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Friday, July 27, 2012

Weekend Boardgaming: 27th July 2012

My last major weekend boardgaming before I am off to NYC to see the wifey! YAY! :) I have scheduled 3 days of gaming so here we go with Day 1! :P

Shear Panic
So this time 3 of us played this (all guys btw :P ) and it must be said that for such a light little game, there can be a lot of analysis paralysis if the gamers are competitive enough. That's because of the situation of perfect knowledge where we all get to see all the other moves that the other players have left and thus work out the different combinations which they can use them. We can also see how much time they may spend and thus plan on how to best score at each field. So while the game mechanics are light and simple, depending on the players, this game can drag. Also, during our lunch time gaming group, at the last field, this is where the most damage can be done to players. If you have planned wrongly or get sabotaged, you may find your 2 sheeps being sheared and you are out of the game effectively. In summary, for what it is, it is an ok game with awesome components, certainly to attract people right at the get go. However if you over think it, then it may not be as rewarding as the time spent on it.

This is a very new game from White Goblin Games which I manage to get my friend who traveled to UK recently to transport back for me. In the game, you send your agents to participate in intrigue missions (either by sabotaging or helping) while trying to increase your standing in the income and military track. By sending the most agents (providing a positive score) and helping to win the intrigue missions, you get a certain benefit as stated on each intrigue mission. At the end of the game, the player with the most points win the game.
There are a few interesting mechanisms in the game that add more options to what you can do. For example, during your turn you can choose to collect income or place an agent (or two with payment of more money) or advance the military track (by paying money as well) or buy jewelry (which are worth 4 points at the end of the game). In addition, placement of your agent on the intrigue cards has its own little meta game.
A few bad points about the game though. Thematically its very light. There is a military track but there is no fighting per say in the game. Its just another track to earn points at the end of the game and to gain some bonuses. The board, as you can see above, is very cluttered with design and pictures. It would have been better if it was clearer. The coins come in denominations of 1 and 3 but the colors are so similar that its hard to differentiate. Furthermore, we often find ourselves with not enough coins so I am not too sure why they gave so many.
That being said, the component quality is very good with thick cardboard stock for the pieces. The board is nicely matted.
I think I may have to give it a few more plays to see if it will stay in my collection.

The game that we were all waiting for. We started off with a 3 player and when our 4th player game, we restarted again. It is not a very difficult game to teach but requires maybe 1 round to grasp and understand the mechanics to plan effectively. Village is a game where you are trying to maximize your family members to score you the most points at the end of the game. During your turn, there are 7 spots on the board where you can take action on if there is at least a resource/plague cube for you to take. A round ends when all cubes have taken. Then a Mass action is taken (monks and/or your family members) will appear in the church and allow you to advance their standings. The 7 areas are then repopulated again and the new start player (if someone has taken the next start player token) will begin the new round. The game ends when either the Village book OR the unknown graveyard is filled.
After playing this game, it is not hard to see why it has won the Kennerspiel des Jahres Game of 2012. 4 of us pursued quite different plans of attack as 1 tried to kill off his family members to populate the Village book and score points and end the game earlier. The other sent his 1st generation family member to travel the world (or disneyland as we call it) and he was one of the oldest 1st generation family members to still be around. There are many possible ways to score points in the game but they do not seem to be too disconnected from each other like how I felt when playing Trajan. I love how everything is visible on the board (except the point where player with the majority in the Chapel will score 2 points every round).
Once you get the gist of the game, the gameplay can proceed fairly quickly. Components are also of a good quality. I have heard some players do not like the fact you have to kill off your family members but we had fun joking about it, especially the player who tried to populate the village book and thus was happily sending them to their deaths. Plague cubes, which increases your time by 2 and thus increasing the rate at which your family members will die, is frowned upon at the first few rounds but will rapidly become a tactical choice nearer the end.
A good buy for me and definitely enjoyed by everyone around the table!

Dominant Species: The Card Game
Since I got my copy of this quite early, the group wanted to try this to see how it is. There are some inconsistencies with the naming convention as pointed out by my group which can lead to some confusion. Otherwise, its an interesting little card game that I will try to bring to my office the next time around and see how they will take it. The picture of the salamander which represents amphibians should use the picture of a frog instead for clarity. A final point to note is that the cards should be shuffled thoroughly as what you can do per round is quite dependent on your card draw. Not a bad buy so far. 

For the Win

Abstract game to close off the night. This just came in from the Kickstarter and since it had the 2 extra token set, we decided to give it a go. Abstract games I don't really fancy that much as I require a bit of theme with my games. Still I am avid enough gamer to give it a go. Essentially you are trying to get 5 different tile types to connect together (touching by the corners count too) and they must all be active (i.e. not on the side with a big X) to win the game. During your turn, you can take 1 or 2 actions and they consist of actions like moving your tile 1 space, placing a tile, activating a power etc. The main mechanism of the game is the special powers each tile has which will allow you to maneuver your tiles to win the game. With more players, there is a need for guarding each other, otherwise someone may slip in a win very easily (like what I did).
The components are nice handy tiles and feels good. For the price and the quality of the pieces, its very affordable and worth it.

So all in all, a very good gaming night. 2 more days to go! :)

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