chain-armour-wearing, blessed-mace-wielding, druidic, elven chosen one who's good at sleight of hand. His name is Derek!'
21st September 2019.
It's Saturday evening round at Matakishi's and that can only mean games night!
So here we have 'Machi Koro Legacy'. As the title suggests, this is a legacy version of the very good Machi Koro game.
Don't read any further ahead if you want to play Machi Koro Legacy!
What's a legacy game?
Glad you asked. A legacy game's unique feature is that it is actually a series of play-throughs of the same game. After each game concludes, something changes, is added or removed from the game and that change carries over to the next play-through of the game. Thus you have (In theory.) a game that constantly changes and evolves according to player input.
Machi Koro Legacy is played over 10 games. We played games 1-5 in one night and in total all 10 games were played over 3 evenings.
I'm going to blog about all of the games in this post. Since at the time of writing, these blog posts are about a month behind the actual plays.
If you don't know anything about Machi Koro, you can read my blog about it here.
Have you read it? Good! Now you know all about Machi Koro.
The original Machi Koro has 2 expansions, 'The Harbour' and 'Millionaire's Row'.
Generally we play Machi Koro with The Harbour.
As you would expect, the core mechanics of Machi Koro remain unchanged for the 'legacy' version.
If you didn't actually bother reading my blog about the main game: Here's a quick recap.
The legacy game
I can't really blog about the game in my normal format because the components and rules change throughout the game. So I'll just go through it as best as I can. I'm not going to extensively talk about the original, I'll try to just talk about any differences between 'original' and 'legacy' versions.
Personal game board
This is immediately different. In legacy, each player is given a game board that has the following:
Diamonds are a new currency introduced in Legacy. Players can start a game with diamonds or acquire them during play. Some landmarks and cards can use diamonds for a benefit. But the main use of diamonds is to spend them to re-roll dice rolls.
Double sided establishment cards
These are an entirely new type of game introduced in Legacy.
When a game is concluded, a new type of card is added to the market from the next game onward. These cards are 'double sided'. One side tends to be blue/green and the other red or occasionally purple. The player who just won the concluding game gets to choose which side is used, these cards have tick boxes which can ticked to indicate which side was initially chosen.
During later games, it is possible that a stack of double sided cards can be flipped over to their other side. If this occurs, then it also affects all copies of that card in players' areas! (See below for how 'flipping' can occur.)
Another new introduction to legacy is the 'traveller die', a blank six sided die. What's the point of a blank die you may ask? Well, it doesn't stay blank for long. As games are completed, stickers are added to die. The traveller die is now rolled along with the normal dice. The following stickers are added to the traveller die: Turtle, yokai and moon princess
There 3 travellers each have their own little figure that moves along cards as dictated by the rules for the traveller die.
Another new addition to legacy that appears later in the game is 'the sea'. This is depicted by placing 3 cards in a column in the market area along side the establishment cards. Then, each player receives a boat figurine in their colour and a 12 sided die is introduced into the game. What does this all do? Well, read on:
When the sea has been introduced, islands are next. Islands work in the following way.
During one of the latter games, the players will acquire rockets for their ships and in the 10th and final game, they will travel to the moon in an endeavour to return the moon princess home.
Right that's about it for what's in the game and rules. I've missed out some bits about some cards being removed from play and so on, but that I think is most of it.
The 11th game
Once the 10th game has concluded. The remaining cards can be used to make up a new game of Machi Koro. Having a functioning game afterwards is a nice touch.
I think this blog post I've written about Machi Koro Legacy is going to be the longest blog I've written about a card game so far. I guess a legacy game can complicate things quite a lot and there's quite a lot to process here.
Additionally, I will state that this is the only legacy game I've ever played and I have nothing to compare it to or measure it against. I guess I'll just go through the things listed above and blog my thoughts about them.
Town square cards
I actually quite like this idea, it gives players a meaningful decision to make immediately and can lead to an asymmetrical game start (See below for more on this.).
As your small fishing settlement advances through civilisation to fulfil its destiny of becoming a 'space power', it's only natural that its landmarks will change over time.
