Tabletop Corner!

Discussion in 'General Gaming' started by COMaestro, Feb 8, 2018.

  1. Master_Craig

    Master_Craig Forum Moderator
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    So uh, speaking of birthdays... my brother, his partner and my partner all pulled a sneaky on me, and bought me the Kickstarter edition of Dark Souls: The Board Game.

    Granted, my birthday isn't until December, so I was a bit gob smacked and surprised about this... but the three of them told me that they saw this game at a discounted price, went for it, and decided that rather than hold onto it for the next eight months or so, they decided to give it to me now. I wouldn't have minded them holding onto it until my actual birthday, but they didn't want to do that, out of fear that I might actually try and buy the game for myself. So... here it is.

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    Wow.

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    One dollar Australian coin for scale. The boss and mini-boss miniatures are amazingly detailed and for a board game, they're bloody massive. I haven't read all of the rules yet, but I want to finish reading off the rule book and getting a good understanding of the game and how it works before I actually try it out. It's a one to four player cooperative game where you fight an "AI", so I just need to find people crazy enough to play with me. My brother probably will, but I'm unsure if our partners will be interested.
     
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  2. Paul Tamburro

    Paul Tamburro Executive Editor
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    I'm jealous. I want to try this out but I've heard mixed reviews. Let me know what it's like when you get a chance to play it!
     
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  3. COMaestro

    COMaestro Regular

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    Went on a mini spending binge as Amazon had a good sale on select board games, so at my wife's suggestion (I love her so) we bought the 1910 expansion for Ticket to Ride, Survive: Space Attack! (a sorta-sequel to the Survive: Escape from Atlantis! game), Isle of Skye, and 7 Wonders Duel.

    7WD is two-player only, but we're hoping it'll be a good alternative when one of us feels like playing the original 7 Wonders, but only have the two of us interested in playing. We got 1910 mainly because it has large, poker sized cards to replace the ridiculously tiny cards that came in the original game, along with some alternate ticket cards and a variant way to play. Isle of Skye I've just heard pretty good things about, and we really enjoy the original Survive: Escape from Atlantis! and Space Attack! sounds like a fun spin on it. Not bad for a little over $80.


    Same as Paul, let me know how this is. I doubt I would pick it up myself, admittedly, but with the mixed reviews I see, I'm always curious for more info.
     
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  4. Master_Craig

    Master_Craig Forum Moderator
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    I didn't know the Dark Souls board game had mixed reviews. I'll need to look that up for myself.

    I hope we enjoy the experience, though. I'm a big fan of Dark Souls, so I'm really looking forward to it. I still haven't finished reading the rule book (mostly due to laziness and too much God of War), but if/when we finally get a game going, I'll let you all know how it goes. :)
     
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  5. COMaestro

    COMaestro Regular

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    This weekend for Father's Day, I was finally able to play a game I've had since Christmas with my wife and brother-in-law. That game was...

    [​IMG]
    Concordia is a game for 2-5 players. The theme is probably one of the most boring possibilities available: merchants trading resources in the Mediterranean. Be that as it may, the game itself is fantastic. The game board is double sided, giving players the option of trading just within Italy for smaller player counts, or the entirety of the Roman Empire for larger counts. With just three players, we chose the Italy option.

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    Setup is a little time consuming. For the board itself, each city on the map randomly receives a marker, stating which of the five resources it produces (brick, food, tools, wine, cloth). Each province (the differently colored sections of the map) is listed in the upper left corner of the board and a token showing the most valuable resource in that province is placed in the corresponding location. Lastly, a deck of Personality cards is constructed and seven are dealt out onto the spaces shown at the top right of the board.

    For the player setup, each player is given a tile with twelve spaces on it representing their merchant's warehouse along with some starting resources, 5 coins (called sestertii) and 15 house markers in their player color. They will also be given a hand of seven Personality cards, each hand identical to the other players' hands. Finally, each player will have two colonist figures starting out in Rome: one land colonist and one sea colonist. Players have two more of each type of colonist in their warehouse to be brought out later during play. Once a starting player is determined, the other players will each get extra coins depending on their turn order (1 for the second player, 2 for the third player, etc.). The last player in the turn order also gets the Preafectus Magnus card (described later).

    Play is simple. A player plays one card from their hand and performs the actions listed on it. Play then continues with the player to the left. Play continues until one player has built all 15 of their houses, or if all the Personality cards have been purchased from the board. At this point scoring occurs and the person with the highest score wins!

