Tag Archives: Salmon Run

Boardgames in the News: What is a Meeple?

Reading our game reports, a fairly commonly used term is “Meeple”.  The word is used so widely amongst Euro gamers, that it was adopted for the name of the Oxford boardgame café, Thirsty Meeples, however, non-gamers are completely unfamiliar with it.  So, what does it mean and where does it come from?

Carcassonne!
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor wizardless

The term was allegedly coined in 2000 by Alison Hansel while paying the tile laying game, Carcassonne.  In Carcassonne, players draw a tile and then add it to a growing map before placing a wooden figure on the tile.   Thus, meeple was a conjunction of “my” and “people” and was used specifically to refer to the characteristic wooden people-shaped pieces used in Carcassonne and more recently, games like Keyflower.  Since then, the range of game pieces available has increased hugely and the term has been adapted and broadened.

Keyflower
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor punkin312

For example, Agricola has a wide range of resource tokens, including sheep, pigs and cows, which are often collectively referred to as “animeeples”.  Similarly, the wheat and vegetable resource tokens are often referred to as “vegimeeples” or even “vegeeples”.  So, the suffix “-eeple” has now come to mean game token, interestingly, usually one that is shaped.  Thus, people playing games like Ice Flow or Salmon Run might talk about “fish-eeples”, devotees of Caverna may discuss “dog-eeples” and “donkeeples”, and players of the Arctic Bounty expansion for Fleet might comment on “crab-eeples”, though they may also be collectively referred to, simply as meeples.

Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small
– Image by boardGOATS

So, generically, a meeple is a game piece, usually made of wood, and often, but not necessarily with two arms, two legs and a head…

Meeples
– Image by boardGOATS

19th May 2015

With more new people, most of the regulars and a few less regulars, it was always going to be a busy evening.  So, as it was, we started out with three games.  The first group began with Eight-Minute Empire, a game that we’ve played before on a Tuesday, however, not with this group – only one person playing this time was familiar with it.  It is a quick little area control and set collecting game, though in truth, it only plays in eight minutes if everyone really knows what they are doing and nobody suffers from “Analysis Paralysis”.  On their turn, the active player starts by picking up a card:  they can choose whether to take the first available card which has no cost, or take another and pay the appropriate number of coins from their limited supply.  Each card is a resource which provides points at the end of the game, the number depending on how many of that resource the player has;  each card also has an action associated with it, which can be place armies on the map, move them about, ship them across the sea, build a city etc.  Players score points for having the majority in a countries and controlling the most countries in each continent, as well as for sets of resources.

Eight-Minute Empire
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor henk.rolleman

Cyan started heading over the seas, Yellow went in the other direction and Green ominously began amassing armies in the start region. Orange and White started with a mixture of expansion and growth.  As the game progressed, Cyan was spreading himself thinly over two continents while Orange headed north leaving the main continent behind and Yellow, White and Green fought over the regions in the middle.  White was also doing a fine trade in rubies while Cyan was collecting anvils.  This gave Cyan a dilemma when a double anvil turned up:  although he had the money to pay the two it would cost, he was playing a miserly game and decided to let it pass.  As it happened, it stayed on the table for nearly the full round until White swiped it from under Cyan’s nose.  Everyone saw the mass of Green in the middle, and, thinking he was an experienced player, decided to gang up on him.  With three players going after Green in the last round they did a good job of removing his dominance in the centre, leaving White the winner with eleven points, though the rubies really helped Yellow in second place just two points behind.

Eight-Minute Empire
– Image by BGG contributor lhapka

After a brief drinks break, the group then went on to play Salmon Run.  This was another game that we had played before, but was new to the majority of the players this time so it took a while to remember how it worked.  In essence, it is a race game that uses a hand-drafting mechanism, so players have their own personal draw piles a bit like Dominion.  The game is modular with a range of possible river sections.  This time the group opted for a short game with only four boards, which was enough to give everyone a flavour of the game, ready to give it a proper run through next time.  After a couple of rounds, everyone started to get the hang of it and salmon were zig-zagging their way up stream dodging bears, eagles and rapids, jumping waterfalls and trying to be the first to get to the spawning pool without being too tired.  Throughout the game the group remained uncertain of the the rules though, and at one point Green got himself blocked with no cards in his hand to help him.  After checking, he realised he could in fact play a card and do nothing (the fish banging its head against the wall). Unfortunately this meant he ended up way behind the others.  Before long, Cyan leapt the last waterfall and landed in the spawning pool with a splash.  It was a tight game with three other players teetering on the brink and ready to make the final jump, but in the end no-one else managed to get across leaving Cyan the clear winner.

