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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Suburbia, CO2, Sator arepo tenent opera rotas, Il Vecchio, The Cave, The Palaces of Carrara, The Doge Ship, Divinare, Plato 3000, Mord Im Arosa

I am so happy there's a good friday holiday which allowed me to get in some final gaming session before my nephew and niece arrives then  I won't be able to host any gaming sessions at my place for a while. Best pick of the week has to be Divinare with The Doge Ship coming in second. Lets see what I played and my thoughts:


Mint did not save me :(

Game Session and Thoughts: 
Lost quite horribly and to 2 newbies (who have never played this game before) to rub it in! I think the main problem was that I changed my engine to a reputation scoring one too late into the game. I should have started to grab reputation instead of income when the B tiles starting showing up in the game. This game requires good planning and knowing when to change from a money generating engine to a reputation generating one. Timing is also quite important but some part is based on luck, referring to the tiles that are drawn. Sometimes the tile that you want will not be affordable to you but will be for someone else down the row. Furthermore, if the player before you is pretty much going on the same track then it will be quite difficult for you. 
I have ordered my promo from the BGG store and while I know it doesn't add a lot to the game I will welcome the variety. I twittered about this and Bezier Games replied that there will be an expansion for Suburbia and its already in the late stages of development! That I feel is what the game needs. Similar to Agricola and Le Havre 2 players, With a wider variety of buildings or perhaps even more features, it will increase the interaction amongst players as well as the replayability of the game. This is still recommended from me and I cannot wait to try a few more solos to hone my skills! :D 


I am the Black player btw...

Game Session and Thoughts: 
Ah finally I get to bring this monster out again to play it PROPERLY this time. Another friend was there and she was also hoping to finally play it properly after a mistake-filled first game for her. We were also using this to see if her sister was up to taking on heavier games. Short answer first, she is and she was scoring pretty well (our final tallies were in the 100+ which is surprising to me as well). Quite early on I ran into the issue which Jon previously talked about and which is a pet peeve for others and that is what is the point of me installing a project when it will just be stolen by another player? I had a small discussion with another player in my latest game about this and he mentioned that it is more beneficial to propose and install projects versus actually building them. Now I have not deeply analysed this to see if its true but if it is, then it certainly makes sense in a game that has quite a few rules already going against the norm (i.e. buying a CEP doesn't increase the market price). Now don't be mistaken that you can ignore constructing power plants entirely, you need to have a few for those quick scoring points and possible ownership of a region and thus grabbing all its left over CEPs at the end of the game and of course, to score UN cards, but perhaps the focus shouldn't be on over constructing. Perhaps a better plan is to install appropriate projects so as to manipulate the others to use up their resources or build plants where it is not very beneficial to them. 
I will want to give this game a few more tries to see if I can break through the surface and finally appreciate this game for all its worth. Right now it feels as if I am just only scratching the surface with this rather multi-layer game. I want to say that this game is recommended but I know that it is not for everyone and given the complexity to teach, absorb and then being able to play this game well, I will have to say its a try before you buy. Oh and do see if you can print out some stickers to pimp out your CEPs, they look much nicer that way ;)


Green player won. I was Yellow.

Game Session and Thoughts: 
I wanted to bring this out again to see if it will survive to have a place in my collection. Sadly though after this play I don't think I will keep the game. This time we played with the full complement of 4 players and while I started sabotaging early on, it seems that we did not do a good job guarding a player and by the 3rd round or so, he had managed to collect all this books and won the game. I had only collected 2 by then but I was nowhere near the 3rd or 4th book. 
Pet Peeves:
This game requires a lot of spatial awareness and the 2 ladies that I was playing with were complaining about this point. We discussed a little as well about gender and spatial awareness and but I will not get into THAT discussion :P
Another pet peeve about the game is the luck of the draw. Sometimes you have cards in your hand that doesn't help you at all and instead of wasting a turn to draw new cards, you might as well play cards to try to prevent anyone else from grabbing their books. I suspect that if this was played properly (with everyone guarding each other), this could be a very frustrating game as there is no timer function that will end the game after a certain number of rounds.
After playing with 4, I feel that perhaps this game is best played with 2 such that you are aware of what each other is doing and you will be constantly either helping yourself or screwing your single opponent. We haven't really explored using the Gargoyle yet but it can be easily dismissed by opponents by them discarding 3 cards. Unfortunately, this game is not for me and I won't be keeping it.


I won! Using the use Priest and get Wheel + $2 as well power
Game Session and Thoughts: 
I managed to get the initial tile which gave me the bonus that when I took 2 Priests, I will get 1 Wheel + $2 as a bonus. My plan was to use that to my advantage to and then travel around for free. I also decided to go grab an end game tile early so I know what I was aiming for. Those really helped a lot as my end game objective was to grab the Medici crests and I was scrambling to place my worker on the rows to grab the tile. It helped also that they gave me bonus 1 point each at the end of the game. The game is easy to teach and quite straight forward. Unfortunately there's not really a lot of theme to it so that may make grasping the concepts a little bit tougher for new players. Iconography is simple and easy to understand after a few rounds and the component quality is nice with good art. The only small gripe I have was the inclusion of 2 boards that are the same except for colors. I do wish they have provided a different board to add to the replayability.
I won with about 54 points but given that the scoring track is up to almost a 100, I am wondering if anyone can achieve that at all. Right now there is still a high replayability factor because of the different start bonus tiles we can grab as well as the bonus and end game scoring tiles we may get during the game. However I forsee that with many more plays the game may wear out. I am also not sure if this bonus tile that I have gotten is imbalanced but lets see if I manage to get future plays in if I can test this theory. Try before you buy!


Yawn... when is it ending ...?

Game Session and Thoughts: 
This is my first play of the game. I have played K2 previously and that brought me into the gaming group (Cult Of The New) that I am involved in right now. The Cave is from the same designers as K2 and while I was hoping to give this a go I have heard mixed reviews about this game. 
Players are all explorers trying to navigate this cave system, by means of tile laying) and collecting tokens for actions done (i.e. taking picture, exploring lakes or navigating narrow passageways). Players need to carefully manage their resources as well and when the final cave tile is placed, have 2 turns to make it back to base camp or be disqualified. Players then count up their tokens and whoever has the most points will win the game. 
Seems pretty straight forward game. We found ourselves moving around quite easily and then scampering back to base camp to replenish our supplies and then venturing out again. Repeat and Rinse until the last tile is revealed. I took a LOT of photographs and won by about 3 points. I did not do a lot of swimming in the lakes like my opponents but since most of the tiles I had revealed are photographs, I was lucky to win by that. That said, I don't have many good things to say about the game. What went wrong?
Pet Peeves:
For starters, I am not sure what the tent does. I mean it takes up 2 spaces in your backpack and you can spend 2 action points to set it up and gain access to the 4 spaces it provides. Ideally, it should allow you to extend your range so that you can explore further but the catch seems to be how are you going to get back to base camp then to replenish everything? If you can head back to your tent and replenish all the time, then that makes the tent much more valuable but for the entire game none of us were using the tents except when my friend tried to test the mechanism for this.
Supplies are a pain to manage. You are quite limited in terms of exploring tiles by how much supplies you are carrying before you have to high tail it back to base camp. If you run out of supplies, then you are spending your turn mostly moving 1 space. Its horrendously slow and painful if you do that as my friend discovered. As mentioned above, the tent doesn't seem to help much at all! Very odd.
The depth of the cave creates a very odd perception and some confusion with us. When you place a tile that has a rope icon, that means that this tile is deeper so you place a 25meters icon if this was the first you encountered. Now if you descend and encounter another similar tile, you place the 50meters icon and so on and so forth. However, there are cases where 2 separate tracks may be joined by placing a single cave tile and there in lies the problem of depth. If the 2 trails were of different depth to begin with, what happens when you join them together ? This depth concept may seem interesting and thematic, but game play wise can create confusion and I feel that it should be explained more clearly in the rules or with more examples.
Finally, the bits. There are a LOT Of chits for all different types of challenges faced as well as supplies, ropes etc etc. SO MANY MANY that you need a good plano box to ensure that everything is sort out nicely for easy setup and tear down. 

