Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Good Games, Good Party, Good Riddance

Hey all! I'm back! Took a long holiday (well, two medium length holidays back to back) and a nice break from all things gaming, except gaming. Haha. Meaning, took a break from blogging and podcasting. :P
We didn't release an episode on Sunday for those who are looking for it. Eric was busy preparing to leave our sunny island, and I was too much in a holiday mood to bother about anything except rest. Haha

Anyway, Eric has left. He's probably on the plane now as I write this. Goodbye Eric! It was nice knowing you. Haha. To celebrate this joyous occasion, a friend of ours opened his place to an all day and night of gaming - and it was awesome! Daebak! We gamed from 1pm to 3am. Started with a proper lunch but was literally eating out of our plates during dinner while playing games. Who has time for food when we have so much gaming to do!

Guests above the Geisha, advertisers (level up cards) on the right

Well, first up - before Eric showed up "fashionably" late - was Mai star! 
I've played Mai star many times before as I own the original Okazu edition, but this time we were playing with the new AEG version with "updated" art - read: horrible. Why do they keep butchering the original Japanese art? The only change they made that was nice was sail to India. But their new art for Mai star, the lost legacy series, seventh hero, all horrendous. Bleh. 

Well, Mai star is a simple hand management game whereby you are trying to rid your hand of cards to score points and cause others to lose points. Each player is a unique geisha with an ability and stats. On your turn you try to improve your stats to service guests which give you points for doing so. Servicing guests is the only way to get rid of your cards in hand so you race to level up while balancing your actions to mess with the player who seems to be leading. Its really easy to pick up and play but has some important decisions to be made. The geisha powers are not balanced though, so you'll have to take it with a grain of salt. Hazy is a beast in the game. Haha. That was a nice way to start the party. 

Up next was istanbul - the 2014 kennerspiel des jahres winner. 
To me, istanbul was truly a deserved winner. Our game of it was fun, somewhat close, and very smooth flowing. We did the random setup and a lot of the stuff were bunched far away. Goods were in one corner, but the exchange for gems was on the other end.  The wainwright was at a corner far away from the gambling area and markets. I decided to do some goods exchange for gems this time round and it was successful. I hoarded them from the start and made a quick rush to get the first two cheaply. The rest of my gems were purchased from the dealer but at much higher rates. I did 2 gambles at the gambling house with an 8 and a 7 and both paid off. :) I did screw up on one of the gambles but thats why it's called gambling babes!
I do wonder about it's replayability as I seem to find myself doing pretty much the same stuff each game, but I haven't tire of it yet, so I guess that's always a good sign. 

After that, Eric finally arrived! 
We took a break to present him his custom cake! Russian railroad themed!
It was SUPER sweet. But it was my first time ever seeing a custom cake. So that was very interesting and exciting. 

The cake is a lie

Choo Choo !!

Well, seeing our group was big, Eric whipped out oink games' fake artist goes to New York. 
It's a party game whereby players are collectively trying to draw a picture with all but one person that knows what they are supposed to draw. Each turn, players only get to draw a stroke or two and passes it on to the next player. By the end of 2 rounds, players must guess who is the fake artist (the one who does not know what to draw). The fake artist gets one chance to guess what it is that the others were trying to draw. Basically, you want to draw not so well so that the fake artist doesn't know what it is, but also not that terribly till everyone thinks you are the fake artist. 
It is an ok game. I can see how it can be funny. But I think you really need to get into the game. We had a lot of heavy gamers there and I think it was pretty obvious that it was not for them. Haha
I would play it again but I'm not terribly own over by the gameplay. It was kinda too incoherent. Want to draw well. It not well enough blah blah, too much work. Draw it or not. That's me. 

We split into groups thereafter and I made sure I stuck with Eric. Haha. I bet he didn't notice. Hey, it's our last gaming session after all!
So once again he a used his company's printer and made a print and play copy of Fidelitas. 
Man, the artwork is amazing!! Love! Daebak!

Character Cards

Fidelitas is a hidden goals game that involves table manipulation. 
Each player is racing to 6 or more points and this is achieved by finishing mission/goals cards. These cards state conditions such as, have 3 different guilds in this or that area. Or have matching pairs by these number of locations. So players play a card each turn and draw one back thereafter all while trying to fulfil these mission cards of theirs. They don't have to be the one to achieve it, but once it reaches their turn, if the table state is as their card requires, they may declare and receive the points. As simple as that. Certain cards can only be played at certain locations, so that is one restrictions, and each card also has an ability when played - like allowing you to draw more cards or rearrange some cards on the table. So whoever managed these best will be the winner. 

