Category Archives: game night

game night

Hard Decisions in Ancient Italy

Starting the week with a gaming session, is a great way to start. Jonathan played host Diego and myself for a three player game of Concordia.

I have to say this was a far more pleasurable experience. Especially now that we knew how to play it and all about the end game scoring.

There was a perverse pleasure watching Jonathan struggle with inner turmoil over his next move, or the realisation that he’d just made a mistake.

I do think this game is prone to the ol’ analysis paralysis. Which does slow things down a little. But still our three player game took just over two hours. 

Although I lost to Diego by three points, I beat Jonathan by the slimmest of margins. Thus I too was a winner!

I’m glad we played Concordia again. There was enough there in our first play that warranted the second play. For me think my favourite mechanic is the deck building side of it.

Friday Night Treachery and Bluffing

The start of Friday had so much promise with my car headlights illuminating the flecks of snow from the light snow flurries as I drove across the Fenland landscape in the dark.

The snow got heavier, but sadly wasn’t settling. I’d been looking forward to our first real snow since about 2010. Loki and Nico hadn’t seen snow. I was hoping to introduce them to snowballs.

Luckily our weekly Friday night gaming meet up at The White Lion is the perfect antidote to the mornings disappointment, and a great way to get the weekend started.

Our evening started off with a learning game of Dark Moon.

You look at the games rule book and think “wow this is a complicated game”. But in reality it’s pretty simple once you start playing. 

One of us was a traitor. But who was it? I knew it wasn’t me. Was it Jonathan or Diego? 

Ever since Jonathan and I first played Memoir ’44 it has been a running joke about his bad dice rolls.

That running joke was all the evidence I needed to accuse Jonathan of being the traitor. 

Dark Moon was ok with three players. But I would like to try with higher player counts. I think identifying the traitor will be harder, more accusations and votes being made. Overall more what the game is all about.

Although this game has a sci-fi theme. The theme is almost none existent. It could almost be any theme.

Jonathan thought the tasks and events were too easy to complete. But I’m not sure. It’s a nice touch that you can adjust the difficulty of the game for either side using one of the variants suggested in the rule book.

Oh yeah, Jonathan was the traitor and totally failed to stop us winning.

House of Borgia was back to the table completing a theme of betrayal, bluffing and lying for the evening.

It’s amazing what a big difference playing the game correctly makes! 

I enjoy the liars dice mechanic of this game. I really must get my copy of Perudo (which is the other name for Liars Dice) to the table.

Luckily for me I was the most “sneaky” and won the game. 

Do I have to tell you how we finished the evening of great gaming off? By celebrating with meat of unknown origin soaked in chilli source, some “salad”, all held together within a wrap. 

I’m looking forward to next weeks meet up. Finally Mechs vs Minions gets to the table.

Panicing Popes

By the Gregorian calendar, yesterday was the second Wednesday of January 2017.

Which means it was also the first monthly meetup of The Fenland Gamers for the new year. 

Our first game of the evening was Braggart

This is quickly becoming a favourite filler game for me. Well not just me, Debbie also I think. I’m assuming that after she asked if I could pick up a copy for her from The Hobbit Hole (my FLGS) if they had any left. 

Debbie went on to win the game.

I think the secret of games like Braggart, Fluxx, Love Letter etc is to not over dose on them. But to rotate and vary the games. Often I’ve seen people online say they no longer like a game because they over played it. So I’ve taken that information on board and I’m trying to avoid that situation. I think I’m building up a nice little selection of games that I can rotate and keep things fresh!

House of Borgia had the honour of being our second game. 

We were not impressed with the five player version of the game. It seemed broken! 

Egg on face time. After further investigation (Jonathan found the time to do the research) we had made a serious misplay! We hadn’t taken the action after making a successful bid. We only did the action after being challenged if you won. Which in our major misplayed game meant only one action took place! How embarrassing. 

So it’s back to the drawing board in playing a game with more than two players. But playing it correctly this time.

The final game of the evening was Castle Panic.

You know what I think about the game, but would Jonathan like it?

Well he did! He liked the co-op side with the winner element based on scoring points for killing monsters. 

With Viticulture when you got the Tuscany expansion you had “legacy” like elements to add to the game. Which worked by mixing in a module from the expansion into the base game. And repeating after each play. Thus the base game would change based on the module added. 

