This was a week of returning for the Hypermind Boardgamers. In addition to our sick folks getting all well and coming back, David and Michelle were able to rejoin us due to a new school schedule for this semester. As far as my actual gaming went for the night, it was very similar to 2 weeks ago, but still a heck of a lot of fun. It all started, once again, with a playtest of…
So, my second play of VivaJava. I was definitely a lot more on top of the rules this time and did a much more coherent job of teaching them, along with a few new rules tweaks that had been made since last time. We actually had 6 players involved (the game can handle from 3-8), 3 new and 3 returning.
The game itself went pretty well. We identified a pretty big potential issue with timing, but worked through it with minimal disruption. One of the big decisions in the game is how you balance your effort beween researching (to get some special powers to enhance your creation of coffee blends) and then actually making new blends. In both games so far, I’ve sort of blown that balance. Of course, one time I had a total disaster in blending and didn’t even make the Best-seller list (which are the blends that actually score), so that set me back pretty badly as well.
In the end, Keith almost pulled out the win with some end-game scoring from a Flavor card, but came up just a little bit short in getting all the beans he needed to fully fulfill it. He and Sceadeau tied, but Sceadeau had the tiebreaker.
Time: 84 minutes
Score: Sceadeau* 32+, Keith 32, Michelle* 24, Stacy* 24, Norton 20, Chip 17
Ratings: Play Test
We’re less than a week away from the Kickstarter launch date for VivaJava (January 25), so keep an eye out here and at Dice Hate Me Games for more information!
Risk: Legacy [BGG]
This was week 5 in our Risk: Legacy campaign. So far, everyone except Chris and I had won a game (with Kenny winning the last 2, actually), so we sincerely hoped that some Chris would sign the board before the end of the night. In the little starting ritual to the game (which I won’t give spoilerish details about), I ended up with the Enclave of the Bear faction and started with my base in Peru.
On the first turn, I just consolidated South America. On round 2, I moved into North America a little ways, which was currently inhabited by Kenny. Unfortunately for him, after he failed in moving against Chris in Europe, I swept through and destroyed him on the following turn, getting me both of his coin cards and, for a short moment, putting me 1 point from the win.
My first big moves…
Keith then pushed in from Asia and took away Kenny’s base from me. I regrouped over the next couple of turns, eventually turning in 4 coin cards for a Victory Point, but then came to a point where I and Chris were both in a position to potentially take Kenny’s original base and win the game. Even thought it was a long shot, I took the initiative to throw down all 7 reinforcements I got that turn and headed north. I lost a few armies along the way, but then faced Keith in Alaska with 5 armies each for the win. The dice were very much with me, but a missile or two was spent to guarantee at least parity in losses. I knew this was my last chance, so even as my armies dwindled, I continued to fight. Eventually, it came down to a 1-on-1 battle; just two dice going into the tower and 1 coming out on top. I rolled well, getting a mighty six… but unfortunately, so did he. And since Defenders win ties, my game was lost. Chris then swept in on his next turn to conquer the decimated base and win the game.
Time: 50 minutes
Score: Chris 4, Norton 3, Keith 1, Sceadeau 1, Kenny 0
Ratings: Chris 6.5, Norton 6.5
This game was a little bit more satisfying to me. Mostly, it seemed to be due to us taking a little more time to build up and be reasonable with our decisions rather than going all crazy with all-out attacks. I mean, sure, that’s what I did at the end, but it was after having pulled back on a previous turn and then waiting another turn or two to rebuild.
And while we still don’t know who the “big winner” will be for the whole campaign, so far I’m pretty clearly the “big loser”, being the only person who hasn’t won and gotten to sign the board yet. Yay for me.
Belfort is our Game of the Month! for January, but this was the first chance I’ve had to actually play it during its “reign”. Despite owning it for a period of time, Kenny had never played, and Chip had only played once before (if I heard right), so we started with a full rules explanation (which I need to work on a little more, by the way). Sceadeau was punching out a game and reading its rules nearby, so while he didn’t play, he helped Kenny out to get his head around strategy.
I’m still doing a good deal of that myself, actually (since this is only my 3rd play), so I was sort of stumbling my way through my first few turns as well. Thankfully (for me at least), Keith and Chip were even more inefficient in their first few moves (Keith actually sort of dug himself a hole with his first building choice). Kenny, meanwhile, was swimming in cash and looking pretty.
