Tag Archives: PARKS: Nightfall

10th March 2022

Green and Lilac were first to arrive followed by Blue, Black, Purple and Pine with Pink late to arrive as he was enjoying the seemingly random deployment of variable speed limits along the M42 (30 mph, really?).  The others had finished their supper and Pink was still dealing with his Ham, Egg & Chips, by the time everyone else had arrived and the great “who’s playing what” debate began.  Several people were interested in playing the “Feature Game“, the first Tapestry expansion, Plans and Ploys, but it proved difficult to confirm a group.  Despite enjoying the game, Blue was not up for something too thinky after a long week at work, and Jade (putting in a welcome return six weeks after his first visit) fancied something different.  In the end, Green joined Ivory and Teal over the other side of the room.

Tapestry
– Image by boardGOATS

Playing explanations were relatively quick, and even set up did not take as long as some heavier weight games. It turned out everyone was a relative novice with Ivory having played it twice, Teal only once (and that was online at Board Game Arena), and Green not at all.  Functionally, the game is quite straight forward, indeed the rules consist of just four, well illustrated pages.  On their turn, players either advance along one of the advancement tracks, or begin an era by taking Income.  The clever part is that the game ends at different times for each player — each player ends their game when they finish their final, fifth Income turn.  Thus, prolonging their eras means more turns which means more time to generate points.

Tapestry
– Image by boardGOATS

Otherwise the game basically proceeds with players paying the fee for the space they move to and then doing whatever the space they move to dictates, sometimes with an optional bonus action.  Often the action involves getting resources, but the four different tracks also allow players to claim space on the central map, gain technology cards (which give end game points as well as in-game bonuses), and build fabulous resin buildings in their capital city.  Although this is quite simple in concept, the depth of the game is in the cards and the asymmetry in the special powers associated with the Civilisations that players get at the start of the game.

Tapestry
– Image by boardGOATS

The expansion mostly just adds more of the same with new Civilisations, Tapestry Cards and space tiles.  The biggest difference is the addition of Landmark Cards which are designed to give each player a personal short-term goal in the first part of the game, in the form of buildings that only they can claim.  The first few turns required a little help from Ivory, but very soon everyone had got the hang of it.  The game is deceptively simple with only a few choices on each turn.  As a result, turns were very quick and the group soon felt comfortable.

Tapestry: Plans and Ploys
– Image by boardGOATS

Teal started on the Exploration Track, just ahead of Green who also wanted to go down that route. Ivory started on Science, which also got him going on the Military Track.  Green had a plan and found Teal being one step ahead on the Exploration Track quite frustrating.  In no time players started taking their second Income turns. Teal snatched the first Exploration Building and concentrated on developing his island on the central board. Green was using the Explore options to build his little huts onto his Craftsmen Civilisation Card instead of on his capital city board, gaining benefits on the way.  Ivory was trying to get several different small buildings onto his city, and being the only one in Science he was unhindered in getting these to his board as well.

Tapestry
– Image by boardGOATS

Then much to Green’s delight, Teal changed tack and started on Military expansion.  Now that his island had grown, Teal needed to expand if he wanted to it to grow any more. His collection of unused land tiles then enabled him to gain him his personal Landmark, making him the first to do this. By now his score was racing ahead of the others even though Ivory had started with a twenty point boost thanks to the civilisation adjustments.  Green continued to concentrate on the Explore track and gained the next building and then revealed that his Landmark for the game had been to get the launch pad (third building on the Explore Track) and make it in to space. That had been Ivory’s strategy for his very first game too… “To get Meeples into Space!”

Tapestry: Plans and Ploys
– Image by boardGOATS

Teal’s island empire was ever growing and he was the first to get to the central island.  He was further helped by his Islanders Civilsation that enabled him to conquer an extra tile each Income round.  He wanted to make sure he kept a buffer to everyone else’s islands though as he did not want any toppling.  Ivory was flying up the Science Track by this time, getting other bonuses on other Tracks too, and his capital city was beginning to look a little crowded as well.  Ivory had also got a couple of Technology Cards to Green’s one while Teal eschewed Technology entirely.

Tapestry
– Image by boardGOATS

As the game looked like it might be drawing to a close, Teal had raced well ahead on points, although Green was starting to catch him while Ivory was trailing well behind. Ivory completed the Science Track, then just into his final era, Green made his final trip into space reaching the top of the Explore Track. Teal, for his last action, played an extra Tapestry Card and declared an “Alliance of Peace” between Green and himself, which instigated much spluttering and muttering from Green who had just settled on growing his empire with a plan to topple Teal in the centre island for his final turns.  With his carefully worked out plan in tatters he scrambled around to maximise the last few points, but probably lost some on the way.

