Games played at Epsom Games Club 02.01.14
Gordon Watson
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey - United Kingdom
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ASL - other tactical wargames call it Sir.
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Beneath this mask there is an idea.....and ideas are bulletproof.
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Nine attendees for the first meet of 2014 - Gordon, Jo, Mark, Crispy Chris, Andrew B2, Andrew 007, T101 James, Paul and Hairy Martin.

Games played:-



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1. Board Game: A Study in Emerald [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:594]
Chris Allan
United Kingdom
Ashtead
Surrey
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I have missed the last couple of weeks, so was keen to get my first play of A Study in Emerald in, and to christen my copy of the game. Gordon led the group through a very thorough rules explanation (since the game was also new to Jo and Andrew), and although thoroughly overloaded with the number of choices available and with no clear plan, we were off!

This is a hidden role game, where players are either Loyalists (Cthulhu 'royalty' supporters, of Restorationists (rebels). In a five player game, this can either come out 4:1 or 3:2..it turned out that we had 3 Restorationists and 2 Loyalists (see list at the end for roles).

I was a Loyalist - which meant that I could not go around assassinating 'royalty' for points, or collecting specific agents that gave me points, I had to look to get myself in a position where I could start to manipulate the 2 scoring tracks in my favour and look to pick up some points from regular assassinations, cities and any other goodies that came up in the cards.

Also had to use the first half of the game to work out who was on my side....as you can't let them finish last, otherwise your team has lost anyway, regardless of how well you finish individually.

The game started tentatively, with everybody starting to pick up cards, and extra agents to shield their main agent, well everybody except me...as last player, there were slim pickings on the agent's to the extent that Jo and Gordon started a battle royale over influence on a Freemason card which was to last most of the game - blocking, unblocking, re-blocking, adding more influence, blocking again....etc.

I had to make do with a couple of 'free action take a cube' cards, which couldn't do any harm, but didn't exactly move me forward either.

Jo also started to acquire cities, scoring points, making herself known to the authorities and moving quickly up the scoreboard. This prompted some action, with Mark accumulating an alarming number of agents, and I managed to get the vampire card (couldn't resist!). The only problem being that my deck was not exactly thin, so to cycle this through, to bring it into my hand meant a few turns of just taking cubes (which meant at one point I had 9 cubes in front of me to spend - might have missed out on turns, but could stop anybody else getting a card or ensure that I got a card if I really wanted it).

I had a feeling that Jo was the only other Loyalist and this was confirmed soon after, as she revealed to protect her Moriarty. This was about the same time that I got Berlin (the only city card on the board that could affect both tracks positively for the Loyalists. I also realised that I wanted to expire the cards on the cities, to drive the green track even higher and used my excess of cubes to do this while I was waiting for my vampire card to come around.

When it did, I put it to good use, turning an agent....who within a turn, turned out to be a double agent (grr), well at least I managed to get in and assassinate one of Marks agents on the next turn, depleting his reserve, and scoring another point.

In the meantime, as I was pushing for victory, Jo was losing cities, meaning that she had slipped to the back of the pack - so I could not declare or push for victory yet. Also, with the cards that I had, I could not help her much either. Patience was the answer, as she pushed to regain cities from Gordon. I vamped another agent and then called the game, crossed my fingers and hoped that I had calculated the scoring correctly!

Assumptions on roles were validated, scoring totalled up and Jo slipped past Gordon by the smallest of margins to ensure victory for the Loyalists!


The one person that I was not 100% about was Andrew B2....he played his cards close to his chest for most of the game, and could easily have been bluffing in his identity while slowly but surely moving up the scoring track...I was worried for a couple of turns!


I am sure that I have missed many encounters in reporting this game, like Gordon finally getting the Zombie card.....but never getting it onto the table, but once we hit the halfway stage and I could see a path through the game, I am afraid I went a little heads down!

This was very enjoyable and confirms for me that although it looked as though Essen had no huge stand out games, it turns out that there were many and this is one of them. I will play this any time it comes to the table.

Jo (L) 13
Chris (L) 25
Mark (R) 21
Andrew (R) 18
Gordon (R) 11
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2. Board Game: Concordia [Average Rating:8.07 Overall Rank:23]
Andrew Bond
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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An immediate Essen 2013 purchase for me, since I am a big fan of Mac Gerdts' other designs, especially Navegador and Hamburgum. But since I agreed to put it away for Xmas, this was my first play (and also Martin's).

The game features a variant the current hottest game mechanism - 'deck expansion' - whereby you start with a hand of cards that gives you actions and then add a few cards to that hand to extend your options. See also Lewis & Clark and Rococo for similar implementations of the same mechanism.

The game also features Gerdt's favourite VP scoring mechanism - score multiplication - whereby your VPs are the product of two separate numbers (actually the sum of several products). So, score 2 VPs per blue card per province you are in; score 3 VPs per green card per iron builing you have.*

*Nb, the colours and details are not accurate here

My opening moves on this first play (for me) were less than stellar and, when nobody chose to trigger the provinces where I was present (thereby denying me valuable resources), I had to trigger the provinces where other people (particularly Paul, much to James' chagrin) were present. So, as failed to progress, other progressed faster. Ho hum.

Hopefully I will know what to do next time!

Scores

1. Paul 148
2. James 121
3. Andrew007* 114
4. Martin* 107
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3. Board Game: Trains and Stations [Average Rating:5.90 Overall Rank:4622]
Andrew Bond
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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Oh dear.

This was a present from my Tuesday-in-Banstead Games Club friends ... a very nice surprise. And this was everyone's first (and probably last) play. A strong candidate for my lowest rated game of all time, competing with Dominant Species: The Card Game (since sold on).

But this was bad.

It involves rolling dice, Yahtzee-style, then placing rolled trains and locked trains onto railroads on the small board. When you connect two towns, everyone who owns a train on the connected routes gets VPs. From the rulebook, we were not sure how many, but we made a considered decision.

If you roll three buildings, you get to place it in a town and then get shares in a specific resource when routes connecting to it are scored. There are then extra VPs at game end for the person who has the most shares in each commodity.

Finally, each player has 'power' cards that give additional VPs when a particular route is connected (Ticket to Ride-style).

But the power cards come out randomly and score heavily; no-one battled for shares; and routes were too easily scored to warrant any turn-to-turn strategy.

So, if I sell this, what do I tell my Tuesday-in-Banstead Games Club friends?

Scores:

1. Paul* 63
2= James* 44 (wants time to consider )
2= Martin* 44
4. Andrew* 30
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