Salmon Run
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor kilroy_locke

The second group started out with a repeat of a quick game we played last time, called Yardmaster.  This little train themed card game is turning out to be surprisingly popular with our group, partly at least because it packs a surprising amount of punch for such a simple filler game that plays so quickly.  This time, it was just Burgundy turned the tables on Blue who failed to get the luck of the cards.  Then Purple and and Black turned up to join them for the the “Feature Game”, Machi Koro, which has just been nominated for the Spiel des Jahres.  This card game is a sort of cross between The Settlers of Catan and Dominion, where players take the role of mayor and roll dice and choose cards in order to make it the most successful town.  On their turn, the active player rolls the die (or dice if appropriate) and anyone who owns a card gets money in a similar way to the resource allocation in The Settlers of Catan.  Then, the active player can use their money to buy cards, building up their portfolio in a similar way to Dominion.  The winner is the first player to build all four of their land-mark buildings.

Machi Koro
– Image used with permission of BGG reviewer EndersGame

There are two ways of setting up:  all the cards can be available in separate stacks at the start of the game, alternatively, the cards can be shuffled together and dealt out until there are ten different buildings available (others become available when a pile is exhausted).  The latter makes for a more strategic and interesting game, but when learning it is easier to see how the card combinations work by dealing out all the cards.  With so many people new to the game, all the cards were laid out at the start so everyone could see what their options were.  Blue was the only one who had played it before, so to off-set some of that advantage, she decided to try buying a building she had not bought before.  In her previous games, the Café (which rewards the owner with $2 from the active player when they roll a three) had been fairly ineffective, so she bought one.  Purple promptly rolled a three, and had to hand over some cash.  When this happened a second time, suddenly everyone started building Cafés and the gloves were off.

Machi Koro
– Image used with permission of BGG reviewer EndersGame

Blue built her Station first which allowed her to roll both dice and go for the higher number and value buildings and Purple and Burgundy were quick to follow.  Black was obviously not enjoying himself as much as the rest, and didn’t seem to be building much.  Eventually, he build a handful of Restaurants and Cafés, but otherwise just sat and accrued cash.  Blue and Purple had built their third landmark before Black had built one and it was looking like he wasn’t really focussing on the game at all.  Eventually, Blue built her Radio Tower winning the game.  Since there is nothing in the rules about what happens next, the rest of the group played on.  Burgundy managed to build his third and fourth landmarks in quick succession to take second place leaving Black and Purple to fight it out.  When Black suddenly completed his set (much to Purple’s disgust) his strategy became clear:  by building his most expensive landmarks first, he got a larger benefit from them, which enabled him to quickly complete the smaller ones.  Without two dice, his income was reduced, but since he had the majority of the red cards, he picked up money on when others rolled nines.  Although it hadn’t paid off this time, it looked like an interesting approach, though it was clear that Black was not terribly keen to play it again since, as he commented later, he is not keen on dice as a randomising factor, though he is quite happy to use cards.  Perhaps we’ll try a “dice deck” of cards next time and see if he likes it more…

Coloretto
– Image by BGG contributor SergioMR

Meanwhile, the third group had played an assortment of quicker games beginning with Coloretto.  This cute little set collecting game has been getting played a lot recently on Tuesdays, and, as Teal and Violet were new to the group, Red thought it would be a nice gentle game to start with.  Teal began by collecting a few choice colours, but quickly amassed a positive rainbow of chameleons.  Violet was much more selective and her favouritism for yellow chameleons proved to be particularly sensible in such a close fought game, and gave her clear victory over Red and Teal.  After briefly licking his wounds, Teal then regrouped and proceeded to thrash Red and Violet in a quick game of Dobble.

