Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Archipelago v2 Rules

For those interested, here is a link to a specially prepared version of the Archipelago Rules v2. Because, apparently, according to the confused and I just don't understand it tone of the designer, some people like, had confusion with the old rules ?

Never !

Rather amusingly within a few posts on the rules thread on bgg the designer then admitted that yes, a rule that had been left out of the rulebook was rather confusing and not at all straight forward as he had originally stated.

If you've tried looking at the official pdf of the version two rules on the Ludically site, you'll note they are painfully slow to read. Almost one might argue, unusable.

I've flattened the pdf and made it readable, the quality has suffered - I didn't bother making it picture perfect - but it now runs at a tickety boo pace.

Specially NoBoG Altered ArchipelagoRules_v2_flattened.pdf

Alternatively if you are a glutton for punishment you might like to try the official pdf

but don't say I didn't warn you.

I look forward to future lectures on how many rules I personally got wrong.

There are, it must be noted still holes. Sea Inlets are now in the rules, but they still fail to address everything - for instance, can you place a worker down anywhere in the tile if you have an already existing worker on just one side of the inlet ? The implication is no. . . but there's the rub. It's implied. Not stated.

Yet More Island Shenanigans

Twelve this week, in three groups of four.

Fletch brought a couple of unsuspecting civilians along to join in - whos names I have utterly forgotten, terrible, terrible me - and along with Dean the four of them had a go at Lords of Waterdeep, the Euro that is not about cube shuffling but is instead about farming wizards... that are represented by cubes... and tend to do not so much wizarding, but more shuffling. Hmm.

Dean went on to club the newcomers into submission by securing himself a comfortable lead and win, with Fletch managing second place. Such was the extravagance of his win that everyone was hard pressed to say who had actually won until forced to concentrate. Next up they took a few swings at King of Tokyo - no news on which outrageously ridiculous monster won.

This left Pete, Tom, Nicky and Moritz to tackle Terra Mystica again. A few weeks back Tom was telling me that he thought he had Terra Mystica just about figured out now, and was looking for an opportunity to play it again and put his figuredoutness to the test.

No easy task when Pete is playing a game he has experience at. Pete is a wily player adept at spotting VP synergies and not beyond deploying 'Weasel Words' ( Matt's description ) when push comes to shove.

Buildings were raised, terrain converted and after the dust had settled, Pete's VP engine had stalled in the late game, and Tom came through as the winner. His figuredoutness was indeed figured out.

Lastly Archipelago graced the table once again, this time I got to play, Matt, Ewan and Sam joining in. The game got off to a grouchy start where co-operation seemed to be a bad word. Trading was almost non existent, and there were a few hostile overtones as Sam marched in and built a town to control Ewan's up til now undisturbed wood harvesting.

Despite this the rebels in the colony had a hard time - with Matt really convincing all to put down the disquieted natives, and skipping card buys to prevent possible further crises.

As it turned out this was not Matt being a team player at all, but setting himself up for some nice end of game VPs from being the Pacifist. Damn him. As Pete pointed out after the game, if the rebels are struggling that much, it might be favourable to lend them a hand now and then - just to upset the pacifist. Which is a fair point I have never really considered - my focus is usually on doing my best to keep the islands at peace - not maintaining a delicate balance between peace and outright chaos.

No one turned out to be the separatist, and with a public goal of most ships, the game turned out to be very tight. Ewan who had looked strong throughout the game managed to miss a few key VP conditions, Sam doing an epic double bluff of considering how likely an exploration VP was, whilst all the time having it in his hand. You really can't trust anyone whilst playing Archipelago.

Matt eventually won by a single point - his pacifist VPs giving him the edge he needed to stick his nose in front. Curses. Me and Sam tied for second place and Ewan came in a few points off the mark.

