Tag Archives: Endeavor: Age of Expansion

21st October 2021

The evening began with a little play-testing while people waited for their food to arrive.  The two-player game currently goes by the name of Brain Grabbers and, though simpler, has a mechanistic similarity to Sprawlopolis or Honshū.  The game was designed by one of Pink’s work colleagues, so Pink explained the rules, and then proceeded to lose, first to Blue, then to Pine, failing to take a single point to their combined total of fourteen.  The consensus was that it could be successful as a family-level game, but we weren’t fans of Cthulhu, so spent the next ten minutes coming up with exciting ways to re-theme it.

Sprawlopolis
– Image by boardGOATS

As people finished eating others began to arrive, though there was some question about whether Purple and Black would make it thanks to a serious accident on the A420.  We were discussing the treacherous nature of the A420 and its accident black spots when Purple and Black rocked up, and Purple surprised everyone by joining Green, Ivory and Burgundy to play  the “Feature Game“, Endeavor: Age of Sail with the extras from the new Age of Expansion.  Endeavor is a game we have played quite a bit over the years, initially in it’s original form and, more recently, in the new edition.  The expansion came out last year and, sadly, got lost in the mists of the endless “Roll and Write” games we were playing online.

Endeavor: Age of Expansion
– Image by boardGOATS

The original game is actually not terribly complicated and during play is almost completely luck-free—all the variation is in the set up.  The game is played over eight rounds, each consisting of four basic phases: Build, Populate, Payment and Action.  There are four technology tracks roughly corresponding to each phase, which dictate what a player can do during that phase.  For example, how far along the building track a player is dictates what they can build: the further along they are, the more buildings they have to choose from.

Endeavor: Age of Sail
– Image by boardGOATS

Similarly, a player who is further along the population (or culture) track, can move more people into their harbour for use in the Action phase.  Payment also increases the number of people available as it moves population markers from the action spaces into the harbour.  More importantly, however, it makes the action spaces available again for use later in the round.  The first phase consists of passing round the tray of buildings rather like a box of chocolates although in truth, at this point of the game players have very little choice.  Despite that, the decision is crucial to how players do.

Endeavor: Age of Sail
– Image by boardGOATS

After the Building phase, the second and third phases (Population and Payment) are more or less carried out simultaneously.  The guts of the game, however, is the Action phase, when players can place population markers on their buildings to activate them and carry out one of the five actions:  Colonise, Ship, Attack, Plunder Assets, and Pay Workers.  The actions are generally based round the central board which is divided up into seven regions representing the seven continents.  Each continent comprises several cities, a shipping route and a deck of cards.

Endeavor: Age of Sail
– Image by boardGOATS

At the start of the game there is a Trade token on each city and each shipping space, but also on many of the connections between cities (these are taken if a player occupies both cities either side).  Players cannot Colonise a city until they have a presence in a region, which they can do by Shipping.  In this case, they activate their building that provides the shipping action by placing one population marker on it, then place a second population marker on the shipping track.  Thus, players need to have two markers available to be able to Ship.

Endeavor: Age of Sail
– Image by boardGOATS

The second population marker is placed in the furthest unoccupied space from the deck of Asset cards in the region of their choice, and the player takes the Trade token on that space.  Most trade tokens add to one of the four technology tracks, though a small number provide one off actions instead.  Players also need two population markers to Colonise (one for the action and one to occupy the city) and three if they are going to attack an already occupied city (one is collateral damage).  Once a player has a presence in a region they can take an Asset card, so long as the number of the top card is not higher than the number of population markers that player has in the region.

Endeavor: Age of Sail
– Image by boardGOATS

After eight rounds, players add up scores for each track and for the cities they control and the player with the most points is the winner. The new Age of Expansion adds several new components that completely mix up the game.  First there is a completely new set of buildings, many of which have actions as well as boosting the players’ economies while others have more choice.  Similarly, the first, second and fifth cards in the region decks now have more powerful and unique cards.  These are now more desirable creating more competition for them.

Endeavor: Age of Expansion
– Image by boardGOATS

The new buildings also introduce three new concepts:  Trade, Fortify, and Conscription & Mobilisation.  Trade allows players to swap one Trade token from their play area with one on the central board, while Fortify allows players to increase the protection in a city they occupy causing others to lose an extra casualty should they decide to attack.  Conscription enables players to acquire extra population which can then only be Mobilised as part of an action that has been activated in the usual way (e.g. used as a casualty during an attack, or to Settle).

Endeavor: Age of Expansion
– Image by boardGOATS

Additionally, a single Prominence tile drawn at random can be added to the game.  These provide players with new ways to gain presence in a more-competitive Europe and each one provides difference benefits and ways to score.  This time the Prominence tile was “Changing Alliances” which allows players to set up an alliance, where players cannot attack each other within Europe, in exchange for points at the end of the game.

Endeavor: Age of Sail
– Image by boardGOATS

The game took a little while to set up, and although everyone had played it before, we needed a refresher of the rules and run down of the new expansions.  In addition to the new Age of Expansion updates, the group also included the Exploits from the original Age of Sail, the mini Charter Company buildings and two additional micro-expansions from Age of Expansion (Seize your Fate & Level 6 region cards), making it a mega-game.  Overall, it took about an hour for set-up and rules explanations.

Endeavor: Age of Sail - Charter Companies
– Image by boardGOATS

The Seize your Fate Expansion provides each player with a unique starting set-up.  Ivory was The Kingdom of France so started with a city in Europe; Purple was The Ottoman Empire, so started in the open sea of India; Green was The Kingdom of Spain so started with a city in South America; Burgundy was Great Britain and started in the open seas of North America and the Caribbean.  Coincidentally, each player was sat near the part of the board where their starting places were, so that set the stage for players’ strategies.