Dobble
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor msaari

Red had been enviously watching Blue and Burgundy playing Yardmaster across the room (which might explain her poor showing in Dobble).  So, as soon as they had finished, she decided to introduce Teal and Violet to it.  As the most experienced player, Red was in a good position to get revenge for getting beaten in Coloretto and her complete drubbing in Dobble.  The game was quite close, but a crucial coup of a green number one at the very last minute swept her sorting yard into play, making Red the clear winner.

Yardmaster
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor moonblogger

With one victory each, Red got out another of her favourite games, Walk the Plank!.  This is a very simple if silly game, with a lot of opportunity to attack the others playing.  One of the big successes in the group, it has really earned it’s keep as one of the few genuinely popular KickStarter games.  This time was no different to previous games and everyone engaged whole-heartedly in trying to force their opponents off the plank and into the murky depths of the ocean.  Since it had been one game all, this could be seen as the groups tie-breaker and it was Teal who’s pirates managed to resist the temptation to jump into the shark-infested water the longest giving him two wins to Red and Violet’s one.

Walk the Plank!
– Image by boardGOATS

With the second group still playing Machi Koro, Red Teal and Violet joined Cyan, Green and White for a quick game of Pick Picknic.  Like Walk the Plank!, Pick Picknic uses simultaneous card selection, but adds negotiation and a dash of chance and “double think”.  The idea is that there are six yards of different colours, if someone plays the only chicken card of a given colour, they get all the grain at that coloured farm.  If multiple players go for the same coloured yard, then players can either agree to share the corn in any way that is mutually acceptable or roll the die for all of it.  Foxes don’t eat corn, however, they only eat chickens, so if someone plays a fox card, they will eat any chicken cards of that colour.  The game was really close and much hilarity ensued when when Cyan and Green, fighting over a yard managed to roll a tie five times in a row.  In the final count, White finished the winner, just four corn ahead of Green and six clear of Violet.

Pick Picknic
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor kilroy_locke

With people beginning to head off and everyone else reluctant to make it a late night, the remaining players began to look for something short-ish and fun.  Purple suggested Plague & Pestilence again, but when that wasn’t greeted enthusiastically, she proposed 6 Nimmt! instead.  Having had an outing last time, as well as at the Didcot group a few days ago, it is starting to become a bit of a regular.  In this case however, it was clear that everyone had fond memories of Burgundy collecting handfuls of cards and wanted to see if he was going to do it again.  Sadly, that was clearly not his intent and he finished the first round with just eight, only one behind the leader, Green.  Green didn’t keep the lead for long though as he was repeatedly forced to pick up high scoring cards finishing with a nice round forty.  Purple improved on her relatively poor first round, but still had quite a few more than Burgundy, Black and Blue.  It was fitting perhaps then, that it was Burgundy who, despite having a terrible hand played a blinder to finish just one point ahead of Black and two ahead of Blue.

6 Nimmt
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning Outcome:  A long game can be very satisfying, but lots of little games can be lots of fun.

3rd September 2013

First up this week, while we waited for the others to arrive, was Toc Toc Woodman (aka Clack Clack Lumberjack).  This Is a dexterity game that consists of a segmented plastic tree where the am of the game is to knock bits of bark off with an axe, while not removing the core segments.  As the game progresses, the tree becomes increasingly unstable with the inevitable consequences…  Honours were just about even when we were saved from a tie-breaker by the last of the late arrivals.

Toc Toc Woodman

Next we started our “Feature Game”, Keyflower.    Although we have played it before and it is a very popular game with most club members, we had one player who was unfamiliar with it, so we chose to play it without any of the additional tiles.

