Tag Archives: Modern Art

3rd Movember 2021

Blue and Pink were, unexpectedly, joined by Green and Lilac thanks to a clock-reading malfunction.  So while Blue and Pink were dealing with their dinner, Green introduced Lilac to Tsuro.  This is a very accessible game that we actually managed to play a little over a year ago from home, but is much better played in person.  Each player starts with a stone lined up on the edge of the board and a hand of three tiles.  On their turn, they place one of their tiles on the board next to their stone, and move their stone along the path on the tile, then replenish their hand.

Tsuro
– Image by boardGOATS

The aim of the game is to stay on the board the longest, with the last player remaining, the winner.  It wasn’t long before Lilac had Green on the ropes and Blue and Pink urged her to take her chance and finish him off.  It’s not in Lilac’s nature to go for the jugular, however, and despite the encouragement, she didn’t make the most of her opportunity.  Inevitably, Green wriggled free and it wasn’t long before he was edging Lilac off the board himself.  With the first game over, and Blue and Pink finishing their dinner, there was a little chatter before others arrived and players were deciding what to play.

Tsuro
– Image by boardGOATS

The “Feature Game” was to be Modern Art, which is an auction game where players are buying and selling art trying to make a profit with paintings valued by the number of artworks of that type that were sold.  It is an older game, nearly thirty years old, and several people had played it before, albeit some years ago.  When Green admitted that he hadn’t really enjoyed it, Pink was shocked and suggested that not liking Modern Art was akin to not liking puppies, at which point Green, much to Pink’s horror, admitted he wasn’t that keen on them either…

Modern Art
– Image by boardGOATS

Needless to say, when settling on games, Green took himself away from the slightly offended Pink and his copy of Modern Art leaving him (with his brick and sack comments), to play the “Feature Game” with Ivory, Blue and Teal.  The game is a simple, yet clever auction game, and therein lies the problem—the group has had mixed responses to auction games.  For example, the highly regarded Ra (like Modern Art designed by Reiner Knizia) received mixed responses when that was played, however, one of the all-time favourites, Keyflower, is an auction game at its heart (though to be fair it doesn’t really feel like one).

Modern Art
– Image by boardGOATS

The group (aside from Pink) was therefore slightly reticent, but went for it positively, and in the event, really enjoyed it.  Each round consists of several auctions, each of which is conducted by a player.  The auctioneer chooses one card from their hand which is auctioned according to the indicator on the card.  There are five possible auction types:  Open, Fixed Price, Sealed Bid, Once Round the Table, and Double (where two pieces by the same artist are offered at the same time).

Modern Art
– Image by boardGOATS

We were playing with the new Oink Games version, which features real modernist artwork from the likes of Mondrian, Kaminski and Ivory (who obviously has talent we were hitherto unaware of).  When the fifth work by an artist is offered for sale, the round ends (without the final auction), and the works valued.  The value depends on how many paintings were sold by that artist in the round, with the value increasing by $30,000 for the most popular.  Players then sell their art to the bank, but here there is a catch.  Players only get a return on art by the three most popular artists in that round—everything else is worthless.  The value of the art that is sold, however, is the cumulative total including increases over all the previous rounds.

Modern Art
– Image by boardGOATS

Thus, players sell their art giving them money to buy more, and more expensive art in the next round. Although the mechanics are clever, what makes the game fun is the auctioneer’s pitch as they try to describe the work they are selling and draw the other players’ attention to its clear and obvious assets and up-sell it.  One notable lot by Kaminski was initially described as “a cat’s pencil sharpener” and then to much hilarity as “a charming number depicting someone bending over picking up a fiver.”  The game ends after four rounds and the player with the most money at the end wins.

Modern Art
– Image by boardGOATS

This time, players clearly had a bit of a fixation with Kaminski with his works being the most popular in the first round, with Hick and Mondrian making a distant second and third.  The initial popularity of Kaminski inflated the perceived value of his work in the second round and, although fewer works were offered for sale, it still scored, though the Mondrian age was upon us.  The third round was dominated by the works of Okamoto, putting in a brief, but valuable appearance for those that made purchases, as it provided funds for the all-important final round.  This led to a resurgence of Hick as the most popular together with poor Ivory, who’s work had hitherto only had a brief period in the limelight in the second round.

