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Meepleonboard

When I am not putting notes on paper I like to play. Here are my scribblings.

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15th May 2017: Fields Of Green & Hostage Negotiator

meepleonboard
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Well, that was quite a busy week - I was only at home for two days, and next week is looking similarly busy, but I still managed to lock in a few plays.

Friday



We had a little time free on Friday afternoon, and KT suggested that we try something new, so I dug out my review copy of Fields of Green as it looked like something enjoyable but with a crisp and clear set of rules. I enjoyed this very much as I built up my farm, and it reminded me in some way of Glen More and also a little bit of Quadropolis in that players need to think carefully about where to place their cards in order to maximise their scoring. From two cards our farms grew over the four rounds, mine in a slightly obsessive grid, KT's sprawled out much more effectively. By the end of the game, playing the introductory version, KT had run away the winner by 47-36. She thought it a little bland, but I enjoyed it more. I doubt it would find its way to the core of our collection, but it works very nicely and the two-player variant has clearly been well thought out. It's certainly worth a try if you like games like Quadropolis or maybe even Via Nebula as it offers a pleasant and self-contained challenge within an hour or so, and I think I'll be trying one of the solo variants of this next week.

Sunday



That single play of Fields Of Green was the extent of my week's gaming with KT, so come Sunday I determined to get some solo plays in and managed two runs at Hostage Negotiator. Despite having defeated Arkayne Massua last week I thought I would try to beat him once again but he was having none of it. I put up a decent fight in the first game but the second one was a total disaster thanks to some very uncooperative dice, so it was two losses to see out the week.

Happy gaming!
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Mon May 15, 2017 7:05 am
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8th May 2017: Codenames, A Feast For Odin & Hostage Negotiator

meepleonboard
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Monday


A brief lull in the middle of Monday afternoon saw us whip out Codenames for a couple of quick cooperative plays. KT went first as the spymaster, and went for her usual technique of giving highly tenuously connected words in an attempt to knock out as many words as possible in short order. She was hindered by our words having only very slight associations, but at least the Assassin was never in doubt. We swapped over for the second game, and I angled for two and three word clues, but again our words were only very feebly connected. Whether via KT's iron fist or my velvet glove we ended up winning both times, though scoring only 2 each time.


Later in the evening I set up A Feast for Odin for our first full-length game, but it had been so long since we played it that we both felt totally at sea with all the options available. I felt that I was beginning to get a grip on the game by the fifth round, as both KT and I made the most of our plundering actions, but neither of us did any exploring of new lands, and I still admire this game rather than love it, and it never gives me that visceral thrill that Agricola gives me. We'll definitely play this again, but are on the fence about whether we need to keep it when we have both Agricola and Glass Road in the collection. I can see that the touchy-feely open nature of Odin makes for a somewhat pleasant wafty experience, but I never feel anything like a hair's breadth away from disaster. KT won handsomely, 93 to 56, after over two and a half hours of play..!

Wednesday


Wednesday afternoon saw another attempt to deal with that pesky Arkayne Massua in a quick game of Hostage Negotiator. Apart from my very first play, during which I was happily trotting along with incorrect rules, I have yet to defeat him, although I have come close, and I still do not think that I have understood quite how to go about beating this game an a semi-regular basis. I am exploring more options in each game, though, and gave up a couple of Minor Demands this time around to help things along, but some devastating dice rolls meant that I found myself pretty much back at square one just when I wanted to go in and release some hostages. In the end I went down to yet another defeat, although at least at this rate I am going to get some serious value for money out of this game!

Sunday


KT and I didn't quite get a chance to play later in the week and then I had to head up to London for work at the weekend, but I managed to squeeze in a couple more games of Hostage Negotiator on my own. I am enjoying this game more and more and was determined to deal with Arkayne this time, come hell or high water. My first game was going fine, as per usual, until Arkayne took some more hostages and I just ran out of time to get them out - another defeat. I set up again, determined to do better this time, but things did not start well as the Terror Cards included Your Time Is Running Out and two copies of I'm Growing Impatient. Clearly I was going to be really up against it. I decided to throw caution to the winds and accede to some of Massua's demands, and in the final round I released fugitives and granted him a helicopter, which allowed me to acquire some powerful cards for free and roll more dice. It all came down to a single roll as I directed "All units get in there, NOW" - it came up with two successes, enabling me to free the final four hostages and eliminate Massua. Success at last, and having a great time with this game!

