Yesterday’s board game club session — first and last for me this season, unfortunately — was quite nice. Some new folks, some good games.
I started with a quick match of Blockster with Laura. It’s a simple game, played with a bunch of rectangular plastic pieces. Players build a tower. Each turn they draw a card, which tells them what to add on top of the tower. Usually it’s a piece or two, but you might be forced to drop something on top of the tower or insert a piece in the middle.
The pieces are very light, so the tower is likely to tumble down each turn. There’s also a sand timer — if the sand runs out on your turn, you lose. The sand timer is very short and there’s no reason for player one to spend 58 seconds to place the first piece and leave two seconds for the next player. That’s just silly. We ditched the timer right away.
I don’t know — the idea seems fun, but the game doesn’t work too smooth. There are cards you can’t even use (like the insertion tiles or even regular placement), if the circumstances aren’t right. That’s just clumsy. I’d say forget this; if you want a tower-making game, get Make’n’Break.
We also played a warm-up game of Heckmeck, which I ended up speeding up, eliminating high tiles on every failed roll. It sure is fun, but if there’s better games to play, it feels like a waste of time to me. The game drags too much.
Next up: Antike. We played a four-player match on the Asian side. I got Persians. I won the game, but with a narrow margin: Erkka was just behind me at eight points. Sorn had six and Mika had three. Sorn caught up in the end, but I think Mika didn’t quite figure out the scoring. He had a decent empire, but no drive for points. I, on the other hand, was totally concentrated on points.
My strategy was to go for iron, build armies and get lots of cities. That’s what I did. My first two points were two kings, as my kingdom soon expanded to ten cities. That got me thinking of further sources for points. I had focused on iron, and wanted to add another resource, so I built few gold cities. I kind of forgot marble, thinking that concentrating on two resources would be a good idea. I could always get marble from coins.
That worked well. My next two points were from science: markets and wheel. I used the power of wheel to conquer a city from Sorn to get fifteen cities and the third king. Four points to go! Seeing that kings were all gone, I didn’t have access to seas (Sorn had seven fleets on the Red Sea, I didn’t have access to the Mediterranean), there were really no temples to burn, I had two options. I got some gold and bought, on the same turn, monarchy and democracy. That was welcome, since Sorn was building too many armies for me to be comfortable.
Sorn was talking about stopping me (a good idea, but way late) and was amassing marble to stop me from getting temple points (even better idea). I had to rush, so I worked a bit on marble production and got myself three temples to score a citizen before Sorn built all the temples (he had enough marble to build seven temples, when there were five left).
Now I was one point from victory, but so was Erkka. However, Erkka was out of resources, while I had some gold. I was thus able to score the final civilization advance for my ninth point. Man, that was a great game. I really enjoyed it, and it went fast, too (I didn’t time it, though, but it didn’t take long).
A game of Fettnapf was played to pass some time, while waiting for another game to end. It’s still great, even after 15 plays.
Then, the big one: Caylus. There was five of us, but the game took only two hours and fifteen minutes or so. That was good. We didn’t spend too much time resolving the worker placements, that’s one thing to speed up the game. It’s rarely necessary to go through the workers one by one.
It was a blast. The five-player game is different from three-player game, but not much. The resources are more limited and the competition is more fierce, but the basic idea is the same. It was curious, though, to see the tournament field unused, most of the time, when it was used all the time in our three-player games. Money felt tighter, as well, and the turn order changed a lot more.
It was all very interesting. I dragged a bit behind, until I built the 25-point monument. In the end, I was quite sure I’d win, when I landed at 69 points. Ilari had 54, Tero 53 (and that after trying to build a monument without a house; that was an unfortunate mistake, but it did prevent everyone else from using the architect and thus was still a good move in the end), Erkka 39… but Olli leaped to 70 points with his gold and deniers.
The game got pretty good feedback, I think. Ilari said it was good, but not as good as Puerto Rico. The game was seen as complicated and not as clean a design. I kind of agree. It’s a complicated game, and a tad too long to be really good. Still, I think there’s potential for a rating of ten; right now Caylus is a very easy nine. The news of the Finnish edition (coming in January) got very excited response.
Ilari was interested to try Blue Moon with me, so we did. I played Hoax, he chose Khind. In the end, he kicked my butt. It was very close, the final battle did it — one point of power more and I would’ve had a chance, but no. What’s more annoying is the fact that even one point more for Ilari would’ve rescued me…
After two games Blue Moon feels ok. I still need more experience to form my final opinion. The different decks are certainly different enough. The tactics seem intriguing, kind of. I want to play more, that’s always good.
To wrap it up, I played few rounds of Turbo Taxi with Ilari, winning him hands down. I did make sure Olli was playing something else this time…