I think Castle Panic and it’s three expansions could work similarly. We are adding in the Dark Titan expansion for our next game.

In our game last night we managed to defeat the onslaught of monsters, with Jonathan being the victor having slayed the most points. But that was a slim one point victory over Diego. I wasn’t even close to challenging.

What would one of these game session write ups be without your dose of me in the form of photos taken by Jonathan?

One down, eleven left to go!

Holy Water Batman!

Fridays wasn’t just Crackerjack for British kids on tv. Over on BBC2 it was tv shows like The Water Margin and Monkey also.

I loved those shows. Yes they were dubbed. But they had great stories that caught my imagination. The struggle between the rebels in Liang Shan Po against the corrupt officials. Or the moral tales and humour of Monkey protecting Tripitaka a monk on a spiritual quest to find some scrolls, aided also by Pigsy and Sandy, two guards from heaven punished by being changed to look like “monsters” and to help, if I remember correctly.

I look them up now and I’m surprised how few episodes there are of these two great shows. Time and fading memories seem to have made me think there were way more episodes.

Now grown up me has a new Friday routine. It’s Friday Evening Gaming at The White Lion. Last night was the first one of the new year.

It was just Jonathan and myself last night.

After getting a pint of our usual beverage (Heck we have a usual! I think we are regulars now. How did that happen?), Jonathan and I had a two player game of the just arrived House of Borgia.

House of Borgia is Liars Dice with a twist or two.

I’m not going to say much about the game now. It works as a two player game. But this is a game that needs to be played with the higher end of players that the game supports, so 4 – 6 players I think. So once I’ve had a chance to play the game with that sort of player count I’ll go into the game in more depth.

I will say the production values of the game are amazing. Really high quality.

Our second and final game of the evening was another new arrival Batman the Animated Series Dice Game.

This is Zombie Dice with a Batman theme. Steve Jackson games have gone the AEG Love Letter route here. Take a classic, great, fun game, tweak a rule or two but keep what made the original so much fun.

This version is limited in that it is capped at a maximum of four players. That’s thanks to its first change to the classic Zombie Dice formula. Players choose randomly one of the four villain tokens at the start. So you are playing as a Batman villain in this game. Your villain has a special ability. I had the riddler that allowed me to roll four dice at the start of my turn and a reroll them if they were all alarms. Jonathan had Pioson Ivy who could ignore one blue Batman symbol on a dice. You get the idea.

There are ten great looking dice (not thirteen as in Zombie Dice), and you play to thirty points not thirteen. Plus there is a rule tweak to what happens when you can’t draw any more dice.

I really liked these additions to the core game. They improve the game, while not getting in the way or over complicating things. The designers behind Dalek Dice should take note.

This could replace Zombie Dice as a light filer game for smaller groups for me.

I hope that Steve Jackson games have promo characters to release for this game. I’d get them. I’m going to approach AEG to see if I can buy 120+ of the Love Letter Batman tokens to use with this game to track scores. Now that would be a great pimp out for this game.

Having finished our pints of Thatchers by the end of Batman the Animated Series Dice Game, it was time to return back to real life, pick up a kebab, and deal with reality once more. 

Yes it had been a shorter session this time. But sometimes life dictates that is the case. Still a great evening though.

Flight of the Concordia 

Lunchtime the magic of modern technology allowed Jonathan to send a “can you come out and play” message to me for a learning game of his Christmas present from his family Concordia.

Naturally being a person of no life and therefore free most nights, my response was in the positive.

This was as stated a learning game. So there were going to be misplays, and time spent looking up various rule questions.

I think our biggest mistake of the night for the game was not looking up how the end scoring worked.

BGG lists the mechanics for the game as card drafting, deck building, hand management and point to point movement. After we had completed the end scoring it was evident that there was an element of set collection as well. Which comes in the form of the personality cards you buy and the gods that they are aligned with. These act as multipliers in the end scoring (if we interrupted the rules correctly). So for instance, you have four cards for one god, then the points you gain for that gods scoring gets multiplied by the number of cards you have.

