Dec 18th - 2 Player Games

We were down to 2 players this week so rather than find a multiplayer game that worked with 2 we had a go at some 2 player games, and none of the games come from the Kosmos 2 player range. First up was Aton a 2 player game from Queen games.

Aton: I managed to fill one of the temples without Steve realising

I'd had this for a while and not played it, it's a card driven area control game, fairly simple with a short playing time. You draw 4 cards from the top of your deck (there is a deck for each player, and during the course of the game you'll use up most of the deck so it evens out the randomness) the cards are numbered 1 to 4 and you place them face down against the 4 'cartouches' on the board, once they are revealed you either place or remove dobbers on the board according to the cards played. A win is achieved by either getting 40 points, filling all the spaces of a temple or all the green or blue spaces on the board. Pretty neat, it feels like a much bigger game than it looks, and definitely has that 'one more time' factor. A note about the first game, after a read through of the rules Steve had forgotten that you can win by filling one temple, hence my easy win.

Game 1 Garry won (filled one temple)
Game 2 Steve 52, Garry 36
Game 3 Garry 47, Steve 22

Next up was Siam a nice looking abstract. Each player has either 5 elephants or 5 rhinos. On the board are 3 rocks. The idea is to push one of the rocks off the board to win, not as easy as it sounds as the other player is obviously trying to do the same and the board is only 5x5. Not a bad game but to be honest it felt very hard to control what was going on. Like a lot of abstracts it will obviously require repeated play to become good at it, I think I just got lucky with this game as I hardly knew what I was doing.

Siam: Nice bits

Garry -3 wins, Steve - 1 win

Lastly we played a few games of Karo another abstract that Steve had picked up in Essen a few years back. It consists of a few black wooden tiles and 2 sets of dobbers (red and white).

Karo: Looks like my front room from 1982, all black ash and primary colours

It seems that you can play several different games using the pieces. We played a game where you have to get 5 in a row, you can move pieces around the board 1 space at a time or jump over another piece, when you jump you have to turn the piece over and to win you have to have all 5 pieces the same way up. As well as this you can move parts of the board around as well. I really liked this game even though I not a big fan of abstracts and Steve thrashed me, getting his revenge for Siam I think.

Steve - 3 wins, Garry - 1 win

Dec 8th - Games day at Richard's

It's been a week since we played at Richard's and the writing of this blog posting, work really got busy last week so I didn't get much time. So it's Saturday night everyone's gone to bed, I have a glass of red wine and Radiohead's new album is on the stereo (and it's on vinyl), so I'll try and remember what happened.

We started just after 10.30 with a game of Antler Island, this year's game from Fragor Games. You have a typical cute looking Stag piece and the idea is to rut with as many does as possible and win at least one fight (sounds like a typical night out from my youth!). It's a very nice looking game and the playing time is just right for what is a fairly light to medium game, and of course there is plenty of opportunity for joke and banter due to the theme. It was pretty close at the end with Richard, Steve, and Howard all managing to get though 10 does each with, Steve, the winner decided by tie breakers. I only managed 8 does as I was starting too many fights.

Antler Island: As you can tell it's all sex and violence round here

Steve 10 (winner), Richard 10, Howard 10, Garry 8

While the Pizzas were in the oven we had a quick game of Quivive. A simple multiple player abstract that is similar to 'Hey! that's my Fish'. I'm not normally a big fan of abstracts but I really like this game. You move your dobber and then remove a disc that makes part of the board (there are a pair of tongs supplied to get at the awkward ones). If you can't move you're out. Even though it eliminates players as you go along it's not a problem as the game is over nice and quick.


Howard 1st, Richard 2nd, Steve 3rd, Garry 4th

After lunch Jo had turned up and we started going through the rules for Hamburgum. It's not, as you might think, a game about running a fast food franchise but about building churches in medieval Hamburg. This is another game that several of us picked up at Essen this year and is notable for using the roundel system to determine the action on your turn. It took a while to get through the rules and when we started I must confess that I didn't have a clue what I needed to do. Once we got about halfway through it started to make a little more sense to me and didn't seem as complicated as I had first thought. Like a lot of games of this type there is more that one way to win. I took an early lead by putting all my ships in the harbour and started to build parts of churches that rewarded this, I didn't think this lead was going to last long and it didn't with Howard taking a decisive victory (well he had played before).


