5th January 2020
Sunday gaming at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking continues.
For the first time in almost exactly 3 months all 6 of us are in the same room at the same time. So on with 50 Fathoms.
Our 3rd ship, 'The Herodica' has been repaired and is now seaworthy.
Foolishly, the party have decided to make Jacob the captain of The Herodica. Doesn't anyone know that Jacob can't sail or even swim!
We discuss our next move and decide to head to the 'Kehuna Flumes' and set off.
During our journey, we spot a convoy of ships flying the Baltimus flag.
We approach the convoy, they in turn fire their cannons at us and warn us off. We hold back and query them.
They provide us with no useful information and threaten us again.
We decide it isn't worth the trouble and sail away.
As we approach Kehuna Flumes, we start to notice sea creatures that we don't usually see in waters and the air seems warmer than expected?
Then we see 'the flumes'.
They mostly have the appearance of a vertical stack of rock.
Some of the flumes are like chimneys and rise above the sea level, most however are under water.
'The Kehuna' are a tribal people and are very protective of the region as it lush in 'mineral' resources.
In fact we see minerals being spat out of a chimney whilst we are there.
We then noticed 3 elongated bodies swimming in the water around us. They realised that they are 'long' eels. Giant eels that produce electricity, it is wise not to strike them, so we moved to a newer spot.
Since we were at the Flumes to collect Kehuna gold, we looked around for a good spot too collect some 'minerals'.
Rackham and Wind dive down and begin their search. They manage to find 8 ounces of gold before we decided to move on. It was wise to avoid any local Kehuna.
We moved to a new spot and Rackham dived down again.
Rackham acquires some 'guard sharks' in case he encounters any trouble.
After some effort, he manages to 'mine' some more gold. Now that we have enough for our purposes, Rackham resurfaces and we prepare to move on.
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.
21st December 2019
It's the last Saturday night before Christmas and we're at Matakishi's for some board games.
This is a game about accumulating stocks in railway companies, running railway companies and paying out dividends.
Yep, this is 'Irish Gauge' and not 1830.
Irish Gauge is a game that simultaneously is the same as and also completely different to 1830.
That is, it shares the same themes as 1830, but is a quite different game.
What's in a game?
Irish Gauge components.
How's it play?
We begin with setup, which is pretty simple.
Before normal play commences, there is a 'initial auction' This is where players get to bid on and auction one share from each of the 5 companies.
In their turn, the active player can perform 1 of 4 actions, these are: Place track, place a special interest, auction a share and call for a dividend.
This is probably the most common action in the game
The game ends when there are no more cubes in the bag, either because of a dividend being called or placing a cube as a special interest on the board.
All players tot up their cash plus the initial value of the shares they own. Highest cash wins.
Irish Gauge is a railway building game with stocks and shares and companies.
It's actually quite a common theme in board games. But Irish Gauge plays nothing like any of these other games.
It seems like the basic strategy is that players need to build railways, to issue dividends, to buy shares.
Simple, right? Not necessarily.
Whilst players may want to maximise their railway network before calling dividends, to get as much money as possible to have more funds when bidding on shares during an auction.
Waiting a long time to buy shares is a risky move.
Why? There limited opportunities to call for dividends because when the game starts, there will only be 22 cubes in the bag and each dividend uses 3 cubes. So there's maximum of 8 times a dividend can be called - and the last dividend will be with 1 cube! This is of course, provided nobody uses cubes to upgrade towns.
So shares bought later in the game will benefit less because there will be less dividend pay outs. This isn't so bad if you get a shares at the initial value, but that's unlikely to occur. So paying an extra 20 to get a share that only pays out 5 twice is actually a loss of 10!
This means players will want to get shares as quick as possible, but at the same time, it's prudent to wait and see if other players have low funds as this is a great time to trigger an auction, since they may have to pass, giving the active player a share at the initial value.
It's like some sort of horrible balancing act.
There's more as well. If a player thinks they benefit from a dividend more than anyone else, then they might ignore buying shares or improving their network and may just call dividend after dividend and 'run out' the game. However there's a random element to dividends, so they may scupper themselves.
