We’ll start with a little light property buying
For Sale (thanks Jon)
4 stray IBG’ers soon became 6 which was handy, as For Sale happily accommodates this number of players. Neil picked up some nice bargains, whilst Soren waited until late to start bidding big. Jon paid a lot for a high-value building early on, and with Philip sitting to his right with plenty of cash, he was forced to pick up a few minnows too.
In the second half, there were some bargains to be had when the relative values of the cheques were close together, but when the scores were totted up it was revealed that it had all been quite close, with Philip pulling ahead for the win and Jon having a shocker.
“Unfortunately”, the full scores have gone the way of the dodo…
From houses to Kingdoms...
With an hour to kill and 3 players looking for game, the currently popular (except with Neil, the old grump…) Kingdom Builder was chosen. It was new to Gareth II, but Gary had played a shed-load on iOS (which is actually a fine implementation).
Scoring cards were Discoverers (points for each horizontal line occupied), Workers (for being next to locations) and Citizens (1 point for every 2 settlements in your biggest settlement area).
It was all very close – Gareth and Jon both ran out of settlements, whilst Gary had a couple left. Jon maxed out on the Citizens by having all 40 settlements in 1 clump, but couldn’t get as many Workers as Gareth or Gary. Gareth scored full marks for the Discoverers, having occupied every horizontal line.
There was almost nothing in it at the end, with Gareth and Jon sharing the win, and Gary trailing just 3 points behind (placing next to 1 more citadel would have won him the game).
The 3-player game is different to 4 player, as there is more space, but this can actually constrict players, as they can find themselves with less options to spread across the board (not being blocked in by other players as much). Anyway, much fun as always in a palatable 40 minute playtime.
Jon 54; Gareth 54; Gary 51
Yspahan (thanks Paul)
Paul brought along Yspahan knowing Jim was along and that it was one of the games he couldn't say no to. They were joined by long time friend of both, Dale who was over from Kiwiland and Amanda.
The veteran Yspahaner Jim sped off showing everyone that he liked camels by taking that option in each of his first turns, even though there were only a camel or two each turn. The newbies first looked in disbelief at the supposed naivety of the man, but then soon started to follow suit, grabbing camels at every turn. Surely one so wise couldn't be wrong, even if it looked like it made no sense.
Amanda took an early lead and maintained it for most of the game, while Jim sat back grinning at his camel surplus, but telling everyone that he just didn't get the right dice, or cards.
The game was very building oriented and there was almost no caravaning for the first two weeks, with camels only getting to the top during the last turn.
Dale was building a lot in the various quarters and Paul was dabbling in everything, trying madly to keep up with Amanda.
During the last week Jim was heard in conversation with Dale "I think that it's between you and me for third place". Paul looked on smugly as he was confident by that stage of overtaking Amanda so surely victory was his.
But then it came to Jim's last turn, an even though he'd only scored averagely for the caravan and was in last place, a few flourishes on the board, a count of his cubes in the big scoring quarters and he swept into the lead in majestic fashion.
We were not worthy.
Scores: Jim 86, Paul 72, Amanda 70, Dale 66
Another urban environment...
Uptown (thanks Paul)
Jon glanced across the room after Yspahan finished and commented that Jim must be here as Uptown was out, and indeed it only makes an appearance with Jim in tow, and this time it was very welcome.
Amanda really wanted to go home, but was persuaded to stay by the fellow camel traders for some sudoku looking puzzle stuff. Was it a game themed on New York City in the roaring 20s? Bubbly, oversized limosines, art deco galore - there were all oozing from the tiles. But no, not much theme at all, just some pretty pictures irrelevant to the game, but a very fun game it is anyway.
Amanda started by creating many groups, but a combination of people landing on her tiles and some very clever long snake like group of tiles, she managed at the end to end up with just one collection of her pieces on the board, however she also was forced to take several tiles from all of the others and so ended up scoring highly for those.
Jim kept the number of tiles that he managed to collect down to only 2 of one colour but ended up with 3 shapes on the board.
Paul was intent on keeping the number of board tiles down and managed to limit these to 2, but had also picked up two from his fellow players.
Dale ended by also keeping his on board tiles to two groups, but took the spoils as he has only picked up a max of one from the others.
Scores (lowest wins): Dale 3, Paul 4, Jim 5, Amanda 5
And now for a game featuring a surprising absence of Tibet...
China (thanks Paul)
Amanda made her exit and it was left to Dale, Jim and Paul to slog it out for the last time in the evening over some Chinese area control.
Dale and Paul had played before, but neither well enough to teach Jim perfectly, so Paul gallantly let Dale swat up while he chatted with his old mate under the pretence of setting up the board (anyone who knows China knows that there isn't much of this).
