The Plucky Plank

A recap and my opinion of games tried at various game gatherings or conventions.
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Limon vert dans les châteaux de Bourgogne (Thanks Google Translate) - 7/28/12

Kearn Reif
United States
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To quote Jimi Hendrix “Even Castles made of sand, fall into the sea, eventually.”

This month at BLOB, I played a game I have been excited to try (The Castles of Burgandy), 2 games of slight interest to me (Ground Floor and Scripts & Scribes: the dice game) and 1 I knew nothing about (Inca Empire). I also try to start my blog with a witty scene but I am at a loss this month on what to write. So Mr. Hendrix's quote sums it up for me.

Ground Floor
My Saturday started with a 6 player game of this recently funded Kickstarter game called Ground Floor. Tom backed it and put together a play test version of the game. So I will hold off on any comments of the components. After a lengthy overview of the game, we randomly received a play mat with a starting Technology upgrade. My upgrade was the Assembly tile which lets me make a supply cube for 2 times.

So before I go to deep into the game session report, I want to explain a few basics of the game. Basically you have a staff that is represented as time and you use the time to gather information, money, goods, and employees to expand your company. Information and money are the two main currencies of the game and you need plenty of both. You get both by selling goods on the market, forecasting the future market and through expansions of your business. The game ends after 9 rounds of when a player builds their 5th floor. This is an economic game at heart.

I managed to snag an empty floor and a free T.I. early in the game. I opted to go for building my 5 floors before anyone else. I got off to a nice start but I kept myself too money shy, which hurt me because I wasn’t able to get more workers. So I started selling goods and using the Consulting area to score cash and info. Then I started build more of my remodels to shave time off certain tasks and stretch my workers time out more. Finally, I got some more employees but missed out on a few expansion floors that I wanted.

Slowly we ended up grinding the game out to the ninth round. I managed to grab my 5th floor in desperation for more prestige points at the end. I misunderstood that you needed 3 information and 3 money to equal 1 pp. I would have scored more points by not getting my 5th floor. C’est la vie.

After one play, what do I think of the game Ground Floor? First, I don’t think this is a worker placement, I think it is more of a resource management game. Very rarely was I blocked from any location or felt I was taking the next best option for me. Secondly, I will never play a 6 player game of this again. The game lasted 4 hours and I was ready to be done after 2. I realize that 5 of us never played before but it just dragged at certain points. So to be fair to the game, I want to try it again but with fewer players. If it still drags, then I can’t see me playing this again.

Playtime with rule explanation = 41/2 hours

Scripts and Scribes: the Dice Game
After the lengthy Ground Floor, a few of us wanted a game of lighter fare; Enter Scripts and Scribes. I have played Biblios many times and enjoy the game. So when I saw a dice version was due out, my interest was peaked. Would it be as fun as the card game?

So the goal is the same as the card game, collect resources and gold. The person who controls the majority of a resource, scores points and whoever has the most points in the end, wins. The auction is done differently and if you win it, you can get a good leg up on your competition. The game ends when one person’s marker is at the top of the Abbot track or if 3 player markers reach the top of 1 or more resources or if a player removes 4 of his markers from the board.

Rolling the dice and grabbing what is best for you out of the available dice is a basic turn. My goal was to be diverse and try to snag as many points from different resources. I succeeded as a fellow player realized from the last role I was going to win. He cussed and had a small tirade about his hatred of random dice rolls. I felt it was unnecessary, but some people just have to vent their frustration. Personally, I felt I played very well and made the best of my choices. I felt the game is a fun filler game just like the card version. I just don’t know if the differences justify owning the card and dice version of this game.

Playtime with rule explanation = 40 minutes
Chris-25,Mike-26 ,Kearn-41,Tom-15

Inca Empire
After the dice fest and a few slices of pizza, we were ready to tackle a new game. My options were Ninjato or Incan Empire. I own Ninjato and played it, I thought I would check out Incan Empire. I was told it is a route building game without trains. Ooooooo! <Sarcasm>. Tom wasn’t far off, since after the rule explanation roads were important to open up areas of the map. The card placement on the side board was also an interesting tactic. Some of the cards could really hamper your opponents.

The first question I had was could you block other players from accessing areas on the map. You could but the game had a card that let you build wild roads and get around being blocked. It still didn’t stop me as I constructed plenty of roads to the north. Your turn consists of building a road and then taking an action, which include build an extra road, build a garrison, city or tier. All of which get you victory points.

My strategy to close off the North was caught quickly and soon I was no longer alone. I quickly realized conquering areas was nice but I needed to build and connect to other buildings on the board. So I started heading south, connecting to garrisons and cities. Then things got nasty. My opponents played cards in my sector that only allowed me to build one road instead of two. Another nasty card made you spend two extra workers to build a city. Normally it takes 6, now with that card it was 8.

Revenge was mine because I returned the favor by destroying roads in disputed areas. Roads can be built in an area you control but can extend into areas you don’t control. So the card allowed me to wipe those roads out and destroy their connections to buildings. Muhahaha! I did notice that Tom, our teacher, was just killing us with connections. He sat back and built his roads as the rookies battled each other. By the time I noticed, there was no possible way to unseat him as number 1. The final round, we played with the variant with the hidden ship so we were not sure when the game would end. I just built roads trying desperately to score more VP.

My strategy paid off and I managed to barely grab second place by a point. For a game I knew nothing about and was not keen to play, I actually enjoyed the game. It had enough confrontation to be interesting but at the same time it wasn’t a huge brain burner. Incan Empire surprised me and I would enjoy playing it again.

Playtime with rule explanation = 2 ½ hours

The Castles of Burgundy
My last game of the night was Castles of Burgundy, a game high on my play list. The goal of the game is to use your dice to build your kingdom and after 5 rounds the player with the most points wins. You claim different hex tiles from a community board and eventually place them on your own kingdom board. Since it was our first play, we played the beginners boards. I decided I wanted the silvering so I could purchase the black tiles in the center. So by turn three, I had claimed all of my mines and finished the section.

After that a few knowledge tiles came out that worked well with items I already had on my board. The one I choose gave me 3vp for each good I sold and by the end game; I ended up selling all 6. Then I managed to get the knowledge tile that gave me 1vp for each good sold. So I figured by the time the end game came around, I would be set with plenty of end game points. So the rest of the game, I continued to gather goods, sell goods and fill in more areas of my kingdom.

It was a race between Chris and I in the end to see who built the better kingdom and scored the most points. Chris was scoring a lot with animals and finishing sectors on his map. I was sure it was going to be close and it was as Chris just edged me out by 10 points. When it comes to games of the “Euro” type, I don’t get excited to play them. I just don’t get excited to play a game where I am a farmer or a landowner. The Castles of Burgundy was fun and engaging as each turn rolled by and I would have played another game immediately afterwards.

Playtime with rule explanation = 1 ½ hours

The End
I enjoyed the variety and depth of games, even if I played fewer games this month. I was thrown by the cursing during a simple die filler game and added a new name to my list of players to avoid. Other games played were Innovation, Power Grid, Ninjato and Dominion. Thanks for reading my blog and remember they are only games so have fun.
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