Three Valentines?

No, not three messages from secret admirers – rather Jan suggesting we play the three different versions of Love Letter that we have. Maybe I should have been suspicious – having scored some brownie points with the red roses this morning – but winning all three games is inconceivable. I hardly ever win so Jan was probably going easy on me.

It was interesting to play the original, Batman and Hobbit versions back-to-back and each has just enough of a difference to make it worthwhile playing in its own right. Good fun!

love_letter

Steam time

I got an English copy of Steam Time today by Rudiger Dorn and Kosmos. I tried it this evening with Jan and it was a very good medium weight game – slightly on the heavier side than Jan prefers but she coped with the rules fine. It’s a worker placement game played over five rounds where you are moving through time collecting and using resources (crystals and steam) to power your airships to conduct expeditions and missions that will give you esteem (VPs) during and at the end of the game. Lots of paths to victory and some forward planning required to optimise your turns – which we didn’t really try to do on this learning game.

Scores were close with me winning 63-58 but that  may have been due to Jan misreading a 9 point mission card that she thought she could use more than once – she had the resources to score it a second time so would then have won. Very good and took us marginally over an hour as a two player game. Four player likely to be around 90-120 minutes.

steam_time

Can I play with Madness?

Jan and I tried a learning game of The Big Book of Madness this evening. I was solidifying the rules in my mind as we were playing so Jan found it hard going and didn’t enjoy it as much as she might have but I thought it was really good.

This is a co-op game where everyone is building their own deck and using their cards to tackle the challenges thrown at the players. It seemed pretty tough even on the easy level and we lost due to running down the Madness card deck in the fifth round of six. However, that may have been exacerbated by the fact that I had ignored that one of the actions was to cure a madness card in your hand and return it to the deck so neither of us ever picked that option.

It plays up to five players and seems fairly easy to try solo so I think this should get played again pretty soon.

Sunday gaming

First games played for a fortnight for me this evening -two player with Jan. Started with a game of Jam Sumo, playing Jam. I was rubbish, flicking a die off the board each round. Two rounds was enough with Jan winning 4-14 (lower score is better).

We then had a quick game of Cribbage, which I’ve not played for ages. The scores were reasonably close but Jan was playing catch-up for the second half of the game. I ended up winning 121-115.

Holiday 1 v Gaming 0

Just back from a week in Tenerife and, although I took several games with me to play, not a single title saw the light of day. That’s pretty unusual but we were having fun with other things and Jan managed to catch my cough and sore throat so wasn’t in the right frame of mind. So Mottainai, 3 Sind eine zu viele and Qwinto will have to wait a while longer for us to try them out. Patchwork, Tiny Epic Galaxies, Groo: The Game and Red7 also missed out.

Between Two Cities

After a couple of quick rounds of Dobble with Jan and Becky (Jan winning both), I tried out the solo version of Between Two Cities, the latest Stonemaier Games release. This is a drafting game and I suspect it will be very good with multiple players but the solo game is also pretty interesting.

You’re building up a city in a 4×4 grid and each building type that you place in the grid has a different way of scoring. However, you’re not just building one city, you’re building two with each of your neighbours and, at the end of the game, your lower scoring city is your game score. This makes for some agonising decisions as you want both of your cities to score well but not so that your neighbour gets the better lower score.

In a solo game you play against Automassa and Automarta and a deck of cards dictates how they draft buildings into the two cities they are interested in. I really enjoyed the puzzle aspect of this and it played pretty quickly. That said, Automassa did a better job than me and ended up the winner with 56 points. Automarta and I lagged behind on 48.

504 First play

Tried a two-player run-through of World 123, which is the suggested starting game for Friedemann Friese’s 504. It worked fine but it was pretty fiddly to set up and I’m not sure whether the payoff of game enjoyment over set-up time might be low and make me reluctant to get this to the table on a regular basis.

I also need to research which of the worlds are reckoned to be the best in terms of gameplay so we can see it at its best. Plus the rulebook / book of worlds is horrible and not easy to follow. Perhaps I need to see a decent video of the gameplay for another world.

Scharfe Schoten

Managed to try the 2014 trick-taking card game from Zoch, Scharfe Schoten, this evening with Jan and Becky. I really enjoyed this. At the start of each round you predict which colours of card you are going to collect both the most and least in. You score points if either of your predictions is correct and a bonus if both are correct. The card backs show the suit colours so you have some knowledge in working out your card play but it is often tricky trying to win enough cards in your off-suits to ensure your predictions pay off.

Jan and I managed to tie for points after three rounds and, with no tie-break rule, were happy to share the victory.

Weekend gaming: Genies, zombies and ravages

Yesterday, Jan, Cat and Becky joined me for a game of Tales of the Arabian Nights, a game we’ve not played since August 2012. Becky was the one who wanted to play and it took us about three hours before I eventually accumulated the right number of destiny and story points. Jan spent half the game as a donkey.

This afternoon, I tried two new games in solo mode. Run, Fight or Die! is an edge of your seat game about keeping the zombies back while trying to rescue followers and get to the edge of town. It was touch and go for much of the game and I thought I was doomed on a couple of occasions but I did just manage to win as the Athlete, helping the Obnoxious Councilman and the Hot Chick with Attitude to the Town Line with 1 health point remaining.

My second game was Sylvion and this seemed really hard. You are trying to preserve the forest while the game is seeking to burn everything down. Unfortunately I lost by the forest being overrun on round 10. However, a helpful video playthrough that I watched afterwards has given me some good ideas on how to play better next time.

Heroscape

Heroscape has been available in the U.S. for a while now but only landed in the UK just before Christmas. As Chris had a birthday in early January, I took advantage of the New Year Sale at The Place For Games to order a copy. When he opened the wrapping paper on his birthday, he didn’t seem overly thrilled but once we dug into the box and saw the marvellous components, his eyes widened and he was pretty keen to play.

I really like the way you build up the landscape prior to the game, allowing you to use your imagination to come up with interesting battlefields. There are a number of scenarios in the rulebook to try out first but that won’t stop you designing your own once you get used to the game. The playing pieces are first class and represent a very diverse range of characters (you can have standard army elite forces facing robots or meninblack type characters or even a huge dragon). Oh and it’s worth mentioning the large box and the amount of fresh air inside it: there is none! The components only just squeeze inside and this makes a refreshing change. As to the game itself, we’ve only tried the basic version so far and this is pretty straightforward. The scenario will dictate a goal (such as eliminating all your opponent’s pieces or capturing a particular object). Player turns involve selecting a character or group of characters, moving them and attacking an opponent’s character if it’s within range of yours. Each character has an attack and defence strength, which determines the number of dice rolled during combat, and a character on higher terrain gets an extra die. If the attacker rolls more ‘hits’ than the defender, the loser’s character is removed from play. All very simple and doesn’t make for too much in the way of strategy. The advanced rules add extra aspects but I can’t report on these until I’ve tried them out. However, the basic game plays ok as long as you’re only expecting a dice-fest. The fun comes from the experience rather than the game mechanics themselves.

Chris and I tried one of the standard scenarios. My commander, Sergeant Drake, proved to be totally inept in attacking Chris’s pieces. Chris sent his dragon to attack me on one side while his robots came at me from the other. Finally, Drake moved out of hiding, let rip on the robots with a savage burst of gunfire – totally missed – allowing them to sneak past and capture my glyph for an easy victory.