Tag Archives: HexRoller

2nd March 2021 (Online)

Blue and Pink finished a difficult couple of weeks by missing out on their fish and chips, so after cooking their own tea (shock, horror!), they joined the chatter with Purple, Black and Pine.  Once everyone else had signed in, we started the “Feature Game” which was the first Hexpansion to HexRoller.  This is another “Roll and Write” style game, but a very abstract one, though based on hexagons (which are the bestagons, obviously).

HexRoller
– Image by boardGOATS

We played the base game before Christmas and, although it is a very simple little abstract game, it went down really well.  It’s not very clear why it was such a success, although it plays especially well “remotely” and with lots of people.  Burgundy also made a good point when he commented that although it was simple, it has meaningful decisions at every step.  The idea is that a handful of dice are thrown, and grouped according to the number rolled.

HexRoller
– Image by boardGOATS

Players then choose two of the numbers and write those numbers on their board the same number of times as it has been rolled. This means if four and six are chosen and they appear once and twice respectively, the player will write four down once and six twice.  The player sheets have a play area made of hexagons, some of which have numbers written on them.  Once a player has chosen a number, they start writing in a hexagon next to a number already on the board, with every subsequent number written next to the previous, making a chain.

HexRoller
– Image by boardGOATS

The scoring is a bit of a “point salad” with points for filling all seven hexagons in one of the coloured groups; for filling all the orange hexes in the central area; for connecting pairs of pre-printed numbers, and any left over, unused special actions.  Additionally, every round a player picks two numbers and one is written in a box in the top row in the bottom left corner with the other written in the bottom row—these also give points at the end of the game.  Explained like this, the game sounds extremely complex, however the scoring is outlined on the sheet and in practice, it is actually quite easy to play, though like Burgundy commented, there are meaningful decisions to be made at every step.

HexRoller
– Image by boardGOATS

The base HexRoller game comes with two different layouts with subtly different scoring schemes, to be played with slightly different numbers of dice.  Although the dice are coloured, the original game does not use these colours, however, that changed in the first Hexpansion, where, instead of just trying to obtain straight runs of numbers, players are trying to get straight runs in each of the four colours.  Additionally, where the base game has three special actions that can each be used once during the game, the first Hexpansion changes this slightly so that each one appears twice and players must use one in each of the six rounds.

HexRoller: Hexpansion 1
– Image by boardGOATS

Like the base HexRoller game, the first Hexpansion also comes with two layouts, with different starting number layouts and slight changes to the scoring.  The remarkable thing is how these two small tweaks make a substantial difference to the game play and the decisions players have to make during the game.  Like last time, we played both layouts, starting with side “A” and moving on to side “B”.  For the first one, everyone agreed that it wasn’t possible to connect more than one or two numbers.  Although everyone agreed that connecting more was possible on side “B”, there was a big debate between the rounds as to how many could actually be connected.  In the end, we gave up on the discussion and left people to prove their point during the game.

HexRoller: Hexpansion 1
– Image by boardGOATS

With only six rounds the game trots along quite quickly, and it wasn’t long before people were taking their shoes and socks off as they tried to work out their score.  As often seems to be the case, Ivory was the first up setting a target of eighty-one.  Also as often seems to be the case, it quickly became apparent that it was a target that was unlikely to be beaten though Pink thought he had a draw until he realised that he was out by ten.  In the end, Blue and Burgundy were the closest with seventy-six and seventy-three respectively.

HexRoller: Hexpansion 1
– Image by boardGOATS

The second game was even quicker, and again, Ivory was the first to post his score of eighty-two.  This time though, his target was quickly overcome with both Pink and Black scoring in the high eighties.  Green pitched in with what he thought was an unassailable round hundred, until he was disappointed by Blue who just beat him by three points.  There was a little chit-chat about how important all the little decisions were, and how misplacing a two had cost Pine sixteen points for example, then we moved on to deciding what to play next.

HexRoller
– Image by boardGOATS

Tiny Towns was an option, this time including the monuments, but even though HexRoller was a quick game, time was marching on.  As it has been a while since we last played Tiny Towns and we’d need to revise the rules, the preferred option was Railroad Ink, a game we have played a few times.  This would have been fine, except that Blue got all excited about playing with one of the mini-expansions that comes with the Deep Blue edition.  Having played with the River last time round, her beady little eyes lit upon the Lake expansion.

Railroad Ink: Deep Blue Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

The base game itself is quite straight forward:  Four white bespoke dice are rolled and players draw the four features in squares on their player areas.  All four must be drawn, and they must connect correctly to part of the pre-exisiting travel network, or added to a starting point on the edge of the board.  On three occasions during the game, players may also fill in a fifth space from one of the special actions each of which can be used once.  The game finished after seven rounds after which players score for the longest continuous sections of rail and road, for connecting entrances onto their board, for filling in the centre nine spaces and lose points for any “hanging ends”.

