Category Archives: Fenland Gamers

Fenland Gamers

House Magic and Prophecies

So like Wizards of the Coast (or WotC as they are abbreviated to) came up with this cool idea. Well giving them credit for a business plan used by drug dealers for like ever is a bit generous, but still it seems innocent enough. That idea is to give you a free mini deck, teach you how to play, and give you a promo card. All in the comfort of your FLGS. Or in drug dealer terms, here’s a free sample, this is how you shoot up, here use my living room. 

WotC are calling this cunning stolen plan “Magic Open House”.

This event is for people who have never played Magic before, need a Magic refresher, or want to introduce a friend to the game! Show up, get a Welcome Deck, and play Magic against other newer players. Thousands of game stores will be hosting Magic Open House events to welcome players to Magic, one day only, on April 15.

Yes my FLGS The Hobbit Hole was taking part in this event of epic proportions. 

It would have been rude of me not to turn up.


So I went for the red Welcome Deck. Mainly because I’d caught the end of a live Facebook broadcast the day before the UK community manager for Magic the Gathering. The bit I saw was the end of a brief look at the various Welcome Decks. I came in where the last pack she was looking at was red, and the sentence (I paraphrase here) “if you like dragons”. I thought I like dragons. And it was that thought that went through my mind when choosing my Welcome Deck upon arrival at The Hobbit Holes Open House.

I have to admit when I saw the Stalking Tiger card in the green Welcome Deck I was envious. I really did like the art work on that card.

So I got some games in with a “Magic Expert” to teach me the game. Our first couple of games just used the thirty card mono colour deck from our Welcome Deck. Then we combined those cards with the other thirty card deck that’s included in the box, which is a different colour. So I was playing a red/blue deck. I lost that match up.

I then played against another “Magic Expert” and lost that game too. My final game before having to leave was against John (the store owner) which I also lost.

But it was fun playing those decks. Although I never did get my dragon to the table. Didn’t draw it once.

It really was a nice intro event. If you get a chance you should go to one and try Magic the Gathering. You don’t have to get heavy into it. I play the Duel Decks when I can. Plus there was that new league format that didn’t require having lots of cards. Which I hope starts up again soon.

Having collected my foil full art land card as my final reward for taking part, I dashed across the Fens back to Wisbech. I had some time jumping to do.

Here be Dragons…

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! There may or may not be spoilers for the third scenario Prophecy of Dragons.

When I arrived at The White Lion everyone was there already. Including the walking wounded Will, who apparently injured the ligaments round his knee whilst recreating the classic Undertaker and Mankind Hell in a Cell match (see YouTube clip below) by jumping off the top of his wardrobe (ok I may have taken a little bit of artistic licence there in what actually happened. But frankly my version is far more exciting and credible.)

Anyway this was our first time back together since our first attempt at Prophecy of Dragons. Which was a good couple of months back. Our memories aren’t that great. So we pressed the rest button and approached the game as if playing for the first time.

Whilst going through the scenario one or two things started to come back to us. But we still ran out of time on our first run through.

But Jonathan had been sneaky and had made notes where the three fairies could be found. Just in case like. I hadn’t even noticed him paying extra attention to the cards.

So while resetting we decided to change tact from our initial run, and the majority of runs in the long ago previous failed attempt, and collect the fairies.

This got us to the portal with plenty of time units, we got through the swimming bit. Which was shocking because this had defeated us so many times. But the dice were really kind to us. Amazingly so.

We had done it. We were now into undiscovered country and the mysterious mystery black deck.


We were inside the castle! A new map, new locations to explore. Wow. This was unreal. 

We explored the castle and ended up in the final conflict. The big battle was a little easier than it should have been because we were able to use a beacon on the big bad that killed him straight away!

However the final act to complete the mission fell upon my character as it could only be done by a magic user. Luckily earlier decisions meant I was rolling seven dice for magic skill tests. So in about three rolls I had completed the task and won the day! Yep it was me, I was the hero, and I didn’t need a naked woman or girly mag to do it (see earlier T.I.M.E. Stories write ups).

OMG! We had done it. Prophecy of Dragons is fun. Is it the best one? It’s less puzzly for sure. I like the introduction of magic. But I think I’m hard pushed to say it’s the best. It’s very reliant on the first half of finding that optimal path through. But still lots of fun.

Ancient Egypt next time.

Waiting for me at home…

Monthly Meet Up – Mar 17 

“Can you come out to play an hour earlier tonight?” I asked Jonathan in the playground.

“Sure” he replied.

So an hour before the Fenland Gamers monthly meet up (which is every second Wednesday of the month) Jonathan and I met up to play a couple of two player abstract games.

First to the table was my latest arrival Onitama.

