Due to decorating I have been severely restricted in my gaming activities for the last few weeks. All the ‘detritus’ from our dining room needed to be moved and stored, and the most appropriate site was my wargame den (i.e. the garage). But the task is now complete and we invited Val and Chris around to inaugurate the new dining room (and to play some boardgames).
We started with a game of ‘Kingsburg’, which I bought at the UK Games Expo. I was really looking forward to getting this on the table for the first time. The game components looked great, and all the players quickly picked up the rules. The victor was Val, but none of us could put our finger on how or why she won. I felt the game was disappointingly bland: All the years were the same, all the players built similar structures, the Winter invasions tended to be easily dealt with, and surprisingly, there was not the level of competitive play when choosing Advisors. It was rare that one player blocked another, causing them to waste dice, and when it did happen it was often accidental and an apology was offered (?). There is an extension to the game, ‘Forge a Realm’, which I don’t have but I have read a few reviews of. This does address all the issues we found with the game by introducing 5 additional modules to the game: (1) increasing the number of ‘lines’ on the players boards, thereby increasing the diversity of potential constructions (good). (2) introducing variable building ‘lines’ for each player, thereby forcing players into differing strategies (good). (3) variable, player specific Advisors, again allowing more differentiation between players (possibly OK). (4) allowing for variable yearly affects which will remove the blandness of the yearly turns (good). (5) introducing tokens, rather than a dice roll, for the Kings Aid in the Winter invasion segment (probably good). The military turn segment is by far the weakest area of the game in my opinion. The use of tokens may work; it would make Advisors who allow a sneak peak at the coming invasion, vital to all players, allowing them to accurately decide which token to use. I have read about other interesting alternative variants to solve the Military side of the game: (a) instead of a single dice roll applying to all players, each player makes his/her own dice roll. I think this might work, although some players who roll badly might feel aggrieved. (b) use a different dice (numbered 1,2,2,3,3,4) instead of an ordinary D6. This would make resisting invasions more difficult but less random, and could be used in conjunction with option (a) above. In future games I will try these options, but in the longer term I fully intend to buy ‘Forge a Realm’ because it clearly does address all the problems we found with the game.
We finished the afternoon with a game of ‘Sewer Pirats’. I previously wrote about this game (see report on 29th May 2015) and my views remain pretty much the same. Playing with 4 players, rather than 2 players, gives an even better gaming experience. The rules are light enough to be easily picked up by new players, and the light theme allows players to enjoy the game without a high degree of competitiveness. I won by a good margin, We all felt the Rat character was the strongest, whilst the Snail character was the weakest. The other characters had their own adherents; I like the Toad, Elaine preferred the Cockroach, Chris used the Racoon a lot, and Val seemed to use the Weasel character. I can see ‘Sewer Rats’ remaining as a fun, light filler game.
Chatting afterwards with Elaine, we agreed that the next boardgame session hosted by us, would feature a different type of game. We think we might revive an old classic such as ‘Kingmaker’, which we have not played for years and which was a favourite of my mothers. We may play ‘Merchants and Marauders’ instead, but I dread to try and teach the rules of such a complex, multi-strategy type of game. I think all participants would need to watch some instructional videos before sitting down to this game!