Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Lost Valley. No dinosaurs.

Ah, Lost Valley. It’s all about punching dogs in the face and getting wood. Drinking whisky and stealing gold. Paddling down river with a canoe full of dynamite. Survivalist Goths eating rats. And all those other things you’d associate with exploring the American West. This was Lost Valley's second airing at NoBoG. Myself, Lovely Rich and Andy had played it the last time and we’d all come back for more. Punk Rich joined us for some adventure.

Each player in Lost Valley takes on the role of a gold prospector and explores the depths of the Lost Valley hoping to amass a fortune by discovering and extracting the gold found in the rivers and mountains. Players can use gold they find to buy better gear, which makes it easier for them to travel around and survive in the wilderness, as well as more efficiently pan or mine gold. This is a race against each other, for the limited resources, and also against the game as the onset of winter will freeze the river and end the game.

The gear that players can but really allows each player to adopt their own strategy and all four of us had different ideas on how to win. Rich went for the survivalist route and bought horse, fishing rod, axe and gun, which allowed his prospector (a goth) to live off the land and collect natural resources quickly. I went for the entrepreneurial miner and invested a lot of money in a horse, a cart and a big box of dynamite with the idea to quickly recoup my expenditure by efficiently exploiting mines. Andy bought a canoe and dashed about the map exploring new territory and grabbing the quick and easy river gold, before buying some dynamite paddling for the gold rich mother lode at the end of the river, while Lovely chose to also buy a canoe and scurrilously follow the others around drinking whisky (to give him extra actions) and stealing gold from their mines. The end results were close with Lovely and myself tying with the most gold.

Great game and great night as we finished off with an extra beer and a game of 6 Nimmt.

Beer: I was drinking Elgood’s Indian Summer, a pale hoppy brew with a hint of malt. I’d rate it a seven and compare it to Automobile as it’s not as dry as it looks.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Battle Royale - Luke given the finger

We initially started out as a six but after Rory went to deal with his Tesco’s delivery we settled down to 5 and played Jimmys copy of Caylus. Its been a long time since any of us had played a 5 player game of this. By any of us I mean, Jimmy, Luke, Matt, Punk Rich and Phil (who had never played Caylus before). The game ebbed and flowed and it was difficult to judge who was in command, some players got VP’s whilst others improved board position to later get greater VP’s, the lead changed hands often with Luke being a front runner then Rich, then Matt and back to Rich. Rich’s use of the inn and some early passing by some players mismanaging their money allowed Rich on a few occasions to clean up. A benefit not afforded to others who used the inn. I enjoyed the game as always and feel it scales well though I prefer playing with four, five players makes the game tighter. Ultimately Matt felt he was in as good a position as he would ever be and set out to end the game, sacrificing his own potential next turn to limit that of mine. In upon itself not completely game effecting but coupled with the following actions, the result of the game could be seen to have hinged on the last moves players made. Jimmy and myself had set up long term pay offs and where the only players able to use architect tiles, with Matt having denied me that last turn, Phil went on one when he was unable to use it Rich stole the last and only space in the castle and Matt took the last architect tile denying either Jimmy or me a chance. I wasn’t expecting spoilers and was wrong footed by this loosing out on over 20+ VP’s. Ultimately this decided the game as Rich won by a nose (2 points I think). Matt having fallen on his sword to prevent the points ended up off the pace after count backs. None of us are experts at Caylus so we frequently make mistakes, this always adds to the feeling of 'if only id done....'. What I like about the game is the level of interaction and that it is difficult to do what you want with so many others dictating how the game pans out. I do try to play differently when I get the chance, today I didn’t follow the building favour track and as a result was left high and dry at the end, 'if only i'd....... If you enjoy adapting your strategy to take into account what others are doing and respond accordingly Caylus is a superb game to play.

Age of Big Box Games

Myself, Luke, Tash, nice Rich and Hal played Age of empires 3 the other week. A really good game which needs a small house fix. The game is well balanced but if you loose an expedition or are out gunned for a ‘boat’ it can leave you off the pace. An example of this was where Luke, Hal and Rich all founded colonies with exactly one man more than was revealed on the card (this is the bare minimum margin of success) and Tash tried with a greater numbers on her side but then failed. Bad luck, ok, but all her investment 6 or 7 actions where then lost. When a single player looks like he could win a boat other players are scared off competing as they will loose resources, consequently often the boat was won (by me) VERY cheaply, this of course had an impact on the final scores as despite vp tiles being taken that would have befitted me enormously, I still won by a clear margin. Obviously there are many factors to bare in mind and Hals tactics in the new world saw him running a very close second, had he been slightly more concerned with finances in the mid game he may well have won.