Author Archives: nannyGOAT

Spiel des Jahres Nominations 2022

The nominations for the three categories of Spiel des Jahres have been announced.  This is arguably the main award in board gaming and is the one everyone wants to win.  There are three categories, the Kinderspiel (children’s game) , the Kennerspiel (“expert’s” game) and the most desirable of all, the family award, the Spiel des Jahres.  The nominees for this year’s awards have been announced as:

In recent years, there has been an increasing tendency by the committee to reward games that challenge the conventional idea of a game.  This was certainly true with Last year’s winner, MicroMacro: Crime City, which is very different to traditional games and arguably is more a cooperative crime-solving activity using the medium of “Where’s Wally?“.  The “game” is played on a large monochrome map, with a deck of cards. The cards ask questions with the answers to the questions on the map. In turn, these lead the players to the solution to each of the sixteen cases.

– Image by BGG contributor Hipopotam

The Kennerspiel des Jahres award which honours slightly more challenging games, went to Paleo and the Kinderspiel des Jahres award winner was Dragomino, a children’s version of Kingdomino (which won the main prize in 2017).  Paleo is a co-operative campaign game, where players try to keep the human beings in their care alive while completing challenges.  With the games honoured by the main award becoming lighter over the years, we have found the Kennerpiel des Jahres is generally a better fit to our tastes.  However, campaign and legacy games are not well suited to groups where the people playing games are different from week to week, and many people don’t like cooperative games too, so it will be interesting how this award changes in coming years.

– Image by from spiel-des-jahres.de

 

Next Meeting, 17th May 2022

Our next meeting will be Tuesday 17th May 2022.  As usual, we will start playing shorter games from 7.30pm as people arrive, until 8pm when we will start something a little longer (table is booked from 6.30pm for those who would like to eat first).

This week, the “Feature Game” will be the Arts and Architecture expansion (rules, review & how-to-play video) to Tapestry (rules, review & how-to-play video).  We played Tapestry with the Plans and Ploys expansion a few weeks ago and it was enjoyed by everyone involved.

Tapestry
– Image by boardGOATS

And speaking of architects…

Jeff was working in a pub, as a barman, serving pints.  One day, an architect who was drinking at the bar had an idea. He issued a challenge to anyone in the pub to see who could design the best building in five minutes.

A cowboy accepted the challenge, so Jeff found some paper and pencils and handed them out.

Then, Jeff counted them down, saying “Three… Two… One… DRAW!”

And the cowboy shot the architect.

3rd May 2022

Like the last few games nights, this one started with Pink and Blue playing the deck-shedding game, Abandon All Artichokes.  This is a very simple game where players start with a deck of ten artichoke cards from which they draw a hand of five, then, on their turn, they take one card from the face up market, play as many cards as they can, before discarding their hand to their personal discard pile.  If, on drawing their new hand of five cards they have no artichokes, the game ends and they win.  In the first couple of games a few weeks back, Pink struggled somehow, and Blue won.

Abandon All Artichokes
– Image by boardGOATS

Then Pink got the hang of it, and won several games on the trot, but this time it was Blue’s turn to finally get back on terms, just before supper arrived.  They were just finishing when Black and Purple, and then Teal arrived.  Although it was still very early, it was a perfect opportunity to play the “Feature Game” as it was Moneybags, a quick little social deduction, filler game. The premise is similar to that of Ca$h ‘n Guns, where players are thieves dividing up the spoils from a robbery, stealing from each other and generally trying to deceive everyone so that they come out on top.

Moneybags
– Image by boardGOATS

In Moneybags, one player takes the role of the Godfather, divides the loot “evenly” amongst the players’ small hessian sacks.  Holding only the top of their sack, each player takes it in turns to Pass, Stick, or Rob another player.  Pass and Stick are simple actions (pass and remain in the game, pass and stick with the total in their sack so they can neither Rob nor be Robbed), but Rob is the interesting one.  The active player can Rob any other player that is still “in”, taking some or none of the loot from their sack.  The thief mustn’t be too greedy, however, as the victim can challenge—the protagonists compare their loot and the one with the largest stack loses, the winner takes all the loot and the loser is eliminated.

Moneybags
– Image by boardGOATS

After two turns round the table, the game ends with the Godfather (or arguably Godmother), taking their second turn.  The winner is the player with the most loot.  Moneybags can be played over three rounds, though like Saboteur it is probably best when one round is considered “the game” rather than playing in campaign mode.  Pink started as the Godfather and divvied up the money.  In addition to coins, there is also a Diamond in the loot; this is worth roughly ten coins. When comparing spoils, the coins are stacked with the Diamond placed on top so that the tallest stack loses when Robbed or wins at the end of the game.  The Diamond is comparatively light, so it adds a little bit of additional ambiguity to the proceedings.

Moneybags
– Image by boardGOATS

Pink, made a point of taking note of where the Diamond went and then stole it back later in the game giving him the first round, slightly ahead of Teal in second.  Lime arrived during towards the end of the game, so the rules were explained to him.  Then Ivory joined the party so Blue swapped out and gave him a quick summary as well, while Purple, as Godmother, divided up the spoils.  With a slightly better idea of how the game played, the second round went even better with more players Robbing and challenging each other.  As a result, the Diamond went round the table several times.  There was much hilarity as players tried to guess how much cash people had, and Pink showed his age when he commented that someone’s stash “chinked like a bus conductor’s money bag”.

