Games Played at Epsom Games Club 06/11/14
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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Quite a busy evening at the River Club both for poker and boardgames. Present from the EGC side were - 'Nearly Diceless' Nick, Paul, T101 James, Gordon, Russell, 'Hide the Cubes' Gareth, Plus One Alex, Matt, Roy, Josh, 3BS Dave, Jo and Andrew B2



So despite still being in the post-Essen blush period, we also had games from 1995 and 2009 being played.
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1. Board Game: Quartermaster General [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:695]
Russell D
United Kingdom
Ewell
Surrey
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Some games of this play out quite similarly to the historical Second World War. But not tonight. Josh’s Russian had trouble building armies at the start, so my Americans felt we need to shore up the war in Europe and turned all our attentions in that direction. This gave Gareth’s Japanese free reign to expand throughout the western Pacific. Meanwhile Alex’s British were struggling to gain a foothold because Matt’s Germans and Gareth’s Italians were spreading across Europe, the Balkans and even stretching into the Ukraine. The Axis soon had an unassailable VP lead, so as allies our only hope was to capture two Axis home countries, and it had to be Germany and Italy if it was going to happen. Britain and my USA got a foothold in Western Europe, and I did some economic bombing to deplete Germany's card deck. Germany had been burning merrily through cards and it with the bombing it was looking like his deck wouldn't last all twenty rounds. Russia was starting to rally, finally, so it looked like liberation would come to Europe. Then, rather surprisingly, we found Japanese fleets had penetrated the British defences at the Suez canal, and brought armies into Italy to defend their faltering European allies. Using their Italian base the Japanese kamikaze pilots then drove the British and US out of the North Atlantic. (I’d love to see the movie of this!) Great work from Japan, but it wasn’t enough, with just a turn or two to go the Axis just didn’t have the cards to keep fighting and the British and Russians met in Berlin and Rome for tea.

Another good game, without the Tournament Victory Conditions, which the Axis would definitely and easily have won. Still, I love the asymmetric tension that the VP leaders are trying to survive to the end and the other side has to try for a “invade home nations” sudden victory. Moscow was left vacant a couple of times, and if the Axis had managed to get there, I think the Allies wouldn’t have had a chance. Russia was in a very difficult position as he only had two Build Army cards in the first half of his deck. Next time I’d like to try the designer’s new “official” optional rule: instead of playing a card, once per game each player can discard any four cards to play as a Build Army, Build Navy, Land Battle or Sea Battle. This would allow a way out in dire emergencies when the deck is just not co-operating, as with Russia in this game.

Great fun, especially seeing the Japanese coming into Europe, and it could have gone either way until the last few turns made the economic realities apparent.

Victors: Russia (Josh - new), UK (Alex), USA (Russell)
Vanquished: Germany (Matt - new), Italy and Japan (Gareth)
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2. Board Game: Rise of Empires [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:877]
James Faulkner
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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'take 3 games into the shower'

A semi-arranged game of RoE resulted in 3 of us bringing the game along and it was my recent Essen bargain purchase that got its first outing. Lugging this and Conflict of Heroes around the Essen Halls I had presumed it was the latter that was causing the lack of circulation in my hand as the plastic bag bit into my fingers. However, getting them back to the hotel i discovered that Rise of Empires was also one hefty game with a hell of a lot of tiles - who knew cardboard could weigh so much.

The primary mechanic of the game involves player's placing (one at a time) 6 action discs against various actions which they then perform. The kicker is that the next turn is spent taking those action discs off the board (again one at a time) and performing the same actions. So you need to plan not only for this turn but also what you might like to do next turn!

Actions include:
Progress: Take a Progress Tile - which gives your Civ a new shiney ability
Territory: Take a Territory Tile - which will may produce/require regular resources/food/...
City: Take and build a City or a Wonder Tile - VP generation but requires upkeep
Trade: Trade Resources for Gold or VP
Empire: Send your armies out to conquer the known world (as the game progresses the known world expand especiall once Navigation is discovered)

Brief summary of our game:
Nick collected islands and always had a heavy presence in areas surrounding the Med.
Gordon was the Weapon master making him someone to avoid sharing territory with. Several of his moves were described as disastrous (by himself).
Paul ducked and dived with his abilities to trade different types of resources for each other. For much of the game he was awash with Gold.
James built Cities every turn and spent most of the time getting beat up on the map.

