I popped over to Beyond Monopoly about four and a half hours yesterday and got a whole bunch of great games in. When I arrived there were a few games in progress already, including two games of Settlers. I had to wait around ten minutes for a game of Terra Nova to finish, then I joined up with Paul for a game of Tempus.
Tempus by Martin Wallace is a civilisation building game, played from the development of writing through to flight. It features a modular board made from groups of hexes, a progression of player powers as they develop further technological advances, combat and ideas cards. It also has a nice mechanism to keep players at a similar level - each turn players compete to see who goes up to the next level first and gains an advantage, and then at the end of the turn the rest of the player move up to the same level and everyone competes to see who goes up to the next level first. I was playing with Paul, George and Gordon and I chose a poor starting position away from the grassland you need to breed. Paul was quickly hemmed in. George was making full use of his religion ideas to convert Gordon's pieces, while Gordon was getting full use of his nice central location to breed like fruit flies and spread out. I got a few cities early on, but Gordon soon outstripped me. I slowly reached some grassland and started getting back into the game while Gordon and George had at each other. Then the ships technology was invented and Paul could free himself from the corner he'd been trapped in, and head off to the other side of the board where he quickly developed several cities and a lot of pieces. In the final turn Paul and I managed to get joint development of the flight technology to gain the 3 VP bonus. Final scores: Paul 23, Gordon 22, Me 21 and George 15.
Next up was Hacienda by Wolfgang Kramer
In this game you compete as farmers in South America trying to gain the most from your animal herds. You gain money by linking lands you control to the markets dotted across the board by herds of your animals. Linking to the markets earns you the money to buy more animals, land, plus the haciendas and watering holes that get you more points. Halfway through and at the end of the game you calculate your points, which you gain for connecting to markets, owning chains of connected land, and for being next to watering holes and having a hacienda on your herd or land chain. This was a really good game, but you could tell after the first scoring round that I'd messed it up, I'd not connected to many markets and since the market scoring increases (1=1, 2=3, 3=6, ...) I was losing by a fair amount at half-time. Sadly I didn't make much progress in the second half either, but I did enjoy it, there were plenty of choices to make at every turn and even a bit of confrontation as players tried to cut each other off from the markets. Final scores: Jon 94, Dave 90, Gwen 83, Me 58! Owned.
I finished off with a couple of quick filler games, neither of which I remembered to photograph. Hey! That's My Fish by Alvydas Jakeliunas and Gunter Cornett is a surprisingly strategic game of claiming territory. Each player controls a number of penguins (two in a 4-player) that can move from their current hex in any direction any number of spaces in a straight line. Each hex has between one and three fish on it, which are worth a point each at the end of the game. When they move off a hex it is removed from the board and the player gets to keep it (and hence earn the points for its fish). Penguins cannot cross a gap left by another penguin, so your movement can have a very strong effect on the other players. Play continues until a player cannot move, or there is no competition left for areas. At the end of the game the player who has the most fish wins. I started off going for the three fish tiles, and before I knew it I was in a position to claim quite a large area for myself. I did that, ending the game and I also won due to that area. I really liked this one, so quick, so simple and yet really deep with loads of options. Final scores: Me 29, Jon 23, Dave 21 and Gwen 19.
The last game for me was Clans by Leo Colovini. In this game you all have a secret colour which you try to score highly. You move clans from a territory to an adjacent territory trying to create a village when you end up with clans surrounded by empty territories. Once you move the clans out of a territory that territory will remain empty for the rest of the game. I had no idea how to do well at this game, none at all. I tried to create a few villages (which earn you bonus points), but my colour ended up getting lamped, so the final scores were: Gwen 24, Dave 21, Jon 14, Me 11.
All in all, another great gaming session, I won one out of four, and they were all games I'd never played before, so my breadth of games experience is still expanding. I'm off to another of Paul's games nights tomorrow too :-).