Wednesday, 1 July 2015

From Kingdoms to Nations

Players: Tom, Jon, Noel, Alex, James, David, Gareth, Sarah, John, Raj

7 Wonders (thanks Noel)

Jon, Tom, Alex and John were very kindly holding a seat open for me at 7 Wonders as I arrived late.

This was my 3rd/4th game of 7W and I managed to win for the first time but I think more due to the good fortune of getting 4 or 5 hands in a row, through ages 2 and then 3, containing the Science card that chained off the cards I'd already built, rather than any particular clever strategising. The science cards combined with a free science from my Wonder gave me 3 full sets of Science and combined with some simple blue cards was enough to win.

7w is a strange one for me, I appreciate the simplicity of the drafting system and the whole thing is enjoyable as an activity but Im not sure about the game seems just too difficult to influence other players, particularly those not directly adjacent. To do so, you really need to know exactly which blue and green cards (in particular) they have already built and then which free builds they would be entitled, but this information is buried in the bottom corner of their cards and not accessible to anyone other than their neighbour and even then with some difficulty.

So everyone should rely on the neighbour not passing on cards that will help opponents, but to do so would stuff up their own game and so everyone then generally just concentrates on their own tableau ...and so it feels a bit like playing glorified patience, hoping your chaining cards show up. ... though maybe thats just the way I play (usually poorly but this time my cards came in!)

Still very enjoyable company and table banter though!

Kingdom Builder (thanks Jon)

Another superb game of KB with newcomer Raj and Alex, who hadn't played before either.
Mission cards were: Hermits (Build lots of separate settlement areas); Fishermen (build near water); Ambassadors (build next to opponents) and a 'task card' which gave 5 points for any terrain area filled entirely with your settlements.
Noel and Alex both picked up 2 'desert' special ability tiles (lay an extra settlement on deserts) and Alex also snagged Stonehenge (lay a 4th settlement), which meant that he was laying 6 settlements each round. Jon had opted for the Crossroads tile (as had Noel) which allowed them to pick up 2 terrain cards instead of one and choose between them.
Raj was feeling his way along, but had quickly picked up the concept of how to place settlements to your best advantage.
Alex soon declared his enjoyment of the game, opining that it was a 'less confrontational version of Carcassonne.' At that moment, Noel dumped a settlement deliberately in Jon's path, denying him at least 5 points in the process - less confrontational my a***!!
Suddenly - out of nowhere - Alex ended the game. Noel had a few settlements left, Raj had a few more and Jon had 16 - nearly half his stock - unplaced!
However, it's not how many you've got, but where you place them. Everyone had scored a dozen or more points from Ambassadors, with Noel just inching ahead. Citadels scoring was negligible, but Jon had done ok with Hermits and Fishermen. Noel had also scored heavily for Fishermen, and had done well enough elsewhere to leave him with a comfortable 10 point victory.
Jon looked down at his massive pile of unused settlements with sadness - so many potential points lying forlornly on the green baize.... <sigh>
Noel 61; Jon 51; Alex 45; Raj 41

Also played: Elevenses, Kingsburg, Nations: The Dice Game, Machi Koro Harbour

On our Boardgamegeek guild page James has initiated an open Q&A session with a new question each week. Feel free to play along at home, and even if you are not a regular IBG attendee you are more than welcome to join in with your own answers!

Last weeks question: "Who are your favourite game designers, and/or the ones you consider are the ones to watch in the coming years?"


Paul A: "I don't really "do" favourite designers the way some do, but I realised a few years ago that Friedemann Friese had made a lot of games that I thought were really interesting. I don't like all of them, but there's a lot of inventive stuff there. And, of course and to James' horror, Phil Eklund is cutting his own groove. His creations are not always user-friendly, but they're always interesting. And with Pax Porfiriana, I feel he may be becoming more accessible."

