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Archive for the ‘isleworth’ tag

Dungeon Lords

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Up until a month ago I had not played any of Vlaada Chvátil’s games, but now I have played Through The Ages, Space Alert and Dungeon Lords. Galaxy Trucker shows up at the club often, so I dare say I’ll add that to the list in a few weeks. Chvátil’s designs are slower and more complicated than I generally like, but they are all interesting and well developed. I can see why he has such an enthusiastic following.

This week we played Dungeon Lords and had a great time. Jeff has played around twenty times and taught us well, throwing in jokes from the rules. We played for two and a half hours, but we ran through an extended tutorial and played slowly. Jeff said we could play it in 90 minutes with experience. The combat tutorial was superb. I wish more complicated games would include these as understanding the rules well made our first game much more enjoyable.

I can’t beat Andy Merritt’s description in his catalogue:

Dungeon adventure board game with an impressive array of components, including two double sided boards, and three further boards, and heaps of cards, tiles and figures. The big twist is that the players are not the adventurers, but rather the assorted shady characters who set up dungeons! This they do competitively, and sometimes it will be necessary to indulge in a little evil to get the job done properly – unfortunately the more evil used the stronger the adventurers that dungeon will attract. Ahhh, the trials of being a dark lord…

Brian Bankler and Chris Farrell have both criticised it for feeling:

a little truncated. It seems like the story wants to develop more, but, on the other hand, the game itself doesn’t want to be any longer.

Personally, I felt the game ended at the right time. You would have to simplify it too much to include more combat rounds in a reasonable time-frame.

Chris also says that:

the determinism of the combat phase is thematically odd and may make it more of a brain-burner than it wants to be.

This what makes the game great. A game with a light feel, but that still requires serious planning. The rest of the game has plenty of chaos and randomness – ruining plans entertainingly.

We played the Advanced rules. Maybe Chris and Brian were playing the Basic rules? Brian recently said this might be his top game of 2009, so he must have reconsidered.

I would not play Dungeon Lords with non-gamers, or even casual gamers, but in the right environment it is excellent. Dungeon Lords manages to be deep, intuitive and has a fun theme. I like it as least as much as Agricola, which may have more variability, but it lacks the fun. Rather like Space Alert, it’s all about seeing plans fall apart under pressure, but it’s less hectic and requires serious strategic thinking.

Jeff was so busy concentrating on teaching us, he made a few mistakes, picked up a lot of evilness and so had to draw both paladins. Ian managed to stay good, but ran out of money and food early. I thought I was going to win as I avoided any serious mistakes until the last turn, but I ran out of money and failed to get enough food, so my monsters deserted me and the last adventurers ravaged my dungeon. Final scores:

  1. Ian – 13
  2. Iain – 4
  3. Jeff – 3

At least none of us got negative points, so we got our Dungeon Lords licences.

To start the night, we played High Society. I always enjoy this game. I think I prefer it to Money or For Sale, as it’s just as fast and strategic, while being more intuitive. Luckily we played the good-looking Uberplay version, not the ugly new Gryphon Games version.

I should point out that the Isleworth Gamers have a session reports blog. I normally post here before that is updated, so it’s not easy for me to link to the reports individually, but it’s worth subscribing in Google Reader if you like session reports.

Written by Iain

May 21st, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Pick Picknic, Space Alert, China, Adventurers

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This week’s games night started with a couple of hands of seven or eight player Fluxx. It’s almost a party game, but it’s way too random and silly for me. The second hand was won before all the players had a chance to take a turn. Even when I’m playing party games, I want something more skilful than this.

After Fluxx I joined in with a group of five players for the evening – Jon, Dan, Maynard and Russ.

Pick Picknic
Simple 20 minute kids game or filler. I can’t improve on Rick Heli’s summary. I didn’t realise there was a Prohibition-themed version too. The artwork is typical Doris Matthäus quality. I will pick this up for my girl when she’s a little older and she has her cousins over. For usability it would be good to replace the chicken food cubes with numbered counters.
Pick Picknic

Space Alert
I was bewildered for the first training mission, as the room was pretty noisy. I could barely hear the audio track, cleverly played from Dan’s phone, and there is quite a lot to take in at first. By the second round I was starting to get it and by the third advanced round, with the battle bots, I was starting to think strategically even though I was still useless.
I like the cooperative aspect and the planning under pressure is fun. I’d like to play this again in a quiet room with other experienced players.
Space Alert

A classic 45-minute area-control €urogame with multiple interlocking scoring mechanisms. I traded away the original version of this game, Web of Power, a few years ago and this session made me regret it a little.

The Adventurers
This ended the night and was perfect to learn after 10pm. You play a tomb raider escaping from lava and rolling boulder traps. I was the only new player, but still managed to win it, which shows what a random knockabout game it is. The components are excellent and it’s crying out for customisations, expansions and variant rules.
This was my favourite play of the night, even though it’s not necessarily the best game. Maynard deserved to win, being the only one with the nerve to memorise the lava tiles, but he got a little too greedy at the end and was squashed by the boulder with under five spaces to move.