    The cards are what let you act in the game. To start with you have six different Personalities in hand to work with, but you can purchase more copies of them or some other unique ones from the board.

    The Architect card lets you move your colonists and then build houses in any cities they are adjacent to. The Senator card lets you purchase up to two of the Personality cards from the board. The Mercator gives you some coins and then lets you buy or sell up to two types of resources. The Diplomat copies the actions of another player's top discard card. The Prefect lets cities in provinces produce resources or gives the player coins. Finally, the Tribune lets you pick up all your discarded cards and give you the opportunity to purchase another colonist.

    When moving colonists using the Architect, the player gets a number of movement points equal to the number of colonists they have in play, and these points can be split up any way the player wishes. For instance, if the player has three colonists, they could move one colonist three spaces, move three colonists one space, etc. The colonists do not move onto cities, but instead move onto the dotted paths marked on the board, brown for land colonists and blue for sea colonists. There can only be one colonist placed on any path, though one can pass through other colonists while moving.

    Buying a house depends on the resource produced by that city. A brick city only requires a food and 1 coin. Other cities require a brick, one resource of the type they produce, and then 2 coins for a food city, 3 for tools, 4 for wine and finally 5 for cloth. However, you then have to multiply the coin cost by the number of houses that will be on that city after you build. Yep, every player can have a house in any given city, it just costs the later builders more money. So for the first house built, it just costs the amount listed above. For the next player, it'll be double that coin cost. Triple for the third player, etc. A player can only have one of their houses in any given city.

    The Senator gets to buy a Personality card from the board track. Each card has a resource cost printed on it that must be paid. Additionally, there may be an additional cost printed on the board under the space for the card. The first card has no additional cost, the second and third have a question mark, meaning any resource, the next two require a cloth, then a cloth and any other resource, then finally two additional cloth. After the player has purchased the one or two cards the Senator allows, the remaining cards are shifted to the left to fill in gaps and then cards are drawn from the deck to fill the remaining spaces.

    The Mercator allows the player to buy or sell up to two types of resources. The cost of each resource is constant. Bricks are worth 3 coins, Food is 4, Tools 5, Wine 6, and Cloth 7. Since it states two types of resources, this means you can sell three food, and then buy two wine, or sell two cloth and two brick, or buy one food and two tools, etc. A player can never have more resources than their warehouse can hold.

    The Prefect lets you pick one of the provinces shown in the upper left of the board and take a resource matching the tile next to it. If the player has the Preafectus Magnus, they instead get two of the shown resource and the PM card is passed to the player to the right. Additionally, the cities in that province produce, giving players with houses in them the resource shown for that city. Once a resource is taken this way, the tile is flipped over, revealing an icon with one or two coins. The Prefect can instead be used to flip all of the tiles back to their resource side, giving the player coins equal to the total depicted on the tiles.

    The Tribune lets the player pick up all their played cards so that they can be used again. If the player picks up more than three cards, including the Tribune, they get one coin for every card over three. Then, the player has the option to buy one colonist for a food and a tool, which starts out in Rome.

    Once a player has built 15 houses or purchased the final Personality card from the board, that player gets the Concordia card which is worth 7 points, and the remaining players each get one final turn. Scoring is done using the Personality cards each player holds. At the bottom of the cards is one of six gods, each god granting points for a particular thing. For instance, Jupiter gives 1 point for every house a player has in a non-brick city. So if a player has 8 houses in non-brick cities, they will gain 8 points for every card they have with Jupiter listed at the bottom. While every player starts with the same seven cards, as the game progresses they will have purchased more cards and moved about the board differently, meaning the scores can end up rather disparate.

    Jupiter - 1 VP for each house inside a non-brick city.
    Vesta - sell any remaining resources in the warehouse, then gain 1 VP for every 10 coins the player has, ignore fractions.
    Saturnus - 1 VP for each province containing one of their houses.
    Mercurius - 2 VP for each type of good produced by a player's houses.
    Mars - 2 VP for each of a player's colonists on the board.
    Minerva - there is one Minerva card for each resource type and gives the player a number of points per house they have in a city that produces that resource.

    The player with the highest score wins!