Moneybags
– Image by boardGOATS

Once again, the Godparent finished with the Diamond, but Purple had very little cash to go with it and therefore only made third place.  This time the winner was Ivory, in a very, very tight finish, just ahead of Black.  It had been a lot of fun and although we could easily have played another round or two, we also wanted to play some longer games.  Moneybags fills a similar role to 6 Nimmt! though, so it will get another outing soon.  In the meantime, Viticulture (Essential Edition), Roll for the Galaxy, and Brass: Birmingham were all suggested for the next game, but Pink always loves playing Viticulture and Teal has been keen for a while, so Ivory took them off to play that while the others decided what to play.

Viticulture
– Image by boardGOATS

Viticulture is a worker placement game where players plant and harvest grapes, make them into wine and fulfill contracts to get points.  The first player to reach twenty points triggers the end of the game, and at the winner is the player with the most points at the end of that round.  Although Viticulture is not particularly novel or innovative, it is widely respected as one of the best worker placement games around, succeeding in being both smooth to play and relatively easy to learn, though it takes real skill to be good at it.  This time, everyone sold land to fund worker training; although we haven’t done this when we played previously, it would seem to be an accepted tactic in most games now.

Viticulture
– Image by boardGOATS

At the start of the game, players get choice of a couple of “Mama” and “Papa” cards (taking one of each)—these give people starting resources, workers, money, Visitor cards or a starting building.  Pink took a Trellis from his Mama card which meant he could just plant grapes that needed a Trellis and not worry about building any cultivation infrastructure.  The others prioritised money. Playing two worker cards at the same time (using the on-board bonus) was a popular.  Though it required care not to overrate the feature and wind up playing some slightly naff workers, when perhaps it might have been better to wait until the next round.

Viticulture
– Image by boardGOATS

The grey, extra-worker meeple was also popular, with players seemingly happy to be last in the turn order if that meant they got an extra “turn”.  Although everyone had played the game before (though Teal only online), there were some rules that needed “ironing out” as years of playing with the Tuscany expansion meant that Pink had forgotten many of the differences between that and the base game (Tuscany will get an outing as the “Feature Game” in a few weeks). The game was brought to an unexpected (and obviously skillful) conclusion by Teal, who finished the game just before Ivory and Pink had the chance to deploy their big scores.

Viticulture
– Image by boardGOATS

On the next table, Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest got a second outing, largely as Black and Lime had missed out last time, but also as Purple and Blue had enjoyed it.  This is also a fairly simple game to play, with a lot of depth.  Players start with the same hand of Character cards chosen from a larger deck.  This provides a lot of variability, while also ensuring that nobody has an advantage caused by random card draw.  The cards are numbered from one to forty, each with different actions—some daytime, some dusk, and some nighttime.  The idea is that everyone simultaneously chooses a card to play, then the cards are activated in ascending order during the day, descending order at dusk and simultaneously at night.

Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest
– Image by boardGOATS

Some of the cards can have a huge impact on other players’ games.  For example, the Brute causes the highest value card in play to be discarded, which means the player that played that card doesn’t get actions on that round.  In addition to night time actions, any players whose characters survive the day, also get to take some loot, if there is enough available of course.  Some of the loot is extremely valuable, some of it can be used to assassinate other Characters and and some can be more of a curse than an advantage.  As a result, rounds can go well or badly.

Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest
– Image by boardGOATS

The game is played over three voyages, lasting four, five and six days respectively.  At the end of each voyage, players bank their takings and are paid a small amount based on their reputation at the start of the next round, which then acts as their kitty.  This time, Blue had an appalling first round.  This meant she was some twenty to thirty doubloons behind the others from the start, but also meant that when when others threatened, she was able to point to her lack of funds and how she was “not the threat”.  In contrast, Lime took an early lead and therefore attracted a lot of hostility, missing a lot of turns as a result.

Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest
– Image by boardGOATS

By the start of the final voyage, Blue was still some way behind, but hadn’t given up, Purple was fighting to get to the front, Lime was getting a bit fed up of being picked on and Black knew he was likely to be next in line.  It was all to play for, especially as the final voyage is the longest so players have time to plan and work card combinations.  Blue managed an amazing final round and nearly made it in what was a very tight finish—she ended just two doubloons behind Lime and Black who tied with eighty-six.  Lime could have won outright if he had played his Captain in the final round, but as it was, Black’s Aristocrat left him third on the Reputation track, one place ahead of Lime, giving him victory on the tie-breaker.

Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest
– Image by boardGOATS

Remarkably, Viticulture had finished first, so after discussing and admiring Roll for the Galaxy and comparing it with Race for the Galaxy (which Teal was more familiar with), the trio squeezed in a quick game of Love Letter.  This is a super-quick micro card game played with just sixteen cards that celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.  When it was first released it was very innovative, but since has inspired a lot of similar games, it is still great in its own right, as a simple, quick filler though.  The idea is players are trying to finish with the highest ranking card, so on their turn, they take a card from the deck adding it to their hand, then play one of their two cards.

