Games played at Epsom Games Club 16.11.13 (Games Day #37)
Jimbo Sutherland
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HAMPTON
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18 19 of us turned up for our first Games Day at the Vestry and, other than the lighting being somewhat suspect, a good day was had by all.

AndrewB2 and I arrived just before 10:30 and found a large crowd already assembled around the bar (of course!) Gordon, Russell, JimF2, Adrian, Emily, Kevin (handing out EGC badges to everyone - nice - thanks Kev; a novel idea), Phil. And a little later "Groucho" Mark, Daniel, Andy, ?, "Crispy" Chris, Crispee and Kirsty (new first timers), Graham, JimF and just before the end of the day, Will (looking VERY smart).

[If I missed anyone, let me know - playing downstairs meant that people left without me seeing them go, so totally possible that people also arrived without me seeing them.]


 
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1. Board Game: Unhappy King Charles! [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:1504]
Russell D
United Kingdom
Ewell
Surrey
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Another game recently arrived in the post (can't think how that keeps happening) and as I remembered seeing Ashiefan Jim playing it at a games day once before I asked him if he'd like a game of it.

This is a card-driven game, a family of games I really like, but the rules to this one feel like a step up in intricacy-- there seems a lot more to get one's head around in this compared to, say, Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage. The theme is the Civil Way, and it is extremely well-realised, colourful and detailed. I decided put aside my Royalist leanings for the day and play the Parliamentarian side, which gave Jim the role of Unhappy King Charles himself.

As Jim had played several times before he kept me on the straight and narrow as regards the rules. I had tried to take on board some of the strategy hints in the Play Book and concentrated on laying out political control and trying to isolate the Royalist political influence. I dispersed my troops whenever Charlie-boy's men tried to engage me.

The fatal mistake came when Prince Rupert and a Grand Army came walking up to London. I should have run inside the city walls and made him siege me, but instead I dispersed, trying to preserve my forces. Too late I realised this left me with very few places I could recruit on the map. After a last valiant but doomed effort in the West Country, I capitulated.

Not so unhappy now, King Charles?

Result (ratings)
Russell - Parliament - lost (8/10) new
Jim - Royalist - won (9.5/10)

I loved the game, but I was inadequately prepared. I had got most of the rules but hadn't really understood they locked together, what I was supposed to be doing, and what I needed to do to stop Jim. A bit of a steep learning curve, then, so I need to play again before I forget the rules to try and improve (I say that a lot, I know). The game shows yet again how CDGs can create a wonderfully immersive historical recreation.
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2. Board Game: Iliad [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1814]
Gordon Watson
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey - United Kingdom
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Played by: Mark, Andrew 007, Andrew B2, Gordon.

My previous experience with Iliad was that it ran to about an hour if it went the full distance of 8 turns/rounds following the rules explanation. However, the previous groups I've played this with have not been die-hard gamers who could conduct such efficient 'stop-the-leader' tactics, so the game ran well over an hour and a half shake.

The idea is to win tricks, although the tricks are built up by playing various 'Trojan' themed combat cards in front of you which add to your score in various ways (multipliers, stack bonuses etc). The neat bit is that rather than add to your cards you can also use some cards to directly attack cards in your opponents 'tricks' thereby reducing their score. Other cards you lay can help you defend your cards against such attacks. When you have played all the cards you want you pass, grab the best hero left and hope you have done enough to score some points - essentially not coming last in the track.

There are some other wrinkles in the types of tricks you have to fight and varying VP cards on offer each round, and there some quite nice thematic touches.

It's an enjoyable knock-about card game with some tough choices to make.

I nearly won in the fifth round, but Andrew 007's one remaining card was exactly the right one to just nudge me off winning that round and it took another 3 rounds before I just sneaked it by winning the final round and reaching 12 points first.

Gordon - 12(1st) [7.5]
Andrew* - 12 (2nd) [7.5]
Mark* - 9 [7.5]
Andrew* '007' - 4 [7]

The sweet spot using the standard rules (which we played) is probably 3-player. If you have 4 players it's probably best to play with two teams of 2, however it helps if you have played the standard rules first.