The presentation and components are stunning for this game. The autumn brown tones fits so well the “theme” of the two competing martial arts schools. The box a welcome break from the normal boardgame fare is long and rectangular, with a magnetic clasp. The board is a playmat, which I love. The player pieces are a solid plastic and look great. The cards used in the game have a nice clean design, with thematic text on. Yeah I love how this game looks. Visually it’s great.

The game can be explained and learnt in under five minutes. But there is a lot of depth there underneath. You are having to think several moves ahead. Also keeping an eye on the moves your opponent has and will be getting.

By only using a random subset of the card pool each game for the player moves there is a lot of variety and replayability.

I can see the chess like reference that others have said about the game. It certainly does have that feel to it.

The games are quick to play. Jonathan and I played two games (that I won) in fifteen minutes.

So did Tom Vasel choose wisely for his Dice Towers Essentials line? You bet. Tom has found a classic here, and the publisher has done an amazing job on the presentation front. This is in such a great size box you can easily see it being taken in a bag on holiday or carried to the pub to be played. I can see this being played in parks and pubs, just like chess. 

We followed up Onitama with a game or two of Santorini

In our first game Jonathan’s win was tainted, because technically I should have won. He had failed to notice my next move was to win and built a ground floor building instead of a dome. I went “wow I’m surprised you didn’t go there”. Then Jonathan saw the move, I allowed him to retake his go. As you do in friendly games. Jonathan had been too busy trying to avoid my pieces to have notice the correct move. It was a game of avoiding each other’s pieces. I had Medusa so could build on top of his pieces if I was above them to remove them from the board. Whilst Jonathan had Bia. Which meant if he moved into a space and one of my pieces were in an adjacent space in the same direction of movement they two would be removed from the board. It was an interesting dance, that saw me building ontop of one of his pieces to remove it, a minor victory, but Jonathan went on to get the win.

We squeezed in a couple more games before it was time for the monthly meet to start. But both Onitama and Santorini are prefect examples of two great abstract games that are quick to learn, quick to play, and great as “filler” games when you have the odd ten minutes to fill. The only problem they have is you always want to play one more game!

Before the meet Gavin and I had arranged, well discussed with possibly a commitment to play Dice City.

I had recently part exchanged the base game along with my Dice Masters collection for Gavin’s copy of  Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small. So we were both keen to get it to the table. I wanted to play it again (with the All That Glitters expansion), and Gavin wanted to play it after his weekend opportunity to get it to the table fell through.

So Gavin, myself and Katie set up to build cities in Dice City. While Jonathan, Chris and Edmund tried saving mankind in  Pandemic: the Cure (I think with the expansion).

While waiting for us to finish our game of Dice City the other group had a game of Colt Express. A game that splits our game group. Gavin doesn’t like it (hence why he traded his copy away), Jonathan isn’t keen on it, while Chris and myself enjoy it.

I liked what All That Glitters added to the game. It wasn’t making major rule changes, just gave a new end trigger, some new cards and a universal resource. You’d not really know it wasn’t part of the base game.

Katie took a military route for her city. Which thankfully wasn’t turned towards attacking Gavins and my cities, or stealing our resources. She instead concentrated on stopping bandits.

Gavin had a little military. So was doing the odd raid against bandits (also for going attacking neighbouring cities). But his main focus seemed to be buildings that generated victory points (vp). So when he activated those buildings he was getting upto five vp a time.

Me? I was generating a resource creating engine. Which did nab me two ten point trader ships. That did counter some of Gavins vp grabbing each turn. I was also going for as many high value vp buildings as possible. I did trigger the end game by completing two rows of buildings.

Gavin with his vp engine won the game.

After our game of Dice City, we were then waiting for the train robbing to finish. So we broke out a “filler game”. 

The one I chose was Council of Verona. Which was handy because I had just got the Corruption expansion. An expansion that had proved rediculously hard to get in the UK and expensive. Luckily on the off chance I had looked back on Amazon and found it at its normal price, but shipped from the US. Why this nice little game of bluffing and deduction is so hard to get hold of I don’t know.

Naturally we played with everything, the Poison and Corruption expansions.

Tokens and corruption cards were played. I thought my plans were working. 

Poisons killed, corruption cards bluffed, agendas failed to complete. I poisoned Juliet! Our game ended in a three way zero point draw!!!

I liked how Council of Verona played with everything included. The new levels of bluffing or manipulating the game board. Wow. 

Our final game of the evening was a six player game of 7 Wonders. For me this is the maximum number of players I’d play the game with. (The minimum I’d play with is four.)

Chris won the game, I came in second just. I beat Gavin into third place by a point.

7 Wonders was a great way for the evening to end. Bringing everyone together for a game. Plus it plays reasonably fast for the player count. 

