Games Played at Epsom Games Club 05/02/15
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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I'll have a go at remembering all the names of those who were there, but I may need help - Gordon, Capt Chris, Paul, Jo, Nearly Diceless Nick, T101 James, Nameless Steve, Roy, Crispy Chris, Ash, Aki, Richard, Josh, Biblical James, Extra Andrew, Jenny, Callum, Wes, Garteh Destroyer of Worlds, Alex and Matt.



21 in total spread over 4 tables playing 6 games at any one time - any more tables needed and we are probably need to speak to Vanessa - the Poker side was fairly quiet last night so it wasn't a problem.

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1. Board Game: Battle for Stalingrad [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:5166]
Gordon Watson
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey - United Kingdom
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Played by: Gordon and Chris

I picked this up on a whim just before Christmas when I saw it cheap on 365games, so I had no expectations for it.

It comes in a box too big for it and a rule book somewhat lacking in places, however for what is a fairly abstracted card game it does a pretty good job of hooking in to the Stalingrad theme.

You fight to control 5 locations (from a set of 10) represetnted by cards, which grant variable benefits for controlling them. Each player gets to select their starting forces which are also represented by cards - the remaining forces are available to buy and feed into the meat-grinder as the game progresses.

The logistical side of the battle is represented by 'rations' which are needed to allow your forces to do stuff and to absorb hits. As the game goes on the locations are reduced to rubble making keeping your forces supplied harder. You also have a hand of action cards which can be played for their effect or to pay for new units or to resupply existing ones or to influence combats.

Despite managing to make a game billed as taking 60 mins last 3 hours we both enjoyed this. It will be easy to get to the table and presents some interesting decisions for the players as well as being a good stab at representing Stalingrad.

The Russians (Chris) eventually ground out a victory after the Germans game perilously close to driving the Russians into the Volga.

Rating

Gordon
Chris
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2. Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:60]
Andrew Bond
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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My second go at this, but new to all the others.

It plays quite quickly, once you 'get' the dice allocation. Basically what you do is this:

Roll your dice
Assign each die to the phase that matches the symbol that it shows (explore, develop, settle, produce, or ship)
Reassign dice to different phases as much as your powers allow (as you want). At the very minimum, you start with the ability to effectively discard one die to your cup in order to move another
Choose exactly one die to activate one of the phases, by placing on your phase board. You can use and die to do this, thereby reassigning it if you want
Reveal your choices

Only those phases that are activated by any player are played in this turn. So if you place four dice underneath settle and no one activates settle, they just go straight back to your cup and give no benefit this turn.

The rest of the game is very similar to Race. Build worlds to allow you to produce and developments to acquire further powers. Produce goods on worlds, ship them for money or VPs. Explore to get money or more tiles to build.

At the end of the turn, spend your money to transfer dice from your citizenry to your cup. Dice go to your citizenry when you've used them.

I've no idea what other players did in this game, I was so focused on what I was doing. However, despite temporarily having more tiles than anyone else, my race fell away at the end of the game when I chose some port activations and hence failed to use my dice efficiently.

Scores:

1. Jenny* 60
2. Extra! Andrew 48
3. James* 47
4. Richard* 36
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3. Board Game: Mage Wars Arena [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:140] [Average Rating:7.74 Unranked]
Steve Jones
United Kingdom
Surbiton
Surrey
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Played by: Roy and Steve

This is appallingly late, I know, but in truth it’s taken me this long to recover. Talk about being forced to dig your own grave before being shot with your own gun. Worst of all, I went into this match-up reasonably confident - my latest Beastmaster build had scraped a narrow win against Gordon’s Forcemaster over Christmas.

I’d hardly finished setting up at the end of turn one before Roy’s Wizard cast Cheetah Speed on himself and raced aggressively to the centre of the board. What followed was comparable to a fool’s mate chess move. Using his Wizard’‘s Tower, Roy cast a Wall of Thorns behind my Beastmaster and used a Force Push to send him straight through it. An immediate ten dice of damage - and the poor sod of a Beastmaster didn’t have an ounce of armour yet to soak it up. Using his quickcast ability, and another Force Push, Roy’s Wizard sent the BM hurtling straight back through the wall . . . and another ten dice of damage.

