Tag Archives: Gheos

30th June 2015

Continuing the theme from last time, food was a priority, so we didn’t get started until well after eight o’clock.  We split into two groups, the first playing Steam Donkey again as it turned out that we had played it wrong two weeks ago. This card game involves building a seaside resort consisting of a four by three grid of attraction cards.  The idea is that players build the attractions from their cards in their hand, then take passengers from the station who visit their attractions, which they then take from their tableaux to become cards in their hand.  The more popular attractions get more passengers, thus yielding more cards.  Unfortunately, it turns out that on their turn, each player can do only one of these three actions instead of all of them!  It was still a tight game though, with Burgundy and Magenta drawing for first place on fifty-two points.  As, Magenta commented though, “Playing it right is better…”

Steam Donkey
– Image by boardGOATS

Meanwhile, Grey, Green, Cerise and Blue tried an older game, Gheos, which is new to the group.  When Cerise and Grey introduced it, Blue (who had played it a very long time ago) commented that all she could remember was that it was a bit like Carcassonne, but the tiles were triangular and it was a lot nastier.  In this game, players have three tiles in their hand and on their turn place one extending the play area, or replacing one of the existing tiles.  The tiles form land rivers which make islands (land comprising two small sections of land surrounded by water) and continents (larger areas of contiguous land).  Unlike Carcassonne, all the edges are the same so every tile can go anywhere, but some places are better than others of course.

Gheos
– Image by BGG contributor Gonzaga

When a player places a tile, if the continent has not already been settled, they can choose to place a settlement receiving followers equal to the total number of wheat sheaves shown on that continent.  If a player doesn’t start a new settlement, placing a tile allows the active player to recruit a single follower of their own choice.  Followers are important because they dictate how many points players get during scoring.  Everyone scores points when epoch tiles are drawn and each player has three cups tokens which they can play at the end of their turn triggering allowing them to score alone.  Epoch scoring gives players points equal to the number of pyramids on a continent multiplied by the number of followers they have for the tribe settled on that continent.  Cups tokens work in a similar way with points awarded for every follower multiplied by the number of cups on the continent, but only the active player gets to score these.

Gheos
– Image by BGG contributor Outside Lime

Since tiles can be replaced, rivers can be moved creating islands, and merging continents, creating war, causing migration and even leading to extinction (since islands are to small to sustain a tribe and continents can only support one tribe).  This is what makes the game nasty since a players’ followers are immediately lost.  The complexity of the rules associated with migration and war coupled with the different triggers for scoring meant that it took Blue and Green a while to get their heads round it.  Despite Cerise’s protestations, she showed them the way to score taking an early lead.  Grey’s experience showed in the latter stages, however, giving him the first place, eight points ahead of Blue in second.

Gheos
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor KSensei

Green had been desperate to play his new game, Fresco, so had agreed to play Gheos with Grey on the condition that he would play Fresco next.  This is a game where players are master painters working to restore a fresco in a Renaissance church.  Each round begins with players deciding what time they would like to wake up for the day. The earlier they wake up, the earlier they are in turn order, and the better options they get.  However, if they waking up early too often, the apprentices become unhappy and stop working as efficiently. Players then decide their actions for the turn, deploying their apprentice work force to the various tasks:  buying paint, mixing paint, working on the fresco, raising money to buy paint by painting portraits, and even going to to the opera to increase the apprentices’ happiness and inspire them. Points are scored mostly by painting the fresco, which requires specific combinations of paints.  For this reason, players must purchase and mix their paints carefully and beat the other players to the store to buy the pigments and fresco segments they would like to paint.

Fresco
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor Toynan

As a new game, that claimed to take an hour, it was clear it was not going to be quick, so Blue decided to help things along by reducing the number of players and joined the other group to play something shorter before Magenta had to leave.  Although Fresco  was not difficult to explain the other group had nearly finished their first game before play actually started.  With only three market stalls in the three player game and a possible three actions in each section for each player, the game very quickly fell into a routine where the earliest player went to the market to buy paint, with each assistant closing the stall afterwards. This left the other two players painting portraits for money and visiting the theatre to enhance their mood. This rotated around as the paint buying player completed retouching the fresco for tile points and thus pushing into the lead on the score track and moving down the order to choose when to get up.  This did not feel right and the consensus was that maybe the three player game was broken and it needed a fourth player to work. Nevertheless, in a game that nobody had played before, Cerise made it her own, winning by nearly twenty points.

