Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Einfach Genial

Originally uploaded by coljen.
After City & Guilds Jo produced Einfach Genial, a Renier Knizia game that is purely abstract. Not even a pretence of a theme here and it doesn't suffer at all from that. Here is a description from BGG:
The game is played on a hex board. 120 equally sized pieces, each consisting of two joined hexes come with the game. There are symbols on each hex that makes up the piece – some pieces have two identical symbols, some have two different symbols (not unlike dominoes). The pieces go into a cloth bag so that they get drawn randomly. Each player receives six pieces to start the game, which are placed onto a rack and visible to them alone.

The goal of the game is, through clever placement, to obtain points in the different symbol colours. Points are claimed by placing a piece such that the symbols on it lie next to already-placed pieces with the same symbol. Pieces are placed onto any open spaces. So, for example, if a player places a piece with a purple circle on it such that it sits next to an unbroken line of four other purple circles already on the board, then the player scores four purple points. A newly placed symbol can lie next to at most five individual rows of symbols.

As we were 4 we played the team version. Jo/Garry versus Steve/Colin. I quite liked this one, the board and pieces are very nice and play flows smoothly with lots of strategy to consider. Our game was very close in the end, only 1 point in it. Steve and I lagged behind in purple for quite a while, but it opened up and became our best colour. We finally got stuffed on blue, neither of us had any blue tiles or places to put them.

Final Scores
Garry/Jo 21 Colin/Steve 20

Tuesday 23rd August - City & Guilds/Einfach Genial

Originally uploaded by coljen.
Had quite a troublesome couple of weeks personally. Got taken ill on the train to work and admitted to hospital in Croydon. Stayed in for 3 days while they tried to sort out the problem. Turns out I have high blood pressure and high cholestrol! Plus they think I may have arythmia. A heart rythmn problem. So I am off work for 3 weeks wired up to a box to monitor my heart. The wife said I could still play games as long I didn't get stressed stressed out. So I had the pleasure of Steve, Garry and Jo to play City and Guilds. From the Geek:
As the streets and blocks of a medieval city are built up with the various guilds' buildings, players will want to speculate in supporting the more successful guilds, but also to invest in their buildings themselves. A clever tile-laying game, City and Guilds present players with devious options and decisions.
I think Steve had played once before, but the rest of us hadn't played at all. Steve ran through the rules, a bit of confustion on scoring the blocks and guilds but we coped. Of course we failed to notice the rule about scoring guild chains at the end of the game, so we decided to ignore that one. It would have definitely influenced the positioning of our buildings and markets, but hey, we'll know next time. The game flowed quite nicely and gave you several interesting decisions to make. I think we were all a bit conservative in placing 2 men on a building, fearing that we would run out. This proved not to be the case, in fact all but Garry I think had men left resulting in minus points. Another point to bear in mind for the next play.

Final Scores
Jo 34, Steve 40, Garry 40, Colin 48

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Tuesday 9th August - Settlers of the Stone Age

Originally uploaded by coljen.
This weeks game was Settlers of the Stone Age. With four intrepid explorers forging settlements across the Neolithic world. Richard, Steve, Neil and myself have all played this game before and we decided than rather to use the designated set-up in the rules we would choose our own start positions as with regular Settlers. Now I am the first to admit that generally I do not do well in Settlers games, in the last one I didn’t get a single resource for the first 5/6 turns. This does hamper your progress just a tad. Anyway in this one I got a good start, building 2 new villages very early on, and also a good supply of resources. Richard had grabbed the nearest place to get out of Africa for his first two villages and was off and running too. Neil and Steve had a slower start, in fact Neil didn’t build his first village until well into the game.
Richard was first across the bridge into Asia? and I soon followed him. Neil had grabbed a few development tokens and Africa was turning into desert fast. Richard also forged south crossing over into Australia. Steve diligently records all the dice rolls whenever we play Settlers and craftily did it on the paper I wrote the results down on so I guess I will record them here. Nine and five equalled both six and eight and luckily I was on both. In the end we couldn’t stop Richard from getting the win, we did slow him down a bit but his victory was just a matter of time. This is one of the Settlers variants that I really like, pity we don’t play it more often.

