Tag Archives: 6 nimmt

Newcastle Gamers – Saturday 8 November 2014

A quick blast through the seven (or eight, depending on how you define them) games I played on Saturday…

I kicked off with Stefan Feld’s new La Isla, which had been in the small pile of birthday games I’d bought myself the previous week. It was quick to teach and quick to play, coming in at around an hour with four players (Olly, John Sh and Camo joined me). We played with only the basic ‘level 1’ cards, which was quite enough to be getting on with, iconography-wise, but it did mean we were limited to the most basic of actions and bonuses (no extra explorers, no extra card slots, etc.).

The decagonal island was crowded for four, so there were a few occasions with animals being stolen from under each other’s noses – I managed to snipe a pika from Olly at the last minute, ensuring I’d have a full set of five animals for 10 points in final scoring. That pika wasn’t enough to stop Olly from winning comfortably, however, after he’d taken a strong lead in the mid-game through a simple strategy of methodically working his way around the island while the rest of us jumped around a bit as the cards dictated.

Early game – it sure is pretty

Early game – it sure is pretty. Too many pikas over on the left though, and not enough time to work around to them.

It was a fine game. Not as in “mighty fine”, but simply… fine. Nowhere near the level of Feld brilliance like the wonderful Trajan, but a perfectly good light, quick game. I do have some minor complaints, mainly that (a) it’s very susceptible to bad luck in the card draws because you have to use every one of the three cards you draw in each round (no holding back a useless card until it’s useful); and (b) the resource colours are horrendous for people with colour-blindness. Camo misplayed a couple of times because he couldn’t distinguish the card images of natural and yellow cubes. I was struggling to tell grey from brown at times, but that may have just been the lighting in the hall. This is all compounded by the fact that the natural wooden cubes range from roughly white to nearly grey… sometimes on different faces of one cube.

On the positive side, it’s quick, light and easy to teach and understand. It has some player interaction, but not too much opportunity for screwage, and it looks lovely on the table. (It also includes one of my favourite components ever – the three-slot player card holders are so simple, yet so effective.) All of this leads me to think it might be perfect gateway euro fodder, so I’d definitely like to try La Isla with some non-gamers.

Next up was Lost Legacy: Flying Garden, which is Seiji Kanai’s own tweak on his Love Letter mechanics. It plays identically to Love Letter for most of each round, until the “investigation phase” is reached, at which point… well, my understanding of what happens at that point is kind of limited. We played a full round (complete with investigation phase) with four players. Camo bore the full brunt of the game’s biggest weakness by being eliminated on the very first turn of the game. I slipped the Flying Garden into the Ruins, but then didn’t get a chance to take part in the investigation phase because John correctly guessed where it was. Lloyd arrived, so we shuffled in Lost Legacy: The Starship to make it playable with five. There were lots of eliminations in this one, with Lloyd winning by default as last player standing.

Lost Legacy is a fine substitute for Love Letter (there’s that word “fine” again…), but I’m not entirely convinced by the addition of the deduction/investigation element. Given the choice, I’d probably go for the raw simplicity of Love Letter.

And then Mousquetaires du Roy happened.

Lloyd brought it out, set it up and we all just sort of rolled along with it. Quite how this occurred, I have no idea. It was absolutely not John’s sort of game, probably not Olly’s sort of game and it didn’t appeal much to me, but somehow politeness overtook us all and we became Dumas’ Three Musketeers. Or, in my case, d’Artagnan (cue much singing of the Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds theme tune).

Now, as thematic integration in games goes, this was really pretty good. It’s an obvious candidate for a one-versus-many game: Lloyd was the dastardly Cardinal Richelieu, secretly deploying Milady de Winter and the Comte de Rochefort to stop the four of us as we attempted to complete missions and return the Queen’s jewels before time ran out. Sadly, as game mechanics go, it was dreary. Want to attempt a mission? Roll some dice. Duelling? Roll some dice. Seeing how the siege at La Rochelle is going? Roll some dice. Bleeuurgh.

Worst of all was the colossal downtime. If (as happened to me twice) you get knocked out during a duel on the first action of your turn, you go to hospital, lose the rest of your actions, wait for everyone else to take their turns, sit through Richelieu’s machinations, then lose another turn because all you can do in hospital is stand up, heal and draw a card. Bleeeuuurrrgh.

"So, I've got this Nobility card. Does anyone need more Nobility? Shall I use this Nobility to complete this mission?" "Meh."

La Rochelle looks desperate, while Camo attempts to pay off someone in Paris with chess pieces.

Anyway, we won in the end. Mousquetaires du Roy, ladies and gentlemen: never again.