Love Letter
– Image by boardGOATS

Each card has a rank, but also an action that takes effect when played.  For example, these allow players to look at others’ cards, force others to discard their card, or make them compare cards with the lowest being eliminated.  The last player standing wins the round, the first to three is the winner of the game.  This time, Pink and Ivory got their revenge on Teal for ending Viticulture too soon.  Between them, they shared the five rounds, with Pink just taking the balance and with it, victory as Libertalia and the evening as a whole, came to an end.

Love Letter
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning Outcome:  There’s no such thing as honour amongst thieving gamers.

Boardgames in the News: Ten Years of Love Letter

This week, Love Letter celebrated its tenth anniversary.   Originally self-published by Seniji Kenai (of the Kanai Factory) and released at the Tokyo Game Market in 2012, the sixteen card micro-game has been a roaring success from the very start.  The game reached a much wider audience, however, after the designer Seniji Kanai literally gave the AEG owner John Zinser an “elevator pitch” when he demonstrated Love Letter to him during a ride in a lift. As a result, the game received a US release in later the same year and has since sold an more than three million copies copies worldwide.

Love Letter
– Image by boardGOATS

The secret of Love Letter is in its speed and simplicity:  on their turn, players draw a card and add it to their hand, then choose one of their two cards to play.  Each card is numbered, and the winner is the player left holding the highest value card at the end of the game, or the last person standing, if everyone has been eliminated.  The clever part are the actions, which work fit together well, creating a really tight game.  The actions are simple enough that they can be played as an introductory game with players just reading the cards and choosing one of the two options, but also works as a very quick filler for more experienced gamers.

Love Letter
– Image by boardGOATS

Since its release, Love Letter has been continuously in print with some thirty or more variants and special editions including Santa, Munchkin, Batman, Hobbit, Star Wars and Lovecraft themed versions.  Some of these have small rule changes, while others simply have alternative artwork.  There have also been games that develop the core mechanism like Infinity Gauntlet, Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace, Archer: Once You Go Blackmail… and the Lost Legacy series of games.

Love Letter
– Image by boardGOATS

To celebrate the tenth anniversary, Arclight, the Japanese publisher of Love Letter, is planning three new editions of the game:  a collection of all the variants; a version with alternate action cards that can be swapped in and out, and a campaign based story-driven edition of the game.

Next Meeting, 3rd May 2022

It’s back to Tuesday this week, so our next meeting will be TONIGHT, Tuesday 3rd May 2022.  As usual, we will start playing shorter games from 7.30pm as people arrive, until 8pm when we will start something a little longer (table is booked from 6.30pm for those who would like to eat first).

This week, the “Feature Game” will be the quick little social deduction game, Moneybags (rules overview, review & in play video).   We have chosen this as we don’t know who will be there, but since it is very short and plays lots of people it will give us lots of time to play something else (like Libertalia again, for example) .  In Moneybags (like in Ca$h ‘n Guns), players are thieves dividing up their spoils, robbing from each other and generally trying to deceive everyone so that they come out on top.

Moneybags
– Image by boardGOATS

And speaking of gangsters…

Jeff joined the mob and became the personal assistant to the Godfather. One day he received a text message from his boss. “I’ve been having problems with my wife. Please pull the plug and then call someone in to take care of the matter.”

Jeff was terrified, but knew better than to question the Godfather, so he dutifully carried out the command. He shot the boss’s wife, and then called in the clean up crew.

A short while later, Jeff received another message. “Stupid autocorrect.  I meant wifi.”

20th April 2022

Meeting for the first time on a Wednesday, Pink and then Blue were the first to arrive, and like last time, played a game of Abandon all Artichokes (with the Rhubarb mini-expansion) while they waited for food to arrive. This is a very quick and simple “deck shredding” game: on their turn the active player takes a card from the face up market, adds it to their hand and then plays as many cards as they can before they discard the rest and draw five new cards. If this new hand contains no Artichoke cards, the player wins.  Although it is very simple, it seems the function sequence is somehow challenging.  Pink struggled last time, but seemed to have got the better of it as he won.

Abandon All Artichokes
– Image by boardGOATS

As they were finishing, Pine turned up and, while Pink went to the bar, Blue explained the rules to him and then they played again.  Pine also struggled a bit with which pile was the discard pile and which the draw pile, and where to take cards from and where they were going to.  There is hope though as, despite the arrival of food in the middle, Pink won the second game too.  Pink and Blue were just finishing their supper when Purple and Black arrived, soon followed by Green, Lime and Ivory.

Abandon All Artichokes
– Image by boardGOATS

This week, the “Feature Game” was the new edition of Libertalia, Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest, a card driven game where players are admirals commanding a crew of sky pirates in search of adventure, treasure, and glory.  Pine had watched the advertised play-through video and professed it “looked” fun, so was keen to give it a go.  Ivory and Pink joined the party, while Green shouted across from the other end of the table that he would be happy either way as he knew nothing about it.  In the end, after considerable debate, Ivory, Pink and Pine were joined by Blue and Purple, leaving Green, Black and Lime to find something else to play.

Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest
– Image by boardGOATS

Although Blue had read the rules, she had very deliberately not looked at the character cards, so Pine arguably knew most about Winds of Galecrest.  It is a rejuvenated version of the older game, Libertalia, but with new, lighter artwork, additional characters and streamlining of some of the mechanisms.  Very simply, each player starts with a deck of forty cards, of which six are drawn into their hand.  The idea is that players have the same character cards to play, but can play them in different orders.  Thus, one player (in our case Pink) shuffles their forty numbered cards and then draws six, which the the others find in their numbered and sorted decks.

Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest
– Image by boardGOATS

The game is played over three voyages, the first of which takes four days, the second, five days, and the final voyage takes six days.  Each day, players simultaneously choose a card to play, which when revealed are laid out in numerical order on the island.  The are then played three times: first in ascending order (daytime), next in descending order (dusk) and finally simultaneous (night).  Some cards only have actions that activate in one or two of the time-frames, but any characters still on the island, move back to that player’s ship and stay there till the end of the voyage.  At the end of the voyage, players activate any loot and characters they have with end of voyage actions.  Despite that being pretty much all there is to the game (and it being written clearly on the board), the group still managed to make a bit of a meal of it.

Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest
– Image by boardGOATS

The first hand consisted of six relatively uninteresting cards (or so it seemed at the time), which all had daytime actions.  The first voyage, and to some extent the second too, players were feeling their way.  Because the group failed to remove the Character cards from their ships at the end of the first voyage, that skewed things somewhat, especially as some players had the First Mate in their ship which in some cases scored twice giving points for the number of characters in their ship which was also artificially inflated.  Ivory knew which cards he’d played and when, but others were unsure and some had built a strategy that relied on having certain Characters in their boat at the end of the second voyage.  So rather than trying to back-track, ships were emptied for the first time at the end of the second round.

Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest
– Image by boardGOATS

It took the group a bit of time to understand when the actions for the loot happened—most occur at the end of the voyage, but some occur on the day they are collected, during the dusk phase.  As a result, several players missed some of those dusk actions, the additional reputation gained from picking up a Barrel in particular.  At the beginning of the second round, Blue, Pine, Ivory and Pink agreed they were all playing the “obvious card”.  On revealing their cards they discovered they had differing ideas of what the obvious play was, which gave the first inkling that there was much more to the actions than had first appeared, but the players really got to grips with the planning aspects of the game in the final round.

Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest
– Image by boardGOATS

Ivory played his Carpenter, which reduced his funds by half, and immediately followed it with the Officer which increased his kitty to twelve doubloons.  Then, because he is always a threat, he was targeted by Pine and then Blue, losing first his Carpenter and then his Gambler from his ship (both give money at the end of the round).  Blue then assassinated Pink’s Carpenter and he took out her Gambler in revenge.  Pink discovered that the Saber type loot was much more dangerous than he gave it credit for as yet another of his Characters on the island bit the dust.  Meanwhile, Purple was building the contents of her treasure chest largely unmolested, mostly only suffering as collateral damage.  Pine also made killing by playing his Bodyguard with perfect timing, simultaneously taking lots of gold for discarding all the Sabers and Hooks from the loot pile, and starving everyone else of treasure.

Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest
– Image by boardGOATS

In the final accounting Blue was the most successful pirate, though she was one of the beneficiaries of the “rules malfunction” at the end of the second voyage.  Purple made an excellent second place though, picking up loads of gold from her loot while largely managing to avoid being caught in the cross-fire as the others attacked each other.  Libertalia is a much more vicious game than those we usually play, even though it was a “Calm” game and supposedly “easy and friendly”—Heaven only knows what Stormy will be like!  It was a lot of fun though, especially when the group started to get to grips with it properly during the final round.  It’s clear the game could cause a lot of relationship trouble, but that won’t stop it getting another outing soon.

Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest
– Image by boardGOATS

Meanwhile, on the next table things were much more peaceful with Green, Black and Lime laying carpets.  No-one felt up to anything too taxing or long tonight, so after reviewing the selection of games available Black suggested they play Marrakech, which certainly fitted the bill. Marrakech, is an unusual little game, with fantastic little rugs made of fabric and coins made out of wood, where players take the role of a rug salesman who tries to outwit the competition.  Each player starts with ten Dirhams and an equal number of carpets.  On their turn, players may rotate Assam ninety degrees, then roll the die and move him forward as many spaces as shown (up to four).

Marrakech
– Image by boardGOATS

If Assam lands on another player’s carpet, the active player must pay one Dirham per contiguous carpet square of that colour.  Finally, the active player then places one of their carpets orthogonally adjacent to Assam.  The winner is the player with the most money after the last carpet has been laid.  After a quick explanation to Lime (who hadn’t played it before), the group had to decide the Role of the Merchant.  On Board Game Arena, there are two options:  one where the player turns him himself before rolling the dice, and another where the player who just played gets to turn him at the end of their turn and before the next player.