This game did not grab me like what K2 did. My friend commented that in K2 at least you can see clearly where you are heading and plan how to get there whereas The Cave is largely due to luck of your draw. You may end up getting screwed if you keep exploring lake tiles when you don't have a raft or oxygen tanks and have to head back to base camp just to reconfigure your inventory. Gameplay can get draggy as well due to the number of tiles you have to explore. Some players I guess can potentially drag the game on if they focused on clearing all the available spaces and not on exploring. This was a MEH for me and is not for me. Not recommended.


Spin spin the wheel...

Game Session and Thoughts: 
This is my first play of the game. Ah another essen release which I have heard about and was interested to try but not interested enough to grab myself a copy. This is a game that includes a sealed envelope with instructions for an advanced game and advice that you play the basic game a few times before you embark on the advanced game. Being the seasoned gamers we are (*wink wink*) we decided to jump straight into the advanced. My opponents have played this once before but this is my first game. Explanation was simple enough  and I could grasp the concepts easily. In the game, you are trying to manage your resources and determine when is the most opportune time for you to make use of your 6 scoring pawns (each can only be used once in the entire game). When some has met the end game conditions (3 cards determine the end game conditions), he/she can declare the game is over and score extra bonus points. Players then tally up all the points they have on the board and whoever has the most points is the winner.
There are quite a few interesting mechanism to the game. First is the resource wheel. At any 1 time, there should be at most 11 blocks in various colors (6 altogether I believe). The wheel is also divided into segments which shows prices of each color of block and are different from segment to segment. During your turn, if you decide to make a purchase from the wheel, you can either just select a segment and buy the blocks on it (any number) and pay the costs OR rotate the wheel once, populate the starting segment to top up total number of blocks to 11 and then make a purchase. 
The blocks are used to buy building tiles which you can then place on different sections/cities on your board. The requirement to build the buildings is you must pay a number of blocks as denoted by the top right corner of the building tile and also depending on the section/city you wish to place. Leftmost city is WHITE and only allows building tiles which you have paid in WHITE blocks only. next city accepts buildings paid with YELLOW and/or WHITE blocks and the right most will accept buildings paid with ANY blocks. 
The most important concept of the game are the scoring pawns. During your turn you can, instead of any of the other actions choose to score by placing a scoring pawn onto any of the scoring sections on your board or on the main board. On your board, you can for example, score all building tiles that have the same icon on it. Thus, depending on which city the building is in, you will score points/money or both. You will also collect that many icons as the number of buildings you have activated. The other type of scoring will be on the main board and only 1 scoring pawn can be allocated to each scoring space. These scoring spaces will score for all buildings in a particular city but only if you meet the requirements (i.e. for the Black city, you can only score if there are 3 buildings in that city). You will also get the tokens for those buildings you have not previously activated. 
The final concept will be the objectives board which will show you 3 scoring objectives that also represent end game conditions as well as a bonus objective.
It is quite a fun game with good art, nice component pieces but not exactly dripping with theme. The scoring spaces make for a tense game as well because you need to monitor what your opponents are doing less they activate the scoring before you do.
Pet Peeves:
This is like a multi-player solitaire because the only interactions you will have will be the market where you can buy the stones and the limited scoring spots. But often I don't find myself being overly affected by these and was pretty much doing my own thing and playing my own game. Limited interaction.
There is also a runaway leader because it is often quite difficult to block someone from building in their city unless there is a cooperative effort to empty the market of that particular block. Our end game scoring were quite far apart with 2 of us almost getting looped by the leader.

Its a light-medium weight Euro game that mixes a few interesting concepts together. Quite nicely executed and easy to learn and play. Not much interaction though. I will play it again but probably not like it enough to grab my own copy. A friend mentioned that this second time he played it did not seem as fun as the first. Oh I did not mention that timing is very important in the game because while you will often want to wait and store up resources before buying and scoring but if someone else grabs the spot before you, it may screw with your plans a bit. Try before you buy!


Much screwage was committed...

Game Session and Thoughts: 
This is my first play of the game. I have heard of this game and seen the box and all but wasn't too interested in it. Still I was glad to have been able to give it a go when my friend bought it and brought it over. 
The game is a light-medium weight euro where players are taking actions using action discs to build gondolas (for money and scrolls), barriers (for protection against high waters and special benefits when taking other actions), get money, purchase plans for gondolas and barriers and ships and ultimately, building the Doge ship which will also allow the game to end when the entire ship has been built. 
At the start of a round, the start player will roll a number of dice (depending on the number of players) and place them in the corresponding track. All actions spaces up to where the die has been placed (i.e. if the red die is a 4, then action spaces to the left and up to the die can be activated) are free. Each spaces beyond that die will cost an additional $1 (i.e. if you want to activate Space 6 and the die is on 4, you will need to pay $2). Each player will have a number of action discs and taking turns, each player will place their action disc onto an action space and perform that activity. When all players have gone their turn, players will check the event card to see if it is High water or the Doge has arrived for an inspection. 
For high water, players check the number of barriers they have against the number indicated on the event card. If they have less barriers, they will lose 2 action tokens for the next round. If they are equal, then they lose 1. Otherwise they are safe. 
If its an inspection, players will now secretly bid a number of scrolls they have collected. The player with the most scrolls will score 6 points, the 2nd, 3 and so on. 
The game will end only if the entire Doge ship has been completed and then players have a final inspection and whoever has the most points will win the game. 
So you are trying to effectively chain your activities such that you can build 2 things with 1 action disc rather than taking 2 turns to build the things that you wanted. You are also trying to earn enough money to be able to buy a ship component and then build it later before your opponents do. There are 6 different sections to the ship requiring different number of ship components to complete the section however there is a space on the board which, when activated, allows you to replace another already built ship component. Art is quite straight forward and easy on the eyes. Components are nice cardboard quality chits. Interestingly, there is a money track instead of money chits to denote how much money you have.
Pet Peeves:
The main pet peeve will be the length of the game. We had quite a lot of fun building barriers and gondolas but not so the actual ship itself. If all players end up milling around and not building the ship, then the game could drag on and be lengthy. However, since building the ship will score you points, I don't think this will be a big issue.

It is a nice game but doesn't bring much new things or concepts. Most of the mechanisms you will have probably played in other games already so nothing new there. I will play it again perhaps with 4 or 2 and see how that goes. Try before you buy.


Wait did I already see 4 yellows? Is that the only Yellow left in the game?

