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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.


  1. Ya on Tammany Hall the board looks gorgeous and the meeples is kind of unique ...... agree on the part of the winner keeping silent ...... and 4-5 players is good

  2. Glad to see Tammany Hall is getting a reprint. This is really a great game. It plays really well with 3 as well. It can be played online at which has a great implementation of the game. Maybe you should try the game again, you can read about our session on my gaming buddy's blog if your interested...