Keyflower is a worker-placement and auction game that is played over four seasons.  Each player begins the game with a home tile and eight worker meeples (or Keyples as they are known in this game).  At the beginning of each round there is a new stack of tiles that players can use and bid for.  The really unusual part of the game is the interplay between workers and bidding:  workers can operate on any tile, in a players own village, in another players village, or one that is still being auctioned.  At the end of the round, the workers go to the owner of the tile, thus, if you have a commodity that other players want, it can be a source of Keyples. On the other hand, if you chose to bid for a tile, presumably you wanted to use it, which means that you have competition for the resource, and so it proved.

Keyflower

One player had been present at the drubbing we had received last time we played and tried the same strategy, i.e. to collect skill tiles.  Those of us that were aware of this approach started out with no real strategy except to prevent a second run-away victory by the same means.  Meanwhile the new player quietly got on with collecting gold and marshalling her Keyples.  Mixed based strategies gradually evolved for otherwise indecisive players with resources, the river and transport all featuring and it wasn’t long before we got to the final round, Winter.  Surprisingly, there wasn’t much competition for tiles to begin with as everyone concentrated on getting the resources and skill tiles they wanted to the place they needed them.  By this time, Keyples were in short supply, so there was only a token amount of scrapping for final tiles in what ended as a very, very closely fought game with first and second just one point apart, a tie for third and fourth, and everyone separated by only six points.

Keyflower

The third game of the night was, the race game, Salmon Run.    We’ve played this a couple of times before, but still managed to have a couple of new players, so after a quick run through of the rules, off we went with board S1, 5E, 6E, 3M, 2M & F1.  White took an early lead, while Red and Black got in each others’ way and battled with bears.  Red and White both got sore heads bashing the bank, while Black got a bit stuck with mid-stream and trapped everyone else in the current.White made a dash for the finish, but got caught needing a right and straight to get across the last lot of rapids giving Red and Black a chance to catch up.  Red got closest, but White managed to make it across the line first and Red failed to quite make it to the Spawning pool on his last turn.  Even if Red and Black had made it home, Red’s nine fatigue cards and Black’s six dwarfed White’s two (thanks to the enforced wait before the last rapids where she had been able to ditch a lot of hers).

Salmon Run

The last game of the night was an old favourite, Love Letter.  This is a really simple little duelling game played with just sixteen cards.  Each round only takes a couple of minutes and each player takes it in turns to draw a card and then play one of the two cards in their hand.  Cards allow players to look at another’s hand, force them to discard, give them the opportunity to try to assassinate other players etc. and the last player in, or (in the unusual case that all sixteen cards are drawn), the player with the highest card, wins the round.  Remarkably, one player managed a run of three rounds undefeated, and despite a desperate rear-guard action, this proved an unassailable lead.

Love Letter

Learning Outcome:  A winning strategy doesn’t  always work…

25th June 2013

This week, we started off playing a slightly neglected old favourite, No Thanks!.  It seemed like ages since we played it last, but it turned out that it was less than two months ago that it last got an outing.  Since it is a quick card game where rounds take just a few minutes, it was ideal to play until everyone had arrived.  Next we, we played the “Feature Game”, Incan Gold, which is another game we’ve played previously.  In this game players are going down a mine and trying to get out with as many gems as possible before it collapses.  One player made a bit of a killing in the opening round, but she failed to hang onto the lead and was pipped by just two gems at the very end.

Incan Gold

It was a bit of an evening for games we’ve played previously, as next we played Alhambra (which was a “Feature Game” at the end of last year).  This is a tile laying game where players have to collect sets and score points for having the most in any one set.  Scoring takes place twice during the game and once at the end, and each time the number of points increases.  This time, Blue (who won last time), got a terrible run of the cards and Red who had missed it last time, had an amazing game winning by a very large margin.

Alhambra

Racing fish may not seem like an obvious choice for a game theme, but it turns out that it actually works really well.  We played Salmon Run just two weeks ago and although we enjoyed it, we were all a bit tired, so we decided to give it another go this week.  For variety, however, we changed almost all the boards, using  S2, 3M, 4E, 5E & F2.  This time, Black got going much quicker than everyone else and headed left followed by Red while White went right.  Black decided not to worry about fatigue cards and just run for it, while Red and White were more cautious.  Black’s tactics seemed to pay off, however, as he made it to the spawning pool first and nobody else could quite make it in time.

