Billabong Boardgamers - 7th March, 2000
Present: Karen, Craig, Alan, Julian W., Doug, Janet
Doug Adams writes:
KING OF THE ELVES
Julian, Alan and Doug picked up this Alan Moon game to give it a go. We'd all played copious games of Elfenroads over the years, but only a game or two of this newer version. Julian hadn't played it at all.
King of the Elves is a card based version of the boardgame. The cards are split into two groups - planning cards and journey cards. The planning cards are used in the errrr... planning phase to build the realm and get your hand ready for travel. During the journey phase, traditional Elfenroads kicks in and you play your cards to move around the realm.
However, the goal here is to make money from visiting cities (with a bit on the side from your robbers!). Every player takes a turn as start player, so that meant three rounds in our game.
In round 1 everything fell into place for Doug, with 6 villages going on the table. Three of the villages were forest which was a little ugly, but an incredibly lucky "draw 3 cards, discard 4" saw Doug pick up 3 Elfcycles to work past that. Doug claimed 32 gold for completing a lap on round 1, but Alan had a superb turn and took over 50 gold - using a well placed gold card and visiting it twice to really rake in the lucre.
Round two was very destructive. With all players wearing their hands down in round 1, we each had only 8-12 cards to play with on round two. A few "3 for 4" turns tends to wear that down and Alan was down to 6 cards very quickly. A logged mountain as his entry point meant he wasn't going to enter the "board" this turn, so he had a couple of "3 for 4" turns to try and hinder Julian and Doug. Alan felled a tree onto Julian's entry point, severely crippling his coming turn. Alan didn't enter at all, while Doug again skipped around the board for another bonus and the clear lead courtesy of a laketown entry point covered by a gold card.
Round three was very interesting. Doug had not many cards in his hand and quickly found a lake and desert town in his realm. Doug cleared these in the course of the turn there was a lot of cut and thrust with the hindrance cards to try and get players to pay out gold to clear unattractive towns in their realm. In the end there were only five towns to visit and I think each player got to all of them to earn their bonus (perhaps Alan didn't....).
Doug's rating: 8 - it's taken a few games to get the rules straightened out. I really enjoy the "feel" of this one. It combines the best elements of the boardgames, but it plays like a cardgame.
With the mandatory game of Mu starting late in the evening, Doug and Karen filled in the final 45 minutes learning and playing Rosenkonig.
This is one of the successful 2 player game line from Kosmos. In this game players are trying to build regions of power in Plantagenet England during the Wars of the Roses. This rather ambitious theme turns out to be a rather simple game of token placement over a grided board.
Players each have a hand of up to five cards face up in front of them. Each card has a crown symbol on it that has to be aligned with the crown symbol on the game board. Once aligned, the cards show a sword pointing in one of 8 directions (North, NE, East, etc) as well as a number of spaces.
This direction and spaces is the direction and distance a crown piece moves across the map. If a card is played to move the crown, a control token is placed in the final spot the crown stops in. If a card is not played, then a card can be drawn from the deck.
The object is to build up vast regions of adjacent tokens as each region will score points valued at the square of the number of tokens in the region. So a 10 token region will score 100 points, while two 5 token regions will only be 50.
The last thorn is the play of hero cards. Each player gets four hero cards to use during the game and once used they are gone for good. A hero is played with a card and can be used to FLIP and opponents token to your side. If used correctly, they can lower an opponents score (or increase your own) dramatically be breaking or joining up groups.
Our game was closely fought throughout. Lots of cut and thrust, with combinations of attacking and defensive play. Several times Karen was only a turn away from forming a large region (in the order of 15 tokens) by joining two regions together. Each time Doug scurried the crown away across the board to prevent this happening. The game ended with all the tokens placed on the board and scores were:
(We'd removed several groups each prior to scoring as recommended by the rules - they essentially cancel each other out).
Doug's rating: 6. A nice 2 player game - not as strong as Lost Cities or DSK, but fits nicely into the Kosmos 2 player game line.