Final Scores
Richard 10, Colin 7, Neil 5, Steve 5

Dice Rolls (number of times rolled)
2(2) 3(5) 4(3) 5(10) 6(9) 7(7) 8(10) 9(10) 10(3) 11(1) 12(1)

Sunday, August 07, 2005

August 6th Gaming Day at Garrys - China

Originally uploaded by coljen.
As Powergrid took nearly 3 and half hours, we took a break here for some refreshment. Garry had provided some quiches and salad we all chipped in with various goodies which where all quickly consumed. We had agreed that the loser would choose the next game. So Steve asked for suggestions, we all fancies giving China a runout so that is what he chose. China is an updated version of Web of Power and features a few changes: two different boards, a slightly different card distribution, four face-up cards to choose from, no "half time" scoring, and optional fortification pieces which double cloister scoring. I liked Web of Power so was looking forward to giving this a run out.
The fortress tiles are interesting although you can win without actually playing it, as Steve proved. As with WoP you have to get points not only from houses in the provinces but with emissaries also to have a realistic chance of winning. It all seemedfairly close, I think Garry was the only one who hadn’t played WoP before. In the end the emissary scores gave Steve a win.

Final Scores
Steve 45, Colin 43, Garry 39, Jo 36

OK then, Jo’s choice and it was a favourite of everybody I think, Geschenkt! Very simple in concept but an enjoyable and fairly light card game. Do you really want that high card or do you pay to pass? A chances to stuff your opponents too, as Garry found out in hand 4. He was leading fairly comfortably up till then. Steve had a good win here.

Final Scores
Steve 185, Colin 202, Jo 216, Garry 264

As Jo had to be going fairly soon we chose our final game of Tongiaki. I had only played this once before, but both Garry and Steve had played it a few times. A starting tile - Tonga - is placed in the middle of the board, with six beaches on each of the six sides of the tile. Each beach has three “moorings” at it, each which can hold one ship token. Players take fifteen boats of their color, and then take turns placing two boats, one at a time, on the start tile, leaving at least one open mooring at each beach.
Thirty-two tiles are stacked in a face down pile near the board, one player starting the game as play proceeds clockwise around the table. Players place boats on the beaches and as they fill up they set sail and a new tile is turned over. Once the last sea or land tile is exposed the game ends and points are scored for every tile you have a presence on. Again Steve and Garry seemed to be vying for the win. A lot of boats sink in the 3 player version as you can never have four colours on a beach and if you turn up a 4 sea, glug, glug there gone. Of course this can be a good tactic to get rid of your opponents boats. Anyway I hung in to split the pair for a second place with Steve getting the win.

Final Scores
Steve 29, Colin 24, Garry 20

All in all a good day’s gaming, thanks to Garry for hosting.

Essen 2005
I didn’t think I was going to make this year again. Went in 2003 with Richard but couldn’t make it last year. Anyway Richard mentioned last tuesday that the fee for the eurotunnel had dropped dramatically for a two day return. Hmm, that made me think, let me just run that past the financial director (the wife) and see what happens. The outcome is that whoooo hoooo I am going to Essen this year with Richard in his TVR. Eurotunnel Saturday morning early, really early to arrive at Essen by about 9am. Dump stuff in the hotel back by the 10am opening time. This time we can relax and have an evening meal and a beer (or two) and travel back the following afternoon. We did it in a day in 2003 which was fun but really tiring. So look out Essen here we come! Just got to get some money to buy games now. Oh well.

August 6th Gaming Day at Garrys - Powergrid

Originally uploaded by coljen.
OK Jo, what’s it to be? The game he chose is a game I like quite a lot and always goes down well with everyone, Powergrid. Here is a brief description from BGG.
The latest cooperative publishing effort from 2F and Rio Grande Games, removes the crayon aspect from network building in the original edition while retaining the fluctuating commodities market like McMulti and an auction round intensity reminiscent of Princes of Florence. The object of the game is to supply the most cities with power when someone's network gains a predetermined size. In this new edition, players mark pre-existing routes between cities for connection, and then vie against other players to purchase the power plants that you use to supply the power. However, as plants are purchased, newer more efficient plants become available so you're effectively allowing others to access to superior equipment merely by purchasing at all. Additionally, players must acquire the raw materials, like coal, oil, garbage, or uranium, to power said plants (except for the highly valuable 'renewable energy' wind/solar plants), making it a constant struggle to upgrade your plants for maximum efficiency while still retaining enough wealth to quickly expand your network to get the cheapest routes.
So we set up the board and pieces and chose the regions to play in. Some interesting decisions before we start, playing the Germany map Jo chose the region with Essen in it....... had to do it. Garry said Iv’e been there picked another one. Anyway I started slowly being pretty strapped for cash early on. Steve was boxed in by Garry a bit but it didn’t seem to cramp his style too much. This game was played pretty tight by everyone with careful thought going into every move. I was building only one station to everybodies two for a couple of turns and thought I was lagging well behind. I did manage to get a couple of wind power stations to ease my financial worries for a bit though.
Garry had cornered the market in uranium power stations and by this time it seemed that Steve was well ahead. As the game entered the end phase Jo reckoned the only way to stop Steve was to buy all wood and oil to prevent him from supplying his cities.
This strategy seemed to work well and Steve was crippled in the end and we all sneaked past him and suprisingly I pinched a narrow victory.