Railroad Ink: Deep Blue Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

The Lakes and Rivers expansions each add two optional blue dice that are rolled with the white dice.  While the Rivers add a sort of third route, the Lakes expansion adds another way to score points and connect route together.  There were some gaps in the rule book, so rather than spend a lot of time trying to find the correct rules online, we decided to “House Rule” them.  The rules say that Lake spaces do not have to connect to other spaces, but we played that any Lake dice that had road or rail segments had to be connected to a road/rail network.

Railroad Ink: Deep Blue Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

Any road or rail that ends at a pier on lake is deemed to be connected to all other roads attached to a pier on the same lake, making it easier to score points for connecting the together starting entrances.  They also give points in their own right as players score one point for each space occupied by their smallest lake.  Inevitably, therefore, most people started with the plan to create one large lake and connect their road and rail networks to it.  Of course, in practice, his turned out to be easier said than done.

Railroad Ink: Deep Blue Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

Firstly, using the Lake dice meant that board real-estate was quickly used up making it harder to accommodate the compulsory white dice.  After three rounds Burgundy commented that we were halfway through.  Green objected and it was then that we realised he was somehow a round ahead.  It’s possible that it was because Pink had moved some dice to make it simpler for someone else, only for Green to assume it was a different round.  So, there was a brief hiatus while he rectified things and grumbled about how he didn’t understand the rules.

Railroad Ink: Deep Blue Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

It wasn’t long before we had completed all six rounds of “nipples”, “plungers” and “suction pumps” (which is what some of the faces of the Lake dice looked like to us), and everyone tried to work out their score.  Ivory once again posted his score first, a very creditable fifty-eight, but he was immediately beaten by Green with sixty.  Pink out pointed Green with sixty-nine, but he was just pipped by Blue who top scored with seventy-one.

Railroad Ink: Deep Blue Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

Ivory took his leave and everyone else moved onto Board Game Arena and settled down to a game of No Thanks!.  This is an old favourite that has recently been ported to the platform and fills a similar niche for us as our old favourite, 6 Nimmt!, but works better with smaller numbers of players.  The game is just as simple though:  On their turn, players take the card in the centre or pay a chip to pass the problem on to the next person.  At the end of the game, the player cards score negative points, offset by any left-over chips.

No Thanks!
– Image by boardGOATS

There are two things that make the game special.  Firstly, anyone with an unbroken sequence of cards only counts the lowest when scoring.  This turns the game on it’s head as it means that a player with twenty-five and twenty-seven actually wants the card in between, where everyone else doesn’t giving them the opportunity to try to milk everyone else for chips.  Secondly, the deck is numbered from three to thirty five, but some of the cards have been removed at random.  This introduces a nice little bit of chance into the game, which just makes it special.

No Thanks! on Board Game Arena
– Image by boardGOATS

This time, Purple managed a very impressive final total of minus fifty-seven thanks to a gap between thirty-three and thirty-five meaning that both scored.  At the other end, Pine was the only one in single figures taking victory with a score of minus four.  Pine and Pink were ready for an early night, but were persuaded into playing another game before they left.  This time, it was all a lot closer and with a complete reversal of fortunes, this time Purple finished victorious with minus six, two points clear of Pine who took second place.

No Thanks!
– Image by boardGOATS

It was just as they left that the dreaded IT gremlins returned, this time with Green as the victim. While everyone else focussed on playing Coloretto, he tried all sorts of things to fix it to no avail.  Coloretto is another simple card game, this time where players take it in turns to either reveal a chameleon card and place it on a truck, or take a truck and add the chameleons to their collection.  At the end of the game players score points for each set they collect with the three largest sets giving positive points and the rest scoring negative points—the bigger the set, the more points it is worth, which is good for the biggest three sets, and not so good for the smaller ones.

Coloretto
– Image by boardGOATS

Purple did well with only three colours, a wild and a handful of bonus cards, earning herself second place ahead of Green and Black who tied for third.  As the only one collecting green cards at the start of the game and one of only two collecting blue cards, Blue had an advantage though.  She was able to put cards together safe in the knowledge that no-one else wanted them and that gave her a full set of blue cards and a winning total of thirty-one points.  By this time, Green had rebooted his router and sorted out his internet issues, but everyone had had enough and it was time for bed.

Coloretto on Board Game Arena
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning Outcome:  You usually score better if you concentrate when the rules are explained.

Next Meeting, 2nd March 2021 – Online!

Although the signs of spring approaching are clear, with the current stresses, people still need what social contact they can get, and board games are a great medium for that.  Despite the limitations of “remote gaming“, everyone feels it is important to stay in touch, so we are persisting with online meetings.  Therefore, our next meeting will be on Tuesday 2nd March 2021; we will gather from around 7.30pm, and start playing at 8pm.