Dale and Jim kept leaving a couple of spaces in a region, so Paul kept finishing them off. They both got into a battle over who controlled a couple of the middle provinces, so Paul let them fight it out and took a long road and several regions in the west.
And that was more of less the pattern for the rest of the game. Paul was grateful to be able to even up the scores for the evening at 1 each between the three boys.
Scores: Paul 49, Jim 44, Dale 29
Last report, back to the old favourite
Everyone had played at least one game so we were using the advanced set up. The bonus 2 Workers and bonus Worker +3 power tiles were missing, theoretically creating a worker poor environment. I decided to pick Swarmlings on the theory that their greater income would counterbalance this.
Dan picked Alchemists, not good news to me. Fortunately the other two players were at the opposite end of the terrain spectrum- though less fortunately they both had terraform abilities that ignored this- Neil's Nomads being less frightening in this regard than Barrie's Giants.
I went with initial dwellings fairly close to each other in the extreme east of the Northern and Central continents. I was adjacent to Barrie in the Central continent and -quite deliberately- on my own in that part of the North- although Neil put two of his Dwellings further east. Dan and Neil were adjacent on the Central continent and Dan and Barrie not quite adjacent on the Eastern continent.
I started with a Priest, whom I sent to the Water track to ensure a Priest from the initial starting tile. I upgraded my central continent Dwelling Stronghold as Barrie's Stronghold rose next door. Then, worried by Barrie's Terraforming ability I took the double spade action to terraform a mountains hex next to me and Barrie, bumping into Dan who was expanding from the other side. I then used by stronghold's ability to make a trading post but had run out of resources for a temple.
Meanwhile Barrie, who had taken the temporary shipping tile used his terraform power to jump onto the Northern continent next to Neil's Temple (which Neil had paid an extra 3 gold to upgrade before Barrie had arrived). He also sailed to the wasteland hex on the tip of northern continent's eastern peninsula.
At this point Dan was struggling with the Alchemists and I generously explained to him how he could build his Stronghold (by burning 3 power for an extra worker).
Round 2 was scoring for Towns, but no one managed a town. Neil built his lone Temple into a Sanctuary. I built my Temple a round late, but as I choose the Water 1 tile and built the Temple before using my stronghold ability I could at least feel I hadn't wasted that. Barrie built out to meet Dan on the eastern continent.
Round 3 saw my first town, on the central continent. I had temporary shipping and used it to plant a foothold on the southern continent and defend my northern position against Barrie- enough to guarantee 3 buildings there, but not enough to prevent him completely cutting me off from the river on my western side, sinking my chances of connecting all my buildings. Pretty soon everyone was building towns- Dan had three by the end of the game and Neil had a couple. Barrie could have had 3 towns but he panicked when I upgraded my shipping and filled in a space between two of his settlements that I had no intention of poaching (it would have cost me 2 spades and was of no actual use to me apart from annoying Barrie). I built a second town using my Sanctuary on the northern continent- in round 5, when there was a 5 Vp bonus for it. My southern continent efforts failed because Dan arrived there.
Neil was slow to build his stronghold and we allowed him to redirect a bridge when he misunderstood the "over water" clause. The final turn was VPs for Trading posts and Dan milked this for all it was worth as well as having the TP starting tile, while I only managed to build 2 that round.
On the cult track Neil was everywhere, as he had taken the cult bonus starting tile whenever he could and had the Water 2 favour, I think he had 4 favours at the end of the game- the last one he took was Earth 1 which would have scored more had he taken it first...however because he was last with town building he only managed to get top place on one track (Air). I managed to reach two top places- Water and Earth, while Barrie carried the Fire track.
Dan and I had fully upgraded our shipping but Barrie was able to connect all his buildings with Shipping 1. Dan still had more buildings and so came in first. Neil had no shipping and so I pulled ahead of him for third place.
Scores Dan 107 Philip 98 Barrie 89 Neil 62
Analysis: Once I'd given him the starting push, Dan played the Alchemists beautifully- as he said, he always feels he's a coin or two short in these games, and now he could evade that. Barrie played the Giants- who are difficult- well enough, and had he managed the two separate towns in the north he would probably have been challenging me for second place. Neil played a different strategy for the Nomads from Woody (last week)- heavy on Temples and isolation (he paid 6 gold for a Trading post at least twice). But the strategy didn't seem to work any better from him than Woody's stronghold based one.
Second game in a row my score has decreased- I said to Dan I'd scored 99 last time and he said that could get embarrassing in ninety games time when I'll be in single figures. Not sure I really grasped the Swarmlings- their worker income is not actually higher than other races in practice and they really need that third town.
And another fantasy world, added belatedly due to editorial omission...
