Wednesday, 6 May 2009

gaming in photos

19 Apr 2009. The very nice box cover of Metropolys. I first played this at Jollythinkers boardgame cafe in Hong Kong last year. I find it quite unique and interesting.

The thirteen buildings available to you. Try not to arrange them in order so that your opponents can't guess what numbers you have remaining.

My copy of the game came with two blue 9's, but no 6. I added another dot to one of them, and designated that to be the 6.

Many think the board graphics is bad. I thought it was fine, and functional. The districts individually are actually quite nice, just that when looking at the whole board together, the colours can be jarring.

Game in progress, against Michelle. She found the game so-so, probably because she couldn't quite grasp the tactics yet.

A game of Agricola played on 25 Apr 2009. I had a nice big stone house - 6 rooms, more than I could have people for. The 6th room was a free one given by one of my Occupation cards (Master Builder).

These were my cards played, pretty good combination for house-upgrading and farming grain and baking.

Michelle's farm. She worked much more on animals, since I almost completely ignored that aspect.

Michelle's cards.

26 Apr 2009. We still enjoy playing Through the Ages a lot. Somehow, we still spend 2 hours plus per game. But 2 hours of 1 game we enjoy a lot is better than 2 hours of 2 games that are so-so. We prefer to play Through the Ages in the morning when we are fresh. It is a very involving game. This photo was the end of the game.

Michelle's civilisation (1 of 2). She was militarily stronger for most of the game, and also more action point-rich than I was.

Michelle's civilisation (2 of 2). She had 6 civil actions since quite early in the game, because of the Pyramids wonder and the blue tech that gives one more civil action (which by now she had upgraded to the Civil Service tech, which gives 2 extra civil actions and 3 extra blue tokens). She had Einstein yet again. She tends to take Einstein very often, just like how she likes to have more civil actions.

My civilisation (1 of 2). I switched government twice, but the second time mostly because of hoping to take advantage of the end-game event cards. Like many of my past games, I went all out to build Computers because I had Game Designer as my leader. Quite often I pick him, just like how Michelle often picks Einstein.

My civilisation (2 of 2). Caesar was quite helpful in letting me draw more military cards and choosing the most potentially beneficial events card to seed into the future event deck. I even played some Aggression cards against Michelle, although not always successful, and not really too damaging. Well, at least not enough to get myself banished to the sofa that evening. My killer combination this game was Michaelangelo + St. Peter's Basilica + Hanging Gardens. I was Culture Club and was spreading culture like crazy in Age I and Age II. Michelle really should have denied me Michaelangelo. I think she could have done so if she was determined enough. In other areas - food, production, civil actions, military, colonisation, I wasn't as strong as she was, but my culture growth zoomed ahead and she never managed to catch up. Later on Game Designer also helped me gain many culture points.

1 May 2009. We had a great day of gaming on Labour Day. Chee Seng, Sui Jye and Jing Yi came to play. Chee Seng stayed for dinner and we continued playing in the evening. This was Chee Seng's first game of Metropolys, and see how happy he was after having placed all four of his big buildings, and all of them fulfilled his secret (well, not so secret by then) goal of placing buildings at both ends of bridges.

... then he realised he was very screwed because with only small and medium buildings remaining, he won't be seeing much action for the rest of the game.

Look at Chee Seng's four proud skyscrapers.

Chee Seng, Sui Jye and Jing Yi, all new to the game. I, being the teacher and having played 5 games of Metropolys before this, came in a very distant last. I can only console myself that I was a great teacher. In this game, Chee Seng very quickly used up all his big buildings. I was overly conservative and keep holding back my buildings. I was last to have any buildings built. When I started constructing buildings, it was done in a kind of haste, because I was starting to get desperate. I was also the only one to be willing to build on archaeological sites and thus taking the negative points. That cost me quite a number of points. There's a group mentality in this aspect of the game, and in hindsight, maybe I should not have collected those negative points so bravely, or maybe I should have made better use of this group mentality. In my first game with Ah Chung, Ben and Moh Yen, we were all reluctant to touch these negative points too.

Sui Jye paced his buildings very well, getting rid of the small ones at a good rate. Chee Seng saw the end coming, and made a play to allow Sui Jye to end the game, hoping that Sui Jye would not be able to outscore him. That was a good move, since he was quite screwed anyway, and his best hope was that the big scores he had earned from the early game was enough to keep him in the lead. However it was not to be. With his last two buildings, Sui Jye outscored Chee Seng. Their final scores were 33:31. Jing Yi had 19. I had 12. That's so embarassing that I wonder why I publish this.

