Shades Of Boardgaming

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One last look backwards: Week 16.11 - Using a Black Box to go to West Of Africa and coming back to the Isle Of Skye!

Peter Dringautzki
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My Blog - Shades Of Boardgaming
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From gallery of MeeplePeat

Hello friend of board gaming!

Nice you tuned in once again to this little show that is called my blog. As noted last week the gaming this week has been slow going as well. Actually seeing Easter ahead already, seems to be all but not gaming. Still lets see. In addition to the things below which I will keep to board gaming I note that I am struck deeply what happened on Tuesday in Brussels. Especially as it could have been everywhere else too. May those died rest in piece and the survivors be stronger than before. We never am allowed to let this fear take the upper hand in any circumstances. So please keep playing games to raise your spirit. With that I turn to something shiny...

Jewel Of The Week

Actually I was stunned with awe when I heard it. Why? I am a sucker for Mafia themed games and when I heard about this Canadian fellow Eric M. Lang plus the publisher being CMON Limited that already brought us Blood Rage now going into "Codename: Suitcase" aka the The Godfather: Corleone's Empire. I already loved Blood Rage for what it is, the mechanics it uses. I assume that will be the standard that this will be measured against. Still form the notes of the description I am sold:

"In short, the game is a streamlined, confrontational worker placement game filled with murder and intrigue. The game also features drive-by shootings in which enemy tokens are removed from the board and placed face-down in the river. The don of that family member must play cards to fish their guys out of the river and return them to duty on the New York battlefield. At the end of the game, though, cash is all that matters, and whoever has the most money wins."

In addition on the Facebook page some more art has been revealed that fits my idea of such a game all to well. (Follow Me To FB) I will be interested if it will kick La Cosa Nostra from my mafia throne and be the new don in my realm. Time will tell! And sorry Victorian Masterminds you aren't number one anticipated game anymore, there was an offer I can't refuse, but I still love you

Board Game: The Godfather: Corleone's Empire

Played This Week

Board Game: Black Box

Well I was drawn into this little two player game as I actually did not know Black Box and thus I was noted introduced to it.

In A Nutshell One player sets up a riddle by placing four atoms or planets into an 8 x 8 square. Now the second player tries to locate the exact position of these atoms by sending in rays of light. As all these atoms have hulls they modify the ray and the other player needs to note where the ray will exit or if it gets reflected/absorbed. You continue until the player solves the riddle and afterwards switch roles.

My Session I started to put up the riddle and did not want to make it to difficult. So I just dropped them onto my sheet and aligning three in a row. The first ray set just went trough in a straight line. Lucky. That cut of the field and one after another it was solved. Now my turn. I had pretty bad luck. All my first shots where absorbed and it was weird, should I already have had all positions. Then my fifth got lucky and went trough after being bend from its path. That made some things clearer. Next one. Reflected! Huh? Made no sense and I shot two more which one being reflected too. Ok, that gave of the position and with the know reflections the rest could be located. Solved!

First Thoughts It reminded me of the old Mastermind games, or any other code combination games known to you, but more interesting especially as it involved some "gravity" aspects. I had my fun puzzling and thought of it one or two times that week. Actually would love to do it again, maybe more complex and I have seen a Black Box Plus variant as well. Another one from 1990 I now know

Quick & Dirty
Puzzle/Combination game with mathematical touch.
Pretty basic, but hey it is from 1990!
Can be used in a physics class for sure.
- Its kind of a game master thing, only one player plays.
goo Actually it was not bad, I just took the color stones I saw. Might be tricky or even a - if you need to use all of them.

From gallery of MeeplePeat

The marbles of Black Box. Yes, they look this way even in colored mode

Board Game: West of Africa

Finally! West of Africa was on the table! I quickly explained the rules and doing this the first time noted what to do better next time, especially after the first round was not executed well by some players. Note to self due a better demo round

In A Nutshell We are traders in the canary islands that want to have the most influence and estates which is reflected in victory points. Each player uses action cards to move workers or our ship, grow or sell goods and buy estates. The game ends once all available estates have been build or a player reached 25 points, when we do play one last round. The player having the most prestige in the end wins.

A Bit More Detail Each player starts with the same set of action cards move ship, move worker(s), grow goods, sell goods, one card of each island plus a special card doing nothing. All cards host a number on them too. They range from 0 to 8 and the card doing nothing has a -4. Why are these needed? Well the sum decides when you will take your turn. Lowest total goes first. As growing spaces & estates are limited this might be critical. The move cards work alone, all others need an island card with them to work. In addition the estates require you to be in good standing with the islands mayor. You select 1 to 5 cards each round. If you select a fifth one you need to pay 4 gold immediately. After actions have been selected the sum of the cards you have taken is calculated. Lowest score goes first. If you used the special -4 card this wanders of to the player to your left. Afterwards the actions are resolved and each turn you will grow goods, ship them to more valued ports, sell them and build estates. Each estate you build will net you 3 points immediately and use one of the available estates. These are limited by round and if you go last maybe this rounds supply has already been depleted. At the end of the turn you check majorities on the island. Each worker and ship nets 2 influence and each good another 1. Most influence wins the mayor respect and nets you a victory point. Also the two richest players get a victory point. Grown goods are put into the islands storage. Estates per round are restocked. End conditions are checked and another round is played. If at any time 25 points have been reached or all estates are build the game only plays one more round. Most prestige aka victory points wins.