Modern Art
– Image by boardGOATS

The eternal popularity of Kaminski continued until Blue brought the game to an end with a double auction ensuring Kaminski’s works gave a return again, and having scored in every round, they were very lucrative.  Despite the game feeling like there was a lot of ebb and flow, the final scores were remarkably close with a mere twenty grand between first and third—fine margins indeed in a game where the scores were measured in hundreds of thousands and players reserves fluctuated wildly during rounds.  It was Blue though, who made the most, finishing with $392,000, just ahead of Ivory (the gamer rather than the artist).

Modern Art
– Image by boardGOATS

Meanwhile, at the other table, Green, Lilac, Purple and Black (who also expressed a dislike of Modern Art, though not of puppies), were playing the puppy related game, Snow Tails.  This is a fun race game where players are racing dog sleds along a winding track of varying complexity.  The idea is that players have a hand of cards, which they play to adjust the dogs’ speed or apply the brake.  When they play cards, they can play up to three (one for each dog and one for the brake), but they must all have the same value.  The sled speed (how many spaces it moves) is then the sum of the dogs’ speed minus the value on the brake.

Snow Tails
– Image by boardGOATS

Additionally, the sled will drift left or right by the amount by which the two dogs’ speeds differ.  Players have to use this to negotiate corners and slalom round pine trees to get to the finish line.  The cards come from their own personal decks, and this is where the game gets clever because players have to manage the cards they play to make best use of them.  If a player crashes or goes into a corner with too much speed and exceeds the limit, they pick up a dent card.  These occupy space in the player’s hand which means they have less choice.

Snow Tails
– Image by boardGOATS

The first player to cross the line (or, in the case of a tie cross it and travel the furthest), is the winner.  The group spent far too long debating which track to use. Lilac had not played Snow Tails before so the group did not want to make it too extreme, but also not too trivial for everyone else.  In the end the group decided on a variation of “Treemendous” (chosen as it would fit on the “narrower than we would like” pub table) and swapping the first set of trees for a narrow canyon.  Through random selection, Lilac was chosen as start player, but as she wasn’t sure how the game would play she took a gentle start so Purple, Green and Black shot past her at speed.

Snow Tails
– Image by boardGOATS

Through the first corner and approaching the Canyon, Purple hit the side of the track and slowed up, while Green and Black raced forward. Lilac took her foot off the break and caught Purple, who was struggling to get her head around which side of the sled needed the higher number to move to the right to get around the corner.  With the bend successfully negotiated Black slowed for the canyon, but Green decided to let rip through it. He made it in one go without hitting anything, but was on the outside for the next corner.  Black took a steadier run through the canyon and came out on the inside of the corner behind Green.

Snow Tails
– Image by boardGOATS

Lilac also maintained a steady pace taking a couple of turns for the Canyon, while Purple continued to dally at the back, hampered somewhat by her reduced hand size from her earlier crash. Black and Green raced to the forest, with Black reaching it just before Green. He “dropped an anchor” and came to an almost complete stop at the entrance right in front of Green, causing him to slow up sharply and swerve to the left instead of taking the route ahead he had planned.

Snow Tails
– Image by boardGOATS

Black managed to clear the forest first but found himself drifting towards the outside of the long hairpin bend. Green was close behind, but his direction of travel sent him to the inside.  Lilac continued her steady progress, avoiding the hazards and came through the forest unscathed in the middle of the track.  Black and Green were racing hard:  Black had the speed, but was forced to the outside of the track and wasn’t able to make progress while Green going more slowly on the inside, manage to squeeze past to get just ahead.  Then it was a straight fight to the line.

Snow Tails
– Image by boardGOATS

Black was able to lift his break to a one, but could only manage a double four, so he positioned himself less advantageously to try and block Green. It didn’t work as Green came off the corner on another track, but he was a little heavier on his break, so still on a two, and also a double four, Black managed to just slide past for the win finishing just ahead.  Lilac continued her steady progress and finished the following round while Purple took a more leisurely ride through the forest, came out on the outside of the bend.  Struggling to stay on the track on the way round the corner, she finally found her speed down the final straight and came flying off the end of the track, unfortunately a couple of rounds too late to win.

