Friday, November 11, 2011

More Meeples for those Sea Monsters

I really like Survive as do most of the game groups I bring it to. The problem, it only plays with up to 4 players. So when a 5-6 player expansion hit the shelves it was a must buy, especially when its only a few quid.

The expansion comes in a little box and opening it up you get a whole host of little plastic meeples and some tiles. The meeples are nice, but they are not as good as the wooden ones in the base game. You also have to put numbered stickers on the base of all of them which takes a while. When playing with 5-6 players you use different combinations so as to even things out. Reading the numbers on these new meeples is much easier than the base games which is good. I just wish they had kept up with the wooden ones.

The tiles were a bit of a mystery, but reading the rules that came with it there was apparently a printing problem with the first run. One of the mountain tiles was left with white border so players could quickly figure out what tile it was. These replacements are used to resolve this. Not sure about this, were they free or am I actually paying to fix someone else problem?

Happily the game plays quite well with 6 players. It's always going to be a bit of a bun fight but with more players it does become a little more hectic. Meeples are very quickly dispatched by an assortment of monsters swimming the shores of a shrinking island. It's a fun game and one that you can't really take too seriously. In my last game I lost every single meeple under my control. I was doing well at the start, head down and happily being ignored by all the other players. Then things turned nasty when they all realized I had not lost a meeple. One by one they were eaten, drowned or sucked under by a whirlpool.

To spice things up we had also decided to play with the Giant Squid expansion. This adds a number of large white squid to the game. These can be particularly nasty as they can pluck poor meeples off of beaches and out of boats. Nowhere is safe! As an expansion goes its pretty small and cheap and a great accompaniment to the 5-6 player expansion. It just adds to the fun and chaos.

So Survive continues to be a popular game and its nice to see that the mini expansions that have been so far released have added just enough to the game. It's not changed drastically or made things more complicated. It's just given you the opportunity to kill off more players meeples in different ways.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Domain in space......

Gaming has been mental the last month, both face to face gaming and on the web. A lot of new games have hit the table but I wanted to chat about just one for now.

Eminent Domain has hit UK stores and after a demo I picked up a copy. Its been touted as a space version of Dominion, and although it does have deck building elements I feel that it is more than just a Dominion clone.

Game play is very simple, there are 6 different base cards in the game. With each having its own Action and Role ability. All players start with the same distribution of these cards as well as a home world. You then shuffle and draw 5 cards from your starting 10.

The first thing you have to do is decide which card you are playing and use its action section. This action only affects you and can range from warfare cards which give you fighters, to survey cards which add more cards to your hand.

You then pick another card to play, but this time instead of one from your hand you take one from the piles of cards in the center of the table. This acts as the timer mechanism, the game will end when a number of piles are empty. This card is now played for its role ability. Most of the time its the same as the action but usually the person picking the card gets a bonus or different effect. Every other player can now discard cards of the same type to also use that action. So for example if I chose the colonize card I can now tuck it under a planet to go towards its colonization cost. If I also had 2 more of these cards in my hand I can also put them down. Other players that also have colonize cards can also put them into play. If they don't or don't want to use them they take a card from there deck instead.

Finally you discard and draw back to 5. Pretty simple so far.

The only part of the game which can slow things down is the research action, if you have enough of these cards and choose the research role you can take a research card. These are limited in number and give you different actions or effects. Usually altering or improving the strategy your are playing. For example the improved warfare allows you to build more fighters. You can play without these cards if you want a more basic game, but if you have played any deck building game before there's no reason not to put them in.

Planet cards are discovered with survey cards and can be either settled using colonization cards or forcibly controlled using warfare. Once the requirements have been met the planet is yours to use. Planets will usually allow you to produce and trade resources for victory points. They will also be worth points at the end of the game. Finally you will need more matching planets to research the higher tech levels. So planets are what you are aiming to get in front of you throughout the game.

The game plays well, once players have got there heads around the action/role differences they should be getting to grips with the game. What I like is that you can always choose the role you want, so your never really stuck trying to work your strategy. If you don't have a colonize card in your hand but want to settle a planet, just pick one from the table as your role.

Component wise this game is lovely, good strong box, good looking artwork and loads of lovely plastic fighters. Tasty Minstrel have really put together a good game here.

I am hoping that there will be a future expansion, it's crying out for ways to trade with other players attack there planets and steal technologies. As well as more technology cards and different planets there is quite a bit of scope for the game.