I retreated to the safety of Android: Netrunner with Graham. I hadn’t played since our last run o’ the nets, but Graham had, so he was well practised and kind of had the upper hand. I used my Weyland corp deck against Graham’s Shaper deck. After a couple of early agendas scored for me, everything settled down into the traditional poke-n-snipe game. Graham was unusually well off for much of the game (early Armitage Codebusting, followed by Magnum Opus, then Kati Jones later in the game), while it turned out that my deck was basically all ICE at the top and all economy at the bottom. Naturally, I didn’t know that while we were playing…

So, poor Weyland against solvent Shaper. It didn’t end well for me, although it hovered at 5–5 for quite a while. My eventual downfall was Graham’s pair of R&D Interfaces, giving him an effective Maker’s Eye for every run on R&D. One run every two or three turns gave him the game. Irritatingly, he didn’t run when he would have accessed a Snare; instead, it came into my hand and I installed it in a remote server rather too obviously for him to want to access it. I didn’t draw either of my Scorched Earths, but I couldn’t make a tag stick on him anyway. By the time the tagging ICEs came out, I couldn’t afford to install and rez them, and Graham could always afford to jog effortlessly past them with his icebreakers.

Lesson learned this time: advance fast, even if it looks risky. I might have been able to get another couple of points early on if I’d been bolder with my agendas. Another lesson learned: Tollbooth is awesome.

We followed up with a game of Province, using John Sh’s copy pimped out with mini-meeples. Not much to say about this one, except that it’s a neat little micro-euro with a sweet balance between rules simplicity and turn-to-turn brain-burn because of the shared worker cycle. (“I need labour, but I don’t want him to get money, so I’ll have to move those workers but not those… but then I don’t end up with enough labour, so I’ll have to move an extra worker, which gives him enough money next turn to build that, so I’ll build this instead to get the VP, so then I don’t need as much labour in the first place and oh god we shouldn’t have started playing this after 10 pm…”) I won, but probably only by virtue of having played it before. The first goal was to have two available workers other than the green starting workers, so that took a while to meet. After that, it was pretty quick to end.

Camo beckoned us over to playtest some mechanics he had for a trading game (currently using Coloretto cards), which was interesting and generated some useful feedback for him. I look forward to seeing its next iteration. And then – after I inspected the physical board for Paths of Glory, of which I’m about to embark on a play-by-email game with Gareth – we rounded off the night with a seven-player 6 Nimmt. I can’t even fully remember who was playing, but I can remember coming last, with 23 points. I’d been doing very well through the first seven rounds (score: zero), but then picked up major points in each of the last three rounds. Camo took victory with a single point.

All photos by Olly and me, shamelessly stolen from the Newcastle Gamers Google+ page. Newcastle Gamers is on the second and last Saturday of every month, 4:30 pm until late at Christ Church, Shieldfield, Newcastle upon Tyne!

Newcastle Gamers – October 2013

Catching up here with a double-whammy of turbo reports, given that I failed to write anything in the immediate aftermath of the 12 October session. I’ve been a little busy, working dawn-to-dusk, seven days a week, running to stand still. Such is the new life I’ve chosen – it’s great, but it’s hard.

Saturday 12 October

I was a few hours late to this session, so it was a relatively short one for me, filled with some relatively short games. First up was my second play of Bruges, which I’d enjoyed a lot on the previous occasion. Playing with John S, Amo and Chris, I was repeatedly let down by the card draw, meaning I couldn’t hire any heavily-VP-laden people into my buildings. Still, as a Feld game it provides plenty of alternatives when your first choice doesn’t pan out, so I was able to build some glorious canals, but it wasn’t enough to catch up with new-to-Bruges Chris. He took a decisive victory, and well-deserved it was too. Great game again – I really like this one.

All those lovely canals (bottom right)... still not enough to win me the game.

All those lovely canals (bottom right)… still not enough to win me the game.

I’d brought along Reiner Knizia’s hex-tile colour-matching Ingenious, which would fit perfectly into the time Chris had before needing to catch a bus, so the four of us played that. I never would have claimed to be an expert player of Ingenious, but I have played it quite a bit on iPad and Android, so maybe that little extra experience paid off. Whatever it was, I started as I meant to go on, getting my first “ingenious” (i.e. maxing out one of the six colour scores) in four turns, and finishing up with five ingeniouses altogether and a final score of 14.

That's me in the bottom right again, rocking a score of 14.

That’s me in the bottom right again, rocking a score of 14.

John’s very respectable 11 points wasn’t enough to catch me, and I finished the game by gilding the lily with my fifth ingenious. A glorious win. It’s nice to get this one out every now and then; it was one of the games I played in my first ever session at Newcastle Gamers, so it always feels right.

