It was a quiet night tonight with just the two games and not many more people. We started out with the Feature Game, 7 Wonders, which is a card drafting game. Basically, each player starts with a hand of cards and, simultaneously, each player chooses a card to play, a card to keep and then a passes the rest to the next player. The cards are played with various different aims, you might try to build up a set of city and erect an architectural wonder, or attempt to have a superior military presence to neighbouring players. The game consists of three rounds, the first and third passing cards to the left, with the middle round passing cards to the right. We’ve played this a couple of times before – the first time, there were seven of us and it was just completely disorganised chaos. Nobody had any idea of what was going on and changing direction in the second round just caused even more confusion; it seemed to last for ever. We played it again a few weeks later, this time with fewer and got through two games in the time it took the other half of the group to get through one. This time, with just three players, it went OK, but the conclusion was that it works best with four or five, three is too few, and seven is definitely too many! Green won, but Yellow’s comment, “I want to like it, but find it difficult to work out all the scoring combinations,” pretty much summed up everyone else’s view.
The second game was a new game that two players had played several years ago, Kaigan. It seemed that four years was “beyond living memory” as nobody could remember how to play and it took ages to work out the rules. The game is set in 1800 when, at fifty-five years of age, Tadataka Ino started his journey to make the first scale map of Japan’s coast (Kaigan) using modern surveying techniques. After twenty-one years, Ino had a beautiful 1:36000 scale map that remained the definitive map of Japan for over a century. In the game, the players oversee teams of surveyors and compete against each other to map the coast of Japan. Players generate income which they use to dispatch their surveyors around the island of Japan in an effort to map its different regions. Then they improve their artistic skills and develop relationships with local governments in an effort to contribute the most to mapping Japan, gaining the most honour thus winning the game.
The game consists of five rounds that represent the twenty-one years Ino took to map Japan. It didn’t take too long to play (certainly didn’t feel like twenty-one years!), but when we finished, we still felt as though we had played it wrong some-how. Purple bluntly said,”I didn’t like it then, and I don’t like it now,” while Yellow (who won) commented that he still didn’t really get it. Green who had not played it before opined that it was not one he’d particularly wanted to play again as he didn’t like the fact that he kept losing his action choices, however he thought it might play a bit differently a second time.
Learning Outcome: Sometimes, your first impression, really is the right one!