Sunday started off with bitter sweet news from Jonathan. The sweet, he was able to come out and play that afternoon, did I want to have a learning game of his new game The Voyages of Marco Polo and potentially if time allowed his other new arrival Isle of Skye. The bitter part he wasn't able to make a Monday or Wednesday gaming evening this week. I must show him how to forge his wife's signiture on the permission slip.
So at the usual Fenland Gamers hang out, Jonathan, myself and Jeff gathered to make trade routes between the east and west, and try and become king (time permitting).
Our first game was The Voyages of Marco Polo. For the majority of the game I was trailing behind score wise. Jeff and Jonathan were clocking up points, completing contracts. I was also completing contracts but nearly as many as the other two. I had already dismissed going for the most completed and the seven additional points that would have given me.
Instead I went and completed my secret trade routes, picking up some nice bonuses along the way. I was the first to hit Bejing for the ten point end game bonus. I was a tent away from getting the end game bonuses for using them.
In the end I had enough of a late points splurge from my completed routes to take second, and narrowly miss taking first place. One more placed tent would have given me five points and the win.
Wow I love this game. The dice placement is awesome. I really loved it.
You start off with five dice of your colour. Or if you had Jeff's character an extra white dice to use, and a special contract each round. But using camels you could purchase once per turn, an extra black dice to use during the round.
Now at the start of a round you roll your dice, these numbers basically decide how much of an action you so. For instance to get more camels if you placed a dice with a six showing you would get six camels. However if the number was say a four you would only get four. But a six on the new contracts action would get you a new contract, plus two coins and something else (I can't remember the exact bonus). If someone has already taken the action you want, you can still place your dice there but you pay the number of coins matching the value of your dice.
You can use camels to manipulate the value of a dice by one up or down. So you can mitigate bad rolls to some extent. Plus if the sum total of your dice is less than fifteen you get the difference in coins.
The player powers were interesting, some have said they are too over powered. But I like them. Mine allowed me to not have to pay to place my dice on an already used action. We know Jeff's I mentioned it already. Jonathan's let him set his dice to whatever value he wanted. Which he did use well to shut Jeff and myself out of one action really well. My power meant money was less important to me, and only really needed for some routes and moving. I think the powers and the advantage you gain balances out.
I liked the way the first player is chosen each round, with it being the player who took the last move action.
There is a lot to the game, plenty of opportunities to score bonuses. The secret trade routes is a nice touch. Unlike Ticket to Ride you only read to reach the start and end points, and not actually connect them. Some paths have a cost to use them, so not only do you have to pay the movement cost but a path cost too. Which could be payable in coins or camels.
And camels are the real currency here. They allow you to do so much, such as manipulate dice, buy black dice, complete contracts (they are usually part of the fee needed to complete it), act as toll on a route. Without camels you don't stand much chance of getting much done. Luckily there are plenty of opportunities to get camels in the game.
Sooo sooo much to talk about, this game is very deep. Love, love, love it.
Oh Jeff won by three points.
We did indeed have time to play Isle of Skye, and compete to move up from chieften to King.
I like the use of the tile placing mechanic, aka like Carcassonne (I bet they are fed up with that being said). But there is so much more to this. From the use of money and pricing the tiles, being able to buy other players tiles, to the turn structure and different score at the end of each turn.
I enjoyed this game, would definitely play again. However I still think by far my favourite Scottish themed game is Glen More.
Jeff had a clean sweep of wins today, as did Jonathan in coming last. But we played two great games, had a fun afternoon gaming, lots of banter. What more could you ask for?