Would probably give this an additional rating point when played with 3 and it running somewhat shorter.
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3. Board Game: Lost Cities: The Board Game [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:1033]
Jimbo Sutherland
United Kingdom
HAMPTON
MIDDLESEX
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with none of the Essen games I wanted to play (excluding Russian Railroads but no one to teach), time to pull out a game that Emily seemed interested in - the board game version of Lost Cities.

I had played once before to a luke warm reception from others although I enjoyed it.

A recap of the rules and we were away - three rounds of Lost Cities but with some board stuff to do as well. To be honest, it worked well as a game but like Ticket to Ride (among many other games) you are much more at the mercy of the cards you draw that I would like - you either get something useful to you expeditions that you started with one of your 10 cards in hand (it seems a lot but it is not!) or you don't. I didn't.

Fun because of the others but not a game I am in a rush to play again.

*Adrian 385 (7)
^Daniel 360 (6)
*Emily 285 (7)
JimS 220 (6)

Emily has borrowed the game to play Keltis (similar but different game) and will report back.

More I think about it, the more I think that this is a game for introducing "non gaming families" to modern board games. The play is easy, a little strategy (subject to cards drawn) and plays relatively quickly.
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4. Board Game: Fortress America [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:1449]
Jimbo Sutherland
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HAMPTON
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This was played but no report
 
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5. Board Game: Diamant [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:652]
 
Jimbo Sutherland
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With lunch time beckoning, time for a quick, fun push-your-luck game.

As always, everyone was enthralled with the bits (this is the original version with the groovy cardboard wagons to store you mined gems in).

The idea is players are miners and delve deeper into a mine by turning up cards from a deck, equally sharing the gems they find on the way down (any remainder are left on the card). Before the next card is turned up, all the miners have the chance to leave the mine and bank their finds. Players leaving share out the gems left on the cards earlier as they go back out of the mine.

Why not stay to mine more? Because the deck contains hazards as well - explosions, poisonous gas, rockfalls, scorpions and Indiana's least favourite - snakes. When a duplicate hazard card is turned up, anyone left in the mine has to run for their life and in the panic loses all the gems they got so far this turn.

Of course, if you stay when other have left, the potential for reward is increased because fewer players means the bigger your share from the next gem find (card) will be.

A brief rules explanation and we were away. Most of us took a little from the first mine, no one took any from the second mine (it was over in two cards!).

Third mine was a tiny bit better for most of us. I then think we all had a hearty stash and Daniel ran, also collecting a fair number of Jewels on the way out. Pussy. But wait, next card the rest of us had to run, losing everything.

With the game all but over already, Daniel played safe, followed by Emily. I could have grabbed second place by fleeing but second is nowhere. But it was better than the third place I got because Adrian and I had to flee once more.

Daniel 42 (6)
*Emily 18 (7) [Yes, second place with 18]
JimS 7 (6)
*Adrian 0 (6) [The danger of not knowing when to stop, ever! shake ]


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6. Board Game: No Thanks! [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:415]
Jimbo Sutherland
United Kingdom
HAMPTON
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With the arrival of our newest members, Crispee and Kirsty, meant a decant to a table downstairs for myself and AndrewB2 where after introductions and settling in, Andrew proffered a copy of No Thanks which he (correctly) thought would be a perfect first game to introduce the noobies too.

After a rules introduction by Andrew and the first round played, the strategy of the game suddenly became very apparent to Crispee and even more so to Kirsty.

So we saps (Andrew and me) agreed that the first round was a "practice" and that new we would score a couple of rounds.

The girls had fewest points (just) after round 1. But round 2 saw Crispee come in at about the same (50 ish) but Kirsty managed a monstrous -4) with her high risk strategy of going for the highest value cards.

