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Author Topic: Monthly Gaming @ Spirit Games - 2015  (Read 10047 times)
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Zarniwoop
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« on: 12 January 2015, 17:59:39 »

11th Jan 2015
We started off with Antike II which is a update of the previous game. As it was some time ago I played the original I can not really pass judgement on how they compare, however this version seems to be quite streamlined and easy to play. It helped that two of the four players had played this version already, I liked it and certainly would be willing to play again.

The next game was Nations: The Dice Game, again I have not played Nations but I found the Dice variant quite interesting to play. It was fun with some meaningful choices to make which can mitigate the randomness of the dice. I would definitely play again with some improved knowledge of what to do Wink

Our group finished the day with a game of Oddville which is a really fun little game that plays quite quickly.

The other groups ending up playing 7-wonders with all the trimmings including the Babel expansion, Space Bastards got to the table briefly but due to peoples need to get home this was unfortunately abandoned. Yunnan also came out again which started just as we left so if any further games were played someone else will have to fill in the gaps Wink
« Last Edit: 13 January 2015, 00:49:13 by Zarniwoop » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: 14 January 2015, 02:22:28 »

I honestly was going to write this up tonight, so you've saved me a job.  Antike II and Nations: the dice game were both new to me and I'd happily play them both again.
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« Reply #2 on: 14 January 2015, 02:25:12 »

Nations: The Dice Game is an interesting one, for a number of reasons. 

Firstly it's very easy to do a dice game "by the numbers" (and even easier to do so quite badly); you know what I mean - roll, roll again, roll a third time, then cash up what you've got and score it in some way.  I lose count of how many dice games do it that way, and almost all of them are entirely mediocre (King Of Tokyo does that, and - although I don't like it very much - somehow it manages to be entertaining; Roll Through The Ages does it as well, and manages to be the exception that proves the rule - a good game; but the rest are all mediocre).  But step outside that mould and a lot of games simply don't work, or fail to be interesting.   Nations takes a very different approach - roll once, at the start of the round, and (barring retools, which have to be paid for) that's it.  Normally a recipe for disaster (too few rolls and a dice game becomes entirely down to luck).  I'm not sure *why* Nations succeeds with so few rolls, but it does.

Secondly, the mechanism of upgrading your dice over the course of a game, allowing you to effectively trade up from a very "general" sort of die to some much more specialised ones, is something I'd not seen before.  Yet there were TWO new dice games at Essen this year, both doing the same thing (incidentally, they both sold out pretty early - Friday morning, I think).  The other game is Ciúb - which to my mind has more (and better) decisions, but is totally devoid of theme.

Thirdly, Nations The Dice Game does manage to capture both the theme and the atmosphere of the 3-hour long Nations board game almost exactly.  Nations the board game has the same sort of tension, of grabbing stuff now versus taking the risk that it won't be there on your next turn. It has a similar pressure to build wonders for VPs (with the cost being that they slow you down i the meantime).  It has a strong amount of scrimmage present - mess with your opponents' plans, some times to such an extent that you can ruin not only their round but sometimes their entire game by doing something that they failed to anticipate and allow for.  But although Nations the bad game does all these things really well, and it feels like you are juggling factors to try to grow your civilization (or just keep it afloat sometimes), Nations Dice feels like it's presenting the same sort of material in a 30-minute long package.  My only real criticism of the dice game is that there doesn't always feel like there's a lot you can do to shape your fate, that the decisions are fairly obvious most of the time (and sometimes comes down to just needing to be lucky); if it took an hour, I'd say that there wasn't enough game in the box to justify that.  But each time I've played it, the game has come to an end *just before* I reached the point where I would have thought "this game needs to end soon, as I'm about to get bored with the decisions presented to me".

  Given 3 hours, I'd much rather play Nations the board game than 4-6 games of Nations Dice; but with less than 45 minutes available, Nations Dice is a neat way to experience the feel of the big game without needing half a day to play it properly.  Kind of like San Juan to Puerto Rico.

Antike, meanwhile, was always a great game, and one that Phil has brought out fairly often down the last ten years.  I stopped playing it in favour of "better" games largely because it had a couple of flaws - chiefly that the endgame could bog down, and become either a drawn-out war of attrition or worse still a stalemate (this didn't happen too often to me, because I reckon I know *why* it does and always played to avoid it, but in doing so it was limiting the way that I could play the game).  From what I have seen of the revised edition, a few small changes ought to have eliminated these sort of problems.  It'll be back on the table soon, with one caveat - it covers a similar "playing space" to Hyperborea, and I *really* like Hyperborea!

I'd meant to take some pictures of the games "mid-flow" on my phone, but forgot.  Someone will have to remind me this week.
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« Reply #3 on: 09 February 2015, 11:06:48 »

8th Feb 2015
Well it was a bit thin on the ground this month but I guess the Great Derby Bash the day before probably had an impact on that.

