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.

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