Game Session and Thoughts: 
This is my first play of the game. Now I have seen this game and heard of its hype at GENCON 2012 but I had thought it was a light filler and did not look too much into it. Besides, at that time I was more interested in Seasons from Asmodee :P Boy was that a mistake after playing my first game last week. 
The game is quite simple to play. Players will have a certain number of cards in their hand. These cards belong to 1 of 4 colors (red, yellow, green and white). At the start, you will pass a certain number of cards to the player on your right. This "event" will occur a few times during the game, depending on how many cards all players have left as well as the number of players.
During your turn, you have to play a card and then move your token for that location (i.e. play yellow card, activate your token in the yellow area) either to another spot. Now each location has a few sections with numbers on them. The aim of the game is to place your token on the number that you want to guess for that color. You are guessing at the end of that round, how many cards of that color has been revealed. If you are spot on, you will score 3 points. If you are adjacent to that number, 1 point and if you are way off, you will be penalized 1 point. There are sections at the extreme ends that will give you extra bonus points if you score.
After each player has had a chance to be the start player, the player with the most total points will win the game.
What surprised me was how deep the game eventually became for me. Initially after the rules were explained, I was thinking "Oh, this will be a simple game to play..." Then as the game progressed I was thinking "ok I have seen 3 Yellows, shall I pass them along or keep?" Then it was "ok now I have received some more Yellow cards... now wait how many was that ?" 
During my turn, I suddenly realised "Oh my... I will need to play a card AND move my token EVERYTIME? That will mean that if I knew the exact count (or have a pretty good idea), I will still need to play my cards in such a way I will still remain in that number to win the 3 points!" 
As you can tell by now, this game has many layers and its not as straight forward nor as simple as I had initially thought. Do you pass your card to someone else so that you can lock in your choice ? Or do you choose to forgo your choice (you can move your token back to the starting point and not suffer penalty) so that you will not get penalty ? So many choices and it makes for a nice meaty game.
Oh and production value is really good and the locations look very realistic and 3D. Art is also nicely done.
Pet Peeves:
So does this game have issues? Well if you are prone to Analysis Paralysis then yea. You may be trying to remember all the cards that have been played, start to calculate the probabilities and thus not be able to make a decision. 
Some can also say that the luck of the draw is important. But all these are minor quibbles I feel. 
Well as you can tell by now, this is my biggest surprise and hit for this week. The intricacies and the depth of play really surprised and astounded me. For such an easy game to teach, it sure packs a punch and I highly recommend this game! Go grab yourself a copy now!

PLATO 3000

Game Session and Thoughts: 
Been some time since I brought it out to play this and I think that having played a few more of similar type of games (set collection or light card fillers), I think the shine for Plato 3000 is starting to wear off. It could be that the lunch group was suffering from lunch-food coma ( ;P ). It could also be that for 4 players the game doesn't work as well. Might be good for 2 or 3 but maybe for 4, we will need 2 sets to really speed things along. My colleague who played it once before and did not like it initially but after this session she liked the game. She's not too sure why she liked it better this time lol...

I think that this game really shines with 2 or 3. Though with the influx of similar games like Guildhall and to a lesser extend, Love Letter and Coup, not sure if this has enough legs to carry it past the rest to shine above them. For me so far I think Guildhall and Love Letter seems to be beating Plato 3000.


Game Session and Thoughts: 
I got my own copy after playing it previously and I was eager to break it out with the office and see how it went. We had more fun probably dropping the pieces in and trying to guess where they are than the actual revealing and guessing itself haha. Its interesting in that when we dropped, I could have sworn most of the cubes were stuck in floor 5 or 4 but when we revealed we were surprised there weren't many there. Its amazing how our ears can be deceived and this makes the game that much more challenging. Gameplay wise it is a very light game with the tower as the gimmick. Its good for new comers to get used to what we call boardgames and open their eyes but probably only scratches the very top of my itch for deduction games.
Pet Peeves:

The base where the tower sits on (or table) will probably be the easiest to guess because cubes dropping through the cardboard will not sound the same as the table the tower is resting on. That being said, it can still confuse others especially because your own cube needs to be sitting there else you will be penalised. The other Peeve I have is the way the tower is built. If you have an improper tower (i.e. some of the cardboard pieces aren't sitting nicely) then your tower maybe skewed. Anyway, these are just minor peeves to a light party-like game.


Definitely not a game for heavy or even medium weight gamers I feel but can only be a light filler with the tower as a gimmick. Its nice to assemble and look at and play it once or twice but in the long run it probably will wear off the freshness of the game. Still, a try before you buy.


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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bora Bora, Guildhall, Straw, Grand Cru, Nieuw Amsterdam, Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas, Riff Raff, Iota, Loopin Louie

Highlight for me this week is Nieuw Amsterdam. Its a new game for me and pretty fun to play!
Lets see what exciting games I have played this week :)

Bora Bora

Game Session and Thoughts: Manage to bring this out again and with more plays, I am getting better at managing what I want and the objectives I can accomplish. For most of the games so far I will attempt to complete all 9 objectives but that kinda dictates what I will be doing as my entire game is to try to get the various requirements done to achieve my objectives. I also managed to buy 6 pieces of jewellery and quite high scoring ones to get quite a few points. I was attempting to get the max points for tattoo by activating all my men tiles at the same time but only managed to get halfway. I have been listening to Joel and Lance's podcast and they talked about bora bora as well and what Joel said is pretty true. If during the game you find yourself in the lead most of the time, it means that you maybe doing something wrong or not maximising what you can do during the game.
So far I have not seen anyone manage to place all 12 huts onto the board OR fill up with 12 man/woman tiles. I think that is one of the more difficult ones to achieve for end game scoring. It seems the "filling of the 12 spaces" as well as building 6 of the tiles onto those 12 spaces are the best objectives to obtain since its possible to achieve both end game objectives at the same time, scoring you 12 points. Second easiest will be the jewellery but that is dependant on how the setup was like. Third will be the objectives and that is quite lucrative too because if you manage to complete 9 objectives you will at least have 4x9 = 36 points but you could have 6 x 9 = 54 points.
Pet Peeves: One kinda irritating thing I have found about this game is that setup is rather tedious. I will recommend having a bag each for the objectives, man and woman tiles. This will allow setup to be pretty fast as you don't need to sort them out. Another smaller peeve is that explaining how the game works can be quite lengthy because of all the different actions available as well as Phase B sections and the end game scoring. It will require multiple plays because most new players probably won't remember what the end game scorings are until halfway through the game which will not afford them enough time to switch plans halfway and switching goals halfway in the game can be quite detrimental. Jon pointed out the issue where the game seems to dictate what you can do because of the decreasing points in latter rounds for building and increasing points for the number of priests that you have. I can understand his point of view because I also box myself in by going after the objectives and thus determine what i need to and can do to get the points. Still I guess it makes it easier to let new players understand the game and get into it and give them a fighting chance against experienced players.
Conclusion: Still highly recommended from me.


Game Session and Thoughts: So after last week's playing 2 player I manage to play this with 3 and 4 and I must say 3 players is probably the sweet spot for this. It gives you an extra opponent to guard against and attack and doesn't extend the game play time for too long. Also gives an opportunity to guard against the leader. 4 may cause the game to take too long to finish. Surprisingly as you play the game, even though there maybe an early leader, usually every player will start to guard and disturb the leader such that the rest can catch up. This leads to very tense and exciting last few rounds as players try to win it themselves.
Pet Peeves: Unfortunately though, usually in the last round it is a forgone conclusion who will win and probably there is nothing else for the other players to do unless the luck of the draw allows someone else to catch up. Definitely recommends it with 3 or 4 but not so with 2.
Conclusion: Still a Try before you buy. Jon hates the art lol and will want to retheme it. Suggestions anyone?