After a bit of chatting amongst the early attendees Chris turned up with his new purchase Homeland. Aside from Chris, the rest of the players had not seen the series on which the game was based. So after the excellent rules explanation from Chris we dived in.

The game is one of the Hidden Traitor style game, though in this there is also a Political Optimist who plays both sides in order to try and steal a win.

Each turn new plots and organisations are revealed that need to be dealt with. Players take control of a case and place intel cards on 2 plots to "aid" in neutralising it. The intel cards are a mix of numbered cards (Traitor/Loyal) and some special event cards which change what happens. These cards are numbered and when the plots are assessed the red numbers are added to the plot threat and compared to the blue numbers. If blue is higher the plot is thwarted and the Case lead gets a reward, otherwise the case leader or all investigators may take a penalty.

I enjoyed the game and would be willing to play this again though the theme, at least for this first game, did not feel integrated into the play. This may have been a consequence of this being a learning game where we were mostly concentrating on the mechanics of playing it.

There is some good design with cut out on the cards so that the two important numbers can be seen when they are placed on top of each other on the board.

Next we played Alien Frontiers with the Outer Belt expansion. This is always a fun little game and a joy to play. The Outer Belt expansion adds an extra board, dice and deck of cards to the base game. The dice is thrown by each player along with there own dice at the start of their turn. The Asteroid dice determines whether or not the cards on the board are shifted along the track or not, the last card is removed and placed on the bottom of the deck. The new cards are collected by using dice combos like on the main board, but each card slot has navigation die pools that determine which dice can be used. The cards themselves show how many dice are needed or specific dice needed in addition. The cards themselves provide a variety of bonuses like extra resources, or alternative means of taking the core actions on the main game board. This latter option can be very handy in a multiplayer game to alleviate being blocked out of certain actions. All in all this adds a lot of interesting additional options without over-complicating the game.

I would probably add this expansion in as a matter of course for future games as in the four player we had the scores were a lot closer than would normally be the case.

Roll for the Galaxy was also played as well as Quartermaster General I believe but I'll let the players on that table describe these games if they want to.
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« Reply #4 on: 09 February 2015, 11:36:21 »

Homeland: The Game - I'm tempted to say that the theme is razor-thin. Except that wouldn't be fair - the game has a perfectly sound theme for the game's premise and underlying mechanisms. The problem is, those mechanisms feel so mechanical they overwhelm the theme to the point where it *feels* like a pasted-on afterthought. And those mechanisms - take the blandest part of BSG, re-label it, and throw out all of the other, decent bits. I don't like BSG precisely because of the dry mechanical way that situations are resolved with cards - yet that is the entirety of Homelands! I tried to keep my ennui hidden for most of the game; it isn't, after all, awful. It's just that I can see no reason whatsoever to play Homelands if you could play BSG instead - and I'm no fan of BSG.

We then splintered, and on the other table played Roll for the Galaxy - great game, but I found myself thinking too hard about teaching the game instead of just relaxing into it. Plus I had a few turns where the dice didn't go my way (and I wasn't thinking properly how to mitigate the poor rolls. It was close, though, with only a few points separating 1st through to 3rd.

Finally it was Quartermaster General. This is easily one of my favourite games of the last few years. Best with 6 (and fastest with 6 - each player only has to concentrate on their own country), we played with 4 - and had another really close game. Early Allied lead (unusually; I got off to a slow start with Germany, having to spend turns playing powerful Status cards but achieving nothing). The US and UK lined up to harass the Axis in Europe, leaving Japan to make hay all game in the west Pacific and Indian Oceans (earning 7 points per turn, for pretty well the whole game). Once Germany got rolling, it threatened to steamroller Russia right out of the game, but I misplayed a couple of cards - responding too slowly to a situation which ought to have been regarded as an imminent and critical threat, and ended up running out of deck AND hand cards with Germany on turn 14! Just one more turn and I'd have swung it! Though at least the Axis had pulled out a healthy points lead by then. Italy, meanwhile, found itself hampered with the wrong kind of cards in hand for most of the game - but not daring to discard them, for fear of becoming decked. Which happened anyway, and just at the wrong time to save the war for the Axis. As it was, Germany and Italy were both left watching the clock tick down, hoping that the Allies could not take both capitals before the end of turn 20 (the Axis points lead being pretty well unassailable, but never really threatening to get to the 30-point instant win margin). Unfortunately for the Axis, Russia was able to occupy the second of Germany and Italy on turn 20 (and, FWIW, I don't believe that the US could have done so on the final turn of the game - so this was truly the last possible moment on which the Allies could have won). We all agreed that it was particularly close and exciting - and (once again) different to how the game has played out previously (while still feeling quite historically realistic).
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« Reply #5 on: 09 June 2015, 01:11:04 »