Next turn I cast Eagleclaw Boots in a desperate attempt to anchor myself. Roy countered the boots and sent me back through the wall a third time.

Dead.

The second game was slightly longer, but followed the same general path: multiple walls, multiple force pushes, messy Beastmaster death.

“Utter incompetence,” Gordon grumbled from the next table.

Oh, the shame.
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4. Board Game: ZhanGuo [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:397]
Paul Bruce
United Kingdom
Croydon
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Someone had the radical idea of not only playing a game we had all played before but one that we had all played recently. A late sub saw Jo join James, Nick and Paul for another game of ZhanGuo. Jo had played a turn of this at Essen so had a quick rules run through. To be fair to Jo it probably took a turn or turn before she was fully comfortable with what she was doing.

ZhanGuo has a nice card mechanic coupled with some point saladiness. It's better than that sounds. Cards can be played to your own board for future bonuses or to take actions usually involving the main board at some stage. We played with a couple of variants to do with turn order and trying to cut down on the luck of the card draw.

Nick went to the main board first with Governors. Paul followed and then switched to build a couple of Palaces. After turn two of five I think Nick and Paul were scoring around 40 points while Jo and James had barely troubled the scorer focussing more on setting themselves up for future big plays.

The next couple of turns saw a fight over one section of end game bonuses between Nick, Jo and James leaving Paul clear to take top spot in the other section. Jo started to make ground on the leaders and we were all waiting for James to make his late move. Final turn and Nick sped of in to a considerable lead with his Palace building and James still hadn't made his move. There are a lot of points to be had at the end of the game. Paul and Jo caught Nick with James not having a big enough final push. Top spot for Paul in the end game bonus section decided the matter.

Scores which were quite a bit higher than our first game.


1. Paul 168 (8)
2. Jo 144 (7.5)
3. Nick 141 (8.5)
4. James 124 (7.5)



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5. Board Game: Alchemists [Average Rating:7.73 Overall Rank:80]
Ash Grant
United Kingdom
Leatherhead
Surrey
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Chris kindly brought my new copy of alchemists down so Josh, Aki, Chris and I unboxed it, punched it and played it.

Alchemists is worker placement game with a strong deduction element. You combine ingredients together using the smartphone app and it tells you the results of the combination. After doing a few different tests you can start to eliminate combinations of attributes and work out what the makeup of each ingredient really is. Then you can publish theories to show the world you know the makeup of an ingredient, and endorse or debunk other players theories.

After a quick spin through the rules we started to play. Initially our brains were hurting a bit as we sussed out the deduction aspects of the game, Josh played an early theory or two, while Aki and Chris did lots of experiments to try to nail down the exact makeup of the ingredients. I spent a lot of effort buying artifacts and never really deduced many of the ingredients.

After a while we started to realise that we were all playing the game very straight, and that all the published theories were likely to be correct, we so all started to jump on the endorsement band wagon. At the end of the game Josh was miles behind because he'd published early before he was sure of the ingredients and hedged his bets by playing scrolls which gave him zero points. The rest of us were playing big scoring scrolls with abandon by this point, in the end Aki just scraped a victory.

Really looking forward to playing this again when hopefully more of the mechanisms to steal early points with dodgy theories will come into play. There's also a more advanced version of the debunking rules which should be interesting. The app is very slick and doesn't get in the way of the game at all, it definitely enhances the experience.