This week, the “Feature Game” will be the first Hexpansion to HexRoller.  This is another “Roll and Write” style game, and this one is very abstract, though based on hexagons (which are the bestagons, obviously).  This game should be quite short, so will give time to play something else afterwards.

HexRoller: Hexpansion 1
– Image by boardGOATS

And talking about shapes…

When Little Jimmy came home from his first day at big school, his father Jeff, trying to be a good parent asked his son, what had happened.

Little Jimmy answered, “Well Dad, we had a geometry lesson today.”

His father responded, “That’s really interesting son, what did you learn?”

Jimmy looked a little uncomfortable for a moment and thought for a bit, but eventually replied, “We learnt πr2.”

Jeff looked at him and frowned, “Don’t be silly, everyone knows pies are round and it’s cakes that are square…”

Remote Gaming: Some Learning Outcomes

With the advent of Covid-19, boardGOATS, like many other groups were left with the choice of meeting online or not meeting at all.  So, like many other groups, boardGOATS chose to try to continue with meetings.  While some groups have struggled, dwindled, and eventually given up, so far, boardGOATS has managed to keep going with almost everyone still attending regularly.  We decided that we would put together this summary of some of the reasons we think we are still meeting, and a resource companion in case anyone else is in the same boat.

Setting up for online gaming
– Image by boardGOATS

The first, and by far the most important factor is that everyone has been extremely patient and very tolerant of the limitations.  Everyone is fundamentally appreciative of the interaction meeting online offers and have been amazingly understanding of the current issues.  This is essential.  Secondly, we meet once a fortnight:  boardGOATS meetings have always been alternate weeks, but this is actually quite key when meeting online.  If meetings are too frequent everyone can get very frustrated quite quickly, but too infrequent and people lose the routine.  As it is, fortnightly means everyone makes a date to make it happen as otherwise the next one would be a month away.

Noch Mal!
– Image by boardGOATS

Finally, there’s planning and organisation.  Having a plan is vital if things are to run smoothly, and smooth is essential to avoid people becoming frustrated.  The group has always had a “Feature Game“, because we’ve always been a group that takes ages to decide what to play; having a starting option helps us to get going a bit quicker.  With remote meetings, however, the “Feature Game” has become essential.  It is also important that someone takes the lead to teach if necessary, and keep things moving to stop games dragging, but also allows the all important banter to flow when possible as well.

Tsuro on Tabletop Simulator
– Image by boardGOATS

The group have broadly used three different approaches to remote gaming, all underpinned by Microsoft Teams.  This choice of platform is largely immaterial, but our decision was made early on because of possible security issues with alternatives and the hardware that some of the group were using.  Either way, this provides sound and, where required, visuals.  We always start the meeting early and then leave a place holder in front of the game camera so everyone knows which screen to pin in advance.  In our case we usually use a stuffed panda doing something humourous, but a game box would suffice too.

The three different approaches to remote gaming we have used have been:

  • A real-life game hosted at one location, shared through Teams.
    This works well, but really only for relatively simple games like Second Chance, HexRoller or Noch Mal!, though we’ve played Cartographers and Troyes Dice as well.  It turns out that “Roll and Write” type games work exceptionally well, but other games are possible too.  The most complicated game we’ve played using this method is Las Vegas/Las Vegas Royale, which is one of the group’s favourites, but this is right on the limit of what is possible.  The key is that players need to be able to see the whole game layout with all the information.  For this, the resolution of the camera is important, but also that of the screen used for displaying it at the other end.  Video compression by the platform feeding the data can also be an issue.  Lighting is absolutely critical too—good lighting makes all the difference.
    Main Advantage:  We’ve found this feels most like playing a “real” game.
    Main Disadvantages:  One person/location does most of the manipulation, and there is a  complexity limitation.
    Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale
  • A virtual game on Tabletop Simulator manipulated by a small number of people , shared with everyone else through Teams.
    Some people can’t install software on their computers and for others sand-box type environments like Tabletop Simulator are too complex.  Piping a virtual game through Teams is a sort of half-way house.  To make this work, the person “hosting” has to set the game up with the camera view set to “overhead” with everything in view, and leave it there.  Then they share this screen through their meeting platform (in our case, Microsoft Teams).  Again, this means there is a limit on the complexity of the game:  the most complex games we’ve played using this method are Camel Up and Finstere Flure (aka Fearsome Floors)These have worked quite well, but it’s a bit more impersonal and relies on a small number of people operating the Simulator to make the game work.  Downtime is a bit of an issue too for turn based games.  For these reasons, this has been the least popular method for our group.
    Main Advantage:  We can modify and play slightly more complex games to our own house-rules.
    Main Disadvantages:  People need to be comfortable with the software and there are limitations caused by the stability of the platform as well as there being a steep learning curve for those who are not used to playing computer games.
    Tsuro on Tabletop Simulator
  • An online game played on a website (e.g. Board Game Arena) with audio provided by Teams.
    These are great because they allow players to do things like draw cards from a shared deck and keep them hidden until they play them.  This is a fairly fundamental aspect of many games and enables games like Saboteur which would not otherwise be possible.  There is a limited range of games available though, and there is no scope for modifying the game either (adding extra players or altering the end-game conditions, for example).  On the other hand, the software does a lot of the up-keep and can make even quite advanced things possible.  For example, without Board Game Arena to do the maths, we would never have discovered the delightful madness that is the “Professional Variant” of 6 Nimmt! (which recently won the 2020 Golden GOAT at our annual GOAT Awards).   It does feel very much like playing a computer game though.
    Main Advantages:  Very low maintenance and higher complexity games are possible including those with “hidden information”.
    Main Disadvantages:  Everyone needs to have an account on the platform and a device, and the games are restricted to those that are available and the rules as implemented, in particular, player counts.
    Saboteur on Board Game Arena

