Spiel 2014 Preview: Mogul

Posted by James (admin) on September 5th, 2014

(Note: I assume this is for release at Spiel as it’s listed as a 2014 game on Michael Schacht’s web site.)

Mogul coverMogul is a game by Michael Schacht (Zooloretto) which was released in 2002 but has had some additions for the new release too.  It’s a eurogame with a train theme and uses the excellent central game mechanic found in No Thanks.

The game board shows several interlinked (coloured) railway lines with locations for depots along them and players start with some shares in some of the lines and some chips.  Share cards show the colour of the line they are shares in, plus they also show a different line’s colour in a box too (I’ll call this their ‘second colour’).

Each round, a stock card is revealed to be auctioned.  First, all players earn $1 for each share card they have that matches the revealed share card.  Then, players take turns to either place one of their chips in the centre (so they remain in the auction), or pass (which means they’re out of the auction but take all the chips placed so far).

When only one player remains, they can either (a) take the share card, or (b) either sell all the shares they have matching the auctioned card’s second colour, or place one of their depots on the line matching the auctioned card’s second colour.  Shares values are based on how many matching shares other player’s currently own.   The runner-up in the auction gets to perform the action (a or b) that the auction winner did not perform. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Neptun

Posted by James (admin) on September 4th, 2014

Neptun boardDirk Henn was probably the first designer that I followed as Alhambra was one of the first euro board games I played and then I found I really liked his next games, such as Eketorp, Colonia, Shogun and Timbuktu.

Over recent years, I’ve been disappointed that his games have been re-themes or re-releases of his previous designs; however, this year sees the release of a completely new game called Neptun which looks like a simple eurogame but with interesting game mechanics and a Roman merchant theme.

The game lasts 3 game rounds and each game round consists of 5 rounds of acquiring contracts followed by 5 rounds of fulfilling contracts.

Acquire Contracts
Cards are laid out in a grid with one row for each type of card (city cards, goods cards and oar cards) and one more column than the number of players.  On their turn, a player takes 1 column of cards (one card of each type); however, there’s a neat game mechanic here to make things trickier.

A player can take any 1 of the face-up columns of cards (if there are any), or they can choose to reveal the next face-down column.  However, revealing a column means they can no longer take any previous column – so their choice is now to take the newly revealed column, or reveal the next and take that, and so on.  This adds an element of push-your-luck, plus the more columns you reveal the more information you give to other players. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Nations

Posted by James (admin) on September 3rd, 2014

Nations player board

A player’s board showing their card slots.

The first thing that strikes you about Nations is that it’s a civilisation game without a geographic board.  Instead, Nations’ more abstracted approach to a civ-themed game delivers a very tight, and different, game for gamers.

Each player has a board showing a limited number of ‘slots’ where cards can be placed.  Each slot is colour-coded to show which type(s) of cards (Buildings/Military, Advisor, Colony, and Wonders) can be placed there.  There are also two central boards:  The progress board (showing the cards available for purchase this round where the row dictates the cost) and the main game board (showing the players’ military strength/stability/total books, plus events, available architects, etc.)

During the game, players take turns to either: Buy 1 card, Deploy 1 worker, or Hire 1 architect to build a wonder.  A purchased card must be immediately placed on your player board on a matching coloured slot – building over an existing card if necessary.  This adds tension to the game because, not only do you need to figure out which cards will work well with your existing cards, but you need to consider what cards your opponents will be aiming for too.  Also, the limited number of slots really makes you think about how to achieve lots with relatively little. (Note that Blue and Red cards share the same slots so more military means fewer buildings and vice versa.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Lords of Xidit

Posted by James (admin) on September 1st, 2014

Lords of Xidit

Lords of Xidit is an interesting-looking, medium-weight eurogame.  Players move their character around the land from city to city, recruiting units and defeating threats.  At the start of each round, each player programs 6 actions that their character will perform in sequence.  There are 5 actions to choose from: move along either the red, white, or blue road from their current city, interact with the city, or wait.  Players will need to work out which actions they want to perform and where but, as with other action-programming games, they will need to work out what your opponents will be trying to do too.

If a player uses an action to interact at a city where a disc has been placed, the side of the disc showing determines what the player can do.  If the disc is on the recruitment side, the player takes the next available unit from the disc – some unit types (colours) are more rare than others.  If the disc  is on the threat side, the player can discard the required unit types to defeat the threat which allows them to pick one one of 3 rewards: gold, bard tokens, or tower sections.  Bard tokens are placed in the city’s neighbouring areas which adds an element of area control.  Tower sections get placed in a stack at the city but no other player can have a tower in a city if an opponent has one there already. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Colt Express

Posted by James (admin) on August 29th, 2014

Colt Express boxColt Express is a visually impressive looking game but the gameplay also sounds like a lot of fun.  The players are all outlaws looting a train and the player with the most loot at the end of 5 rounds wins.

Players use cards in their hand to pre-program their outlaw’s actions.  Each round a tile is drawn which states how many actions players will program and which of these will be declared face-up (so opponents know what you have planned that action) and which face-down.  To make matters harder, players only have a sub-set of their cards to use each round, so they may not have access to every type of action, plus they have a limited number of each type of action too.  As a result, you will need to work out how to achieve what you want with the cards you have and to factor in what other players may do too.

An outlaw can be located in a carriage or on the roof.  Actions do things like: Move your outlaw (into a neighbouring carriage, or up to 3 along the roof), Move your outlaw from the carriage to the roof (or vice versa), Rob a passenger (take one of the loot tokens in your current carriage), Move the marshall figure (and Johnny Law shoots outlaws and makes them move to the roof), Punch and Shoot.  If you punch an opponent, they drop one of their loot tokens and are moved to a neighbouring carriage/roof.  If you shoot, you can only shoot into the next carriage if inside, or you can shoot to wherever the next outlaw is if you’re on the roof.

