Games from Germany

It’s been a while since I ordered a batch of games from Germany. Following the demise of Adam Spielt, I’ve not found another online mail order to fill the gap. However, last week, I decided to take the plunge and put in an order with 12Spiel and the order arrived yesterday.

In terms of the service, it was pretty good: I got an email confirmation of my order as soon as I  placed it on Tuesday, stating that it would ship within 3-5 days; then an email to say the order had been sent on Friday; and the goods turned up yesterday, Tuesday so pretty quick although not quite as fast as Adam Spielt. The packing wasn’t as good as Adam Spielt (but then nobody could really match their box within a box and bubble filling). There was just some paper packing and not really enough to keep the contents steady in transit. That said, however, all the games arrived unharmed. So all in all, I’d use them again but may still try to see if there are any better alternatives. Recommendations from other people will be gratefully received.

Anyway, what did I get? Eight games in all, which will be added to my Trickylight database in the next couple of days: Metropolys (Ystari), Toledo (Kosmos), Keltis (Kosmos), Gangster (Amigo), Neuland (Eggert Spiele), Double or Nothing (Piatnik), Big Points (Schmidt) and Shanghaien (Abacus).

SR: 25 April 2008 – Perikles

Perikles, published by Warfrog, is a Martin Wallace game I somehow missed out on acquiring when it came out in 2006. I rectified this when the local TK Maxx was selling copies off cheap and we finally got to play it this week. Set in the Peloponnesian War, each player represents a powerful Greek family with political influence spread across the six major city states of ancient Greece. Players strive to become leaders of these cities, thus taking control of their military forces. With these forces players will aim to win glory on the battlefield.

The game is played over three rounds. Players start by taking influence tiles that allow cubes to be placed in a particular city. Once each player has taken four tiles, an election to become leader takes place in each city. Players take turns proposing a candidate in a particular city and each city can have two candidates. Once all the candidates have been determined, whichever of the two candidates has more influence cubes in the city is elected leader and is given control of its military forces. Seven battles are then fought. Players take turns committing military forces to particular battles and, if a player does not control any city, they get to represent the Spartan forces. The relative strengths of the opposing forces is determined and two rounds of battle are fought using dice, with the stronger force having a greater probability of rolling successfully. The winner of the battle is rewarded with the location tile which gives a number of VPs at the end of the game. Once all the battles have been resolved, the city leaders have statues erected to them (for more end of game VPs). Then if either Athens or Sparta have lost four battles, the game ends immediately or you proceed to the next round. After three rounds, the game ends anyway and players total their VPs from statues, battle location tiles and influence cubes remaining in the cities and most VPs wins.

In our game, the first round saw four Sparta battles turned up giving the possibility that the game might end after the first round. Sparta survived just barely, losing three out of the four, and everyone other than me breathed a sigh of relief. I had managed to gain control of two cities and rode the odds well in winning three battles so, had the game ended at that point, I would have been well ahead. However, this then made me a target in rounds two and three. I also had lost lots of influence cubes in Corinth due to a heated election campaign between me and Nige. Nige concentrated on winning elections and protecting the cities whose statues were worth most points and he looked pretty strong by the end of the game. Mark K was intent on remaining leader of Thebes for all three rounds and towards the end chose a few useful battles to commit forces to for good points. Mark G didn’t control a city in the final round so decided to commit his Spartans to a single battle (worth 6 VPs), the one battle I had already committed to in starting the battle phase. I still had loads of military forces stacked up and the odds were comfortably in my favour before we started the die rolls. However, this was Mark G we were up against so the die rolls of course went his way. Although I did manage to scrape through a minor 3 VP skirmish elsewhere, I thought that I had managed to let the victory slip from my grasp. However, I had made sure that I was getting good points from my influence cubes and this was enough to allow me to scrape a hard fought victory. Even I hadn’t managed to lose it from my outstanding first round position.

I really enjoyed Perikles even though there was a fair degree of luck involved in resolving the battles. However, I didn’t feel the luck dominated and it was good that even an overwhelming force could still be outdone so nothing was completely certain. Others felt that the possibility of ending the game early spoilt it. It certainly would mean that some of the strategy would go missing but my view is that it adds another layer to think about as a perceived leader is likely to go for a quick win and the others need to deal with the short term threat to make sure that doesn’t happen. At around 3 hours, the game is possibly at the limit of acceptability timewise but I think this is one of Martin’s most approachable games with the rules and theme gelling well together to present a good challenge.

Warfrog Treefrog

From the Warfrog website:

“Warfrog is going in a slightly different direction this year and will be releasing three limited first edition games. These will be part of the Treefrog Line.

1500 of each title will be printed. Each will be signed and numbered. The quality  of production will be up to usual Warfrog standards. However, all playing pieces will be wooden. There will be no cards, counters, or plastic pieces in any Treefrog Line game, (hence the label).

The first game will be Tinners’ Trail and should be out by the end of May 2008. Check here for more details about the game.

The next game will be set in ancient Mesopotamia. This will be for three players only and will be released in September/October 2008.