 

Each of the different modes has their limitations, but we’ve found that by mixing them up we avoid getting fed up with any specific issue.

One of the biggest challenges boardGOATS has is that we have been playing as a group of up to ten.  This is because we are all friends, even though many of us only know each other through the fortnightly meetings.  If the group were to break into two or more parts it would likely be along the lines of game “weight”, which would mean some people would never play together and it could be divisive.  This only works because those who prefer more complex games are extremely patient and understanding.  Ultimately, as a group, we feel the social aspect is the most important thing at the moment, much more important than the quality of the gaming.  We’ll definitely make sure we play lots of more complex games when we finally return to our beloved Horse and Jockey though.

The Horse and Jockey
– Image by boardGOATS

24th Movember 2020 (Online)

As people signed in, Blue, Pink and Burgundy shared some feelings about the “Feature Game” which was to be Troyes Dice.  This is back to the “Roll and Write” style games and is a very recent release, based on the well regarded game Troyes (a game about a medieval city, the name of which is pronounced a bit like “trois”, the French for the number “three”).  When Pine joined the group he made his feelings known about the awful joke at the bottom of the reminder page, and said it was old when he was at school back in the middle ages…

Rue Émile Zola in Troyes
– Adapted from image by Zairon on wikimedia.org

Troyes Dice is a planning and resource management game with an interesting rondel mechanism at its heart.  Although the fundamentals are not overly complex, the number of options players have make the game very challenging.  The game is played over eight days, each with a morning and afternoon phase.  At the start of each phase, four dice are rolled and placed on the four available coloured plazas.  The clear dice then adopt the colour of the plaza they are placed on, while the black die “destroys” its plaza making it unavailable.

Troyes Dice
– Image by boardGOATS

Players then choose one of the coloured dice to use, and pay the associated cost shown in the centre of the dial.  Dice bought in this way can be used to buy resources or to construct a building of the same colour and number.  Buildings come in two types: Worker buildings which ultimately give points and Prestige buildings which provide special effects.  There are three colours red, yellow and white representing the Noble, Civil and Religious districts respectively, and there are different resources and special effects associated with the different districts.

Troyes Dice
– Image by boardGOATS

Although this is fairly straight forward, the number of options players have and the interplay between them make the game one of the most complex that we have played since the group has been forced to play online.  All the Worker buildings get players workers which equate to points at the end of the game.  However, more points are available to players that build Cathedrals (Religious Prestige buildings) as Cathedrals give points to players for building other buildings.

Troyes Dice
– Image by boardGOATS

So, a player who has built the left-most Cathedral (i.e. number one) will get points for the number of Noble Prestige buildings they have built.  The amount of points each one of these is worth depends on when the player builds that particular building:  if it is the first or second, they will be worth just one point, but if it is built later in the game and is the fifth or sixth, each Noble Prestige building will be worth three points.  Thus a player who builds all six buildings of one type and then manages to build the associated Cathedral will score six, twelve, or eighteen points depending on when the Cathedral was built.  So timing is critical.

Troyes Dice
– Image by boardGOATS

The Civic Prestige buildings give players resources depending on the number of dice of the relevant colour currently available.  Resources are essential.  Money (the Civic Resource) is essential for buying dice and the higher value dice cost more.  The other two resources, red pennants and white bibles are useful because they allow players to alter the number of the die to be used, or its colour.  This is adds hugely to the number of possible options available.

Troyes Dice
– Image by boardGOATS

The third set of Prestige buildings in the red, Noble district, is the most difficult to understand.  Building one of these protects all the buildings of the same number from the black die.  From the third round, the black die not only makes its plaza unavailable, but also makes any buildings of that colour and number that have not yet been built, unbuildable for the rest of the game.  If a player builds, say, the sixth Noble (red) Prestige building, that means that any subsequent black sixes rolled will have no  effect on that player.

