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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Weekend Gaming or Sporecon 2012 day 1

so this is the first day of Sporecon 2012! Sporecon is an annual boardgame event (only one in Singapore alas!) held by a FLGS (Friendly Local Gaming Shop) PI at Pasir Ris East Community Center. For 2 days, there will be tournaments and space to play boardgames. Tournaments typically are miniature gaming (with Warhammer 40k seeming to take most of the space) however this year there are more boardgame tournaments. Still, Sporecon is rather small scale and I expect Gencon 2012 will definitely be an eye opener! Can't wait for then :P On to the games we played today.

Age of Industry (Japan Map expansion)
Not a lot of need for Iron or Coal mines in this map
We started off with Age of Industry that seems to be quite a hit with the gaming group I am with. I am the Blue player btw and you can see that I am not doing very well :p I started off with a lot of Cotton mill cards and was planning to capitalize on that. Often I do not realize the importance of railways and have to catch up with the other players much to my detriment. I suspect that I will get the hang of it after a few more plays but I doubt I will get it into my collection. Graphically its not very exciting to me and quite fiddly at setup. Component wise it could have been better (I dislike the plastic money and player mats). Still if you enjoy such economic games, do take a look!

Doctor? Are you there I presume?
Next we tried Livingstone a game that my gaming buddy got. This is an easy game to teach and is primarily an area control game with a little bit of push your luck. Game turn is indicated by the wooden boat and once it reaches the end of the river, players perform a final scoring and the player with the most victory points win (no surprise there). A final twist though is the amount of coins each player have played into their box. This indicates the amount of money that players have donated and the player or players with the least amount will automatically lose. This mechanism reminds me of Hab & Gut a game that I recently obtained. Components wise, this game is top notch. A lot of other games can stand to learn from this. Overall it is a fun game, quick and fun to play. I like it quite a bit.

The Big Time
My acts which unfortunately did not allow me to win the game alas..
This is a Print and Play production game that my gaming buddy (from here onwards the games are all owned and introduced/taught by the same gaming buddy :P ) and its quite a light game as well and involves the players bidding to purchase troupes for a performance which we will be putting up in each round. The game lasts for 4 rounds and each round, players will have exactly $24 to bid to purchase 4 troupes and 1 headliner act for our show. At the end of each round, players will then tally up how much "star power" the entire show has and the lowest score will cause the show categories represented by his/her show on a chart to decline in rating. The winning player of that round will improve his/her categories. Then all players will score for the categories depending on their final position on the chart. Apparently, the name of the acts are based on historical popular acts. The graphics is quite cute and fun to look at and the components are rather well produced for a print and play produced game. Still, since the game has this rustic feel, I felt that if the cards have the authentic picture from that era and based on the actual person as depicted by the name, I think it might be quite good to look at as well. I found it quite tough to figure out just how much to bid. My strategy was to calculate the total of the people I want to hire and add $1 or $2 but i found it difficult to keep track of the categories (6) and plan and strategize. May need a few more plays to see how it goes. Not a bad little game.

I am this Geisha
I have heard of this game before but kinda forgotten about it till i saw it today in the bag of boardgames. We played this next and it is quite an easy game to learn and play. Players play a particular Geisha (there are several for us to choose from with different characteristics) and the game lasts 3 rounds. Each round ends when a player has no more cards in his/her hand and you can only do that by placing "guest" cards down in front of your Geisha character. You can only place guest cards that your Geisha can meet the criteria of (there are 3). Otherwise, you can place "advertisement" cards to the side of the Geisha to improve her criterias which can allow for more valuable guests to be entertained. Okay its kinda tricky to explain this game without getting some form of giggle or another :) There are cards as well that allow you to mess with another player's tableau. The player with the most points after 3 rounds win. The graphics, as you can see, is rather interesting to me and card stock wise is pretty good. It comes in a very small box, easy to teach and plays fast and is a good filler so far to me. I am not too sure about replayability though as the strategies seems to be pretty standard. Still for what it is, which is a light filler, it is rather ok.