What I did do pretty well all game long, however, was to consistently develop my workforce. Between the recruiting space on the board and then later with an Inn, I held majorities in both Dwarves and Elves pretty much all game long. It’s not really necessary to get that many more workers, but I like how it sort of opens up the last few turns to be a little less tight.
In the end, I was nearly able to close the gap and take the lead away from Kenny, but he had the advantage of turn order going into the last turn and used it to claim the Wizard’s Guild, which let him move/switch control of one building to/with another city area, which really screwed me over in scoring and let him keep the win.
Time: 117 minutes
Score: Kenny* 44, Norton 41, Keith 29, Chip 24
Ratings: Kenny 7.5, Norton 7.5, Keith 7, Chip 7.5
I really like Belfort and all that you’re doing in it. It’s not too terribly heavy and you never feel quite as pressured as you do in something like Agricola or Macao. But there’s still a lot of chance to build up some nice strategy and make a few cool moves through the game. I also find that it’s actually not too terrible to recover from a bad turn, especially if the result of your turn is to mostly invest in getting lots of resources. Money is always tight and I need to focus more on managing that in the future, but I feel pretty competent in the rest of the game.
The only issue I and my group seem to have with it right now is that it seems to be more than just a bit on the long side. One game played with some new folks on the first week of the month lasted a totally ridiculous 3 hours, which would have been simply torturous. At 2 hours (which 2 of my games have been), it’s starting to wear out its welcome a little bit. If it could fit into the 60-90 minute timeframe, it would be absolutely freaking awesome, and I really hope that we all get comfortable enough with it that something along those lines would be reasonable.
In looking at the game and what you do, I just can’t figure out what’s taking so long. For a worker-placement game, there are relatively few things you can do in that phase. I guess that the Action phase is pretty wide open, maybe, and I suppose that all the things you could use your resources on could be a little overwhelming. But you’ve only got a certain number of cards in your hand and 5 guilds on the board to work with, so it still doesn’t make sense to me.
One thing that is definitely true is that the guilds on the board do make a huge difference in the game. The Bandit’s Guild, for instance, totally changes the importance of turn order (especially in scoring rounds), since you obviously want to go before the person choosing it so that they can’t steal your stuff and interfere with your building plans for the turn. And as in this game, the Wizard’s Guild is almost ridiculously powerful in the 2nd and 3rd scoring rounds. Maybe these interactive guilds are just a little too disruptive, or maybe we just introduced them too early in our learning curve of the game. I don’t know, but maybe I’ll be a little more selective in what I choose next time around.
Regardless of why it’s happening, I’ve been very surprised at the very low interest that people in the group are taking in it as Game of the Month! Going in, I though that a number of people were solidly behind it, but then it seems to be lucky to get played even once each week. Based on the whim of the calendar, it’s actually got 2 more weeks to go, though, so maybe it can make a turnaround.
Other Games Played
Time: 54 minutes
Score: Lisa* – Win; Chris, David, & Shawn – Lose
Ratings: Lisa 8, Chris 9, David 7, Shawn 8.5
Time: 47 minutes
Score: Chris 83, Shawn 67, David 64
Ratings: Chris 10, Shawn 10
Time: 21 minutes
Score: David* 4, Shawn 1, Chris 0
Ratings: David 6, Shawn 8, Chris 6
Score: Chip* 26, Keith* 21, Stacy* 20
Ratings: Chip 6, Keith 6, Stacy 6
Time: 100 minutes
Score: Sceadeau* 43, Michelle* 36, Rory* 30, Kelsey* 27
Ratings: Sceadeau ?, Michelle 6, Rory 8, Kelsey 6
Time: 45 minutes
Score: Rory 62, Kelsey* 49, Shawn 32
Ratings: Rory 7.5, Kelsey 8, Shawn 9
Score: Chip* 61, Stacy* 48, Shawn 38
Ratings: Chip 8, Stacy 8, Shawn 8
Sentinels of the Multiverse
Time: 19 minutes
Score: Chris (Legacy), Jay (Fanatic), & Shawn (Ra) – Win; Grand Warlord Voss (in the Ruins of Atlantis) – Lose
Ratings: Chris 8, Shawn 7.5
Ratings: Rory* 9, Kenny 8, Darren* ?, Kelsey* 9, David ?
* First play for that Person