    Concordia is just a pleasant experience. There's no 'take that' element, other than potentially getting in someone's way or purchasing a house in a city or a Personality card before someone else can do it, but there's no real malice in it. Since scoring is not done until the end of the game, it's hard to tell who is in the lead at any given time, meaning players just focus on what they are doing rather than trying to find ways to trip up their opponents. The way the Prefect cards work means that other players are happy when you make provinces produce, as their cities make resources for them.

    The game can cause a bit of "Analysis Paralysis" in some people. Those who are determined to make the best possible move at any given time, meaning they start to do something, then stop, look at the board for a bit longer, start again, stop, etc. If playing with such people, you may want to look into using a sand timer or some other method of keeping turns short. The game box states 90 minutes as an average game length, but my game took almost three hours, partly due to one player's AP, but also for a couple of short breaks to check on kids and such.

    I highly recommend Concordia. It's very easy to teach, there's no real hidden information, and there's no ganging up on the leader, as no one knows who is leading until the game is over. There's lots of room for strategy hiding underneath the rather generic theme.
     
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  6. COMaestro

    COMaestro Regular

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    Last October, my wife and I went to a board game convention in Vancouver, which was a lot of fun. We played a number of games we already owned, and a couple that we owned but had never played, but there was one game that I had wanted to play above all else. It had been receiving rave reviews from a number of gaming sites since it's release the previous year, but it was always checked out from the gaming library. That game was **Inis**[​IMG]

    The final evening we would be at the con, I had resigned myself to not getting the opportunity to play it, since it was never in the library and that seemed to be the only copy available. So I was sitting alone and reading the rulebook for another game I had been interested in (as my wife was tired and stayed in the hotel room) when I suddenly see someone heading towards the gaming library with Inis in hand. I quickly follow them and basically just as he turns the game into the library, I say "I want to check that out!" At the same exact time two other guys who had been looking over the games for at least ten minutes said, "We want to check that out!"

    What proceeded was a minute long "polite-fest" as we each offered to let the other party check out the game themselves, before finally I noted that I was one player, they were two, and the game supports four, so why didn't we all get in on a game? They had one other player who was finishing something else up, so with a full party of four, we got to sit down to what ended up being an amazing game. Also, luckily, the game owner noticed us and came by to give us a very good rules explanation, which sped things up for us immensely.

    Inis (pronounced In-ish, meaning "Island" in Gaelic) is what is referred to as a "Dudes on a Map" game, as each player has a bunch of pieces and are typically trying to control the majority of the board. In this case, the game has the players each trying to become the King of Ireland. In order to do this, a player must satisfy at least one of the following victory conditions:

    • Be present in six or more territories
    • Be chieftain over a combined total of six or more opposing clans
    • Be present in territories with a combined total of six or more sanctuaries
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    A number of land tiles (territories) are laid out equal to the number of players. Each player takes all pawns of one color of clans people (white, blue, green, or orange). One player is randomly chosen to be the first player and receives the Brenn token. The Brenn is like a temporary king. One rather cool element to the token is that it depicts a male on one side and a female on the other, which is just a nice bit of gender equality in the game. At the start of the game, the Brenn also chooses one territory to be the location of the Capital, which is a larger version of the grey Citadel pieces pictured above (the Citadel can be seen on the Iron Mine territory above. Additionally, there are Sanctuaries which are the brown pieces, one of which is also on the Iron Mine). The Brenn then flips the Flock of Crows coin to determine turn order. This (cardboard) coin depicts a clockwise arrow on one side, and counter-clockwise on the other, so play will proceed to the given direction. Starting with the Brenn and then going in turn order, each player will place one of their pawns (called a Clan) on any territory until each player has two Clans on the board.

    There are three decks of cards, all with different colored backs. The green cards are the Action cards, the yellow are Advantage cards, and the red are Epic Tales cards. The yellow cards each correspond to a territory tile, so those matching the territories on the board should be taken from the deck and placed face up nearby. The other decks should be thoroughly shuffled and set next to the board. And with this, the initial setup is complete.

    Each round of the game has two phases: the Assembly Phase, and the Season Phase.

    At the beginning of the Assembly Phase, you assign the Brenn token. The token is given to the player who is the chieftain of the territory containing the Capital. To be chieftain of a territory, the player must have more clans there than any other player. In the event of a tie, there is no chieftain for that territory. In the case of assigning the Brenn token, in the event of a tie, the token remains with the current Brenn. This means that the Brenn player could have no clans at the Capital and still keep the token even if two other players have clans in that territory as long as they have an equal number.