Others can say how they found the game, but for my part I enjoyed it a lot. My rating after one play a long time ago was 7.5 and I might nudge this up to an 8.

Plusses:
- A lot of angst over what to do and when
- Think I helped counter that you need to be dominant on the map (as i think has been suggested elsewhere) to do well
- think the emphasis of the game shifts nicely through the 6 turns
- after thinking being last in turn order was very important, I ended up less sure this was correct

Possible negatives:
- length of play
- taking territory tiles seems essential for the first half of the game

Scores:
James 128
Nick 117
Paul 109
Gordon 104
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3. Board Game: AquaSphere [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:355]
impy imp
United Kingdom
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Andrew and I played Aquasphere.

Neither of us had played before or read the rules all the way through prior to sitting down, so it was very slow to start off with.

Game play initially seems relatively simple, on your turn you either:
1. Use your Engineer to Program a bot (set up an action you can play in the future)
2. Get the bot help your Scientist (carry out an action)

You can only program a maximum of 2 bots before you use them.
There is a mechanism that limits your next choice of programs (actions) available once you've made a choice of program to use.

But the implications, consequences and interactions of the actions you choose and when, is where the complexity comes in.

Like most good games you mostly felt you didn't quite have enough resources to do everything you wanted to do, or when you wanted to do them.

Thematically, I thought the game worked well - you're at an underwater research station and the actions you do consist of:
Extending your lab so you can improve your other actions
Doing research
Gathering the crystals you're trying to research
Docking one of your submarines (you have a total pool of 6)
Improving efficiency (gaining more time tokens, the currency of the game)
Getting rid of the octopi that gather round messing up your research
(The Octopi meeples are cute)
Getting a bot to program another bot.

One benefit to be gained from extending your lab I didn't notice until we had almost finished the game which is a shame... Not sure of how much of an impact it would have had.

You are competing with others to gain control/dominance of the station as a whole, by gaining control of the most sectors.
You're in the station for a month/4 weeks. Intermediate scoring is done at the end of each week, and bonus scoring at the end.
In our game we generally programmed and used 5 actions per week each.

I was concentrating on research and keeping the octopi population under control. Andrew extended his lab more, gaining extra efficiency (time/currency) and crystal storage capacity early on. He managed to dock more submarines than me, and in the end of game scoring wiped the floor with me due to the bonuses from extending his lab much more/better then mine.

Took a while for me to work out the inter connectivity of the actions and hence some sort of strategy, but I liked the game more than I thought I would (I bought the game on a punt at Essen because I liked the look of it and was half expecting it to be a complete turkey).

I give it a solid 8/10 and look forward to playing it again... This time knowing all the correct rules from the start of the game :-)

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4. Board Game: Condottiere [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:792]
Russell D
United Kingdom
Ewell
Surrey
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Three of us had played this game before, but not for a while, and after an abortive beginning with some significant rules wrong, we restarted and-- I think-- played correctly. In this game, we battle for each territory of Renaissance central Italy (13th century Italy is not depicted on the cards, whatever the BGG description may say), with the victor taking control of the territory. Five territories anywhere, or three adjacent territories, gives you the win immediately.

The battles are fought by playing cards, and there's lots of bluffing, poker faces, deciding which battles to contest and the like. Matt (green) got the first victory, but played all his cards so was then out for a little while. Gradually control built up, I (grey) got to four territories first, then Alex (blue); there was one location that Josh (red) needed to get three adjacent territories but the Pope wasn't letting him in. Poor old Gareth (yellow) stayed on one only territory for almost the entire game, until he won the penultimate territory, and suddenly we were on to the last territory and it would be sudden victory for me, Alex, Matt, or Gareth. I had no cards, and Matt had only one, so no chance for us. Alex and Gareth duked it out until Gareth threw down the last card for a surprise victory from out of the back of the pack. Well played!



Another 8/10 from me. Boring, aren't I?
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5. Board Game: One Night Ultimate Werewolf [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:266] [Average Rating:7.27 Unranked]
Russell D
United Kingdom
Ewell
Surrey
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I was a wolf and so was Matt. There was lots of discussion. I didn't get shot, but I think Matt did, so apparently I lost. Grrrr... (as we wolves say)
 
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