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Author Topic: Spirit Games Wednesday Night - 2015  (Read 40682 times)
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« on: 08 January 2015, 09:57:01 »

Regular Burton Board Gaming at Spirit Games on Wednesday nights

We play a selection of new releases and old favourites, starting at 7.00pm and going on up to midnight. All are welcome, look at the the articles pages on our website to get an idea of what we have been playing over the past year or two.

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salnphil@spiritgames.com
« Last Edit: 01 October 2015, 19:39:47 by Zarniwoop » Logged

Spirit Games (Est. 1984)-Supplying role playing games (RPG), wargames rules, miniatures, scenery, board and card games for the last 36 years For enquiries ring 01283 511293 or email salnphil@spiritgames.co.uk, or by arrangement at Units 267+268,B.E. Webbe Storage,Wharf Rd, Burton, DE14 1PZ
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« Reply #1 on: 10 January 2015, 19:46:35 »

7th Jan 2015
So the first wed night of the new year go off to a fairly decent start with a good turnout and some great games being played as usual.
Having started the evening a bit later than planned, due to a Raiders Committee meeting, I ended up playing Yunnan this is a fantastic little game about Tea Trading in China, trust me its far more interesting than that makes it sound Smiley. This was one of my favourites from 2014 and looks to still get a decent amount of plays in 2015, it's also a lot of game for the price so I would recommend snapping up a copy.

The other table was playing Evolution which is also a really fun game that is definitely worth a play if you have not tried it yet.

When we arrived the early bird table was playing Lords of Xidit which certainly looked very interesting with some very colourful components which looked really good quality. Didn't get a chance to find out how it played.

I'm afraid I am not sure what the other group played after Evolution as I was providing some impromptu Tech Support.

Good evening and company as always look forward to next week.
 
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« Reply #2 on: 11 January 2015, 02:43:36 »

Quote from: Zarniwoop
The other table was playing Evolution which is also a really fun game that is definitely worth a play if you have not tried it yet.
I'm sure that it will be one of the first things in my bag for a good few weeks yet, so there will be plenty of opportunity to play it.

Quote from: Zarniwoop
I'm afraid I am not sure what the other group played after Evolution
We played Sheriff of Nottingham which is a light bluffing/negotiation game which took longer than it should have done, but was still good fun.    I do think that it needs to be played with a timer, as that will add extra pressure to the negotiations.  It was won by Shayla, a relatively new Wednesday night gamer.
« Last Edit: 11 January 2015, 02:49:13 by hdw » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: 11 January 2015, 02:46:56 »

Quote from: Zarniwoop
When we arrived the early bird table was playing Lords of Xidit ...

Early birds?  We commented at the time that it didn't feel particularly early, to be starting a game at 7.30. 

I didn't really want to play Lords of Xidit, having heard nothing but faint praise for the game, but having bullied Andy into playing my games for the last couple of sessions I thought that it was only fair to play his - especially as he'd gone to the trouble of setting it up and pre-learning the rules.

Except that last bit turned out to be "but not as well as he ought to have done" (though perhaps he'd done his best; the rule book is yet another abominable mess, when it comes to explaining fairly straightforward procedures in the most Byzantine way possible).

Quote
... which certainly looked very interesting with some very colourful components which looked really good quality. Didn't get a chance to find out how it played.

It looks great.  Unfortunately it looks better than it plays.  I fear that what I have to say about the game will come across as more damning than I actually mean it to be, so you could just interpret everything I could say about the game as "faint praise" and decide for yourself whether it's good enough to play or is damned forever by it.

It's a sort of programmed movement game.  Which I usually love.  It's a sort of route-building, pick-up-and-deliver game.  Which I usually love.  And it s very well presented - not only does everything look good, it actually makes the game make sense as well as making it easier to play.  I can't criticise the game for the downtime - everyone does their thinking simultaneously.  There are decisions,  There are interactions.  It's quite a good game.

But it's only "quite good".  There was absolutely nothing about the game that made me want to play it again.  Perhaps because there were various things about it that I'd seen once too often, or perhaps because it didn't "spark" with me (and I often can't tell ahead of time what will). If it had been an jour long, I might think slightly more kindly of it.  But it wasn't - it was two hours. 

It reminded me quite a lot of Relic Runners.  Route building game, very pretty, a bit too long and destined to be a 7/10.  I want to play 8s, dammit.

Oh yeah, I should add that I won.  But only because Andy had neglected to read out a rule, that if in force would have made Gavin's earlier lead in guild towers completely unassailable.  Whereas I just ground out a quiet, unassuming win by never trying to be "best" at anything, but good enough on most things to avoid elimination in the first two scoring categories and having just enough guild houses to take the win from the only there player not eliminated.