Endeavor: Age of Expansion
– Image by boardGOATS

Ivory quickly started taking cities in Europe and was open to a Prominence Alliance. Green was taking Fleets in Europe so joined him. No-one else wanted to form any alliances leaving Ivory to dominate Europe with and Green (to a lesser extent).  However, due to a rules malfunction, this was under the false impression that as part of the winning alliance they would score four points for each disc in the region when it was actually four points for each disc in the Alliance.  Since he was concentrating on becoming the power house in Europe Ivory left his Seize the Fate actions for much later in the game, and only expanded out of Europe to the Far East and later on Africa.

Endeavor: Age of Expansion
– Image by boardGOATS

He did however make good use of the Dutch East India Company exploit (once it was open) to upgrade his seaside buildings.  Meanwhile, Purple concentrated mostly on India and Africa, but suffered early on with not having enough population in her harbour or enough bricks to build better buildings.  The game was long though, and she managed to Seize her Fate (Round the Cape).  She also made use of the Dutch East India company in the latter rounds, and although scores weren’t calculated until the end of the game, she probably made up good ground with these latter stages.

Endeavor: Age of Expansion
– Image by boardGOATS

Elsewhere, Green was concentrating on the Caribbean, and making connections with his Fleets in Europe. He managed to amass a large population early on, but let it slip so that by the end of the game, Ivory and Burgundy had much more population to spare for attacks, even on fortified cities. Green kept an eye on Burgundy’s progress to keep a presence in South and North America. He was the first to Seize his Fate (Form the Great Armada) and used The Transit of Venus exploit, shipping up to Tahiti and using his money to increase his population.

Endeavor: Age of Expansion
– Image by boardGOATS

Burgundy concentrated on the America’s, and although he opened the Republic of the Pirates exploit, he never used it (and neither did Green who could also have done so). This was because he said he did not really understand it and it didn’t seem that useful. Which was a shame, as it meant the beautifully crafted big black plastic pirate ship didn’t make it onto the board. What Burgundy did do, however, was to make heavy use of Conscription buildings, which really helped him ship to almost everywhere.  Unfortunately for him, in the final round of the game there was no shipping left and he discovered that he didn’t have enough other actions to make use of the population he had.

Endeavor: Age of Expansion
– Image by boardGOATS

In the end, after a re-evaluation of the scores due to the Alliance misunderstanding, Ivory  was declared the winner with eighty-one.  Burgundy was the runner-up with seventy-three, three points ahead of Green in what turned out reasonably close game.  But what of all the expansions?  The exploits can always be relied on to add an interesting dynamic (with a couple of duds) and it is likely these will continue to feature.  The Charter companies seem to help in four and five-player games when Level five buildings have the potential to disappear quickly (especially with the Exploit we used this time), and apart from space around the board don’t intrude too much anyway.

Endeavor: Age of Expansion
– Image by boardGOATS

The Level six cards seem to be intended to be played with the Age of Expansion every time, as Slavery is Abolished on the Europe Level 6 card, whereas in the Age of Sail base game it is abolished on the Europe Level five card.  This time, none of the Level six cards actually got played.  Again, they don’t intrude, but give additional options, so are also worth playing with.  The benefits of the “Seize your Fate” was perhaps less clear. Having different starting positions certainly helped the start and gave players a steer as to strategy.  Remembering the actions were available was a problem and the extra scores were quite small (about four points for those who used them). Including this module would probably depend on the group.

Endeavor: Age of Expansion
– Image by boardGOATS

The new Conscription action seemed to open up more of the board, which counters a common complaint about the game, that in order to get a region open, players have to neglect a couple of other areas and can lose out if they made a start in them early in the game.  However, the danger seems to be in overusing Conscription.  In this game there was a lot of Fortification, and in many ways it seemed a little too much. The bonuses on the new cards were interesting and add variety to the main game, but the expansion certainly doesn’t make the Age of Sail options obsolete as they could be very valuable if a less competitive game was wanted.

Endeavor: Age of Expansion
– Image by boardGOATS

While Purple was exploring India and Africa, Black, Pine, Lime, Blue and Pink were exploring Japan with Tokaido. This is a highly tactical game, that straightens out the market mechanism at the heart of Glen More and makes it the centre of a set collecting game.  During the game, players are travelling from the ancient capital Kyoto, to Edo (now Tokyo) via the Tōkaidō road.  This was one of the five centrally administered routes, the Gokaidō, that connected the capital of Japan with the outer provinces during the Edo period (1603–1868).

Tokaido
– Image by boardGOATS

As players travel, they experience the wonders of Japan sampling food and scenery, talking to the colourful characters en route, buying souvenirs and giving thanks at the temples they pass.  The game board consists of a long track with locations marked—each location can only be visited by one player.  Players line up along the path and the player at the back goes first (in this case Pink).  They move their piece to an empty space and carry out the associated action, before the next player at the rear takes their turn.

Tokaido
– Image by boardGOATS

In each case, the primary decision is simple:  move to the space with the most interesting action to maximise points, or move to the first available space to get the most turns. In most cases, once that decision has been made, players simply take money or a card from the appropriate pile, the three panoramas, the hot springs, or Characters.  Panoramas and Hot Springs simply give points while Characters give other bonuses.  Stopping at a temple allows players to genuflect and pay tribute, while visiting a Village gives player the opportunity to buy souvenirs.  Both of these cost money, however.

Tokaido
– Image by boardGOATS

Money is really tight and there are few chances to get more, and an important source of points is sampling the varied food, but food can be expensive.  There are four stops to eat and players have to stop and wait at these.  The first person to arrive gets to choose their meal from a handful of cards—they do not have to buy food, if they choose not to or cannot afford it, but each meal is worth six points at the end of the game.  Food comes at different prices though, so arriving early means players get to choose a cheaper meal. Each meal a player takes must be different, however, so waiting to the end can end up being costly, either financially, or in points lost.

