Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A game of musical chairs

We had a POB meet last night although there were only eight of us we still managed to get in a good number of hours play.

First up was Space Alert a game that I have been interested in for a while. It's a co-op game where the players work as a team to stop there space craft from being destroyed by alien ships. The novel factor of the game is that you play along to a mission CD. This is telling you what phase of the game you are in and when enemies attack. While this android voice was talking we were frantically trying to plan out our moves. These included firing lasers, powering up shields and wiggling the mouse to stop the computer going into screen saver mode. When the mission CD ends you all end up with a series of programmed moves that you then play out.
Space alert is one of the most frantic and stressful games I have played in a while. It was like watching an episode of Laurel and Hardy as we bumbled our way around the ship shooting at baddies that hadn't appeared then moving off while someone else moving into position to find that laser had run out of power. Teamwork wasn't our thing and we lost.
I really enjoyed the game and look forward to giving it another play sometime.

The other table had finished cutthroat caverns so we rejoined and Game of Thrones was pulled out. I have only played this game once and was sorely beaten by Steerpike. I suppose life in the castle had turned him into a Lannister and his red troops had won the game by turn 3 of my first game.
Tonight was different, 5 players and we were all ready. Unfortunately Squid boy managed to sink my navy in the first turn and subsequently took over house Lannisters ancestral home the following turn. Meanwhile Ollie and Rob were expanding in the south and Mike's Starks were pouring down from the north. I was sandwiched between two fronts and had to spend more time defending than expanding.
The game drew on and it was obvious that it was either going to be Ollie or Mike to take the win. In the end they both finished with the same number of strongholds but Ollie had the higher supply so won the game.
The game had run for nearly 3 hours and it was gone midnight so we packed up.

A good nights gaming, the other table had played a couple of games of Race for the Galaxy during our epic battle of Westeros. I am not sure when a Game of Thrones will be played again, it takes a while to play but I am hoping it won't be as long as last time.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Modern Art

I have recently been playing Stone Age on Yucata. I think I first heard about it on the Meeples and Minatures podcast and I kind of brushed it off. I was probably busy with Pandemic at the time.

It's on Beta at Yucata and I have really been enjoying it, I have about 5 games of it on the go at the moment. One of the best things about the implementation is that you can see the board and cards as they really are. I think the board is one of the best looking boards I have seen.

I am a sucker for things that look nice and I am sure if I had seen this earlier a copy would be on my shelf already. I have had a look back over the games and wondered how many I have bought just because they looked good. Suprisingly not a huge amount. Does this mean that I have missed out on some gems or just don't appreciate good board game art.

Dominion is a great game, but I find the art a bit bland but functional. Some companies seem to spend more tiem on the artwork than others. I suppose it's down to cost. After developing a game can they justify pasting on some uber artwork hoping that it will be enough to entice the geek crown into buying it?

So, my top 5 best looking game boards at the moment are probably
  1. Stone Age, its new.
  2. Formula D, I love the cartoon look of the reprint.
  3. Hannible, rome vs Carthage. Sucker for map boards and this is gorgeous.
  4. Thebes, works well with the theme and its another map board.
  5. Age of Empires III, yet another map.
Any others I should be looking at?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Back to Gaming

After a two week break enjoying the sights and sun of Spain I am ready for some gaming.

This week a couple of the guys came over as we had planned a game of Shogun. It was a great game, playing with 5 players is always my favorite number as it increases the conflicts.
A couple of the guys hadn't played it before but after the first year had been scored things were making sense. I was in the lead mainly down to being left alone to build in two regions while Panzerfaust started his warmongering ways.
Year two heated up with a few of us loosing provinces that were ready to supply us with gold for the season or further supplies. I came in second to Moley after he managed to take over enough provinces with buildings to score a good number of points. Well played, you managed to keep quite and just amass armies ready for a massive summer offensive.
I was a little disappointed in that we all managed to keep our peasants under control and feed during the winter months. It always adds a bit of tension when players start loosing badly defended provinces due to lack of rice.
Everyone enjoyed it and all agreed we should setup another game sometime.

Next up was the bean farming game Bonhanza. This has been on my shelf for a while now as I was never that sure about it. I had read the rules before going on holiday and watched a couple of web videos on how to play.
I explained the rules, ran through a couple of dummy hands and it seemed to make sense. The cards were dealt and after a couple of hesitant rounds it clicked. Stink beans were soon being traded for Chili beans and the game started to flow nicely. Unfortunately it was getting late so we decided to just play through one run of the deck. Romeo won and surprisingly everyone was very keen to play it again another night. I had just worked out some strategies and realised that you really had to trade away cards from your hand so you could plant and harvest your own. Then the game ended. Next time things will be different.

Games on there way are El Grande and Mow, probably two extremes. One set in ancient Spain where players vie for control over Spain's provinces, the other a french game about cows and flies.

Game group meet soon and a Game of Thrones is planned, just need to read the rules again and maybe get some strategy tips from Steerpike ;-)