New to the collection

I received my review copies of Planetarium and Fields of Green this week and am looking forward to trying them both, particularly as Planetarium has a solo option and a theme that is right up my street. Fields Of Green seems as though it might fill the gap that The Rivals for Catan has left, and both games are by designers whose work I have not encountered before - exciting!

My favourite acquisition of the week was this utterly bargaintastic beauty, though:



She will replace my trusty old Toyota, who wheezed her way to the knacker's yard on Friday after nine years and 110,000 miles of service.
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Mon May 8, 2017 7:05 am
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1st May 2017: Tigris & Euphrates, Hostage Negotiator & Race For The Galaxy

meepleonboard
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Monday



I was still out in France at the beginning of last week, sorthing out what was once my father's house but which now belongs jointly to me and my brother. On the Monday evening, after a couple of disappointments with some games that didn't quite hit the mark, Tim suggested that I put Tigris & Euphrates on the table, as he'd seen the box but we had not played it. KT only rarely plays this with me, but I cannot jettison it from my collection as I think of it as one of the very greatest games in the database...but how would it have held up after so many years of gathering dust and with all those shiny new games having taken away its table time?

It took nearly no time to explain the basic choices to my brother and then we decided to dive right in, and after only two moves the beauties of this game began to reveal themselves once more, like an oil painting having layers of grime slowly removed to display its true vibrant colours. Tim was up to speed quickly on the weakest-score-wins thing, and I referred to the two types of conflict as wars and rebellions, rather than external and internal, and we went about building our civilisations (though in Tigris you are only ever passing through a civilisation rather than owning it) and racking up those precious points. Monuments arose out of the sands of the desert, and one particularly early and brutal war saw almost half of the board disappear, leaving only gaps and monuments behind. Tim's eyes lit up, and I told him that I see Tigris as a top down set of time lapse photos of four thousand years ago. Anyway, the battle was keen and tight, Tim racking up the points for his monuments while I would sneak in and usurp his leaders at key points. This way and that ran the influence, and all four catastrophe tiles were used to eke out some kind of small advantage. At the end of an hour and a half's play of the full game we were exhausted but thrilled, and Tim had run out the victor by 22 points to 17. Two more things to mention - this worked just fine with two players, thank you very much, and it never failed to feel thematic. At the end we surveyed our wasted desert kingdoms, hauled ourselves back to the present...and Tim immediately ordered a copy for himself online.

Even after so long away from the table Tigris remains my favourite game. The simplest of decisions with the direst of repercussions, layers upon layers of clever play waiting to be discovered. I just need to try to blow the sand - sorry - dust off this masterpiece more often. Joyous!

Tuesday


After no fewer than six meetings on the Tuesday to tidy up various legal and administrative matters in a foreign language we were both pretty tired by the time we made it back to the house in the evening, so I set up Hostage Negotiator and talked Tim through a play while he made the bulk of the decisions. My nemesis Arkayne Massua was back once more, but we had him in a fairly relaxed mood at the start of the game, but we were scuppered by some dodgy dice rolling, especially some 4s that we could not alter, and then Massua went off and took some more captives. It went down to the wire but we just did not have enough time to resolve the situation in a satisfactory manner - my brother enjoyed this one as well, though.

Sunday


Back home, KT and I rounded off the week with a couple of games of Race for the Galaxy on Sunday evening, after a busy few days that had kept us away from the gaming table more than I would have liked. It is always good to come back to this evergreen classic, and even after over two hundred face to face plays we were both still playing cards that we had never added to our tableaux (you can tell I've been in France!) before. The first game was a 6-cost development fest for KT, who managed to get three of them into her empire, while I plied my Novelty goods for all they were worth. The second game was one of those slow-burners where no 6-cost developments hit the table, and I was scuppered early on by playing the Pilgrimage World in an attempt to keep up with KT. Unfortunately, when it comes to the Consume action, you are obliged to use all your powers, and that meant that I had to keep discarding my only goods for nothing until I had some other powers on board. KT played me perfectly, anticipating what I was going to choose and deliberately pushing me to Consume, keeping me on the ropes. And they say this game isn't interactive! She won both games, 45-32 in the first and 33-17 in the second.

