22nd October 2013

We were back to our usual location for our first meeting on the alternate week.  This meant we had an extra person, but in addition, we one of our more distant members coming down on his way to Essen.  He was held up in traffic, so we started out with a quick game of Eight-Minute Empire.  This is a quick little area control game, though in truth, eight minutes is only possible if everyone really knows what they are doing and nobody suffers from “Analysis Paralysis”.

Eight-Minute Empire

Each player has a limited number of coins, three wooden city pieces and a handful of army cubes.  The idea is that players start by picking up a card:  they can choose whether to take the first available card which has no cost, or take another and pay the appropriate number of coins.  Each card is a resource which provide points at the end of the game, the number depending on how many of that resource the player has;  each card also has an action associated with it, which can be place armies on the map, move them about, ship them across the sea, build a city etc.  Players score points for having the majority in a countries and controlling the most countries in each continent, as well as for sets of resources.  The game was a clear victory for Red who finished three points clear of Blue in second place.

Eight-Minute Empire

As we finished, our long distance traveller walked through the door and without missing a beat sat down to join in the Feature GameTsuro.  This is a path laying game that is similar, though strangely opposite to Indigo, which we played a few weeks ago.   Both games are beautiful with a simple mechanism:  players play tiles and any stones that are on paths that are extended by the tile are moved to the end of the path, however, that is where the similarity ends.  In Indigo, you have hexagonal tiles and only draw one at a time, however, in Tsuro, the tiles are square and you have a hand of three for as long as there are enough tiles available.  More importantly though, in Indigo, the object of the game is to navigate stones to your gate and collect them whereas in Tsuro each player has one stone must try to keep it on the board and be the “last man standing”.  We enjoyed the first game so much that we played it again with the winner of the first game coming joint last in the second, and Blue, who came fifth in the first game winning the second, meanwhile one person managed to remain the bridesmaid in both, coming second twice!

Tsuro

The last game was one we have played several times and were mostly very familiar with, Alhambra.  In this game, players can either collect money or buy tiles, however, while they can always overspend, if they pay the exact money, they get an extra turn.  The snag is that there are only so many of each type of tile and the player with the most of each type scores the most points.  The other challenge is placing tiles:  they must form an area unbroken by walls, on the other hand, the longest continuous wall scores lots of points. Playing with so many people really seemed to disrupt some of our plans and the end result was a run-away victory for White who was thirty-six points clear of Blue and Orange who were joint second (with sixty-seven).

Alhambra

Learning Outcome:  Sometimes if you win spectacularly on the first play you can lose the next just as dramatically.

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