A great evening of gaming once again! We are so lucky in our club that everyone (including me!) are so nice and relaxed. There is competition when playing but it’s not the be all and end all, and no one is a dick about it. We have banter but it’s friendly and not a hint of nastiness. Great people. 

Looking forward to our next session.

Dethroning King Joffrey The People’s Uprising

Unable to avoid the rabble any longer, King Joffrey had to muster his forces yesterday to try and quell the revolt.

But before armies clashed, clandestine deals had to be done over in Chatteris between Gavin and myself. Gavin and I had been talking a day or so earlier and fallen into a deal where for his copy of Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small I would hand over in exchange my Dice Masters stuff and my spare copy of Dice City (yeah I ended up with two copies of the game this week, an opportunity arose last weekend to get the base game along with the All That Glitters expansion for £15). 

Once we had verbally come to our agreement I was straight on to my FLGS The Hobbit Hole to secure the copy of the second expansion for the game Agricola: All Creatures Great and Small – Even More Buildings Big and Small (rolls off the tongue doesn’t it?)

So after goods were exchanged in the car park Gavin and I paid John a visit in his establishment, and our FLGS. I picked up the expansion, plus the latest Netrunner data pack. And somehow walked out also with a copy of Suburbia Subdivision (a tenner!). Gavin didn’t leave empty handed either. He had bought some boosters for Dice Masters.

 

Life stuff had dwindled the forces opposing the tyrants rule down to just three armies against him.

The battle field had been decided A Game of Thrones the boardgame (second edition) using the A Feast for Crows expansion. It was a bit scarey, our first game without our “game master” Jeff. Luckily Jakub was more familiar with the rules than us. But still we would need to dive into the rules from time to time to clarify a point or two.

I was the Starks once more. So I was going to sweep down from the North. Diego was the Lannisters and moving out from the East. Jakub was the Arryn stuck between Diego and myself. That left Jonathan as Baratheon, and an auto victory point until that was stopped somehow.

Round one and Arryn attacked me! Wait that isn’t part of the plan or deal! We all attack King Joffrey. The King can’t be allowed to hold on to his throne. At least the Lannisters were staying on message. 

It would take two rounds before that Baratheon auto point was silenced for good.

Whilst fighting a rare guard action defending the North against invasion from the Arryn betrayers, I did manage to get a force together to sweep down and take on the tyrant. A rather successful foray I will say capturing Kings Landing (and completing a secret objective). 

There was some to and fro between Arryn and Lannisters as a side distraction to the Lannisters having a go at Baratheon.

These skirmishes outside of our coup attempt were down to trying to complete secret objectives. Curse them for stopping our upraising from totally crushing the Mad King Joffrey. 

Jonathan had admittedly given up part way through. He had three objectives he wasn’t able to complete. And if I had to criticise this expansion that would be it. Get stuck with secret objectives that you can’t do and that’s it you are screwed and can’t do anything about it. There should be some mechanism that allows you to dump a plan and redraw. Maybe add a penalty for doing so, such as loose an influence token, or military unit. I can see a house rule being added.

King Joffrey was on 4 points. While the rest of us were going to reach the magic total of seven victory points at the same time from our house objectives. So taking into account any secret objectives that could also be completed that turn, Jakub won with 10 points, Diego got 9, and I got 8.

The tyranny of King Joffrey had come to an end. There was a new King on the Iron Throne. A new date has been set to try and bring his rule to an end. We underlings of Westeros are very fickle, and like to keep our despots on their toes. 

Viva la Rebellion! 

Bluffing And Lunar Bases

Back after it’s break for a charity all night gaming session, it’s FEG@WL.

The three amigos met up to enjoy alcohol and good games. Or it could be the other way round. 

Our gaming started off with my game of the month for March, Mint Works.

I thought I was out of the running after turn one when Jonathan and Diego got two strong buildings straight off. But turn two I was going first, bought a one cost building and flipped it for a five cost using the swap meet location. I had the vault which with two plans gave me four points, plus the crane and iirc the landfill for eight points. The other two just didn’t get going and finished on four points each. I’m calling this a surprise victory. Jonathan had the Assembler from turn one. That’s a powerful card, autobuilding so so good.

Perudo, Liars Dice doesn’t matter what you call it, it was our second game of the evening. House of Borgia (which we like) had reminded us that Perudo is a fun game. So it was only a matter of time before we had it back to the table. Dice and cups, it doesn’t get simpler than that really for components to a game. Well maybe just a deck of cards.

But this bluffing game is just so much fun. Which you can tell from Jonathan’s thinky, bluffy face below.


It’s just one of those one more go type games. Rounds are fast and fun. We ended up playing three rounds of the game. Diego won one, I won two. Jonathan came close to winning but sadly didn’t. 