Board Game: West of Africa

Turn order track with the yellow "submarine" in the back.

My Session Ok, my first play and totally exited. Actually I thought letting the others fight for the middle islands and get some goods on the lower islands to ship them over to the big ones later and sell for a big profit on the other end of the "world". Actually I was not the only one having this idea and sadly did not win the turn to be first. So I could not grow as much as I wanted. From there it went even worse. I spread my goods to get some majorities and noted that these where only little points in terms of the estates that where build. Seemed I missed that run onto the cool middle islands too. Well you always learn. So I just tried to get a bit of money and to catch up, but I wasn't seeing how I could hinder the top two players. Once thing I felt was that the game felt pretty fast, the victory points for the mayors, gold plus estates just flew in. You start to think: "Damn, how will I catch up?" But after I build myself I noted that I needed to start at zero again. So there is a bit of time available, as you need to get back into cash. So the circle continues in which you grow goods, sell them and by estates. You just need to be better in it than your opponents. In the end I did quite well, with three of us closing in all around the same except that white player. He wiped the islands with us. It felt like I missed the kick off and was always a step behind from there. But it was very exiting and now that I know how it works, have lots ideas how to do better! Never Surrender!

First Thoughts The game is simple in action selection, but has a depth mixed into it which you realize once you play it. The constraints and reading your opponents minds as you auction your turn order in terms of actions is something that shines here. The more you do, the later you will do it. If someone has grown their goods already, or 5 out of 6 estates have been build, you need to see what is left and deal with it. So there is a constant balance of what you want to do vs. if you able to do it. Or you plan with running a big turn and maybe spend even some money to run five cards and do another fast turn next round. That is pretty neat. I actually like the idea to manipulate the majorities with the goods and the ability to ship them around. So going last is not always to bad if you did not want to grow or build anything and just prepare for a good next turn. Also a note that it might be better to keep some money just to have the tie breaker, get a VP or on the islands and grab a mayor in case of a tie. Still I have the impression the middle islands are the most powerful, as you can grow goods AND build estates on them. Actually something you should fight for and what we or better I missed. But I missed a catch up mechanic. Once you get behind it, it is pretty hard to catch up, especially if you hinder the leader you might not do as many actions as you like. But that might due to the lack of experience with the game. I expect you get better, the more you play it and playing with four feels good. I would love to see a fight with five player as it is much more crowded on all resources. On the other hand I can't see it with two or three. With two it felt more like a race game in my rules learning demo as you could not hinder the other player at all. I do have some ideas in mind for my next plays and these plays will tell how good the game really gets for me. What I have seen so far did impressed me and showed why it won the Hippo Dice 2015 contest. That being said! Lots of ideas in my head! Need to play more of this econimic/majority game to get these out of there!

Quick & Dirty
Simple mechanics but lots of depth and constrains.
Cool action & turn order selection.
Beautiful artwork, love the gold track integration.
- The action cards could be done more intuitive.
- Actually no catch up mechanic.
goo Only critical with 5 players otherwise you can remove the trouble some.

Board Game: West of Africa

All money has been spend.

Board Game: West of Africa

Three are family! Well white man can't jump but win the game

Board Game: Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King

Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King Time! Once again this hit the table as we wanted something not to long. And well you do not ask me twice to play this game! So on we went again and this time our kingdom needed A. Lots Of Roads B. Majority on Whiskey C. Biggest loch/waters D. Ships & Lighthouse in each water. Hmmmm Whiskey, that is always good. So I started being second player and I was lucky I got lots of barrels into my kingdom. Seemed my distilleries went nuts with me having seven income next turn and growing up to 11 in the end! Still I noted I did an error again, or at least something I never wanted to do again. Running away the other in points as the money in the end from the catch up mechanism is a huge boost. I was lucky to get at least one three tile water, netting me 6 points each scoring. Still loosing three points each time. Also had only one water with a ship PLUS a lighthouse made me loosing points to my opponents. In the last round I started again and as always that round you hear the ticking of the brains and counting where you can score the most points without letting your opponent or the leader get any. I just love it. But what should I say... the long whiskey trails prevailed in the end! Woho! Another time I made this little isle mine. MINE! Still love this game and hope it will be recognized by this years (Kenner)Spiel des Jahres. It has truly what it takes to be there.

From gallery of MeeplePeat

Another castle on the Isle Of Skye!

From gallery of MeeplePeat

Roads & Whisky won the day. It seemed to be some pretty good whiskey!

Now to something completely different! Other than gaming it was time for me to have a go to celebrate the Irish traditions and removal of the "snakes" from Ireland. Yes, we had a blast and the next day off

From gallery of MeeplePeat

Happy St. Patricks Day!

That concludes this weeks sessions and actually I am still happy as I finally had a game in from West Of Africa, found a nice (old) thinking game and played one of my favourite games! As always comments notes, questions please leave them below, I always take my time to answer all of them

From gallery of MeeplePeat

Happy Easter!

Take care have a great Easter and may the games be with you!

2. BerlinCon - 16.-17.07.2016 - Save the date!!!

Get more Meeplepeat:
BGG - Blog: Shades Of Boardgaming
BGG - Games List 2016: Peats Lookout 2016 - Games on the horizon!
BGG - Games List 2015: Peats Games To Look For Until Essen 2015
BGG - Peats Nürnberg 2016 Experience: Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4 - Fun Stuff
BGG - Peats Essen 2015 Madness: Pre-Post - Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5 - Day 6 - Lootpic

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