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.
20th July 2019
Saturday night is here. This means gaming at Matakishi's.
And on this night we played 'Villagers'
Have you ever wanted to live in a idyllic little place? Where a single cobble stoned road runs through a village populated with quaint thatched roofed, half timbered homes to carpenters, jewellers, blacksmiths and many more craftsmen?
'A village where the population is trying to rinse everyone else out their cash two gold coins at a time?'
If this sounds appealing; then welcome to Villagers; a pretty little set collecting card game.
What's in a game?
What's in this game? Cards, lots of cards.
There's not too much else to say, well the illustrations on the cars are nice.
How's it play?
Broadly speaking, the objective of Villagers is to collect sets of cards in the same 'profession'. When accumulating these cards, they are stacked on top of each other, so only the names of the cards underneath are displayed.
As quite often, we begin with the set up.
Scoring for Villagers is a bit convoluted and requires some explanation.
Villagers is deceptively fast to play. Apart from the basic cards, there's only 2 of each card. This means that you don't have the luxury of hoarding cards for 'later'. You need to start working towards collecting sets as quickly as you can and even then, it's likely that you will only manage to accumulate one major set in a game. If you can do this before the first market, the stack will score twice. So don't get too distracted by other potential sets when they appear.
Luckily, there is normally an abundance of solitary villagers that you can take to give you something when the card you need invariably don't appear.
So it seems that decisive errr decisions are the order of the day in Villagers.
25th June 2019.
Gaming night at 'The Sovereigns' continues.
The final game of the night is Evolution: Climate.
Have you ever yearned to evolve over millions of years and wander the plains of the Mesozoic era? Do you like dinosaurs (And who doesn't?)? Then maybe Evolution: Climate is for.
Evolution: Climate is one in a series of 'Evolution' games about evolving dinosaurs. I've only played this one and they appear to share similar mechanics and concepts, but have differing themes.
As the name implies, this game is about climate and adds extra rules for temperature.
What's in a game?
Evolution: Climate has both a main game board and smaller personal 'species' game boards for all players.
The main game board is used to track the climate and food supplies.
The personal board is used to track the evolutionary development of your dinosaur species. You can have more than one species during a game and therefore can have more boards.
There is a deck of 'trait' cards.
Some food markers.
Finally, there are some little bags given out to all players. Each bag has a unique dinosaur picture on it, which is a nice touch.
How's it play?
Each player is given a species board and a bag.
In the first phase, trait cards are dealt to each player, the more species they control, the more cards they get.
Determine plant food & climate.
In the next phase; play begins with everybody playing trait card face-down on to the main game board. Once this is done, all the cards are turned over. This determines 2 things.
Play trait cards.
Players place face-down trait cards next to their species boards. When all players have done, these are turned over.
Trait cards represent the different evolutions that your species' will go through. Thus your species' may gain a 'hard shell' or gain the ability to climb. All of these traits give a species special abilities or possibly bonuses to their 'stats'.
species can only have 4 different trait cards at any time, but trait cards can be replaced by other trait cards.
Players may also discard trait cards to improve their species' 'stats' on their species' boards.
Talking of which...
The species board has 3 pertinent stats.
Finally, a trait card can be discarded to gain a new species board (And thus begin a new species.).
This is the final phase of a turn.
At the start of this phase all species are hungry and must feed, one at a time. All animals are either herbivore or carnivore.
After feeding has been completed, all players take the food tokens that they have acquired during the round from their species' boards and places the tokens into their spiffy little individual bags.
Then the next turn begins with dealing out cards again.
When there are no more trait cards to deal out, the endgame is triggered. Play continues for the current turn and then scores are tallied.
A player's score is equal to the food tokens collected in their bag plus the combined value of the population and body size scores of all their species.
Highest score wins.
One of the things i like about Evolution: Climate is how through some simple rules it depicts the rudimentary theories behind evolution. It's almost educational.
At the start of a round, players get the chance to try and influence the available plant food and the climate. These are important decisions as larger dinosaurs fare better in the cold and vice versa in the heat.
Also; If your species is herbivorous, you will want to increase the plant food supply and so on.
At its core, this an engine-building game, with the trait cards for your species' being the engine. Trait cards make a big difference to a species' ability to fend off predators or to be a better hunter or to more efficiently collect food and so on. There's lots to think about and decisions to make here.
Trait cards also count as currency if you want to 'buy' improvements to your species' stats, you use trait cards to do it. This provides with even more decisions to make. Both stats are important.