I feel guilty (I think that’s what I’m feeling, I’m not sure, I’ve not felt this way before) about writing about this next game we played. The reason is unless you backed the game on Kickstarter you won’t be able to get a copy! 

Oh the game? It’s one that has been in my pile of shame for about a year (minimum, since the Kickstarter completed basically) called Lunarchitects.

Why can’t you get a copy? Well it’s complicated. Lunarchitects is a rethemed updated version of Glen More (which is an impossible game to get in English).  And that’s where the complicated bit comes in. This wasn’t an official update, and it gets murky over whether the original designer gave his blessing etc. At one point Glen More’s publisher promised a reprint of the English version of the game (which I believe they still make noises about) but hasn’t happened yet. But the designer of Lunarchitects I think as part of heading off any legal stuff restricted things to Lunarchitects so it wouldn’t be hitting your nearest FLGS, and would only be for the backers of the project.

I also don’t think I’ve ever seen any copies up for grabs on the Facebook selling and trading pages I’m a member of. 

The production values for Lunarchitects is good. One of the nice touches is the insert. It organises everything perfectly. The tile organiser is even removable. 

If you like Glen More, then you will like this simple. We played with the suggested default end of round and game scoring. But you can change this. Which is a nice touch that changes tactics in game, and adds to the replayability.

Your starting tile is double sided, and you get to choose which sides starting bonus you want. Again a nice little touch.

The end of round scoring worked better for me. With it triggering when the last player to take their turn passes the start line.

The only thing that seemed a little messy the ending of the game and final round.

The iconography was simple and easy to pick up on the tiles. 

There is even a little expansion included that we didn’t play with. There is a fair bit of replayability and variety in this game.

Yeah we enjoyed the game. I surprised myself in winning! I wasn’t generating nearly enough resources as the others to buy tiles. So was going with free stuff. But still I was able to pull off combos, trigger tiles extra times. So it’s good to see that there can be a variety of tactics based on tiles bought to win by, and not just a who can get a resource engine going the quickest.

Another great evenings gaming, great company, great beverages. ‘Nuff said.

Do I have to tell you how I finished off the evening? Regular readers will know already. Oh ok I know you want me to admit it ended in an orgy of spiced lamb flesh and chilli sauce. It was greasy and I loved it! There I said it. Feel better?

Tomorrow it’s time to end the tyranny of King Joffrey in A Game of Thrones the Boardgame.

My Epic Long Friday!

My work day usually starts at approximately 5am, with me waking up to the days news on Radio 5 Live playing. This Friday it was 4:45am. So it was the tail end of Up All Night playing.

The dogs then get let out to answer the call of nature. I have a bath listening to my current audio book American Gods. Which I’m still listening to as I make my first coffee of the day using my Aeropress. I savour my coffee while watching the latest episode of Scandal, and eat a couple of chocolate chip brioche. 

After Mum collected the dogs I got dressed, packed my work stuff, and hit the road for work.

I’m listening to classic 8-bit chip tunes from the likes of Galway, Hubbard and Whittaker  for the Commodore 64 as I bounce around the Fenland back roads.

My second mug of coffee for the day is at work as I troll my friends with horror stories of my mums cooking. They aren’t biting today. I’m going to have to try harder.

My logic for the day is to stock up on calories for the nights endurance gaming! So I nip along to the college restaurant to buy a breakfast bap (sausage, bacon and egg). But I luck out, they are doing a full breakfast (add beans, mushrooms and fried bread to the mix) for £2.50. Fantastic value. 

The previous day the Rey starter for Star Wars Destiny had arrived. So I’d taken both starters and the playmat to work for myself and Dale to play lunchtime.

I’d been watching a lot of Destiny videos during the week to have a good idea of how to play the game.

Damn I hate you FFG. 
After our “learning” game I just want to get some boosters, crack them open, build some decks and play them.

So that may spoil how I feel about the game. But yes I liked it.

We were a bit slow playing, I think this was the first time Dale had played a game like this. But the game isn’t too complicated. There is a nice flow to the game. I take an action, you take an action, repeat.

I like the pass action, so you can wait and see. Well unless the other player also passes and that then ends the round and you are into upkeep. 

Having the base with an ability is cool. Plus all the mechanisms round it. From the roll off for who gets to select the base to use for the game (both players bring one to the table), the one selected chooses first player, and the player going second gets two shields. Then in the game claiming the base is an action, allowing you to use the bases ability, it then means you go first next round. However it also means you can not do any further actions that round. When to claim is a very tactical decision. Being first next round may be more important than still doing stuff in the current round.

What’s nice is you have that Magic/Netrunner construction element building your thirty card deck. Ok we didn’t get to do that because we were playing with starter sets. But you also have the dice element giving you that Dicemasters feel. For me this is a better Dicemasters. Which is a game I really enjoyed.