Mission Cards

The game was decent. But nothing more. I think it's rather luck dependent as the missions can be really hard on the onset (yes you can change your mission cards but it takes up an action). Or you could have lots of help for your mission unwittingly and just score it without much of an effort. I know luck is very normal and expected in a card game like this, so I guess I won't be too harsh with it. But that was my first and lasting impression. I liked it enough to ask for another round immediately after, but two was enough for me. I will play it again because it is so fast and pretty, but the decisions and the fun factor was only ok. Nothing more nothing less. But oh so pretty! 

Following Fidelitas was none other than Eric's favorite game - Russian Railroads. 
He's been playing a lot of it online and i was slightly surprised that he was still ok for a game of it. Haha. For russian railroads, I'm also running out of ideas on what else I want to try so I went back to the same strategy from my last game since it worked well (albeit against my new to them friends) - double factory strategy. I think the double factory strategy is somewhat challenging to execute as there aren't many spaces to move your token and it's one of those spaces that people can block and don't mind spending a worker on them since even a small move gives you points - and you can also move it straight from the start instead of having to unlock different colored rails. 

I started off really slowly as another player was also competing with me for the factory track. Curses! But I held on and waited for the moment to pounce to get the purple moving factory tiles. I lined up 2 of them back to back and that helped me to speed up my progress. At the same time, I was trying to win the most engineer points which I successfully accomplished by the last round. Ding ding ding. So that was enough for a win. It was not comfortable though I must say, Eric's engine was doing well at the last two rounds but that was too late. Another player's St. Petersburg's track was also raking in the points for her so much so that she was a pretty close second. She had a high factory score and full St. Petersburg score for the last 3 rounds. But second nonetheless. Wa haha. 
One thing I did finally manage to do though, get the 9 train as a factory to take another end game scoring card. First time for me. Very well worth it. 20 points just like that. 
So Eric's last game of RR in singapore... Win stolen by me. *satisfied grin*

Double Industry for the Win !

Also, most engineers. :)

By this time it was supposed to be dinner time but we were too engrossed to bother to order any food, so leftover lunch it was while staring at boards and bits on the table. I have been wanting to play Palaces of Carrara so I made a suggestion for it as our next game. Eric played it before and made a brave effort to teach us while we were tired and hungry. Haha

Despite how it looks and how hard it was for Eric to teach us, Carrara turned out to be a simple game to play. On your turn, you either buy blocks (resources), build a building using said resources, or choose to score an area of yours or one of those available on the board. That's it. We played the "advance" version which gave us goals to aim for and that also doubled as a way for the game to end. Carrara was actually pretty fun. I liked how the resources get cheaper when they stay on wheel longer, and how you need to score an area or two to get back money to buy more resources. When you score, you can only choose to score for points or money, and you may only score a fixed number of times in the game. So the decision can be painful especially when you haven't built up enough buildings to justify the rewards from scoring. 

Lost by 4 points. A simple game but rather fun.

And depending on the type of resources used to build the buildings, they will then be placed in a certain area in your tableau. Obviously the better the resources you use, the better rewards you get when scoring. But the price of those resources is just way too rich for your blood sometimes. So plan properly! Overall, Carrara was a good time and I will very likely play it again if suggested. Not sure if I like it enough to buy it, but that's something to think about. I will say this though, Tom Vasel once said Carrara has replaced castles of burgundy cos it scratches the same itch. I have no idea what drugs he is on. Haha. :P Carrara and castles are nothing alike and there is no way Carrara is the better game. What rubbish. Tsk. Haha. But to each his own. 

My final tableau. Invested in 2 areas and all the different buildings for end game scoring.

Arrgh... What was next Jon? Zombie state...
You know, I can't believe I let Eric persuade me to play this game. Haha. 
I was ok that it looked horrible (read: horrifically disgustingly ugly). But it just sounded like a game I would not enjoy. Haha. But anyway, he said it was fun, I trusted him...

Well, it wasn't very good. Haha. I tried my best to get into the mood and the theme and I liked it at bits. The theme fits and you can really make yourself go into the role. Haha. 
I'm not even sure if I should bother to describe the game. Basically, you control a continent and want to rid it of zombies. Most likely you can't so you try to herd them into an isolated area to prevent them from spreading, much like preventing an outbreak. There is a nice tech sheet to research and gain abilities but it depends on a dice roll which could just turn people off. I'm very ok to such things, I love pushing my luck after all. So that's it, you collet resources, use them to research skills and build military, and hopefully you can isolate them or kill them off. You win if you have the highest population after a certain number of rounds. 

Tech Sheet. The most interesting part of the game

Thou shall not pass !

I was Africa and managed to keep a good number of people alive with my pimped out military. But Eric finished with the win though. I swear I would have toppled him if I had kist one more round. Haha. I had the tech where I could plant new population and increase their numbers. Think along the lines of making out like rabbits. Haha. 
Overall, a horrible game. Haha. I enjoyed my own time by making my role epppvery thematic and self entertained wih my own stupid jokes, but it's something I would rather not play again. 