This was a week to remind me - again - that I have some truly great games in my collection, so I should worry far, far less about clearing out the merely good and the average, also that board games are balm for daily stresses and strains.

Happy gaming!
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Mon May 1, 2017 9:34 am
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24th April 2017: Mystic Vale, Hostage Negotiator, Jump Drive, Pandemic & Revolver

meepleonboard
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Tuesday


On Tuesday KT wandered into my office, took a look at the boxes on my shelf and said "Can we play Mystic Vale today?". I said yes, and after a short pause she said "Can we play it now?". I needed no further invitation, so I set it up with the Mystic Vale: Vale of Magic expansion and, as it transpired, we played our way through a best of three series. The first game was one of those high-scoring encounters - I managed to build up my VP chips but KT was amassing scoring cards into her deck. I had 18 chips to her 5, but she outscored me 27 to 9 when it came to the in-deck cards, and she romped away to a 49-30 victory. We reset for a second game, but this was as slow a game as the previous one had been breakneck, even though it did not last very long at all. I managed to build my pile of chips little by little and managed to close out the game before KT really had her engine up and running to win 25-21. Tied at 1-1 in the series we went to the final game, and this was close all the way through, although it felt that I had the edge as the Vale cards were synergising nicely with my deck, while KT's simply wouldn't match up. She also committed a couple of small errors in the late game which allowed my to win by a narrow margin 33-29 and close out the series 2-1


While KT was at work I set myself up with another solo play of Hostage Negotiator which I am enjoying in a way I didn't experience quite as much with Friday. Arkayne Massua was back - yet again - to torment me, and he had clearly had a word with my dice as I failed to come close to anything useful in my first couple of turns, which put me on the back foot straight away. We ended up with eight hostages in the pool and I managed to rescue four of them and eliminate Massua in the final round, but I just couldn't get rid of his second in command. It was yet another defeat, but I am having a whole lot of fun with this game - it's quick, has some quirky decisions, and is entertaining to boot.


To finish off the evening we settled down for a best-of-three play of Jump Drive, definitely one of our hot games of the moment and picking up plays on a regular basis as it continues to fill that short but meaty card game slot. All three of our games were pretty tight so maybe that is something that will become more pronounced as we get to dig into the deck more. In play one I set off into an early lead but KT dug in her heels and built up her engine to catch me towards the end and win 70-60. Our second game was a much slower affair and I found myself desperately short of cards pretty much all the way through despite having put down some valuable cards early on - again KT won, this time 52-32. In our final game I was a able to get going much earlier in the game and had a couple of lucky draws that allowed me to build up my military and gather in the bonus points, and I went on to take the victory 78-68, despite losing the series 2-1.

Wednesday


We only had time for the one game on Wednesday, and KT was keen to play Mystic Vale again so that is what we went for. If you are not acquainted with the game, there are three advancement decks and the most basic one is set up to contain only twelve cards, so there will be a limited and different supply for every game. As we are also playing with the expansion the pool is even more diluted, so to end up with the full set of three of the same cards in the deck is very unlikely. Anyway, we ended up with the three Grassland cards and I managed to buy all three of them and it meant that I was able to get out a whole pile of cards from the start, and by the end of the game I was in a position to play pretty much my entire 20-card deck on each turn. KT was doomed from early on, and it did feel as if I had pretty much broken the game, but it was the perfect storm for me and I romped home to win 61-27, posting our highest ever score in the process, and I'm pretty sure I left a couple of points on the table once or twice while sorting out all my abilities. This certainly opened my eyes to the cards with the green tree symbols, and I'll be eyeing them up more closely from here on.

KT was keen to do more gaming, but I had to get packed and up to London for a trip to France, promising to find loads of table time when I got back.

Thursday


My brother and I arrived at what was our father's house in France after a fourteen hour journey and found, to our glee, not only that it was still standing and in decent condition, but also that the electricity and water were still up and running, even if the phone line had been cut off, hence no wifi. My brother had brought down his copy of Pandemic which he had played once but (so he suspected) incorrectly, so we set it up on the first evening after getting a decent log fire going. Tim was the Scientist and I was the Contingency Planner (I think it's called) and we got going on Introductory level. This didn't start well, as we drew an epidemic immediately and the red disease was therefore causing us problems straight away and putting us on the back foot on the outbreak tracker. It was a really close game, but we managed to use the event cards and our two abilities to sneak the win with only a single card left in the deck and the outbreak tracker pretty much maxed out. Tim said he'd definitely been playing this wrongly, making it much too easy. Still a great game.