Worthy mentions should go to Sam's Explorer, who on an explore action would allow the user to use the top 3 hexes to explore with, rather than just 1. As it turns out No Eyes Eddie, the Intrepid Explorer managed to turn up 3 duff tiles for Sam, and out of the six choices, none were playable. No Eyes Eddie was seen to take Sam's money with a cackle and head for the nearest pub, declaring that he would get right onto that exploring malarkey after he had slaked his thirst. Awfully thirsty job this exploring.

Matt resplendent with his Archipelago win took himself off home, whilst Ewan, Sam and myself had a quick game of Zombie Dice, which Sam won by pipping Ewan at the very last moment. My zombies were hopelessly last.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013


This week there was much discussion of My Little Pony down the pub.

For those who didn't turn up - I know what you're thinking. Playing mermaid games and debating My Little Pony ? What has happened whilst I have been away ?

To be fair, one instigated the other, with Tom coming up with a top money making plan of creating a My Little Pony euro boardgame kickstarter. Fletch then came up with a counter top money making plan of a kickstarter that would promise NOT to make a My Little Pony euro boardgame - only if the goal was achieved.

Much subtle jeering of MLP continued with a brief nod towards Bronies - Dudes who like My Little Pony.

If you've been living under a rock for a the last few years, you might not realise just how big MLP has become outside its once usual demographic.

So for the unbelievers - a nice weird MLP Brony created mashup.. which always makes me laugh. For the manga heads - it's a reference to Fist of the North Star.

Link to the creator's site :

Return to the Archipelago

Last week there were some minor complaints that I had failed to bring neither Ora and Labora or Archipelago - the NoBoGers can be a tricky fickle bunch, and it's hard to work out what they want.

There have even been rumblings of heading off the pre-gaming game choice indecision and availability by possibly having some funky web thing where people could pre-register interest and ask for things to be brought along.

But anyway, so it was that Archipelago hit the table this week after a hiatus of some months. Such was the demand for a play that I gave up hosting it and left Rich, Pete, Fletch, Matt and Moritz to take on the balmy islands and see whether they could steer their fledgling colony to success and prosperity, or chaos and disaster.

Archipelago. The game heats up and demands people lean in.
This turned out to be fairly typical of the raucous play.
 The game turned out to be a raucous affair. Arguments and insults over who was paying what, and who the separatist was - of course, it is after all Archipelago - combined over jeers about using evil slavery methods, hogging island space, and oh yes somewhere in there it was supposed to be co-operative. Noisy. Funny. Argumentative Diplomacy. Distrust. Archipelago at its best.

As it turned out Matt was the separatist, but the colony was under a firm hand, and the rebels struggled to make much headway at all. Matt confessed he hadn't had the best time - but when the colony is making successful gains, it can often pay off as the separatist just to play the same as everyone else - after all you earn the same VP's as anyone else - the only difference is that you only know one VP score condition whilst everyone else knows two ( out of six in a five player game ). When separatism is not working, its time to beat the colony governors at their own game.

Rich compressed into a corner, unable to explore, unable to expand and finding life difficult specialised in fish, and worked hard to keep the colony ticking over. Despite such social minded efforts possibly being anti win, they eventually paid off and Rich ended up as the game winner as the colony burgeoned with success.

Table two was left to four of us, myself, Ewan, Dean and Tom to vie for respect in ancient Japan around Edo.

Edo is a worker placement type game with a few minor twists - the actions you can take are arranged as a very limited either or ( pick only one action from a set of four, three times, each set of four being mostly unique in the set of 12 ), thus making action choice that bit more convoluted. The actions are also fairly carefully grouped - do you take Rice ( food ) and then lose any chance of gaining money, or do you take the money and have to look for Rice elsewhere. Actions also often consist of two worker placements - one on the board and one selecting your action. Both together allow you to take the action. Your workers that power them are by and large interchangable - more on the board, or more on your action tray ?