Tokaido
– Image by boardGOATS

At the end of the game, there are bonus points for almost everything:  the player who donated most to the temples, the player who spent the most on food, the player who completed each of the panoramas first, and the players who visited the most Hot Springs, met the most visitors and bought the most souvenirs.  The player with the most points at the end is deemed to have had the best journey and wins.

Tokaido
– Image by boardGOATS

Players start by choosing their character from a pair drawn at random.  Blue was Kinto, Lime was Hirotata, Pink was Zen-emon, Pine was Mitsukuni and Black was Umegae.  Each of these gave a special power, for example, picking Kinto meant Blue paid one Ryō less for food each time she stopped to eat.  Similarly, every time Lime stopped to pay tribute at a temple, he was able to donate an extra Ryō, taking it from the main supply scoring an extra point straight way, and putting him in pole position for picking up the ten point bonus for being the most devout.

Tokaido
– Image by boardGOATS

The special powers aren’t all financial though—Mitsukuni gives an extra point at the end of the game for every end-game bonus the player wins.  Most of them do involve money on some level though even if it is not directly.  Zen-emon’s special power, for example, activated when Pink visited a Village to buy souvenirs.  When buying souvenirs, the active player draws three souvenir cards and can choose to buy one, two or all three.  Whenever Pink bought one souvenir, Zen-emon enabled him to buy one souvenir for one Ryō (regardless of its marked price) and as many others as he wished at full price.

Tokaido
– Image by boardGOATS

Souvenirs are a great way to get points.  They come in different types and players are collecting mixed sets with the first card in a set being worth one point, but later being worth more—a full set gives sixteen points.  The special powers give players a steer as to which strategies might be beneficial.  To take advantage of Zen-emon’s special power, Pink needed to visit the Village as often as possible, however, there were two problems:  firstly, souvenirs are expensive, and secondly Pine kept getting there first.

Tokaido
– Image by boardGOATS

Pine got extremely lucky on his card draws when he visited the Villages too, picking up lots of cheap souvenirs and getting lots of points in return.  As if that wasn’t enough, Pine seemed to be able to harness his “inner Burgundy” and every time he visited the Hot Springs, he found monkeys and with them an extra point.  To rub salt in Pink’s wounds, he ran out of cash and found he couldn’t afford to eat, and thus he haemorrhaged points.

Tokaido
– Image by boardGOATS

Meanwhile, Black as Umegae, kept meeting people and every time he did so he gained an extra point and a Ryō.  This occasional top-up of cash meant he wasn’t as strapped as everyone else, but further, the New Encounter mini-expansion Cards were also included in the deck, and some of these are quite powerful.  Pine picked up Itamae, the especially powerful itinerant cook (who cooked him an extra meal for just one Ryō), but Black took Takuhatsuso, for example, the old priest who gave him four points in exchange for just one Ryō.

Tokaido
– Image by boardGOATS

As the players approached Edo, Pine was way out in front, though Black and Blue (thanks to spending a lot of time admiring the views) were not far behind.  There were a lot of points available from the bonuses though and it wasn’t a forgone conclusion by any means.  Lime took the ten point temple bonus, but it wasn’t really enough.  Black finished one point behind Blue, until the recount when Black finished one point ahead.  That was just enough to give Black second place, but Pine picked up enough bonuses and with the extras provided by Mitsukuni he finished seven points clear.

Tokaido
– Image by boardGOATS

Pine and Lime went for an early night, but Endeavor was still going so Black had to wait for Purple which meant a game of Azul with Blue and Pink.  We’ve played this a lot within the group, but having effectively had over a year off has rejuvenated many of our old favourites.  The series of games use a very simple, but very clever market mechanic where players take all the tiles of one colour from a market and put the rest into a the centre, or take all the tiles of one colour from the centre.  The three different games, Azul, Stained Glass of Sintra, and Summer Pavilion, all differ in what players do with the tiles once they’ve taken them.

Azul
– Image by boardGOATS

In the original Azul, as soon as they have taken the tiles, players add them to one of the rows on their player board.  At the end of the round, one tile in each full row is moved into their mosaic.  The game ends when one player completes two rows of their mosaic.  Players score points when they add tiles to their mosaic (one point for each tile in the row and column it forms), and receive bonuses for completed rows, columns and any completed sets in their mosaic.  The catch is that each feeder row can only contain one colour and and if there are left-overs when they add to it, these score negative points.  Further, each row in a player’s mosaic can only have one tile of each colour.

Azul
– Image by boardGOATS

And that was where Pink got caught, first with seven negative points taking him to zero and then a massive eleven negative points.  Black and Blue managed to avoid that pitfall though and the game was progressing well when suddenly, Blue brought it to an abrupt end by completing two rows.  Black failed to spot it was on the cards because Blue’s finished rows, were the second and third, rather than the easier first row.  Inevitably, having his game cut short stymied him somewhat, and Blue’s final score of a nice round hundred put her some way ahead of the others.

Azul
– Image by boardGOATS

Endeavor was coming to a close, but there was just time for one final quick game while they finished up.  The game the trio settled on was Coloretto, the cute chameleon collecting game that provides the core mechanism that underpins the better known game, Zooloretto.  This is really a really simple game:  on their turn, players either draw the top chameleon card from the deck and add it to a truck, or take a truck.  The aim of the game is to collect sets of one colour, but only the largest three sets give positive scores, while the others score negatively.  The clever part is the set scoring, which uses the Triangular Number Series.