Snow Tails
– Image by boardGOATS

Snow Tails was still going when Modern Art finished, but only just, so Tsuro got a second outing of the evening.  This time, Blue was out first by killing herself and taking her piece off the board, quickly followed by Pink who committed harakiri in a similar fashion.  That left them to cheer on Teal and Ivory.  It was close and they were down to the last few tiles, but in the end, Teal took victory when he pushed Ivory off the board.  As the huskies settled down for a well-earned nap, Pine arrived just in time for one last game of Bohnanza, replacing Green and Lilac who went home as they had an early start the next day.

Bohnanza
– Image by boardGOATS

Bohnanza is one of our old favourites, and barely even needs a reminder beyond the rules that are specific for the particular player count.  With six, players start with different numbers of cards, they plant one or two beans turn over two bean cards from the deck, plant and trade, then draw four cards to replenish their hand.  Buying a third bean field is cheaper as well with six, costing two Bohnentaler instead of three.  This is important because the game is shorter with more players and some players barely get a turn in the final round.

Bohnanza
– Image by boardGOATS

As a result, buying a third field is always a bit risky, and the general consensus is that it is rarely worth it. This time was the exception that proves the rule however, with lots of people deciding to buy a third field.  This had the unintended effect of shortening the game as more beans were left in fields at the ends of the rounds.  This didn’t stop the usual hilarity when people made the occasional silly trades and players got unfeasibly lucky with the draw of the cards.  This time the winner was Ivory, two Bohnentaler ahead of Pine, but in truth, we are all winners with a game that is so much fun.

Bohnanza
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning Outcome: It is amazing how much money people will spend on tat.

10th July 2018

While those eating finished, we welcomed an old friend from the Didcot Games Club on his first visit, and began the evening began with a quick game of an old classic, High Society.  Designed by Reiner Knizia, this is a light bidding game with a catch, in the mold of games like For Sale, No Thanks!, Modern Art, and perhaps our old favourite, Las Vegas.  First released over twenty years ago in the designer’s heyday, a beautiful new edition has recently been published by the Cumnor Hill-based company, Osprey Games.  In High Society, everyone starts with the same set of money cards, each numbering from 1,000 up to 25,000 Francs.  The game is all about correct valuations. Players take it in turns to bid for the luxury objets d’art for sale, however, when they increase their bid, they add money cards to their personal bidding pile, and there is no concept of change.  Thus, as the game progresses, players have fewer and fewer bidding options  as they spend their money cards, and are increasingly forced to big large amounts potentially for relatively low value items.  Some of the objects for sale are not so much art, as artless, and can halve a player’s score, lose them points, or even cause them to discard something they purchased previously and the first person to withdraw, “wins”, while everyone else pays whatever they wagered.

High Society
– Image by boardGOATS

The other twist is at the game end which occurs abruptly when the fourth “end game” card comes out.  At this point, the player with the least money at the end is eliminated regardless of the value of their luxurious objects.  Despite the age of the game, a lot of people were new to it, and as the valuation of the luxuries is the key, some people found knowing how much to bid challenging.  As is the case with this sort of game though though, until the scores were actually calculated nobody knew who was winning, especially as the money was tight at the bottom.  Purple and Black (or “The Dark Destroyer as Ivory called him”) had pots of cash, but Red was just eliminated ahead of Yellow.  That left the final count:  Black was by far the most efficient, with a score of fourteen, two more than ivory – quite remarkable given the amount of cash he had left at the end.  It was Yellow though, who having just escaped elimination, finished some way in front with nineteen points.

High Society
– Image by boardGOATS

With everyone fed and High Society over, we split into two groups: one to play the “Feature Game” (which was to be Keyflower) and the rest to play something else.  As always, the issue was what the other game was to be and almost everyone was happy to play Keyflower, but for some, the final decision depended what the other game was to be.  The problem was that the choice of the second game depended on who was going to play it.  Eventually, Purple broke the deadlock when she said she would be happy not to play Keyflower.  With Red having requested it in the first place, and it being Blue’s favourite game, it was just a matter of who would fill the remaining seats.  In the end, Pine, Burgundy and Ivory joined Red and Blue, leaving Yellow, Black and Purple to play Calimala, an area-influence driven, worker-placement game set in the Republic of Florence during the Late Middle Ages.