Sunday


I was on my own for a couple of days but when Tim flew back in on Sunday evening I picked him up at the airport and then we got in three plays of Revolver, one of my favourite games. One of the things I particularly like about this game is that it's easy to set up and teach, without too much in the way of tricky text on the cards. In the first game Tim was the Colty Gang and won by getting to the 3:15 Express, while we swapped sides for the second game and I won this time as the Gang. I stayed as the the gang for the third game and this time Tim won on the final turn by drawing the card from his deck that allowed him to kill my final two outlaws. Ouch...

Happy gaming!
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Sat Apr 29, 2017 12:06 pm
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Voulez-vous jouer avec moi ce soir?

meepleonboard
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My brother and I are heading out to France tomorrow morning to begin the process of winding up our father's estate. Any readers of this blog with good memories might recall that we played my father's copy of Qwirkle while we were out there last year, and it made some tough times easier to bear.

My brother is gradually getting (= getting lured) into cardboard gaming. I have given him copies of Carcassonne, Catan and Splendor and a few other things besides. He's an intelligent chap and very capable, I think, of getting involved in the deeper waters of the hobby. It looks like we'll be abroad together for about a week or so, with not much in the way of entertainment bar his Xbox and my games. As with so many Geeks my thoughts have long since turned to what I should be taking out for us to play.

I instinctively thought about new games I could buy for us to play, and only after I had calmed down and slowly removed several items from my shopping cart did I look across my collection and realise quite how many games there were that I would love to play with him, games I want to explore much more and that are not quite the right fit for me and KT.

So it is a small but select collection that I am going to take down. Revolver is coming because I love it, because it is simple enough to teach in five minutes, and because I think we could really dig into it in a deep way in a short space of time. KT plays this with me and admires it, but when she is not in a stabby-fighty mood this stays on the shelf, so I need to take the opportunity to get into this and enjoy it.

I am also taking down Summoner Wars: Master Set. KT and I played a single abortive game of this, were singularly unimpressed, and it has since gone back onto the shelf. With my brother, though, I think this might have a better chance as we are both more likely to respond to its theme and nature more positively. It could be, of course, that it is simply not right for me, but time will tell and our time away provides an ideal chance to get in some matches and try out the various factions.

Next in the box are two starter decks for Final Fantasy Trading Card Game, which I have for review. We both have history with Final Fantasy, so this could be an interesting play, and it looks simple enough to pick up quite quickly. In a similar vein I have my decks for 1066, Tears To Many Mothers - I'm playtesting the solo variant for this prior to the Kickstarter release, and I'll try to get in a couple of solo games in France, but I wouldn't mind a head to head shot as well. After all, we're in the right part of the world for some Anglo-French shenanigans!

Lastly for us is Tigris & Euphrates. KT is not a huge fan of this as she doesn't like my penchant for combat-inspired chaos, so it rarely gets played, and I know it is not necessarily at its best with only two players, but I simply cannot get shot of this game, and I need to try my very best to get my brother interested in this. He's a bright guy, so I think he might just find this masterpiece as fascinating as I do.

In my personal bag I am taking Hostage Negotiator, my current fast solo play of choice and one I am really enjoying. Being able to set this up and play it in about twenty minutes and in a small space means that it is likely to rack up a decent number of breakfast/coffee plays on our jaunt.

Add to all this that our father's copy of Qwirkle is still in his house and that my brother is bringing down his copy of Pandemic and we should have quite the game collection going on. We might well need it after all the sorting, meeting, signing and various other things we shall have to do, but it's good to know that we have some decent stuff to play.

Happy gaming!
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Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:10 pm
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17th April 2017: Hostage Negotiator & Race For The Galaxy

meepleonboard
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Tuesday


A brief lunchtime game of Hostage Negotiator on Tuesday saw me pitted against Arkayne Massua once more. Things got off to a tricky start as I lost a couple of hostages early on, but I was able to calm him down and reduce his threat level to the minimum which allowed around three captives to get away. Unfortunately Massua then started to lose his cool and the threat level became critical, and that just tipped the balance of the game, meaning that while I once more saved more than half the hostages, Massua managed to flee. I was left with the feeling that he will be back!