Coloretto
– Image by boardGOATS

Each additional card in a set is worth one more than the last card added with the first worth a single point, but the card that completes the set is worth six points.  As usual, there was stiff competition for the multicoloured chameleon cards, but also for the bonus point cards.  Blue went from “Azul Hero” to “Coloretto Zero” picking up too many cards of in too many different colours early on.  It was closer between Pink and Black, though Pink’s large collection of orange cards made the difference giving him victory by eight points.  And with Endeavor finally packed away, the evening came to a close.

Coloretto
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning Outcome:  Don’t spend all your money in the souvenir shop – food is important too.

25th June 2019

It was lovely to see Burgundy back after his long lay-off, and the staff at The Jockey were thrilled to provide him with his ham, egg and chips once more.  While people finished eating there was a bit of chit chat, which extended into lots and lots of chit chat after people had finished eating.  Green explained that this was likely his last visit until September, while Lime commented that he had enjoyed Villagers so much last time that he’d bought a copy for himself.  He hadn’t realised that it had only just been released, and this led into a discussion about KickStarter and why people might be prepared to support a project months, possibly years in advance of its arrival.  This encouraged Ivory to show off his latest acquisition, Tiny Epic Mechs, a cool little game with meeples that can hold weapons or wear mech suits, and came with some KickStarter exclusive content.

Tiny Epic Mechs
– Image by boardGOATS

Eventually, after several attempts to get people playing games, Blue made an executive decision.  She split the group into a three and a four, with the four playing the “Feature Game”, Hook! and left the remaining three to sort themselves out.  Hook! is a very, very silly game where players are trying to place square cards over other cards, orienting them so that the holes pick out certain features and not others.  The game is played simultaneously, with each player first drawing a “target” card, taking a look at it and placing it in the middle.  Each player then chooses one of their three “aim” cards, each with a different arrangement of three holes, and places it over one of the target cards.

Hook!
– Image by boardGOATS

Cat-like, each player starts with nine lives, and, for every picture of their character that someone picks out with their aim card, they lose a life.  If they manage to hide behind a barrel or a crate, that protects them from cannon fire, but not from a grenade, which destroys all barrels and crates and causes everyone to lose a life.  Catching a “black pirate” in their sights allows the player to choose which of their opponents suffers.  Rum, on the other hand, helps to deaden the pain and restores a life, even bringing a pirate back from the brink of death if they lose their last life, but manage to take a swig of grog in the same round.  There are two aims to the game:  firstly, a player needs to survive till the end, and secondly finish with the most parrots—any target card where a parrot was visible through the sights is kept and the parrots added up at the end of the game.

Hook!
– Image by boardGOATS

The pirates come in three colours, red, blue and yellow, and two types (“sailors” and “captains”), with the colour distinction being much, much more obvious than the difference between sailors.  Thus, with the stress induced by the time pressure of the game, the potential for picking out a captain instead of a sailor is much larger than picking red instead of yellow for example.  This means that with more than three players, it is better to play with pairs of colours and team play is recommended.  Therefore, Blue and Lime played as one team, and Mulberry and Pine played as the other.  Pine commented, “I thought we didn’t do cooperative games,” which led to a discussion of what these were and the promise that one would be the “Feature Game” next time (probably Forbidden Island or maybe Flash Point: Fire Rescue).

Flash Point: Fire Rescue
– Image by BGG contributor aldoojeda

As the group played the first few rounds of Hook!, it quickly became apparent that Blue was more of a hazard to herself and her team-mate than the opposition, dropping several cannon balls on her foot and accidentally catching Lime a couple of times too.  Lime, it turned out, was quite good at catching parrots, while Mulberry and Pine had a bit of a thing for making Mojitos.  As it was the game’s first outing, it took a bit to get the hang of game play.  The idea that everyone looks at their card first and then plays meant that everyone ended up playing on their own cards.  We tried to fix this with a simultaneous count of three:  “Draw, One, Two, Three, Place!” but while that was more successful, it wasn’t perfect.

Hook!
– Image by boardGOATS

Playing again, we’d probably just skip the “preview target cards” phase and simultaneously place them in the middle without looking.  The vagaries of the game didn’t stop us having a ball though, as everyone attacked everyone in mad chaos.  Then Blue suddenly looked in real danger as her number of lives tumbled (mostly due to self-inflicted wounds).  Realising that she was at serious risk of an unscheduled visit to Davy Crockett and that Parrots aren’t known for hanging around corpses, she prioritised staying alive over parrots.  Before long, Pine was in a similarly precarious state, and he was not so lucky as Lime unceremoniously stabbed him in the back and dumped his body overboard.  As Pine’s parrots flew away, that left Mulberry with a titanic battle, the more-so as she was now also getting low on lives.

Hook!
– Image by boardGOATS

Although both Blue and Mulberry survived till the end, the winner was undoubtedly Lime who not only had more lives left than anyone else, but also had almost as many parrots as the other two put together, giving his team glorious victory.  With all the fight taken out of her and citing jet-lag, Mulberry was making noises about finding her bed, but Blue twisted her arm a little and she agreed to give Ticket to Ride: London a go before she left.  This is a cut-down version of the Spiel des Jahres winning, train game, Ticket to Ride.  This game has spawned a whole family of games and expansions, including maps of Europe, Asia, India and Africa, but the most recent are the two city specials, New York and London.

Ticket to Ride: Europe
– Image by boardGOATS

The game is very simple: on their turn, players can do one of three things, draw coloured travel cards, spend travel cards to place pieces on the board, or pick up tickets.  Points are scored for placing pieces (usually scored during the game) and for connecting the two places shown on the ticket cards (scored at the end of the game).  Any unfulfilled tickets score negative points.  Each of the variants has some other little feature, for example, Pennsylvania includes a stocks and shares element, Märklin includes passengers and Nederland includes bridge tolls that players have to pay.  The new city titles, have fewer trains (less than half), players draw two tickets instead of three, and, in the case of London, bonus points for connecting all the places in a district.

Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 4 – Nederland
– Image by boardGOATS

Only Blue had played this new version of the game before, but Pine had played other versions many times and Lime had also played one of them before, though it was a while ago and he wasn’t sure which it was.  The London game is really cute though and has a lot of UK references.  For example, for those of a certain vintage the box features John Steed and Mrs Peel, and the travel cards include yellow submarines and black cabs.  Perhaps the best though are the pieces where trains have been replaced with really high quality miniature Routemaster buses.  As ever, there have been lots of online criticisms, but we just liked spotting the obvious references and trying to guess what the orange car was meant to be (a Lamborghini Miura?).

Ticket to Ride: London
– Image by boardGOATS

Pine went first and started quickly by placing a couple of Routemasters.  Blue, Mulberry and Lime were a bit slower, building up their collection of cards.  With some versions of Ticket to Ride, the game is all about planning routes, gathering the necessary cards and then playing all these cards in quick succession so others don’t have a chance to block.  In other versions, this strategy doesn’t work so well as the key parts of the network are taken early in the game.  The shorter games, especially those with short routes tend to fall more into the latter camp, so Mulberry looked to be playing a dangerous game as she fell behind with the number of pieces she’d placed and amassed a huge pile of cards.

Ticket to Ride: London
– Image by boardGOATS

Pine, always one to play this game close to the wire, was the first to chance it with some tickets, drawing two and keeping one.  Then, he drew another two and kept one.  Lime and Mulberry were still working on their existing routes, but Blue decided to follow Pine’s example and drew two tickets, but kept both.  As Pine, pushed his luck once more, it turned out he’d pushed it too far this time, drawing two tickets that were almost impossible to complete.  Blue learning from Pine’s mistake (rather like last time she had played Ticket to Ride with Pine), decided not to draw any more tickets and instead, brought the game to a swift end by placing all but one of her remaining Routemasters to connect Piccadilly Circus to Baker Street.

Ticket to Ride: London
– Image by boardGOATS

Checking the scores proved that most people had managed to more or less keep on top of their scoring during the game and it was just tickets and district bonuses.  Inevitably, the bonuses were minimal, so as is common in this game, it was all about tickets.  Lime and Mulberry had both completed their tickets, so the question was whether drawing more had been a good bet for Blue and Pine.  Pine had more than Blue, but unfortunately, he’d failed to complete the last one, leaving Blue some way in front with forty-one points.  In the battle for second place, Pine had come off best demonstrating that drawing more tickets can be a good move, but only if you can complete them.

Ticket to Ride: London
– Image by boardGOATS

Meanwhile, on the next table, the trio of Burgundy, Green and Ivory had decided to give Endeavor: Age of Sail another outing.  Perhaps it was because Green wanted revenge for last time, or maybe Burgundy had missed out, or possibly it was just because Green wanted to play the game again while considering whether or not to commit to getting the new Age of Expansion buildings, but whatever the reason, out it came for the second time on the bounce.  The game is a simple game of exploration in the age of Captain Cook, played over eight rounds.  Players first build, then populate and remove workers from their buildings, all according to how far they have progressed along the associated technology track.

Endeavor: Age of Sail
– Image by boardGOATS

The guts of the game are the actions, however, which allow players to colonise cities on the central map board, engage in shipping, attack occupied cities, plunder and become slave masters. Last time, it was the “Feature Game”, specifically including the Exploits expansion.  The really change the game, giving players a different aspect to work on.  This time Exploits were included again, though different ones to last time: “The Sun Never Sets”, “Globalization”, and “Underground Railroad”.  Between them they covered most of the continents, requiring India & the Caribbean; the Far East & the Caribbean, and Africa & North America to be opened (respectively) for the three Exploits to take effect.

Endeavor: Age of Sail
– Image by boardGOATS

As before, Ivory started building a robust network of connected cities while Green once again used tried to use the Exploits as a target.  In contrast, Burgundy largely ignored the Exploits and played a traditional game concentrating on building up his technology tracks giving him a strong foundation from which to build in the colonies.   Playing with the new three-player map meant that all regions were opened up by the end of the game, though it was a bit late for Green to capitalise on the Exploits as he’d hoped.  Worse, Ivory’s city network meant he was able to sneak a hat-full of points from the “Sun Never Sets” and “Globalization” Exploits as well.

Endeavor: Age of Sail
– Image by boardGOATS

Ivory and Burgundy managed to build one of the Charter Company buildings from the mini expansion and, like Blue last time, both ended up with too many cards and had to choose what to cull.  This problem was exacerbated by the number of Governor cards they picked up.  As the game drew to a close, the last of the continents were opened up activating the final Exploit, but it was too late for anyone to occupy any of the stations on the Underground Railroad.  With the last round coming to an end, all that was left to count up the points.  Although it wasn’t actually a tie like last time, it was still a very close game.  This time, honours went to Burgundy who finished with seventy points,  just three more than Ivory who, in turn, was three ahead of Green.

Endeavor: Age of Sail
– Image by boardGOATS

As Endeavor was just coming to an end, so Blue, Pine and Lime looked round for something quick to play.  Ivory excitedly suggested that when they were finished everyone could play Bohnanza, but Pine vetoed that and in the meantime, Blue’s beady eye moved from Biblios to settle instead on No Thanks!.  This is an old favourite, but one that Lime had not been introduced to yet.  As a really quick game, both to teach and play, this was ideal.  Everyone starts with eleven red chips, and the first player turns over the top card in the deck (which runs from three to thirty-five).  They can then either take the card or pay one chip to pass the problem on to the next player who then has the same choice.