Tapestry
– Image by boardGOATS

It was about at this point, Teal and Green realised that Ivory had still to collect his fourth Income round.  So with Green and Teal finished, Ivory started his “attack run” and was left playing alone.  His fourth Income gave him more than fifty points and he shot past both Green and Teal; both knew that they were going to be well beaten. This of course turned out to be the case, as in final income scoring Ivory lapped both his opponents and kept going lapping them a second time.  Although it had been an extremely dominant victory by Ivory (winning by over a hundred points), everyone had thoroughly enjoyed the game.  Although the game play is good, the icing on the cake really is the fabulous 3D buildings that come with it; cardboard counters would have been cheaper, but nowhere near as pretty or as satisfying.

Tapestry: Plans and Ploys
– Image by boardGOATS

Meanwhile, after the game of PARKS last time, Lime had requested the chance to play it again, so Pink, Black and Jade joined him.  The game is reasonably simple, with players taking it in turns to choose one of their two hikers to move along the track, and then carry out the action dictated by the location.  The aim is to collect “memories” (or “resources” as most players think of them) to buy “trips to National Parks” (or Park Cards).  Lime and Pink ran through the rules as they had played it the previous week, discovering as they did so, a few deviations that had crept into the previous game.  These included the fact that the trail gets longer each round and a misinterpretation of one of the icons.  As last time, to keep it simple, the group decided not to include the personal bonuses, though they included the Parks Cards from the Nightfall expansion.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

This time, Pink (playing what he thought was pink this time, not what he thought was orange, like last time), was fortunate in acquiring the Sunscreen gear card. This replaces Mountain tokens with Sun tokens when buying in Parks Cards and along with the canteen that provided two Suns, gave him a formidable points generating engine.  There was much conversation about whether sunscreen could let you replace ALL the Mountains with Suns for a single Parks Card, or just one. Based on the use of the plural in the rules, the former seemed more likely. However, it was an important point, so a drinks break was instituted whilst Jade consulted the the rules forum on the Board Game Geek website.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

Results were inconclusive, so the decision stood (or to quote Pink who had been watching too much rugby, “On field decision is ‘Try’ — is there any reason why I cannot award the Try?”).  As last time, Lime went for a “reserve Parks Card and then work towards it strategy”, whilst Black, Jade and Pink only reserved cards occasionally.  This time, nobody seemed to want to take the camera: Pink got it at the start of the game, and despite him trying persuade people to take it, no one was having it, and he kept it until the end of the game, taking only the occasional photo (worth one point each at the end of the game).

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

Jade picked up the compass Gear Card which came in very useful for collecting Parks Cards, while Black collected a store of emergency ketchup sachets.  Lime almost kept the start player marker from start to finish until Jade decided at the very end of the game, that he fancied that extra point and took it off him.  In the end, the Sunscreen strategy did it for Pink who won by a healthy margin of seven points, but otherwise it was really tight with just one point between everyone else and Lime and Jade tied for second place.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

The third table were slow to get going with nobody being very decisive.  Eventually Blue suggested playing Sagrada and everyone else concurred.  We’ve played this quite a bit in the group since it was released five years ago, but it has been a little while and we were rusty on the rules and details of setup.  The idea of the game is very simple though:  In “Settlers Style”, players draft dice and add them to their player board.  Each die must be added according to the placement rules:  next to another die (orthogonally or diagonally) while not orthogonally adjacent to  a die of the same colour or number.  Additionally, at the start of the game, each player chooses a “window card” which dictates the numbers and colours of dice in some of the positions.

Sagrada
– Image by boardGOATS

The game is completed by Tool Cards which allow players to pay one of their limited number of tokens to briefly break the rules, and public and private objective cards.  Sagrada ends after ten rounds (twenty dice).  The group started with a lot of discussion about the private objective cards as some had snuck in from an expansion and confused everyone.  Once everyone was mostly happy with what they were trying to do, Pine started with the first draw.  Although he wasn’t aware of it at the time, his first placements turned out to be sub-optimal, as for the next few turns he had little or no choice in his placement and used up a lot of his most flexible spaces in the process.

