Back to Thur – Being a Drax Report

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I was THIS close to winning Dracula, damn those meddling kids (and by kids I mean a bunch of old blokes and one young fella)

We didn’t get to game last week so it was great to get back in the saddle, meet some good* friends* and try out a few new games.  First up was a polish special.  A favourite of this blog

“Rycerze I Zamki”.  (I reckon Countdown would have been a very different game in Polish.  “I’ll have a Consonant Kharol, and another Consonant, and another Consonant”). This is the the fourth gamephoto 4

I’ve played from this games company and they’re all great fun, also cheap as chips.  €5 for a game is just wonderful.  I suspect our man in Poland will get asked to smuggle back in several more games the next time he goes home.

Rycerze I Zamki which means Knights and Castles (My google is strong) is a very simple game, you have a set of three castle types which can be made of Wood, Brick or Stone.  Everyone starts with a set number of cards (Knights, Catapults, Archers and so on) that have a value from one to ten in these three elements.  Some better than others in the three different categories.  Each turn you draw a castle which is worth 1 or 2 points and players secretly pick two of their cards and reveal them.  Duplicates between players are removed and the combined value of both cards in the element for that castle wins it (the points value of which are totalled at the end of the game).  A few other rules like one castle being randomly removed at the start, being able to draw back some of your cards and so on make for a very interesting and very fast little game.  It’s lite, it’s fun, it’s a great filler.  All hail Rycerze I Zamki and the Polish game industry. It has yet to turn in a dud

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Next up was something I’ve wanted to played for a few weeks now. El Grande (pronounced “Y Grande)” and featuring a Castillo (Castiyo) and a bunch of Caballero (Cabayero).  So Spanish music channel and “we don’t like your type around here” jokes were the order of the day.  El Grande is a worker placement game which came out nearly 20 years ago.  It rates high on Boardgamegeek and…. we’ll I didn’t win it, I didn’t come close, but it’s still a fine game.  Spanish music was stopped after a bit.  It was like being in a taxi to your hotel on holidays and didn’t add to the 15th century vibe.

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El Grande is set in the 15th Century funny enough where Grandes (large coffees from starbucks I assume) vie for power and more importantly score around the edge of the board

It’s all about placing your Caballero on the board and gaining dominance (biggest numbers) of as many provinces as you can come the scoring rounds, of which there are three.  Unlike life there are prizes for both second and third place when a region is scored, but any number of cards and cock blockery can affect things.

The game has got elements from Eight Minute Empire in fact Eight Minute Empire is like a lite version of El Grande in every way.  It also borrows a tiny bit from a Study in Emerald (or maybe I just really Like ASIE and I want to work it into every blog) The Caballero work in a similar manner where you have a two stage staging area where you firstly draw them into your muster point from the void (provinces) then use another action to place them on the board.

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The game plays out over nine rounds after 3,6 and 9 there are scoring and that’s it.  You do you best.  A clever mechanic is your power cards which are finite and dictate your play order.  The earlier you play a round based on your power card the less Caballero you get to bring to bear on the board so it’s a juggling act.  Going early gets you an early pick of the action cards which do things like, score certain areas once off, move existing pieces, move the king who exerts power on a certain area and everyone fawns over him by only deploying men in adjacent regions.

It’s a nice game.  It’s also medium fast so it should be possible to get it all done and dusted in ninety minutes I would guess.  It plays five which is sort of a magic number for gaming and it’s close and fun throughout.  I started scoring early on and looked good but got caught up mid game and was left coughing scoring dust late game.  There’s a bit of a pattern here but, we need to play more of this.   All in all I like it.  I’m still a bit unsure of it but it’s definitely good, not stellar but good.  Maybe replays will make it stellar.  Who knows

Having finished this fairly quickly we had to play something else of medium length.  Some of the lads hadn’t played Fury of Dracula (or Furry Dracula if you prefer) so they got introduced in quick order.  To paraphrase Mannequin there are two things I like doing, fighting and playing Dracula.  I got to play Dracula again.

Fury of Dracula is like a more complex version of Letters from Whitechapel, which is itself a more complex version of Scotland yard.  Before we go any further let me declare my interest before the right honourables.  I LOVE this game.  I loved it from day one and still love it now.  It’s stupendous.  One person plays Dracula and the other four players play various vampire hunters who must work together to flush him out and stake him good.  Dracula who steals the show must spend his time sneaking around Europe, setting traps, avoiding pursuit, hiding during the day, attacking hunters at night and leading the hunters a merry dance.  It’s all good.

