Category Archives: Fenland Gamers

Fenland Gamers

Climbing Magic

After a fun (for me) morning of opening a booster box of Star Wars: Destiny Awakenings and filing them away yesterday, it was the second attempt at the Fenland Gamers Magic the Gathering League.

After the first attempt to start this league I was left feeling a little bruised. So I was really relieved when people started showing up. 

The night before I’d been given the heads up that a couple more players would be coming along. My mental head count said there should be 10 of us playing. I was hoping I hadn’t forgotten anyone. The Amonkhet booster box of 36 packets would cater for 12 players. I had breathing room for 2 unexpected players if need be. 

We would be following the Magic the Gathering League format (rules here) that usually runs over 4 weeks. Ours will differ slightly, instead of weeks it’ll be meet ups. Otherwise we are exactly the same. So everyone buys 3 booster packs (£7) and builds a 30 card deck from them to play with. Then each meet up you are allowed to buy a booster pack to strengthen your deck with. If you loose 3 games in a row you can also buy an additional booster pack to help improve your deck.

What I like about this format is that it’s accessible to new, casual and experienced players. It doesn’t rely on having spent lots on cards (although we do have to use extra lands for the decks). It’s also a format you can join at any time during its running and just start playing and not be at a disadvantage.

We all cracked open our three packs, started organising the cards we’d pulled, and started building our decks. 

I think Justin got the find of all the packs opened. He pulled an Invocation. I should have took a photo (which I only just thought about as I write this post). It’s potentially worth a bit of money. 

My first game of the afternoon was against Charlie. Which I lost. But at least during the game I was able to remove his hand of two cards by forcing him to discard them. Which delayed his plans by getting rid of his two 7/7 flying creatures. 

My next game against Chris saw me do better but still loose. One more lose and I can strengthen my deck with another booster. 

The following 3 games were against the least experienced players in the room. I walked away with victories but they felt hollow. I always feel like the school bully when I win these games. 

My final game of the afternoon was against Michael. His deck was just nasty. He enchanted a flying creature so it had life link. I had not drawn either of my two bats, he’d forced me to discard five (iirc) cards from the top of my deck to my graveyard. Which got rid of the one card I could have played to kill off his flyer. It was an achievement I suppose that Michaels health was 21 when I died and not 35 (which was his final health when he defeated Charlie).

The feedback I’ve been getting was people had a good time. Which I’m chuffed about. I’m also chuffed that at last one of these events was a success.

A big thank you to Fenrock for hosting the event. We really do appreciate it. 

A very big thank you to those that came along and making this a success and so much fun.

The next league day is the 12th August, same time and place. 

Fenland Gamers Heavy Board Game Challenge: Scythe Game 1

It’s been an emotional 24 hours or so. The news of the death of the lead singer of Linkin Park stirred up some things. I wish I could talk more openly about it (I have to consider how it impacts stuff in the real world like work, and family), but because of the nature of his death, my experiences over the years, it had more of an impact than I’d have thought. So a night of gaming was something to look forward to and more than a welcome distraction from those demons. 

Last night instead of the regular FEG@WL we had the first of a series of game sessions that were focusing on a gaming challenge that Chris had came up with.

About a month ago (it may be a little longer, but who really cares when exactly it was? It’s not a court of law) Chris came up with the idea of trying to get some of our more complicated, bigger games to the table more often so we could really explore them. You know get a feel for different tactics etc. Something we rarely got to do. Not because we didn’t want to, but with us owning so many games, and new purchases, we just weren’t getting the chance to. So on our Facebook group Chris ran a survey to first get a list of “big” games members had in their collection they wanted to have considered for the proposed 5×10 Heavy Board Game Challenge. That list was then voted on and the top five chosen. 

Chris chose Scythe from that list as the first one to get to the table. A good selection. Mind you I would say that considering it’s my number 1 game.

We were playing with my copy of the game which apart from the “realistic” resources (which I don’t like the look of) I have everything (oh and I don’t have the Secret Cabal promo). Which means with the Invaders from Afar expansion we have a good variety of factions to choose from. But more importantly metal coins. 

I think this was the first time I’d played a five player game. Definitely the first time playing Polania. Chris was playing Rusviet (which I haven’t won playing with, is still my favourite because of its ability and cool tiger). Jonathan was Albion, Edmund played Togawa Shogunate, and first time visitor and friend of Chris, Chris (hence known as new Chris) played Saxony. 

Naturally Chris got to the factory first and camped there with his hero and a mech. It’s hard not to get there first with his faction. I managed to beat him in combat to gain control of the factory to get a factory card. But lost it on Chris’s next turn as he jumped straight back in and won control back. I think we were the only two to actually go to the factory all game.