The two starters are great to play against each other. Why they only give you one Finn die I don’t know. His character can have two. Just having that bit more flexibility in the starters would have been good.

But still this game for me lives up to the hype. I’m hoping once supply issues have been solved this will be a regular thing between Dale and me.

Classes finish at 4pm. I packed my games I had at work that I thought I’d need over the Easter holidays. And then loaded my car up with my games and my gaming table that I use at work.

My drive home is a different route than in the morning. It’s still across the Fenland landscape but using the main artery. It’s not as busy in the evenings as it is in the mornings.

When I hit my home town, the Capital of the Fens, I pull into Lidls to stock up on supplies for the nights gaming. For £14 I got a lot of stuff. 

At home I quickly changed. Got a selection of games together to take with me. Loaded up the car, and headed off into the night to play games.


Earlier in the day I had promised that I would donate ten pounds of the realm if Jonathan didn’t play yellow all night. A true trial for him, because yellow is his favourite colour, and he always plays yellow if available. 

Chris had also made a commitment to pay a £1 for each game he lost. Would we be able to gang up and deny Chris wins for charity?

We knew Diego wasn’t going to arrive until between 7:30 and 8pm. So the nights gaming started off with a game of Mint Works.

It was the perfect game to start with. Quick to play, quick to teach. And the perfect duration, because Diego turned up whilst we were playing. But didn’t have long to wait because our game was near the end. 

I think this was the first time in the games I’ve played so far that’s ended with a draw. Which meant Chris and I had to go to the tie breakers to determine a winner. The first tie breaker was for the smallest neighbourhood gets the win. We drew that also. Then it went to who had the most mints left. Bugger Chris won the tie breaker, and the game.

Chris wins: 1 loses: 0

With the win stolen from me on a technicality, the only thing to console me was the amazing cake that Diego had bought with him that he’d made.

Our first big game of the night was Jonathan’s game of the year for 2016, The Voyages of Marco Polo. I totally screwed up my tactics for this game. Which was why I came last. Nearly lapped on the points front by Chris. Even now I’m disgusted at myself for how bad I did. I didn’t even have the excuse of being tired! But still another victory for Chris, another pound lost.

Chris wins: 2 loses: 0


Our second big game of the night was Great Western Trail. I got my tactics spot on in this game. I bought only two additional cows. Instead I went for station bonuses, using certificates to boost my money at the market, and maxed out on the engineer and the railroad guy, and building buildings. For me Great Western Trail played much better as a four player game than a two. Oh I won this one. Making up for my poor effort in Marco Polo. 

Chris wins: 2 loses: 1


Great Western had taken us from about half ten to gone one in the morning. We were going strong. Not a sleepy head insight! 

Saloon Tycoon was next to the table. Once again I under performed and came in a miserable last. I could possibly use the excuse I was tired to explain it away. Or I was still in shock I’d won Great Western Trail. But it was during our play of Saloon Tycoon that Diego gave us our comedic moment of the night when (and I paraphrase here) he said “feck off”. It appeared to be aimed at Chris who had just taken a card or character from him, but in reality it was Diego swearing at a poor card draw (iirc). But it was hilarious and the source of much merriment at his expense.

Chris wins: 3 loses: 1

We decided to switch it down a gear during the early hours of the night by playing Imhotep. Tactically I was awful once more. This game night seems to have a running theme of me screwing up my tactics. But at least this time Diego took the honours, denying Chris a victory.

Chris wins: 3 loses: 2

You know what’s a good idea at gone three in the morning? Having Chris teach everyone else a new game. That game being  Mission: Red Planet. I’d like to play this when I’m less tired before saying much about it. I have a thought or two on it. But I’d like to make an opinion not clouded by lack of sleep.  But the winning machine of the night Chris walked away with the win.

Chris wins: 4 loses: 2


Our final game of the night was The Castles of Mad King Ludwig. I did very well on this, surprisingly well considering. And only just lost to you guessed it Chris. 

Chris wins: 5 loses: 2

So our 7pm to 7am gaming session for the NSPCC Big Board Game Day ended. No one had any sleep. No bad tempers due to lack of sleep. Everyone had a great time playing some awesome games (none of that Hasbro stuff). We raised some money for a good cause. And I got some of Diego’s cake to take home.

There is only one way to wrap up such a trial of human endurance. Yep Jonathan and I headed off to the local Wetherspoons for their generic signature fried breakfast. Not shown the side order of black pudding I ordered.


After stuffing our faces we headed off to our respective homes.

Once home and reunited with the Wolfpack I ended my sleep deprivation trial of 28.5 hours by falling asleep (a three hour nap).

I know these posts are only worth reading so that you can get to the pictures of me at the end. So I’m not going to disappoint. Thanks Jonathan for taking them.