Chris slipped away into the night, so Amo, John and I played Love Letter to fill in time while other games finished. I am pathologically terrible at Love Letter, but I do enjoy it. Again, we played with John’s limited Japanese-artwork edition, playing with the bespectacled Princess. I do love a princess in glasses. Amo took an early lead, but John powered through to victory, getting the requisite 5 letters to the Princess, leaving Amo on 3 and me on 1.

Last game of the evening was 6 Nimmt! (also known on BoardGameGeek as Category 5), which has recently joined John’s burgeoning selection of small-box filler card games. Amo had drifted away, being replaced at the table by Peter (or Piotr, or something… I really should find out one of these days… it’s pronounced “Peter” anyway). John blasted through the very simple rules of this very simple card game, and we played it twice. From what I remember, it was quick, it was fun, it was light, and I may have won one of the games.

After that, I decided to make a move, but not before saying hello to club founder Gareth, with whom I play Twilight Struggle by email. Well, I actually left about an hour later, having had a fascinating conversation about games, wargames, monster wargames, physical size of monster wargames, science, teaching, being a student again, more games, more wargames… It was a great way to round off the evening.

And then two weeks later…

Saturday 26 October

This is the way it goes sometimes at Newcastle Gamers. I arrived at 4.34pm – some four minutes after the official start of the session – and everybody in the room was already embroiled in a game. No problem though. John F had arrived at exactly the same time, so I pulled out my copy of Hive and we played a couple of games. Neither of us had played for a little while so we weren’t at the top of our games, but Hive is so good that it wasn’t a problem.

I took white for the first game, meaning I was a move ahead from the start. I nearly threw it away, but I held the advantage and ploughed onwards to victory. To even things out, I took black for the second game. It’s a very different feeling, always playing the reaction game, trying to duck and dive, twist and wheel, prod and poke in an effort to swing the momentum round to your favour. Even though I got a beetle up on top of John’s queen bee, I couldn’t take enough advantage of it, and the inevitable defeat came.

The second game, just before that inevitable defeat for me (black).

The second game, just before that inevitable defeat for me (black).

We finished just as a game of Indigo came to an end, at which point Olly proposed Brass. Who am I to say no to Brass? I can’t think of a better card/tile-based industry-‘n’-network-building game representing the industrial revolution in Lancashire over two consecutive ages. It’s a no-brainer. John F joined us and Graham made us up to the maximum four.

John F and Graham were new to Brass, so Olly went through the rules; it was handy for me too, given that I’d last played it back in July and some of the intricacies had slipped from my mind. One thing that hadn’t slipped my mind was the memory of how well you could score by building canal and rail links between cities and towns. I hadn’t done anywhere near enough of that last time, so I entered into the game with that as my major strategy.

It didn’t work out that well in the canal age, but I did manage to get a bit of income rolling in, allowing me to keep building industries right up to the end of the age. Along with a bit of development, this meant that I had some level-two industries on the board at the end of the canal age – most crucially, some coal mines. At the end of that first age, I made sure to spend as little as possible so I could go early in the turn order at the start of the railway age. It worked out beautifully, and the little base I’d built up in Wigan allowed me to build railways out to Liverpool and across to Manchester, all on the first turn with a clean board. As long as those places got filled up and their industries flipped (i.e. utilised), I was going to be raking in points at the end of the game, and I had a good, connection-rich foundation to build my network on throughout the second half.

Early in the railway age, I've built my red railway across from Liverpool to Manchester, via Wigan and Bolton. I love the setting of this game.

Early in the railway age, I’ve built my red railway across from Liverpool to Manchester, via Wigan and Bolton. I love the setting of this game.

As we entered the last few rounds, I took a couple of loans and was finally dealt the card I’d been waiting for: something that would let me build a shipyard in Liverpool for 18 glorious victory points. I’d extended my rail network down through Stockport and Macclesfield, which allowed me to build through the Midlands to ensure even more points at the end. The last couple of turns were just spent building the most points-lucrative connections that were left.

Although my industries didn’t score a huge amount, my rail network netted me 65 points in the final reckoning, tipping my final score just over 130. Olly and Graham were both just over 100, with John a little way back. For once, the strategy I’d set out with had really paid off!

Results aside, it’s a great game. It was clear that experience counts in Brass – as we entered the railway age, for example, Olly and I both had coal mines on the board, meaning that our coal would be used up quite quickly as people expanded their rail networks, thus providing us with income and victory points. But Graham put up a very good fight, leading the field on the income track throughout most of the game, getting up above £20 a turn for a while. A little money can go a long way in Brass, so that made Graham feel quite dangerous. He’ll be one to reckon with next time, now he’s seen the rhythm of the game.