Population is important, increasing it is a good way to stave off the risk of extinction, but it can be hard to maintain if food is sparse. This applies to carnivores too. A carnivore species may not be at the mercy of the limited food on the main game board. But if it wipes out it's food source, it can starve itself into extinction just as quick as any herbivore.
Body size is important too. Larger species' will be protected from smaller carnivores and for carnivores size is vital. If a carnivore is not bigger than any herbivores, then that carnivore is in trouble.
Feeding can also be quite interesting, as the appearance of a carnivore can really change things up can add a bit of direct conflict to the 'survival of the fittest'.
Players must balance all of these concerns during the game, it's not complicated, but it does give players choices and consequences to overcome.
This is always a sign of a good game IMHO.
I enjoyed Evolution: Climate and would happily play it again.
22nd June 2019
Saturday night beckons and gaming at Matakishi's also beckons.
On this evening we return to a tried and trusted favourite - Machi Koro. You can read my blog about it here.
1st June 2019
Saturday as rolled around and we're blighted by a gaming drought.
There's no weekend RPGs at 'The Sovereigns' and no evening gaming at Matakishi's.
3 of did manage to meet up for a game of Wingspan at The Sovereigns though.
You can read my thoughts about it here.
21st May 2019.
Tuesday has rolled around again. So it's time to go to 'The Sovereigns' in Woking for another evening of Gaming.
There's been quite a bit of buzz about Wingspan, so time to play it and see what's what.
What's in a game?
Wingspan is an 'engine-building' game about bird conservation.
One of the things that has created the buzz about the game are the components. These include:
Other components include personal boards for each player.
During set up each player receives a game board and 8 action cubes, they are dealt some 'bird cards'. Players are also dealt 2 secret objective cards (One of which they keep, the other they discard.) and bird food.
Finally random 'end of round' objectives are dealt. This is an opportunity for point scoring and changes every round, (And every game in fact!).
How's it play?
So firstly, an explanation of the game board is required. The game board has 3 rows or 'tracks'. Each track represents both a type of action the player can perform and a bird habitat. When the action associated with a particular track is chosen, then all the available actions on that track are activated. The actions that are available to a player are dependant on which bird cards have been played on that track.
Actions and building yer engine.
Wingspan has a quite unique way of engine-building. As explained above, the player has their own game board with 3 tracks. Each track has enough spaces for 5 bird cards.
When card is played onto a track, it always goes into the leftmost empty space on that track.
Thus the cards build up from left to right.
Each player is given 8 'action cubes' to use for actions. So in a turn there are 8 actions.
When a player carries out an action, a cube is placed on the relevant track on the rightmost empty space and the action on that space is triggered and completed. Spaces tend to also have bonus actions. But these generally require spending a resource to activate.
The cube is then moved left one space along the track.
Therefore if a track has no cards on it, the player will perform a single action before reaching the end of the track.
If a track has 2 bird cards on it then the cube is placed on the 3rd, rightmost space and the action that space is completed. Then the cube moves one space to the left, and the action on the bird card is performed. Then it would be moved another space to the left and the action on the last bird card would be carried out.
This is how you build your engines, with rows of cards. The longer the line of cards, the more actions can be triggered. Additionally the empty spaces further to the right have better rewards for your actions (And bonus actions.).
There are 4 types of action a player can perform:
Play continues until all action cubes have been played, this ends the turn. After this you get to score 'end of round' points.
At the game set up, 4 objectives were randomly determined. These can be something along the lines of having eggs of a certain kind, birds of a certain kind or in a certain habitat etc.
One of these is scored at the every round. The score you get for this is marked with one of each player's action cubes. Even if a player scores 0, they have to mark put their token on the 0 spot.
So, when the 2nd round begins, all the players will only have 7 action tokens. A game consists of 4 rounds and players' actions cubes will decrease each round.
When the 4th round is completed, the game ends and points are totted. Highest score wins!
There are various ways to score points. As mentioned above there are 4 opportunities to score at the end of the 4 rounds, birds score points, as do eggs. Secret objectives also score, some birds allow to hoard food and this scores points - and so on.
Wingspan is a nice engine building game with some unique rules. It's not overly complicated and you will very quickly start to see some strategies.
I like that there are 3 tracks that allow you to essentially build 3 different engines and that the 3 tracks are interrelated. Quite often the bonus actions of empty spaces must be bought with resources and will give resources useful on other tracks. Good play here can yield a lot benefits.
The curious rule that removes action cubes from play is unusual and the opposite of many games.
Finally, a mention should be made of Wingspan's outstanding game components. The eggs, the card, the dice tower, even the packaging have been carefully thought about and have been well implemented.
So overall I think Wingspan is a good game. It's made my 'to-buy' list.
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.