Wednesday


Having played an awful lot of Jump Drive recently it was time to get its big brother back to the table, so we settled down on Wednesday evening for a best-of-three session of Race for the Galaxy. Would our opinions of it have changed after the time spent with its younger sibling? Would we (whisper it!) now find the game surplus to requirements? I needn't have worried, for both inhabit their own slots in our collection, and playing Jump Drive has only served to reinforce that Race For The Galaxy is very much more the widescreen version compared to the new release. If anything, I enjoyed Race even more coming back to it. As usual we played with the Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts thrown into the mix, and the first round was one of those where our engines were up and running in fairly short order - I made good use of the Diversified Economy, while KT built hp her military (which she likes to do), and she won 46-37. The second round was one of those really slow plays where nothing really comes together and you just have to eke out as many points as you can. KT's ekeing (eking?) was better than mine and she won 20-16 to take the series. We played out the third round anyway, and here I was able to get my military force up and running fairly early and go rummaging in the deck for some decent planets to invade, sorry, settle. I had a couple of good draws, but had been totally out of luck in the previous game meaning that it just about balanced out, and ran out to win 40-30, even if KT had taken the series 2-1. Still an awesome game.

For the rest of the week I ran into a busy patch, and the only day KT and I got to spend together was Saturday when we decided to run away to Bath, so that was it for the week.

Happy gaming!
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Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:24 am
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10th April 2017: Hostage Negotiator, Imperial Settlers, The Colonists & Deus

meepleonboard
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Monday


For a bit of Monday lunchtime entertainment I set up Hostage Negotiator for its third play. I'd quite enjoyed this last week and find it more involving and thematic than Friday while its short play time means it is likely to get to the table often. Anyhow, my nemesis Arkayne Massua was back with his grievances so I went in to try to negotiate him out of his dark place. Things started off in a decent fashion and I even had a hostage make a successful escape attempt, but Arkayne was getting more and more frustrated so I had to give in to one of his demands in order to get a couple more hostages freed. By the end of the game I had freed the majority of the hostages but I just couldn't get Arkayne to surrender and he held out until the end of the game and I lost.

Tuesday


On Tuesday evening KT's Japanese lined up against my spectacularly unsuccessful Barbarians for another round of Imperial Settlers, at her request. We threw the new Atlantean Commons into the main deck but had to strike and restart about twenty minutes into our game as we had misunderstood how the tokens work - other factions can use them as resources but not as ability boosters. Anyway, after the reset we settled into to our game, using the Peaceful Variant which is KT's preferred way to play. It does change the dynamics a little more than I would like, but it is still an interesting game. The first three rounds passed by very slowly as we put our tableaux together, but the usual finish was inevitable as KT stretched her legs in rounds four and five to romp away with the victory, 71-45, giving her a 7-0 win record against me. She does tend to analyse every move to the max, while I think my outlook is much more short-term, but it is still a humbling statistic.

Saturday


We played another introductory game of The Colonists on Saturday afternoon as we continue to gather our thoughts before I write my review. At least in its single-era version this plays quite quickly and neatly in two, but it just hasn't grabbed us in any kind of visceral way. Our turns tend to play out in a get some of this -> trade it for some of that -> use it to build something kind of way, and you just gather a few points here and a few points here as the game sails by. I don't think that the problem with the game is that it is too forgiving either - A Feast for Odin has loads of available options, but it somehow always feels exciting and different with buckets of stuff to do. The problem we have experienced thus far with The Colonists is that you do more or less the same thing in every turn, just in a gradually bigger and better way, and for a game that can last for hours that's not enough to keep it involving, and it just needs much, much more drama. Anyway, for us it hasn't worked so far, and KT even said "we've both been trying to avoid using the word, but it's just boring". Oh dear. I won 55-46, but didn't really feel that I was stretched at all, and that's another bad sign.