Kingsburg- thanks Gary
Five putative governors from the Isleworth BGG sat down to play Gareth II’s copy of Kingsburg at the London Apprentice and build themselves a a province to exceed all others. Since this was the first time several of us had played the game, we decided to go with the no-frills standard version, eschewing the additional (larger) boards of the expansion – table space was also a factor here! Gareth II explained the game at a brisk pace (dice, placement, resources, build, survive the invading hordes etc) and then we were underway.
I’m not sure whether it was down to the setting (The London Apprentice pub) or a follow-my-leader sense of insecurity for first time players, but everyone built the Inn on the first turn – this wasn’t going to be very exciting if this continued. The modern phenomenon of the identical High Street is one thing, identical fantasy provinces would be another thing altogether! Fortunately, things diverged from that point onwards…
Andy and Soren went the commercial route, saving up their resources to build the Markets, then later the Farm and Merchant’s Guild. Andy, in particular, decided to hold back on building to curry favour with King Tritus and obtained the King’s Envoy after the first summer season and then the King’s Aid at the start of Season 2 (an extra die). Meanwhile, Gary was keeping up his building rate by concentrating on the low cost and low value buildings, as were Gareth II and Jon. Everyone spurned recruiting soldiers at the end of Year 1 and survived the first invasion of unsavoury hordes, thanks to a decent roll of the reinforcement dice. All pretty tight at this stage.
It was in Year 2 that problems started to appear in Andy’s province when's its governor embarked on a campaign of grammatical tyranny (“FEWEST buildings”) and then some unsavoury sedition (“what, the leading player gets an extra VP for building the most!!”). It was no help pointing out to him that it was the player who had built most buildings that received the King’s Reward, and that could easily be different to the player with most VP. Perhaps most worryingly, he was convinced that someone was tampering with his dice… (they could not possibly roll that low by accident!). Soren too was afflicted by similar loaded dice concerns, questioning the decision to give him the non-standard red dice - he was unconvinced by the explanation that it was more difficult to see the black pips on the original red dice!
Years 2 and 3 saw Pedantic Andy continue to monopolise the King’s Aid for having least (sorry – FEWEST!) buildings, before he and Soren made their extra white dice a permanent fixture in their armoury by building the Farm. The -1 defence on invasions this gave them proved not so much of a problem thanks to some decent help provided by King Tritus’ troops at year end. More of a problem was the fact that the white die appeared to be stuck on permanent rolls of one!
Gary continued to build regularly through Years 2 and 3, concentrating on the first two columns of buildings - including a hastily constructed Market after a nasty case of blocked advisers - and, to Andy’s consternation, started picking up the King’s Reward regularly for having the most buildings (13 buildings by game end). A couple of trips to the Queen’s Bedchamber didn’t go amiss in the VP stakes either! Gareth II was regularly picking up the VPs for defeating the invaders by the largest margin, while Jon quietly played a conservative game (was he seeking help from the Kingsburg App on his phone??).
Years 4 and 5 saw Andy and Soren finally reaping the benefits of the permanent extra die and the extra gold per season courtesy of the Merchant’s Guild by expanding their realms at a pace. However, Gary had by now built up a fair lead on the VP track and had turned to building the VP laden religious buildings, including the Church in Year 4 and the Cathedral, finally, in the summer of Year 5. Going into the final autumn/winter period of Year 5 saw Gary with a six point lead over Soren, leaving Soren, who had just built the Wizard’s Tower, hoping that the final invading hordes would do enough to tear down that Cathedral!
In the final autumn season, Gary managed to scrape enough together to making a fitting final visit to King Tritus himself – earning just enough resources to build the 4VP Barracks and gain two much-needed extra soldiers (thanks to the Stable), whilst Soren couldn’t quite accumulate enough resources to build again. Gary was now on 45 to Soren’s 35. So it all came down to the final invading horde – Soren’s only hope was for a(n unlikely?!) combination of building-destroying Barbarians (not Demons) of strength 9 appearing with a roll of only 1 on the reinforcement dice – that would result in Gary’s Cathedral being destroyed (losing 9VPs) and might have meant Soren could still have survived and possibly even still defeated the invaders for VPs himself, thanks to those Wizards.
The invaders duly appeared and were, horror, Barbarians of strength 9 intent on destroying buildings….. but fortunately for Gary, Gareth II rolled a safe 3 on the reinforcement dice, repelling the invaders and saving Gary’s Cathedral and the splendiforous VPs it added to his province.
Final Scores: Gary 46, Soren 36, Jon 34, Gareth II 33 and, last but not least... actually it was the least (sorry – FEWEST!) points was Andy on 32.
P.S “I’ve Wisdom from the East and Wisdom from the West” is a quotation from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Yeoman of the Guard