FWIW, I played Evolution at Raiders.  It's not an 8 either.  It's a 7.5.  I'll play it, more willingly than I'll play a 7.  But there will always be a voice in the back of my head saying "why am I not playing an 8 instead?" [/q]
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« Reply #4 on: 11 January 2015, 02:47:55 »

Quote from: HairyDogWalker
I do think that it needs to be played with a timer, as that will add extra pressure to the negotiations.

Is it the game that needs the timer, or certain of the gamers?
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« Reply #5 on: 14 January 2015, 17:43:55 »

Wed 14th Jan 2015

Whoa! Nearly typed 2014 there.

After last week's Lords of Xidit, I'm torn this week.

I don't think that I want to play Antike II a third time this week, nor Hyperborea, but as both of them are great I'm sure that I'll bring them with me. I'll also have Panamax.

But despite several of us grumbling about playing new games for the first time from the rule book - and others who don't grumble but actually enjoy that sort of pain - I'm very tempted to try out my copy of Imperialism: Road to Domination. I bought it at Essen after a VERY strong recommendation from a friend (who had tipped Agricola as being huge, and made us play it when all there was available was a German edition and a stapled-together crib sheet), but it's also received some mediocre (if not to say negative) reviews.

FWVLIW, some of the criticisms sound much like mine were of the game Progress: Evolution of Technology (you'll have to take my word for it that the game was dire; I didn't buy it and will never play it again) - save in one respect. Progress had zero interaction at all; Imperialism seems to be *built* on some very "take that" interactions.\

I've read the rules (not a huge help; they weren't translated particularly well IMO); I've studied the forum; I've laid out the components, but failed miserably at actually playing any part of the game solo precisely because so much depends on what the other players are doing. But despite not having much of a handle on the game simply after reading the rules, I'm pretty sure that it's nowhere near as troublesome to learn as I first thought.

And that recommendation was very emphatic.

2-4 players, I have a feeling that it would be best learned with 3.
« Last Edit: 14 January 2015, 17:44:51 by RichardD » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: 15 January 2015, 14:29:45 »

So, Imperialism: Road to Domination.



We settled on a 3-player game, with myself, Neil and Chris (after a bit of wheedling and cajoling).  Although I'd read the rule book and pushed the pieces around in advance, making the trip through the rules less ghastly than it would otherwise have been, it still wasn't too easy to grasp (as first games rarely are).

Now we've played we understand what we should have been trying to do - be in first place on each of about 8 or 9 commodity tracks, and grab VP Achievement cards from the display.  Grabbing a VP card usually required either a certain combination of commodity points, a large army/navy (represented on another track), or having conquered a number of territory cards (which need armies/navies plus cash to conquer).  There aren't many other ways to gain VPs; some territories have bonus VPs, changing religion - which can be done once - brings in VPs (though you score better at the end if your power remains Catholic), and topping out on the Prestige resource track also earns points.  But Achievement cards and track position is the main way.  I wish that had been clear from the start.   

Something else that we didn't realise was that rushing down *either* the army *or* the navy track, while ignoring the other one, was a recipe for longer-term stagnation (I must confess, I spent the first half of the game thinking that it was the only "sensible" way to play, and the last half of the game thinking how wrong I'd been during the first half).  The territory cards are important because they are the most efficient way to move your markers along the commodity tracks (which you need for VPs at the end of the game as well as income/bonuses during it), and once you run out of easy "medium army/medium navy" cards and get onto the ones which require a balanced mix, you can struggle to claw your way back up the other track.

Turns are relatively simple; discard (if you want) and then draw new cards, then choose one of five actions - which must be a different action to the one chosen on your previous turn. 
The five actions are:
- Tax (take a ridiculously small amount of money; this action is almost akin to passing on your turn);
- Develop (take some benefit from one commodity track, usually money; gain a bigger benefit if you're in first place on that track; and then take some economic action which either involves getting more money or spending some of it);
- Conquest (meet the Army & Navy requirements of one of your territory cards and pay the gold needed to put it into play);
- Intrigue (play up to two cards to improve your position/hamper someone else's); and
- War (start a fight with an opponent, comparing either Army or Navy strengths with a few mods; the winner gets a couple of points, but if the defender loses, they have to chose a penalty to pay).

In theory, Wars are a bit uncertain but can bring in some decent rewards; in practice, because I'd shot up the Army track I was unstoppable on land, Neil had a huge fleet so could win any naval war, and Chris lagged behind on both but was never worth picking on.  Oh, and three "certain victory" wars I started were shut down by inconvenient event card play. Grrr.  Hopefully Wars have more influence on a game where everyone is playing a bit better than we were.   

