Monday, 14 November 2016

Boardgame session: 12Nov2016

Val and Chris came over and we decided to give ‘Galaxy Trucker’ its first outing (I bought this second hand at Salute in September). I was not sure that this would be a game Elaine would enjoy; the whole SciFi scene is generally not her cup of tea. After quickly running through the rules, especially on constructing a spaceship, we set off. The building phase seemed more manic than I had anticipated, the parts you want just don’t seem to come up, keeping track of parts discarded by others is more difficult than expected, and areas of construction become blocked off. Once the first player completes and the final timer is turned, the action really hots up. Surprisingly we all were good at building ‘legal’ vessels, and only rarely did they fall apart on examination. The convoy section of each round does not require much in the way of decision making – things (mainly bad) just happen. There was considerable humour as you watch other players spaceships fall apart. In the first round Val’s ship was totally KO’d, and Elaine’s ship went the same way in the second round. Both Chris and I survived the whole game, but Chris was clearly the winner. Val had a good final voyage and took second place, whilst I came third. Elaine’s chances were scuppered by her failure in the middle round.

The post game discussion clearly showed that we all enjoyed the game, and Chris revealed that he had played the online game previously, which I’m sure contributed to his success. The focus of the game is the ship construction phase and we all enjoyed the pressure applied by the turning of the timer. Interestingly none of us looked at the upcoming adventure cards; I certainly planned to but the drive to add to your construction wiped this intention from my thoughts. The voyage phase is mainly chance and players need to be relaxed about the outcomes. If your ship falls apart, all you can do is laugh with the others! You never seem to have enough of certain parts, I never seemed to get enough engines and I think coming in first during a convoy is important for winning. Anyway, I feel that Galaxy Trucker will get many future outings, and I’m glad I picked it up cheap!
Next we played a game of ‘Barking Up the Wrong Tree’, a card game where you utilise different dog breds to garner different tree species. Essentially this is a bidding game played over 5 rounds, and its main attraction lies in the nice graphic design. The key decision is when to put a cat into a tree, which can unleash a bidding war between players. The other under-appreciated aspect is the need to keep an eye on what other players have, and therefore want, to inform your bidding strategy. This game was new to us as a group and therefore it was only in the final rounds that players began to understand the underlying tactics required. I think the game flow will improve in future outings.

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