At time of writing we raised £130 plus the gift aid on top of that for the NSPCC Big Board Game Day. 

Big Board Game Night Tonite!

Tonight’s the night.

Yep tonight a few members of The Fenland Gamers board gaming group will gather together to play games and raise money for the NSPCC, as our part of their Hasbro sponsored Big Board Game Day.

We will be rolling dice, moving tokens and drafting cards from between 7pm tonight and 7am Saturday morning. 

Yep that’s 12 whole hours of cardboard inspired fun. Which is something I haven’t done before.

If you’d like to donate money to the NSPCC to show support for our mad plan, we have a Just Giving page set up HERE.

There will be photos from throughout the night on my Instagram account, which you should be able to see HERE. I might even do the odd live stream as well! But no promises on that.

The NSPCC Big Board Game Day All Nighter – What to play?

I’ve spoken about the first world problem of what games to take for a game night before. 

But with two weeks left before The Fenland Gamers do their bit for the NSPCC Big Board Game Day event (it’s the 31/3/17). Thoughts have turned towards what to play during our twelve hour gaming session running from 7pm to 7am. Yep an all nighter.

Jonathan started the whole discussion off yesterday with his post on the Facebook event page we set up. 

But the choice of what to play is so hard. Obviously with such a long gaming session planned we can go for meatier games. But during the early hours of the night will we be lucid enough to play something complicated? 

The all nighter is also the ideal opportunity to get some of those games we love that haven’t been to the table for a while back to the table.

We have some hard decisions to make. Two weeks to chop and change our choices. 

Plus as Jonathan pointed out we only have twelve hours of play time! 

Oh the indecision ahead of us. Joy!

Naturally we are doing all this for charity, having fun playing games with friends is just a side benefit. If you’d like to make a donation/sponsor our horrible tedious game playing for the NSPCC Big Board Game Day you can visit our Just Giving page HERE. Thank you for your generosity. 

Tribes of the Mad King

How did your weekend start? 

Mine started off as usual. I got home, threw two games into a bag, got into my car, and pulled out of our tiny unadopted road.

Things deviated from the usual Friday night routine more or less within five seconds of the junction to our road.

I saw the following scene. A car stopped at an angle in the road. A grey hound lying on the pavement with a woman knelt beside it.  I thought maybe the dog had collapsed whilst being walked, and the woman needed help. I couldn’t explain the car. Or that the dog had got out and the owner had gone looking for the dog and found it. Truth be told I had no idea what had happened. But I did know a dog and it’s owner were in need of help. So I stopped to help.

It turned out the woman wasn’t the owner but had just hit the dog with her car. It had just run out into the road. 

There was a nasty gash on the front of the dog. It was important to keep the dog still. While the driver was looking for a vets number to call, I tried keeping the dog still, calm. I used a hanky to try and apply pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding.

While this was going on a couple of the drivers colleagues pulled up and offered help. As did the owner of the dog. The owner had another dog with her. The hit dog had been “spooked” while the owner was trying to pick up its poo, and ran away.

The vet wouldn’t come out to the dog. The mountain had to go to Mohammad. The dog would need more than my blood soaked hanky on its wound to allow it to be moved.  I took off my hoodie and we used that to make a slightly improved bandage. The drive and colleagues with the owner got the dog on a blanket and moved it to the back of a car. 

I handed over a spare blanket I had in the back of my car, just in case it was needed by then. One of the colleagues offered to take the owner and her dog to the vets.

They departed off to the vets,  which is where I leave the story. 

I have no idea what happened to the dog. I’m hoping the vet was able to save the dog. A bit of me is scared to try and find out. I don’t want there to be a sad end to the story. If I contact the vet to find out, that illusion of a happy ending is shattered. 

I loved Lassie movies as a kid. Yeah those old black and whites. But they would always have me in tears. Mind you so would movies like King Kong when Kong dies. You should see me at the end of the animated classic All Dogs Go To Heaven. I’m a mess.

When I arrived at The White Lion I went straight to the men’s room to wash off the blood from my right hand where I had been holding the hanky on the wound of the dog. Playing with a bloody hand might have freaked people out.

Our two games for the evening were two great games, Five Tribes and The Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Our first game of the evening was a favourite, Five Tribes, that hadn’t seen nearly enough time on the table. But that’s the draw back of having a collection full of great games. Too many great games, not enough time. It’s a first world problem. 

We played just the base game, no expansions. But we could have, but didn’t.

Early on I got a djinn that stopped my yellow and white meeples being assassinated from in front of me. Then I got one that made all my yellow meeples worth three points instead of one. I even assassinated a yellow meeple in front of Jonathan to make sure I had the majority. That’s ten points.