Intrigue plays were usually a matter of picking on the obvious target (i.e. whoever the leader was) to rob them of a few coins and mess with their Develop-Conquest-Develop-Conquest routine.

And the game does largely revolve around Conquest of new territories (going up the commodity tracks), and Developing (taking the economic benefit of those commodities).

Neil won, though not by as much as he'd threatened to at one stage (my position on the commodity tracks brought in quite a few bonuses); Chris trailed in third.  Now Chris had got off to a slow start - you need to build your Army and Navy early on, to get enough critical mass going to start laying out territories, and Chris was about 2 turns behind Neil and I in getting things going.  I've seen criticisms of Imperialism that it exhibits the "rich get richer" flaw, and that might be right.  Or maybe we just played poorly and made poor early decisions.

I confess that I'm often guilty of writing off a new game after just one play, and that I might be more guilty of that when it's not a game I bought.  There are a couple of factors that lie behind the second phenomenon - if I've bought a game, I want to get some money's worth out of it, and will try to extract a couple of plays before giving up on the game; but also if I bought it that decision was prompted by *something* that ought to predispose me to like the game (a recommendation, a review, something about the game's mechanisms perhaps).  And similarly if I haven't bought a game myself, sometimes there are reasons why I didn't (a review, a negative comment by someone else, something about the game's mechanisms perhaps) - hence the lower level of willingness to give such a game a second outing.  but in all cases gaming time is precious, and we all have too many good - or even great - games to allow the merely OK, quite good or not bad games to take up precious time on the table.

Where does Imperialism fit into the pantheon?  I'm not at all sure.  On the one hand, I brought home THREE "civilization-style" games from Essen (Imperialism, Hyperborea and Historia).  I knew that at least one of them would not be my cup of tea.  I played Historia three times before deciding that the level of decisions and of interaction were insufficient for the game's length.  I suppose that Imperialism also deserves at least one more crack of the whip (especially as we played quite poorly).  And it left me with a similar feeling to Panamax - there's something going on with the game that I just haven't got a handle on yet, and it might be very good when I do.

Where Imperialism fell down for me though takes me back to those two key benchmarks - meaningful decisions and worthwhile interaction.  the game has interaction.  I played another "civilization" game at Essen -  Progress: Evolution of Technology.  It had a tech tree.  It had nice cards.  It had too much luck, the "rich get richer" problem in spades, and zero interaction.  Imperialism clearly isn't that bad.  The player interaction is probably more meaningful when players know how best to interact, and when and why they should do so.  But there's clearly plenty of scope for interaction - I've seen it described as having "take that" elements (which it clearly has), and two of the four main options on a player's turn are interactive.

No, where it may well fall down is on my "meaningful decisions" criteria.  Because I struggled somewhat to see what meaningful decisions I had on each of my turns.  If I was holding a territory card and could meet its requirements, it was pretty much a no-brainer to play it.  If I didn't, take a Develop action to be able to meet the criteria on my next turn.  A hand size of just five cards meant that there were rarely more than two Intrigue cards on hand - and often they might not both be playable - so Intrigue actions were only taken when the cards - and board situation - dictated it.  War?  Well, the imbalance in our early-game approaches meant that every fight was pretty one-sided, so the weak players hoarded event cards that would shut down a war, and the rich players often had better things to do.

So, jury's out.  I'll try to play it again in the next week or so, though.  And I'll be able too pass on the lessons of this first game to hopefully make that a better experience.
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« Reply #7 on: 15 January 2015, 15:21:51 »

I arrived just after half 7 to see that I had missed out on a game of Castles of Mad King Ludwig that was just starting.  That is a game I really like but rarely play.  I sometimes think that I have bought it for other people to play, as most times I take it to a games night it will get borrowed, whilst I'm playing something else.  I only managed one play of it in December, although my copy was played many times Smiley

Anyhow, I could see that Richard and Neil had set something up which was Imperialism: Road to Domination as described above by Richard.  I'm not a fan of epic civilisation building games, so I could tell from the title that it wasn't going to be my sort of game.  However, you should try these things once.  I got off to a very poor start.  I would like to blame it on the fact that my nation was not in a position to colonise on turn 1, whereas the other two could.  However, I think that it was more than that.  It was because I spent a couple of early turns trying to see how things worked by trying out some of the other actions.  I played a couple of conspiracy cards on them and started a war with Richard which I lost.  I don't think that I slowed them down at all.  It just stunted my growth as I had wasted my early turns trying to mess with them, rather than build myself up.  There was no way to come back which is my fault, rather than a fault of the game.  I didn't hate the game and would play it again, but very differently.

