Tag Archives: Alhambra

1st October 2013

As our first birthday is on October 2nd, we decided to make the evening a little bit of a celebration of the year.  The first game we played was our “Feature Game”, which this week was the most popular game that hasn’t been a “Feature Game” and that is Dobble.  So we started out with a couple of quick rounds while we waited for people to arrive.

Dobble

Next up we decided to play another relatively light and quick game, Indigo.  This is a really pretty abstract game, that is extremely easy to teach.  Basically, you have a hand of a single hexagonal tile, and on your turn you play it anywhere on the board that does not already have a tile.  If your tile has a extends the route of one of the coloured glass stones, you move that stone along the path.  The aim of the game is to navigate as many of the stones to your gates.  The clever part is that gates can be owned by one or two people depending on the number of players, so there is a nice interplay between helping yourself and teamwork.  The stones are also worth different numbers of points, so you need to balance the compromise between value and quantity.  The game was quite tight, however, Red managed to extend her unbeaten run with a draw with White.

Indigo

We couldn’t wait any longer and, decided it was time for Cake!  After a quick rendition of “Happy Birthday to Us”, we attacked the really rather excellent chocolate cake and Meeple Biscuits (kindly provided by Tessa Edwards).  Then it was time for the next game…

Cake!

…And that was Stimmt So!  This is a game that we’ve been on the brink of playing many times, but with the same basic mechanism as Alhambra, we’ve always ended up playing that instead.  Basically, on their turn, players can do one of two things:  buy shares, or collect money.  Shares can only be bought in the correct currency, however, and if players pay for them with exactly the right amount of money they get another turn otherwise they don’t get any change.  There are two scoring opportunities during the game, and one at the end, and players score for having the most shares in each market.  Blue was too busy shuffling to pay much attention to the rules, so started out just buying everything she could.  Meanwhile, Red and Green tried to carve out a strong position in the most lucrative companies.  At the first scoring round, Green lost out to Red and Blue (who had by now realised what she was supposed to be doing) held her own with a large number of holdings in the less valuable stocks.  By the second scoring Green was still struggling and the situation only got worse in the final round.  Points are given for the lowest value companies first where Blue had the majority and she romped ahead with Green picking up some of the second place points.  As the more lucrative shares were counted Red galloped round the board, but somehow Blue just maintained her lead.

Stimmt So!

The final game of the evening was an old favourite that we’ve played a few times before:   Die Speicherstadt.  This is a really fun auction game, that somehow doesn’t really feel like an auction game.  A number of cards are placed on the board and players have three meeples to bid with.  They take it in turns to choose which cards they would like to buy, by placing their meeples in rows above the cards they want.  The person who who placed their meeple above a card first gets the first refusal, however, it costs the same number of coins as there are meeples above the card.  Thus, placing first can be a good thing if you have enough money to back it up, but money is very scarce.  The cards could be contracts (that give points at the end if fulfilled), ships containing goods (that enable players to fulfil contracts), firemen (which help score points if there is a fire in the warehouse), merchants (which can sell goods for a better price), or buildings (which give points or occasionally money by some other means).  Blue made a pretty poor fist of it right from the word go paying far too much for the warehouse despite the fact that she had picked up a load of merchant cards in the first round.  White was very late getting contracts, but lost out in a scrap with Purple for firemen cards.  Purple ran out the clear winner with four fulfilled contracts to add to his fire points giving a total of 39 points – almost falling off the end of the scoring track!  White and Blue tied for second, but some way behind.

The Speicherstadt

We ended the evening with a little chat about the Spiel at Essen which some of us are thinking of going to this year, oh, and of course, some more of the really rather tasty cake!

Learning Outcome:  There is only one thing as bad as not going for firemen, and that’s going for firemen and losing.

25th June 2013

This week, we started off playing a slightly neglected old favourite, No Thanks!.  It seemed like ages since we played it last, but it turned out that it was less than two months ago that it last got an outing.  Since it is a quick card game where rounds take just a few minutes, it was ideal to play until everyone had arrived.  Next we, we played the “Feature Game”, Incan Gold, which is another game we’ve played previously.  In this game players are going down a mine and trying to get out with as many gems as possible before it collapses.  One player made a bit of a killing in the opening round, but she failed to hang onto the lead and was pipped by just two gems at the very end.

Incan Gold

It was a bit of an evening for games we’ve played previously, as next we played Alhambra (which was a “Feature Game” at the end of last year).  This is a tile laying game where players have to collect sets and score points for having the most in any one set.  Scoring takes place twice during the game and once at the end, and each time the number of points increases.  This time, Blue (who won last time), got a terrible run of the cards and Red who had missed it last time, had an amazing game winning by a very large margin.

Alhambra

Racing fish may not seem like an obvious choice for a game theme, but it turns out that it actually works really well.  We played Salmon Run just two weeks ago and although we enjoyed it, we were all a bit tired, so we decided to give it another go this week.  For variety, however, we changed almost all the boards, using  S2, 3M, 4E, 5E & F2.  This time, Black got going much quicker than everyone else and headed left followed by Red while White went right.  Black decided not to worry about fatigue cards and just run for it, while Red and White were more cautious.  Black’s tactics seemed to pay off, however, as he made it to the spawning pool first and nobody else could quite make it in time.

Salmon Run

Our final game game was Forbidden Desert which we also played last week, however it is a new release this year and it was a very close game last time, so we felt it deserved another outing.  This time we didn’t have a Water Carrier, but we managed to make good use of the tunnels and the Navigator’s ability to move other players three spaces for the cost of only one action.  These with the Archeologist’s ability to clear extra sand meant we ran out comfortable winners.  We’ll have to ramp up the difficulty next time!

Forbidden Desert

Learning Outcome:  Doing well the first time you play a game doesn’t mean you’ll do well the second time…

11th December 2012

This week, freezing fog, work and family commitments conspired to reduce our numbers to four, none of whom were there much before 8pm.  So we kicked off straight away with the “Feature Game”, Alhambra, which is a tile laying game where players are architects, competing to build the greatest palace.

With two new players, the realisation came slowly that leading in the early stages is not necessarily significant and a lot can change in the final scoring.  In the end, the game was really tight between three players with a surprising, small lead for the winner (who had no idea how it happened).

Alhambra

For some reason, Alhambra which should take less than an hour took nearly two, so we only managed the one other game, which was Thurn and Taxis.

This is a game that is often describes as “being a bit like Ticket to Ride“, however, in reality it’s nothing like it and probably has more in common with games like Elfenroads or Elfenland.  This game was probably best characterised by frustration with people waiting patiently for cards they wanted only to see them shuffled away just as they turned up.  This game was also quite close, but it was clear that acquiring high value tokens was the key which meant that having played the game before was a significant advantage.

Thurn and Taxis

Learning Outcome: Patience is a virtue, but having multiple strategies is more often rewarded…