Final Scores
Colin 16, Garry 15 (most money), Jo 15, Steve 14

August 6th Gaming Day at Garrys - Familienbande

Originally uploaded by coljen.
As Garry’s wife was out for the day, he invited us round for a day of gaming. We were going to start around 10 and Jo was coming from Burgess Hill to join us again. I caught the train from Billingshurst and arrived at Horsham around 9.45, Steve picked me up and we arrived at Garry’s soon after. As Jo hadn’t arrived yet Steve produced Familienbande for an opener. Garry and I hadn’t played this one before, but it’s light and quick, ideal for a filler. Here is a short description.
Familienbande is the third game in Winning Moves’ new “Compact Game” series, and is by Leo Colovini. It’s a fast and funny board game that deals with the dynastic succession of royal families. Brides are chosen, heirs are born. Unmistakable traits such as large noses, red hair or cauliflower ears are depicted on the humourously-illustrated cards; these traits must be used to score points and be combined in engagements and births. Incest? Shame on you for thinking of such a possibility! The game is for 2-4 players 8 and up.
Jo arrived in the middle of the game and we told him to have a think what we could play next. Both Steve and I had brought a selection of games and of course Garry has a load too. We quickly finished Familienbande and suprisingly I got the win.

Final Scores
Garry 35, Colin 61, Steve 55

6 Day Race

Originally uploaded by coljen.
Here is a shot of 6 Day Race. As you can see all the riders are fairly well bunched up. Just waiting for someone to make a break and sprint for the finish line!

Tuesday 2nd August - Mississippi Queen/6 Day Race

Originally uploaded by coljen.
We were playing at Steve’s this week and it was Richard’s choice of game. He chose Mississippi Queen to start and if we had enough time, 6 Day Race. We had a guest appearance of Jo this week, Jo has played a few times with us before, mainly at weekend sessions but it was good to see him again. I have played Mississippi Queen once before. This is a brief description from BGG.

In this light, fun family game, players race their paddleboats down the Mississippi, picking up passengers along the way. But onboard coal supplies are limited, so each ship's acceleration and maneuvers must be carefully planned. Perhaps most interestingly, the twists and turns of the river are unknown at the start of the game, and are only revealed as ships progress downstream.

You have to pick up two passengers during your progress down the river and you must be at speed one to dock at the landing stage to pick up. Garry made a good start and made a beeline for the first landing stage. The rest of us went to the left of the island to go the next one. Fortunately for us the next tile laid went to the left, Garry was on the wrong side of the river so got a bit left behind. He did get his passenger though. The pushing rule can be cruel, as you end up in completely the wrong place. Ideal for nasty players to stuff you!! Jo made the decision to go full steam ahead and got a large lead right on the leading edge of the front tile, he rolled the dice for the next tile, rolled straight on, turned it over and there was a dirty great island slap bang in front of him, doh!! Needless to say this allowed the rest of us to catch up somewhat.
Richard had gauged his coal consumption perfectly and had picked up his two passengers and was making for the end of the river. I had slowed to pick up passengers and Garry had overtaken me. Jo had used all his coal and had to go round in a circle to even get his first passenger. As the boats pass down the river all the tiles are removed when everyone has passed through them. I was the last one off of the previous tile which it got removed, this completely stuffed Jo who had run out of river and promptly sank. So a close and fun game.

Final Scores
Richard 1st, Garry 2nd, Colin 3rd, Steve 4th, Jo sunk!

6 Day Race
Next up was 6 Day Race, this is a bicycle racing game from 1988. I was the only one who hadn’t played this one before. This from BGG.

A bicycle race game. When it is your turn to play, a player can play any card in his hand and move his rider forward the corresponding number of spaces. If he lands on a unoccupied space, his move ends there. If he lands on a space occupied by one other rider, he doubles his move. If he lands on a space occupied by two other riders, he triples his move. And so on.

Nice mechanism, I didn’t really know what I was doing so I decided to stay well with the group and not play any fancy tactics. There is a space about half way round where you can ditch your remaining cards and pick up a new hand of cards. Is this a good move I asked? Yes, said Jo, no said Garry, it depends on what your cards are said Richard. Thanks chaps. I ditched and picked up some nice 4s and 5s. Garry won the first sprint, and I managed to win the second sprint and play a five which landed me on a space with two cyclists so I bounced 10. I just went for it then and the rest couldn’t catch me. Appropriately my piece was yellow so I already had the yellow jersey.

Final Scores
Colin 15, Garry 14, Steve 7, Richard 3, Jo 3

As a final note, Jo reckons he is the ideal guest, he comes last and he brings cakes. Nice one Jo!!