Monday, 28 August 2017

Boardgame session 27Aug17

As promised we tried my new game, ‘Burgle Bros’ (by Tim Fowers). The game is a co-op, themed around a Hollywood-style heist (think Ocean’s Eleven, or Mission Impossible). Essentially, your team of burglars work their way around the target building, finding and cracking safes, before exiting with the loot via the roof. A variety of rooms are represented by face-down tiles in a 4x4 grid with some intervening walls. There is a patrolling guard on each floor, who you try to avoid, and whose movement is a clever mix of predicable and random elements. The rooms themselves contain a mix of alarms (which you may wish to avoid or trigger) and ‘traps’, and the key tiles you need to search for are the safe and the stairs up to the next level.

Elaine and I first tried a 2-player ‘beginner’ game and succeeded in completing the mission. I felt we were very lucky in the location of the safes and stairs, which were closely placed on both floors, and this made the mission much easier. I suspected that an increased separation of these tiles would up the difficulty, and increasing the player count would also up the difficulty. So when Val and Chris came round we replayed the ‘beginner’ game. Another success but much closer; 2 of the team had no ‘lives’ left when we escaped! We all enjoyed this challenging game, it could have gone either way, and we agreed that the addition of a third floor (i.e. the standard version) would make the game very difficult indeed. So, I am very pleased to have received ‘Burgle Bros’ (thanks Gill et al. for an inspired prezzie!) and I look forward to many more outings.

Next we played a game of ‘King of New York’; I am keen to play a few more ‘old’ games rather than just trying new purchases. I had forgotten how good a game this is! The simple ‘yatzee’ dice mechanism works so well, and the strong ‘take that’ style of play suits the light-hearted theme. I was the first player eliminated; my monster was set up for ‘celebrity’ and I just could not roll stars! Next down was Elaine, who stayed too long in Manhatten, and Val quickly emerged as the winner by taking down Chris in a devastating attack (5 claws!). This a game that deserves more plays; it is quick enough to make the player elimination aspect to work well because you know you won’t be kicking your heels for long. I personally like the additions/options in the ‘New York’ version, but I would still enjoy playing the basic ‘Tokyo’ game.

We finished the session with another ‘old’ game that had not had an outing recently, ‘Five Tribes’. The mancala-style mechanism and the range of options available, make this game a real brain-burner. Analysis paralysis (AP) can be an issue, but we are lucky that none of us take too long and can make a decision without worrying about whether it was the most optimal. If AP was a problem, then I would introduce a timer element (e.g. set at 60 seconds) to ensure the game progresses. Elaine does not particularly like the turn order bidding aspect and I tend to agree, especially when playing the 2-player version. Interestingly I do have the expansion with a 6th tribe and additional tiles, but I have never felt the need to try it because the base game works fine and requires no added complexity. I won the game (beating Val by a single point!), and the scores were fairly close between all players.

Friday, 18 August 2017

AAR; Greek Hoplites (Basic Impetus 2)

This is a brief report on a couple of games with Ian’s 15mm Greek Hoplites using the new version of Basic Impetus (Dadi e Piombo, 2017). Ian has just returned to the UK following a sabbatical in Kenya. Unfortunately he contracted Malaria out there. He is now on the mend, but not yet fit enough to get about, so I visited him at home. Although we are both familiar with the standard Impetus rules, this would be the first attempt with Basic Impetus 2. I forgot my camera, so the photo simply shows my own Greek Hoplite forces.

The first game pitted me, using Athenians, against Ian’s Thracians. Surprisingly my sole cavalry unit got the jump on the Thracian cavalry, destroying both Thracian light cavalry units, before succumbing to a counter-attack by Thracian Nobles. Still, the flanking move by the mobile Thracians had been blunted. Meanwhile my hoplite line trudged across the whole width of the table to strike the Thracian peltasts. When I made contact everything seemed to go well, and both of us thought an Athenian victory was in the bag. Big mistake! The Thracian Noble cavalry finally made it back from the flank and hit my hoplites from the rear. Athenians were falling in numbers and the losses passed 50%, so a narrow Thracian win resulted. If I had Just one more turn before this disaster then I believe the Athenians would have emerged on top.
Note the Pittsburgh Steeler fan in the centre of the photo!