Janet Ford writes:
Craig, Alan, Janet, Julian
Julian had a strong lead all the way through, so nobody really wanted him to be their partner. Julian, Alan and Janet were all close going into the last round and Alan surprisingly picked Julian as his partner (I thought he would have picked Craig).
One more triangle and Alan would have won, nonetheless they just missed out on the bonus and went down enough for Janet to win by picking up a few points of her own.
Craig Macbride writes:
My second time as dealer, trumps were 9's (no colour trump). Janet and Karen both played "no some colour", where "some colour" was a colour I had the 9 of! There was no way I could get rid of either of those 9's without winning a trick with them. Apart from that, I made all goals. Janet started slowly, but was catching up at the end.
Karen Babcock writes:
Alan, Craig, Doug, Janet, Julian, Karen
We started with this game while waiting to see if anyone else would show. A new game for me. Janet and I traded the lead the first two rounds. Then Janet zoomed off to join the others. At the end of round 3, Janet declared me the target of the group, but beginner's luck prevailed, and after 4 rounds, the game ended with me ahead, and Janet and Craig tied with high scores!
Craig, Doug, Janet, Karen
Another new game for me. I used up all my auction tokens early in the first two rounds, and managed to get a good collection of pharaohs, Niles, and monuments (though the latter two were surpassed by Janet). The last round was a ra-ra-ra event, with Craig the last one in, and pulling one too many tiles out of the bag. Close game, with final results:
Julian Warner writes:
Alan & Julian
This is a fairly simple beer & pretzels game for two players. There are six suits of cards ranked from 1 to 9. Players compete to "take" dolmen-style prize cards by playing a better three-card poker "hand" next to each prize card. The better of the two "hands" against each prize wins that prize. Players start with a small hand of six cards from which they play a card at a time and add to from a draw pile. There are various victory conditions but the only one which either of us met was getting more prize cards than the other.
This is very much a "luck of the draw" game. Either you fill that straight or you don't. The ability to fill straight flushes seemed to be the main determining factor in whether you win or lose.
Inevitably, attempts to produce good hands against one prize means that you end up with rubbish cards against other prize cards. What you try to do is beat the other player's good "hands" with better ones and beat their piles of rubbish with a better pile of rubbish.
Our games were remarkably even. Despite fears on both sides of catastrophic disasters we ran out:
Alan round 1: 5 round 2: 4 round 3: 4
I'd be loath to rate this one on a 1-10 basis. If you want a simple, fun poker-based game, then you'll like it.
This being another simple card game Alan and I played while others were doing more serious things. It's a set-building game with similarities to Express etc. The game is recommended for two teams of two players but we played using the rules for just two - which just meant removing a few cards. Instead of building trains, you build mines. You have a foundation card for either a gold, silver or copper mine, cards representing single units of gold, silver or copper ore which build upon the foundations, cards that double production, mine-closing cards and bandit cards. Basically, you play a foundation card, then play ore cards on top and then play a mine closing card on top so that you can score. Only closed mines are scored. Each copper ore card on a mine scores 1 point - each silver 2 points and each gold 3.
Excitement (if that's what you think it is) is provided by the ability to take over other players' mines by using the bandit cards. There are twelve bandit cards - numbered from 1-12 - and, as usual, the bigger bandit wins.
A slightly unusual feature of the game is that you play a card OR draw a card on each round but not both. If you are playing with four players you may also pass a card to your partner (but again neither of the other two actions) on each turn.
Play was extremely simple but we discovered a fairly fatal flaw in the two-player game pretty early. Basically, if you don't get mine closing cards, you can't win. The player with mine closing cards can close the other player's mines before they even have a chance to score. ...And there is nothing that the victim player can do about it.
We didn't bother scoring the game we played but let's just say that Alan had made a significantly bigger score than me.
As a two-player game, this is seriously broken. I'd be prepared to try this out as a four-player game as it _may_ play significantly differently but I would suspect that the team that holds the mine closing cards would still have to win. Maybe someone on the net has suggested amendments to the rules that might make this playable?