If you get shot, you add a bullet card to your deck from the player who shot you.  This card is useless so being wounded can reduce the number of useful cards you have to use for actions (if it’s one of the ones you draw).  Players have limited bullet cards and there’s a bonus for the player who shoots the most. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Francis Drake

Posted by James (admin) on August 28th, 2014

Francis Drake  gameFrancis Drake was one of my favourite games at Spiel 2013.  A game of sailing, looting and plundering, but with strong eurogame mechanics and some psychological interplay between the players.

During the game, players will set sail 3 times and each voyage consists of a provisioning phase and a sailing phase.  The provisioning phase is where the players gather resources for their journey: guns, crew, supplies, trade goods, a bigger ship, special roles, etc.  Players take turns moving along the main street of Plymouth – 18 locations laid out in a long line – and the players take turns using a location by placing one of their 10 action discs to gain whatever the location offers.  However, players can only select locations further down the street from their last location (and never go backwards).  Also, some locations have limited slots/uses, plus some of the actions on a location are better than others.  As a result, players want to progress slowly to use lots of different locations, but move quickly so they can grab what is on offer before someone else does (and they are potentially left without a resource they want).  If you’ve played Egizia (one of my favourite games), you’ll recognise this very engaging game mechanic. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lasercut Role-play Terrain

Posted by James (admin) on August 20th, 2014

Lasercut photosI noticed this Kickstarter project the other day which I think looks amazing.  The project is creating laser-cut wood pieces with which you can make dungeons or villages for table top play.

Some of the pieces attach to the base plate(s) and the rest of the items slot together so it’s completely modular and can be taken apart too.  Floors and roofs can be removed too so you can use the inside of the buildings.  Whilst primarily for role-playing and table top games, I think they’d be great as the board for a board game too.

You can read more about the project, pledge levels and watch videos here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/direbadger/direbadger-lasercut-roleplay-town-and-dungeon-terr/

The time lapse video of the project creator making one of the sets is interesting to watch.  Check out the headstones in the graveyard – you can have one inscribed with your name if you want.


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Spiel 2014 Preview: Aquasphere

Posted by James (admin) on August 19th, 2014

Aquasphere game close-upThose of you that have read my blog for a while will know I’m always interested in Stefan Feld’s games as I like how he uses interesting game mechanics.  One of his releases this year is Aquasphere which is on the complex end of the scale.

If you see a picture of it, the game looks incredibly complicated but it’s actually relatively simple as far as the mechanics go – it will be working out how to make best use of your actions (as well as doing so whilst other players get in the way) that will be the trickiest part.

The game is set in an underwater base comprised of 6 sectors which each have 7 coloured sections (1 for each type of action).  Each player has an engineer who programs their bots, bots that carry out pre-programmed actions, a scientist who determines where the bots carry out their actions, and some submarines.  Each player has a player board where their bots and subs are placed, as well as a lab which is where their items are stored (with strict limits).  On your turn, you either program one of your bots, carry out an action with a programmed bot, or pass. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Hyperborea

Posted by James (admin) on August 18th, 2014

Hyperborea game

Hyperborea sounds like it should be an excellent eurogame Civilisation game (and is co-designed by Andrea Chiarvesio who co-designed Kingsburg).  Players explore and control a landscape made of large hex tiles – that’s pretty normal.  The interesting part is the core game emchanic that gives players their actions.  Each player has a bag of cubes and each cube colour represents a different type of action.  On their turn, a player draws 3 cubes and  then allocates all of them to different areas on their player board to activate actions (technologies) or develop their civilisation.

Each of the 6 colours of cube represents an aspect of civilisation; for example red represents warfare, green represents exploration, blue represents science, etc.  Some actions (technologies) on the player boards require 2 or 3 cubes in different combinations of colours to activate them and these have a nice thematic reasoning behind them; for example, 1 red then 1 green cube completes a Warfare technology that lets a player to attack and move.  Players place the cubes onto the various spaces so can pre-fill some combinations ready to complete and use the technology in a future turn; however, players must activate an action that is completely filled (no holding it to use later).  Also, each technology on the player boards has two slightly different versions and you can’t use one if there are cubes on the other – so you can’t just pre-load every technology.  Once placed, cubes can not simply be moved to another technology, so you need to be careful not to commit to actions that may not be useful later or aren’t possible to complete.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Cahoots (iPhone)

Posted by James (admin) on August 15th, 2014

Cahoots iPhone gameIt’s been a long time since I reviewed an iPhone game.  I play plenty of them but, with limited time to write reviews, I usually choose to focus on writing about physical board games.

Cahoots is a trick-taking game with a bit of a difference.  Four players are each dealt cards: 6 suits (colours) and numbered between 4 and 8 with some duplication.  (Suits and colours mean the same thing so I’ll just use the word colour from now.)  Each round, the four players take turns playing a card and do this twice until 8 cards have been played.  The colour with the highest total wins the round.

Players are each allocated 3 colours at the start of the game – I’ll call these scoring colours.  As there are only 6 colours in total in the deck, each player shares each of their colours with a different opponent.

Once 8 cards have been played, the colour with the highest total wins that round and each player who has that colour as one of their scoring colours scores 2 points.  If there’s a tie between colours, all players earn 1 point for each scoring colour that tied the round. Read the rest of this entry »

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