Saturday, June 3

Games Club: Session Report

Today I actually managed to get to my games club for the first time and it lived up to my expectations. I got to play five games, none of which I'd played before. In addition, I had a cheap but very nice lunch and a good pint, so all-in-all a good day. Here's a session report of what I got up to - click on any image to see a larger version as usual.

When I arrived there was already a large game of Railway Tycoon in progress, so Jon, Mark and I played Kreta by Stefan Dorra, an area control game set on the island of Crete. Players compete to control the areas around a series of area corners, scoring points if they win or tie for control of the area. The game consists of eleven rounds, and you can see the corners which will be scored in the next two rounds. The game started off fairly tight, but I accidently placed a couple of my boats next to the corner to be scored in the next turn fairly early on. You get a bunch of options in each turn, one of which is to end the turn and score it, and Mark who was before me chose to score that turn. After we'd worked out the points for the current turn it was my choice, and since I had control of the only two areas to be scored next time round I immediately ended the turn and got 10 points. That lead fluctuated through the remaining turns but was never overcome, so I ended up winning my first game.

We then broke for lunch, nipping downstairs to the bar for some nice, and exceptionally cheap, pub food. While we waited for our food to arrive we had a quick game of 6 Nimmt! by Wolfgang Kramer, a fairly simple card game. The aim is to avoid having to pick up cards, as each card has a score from 1 to 5, and the player with the lowest score at the end wins. Players simultaneously chose cards and then reveal them - then they are played in numerical order. You have to play a card in a row, next to the card which its numerical value (1-104) is least above. If you place the sixth card in a row you have to pick up the first five and the row starts again with your card as the first. If your card is lower than the ends of all the rows you take a row of your choice and pick it up, adding your card instead. It was a quick and interesting game as you try to guess what cards your opponents are going to play, and hence limit the damage they can do to you. Good fun.

After lunch we started a game of Tikal by Wolfgang Kramer (again) and Michael Kiesling with Robert joining in. In Tikal players are archaeological teams exploring the jungle trying to unearth Mayan (or similar I didn't read the rules) ruins. Players take it in turns to turn over a tile (either temple, clearing or treasure), place it on the board and then spend 10 action points on various options. The game is scored four times at approximately 25%, 50% and 75% of the way through the game and at the end. During the non-scoring turns you try to set your pieces up to make the most of the scoring and capture treasure; in the scoring rounds you mainly find yourself competing for temples with the other players and trying to dig out more of the temples you control to gain more points. I was expecting big things from Tikal as it appears to be a favourite of Mario T. Lanza, and I wasn't disappointed, there are plenty of options, and lots of strategising as we rushed to claim the most valuable temples and then fought to hold on to them. I somehow managed to win this one as well, despite Jon trying to get the others to gang up on me and break my lead.

The fourth game of my day was Timbuktu by Dirk Henn, again with Jon, Mark and Robert. This one features little wooden camels! Always a winner. In Timbuktu each player controls a number of camels trying to get goods to Timbuktu. Each turn, players take it in turns to move their camels into the next available space in one of five lanes. However, at the end of each turn robbers will strike a number of the spaces on those tracks. During the turn you glean more information about which spaces will be hit and for which items, and so you need to try to place your camels such that you lose as few items as possible. This is largely a deduction game (in a similar fashion to cluedo) as each player gets knowledge about three of the five robber attacks, and has to infer the rest of the information from what they have and the actions of the other players (who will have knowledge of a different set of attacks). In the fourth out of five turns the information I gained wasn't of much use to me (as I'd placed my camels where they couldn't reach the tracks I had information on) so I had to guess. I guessed badly and lost loads of goods. There other three ended the game with scores between 110 and 120, I got 83 - a sound thrashing - not unlike England gave Jamaica today :-).

It was an enjoyable game, but I'm not a huge fan of deduction games and I'm not in a rush to play this again. Still, it is pretty, and wooden camels rock, though the game has way too many stickers for my liking.

My final game of the day was Who's The Ass my third Wolfgang Kramer game of the day. We played a five-player game with Mike joining in as well. This is another simple card game, based around two decks of cards, and to be honest you'd be better off playing it with two decks of cards - I didn't like the card design as they had the little numbers in the corners like a deck of cards, but only at the top, so you had to turn your cards up the right way to read them - too much of a faff. Like 6 Nimmt! the aim of the game is to minimise your score by getting rid of your cards. However, unlike 6 Nimmt! this game seemed to be decided mostly by the hand you were dealt, there didn't seem to be much in the way of skill involved. This was definitely my least favourite game of the day.

There were around 16 attendees today, which considering the weather was gorgeous, it was half-term and there was an England match on is pretty damn good.

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