Brain melting but not so bad this time...
Last game of the night before we stopped was the brain burning Trajan. Teaching it is a rather tedious affair (but I think Vinhos and Bios megafauna can match it) but when you actually play it, it is not that difficult to play. For me especially, I found it easier to predict and strategize the player mat portion and I could play the game much faster. However I think I need 1 or 2 more plays to tie that into my overall strategy on the map and against other players. I tried to go with the strategy of completing the most Trajans and moving my Leader and Legionnaire but I neglected the ships and orange tiles much to my detriment I think. Trajan still feels like a game that consists of many mini games that all serves to give you points. Thematically I don't feel it is there but game mechanics wise I am certainly getting a lot for my money's worth. Setup is also quite fiddly and I will probably not get it for my collection. I don't mind playing it though.

Last but not least.....
I was pleasantly surprised when I received a gift from the gaming buddy that I have been mentioning in this blog and I was even more surprised when it turned out to be a boardgame that was on my wish list! So cool!!! And I am really very touched and grateful for his gesture. AWESOME!!!! :D Now to get it played :P
Thanks again!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Weekend Gaming: 20th May 2012

I do apologize if my gaming frequency has dropped to once or twice a week but that's due to Diablo3 studying I had to do until end June 2012 (exam then). :P
Nevertheless, this is the gaming I did yesterday.

Chateau Roquefort
We started off with this game and I am quickly finding it my go to for a filler while waiting for the rest to come or just to warm up the group. Awesome little game and if you have not gotten it yet, well, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
Highly recommended.

Lords of Waterdeep
Check out all my buildings!

Another warmup game and I wanted to show this to my friend who was visiting from Hong Kong. This time around, I found I had the opportunity to build a lot of buildings (4 in total) but I did not have that Lady card. My friend did though but she did not manage to build a lot in the end. Another player won by a lot (like 50+ points ahead) and I need to check if it is a *gasp* tainted victory as one quest card seems to allow him to change multiple cubes into white. This time also, the game took rather longer than usual so while it is a 8 round game, I think once past the 5th round when you have 1 more worker to place, the game feels lengthier. Hmmm.....

Cosmic Encounter
Can you see the stacks at the far side?
Next up before we broke for dinner, an oldie but a goodie. Cosmic Encounter + expansion (to allow for 6 players). We played with the Yellow races because I felt the group could absorb even though this is their first play through. Lots of wheeling and dealing going on and the Fungus was attaching to all of our destroyed ships making her particularly tricky to manage. In the end though, it was between TicToc and Fungus and I was the kingmaker :( So I decided to go with TicToc since she has not played with us for a few sessions :P I hope I get to play with the Red races in the future!

Le Havre
My 2nd-hand copy of Le Havre with all the nice boxes included!
Finally, it was between Inca Empire and Le Havre and I decided to go with Le Havre as I really wanted to see if my players will like the game. Explanation was simple enough and the game progressed rather smoothly. The initial stages was quite fast since we did not have much buildings and much options. Further down the line we did have to think a little more but nothing that made the game drag on. Still, the game took almost 3 hours for us to finish. Since they are playing this for the first time, some of the buildings were not immediately clear to them how they worked or they were not reminded of the functions. This game certainly rewards those who have played it before and my players are certain interested to give it another go. I wonder if I dare to play with 5 though since the last time I did, it took almost 4 hours. Its a very nice game and I do prefer this to Agricola (because the roles and the cards you are dealt with seems to dictate what you will use or build) and to Ora Et Labora (too much different types of scoring making it difficult to tell who is ahead and to block if necessary but the Rondel is nice). Thumbs up for me!

So in a nutshell, a very good day of gaming. I still need to bring to table a few more games I have not played yet and I do hope for a 2 player session for Twilight Struggle and especially Star Trek Fleet Captains. Also all the other goodies that I have ordered I am eagerly awaiting their arrival and another session with this group :D

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Weekend Gaming: 13 May 2012

I am kinda abstaining from too much boardgaming until the end of June because I am preparing for an exam. So I am scheduling at most 1 weekend session for boardgaming. Been waiting for today and here are the games we played:

Martian Dice
We started off with this while waiting for the others to arrive. Its a simple, push your luck dice game and we will be introducing this in an upcoming Singles event at the library so I needed to learn how to play so as to facilitate on that day. During the game you roll specially made dice with Chicken, Human, Cow, Tank and Space ship faces on them. During each roll, you can choose 1 type of dice to keep. Tanks are automatically kept after each roll. At the end when you have no more dice to roll OR you cannot roll anymore, you check to see if you have more tanks than space ships. If you do, then you lose that round and the next player continues. Otherwise you score points. The first to reach 25 points wins the game. It is definitely a filler/warm up type of game. Lets see how this plays during that night.

