16 August 2016

Boardgame Bonanza

This weekend we caught up with some old friends from our Wirral days; Richard, Alli and their daughter Caitlin. We first met when I joined the Chester RPG club, and have stayed in contact ever since, even when we moved over the Pennines to Wetherby. Saturday was mainly spent catching up and chilling, but – while Jill was out stewarding at Church – we broke out the boardgames.

Colt Express
First up was Colt Express, a game of "schemin' and shootin'" set in the Wild West. It has gorgeous 3D cardboard models of a train that you and your fellow bandits are planning to rob. Your meeples can run across the roof or through the carriages, shooting, punching, looting whilst trying to dodge the Marshal and the other players at the same time. We played a five player game.

The first phase of the game involves planning your moves; you each place a card into the combined deck. In the most, the other players see your cards (unless they're played face down because you're in a tunnel), and can react to them if they anticipate what you want to do. This means that your best laid plans can degenerate to chaos as your schemin' comes into contact with the other players. The hand you build is made up from six cards you deal from your deck. Now, if you get shot, you have bullet cards added to the deck, and they're bad because you cannot do anything. If you have a four card turn, and you draw three bullet cards in your hand then you're going to potentially miss a move and be very limited!

The second phase is executing the moves, which is where the chaos happens! It's great fun; in the end, you win by having the most cash at the end of the game. This comes from four sources; gems and bags of cash you loot, the strong-box the Marshall is guarding, and being the best gunslinger (by firing off all your bullets). Nathan enjoyed the game, although it was a bit much for Aidan at the age of 4. We will be playing this again.

Lords of Waterdeep
I'd picked up Lords of Waterdeep during the Amazon Black Friday event last year on the advice of one of my colleagues at work who is also a gamer, but hadn't had a chance to play it. I had been contemplating selling it as part of the clear-out I have been doing to make space and get rid of games that are just gathering dust. Alli and Richard said that I had to play it, so the counters were popped, the board set up, and we set out to play.

Lords of Waterdeep is a worker placement game, where you each take to role of one of the shadowy leaders of the city. You gain victory points by completing quests, and a hidden bonus that is only revealed at the end by completing quests that are aligned to your Lord's agenda. In my case, I had to complete Arcana (magic) and Commerce quests; I was pretty open about this as it was my first game, but I can see how the hidden element could really add to the fun.

You complete quests by recruiting adventurers - represented by different coloured cubes - and then spending them (sometimes with gold) to gain victory points and - in the case of a plot quest - further advantages going forward. You recruit adventurers by placing your agents on certain buildings (and you can build more buildings) and also by playing intrigue cards (which can also screw other players up). You get an initial hand of quests, and can draw more by placing your agents in the appropriate building. First player is also decided through the game by who acquires a certain building.

In the end, I scored 171 points, just one point ahead of Alli and about 40 behind Richard. I really enjoyed myself and will definitely play this again!

Machi Koro, Take 4
Later in the afternoon, Nathan was pestering us to play Machi Koro repeatedly. So we did.

The game is very simple. You are mayor of a town and part of your manifesto commitment is to build four landmarks. These are a Radio Tower, a Shopping Mall, an Amusement Park and a Train Station. You build these by spending gold, and as you acquire them they give you bonuses.

You get gold through the property you own. You start with a wheatfield and a bakery. Property cards are split into four different colours; blue cards get you gold from the bank whenever anyone roles that number on the die/dice; green cards get you gold from the bank on your roll only; red cards get you money from the player who rolled they dice; and purple cards get you money off other players when they roll. Each card is marked with a number from 1 to 12 which corresponds to the dice roll needed for it to score.

You win the game by picking a tactic and building an engine to deliver. Once you have bought one of the landmarks (the train station), you can roll two dice rather than the single die you start with. This unlocks other cards (such as the furniture factory, which scores based on the number of forests and mines that you own).

Some reviewers - Pookie UK, for example - have said that the game is limited and a bit repetitive until you get the Harbor expansion. I think that this is probably true, but we haven't hit enough games to make that show yet just using the base game. I do own the expansion, and I guess that it will come out once we feel the need. Machi Koro remains a firm favourite with Nathan (8) despite his spectacular strategic plan disaster in this game, and it's in the pile of games to go on holiday.

16 August 2015

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