It is funny that this game has deck building in it as a mechanic. Deck building is one of Jonathan’s least favourite mechanisms. Me? I like the mechanic. I’ve not looked at all the starting decks, but I think they are unique to the colour you are. Well unique in that they are slightly different. I notice that for one card (can’t remember what it was called) Jonathan’s copy of the card was slightly different. It gave more money to him than my version gave to me. 

I think there may be a first player advantage in being able to build in cities to get resources. But that needs to be confirmed with more plays.

I wasn’t left speechless after playing Concordia. There was no “OMG this is amazing” moment. I had a little moment of glory blocking Jonathan for a turn or two. But it just came across as ok. It definitely has enough going for it to warrant another play. 

Christmas Meetup #2

Last night saw our second Fenland Gamers Meetup of the holiday season.

Attending this one we had Jonathan’s brother and his wife (or Debbie’s mum and dad as they are also known) who were visiting from Malta, join us. They were “enjoying” our seasonal cold snap of the past week. Jo made a rare guest appearance, while Debbie’s bo Nath joined Debbie in attending. Which meant Jeff and myself were the only none Warren family folks there. 

The lovely large wooden table at The White Lion was easily big enough to accommodate use splitting into two play groups.

So Jonathan, Jo and mum and dad split off to play Imhotep. While the rest of us holed up in our castle to fight off the attacking horde of monsters in Castle Panic.

We were playing just the classic base game of Castle Panic, despite me having the expansions. Debbie and Nath hadn’t played it before, Geoff had (?), whilst this would be my second game. Besides adding in the expansions would require some fiddling around intergrating them.

I like Castle Panic. Well I must do if it’s still in my collection after playing it. Plus I bought the expansions for it. Which I wouldn’t do if I didn’t like the game.

It is a nice co-op game, brutal, but nice! The publisher/designer really thought about the game adding in variants, and ways to adjust the difficulty level up and down.

And although it’s a co-op, like Marvel Legendary if you all win by beating the game there is also a winner! In Castle Panic the number of monsters you kill are totalled up and the highest score is the “Master Slayer”.

We got over run and lost. But I don’t think we did that bad, we had nine monster tiles left in the bag. Granted two of those tiles were boss monsters. But still we were close to success I think. It was visible on the horizon. 

In a break from the rules, we did total up points for everyone, despite losing. Our Master Slayer was Jeff. 

After all that fighting it was time to head off to the nearest inn, and regale each other with stories of our heroic deeds over flagons of mead in Braggart Second Edition.

This was just being received by Kickstarter backers just before Christmas. Well I’m assuming that because John at The Hobbit Hole (my FLGS) had just got his box of the game that made up his store level pledge.

I have to say when John opened the box and saw what was inside, I swear he wet himself in excitement. He’s really a big fan of the game.

Yeah I bit and asked him about the game. Initially I wasn’t sold on it. Wait story telling I thought, I’ve got to make up stories? I have StoryCubes for that. Then John opened a game up, showed me the cards and how the stories are created and I was sold on the game.

This game is good fun. We ended up playing it twice. 

It has a little take that in it. There is hand management, simple drafting. Quick to learn. We learnt from the rules sheet, within a couple of turns had it learnt. 

I thought the game would take ages to play based on the size of the deck. But we got through that deck a lot quicker than I thought we would.

As you can see from the above photo some of the stories you come up with can be funny. And the interaction with the liar cards just adds to this.

Nope this is a fun lightish game, replaces Fluxx for me I think. And that’s despite Jeff winning both games.

Our final game of the evening was King of Tokyo. 

While we were duking it out for control of Tokyo. The other group were on their second game of Pandemic. At one point we over heard them say “go to Tokyo”. We chipped in “no don’t go to Tokyo! It’s a mess.”

Unusually for games I’ve played Jeff won with a points win. Usually the games have ended with a single monster standing on top of the corpses of their defeated opponents. 

We also only had one player eliminated. That player was Nath and it was Debbie that finished him off!

Ok by the time Jeff got his “boring” victory, none of us had lots of health left. It could have been my victory due to a knock out if I’d have gotten another go. But hey that’s the way the dice roll.

A really great evenings gaming. Let’s do it again next year!

I’m not a number 

Last night was one of the “special” events that get organised at Fenland Gamers (my local gaming club). Which basically means some-one has a specific game they’d like to get to the table and play. So they host a gaming session to play that particular game. An invite is usually placed on the clubs Facebook page asking who would like to attend, making sure that people know there is a limited number of places available. 