Tom: "In terms of favourite designers, I would certainly list Herr Knizia. Of course, he has produced some dreck but when he's on form no-one can hold a candle to him. I shall forever have a man-crush on Rudiger Dorn if only for Jambo. Marcel-Andre Casasola Merkle is underrated. Tom Lehmann is a bit of a genius. Say what you like about Stefan Feld but anyone with Arena: Roma II, Notre Dame and The Castles of Burgundy on their CV deserves high praise.
I think that the Harding brothers (Sushi Go, Elevenses, Cacao) are ones to watch for the future. Gerhard Hecht is another one whose games I keep an eye out for. It will also be interesting to see what Mark Chaplin comes up with away from the Revolver formula which is basically 2 player nirvana."

James: "I'm not sure I've become a fanboy yet of anyone in particular... Kramer and kiEaling games are always worth a peep, Bausa also, and the 2 brands seem to be on a roll recently... Shouldn't forget Seiji Kanai and Hisashi Hayashi..."

Dan: "I don't follow the work of any particular designer but there are a few whose work I have unwittingly gravitated toward.
Recently I have really enjoyed output from Ignacy Trzewiczek and Ted Alspach. I have no idea who designs for Oink games, but Deep Sea Whatever and Fake Artist have warmed me somewhat to hipster games even if the other ones I've been subjected to were terrible. Equal parts awful and amazing, certainly one to watch.
I think that Corey Konieczka has done some wildly inventive things, not just as a designer but also as an editor/developer, although much of his work has been hamstrung by the FFG 'bigger, louder' methodology. Phil Eklund is the mad genius of boardgame design, not particularly accessible but becoming moreso especially as he has finally recognised the merit in hiring a proper graphic designer for his titles.
I want to like Knizia more than I do, I think he is a great puzzle designer but feel that many of his games are repeating work he has already done before. Then again, Carc: the Castle is probably my most played game ever and I have undoubtedly played his games more than any other designers, so I like some of his games even if I do find his total output a little suspect. "

Paul D: "I'm less swayed by a designer than some might be, although it might tell me what type of game I'm going to get myself into and let me decide if I'm in the mood. And if I've LOVED a game then I'm likely to look at anything in front of me from a particular designer, but as some have stated, some blow hot and cold (step forward Mr Knizier - I agree great puzzle designer, and sometimes these work brilliantly as games, sometimes not).
So I'd certainly look at a Jason Matthews game, but I might be wary that it'd take a long time to play it and therefore it might not be for every session. Same for Anand Gupta who I heard has just been released from a restrictive agreement allowing him to put more games out now.
Same goes for Stefan Feld - if I'm in the mood for a semi-meaty salad of points then I might go for it, otherwise not.
I do seem to like most games by Donald X Vaccarino, but they're more varied so I wouldn't be so sure. "

Jon: "Designers? To be honest, I don't pay too much attention to who designed a particular game, as games designers don't generally equate with authors / musicians / artists, where you have a better idea of their particular style or output. For instance, I don't think that you'd ever know that Kingdom Builder was designed by the person who came up with Dominion if you hadn't been told.
And when someone does produce very similar games in style, such as the good doctor Knizia, or Mr Feld, then they tend to get lambasted for their lack of creativity anyway.
(I'm such a grump these days...... )"

Neil: "Designers.. love 'em! At least I think I do... over 100 games from Wallace, Knizia, Kiesling and Kramer, Feld and Rosenberg would suggest I probably do. Blimey, if someone's designed something good and enjoyable it'd be daft not to have a look at something new they've come up with.
Find it amusing how Martin Wallace seems to tinker with his designs, how Rosenberg generally sticks to his favoured themes, how different Feld can make scoring points, points and points.
There's then another thirty or so designers I look at religiously, they need to have three or four games I like to qualify for monitoring!
Saying that, it's still nice to find a new designer or a game by one I hadn't enjoyed anything by previously, hell there's some great games out there ain't there!?!"

This weeks question: "to keep things topical... What games can you propose for a summer theme'd game evening..."  

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