Breeding foreigners - BGA Meeting 4 October 2014
Peter Millen
United Kingdom
Greyabbey
Northern Ireland
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Following the triumph of the academic staff of the Universities of Jol-Nar at the previous weeks rebel gathering, the full unification church of BGA gathered for gaming.

The hall now opening (for the moment?) at 10:30.
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1. Board Game: David & Goliath [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:1909]
Peter Millen
United Kingdom
Greyabbey
Northern Ireland
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Scores: Jonny 50 Philip 48 Colin 45 Peter 34

This game adds a very interesting twist to the standard trick-taking genre. There are five suits and players must follow suit, if they can. However, the winner of the trick is the highest card played, regardless of suit. The winner gets all the cards from the trick, minus the card he won it with. That card is given to the player that played the lowest card. After all tricks have been played, the scoring begins. Players score the face-value of the cards in the suits that they only collected one or two of, and one point per card for suits with more than two. The player with the most points after a number of hands wins the game.

Another member of the large family of trick-taking games that can be played with a Sticheln deck, but in this case Philip presented the proper deck nicely illustrated with big and little mice.

Jonny expressed his anxiety at yet another trick-taking game, but proceeded to lead the field home.
 
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2. Board Game: Five Tribes [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:52]
Peter Millen
United Kingdom
Greyabbey
Northern Ireland
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Scores: Swami 174 Colin 134 Jonny 91

Designed by Bruno Cathala, Five Tribes builds on a long tradition of German-style games that feature wooden meeples. Here, in a unique twist on the now-standard “worker placement” genre, the game begins with the meeples already in place – and players must cleverly maneuver them over the villages, markets, oases, and sacred places tiles that make up Naqala. How, when, and where you dis-place these Five Tribes of Assassins, Elders, Builders, Merchants, and Viziers determine your victory or failure.

As befitting a Days of Wonder game, the rules are straightforward and easy to learn. But… devising a winning strategy will take a more calculated approach than our standard fare. You need to carefully consider what moves can score you well and put your opponents at a disadvantage. You need to weigh many different pathways to victory, including the summoning of powerful Djinns that may help your cause as you attempt to control this legendary Sultanate.


Colin purchased this at our last meeting and returned with it today. Swami took the opportunity he previously missed and Jonny found himself missing out on the musical chairs.


Late stages of the Five Tribes game

Unfortunately I do not expect comments from any of the participants so the scores must speak for themselves, looks like Swami managed to grasp the essentials.
 
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3. Board Game: Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:533]
Peter Millen
United Kingdom
Greyabbey
Northern Ireland
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Scores: Tim 66 Micah 60 Philip 54 Peter 46

Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy enables you to build a powerful dynasty in 18th century France as you step into the shoes of a French noble and compete for lasting honor. Over three generations, you – a resourceful patriarch or matriarch – will attempt to create a lasting legacy by establishing a house with ties to many different wealthy and powerful families from France and abroad (Spain, Italy, Russia and other countries).

This card game offers endless possibilities. Each time you build a family, you write a unique story, bringing to life the diverse relationships between parents and their children, between cousins, uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces. Whether you are looking for the best husband for your only daughter or a suitable wife for one of your two sons, whether you are looking to add new blood to your family by marrying into foreign nobility – you will be working to make your family rise in status through prestige and wealth, new skills and abilities.


Philip offered this new game of dynasty-building in Ancien Regime France and Peter Tim and Micah volunteered to participate.

As has often been noted, the first duty of nobility is procreation, the maintenance and growth of the family tree, and Legacy represents three generations of acquiring wealth, power friends and children.


Philip counsels Tim on the essentials of breeding?

The theme is well served by the cartoon illustrations and silly names, but the advertised playing time seems over-optimistic as we easily passed the two-hour mark, but good enough fun.

There were a couple of apparent production issues.

First, there was not enough money. By midway through, the bank was well and truly rupt and two of us were having to receive our income as promissory notes.

Second, the honour system allowed for negative honour, but the record track only went to -1. For a lot of the game my family was very dishonourable, but I had to record this myself.

These were minor annoyances in playing the game.


Gaston le Frog, patriarch of my fecund but louche clan

No testicles were surgically removed during the playing (a first for BGA).
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4. Board Game: Thunder Alley [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:540] [Average Rating:7.39 Unranked]
Peter Millen
United Kingdom
Greyabbey
Northern Ireland
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Scores: Swami 124 Philip 106 Colin 105 Micah 104 Peter 98 Tim 90

Thunder Alley is a stock car racing game for 2-7 players with the feel and flexibility of a card-driven simulation. Drafting, teamwork, accidents, yellow flags, pit strategy, working to lead laps, and sprints to the finish are all included and bring the feel of racing to the game. Players control not one car, but a team of 3-6 cars. Thus, each race is not only a run for the checkered flag but an effort to maximize the score for every car on your team. Winning is important, but if only one car crosses the finish line, your team might end up outside the winner's circle looking in.

The game includes four different types of movement, often with many cars moving with the play of a single card, and each type has its place and time:

Solo movement allows you to break away from the pack.
Draft and pursuit movement are best used for keeping your team of cars together.
Lead movement can create a pack of cars that moves toward the front.

Turns are fast, each play is important, and the track situation is fluid. The wrong movement in the wrong situation can be disastrous, with you possibly being left out of the draft and all alone. Experienced players will be able to identify the best type of movement for the current situation.

Cars suffer wear over the course of a race and need to take pit stops. Tire wear, suspension difficulties, fuel issues, and major engine and transmission problems are all modeled in the game. If you feel lucky, you might try to hold it together just a little bit longer in hopes that a yellow flag will come out and cause a mass rush into the pits. Waiting on a yellow that never comes can be maddening as the rest of the pack moves by your worn-out car. What's more, an events deck can make your strategy pay off or punish you for your failure to take precautions. Accidents, yellow flags, worsening track situations, and deteriorating cars are all part of the game. Could all of your perfect strategy be derailed by those incoming rain clouds?

Included in the game are four different race tracks: a tri-oval super speedway for wide-open free-wheeling racing and a short track for a tight wheel-to-wheel bumper car duel. Each track uses the same deck of racing cards but the cards that work best on one may be useless in the other. The game also includes a second board with a road course and and 3 turned (triangle) raceway.

Most racing games call for a large number of players to play the game at its best. An unusual bonus for Thunder Alley is the very playable and exciting two-player version with six cars on a side.


I was impossibly optimistic in suggesting that we could get in a six-player initial game of Thunder Alley in the two-hours remaining. In the event we had to settle for two laps of racing but some fun was had in the process.


vroom vroom...no little models here

I thought I had a handle on the non-intuitive movement rules - forward, sideways, bumping, picking up a line of cars etc but was frequently puzzled anf flummoxed by the rulebook.

Still the game has potential to return - so I claim.
 
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5. Board Game: Photo Finish [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Peter Millen
United Kingdom
Greyabbey
Northern Ireland
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Finally...we finished.
 
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6. Board Game: Abyss [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:324]
Phil Mason
United Kingdom
Bangor
Northern Ireland
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Played this new game after the early departures. Again it ran a little longer than advertised but we got it crammed in just before we were kicked out.

Excellent artwork which helps the theme of underwater politics. Nice little pearls to swirl around in the shell cups provided, try to catch them as the fly out, then scrabble around the floor trying to pick them up. Actually the tables at BGA are good for this game as the raised edge means that the pearls do not roll onto the floor.

Abyss is easy to explain and set up, plays in a short(ish) time and has some good decisions to make as you collect sets of cards, use them to buy Lords and control locations. All to score points of course!

Tim won by a distance.
 
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