No Thanks!
– Image by boardGOATS

The clever part is the scoring—the winner is the player with the lowest total face value once the deck has been exhausted (offset by any remaining chips).  There is a catch though, if a player has continuous sequence of cards (e.g. seven, eight, nine, ten), they only count the first card (i.e. they score seven not thirty-four).  The real gamble comes because some of the cards are removed from the pile at the start of the game.  Lime started by collecting lots and lots chips, while Blue helped by pointing out some of the things to look out for.  Although having chips is a must, and having most chips gives control of the game, once one player runs out, that control is largely lost.  This is because any player with no chips is forced to take whatever comes along.  Lime finished with a massive ninety points with Pine some way behind, with Blue cruising to victory with forty-one.

No Thanks!
– Image by boardGOATS

Although Endeavor was now finished, they were still packing up, Lime was keen to give it another go while Pine insisted he wasn’t coached this time, so the trio squeezed in another quick round.  Lime tried the same trick, and hoarded lots of chips, again putting Pine under a lot of pressure as he ran out of chips.  He managed to keep his total down though by making a very fortuitous run, and ended with two points less than Lime.  This time, Blue concentrated more on her own game and was able to just hold on to enough chips to see out the deck, while avoiding picking up too many cards, giving her a second victory.  It was much closer in the battle for second place though, with Pine taking it by just two points.

No Thanks!
– Image by boardGOATS

With Endeavor finally over and packed away, Ivory (perhaps more boisterous than usual as it was exactly six months to Christmas), once again suggested Bohnanza.  Pine once again vetoed it, this time even more grumpily following the suggestion that we should all sing some festive hits to get us in the mood.  Blue diplomatically suggested 6 Nimmt! as an alternative as everyone loves it and Lime had not yet played that either.  6 Nimmt! is a great game that gives players the illusion of control right up until the point when it all goes horribly wrong.  The idea is that everyone has a hand of cards and simultaneously chooses one to play.

6 Nimmt!
– Image by boardGOATS

Starting with the card with the lowest face value, these cards are added to one of four rows, specifically the row with the highest value that is lower than the card played.  When a sixth card is added to the row, the five cards already on the table are taken and the new card restarts the row.  As well as a face value, each card has a number of Bulls’ Heads, most only one, but some as high as seven.  At the end of the game, the player with the fewest “nimmts” is the winner, with a special “wooden spoon” shout-out for the person whose plans went most awry landing them with a huge pile of bull.  As a group we usually play in two rounds, each with approximately half the deck (numbered one to a hundred and four).

6 Nimmt!
– Image by boardGOATS

Blue top-scored in the first round, with twenty-four nimmts, but everyone else had a far more respectable total and Green led the way with just two.  This is a game where everything can fall apart spectacularly in the second round, so there was everything to play for.  The second time round time, Lime beat Blue’s score from the first round taking twenty-five nimmts, giving him a total of thirty-two.  This was nothing compared to Pine though, who took thirty-five in the second round alone, giving him a a sizeable forty-eight.  Blue made a clear round, but for her the damage had already been done, so the honours fell to Green who was consistency itself, taking just three in the second round giving a total of five – the only one to finish in single figures.  Lime was keen to play again, but as others were leaving, it was time to pack up. There was still time for a long gossip though before we sadly said goodbye to Green after what was likely to be his last meeting until September.

6 Nimmt!
– Image by boardGOATS

Leaning Outcome:  You don’t have to play a game correctly to have fun.

11th June 2019

It was clear from the off that there were going to be two games, the “Feature Game” (the Exploits Expansion from Endeavor: Age of Sail) and something else.  That meant there were two things to establish, what the second game was going to be and who was going to play what. Red, on her first visit for ages, had brought the product of a recent successful KickStarter projectVillagers is a card game that has proven quite popular since fulfilment and Red thought the others would enjoy playing it.  Most people had played Endeavor and, although it is not usually a very long game, with the expansion there were a few people who ruled themselves out, ultimately making the groups relatively self-selecting.

Villagers
– Image by boardGOATS

There were two candidate games for the “alternative” table, but as Black pointed out, it was quite possible they would have time to play both if they got on with it, so they did.  The first game therefore was Villagers, a card-drafting and tableau building card game.  The idea is that players take it in turns to take villager cards from the “road”, then add them to their village tableau.  Different villager cards have different advantages; some give money at the end of the game, while others enable players to draw more cards from the road per round or place more cards in their village per round.

Villagers
– Image by boardGOATS

The clever part of the game are the conditions required before cards can be played.  For example, a Blacksmith cannot be added to a village unless there is a miner already present.  The cards are then played in a tree structure such that the Blacksmith is placed over the Miner card, superseding any icons depicted on it.  There are four types of card, basic villagers (the start of a tree), standard villagers (can only be played on other villager cards), solitary villagers (cards that are not played on other cards and do not support other cards, but are useful in their own right), and special cards that allow players to do special things and break all the rules.

Villagers
– Image by boardGOATS

The tree structure isn’t the only dependency players have to watch for when placing cards in their village; many villager cards, especially the more valuable ones, require a payment of two gold to another specific villager.  The required villager depends on the card, but it could, for example, be a Cooper.  The money then sits on that villager card until a scoring round.  Ideally, the Cooper would be in the player’s own village, so that the money ultimately remains theirs.  If nobody has a Cooper in their village though, the money goes to the bank.  The worst situation is where the active player does not have the necessary Cooper and someone else has one in their village, as then the money is given to the opponent,

Villagers
– Image by boardGOATS

There are two scoring rounds, one at the end, and one a third of the way through – only the simple “gold” scores in the latter, while the final scoring is more comprehensive and includes conditional scoring cards leading to potentially high scores.  So, some cards just give gold, while others give an amount of gold for, say, the number of food or cottage icons in the village.  The game started quite slowly as people struggled to get their heads round the requirements for playing villager cards.  It gradually became clear that increasing the number of cards drawn from the road per round by getting food is critical, an aspect Pine and Lime, failed to appreciate early on in the game.  Players can also get a bit stymied if they have high value cards, as they generally don’t then have anything else.  Thus, Pine’s village with with a jeweller and nothing much else was pretty useless as the Jeweller gives money (and quite a lot of it too), but only twice during the game.