Game Session and Thoughts: Straw is a light filler card game very similar to Zeus on the Loose. In the game, players are playing cards which represent goods with a certain weight/number. If the sum of all the cards on the camel (first card in the centre of the table) exceeds 50, then that player has "broken the camel's back" and all other players will score the cards in their hand for points. However there is a special card that is the Straw which if you use it to break the camel's back (i.e when it comes to you and the sum is 50, you play that card), then only you will score points. Game lasts as many rounds as there are players and the player with the most total points will win the game. Its very similar to zeus on the loose in that you are playing cards with numbers and having a sum total that you are trying not to exceed (in this game) and trying to exceed (in Zeus on the loose). In Straw, there are only a few "special powers" like reserve play order and the magic carpets which provide negative points. For Zeus, there are god cards with special powers which adds more variety but can lengthen the game if all players are actively blocking well.
When I played this initially, I was playing all my low weight cards so as to keep all the high weight cards but I quickly found that this was not very good as well because nearer the end when the weight is almost to 50, having a few of those low weight or negative cards will help to prevent you to be the player that breaks the camel's back!
Conclusion: This game is definitely better with more players (plays 2-6) and quite a nice filler. Recommended!

Nieuw Amsterdam

Game Session and Thoughts: Saw the video review from Joel and wanted to give this a go. This is a medium weight euro game that is sort of area control and with a rather unique action-selection cum auction mechanism. In the game, players are trying to score as many points as they can and this is usually done in game by means of shipping fur or scoring for your buildings in the town area. There are quite few phases in the game but the first thing you do is auction or bid for actions. Now this is quite unique in that there are 5 slots available and at the start of a round, you will randomly place action chits onto the available slots. Some slots have space for 3 action chits, some have 2. Some slots also gives 2 coins if you win that slot. Starting with the first player, you will place your turn order chit on the slot that you are bidding for and declare a price. This is a once-only auction in that if your bid is the final bid so you will need to choose wisely. Once someone has won the auction (after each player has bid or passed once), that player then exchanges his turn order chit with the one that was placed in the slot (if he has any remaining) and the player that initiated the bid will get the turn order chit (if he/she wasn't the player that won the bid). Once all players have won 1 slot and obtained the action chits, the player will go through 3 phases which are denoted by the action chits.
The first action is a city action and in player order, players will determine a special action and if they have the action chit for that city action, take one of 2 available city actions. The order sequence between special action or city action is determined by the player. City action allows you to either build 1-3 buildings into the town area or score for town areas where you have majority or drew with other players. You will still be able to perform a special action even if you do not have a city action chit.
The second action is a land action where players can obtain land deed cards (That are not cleared in the beginning) or clear land deed cards they already possess provided the building slots of each land deed card is already filled with their buildings. By clearing, you will score points as well as obtain a number of wood pieces and get corn during the income phase. Again, players can take a special action.
Third action is the fur action where players can use the action chit to either obtain fur with goods from the market or ship their fur and obtain points (determined by how many sets of the same fur they have), coins by fulfilling the requirements of the ship cards available. These ship cards also provide Goods during the income phase.
Take note that the special action that you can play in each of the 3 action phases I just described are denoted by the various town spaces. If you have majority (more buildings than others) or drew with the others, you don't need to pay 1 coin when activating that town area's special action. Special actions include trading coins for wood or vice versa, building new warehouse to store goods etc etc.
After the action phases, players will collect income for corn (if they have cleared land cards) and pay corn for each building they have in the town area. Penalty for not being able to feed will be removal of buildings as well as 2 points for each building removed.
Players will also receive goods from any ship cards they have and finally income by counting the number of buildings they have in the town area and +1 for each area they have the majority. That will be the end of a round and at the end of 6 rounds, there will be a final scoring phase (where majority of the town areas will come into play as well as any remaining goods) and whoever has the most points will win the game.
Conclusion: As I mentioned, the auction phase is quite unique because the order in which the action chits are selected as well as bided for will determine what actions you can take during that round. Do you want to bid for the 3 action chits which allow you to perform all actions during the action rounds? Or do you want to perform a specific action twice? Do you want to win that action just to go first? In this game, going last has its advantages because during auction you can get action chits for 0 coins and at the same time you get the last action. For now at least after 1 play, I can see going first as not being all that lucrative. Interestingly, I went for the land card and majority in town area path and I did win the game but my closest competitor did not have a single building in the town area and opted to go for the fur trade instead and he wasn't too far off from my final score. So this does show that there are different paths to victory but since there are only 3 main areas of scoring, it doesn't have that much variety. Probably the most random thing in the game are what fur is available on the market as well as the action chits that will be available in the different slots. Quite a fun game for me and I will definitely want to play it again. Recommended!

Grand Cru

Game Session and Thoughts: Another wine game? Yup and this plays, for me at least, better than Vinhos. In the game, players are trying to have the most money at the end of the game. Players however, do not start with any money and must take loans to get money right during setup. Play then goes in player order and each round will last at least 4 turns but can be extended either when all players have passed or 1 player has no more cubes (denoting wine) on their vineyard tiles. During the turn, players can choose from a variety of actions from bidding on tiles that are available in the market, selling already harvested wine (cubes), bumping up the prices for a particular color of wine to harvesting a wine etc etc. Once the first phase is over, then there will be a wine festival at the end of the round. Players will score prestige points depending if they are in the majority for wine of a color sold or if they few. Then in player order, players will be able to spend these prestige points (which are accumulative between each round) to obtain certain benefits for example, an extra sale action or obtaining money etc. Once all players have passed, then players need to pay interest for the loans they have and then decide to take more loans or payoff the loan. A new round will then begin. The game ends when at least 1 player has payed off ALL his loans or if a player is bankrupt and cannot take any loans. Then player sell off all their wines they have previously harvested, score points for the different types of wine/improvement tiles they have and then whoever has the most money will win the game.
Pet Peeves: This game has horrible iconography. There aren't that many in a game where there are quite a few rules and whatever is there isn't very helpful. We had to refer to the rulebook so many many times to understand what each tile does. Also, its so difficult to find the english version of the manual and even the geek only has a no-picture only user-created manual. Gameplay though its faster to learn and play as compared to Vinhos and not as brain burning.
Conclusion: I had fun and this game shows that short term gains will often always lose to long term gains which may or may not be a good thing. There are interesting development tiles which cannot be ignored and will allow actions such as being able to harvest 2 types of wine for the price of one.  A good combination of action tiles will enable you to perform so many things that are often limited by the number of turns each round has. Not a bad game and I would say its a medium euro I will definitely want to try it again but for now it will be a Try before you Buy for me.

Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas

Game Session and Thoughts: The game with a very difficult to pronounce name lol. Its a palingdrom btw and you can google up the meaning. In the game, there are 4 books of your color spread out all over the board. You are tasked to retrieve all 4 books and the first player to do so will be the winner. During your turn, you have 6 action points with which to play cards that will rotate or move tiles that represent footpaths on the board. Each player also has a set of special power cards that provide very powerful options for example, destroying footpaths or allowing your pawn to leap over open spaces. During your turn, you also have a free action which allows you to move your pawn 1 space or rotate or move a footpath 1 space for free. After you have played your cards, you will get to move your pawn a number of spaces depending on how many of the general card (not your personal more powerful cards) you have played and then you get to draw back up to 6 cards (either from the general deck and/or from your special power cards).
I played it with 2 and even though I was leading in the beginning my opponent quickly drew level with me. With 2 players though it came down to choosing between blocking me or moving your pawn. He tried to block me a few times but in the end if he wanted to win he had to move on to grab the last book. I was very lucky with my card draws and the game was pretty much going my way most of the time. I think with 4 players it will be even more tense as if the opponents decide to gang up against the leader, the leader will have quite a hard time trying to win.
Conclusion: This game is just BEGGING to be rethemed in the style of Harry Potter! Components wise they are quite nicely done and the books are quite detailed. There is a set of initial placement cards which will help determine where the books are setup but that's all the function they serve for the entire game. That kinds seems redundant. Still this is quite a unique game and it will be a Try before you Buy for me.