Fights ensue, Dracula is more than a match for hunters at night but weak and mortal during the day.  He had a limited amount of blood points that get whittled away from fights, spell casting and sea travel and when it’s down to zero it’s photo 1

good night Vienna.  The Hunters have only six days to find the fiend, less if he starts killing them off and gaining bonus points that way.  But enough about the rules, more of the merry dance.

I started off as far away from the hunters as possible and slowly ambled my way up from Greece while the aforementioned scratched (amongst other things) their heads trying to find me.  It was day two before I popped up and I quickly disappeared again.   I bumped off Nina Harker (oh err missus) and it was looking rosey until the hunters started to successfully second guess me.   A robust exchange happened in Prague and there were wigs and fangs on the green and shillelagh law ruled the day.  Dracula just about survived as did one of the hunters so he was in trouble BUT close to getting his six points and winning.  Then disaster struck, I took the group for fools (and I was right) but they stumbled onto me anyway and like the scene in Full Metal Jacket with the bars of soap in the pillowcases I got seven shades beat out of me and died my undeath again.  THIS CLOSE I was THIS CLOSE to winning

Great game and of course we got a rule or two wrong even though we’ve played it several times before

More of this next Thur

Huzzah!

Vic

 

 

Nations Thur – Being a Drax Report

UNAMID Peacekeepers on Patrol

There are at least a dozen jokes made each gaming session, all of them based on the game we’re playing and all schoolboy humour of the highest order.  Some of them are even funny. Some of them.  “Have you got wood for sheep?” (Settles or Catan), “Fill my ship with Seamen” (Serenissima), “My Turtle wins because he’s on top” (Pedzace Zotwie).  Yes, the evenings just fly by!  A new one materialised last night  “you’re man rich”.  But I digress

If you’re now in innuendo mode please switch back to normal or it will take twice as long to read this review

It was a hot, wet night in Murroe.  Ok OK, stop it now.  back to normal I said.  We started with a quick lash of eight minute empire which took fifteen minutes with four players.  enough said about that

Then the piece of resistance arrived.  NATIONS

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/126042/nations

 

 

For some reason madam yer wan or whomever it is reminds me of Supergirl doing here whole, “leave this place and do no harm” thing but that’s neither here nor there.  

Nations is a game quite similar to Through the ages but quite different in ways

I’ve ranted about Through the ages before.  It’s a GREAT game, a great great game however like all great games it has it’s faults, it’s long (3-4 hours+), it’s only four players, it doesn’t have much variety, it’s unforgiving and it only works well if all the players are at the same level.

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It’s like the designers of Nations decided to rewrite it and change all of those points. so here goes

Nations is

  • Up to Five Players
  • Plays in maybe 2 hours
  • It has a HUGE variety of cards
  • Wars and mistakes aren’t the end of the world
  • you can handicap/boost players based on their skills

Actually the more I think about it the more I like it.

Everyone starts in the stone age with a few basic buildings that allow you to raise a meagre amount of food/ore/gold/stability/research ALL of which are important

There’s a touch of eclipse about it, insofar as you can start with a standard civilisation where everyone has the same abilities from the off or you can pick a different one so say Egyptians start with the pyramids which give them bonuses in one area but miss out on something a basic nation gets.  I like that it’s neat.

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As the game progresses you can spend gold to buy advanced buildings, advisor’s (leaders), military units, battles, wars and wonders all of which adjust and affect the income and spend of your various resources.  It’s a fairly complex game but you’ll pick it up pretty quickly if it’s explained right (which it was) and it’s certainly a little simpler to play that Through the ages.  Gone is happiness of your people, gone is revolt (well it works differently) and the whole thing feels a little bit easier to juggle without the killer of TTA where if you mess up one little thing you might as well give up now.

I’m not going to explain all the rules it’s far too complex and better rule readers than I can do that on boardgamegeek but here’s a few highlights

Like TTA it’s all about getting the right cards, getting the right rhythm for you building whilst blocking others from doing the same.  Again like TTA you don’t directly affect others you just throw massive military spanners in the works and deflect people from the important purpose of building libraries and onto the important business of building spears.