Villagers
– Image by boardGOATS

The tree structure seemed to cause some frustration too, as it’s not helpful if one player has a Milkmaid and needs a Grazier (Pine, say) and the person next to them has a Grazier and needs a Milkmaid (not Pine, obviously…).  While everyone seemed to struggle, Purple just collected lots and lots of villager cards which she ultimately managed to add to her village giving her lots and lots of money totalling a score of seventy-one.  Pine, despite all his moaning about the poor quality of his village, came second with sixty-four.

Villagers
– Image by boardGOATS

As Endeavor was still underway, the group moved on to the alternative game, Bosk.  This was an “Expo Special”, picked up a couple of weeks back at the UK Games Expo at the NEC in Birmingham.  Bosk is an archaic term for a small wood or thicket and in the game, players spend the spring, carefully growing their trees, scoring points as hikers enjoy travelling the trails during the summer months.  When autumn comes, leaves fall in the ever-changing direction of the wind, guided to cover the terrain and other players’ leaves. Points are awarded in winter for the most coverage of each area in the park.  So the game is played in two parts, the first involves placing trees on the game board at the intersections of the grid (spring).

Bosk
– Image by boardGOATS

Each player has eight trees, each numbered one to four.  At the end of spring, each row and column on the board is scored with the player with the highest total in each row or column scoring two points and the player in second place in each case gets one point.  The player in last place at this point (in our case, Pine as everyone else was joint first), chooses where to place the wind guide and then chooses one of their number one tree to start shedding its leaves.  As it does so, the player chooses one of their “leaf cards” (numbered one to eight) to decide how many leaves it drops.  Little wooden leaf-eeples are then placed to form a path from one of the squares next to the tree in the direction wind is blowing, dropping as many leaves as given on the tile, after which, the tree is removed.

Bosk
– Image by boardGOATS

The wind blows eight times (twice in each of the four different directions), and in each case, the player who went last last time, goes first next time.  When paths cross, a leaf is placed on top of previously placed leaves, with a penalty of one leaf paid to the “bank”.  Players can also place a squirrel which means players cannot place anything on top, so much hilarity ensued when Pine commented, “I think I’m going to have to put my squirrel down,” to which someone on the next table asked, “Why? Is it ill?!?!”  When all the trees are gone, players count up the number of leaves in each of the scoring areas, with five points going to the player with the most leaves in a region, three points to the player with the second largest number of leaves in an area, and if a player is the only one with leaves in an area they get all eight points.

Bosk
– Image by boardGOATS

Bosk is really beautiful little game and plays quickly with a nice feel.  For a really very simple idea there is an awful lot of strategy to consider making it a really solid little game.  This was its first outing on a Tuesday, but it is certain it will get more.  This time round, Pine won with thirty-eight points, but he was only just ahead of Lime who finished with thirty-six.  As they packed up Pine commented that he might have screwed up the scoring or maybe he just did much better on his leaf strewing…  Meanwhile on the next table, Endeavor was just coming to an end as well.  Playing with the recent Commodore edition, this is another beautifully produced game, that has actually had a few outings in this version and the original edition.

Endeavor: Age of Sail
– Image by boardGOATS

The game is played over eight rounds, each consisting of four basic phases: Build, Populate, Payment and Action.  There are four technology tracks roughly corresponding to each phase, which dictate what a player can do during that phase.  For example, how far along the building track a player is dictates what they can build: the further along they are, the more buildings they have to choose from.  Similarly, a player who is further along the population (or culture) track, can move more people into their harbour for use in the Action phase.  Payment also increases the number of people available as it moves population markers from the action spaces into the harbour.  More importantly, however, it makes the action spaces available again for use later in the round.

Endeavor: Age of Sail
– Image by boardGOATS

The first phase consists of passing round the tray of buildings rather like a box of chocolates, but after that, the second and third phases are more or less carried out simultaneously.  The guts of the game, however, is the Action phase.  In this round, players can place population markers on their buildings to activate them and carry out one of the five actions:  Colonise, Ship, Attack, Plunder Assets, and Pay Workers.  These are generally based round the central board which is divided up into seven regions representing the seven continents.  Each continent comprises several cities, a shipping route and a deck of cards. At the start of the game there is a Trade token on each city and each shipping space, but also on many of the connections between cities (these are taken if a player occupies both cities either side).

Endeavor: Age of Sail
– Image by boardGOATS

Players cannot Colonise a city until they have a presence in a region, which they can do by Shipping.  In this case, they activate their building that provides the shipping action by placing one population marker on it, then place a second population marker on the shipping track.  Thus, players need to have two markers available to be able to Ship.  The second population marker is placed in the furthest unoccupied space from the deck of Asset cards in the region of their choice, and the player takes the Trade token on that space.  Most trade tokens add to one of the four technology tracks, though a small number provide one off actions instead.

Endeavor: Age of Sail
– Image by boardGOATS

Players also need two population markers to Colonise (one for the action and one to occupy the city) and three if they are going to attack an already occupied city (one is collateral damage).  Once a player has a presence in a region they can take an Asset card, so long as the number of the top card is not higher than the number of population markers that player has in the region.  This is one of the few areas where there has been a rule change between this edition and the first edition:  it used to be necessary for the shipping track to have been completely occupied (i.e. the region was “open”) before the Assets of a region could be plundered.  This rule changed with the new edition, and now players can plunder at will, as long as they have a presence in the region (they still cannot Colonise until the region is “open” however).