After playing the game a couple of times: It seems to me that how a player places their railway lines is a bit of a 'no-brainer'. But on reflection I don't think this is as much of an issue as I first thought. Perhaps when to call for dividends may seem more vital for the game than anything else - provided the right cubes are pulled from the bag of course.
There's a lot to think about here, which is good.
Finally, Irish Gauge plays as fast as a roadrunner with it's backside on fire.
If you're used to slow and meaty railway games, Irish Gauge may feel quite fresh with it's relatively short play time.
I'm not certain if Irish Gauge will stand up to extended play. But it's worth giving it a couple of plays at least.
14th December 2019
Threads - Part Two
Saturday is here at Matakishi's for the next session of 'The Cthulhu Hack'
At the end of the last session, we entered the mysterious black tent.
It lead us to a strange looking town square. There were painted houses on wooden walls, a clown car and an empty 'Punch & Judy' stall.
Whilst we are discussing out next move Punch and Judy appear and they begin fighting with each other. Then floating appear and take them away.
'That's the way to do it!'... I guess...
We find a door and go through it, weirdly it leads to a strange police station.
What follows is another strange series of events where we encounter one strangely distorted character from Punch & Judy after another, as well as strange locations.
Eventually we find a poem. After reading it, we realise that the poem is telling us to find a number of items related to the clown car.
We go about finding these items, this leads us to finding Lydia Little - Earnest's wife. we also encounter a friendly little dog.
We manage to collect the items and return to the clown car. Fit all the items in, get in the car and drive away.
We then find ourselves in a new strange place, what appears to be The Dreamlands! Surprisingly, the friendly little dog has now become a cat!
To be continued.
10th December 2019
It's a Tuesday evening in Woking and we're at 'The Sovereigns' with the board game club.
The first game of the night was 'Cockroach Poker'.
Now I mean this in a good way: But Cockroach Poker is quite possibly the most horrible game of all time.
It's a horrible game all about horribly lying and bluffing.
At the end of one game a player said to me. "Can we please now play a game where we don't all hate each other!".
That sums Cockroach Poker pretty nicely.
What's in a game?
Cockroach Poker consists of nothing more or less than a deck of 64 cards. There are 8 types of card (All based on types of 'horrible' creature.) and 8 copies of each type.
Because my blog demands a bullet-point list, i thought I'd list what's on the cards.
How's it play?
Setup: Deal out the entire deck to all players. Players must keep their hand of cards secret.
Cockroach Poker is a game about trying to guess whether the other players are speaking the truth or lying through their teeth
Their are 2 ways the game can end.
The game will immediately end when any player has put the 4th card of a single type into their playing are.
Or when any player must play a card to another player, but has no more cards in their hand.
In both cases, when this occurs, that player is the loser and all other players are winners!
Cockroach Poker is a clever little bluffing game. Telling the truth is equally bad for players as lying, so there's no 'easy' get-out by telling the truth.
Having a card pushed towards and trying to guess whether your 'friend' is lying or not can be a stress. Bu when a player chooses to pass the card, it doesn't get them out of hot water. It just changes the source of the stress, now players are hoping that their opponents are can't see through their statement.
I've also seen players counting the number of cards that have already been played before making a choice. But it doesn't matter because the whole deck has been dealt out to players!
Not only is the game negative and horrible, so is the end. The game only plays to the first loser and everybody else wins! No one wants to be the sole loser!
So in summing up: Cockroach Poker is a horrible, horrible game and everyone should play it.
7th December 2019
Threads - Part One
So it's a Saturday and we're at Matakishi's for some tabletop goodness.
Tonight we are playing in the next of Matakishi's Cthulhu Hack scenarios, promisingly (Or not promisingly in reality.) title 'Threads'.
It had been a while since an event had drawn the interest of the little group of investigators that we are.
We were approached by an individual wanting us to investigate the disappearance of a nine year old boy from a birthday party. They believed this had something to do with the clown that they had hired.
