27 Oct 2014. Allen, Han, Jia Yaik and I started a game of Indonesia on Slothninja quite some time ago, and the game took about half a year to finish. I took some screenshots during our game, and had intended to write a session report about it. When I looked back at the screenshots, it looked like too much work to analyse every twist and turn and to try to remember what was going through my mind during the game. So I've decided to forget it. Here's one screenshot of the map.
Han was the big winner in this game, and the signs were already showing in the early game. He played a smooth game. Indonesia is an unforgiving game. You need to know what you're doing. If you dig a hole for yourself, it's not easy to climb out. It feels like you have many crucial decisions to make throughout the game, and one bad decision can set you back a lot. There will be big changes throughout the game - people losing companies due to mergers, rice companies and spice companies transforming into siap faji (microwave meals) companies. These changes are not brought about by random dice rolls or lucky card draws. They are all part of a natural progression driven by player actions. The challenge is in how to anticipate and shape the events in the game.
Half a year to play a game is crazy though. Next time we should play face-to-face.
26 Oct 2014. Hacienda is a Wolfgang Kramer design which both Michelle and I like. Many people have made custom maps for it, but till now I still haven't downloaded any to play. By now Hacienda is no longer a hotness game.
Hacienda is a tile-laying game. You buy cards, then play cards to place tiles. You also directly pay to place some special tiles. Tiles placed help you make money or give you victory points. Points are scored once at mid-game and then again at game end. The hexes are haciendas or farms. The round tiles are animals. The lakes are a type of tile you can place too. They score points for your haciendas and animals next to them.
Michelle and I always compete to reach as many markets as possible using our animals. The markets are those single buildings in the middle of the grassland (pampas) areas. Creating a link of animals to markets lets you earn money, and each market you connect to is also worth victory points. The more you connect to, the higher the value per market. So Michelle and I always strive to not get left behind.
In this game, I won mainly because of lakes. I had started placing them earlier, and had also managed to place more than Michelle.
Michelle expanded her (red) haciendas aggressively, until she ran out of red hexes. So she had to use yellow ones instead. This was game end.
Playing my homemade Love Letter with the children. This is one of Chen Rui's (left) favourite games.
Agricola. We still play the family game rules, i.e. no Occupation cards or Minor Improvement cards. The children still don't quite have that strategic view and are not yet able to plan ahead very well. So I sometimes need to remind them and give them little tips. But I think they do enjoy building up their farms.
This is my farm. Not all that great. I have a fancy stone house, but my animal husbandry is rather poor - only one tiny pasture and a few shabby stables.
Shee Yun's animal husbandry is much better. She has all three types of animals (the cubes), sheep, wild boar and cattle.
Chen Rui's farm has too much unutilised space, but she does have a nice stone house.
29 Oct 2014. This is a homemade version of Reiner Knizia's En Garde. I did this quite a long time ago. The game is very simple and very quick, but at the same time it fits the fencing setting very well.
The fencing ground is on the left, the scoreboard on the right. The black and white markers on the left are our contestants, the ones on the right are the score markers. In this game you play cards to move or to attack. The number on the card determines how many steps you can move or from what exact range you may attack. Defense is done by playing a card (or cards) of a matching number. A round ends as soon as one contestant manages to score a hit. That's one point for him. If the deck (which has only 25 cards, five each of numbers 1 to 5) runs out, whoever is further from his starting corner wins the round.
Very few components required, yet it is a very clever game.
I taught Shee Yun (9) Caesar and Cleopatra. This is a game a bought about 10 years ago in Taiwan. I had not played it for a very long time. I only thought about it when I was browsing my shelf to look for games I could teach Shee Yun.
In this 2-player game, players compete to grab Roman officials from the centre. There are 5 types of officials, and every turn there may be an event triggering one of them to decide to support one of the players. You play numbered cards on your side of the officials groups, and whenever there is a reckoning, whoever has the highest total wins one official. You can play cards face-up or face-down, but if you play face-down, you only get to play one card, as opposed to two when playing face-up. Shee Yun was reluctant to reveal her cards and kept playing them face-down. That was not a good idea. She ended up playing much fewer cards than me. You always draw back up to your hand size at the end of your turn, so there is no need to conserve cards.
In addition to numbered cards, there are also special action cards, like the rightmost one here. There is one special type of numbered card called a Philosopher card. It is worth 0, but it changes the rule for the next reckoning. The player with the smaller total value wins instead.
31 Oct 2014. Sticheln is an old trick-taking game which I quite like. It has two features which make it very interesting. There is a pain colour (or suit) that you must select at the start of every hand. Each card you capture is worth one point, but if you capture cards of your pain colour, they are worth negative points based on the card value. The other interesting feature is for every trick, any colour played that is different from the colour of the first card played is a trump colour. This means it is quite rare for the first card to win any trick, because as soon as someone else plays a different colour, that new colour will trump the first card.
When playing Sticheln you need to be careful not to win cards of your pain colour while winning as many other coloured cards as possible. It is important to watch others' pain colours, because sometimes you do want to serve them a good dose of pain. You manipulate your opponents' fears to allow you to win tricks. You appeal to their greed to help you get rid of your pain colour. What an evil game!
Allen, Ivan and Ainul. We played at Boardgamecafe.net. I arrived early and there were only three of us initially. Since we were waiting for others to arrive, I suggested playing one quick round of Sticheln. Halfway through sorting out the cards needed for a 3-player game and explaining the rules, another friend arrived. We asked him to join us, and we re-sorted the cards and restarted the game explanation. Then halfway through that, yet another friend arrived, whom we invited to join us too. This repeated a few times until we had 8 players - the max the game could support. This was my first time ever playing 8-player Sticheln. It's probably not the best number, but it was funny to have tried it this way. The big numbered cards are scary! Negative twenty?! Oh yeah...
I have played River Dragons (Dragon Delta) with my family before as a 4-player game. That time Shee Yun won within two rounds as we were not prepared to stop her. This time I played this as a 6-player game, all players being boardgame veterans. The game was, needless to say, quite different from my previous experience. A more crowded board meant we got into each others' ways more easily. Then the other thing is we had no qualms with programming dragon cards to mess with one another. A dragon card cancels an opponent's action, which can severely mess up his programmed sequence of moves.
That black #2 bridge looks dodgy. Looks like a government project going nowhere.
Guess who's the ninja.
We built quite a complex mishmash of bridges. Dith was the eventual winner. In that last round, we could have played dragon cards to stop him, but we were all hoping someone else would do it, so that we could save one action. Our selfishness worked against us and allowed Dith to complete his final dash.