Players: Mark K, Nige, Chris, Garry
Amazonas is the latest game to be released by Stefan Dorra and is published by Kosmos. The game is set on a map of the Amazon basin and players are attempting to travel from village to village to set up research stations on five types of research project. You also have a secret goal of reaching four particular villages dotted around the map. Points are awarded during the game for setting up a research station on each of the five projects and at the end of the game for those projects where you have set up research stations in at least three villages. If you have not visited your four secret destinations, you lose three VPs for each village you missed. The game lasts 18 rounds and at the beginning of each round a special event card is revealed. Some of these have positive and some negative effects for the current round. Players then simultaneously select an income card for the round (there are 7 of these and you play a different one each round, only getting all the cards back after rounds 7 and 14). The income number also dictates turn order. Once these are revealed, players collect their income and have the opportunity to spend this to build research stations in turn order. The first research station in a village is cheaper to build than subsequent ones and each village is only able to support 2 or 3 stations. Turn order can, therefore, be quite important in preserving cash, especially as cash is very tight. Often, all you can do is collect income without building and there aren’t that many turns to achieve all you would like to achieve. In our game, we thought 18 turns would take some while to complete but the game flew by, taking us just about an hour. We were all wary of our destination cards and tended to spread ourselves across the map pretty quickly. I made the mistake of placing my initial village between two of my secret destinations and then not linking into them straight away. Consequently, others got in there before me and meant it cost me more than would otherwise have been the case. There is also a dilemna between concentrating on one or two project types to boost income during the game and establishing a presence in all five projects. Mark K and Nige both went down the specialised route and this worked well for them. Chris managed to block both me and Mark K at key times and this meant Mark K only managed to connect to his final secret location on his very last turn. This proved crucial and gave him the victory. We all enjoyed this, Nige especially, as it is quite tactical but turns are short and there is very little downtime. Good stuff.
Result: Mark K 14, Nige 11, Garry 8, Chris 8
Ratings: Mark K 7, Nige 8, Garry 7, Chris 6
King Arthur – Das Kartenspiel
Players: Mark K, Nige, Garry
King Arthur – the card game is a new release by Reiner Knizia and Ravensburger and is about knights of the round table going on various quests. Basically, you are collecting knight cards of particular colours in order to defeat and collect enemy cards which, in turn, can be combined with other enemy cards to satisfy the conditions for completing one of the 13 available quest cards. The advanced version of the game, which we played, adds a couple of twists in determining when enemy cards become available for use on the quests, but it remains a fairly easy game to explain and play. Once all but one of the quests has been completed, the game ends and players receive points for the quest and enemy cards they have collected. Most points wins. This was a fairly light game with pretty obvious choices to be made. Watching what enemy cards other people are collecting is important to make sure they are not going to complete the quest you are working on before you do. The luck in drawing “double” and “Merlin” cards also plays a part in helping you achieve your goals but, as it is clearly aimed as a simple family game, it didn’t seem overpowering. Mark K managed his hand the best to come out with the victory. We all thought the game to be ok for what it is meant to be and the theme is nice, but it is not going to set the world alight.
Result: Mark K 55, Garry 47, Nige 42
Ratings: Mark K 6, Garry 6, Nige 6
Players: Mark K, Nige, Garry
Finally, I managed to get to try out Fairy Tale, a game by Japanese company Yuhodo and designed by Satoshi Nakamura. This is an interesting game of drafting and playing cards over four rounds. In each round, players are dealt a hand of 5 cards. They select one card to keep and pass the remainder to the player on their left. That player selects a card and returns three to the original player. This is repeated but with the player on the right and the final card is kept by the original player. From the five cards collected, players choose one simultaneously and these are revealed with any actions specified on the card being implemented immediately. This is repeated twice further, with the two unplayed cards then being discarded. Cards played stay in front of you but through the card actions may end up face-up or face-down by the end of the game. After the fourth round, face down cards at that point do not score and face up ones are totalled to give your score, highest score wins. This is an interesting game where you try to accumulate combinations of cards that give high scores, while messing with other players’ plans. The difficulty we had was with the card explanations, which I managed to print off in such small type-face that Nige couldn’t read much of it – it’s his age, you know. The cards have icons which help to decrypt the meaning but it did take a little while to work it all out. That said, by the end of the game we had just about got it sussed so it shouldn’t present a problem in future. Choosing what to keep and what to pass on was interesting. On one occasion, I had to keep a card that was of no use to me merely because it would have made a huge difference to Nige’s score. However, you can afford to do this because, of the five cards you pick, you only get to play 3 of them, so 2 spoilers is ok. Having overcome the icon problems, I quite liked this and would like to try it with a full compliment of five players so all the cards are used. It is pretty quick once you get into the game and is a bit different to a lot of games we play at the end of an evening. Oh, and I won so that brought the evening to a nice close (although Nige might not agree).
Result: Garry 50, Mark K=Nige 45
Ratings: Garry 7, Mark K 6, Nige 7