We played a first game of Deus later in the evening, also a review copy (I received the expansion for good measure). I thought that this would be right up KT's street, as she seems to love tableau builders, and I was right, but I had underestimated just how much thinking needs to be done in this. We both found the first part of the game to be a tough experience of trying to get the initial gears to move, but when our empires were up and running it was possible to generate significant amounts of resources, and I must admit that I did enjoy the way that the cards interact with the map - at times I even imagined that I had tricked KT into playing a light war game with me! We got a couple of small rules wrong, and maybe some of the offering powers are a bit strong, but KT really enjoyed this, as did I, so it is shaping up ok after a single play, and we'd like to get it to the table again this coming week. KT won 49-35.

I forgot to mention last week that my review of Jump Drive is now on the site - here.

Happy gaming!
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Mon Apr 10, 2017 1:08 am
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3rd April 2017: Hostage Negotiator, Unlock!, Pyramid Arcade, The Colonists & Imperial Settlers

meepleonboard
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There were some new arrivals chez meepleonboard this week - Hostage Negotiator, Imperial Settlers: Atlanteans and a review copy of Pyramid Arcade. Did they get played..?

Monday


I've been after a short solo play for a while now, especially since I decided that Friday was not quite what I was looking for. I have had my eye on Hostage Negotiator for a couple of months and bought a copy on Monday afternoon with a little early birthday money, playing it in the evening when I got back to my London bolthole. I enjoyed my first play of this very much - once you work out which cards are which it is fairly simple to set up and get going, and I enjoyed the way that the theme plays out - I made sure that I read the text on the conversation cards out loud as I went along to get into the spirit of the thing. Anyway, in my first experience as a hostage negotiator I went up against Arkayne Massua, who seemed very grumpy indeed, and managed to complete my assignment when he surrendered on the final turn, although not without a few casualties.

Tuesday


So would Hostage Negotiator stand up to the "breakfast test"? Clearly Arkayne had had a very bad night's sleep because he was back first thing in the morning and even grumpier than before. I had gone to bed on Monday thinking that the game was quite easy, but this second experience was slightly different, and I couldn't make any significant headway even though I was trying to gain conversation points as much as possible. I lost more than half the casualties by mid-game and that was the end of that. Still, I'm enjoying this and looking forward to exploring it more.


I popped by to see a fellow reviewer on the way home on Tuesday evening, and we had agreed to play something, so I was treated to the experience of Unlock! as we played out The Formula. I've been very suspicious of games that have limited play in the box, even more so of games that require apps, but I have to say that I enjoyed this and think I finally understand where the designers and publishers are coming from. We made a decent start to the scenario, but ground to a halt because we had inadvertently missed an important clue. In the end it didn't really matter anyway as we went over the time limit, but it was a fun experience, and I could see some occasions when it might go down well with our friends. So, unexpectedly, one to consider.

Wednesday


The review game I had gone to pick up was Pyramid Arcade. Originally I had passed on reviewing this as the instructions seemed to imply that only a few of the 22 (I think) games were for one or two players, my usual way of playing. It was only later that I realised that the rule book shows maximum player counts, meaning that nearly all of them were things I could get played. First things first, this is a games compendium as much as it is a game, and you need to read through the rule book to get even the smallest idea of what this box is capable of doing. It also looks fantastic! I began slowly, playing a game of Color Wheel to ease myself into the experience. I had thought that this would be a so-so way to pass ten minutes, but I found myself really involved in it only half way through the game and enjoyed it very much, despite going slightly over the allowed number of moves (29 to 27).

Thursday


Two more games of Color Wheel to get more used to the game on Wednesday - first time through was a pretty poor score of 34, but I managed better on my second run and scored a win, although only just, with a score of 27.

Friday


KT and I tried a couple more games from this collection on Friday evening, playing three games of Verticality and two of Pharaoh. The first of these is a light-as-a-feather dexterity game, which is ok but pretty ineffectual - KT won all three, but we would both play pretty much any other dexterity game given the choice. Pharaoh is a light abstract with the use of dice to determine movement. Again, this is ok, but there are much better abstracts out there - we split the wins in our games.