Calimala
– Image by boardGOATS

This is an unusual game with variable setup to keep it fresh.  The idea is that on their turn, players place one of their workers on one of the twelve worker spaces.  Each one of these is adjacent to two of the nine action spaces. If there is already a worker disk present on the space, once the active player has carried out their actions, then the other player gets another turn.  This continues until a player places the fourth disk on a stack: actions are carried out for the top three disks and the fourth is placed on the first available scoring tile which is then triggered.  Each player has some worker disks in their own colour and a small number in white.  Coloured disks give players a maximum of two actions on three occasions (i.e. a total of six), while white disks give four actions when played, but none later in the game.  The actions include acquiring resources (brick, wood or marble), building (ships, trading houses or workshops), create artwork, produce cloth, transport cloth, and contribute to the building of the churches.

Calimala
– Image by boardGOATS

The fifteen scoring phases are built on the actions, rewarding players for the amount of cloth they have shipped to a given city or combination of cities for example, or for their contribution to a specific building, or their contribution to the building effort of a given resource.  In each case, the player with the most scores three points, the player in second place scores two and the player in third gets just one point.  In case of a tie there is a complicated series of tie-breakers.  The game ends when either all fifteen tiles have been scored, or everyone has placed all their workers (in which case any remain tiles are scored).  It was another close game:  “The Dark Destroyer” scored heavily for the cloth in the Port Cities (Barcelona, Lisbon and London), while Purple scored for the trading cities (Troyes, Bruges and Hamburg).  Calimala is one of those games that rewards players who score “little and often”, and it was Yellow who managed to score most frequently.  There were a lot of tie-breaks however, particularly between Yellow and Black and it was probably the fact that Yellow did better in these that tipped the balance, as he finished just ahead of Black with a winning score of forty-five points.

Calimala
– Image by boardGOATS

Keyflower was still under way, so the players looked around for something quick to play and picked one of Yellow’s favourite games, Red7.  On the surface, this is a fairly simple game, but underneath it is much more complex.  The game is played with a deck of forty-nine cards, numbered one to seven and in seven different colour suits.  Each player starts with seven cards in hand and one face up on the table.  The player with the highest value card is “winning” because the rule at the start is that the highest card wins.  On their turn, each player can play one card from their hand into their tableau in front of them, or play a card into the centre which changes the rules of the game (a little like Fluxx), or they can do both.  If they cannot play a card or choose not to, they are out of the round.    In the event that there is a tie and the highest face value is displayed by more than one player, the tie is broken by the colours with red higher than orange and so on through the spectrum to violet.

Red7
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor punkin312

The colours also dictate the rules, so any red card played in the centre will change the rules to “the highest” wins.  Similarly, any orange card played in the centre changes the rules so that the winner is the person with the most cards of the same number.  In each case, if more than one player satisfies the rules, the tie is broken by the card that is highest (taking into account both number and colour).  Thus, if the rule is “the most even cards” and there are two players with the same number of even cards in front of them, the player with the highest even card is the winner.  At the end of their turn, the active player must be in a winning position, or they are out of the round. The round continues until there is only one player left.

Red7
– Image used with permission of BGG reviewer EndersGame

We last played this a few years back when we made rather heavy weather of it.  Part of the problem was that there were several of us and we were all new to it.  This meant we struggled without someone to lead the way.  With Yellow very familiar he was able to show everyone else how to play.  Inevitably, this meant he won (giving him a hat-trick).  The game was played over five rounds and at the end of each round the player who was left at the end kept their highest cards.  With Yellow so much more familiar with the game than anyone else, it was inevitable that he would be able to build on this, and he made the most of it.

Red7
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor punkin312

By this time, the next table were just coming to the end of their game of Keyflower, and we had all found it unusually hard going, that is to say we all struggled to find anywhere to score points.  The premise of the game is quite simple:  over four rounds (or seasons) tiles are auctioned using meeples (or Keyples) as currency.  The clever part is that to increase a bid, players must follow with the same colour.  Keyples can also be used to perform the action associated with a tile, any tile, it doesn’t have to be their own, but each tile can only be used three times in each round and, again, players must follow the colour.  The aim of the game is to obtain the maximum number of victory points at the end.  However, the highest scoring tiles aren’t auctioned until the last round (Winter), so players have to keep their options open.  On the other hand, the tiles that are auctioned in Winter are chosen by the players from a hand of tiles dealt out at the start, so players can choose to take a steer from that, or, if things go badly wrong, decide not to include certainly tiles.

