Hat trick of hate

Up Pompeii 1

I’m reliably informed (if you’re someone who trusts gamers) that it wasn’t the lava or indeed the ash that killed the population of Pompeii it was the pyroclastic surges.

Well that’s all well and grand but lava is the staple of so many adventure stories and when we played on Thur it was lava and to be even more accurate ME that killing the good people of Pompeii left and right.

The downfall of Pompeii. The game is medium length under an hour will see you good. We played it three time last week. THREE TIMES. that should tell you alone how good this game is. A few of the guys at knavecon IV had played it stupid and had recommend to me. They weren’t wrong

The game is very simple. Each turn you add one of your meeples to a building based on the cards in your hand. Each building can fit a limited amount of meeples and placing one in an occupied building lets you place additional meeples elsewhere via the relative rule

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So the first half of the game you’re loading your guys (as many as possible) into building, preferably ones close to an exit because all hell is going to break loose come act two. During the first phase there’s cock blockery aplenty with players jockeying for the best spots like Guerrers trying to get up on a phone box during a parade. Omen cards allow you to (with great pleasure) take an enemy meeple and chuck them into the volcano freeing up some choice real estate but in no way appeasing the angry gods.

Then suddenly it’s fire and brimstone ,nikes on and to hell with making an orderly exit.

Once the second eruption card is pulled its lava from there on out. Players add an extra all devourer lava tile onto the already bubbling mass that’s rising up from six points within the city. So every turn a player gets to steer the avalanche hopefully onto enemy meeples and iggy pops two of his dudes to the nearest exit (the so long suckers salute is taken for granted)

Once everyone has exited Hanoi or at least got as many out as they could it’s all over and it’s most survivors that carry the day

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This is superb. Absolutely fantastic game. I wholeheartedly recommend it. Works great with kids too. Despite what seems like a very simple game there is depth here. Each time we played it we found a bit more

Get this game. It’s cheap. If I was to fault it the build quality could be better and I already see a bit of wear and tear after three games but I can forgive

Going to play this again real soon

Huzzah

Vic

25, 26, 27

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Psssttt!! Want to make some money?  Go have a look at the game Ascending Empires on ebay.  Here use this handy link on BGG

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/37919/ascending-empires

$200 for the game in the states, €15 in France.  Buy low sell high (send me half the difference as a finders fee)

When I got Ascending empires as a swapsee I had thought it was a standard enough 4x game  (Expand, Explore, 2 other exes), I was a bit surprised when I found out the movement around the board was controlled by flicking the pieces.  Having played one game I was hooked, this is genius and all games should have a flicking mechanic.  Or NOT.

It’s been a while since I’d played it but I remembered how to setup the board so it was all go after that.  In AE you start with a handful of troops and two small ships. The board consists of a scattering of random colored planets (facedown) and you flick your ships across the uneven surface and if you get in orbit of a planet you can land your troops and take it over.  Once established on a planet you can build colonies and cities (adds defense and bonus points at end game) and research centers.  These are key and allow you extra abilities and options depending on which tech branch you pursue

There’s a finite amount of planets so inevitably (i.e. after turn one) conflict ensues (much to the chagrin of the players) and planets are sieged, ships destroyed and empires humbled.  What’s lovely about it is unlike most map based conquest games where it’s often trench warfare, due to the flick mechanic it’s quite possible to sneak interdiction attacks into the heart of your enemies empire.

Tech plays a big part in this game, getting ahead will give you major benefits.

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There are four different colours of tech which correspond to planet colours.  Each branch does different things like increase the amount of ships and troops you can have, how many flicks you get during movement, allow you to build a bigger battleship craft and so on.  To tech up you first need to conquer a planet of the appropriate color and build a research station on it then research the tech to move up.  To get to a particular level of tech you need to own that many planets of the corresponding colours with research stations on them.  A Tall order when everyone is fighting for resources.