Very fun game. I have been praising this game every time I played it and this time manage to bring it out again. We generally agreed that this is a very fun game with a lot of mechanics. The designers though try to tie down a theme with it and even added historical fluff to the manual and game components. But the theme is quite loose in the game. Nevertheless, the mechanisms and the colorful presentation makes this a very fun game and not dull or too abstracted for us to enjoy it. I heartily encourage you to give this a go if you have not tried it!

Railways of the World (Eastern US map)
Our epic game of the night. 5 of us took about 4 hours to play. That is because we played quite strategically and there were a lot of upgrading of the cities done. In addition, we were all very engrossed in building tracks to try to score the major lines and did not always transport a lot of goods. If you notice in the map, Red was trying to connect from New York to Kansas City and 3 of us were trying our best to block. We manage to delay him for about 3 turns but in the end he manage to get the jump on us. This blocking action manage to give the Yellow play an advantage as you can see and he got up to the Level 8 locomotive and was able to score a couple of 8 point deliveries. That and coupled with the Railroad baron card he had, Yellow won the game easily. Epic game and very fun. Cannot wait to try the Mexico map next!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dicetower Showdown!

So I'm listening to the dicetower's latest podcast and I am very excited for their new podcast "Showdown" where 2 people will talk about a boardgame and they will take opposite sides (like and dislike) and then debate about it. At the end, there will be a poll for dicetower listeners to vote on whom they feel brought forth their arguments best. Tom mentioned that he will appear in some of these sessions or otherwise be moderating it. I want to be on it! There are some reviews of Tom which I disagree in and it will be interesting to bring my point of view across and see what Tom thinks.

For example, from his Top 100 last year:
Dungeon Run - This totally bombed for my group to play and I am interested to debate on a few points which Tom finds that makes this such a good game.
Cutthroat Caverns - Also a game that is quite raved about but our group did not enjoy this.

Tom, if you are reading this and if I may make a suggestion, perhaps you can suggest a game for each episode and gather people from both sides with a few key points they want to bring across and then pick among them those 2 that will best represent each side and then bring them in on the episode. It should be interesting to listen to :)

Tom is also doing his 3rd great cull of games and if you are interested, you can find the list of games available here. If you are interested, send him an email and all purchases will go into helping to fund the dicetower which I feel is certainly one of the top entertaining podcasts to listen to.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Weekend Boardgaming: 5th May 2012

Wanted to get my new games played so I managed to organise a session for my librarian friends. Played for about 6 hours before I had to leave for a wedding dinner but I managed to play 3 of my new games (left Inca Empire) and I had a lot of fun! Here's a breakdown:

Just before final scoring...
Latest hotness and I finally got my copy in just yesterday! Punched out, sleeved the cards and got it ready for today's gaming. The inserts, like what has been reported, is really awesome. Everything fits snugly which makes this insert one of the rare ones that is truly functional. However the box top is not practical as it does not fit down the entire box like almost every other boardgame box is made. The card quality is also quite flimsy thus having card sleeves is vital for longevity of the game. It is a light game and a great intro for gamers to euro-style games (with cubes cubes and no dice!). In this game, a lot of quests were completed when compared to my first Lords of Waterdeep game but the highest scoring is again won by the player with the character that scores you point for each building you have. That character now seems a bit imbalanced to me but I'll have to play a few more times to be sure. The game, basically, is worker placement and turning in of resources to complete quests and to score points. At the end of the game, you get points as well for resources not used, money that you have earned as well as your secret objectives. Settlers of Catan used to be the game to bring new gamers into the world of Designer games. I dare say that Lords of Waterdeep may just take over this role from now on.

Initial Impression: Good

Lots of nice components
Colonia was a game that looked interesting to me and so I got it to give it a go. This plays up to 6 and is primarily a worker placement game. The interesting portion of this however is the timing in when you can retrieve your workers to use them again which is usually the next round after the current round in which they are used. So through careful placement of workers, you obtain raw resources and then engage craftsman to create refined goods and then deliver them via the ships to earn currency. Then use these hard earned currency to purchases relics which translate into victory points that will ultimately win you the game. The game is played over 6 rounds (which is 6 weeks) and each week has 7 turns (days) to play. Even though the game can get rather long (about 2 hours), the game is a low scoring one. The ending is also quite anti climatic. For us it was because there was only 2 boats being sent off (thus only 2 boats to score points from) and so the final round, there is not a lot of things that the players can do and as a result there was not much point for the last round. Thematically it is good, components wise it is also quite good but the way this game ends makes it a meh for me.