*Kirsty 70 & -4 = 66
*Crispee 52 & 58 = 110
AndrewB2 78 & 64 = 142
JimS 71 & 80 = 151

I put it down to beginners luck. shake

[Because I was now playing downstairs, I have no idea what order the games got played in, so I'll order the ones I did play in and the rest will be in the order they appeared on the list.]
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7. Board Game: Circus Flohcati [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:1495]
Jimbo Sutherland
United Kingdom
HAMPTON
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Time for another card game, another oldie but a good one that gets to the table from time to time at EGC.

A game of pure skill and nothing to with being lucky enough to not draw a matching colour card from the draw deck that matches those already on show as you build sets of same numbered cards and highest card values in your hand at the end of the game. whistle

Jim 69
AndrewB2 61
*Crispee 53
*Kirsty 35
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8. Board Game: Sobek [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:1531]
Jimbo Sutherland
United Kingdom
HAMPTON
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Andrew asked to play this game because he had been playing it on-line. I enjoy the game and played it quite a lot when it first came out.

With a rules explanation by me with help from Andrew (or was it the other way around?) we were off, although there was frequent reference by us all for the cards with special powers (I just do not understand some of the icons - sorry) and a limited amount to the bonus tiles (much better icons once you know what they actually mean).

Somehow I won, but I think that was because Andrew just went for too much corruption.....

JimS 73
*Kirsty 62
AndrewB2 61
*Crispee 59
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9. Board Game: Martian Dice [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:2019]
Jimbo Sutherland
United Kingdom
HAMPTON
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Adrian had wondered down to try and lure me back upstairs without success but he stayed for a game of Martian Dice that Kirsty and Crispee had bought along.

Fun filler but I would rather play Bluff if I was playing a filler dice game - the down time between turns could be a problem here with 5 people, but turns came around relatively quickly (the game does not take a lot of thinking!)

Crispy 10
Kirsty 9
*Adrian 9
*JimS 7
*AndrewB2 0
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10. Board Game: Coloretto [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:502]
Jimbo Sutherland
United Kingdom
HAMPTON
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And just time to introduce the noobies to an EGC standard end of evening game.

It was like a duck to water for them. We scored with the origianl scoring schema and the results were:

*Crispee 27 & 34 = 61
AndrewB2 20 & 34 = 54
*Kirsty 22 & 30 = 52
JimS 20 & 20 = 40

[Rest of games are now show in order added to list]
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11. Board Game: Yunnan [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:1346]
Andrew Bond
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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(This report was written after Gordon's post below.)

A game that has garnered highly divergent views from the four players ... Two liking it (Mark and me) and two disliking it (Gordon and Graham).

I'll leave it to Gordon to explain what he dislikes - already done below.

What I like is the non obvious strategy, which arise because you can't be certain which traders you will have in which region at the end of a round. Basically you have to build up your network in the knowledge that parts of it will get knocked down. Finding ways to mitigate the damage (by building bridges, tea houses, trading posts, and influence) is interesting.

The theme is no more tacked on than in any game. While I am a lover of strongly themed games, I think you can dismiss games too easily for a lack of theme also. Stefan Feld's games have great mechanisms with minimal themes, but are still great games. A great theme with a poor game mechanic is not a good game.

I think the one will retain its interest for some time because of the need to discover the different strategies that are available. It is inevitable that players will make poor choices in their first game when the best strategy is not obvious. You need to play this again to discover its worth.

Unfortunately, i doubt Gordon or Graham will want to play again owing to their dislike of all the things I liked!

Scores:

1. Andrew* 155
2. Gordon* 116
3. Mark* 84
4. Graham* 48
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12. Board Game: Dominant Species [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:49]
Russell D
United Kingdom
Ewell
Surrey
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A very fine-looking third edition copy of Dominant Species had been set up on the table when I returned from ordering lunch. This looked too good to pass up, so I inveigled my way into the game with (Will's friend) Andy and (Will's friend) Rob. Rob had played a few times, it was new to Andy, but I have the rules down fairly well to this one so I tried to explain the rules and off we went.

Andy's bird established a strong colony amid the bird seed savannahs on one side of the board. For the first part of the game he trailed a little in points, but in the mid game started to zoom ahead and made good use of the birds' flight ability.