Fresco
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor Toynan

Meanwhile, the other group were playing another new title, confusingly called The Game, which is a cooperative card game nominated for Spiel des Jahres this year.  In this game, players have a hand of five cards from a deck containing cards numbered two to ninety-nine and there are four piles: two starting at 100 and decreasing, two starting at one and increasing.  On their turn, players must play at least two cards and can play more as long as they obey the basic rules.  The cards can be played on any pile so long as it is lower in number than the top card of a decreasing pile or higher than the top card on the increasing pile.  Alternatively, if the card is exactly ten more or less than the the top card on the pile, the “backwards rule” can be invoked and the pile can be pushed back.  The aim of the game is to place all cards on the four piles and it is much more difficult than it seems.  The Game is often compared with Hanabi because it is a cooperative card game, however, the game play and the atmosphere it is played in are very different. In Hanabi, the best games are played in near silence where everyone is trying desperately not to give away any unintended information.  In The Game, players can say anything they like, so long as they don’t give away any specific number information.  This makes it much more chatty, though it took us a while to work out what was useful information and we only got about halfway through the deck before Magenta was unable to play a card.  Clearly one to try again to see if we can do better.

The Game
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor henk.rolleman

Fresco had only just started, so down to four players, Black Fleet came out for another outing.  This is a beautiful over-produced game that we played a few weeks ago, where each player has a merchant ship which they use to collect goods from one port and take to another port earning money.  However, each player also has a pirate ship which they can use to take goods from the merchants.  This also earns players money, but they must beware of the navy vessels which every player can manipulate to sink pirates and use to try to protect their merchants.   On their turn, the active player plays one card which moves both of their ships and one of the navy ships, during which, each ship may perform one action.  The idea of the game is that players can also play fortune cards which modify their actions and also use their money to buy  advancement cards which change the rules of the game, sometimes dramatically.

Black Fleet
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor The_Blue_Meeple

This time, Black got his nose in front buying the first advancement card, but it wasn’t long before Blue and Burgundy caught up.  While Purple was struggling to get anything and kept falling victim to everyone else, Blue moved into the lead with her very effective use of her False Colours and Secret Plans advancement combo (which together allowed her to swap her pirate with one of the navy ships and then earn four doubloons for attacking a merchant).  Burgundy pushed hard with his Delivery Bonus and judicious use of the Pirate Hideout (which allowed him to move his pirate more unpredictably), but could not get enough money to buy his last card leaving Blue to win.  Despite being the first to buy advancement cards, Black finished last as his cards felt relatively under-powered.  So maybe next time, now we all know how to play, we’ll try drafting the cards at the start.  That way there is less chance of one player getting more than their share of the best cards,

Black Fleet
– Image by BGG contributor lacxox

Fresco had finished first, and Green moved over to watch the last moves of Black Fleet, commenting sadly on how the game was broken with three players, which elicited the automatic response of, “Have you checked the rules?”  Whenever anyone online says a game is “broken” that is always the response and it often turns out that they weren’t playing right.  So despite his protestations that they had played correctly, while the last ships were being sunk, Green double checked and found what was wrong. Each player may have three assistants visit the market stalls, but they all visit the same stall and buy one tile, rather than buy one tile from each stall. Thus there will always be a stall open for each player.  This made a lot more sense and will really open the game up for those difficult decisions of timing and tasks. The rules check also brought to light an error in the way the bishop moves:  he was supposed to jump to the retouched or claimed tile each time rather than just staying put.  Although that was a much more minor mistake it was enough to make the choosing of tiles less interesting.  Another game to play again, and correctly this time!

Fresco
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor Toynan

Learning Outcome:  Games are better when played according to the rules…