Troyes Dice
– Image by boardGOATS

There are a number of obvious strategies that arise.  For example, to get the maximum protection, Noble Prestige buildings should be built as early as possible.  In contrast, since the Religious Prestige buildings that are built later give more points, trying to build some other scoring buildings first is a good idea.  This is risky though, as failing to build the target building will score nothing.  Although the rules are quite complex, in practice they are not as bad as they may seem at first.  Simply put, players choose one of the three available dice and use it to collect resources or build a building in one of the three districts.

Troyes Dice
– Image by boardGOATS

It is dealing with the number of options available that is the real challenge though.  There are only three active dice, but using a combination of pennants and bibles, the numbers and colours of the dice can be changed to almost anything people want, which gives lots to think about.  That said, even this is not as difficult as it seems at first because resources are valuable so unless the action is mission critical, most options will rule themselves out as they are too expensive.

Troyes Dice
– Image by boardGOATS

First time through though, the number of options can seem bewildering and planning a strategy can seem daunting.  That said, for the first couple of rounds, Blue and Pink talked through the options people had available and almost everyone did the same thing, starting by building protective fortresses because these were good value and early in the game seemed to give the best chance to use them.

Troyes Dice
– Image by boardGOATS

Playing games remotely can be a bit of a solitaire experience and it is generally very hard to follow what others are doing.  As a result, players often take more information from throw-away comments than they would usually do.  From this, Green seemed to think that he and Burgundy were following very similar strategies.  The game is also a slow burner, and Ivory repeatedly commented that he couldn’t see where he was going to get any points from.  This unsettled Pine, because this sort of game is usually meat and drink to Ivory, so if he was struggling, that meant Pine felt doomed.

Troyes Dice
– Image by boardGOATS

About half-way through, Black and Purple went silent and didn’t respond when people asked if they were OK.  Someone pointed out to them that their microphone was on mute, but there was still no reply and even text messages didn’t get a response.  Eventually they rejoined the group and Purple got a bit of a telling off for muting the mike, though she was adamant it wasn’t her fault.

Troyes Dice
– Image by boardGOATS

There are only eight days, or sixteen rounds in the game, so it didn’t last over-long.  It wasn’t long before players were adding up their scores and Ivory was finding that he had more points than he’d thought.  It wasn’t surprising that Pink top-scored with Blue in second place, as they had both played it it before.  What was more surprising was how close together everyone else was.  Ivory was a very close third with forty-four and Green was just two points behind him, but everyone else was within ten points of Blue too.

Troyes Dice
– Image by boardGOATS

With that done, it was definitely time for something lighter. We haven’t played Noch Mal! (aka Encore!, or Boardgamers Bingo as some of the group call it) for a while and since we have some new player boards, we thought we’d give it another outing.  The idea of the game is that six dice are rolled, three showing numbers one to five and a question mark, and three showing five different colours and a cross.  The active player chooses one colour die and one number die to use and everyone else gets to pick one of each of those that remain.

Noch Mal!
– Image by boardGOATS

Players use their dice to cross of blocks on their player boards with players scoring points for completing columns and for crossing all of one colour off.  The question marks and crosses are wild, but players can only use total of eight during the whole game—any that remain unused by the end of the game score a point.  Players also score negative points for any stars that have not been crossed by the time one player has completed all of two colours and brings proceedings to a close.

Noch Mal!
– Image by boardGOATS

In this game, the first target is to end with a positive score.  The first time we played, everyone really struggled with that, but more recently people seem to have got the hang of things a little.  We decided to play Zusatzblock I, which is a pink colour.  This time, although it was not obvious why, playing with the new board seemed to really upset things.  For some, it was clear that the pink background messed up their ability to see the difference the colours (we dealt with people’s difficulty distinguishing colours on camera by placing the coloured dice on a home-made, quickly-cobbled-together play mat).

Noch Mal!
– Image by boardGOATS

Pine in particular really struggled with the colours and got his plans completely screwed up when he confused orange with red.  Others did not have that excuse though, and many still failed to get a positive result.  In a remarkably low scoring game thanks to the game “finishing early”, Green looked to have it with a score of just eight.  That was until Pink, who had triggered the end of the game as part of his plan, announced he’d managed a massive ten points and took his second victory of the night.

Noch Mal!
– Image by boardGOATS

Time was marching on, but HexRoller had gone down really well last time and was almost over before it had begun, so the group decided to give it another go.  This is a completely abstract game where players write numbers rolled to write on a grid.  There are eight dice rolled each round and players choose two of the numbers rolled and write them on their grid the number of times they appear.  Numbers must be written in spaces adjacent to numbers (of the same value) that already appear on the board.

HexRoller
– Image by boardGOATS

Points are scored for filling the coloured regions, connecting the two preprinted numbers, for not using the special actions etc..  Although it is not very easy to understand from the description, it is actually quite easy to play, so much so, that Pine, who had missed out last time picked it up really quickly.  Also, as the game is played over just seven or eight rounds (depending on the board used), so doesn’t really have time to outstay its welcome.

