Running Rings Around – Thur


Thur night was a night of stealth and deception.  First up we played something that’s been on my shelf for a long time but never dusted off

Lord of the Rings – The Confrontation

I’ve never been a massive fan of Reiner Kniza’s LOTR games, they’re fine but the whole happy happy co-op thing just doesn’t work for me.  They’re also a bit too simplistic.  The Confrontation is another in the same style.  Same sort of box, same type of artwork but this time it’s a two player game and it’s very much not co-op (The name does sort of give it away)

The Confrontation is like a cut down version of Stratego with only nine pieces per side and the addition of combat cards. That pretty much sums it up, so feel free to get back to your life and not read the next bit.

Ah thanks for joining me again.

The game is played out on a stylized map of middle earth with Mordor on one side and the Shire on the other and a dozen or so locations in between.  Each player gets a set of nine characters and work to get either Frodo to Morodor OR the Witchking to the Shire.  Now I have no idea why the Witch King wants to get to the shire, maybe he’s heard the food it good, Maybe he’s going to take the waters, maybe he wants to buy a T-shirt that says something like “I Soured the Shire and all I got was” but if he gets there or Frodo gets to Mordor it’s game over.  Equally if three of Saurons forces make it to the shire together like a bunch of beered up soccer hooligans it’s a win for the forces of evil too.

Here’s where it gets a bit more interesting. Your opponent (via a nice set of plastic blocks you insert the cards into) can only see the back of your cards so they have no idea where your key players are, more importantly they have no idea where your hard hitters and wimps are in your mix.

When two opposing characters bump into each other they reveal their characters, each of which has a combat value and a special ability.  The special abilities are resolved straight off (Boromir in keeping with Sean Bean dies in his first combat but takes the enemy with him, The Orcs win their first battle automatically and so on), if the two characters are still standing they secretly pick an attack card with a combat value from their limited set of cards and the highest combined combat value wins.  The cards are limited btw. It’s simple, it’s neat, it’s cheap,  It’s FAST,   A game can easily be played in 20 minutes and it’s good fun.  There’s also a number of variants to it, like alternative characters and abilities, extra magic cards and so on.  As two player games go, this is a goodie and so far I’m liking it a lot.   It’s also quite a simple game and plays quite well with younger players.  All in all a winner I reckon

Next up was another game of Fury of Dracula. (Show him your cross!)


It’s great how with fresh players games can get a new lease of life.  One of last weeks players (not me) decided to take their chances as the snappy dressing Transylvania…..  and he lasted about as long as those 5 dots back there.  BOOM, staked, good and proper.  So after a quick bit of pointing and laughing we decided to have a second game with the same vampire and this one was way more interesting.

Dracula is a great game, I think the most fun is to be had as Dracula himself although it’s good to be a hunter too.  Dracula led us a VERY merry dance and unlike most other games he was popping out lady vampires to beat the band or more accurately beat we the hunters.  There are two cards in the game that are real show stoppers.  Hypnosis where you can find exactly where drac is and eh… something else that effectively lets Dracula teleport to another spot on the map.


Mid game Dracula got the first and despite our best efforts (and our worst) we didn’t get so much as a sniff of colonge of our target.  It was looking bad and after extensive searching we finally reckoned (a scientific measure) he was masquerading around England far from the maddening hunters.  With little time to go before he completed his dastardly plan and scored his six points we finally tracked him down (via hypnosis) to London and one of our number confronted him cook report style.  After a ‘robust discussion’ with Dracula he finally slipped our net and having lost more blood from his body than John Holmes he staggered off confident of a quick win.   Then I arrived, grabbed him and renditioned him right off a cliff.  Bye bye Vlad.  You came close but no cigar.

Great game.  Always fun and absolutely no shame should be be attached by us to the Dracula player for losing.


In a row.

More of this sort of things soon









Back to Thur – Being a Drax Report


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





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