Thursday, 31 December 2015

Boardgame session: 28 Dec 2015

We visited our friends, Val and Chris, and played a couple of games of Archipelago. is a new game to both Elaine and I, but I think we soon began to pick up the rules and theme of the game. This is a ‘heavy’ Euro game with a vast amount of stuff on the table, and players have multiple options each turn. The designer seems to have thrown every mechanic into the pot so it is both difficult to describe and teach. Although players are competing to win, there is a co-op element because if the rebel natives exceed the colonists, then everyone loses! It should be noted that we did not include the ‘traitor’ card, which encourages one player to secretly ‘crash’ the game. The main mechanic is worker placement but card purchase and deck building exists, as does exploration, turn-order bidding, hidden victory conditions, inter-player negotiation, variable endgame conditions etc. etc. The game has 3 time variants: short, medium and long. We only played the ‘short’ game version and each game took 2 hours to complete! Val won the first game, beating me by a single point. The second game was won by the game because we failed to pay enough attention to the rising rebels as we should have (we did add the victory points anyway, and I won!). So, do I like Archipelago? I’m not sure at the moment. The theme of the game is great and all the elements mesh well with the theme – it all fits together logically. The artwork and components are good but not exceptional; the coins are small, the little wooden blocks are bland, and meeples are just meeples. I like the exploration mechanic and the random economic crisis’ that hit the archipelago. The downside is that there too much going on, and the game takes too long (2 hours for even the short game!).

Boardgame session: Christmas 2015 festive period usually results in a few boardgame sessions, and this year we went to my sister Gill’s house for Christmas. I packed a few games to play and we started with Five Tribes. I thought this game would appeal to my niece, Erin, both in terms of mechanic and strategy. I was right, she quickly got the point of the game and rapidly saw the best move options, and turn bidding strategy for each round. My wife, Elaine, won the game primarily by focussing on ‘merchants’ but Erin was second through her clever use of Elders and Djinns. The final result was Elaine (49), Erin (39, myself (26) and Gill (18). I have not played this game recently and had forgotten how good it is. The main danger is that of analysis paralysis (AP) but none of our group of gamers suffer from this condition, we tend to make decisive (possibly incorrect) decisions and plunge ahead come-what-may. I am considering getting the expansion for this game in the New Year, lunch was being prepared, Elaine and I played a few games of Hive. It always takes Elaine a few games to get into the ‘zone’ with this strategy game, so I won the first 3 games using the basic tile set. We then added the ‘Pillbug’ extension and played a couple more games, both of which Elaine won. I decided to quit whilst I was still ahead!

On Christmas morning I was pleased to see that Santa recognised my love of games because I opened the United Kingdom/Pennsylvania extension for Ticket To Ride; a Go board and counters; The Game of Thrones boardgame, and my own copy of Bohnanza (up until now only Erin had a copy and I was jealous). In the afternoon we decided to try out the Pennsylvania version of Ticket to Ride. This is an to the basic game rules, introducing ‘railroad stocks’ as an additional scoring mechanism (we assumed that railroad lengths were scored as normal, but the rulebook did not make this clear; and how much is a 7 railroad worth? We arbitrarily scored it as 18). There is also the new map to play on! Anyway, the game played well and we all liked the added dimension given by the Railroad Stocks. Elaine won easily because she kept on drawing new tickets which often overlapped routes she had already completed – sometimes the luck is just with you, ride it! The final scores were: Elaine (200), Paul (157), Gill (150), myself (149) and Erin (127). We have yet to play the UK game, but from reading the rules this is a very different gaming experience with many new rules and changes.
We finish our stay with a quick game of Sopio, a simple card game Elaine picked up at the UK Games last spring, and which we gave to Erin as a present. I think this is a nice, fast, simple, treacherous card game with goofy artwork. We used the ‘basic’ deck (there are numerous additional decks available) and had great fun. Erin eventually won the game after roughly 20 minutes of play. Unfortunately we ran out of time to have a rematch, but I can certainly see us playing this many times (we have a booster deck at home).