There was a little miss understanding over the end game scoring tile. I’d miss read it as buildings adjacent to tunnels when it was in fact buildings on tunnels. Which would have changed where I’d built. So we all agreed to change that tile to adjacent. Which was very kind of everyone to agree to that. I wasn’t the only one who had made that mistake. But still. Plus it made very little impact to the end results.

Your faction power breaks one of the games  fundamental rules. On my favourite Rusviet that’s being able to repeat the same action after having just taken it. For Polania it was being able to chose two options from the encounter cards. Something I only did twice, I really should have been making more use of this ability and grabbing more encounter tokens. 

Was I distracted by having 2 desserts (don’t judge me!) while playing? Nope. They were my consolation prizes. That’s the excuse I’m using and sticking with. 

I could see from the board state I wasn’t going to be in the running for top spot. I wasn’t controlling nearly enough territory, nor had I completed enough objectives ( a sad 2).

I’d been creeping up the popularity track, while the others were stuck in the first points area on it, I was close to getting into the third and maximum points when scoring. But I didn’t have the territory control to make maximum use of that fact.

When new Chris triggered the end of the game I was still a good couple of turns from being in a competitive position for scoring. But as the dust settled, and we counted up our coins Edmund emerged victorious by a point. Well done Edmund on beating Chris by the slenderest of margins. I unsurprisingly came last.

A great game. A blast to play even at 5 player. I wouldn’t want to play with more than that. A great evening, with amazing people. I’m looking forward to our next play.

Adventuring we ago…

Last night saw four adventurers gather to go looking for fame and fortune by recklessly putting their lives in danger. 

I went with type casting and chose the dwarf. Jakub went with the healer, Jason went with the Mage, and Justin chose the thief. 

The role of the Overlord for our adventures was being played by an iPad and the FFG app Descent: Road to Legend. The app is free and comes with a tutorial and a couple of campaigns for free. You can buy two more additional campaigns within the app.

Not having the expansion required for one of the free campaigns, our party of fool hardy adventurers elected to start the Kindred Fire campaign.

I liked how the app told you the tiles that you would be using. But then slowly built the map up through the campaigns first scenario. So it shows you the first section of the map you will be playing on, where the monsters, doors, tokens go. This could be just three or four tiles out of the ones it told you that you will need for the scenario. You kill the monsters and the app then reveals to you the next tiles it wants you to add, plus monsters etc. I love that suspense, the revealing, the build up.

We made some mistakes. When aren’t there mistakes on a first play? We initially misunderstand the placement of monsters on the first part of the map, so only placed one zombie and one spider. That were easily dispatched. We should have been doing a group of the creatures based on the number of adventurers. Doh! We also faught a monster (Ettin I think it’s called) in its level 2 form. It was very hard to defeat. Which I felt made up for the earlier mistake. 

I felt that the app got everyone involved, especially in combat. So players were taking it in turns to roll for the monsters. 

Yes we were slow to start off with, but things picked up as we became more familiar with the flow of things.

I liked how the app spread out its monster activations through out the turn. 

We had one moment where Justin showed how when it’s a choice between your character being thrown around like a rag doll by an Ettin, or your brothers character getting that treatment instead, that blood is not thicker than a player and the bound he has with his character. Nope Justin used his characters ability that allowed them to move one space away when a monster moves adjacent to them. Leaving Jason’s character to get tossed around like a clothes in a tumble dryer.  Justin had found the Me in Team! 

We had to stop before completing the scenario, so it’s great that the app remembers how far we got. We took photos to remind us of our positions on the board, and individually bagged our tokens (wounds etc) with our characters cards. So we can just grab those and know we have everything for our characters, and the correct health when we start up again next session. 

A great evening adventuring. I’m looking forward to the conclusion of this scenario. 

All hail King Diego

It hadn’t been planned this way but to be playing A Game of Thrones the boardgame the same weekend series 7 of the tv show is due to air seemed a great way to celebrate the shows return.

Jeff, Diego and myself faced off across the battle field using the A Feast for Crows expansion. Yes I know there was only three of us, and the expansion us for four players but we have a reason for doing so. We were expecting a fourth player, and had set up for four players using the expansion. But after waiting 40 minutes we got the impression they were not turning up. So we decided to go ahead using the expansion but take out the Starks. Any objectives that involved the North and Starks would be discarded and a new card drawn. This also meant that we were playing in a pretty compact part of the map. Very much in your face. 