An excellent game, lots going on and lots to do, I think most of us agreed with Jo when he said that it was one of the best of this year's Essen games (even though is has one of the most appalling box illustrations)

Howard 69, Jo 60, Steve 45, Garry 45, Richard 42

Jo left and we were down to 4 for a game of Taluva. This is a tile laying and dobber placement game that came out last year. You have 3 different types of dobber and you win by managing to get all of 2 types on the board. The tiles are nice and thick, like the ones from Java, and the game looks very pretty whilst it's being played. But to be honest it didn't do much for me I though it was a little dry, maybe I just need to play it a few more times.


Steve (won), Richard, Howard, Garry (all lost)

I called it a day after this but Richard, Steve and Howard carried on playing.

4th Dec - Container

We've still got a pile of Essen games to get through so this week we decided to give Container a go. Richard and I had played once before but it was first time for Steve and Jo. We went through the rule booklet and we all agreed that it was poorly written for what is essentially a fairly basic game. I also have reservations about the quality of the artwork as well as it all looks a bit drab.

Ships? I see no ships!

Once we got going we ran into a few other problems as well. Early in the game Steve managed to land a large group of containers on his part of the island, subsequently the rest of us were reluctant to trade with him (this is pretty much how most people play I guess, you don't want to help the people in the lead), so Steve found himself a bit isolated with lots of cheap containers that no one would buy and nothing much that he could afford, so he couldn't do to much to get out of the situation he was in. I guess it would be quite possible to freeze someone out completely, not a nice thing to do, but possible.

Jo adds a 5th container - was this his undoing?

Jo also had a problem towards the end of the game, he made a miscalculation and couldn't recover, all he could do was pay his interest and sail around until the end. We were also playing the beginners variant were you can sell a container back to the supply for $2, this caused another problem where the end of the game just went on and on. In the end we had to scrap this rule just to bring the game to it's conclusion.

The island at the end of the game

I'm not to sure about this game, I'd like to think that it's the way we were playing and not the game that causes the problems. I think we need to get a few more plays under our belts before we make up our minds.

Garry 85, Richard 82, Steve 58, Jo 49

27th Nov - Ticket to Ride: Switzerland pt2

Steve's Report
Eschewing all the new designs from Essen, Richard decided to sample another railway franchise this week, in the form of the Switzerland expansion (so called) for Ticket To Ride.
The most important differences between this and the standard gauge are that it is for only 2 or 3 players, and locos cannot be used on normal routes, only for toll routes, of which there are quite a few. The tickets are also a little different. Some provide a choice of connections, and there appear to be duplicates of these, as I discovered when I drew a second ‘link Italy to France, Germany or Austria’ ticket in my only tickets action of the game. No doubt there is a rule we missed that says you can’t hold two identical tickets but, without this, the fact that I was the only player interested in long north/south routes was an important factor in my eventual victory. Richard and Garry did try to block my access to Germany towards the end of the game (the smaller number of players seems to encourage blocking moves, perhaps because there is no option to leave it to someone else), but not knowing how important it was to me, they left an alternative route open. There was also a point in the game where I had a lot more trains left than the other two, but Richard preferred to amass a collection of 10 mostly low value tickets rather than end the game quickly, and Garry seemed to be having trouble with his last few connections as he was drawing a lot of cards blind. In the end everyone managed to place all of their trains, and my slightly higher building score plus the high average value of my 7 tickets gave me the edge.
Although the Swiss map does not obviously have more pinch points or fewer alternative routes than the maps for more players, the game still manages to build the same tension between completing routes and collecting cards that makes the longer games so satisfying, and it is a welcome addition to my slowly growing list of worthwhile games for three.

27th Nov - Ticket to Ride: Switzerland

There are loads of Essen releases to play and it can get a bit overwhelming when there are so many new games, each week we have to dig out a new rule book and plough through it. We played a new Essen game this week but hardly any new rules to learn - phew! Ticket to Ride: Switzerland is a new expansion for TTR, you'll need the original game for the train pieces and the cards.

