Saturday, 22 August 2015

Boardgame Session: 19-21Aug2015

It is still school summer holidays, so my sister (Gill) and niece (Erin) came to stay and play boardgames. On the Wednesday afternoon, while my wife (Elaine) worked, we sat down to a couple games of Sewer Pirats. I felt this was a nice, simple game to explain and play with new players, plus I wanted to show off my painted figures. Both Gill and Erin quickly picked up the rules; interestingly players never seem to play aggressively (i.e. blocking others from items they need). The first game was won by Erin (Erin66>Gill56>Mark52), and the second by Gill (Gill68>Mark67>Erin54). We all agree the game is a nice, light, simple and fast play game that is a good starter game for a gaming session. We thought that some better characteristics could be designed for some of the animals (e.g. the weasels jumping from boat to boat) and may be use these ‘house rules’ to vary the game play. joined us for an evening game of Dominion, which is possibly her favourite game. We used just the basic set and played the ‘First Game’ set of cards. These cards are nicely balanced and cover most of the ‘standard’ rules and variations needed. The rules outline is easy to explain but an understanding of Dominion can only be gained by actually playing. Fortunately the first few turns of Dominion are straight forward and each player turn can be played with the cards visible to all. This allows the more experienced gamers to explain the game strategies and options to new players. The core strategies which need to be understood revolve around deck building and optimising each player’s deck, plus sensing when to switch from collecting Action cards, to increasing the value of Coinage cards, and finally (and vitally) moving into Property/Victory cards. Unsurprisingly Erin picked these concepts up very quickly, but Elaine won the game (Elaine33>Erin29>Mark24>Gill20). Much to our relief, both Erin and Gill really enjoyed the game and therefore I can see many more games of Dominion in the future. next day, we played a couple of games of Hey, That’s My Fish. This is a very simple but fun game which we have played many times before. The first game was tied (Gill28=Erin28>Mark24), and the second was won by Gill (Gill34>Mark28>Erin24). This is a game involving aggressive tactics against other players and can ramp up the competitive nature of a gaming session. So, to quieten things back down, we next played couple of games of Forbidden Island. This is a co-operative game where all players are playing together against the game, in this case finding the treasure items and escaping from a sinking island. The first game was set at ‘Novice’ level and we easily succeeded, so we increased the setting to ‘Average’ and played again. We were still successful but the game was more challenging. The beauty of co-op games is the player interaction when planning out actions, and it is vital that no one player dominates, thereby taking over the game. The game only takes 30 minutes or so and I like to use such games between more competitive games to bring tensions down, and some players particularly enjoy the non-competitive aspect. I plan to introduce a more complex co-op game (e.g. Pandemic) into future boardgame sessions.

Next, Erin requested a game of Dungeon Petz. The theme of this game is so strong and makes it favourite amongst all our gaming friends. Gill had not played before and explaining the rules in not the easiest thing to do. Also, setting up takes a while which makes this a long (2+ hours) game. Soon everyone was sending out their imps to gather food, cages etc. for their monster pets and struggling to meet their needs. Erin became rather too attached to “Wormie” allowing him to get full sized with no buyers interested in his characteristics, and this cost her the game. Gill won on her first attempt (Gill>Mark>Erin. I forgot to note the scores). We finished the day with another game of Dominion using random card selection. This game had more ‘attack’ cards (e.g. Thief and Witch) and also the Gardens card. Erin and Gill could quickly see that this game played very differently compared to their first game; the Thief tended to deter players from obtaining high value coinage, which in turn made purchasing expensive cards difficult and made the game longer. Erin eventually won (Erin44>Mark42>Elaine37>Gill30).

The next day we went to the Thirsty Meeples Boardgame Cafe in Oxford, where we played Ticket to, the Nordic version. This is basically the same as the base game with no stations and a new geography which totally foxed us by demonstrating our total lack of knowledge of Scandinavian cities! Erin was particularly pleased to have the purple playing pieces, and Elaine suffered the worse luck by failing to get the single white carriage she required to complete and link up her network, even though she had half a dozen turns to get it! I was pleased to get my first victory in 3 days (Mark>Erin>Gill>Elaine; scores not noted down). We finished off by playing our third game of Dominion using the ‘Size Distortion’ card set from the base game. Another very enjoyable game resulted, but I failed to note down the scores and cannot remember who won (although I’m sure it was me)! So ended a mammoth gaming session over 3 days. Everyone recorded a victory and I think everyone enjoyed themselves.