Small world, free of zombies

[Crossposted from the Ra’anana Boardgames Group blog, here.]

Zombies!

Zombies!

We – Ben, Laurie, Peleg, Yehuda and yours truly – started off last night’s session with a five handed game of The Walking Dead Card Game. This is a reworking of 6 Nimmt, a game where the objective is to score as few points as possible. You score points by being forced to take cards from a central display according to a simple set of placement rules. Essentially, you have to try and work out – or guess – what the likelihood is of a particular card you play triggering a pick-up.

It’s light, easy, and quick, but I would argue there’s a fair bit of skill involved. In other words, over the piece, more skillfull play will triumph despite the inevitable vagaries of luck in a card game. Did I mention I won? In fairness, Yehuda spotted we had been playing with one wrong rule interpretation. However, as I was the only player who picked up zero cards, it was – IMHO – a moot point. But no doubt a revenge zombie outing is being planned.

After that, Ken joined us and we played 7 Wonders. I had Peleg on one side and Ken on the other. Both killed me with military strength. And although I had a good, balanced hand, I was well out of the running. Peleg took the right Purple cards in the last round to produce a great score. Unfortunately, Ken sneaked the win by a single point. Well done Ken.

After that, we split into two tables with Ben, Ken, and Yehuda playing Steam. How did it go, guys?

Diplomatic Sorcerers sweep all before them; except Commando Trolls, Flying Amazons,...

Diplomatic Sorcerers sweep all before them; except Commando Trolls, Flying Amazons,…

Laurie, Peleg and I played Smallworld – the first outing for all of us of this wargame style euro. There are several fantasy races. Each has a special trait. For example, some get bonus points for capturing mountainous terrain. Others are more effective in attacking hill terrain, and so on. And alongside the races, there are special abilities which are randomly allocated. For example, Flying, or Commando. So you get Flying Amazons, and Commando Trolls. The combinations are part of what makes the game fun.

sw3

The races are competing over an area map to score points for controlling territory. When you think your race has done its bit, you put it into decline and go for another.

sw2

One thing I really like is that there are different boards for 2, 3, 4, and 5 player games. That helps me believe it has been well played and tested and is balanced. Of course, because I won, I could be biased…

It’s a quick game, with plenty of opportunities for double dealing and back stabbing, and neat moves. I enjoyed it and I know Peleg did. I think Laurie found it not so light, but I hope to persuade her to try it again when she is less tired.

Thanks to Laurie for hosting.

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Steaming along

[Also posted at the Raanana Boardgames Group site.]

At this week’s session, the fab four (Abraham, Laurie, Ofer and Yehuda) started off with another game of Steam.  Judging by the table talk, things were fairly tight until near the end, when Yehuda moved into the lead and stayed there and won. Ofer got some revenge for the past misdeeds of others by claiming second place. Just.

However, even with only four players, it was not a fast game, and I am not that excited about it to have to play it again. Certainly I would avoid a five or six player outing at all costs. It’s not only the length of the game I dislike, but the amount of downtime.  Funnily enough, I think I prefer the complexity of Age of Steam over Steam, but doubt it will be faster. Maybe it’s the extra auction in Age of Steam which gives the impression of more player involvement.

Meantime, the top trio of Peleg, Rochelle and I played Ticket to Ride Marklin Edition. This is a neat variation on the TTR base game, with the addition of Passengers. Each player gets three Passengers and they can score points by travelling along routes to pick up points from cities. It’s an easy mechanic to pick up, and the game rattles along. I built a good network and scored the first Passenger with a mountain of points. Unfortunately, Peleg and Rocehlle ignored my strategy, followed their own, and crushed me. Rochelle – who was playing this for the first time – beat me by a barrow load of points. Peleg, did just that little bit better to claim the win.

As the fab four were still steaming along, Rochelle and I played Lost Cities and Battleline (several games) to keep ourselves occupied. Again, these were new to Rochelle, but she seemed to enjoy them. Surprisingly – to me – she preferred Lost Cities, though she had more success with Battleline.

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Faster than a speeding locomotive

[Also posted at the Ra’anana Boardgames Group site.]

Last night, there were seven of us, and we initially split into the fab five playing Steam and the dynamic duo playing Ticket to Ride – The Card Game.

Peleg and I were the dynamic duo. Ticket to Ride – The Card Game (TTR-TCG) takes some of the core mechanics of its big brother board game, and presents them through the prism of a card game which emphasizes two new and different elements: memory and damage dealing.

Memory: you build up colored cards towards the requirements of your Tickets. However, you accumulate these face down, and are not allowed to examine them till the end of the game. So, after a few rounds, it can be a bit of a challenge to remember what you have towards your various targets: do I have three blue and five red, or is it five blue and three red?

Damage: before you add Train cards to your supply (Track in the game, I think), there is an intermediary stage which involves you playing them in front of you, face up. The catch is twofold: you may only play a set of cards of two or more of the same color, or a group of exactly three – each a different color. And you may only play a color if the number of cards of that color is greater than the number in an opponent’s display. For example, player A has a display of 2 red cards. If I play red, I must play 3 red cards at least. Worse for player A, his 2 red cards are removed. So this game allows you to damage the efforts of other players.

As it happened last night, there were few such chances. (Generally, it’s not a good idea to damage an opponent for the sake of it; it’s better to concentrate on building what you need.) A couple of times I destroyed cards of Peleg’s, and he repaid the favor.

Scoring is for completing Tickets, with a number of bonuses available for completing Tickets to certain key cities.

At the end, I had lost track (sic) of my cards and had way too many Trains for the Tickets. In other words, I completed all my Tickets and had cards to spare. Peleg was similar, but not as bad as me. As for scoring, this was an incredibly tight game with the result coming down to the last city bonus. Peleg and I both finished in the top two…

On The Other Track

Rochelle, Yehuda, Laurie, Ofer and Abraham were the fab five. With Peleg retiring for studies, I started watching their game of Steam. However, it had taken the fab five as long to get through the rules explanation as the game of TTR – TCG had taken to complete, so I was persuaded against my better judgement to join in as the sixth player. I had to bail out before the end, so await Yehuda’s report on how it turned out. Meantime, what I will take from the experience is that Steam is not recommended with six players!

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