HexRoller
– Image by boardGOATS

Despite its simplicity, Black managed to make a meal of it and somehow missed out a number.  Although everyone else really enjoyed the game last time, it seems it is not his favourite.  Pink tried to claim a “moral score” of fifty-four because he only needed one more number to fill one of his coloured areas, but nobody else was buying into that.  It wouldn’t have been enough for him to win his third game of the night though, as victory went to Burgundy who finished with sixty-three points.

HexRoller
– Image by Burgundy

Everyone was feeling a little jaded so we decided to play just one more game, our old favourite, 6 Nimmt! (on Board Game Arena).  This pops up almost every games night, and after the new-lease of life given to it by the “Professional” variant, we thought we’d give the “Tactical” variant a go.  The idea of the game is that players start with a hand of ten cards and simultaneously choose one to play.  Starting with the lowest card played, these are then added to the end of one of the four rows of cards (in the case of the “Professional” variant, to either end).

6 Nimmt! on Board Game Arena
– Image by boardGOATS from boardgamearena.com

When a player’s card is the sixth card added to a row, the player takes the other five into their scoring pile.  Normally, the cards have a face value between one and a hundred and four, with typically around half in play in any given round.  This means that if a row has three cards in it and ends with a eighteen, playing the nineteen is guaranteed to be safe.  Playing higher numbers, say low to mid twenties, though is increasingly risky, but is often a good gamble.

6 Nimmt! on Board Game Arena
– Image by boardGOATS from boardgamearena.com

The “Tactical” variant changes the number of cards in the deck so that the highest card is ten times the number of players plus the four on the table.  In other words, every card is present in every round and now, there really is nowhere to hide.  This makes the game much more stressful, but as it progressed, we came to the slow realisation that it actually wasn’t as much “fun”.  We decided this was probably because there wasn’t as much chance in the game, which effectively reduced the excitement of finding out whether you were going to “get away” with a risky card.

6 Nimmt! on Board Game Arena
– Image by boardGOATS from boardgamearena.com

Furthermore, if the cards were not in your favour, it very much felt that it was game over—yes it might be possible to reduce the number of nimmts picked up, but in most cases, there wasn’t much you could do about it.  So in a way, reducing the chance almost made it feel like the game was more random, rather than less.  Some things don’t change though.  Purple was still the main instigator of the race to the bottom, although this time her main competitor was Black who actually got their first and triggered the end of the game.  As usual, Pine came in the top three, this time beaten only by Burgundy.  And with that, everyone signed off for an early night.

6 Nimmt!
– Image by Burgundy

Learning Outcome:  If at first you don’t succeed, Troyes, Troyes, et Troyes again!

10th Movember 2020 (Online)

With Blue and Pink otherwise engaged, the early arrivals were left to talk amongst themselves to begin with.  Eventually, everyone joined the table talk and admired the new, very yellow arrival that was the Oceana Expansion for Wingspan.  Sadly it will likely be a while before it gets an outing with the group, but it gives us something to look forward to.

Wingspan: Oceania Expansion
– Image by boardGOATS

Once the yellow eggs had been put away, it was time to start the “Feature Game” which was to be HexRoller.  This is another of the “Roll and Write” style games and is a relatively recent release.  The game is quite simple in concept, though the scoring is quite involved and it is quite different to anything else we have played in this vein.  The idea is that a handful of dice are rolled and “binned” into according to value.  Players then choose two numbers rolled and write those numbers on their player board as many times as that number was rolled.

HexRoller
– Image by boardGOATS

This means if three and five are chosen and they appear once and twice respectively, the player will write three down once and five twice.  The game is played on a pre-printed sheet with a play area made of hexagons (because they are the bestagons, obviously).  Some of these have numbers written on them.  Once a player has chosen a number, they start writing in a hexagon next to a number already on the board, with every subsequent number written next to the previous, making a chain.

HexRoller
– Image by boardGOATS

Once per turn, players can also use one of three special actions, each of which can only be used once per game.  These allow players to write one of their chosen numbers an extra time; write a two anywhere, and choose a third set of dice from the pool.  At the end of the game players score from a smorgasbord of opportunities.  There are points for filling all seven hexagons in one of the coloured groups; for filling all the orange hexes in the central area; for connecting pairs of pre-printed numbers, and any left over, unused special actions.

HexRoller
– Image by boardGOATS

Additionally, every round a player picks two numbers and one is written in a box in the top row in the bottom left corner with the other written in the bottom row.  At the end of the game, a “straight” starting from three, score points equating to the highest number in the straight.  In other words, a set of two threes, a five, a four, a six, and a couple of eights would score six points.