Riff Raff

Game Session and Thoughts: I played this first with my usual Cult of the New gaming group and I decided to grab myself a copy to bring to the office to play. Now with my CotN group it was all quite relaxed and fun and I was goofing off since i really sucked at agility games. In office I was surprised that everyone was being all serious and positioning themselves to catch the falling items. I played again last night and an opponent even used a tactic where she purposely placed it such that items will fall and she can catch the falling pieces thus not being penalised too heavily! Trust people to try to find a way to game a party game hahaha....
The components are very nice wood grade and well done. I also found out that depending on how you setup the ship and planks etc, you can adjust the difficulty of the game and thus replayability is very high on this. Its a pity it only plays up to 4. So far in the games I have played there isn't a case where there are more than 5 items on the boat at a time as pieces tend to fall off pretty easily. The cards add a nice level of strategy because you will need to decide when best to be placing at a certain space on the boat and if your opponents before you may have cleared the boat of items for you, making it easier for you to place your item.
Conclusion: Surprising depth for a party game. Recommended!


Game Session and Thoughts: Played Iota again twice this week and boy what a thinky game it is. Again so far everyone who has played it really liked it and for such a small box it certainly packs a lot of game. Its incredibly hard though to catch the leader once someone has done a massive scoring and so this requires players to all be on their toes making sure they don't set up a 4-card play for another opponent. This maybe best with 2 as you won't need to worry too much about other player's stealing your slots but with 3 or 4 there is a lot of tension and a lot of tactical thinking because there is that much more chance that someone else would have played cards to screw up with your initial plans. Conclusion: Recommended!

Loopin Louie

Game Session and Thoughts: I have heard so much about this game from various podcasts and I decided to grab myself a copy to see what it is. Also, since my niece and nephew are coming over next week I thought it will be a cool gift as well for them so that my brother and sister in law can play with their kids. This is essentially a kids game (think Hungry hungry hippos) where you are banging on a stick to flip Louie who is being rotated around the board with a motor (and batteries!) so as to prevent him from tipping one of your chicken discs. The player who is the last one with unflipped chicken discs will win the game. I find myself not being able to flip Louie very well but my colleague (I played this in office) mentioned that I needed to time my lever such that Louie is not bouncing on the arm and just above my lever. LOL....
Conclusion: Its a light party like game which can be combined with drinking (i.e. drink if Louie flipped one of your chickens) which will probably make it even more fun for the intoxicated hahahaa.... I sure hope my nephew and niece will enjoy it :P
You can see a Vine video here

So all in all, a great week of gaming! Next few posts may not have so much gaming done mainly because my niece and nephew are here but knowing me, I will definitely try to find some way to have some boardgames in :P I still have many 2 player games that are waiting for me to try and I hope to at least get them played by April hahahaha.... *Cross Fingers*

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Exciting news for Push Ur Luck Podcast. We are in contact with designers and publishers in Asia and we will be arranging for interviews for them on our Podcast in future episodes.

First up, we will be interviewing Seiji Kanai of Love Letter fame (recently repackaged and released by AEG) and Hisashi Hayashi, designer of TRAINS (released in Essen 2012 and will be released by AEG in 2013) !

We are very excited about this.

Should you have any questions you want to ask, please feel free to pop by our guild and post your questions and we will see what we can do!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lightspeed, Dancing Dice, Witches' Brew, Terra Mystica, Tammany Hall, Iota, Tournay, Guildhall, Agricola All Creatures Big and Small

Had another great week playing games I have never played before! Highlight must have been Tammany Hall as its a new reprint and I have heard quite a bit about it. Here we go!

Light Speed

A light filler this one and self printed from Artcow. In the game, players will simultaneously try to place their set of plane cards (1 card at a time drawn from their deck) onto the board which was initially seeded with asteroids. Players do this, taking into account the ship number (as it will determine the sequence of firing from in ascending order) as well as the placement of the ship card (because ships have shields and different angles of firing). Players also have to take note not to place cards onto other cards as these are disqualified. Once a single player has finished playing ALL his/her cards, he declares done and the placement round has ended. Now all players look at their ships in ascending order and determine whom they may have shot at and place their markers on the ships. If it exceeds the number of red buttons on that ships (indicating health points), then that ship is destroyed and the player with the most damage markers on that ship will claim that ship as points (the red buttons indicate points this time). If an asteroid was hit, then that ship actually harvested minerals and claims cubes from that asteroid (as long there are any cubes left on that asteriod). After resolving the level 10 ships, players see how many points they have gathered and the one with the most points is the winner.
The concurrent placement of the cards seems rather messy to me. As you are trying to see the placement of your ships at the same time react to what other players are doing and keep track of how many cards you have left as you don't want to be caught with a lot of cards left to place. Also, if a player places their cards randomly and quickly, that can result in too quick a placement round and may result in negative points as well for the player. I wonder if you can game the system in that you place all your cards in a circle with all their lasers facing outwards (like a flower).
This is a light and pretty fast game with a lot of tactical planning, using only cards and possibly a need for a length of string (to measure if the lasers have hit or not). But its not for me unfortunately.

Dancing Dice

Now if you did not know, I met my wife through dancing and I was looking out for any dancing-related boardgames to play but so far haven't had much luck. When my friend brought out dancing dice I was immediately intrigued by it. The dice were so AWESOME as they showed the dance step feet on them to represent the traditional pips on a die. The game is a Yahtzee variant where you roll your dice (6 dice) and try to arrange them in the best way to score higher on the dance track.  At the start, a player rolls a seperate set of 3 dice to determine the combinations required for a Tango. You have 2 rerolls and once all players have done, you show your "first moves" of 3 dice. Then you arrange accordingly with the other players and, in a 5 player game, the 3 players with the lowest scores (and not protected by a "Rock" feature, meaning both sets of 3 dice are identical) will decrease in stamina. Players next show their "second moves" and do the same. Players now gather back all their dice and play continues until only 1 player is left standing (the rest have dropped out due to 0 stamina).
I love the dice and the colors used for the dice. They are also etched on and not stickered so that's cool. Gameplay wise, is ok as a party game I reckon. The unfortunate part of the game is that players are rolling behind the screen so you cannot really know for sure if there is any cheating involved other than having to trust the other players (who supposedly are your friends :P If you aren't playing with friends then good luck!) I guess you can play a variant where players will roll 1 at a time to show what they have rolled but that will possibly extend the game time to an hour or so. So its a light push your luck game but not for me.