Getting to the fourth level of any tech colour grants some awesome powers.  in my case I teched up brown and could teleport to unowned planets nilly willy.  It was like having moles in your garden.

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The game for a map conquest is relatively quick.  Turns shoot around (pardon the pun) and there’s practically no down time.

I like this game a lot.  I’ve only played it a few times and usually only 1v1 so with extra players (it takes up to four) it gets really interesting.  Now it does have it’s faults, the board is notoriously poor in design.  It’s a set of jigsaw pieces that should form a flat surface for flicking around but it doesn’t.  There was more than one curse when a ship careered off a joint.  It’s certainly not a show stopper and it makes the game a little bit more crazy golf than billiards.   No-one really complained as everyone was working on the same playing field.

The game is simple to play, the rules are all contained on your play board and it’s very elegant.  There are no grey areas or what ifs, everything is covered.  I’m surprised this game didn’t make a bigger splash and that it’s out of print, I would have loved to see more games like it but who knows, games have a habit of reappearing.  As it stands it’s a tasty little game and if you can get your your hands on it go for it.  It’s a goodie

Oh lest I forget i won.  27 points, my opponents scored 26 and 25 points 🙂

it will be at Knavecon IV

Huzzah!

Vic

 

 

 

 

Thursday Child is full of Win – Part 3 (finally)

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Who doesn’t want to take over the world?  Certainly I do and first against the wall would be those that insist I use the word WHOM at the start of a sentence like this

We got to play Imperial 2030 on Thur night too.  For those who haven’t tried this or the earlier version (just plain Imperial) you are missing out.  Imperial 2030 is a glorious map based conquer the world type game.  Playing it is like being a football manager (without the chewing gum) insofar as you never know when you’ll be given the heave ho and another bungee manger will be appointed in your place.  Them’s the breaks.  You can be doing a fantastic job of managing Europe and WHAM! someone likes it so much they buy the company.

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I’ve spoken before about Imperial, it’s a game that returns to our table again and again, with a good sized group (six) it becomes the ideal desert island game.  It also plays out in a relatively short time for such an epic undertaking.  It’s quite possible to get a game completed in under three hours and that’s no bad thing.

The mantra of this game which is oft repeated is that you don’t OWN a country….. you invest in it.  Anyone who has the largest share in a country is the manager of it and controls it’s armies, production, taxation and pockets any bonuses associated with same.  What I love about this game is it’s a valid tactic to allow another player to take ownership of your country and run it better than you can and still profit from the experience.  The Ferengi would be proud.

The game is not so much about taking over the world (which is practically impossible), it’s about carving out the biggest empire you can and leeching as much tax money from it as you can before some other keen nation nips in and puts you back in your cage.  Do it right and everyone will want to buy shares in your empire, do it too right and they’ll want to muscle in and take over your operation.

There were a few new players to the game on Thur and like me first time around they struggled to get a strategy.  Although the mechanics are not that complicated and the tactics are fairly obvious an overall strategy to win the game is stupendously complex.  Mine has always been black and white.  Do your best.  Kill Drax.  It’s worked fairly well for me.  I came second so maybe my strategy needs a tweek

As players invest in countries and take ownership of them it quite often happens that they wind up controlling two or more countries and some players wind up with none in which case they become Swiss bankers (I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere).  As a Swiss banker you get to invest more often however it’s a dangerous limbo to inhabit as you no longer get bonuses for taxation when you don’t manage the country.  That said you get to invest more, but you don’t get tax bonuses, invest, tax bonuses, invest/tax…. it’s a balancing act.  I’ve seen players win purely as swiss bankers but it’s a tricky feat to do

That said owning multiple countries can be a burden, especially if they were two countries that were recently at war and you now have to untangle them and make them both profitable again.

There’s never a dull moment when you play Imperial.  When you leave the table your mind is still spinning like a gyroscope trying to figure out how to play it better and THAT’S the measure of a really good game.  /cheesy grin and wink

More of that next thur.  Hopefully I’ll have learnt the rules for Constonopolis, but there’s a fair chance I won’t

Huzzah!