There are eight rounds in the game spanning four ages after which each round a mini scoring round happens with a big score at the end.  There’s several ways to pick up and quite often lose victory points and no one path to victory.

Something I really like about the game is you get a ton of cards for each age and you only pick a few so replay value of this game is very high indeed and there will never be two games exactly the same.

Our game rattled on with a few interruptions for about 2.5 hours.  Not bad at all.  I lost,  it’s ok, I’m over it now. I was playing to learn and it was my first game and lots of reasons which I don’t need to explain.  Let’s move on, nothing to see here.

Would I buy it?  yes I would.  It’s a great game.  It does need another game for it to sink in but I really liked it and all those bullet points had me sold from the get go.   The production values of the game are good, better than most but not quite up there with Fantasy Flight games.  I can see this being reprinted in different stock at some stage but any copy is good.

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This is solid, fun game, I take my hat off to the designers who seem to have gotten it all right.  If you like TTA you’ll love this game

We rounded off with a bit of knifey spoony coup (don’t ask)

More of that next week

Huzzah!

Vic

Eight Minute Thur – Being a Drax Report

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It’s quite usual for players to just pip others by a point or two to win a game, truth be told it’s the best part of gaming however whenever a final score is  0 v 80 v 2,800,000 questions need to be asked…..

We started the evening with  Eight Minute Empire

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/131366/eight-minute-empire

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It’s a filler game but unusually it’s an map based empire game which usually take a number of hours to play out.  Not so in this case, around twenty minutes and you’re done.  The game is simplicity itself and it is very elegant.  There is nothing superfluous about EME, you can pick up the rules in 5 minutes and it has elements from a number of it’s bigger cousins.

Each player starts with a set amount of money used to buy a card each turn from a line of six in a similar way to through the ages or small world.  The further up the line the more expensive they are.  As cards are bought the line is replenished from the deck in an conveyor style.   Once you’ve played a certain amount of turns based on number of players it’s game over and count the score.

The cards have three functions, they keep a track of how many turns you’ve taken, they each have a resource type which is used for scoring at the end (you’re looking to collect sets of resources for bonus points just like 7 wonders) and they dictate the action you can take this turn.

Each players starts with three armies in the central part of the map (the game comes with a couple of maps and it would be easy to knock together new ones on an A4) and depending on the card they pick they can

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Move their troops, Muster more either at the start or where they have a city, build a city, destroy enemy troops, cross water to another continent.  The whole idea is to have the most guys in a particular region and better still have dominance of a continent each worth a few points.just like Age of Empires III

It’s fun, it’s quick, it’s lightweight, I can’t see fistfights starting over it but I like it and I want another game

Next up was

The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game

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The RNHRG is a family friendly, STOP COME BACK IT’S GOOD! horse racing game which is a lot more fun that I had thought it would be.  Each player starts with a stable of six horse rated from 1 (Arabian Stallion) to 6 (Unwashed pantomime horse), they secretly enter each horse in a race, work out the odds, bet on a horse and then try their best to win or more sneakily help the horse they’ve bet heavily on win.  Along the way Really Nasty Cards can be thrown down to ruin a riders day, falling at jumps, stewards inquiry that sort of thing.

It’s surprisingly quick and it IS a lot of fun but there is more than a smidgen of luck involved, but then again betting is a mugs game and having done really well all game I lost it in the last two races, one of the others catapulted himself into a lead with a stellar score  £2,800,000 to my paltry £80.  Yes it’s silly, it’s fun, It’s not bad at all.  I can see this being a great xmas game for families and I’m sure we will take it out again, probably next week.

For no good reason we pulled out a kids game called Waldschattenspiel or Shadows in the woods

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I’ve spoken a long time back about this, it’s very different.  One player takes the part of troll and can move around a path based on his dice roll, the others play the role of dwarfs who can move around and hide but cannot move through the light cast by the troll (who is a little tea light).  It’s a lovely idea, you play it in the dark, not so sure about the game play but it was interesting enough for a good ten minutes.  A tricky one to play at a con though !

Last off we had some more Coup which I’ve spoken about way to much and that was it

Thanks for the Caramel Squares which were both frightening and immensely satisfying to quote one of the day lads when they were revealed  “Holy Shit, there’s an inch of everything!”

Good gaming,

Huzzah!

Vic

 

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