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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Friday 13th July 2012 Boardgaming report

Finally after my exams, I could join the Friday group again and their late night gaming sessions. Usually we start around 8-9pm and last all the way to 3-5am the next day. :D In this way we can usually get a few heavy games in comfortably within the timings. This session I had a lot of fun because I got to bring out 2 new games of mine that have not yet touched the table and play a new game from someone else.

First on the table is Feudality. It plays from 2-6 and reminds me of Glen More. In the game, we are all Barons and trying to grow our fiefdom such that it scores us enough points to win the game. Each player will get a turn to be the Senior Player (i.e. Current Player) and perform a few actions.
First is to roll 2 8-sided dice. These will determine where your pawn will be and also which tiles are available for all players to activate. By activating a tile in your fiefdom, you will either get goods or points or both.
After which, tiles are drawn from a bag and players are allowed to buy 1 tile from those drawn to add to their fiefdom.
Thirdly, the Senior Player can then choose 2 actions to take. Either by activating tiles in their fiefdom OR taking one of 3 additional actions. These actions range from having a secret rendezvous with the King/Queen to score a point or conduct wars against other players or against the "game".
Lastly, depending on the number of tiles you have in your fiefdom and the player count, you will need to pay food to the bank. Then your turn is done.
So all in all, it is a pretty straight forward game without much surprises. The art is cartoony but not in a very bad way. The components are good and very similar to the likes of Agricola and Ora Et Labora. The fiefdom piece is rather thin cardstock and would be better if it was thick cardboard.
Gameplay wise, I think the most fun part for us is thinking of what pieces to buy and then placing them on our fiefdom. There are quite a variety of items to choose from and you want to place them in various spots so that when the dice are rolled, you will get a chance that you will obtain some resources at least.
Interesting thing I found was that food, while initially not very important, became very very important in the later phases of the game. Another point to note is that even though the game is simple to pick up and play, it does take a fair bit of time to play (ours was about 1hr ++) as it takes some time to create enough points to meet the game end criteria.
As you can tell, with the dice present, there is quite a bit of randomness to the game. Even when choosing other actions to take (i.e. attack or rendezvous) it all involves dice thus for those that are not fans of randomness do be aware. One other gripe is the soldiers and the attack options you can select. There seems to be very little use of the attack options. True you can use it as a catch-the-leader mechanism but after every battle you will need to roll to see if your army survives or not. This is a 50-50 chance but it will mean that all those turns where you spent purchasing your army units are wasted if they all die in a single battle due to bad dice roll. Like in Manhattan project, the attack portion seems a bit weak for me.
Still we had quite a good time playing the game for what it is, is a light hearted game. I think I will try it again tomorrow and see how it goes with 5/6.

Inca Empire
Inca Empire is a purchase I made a few months ago but I have never managed to bring it out. Mostly because after reading the rules I am still pretty confused on a few items. Tonight it hit the table and is our highlight for the night.
In the game, you are trying to score the most points by managing your only resource (labor) in a limited number of turns to build items on the map and score points in each of the scoring phases. This is a remake of an older game and is a very good new edition. The components are nice and thick and with rich colors. The map is rather busy though as there are many lines drawn for the roads and each region is color coded to differentiate them. However there are no obvious border lines so this can be somewhat tricky to tell during setup. The road wooden pieces are like toothpicks. They are really really small and thin. Otherwise, good production value.
Gameplay wise, there is a calendar of sorts in the top right corner of the board that details when each phase will occur and what the players will do. So you can plan ahead and decide. There are 4 basic phases in the game. The first phase is where you collect your labor which is the only resource and currency in the game. There is a default number of Labor you will receive at each Era (4 Eras of the game but there are a few rounds per Era) and you get additional Labor tokens for each region you have "conquered" as well as each Terrace you have built. Labor is vital as they allow you to perform the actions like building temples and cities and roads during the Construction phase of a player's turn.
The second phase usually will be the Sun phase. This is a very unique characteristic of the game. During the Sun phase, each player will place a sun card on a separate board. The sun card will either have beneficial traits or harmful traits which will remain till the end of the current turn. The unique portion is because where you place your card, it will impact 2 other players. Also each quadrant can only have 1 new card placed on it thus player order is quite important throughout the game. Thus a lot of interaction here.
The third phase will be Construction phase where you can build cities or temples and here is where you will score the most points. In addition, items you build now will also score you points later on during the scoring phase.
The final phase will be the scoring phase where your roads that are connected to buildings will score you points.
That will be the end of the current turn (usually) and a new turn will begin. Another interesting mechanism is that the first player will have to give 1 to 2 labor tokens to the last player. During the later eras, the 1st runner up will have to give 1 labor tokens and the first player will have to give 2 labor tokens. While initially this seems like a big disadvantage but actually given these tokens is a small setback. Indeed, our winner was the first player for almost half of the game and he was not too worried only until the final round.
A very good game and enjoyed by the group. There are interesting strategies and ways which you can try to block the leader and to score your own points. A big surprise and now I can see why it is rated quite highly in Boardgamegeek though I have never seen it in play at any of the meetups so far. Highly recommended!

Top Race
Final game of the night is Top Race. This is a game that is very similar to Long Shot which I previously owned but involves cars. In the game, each player is given cards drawn from a common deck. These cards, when played, will allow us to move cards along a race track to the finish line. The aim of the game is to have the most money at the end of the game. At the start, players get to auction and own cars which will give a lot of money if they are placed the top 3 at the end of the race. Once all cars are owned and each player has at least 1 car, then the game can begin. During the game, each player will play a card which has pictures of cars and numbers on it and move each car the number of spaces indicated in sequence (top to bottom) unless otherwise blocked by other cars in front of them. The game ends when most of the cars have crossed the finish line and then players will calculate the money earned and the player with the most money will win the game. Its a simple straight forward game with a few variants in the base game. There is a stocks variant as well as a betting variant which we played. Please do not mistake this with other similarly themed games like Formula D and Rallyman. I do like this game as I loved Long Shot when I had it but I will use it as more of a party game rather than for serious gamers. It is a good end to a very good night of gaming.

Pity we did not get to continue our Risk Legacy session (i think we are at round 5/6 now) and I do hope we can finish Risk Legacy's 15th game before the year ends. All in all, a very good night and I hope tomorrow I will get to play Eclipse and other games with another group.

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