I managed to take some time out of my busy Border Reivers schedule yesterday to get down to my local games club: Beyond Monopoly. I nipped down just after one and stayed until the end at six. In all I got five games in - all of them new - so another great session.
First up Trans Europa by Franz-Benno Delonge.
This is a nice little train-themed network game. Players take it in turns to add one or two tracks to their network with the intention of being the first to link their five cities. Joining up to another player's network combines the two - helping both of you - so you need to be careful. Once someone has completed their network the other players lose points for every missing rail they needed to complete their network. Bill, Doug and I sat down to a 3-player, and while we were trying to decypher an English translation of the rules, Tanya (who had played before) and Richard joined us - so we set up a 5-player instead. The game was impressively quick, lasting only two rounds before I lost, having failed miserably both rounds to get anywhere near my outlying cities. Still, despite the trouncing I received, I liked it - it has very simple rules and yet there are lots of options every turns as you try to minimise the losses you'll receive, while not helping your opponents.
The second game of the day was Trias by Ralf Lehmkuhl, a tile-laying game themed around dinosaurs on the early super-continent of Pangaea.
As the game plays out, players move tiles away from the centre splitting the single continent into several smaller ones. As new continents form, and at the end of the game, players get points for having the majority of dinosaurs on a continent. Jon, Doug and I sat down for a 3-player - only Jon had played before. Again, I struggled to develop a winning strategy for this one, and I was lagging behind throughout the whole game. The way the tiles move is pretty cool, but the dinosaurs dropping into the water and then climbing out again was a little dubious. Unexpectedly, in the end I scored very well in the last round of scoring, and ended up coming second behind Jon. There were only 2 points between the three of us though, a tight game.
The third game of the day was Money! by Reiner Knizia, an auction card game based around trading money, with Jon and Doug once again.
The cards represent different values of various currencies and the aim is to blind bid for one of two sets of cards available. Players then exchange their bid for one of the sets, with the highest bidder exchanging first. The scoring rewards collecting sets of the same currency and once I got my head around that I managed to rescue an early losing position and end up coming second. I'm not usual one for card games but I did enjoy this - I think I like the auction aspect.
Next up was a 5-player game of Hattrick by Klaus Palesch. This was s pretty simple trick taking game based up a modified deck of cards (20 cards in three suits), with players getting points for taking tricks in the suit they get the most of, while losing points for tricks they win in other suits. We only played a couple of rounds before Adrian had to head off, and by this point Adrian had a nice lead, and I was the only player with a negative score! I'm not such a fan of card games, especially the ones where the cards are similar to a pack of cards - the only differences being the number of cards and the number of suits.
The final game of the day was a 3-player Sisimizi by Alex Randolph, a game about connecting anthills via lines of ants, with Paul and Jon.
It's played on what is effectively a hex grid, though it uses circles. During their turn, players can place up to three of their pieces (including one anthill if they want), and then move up to three of their pieces already on the board (including one anthill). The aim is to connect your seven anthills with lines of ants. What I like about this game was the ability to move your pieces to adapt to the positioning of your opponents, which kept the board adapting, as you tried to head off an opponent they could move their target anthill and head off in a different direction. I won this one in the end, which was a nice end to the day since I had been comprehensively creamed in Trans Europa and Hattrick.
All in all, a good day's gaming.