So thematically I understand it, but from a game play perspective, I'm ambivalent towards it.
This is partially I think, because I didn't find them particularly interesting or useful. Especially since there's so many of them (10 communal and 12 player landmarks.) and they only hang around for a maximum of 3 games.
Diamonds have several uses in legacy.
Some landmarks allow players to use diamonds for extra turns or for extra cash. They can also be used in conjunction with island cards to acquire establishment cards.
But probably the biggest use of diamonds is for re-rolls.
The original Machi Koro gave players a re-roll once per turn in the form of a landmark that they could purchase.
Legacy take this a step further by giving players the ability to spend multiple diamonds to gain multiple re-rolls.
This has a low impact in the early games, but a high impact in the later games. When a players has 8 diamonds, they spend a long time pondering their many potential re-rolls.
I don't actually mind the game slowing down that much (I'm used to it.).
I dislike how easy it is to just mitigate so many bad rolls. Having to deal with bad rolls is part of what makes Machi Koro what it is.
Double sided establishments
The idea of having dual-function establishments seems like a reasonable idea. It can change up the dynamic of the game a little and doesn't seem to have a negative impact. If only there was a better way to implement them other than the yokai (See Below.).
Legacy adds 3 travellers to the game, as well as an extra die and extra rule to deal with it all. The problem I have with this is that all it does is introduce an extra random element and no game play element. When travellers do move, most of the time it has minimal or no impact on me or the decisions I made.
When the sea was added into legacy, it introduced a fiddly and slightly confusing set of mechanics to the game. Not only that, they're completely alien to Machi Koro's 'style' and lack any elegance. You might as well have added a copy of 'Monopoly' to legacy, they're so different.
Furthermore, when the sea was added to legacy was when the game started to really slow down. All those extra little rules and extras just dragged it down. It seems that the combination of the sea and diamonds is not a good one.
The island cards are quite an interesting proposition.
The moon track is essentially an extension of the the sea track. Everything I've said about the sea, applies equally here.
So that's it. As I explained earlier, this is the only legacy style game I've played. And to be honest, in regards to Machi Koro, I don't think it adds much to the experience of playing it.
Sure, it adds some interesting ideas to the mix and it was nice seeing new cards. But it also adds a whole lot of unnecessary stuff too. Additionally, the changes that occur throughout the games feel very small, the choice that the winner makes after every game feels inconsequential.
I don't regret playing Machi Koro Legacy at all; it provided us with 10 games and 3 evenings of entertainment. But during those games I never felt that I was playing something superior to the original.
16th July 2019
It's a Tuesday and the 3rd and final game of game evening at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking is 'Honshu'.
Wikipedia describes Honshu as 'the largest and most populous main island of Japan'.
Honshu the game describes itself as a 'trick-taking, map building card game set in feudal Japan'.
So, there you go!
What's in a game?
How's it play?
The objective of Honshu is to lay down map cards to create your province. When laying a card, generally the objective is to lay cards in such a way that matching terrain types are next to each other.
First thing though, is set up.
Play continues for 3 turns. Then before the 4th turn, players pass their 3 remaining cards to the player to their left.
Once the 6th turn is completed, the players will have run out of cards. 6 new cards are randomly dealt to each player and play continues.
After the 9th turn has been completed, players pass their 3 remaining cards to the player on their right.
After the 12th turn, the game is over and we go to scoring.
So once the 12th turn is over, it's time to score. There are several different terrain types and each type scores differently.
Honshu is a small game that packs a lot in.
It has a trick-taking mechanic that can be exploited to good use if you're canny, as well a a drafting mechanic. Which is quite interesting.
The map-laying phase gives the player quite a lot of flexibility when putting map cards down, so you get a lot of choices and decisions to make.
Honshu reminds me a little bit of 'Isle of Skye', both games are broadly divided into a acquisition phase and a map laying phase.
Both games give players options for strategies (And both games allow you take another player's map tile/card!).
Honshu is a little simpler, but quicker to play.
And like Isle of Skye, I think Honshu is a good game and definitely worth trying.