The final game will be a two player wargame on the battle of Waterloo. This should be released around January 2009.

After that Warfrog will repeat the pattern again, a multi-player game, a three player only game, and a two player wargame. This pattern will continue for five years at the very least.”

SR: 18th April 2008 – Antike

This week, with six of us, we decided to have another play of Antike, a game that we all seem to like. Going into the game, there was one thing of which we were all certain: Mark G would be concentrating on constructing massive armies and stomping on his neighbours. Unfortunately for Mark K, this meant him and pretty much drove him down a defensive strategy.

Steve and Guy started off by pursuing temples, whereas Nige and I sent our armies into new territories to settle new cities. I also started to develop my fleet as no-one else seemed interested and quickly took a point from being in seven sea territories. I also nabbed the sailing ability, while others concentrated on some of the other technologies. At the end it looked close between Steve, Nige and myself and I thought I had just enough points to sack two of Nige’s temples. However, I was just 1 point short and so needed to wait one more turn, which never came. We played using the second edition rules, which gives a VP to players who finish all eight advancements and this was all Steve needed to squeak the win. Well played, although I think he, Guy and I all benefitted from having edge starting positions well away from Mark G!

Antike remains a very good game and one which we all enjoy. You never know, one day we may see Mark G try to win without using his stomping strategy.

SR: 11th April 2008 – Glory To Rome

Glory to Rome, designed by Carl Chudyk and published by Cambridge Games Factory, is a card game about the rebuilding of Rome after Nero burns it down, as players seek to be the ones who earn the most fame during the rebuilding. Like San Juan, each card has multiple functions: It can be a “Role” (Labourer, Craftsman, Legionary, Architect, Merchant, or Patron), a Material (that matches one of the six sites: Marble, Stone, Wood, Rubble, Brick, and Concrete), or one of forty different buildings.

On a player’s turn, they may either play one of their cards in front of them as one of the roles, or “think”. Each other player, in order, may either play the same card and take the same action, or “think”. Thinking allows a player to either take a Jack (wild card) into their hand, restock their hand up to five cards, or draw one card (if they already have at least five cards). The roles allow players to take different actions:
– The Patron allows a player to add a card to their Clientele, which adds to the number of actions a role card can take.
– The Laborer allows a player to add cards to their Stockpile as a material.
– The Merchant allows a player to take a card from their Stockpile and store it face down in their vault for VPs at the end of the game.
– The Legionary allows a player to steal cards from neighbouring players and stick them in their Stockpile.
– The Craftsman and Architect cards allow the player to start work on or add materials to a building, the former role using cards from hand and the latter cards from the stockpile.

Play continues until either the draw deck runs out, all the Building Site cards have been used, one player builds the Catacomb building, or a player has won by building the Forum (alternate victory conditions). Unless the Forum’s victory conditions have been met, all players total their victory points from buildings, the vault and bonuses from having the most cards of each type in the vault. The player with the most victory points is the winner!

In our game, Nige concentrated on building up his clientele initially and then drew the Forum so he was looking to end the game early by building the forum and have clientele of all six types. At times, this looked most likely to be the outcome but Nige seemed to struggle to get the right cards to allow him to finish. I went for building lots of cheap buildings but as a result missed out a couple of times on adding cards to the vault. Mark K did, however, succeed in getting a decent number of vault cards squirreled away – just as well as his stockpile was extensive. Both he and Guy were concentrating on some of the larger more valuable buildings so although they built fewer, they converted to similar VPs. At the end though, Mark K did just enough from vault points and bonuses to take the win.

Glory To Rome is another nice addition to the San Juan / Race for the Galaxy family of card games and looks to have quite a bit of replay value. Like RftG, it takes a while to work out what you are doing and which card combinations work well together. This is one to try again soon.

Reiver Games newsletter

Jackson Pope has just published news on BGG about what he is currently up to at Reiver Games. Reiver Games have published two games so far (Border Reivers and the fun bodyparts game, It’s Alive) and more is on the way in 2008. Here is what Jack has to say:

“It’s an exciting time for Reiver Games, I’ve quit my day job to concentrate on Reiver Games. Our third game, Carpe Astra should be available in July and I’ve received loads of submissions in response to a request for designs.

This year we’re hoping to attend Beer & Pretzels in Burton-on-Trent in May, the UK Games Expo in Birmingham in June – where I’ll be a judge for Game of the Year, and Spieltage in Essen, Germany in October. In addition, we’re hoping to get along to a number of smaller UK cons, more details when I have them.

Carpe Astra – Seize the Stars
Reiver Games are proud to annouce their third game: Carpe Astra by Ted Cheatham (Silk Road) and Jackson Pope (Border Reivers 🙂 ). It’s a medium weight game for 2-4 players, and lasts 20-60 minutes. It will feature artwork by R H Aidley again (he did the artwork for It’s Alive!), and will be professionally manufactured, meaning I can sell it through shops and distributors. I’m offering a 30% discount to customers who pre-order a copy. Pre-orders will be shipped before I send out copies to distributors and shops. If you’d rather buy from a shop, please contact you local game shop or favourite online store and ask them to stock it.

