Tuesday, August 28, 2007

21st August- Space Dealer/Ark

I know, I'm late with this post, but in my defence I did take delivery of a new computer last week and I've been playing with all the shiny new bits!!!! Anyway on to the games, Space Dealer, this is a game by Tobias Stapelfeldt and published by Eggert-Spiele. I think it was released at last year's Essen. I must admit I was looking forward to playing this game, if only to see how the simultaneous gameplay worked. It looks fantastic with all the coloured bits and cubes on the table.

Space Dealer layout

The egg timers can't be that accurate though and this could be a factor when the time runs out as you can finish an action if it is started before the cut off....seconds could count. Each player starts at their own planet with a generator and a mine, then you race to manufacture and deliver goods to the other players planets. You can do research to upgrade your planet and equipment bringing other cards into play. The only catch is that with every action you take you turn over one of your 2 timers and that action is not completed until the timer has run through (1 minute).

A players home planet

As I said all actions by all players are taken at the same time, to be honest I hadn't got a clue what I was doing for the first 10 minutes or so. We were playing with the time track on the supplied CD which gives an audio countdown. So quite a hectic game, I didn't look to see what other players were doing so I suppose that if you wanted to cheat it would be quite easy, anyway the game lasts 30 minutes and that whizzs by so quickly.

Another look at the layout

I must admit that after we had played I don't think I would rush to play again....all to hectic for me :)

Final Scores
Garry 25, Steve 24, Richard 24, Colin 22

I think the rules explanation for Space Dealer took about twice as long as the game but even so we had enough time left for a game of Ark.

Enjoying a game of Ark

This is a Doris and Frank card game about putting animals into the Ark before the flood. Of course only certain animals can co-habit with others and that's where it gets difficult. You can't have carnivores in with herbivores, or herbivores in with provisions (cos they eat them) and so on. Also each animal has a weight and you can't put animals down if they capsize the ark. As the game progresses it gets quite difficult to place your cards, but for each card you place you get a dobber on the appropriate type of card, and at the end of the game, after the fifth rain card, the player with the most dobbers on a type scores points as do the second and so on.

Close up of the card layout

I must admit I quite like this game, even though it makes my head hurt!

Final Scores
Garry 32, Richard 29, Colin 24, Steve 23

Thursday, August 16, 2007

14th August - Vikings/Coloretto

Full complement this week, and my choice.....wooo hooo! Anyway I chose Vikings a game by Michael Keisling published by Hans Im Gluck/Rio Grande. Steve and Richard had played a few times but Garry and myself hadn't played at all. I think the overall impression is that we all like it. The board consists of a wheel surrounded by 12 places for tiles and viking dobbers, spaces to put the stacks of tiles and 4 spaces for special tiles. There are 76 tiles, 14 ships and 62 island parts, islands have a left, right and centre. Each player starts with a left piece which must be placed on their display when they purchase their first tile. So basically in your turn you purchase one of the tiles plus man available around the spinner and pay the appropriate price, and place them in your personal display. You do this 3 times, then there is a scoring, a small scoring after rounds 1, 3 and 5, this is just money, and a large scoring after rounds 2, 4 and 6. This gets you VPs and money, then there is a final scoring.

Overall board layout

I won't go into the rules in depth here, there are several excellent reviews on BGG. I seemed to go a bundle on goldsmiths for some reason and had loads of money but not many VPs. I think the score reflected who had played before, with Richard and Steve vying for first spot with Garry and myself in 3rd and 4th. I couldn't get enough fishermen on the board and so suffered a minus penalty for undersupplying my men.

Each players display

We didn't play with the advanced variant where you bid for the tiles/men on the spinner, but we did play with the special tiles which you get if you buy the most expensive pair from the spinner. As I say I got some tiles to enhance my goldsmiths, so lots of money, whereas Richard and Steve got enhanced settlement tiles which gave them big bonuses in the final scoring.