Feeling that we needed to get our teeth into something meatier I took the opportunity to get the behemoth that is The Colonists to the table, but only the easy introductory version, as I felt it would be madness to dive into the full game (and it was also late at night). I had done some reading up but we more or less learned as we played along, and I have to admit that I quite enjoyed it. Even with two players there is a fair bit of downtime as you wait for your opponent to take their three moves and actions, so I already think it would be horrible with four even if just about bearable with three, and I think I would be very interested to try this one again. After the five years of our gently gently introductory game KT ran out the winner 44-31, and a tentative thumbs up for this one.

Saturday


After its successful reintroduction to the table a couple of weeks ago KT was very keen to play Imperial Settlers again, especially as I had bought Imperial Settlers: Atlanteans earlier in the week. The instructions for putting the decks together had me totally confused, but KT went with the Atlanteans while I took the Barbarians, and we shuffled the Atlantean commons into the deck, which I think is correct. At the start of the game KT was behind while my Barbarians set off into a decent lead, but the Atlantean technologies were waiting to unleash their power. Even though it took until round four for KT's tableau to cone together, I still felt that I was in the game at that point, but in round five it was all too much, and as we were playing the Peaceful Variant there was not much razing I could do. KT won 88-66, and I was intrigued not just by the way the different factions play out, but also by the different way the same faction needs to be played against various opponents. Interesting game, certainly much more to discover here, and maybe it's time to go hunting for some Aztecs.

Happy gaming!
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Mon Apr 3, 2017 10:14 am
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Keep good company - and a new arrival gets played

meepleonboard
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I love my board games. That's why I'm here after all, but the thing I really enjoy about board games is the quality time it allows me to spend with quality people. I am really enjoying the gaming I do with my mother (Qwirkle is her latest hot thing), and I am actively seeking to add games to my collection that she can and will play with me in the times we are together and at a loose end.

My late father, on the other hand, was a gameless vacuum. A military man at heart and occasionally interested in a game of chess, I imagined maybe playing Manoeuvre with him, but what curiosity he may once have had deserted him in his later years and the Qwirkle set I gave him remained unplayed, as my brother and I found out when we started sorted out his things after his death last year. We played it instead on his terrace, rebonding after his funeral and several years of distance.

If you read my wafflings semi-regularly you'll know that my main gaming group is KT, my partner, but we have managed to draw others into our orbit. Our next door neighbours, for example, are the current foster parents of our copy of Catan, and other neighbours, a whole thirty seconds further away, to whom we recommended Carcassonne, were so impressed with our gaming recommendation that they have requested a monthly board gaming night with us.

I love the mental exercise of a game, pretty much any game, but I adore the cut and thrust of mental competition or cooperation and the creation of memories. My best friend of nearly forty years now lives literally on the other side of the world and makes it back to the UK possibly once every two years or so. Where once we would play video games now we get cardboard onto the table and KT becomes part of that fun as well...and I'm not sure how worried I should be that the trash talk all seems to be aimed at me.

When I am on my own, however, I play board games much less. I surf BGG, write entries like this, maybe fire up some of my vast unplayed collection of PS2 games, but board gaming is rarely my first choice when I am on my own. This made me wonder - is the social aspect of gaming possibly more important than the game itself? Or in the tradition of the finest Geek collectors, should I instead be finding solo games that fit me personally?

I have a birthday coming up later in the week and spent a little early money on Hostage Negotiator today and then did that rarest of things - played it on the day I bought it. I have been looking for a decent short solo game to keep me occupied when I am away from home with time to kill, but Friday felt too light, The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game too unforgiving. Leaving Earth is ready for when I have time for an epic solo session (the theme is right up my street), but Hostage Negotiator has had a decent start. I won my first game and am planning to play again tomorrow.

Happy gaming!
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Tue Mar 28, 2017 7:00 am
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27th March 2017: Jump Drive, first play of Five Tribes and more Jump Drive

meepleonboard
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Another difficult week for us as far as gaming was concerned. This time it was KT's job that expanded to fill the hours available while I twiddled my thumbs, and on a couple of evenings we were just too tired to get to the table. Thanks to a certain new card game we still made it to eleven plays in total though...