Starting to get a bit nasty around Bern

It was quite refreshing playing TTR again after a long break, and I'd forgotten what a great game it is , the Swiss map is nice and tight with 3 players and the scores were fairly close. At the end of the game Richard announced that he'd completed all 10 of his tickets, I thought I was going to be left in the dust as I'd only completed 4, fortunately his were fairly low scoring and he only scored 12 point more on tickets, still, it was enough to keep me at the back.

The board at the end

One thing I've noticed since I've started this blog is that I seem to have a hit a loosing streak, I do win sometimes (honest).

Steve 121, Richard 112, Garry 102

Age of Steam St Lucia - Steves report

Looks like we have 2 reports for this week, here's Steve's side of the story

Shameless backsliding by most of the group meant there were only Richard and me to commence excavations in my heap of games from Essen, so where else to begin but one of the two player Age Of Steam variants from Bezier Games. We chose St Lucia.
In this game, every plain and river hex is seeded with a random cube that can be shipped as soon as a track tile is built there, but neither the blurb nor the rules point out that the island map features 11 towns but no cities. This makes the opening moves very tense, with only slight relief being provided by the alternation of the start player (or rather, by the alternation of the right to be the first to choose whether to pay $5 to be the start player). Urbanisation is the only sensible choice of job for the first start player, and it is relatively easy to choose the location for the city and the routes for the first links in such a way that the other player cannot make any shipments, even if he manages to build track. However, the other player can ensure that he goes first next time, and as he gets two build turns in succession and can see where his opponent’s track is headed before he lays his first tile, it is by no means clear whether being the initial start player is an advantage.
My strategy was to distract Richard away from building track towards the undeveloped end of the island by building stubs elsewhere and then abandoning them, whilst Richard stuck to his tried and tested technique of steaming round in circles with a multi-link express. Unfortunately for me, the easiest blocks to reach at the end of the game were black ones, whose routes Richard could easily intercept by placing black cities on them, of which there were a number available, of course, compared with only one for each of the other colours. As a result, Richard was able to pull ahead on the income track far enough to make up for the extra shares he had issued, and the free track tiles that I had gifted to him earlier then gave him the victory.
A very enjoyable game that will certainly come out again. I would even consider using it to introduce a newcomer to AoS, and the absence of the turn order bidding and production phases might make it more amenable to those who struggle with the original game.

20th Nov - Age of Steam St Lucia

I couldn't make it this week as I was working late, Richard's written this weeks report.

With Gary un-available Steve & I took the opportunity to play one of the new 2 player St Lucia Age of Steam map he acquired at Essen - see what happens once Colin has departed we immediately start playing Age of Steam again!!

Apart from being a 2 player variant St Lucia also differs in that cubes are places on every 'normal' or 'normal river' hex on the map and the cities themselves only serves as destinations for cubes as the there is no production phase. Cube deliveries also generate an additional $1 for the owner of the first section of track.

Also rather than having an auction for player order the players alternate in getting the chance to pay $5 to go first - if the first player declines to pay the second player may pay $5 to do so instead - if the second player declines to pay $5 the first player may go first for free.
In our game in the first turn Steve decided to make sure he would go first by paying the $5 so that he could urbanise Micoud as a blue city and then build as many stubs as possible out of it to try to cut me out from making any blue cube deliveries. I took the train upgrade, delivered one cube and upgraded my train again.

For the first few turns Steve continued to take the Urbanisation Action - whilst I either took the locomotive or engineer action and strove to build a long distance line on the western side of the map - though my additional track costs necessitated me issuing a significant number of shares above what Steve had. However with the completion of a 5 city circular loop on the western side of the board I had the flexibility to deliver most available cubes for $6. Steve meanwhile was struggling to access the large number of black cubes at the northern end of the board to give himself similar sized deliveries.

With the game end approaching a final turn black city urbanisation by myself blocked Steve's long distance deliveries on the eastern side of the board probably sealing the game result.

Richard 115, Steve 100

All in all a very enjoyable game, and as Steve commented after we had finished, we felt it would definitely be a map that could handle multiple replays.