8th March 2015

Seems like a long time ago now. I seem to recall playing Roll for the Galaxy and Mythotopia, though.
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« Reply #6 on: 09 June 2015, 01:13:30 »

April 2015

This week was "Mottainai Week" - after wheedling Phil into printing two copies of the decks out for me (so we could play with 4, 5 or even players) and having learned the rules on Wednesday (at Andy's expense), I managed to get quite a few games in today - 2, 3 and 4-player. It's clearly based on Glory To Rome, but has a round structure a bit more like Glory To Dinosaurs (sorry, Uchronia). However, it's much shorter than Uchronia - shorter even than GTR. Some of the nomenclature and terminology is a bit obtuse, though - if not to say downright weird. But then, most of Carl Chudyk's games are like that - Innovation uses the word "Dogma" to mean "do what is written on the card", and "Meld" to mean "put the card into play in front of you". Odd, because almost all of the rest of the known universe uses the word "meld" in quite a different way.

I'm getting to grips with Mottainai, though.

We also played some Roll For The Galaxy (there's a surprise). one of the Richards won, again.

And I rounded the session off with a game of Harbour. "Le Havre the Card Game" is about the most fitting description I could possibly give of the game, and that's no bad thing - given that Le Havre is a great game, but a bit on the long & heavy side. Of course, after muttering about buying a copy I forgot all about it - though that does leave a bit of money in my pocket to buy more bike bits.
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« Reply #7 on: 09 June 2015, 01:14:34 »

I missed May's event - too busy riding a 180km audax up into the Peak District and back again. We got close-ish to Burton, though it did feel very weird thinking of Tutbury as "not too much further to go now" (as Tutbury's still a ruddy long way from home). And June's event clashes with another audax.  Sad
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« Reply #8 on: 16 June 2015, 13:29:47 »

14th June 2015
Started the day off with Murano as Roy had to leave early and needed a shortish game. Set this up for 4 players and began the rules explanation but then had to quickly reconfigure for 3 as Chris offered to play a game with some new arrivals. This was an excellent game as ever with Adam being the winner but was close.

The next game was Helios as another game had finished so there were several people looking for a game. I really enjoy this game and I have managed quite a few plays of this one since I purchased it. The scores are always reasonably close and there are multiple ways to score but there are limited number of actions you take in the game so you have to choose wisely. Having done reasonably well in the last couple of games I played of this, I managed to lose my way in this game and barely avoided last place. Great fun though.

Finally we played Klunker a nice quick little card game to end the evening with. I've a vague memory that I may have played this before but then I have played a lot of games now Wink Set collection game where the value of the set is reduced if you have other different cards in your safe at the time the set is completed. Interesting game that was quite fun.
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« Reply #9 on: 17 June 2015, 16:34:09 »

And I missed June's event by riding a 160km audax down to and through the Cotswolds. And although it was shorter and less hilly than the last one (by a pretty narrow margin), it included a handful of double-digit gradients to stop me getting complacent and actually enjoying it!
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« Reply #10 on: 14 October 2015, 15:31:11 »

11th Oct 2015
Started the day with a game of Isle of Skye which has elements of Carcassonne and by that that is really just tile laying and matching terrain. The roads do not need to be continued but to gain additional income these tiles must link back to your castle by road. The game has four scoring tiles which are scored in various combinations over 6 rounds. The scoring tiles are chosen from a larger set so each game will be different. There is a unique bidding system for gaining new tiles which works quite well. A really fun enjoyable game where you have to adapt your game as each different scoring combo comes up.

We then had a game of Steampunk Rally which is definitely becoming a firm favourite with our group. I even managed to build a half-decent machine which made it across the finish line Wink

I then broke out Scoville which is a really fun little game which I enjoy every time I play. It does take a while to get your head round some of the aspects but it flows pretty well and seems pretty balanced as there are different ways to score. I have to apologise to the players again as I did mess up the auction rules for the first few turns as I skimmed the rules a little too quickly as a reminder missing the crucial element of this.

Finally we played a couple of rounds of Codenames a game I initially avoided at other events but finally got roped in. It is really fun to play, though personally I would not play the Spymaster it feels too daunting. The spymasters have a card with a layout of both red/blue spies, bystanders and the Assassin. Using this and a grid of words representing the "codenames" of the spies they give one word clues with a number representing how many cards they feel match the clue. If the "team" guess correctly by pointing at the words they are covered by the appropriate coloured spy or a bystander or worse the assassin which ends the game immediately.
« Last Edit: 14 October 2015, 15:34:23 by Zarniwoop » Logged

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