The session last night was arranged specifically to play the amazing Viticulture with the extended board from Tuscany.

However Jonathan found himself at a loose end and asked if those attending could make it along to the venue earlier. He had a hankering to play Pandemic Iberia again.

For Jonathan to scratch that itch he needed me! He won’t have his own copy until Christmas or his birthday. I had received my replacement red microscope token and missing epidemic card only a couple of days earlier. Also to protect the cards in the game I had sleeved them. So my copy was ready to hit the table.

Katie hadn’t played this edition of Pandemic. Well it is a hot new game. So we recapped the rule changes and additions that were made to Iberia. 

We let Katie decide on how difficult the game would be. Our game used the “easy” setting of four epidemic cards.

We won our game. We hit three out of the four epidemic cards. And narrowly missed the fourth. If we hadn’t won we would have hit it. 

I’d like to have my next game of Iberia use one of its variants. I like the idea of the patient one, where cubes home in on the hospitals you build!

Our next game was a new one for me, but one I’ve been interested to try, Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age.

It’s a nice Yahtzee, push your luck style game. 

Not the most attractive game. However the wooden player boards and pegs were ok. The wooden dice felt nicer than the dice in Discoveries.

The player sheets where you are marking off the results of your dice rolls look intimidating to start with, but soon become clear.

It’s a nice game. Not amazing. But one I’d happily play again.

Jonathan and I  both LOVE Viticulture. I don’t think I’d be incorrect in saying that if we both had to draw up a top five games of all time Viticulture would be one of those games. For me it would be Jamey Stegmaier’s second game on that list. Which is frickin amazing. I really must do a click bait top ten games of all time list sometime. 

So you know how much we like Viticulture. But what impact would playing with the extended board make?

Katie and Diego hadn’t played Viticulture before. So a rules school was held for them. I think with the new board Jonathan and I were not at a great advantage having played before. 

I’m a big fan of the original Prisoner tv series (not that crap remake they did). And it’s hard not to make Number 6 references. Why do I feel like I can talk about The Prisoner whilst talking about Viticulture? Well for the whole game I took the number 6 slot on the wake up track. No one took it off me. Basically I was being given by the end of the game six unchallenged victory points. 

The territory control element this board adds to the game is a nice little touch, and a nice way to get some resources that may have been blocked off elsewhere. Plus at end game scoring a chance to add more victory points to your score. 

The extra seasons made more sense thematically. Plus it gave you more chance to do things. But with two basic workers and a grande worker you will have to pass one of the seasons at least in the early rounds until you train more workers.

Until the last round I was only harvesting one field. I hadn’t even planted the others. In fact I had sold one early on for the cash boost, and repeated later on for same reason. 

But being first to one or two actions allowed me to pick up the odd easy victory point.

On the final round I needed three points from somewhere on the board to push me over the finishing line. Jonathan managed to block two of them. But I was luckily able to get those from another route. Basically by buying back a sold field and planting on it (I had a windmill that gave me a point this way), and then selling a wine for a point. 

I was feeling very tense trying to pull off those three points. If I’d failed in pulling this off and have to go through another year, there is no way I’d win. It was all or nothing. Jonathan blocking me added to the tension I was feeling. But once I cracked the problem of making up the lost points, it was plain sailing.

Jonathan discovered at the end we had misplayed the pass rule in winter. Which we are getting to the bottom of at the moment. Sadly Jonathan couldn’t find the relevant bit in the rules. 

The extended board is a great addition to an already great game. Not sure I’d want to go back now to the regular one.

You know how I’m closing this blog post off now. Thanks to Jonathan (so you know who to blame) here are a couple of photos of me playing the games last night.

Love Letters to Aliens

Wednesday saw the Fenland Gamers monthly meet-up for December. This was the last monthly meet-up of 2016.  Where has the year gone?

We split up into two groups. Jonathan went to another table with Debbie and Diego, to play Plague Inc. While Gavin, Katie and I played Alien Frontiers.

Gavin has been looking at purchasing Alien Frontiers, while I owned it, and had been looking for an excuse to get it to the table. So before the meet-up I’d suggested we played the game at the meet-up for him to try it first.