So who played who? Well I played the Lannisters for the first time, Diego was House Arryn, and that leaves Jeff as the Baratheons. 

Naturally because of the house objectives Jeff and I are at instant conflict over control for Kings Landing. We both needed it. I also had a normal objective that needed control of it. So if I could keep control for one turn that’s two points. I managed to keep it for the first turn and score those two points. But if I had been braver and attacked Jeff with my forces at Kings Landing instead of defending I think I could have held it for a couple more turns, and possibly got the win. However hindsight is a great tool. And after revealing orders that first turn I was regretting my decision. 

The above photo shows me learning from my earlier indecisiveness by attacking Diego’s knights before he can reinforce them and attack me.

Like most games there are moments that stand out. Diego and Jeff were ganging up on me. They had mean most of the game. I had zero influence, Jeff had one (iirc) and Diego had two I think. The Westeros phase was making us bid for the influence tokens. I was looking at losing the Iron Throne token. Jeff and Diego were discussing how they were going to split up the three tokens between them. We all put our bids in for the Iron Throne. Jeff and Diego bid nothing! They had screwed up. One of them should have bid something but they hadn’t. As the current holder of the Iron Throne I got to decide draws. So guess what? I was still in first place and kept hold of the Iron Throne.  That was so funny. When that realisation of how they had screwed up hit them. Boy did I laugh. It also meant I was able to hold on to being able to use to power tokens in the power phase.

But that was an unexpected victory. In the end I still lost the war. There was a chance to make a final grab for power and steal the win. But miscalculations, poor execution and Diego attacking me in one area I needed to control put an end to any little chance I had.

Jeff and Diego both had 7 victory points. So it was down to tie breakers. Which saw Jeff lose to Diego on the second tie breaker.

Well done to Diego our new Overlord. May your reign of tyranny be short. 

I liked how A Feast for Crows worked with three players. The compact nature of all the armies being so close together I thought worked well. 

Right I’m off to start up the resistance/rebellion to Diego’s reign. 

Penguins and Mutants

Last night an unadvertised session at the White Lion took place. I hadn’t got round to setting an event up on the Facebook page for it. Only two people yesterday morning asked if anything was going on. So arrangements were made to play some games.

Earlier in the day Dale and I had successfully avoided a crappy Summer by getting our students work and our marking passed by an external verifier from the awarding body we were using. Which was my excuse for a nice cold pint of Thatchers. I was also happy how my eHan/eRay deck was holding up against Dales eMaz/ePoe deck. I’ll do a post soon with the initial deck list and my thoughts about it. 

Back to last night and the games I played. Once Edmund had arrived I introduced him to 51st State Master Set with the new expansion Scavengers (which I bought at the expo).

Scavengers plays with the discard pile, so now each player has a personal discard pile. During lookup the discarded card goes into the first players discard pile. You now due to card abilities have the chance to take the top card from an opponents discard pile. There is also more to stuff there to do with ruins but we didn’t really hit any of those cards. A third connections deck has been added also.

I like 51st State, it works well with 2 players. But unless you play it a lot you won’t see all the cards. So with the base game cards plus the expansion I think that’s a 120 cards roughly for the common deck. So we were not going to see everything this expansion had to offer.

The future history books will see that my post apocalyptic group of survivors were the stronger. 

Our final game was one that had been on my radar for a long time, Hey That’s My Fish. Every time I visited my FLGS The Hobbit Hole and saw the box on display. I’d be curious but never pulling the trigger and buying it. But then a friend I was selling Inis to was planning on selling his copy at the bring n buy at the expo. Saw it was in the original small square box that I preferred to the current rectangle box. So I bought it from him.

It’s a very light game. Plays quickly. Well our 2 player game of it did. But it had something Barenpark doesn’t (apart from being fun) player interaction. You are trying to get the high value fish, while trying to cut off/isolate your opponent. 

I lost both games (Edmunds revenge for 51st State) but enjoyed both games.

A great evenings gaming. 

Fenland Gamers July 17 Monthly Meet Up

What a busy week at work so far. Staff training (I need to keep my thoughts about some of that to myself else I’ll get in trouble), team meetings and planning for next year. Life in the under funded and forgotten FE sector.

So the monthly Fenland Gamers meet up at its temporary home of the White Lion Hotel last night provided much needed respite.

Diego, Justin and myself played Scythe. Which for those that wisely avoided my recent Top 100 games will not know, is my number 1 game. According to the BG Stats app that I’m recording all plays with, it has been 5 months since I last played Scythe.

This was Justin’s first time playing this epic game.