Written by Iain

May 14th, 2010 at 11:40 am

Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization

with 7 comments

I played Through the Ages for the first time yesterday, using the Full version of the rules and with Ian and Steph at the Isleworth Gamers. At a leisurely pace, it took 4½ hours, including rules explanations and set up – so it’s really a weekend game.

I enjoyed it, although was a tough grind, as I had only read the simple version of the rules. By the middle of the game I was able to manage my board without too much help.

I can see why it’s so popular. There is plenty of variety, lots to think about and little luck. The theme is well handled. (Even the reference to Alex Randolph as a leader of civilisation wasn’t too jarring.)

My only complaint is that the core mechanic is quite unintuitive. More and more I’m missing the clean intuitiveness of early eurogame designs. I’ll clean my palate with a few weeks of lighter fare before I take on a stodgy main course like this again.

7/10 although I’m positive my rating will rise once I fully understand the system.

Written by Iain

April 29th, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Posted in boardgames

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Carson City

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Carson City

Carson City is a clever and complicated worker-placement and building game (Caylus with gunfights) which will need several plays to get used to. It lasted 2.5 hours, which felt a bit too long, but we played with five, which may be too many. I expect it would work better for two or three. The Western theme did not work for me. Dice Town implements its theme better as it is more about shoot-outs and gambling than slowly building a town.

Gareth had already won this game three times, and it really showed. Jeff, with ten plays, had not seen such a high score. Gareth manoeuvred himself into the first choice position going into the final round, amassed over $100, picked the sheriff, which let him reserve the the action that allows you to buy VPs for $5. After that it was all over. Phil took to this game well too, scoring a load of points from fire-power tokens.

  1. Gareth – 44
  2. Phil – 34
  3. Iain – 30
  4. Barrie – 25
  5. Jeff – 24

6 Nimmt!

It’s surprising after a decade of playing German games that I have never played 6 Nimmt. I only played one hand, but it was a nice fun filler – working perfectly in a club environment. Quite a lot of tactics for such a simple and light game.

Written by Iain

April 22nd, 2010 at 6:45 am

Galactic Emperor

with 10 comments

Another good night with the friendly Isleworth Gamers.

Galactic Emperor

Galactic Emperor six player game

In a nutshell – Puerto Rico in space with fighting. Twilight Imperium was one of the worst gaming experiences of my life. Galactic Emperor uses the same theme and basic structure but strips out the ridiculous play time. At one point I worried it would run on too long, but it finished quite suddenly. There was plenty of table talk and everyone seemed to enjoy it.
7/10 but will probably rise.



I have been meaning to get hold of Money for years. The new version has top quality linen-finish cards and the artwork is good. The simple rules, simultaneous bidding and short duration all make this feel similar to For Sale.

Game 1:
Scott – 650
Iain – 460
Steph – 290
Maynard – 60

Game 2:
Maynard – 530
Scott – 520
Philip – 510
Iain – 440
Vicky – 140

Written by Iain

April 15th, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Pickomino, Liberté, Inquisitio

with one comment

It has been a slow few months for games, mainly because I had a contract job away from home, but also partly because I bought a new PC and have been playing too much Fallout 3 and Team Fortress 2.

On Wednesday I went to see the Isleworth Gamers and I hope I will be going regularly from now on.

I bought Pickomino on a whim, hoping I could play it with my four year old, but when I saw it was recommended for 8+ on the box I settled on it as a filler at the club . There is not much to say about it:

  • It is a dice game with worms on dominos.
  • It is fast – 20 minutes.
  • It works.
  • It is quite fun, but it’s the sort of game that might get boring if your friends like it more than you do.
  • It is probably best played in a pub

Liberte is a French Revolution themed, medium-complexity area control game, which is about as heavy at El Grande. The Tao of Gaming review covers the mechanics neatly. I bought this second hand for £40, as it’s hard to get hold of and fairly well regarded at #227 at the Geek. I liked that the area control mechanics contributed to a bigger strategic picture. We played with the Daggar Variant, which sped the game up slightly and meant the card display did not clog up. Opinion was divided. Russ and I liked it, Barrie and David didn’t and Emma abstained – a hung parliament. I will play it again – if I can persuade more people at the club to play. Liberté is due for a reprint by Valley Games, who are bound do make a good-looking version. If you like area-control games with a strong theme, definitely pick it up.

A horror game about avoiding torture and witchcraft. I won this despite only half hearing the rules due to a bad headache and therefore playing randomly, so I don’t have a lot of respect for it. Ultimately I hate the theme and artwork, so I’ll avoid it.

Written by Iain

April 11th, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Posted in boardgames

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