Thursday


On Monday and Tuesday I was away for work, and Wednesday was a strange old day that finished far too late for us to get in any gaming, so I pretty much forced KT to the table on Thursday evening as it had been over a week since we had last played. I had wanted to play Jump Drive again, so KT set it up and we sat down for a single play. I had a couple of nicely synergised novelty goods cards in my opening hand so went ahead and played them on my first turn. This was a close game all the way through, even though KT was behind for most of it, but my five novelty goods worlds coupled with various bonuses saved the day for me, and I won 69-51 to secure my first victory. KT demanded a rematch, so we set up again and off we went. This was similar to the first game, with both of us closely matched throughout, but KT's military might and a nicely timed Explore action enabled her to stretch away to the finish line to win 79-64. At this point it became best out of three, so away we went again. For some reason in this game KT just couldn't get a set of cards to work together and struggled really, really badly to get out of the blocks. By the end of round five she only had 5 points on the board while I was stretching my legs for the finish line. Thankfully she only really got her engine up and running on the final round, but by that time I was home and dry with my Genes tableau to win 68-33. KT ruefully pointed out that she scored more points in the final round of the previous game than she scored in the whole of this one. We went to a grudge match (one for the road!) and I managed to get down two cards nice and early that gave me -3 cost on developments, enabling me to take the Develop & Settle actions together early and often. I was ahead in the early game, but by round six KT was beginning to catch up, so I was glad to get over the finish line when I did and won my third game of the evening 78-60.

Friday


Five Tribes was part of my recent shopping spree, a game I had been considering for a while. KT had noticed it on my shelves so I thought that Friday might would be a chance to take it off the unplayed pile. After a quick setup and a rules explanation (which quickly made KT's eyes glaze over) we were off, and it did not take me long to realise that I had seriously underestimated what is going on in this game. Having read the rules I had it down as a lightish game, about the same level as something like Quadropolis - not so!

Now, I know that this game has the potential to slow down due to AP, but even I was taken aback when KT took over fifteen minutes to decide whether to pay 5 gold to go first or 1 gold to go third in one particular round...when she finally decided to pay a premium and go first she had spent so much time deciding what to do and working out her options for later in her turn that she then couldn't remember what she had decided to do for her first move! I never ever rush her because to me it's all part of the time we spend together and I do not feel that I should rush people's decisions, but that's some paralysis! Anyway, we played out the game and I really enjoyed it at first in the first half hour of discovery, but as it went on I felt more and more overwhelmed by the various scoring options, and KT also misunderstood one of the actions, which made things more awkward for her and made it slightly less enjoyable...and yes, it was a rule that I had explained clearly and many times. At the end, despite her assertion that I was "streaking ahead", she won 190-187, and while neither of us was as thrilled by the game as we had expected to be we will definitely play it again and with the correct rules to discover what lies under the surface - it seems only fair to play a game with the correct rules, right?

This first play took around an hour and a half, and I know we could easily get it down to under an hour, but it is both heavier and thinkier than I had imagined. It does also look gorgeous on the table as the palm trees and camels begin to populate the board and since we've played it I have felt that slow-burning urge to play it again and explore what options it has to offer, which is usually the sign of a design I enjoy. Days of Wonder games seem to work out well in our house, and their colourful designs are always fun, and Five Tribes reminded us both that we once owned Small World and that maybe we sold it in a little too much haste. Anyway, Five Tribes is clearly a fantastic bit of gaming design, but is it a long-term keeper for us? Time will tell.



We then rounded off the evening with no fewer than six more games of Jump Drive. I've no doubt that you, dear reader, have no desire to hear the ins and outs of all those games, so let's just say that we stayed up until one in the morning playing this, and the final reckoning was 4-2 to KT - she'd happily have played more as well! KT has remarked that Jump Drive plays out differently every time (I agree) and we're beginning to dig deeper into the various routes to victory now that our plays have hit double figures - I've been really impressed by what it packs into twenty minutes of play and we're already past a dozen plays and showing no signs of stopping as this takes centre stage as our short card game of choice, just as its elder brother fills the next time slot up. My review for Jump Drive should be available next week, but so far I have found much to enjoy and it comes strongly recommended.

For the days ahead KT and I both agree that we need to work harder than we did last week to get some proper us time, which just slipped away in the past few days. There are several medium length games I would like us to get back to the table, such as Super Motherload, A Feast for Odin and Imperial Settlers, so the more time we can get to spend there the better. It's a long shot, but if we could get all of those and Five Tribes to the table this week I'd be very happy indeed. It's certainly something to aim for!

Happy gaming!
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Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:00 am
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