Two actions down, one to go. One samurai about to make use of the
specially purchased extra stone harvest action.
The rest follows by the numbers - buy more workers to increase your actions, but more workers on the board costs more resources. Gather one of three key resources in the game to build buildings and trade, each building giving you income and a precious victory point. Interfere with each others plans by building where someone else wanted, or harvesting resources making it less lucrative for the next player.

Finally when a VP limit is broken, the game ends with that round.

The game is not as locked down as other worker placements, you can shift people around at the cost of a little money - not a big deal, so the game is more about getting your planned actions lined up correctly, than worrying about where your workers are or if you have enough resources. There are also quite a few ways to achieve the same thing - the game is fairly simple at its heart, but gathering resources for instance can be done in a number of ways - special action, gathering at a resource site or trading. None of them are particularly at a disadvantage, it just depends where you are and what the state of the board is.

The state of play. Buildings spring up around the towns,
and Samurai wander the map.
So all in all, pretty simple. I am sure that once you get the hang of this game, you can rattle out plays of this quite quickly, but at first it can seem a little daunting about just what actions you should be making. There were a lot of sub optimal and downright awful turns in our game - people losing entire actions because of miscalculations.

Tom ended the supreme winner, pipping me by a point. As it turned out if I had been paying attention I could have added a couple more samurai to the board and pipped him by a point, but eh. Who pays attention ? Dean barely made it past the dis-qualification, narrowly missing being ejected entirely from end scoring by not having any buildings in the all important Edo.

Nice game, nothing ground breaking, but given the speed it should be able to be played at, this is a nice hit of none too taxing worker placement, in a real compressed time. Not sure about the depths of its replayability as the variables are fairly small - but the capability for advanced play to screw with others plans is definitely there and may provide for some cut throat ploys amongst the grognards.

Next up was Mermaid Rain.

A game about fulfilling your Mermaids destiny to get her legs back and marry the Prince.




This is a japanese game - which completely explains everything - that sees players competing to pick up a spread of resources, and then to have the most of a particular type of resource to gain end game VPs. The one with the most treasure impresses the Prince and wins. Shallow bastard - only after their money ( and a nice set of legs ).

Card hands commence the bid for turn order and tile placement ( where you can move on the map is dictated by what tiles are laid down ). This is somewhat off handedly similar to Taj Mahal - a rough poker scoring system indicates who is winning the bid and who is not based on what your current laid down hand of cards looks like. Certain hands as well as having a score hierarchy for bid winner also perform special abilities - raw VPs, extra resources, extra tiles and so on.

The game is very short turn wise - and you don't have a lot of time to faff about. So you really need to get those resources - there being a penalty to anyone that doesn't have at least one complete set by game end. Moving can be tricky as the cards required to move are the same cards you have been bidding on at the start of a turn. The better the bid and hand, the less you have left to move and vice versa.

With the rules under our belt we all picked our Mermaid alter egos - not strictly a requirement for the game, but Tom wanted to know what my mermaid was called. Philipina Flipper of course. Tom mildly impressed by my name suspected I had given this a lot of thought, before deciding that he was Sandi Crease. Sandi with an I he pointed out. Ewan was Crabby Mcgee. And Dean was Shelly Shipwreck - who apparently wears no makeup, doesn't comb her hair and lumbers out of bed in a state in the mornings. But don't worry Shelly. The prince is only interested in your treasure. Aren't they all ?

Despite the somewhat unusual match of theme demographic versus player demographic ( a bunch of dudes playing mermaids to woo a prince vs a bunch of teen gals wondering wtf is up with the weird 'Euro' rules to this game ), the game is pretty good. It's designed to be a fairly quick semi filler affair, and it's worth a blast in a limited time slot. Particularly if you have a thing for mermaids, and, really, who doesn't ?

After some sexy mermaid on mermaid action between Philipina and Sandi on a remote island, Tom won, beating me into second place again. Pfah.

No photos of the mermaids. I meant to, then I forgot, caught in the fishy tresses of Philipina Flipper.

