Always quit when you’re ahead

headandshoulders

Giants is a worker placement game set in the Easter islands where your tribe are racing to complete as many heads (Moaïs) and erect them (yes all the appropriate jokes were made) on the best scoring spots (ahus)(Gesundheit) before anyone else can. Furiously rushing to a conclusion where everyone dies of starvation but you get to look at some really keen heads with snappy hats before your painful expiration

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It’s fairly standard stuff. There’s a bit of bidding. There’s worker placement. There’s a certain amount of cock blockery. What it does though it does in style. The game is beautifully presented. The map is well made, the pieces are nicely rendered. The whole thing reeks of quality. I particularly liked that everyone’s models look different. So everyone has a unique looking chief, witch doctor and workers. What nailed it for me was I picked this up for a song in a game shop last summer so win win. I only got around to playing it recently though I had played it a few years back with someone elses copy and was intrigued by it

There’s a number of mechanics at work in the game as you would expect from a worker placement game

First up is bidding where you all bid workers and tribal markers to grab the finite set of stone blocks and build statues. The more markers you bid the more likely you are to grab blocks ahead of your opponents and the more workers you bring to the party the bigger the heads you can carve. There is of course a catch. Workers used to carve cannot be used later on this turn to transport the heads to their final destinations.

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Once decided you place your tribe around the map to form chains you can pass the heads along to their final destinations like crowd surfers at a rock concert. The further you transport them from the starting quarry spot and the bigger they are (they come in three sizes) the more points you’ll get at the end. This is where cock blockery reins supreme as you (just like a German tourist with sunbeds) try and reserve spots to stop others from raising their statue there.

While your normal mooks can only pass stuff over along the witch doctor is the one with special abilities. He can recruit more workers, build natty point scoring hats for the heads, cut down trees to make rolling logs, and a few other bits that help your growing economy. Your chief who’s super strong at lifting stuff acts as a sort of minor witch doctor and can do witchey stuff when he’s broken a few tablets, possibly in anger.

I’m not going to go into all the rules but the jist is you build heads. Transport them and erect them and score points. Like all worker games it’s a juggling act between building your economy and scoring points.

There’s a lovely warm fuzzy feeling about this game (like peeing in a dark suit). every bit of it feels complete and integrated. There’s no bits bolted on. It functions beautifully as a whole

It’s an unusual theme as well which is no harm and the theme is also not bolted onto the mechanics, it all feels just right. All in all I really like this game. It’s simple. It plays out in about two hours. I’d rate it up there with Catan and Puerto Rico. If you see it cheap it’s a worthy edition to your collection. If you don’t then it’s still a worthy addition to your expensive collection.

Now that we’ve ironed out the rules it’ll make a proper appearance at the next Knavecon

Huzzah!

Vic

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Introducing Ginger Games

GingerSML_1

Ginger Games are a new Online Boardgame Shop based in Northern Ireland started fairly recently by husband and wife team Alan and Lindsay. I’ve been chatting to them a little over the last while and they’re certainly big boardgame fans. I’m hoping to get them down for the next Knavecon either in a professional or playing capacity (or a bit of both like most traders that come).

In my chats with them they revealed their love for amongst other things for Worker Placement and 2 player games.  Lindsay was good enough to do a guest review for me of Fields of Arle.  A game I have to admit I knew nothing about.  Here’s that she had to say…

arle

Like all Uwe Rosenburg fans I was excited by the upcoming Essen release of Fields of Arle (and the upcoming Patchwork). Would there be room for yet another Uwe Rosenburg game in my collection? Would it be as good or differ enough from Agricola or Caverna? Would it be too similar? I was hoping that it would live up to my expectations.

As most of our game time is spent as a couple I was interested in picking up this 2-player only game. The rule book clearly defines this game as being autobiographical and is set in Uwe’s home region of East Frisia. The game is a very typical worker placement style game played over nine and a half rounds each representing a year with alternating summer and winter seasons. Each season allows specific actions that are relevant to the season meaning you can only fish in the summer and shear sheep after the winter. Along with the usual worker placement spots with gain you resources there is also an interesting simplified tech tree where you can increase your ability to gain specific resources. Additionally there is an element of trading to neighbouring towns and villages to gain food or convert resources needed to build or expand.

As with all first plays the game ran longer than the 120 minutes on the box cover. On first impressions the amount of available actions are overwhelming but with playtime the strategies begun to emerge. While the farming theme is a well-trodden path with Agricola and Caverna this is a vastly different game. In Agricola you are confined to one main path to victory but Arle has various paths to victory. Caverna has more flexibility in the route to victory and Arle expands on this by introducing vehicles, trading and tech trees.

It is true there are influences from Agricola, Caverna, Ora et Labora and Glass Road but Arle has refined these mechanics further. In my head it is a completely different enjoyable puzzle than its predecessors.

Those looking for high player interaction should probably avoid this one as it is pretty much zero, there is even a space to mimic blocked actions. Arle is a big physical game but it doesn’t feel that much larger than Caverna it just has a different layout.

So if you like your heavy worker placement games and play mostly two player games you will get plenty of hours of enjoyment out of Arle.

Lindsay

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