Sagrada
– Image by boardGOATS

Purple and Blue tried to focus on the public objectives which were Shade Variety, Colour Variety and Row Colour Variety.  The latter pair fitted together very well since one gave points for each set of five different colours, while the other gave points for five different colours in the same row. Given that people were trying to go for sets of different colours and numbers, it was particularly amusing when the random nature of dice drawn from a bag and rolled gave a very limited selection, which only added to Pine’s woes.  The Tools cards weren’t terribly helpful either, especially as everyone was trying to save them for later.

Sagrada
– Image by boardGOATS

Lilac was the only one new to the game, but she got to grips with it quite quickly despite the fiddlyness of some of the rules.  When she realised she had got herself into a little bit of a tangle, she managed to extricate herself using the Tap Wheel tool which allowed her to move dice.  Lilac was very disappointed when she was unable to complete her window and had to leave a couple of spaces blank, but empty spaces only cost one point and the additional flexibility can often mean more points elsewhere.  Indeed, only Purple actually managed to complete her window.

Sagrada
– Image by boardGOATS

The dice just rolled right for Purple and Blue was able to use the Running Pliers to ensure she got what she needed in the penultimate round.  So, aside from poor Pine who had struggled throughout, everyone got what they wanted.  When Lilac took the only “red three” in the final round, however, it cost Pine twelve points .  With ten points for each complete row containing five different colours, it was clear it was between Blue and Purple.  Blue just had the edge though with more points from the Shade Variety and pushed Purple into second by nine points.  Pine took an early bath, but as the others were still playing, the remnants of the group looked for something else to play and grabbed the nearest quick game, which was Abandon all Artichokes.

Abandon All Artichokes
– Image by boardGOATS

Abandon all Artichokes is a very silly little deck-builder, which is somehow different to almost anything else.  Players start with a deck of ten artichoke cards from which they draw a hand of five.  The aim of the game is to shed all their artichoke cards so that when they draw their new hand of five at the end of their turn, there are no artichoke cards in it.  To do this, on their turn, the active player chooses one card from the face up market and, unlike most other deck builders, adds this to their hand (rather than their discard pile)  They then play as many cards as they can/want before discarding any leftover cards into their personal discard pile and drawing again.

Abandon All Artichokes
– Image by boardGOATS

Artichoke cards are basically hand blockers, with no practical use, but all the other cards (including the Rhubarb Promo cards) have an action that allow players to do things.  These include swapping cards with other players, discarding cards onto other players’ discard piles and placing artichokes onto the compost heap (a communal discard pile) which takes cards out of the game.  It took a while for everyone to get to grips with the rhythm of the game, but before long everyone was down to their last couple of artichokes.

Abandon All Artichokes
– Image by boardGOATS

You could hear the anticipation as people drew their five cards and disappointment when they found it still contained an artichoke.  PARKS had finished so, Pink and Black came over to see what was going on, and they were soon joined by Teal and Green who left Ivory to play with himself (the last era of Tapestry).  Eventually, after each player had had several hands where they’d hoped to finish and hadn’t, Purple finally put everyone out of their misery and ended the game.  Her obvious delight was in victory, rather than because of any dislike for the game, so although it is a strange little game, it will likely get another go soon.

Abandon All Artichokes
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning Outcome:  If you arrive late, you might not get the dinner of your choice.

24th February 2022

Blue, Pink and Pine arrived early and while they waited for dinner to arrive, they had a quick game of Ticket to Ride Demo.  This is one of the “cut down” Ticket to Ride games which play in the same way as the full-sized versions, but are a lot shorter and often tighter.  As in the parent, players take it in turns to collect cards, or spend them to place trains on the board.  The Demo game has a double-sided map, but with events in Europe so much in the news, the Europe map was chosen.

Ticket to Ride Demo
– Image by boardGOATS

Pink and Pine began competing for the train-lines through the Benelux countries down to Bucharest, while Blue joined Warsaw to Madrid in the south east via a roundabout route. It was a really tight game, so much so that once the points for the tickets had been added, it was a three-way tie.  With just the Longest Continuous Path bonus to add, it was between Blue and Pine, with Blue just nicking it, to give her thirty-four points and victory.  There wasn’t time to dwell on it as Pine’s enormous platter of cheese had arrived and in that, he was definitely the victor.

