Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Livestock Uprising

The Blog this month is going to see some Hora gaming thoughts… you have been warned!   This week’s kickstarter of interest for me is Livestock Uprising– A Call to Farms! a card driven farming game.  Now, obviously this appeals to my Suffolk roots, and in a way so does the US military dress code the animals have, so many US Air Bases in Suffolk and Norfolk too you see.  Anyway, the premise of the game is that the animals have become factions and are looking to rule the farm.  It plays 2-4 and runs about 90 mins so maybe a bit more serious than it looks.  Base game is $35 plus $10 shipping to the UK and potential customs costs too of course.  I love the artwork, and there’s a coffee table book tie-in that’s of interest.  The wooden box looks incredible, but unless Mrs Hora finds a job before 17th Feb that one’s going to escape me.  Hold on, you mean… she has to start looking for a job before she can get one?  I thought these things fell out of the sky.  Damn.


Anyway, time to welcome the party guests… earlybirds Jon, Paul and Simon had already completed San Juan – whatever time do you boys arrive at the Apprentice?  Good to see Mark there again, must be keen.  Gareth II had his usual stack; Stone Age, Lancaster, Airships +1.  James arrived loaded up with trade games of course, his plan to drag people into the club seems to be working to be fair to him, as stated at least they already know what he’s like.  Then Tom arrives baby-faced as ever – and I mean he covered in baby food, not looking young and handsome.  Scott and Charlotte had jumped out of the car ‘discussing’ something in that wonderful way couples do, he did manage to carry the heavy games bag in though, once reminded!  John Bandettini fresh from another amazingly successful geeklist arrives with his placard ‘TCOTN’, bring them on John!  Good to see Andy again, must try to play a game with him again, it’s been way too long.  Last, but by no means least, Philip arrives having waltzed all the way back from tube-strike land.


There was a huge range of games mentioned on the IBG Guild page of the Geek this week.  This always does three things to me:

1.   think, ‘well there’s no point taking anything this week, it’ll never get to the table’.  Not the most positive thought in the world!; 

2.   creates early panic and confusion, so many games I’d love to play but will I even end up playing one if there are so many others on offer?  Everyone will choose – I’m not very good at stating my desires in public – something, and I may not even get to play one of the ones I’d keen to have a go at!  For instance, this week, of the games mentioned I was keen to play Tikal, Kolejka, El Grande, Caverna, Trains, Pax Porfiriana, happy to play Kingdom Builder, Legacy, the Testament of Duke de Crecy, and not so interested in the Scepter of Zavandor, Havana;

3.   but I want to play with him, him and him… I really enjoy playing with them, why do they like such naff games??!!  DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE YET?

Right, supposed to be editing a blog here, not writing one!  Just time for a quick thanks to Paul and James for the snaps, immortalised forever boys!  With no further thinking here’s what we did this week;

San Juan (cheers Jon)

Jon, Paul and Simon were sufficiently early to play a decent length game before everyone else arrived – and so it was a welcome return to this card-based Puerto Rico spin-off. Paul had played a while ago, but it was new to Simon, so a thorough explanation was needed (it’s one of those games that you do rather need to know what you’re doing from the off).

Paul and Simon went down the production route, with Aqueducts, Trading Posts and Markets setting them up nicely for some heavy trading income. Jon set himself back at the beginning by saving up to buy a very early Library, which gradually paid out with extra cards from the Prospector and discounts for the Builder. A Poor House and a late Quarry also helped him to build in almost every round, gradually sneaking ahead of the other players in terms of number of buildings.

By the mid-game, Paul had built a Chapel, and was starting to squirrel away cards under it, whilst Simon had made good use of his Smithy to accumulate an impressive collection of production buildings, which was enhanced by a late Guild Hall.

With Paul and Simon’s trading income rapidly rising, Jon took every opportunity to buy buildings, and managed to sneak a Statue and Victory column into his tableau, which was complemented by a Triumphal Arch for 6 bonus points, and finished the game off with the other players a couple short of their maximum number of buildings.

Jon’s experience with the game had paid off, and Paul’s inability to get a ‘6 point’ building on the table had cost him. Simon did remarkably well for a first time, and would certainly score even higher with a rematch in the near future.

Final Scores; Jon – 31, Simon – 20, Paul – 18.

Pickomino  (thanks again Jon)
After James’ success with this game last week, he brought it out for another round of dice-rolling fun. He started well, with a nice little stack of tiles quickly growing in front of him, whilst Jon, Gareth and Paul trading tiles between them. Jon eventually managed to steal one of James’ tiles (whilst James was away from the table, so we’ll assume that Jon rolled the correct numbers…) and Gareth was quietly picking up a stack of his own.

With one tile left and the end of the game imminent, Paul had the opportunity to steal from the leaders – James and Gareth – or Jon. He chose poor, misunderstood Jon, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Final Scores; James – 6, Gareth – 6, Jon – 5, Paul – 2, Simon – 0.

No Thanks!

Scott, Charlotte, Tom, Mark & I sat down for a quick bit of bluff and dare.  It’s better with more this game.  Charlotte and Scott picked up some hefty cards early on but played pretty tightly after that.  Mark was new to the game but took to it impressively and was looking odds on at one stage.  Tom and I got bogged down picking up rubbish!  Scott then collected some very useful coins and reduced his initial card selection effectively, yes he won again.