Here’s some blurb about the game:
10,000 years in the future, humanity has claimed the stars. But all is not well. The Emperor is weak, and without strong guidance the Empire is crumbling. Powerful guilds within the empire are squabbling, positioning themselves for their own gain. If the Empire is to survive, it needs a strong leader – that means you! You must build a powerbase throughout the Empire by connecting with important guilds: the military, traders, priests, engineers, expansionists and politicians and then claim the throne. Time is running out though, others also struggle for the throne. You must form a network of support with powerful guilds and slandering your opponents. Each connection gains the support of some guilds, at the end of the game the player with the most support grasps the Galactic Throne. Take advantage of events that occur for further gain. Be careful though, as each slander you receive reduces your support.

It’s Alive!
It’s Alive! is nearly a year old, and it’s still proving very popular with an average rating of 7.0 and ranking in the top 1,000 of the 35,000 games on BoardGameGeek. I still have some copies left, so if you’re still after one order now before they are all gone. I estimate there is between three and six weeks stock remaining.

What’s Next?
I’m hoping to get three games published in the next twelve months. I’ve received in excess of fifty submissions from designers, some of those will be coming out over the next few months – watch this space!



SR: 4th April 2008 – Traumfabrik, Lascaux

This week, we started with Traumfabrik which has not been played at the club for some while. In fact we needed to go and reprint the English rules translation as nobody could remember all the rules. Steve and Guy had not played before.

Nige was first to complete a film,closely followed by Guy and myself in the other two categories. In fact Guy’s film was an impressive 19 pointer which took best film in all three intermediate scorings. I managed to take the worst film award with just four points and managed to complete all the films I was working on. However, with only three mediocre and one diabolical film, it was never going to be enough. Guy seemed to have this wrapped up fairly easily although his margin of victory was even larger than anyone thought.

Traumfabrik remains a top-notch auction game with lots of fun casting well known actors in films they wouldn’t normally be seen dead in. Steve and Guy both rated it highly.

We then had a go at Lascaux by Dominque Ehrhard and Michel Lalet and published by Mayfair Games. The game is loosely based around ancient cave paintings but the theme could really be anything. However, the game play is very good and adds a bluffing element to the bidding mechanism used in Geschenkt (English edition: No Thanks!)

A set of cards gets laid out each round (normally between four and seven). Each card shows one of the cave animal paintings and two colours. Players have a set of 6 tokens, one for each colour, and places one of these face down to indicate the card colours he would like to win. Players then, in turn, have to pay a stone into the pot to stay in the bidding or drop out and take all of the stones in the pot. The others continue until there is one player left in the bidding. That player reveals their token and takes all of the animal cards showing the colour on the token. The last to drop out then reveals their token and takes any cards in that colour if any. This continues until all the cards have been taken or all the tokens revealed. Any remaining cards are left over for the next round. Rounds continue in identical fashion until all the 54 cards in the deck have been taken. Then players add up the number of animals of each of the 6 types that they have collected and the player with the most of a type scores points equal to the number of animals of that type they have. Each set of six bidding stones a player is left with gains another point and most points wins.

This is a very simple game but has some agonising choices to be made. Your choice of colour is partly determined by how far you’re going to bid and partly by second-guessing what others have chosen. Running out of bidding stones is not good as you then have to drop out quickly and it may take a while to recoup enough stones to compete in later rounds. Coming second is also tough quite often particularly if there is one key colour that the high bidders are bound to be pursuing. Remembering what animals others have collected is advisable but hard when card batches taken may include two or three different types of animal. However, concentrating on one or two types and getting at least five of them is a pretty safe option – although not easy to achieve.

In our game, Mark K got down to just a couple of chips at one stage. He did get some good cards for his expense but I thought that may have caused bigger problems than it actually did. Guy seemed to be the master of second-guessing but really only concentrated on one animal type. That said, he did get eight of them. Steve, Nige and I kept getting the poor end of the cards, spending lots of rounds where one or other or all of us came away with nothing. The final round saw Steve and I going for broke and although I got the cards I wanted, Steve got a bucketful of stones. He ended up with 4 points from stones alone. The final scores were pretty tight but Mark K got the most cards in two animal categories and with just enough stones left for an extra point just outscored Guy and Steve by a single point. We all thought Lascaux was a really good 30 minute end-of-evening game and I’m sure this one will get played quite a bit.


Simon Emmins has just launched a new website that does exactly what the URL suggests it does.

FindYourGameStore is a website dedicated to helping gamers find their games. RPG’s, CCG’s, Board Games, TMG’s, all these pastimes frequently require tracking down the specialist shops that carry them. Though more and more of these lines are appearing on the high street it can sometimes be extremely difficult to find the more focused stores.

FindYourGameStore allows the gamer to track down the closest shop for all their gaming needs. It concentrates on the specialist stockists rather than more mainstream store chains, shops which are sometimes hard to find if you are new to an area.