Marrakech
– Image by boardGOATS

After a brief check of the rules, the group discovered that the first option was the original rule (move the merchant before rolling the dice) and so they went with that.  As a result it took several turns before anyone landed on anyone else’s carpet, then Black landed on a single square of Lime’s.   A couple more turns and landing on carpet became a regular activity.  When Green landed on a five square of Black’s, it became apparent that Lime had been labouring under a false understanding about what counted as a paying patch of carpet. He had thought that players have to pay for all the carpet squares connected, by any means including other people’s carpets, but of course only the patch that the Merchant is stood on counts.

Marrakech
– Image by boardGOATS

At various points in the game everyone had a large patch of carpet posing a hazard to the other players: Green had a large area in one corner, Black a large squarish patch in the middle, and Lime managed to get a zig-zag line from one corner all the way to the opposite one.  Mostly everyone managed to avoid landing on these until they were broken up, but that duck was broken when Green landed on a large Black area, shifting the coin balance heavily in Black’s favour.  At the end of the game carpet value was added to coins, and although Green had the most carpet showing, Black had significantly more coins than the others and finished as the winner by five points.

Marrakech
– Image by boardGOATS

Libertalia was still ongoing, and Marrakech had served as an excellent aperitif, but it was now it was time to move on to something more substantial, and the game of choice was Niagara. This is fantastic family game, that won the Spiel des Jahres Award in 2005, but is still a lot of fun seventeen years later.  The idea is that players have two canoes that they are using to navigate up and down the river while trying to collect gems and land them safely on shore.  Players simultaneously choose a paddle card from their hand, which dictates the distance their canoes travel.  Once everyone’s boat has travelled, the river moves and any canoes that are too close to the falls take the long drop and are turned to matchwood.

Niagara
– Image by boardGOATS

Players are trying to land five gems of the same type (or seven different colours) and the first to do so is the winner.  We last played this about nine months ago, online, through the medium of Board Game Arena.  On that occasion, Pink had betrayed everyone’s trust and stole several people’s precious loot.  The victims (in particular Burgundy), were vociferous in their grievance, and as a result, despite Pink being enthusiastic about playing again, nobody was keen to join him.  With Pink tied up in a quite different loot battle, this was a good opportunity to play again as it was still quite early and it was also an opportunity to introduce Lime to an old classic.

Niagara
– Image by boardGOATS

The first round played relatively gently and much the way it normally does with everyone holding their cloud paddle tile (which allows them to change the speed of the river) back for the last round.  Going into the second round however, Black and Green conspired to shake things up a notch. After putting a canoe onto the river, Black then moved the cloud from the plus one space it had been left on at the end of first round, to the plus two space. However, Green had also thought this was a bold move and had planned to do the same, but unfortunately, he had to move the cloud and as plus two is the maximum, the only direction to go from plus two was back to plus one.  The result was that everyone spent the rest of that round moving five steps forward and four back.

Niagara
– Image by boardGOATS

The highest cards were not enough to get players’ boats off the river and each time they just got dragged back again, with the landing stage forever out of reach.  Green tried to “go against the flow” using some lower cards earlier in the round and holding a bigger card for later, but apart from moving around on different river discs, the end result was still the same.  Everyone ended up on the same disc a couple of times too, and Lime was unfortunate when he lost one of his boats over the rapids.  At the beginning of the third round players got their boats off the river.  By this point, Black had managed to collect four different coloured gems and only needed that elusive pink. Green also had four gems, but that included two purple ones.  Lime had just two gems as he decided to trade one to get his second canoe back.

Niagara
– Image by boardGOATS

Black tried to inch down the river, sometimes choosing not to move a canoe in order to arrive at that last spot to collect his game winning pink gem. However Lime slowed the river down to minus one, and this left Black’s canoes in the wrong place.  In the meantime, Lime also collected another couple of gems and Green managed to pick up another two as well, one purple and one blue.  This left Green needing just one gem to win with seven (the fact that a pink would give him one of each did not matter—there is no double win in this game).  As the new round began, Green got on the river, collected the final purple gem and there was nothing the others could do to stop him landing it on his next turn.  And with that, the paddling was over with Green the victor.

Niagara
– Image by boardGOATS

Although it was not that late, Lime and Green left for their respective homes, leaving Black to watch the final few turns of Libertalia.  When that wound up, Ivory headed home and there was still time left for something short. While everyone else discussed the options, Pink went to the bar for a “tot” of Dead Man’s Fingers Rum.  In his absence, Bohnanza was eschewed as “not short” and 6 Nimmt! and Coloretto had both been played recently.  Saboteur doesn’t play so well with smaller numbers so in the end, the game chosen was Sushi Go!.  The first thing to do was to remove the promotional expansions for its big brother Sushi Go Party! (Sukeroku, Inari, Sake and Pickled Ginger; these can be played with the original version but other cards need to be removed), however the Soy Sauce promo cards included as usual.

Dear Man's Finger Rum
– Image by Pine

The game is really simple:  from their hand of cards, players simultaneously choose one to keep and pass the rest on before repeating until everyone has no cards.  At the end of the round the different cards are scored according to their individual characteristics.  After three rounds, puddings are evaluated and the winner is the player with the largest total number of points.  This time there was a serious shortage of puddings in the first round and Blue seemed to have more than her fair share.  It wasn’t clear whether it was because she was overly focused on deserts or whether it was just because she’s rubbish at the game, but her score was lower than everyone else except Pine.