Scores (something like)

Aki 47
Ash 45
Chris 42
Josh 27

I'd rate it an 8. Just played a 2 player and it was nearly as good as the 4 player.
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6. Board Game: Star Wars: Imperial Assault [Average Rating:8.14 Overall Rank:25]
Gareth H
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Played by: Alex, Callum, Gareth, Matt, Wes

A second attempt at the campaign this time with me getting the rules correct and it turns out that it's actually much harder for the Rebels to win against the indomitable might of The Galactic Empire. Especially when they use stormtroopers as barriers. This time around we had

Gareth: Galactic Empire
Alex: Gideon Argus - The Valiant Commander (Officer)[First Game]
Callum: Fenn Signis - The Veteran (Commando)
Matt: Mak Eshka'Rey - Bold Renegade (Sniper)
Wes: Diala Passil - Haunted Exile (Jedi) [First Game]

New campaign, same first mission. Luckily for me, Matt remembered the first surprise of the mission but forgot the second surprise. Callum showed excellent gamesmanship by remembering what the surprise was and taking the advice he was given by the new players (which wasn't too bad actually) to his detriment.

The first mission is pretty hard, but having run it from the Imperial side three times now, I think the key is that the rebels need to move fast, not concern themselves with getting injured and also take stormtroopers out as entire groups. Killing imperials stood next to terminals seems to help also as they seem to be easier to kill than the terminals, as terminals cannot be ambushed or their defences foreseen with the force. Using a lot of strain also seems to help. I ran through 2 player with my girlfriend today and she lost by a single point on the last terminal due to a poor set of dice results.

So the rebels failed to destroy the terminals but they ended up with quite a few credits and some xp for upgrading their characters. The cash was spent on a pointy stick for the Jedi.

Second mission was a side mission that is apparently gaining some infamy due to its difficulty, it is apparently possible by letting the imperials work for the rebels. This is made more difficult however when the stormtrooper rushing to the exit manages to move 16 spaces in a single round due to being ordered about by some officers. Also, Trandoshan Bounty Hunters are nasty.

All in all I think the game is getting better the more it is played and despite being two missions down it doesn't seem to be swinging too much in the imperials favour as the rebels seem to have really good upgrades compared to the imperial ones. The increase in threat level might negate that but only time will tell.

Results:

Gareth: "It is quite safe from your pitiful little band. An entire legion of my best troops awaits them." (WIN)
Wes: "They were in pain!" "Is the future you see" (LOST)
Matt: "You came in here, but didn't you have a plan for getting out?" (LOST)
Callum: "Hey down there! Would you give us a hand with this?" (LOST)
Alex: "Listen to them, they're dying, Artoo!" (LOST)
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7. Board Game: Five Tribes [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:52]
Andrew Bond
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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My third go at this, Jenny's second, but new to the others.

For a Days of Wonder game - renowned for their light family fare with great components - this is much more of a gamer's game. It has the potential for AP, but provided no-one tries to analyse all 10 000 opening moves available to them, generally the game plays quickly.

At the start of each round, players bid for turn order. The trick is to spot one good move that will bag you a lot of points and then bid appropriately. This bring a delightful tension, especaially if you are going second or third and hoping the players before you have not spotted the same mega-move as you.

The, on your turn, you pick up all the meeples on one tile and lay them out mancala-style until you have no more in your hand. The last meeple you play must match the colour of one of the existing meeples on the tile it finished on - this is the key restriction in the game that you have to work around.

There are multiple ways of scoring:
collect yellow meeples for a large majority bonus
collect white meeples to allow you to buy Djiins that give both end-game and in-game VP
pick up green meeples to collect goods and score mega-VPs if you diversify
pick up blue meeples and score for all the blue 'building' that surround your landing til
pick up red meeples and then assassinate one other meeple, possibly to take control of a tile

Any tile you clear of meeples is yours to score at the end of the game.

And each tile you land your final meeple on offers a benefit of its ow.

In this game, everyone except me collected goods and yellow meeples and hence score heavily in those. James did very well scoring buildings during the game, while Janny and I owned a lot of tiles at the end of the game. The winner is usually the person who has score big in three different ascpects - which was Jenny (again).

Scores:

1. Jenny 154
2. Richard* 120
2. James* 118
4. Extra! Andrew 102
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