Final Scores; Scott – 16, Mark – 18, Charlotte – 16, Tom – 25, Neil -27.

Havana  (thank you Jon, and records tell me I had played this before, not that anybody noticed!)

Tom had been keen to try this out again, and John and Neil were not adverse to it, so Jon got to bring it out after 3 unsuccessful weeks of trying to get it to the table. This is a role selection game, where each player has the same small deck of characters, and turn order (which can be very important) is dictated by the strength of characters that you choose.

Neil was out of the blocks quickly, acquiring more building materials than Wickes, and managed to purchase several low value buildings. John used his workers to good effect and bought a nice high value building, with Jon following suit. Tom then also joined the action, and each player was only a couple of builds away from victory.

Jon managed to steal a nice hoard of cash, and purchased a second big building and in a subsequent round, ‘liberated’ the requisite building materials from Tom to buy the last building necessary to give him the victory.

This game always finishes really quickly, and demands an aggressive strategy to triumph, which makes for a great, quick interactive experience. Maybe we’ll see it come out again soon…..

Final Scores; Jon - 16, Tom – 11, Neil – 11, John - 4.

Sceptre of Zavandor  (thanks Philip!)

I was fifteen minutes late but fortunately someone had saved me a seat at the Zavandor table. I was the Mage, Andy (first game) the Elf, Gareth the Witch, Charlotte the Kobold and Scott the Fairy[hurrah!].

The Mage has discounts on artefacts so I was busy buying artefacts - which left me rather short on income compared to Scott and Andy. Gareth stayed at the back the whole game, partly because he didn't understand what the Chalice of Fire did and failed to draw Ruby cards for it. Scott was usually somewhere at the front. Charlotte bought two Masks of Charisma, giving her an incredible discount on Sentinels, but had even lower income than me.

In the end we all bought a Sentinel - Scott and Gareth choosing gem-related ones while Charlotte and I picked artefact related ones and Andy picked the one that gives VPs for completing Knowledge tracks. Briefly, it looked as if I might have tied with Scott - but a recount established Scott as the clear winner.

El Grande (cheers Paul!)

Time for a classic that never fails to live up to such a billing.

Paul set the game up while James explained the rules to Simon and Mark. Both of the new guys were in the swing of things very quickly as the game swung back and forth for the 90 minutes or so it took to entice the caballeros from the provinces to the court and be dispatched into the regions of medieval Spain.
Everyone took turns in the lead. First Paul took advantage of an underutilised tower to get his nose ahead following the first scoring round. Simon then took up the charge and opened up a decent lead courtesy of a favourable movable scoreboard in the south west. At this stage James was lagging and claiming that he stood no chance of anything but last place, then the next turn he of course he made a nonsense of his own claim and scored 26 points in one go and soon after got his nose in front. Mark was on the shoulder of the leader for most of the game, and after the second scoring caused another score to happen and he took the lead. He didn’t surrender it for the rest of the game and charged for the line commendably taking a victory in his first El Classico.

Everyone agreed that it’d been a fine game, albeit with quite a lot of leader bashing. A perfect blend of variety, difficult decisions, smooth gameplay and a plausible theme. Come back soon El Grande.

Final Scores; Mark - 123, Paul - 118, James - 115, Simon – 99. 
Die Speicherstadt (thanks again Paul, great victory by the way!)

Simon and Mark were heading home after all the Iberian excitement, but Mark was talked into staying as a wannabe classic was placed in front of him - who could resist Stefan Feld’s simple but clever auction based card game where James’ set of real silver coins were painfully scarce for the whole game. As often happens, although the aim of the game is to fulfil as many contracts as possible, it was the sideshow of fires breaking out on the harbour-front that was the deciding factor.

During the first few rounds Paul had the smallest firefighting force, so was put back a little, which James hit the front. However Paul made it his business not to burn when the flames got too high, and James soon started to go backwards as more fires broke out, with Mark maintaining a solid neutrality.

James had plenty of contacts, most of which he managed to deliver, but at the expense of a few damaging infernos. Mark had plenty of goods, but not so many contracts, so got some cash for them instead of points. He balanced it with a couple of kantors, but to really make those cards pay he needed more of them. Paul had some fulfilled contracts, albeit less than James, but then he protected those he did have from the fire and ended up taking the spoils.

Final Scores; Paul - 34, James - 31, Mark – 27.

Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy

The family tree game.  Jon and Neil had played before although that was in another country and probably shouldn’t count.  John tried to remind us how to play whilst Tom was clearly taking more notice.

After the first age we’d all happily married and had three children each, so all pretty much level.  It was then however that Tom went baby-crazy and his second age birth rate would have made any man proud.  Despite having a few deaths both John and Jon also managed a fair return, John bizarrely sticking to an all-French family. 

I’d been concentrating on saving three artists for my fourth generation spouses, part of my patron’s mission, and in so-doing had completed neglected the rest of the family.  Three offspring in the third age as opposed to Jon’s incredible nine left me high and dry, should have visited the fertility doctor like the other boys had done.  Tom and John were now fighting it out for second place with John finally turning to the rest of Europe to expand his family far enough to pip Tom by one point; close!   
Final Scores; Jon – 79, Tom – 63, John – 62, Neil – 51.
looking over Jon's shoulder...

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