I think you really had to be there for this one. The blog just wont do.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Playtesting "Dead By Dawn"

"Dead by Dawn" is a new board game being developed by Norwich-based game designer and Norwich Indie Game Developers (NIGD) member Jon Creek. He's running a playtest session for his game at the Unthank Arms on the 15th May.

From the game's description:

"The zombie apocalypse is here and you must get to a place of safety before your home town is completely overrun by the hordes of Zed! You have joined up with other survivors for protection, but remember that it's about looking after number one! Loot a good weapon. Avoid getting bitten! Gather essential equipment. Leave your companions to die! Do whatever it takes to survive.

Dead by Dawn is a fiercely competitive game of survival where each player must find the right balance between teamwork and self interest to come out on top."

If you fancy giving Jon a hand by playing and giving feedback on his game, then head over to the NIGD Meet Up page and sign up.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Co-operative Failure

Steam occupied an entire evening for Pete, Stu, Matt and Shaun at the far end of the Wherry Room, one of those train that shuffle coloured blocks around a board types of game. Are there an infinite variety of these coloured block train games ?

I'm not sure but there seem to be a fair few, it can sometimes be tricky to keep on top of which ones you've played and which ones are new / unknown to you.

Steam in this instance was new to a few, so Pete had a chance to teach the rules and look forward to beating up on the inexperienced. The game however turned out to be a very closely fought battle, with only a single point separating the winner - Pete, from the runner-up - Matt.

This left five of us to come up with something non Steam to do. First up we tried Flash Point, a family friendly game all about rescuing people and putting out - or at least attempting to keep in check - the devil of all house fires.

This is a nice simple, quick game which is a lot trickier than it first looks - mainly due to a fire that spreads almost as fast as you can deal with it. Players that don't pay mind to at least keeping things under control can find that they are rather more of a hindrance than a help, as the fire spreads on their turn and yet may be doing nothing about it.

It seems we had the B Team on firefighting duty as we struggled to keep on top of things and firefighters milled around doing everything but extinguihsing fires. Ed, comfortable in the ambulance, spent a good few turns just listening to the radio, whilst Ewan, deciding that his outfit simply didnt match the colour of his eyes wanted to change uniforms mid firefight. Jumping into the disco ambulance with Ed, much grooving and clothe swapping was to be had.

Prioritising the house cat, Tiddles was lead safely out - after having received emergency treatment from Ed - and was one of the few survivors of the deadly inferno.

The game ended with a pile of burned bodies and a collapsed house. Myself and Nicky were caught in the collapse, whilst Ed, Ewan and Fletch lounged in their vehicles.

After that co-op failure, Castle Panic hit the table.
Waves of monsters crashed towards the castle, a series of trolls and leaders making short work of the defenders.

In quick order Team B - now having been put in charge of the castle - saw their abode reduced to rubble, Nicky being crowned the least worst of the failed defenders.

Clearly co-operation not being a strong point table two finished off the evening with an incomplete game of Star Wars : X Wing Miniatures.

Wedge Antilles with his souped up X-Wing and R2 in the back made a curious opening move that managed to attract the attention of every single imperial pilot. Meanwhile the rest of the rebel pilots decided to ignore Wedge and go in their own direction.

Wedge Antilles feels it might not be his day
 With the empire gunning for poor Wedge the results were inevitable.

Poor Wedge.

The Imperials were uncannily well co-ordinated leaving half the rebels staring into thin air, whilst Wedge went down in a hail of laser cannon fire.

1-0 to the Empire.

Quickly circling around, TIEs dodged incoming shots left and right, launched some attacks of their own all to an inconclusive result.

Time was called, and the game finished incomplete.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Buy Ed's Games

Ed is selling some games. Over to Ed...

Hi Guys - as I mentioned to some of you last night I'm selling some of my collection to clear some space on my shelves/ensure I don't run out of money when I head off on my medical elective in May. 