For the next game Sparta (me) was matched against Thessaly (Ian). I thought I had a strong position with both flanks of my hoplite line anchored on woods. I did send some hoplites on a flank move (mistake, too slow), but Ian decided to match up against my hoplites whilst moving his cavalry through the flanking woods (!). I did manage to hold up the cavalry but I must have really upset the ‘Dice Gods’ because the Spartan hoplites went down to the mixed bag of Thessalian hoplites and peltasts. I don’t think my forces could have been ‘real’ Spartans, they were just imposters!

So, two defeats but it was an enjoyable afternoon of wargaming. It is great to see Ian back and I hope these victories will help him to get better more quickly. Regarding the rules; the mechanics will be familiar to any who have used the Impetus rules family. We really like the new elements e.g. the charge/pursuit move bonus, the variable retreat move, and the reduced shooting effectiveness. All worked well. I hope these additions are included in the next version of Impetus, which I believe is due to be released at the end of the year.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Boardgame session; 11Aug2017

We visited Val and Chris for a rare mid-week evening gaming session (Snowy-dog was in the kennels).
The first game we tried was ‘Costa Rica’; a 20-30 minute, push-your-luck, tile revealing, set-collection, expedition game. The board comprises a large hexagon made up of mini-hex’s showing 3 different terrain types, with 6 different animals on the reverse side of the hex’s. Six expeditions enter from the corners of the large hexagon, revealing the animal faces as each progress. Players in turn decide whether to remain with an expedition, or whether to bottle-out and take the revealed tiles, but this does eliminate that player from future moves with that particular expedition. Players score points for set collection, with bonus points awarded if all animal types have been collected. Some tiles have a mosquito symbol, and the second mosquito revealed ends the expedition early. As tiles are removed other expeditions can become trapped or isolated, so there is an aggressive element to the game. Anyway, each game resulted in run-away victories for Chris and Elaine. I think this is a nice, quick, simple game which is ideal to either start or finish a games session, but would not be the core game of a session. It is more than just a filler game.


Next we played a couple of games of ‘Dominion’; firstly using just the base set, then a game using the ‘Dark Ages’ expansion (which was new to me). Chris won both games and realised I had come last in all the games played (I must have seriously upset the ‘Dice Gods’ somehow!). The Dark Ages game had a few additional/different cards (as you would expect) and it did drag a bit; all of us struggled to get enough money to buy the more expensive cards. Dominion remains one of our all-time most popular games but I do feel there are a couple of issues that need to be raised: There are too many expansions; the base game, plus possibly one expansion, provides more than enough variation to enable repeated playing. I enjoy trying each different expansion, but I do not feel the urge to buy each one, and I don’t think they add enough to justify purchasing the full set. Secondly, most games end when the last Province card is bought; rarely do 3 of the other card sets get exhausted. I think a good house rule is to reduce the number of each action card down from 10 to a number that is double the number of players (e.g. 8 when there are 4 players). I have trialled this rule and it does produce a faster game with a less predictable end-game.

The next morning we travelled to visit my sister for a few days and took a couple of games with us. We played a couple of games of ‘Sushi Go - Party’ which is easy to teach and fast to play. Elaine won the first game by dominating the puddings! Erin won the second game, demonstrating how easily the game can be taught. No wins for me, but I did improve on last place. The other game we played was ‘Parade’, a card game I have previously greatly enjoyed and which I received as a recent birthday prezzie! The artwork is beautiful, the rules very simple, the game-play devilish! We played 4 or 5 games, and the highlight was Elaine’s victory scoring only 4 points in total; a record low score that I’m sure will stand for a long time. Finally, I was given my birthday present from Gill; a co-op game called ‘Burgle Bros.’, which looks good and will get on the table soon.