Obviously they all enjoyed Wasabi. This was my first time playing with more than 2 players, and the game is a little different. Thankfully I had discovered a rule mistake earlier, and taught them the right rules - when you pick an action card after completing a recipe, you must not choose the same card that you have just played that turn, if possible. This prevents you from using the same action card over and over, and makes things trickier and more interesting.

Me, Chee Seng, Sui Jye, Jing Yi. Michelle took this photo for us. Wasabi with 4 players is more chaotic, and I can now see why some people do not like this chaos. With four players, your best laid plans can be completely destroyed unknowingly by your opponents. By the time your turn comes around, the board has been changed by 3 other players, and if your luck sucks, all 3 of them would have changed something that messed up your plan. This was what happened to me and my 5-ingredient recipe. Conclusion - (1) don't play Wasabi too seriously, (2) try playing with 2 or 3 players.

Chee Seng and Michelle. I think this is the first photo of Keltis at my blog. When I first played it at Carcasean boardgame cafe with Chong Sean, I forgot to take a photo. After buying it, I had played it quite a few times, but never remembered to take a photo, until this day.

Keltis was a surprise hit for me. When I learned it was the boardgame version of Lost Cities it didn't really excite me. After I read the rules, it didn't really excite me. I just wanted to give it a try. It won the Spiel des Jahres afterall. Then I played it. It has the juicy tension of Lost Cities, and the additional twists are interesting, which I hadn't expected. The five different paths will have different characteristics, unlike in Lost Cities where they are only different in artwork. I may end up liking Keltis more than Lost Cities.

In Keltis you move pawns down the tracks and score according to the position along the tracks. Random tiles are place along the tracks. You pick up the green wishing stones (orange background), and score points based on how many you collect. The clover tiles let you take an extra step with one of your pawns, and it can even be a pawn on another track. The number tiles just give bonus points. Everyone has one tall pawn, which scores double.

2 May 2009. Race for the Galaxy (with Gathering Storm expansion). Looks like a good hand. Problem is I couldn't bear to part with any of the cards.

My start world was Separatist Colony (#5). What a coincidence that the first two worlds that I settled were other military start worlds.

This was the end of the game. I built the Alien Tech Institute mainly for the first-6-cost-dev objective tile, but it did give me some points itself, and also contributed to the first-to-3-alien-cards objective tile. I thought I did pretty well...

... but it was no match for Michelle's tableau. The Terraforming Guild itself gave Michelle 18 points! And that's excluding the first-6-cost-dev objective, which she achieved at the same time as I did. She had tons of windfall worlds.


Chris Norwood said...

"The thirteen buildings available to you. Try not to arrange them in order so that your opponents can't guess what numbers you have remaining."

While it's not specified in the English rules, I understand that the original French rules make it clear that unused buildings are public knowledge. This thread on BGG addresses it.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

Thanks Chris! I didn't realise that. It was the guy at Jollythinkers (Hong Kong) who taught us that it should be secret. I had initially taught my friends that it's public, and the kind game instructor came over and "corrected" us. I think I would prefer it to be public.

Frank said...

What do you do with your kids when you play in the mornings or for a full day? Our 2.5 y/o son is used to our game evenings by now, but won't easily let us play during the morning!

Hiew Chok Sien said...

In the mornings usually there are TV programs that my daughters like, so they don't bother us much when we play. Sometimes they join us at the table and play with the extra components by themselves, without bothering us much. Other times they play with their own toys. It is the evenings that they sometimes can be a nuisance, if we play on the bedroom floor or on the bed. They trample around us and I always cringe for fear of them stepping on some cards or other components. So if we want to play in the evenings we usually have to wait until the children are asleep, or at least one of them is.

Aik Yong said...

Interesting to see you've enjoyed Metropolys so much. That has very mixed reviews and has put me off from purchasing it.

I can see that Through the Ages and Race for the Galaxy is still going strong!

Hiew Chok Sien said...

Aik Yong,

I like the uniqueness of Metropolys, in the spatial element in the bidding. Also it's a very succinct game.

Yeah, both Through the Ages and Race for the Galaxy are still going strong. I'm approaching my 300th game of RFTG.

Paul said...

I really love the photos Hiew! Thanks for posting them. Did you win?

Hiew Chok Sien said...

Other than those already mentioned above, I did win the games of Agricola and Through the Ages above, which were both 2-player games against my wife. I always enjoyed taking photos of these two games, to see how I have developed my farm / my civlisation.

Chris Norwood said...

@ Aik Yong - Actually, I had heard pretty great things about Metropolys. In fact, what finally pushed it over the edge and made me buy it was Scott Nicholson making it one of his top 10 surprises of 2008.

Like Hiew says, the spatial bidding thing is very unique and interesting.