Rob's reptiles were off to a good start, but were almost wiped out after some nasty dominance cards and it took him a little while to recover. At one stage near the end he was dominant across most of the board, but unfortunately, despite getting all his cubes on the board, didn't manage first place in many hexes for end game scoring.

I got a strong mid game lead through a mix of wanderlusting and sneaking into second place wherever I could. My lead almost vanished by the last couple of turns, but I was trying to set myself up for position at the end. Two very powerful cards came out on the last turn, and I grabbed them both, which allowed me to dominate (if you'll excuse the pun) the end-game scoring.

Final scores (ratings)
Russell 224 (10)
WF-Andy 175 (?)
WF-Rob 140 (?)

A fantastic game, I love it and was so glad to get a game in. Was really nice to play at a fair clip as well, we didn't hang around but everyone seemed happy to place pawns by animal instinct rather than lengthy calculation. I think I had an advantage with a few plays under my belt, as knowing how relatively powerful the various cards are helps to assess what to do each turn.
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13. Board Game: Verräter [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:1500]
Andrew Bond
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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Another clever design from the creator of Meuterer, to which it bears many similarities. This game, I believe, pre-dates Mutineer (and also Citadels, which a lot of people mention when seeing this).

In this game, two players fight for one side (the Eagle) and the other two fight for the other (the Rose). The location of battles are decided by the Strategist, a role that stays with a player unless someone else chooses to take it from him during the round.

The battle is always between adjacent locations where Eagle meets Rose. Each player can add to his sides score in the battle by expending cards. but if one of those players turns out to be the traitor, then it is 3-v-1. However, the spoils (VPs) are then split three ways, so it is a risk - if the signle player wins, he leaps into the lead!

Some great bluffing goes on throughout this game and no-one is assured of victory until the very end.

A very good game that will take a few plays before you 'get it'.

Scores:

1. Andrew* 29
2. Mark* 21
3. Graham* 18
4. Gordon* 17
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14. Board Game: Android: Netrunner [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:44]
Gordon Watson
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey - United Kingdom
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Played by: Gordon and Will

Will and I have been threatening to play Netrunner for some time so, despite his late arrival, we decided to get this on to the table for at least a learning game.

Not sure whether Will already half knew the game (he claimed not) or if my rules run-through was particularly good (unlikely) but we were up and playing in fairly short order. The game was a good one for learning - Will (the Runner) managed to get a lot of items out into his Rig, I got a lot of ICE down and we saw some runs (success and fail) and Ops/Events etc., come out. With my time being short I went for a net-damage kill on Will rather than trying to get and Agenda win and had Will down to one card before he picked up a winning Agenda.

I still struggle with the Types of ICE and Ice-breaker rules in this - another bit of a 'dogs- breakfast' rule book from FFG. Still a very good game though.
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15. Board Game: Airlines Europe [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:337]
James Faulkner
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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Very close game finishing:

1) Adrian 178 (rated 7.0)
2=) Emily 177 (rated 8.0)
2=) Jim 177 (rated 7.0)
4) Daniel 173 (rated 7.0)

lots of brinkmanship at the end of the game as we fought to get the most Air Abacus shares down.
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16. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:45]
James Faulkner
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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Report to Follow

JimF
Daniel
Andy
Rob
 
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17. Board Game: Hanabi [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:314]
Emily
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Even though we'd all played this before, we messed up the endgame by continuing to play long after exhausting the draw deck. We completed all five colours without using up any of the error tokens.

Having re-checked the rules and discovered our mistake, our best estimate of our score had we stopped when we should have done was "20ish".


Adrian 20ish (7.5)
Daniel 20ish (8)
Emily 20ish (8)
 
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18. Board Game: Braggart [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:3026]
Jimbo Sutherland
United Kingdom
HAMPTON
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This was played but no report
 
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19. Board Game: Hive [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:213]
Jimbo Sutherland
United Kingdom
HAMPTON
MIDDLESEX
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Apparently this was was played but no report
 
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