I was going to whack it all on eBay but thought it might be sensible to try and save both parties on postage by listing them here first - just in case anyone is interested! Can bring them down to NoBoG whenever suits: 

Schotten Totten - £10 (played once)
Jambo - £18 (played once)
King of Siam - £18 (mint - punched but unplayed - currently the subject of a trade offer but that should expire imminently)

Travel Ingenious (2-player) - £10 (played once)
Risk Transformers - £10 (played once)
Red November - £18 (played once)
Android - £20 (no box insert - contents good)
Arkham Horror - £30 (played twice but in great condition)
Formula De - £20 (Eurogames edition - team cars have numbers on spoilers for identification, minor shelf wear to box)
Ingenious - £8 (lovely coffee mug print on box lid!)

Prices are subject to negotiation - especially if you're taking a few off my hands! Thanks for looking, 


Put your offers in the comment section.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The sound of tiny scurrying feet

Prince Collin and his companions
marveled at their new diminutive
bodies and at the once familiar castle
that now loomed over them like the home of a giant. 

Maginos snapped them from their reverie.

“We must move at once!” he hissed. 

The party quickly scurried through the bars of the cell, their delicately padded feet making nary a noise. . . .

Eight this week, Dylan turning up for his once every six months visit to join the rest of us - myself, Matt, Nicky, Sam, Ed, Ewan and Pete.

Spoilt for choice for games we eventually decided on Mice and Mystics on one table, and Kemet on the other.

Ewan, Sam, Ed and Pete settled in for Kemet - Pete being the newbie as everyone else at the table had experience of the Egyptian land grabbing skirmisher. Ed managed to somehow end up playing Kemet again for what must be 3 out of 4 weeks - and took the win after a tie break finish. Pete finished last, but there were only 2 VPs separating all 4 players, so pretty close.

Mice and Mystics rolled out on table 2, everyone grabbing their favoured intrepid mouse to set off and right the wrongs of the world. The game has few rules, is easy to grasp - a 5 minute rules session is enough -  and perhaps most importantly of all for these kind of RPG lite games, takes almost no time to setup.

Nicky opting for the wizardly mouse Maginos seemed to bear the brunt of foes that were encountered as the group struggled to keep enemies at arms length with either fast reacting enemy rats, or difficult terrain. Coming close to dying a few times it was up to Tilda the healer - wisely guided by Dylan - to furiously spend cheese to power her healing spells and keep everyone on their feet.

Splashing about in an underground drain the mice were in disarray, Nez under my control swimming desperately at the end to prevent himself disappearing into the dark waters, before thankfully, everyone helped him out and onto dry land.

Rats were dispatched, cockroaches destroyed and giant centipedes seen off to eventually allow the brave mice to scurry through the roots of the courtyard tree and onto the mysteries of the second scenario. . .

Finishing off the evening, King of Tokyo stomped its way across the table, the Killer Bunny facing down the Mega Draken, the Alienoid and the Gigasaur. Earning the wrath of all other monstrous critters, Matt and his Alienoid opted for a killer combo of Nova Breath - to attack all players - and a shrink ray, to simultaneously shrink them as they were hit. Desperate to dish out pain the Alienoid neglected its own health, and with a final clout of a Gigasaur tail the Alienoid collapsed - 10 or so VPs to its name. Meanwhile Nicky and her Mega Dracken racked up an impressive 19VPs, within spitting distance of a final win, only for the Gigasaur to strike again, chomping down on her wounded beast to fell her at the final hurdle.

The Gigasaur roaring its way into Tokyo kept the Killer Bunny at Arms length, accruing VPs all the while, before at the last the Bunny swept into the city. But alas it was too late, and the Gigasaur was crowned the King of Tokyo after all.

No pictures again this week. I really did mean to take some, but I got caught up in playing Mice and Mystics and completely forgot - a shame because Mice and Mystics is visually very nice indeed.