Witches' Brew

Witches' Brew, I have seen this game but never really played it before. In this game, players will have an identical set of role cards each. During each round, players will choose 5 cards from this set and once all players have chosen (secretly), the round will begin. Beginning with the start player, that player will choose a role and declare "I am the.....". Now in clockwise direction, players with the same role card out of their hand can decide to declare that "I am the...." OR choose "So be it....". Now choosing "I am the..." means you are now replacing the current player as the chosen role. If no one else contests you and all players have either passed, then you can get the benefits listed in "I am the...." section. If you have chosen the "So be it..." you will get your benefits immediately. Once all players have played their 5 cards, the round ends and players retrieve back all their cards and a new round begins. The game will end when 4 cards with crows have been "purchased" from the board. The player with the most points will win the game.
In the first round of the game, we weren't really sure what we were doing as the various resources aren't very familiar to us. However I got it after playing the first round and play continued rather smoothly. Understanding what each role can do does take up some time but its quite intuitive during the game. This feels like another variation of Citadels with an interesting twist because not only must you be able guess what the other players maybe playing so that you can strategise, you must also be aware of the timing involved that will allow you to play the roles that you want. Often if you are the last player, then you can usurp the role. However that will also mean your next round (where you are now the starting player), you may not be able to play the role that you originally planned. I really liked this game. I loved Citadels and am looking forward to the new edition (which I think is only available in German now) and Witches' Brew has very similar mechanisms with a unique twist to the game. The art is very nicely done although the cauldrons could have been more distinctly drawn so that you know which role brews which potions. Still its quite a fun game. Recommended!

Terra Mystica

Ah my precious.... its been too long since I last played you :P I was the Witches this time and while I had a close fight with the Fakirs I managed to gain the 18 points at the end game after I upgraded my shipping and placed a dwelling strategically. I was losing badly on the cult track though and only managed near the end to send a few priests in to gain a few more points. The game did take pretty long with 5 players (almost 4 hours +) but I think with experience we can probably knock it down to 2 + hours. I think pre-planning is quite important for players and pre-planning with a backup plan is important to cut down on the length of time required. Still its a game I very much love with all the things that you need to plan and think of. I am looking forward to the expansion which will add new races. I wonder though if there will be a war like race or battle rules are introduced. But that may kinda defeat the purpose of building so close to each other for the magic benefit. The initial board is kinda interesting in that we were mostly clustered together except for one of my dwellings in the centre (I had thought this was usually the place where most players will be) and another player's dwellings which were all the way to the other side of the board. My witches' powers were also put to much good use as they enabled me to populate all over the board to fight the Fakirs and other "round" benefits like placing dwelling for 2 points I have also gotten much benefit from. Good game, good game :)

Tammany Hall

Have heard so much about this from Not Just Another Gaming podcast amongst other podcasts and I was eager to give this a go. I have also heard that this is a negotiation game and I was not particularly fond of them but since my friend had it I was definitely open to seeing how this game may or may not work for me. The game lasts for 4 terms, each with 4 years (or turns). During each year, you can do any and all of the following: use your role's power (roles are determined by the player who is mayor of each term and the first 4 years there aren' any) or place 2 of your meeples onto the map or place 1 of your meeple and 1 immigrant cube onto the map or discard a Slander disc and respective political chips to remove another player's meeple(s) from the map. Every election year (which occurs every 4 years), each district will be assessed. If it is contested, players in that district can decide in a secret bidding how many chips they want to add. Chips that correspond to the colors of the cubes in that district can be played. After the bidding is done, players add up the number of votes (meeples + chips) they have and the player with the majority wins that district. Draws will cause everyone to be removed from the board. Each district is resolved this way with those districts that are near the bay getting some benefits to the winners of those districts. Players get points for each district they have won and also for having the majorities in the 4 different nationalities on the boards (denoted by cubes). The mayor is determined by the player who has won the most districts and he will be the next start player and decide the roles for all other players. Play ends after the 4th term and the player with the most points will win the game.
This game requires a lot of counting to make sound decisions. The element of negotiation is there but not a necessity as the winner has shown by being mostly quiet and subtle. It does require everyone to work against the leader otherwise there can be a very easy runaway leader problem. The board looks gorgeous and not overly cluttered though I do wish they have more symbols instead of words to represent the various actions and rewards available. Component wise, it is average. I am not too sure why they could not provide bigger meeples or more clearer distinction between the 2 top hat meeples (which are used to represent your color and role you have) and the rest of the meeples that are placed on the board. There are also a LOT of stickers used to denote the different nationalities and their political chips and that can be a pain to paste on. We also feel that this game is best played with 5 as all the roles are selected and there is quite a bit of tension and to and fro going on. Its quite a good game but may not be for me. Try before you buy!


Iota was a box filler for me for my shipments from overseas and it comes in a really small box with very small cards (I cannot find sleeves for them! sob...) though it was slightly dented when it arrived. I had seen the video of the game and was intrigued by it so decided to pull the trigger. Initially I had thought this was a light filler and easy to play and finish the game. While it is by no means super heavy game and I think can be considered light, the thinking involved borders on the medium side and boy was it a good surprise for me. Each player has a hand of 4 cards and during their turn, they are trying to form a new line (one of the cards must connect to an existing card) or extend an existing line. No line can have more than 4 cards in that line. There is also a specific rule for a line: Are all colors the same or different and are all pips on the cards same or different and are all shapes on the cards same or different? If you answered No to any of these questions, then that line is invalid and cannot be placed. Once you have finished placing your cards, you add up the points on the pips of the line(s) you have created/extended. If you formed a lot (4 cards in a line), you get to double your points each time. If you managed to play all 4 cards from your hand during your turn, you also get to double your points. So if you play very carefully and wisely, you can potentially x 2 x 2 your points. An example in the rules showed how you can score 208 points in 1 turn! The game ends when all cards from the draw deck is exhausted and 1 player has played his/her last card. Whoever has the most points wins the game.
Its quite a fun game and boy was it thinky. Most importantly you have to ensure you don't setup anyone along the way so that they will not capitalize and form lots from your play. Its a surprisingly fun game for me even though the best I ever managed in a single turn was 100 points. Recommended!


Tournay! Not really a successor of the popular Troyes but based on the same art and theme. I have been wanting to try this since it is similar to Troyes which I liked and quite highly rated. It is essentially a card game with a bit of "city" building aspect. There is a set of cards in the "market" where you can purchase from and also events (similar to Troyes) which will impact everyone. In addition, some of the cards in the Market are Prestige buildings which will provide scoring to everyone (similar to characters in troyes) if they are built. At the beginning of your turn, you can build a card into your district. Take note that your district can only accept 9 cards and is laid out in a 3x3 format. You can build over existing cards. During your turn there are 6 pple (these are similar to the dice in Troyes) where you can activate to either draw cards or use a building in your district or resolve an event card. Whenever a Town Crier card appears, all the events will trigger. The game ends when the number of town crier cards that have been revealed exceeds the number of players by 1 and at least 1 player has completed his 3x3 grid and has at least 2 prestige buildings. This does mean that the game can get a little bit too long but I will need to play again to be sure.
This game is dripping in symbols but unlike Troyes where it is helpful, in this case, it is not. There are just way too many symbols to try to comprehend. The player aid is crammed full of symbols and their meanings and is quite helpful but when i say CRAM, i really mean CRAMMED. There are so many words in the player aid it might as well have been an appendix in the player manual. Not all the cards are explained though in the game manual so I recommend printing out the file found in BGG. I am OK only with the game but that is after only 1 play. I definitely do need to get more games in to have a better opinion on what I feel about the game. Art wise is identical to Troyes so it is rather unique and has that renaissance feel to it. For now its a Try before you buy.