Keyflower
– Image by boardGOATS

These games are nearly always memorably epic and this was definitely no exception.  The game started of with Ivory declaring that while he loved it, he thought it was maybe “a bit broken” because in his experience, there was one winter tile that would guarantee a win to the player that got it.  Blue and Burgundy thought they knew he was referring to “The Skill Tile Strategy” and agreed it was powerful, but felt it wasn’t over-powerful.  Blue said she thought it was only a guaranteed win if everyone else allowed it.  Pine suggested that playing the game would give Ivory another opportunity to gather evidence to see if this was the case.  As soon as the winter tiles were dealt out, it was clear that Ivory had one of the tiles that rewarded players with lots of Skill Tiles, and everyone knew what his strategy was going to be.

Keyflower
– Image by boardGOATS

Spring started and it quickly became clear that it was going to be a fight.  Initially, Blue went for the Peddler which converts yellow Keyples into Green ones, but Pine thought that sounded good, and outbid her.  Next she went for the Miner which gives two coal, upgradable to three, but Red outbid her on that.  Somewhat in error she tried to get the Woodcutter which gives two wood (upgrading to a wood and a gold), but Burgundy outbid her.  Ivory also got in on the act, beating her to the Keystone Quarry, which meant Blue finished spring with no Village tiles at all.  At least she didn’t over-pay for anything though, and it meant she had plenty of Keyples to bid with for Summer, at least in theory.  The lack of tiles meant she didn’t have a strategy though, while everyone else was beginning to build theirs.

Keyflower
– Image by boardGOATS

With summer came a whole new set of interesting tiles, for Ivory, that included the Hiring Fair which gives two tiles in exchange for one (upgradable to three tiles for one).  Given that Ivory had telegraphed his plans, and that Burgundy took one for the team during Concordia last time (when he took the Weaver and gave everyone else a chance), Blue felt it was her turn and she made it her business to outbid him, even though this gave her a tile she had very little use for.  As the only one with any meeples to speak of, Blue managed to pick up three boats relatively cheaply too.  She didn’t have it all her own way though, as Pine took the Farrier (extra transport and upgrade ability) and Ivory took the Brewer who turns skill tiles into Keyples.

Keyflower
– Image by boardGOATS

Unusually, there had been a lot of bidding for the end of season tiles and it came to a peak in autumn with everyone jostling for position for the final round.  The other tiles were generally less popular, however, and most people were trying to keep their Keyples to themselves where possible, hoarding them for the final round.  And it was in the final round that it all came to a head.  Everyone had to put in at least one tile, but nobody seemed terribly keen to put any in.  Blue had contrived to win the start Keyple at the end of autumn, and started by bidding for the Key Guild tile which had been put in by Ivory.  Inevitably this descended into a bidding war, which Blue won.  The Key Guild tile gives ten points for any five skill tiles, so Blue was finally able to use her Hiring Fair to get points. Having had his plans scuppered, Ivory moved on to messing with Pine’s plans, while Red engaged Burgundy in a bidding war for the Jeweller tile (which increases the value of gold from one point to two), and lost.

Keyflower
– Image by boardGOATS

It had been a  really tough game with points really hard to get hold of, and that was visible in the scores.  It was very tight with just six points covering Red, Burgundy, Ivory and Pine and all of them in the low to mid forties.  Blue finished with sixty-one however, thanks largely to her twenty points for her skill tiles and sixteen for her boats.  It had been a very stressful game, that led to a considerable amount of discussion.  Ivory felt the fact that Blue had won using skill tiles confirmed that they were over-powered, but Pine and Burgundy were less certain, so the jury is still out.  Blue said that every game was different and the point was that it was up to other players to stop the person who is making a beeline for skill tiles, in fact, that was exactly what she had done to Ivory, as he put that tile out in winter.  The discussion would have continued, however, it was getting late and people began to leave.

Keyflower
– Image by boardGOATS

Pine, Burgundy and Blue felt there was just time for a quick game of NMBR 9.  This little game has been a real success within the group, mostly at the start as a warm-up game, but occasionally as filler too.  Pine took the deck of cards and began turning them over, with everyone else taking the number shaped tiles and adding them to their tableau.  It was another tough, tight game, but Blue managed to squeeze one of her eights on to the fourth level giving her twenty-four points for that tile alone.  Aside from that, the levels and therefore the scores were very similar, so Blue took victory by twenty-one points from Pine in second place.

NMBR 9
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning Outcome:  Sometimes it is better to keep your plans to yourself.