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.