Another game that I have been eagerly waiting for and after hearing all the raves about it from various podcasts I was eager to give it a go. I had originally thought this game was similar to Plato3000 but after playing it I was mistaken. The 2 games have very little in similar other than a number of cards will allow you to activate the roles' powers. In the game, players will have 6 cards in their hand. During their turn, they may take 2 actions. Actions include, discarding any number of cards and drawing back up to 6 and playing a card from hand. You can take both actions to play cards from hand but both cards must not have the same role. When you play a card from hand, you look at those cards in your guildhall that were previously played and you can activate the action based on the number of cards. Some roles will allow you to draw new cards, others allow you to mess with your opponents' already collected cards. If you manage to collect a role with 5 different colors, then you can flip them over and count them as a completed collection (though you lose the powers). During your turn, you can, as an action, trade in completed collections for Victory Point cards that are in the centre of the table. Some VP cards give you an instant action others just give you points. The first player, at the end of his turn, reaches 20 VPs will win the game.
Now I only played this with 2 but it kinda felt funky to me. Not sure what is it but its not clicking as I had hope it should be with me. Unlike Plato3000 which I instantly liked, this did not do it for me. It could be because with 2 players and I will like to play it with more but it felt a bit draggy. I believe that with more though that might be a Munchkin problem where everyone will gang up against the leader and thus drag the game on longer. Those cards which allow you to steal from your opponents and all will probably ensure that the leader doesn't get to form any more collections and thus makes it that much harder to finish the game. Still jury is out on this. Art is pretty nice though the box is way too big for this CARD game. Try before you buy!

Agricola All Creates Big and Small Expansion

Finally.... after 2+ months of long waiting, my package from Starlitcitadels has arrived. OMG paying cheap for freight is really quite tedious. So far shipping from another german site takes at most about 1 month. The one I am currently using takes only about 2 weeks at most which is really cool and fast. I doubt I will order from Starlit again. Anyway the expansion now adds a LOT Of new buildings but only 4 will be seen per game you play which adds a lot of replayability to the game. The game however, still seems to be a very quiet solitaire where you are trying to build your farm up to the best that you can given what is left on the board. Indeed, the only interaction seems to be from the board where both players are placing their action tokens and performing the action and denying the other player. That's mostly it. I may need to play a few more games of this to see if there can be any increase in the interaction. Le Havre 2 player though has a LOT of interaction mostly because you can use other player's buildings and take advantage of it and screw your opponent in the process. Still having all the animal-eeples on the board makes for a very visually exciting game and I would still recommend this game especially if you want agricola light. Recommended however between Le Havre 2 p and this, I will prefer Le Havre the Inland port.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Il Vecchio, The Gnomes of Zavandor, Tokaido, Bora Bora, Yedo, Mutant Meeples, Bookmaker,

Great week of gaming especially since I got to play a few hotnesses from Essen and 2013. Lets take a look:

Il Vecchio

I have heard about this game but the board and gameplay did not immediately grab me so I was interested to give it a go before I pulled the trigger. The game is quite easy to teach and learn and to play but it does have strategies and would border on the light-medium difficulty. During your turn, you can choose to activate your family member (to get resources basically), go into a city's track (to score points and get benefits), to roll dice and place new family member (spawn new workers) or recover your family members and get 1 florin (stand up your workers). That is the gist of the game! Quite easy to learn huh? The game has quite a lot of symbols thus making learning the game quite easy and the player aid is very helpful as they include details of each action and the end game scorings. Theme wise though its non existent but it doesn't make it any less enjoyable. The unique part of this game is the middleman feature. At each location, if you want to activate your family member there and a middleman token is there as well, you can put your family member at rest and get the resource and move the middleman to the next town location (middleman follow a set path around the board). Alternatively, you can spend a bishop token to get the resource without having a middleman and/or abstain from resting your family member. During the game, you are constantly thinking when is the opportune time to grab a resource and if it will cause the middleman to move to another town which will benefit your opponent. You are also wondering when to go into the various city tracks as they will give you benefits (1 time benefits like resources etc), give you end game scoring and if you  have majority, provide you more points as well at the end. There are some quirky parts in the game. For example, the board is 2-sided but the only difference is the color tones used. I wish they could have just given a different board so you have 2 sides to choose from to play. Adds to the replayability.
What surprised me was how simple the game is to learn, teach and play. In the games I have played so far, most players will often just go about getting resources and placing their family members in the outer tracks and then, mid way through the game, aim for the center tracks as these give tiles that provide a constant benefit or end game scoring tiles. In most other types of games, players usually have a end game objective(s) and thus know how to go about playing the game to score. This game allows you to just play the game or try to get the end game objective cards and then play the game. Interesting decisions to be made and quite fun. Recommended!

The Gnomes of Zavandor

In this game, players are trying to get resources in the form of 4 types of gems either from actual digging and obtaining them from the mines OR manipulation of the market and then converting these gems into actual inventions / products to score points. Once a player has scored 16 points, that will trigger the game end and whoever has the most points will win the game. When we started this game, we were very puzzled because the way the market moved is quite unusual and something we have not encountered before. During the game round, whenever you purchase or sell gems, no matter the amount, it will only move up or down by 1 slot respectively. Thus the number of times the buy/sell action is triggered will determine how many spaces it moves up and down. In addition, whenever a player builds something and pays gems, the market prices for that gem will move up by that many spaces (i.e pay 4 blue gems, price for blue will increase by 4!). Prices will only drop when players get gems due to the tokens they have collected when they dug in the mines. So the more gems that are being extracted to the players, the faster the prices will drop.
The trader ability is very powerful as it allows you to frequently convert gems to a color that you want. Initially, it was pretty confusing what was happening as this is looked like it was a mining game but we quickly realised its a stock market game instead. Once I got into the groove of things, I was busy building up an engine to get money and gems but I took too long and once my opponent started to make products which netted him points, it was hard to come back from. Apparently the products are also stacked such that the earlier you can make the products, the higher points you will net. Interesting choice of using cards as gems instead of having actual gem tokens because all knowledge (except money) is open knowledge. Might have increased the enjoyment factor if they used gem tokens instead.
Intriguing game but I doubt I will want to play it again though. Besides, where else can you find a game where the start player is SO BIG that it kinda dwarfs the game board? lol.....


When I first heard about this game, I was very intrigued as the art is very nice and the overall presentation of the board is fantastic. When I heard about the demo at GENCON 2012, I immediately searched for it in the big hall. However when I finally saw the copy, I was kinda disappointed. The quality of the components felt like a let down for me. I was still debating on whether to get myself a copy when I read the reviews and there were some issues here and there. Thus I was quite excited to be able to try it when my friend purchased a copy.
The game itself is very simple and straight forward. During your turn, you choose where to venture to (but must stop at each rest stop along the way). There are a few ways to score points and these are denoted by locations along the trail. You can visit a store to buy gifts, visit a location to see vistas (3 different types), visit the temple and offer donations, take a bath and have an encounter with a stranger. The player who is furthest behind on the trail will play his turn. When all players have arrived at a stop though (and ate something there), then the player who is last in will move off first.
Game ends when all players have reached the final stop. Then players will see who has majority in each of the sections mentioned above and the player with the most points will win the game.
I would say this is a light game and because of the character cards available, that will add a bit more tactical element to the game. The characters often favor 1 type of action (for example, the character I had gave me extra coin from the bank when I perform the temple action) and help you to strategise on what to do. Its not a bad game but I do wish the components felt higher quality than what they currently have. Its like an exercise in graphical design which did very well but execution could have been better. Oh and the bits used to represent your points are SO TINY that it could be a child hazard. OK for me.