Then we wound down with a few hands of Red7 which I had played before, but couldn't remember the rules, despite there not being very many.
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« Reply #8 on: 15 January 2015, 15:23:38 »

On our table we plunged in with a first game of Zhanguo which is themed around the Unification of China.

I had watched the excellent Rules Overview by Paul Grogan several times so felt reasonably comfortable teaching this.

I did have to thumb the rules a few times during setup, teaching and to answer some questions during gameplay. The rules aren't necessarily complicated but there is a lot of ground to cover, especially as the cards are used in different ways. There are numerous ways to score points some are instantaneous others are end game plus you have various goals that can score big at the end if achieved. It was fair to say that some eyes glazed over during the explanation, which is not unsurprising given the depth of game here.

After the first turn or so things did start to make sense and even with a few missed opportunities on scoring, due to the overflow of info at that start, the final scores were not that far apart.

Once I got into the flow I did really enjoy this but could see where I needed to do things better or differently in future games.  

There are a lot of choices to be made in this game, a lot of them painful and there is player interaction as your choices can have a real impact on someone else. There was a bit of downtime between player turns, however you can put this to good use working out what choices you plan to make on your turn. Whilst, as I mentioned before, this can be affected by other players you always needs to look at various options in order to be able to adjust your plans.

This was not a short game, the box claims 1-2hours, as we left a lot later then we would have liked but as a learning game it was not unexpected. I will most likely bring this again next week to jump straight into again in the hope that I will score better and have to spend less time checking the rules Smiley

Bit of a brain burner for the first game but subsequent plays should prove more interesting and with a variable setup should provide a decent amount of replayabilty.

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« Reply #9 on: 23 January 2015, 01:42:24 »

21st Jan 2015

I'm sure that plenty of people played plenty of fine games.  I wasn't one of them.  Apart from a quick couple of hands of Red7, I did not play plenty of games; I played one.  Over, and over, and over.  Roll for the Galaxy.

If you count my first solo play-through, done in the shop just ahead of the Weds session (so that I ensured that I understood the rules - and especially the turn flow and decisions - well enough to teach the game) then I played the game six times last night.  Six.  And it's not a particularly short game; it takes about the same length of time to play as it's card-game progenitor, Roll for the Galaxy (so 30 minutes with lower player numbers or really fast people, 45 minutes on average, and maybe an hour with the maximum number of players who are still feeling their way through the game).

Interestingly, I had no problem at all persuading people to play the game a second time after their first, and a couple of them (Adam was one) stayed late when I managed to persuade Phil to play the game, starting after 11pm.  I suspect that I was not the only one paying for that late finish this morning, but it was worth it.

Once again, I forgot to take any pictures mid-game.  I think Paul might have taken a couple, but I was too bound up in the game to actually notice!
« Last Edit: 23 January 2015, 01:51:41 by RichardD » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: 23 January 2015, 01:43:13 »

21st Jan 2015

Well tonight I had another go at Zhanguo this time with Phil and Carole making it a 3-player.

Worked really well and teaching it took a lot less time having learnt/played it the previous week. Phil as always managed to master it well enough to romp the win leaving me to lose my own game thus saving the world Wink

I am really enjoying the game and it seems really well balanced, scaling well so far with different numbers of players. All I need to do now is work out how to play well Smiley



Here is the picture from one of Richard's many games of Roll for the Galaxy:




Other games played:

« Last Edit: 23 January 2015, 01:52:09 by Zarniwoop » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: 23 January 2015, 19:21:54 »

All those games of Roll played, and you manage to take a photo of the rules explanation!

Of course, I'd meant to take pictures of my own, but always manage to forget once I'm in the flow of a game.
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« Reply #12 on: 04 February 2015, 01:32:37 »

Quote from: StroppyGnome
Yesterday I bought Tomorrow
So next Wednesday (4th. Feb) I'll be after people to play Tomorrow.

4-6 players, primarily a negotiation game, about 2 hrs play (much less if people get too nuke happy). The objective is to exterminate 70% of humanity whilst preserving "your people" and culture.

Biological agents and nukes will be provided.





:Taken from BGG Guild:
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« Reply #13 on: 04 February 2015, 01:35:23 »

Works for me. So long as I get to Roll before or after. Ideally both.

FWIW, I'd also like to play XCOM (if anyone has it). And Temporum. And Imperialism. But mostly Roll.
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« Reply #14 on: 04 February 2015, 01:39:05 »

I committed to a go at Star Wars: Imperial Assault for this week, although I don't know if that is still on as I wasn't there last week and I appreciate that plans do change.  I guess that I'll see what is happening when I turn up.  I agree with Richard that I'd also like to try XCOM: The Board Game.  I saw one review that said if you love Space Alert (I do) and Space Cadets (I really don't) then you should get it.
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