But it was obvious that Chris was going to win once he started to make use of his djinn ability and was placing the tents into his tile that could take tents. He had six on one space! Jonathan had gone the items route to scoring. Which is a route I don’t usually follow.

I think I only placed a couple of camels compared to everyone else. I used the auction stage to try and push up the price of first place and drain the others of money/points. Which worked sometimes, especially when the others were paying eighteen coins to get first place.

There was some serious analysis paralysis (ap) going on at times. Probably one of the few games we play where this goes on. Maybe we should introduce a timer to combat this instead of our current method of scarcasm. Which truth be told only really lengths the time eaten away by the ap.

Still a great game, in which Chris won, Jonathan came second. So I technically failed the “if I can’t win, come higher than Jonathan” goal, because I came third. 

Our second game of the evening was a new favourite of the clubs The Castles of Mad King Ludwig. 

This game is just so much fun. I was very focused this time. Stuck to my initial bonus cards. Got some nice tile scoring combos going. Spent a large portion of the game in front. I got lucky once or twice in that I only once had to spend a turn taking money. And the turns when I had a couple thousand in front of me I was left something I could buy that fitted in with my plans!

Somehow Jonathan amassed an incredible amount of money. That was worth 7 points to him in the end scoring. 7 valuable points that moved him from joint last to third.

I came second to Diego by three points. 

Do I need to say how the evening ended? Oh ok greasy slices of seasoned “lamb” meat delicately thrown into a wrap with a light “seasonal salad”, and a spicy chilli sauce.
Somehow I’d gone the whole day without watching Iron Fist on Netflix. When I woke up it hadn’t been released yet, then work got in the way! But once home and reunited with my wolf pack, it was time to snuggle up and start binging on the latest Marvel superhero to hit the small screen.

FEG@WL 10Mar17 

Life is full of hard decisions, such as which games to take to the game night. Luckily earlier in the day that decision had been made for me when Chris had said he’d got his copy of Great Western Trail. It was a no brainer. Yes we would like to play one of the current hot games!

I traveled light and took Mint Works and Archer: Once You Go Blackmail

Jonathan and I had a quick game of Mint Works while we waited for Chris to arrive.  It really is a nice little filler game. It’s what Nantucket should have aspired to be. But let’s not dwell on that train wreck. What is important is that I won this game of Mint Works.

Chris arrived mid game. But because this is such a fast game to play, especially two player, he didn’t have long to wait for my glorious victory.

Just after setting up Great Western Trail it dawned on Jonathan that we wouldn’t be finished in time for his very important date. So we quickly adjusted the setup for two players.

Jonathan left us knowing he now had to convince us at a later date to bring two games he really wanted to try back to the table. Ok we’d take no convincing, but in reality we’d probably make Jonathan beg. It would be the right thing to do until we usurp him from his Iron Throne.

So Great Western Trail, what do I think?

I like it. Like it a lot. I enjoyed it much more than A Feast For Odin.

I liked the deck building aspect, combined with hand management. Your deck represents your herd of cattle. Your hand the cattle you are trying to deliver to Kansas that run of the trail. When you hit Kansas you need unique types of cattle to score. But during the trail you need pairs, or specific types to trigger a tiles ability. 

The tile placing part is cool. And placing them presents some cool tactical decisions. Which will not only influence the route you take to Kansas but influence the choices of the other players.

You also get to recruit people, these people enable you to buy better cattle, build better tiles, or move your train more spaces.

As you deliver your herd to a city some cool stuff happens. Which includes deciding how you are going to upgrade your player board. Pulling into a train station first allows you gain an instant bonus plus an ongoing one. 

That’s just scratching the surface of the game. There is a lot of depth to this game.

Ok so there is one thing I didn’t like. In a two player game, if the second player triggers the end game, player one gets an extra turn.

It felt odd and wrong. The majority of games usually end so that everyone has had an equal number of turns. 

But the Great Western Trail way means player 1 gets a chance to score more points, which in our game was an extra thirteen points. Which made Chris’s margin of victory even greater than it should have been!

One extra coin at the start for the second player isn’t enough compensation for this. I think this will need a house rule to “fix”.

I’m still undecided whether there should be player aids for this game. I think I’m leaning towards yes there should be.

It really has been great that Chris joined our group. He may correct me on this but I think he might have an addiction issue for the hobby like Jonathan and myself. And he seems to be buying the latest hit games also. Which means my bank account looks a little bit healthier. Plus Chris will most likely cave and back CMoNs latest Kickstarter project Rising Sun. The spiritual successor to Blood Rage. Which would allow me to keep my blood oath of hate against CMoN. 

So Oracle of Delphi and Terraforming Mars to play and that will be the hottness of last year tried. I must do a look at the current bgg hotness list, it seems about the right time to do it again.