I did like this dice placement, area control game. 

At first you think how do I mitigate poor dice rolls? Then you look at the alien artifact cards and some of these allow you to adjust the value of the dice by one, or reroll them. Which means if you get those cards it becomes easier placing your dice for the action you want. 

There is a little take that in the game, such as being able to steal resources from other players, or moving colony domes from one territory to another. And these bits of take that come from either alien artifact cards or one of the orbital facilities.

The alien artifact cards are a nice touch. I particularly like the fact that the majority give you a choice of two options to decide between. 

Controlling a territory gives you a power up you can use whilst you control that territory. That control can be fluid. 

During our game I was using alien artifact cards to move the colony domes of the others to give me a majority, and take a majority away from them in another territory where I had no interest.

Scoring isn’t going to be massive. It’s a fluid thing that goes up and down depending on control of territories, some alien artifact cards. As the rule book describes it, the scoreboard is a snap shot of the current state of play. 

Katie and I drew on the points in our game, but I won on the tie breaker of having the most alien artifact cards.

It’s my understanding there is going to be a big box release of Alien Artifacts in 2017. If that is the case I’ll definitely be buying it so I can get the expansions. The expansions seem to be a bit elusive to get hold of at the moment.

So that last paragraph should tell you I really liked the game.

Our final game of the evening was Love Letter Premium edition

This is a beautifully put together edition of the game. The extra thick playing cards, the card sleeves, heart tokens, the awesome game box. This just oozes high quality.

This edition supports up to eight players using extra cards being shuffled in for player counts over four. 

One or two of the new cards I didn’t recognise the abilities of. So I’m assuming they are new or from the Archer edition. Other abilities on the new cards are from other editions like The Hobbit edition. And I did like these new abilities. 

Jonathan didn’t like the additional cards because they made guessing harder and keeping track a bit tougher. Plus I think the player count doesn’t really work at the higher numbers. I think the sweet spot is 3-4 players for Love Letter. 

If I use this edition again I’ll stick to the sweet spot. But maybe use some of the new cards to replace some of the older ones to shake things up a little.

Katie and Diego drew as winners. 

A great evenings gaming. Great company. Second Wednesday of each month. 

We have three meet-ups over the Christmas period. I’m looking forward to them. 

Infecting the world

It seems that over the last two or three months that Fenland Gamers have become disciples of the ‘cult of the new’. More new games have been hitting the table than normal. This has been partially aided by some of the backed Kickstarters starting to deliver. I’m not complaining really, it’s nice to get these games to the table instead of them arriving and joining the ranks of the pile of shame.

Yesterday Jonathan called asking if I wanted to play his latest arrival Plague Inc. Like many at the tail end of last week and over the weekend, he had received his Kickstarter copy of the game, and now wanted to play it.

I was knackered, it had been a long day. I had been awake from about 4:30am that morning, and my initial plan for when I got home was sleep. But who am I to turn down a chance to play games?

Plague Inc apparently is based on a video game I haven’t played. I’m not sure if Jonathan has either. I think, and it’s always a risk making assumptions on behalf of someone else, he liked the idea of infecting the world, and killing it off. The polar opposite to most other games such as the Pandemic family. It’s competitive and not co-operative. Something that makes it different from Pandemic.

So what did I think of the game?

For those that are already thinking tl;dr, we both liked it.

So you have this player board that is double sided, but we didn’t play with the virus side of it. We played with the default infection side.

You have these slots on the player board that you use to evolve your infection with using trait cards (each trait card has a cost to install that you pay for with DNA points). Two of the slots have default abilities on, such as get one extra DNA point. So you have to weigh up just when you are going to cover up those default powers with a trait. There is some nice decision making going on here, especially when your slots are full. Do you install a trait that will allow you to go into hot countries? Which existing trait do you get rid of? Depending on the stage of the game, is it even worth spending the DNA points?

This is an area control game, where you are trying to control countries on the board so that you get DNA points at the start of your go. If a country gets totally infected, ie all it’s cities are occupied by an infection token, then the majority player at the end of their turn gets a chance to kill that country by rolling the Death Dice.

