Sunday 25 July 2021

Boardgame Session; July 2021

A busy month of boardgaming. At home, Elaine and I got ‘Carcassonne, the Castle’ to the table, a 2p version of the original. I bought this at a B&B a few years ago but for reasons unknown it has sat on the shelf unused (possibly because we like the original ‘Carcassonne’ so much). I think we were both surprised how enjoyable this game is; many aspects are same/similar to the original but the restricted space makes the tile laying more challenging. The bonus chits on the wall (i.e. scoring track) can profoundly influence the game tactics and outcome.

Architects of the West Kingdom Cover Artwork

Next we met up with Val and Chris at Thirsty Meeples in Oxford and played two games new to us. First I suggested ‘Architects of the West Kingdom’; a worker placement, resource management, eurogame that has good reviews on BGG and has generated a range of ‘sister’ games set in the same era. I like the limited worker idea and how workers become more ‘productive’ as more workers are placed on areas of the board. Players soon have to visit the town centre in order to reclaim their own workers or capture opponents. The ‘Black Market’ is good and if money starts mounting in the ‘Tax Building’ it is difficult to resist turning thief and stealing it. Of course, this does damage your reputation and the game does track and reward a players ‘Virtue’; so are you going to be an angel or a sinner? If you are virtuous, should you focus on the civic cathedral rather than your own buildings? Obtaining appropriate ‘Employee’s’ is important, as is regularly visiting the ‘Castle’ to rescue your incarcerated workers. In the game you are trying to generate the money, materials and skills required to build the building blueprints you have in your hand. As I was ‘teaching’ the game, I spent the opening moves demonstrating the different uses of areas of the board rather than developing a personal strategy. Val and Chris both went for the angelic route, whereas Elaine and I went to the dark-side, whether by choice or accident. I did try to redeem my reputation during the end-phase but to no avail. Chris followed by Val had high victorious scores, whilst Elaine and I trailed well behind. I think we would all benefit from more games and be able to refine our tactics, and I think (hope) everyone enjoyed the game.

PARKS Cover Artwork

Chris choose the next game; ‘Parks’. In this game you are trekking, gaining resources and visiting (buying) various US National Parks when you reach camp. It is played over 4 seasons (turns), with the length of trek increasing with each passing season. In addition you can purchase gear to enhance trekking rewards, and you can take photos (additional victory points). The trek is similar to a roundel mechanism, so you can jump ahead but never move back. The interesting twist is each player has 2 hikers! So, do you send one marching in front to camp whilst the other dawdles at the back, or do you move together? I think this is another game that requires multiple plays to really appreciate (i.e. I lost by some distance!), and I’m sure it will grow on me.

Village Green Cover Artwork

Whilst at Thirsty Meeples I bought a copy of ‘Village Green’, and since we have played many games. ‘Village Green’ is a simple card game in which players construct a grid of cards, with purple ‘Award’ cards on 2 of the edges (plus a players ‘Village’ card) and a 3x3 grid of green ‘Garden’ cards beside/beneath these Awards (making a 4x4 grid if completed). There are 3 types of flower (rose, petunia, lily) in 3 colours (red, purple, yellow), and cards can only be placed if they orthogonally match either of these characteristics. There are ‘Lawn’ cards which have no placement restrictions. Cards also have other features (ponds, trees, structures). Scoring depends on the type of Award card situated on the column or row, and it is possible to change the Award cards during the game. This game is a puzzle where you find yourself blocked by previously played cards, and then choosing when (or if) to change your scoring Awards, whilst keeping an eye on your opponents progress. Both Elaine and I have really enjoyed ‘Village Green’; it packs a big punch in a small box! My only criticisms of the game are; the yellow colour does not stand out as clearly as it should, and beware of analysis paralysis.

Targi: The Expansion Cover Artwork

Finally we finished the month playing ‘Targi – Expansion’. This is not ‘really’ an expansion of Targi but instead variant . Still an excellent game, and if anything’ the range and difficulty of the choices is harder. We love both the basic and expanded versions of Targi.