Sushi Go!
– Image by boardGOATS

Pine made up for it in the second and third rounds.  In general, consistency is usually the winning factor in Sushi Go!, so Pink should have been in a good position, but both Black and Purple had a couple of really strong rounds, as indeed did Pine.  As a result, it was a really close game.  Pine was undone by the combination of his poor first round and the fact he was the only one with no puddings and lost six points as a result.  In contrast, Blue’s score was boosted by six points as she had a clear majority.  It was Purple and Black who were the ones to beat though, as they tied for the lead on thirty points and tied on the pudding tie break as well, so shared victory.

Sushi Go!
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning Outcome:  If you are looking for job security, don’t become a pirate.

Boardgames in the News: The Museum of Board Games in Newent (Again)

As reported last year, the small Gloucestershire market town of Newent, houses The Museum of Board Games, owned and curated by Tony Boydell (designer of Snowdonia, Ivor the Engine, Guilds of London and Scandaroon amongst other games).  The other day, the  former BBC and ITV news reporter, Anna Brees, popped in to chat and do a little filming…

– Video by Anna Brees

Next Meeting, 20th April 2022

The pub is closed on Tuesday this week, so for one week only, we are meeting on a Wednesday, so our next meeting will be on WEDNESDAY 20th April 2022.  As usual, we will start playing shorter games from 7.30pm as people arrive, until 8pm when we will start something a little longer (table is booked from 6.30pm for those who would like to eat first).

This week, the “Feature Game” will be the new edition of Libertalia, Winds of Galecrest (rules, review & how to play video).  In the Winds of Galecrest, players are admirals commanding a vast and varied crew of sky pirates in search of adventure, treasure, and glory. Each day the fleet lands on a different island where players send a crew member to collect the loot.  The player with the most loot after three voyages is the most successful Pirate, Arrrrr!

 Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest
– Image from stonemaiergames.com

And talking of voyages…

Jeff, was captaining a cruise-ship when they passed a desert island.  As they sailed closer it became clear that there was an old man with a long beard and an eye-patch dressed in rags waving his arms at them and jumping up and down.

“Captain,” asked one of the passengers, “Who is that man?”

“I have no idea,” replied Jeff, “But he goes crazy every year when we pass him.”

5th April 2022

Blue and Pink arrived first and, while they were waiting for their dinner, squeezed in a quick game of Abandon all Artichokes (with the Rhubarb Promo).  This is a very quick “deck shredding” game, where players are trying to get to the point where they draw a hand that contains no Artichoke cards.  The game is really simple:  on their turn the active player takes a card from the face up market, adds it to their hand and then plays as many cards as they can before they discard the rest and draw five new cards.  If this new hand contains no Artichoke cards, the player wins.  Despite its simplicity, Pink kept saying he was confused, so given it was such a short game, it was no surprise that Blue won, and just in time too, as their pizzas turned up.

Abandon All Artichokes
– Image by boardGOATS

They were just finishing eating when Purple and Black arrived, then Pine popped in to personally deliver his apologies, before Green, Ivory and Teal joined the party.  The “Feature Game” was the Prelude expansion for Terraforming Mars, which was last played in the group a little over two years ago.  Ivory shared his memories of that game which he felt he had been doing very nicely in thank-you until Burgundy chucked a meteorite in his direction and left him scrabbling for points at end of the game.  That game had been played with the Hellas map from the Hellas & Elysium expansion, this time though, for the first try with the Prelude expansion, the group decided that maybe it would be quicker just to stick with the one new change.

Terraforming Mars: Hellas & Elysium
– Image by boardGOATS

In Terraforming Mars, each person takes the role of a giant corporation initiating projects to make Mars habitable by raising the temperature, increasing the oxygen level, and expanding the ocean coverage.  The game is card driven and at the start of each round, players draw four cards, keeping as many as they like, but paying 3M€ per card. Players then take it in turns to take one or two actions from seven available: play a card; use a Standard Project; use an Action Card; convert eight plants into a greenery tile and raise the Oxygen Level; use eight Heat to raise the Temperature; claim a Milestone, and fund an Award.

Terraforming Mars
– Image by boardGOATS

At the end of the round, players simultaneously produce, turning any energy into heat, taking finance according to the combined total of their Terraforming Rating and their M€ production level, and finally receiving all other resources according to their production levels.  The game ends once all three Global Parameters are met: all of the Ocean Tiles have been placed, the Temperature has reached 8°C, and the Oxygen Level is at 14%. Teal, Ivory and Green all knew the game reasonably well so really only needed to discuss the integration of the Prelude expansion.  This provides Prelude corporation cards that jump start the terraforming process or boost the players’ corporation engines.  During setup, as well as corporation cards and their starting hand, players are dealt four Prelude cards, of which they keep two.