I was playing the Nordic Kingdom for the first time. I have to admit I did like the factions special ability of having my workers being able to swim across rivers right from the start. Justin was playing Crimean Khanate, and Diego had Albion from the Invaders from Afar expansion.

Justin did well and got to the Factory first, with me quickly following. Much of my game plan then revolved around trying to abuse my chosen factory card which allowed me to either get a mech or building for the trivial cost of one popularity. So I was flipping mainly between my factory card and bolster which on my player board gave me a popularity after I had built my monument.

I did trigger the end of the game, but that was more out of self defense. Justin was hovering on 5 objective points, and Diego was on 4. I needed to win one combat to do that. Up until my go I had been eyeing up attacking Diego, but he drew two combat cards on his go. So he had the possibility of winning a battle. On the other hand Justin had no combat cards and zero bolster points. Perfect. So I built my last mech, and took the move action to attack Justin for the foregone victory.

Both Diego and I had zero or 1 popularity so were not going to get lots of points that way. I had zip resources at the end. After the dust had settled with Justin into the next scoring zone on the popularity track, he took first place. Whilst I managed to pip Diego to second. I suppose a better player would have worked out the optimal time to pull the trigger to end the game. They would have worked out every ones relative points, and maybe strung out the game for a turn or two more to maneuver the situation to their advantage and victory.

I really did enjoy getting Scythe back to the table. I had a blast playing it. Another great monthly meet up.

I am the Overlord

Yesterday evening Justin invited me and his brother Jason to go seeking adventure and great treasures in a game of Descent.

This game was a recent addition to his collection. So naturally this was a first play for all of us. I’d tried watching Rodney’s Watch It Played! videos for the game. But the heat of the day had been making me drowsy along with a bit of a headache. Luckily much of what I saw was familiar from my little experience of skirmish plays of Star Wars: Imperial Assault. Which is itself an updated version of Descent set in the Star Wars universe.

I was asked if I didn’t mind being the Overlord. Which I didn’t. 

We played the introductory scenario. Which is there really to introduce you to the game and it’s mechanics. A job that it does really well.

I knew before we played I’d like Descent. I like Imperial Assault. I like fantasy, the whole Dungeons and Dragons thing. So it’s a no brainer for me. I generally like to play magic users, Gandalf types casting fire balls all over the place. But most people type cast me as a halfling/hobbit or dwarf!

This introductory scenario is nicely balanced. I felt it could have gone either way. Despite me winning, I think that Justin and Jason could have won if they had a bit more experience at this type of game, and a change of tactic that would deny my goblin archers camping in the scoring zone for my objective.

Definitely after playing this scenario we are keen to start the campaign. I did point out there is an app (iOS link) that acted as the Overlord. Jason and Justin both downloaded it there and then to look at. Which will be cool if we use this for the campaign because I can play as an adventurer.

So I’m definitely looking forward to the campaign starting once the logistics of it are all sorted out.

Thanks Justin for inviting me along for the evening of gaming. I really enjoyed myself. And somehow I still left your dog with you!

Infamy, infamy, they all have it in for me!

It wasn’t planned this way, but yesterdays and the game in two weeks time are a brilliant way to celebrate the start of the much anticipated new series of The Game of Thrones this month. In fact I think the next game is the same weekend. It’s also that weekend I can start taking holiday also. An exciting weekend indeed. 
Yesterday the people rose up with the aim to over throw the current incumbent of the Iron Throne Jakub.


Four players again meant that we were playing with the Feast for Crows expansion. Justin was playing for the first time, and drew the Starks. I drew the Baratheons, which was a first for me. Chris got the Lannisters and reigning tyrant Jakub was once again Arrayn.

Chris was the first one scoring, his House objective automatically kicked in. I had to attack Chris because we both needed Kings Landing. I wanted it more! 

And I managed to hold on to it for a large chunk of the game. Chris and Jakub formed an unholy alliance and ganged up on me. Whilst Justin was doing a good job of being a distraction to them. Sadly not enough for me to sneak the victory.

Chris took back Kings Landing with me one round away from winning. I was left with two ships as my only forces left on the board. I desperately needed a mustering to ocurr.

That unholy alliance wouldn’t hold out, I was sure of it. Both thought they were able to grab the win. Sadly for Chris Jakub was in a better position than he was.  Jakub completed an objective for the final point he needed to get the win and strengthen his hold on the Iron Throne.

We had alliances, deals, no betrayals that I remember. 

So well done to Jakub for successfully defending your throne.  Sadly for you, but luckily for the rest of us you are unable to defend it next game. So enjoy your short extended reign. 