I nearly managed to get people to play Puerto Rico at this point, but there were just the wrong numbers of people in between games, so I sat down with Michael and John S for a quick filler: For Sale. I’d heard the name and knew it was well liked, so I thought I’d give it a go… and it was pretty good fun. Very light, very simple, very quick, but with enough decision-making to make it interesting. I particularly liked the two-phase aspect of the game: first we bid money for houses, then we bid houses for money in an effort to make the most money by the end of the game. I lost quite badly, which didn’t surprise me at all. I had a pretty good start, netting myself two of the highest-valued houses in the first phase, and I sold them for decent prices at the beginning of the second phase, but then it all went downhill and I was rapidly overtaken.

Next was Fresco, which I know John S had enjoyed playing at the last session, and he was keen to play again. Michael stuck with us and we were joined by Graham. Fresco is a game of renaissance artists painting a cathedral ceiling, portrayed via a medium of coloured cubes and worker placement. We threw in all the expansions John had – well, they’re included in the box, so they’re more inspansions – to make it as hefty as possible. It’s a slightly intimidating-looking game, but underneath the seeming myriad of options lie a few simple mechanics, so the rules didn’t take too long to run through.

I started out with a rough strategy of “paint the bits of ceiling that I can do without too much hassle”, which was OK through the early part of the game but lacked any punch later on. Michael went for “saving up paint to mix into the secondary and tertiary colours to score big points after a long build-up”, which looked crazy to start with, but having zero VPs for several rounds left him with first choice of wake-up time, usually meaning first choice of paint at the market and a general all-round air of freedom.

Where's that pope? I need to pelt him with pocket change...

Where’s that Pope? I need to pelt him with pocket change…

A week (and substantial amounts of developmental/educational psychology) later, I can’t recall a huge amount of detail from the game, with the exception of “throwing a penny at the Pope”. While this might sound like a deviant practice from the pages of Viz’s Roger’s Profanisaurus, it’s actually much more innocent. The large white pawn/meeple was supposed to represent the bishop of the cathedral we were competing to decorate, but I couldn’t help thinking of it as the Pope. When painting a section of the ceiling, you can pay 1 coin to move the papal meeple closer to the section you’re painting in order to score more points – thus “throwing a penny at the Pope”.

All in all, everyone felt that Fresco was a little gem of a game. Light enough to be accessible, yet hefty enough to encourage some serious thought and planning. I’m pretty sure John won, just a few points clear of Michael (if memory serves). I was a long way back, finishing my game without flourish, simply painting the altar for the dregs of VPs.

The rest of the night was Coloretto and Eight-Minute Empire. I honestly can’t remember which order they came in, but I’ve played Coloretto plenty of times now so there’s not much more to say. Cracking little game.

So. Eight-Minute Empire. Hmmmm. As with For Sale earlier in the evening, I’d heard some good things about the game, so I thought I’d give it a crack. After all, if it’s rubbish, it’s only eight minutes, right? Right? Well, no. It’s about twenty minutes the first time out.

And was it rubbish? Well, no. But all three of us (Michael and John S were the other imperial overlords) felt fairly underwhelmed. It’s like a bizarre cross between Dirk Henn’s Shogun and the aforementioned little cracker Coloretto. Card set collection and cube shuffling across a map. Really quite odd.

150% longer than advertised, but... kind of... not too bad... ish

150% longer than advertised, but… kind of… not too bad… ish

This was another one of those occasions where I had no idea what I was really doing and still managed to win quite comfortably, which always makes me very wary. That said, we were all inexperienced with the game so it could have been fairly random anyway. The gameplay was simple, with an odd and slightly meaty mixture of too much freedom (the map’s a bit of a sandbox at times – where should I move my cubes and why?) and not enough freedom at all (severely limited funds for “buying” cards from the table) keeping things moving.

I’d be hard-pressed to put my finger on exactly why we were all so underwhelmed. Perhaps we’d had high expectations. Perhaps the components promise so much, yet the gameplay yields so little. Perhaps it was really, really late. But underwhelmed we were. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think any of us hated it, and I wouldn’t set anyone on fire for suggesting a game of Eight-Minute Empire. I might well play it again, in fact, just to see if I missed something… and it’s so short that it wouldn’t be any great loss if I hadn’t.

All photos by Olly and me, shamelessly stolen from the Newcastle Gamers Google+ page. Newcastle Gamers is on the second and last Saturday of every month, 4:30 pm until we drop at Christ Church, Shieldfield, Newcastle upon Tyne!