Terraforming Mars
– Image by boardGOATS

The group decided to not use the advanced cards as they wanted to go home before midnight, so during set up players were dealt one base game corporation card and one corporation card from the new ones that come with the Prelude expansion.  Teal went with the Prelude Cheung Shing, which gave him 3M€ production extra and a 2M€ discount on all building tag cards.  Green wanted to use the Prelude Corporation Card no matter what it was and ended up with Vitor. This would give him 3M€ back for every card that he played with positive points. He also had to fund an award for free as his first turn.  Ivory had chosen Saturn Systems and all his other cards round that.  It was only as they were about to mark out their starting benefits that he realised it was from the Advanced deck.

Terraforming Mars
– Image by boardGOATS

Rather than force Ivory to take his other card, the group gave him another two cards to choose from and this time he selected The Miners Guild, which gave him an extra steel production and five steel at the start of the game. Every time he gained a steel or titanium through building on Mars, his steel production would increase by another one too.  Although it was a good project, it did not fully suit the other cards he had selected, so Ivory started with something of a handicap.  If anyone in the group can cope with a handicap, it is Ivory however, as he regularly wins these more complex games.

Terraforming Mars
– Image by boardGOATS

The trio then went round the table revealing their chosen Prelude Cards that give players that extra kickstart.  Ivory chose Aquifer Turbines (an Ocean tile, two Energy production and -3M€) and Mohole (three Heat resources and three Heat production). Teal went for Umni Contractor (three Terraforming Steps and extra project card) and the Allied Bank (3M€ and 4M€ production).  Green chose Dome Farming (2M€ production and one Plant production) and Society Support (-1M€ production, one Energy, one Greenery and one Heat production).  At the start Teal went straight for city building with a Standard Project, while Green and Ivory were a little more traditional with paying for project cards.

Terraforming Mars: Prelude
– Image by boardGOATS

Generation One was short and Generation Two was equally as short as Teal bought a second city, which prompted Ivory to also build a Standard Project city in Generation Three.  Teal had placed his cities in a convenient triangle to maximise points from greenery tiles when they got laid, but later in the game (before all those forests could be planted), Ivory played the Urbanisation project and built another city right in the middle of Teal’s carefully constructed plan!  Despite this, it was only towards the latter part of the game did it become clearer who’s strategy was working out and who’s wasn’t.

Terraforming Mars: Prelude
– Image by boardGOATS

Ivory had been embracing his “inner Burgundy” and grumbled that he wasn’t getting any Green tag cards, yet Teal seemed to be building nothing but Green tag projects. Green joined the grumble adding that although he’d had some good ones at the beginning with microbe actions, these just weren’t fulfilling their purpose due to the lack of Green tags in his hand.  Black commented from the next table that was why he felt that Terraforming Mars really needs to be played with the drafting variant, where hands are drafted at the start of each turn.

Terraforming Mars
– Image by boardGOATS

The group had chosen not to do this as it strongly favours more experienced players.  As Teal felt he was relatively new to the game having only played the electronic version against AI opponents on Board Game Arena, he did not want to add in extra complexity.  Black certainly had a point though and it is something to consider for next time.  With all the cards laid out, Teal commented how it was quite different from the electronic version. Seeing everyone’s cards grow gave an element of satisfaction and wonder that was missing from the computer version—even the wobbling and waving Mars on the computer didn’t make up for it.

Terraforming Mars: Prelude
– Image by boardGOATS

As for the terraforming of Mars itself, the group completed the Oceans fairly quickly and Oxygen levels also rose at a reasonable rate.  It was just so cold for most of the game though!  So, in the end, it was a race to see who could heat up the planet the most.  Throughout the game everyone all remained close on the Terraforming score track, which meant everyone had all equally contributed to the improvement of Mars and the game would be won or lost in the bonus points.

Terraforming Mars
– Image by boardGOATS

The award for most Award points went to Ivory, as he came top in two of them.  There was a debate regarding the Award Green had funded at the beginning (Scientist). Green had won clearly with four science tags, but both Teal and Ivory had none.  The question was whether they should they score nothing because they hadn’t achieved anything, or whether they should get a second place tie (and as ties are friendly in this game, both would get the points).  Ivory managed to find a thread on Board Game Geek which resolved the issue:  the designer himself stated that second place is second place, even if nothing was done to achieve it.  So Green scored five, while Teal and Ivory both got two, and the free Award from the Prelude Corporation card, Vitor, scored Green a grand total of three points!

Terraforming Mars: Hellas & Elysium
– Image by boardGOATS

Teal managed to get two of Achievements and Ivory got the third with just points for the map left (one point for each forest and for each forest tile adjacent to a players city).  Teal’s early planning came good here, as he scored eighteen points in total, while Green and Ivory took only twelve and ten respectively.  Green had been playing those bonus point projects to good effect, but although he got nine points from them, Ivory and Teal still managed five and four each.  Adding everything up, Teal was the master Terraformer with a massive seventy-four points, eight ahead of Ivory in second—who knows what his score might have been without that starting handicap.

Terraforming Mars: Prelude
– Image by boardGOATS

There are several members of the group who aren’t so keen on Terraforming Mars and others who felt it would be too taxing on a night when their brain felt a bit fried.  So those members of the group looked around for something more relaxing to play.  Lime had said he would be there, and although he was unusually late, Black, Purple, Pink and Blue decided to play a quick game of Coloretto in case he had been delayed by traffic or other unforeseen circumstances. Coloretto is a super-simple, but clever little game that we’ve played a lot, so needs little explanation: on their turn players either draw a card from the deck and add it to a truck, or take a truck and add the coloured cards to their collection. The largest three sets of chameleon cards score positively, while the other score negatively.