Endeavor: Age of Sail
– Image by boardGOATS

Essentially, that’s all there is to the game, but the rules are deceptively simple and, for a game with so very little randomness (only the layout of the Trade tokens on the map), there is a surprising amount of variability.  However, with the new interest in the game that came with the new edition, a new Expansion primarily comprising a new set of buildings is currently subject to a crowd funding campaign.  The new, Commodore edition came with a couple little extras though, Exploits and Charter Companies, and we wanted to try more of these before considering any new buildings. The Exploits are special conditions that only come into force when both of the regions involved are opened.  The idea is that three of these are drawn at random at the start of the game, however, we picked three that were not used last time we played on a Tuesday:  Spanish Main (North & South America); Manila Galleons (Far East & North America), and Spice Trade (Africa & India).

Endeavor: Age of Sail - Charter Companies
– Image by boardGOATS

This time, we additionally made the Charter Companies available for the first time.  These are special, powerful buildings that a player can build (instead of the usual buildings) as long as they have at least six of their population markers in the given region.  Green began by going for cards and targetted North America as it appeared on two of the Exploits and he thought everyone else would be keen to help him out.  Blue, who normally focusses on getting buildings first decided to try something a little different and instead went for Population in a very big way.  This meant she really struggled getting good buildings, but made up for it with lots of Asset cards.  In order to keep them, she had to focus on increasing her influence (the blue and white shields), but this meant she neglected both the building track and Colonising.  Black also missed the “building boat” and without the more powerful actions that come with the more advanced buildings, really struggled to make any headway.

Endeavor: Age of Sail
– Image by boardGOATS

Ivory had been a little sceptical about playing having played the original edition where the maps were not as “tight” making it less of a struggle.  This time it was clear that that was not going to be a problem.  Accelerating his Build ability meant that Ivory was able to take a Cartographer which gave him a double Ship action which he used to great effect getting a particularly strong presence in Africa, India and the Far East.  This was critical because with the exploit activated, players with one marker in the open sea space for Africa would score an extra point for each disk of his on the Africa shipping track.  Moreover, this scoring was also applied to India and the Far East, making very lucrative for him indeed.

Endeavor: Age of Sail
– Image by boardGOATS

Ivory was quite convinced that Blue had the game in the bag as she had a lot of points from her Asset cards, however, she knew she had a shortage of Colonies compared to everyone else.  As things hadn’t been going according to plan for Green, and nobody seemed to be targetting Asset cards in Europe, he resorted to Slavery so it seemed appropriate that he wasn’t quite in the running for the top spot.  Blue who was having a bit of a blonde day, recounted her scores three times, to convince herself that it was in fact a draw as she finished level with Ivory on sixty-nine points.  Although both Bosk and Endeavor finished at much the same time, it was too late to play anything else, and as the group settled their bills and packed up, someone pointed out that the next meeting is 25th June – exactly six month till Christmas.  And with that cheery thought, everyone went home.

Endeavor: Age of Sail
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning Outcome:  Some villages are very inbred.

UK Games Expo 2019 – Not as Hot as Last Year, but that’s a Good Thing…

Last weekend was the thirteenth UK Games Expo (sometimes known as UKGE, or simply Expo), the foremost games event.  Every year it grows bigger, and this was no exception. Historically, Expo is focused on gamers playing games rather than publishers selling new games, however, the exhibition aspect has been growing, and this year there were two halls full of vendors selling games and demoing wares.  Last year, there was an issue with the air conditioning on the Friday which, combined with the thousands of “hot water bottles” walking about looking at games, made it unbelievably hot.  This year, working facilities and a little more space made it much, much more pleasant, although Saturday was busier than ever!

UKGE 2019
– Image by boardGOATS

This year the hot games included Wingspan, copies of which were flying off the slightly wobbly shelves following it’s recent Kennerspiel des Jahres nominationFoothills, a two player Snowdonia game by UK designers Ben Bateson and Tony Boydell (designer of the original Snowdonia, Ivor the Engine and Guilds of London) was another extremely popular game.  Foothills is produced by Lookout Spiele, but there were sixty copies available from the designer’s Surprised Stare stand, which sold out in less than forty minutes (though there were a small number of copies to be had elsewhere for those that kept their eyes peeled).

Foothills
– Image by boardGOATS

Surprised Stare were also demoing Foothills and another Snowdonia-based game, Alubari, which is due for release later in the year (hopefully).  There was a new Ticket to Ride game available (London) as well as another instalment in the Catan series (Rise of the Inkas); the new expansion for Endeavor: Age of Sail was also available to see (coming to KickStarter later in June) and “old” favourites like Echidna Shuffle were there to be played and bought too.  There were some very good deals to be had from some of the third party sellers as well, including some of the Days of Wonder games for just £15.

Horticulture Master
– Image by boardGOATS

One of the reasons for attending conventions is the opportunity to see and play games that are not available elsewhere.  One example was Horticulture Master, a cute little Taiwanese game with beautiful artwork, which combined card collecting elements from Splendor with Tetris-like tile laying from games like Patchwork and Bärenpark.  Another cute little game was Titans of Quantitas from Gingerbread Games, a clever two player strategy game based round the old fashioned digital rendering of the number eighty-eight.  What really made this game special though was the fact that the stall was guarded by a fiberglass goat!  Not everything was quite as wholesome though, as one Games Master was thrown out and banned for life for including content in a role-playing game that allegedly involved sexual violence and played on the shock factor.  This is definitely the exception rather than the rule, however, and UK Games Expo is a great place for family and friends to spend a weekend.

UKGE 2019
– Image by boardGOATS