    Next, you check to see if somebody has won the game. This is one of the things that separates Inis from other games of area control in that the win condition is checked at the beginning of a round, rather than the end. More on this later.

    Next, you assign Advantage cards. The chieftain of a territory takes the corresponding Advantage card into their hand. The artwork on the card is the same as on the tile and each card has a different effect that the player can use during the round. For instance, the Misty Lands:

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    If there is no chieftain for a territory, the Advantage card just remains on the table. After this, the Brenn flips the Flock of Crows token again to determine the turn order for the round.

    Lastly, the Action cards are dealt out and drafted. The Brenn takes the Action cards, removes one from the deck and places it facedown on the table, then deals the remaining cards out to each player, leaving each player with four cards. Then, each player chooses one card from their hand, keeps it, and passes the remaining cards to the next player, as indicated by the Flock of Crows token. Then the players look at their new hand of four cards, choose two cards and pass the remaining two. Finally out of their hand of four cards, they choose three cards to keep and pass the fourth card to the next player. This is one of the most original card drafting mechanics I have seen, as in most games you would have to keep the initial card you chose, and just be choosing a new card from the ones you received in the pass, but in this case, you can pass it off if the new cards work better for your strategy. Also nice is the limited number of cards, meaning even new players will have seen every Action card in the game after just a few rounds

    The Action cards are used in the next phase of the round, the Season Phase. Additionally, they are beautifully illustrated and a joy to behold:

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    Starting with the Brenn, each player takes turns doing one of the following:

    • Play a Season Card
    • Pass
    • Take a Pretender Token
    See that tree icon in the upper left of the cards above? That's the symbol that indicates a Season card. The other types of cards are called Triskels and have a triskel symbol instead, such as this card:

    [​IMG]

    Triskel cards indicate when they can be played, and are often used to interrupt another players action, or to add other effects to your own actions. Some Action cards have both symbols and can be played either as a Season card, or as a Triskel, though there will be different effects depending on how the card is used.

    Any symbols on the upper right of a card show the general effects playing that card will cause. In the image above, the New Clans card has a symbol indicating a new clan will be added to the board. Migration has two symbols, one meaning clans can move from one territory to another, while the other indicates a Clash may occur when the clans move. A Clash typically occurs when a player moves one or more clans into a territory containing clans of opposing players. When a Clash is initiated, the defending players, in turn order from the instigator, can move a single clan into a Citadel, if an unoccupied one is present. If so, that clan is out of the Clash. This continues until all Citadels in that territory have a clan, or the players have chosen not to make use of them. The instigator can never take refuge in a Citadel, even if they already had clans present in the territory. All clans remaining in the territory are considered "exposed".

    Next, starting with the instigator and proceeding in turn order, each player with an exposed clan must make a maneuver, which are:

    • Attack
    • Withdraw
    • Epic Tale Maneuver
    One interesting thing to note, something else that sets Inis apart from most other games of this type, is that before any player performs a maneuver, the players can discuss and choose to immediately end the Clash! So, the Clash doesn't even need to happen, as it can be ended before anyone does anything. Alternately, if after a few turns of maneuvers the players feel there is nothing to gain by continuing, they can end it then. It's a great system, but note that if just one player wants the Clash to continue, it does for all players with exposed Clans. There's no sitting on the sidelines.

    So, for an Attack maneuver, the player chooses another player with exposed clans in the territory. The attacked player must then either remove one exposed clan, or discard an Action card from their hand. So again, unlike most other games where eliminating a piece on the board would be the end result of an attack, the attacked player may choose to keep their pieces in exchange for sacrificing their own future actions in the round. This can be very important in maintaining a winning condition or preventing someone else from obtaining one.

    To perform a Withdraw maneuver, the player moves one or more exposed Clans to an adjacent territory where that player is chieftain! If the player is not chieftain of any neighboring territories, then the Withdraw maneuver cannot be performed. Withdrawing will not cause another Clash to occur.

    Epic Tale cards are the red deck and can be obtained in various ways, but typically are obtained using certain Action cards. These have a wide range of effects, some of which include being played as a maneuver in a Clash. A few of these can be seen below:

    [​IMG]

    So, for instance, a player could use Tale of Cuchulain as a maneuver to remove any two exposed clans from the territory. A Clash ends when all players involved agree to end it, or if there are no more exposed Clans remaining. This means that if only one player has Clans remaining in the territory, the Clash continues, allowing the player to play another Epic Tale maneuver or Withdraw if they would like. At the end of the Clash, any Clans taking refuge in Citadels are taken out and placed back in the territory.