This led to an unusual string of events.
Even more children (And some adults.) had gone missing.
We encountered strangely feral children on bicycles that turned out to be some sort of stunted dwarf.
A weird clown that ran away from us with a unnatural gait.
Bizarre and mesmerising flyers.
Finally, webs, lots and lots of webs, everywhere.
During our investigation many of our leads pointed towards a single location.
A newly opened restaurant.
Eventually, things came to ahead and during the hours of darkness, we broke into the restaurant.
What we found withing is not be discussed here, but we did manage to find a rescue Ernest Little, one of the adults that had gone missing.
Earnest's wife, Lydia was still missing.
Further investigation led us to a black tent on the local heath.
We went to investigate. With us with had Earnest, looking for Lydia.
Also with us was Casper Jasper an expert of spiders we had encountered.
We entered the tent and found ourselves somewhere strange.
To be continued.
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,
26th November 2019
Tuesday gaming night at 'The Sovereigns' is here.
The first game of the evening was 'Nine Tile Panic'.
Nine Tile Panic is a game that comes in a little box that delivers a lot of stress!
This is a game all about building a city but not just building a city. It's a game about building a city in a strict time limit!
Thinking about it, maybe we should get real city planners to play this game? You won't find any unoccupied roadworks in Nine Tile panic let me tell you.
What's in a game?
'Nine Tile Panic' has few components:
How's it play?
Before playing, give each player a set of tiles.
Nine Tile Panic is played over a series of rounds. Each round is scored before play proceeds to the following round.
A round goes like this:
Play continues until the score limit has been reached. For a 5 player game this is 25 points.
Final scores are tallied, highest score wins.
Nine Tile Panic is a small, quick to learn and quick to play game. A game can be 20 more than 20 minutes.
The game is supposed to be fun, but it should be called 'Nine Tile Stress!'. Why? Because there will always be that one player who's going to finish their city too quickly just to watch the other players suffer! That's why. Always!
You'll be swearing under your breath as any strategy you've concocted will fly out of the window and you'll just be trying to make any city you can!
And seriously, that's what makes Nine Tile Panic a good game and fun too.
If you have friends who like real time games, you should play this with them.
And if you have friends who hate real time games you should definitely play this with them!
24th November 2019
Sunday at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking continues.
The next game was 'Codenames'.
I have it on good authority that spies, above all other things, really like having codenames.
So it's a good thing that the game 'Codenames' is all about spies.
Actually, it's a team based card game about words, but I digress...
Whats in a game?
How's it play?
Codenames requires a bit of setup.
When describing Codenames I've not really explained the dilemma and challenge facing the spymaster players.
The example I used had 'cat', 'pigeon' & 'ant' as all being blue. But in reality, it's more likely that not all of them would be the same colour, 'pigeon' might be red. Now the blue spymaster could simply say, "Animal, two.". But then they run the risk that the team might select 'pigeon' instead of the other choices and if they select the wrong word first, it stops their turn straightaway!
So the spymaster has to select clues that don't draw their teammates to the wrong answer. This can be downright tricky.
Now the spymaster could play it safe and select, "Meow, one." for 'cat' and use 1 word clues. The problem with playing it safe though, is that it probably won't win you the game unless you're already ahead. So doing 2 or 3 word clues can be a good way of getting ahead.
The same principle applies to the other team members. When the spymaster gives you a clue for 3 words, managing to find all of them grants the team a good advantage. But getting wrong can prove a bad thing.
It's a good implementation of a 'risk/reward' mechanic. A successful risk pays off and a unsuccessful risk penalises.
There's only one small drawback to Codenames and that is that it basically needs at least 4 players to play and ideally even numbers of players too.
The game goes up to 8 players, but I can't see a reason why team size should be limited to 4 (Other than it takes a longer to come to a consensus with bigger teams!).
Codenames is easy enough to learn to be a 'crossover' game and has a high replay value. It's probably a bit too long for a filler game, but makes an excellent party game. Particularly when with larger groups and/or family members.