Coloretto
– Image by boardGOATS

Despite having played Coloretto lots of times, we still needed to check what the Golden Joker did and how it differed from the normal multicoloured Joker. This led to a brief hiatus while Pink tried to read the minuscule text in the English Rules and Blue tried to translate from the original German rules. The conclusion verified later was that it acted as a Joker, but the player who took it also got an extra card drawn from the top of the deck—this could be a good or a bad thing depending on how lucky they were. This time, Pink was ultimately the either the luckiest or perhaps the best player (the line is a fine one), with Blue the best of the rest—just.

Coloretto
– Image by boardGOATS

The foursome were just looking round for something else to play when Lime walked in wearing a suit having come straight from Reading.  His arrival altered the options as the foursome became five.  In the end, Pink persuaded everyone to play Modern Art as he was keen to play something that would make use of the recently rehoused coins he and Blue had brought back from Essen last time they went (now quite a while ago).  Modern Art is a much older game, dating from 1992, but it had been out of print for a while and we only played within the group for the first time a few months ago.  That had been a remarkably enjoyable experience though, and it definitely deserved a second outing.

Modern Art
– Image by boardGOATS

The game is simple enough to play, but difficult to play well.  The idea is that players take it in turns to auction off one of the Art cards from their hand:  if another player wins, the auctioneer gets the money, if the auctioneer wins, they pay the bank.  At the end of the round, the Art is evaluated according to the artist by determining who has the most artwork in players’ collections, with the most being the most sought-after and therefore the most valuable.  Players then sell these to the bank for the determined amount which gives them money to spend in the next round.

Modern Art
– Image by boardGOATS

The clever part (which is also the part that messes with people’s heads) is that in any given round, only Art by the three most popular artists is worth any money, however, the value depends on both the popularity in the current round and any previous rounds.  Thus, a painting might be worth £120,000 if it is by the most popular artist in all four rounds, but would be worthless if that artist was the fourth most popular in the final round.  As all the art is available for play, this is a potentially deterministic problem, however, players can try to control the game by avoiding playing some cards.

Modern Art
– Image by boardGOATS

After a strong first round, Blue began the second round well.  She took a couple of early, cheap Kaminskis followed by auctioning a couple of Kaminskis of her own.  This worked well, except that she didn’t have a fifth to trigger the end of the round and ensure they scored.  As Kaminski is the weakest artist in the tie-break and nobody else seemed keen to help her, she did not make the expected profit. Consequently, she went from having “cash to burn” to struggling, a problem exacerbated by a large winning bid on a Mondrian that didn’t come off.  Meanwhile, everyone else was making money from Blue’s mistakes.

Modern Art
– Image by boardGOATS

In addition to the unusual money allocation, different pieces of Art are auctioned in different ways:  some are sealed bids, while others are once round or highest bidder and others use a “double auction” where players sell two pieces at the same time.  The double auctions are curious affairs as, if the active player only has one artwork by the given artist (or chooses not to sell a second), they forfeit their turn as auctioneer and play skips on until another player takes up the mantle, selling one of their own together with the original piece.  This has several consequences: firstly, the new auctioneer takes all the profit, and secondly, any players between the first and second auctioneer miss a turn.

Modern Art
– Image by boardGOATS

This happened a couple of times as the group played out most rounds to the near maximum, especially as the game wore on—the final round had four Hicks, Ivorys and Okamotos before it came to an end meaning the tie breaker determined which would score.  It is an odd game and, not helped by a bit of “group think”, it was also quite a long game this time, though enjoyable, especially as it wasn’t obvious who was winning.  Black was obviously doing well, but then Lime also made a couple of good sales.  It was Pink, however who navigated the notoriously fickle art market most successfully though, finishing with £428,000, £26,000 more than Purple who took a strong second.

Modern Art
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning Outcome:  Mars has a Marmite Factor.

Boardgames in the News: National Board Game Day

Apparently, today, 11th April, is National Board Game Day.  National, in this context, means North American, but that hasn’t stopped people from the UK from celebrating it too—Zatu Games, for example, are offering freebies for orders placed today.  The fact that today is a work day, makes it less conducive to playing games than, say, International Tabletop Day, which is the first Saturday in JuneNational Card Playing Day is also celebrated in the US on 28th December, at a time of year when we in the UK often spend more time with the family.

Christmas Tree
– Image by boardGOATS

The winter weather during the holidays between Christmas and New Year means there is a focus on indoor activities, particularly board and card games (which are often festive gifts with this in mind), so we already share National Card Playing Day.  In addition to these, there is also International Games Day in November, an event originally designed to highlight the fact that modern libraries are about more than just books, and was started by the American Library Association (ALA) in collaboration with the Nordic Libraries “Nordic Game Day”.  Last year, this became International Games Week and this year is set to become International Games Month!

L.A.M.A.
– Image by boardGOATS

For most board gamer enthusiasts though, we don’t need a “Special Day”—every day is a “Game Day”.