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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*


  1. Hi, just a tiny bit of suggestion. Would it be better if you breakdown your paragraphs a little smaller, and probably subtitle them accordingly?

    It's really hard to read wall full of text, especially on a bigger screen. Plus, it would be a huge plus for some readers (maybe like me) who like to skim through or simply go to the juicy bit.

    Just a minor suggestion Eric, you don't really need to do it if you feel it's unnecessary. :)

  2. Hey Damien, thanks for your suggestion. I was meaning to get around to this but... got.... lazy :P better now ?

  3. Thanks for taking in suggestion Eric. Yup, it sure did improve much! The use of colour did make the parts stood out, actually, even better than what I suggested.

    Well done Eric. Keep up the good work!