Salmon Run

Our final game game was Forbidden Desert which we also played last week, however it is a new release this year and it was a very close game last time, so we felt it deserved another outing.  This time we didn’t have a Water Carrier, but we managed to make good use of the tunnels and the Navigator’s ability to move other players three spaces for the cost of only one action.  These with the Archeologist’s ability to clear extra sand meant we ran out comfortable winners.  We’ll have to ramp up the difficulty next time!

Forbidden Desert

Learning Outcome:  Doing well the first time you play a game doesn’t mean you’ll do well the second time…

11th June 2013

A couple of us arrived very early and managed to squeeze in a couple of games and dinner before anyone else arrived.  First up was Forbidden Desert.  This is a very new, cooperative game, where players work together to try to escape from the desert before the get swamped by the sand storm or die of thirst.  Although they have a lot in common, it is quite different to its older brother, Forbidden Island, and we felt, quite a bit more advanced.  Since it was only the second time out of the box, we played on the Novice Level.  Essentially, the game consists of a grid of tiles with a storm in the middle.  As the game progresses, the storm moves about, shifting the other tiles creating sand dunes as it goes.  The explorers also have to combat the lack of water in the desert, all the while trying to find clues to the location of parts of an ancient burried flying machine, and eventually, the parts themselves.  In the end we did it with a little breathing space, but there is no way we would have escaped without the Water Carrier’s special ability to get more water from the well.

Forbidden Desert

Next we managed a quick game of Morels.  This is a really pretty set collecting game with a mushroom theme and added “woodsiness” in the form of forage sticks which act as a sort of currency.  The idea is that you can collect the easily accessible mushrooms “at your feet” for free, or you can choose a less accessible fungi for the cost of one or more forage sticks.  Once you have a set of three or more mushrooms you can cook them, with added cider or butter flavouring to add points at the end of the game.

Morels

It is the Stanford-in-the-Vale Summer Festival this weekend and we are planning to have a stall to raise our profile (weather permitting).  Since it is quite robust, we are planning to make Army of Frogs available to people to play, so we thought we should try to get to grips with it first. Basically the idea is that you jump one of your hexagonal frog tiles (if you can) and then place a frog from your hand, finally drawing another frog from the bag to make your hand back up to two frogs.  Somehow, we managed to play this apparently simple little game wrongly not once, but twice!  Something to work on before Sunday…

Army of Frogs

Then, we played this weeks “Feature Game”, Mission: Red Planet, which is about colonizing Mars.  In this game, each player is a colonial power which sends astronauts, in space shuttles, to occupy the most promising zones on the planet.  It is an interesting game with a curious mixture of luck and judgement.  The luck comes from the rockets that are available at the start of each round, the value of each region of Mars (which is hidden in the early part of the game) and the destiny cards drawn.  The judgement comes from the character cards which enable players to place a number of astronauts into rockets and often do something else, like launch a rocket early or move astronauts around on Mars or even sabotage someone elses plans.  The character played also dictates when the player gets their turn which leads to a lot of trying to “out think” everyone else, and with only ten rounds, once a card has been played you may not get the chance to play it again.  This sort of game can either go very well or very badly and this is exactly what happened:  Red came in four points ahead of Blue with fifty-five points, while Green finished with less than half that.

Mission: Red Planet

The last game of the night was Salmon Run.  This is a new little race game, where players are fish dodging bears, eagles and rapids, jumping waterfalls and trying to be the first to get to the spawning pool without being too tired.  The game has a modular board and, as it was new to most of us, we used a fairly easy set up:  S1, 4E, 3E, 2M and F1.  Red started quickly up the right side of the course with Black and Grey giving chase.  Unfortunately Red banged her head against the bank which gave Grey and Black the chance to overtake.  Black set the bear on Grey a couple of times and managed to sneak ahead, but Grey made a run for the last water fall and managed to sneak into the spawning pool, and as the last player in the round, ended the game and the evening.

Salmon Run

Learning Outcome:  For teaching at the Summer Festival, it is probably a good idea to have some laminated crib-sheets available!