Vikings in full swing

Final Scores
Steve 50, Richard 41, Garry 37, Colin 42

Vikings doesn't take ages to play so we had a bit of time left to fit in a game of Coloretto. This is a card game by Michael Schacht in which you are basically collecting sets of different coloured cards. On the table there are 4 rows which can have a max. of 3 cards each. In your turn you can either draw and place a card in one of the rows or pick up a row.

Dos Rios near the start

Where you place a card can be critical you obviously want to deny good combinations of cards for your opponents while trying to get good cards for yourself. There are a couple of special cards, a +2 card, which is just 2 points, and a wild card which counts as any colour.
This is a great little filler and we had a good game.

Final Scores
Garry 103, Steve 90, Colin 85, Richard 83

Monday, August 13, 2007

August 7th - Dos Rios

Garry couldn't make it this week, Steve had to change his choice to a game more suitable to 3 players, and he chose Dos Rios. Dos Rios is designed by Franz-Benno Delonge and was published by Mayfair/Kosmos in 2004. I hadn't played before but Richard and Steve both had. Basically the board consists of a series of hexes of differing terrains through which two rivers run. The rivers can be dammed to change their course which will affect which hexes are scored. You start the game by placing 3 of your men on the board the other 3 start in the town which is at one end of the board.

Dos Rios near the start

In your turn you have six action points which you use to move your men onto or around the board. There is a deck of action tiles of which 4 are turned over, these have the terrain types on them or one of the rivers or bandits. The active player can after they have used their action points activate the left most tile or not. If it is activated then the terrain that is on the tile that passes through the river is scored, all players that have a man on the appropriate terrain get 100 dollars.

A nice funnel of dams

Each player has 4 houses and 1 estate, these cost 5 hundred to build a house and 1,000 to build an estate the first person to build all their buildings is the winner. You can win by building 3 houses and the estate if they are all on a riverbank. The bandits can be devastating, killing the first 3 men counting from the source of the river.

Steve's just built his estate

I liked this game, it gives you lots of options and with only 6 action points you always want to do more than you actually can.

Final Scores
Colin - 4 houses, 1 estate

Friday, August 03, 2007

July 31st - El Grande

Tonight was Steve's choice and he had chosen Buccaneer, a game by Stefan Dorra, and Marquis. This plan went out the window when Jo arrived unexpectedly with Richard, making us 5. On to plan B, we switched to the next game on the BGG top 10 list we hadn't played which was El Grande. We last played this in early January 2006, so we were a bit rusty on the rules plus we were going to play the expansion that added America, France and the Mediterranean.

El Grande starting positions

We took a bit of time to go through the rules so we didn't start playing until well past 8.00pm. Now I like EG, it's a game that gives you lots of decisions and quite a bit of interaction with the other players, the edition we were playing was the german so Steve had to give all a quick translation each round as we turned over the action cards. As most of you probably know each player has a set of cards numbered 1 to 13, each player, starting with the start player plays a card, the following player cannot play the same number. When everyone has played, the player who played the highest number chooses an action card from the action card stacks, the other players then do the same, starting with the next highest and so on. The number of men on the card you played lets you put that number from your province on to your court, ready for immediate use. The number of men printed on the action card lets you put that number of men on the board, you can perform the action before or after this has taken place.

Going through the rules

The game is played over 9 rounds, after the 3rd, 6th and 9th there is a scoring round. I won't go into the rules in depth here (see BGG for more details of that), but the Castle is a nice addition to the scoring round enabling you change ownership of a province before it is scored. The expansion adds not only France, America and the Mediterranean, but a ship that enables you to get to those distant shores. The benefits of getting there include obtaining gold and goods which can score you more points.

Garry and Richard trying to understand the rules!!

Once you get going the game plays pretty smoothly, the action cards let you do all manner of things, re-positioning not only your own men but other players as well, moving the King, getting a card you've already played back into your hand, scoring certain provinces and a lot more.

The king guards a province full of caballaros, while Valencia looks pretty crowded as well

We didn't finish until well after 11pm so the game probably took best part of 3 hours. In the end it was a pretty close finish between Jo and Richard, with Richard just edging it.

Final Scores
Richard 111, Jo 106, Colin 96, Steve 76, Garry 69