When you kill a country, you get more DNA points. You also get the card for the country (important for end game scoring, which also has a majority control element to it). Bit more importantly you get event cards. Event cards are so much fun. They add a take that element to the game. For instance, I was able to cancel one of Jonathan’s events by playing an event from my hand that allowed me to cancel an event played by another player. The event cards give you boosts to your DNA points, or allow you to move infection cubes from one country to another, they even allow you to block countries and regions. Plus there are other effects I’m sure that we didn’t get to see.

Placing country cards is a nice tactical thing. Can your opponent go into cold climates, and you can? Then you are going to place cold climate countries on the map. But do you trash that hot country card that you can’t go into, and get a new hand of trait cards instead? You can’t do both. Do you advance your opportunities to infect more places, or do you try and scupper your opponents opportunities? But they might have a trait card that they can play that allows them to go into cold climates.

This is very thematic, especially on the trait cards. They have such names as nose bleed or diarrhoea. Ok the point scoring and calling them DNA points, might be stretching it a little.

Yes I liked this area control game. It has some nice elements to it that make it interesting. There was no run away winner throughout the game amassing a huge point lead that couldn’t be caught up.

For the record books, I beat Jonathan.

And thanks to Jonathan you get another photo of me!

Pandemic Iberia 

Pandemic Iberia hardly had time to be unpacked before it was hitting the table.

Jonathan, Diego and myself met up last night, just 24 hours after the game had arrived, to try and stop the spread of various diseases across Spain.

Firstly Pandemic Iberia is a lovely looking game. I really do like the design of the board, the graphic design of the cards, the tokens. It’s just beautiful. It really has that historical, Spanish feel.  It’s easily one of the best looking games of the year.

Our game last night was just a basic setup, 4 epidemic cards (or I thought there were 4, more on that later). Our logic was it’s a learning game, and we knew there were new mechanics in the game. Ok it’s Pandemic, we had a good base knowledge to work from. And having played it, we could easily have raised the difficulty level, despite the new stuff.

In the basic game of Pandemic Iberia the majority of the setup is just the same as standard Pandemic. However they do spice it up with mixing event cards into the player deck. Which seems to be the first of the ideas that have come across from Pandemic Legacy. But that isn’t even the biggest impact. Instead of everyone starting in the same city of Atlanta or the Spanish equivalent, each player gets to choose their starting city from one of the starting player cards in their hand.  Which is fantastic I really liked that.

The next idea taken from Legacy is the idea of the quarantine token. But in Iberia its called purified water, and instead of just protecting a single city, it protects the cities in an area. A nice touch.

Rail tracks are a new idea for this game, and boy do they impact it hugely. Once you have laid down some track movement between cities on the track laid becomes a single move action. So the ability to get around the board becomes very very fast indeed after a few turns.

The ports marked by an anchor also allow fast movement around the map as long as you have a card in your hand matching the colour of the port you want to go to. So with the right cards and well planned train tracks you can get around Spain very very fast indeed to take on those outbreaks.

Ok I like these touches, but they did seem to make the game easier. Would I be saying that if we had played with four or more epidemic cards? Maybe.

We were playing with three epidemic cards. When I was counting the cards out to place into the player deck, I only had five. So I assumed that I had already got one in the player deck. An assumption that was to prove wrong. At the end of the game there were only three epidemic cards in the players deck. No missing card in there. My copy of Iberia had only come with five epidemic cards not the full six. Thanks to the awesome graphic design, I can’t take one of the epidemic cards from my played copy of Legacy and use that instead.

So I do have a call raised with Z-Man for the missing epidemic card, plus a replacement red microscope token.

It is very cool that the game comes out of the box with two expansions! We definitely want to play with the patient flow rules, which sees the cubes migrate towards hospitals to get cured! Plus the historical illnesses looks interesting as well. So I like that there are options to vary the game a little, which adds to the replayability.

Graphically, and production wise I think this is miles better than ‘classic’ Pandemic.

This is a great addition to the Pandemic family, and possible gone straight to the top as my favourite version of the game.

If Z-Man hold true to their word, if you haven’t got this game already, and you want it, then be prepared to pay the eBay silly money that people will no doubt be wanting for this. Why? Z-Man said Pandemic Iberia will not be reprinted. This “limited” run was it. If you see a copy for the rrp then snap it up.