19 Jun 2015. This is Reiner Knizia's Dream Factory, originally published as Traumfabrik, then later as Hollywood Blockbuster. The latest incarnation is Dream Factory, this name being the English translation of the original name. This copy I played was someone else's copy. I have a home-made copy which I made during the out-of-print period between Traumfabrik and Hollywood Blockbuster. It has real actors and movies from around 1990's and 2000's.
In this game you run a movie studio. You have a few screenplays and you need to assemble directors, actors, cameramen, special effects experts and so on to make movies. You employ these people mostly via auctions. The game has a closed economy. The money paid by the auction winner is evenly split among all other players. Any leftover money accumulates in the pot to be shared next round. If you spend a large sum for a particular group of workers, be prepared that you have to spend the next few rounds saving money before you can be competitive again.
With the exception of the guest star space (with a star icon), every space on a movie screenplay must be filled in order to complete the movie. At the moment I have completed one - the leftmost movie. It is worth 11pts (count the number of stars). There are three categories of movies - comedies (orange), action movies (green) and dramas (blue).
Due to copyright concerns, the game does not use real actor or movie names. These three here are supposed to be Morgan Freeman, Sylvester Stallone and Leonardo DiCaprio.
There are 8 rounds in each of the 4 stages of the game, with a predetermined number of workers available in each round. You start at the top left and move clockwise. At most of the spaces you fight for the group of workers via auctions, but on the 4th and 8th spaces, i.e. the Party spaces, everyone gets to pick one free worker. The order depends on your star power, i.e. the total star value of your actors (and actresses of course). This gives you an additional aspect to consider. Sometimes you want to fight for those high-profile stars because you want to go first at the parties.
I've completed a lousy movie on the left. I do this because at game end there is an award for worst movie. Yes, you get recognition for being spectacularly bad. Sorry to do this to Schindler's List.
A game about the movies must surely have awards. Those two on the left are awards for best movies which are given out at the end of stages 1 to 3. I made a half-decent movie early, and won these for my studio. Other players had better movies, but it took them a while to complete. So I was lucky to have a first-mover advantage. The award on the right is the award for the first comedy released.
3 Jul 2015. This is Domaine by Klaus Teuber of Settlers of Catan fame. This was published in 2003, but the original version Lowenherz was published in 1997, so this is very much a 90's game. This photo was taken during the setup phase, when everyone was building castles on the board.
The components are quite well done.
You need to enclose areas using these black markers. When an area is enclosed and has only one castle, this area becomes the kingdom of whoever owns the castle. Forests, villages and the capital, if within a player's kingdom, are worth points. Mines give income depending on how many different types you control, and every set of three similar mines is worth 5pts too. The moment a player's victory points total reaches a specific target, he wins. If the cards run out before this happens, victory is determined by whoever has the most points at that time.
I was white. My kingdom at the bottom right was under constant assault by Jeff (red). Notice that in the previous photo when he was building his domain, his borders did not yet include the mines near his castle. Now he had expanded his domain to capture these lucrative mines, which were previously mine. When your kingdom is militarily stronger than your neighbour (i.e. you have more knights), you can play an expansion card to expand into your neighbour's territory. I had to play catch-up to Jeff's military escalation. Now we were both at 3 knights.
I spotted an opportunity at the top right area. I (white) had a castle there but never had time to develop the area because I was too tied up in the struggle against Jeff (red). Ivan (orange) had been building borders for his kingdom at the top left, and had been doing expansions. This gave me some free borders, along with the borders built by Jeff on the right. I only needed a few more border stones to complete a kingdom for myself. So I did it, which gave me a large kingdom with many forests and villages. Soon after that I hurriedly did an expansion, which then gave me enough points to claim instant victory. That was quite an unexpected twist of events. I had been struggling all this while, caught in a painful border fight with Jeff.