Ticket to Ride Demo
– Image by boardGOATS

Sage was next to arrive, quickly followed by Purple and Black.  Expecting a quiet night (with lots of people away for half term) we were just deciding who was going to play what, when Lime arrived, so we split into two groups, a three and a four, with the larger group playing the “Feature Game“, PARKS.  The Nightfall expansion includes the seventeen National Parks cards that were omitted from the original base game, so these were added to the deck, though none of the other features were included in the game this time.  This is a game that Burgundy wanted to play, but sadly never quite managed to, so it we wanted to play it in his memory.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

During the game, players take on the role of two hikers as they trek through the countryside over four rounds, or “hikes”.  Whilst on the trail, the hikers take actions and collect memories of the places they visit.  At the end of each hike, players can trade them in for a visit to a National Park.  Each round is set up with six basic trail tiles (five with fewer players) and one advanced trail tile shuffled together and laid out to make a path from the trail head to the trail end.  Players can move either of their hikers towards along the trail to any unoccupied space and then carry out the action on that space.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

The basic locations are the mountains, forest, the valley, the sea, and a waterfall, visiting these give players wooden mountain, tree, sun or water tokens that can be exchanged for National Park cards at when their hiker reaches the end of the trek.  At the start of the round, the trail tiles are also seeded with additional tokens giving the first person to visit each one a bonus. The final basic location is the vista, which allows players to either take a new canteen card, or take the Camera token.  Canteen cards are special cards that players have that enable them to convert water into other resources or actions, once per round.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

The Camera allows people to take photos, which are worth a point each at the end of the game.  When initially taking the Camera, a photo costs two wooden tokens, but thereafter, photos only cost the holder of the Camera one token, and the player holding the camera at the end of the round gains an additional photo opportunity. There are a couple of other “rule-breaking” rules, for example, each player has a single opportunity per round (or “hike”) to join another hiker at a location by putting out their campfire (turning the token over).  Additionally, players can also buy camping gear cards which alter actions or provide discounts when buying National Park cards at the end of the round.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

There are additionally “Year Cards” which provide players with personal objectives, however, the group did not use these this time as Blue wasn’t making a great job of the rules explanation and it had taken quite long enough without adding more.  The round end is triggered when the penultimate hiker reaches the end of the trail.  The last hiker then moves directly to the trail end and, as usual can: reserve a National Park card from the market (and, if they are the first hiker to do so, take the First Hiker Marker); buy camping gear cards, or claim a National Park card (either from the market, or one reserved earlier in the game).  The game ends after four hikes, and players sum the total of their Parks points and photos to determine the winner.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

The game started slowly as somehow it felt a little unintuitive.  Although play seemed very simple, it wasn’t immediately obvious how to excel and score lots of points.  Although they aren’t the only source, most points come from National Park cards.  As each player has two hikers and Parks cards are acquired at the end of each round, players have only eight opportunities to buy them.  With such a limited number of cards available, players have to try to maximise their takings by going for the most valuable cards.  If these are not reserved, however, there is a risk that someone else will take a desired/planned for card.  This is particularly perilous, as it can leave a player without a possible option and unable to take one of their very limited opportunities to take a Park card.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

Pink started by asking what colour he was, and Blue pointed to the light purple campfire in front of him and explained it was the closest to pink.  Pointing to Lime’s “peach-coloured” pieces, he replied “Apart from the actual pink ones…”  And then there followed a heated debate as to which colour was “more pink”.  Eventually, Pine started tentatively, followed by Lime and then Pink (with his purple pieces) and finally Blue.  As the group felt their way, they realised that mountain tokens were valuable and difficult to come by.  So, after Lime had been unable to afford the camping gear card that gives a mountain discount, Blue snapped it up.  It took a while to understand the value of the Canteen cards, and some were definitely more useful than others.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

Pink had a Canteen that gave him mountain tokens, which meant joining the battle for the mountain space wasn’t quite as necessary.  Lime had a canteen that allowed him to reserve Parks cards which was useful in terms of planning.  It also had the additional advantage of messing up other people’s plans, in particular, Pine’s who got caught several times.  During the second round, everyone started to get the hang of things, and began to work out what they were trying to do while keeping an eye on what everyone else was doing.  But then the “hand limit” of twelve tokens began to bite.  Some of the most valuable Parks cards need six or more tokens, so targeting these while keeping the ability to be flexible became increasingly difficult.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

By the third round, Pink was questioning how Blue had managed to get “so many” cards, implying she was doing something that the others, in particular Pink, weren’t.  She had just managed to take every opportunity though, where others had been less fortunate.  Lime had a canteen that allowed him to reserve cards, which was a good use for excess water tokens.  Unfortunately, didn’t quite get the rest of his tokens right to make the most of it, and finished with lots of reserved, but unfulfilled National Parks cards.  Pine was unlucky and had Parks cards he was targeting taken at the last moment.  Still he managed to get a card with a nice picture of a wolf on it, which delighted him at the time.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