Vic

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Thur Child is Full of Win – Part 2

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Does anybody remember Big Trak the toy from the 80s, you gave it a set of instructions to go forward turn left, move back, fire it’s gun and so on then off it went and took you literally? Robo rally is a game of big trak with up to eight players running their big traks around the sitting room bumping into each other knocking each other into lasers and bottomless pits (I suppose every analogy breaks down sooner or later)

Richard Garfield has written some fantastic games in his day, the great Dalmuti, Magic the Gathering, Netrunner, Chess, X and O you name is he’s written it.  We got to play RoboRally on Thursday night, it’s an old enough game by the afore mentioned but that’s neither here nor there when it comes to gaming.  RoboRally is a fun little game, it’s fast, there’s very little downtime, it scales very well up to eight players and but above all it’s good clean no-one losing an eye fun.

Each person takes a robot (all of which are the same) and has to give it a set of instructions to navigate around the factory BigTrak Style. The factories made up of a grid of square with contain empty spaces and various traps like any good factory should.  Hazards like conveyor belts, lasers, rotators, pushers, bottomless pits and so on litter the play area and it’s obvious that the same team that did the safety audit on the Death Star we’re signed up to do the one on this factory.

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Each turn the player gives a set of five instructions from a hand of eight. The instructions are pretty straightforward like forward two squares, backwards one, left turn, right turn and so on.  Care and consideration has to be taken of your robots current orientation, the obstacles near him and if some other dolt of a droid is going to blunder into you.  It gets further complicated with conveyor belts that move you along if you wind up on them so all in all a bit like Kosmonauts if you’ve seen that other great game.

Where it becomes frantic is where you’re trying to issue your orders as quickly as possible before the others do. If you’re the last person and the very fast egg timer runs out than the others get to put whatever instructions they want into your robot.  It’s a bit like having a drill instructor or in this case multiple drill instructors shouting at you while you try and strip your rifle but without the pillowcases, bars or soap and full metal jacket ammunition. 

There’s a wee random element in there as well as the instructions for each robot get executed based on the priority of the card that you have, some cards that have high numbers some low so what can happen is you have a set of instructions to move forward however before you get to do that another robot has bumped into you and now of course that’s fantastic set of directions you gave your robot earlier all go to pot as you’re no longer going from the same starting point.

At the end of every move your robot fires it’s forward laser and anything in front is going to get the horns. Robots can take damage in the form of counters and as this takes it’s toll, it becomes more difficult to plot a route as certain instructions get locked in and cannot be changed. Not good.

Needless to say nobody in the group draws pleasure from other peoples problems. Seeing someone else’s robot going into a tailspin and damaging themselves even more is a time for great sadness in the group and not at all laughing.  Paranoia style you get three lives and your damage resets or shutting your robot down for a full turn will cure you of damage to.

There’s a stack of maps and scenarios for the game along with extra cards for additional weapons and equipment.

The game we played was a simple get to the flag variety where each person had to run over tree flag square one after the other to win the game. Needless to say we only got as far as the second one before we all gave up or were destroyed

The whole thing plays out like an entrance exam to an insane asylum. Getting your orders in first before the other players is a head wrecker, That said if you have a logical brain this is a breeze. I like RoboRally I have one of those brains that’s messed up and lends itself to this sort of thing

With the exception of Kosmonauts I haven’t seen any games even similar to this (I stand to be corrected) it’s unique and very flexible, both in terms of length and difficulty.  Even though it’s nearly 20 years old you can still get it.  Like the top 100 movies it’s something you have to see (play).  I’ll have it at the next Knavecon and will be happy to run through it with you.  Just don’t ask me to play, I’ll beat you.  Just like I didn’t do on Thur night, there were some other messed up brains at that gathering 😦

More soon

Huzzah!

Vic

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