Eric the eventual winner (white) right next to me. A barrier between us, as always. Haha

End of game - 13 points

We jumped into a game of builders: Middle Ages after that. Won't talk much about it here, but basically builders is like splendor but with slightly more concepts in it. It's same in the way whereby you race to a number of points and you take stuff for free, but to me it's really more different than same as builders require money management and allows you to buy extra actions at a price. That is truly an integral part of the game. Generating enough money to take those extra actions can really catch players off guard which is what happened in our game and in my previous game before this. Builders is a nice quick game and I think it holds it's own against splendor and neither replaces each other. Which do I prefer? I think splendor has more simplicity and is rather elegant compared to builders. But that would be me grasping at straws. 

Well, Eric already got to play his favorite game, so I guess it was time for me to get some love. Castles of burgundy hit the table! Yes, you all know how I feel, much love this game. So we'll go straight to the scores. I didn't win, only managed to come in second. And only short by a few points! Grrrr
I managed to block Eric from finishing his 8 plot city. Muah hahahaha. He said he won't miss my blocking, what a shame. Learning from blocking makes him a better player! Well, he obviously doesn't learn. Cos the last time I played with him, I also blocked him from his 8 plot city. I think he doesn't remember. Haha. Bad memories. :P I find that I tend to stay at last place on the turn order in 4 player games. Not sure if it's cos of the board I received of just my sheer laziness. It was working fine till I got leapfrogged by the end game scoring. I had my own end game tiles but not sufficient for the win evidently. Well, it was still very fun and I look forward to more plays of this. 

Eric actually did deny me one of the knowledge tiles I wanted. But I don't think he realised. Haha

Lost by a mere 5 points ! Curses

It was very early in the morning by now and all we could muster was a quick game of sushi go! - a fantastic filler game I tell you. I love it. But the new gamewright art is nothing compared to the adventureland games art. I never get sick of sushi go!, haha. Drafting, blocking, set collection. Fantabulous. I don't even remember now who won. Hmmm...

But I can tell you who didn't win our last 2 games of the night! Me!
We ended the party playing 2 games of diamant. A pure push your luck game. Haha. I love them but suck at them. I always want to be the last one out. I must get the joy and satisfaction of having all the gems for myself at least once. But I never did get to that point. 
In diamant, you basically venture into a cave as a group. When you encounter gems you split them as evenly as possible, and leave the remainder on the card. Players then decide to venture further to run. Running early and with less people will allow you to split all the leftover gems evenly before leaving. And also, leaving secures your stash. Going deeper means you get to flip more cards to get more gems, but at a risk of encountering trouble in the cave. One disaster card is safe, two or three different means all is safe as well. But once you get two of the same type, you have succumb to the disaster and lose everything you gained thus far. 

Death by cave in

Death by poison gas. Basically, just a whole bunch of deaths for my adventurer.

Well, guess who never made it out of all the caves alive? Haha. Me. Each game has 5 caves, we played twice, I never ever ever left a single cave alive. Push your luck me is simply push your luck me. Hey, it is our podcast name after all! I picked it! Cos I love it. 

My final total after 2 games. What, you can't see the gem hiding in there? Haha

So that was the farewell party for Eric. And possibly my last game day/night with Eric ever. Haha. He keeps saying we will possibly play again, but I doubt it. I doubt he's ever coming back; I know if I were him I won't. There's no market in Singapore for what he is studying. Don't waste your money Eric!! :P
As they say, all good things must eventually come to an end. And I guess I'll have to agree. :l
All the best Eric and it was a pleasure knowing you. Haha. The first time you met me you thought I was crazy (maybe idiotic?), playing fruit ninja the card game and going Hai Ya! Ting Ting! Slish Dlash! (In my defense, that is what you are supposed to do when you play the game. Sound effects mandatory, its stated in the rules!). If I still had the game I would have made sure you played it on Saturday. Haha.
But nonetheless, I leave you will a Hai Ya! Ting Ting! Slish Slash! (That's me slicing our friendship apart. Hahahahaha. Justsaying)
Never be afraid to be a fool while gaming! You don't know how much fun it is till you try. 

Well, I'm not the type that normally posts my own personal photos on the internet, I think that that is kinda silly. Much unwanted attention and sometimes intrusion into my personal space. But since we actually finally have a photo together, guess its the right time to at least let people see how we look like. Hahaha. Rather than just a voice and some words. So I leave you with a photo of the both of us, and also a nice Maldivian sunset. I guess it is apt.

That's me on the left, Eric on the right; or, Eric is holding the cake

The Maldivian sunset


1 comment:

  1. Well pened article!
    And that is a very nice cake!