3th June - Tinners' Trail & TtR card game

Steve and Richard went to the UK Games Expro this weekend and came back with a pile of new games. It was Richards choice and he choose Tinner's Trail I was really pleased as of all the games I'd read about in reviews of the Expro it was the one I was most interested in. Tinner's Trail is a new Martin Wallace game and is part of the Treefrog line of games. The Treefrog games have all wooden components (tree - wood, see what he's done there) .

It's a game of Cornish tin mining and the goal is to extract as much tin and copper as possible, sell it for cash and use the cash to spend on external investments which are victory points. The game is set over 4 turns and each turn is divided into 10 days. On your turn you can choose from a variety action some of which take more days than others, so you take and action and move your marker along the days track, the turn order is constantly changing from turn to turn as the rear most marker denotes who's turn is next.
The mines are bought at auction and you need to plan your purchases carefully, this part of the game reminded me of the auctions in Power Grid, time it right and you can pick a bargain, get it wrong and everyone will bid the price up. The cost of extracting the tin and copper is determined by the amount of water in your mine. the more water, the more expensive it is. You can remove the amout of water your mines by adding things like a port or a train, some of these will also help neighbouring mines so you have to plan your mine purchases carefully. I've never been a big fan of some of Martin Wallace's games but this is lighter and less fiddly than his normal fare, there's still a lot going on and you have to keep your wits about you.

As none of us had played it before we weren't too sure of the best strategies I managed to get all 6 of my mines on the board by the 3rd turn and by the end of the game had extracted all the ore, I was quite pleased with this, I also spent as much as I could afford on VPs early in the game when you can buy more for your money. This seems to have worked quite well for me as I managed a rare win. Now that we've got the hang of it things may be very different the next time we play.

Garry 113, Steve 101, Richard, 93

With a bit of time left over we had a go at the Ticket to Ride Card Game. It's hardly surprising that this is a card game version of the popular board game, I had high hopes for this as in general I've liked most of Alan Moon's designs. The card play is similar to the board game where you can choose any 2 exposed cards or take them blind from the face down stack. You also have a set of destination cards to choose from the same way as the board game, these card have several coloured dots on which correspond to the colours of the train cards. Whare the game differs is that you can play a set of card face up on the table in front of you, 3 different coloured cards or as many as you like of a single colour stacked on top of each other. The next player can play the same colour as you unless he can play more is which case all of yours end up in the discard pile.

At the begining of your next turn if you have any cards left in front of you you take one card of each colour and place them face down. At the end of the game these cards are matched against the destination tickets in your hand and points are scored. I thought it worked quite well with one exception, Once you've placed the won cards down in front of you you're not allowed to look at them again so you need a pretty good memory, after a short while I'd completely forgotten what cards I'd won and felt lost, I just wanted the game to end . Richard and Steve (who had played at the weekend) both said that it takes a bit of getting used too. hmmm... I'm not sure about this one and I'm not fussed if I don't play it again.

Steve 128, Richard 110, Garry 26

27th May - Cuba

Another chance to cross an Essen '07 purchase off the list of unplayed games. Cuba is a beautifully produced game by Eggertspeil, also avaible in English from Rio Grande. Like a lot of games the idea is to get as many victory points as possible and of course there's more than one way of doing this.

Look at all the lovely bits!

Each player has their own board where they can store resources and products and also build a variety of buildings. When you construct a building you cover over a field that is producing reources so you have to balance what you build with what you cover over. You also buy goods at market, ship items for VPs in the harbour and influence new laws governing tax and market conditions, there's a lot going on and of course you can't do everything you'd like to. Basically you're building a victory point engine, and choosing the best combination of buildings and resources etc. will gain you the most VPs.

As this was the first time we'd played (with the exception of Jo) it took us a while to get through the rules and get going, none of us really knew what the best strategy would be so we just flew by the seat of our pants, well I did. I had a go a producing rum, Jo set up a golfing resort and I can't remember what Steve and Richard did (no doubt they'll chime in later). The game ends after 6 rounds so you have to plan what you want to do carefully, it can be difficult to recover from a bad mistake.

Several people have commented on the 'geek that it's like a bit of Puerto Rico, and bit of Caylus, a bit of Pillars of the Earth and a few others as well. I can see their point but don't ALL games borrow something from others along the way. A really good game, and I look forward to working out some of the strategies.

I think I may have lost the final scores

20th May - Power Grid

5 players this week. It was my choice so decided to cross another Essen '07 purchase off the list of unplayed games, it was the turn of the new Power Gird power plant cards. We were also playing on the Central European map.

It was quite a tight game with everyone ending up very close to each other at the end of the game. Aga also helped us with our pronunciation of Polish placenames as well. I brought the game to a close by building my 15th city, I would have liked to have had a couple of more turns but the game was going to finish anyway and if I had held back I would have ended up miles behind.

Richard 16, Neil 15, Steve 15, Garry 15, Aga 14 (cash was a tie-breaker)