Bora Bora

Ah.... first of Stefan Feld's 4 releases in 2013. Very highly anticipated and we managed to get our copies! I do love shopping online :) So what is the game like? Well to me it felt like Kingsburg due to the dice placement mechanism which is the main feature as these will provide you the actions during the game. The rest though felt very much like Trajan in that there are SO MANY things you want to do and can get distracted along the way but you only have limited actions to perform per round. The game is in 3 phases. First players will roll their dice concurrently and then, in player order, place 1 of their die on any of the action cards available. The only condition is your die must be lower than any existing die on that card. Then you perform the action. Play continues until all players have placed their die. Then Phase B begins and all players, in player order, activate 1 Man and 1 Woman tile on their player board. After that, Phase C begins and we resolve 4 sections of the board to score points, determine new starting player, buy jewellery tiles and complete objectives. The game lasts 6 rounds and after that, perform end game objectives and scoring and whoever has the most points will win the game.
The game itself has a lot of moving components. It s probably hard to grasp everything at once if you are playing this for the first time. Kinda like Stefan's other game, Trajan. There are really a lot of things to do and the 6 basic actions you can do can be utilized such that you activate sub actions. There are also god cards which "break" the rules of the game thus you have even more actions. It also doesn't help that the player board is very busy because all the symbols required for the game are crammed into the board which makes it kinda overwhelming but only at first. Surprisingly, after your first round, you will kinda get the hang of things and should be able to continue the game very smoothly which is a testament to the design of the game and the symbols used. And because what other players do can affect you greatly, there will be a lot of screwage involved in this game. It has just enough of that tactical decision and strategy that makes me glad I got my own copy of the game.
End game scoring wise, for a first game, most players can get around 150+ points which, if you are used to Stefan's games, seems to be the norm. All in all, this is an excellent game and I definitely recommend it! Makes me eager to see the other 3 games Stefan has lined up for 2013!


I was hesitant to pull the trigger on this one but since I needed some package stuffer (to make up for the delivery charges), I decided to grab a copy. Yedo feels like Lords of Waterdeep but advanced. At the start of each round, there will first be an auction. You can get action cards which can be played during the game to affect players, grab end game objective cards that will score points at the end, get a weapon tile (used for completing missions), build a annex in your estate (which gives you certain benefits), pay for a new worker, buy a geisha (for completing missions) and get a mission card (from 4 different difficulties). After that is done, an event card will be turned over and the market for weapons is replenished. Then players will now, in player order, place a worker in one of the 7 areas available provided there are also free spaces for that area. After which, the watchman will move a space, depending on its color clockwise or counter clockwise and players will have a chance to influence the watchman to move extra spaces. All workers that are in the same area as the watchman after it has stopped will be placed back into reserve unless they have cards which will prevent this from happening. Then players will, in turn order, activate one of their workers to perform the action. During this phase, you can use the worker to complete a mission OR get the benefit of that area. Then a round is done. Phew, are you still with me? Ok good.... then you need to repeat this for ELEVEN times (yes its a 11 round game) unless someone managed to complete a hardest difficulty mission which kills the King and ends the game earlier.
As mentioned, you are effectively trying to gather resources from various locations and completing as much mission cards as you can. Mission cards have a standard reward and a bonus reward and usually provide you more money and/or resources and cards. However, unlike Lords of Waterdeep, you don't have an end game objective which will help shape the strategies that you are employing. Unless you have obtained an end game card, you are pretty much just trying to complete missions during your turn and hope they score you points and provide you resources to complete even more missions. Which leds me to whats good and whats bad about this game.
The game board is quite pretty and nice to look at but rather busy. The symbols used are also quite straight forward and easy to read and see. Components wise is pretty ok but the cardboard bits used for the weapons and geisha etc are thin. The mission cards are a rather odd (like tarot size) shape and hard to find sleeves for. Art wise is pretty nice and the mission cards have fluff which makes sense when you look at what is required to complete your mission so that's a nice touch. The game I feel, lasts way too long. ELEVEN rounds of performing the same things which is basically to complete objectives seems way too long, It might have been better if it is only half as long. The action and end game objective cards are also not particularly helpful. We did not really use many of them during the game. So while this seems like Lords of Waterdeep, I feel that Lords of Waterdeep seems to have executed it better. Besides, Lords of Waterdeep will be having an expansion out soon so I would prefer to wait for it. Still this is a try before you buy.

Mutant Meeples

I have heard of this game from Garrett's games and geekiness podcast and was intrigued by it. I had liked roborally and I had thought this was similar. Boy was I wrong. In this game, players are trying to see how many steps they can propose to try to get 1 Mutant Meeple to the crime scene. At the start, a player will draw 2 discs which will denote where the crime will occur. Then all players will try to propose a suitable plan of using up to 3 Mutant Meeples to try to land one of them onto the crime scene. The first player to propose will then flip a timer over and the rest of the players have another 30 seconds to propose as well. Once the timer is up, the player who has proposed the smallest number of steps required (in total) will show how it can be achieved. If it can, then the Mutant Meeple that has landed on the Crime Scene will be flipped to the tick side on the player's board. The first player who has 6 ticked Mutant Meeples will win the game.
The interesting portion of the game is that each of the meeples have a special power. For example, one of them can side step, another can go through walls. Make no mistake though, while this is a puzzle game, it can be very brain burning. There is also not much interaction as most of the time players are just staring at the board trying to figure out the moves in their heads. Half the players that were with us did not really get it at the beginning and only realised whats happening near the middle of the game. I am still mixed about this game because while I like the puzzle aspect of the game, there seems to be a large lack of interaction amongst the players which I do not like. I will need to play this a few more times to have a better grasp of the game. Try before you buy!


After Long Shot, I have been always looking out for another horse racing game that will take its place. I decided to give this a go. After reading the rules though, I was apprehensive about how this game will be like as there seems to be some odd rule bits that I was unclear of. It does not help that on BGG there is not much activity for the game. So have I bought a lemon? Hmmm...
Since we had 6 players yesterday, I decided to bring this out and see how it works. We did not play with the rule where you can change bets because it seems to break the flow. Since players are betting concurrently with the bookmakers, it seems odd that the bookmaker can stop everything and change the bets and continue again thus the break in flow to me. There are horse cards in the game, 4 of which will be placed in the open and all players will receive 4 cards as well. Then the bookmakers (there are always 2 per round) will exchange 2 cards between themselves. Thus in this way, bookmakers will have a view of 10 cards each. Now they will write down the odds and players will then place bets with the bookmakers they want (btw the game comes with paper money instead of the chips as seen). Once all players have placed at least 1 bet (bookmakers may bet with each other but are not required to), the race will begin!
The rest of the horse cards will now be in play. Draw and reveal a horse card one at a time. The horse shown on the horse card will move a step in the race each time it is revealed. The first horse that passes the finishing line will win. Bookmakers will now pay out for the winning horse. Then the 2 players to the left will now be the new bookmakers and play continues until at least each player had a chance to be a bookmaker.
This is a party game. Pretty much depends on the group and how fun it will be. We had a friend who drummed up the excitement as he revealed each horse card so that was certainly helpful. But as party game goes, I am not too sure about this. Try before you buy!

GENCON 2013!
YEAH! I have received confirmation of my Press Pass for GENCON 2013! Which means I will be able to start to plan on what I want to do at GENCON. Definitely I will try to meetup with Tom and Eric from the Dicetower. At the same time, I want to meet with friends I have made like Joel and Stephen and play some games with them. With regards to podcasting or reporting, I will plan to do the same as last year where I twittered my pictures in real time and I hoped that was helpful to others. I will see if its possible for me to record my impressions at the end of each day and upload for distribution. I hope to also have a few interviews and perhaps try for some mass podcast episodes with the other podcasters. So it will either be me updating this blog or have a verbal podcast update every night. Its ambitious I know but lets see what can be done!