Initial Impression: Average

All these lovely dice! :P
I have been wanting to try Lords of Vegas after hearing various podcasters rave over it and after reading so many reviews exclaiming how fun this game is. We rushed through our game (largely because of hunger and I had to leave) so not too sure if given more time the players would have made better decisions. Still we took about 1 hour 15 mins or so and finished the game. What you do in the game is draw a card which will determine which lot on the map you own. At the same time, payout will occur in terms of money and points. Then the active player will take his/her turn and perform actions as many times as he/she wants. The turn then goes to the next player and the game continues until the last turn card appears when drawn. During your turn, a couple of actions can be done which will allow you to grow your casino empire or attempt to take over someone else's casinos or, and this seems to be the most fun, gamble at another player's casino in an attempt to win money from him/her. We had a lot of fun I felt but ultimately I think the theme is a bit pasted on as the mechanism involving what we can do with the dice and dice rolling does not equate into what we are doing. However given that these are dice and I was using my own poker chips, it enhances the experience and the theme just seems to fit. All in all, it was a great end to a good day of gaming.

Initial Impression: Good

Now I am looking forward to getting my Inca Empire played as well as play Railways again. I am wondering if the group is ready for something heavier like Steam / Age of Steam / 1830 / Indonesia etc etc or will our brains melt :P

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Yggdrasil is now out for iPad!

Yggdrasil for the iPad has been released on iTunes at USD5.99.

I played this only once before but I did not enjoy myself. Mostly because I am not fond of Cooperative games. I prefer some form of competition among the players, preferably a little bit of "screw your neighbor" element in my games. It is very pretty and all and I will probably get this when it is heavily discounts (preferably FREE :P ) but for now I'll pass. If you have tried it, do leave a comment on how it is!


Awesome Avengers

A quick break from your normal scheduled boardgaming post, but I just watched the Avengers and its AWESEOMEEEEEEEEEE.
There are some superhero fights that are meant to be watched, not read and this is one of those. There are some humor which are best if its sudden and unexpected and there are few of those.

All in all, a VERY GOOD movie to watch.
Make sure to stay past the initial credits to watch a sneak of the next installment!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Labour/May day gaming: 1st May 2012

Chateau Roquefort + Cheesy Gonzola

So many holes and so many mice falling into them
Again I really like this game if you haven't figured out by now :) I always get very good responses when I first teach the game and then show them the components and especially the Shoving part. Everyone will go "Wow" and will get a kick out of playing this game. Tomorrow I will be teaching my colleagues in office and I am pretty sure they will enjoy the game. This time though we were quite cut throat and 4 of the players already had at least 1 mouse "trapped" halfway through the game. If you haven't gotten this yet, please do yourself a favor and GO GET IT!

Hab & Gut
Wow people are certainly drinking their tea!

I got the wrong stocks during the game and had not much control during the game thus I ended up donating the most to charity. Luckily my final tally was not too far from the amount i donated so phew! :) Still quite a good game for its simple mechanics.

Fearsome Floors
OMG the monster is coming! Run for it!
Quite a good game for a lot of players as spaces are limited and thus everyone have to make the best of their positioning to either attract the monster or position themselves just behind the monster. Proved to be a very interesting game but hard to make the leader lose their lead or catch up to the leader. We have not played in such a way where we are always manipulating the monster to catch the leader. Perhaps next game I will encourage people to do so... but still its meant to be a light filler so lets not overthink it :)

Railways of the World
I need a way way bigger table for everything
I finally pulled the trigger and got my first serious train game (k its not 18xx but i think its a step in the right direction) and managed to get 6 players today. The experience was excellent! We got through the rules pretty intact and manage to finish the game in about 3 hours or so. I did not win but I was proud that I kept my bond count to only 4 (lowest! :P) and was 3rd in the end. The game needs a LOT of space though and a very stable playing surface as a jolt to the table almost disrupted the game. The random placement of the cubes right at the beginning can really determine how the game play will be like right from the start. We all agreed that we all had fun and some even wanted to try it again. Really great experience. I am wondering which maps next to try. Suggestions anyone?

Initial Impression: Good