HexRoller
– Image by boardGOATS

Explained, the game sounds extremely complex, however the scoring is outlined on the sheet and in practice, it is actually quite easy to play, though challenging to play well.  That said, it is very different to any of the other games we’ve played and nobody really had much idea how it would pan out.  There are two different boards and with different layouts.  We started with the slightly more challenging, “seven dice” board, but only realised we were using eight dice after we’d already started, and that probably made it quite a bit easier.

HexRoller
– Image by boardGOATS

With only seven rounds, the game rocked along quite quickly and was over in about twenty-five minutes.  Some people did better than others, but it was tight at the top with Green and Ivory tied for first place with sixty-seven and Burgundy just two points behind.  Everyone had really enjoyed it though, and we were all very keen to play the second, “Eight Dice” layout.  This layout is nominally the easier of the two, though we didn’t realise that before we started otherwise we’d have played it first.

HexRoller
– Image by boardGOATS

It has a larger central area, though, and is played over one extra round.  Some of the scoring is also very slightly different, which some people didn’t notice until the end when they came to calculating their score which led to quite a lot of recalculations.  Burgundy was third again, and Blue took second with fifty-seven.  Although Pink was insistent that because he was unable use a single die in the final round, he had a “moral score” of seventy-three his total of fifty stands.  That left Ivory the winner for the second time with a score of sixty-one.

HexRoller
– Image by boardGOATS

HexRoller is a really quick little game, and even playing it twice, there was still time for something else.  As we had struggled a little with Tiny Towns last time, we had planned to give it another go, this time with a new set of buildings.  The idea of the game is clever but quite simple:  players place resources on the spaces on their four-by-four town grid, and then, when the have the right resources in the the correct arrangement, they can replace them with a building.

Tiny Towns
– Image by boardGOATS

Different buildings are built from different combinations of resources in different arrangements and, ultimately give different numbers of points.  We play using the Town Hall Variant where two resources are drawn at random, and then players choose their own for every third.  So, the key to the game is careful planning, but also  keeping options open in case the required resources don’t come up.  And luck also helps of course.

Tiny Towns
– Image by boardGOATS

This time we drew buildings from the alternative cards adding the Granary, Millstone, Bakery, Trading Post, Cloister and Almshouse to the Cottage.  These change the game considerably.  For example, the Granary feeds eight cottages (rather than the four of the Farm we used last time), but they must be in the eight surrounding spaces.  Similarly, the Millstone is worth two points if next to a red or yellow building (in this case a Granary and the Bakery), rather than a single point for each adjacent cottage.  The resources always take up more space than the buildings though and if players aren’t careful they can easily end up building on a space that makes it impossible to work with what’s left.

Tiny Towns
– Image by boardGOATS

Several players including Green, Blue and Pink picked up on the fact that the Cloister had the potential to be highly lucrative, scoring one point for each cloister in a corner.  Blue explained (several times) that this meant that two Cloisters both in corners would score two points each, whereas if one were in a corner and the other were not they would score one point each.  Pink decided that they were too difficult to build to get the most from them as they required four different resources, but Purple, Blue, Green and Lime were braver and decided to give it a go.

Tiny Towns
– Image by boardGOATS

Meanwhile, Pink and Burgundy went heavily for Almshouses.  The larger the number of these, the more points they score, but while an odd number of these scores positively, an even number scores negatively.  So this strategy was not without risk, although as players are not obliged to build buildings, they could always wait, and only build when they know they have a second ready to go.

Tiny Towns
– Image by boardGOATS

Lime was the first to be unable to do anything.  One of the down sides of playing games like this remotely is that players can’t watch what other players are doing, so as players dropped out, nobody else knew how they had done until the scores started to come in.  This time there was quite a spread with scores covering a range of nearly fifty points from minus fifteen upwards.  Burgundy had managed to avoid the pitfalls of the Almshouse and finished with twenty-eight points.

Tiny Towns
– Image by boardGOATS

Blue, however, had made the Cloister strategy work building a total of six, including one in each corner.  It was at this point that Green realised he could have built another two Cloisters, but had thought they wouldn’t score.  Worse, he hadn’t realised the empty spaces would score negatively, leaving him some eight points worse off.  He insisted that he wouldn’t concede, that there should be a recount as the rules hadn’t been clear, and that a lawsuit would clear it up…

Tiny Towns
– Image by boardGOATS

As in Pennsylvania, however, nobody listened to the litigant.  It was getting late though, so Lime, Lilac and Ivory left everyone else to play For Sale.  This is a great game for six players and the rendering of Board Game Arena is really good, making it really quick and fun to play.  The game itself comes in two parts:  buying properties and then selling them—the player who finishes with the most money wins.

For Sale
– Image by boardGOATS

Everyone starts with $14,000 dollars and the bid must increase by at least $1,000 each time with players who pass taking the lowest numbered property available and getting half their stake returned.  There are two ways to play this, with the money returned rounded up or down – this time we chose to give every player the maximum amount of money with their returns rounded up.