17th Nov - Frank's game day

Trying to choose what to play

Frank hosted a game day and it was a chance to get to meet some of the people who had posted on the Horsham guild of Boardgame Geek. There were 6 of us in all and it was good to meet Frank and Kevin for the first time.

We started with a quick game of Diamant which makes for a nice ice breaker, it's a very simple push your luck game that's a good laugh. It's not the sort of game where you can plan your moves but Steve took the strategy of running away as early as possible, it seemed to work as he ended up winning.

Steve 32, Frank 26, Garry 24, Kevin 16, Neil 16, Aga 13

Now that we were warmed up and had got to know each other a bit better we went for something in a big box. Eketrop is a game that I'd bought at Essen and fortunately accommodates six players. You have a set of viking meeples and a tiny version of the board behind a screen, everyone places their meeples in secret and reveals them at the same time. When Vikings share a space they fight for the resources, which is resolved using numbered cards, a nice balancing mechanism is that after the battle you swap cards, so watch out that you don't give all your 6's away to the same person. With 6 players there were a lot of fights but things didn't drag at all, it's a fairly light game but very enjoyable and produced to top quality Queen Games standards.

Kevin 28, Steve 24, Aga 25, Neil 22, Garry 18, Frank 12


Time for a couple of rounds of 6 Nimmt before lunch. A very simple card game where you play your numbered cards on the end of a higher numbered row, the idea is to get rid of your cards without having to pick up the whole row when you play the 6th card. Not as easy as it sounds.

Steve 19, Neil 20, Kevin, 22, Garry 23, Aga 31, Frank 38

Frank 'mad-eye' Bradshaw contemplating wether to go higher or lower.

After pizzas for lunch we played 'what shall we play next' for a little while and settled on Vinci, "It's a bit like Risk but without the dice" said Steve, and it was. You pick up a couple of chits which give can you extra points or powers for your empire, for example you may get 1 extra point for each pasture or be able to attack others easier. Once your empire has grown it's best to let it decline and then start another, this can take a little getting used to. With 6 of us there was plenty of conflict which kept things moving along quite nicely. Steve and Kevin had played before and took an early lead, but as we all got the hang of it we started to catch up, well most of us did, I seemed to get stuck at the back after about half way through. Kevin and Frank finished joint first and we all expected to see Neil come in a close 3rd but he made an ill advised choice of empire chits and ended up 5th.

Frank 100, Kevin 100, Steve 98, Aga 94, Neil 88, Garry 87

Aga about to start another fight

It was a great day and we play a nice selection of games. Thanks to Frank for hosting.

13th Nov - Commands and Colors: Ancients

No more Colin and no Steve this week. Just Richard and I so we decided to give Commands and Colors a go. C and C is a fairly abstract war game and is similar to Memoir '44 and Battlelore (or so I'm told). Commanding your Army is achieved by playing the relevant card (move 2 units on the left etc) and combat is resolved by dice throws.

Sorry about the rubbish quality of the pic, next time I'll use a proper camera not a mobile phone.

Richard had played it several times before and I'd not played this type of game since I was at school. I got a quick run through of the rules and we dived in. It took me a while to sort out exactly how to make things work the way I wanted, and even then I didn't do too well, not very well at all, well I got slaughtered basically.

It's quite a nice little system and the scenario we were playing didn't take too long so it was easy to set them up and have another crack at it. Funny thing was I fared worse the more I seemed to understand what I was doing, this time I'll blame it on bad cards and dice, but next time...

Richard 3 Garry 0

First Post


Well here's my first ever blog post on my first ever blog.

I've set this blog up to take over the Billygames blog, Colin has moved away and will be retiring to Austria soon, the thought of playing Age of Steam must have proved too much! Anyway as none of us live in Billingshurst now I've started a new blog and named it 'Green Dobbers' as I normally play with the green bits.

I've started this with good intentions so I hope that I can keep it up, I've never been much of a writer, but I'll give it a shot.

Sorry for the horrible look of this page, but as I'm new at all this blog stuff things will probably move around a fair bit and change colour as I get the hang of things.