Monday, October 30, 2006

Richards's Post Essen Games Day - 28th October

Richard had invited us over to his place for a Post Essen Games Day. Attending were Richard!, Steve, Jo, myself and Tony who was coming along around teatime. Steve picked me up from Billingshurst and we arrived at Richard’s house in Haywards Heath just after 10. Richard, Jo and Steve were keen to give Through the Ages a go, so that hit the table.

Through The Ages

This game by CzechBoardGames was advertised for Essen as Civ-lite or Civilisation the card game. Richard started to set-up while Jo, who had read the rules, started to give us the run down, we decided to play the basic game just to give us a feel for the mechanics and play, actualy winning the game wasn’t so important. Going through the rules took about an hour. The game doesn’t have a board as such just a place to lay out cards and keep track of various points. I won’t go into the rules in any depth here, it would take too long, suffice to say once you have played a couple of turns it easily falls into place, certain aspects of the game weren’t relevant in the basic game, mainly military activity and territories. The components for the game aren’t what I would call absolutely of the highest quality, the cards are a bit on the thin side and the small glass beads that you use are a bit fiddly for large fingers.

The basic game only plays through Age I and that took us about 150 minutes. I know that I said that winning wasn’t a priority, but you know how us gamers are and I think winning the game did figure in some of the moves :) (basically that means I didn’t win). The game ends when you have gone through the Age I deck of cards and that came upon quite quickly at the end. Meaning I hadn’t noticed I wouldn’t get another turn. I could have improved my score if I had noticed.....really!! but winning wasn’t the priority, remember errr hem!! Anyway I quite liked it, although we couldn’t play it on a Tuesday evening it would take too long, have to wait for another day long session, and the advanced version is obviously going to take much longer I would think.

Final Scores
Steve 61, Richard 45, Jo 44, Colin 35

Blue Moon City

Jo had purchased Blue Moon City, another Renier Knizia game, and was keen to give it a go. It had been a getting a good buzz at Essen and on the Geek. Richard put some pizzas on and Jo gave a run down on the rules. After fuelling up on pepperoni pizza and sausage rolls we started the game. Basically you are trying to rebuild the devestated Blue Moon City by moving your dobber around the til that make up the board and attempt to build on one by playing cards from your hand. Each tile has different requirements to build it and provides various rewards when it is completed, dragon scales, crystals and extra cards basically. Each other completed tile that is orthoganal to the tile that is being scored provides extra benefits (more crystals, dragon scales or cards). If there is a dragon on the tile when you build you get a dragon scale straight away. As you collect crystals you can get to the central tile and make an offer to rebuild the obelisk, this involves paying crystals to the bank and you put a marker on said obelisk. As more markers are put on the cost to build increases, when a player has 4 markers on it they win the game. The cards are values 1-3 in different colours, each colour has a different special ability, enabling you to move the dragons around the board, or using cards of a different colour to pay for a build, they are all pretty well depicted on the cards and you get used to quite quickly.

The components for the game are very good, nice thick tiles and the cards have very appealing artwork on them. You are reliant to a certain extent on what cards you draw, but you can discard 1 or 2 cards at the end of your turn so you can then draw 4 (you draw 2 anyway). I like the game, it’s easy to understand and sets up quickly, good for non-gamers and has a bit of strategy in it and plays in about 60 minutes. Steve complained about the cards he kept drawing until he realised that 2 brown cards could be used as a 3 of any colour, which obviously made his cards a lot better. I got 2 offers on the obelisk pretty quickly and then concentrated on getting a presence on a few tiles to benefit when they were completed. I managed to get enough crystals for 2 more offers but couldn’t get the card that enabled you to make 2 offers in one turn, so I had to wait a turn and hope that nobody else had enough crystals and the right card to make 2 offers, nobody did so I got my fourth offer on the obelisk and won.

Final Scores
Colin 4 offers

Richard was very pleased with a game he got from Toys R Us and that was next on the table, albeit only briefly.

