Shaken, not stirred

Occasional ramblings on playing and designing boardgames (by the designer of Extra! Extra!)
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Shaken #8. The inevitable outcome

Andrew Bond
United Kingdom
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Over the past week I have played three games whose outcomes were predictable (if not actually known) shortly after the start of the games. The games were Shipyard, Doctor Who: The Card Game, and Discworld: Ankh-Morpork.


I love Shipyard. It is one of my favourite games, because it appeals to the constructor in me (I'm an engineer by profession). You build up your ships in varying sizes, add bits and passengers to them, and then sail your ship along a canal for bonus points. What's not to like?

Jenny and I were playing this game with our eldest son, Tom (an engineer like me), on one of his getting-rarer trips home (Tom is 24). He hadn't played before, so I warned him about the big swing in points provided by the end game contracts. And, of course, he then proceeded to wipe the floor with his mother and me by scoring 40 points alone off one contract to win the game easily. Despite me having a hard fought and reasonable lead over him at the end of regular play.

Now the imbalance in these contracts is already well known. There are threads here in BGG discussing what to do about it. But we played without any corrections, since this was Tom's first game of Shipyard. And it was the player with the 32 points for 5 ships who won - although a different contract actually gave him the higher VP income.

There was nothing I could do about this. My contracts were capped at 24 pts and I duly scored them and lost.

A shame that Shipyard has this flaw.


Next up was Doctor Who: The Card Game at Epsom Games Club. Another game that I wanted to love, because I am a big Dr Who fan. But Mr Martin Wallace has got this one wrong. Unless you draw location cards early in the game (I didn't), then you have nothing to defend. So you attack instead. Exterminate! Exterminate!

But attacking won't win the game. Along come Amy Pond or Rory Bremner and **pop** your flotilla of daleks has been defeated. And the attacker doesn't get to leave his Dalek token behind even if he wins the battle, unlike defenders. If you draw location cards, however, you get time points and can then buy more cards to help you defend those locations.

The game is unbalanced to ensure the Doctor wins and so I knew my fate within a few minutes of the start.

A shame that Doctor Who: The Card Game has this flaw.


And finally, we played Discworld: Ankh-Morpork at EGC. This is fun, if somewhat chaotic. You only have one action to take, unless it allows you to chain together further actions. So it is a good game for newbies because they have limited options. It suffers from the game end conditions being different and hidden for all players. And one such condition, the Commander Vimes card, is too easy to play in a four player game. I am thinking of banning it from our future games. Will tells me this card is not a winner in two player games, and I can believe that. But with four players, Commander Vimes wins and I duly did.

A shame that Discworld: Ankh-Morpork has this flaw.
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