Kung Fu Art School in a Cave

Last night I was prepared! I had a bag of two player games with me, plus a couple that played up to four but also played well at two. But that was assuming I wasn’t going to be the only person turning up.

Luckily Edmund came along to prevent me from looking like Billy No Mates. 

While waiting for Edmund to arrive I had a little mystery sitting in my inbox. What had Games Lore posted to me? I hadn’t ordered anything from them recently, had I pre-ordered something and forgotten about it? I didn’t think I had. I am less than a year from hitting fifty. So I’m getting old, stuff like memory is failing. The email from ParcelForce contained no clue as to what it was Games Lore were sending me. A bit further down the page I could see an email from the UK shipping partner for Xia: Legends of a Drift System. Finally they were dispatching my copy of the Kickstarter (yeah I hadn’t got lucky the other day). Minutes of puzzling, and searching back through corrupted memories passed. Wait didn’t the UK shipping partner say in the last Kickstarter update they’d be using ParcelForce? I looked at the courier shipping reference in the email. Then went to the ParcelForce email. The parcel from Games Lore had the same reference! Games Lore and the UK shipping partner were the same company! I’m sure they have legit tax avoidance reasons for two separate company names. But Xia is on its way. Oh yes looking forward to it sitting in my pile of shame, waiting to be played and gathering dust. 

Our evening of two player fun started off with the new arrival of Caverna: Cave vs Cave. As a learning game it went fairly well.  Only one real misplay which we picked up on the third round, and it didn’t really affect things too much. Just our caves were slightly less impressive than they could have been.

I thought Edmund was going to run away with the win. But it ended up being closer than I had expected. 

I liked this two player version of Caverna. We know my introductory games of both Caverna and Agricola were some what wanting, and not enjoyable experiences. So it’s surprising I like the two player version of Agricola, Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small and now Caverna: Cave vs Cave.

We followed up our cave building with some martial arts practice in Onitama. We played with the new expansion Sensei’s Path. Which is just more movement cards. The expansion fits inside the main box with the original cards. And we have even more variety and replayability. It’s not a must have expansion, but definitely one to get after playing the game a lot and starting to get bored with the original cards.

So while Edmund kicked my butt at this game also, I consumed a lovely medium rare steak. I had decided to celebrate a good appraisal at work with meat of a higher quality than my usual Friday night gaming fare. Plus it was payday and I hadn’t had a steak in a long while.

After three games of Onitama, the score was 2-1 to Edmund. 

It was time to take Edmund from the floor of the dojo to the peaceful serene art studio to learn to paint. Our next and final game was Kanagawa.

Edmund rocked the objective tiles. But sadly only managed to get two points on his painting and studio. Which is where I scored a lot of points, and grabbed the win.

It really was great having a chance to get some two player games to the table. They don’t get played nearly as often as they should. So thank you Edmund for coming along and not totally wiping the floor with me. 

FEG@WL: Art school 

Thanks to traffic or some other event (superheroes fighting the latest villain/alien invasion) Chris and his copy of Mansions of Madness Second Edition got held up in Peterborough. Which meant the plans for the evening were thrown in to chaos!

Luckily on my way out of the house I grabbed Kanagawa. I’d grabbed it on the off chance that it might get to the table as a wind down from taking on the horrors of the Mansions of Madness.

I’d only recently bought Kanagawa at this years expo. It wasn’t a planned purchase at  the show. More a “oh Kanagawa, that’s a reasonable price, I’ll get it.”

This game is frickin beautiful. Just look at the box art (above). The little paint pots are cute and help strengthen the theme of the game. Even the simplicity of the Master and apprentice counters are beautiful. And the card art, amazing and in the same style as the box cover. Which I love. 

This game screams theme. 

Super high quality components. I love the bamboo play mat. 

I like the dual use cards. If you are able to select landscapes in your studio that match the ones required to paint the picture you can add it to your painting. Or you can add it your studio instead to improve your skills. 

But you are making choices all the time in this game. When to take the cards in a row. When to take one of the objective tiles. And how you are going to use the cards you drafted. The drafting has an element of push your luck to it. As does the claiming of objective tiles. Decide not to take one hoping to get a higher value one instead, means you can’t go back to claim the one passed up. But you run the risk that some-one else will grab the one you are aiming for before you can claim it. Plus you can only claim one objective from each colour group of objectives.

The only draw back is the sliding of cards under each other. Sometimes they go easily. But most of the time they don’t. 

It’s not a heavy game. But there is enough to keep things interesting. I like this game a lot.

The history books will show Diego and I won a game each and drew a game.

We’ll attempt to get Mansions to the table again next week (hopefully)