For Sale
– Image by boardGOATS

This time, all the high cards came out in the final round.  This meant Burgundy paid just $1,000 for his castle (number twenty-eight) and Purple paid just $2,000 for the sky-scraper (number twenty-nine), although Green still paid $7,000 for the most valuable property (the space station).  As a result, most people had acquired some nice properties for a very good price.

For Sale on Board Game Arena
– Image by boardGOATS from boardgamearena.com

It was a three-way tie between Black, Burgundy and Green for the player who managed to sell their properties for the most money, with all three taking $48,000.  However, it is the total, including any money left from the starting funds.  In this, Pink and Blue had only spent $3,000 so had $11,000 left.  This enabled Blue to just beat Burgundy into second place and take victory with $53,000.  At this point, Pine, who had been unable to join in earlier as he was staying with his poorly mother.  Inevitably, the game of choice with seven, was 6 Nimmt!

6 Nimmt!
– Image by boardGOATS

6 Nimmt! is one of the group’s favourite games, and we really enjoy the additional madness that the “Professional Variant” gives.  In the original game, players simultaneously choose a card from their hand and then, starting with the lowest value card, cards are added in order to one of the four rows of cards on the table.  Each card is added to the row that finishes with the highest number that is lower than the number on the card.  Placing the sixth card instead causes the player to take the five cards into their scoring pile.

6 Nimmt!
– Image by boardGOATS

The “Professional Variant” allows players to add cards to the other end of the rows, as long as the difference is smaller.  This has the effect of making otherwise be “safe” plays, decidedly “unsafe”, and makes low value cards much more interesting to play.  It can have far more catastrophic effects on the game though, and this time was one of those games.

6 Nimmt! on Board Game Arena
– Image by boardGOATS from boardgamearena.com

Purple was the first to pick up cards, immediately followed by Green.  It wasn’t long before others joined in the race to the bottom.  Purple was leading the pack, though when Burgundy picked up seventeen nimmts, shortly followed by another fifteen and several other smaller totals, he overtook her, finishing with a magnificent minus forty-two!  The winner was largely incidental, but was Blue, who had only picked up fifteen in the whole game some twenty less than Pine, who always does well in this game, in second place.

6 Nimmt! on Board Game Arena
– Image by boardGOATS from boardgamearena.com

With that over, Green and Pink signed off, leaving five to continue, and the game of choice was Coloretto.  This is a very simple set collecting game, that we played from time to time when we were at the Jockey, but has become one of our staples this year.  The game is so simple and plays very quickly: players take a card from the deck and add it to a truck, or they take a truck and sit out until the end of the round.

Coloretto
– Image by boardGOATS

Players score points for their sets, with the three most lucrative sets scoring positively and any others scoring negatively.  Last time we played, we used the “Difficult” scoring, but that hadn’t been as interesting as, say, the “Professional Variant” for 6 Nimmt!, so this time  we used the standard scoring, according to the Triangular Number Series.

Coloretto
– Image by boardGOATS

With everyone very familiar with the game, it is often quite close and this was one of those games.  Indeed Pine and Black tied for second place with twenty-five points, but were beaten by Burgundy who finished just two points clear.  There was just time for one more game, and Sushi Go! has become one of our recent favourites in such circumstances, as it plays very quickly and the rendering on Board Game Arena is really good, though it would be really nice if they could add some of the extra options available in Sushi Go Party!.

Sushi Go!
– Image by boardGOATS

As it is, we played with the Soy Sauce mini expansion.  The game is very simple and we find that a little bit of Soy does add a little extra flavour.  The game is one of card drafting and set collecting, with players choosing one card from their hand to keep, passing the rest on.  Some cards score for sets of two or three (Tempura and Sashimi), while the Nigiri score more if played after Wasabi for example.  Soy goes well with everything, so scores if the player also has the most variety on their plate at the end of the round.

Sushi Go! on Board Game Arena
– Image by boardGOATS from boardgamearena.com

The game changers Maki Rolls and the Puddings which give points for the player with the most at the end of the round and game respectively.  The Puddings can be the real game-changers though as the player with the most gets six points and the player with the fewest loses six points.  In a close game that can make all the difference.

Sushi Go! on Board Game Arena
– Image by boardGOATS from
boardgamearena.com

This time, Blue and Pine took an early lead at the end of the first round while the others built up their Pudding supply for the end of the game.  Black took the lead after the second round though.  Burgundy put in a storming final round taking the six points for the most desserts, but with a three-way tie for the fewest, the negative points were split between Blue, Pine and Black.  Burgundy didn’t quite catch the leaders though, and he finished two points behind Pine and Black, who tied for first place.  And, well fed, it was time for bed.

Sushi Go! on Board Game Arena
– Image by boardGOATS from
boardgamearena.com

Learning Outcome:  Listening to the rules explanation usually gets you more points.