It was close for second place with just two points separating three players—Pine, tied for second place with Pink, decreed that his lovely wolf card was the tie-breaker and gave him the edge.  There was no question that Blue was the winner though, with thirty-two points, eight more than Pine.  Meanwhile, on the next table, Sage, Purple and Black had been playing Puerto Rico.  This is a much older game, once ranked the best game on the BoardGameGeek website, but now often forgotten.  We’ve played it a few times, but not since the global pandemic hit, and Sage was keen to play it again.

Puerto Rico
– Image by boardGOATS

In many ways, Puerto Rico is the archetypal Euro game.  The idea of the game is quite simple in that on their turn, the active player chooses a “role” then everyone takes it in turns to carry out the action associated with that role.  Each role has a “privilege” which the active player gets which gives them a little bonus (as well as the opportunity to take the action first.  Once everyone has chosen a role, the remaining role cards are “improved” by the addition of money, the used role cards are returned to the pool and the start player (The Governor) moves one player to the left before the new Governor starts the next round.

Puerto Rico
– Image by boardGOATS

The aim of the game is to get victory points which are awarded for buildings and for shipping goods. However, to build, players need money, and before they can ship goods, players need to be able to produce the goods with a plantation (and where necessary process them in the appropriate building).  Each building/plantation has a special bonus, but for a player to receive this, the building needs to be occupied by a “colonist”. All these activities are carried out through the role cards. For example, the Builder enables players to construct a building, but the player who chooses the role gets the privilege of paying one doubloon less than they would have done otherwise.

Puerto Rico
– Image by boardGOATS

Other roles include the Craftsman (enables players to produce); the Captain (enables players to ship goods); the Trader (allows players to sell goods for money); the Settler (players can take a plantation tile and add it to their island); the Mayor (the ship of “colonists” arrives and they are divided amongst the players), and the Prospector (everyone does nothing except the person with the privilege who takes a doubloon from the bank).  The game ends when there are not enough colonists to fill the colonist ship, the supply of victory points is exhausted, or a player fills their twelfth building space in their city.

Puerto Rico
– Image by boardGOATS

Black was clearly an early front-runner, but while Sage was slightly slower to get his engine going, he was coming up fast on the inside rail when the game came to an end.  As a result, the end-game building scoring was critical.  Purple had built the Guild Hall giving her extra points for her production buildings while Sage built the Residence providing additional points for the plantations and quarries he had placed on his island.  Black had built and occupied a two large civic buildings:  a City Hall giving him points for his civic buildings, and a Customs House which increased his the victory points he had acquired during the game by twenty percent.

Puerto Rico
– Image by boardGOATS

Unfortunately for Sage, it turned out that the game had ended a few rounds too early for him to overtake Black who finished with sixty points, five more than Sage in second place.  It had been fun though, and demonstrated that while some older games show their age, others still have it.  Puerto Rico and PARKS finished at much the same time, and although Lime left to make sure he got across the river before the drawbridge was lifted (commenting he’d like to give PARKS another go some time), everyone else was keen to play something light and quick.

Puerto Rico
– Image by boardGOATS

Despite Blue’s inevitable enthusiasm, Pine ruled out Bohnanza as too long, and with six players, 6 Nimmt! was the obvious choice.  We played this loads online, but it doesn’t seem to have dampened our enthusiasm for it, though we’ve mostly played the simple version in person since.  The idea is that players simultaneously choose cards from their hand which are then added in sequence to the four rows on the table.  In the original version, cards are added to the end of the row with the highest card that is lower than the card played.  In the professional version, cards can also be played on the low end of rows, upsetting other players’ plans (if players can claim to have plans in this game).

6 Nimmt!
– Image by boardGOATS

Although we all decided that it was too late for the complex maths that comes with the professional version.  Pine and Blue immediately commented that they regretted that decision when they looked at their hands.  It seemed most people struggled a bit in that round as everyone picked up points.  Blue and Pine were high scorers, but Pink managed twenty-seven nimmts off just nine cards, albeit very colourful ones.  Pink did better in the second half with a clear round, but the damage had already been done.  Purple and Blue top scored overall, with thirty-seven and thirty-nine respectively, but the winner was the very constant Black with just five from each round.

6 Nimmt!
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning outcome:  Not all games are a walk in the PARK.