Loopin’ Loiue
I won’t go into too much detail because this game is obviously in every hardcore gamers collection. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture, the excitement was too much. Steve rated this game very highly and tried to win as quickly as possible to get it off the table, and he did.


Null & Nichtig
We weren’t sure what time Tony was going to join us so we had a couple of hands of Null & Nichtig. We had played this trick-taking cardgame last tuesday and found it good fun. Lots of opportunity for stuffing someone’s score, also for getting your own stuffed too. Richard had obviously been thinking about it because he went from coming last on tuesday to winning.

Final Scores after 2 hands
Richard 67, Colin 48, Steve 35, Jo 18

On The Underground

Jo had decided to call it a day and Tony finally arrived, we gave him the choice of the next game and he chose the JKLM game On the Underground. Yet another game about building/laying track/tunnels/canals yada, yada, yada. I must admit my hands are getting quite calloused with all the track laying and tunnel/canal building, and some of them just don’t appeal that much to me. This variant has you digging tunnels for the London Underground and moving the passenger around to various destinations as designated by a deck of cards. The map depicts the stations with 1 or multiple connections between them, you place your track (looked very like roads from Settlers to me) and then move the passenger. As an aside I don’t think the underground companies are going to make much money with 1 passenger....anyway. There are multiple ways to score points, joining track to national railway lines, connecting to a terminus, joining 2 tourist spots etc.

After you have built your track the passenger moves and for each line he moves over the owner gets 1 point. There are two types of station, gold and silver, he will always move to a gold station if he can, then onto a silver station. If there are only silver stations he just moves to one of them. I found it OK, not one I would choose or wish to own a copy of, but will play it if someone else chooses it.

Final Scores
Richard 40, Steve 40, Tony 39, Colin 33


Lastly on the table was a game that had got rave reviews for the bits and the very pleasing look, but was it a good game? I hadn’t managed to get a copy of the english rules, but had managed to piece together the gameplay from several very good reviews and some input into Google Translator. Basically it is a very simple game, on your turn you play a tile and then build one of your buildings. Each player has 20 huts, 3 temples and 2 towers. You can either add a tile adjacent to the tiles in play, or cause a volcanic eruption, which means laying a tile on a higher level. You must place the volcano on the tile on another volcano with the lava flow going in a different direction, this means you can’t just place your tile directly over just one other tile. You can destroy buildings, but cannot wipe out a complete settlement i.e. there must be at least one building of a settlement left in play.
When you place a building you can either, place a hut on level 1, build a temple on an existing settlement of at least 3 hex size that doesn’t already contain a temple, build a tower on an existing settlement at level 3 or higher that doesn’t already contain a tower. There is one other move and that is expand your settlement by choosing a terrain type and putting huts on all the hexes of that terrain type adjacent to a settlement, 1 hut on a level 1 hex, 2 huts on a level 2 etc, and that’s it really. Placing the tiles is tricky, trying to protect your settlements by not giving any opportunities for your opponents to erupt all over them and gaining height to build those towers.

The winning conditions are when any player has built all buildings of two types, or if the tiles have run out, the player who has built the most temples, if tied, the most towers and if still tied the most huts. Tony had expanded one settlement and placed lots of huts in it, leaving him with only 1 hut left. This gave him a dilemma as he couldn’t get a 3 hex settlement to place his temples. It looked as if the rule where if you cannot build in your turn you are eliminated from the game may trigger. He placed the hut anyway. We were down to 1 or 2 tiles and Richard was looking to place his last tower, we realised that if he did that he would have built all of two types of building, oh, realises Tony I did that last turn. So in the end from the possibility of being eliminated Tony claimed the win. I liked the game a lot, simple but with quite a depth to it, and it does look great!!

Final Scores
Tony winner (built 2 types of bulding)

It was about 9.45 now and we decided to call it a day. A good day of playing the Essen releases, and we still have loads to go!!!


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