    So, back to the whole things to do on your turn. Playing a Season card will allow a player to move clans, recruit clans, instigate Clashes, build Citadels or Sanctuaries, reveal new territories, and other things. Note that some Epic Tales and Advantage cards are Season cards, and can be played at this time as well. Alternately, the player could Pass, allowing the next player to take a turn. Passing can be a good strategy, seeing what other players do before taking your own actions. However, the round will end if all players Pass, so there is a bit of risk involved. Having a great hand of cards and Passing in order to use them to their best effect will do you no good if the other players don't care for their options and Pass themselves. If this were to happen, the round ends and a new one begins.

    Lastly, the player can take a Pretender token, which looks like a crown. A Pretender token indicates that the player has met one or more victory conditions and can win during the Assembly phase of the next round. A player cannot win without a Pretender token, so a player must spend a turn to take one if they hope to win. This token is kept until the next round, even if the player loses the winning condition at some point before the end of the round. Additionally, a player can not take more than one Pretender token in a round. I do like this mechanic, as it helps prevent someone from just being sneaky and meeting one of the victory conditions without the other players noticing. Everyone should be on the lookout for such things, but once a bunch of pieces and territories are on the table, it can be easy to miss something. This does mean, though, that most players will attempt to achieve their victory condition at the end of a round when the other players have no actions left to stop them, so all players do need to stay alert.

    The round continues until all players Pass. Any Epic Tales cards the players have in hand they keep, but all Action cards are discarded. If the player is still chieftain of a territory for which they hold the Advantage card, they can keep it, otherwise place it face up on the table to be assigned during the next Assembly phase. This ends the round and a new round begins. The Brenn token is given to the player who is chieftain of the Capital territory, or remains with the current player if there is no chieftain. Then the Check for Victory phase happens.

    If a player has a Pretender token and still has met one or more victory conditions, then that player has the potential to win the game. The player who has met the most victory conditions wins. In the event of a tie, if one player is the Brenn, that player is the winner (Brenn breaks ties), otherwise there is no winner and the round continues as normal. Pretender tokens are returned to the supply, and players will need to take one again to have a chance to win in the next round.

    One last thing I want to explain are Deeds. Deeds are tokens which look like little harps that can be obtained through various cards, and they act as a wild toward meeting any victory condition. So if you had clans in five territories and one Deed token, you would be meeting the victory condition for having clans in six territories and could take a Pretender token. Alternately, if you have three Deed tokens, you only need clans in three territories. Deeds can only be used for one condition at a time, so continuing the previous example, you could not claim to have two victory conditions if you also had clans in territories with three sanctuaries in addition to clans in three territories because you have three Deed tokens. You would need six tokens for that to work. Deeds are never discarded and are never locked into one type of victory condition though, only when checking for victory conditions. So, if you had taken a Pretender token when you had one Deed token and were chieftain over five other Clans, but then at the Check for Victory step you were only chieftain over four other clans, but had managed to move clans into five different territories, you would still be able to win as the Deed would count as a wild for the sixth clan.

    [​IMG]

    Here the white player meets the victory condition to be chieftain over six opposing clans, as they are the chieftain of the Prairie, there are five opposing clans there, and they have a Deed token (the green harp shape near their other clan pieces). Of course, the other players can just move away from the Prairie or try to eliminate one of the white players Clans there to prevent that.

    And that is Inis. It's a beautiful game involving a lot of strategy, has great balance, and puts a spin on some classic area control mechanics to make something that feels fresh, original, and really special. I picked up a copy of my own soon after playing it, though I have not yet had the opportunity to play it. I have been promised a play on my birthday, though, which is just a couple weeks away, so I've got that going for me!
     
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  7. Bretimus_v2

    Bretimus_v2 Hey kiddo!

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    I bought Fallout by Fantasy Flught and was pleasantly surprised to find a game that wasn’t drowning in rules. While there are a lot, the mechanics run smoothly and don’t have you looking at a cheat sheet every five mins. Some repetitiveness but I’ve enjoyed wandering the somewhat random wastelands.
     
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