After losing to Chris, instead of the traditional meat orgy in a wrap, I went straight home to Strider. Strider had a bit of an issue with his back legs. So I wanted to be back for him.

March 2017 Monthly Meetup 

Once again it’s been a quiet week post wise here on the blog. That might be due to being rather busy at work this week. Certainly getting their monies worth out of me for sure.

A month passes pretty fast. It only seems like last week that it was the last monthly  meet up. Time flies fast when you are old like me!

Our first game of this months meet up was Starving Artists.

This Kickstarter project had arrived the day of the meet up, sitting there all packaged up, waiting for me to open it up. There was a pleasant surprise in the box it came in. Next to the sealed game was a play mat. I don’t remember ordering the play mat. But it’s something I would do. In fact as I wrote this bit I just popped over to the Kickstarter page to check what I had pledged for. I had selected the pledge level that gave me the game, play mat and all downloadable content.

That last bit has me intrigued about what downloadable content there will be. Now I’m going to have to go back and look through the campaign to find out what was said/promised. My memory is so bad. They were probably talking about print ‘n play.

I have to say this is a very pretty game. From the cute food shape player counters, and carrot shaped first player marker, to the beautiful art that has been chosen for the ninety plus cards. Mind you I love the play mat, it looks awesome.

The production quality of the whole game is very high. The linen finish on the cards, the wooden tokens, the box for the game with the player score track on it. It’s really nice.

I like that on the play and player mats where you have the colours of the cubes, you also get told how many of that cube there are. But that sort of help is all over the place. On the score track there are reminders of the game end conditions, and what happens when collecting cubes when selling a painting. On the play mat there is a reminder for spending two cubes to clear the market. Touches like this are very much appreciated.

Jonathan thought that using the first player counter to track morning/afternoon and evening superfluous. But I liked it. I can see people forgetting where they are in the sequence of the day.

Jonathan also didn’t like the collection of paint rule from the paint market when selling a painting. Basically it’s a round robin thing. The player with the highest value painting takes four cubes, then the second highest value takes two cubes, while the third takes one cube. Then you repeat until either everyone has taken the amount of paint cubes they are allowed to collect, or there are no more cubes left. So it is possible that a person gets no cubes because there are not many cubes currently in the market, or they get less than they should, while the other player gets more. I can see his point kind of. But I didn’t have an issue with this, if it was a choice between getting something or getting nothing. I’d take getting something every time.

I liked the multiple end conditions. So it could be a certain points target being reached (depending on how many are playing), or a certain number of paintings sold by a player, or a player starves to death. If one of those conditions are met, then the player with the highest score wins. You really do need to be aware of the other players and how they are doing on those fronts. Is it worth the player dying because they are in the lead, and they will win after the extra day is played by the survivors? Or are they near to completing that final picture to sell and reach that target. In our first game I triggered the end game by selling six paintings.

I liked the market place for the paintings. It’s one of those market places where new entries to the market start at the highest cost to buy, and gradually get cheaper as lesser cost ones get bought, and they move down the market place.

It was a very quick game to learn, and we learnt from the rule book in less than ten minutes (iirc, I wasn’t really timing it, but it was fast).

This is a nice, set collection game, that is beautiful to look at. It’s not a complicated game, some nice touches to it. Can be taught quickly. Yeah glad I got this. Plus with ninety plus cards (ninety two I think) for the paintings, there is a lot of variety.

 

Our second game of the evening was Mint Works. Still really like this, and if you keep an eye on the right of the page for what I have been playing recently, then you know this has been to the table a couple of times since Friday when I first played it. I’ve taught it to students, and now Jonathan and Katie. No one hates it yet!

I do hope that Mint Works and Starving Artists get to a wider audience other than the Kickstarter backers. Like AGES they deserve to be picked up and distributed to the unwashed masses.

Our evening of gaming finished with Archer: Once You Go Blackmail. You know I have one or two copies of Love Letter. So it’s fair to say that I like the game. I got this version because I wanted to see if any new mechanics/tweaks had been introduced to the game.

The main addition to this version of Love Letter is that the discarded card is now part of the game (now called the hidden card), and one or two of the abilities use that card. One even allows you to name one of the characters/cards, and if it is the hidden card, you win that round automatically.

It’s a nice touch, and Jonathan did like how this worked also. Although I did point out that Lost Legacy did something similar. But then this version of Love Letter doesn’t have that end game mechanic of trying to guess the hidden card at the end, that Jonathan really didn’t like (well apart from the sci-fi theme).

I like this version of Love Letter a lot. It’s a close call between this and Love Letter Batman as to which is my favorite one. The intelligence tokens are amazing and nearly as cute as the little Batman logos in Love Letter Batman. This is too close to call.

Anyway it was a really great evening of gaming. Oh now to decide what to play on Friday now.