Sunday, 24 January 2016

boardgaming in photos: gaming at Meeples Cafe and at work

15 Nov 2015. Shee Yun (10) saw Michelle and I preparing to play Russian Railroads. She seemed curious, so I asked whether she wanted to play. She said yes. This was my first time playing with three players. We used a different side of the board from the 2-player game. There were more work spaces we could use.

This time my strategy was centred around industrialisation. I had built all five factories (purple arrow-shaped tiles along the bottom edge of the player board). I had also activated my second industry marker - the purple hex-shaped wooden pawn. I didn't put much effort in railroad track building. The best I had was a grey track, i.e. Level 2.

The red, yellow and green pawns are player workers. The blue pawns are temporary workers you can fight for every round. The space you need to use to recruit them is on the left side of this photo - that space showing two blue men.

22 Nov 2015. Machi Koro Deluxe, which contains both the main expansions, Harbor and Millionaire's Row. The dice are different. The side showing a mountain means 1. There are renovation markers now. They are needed due to the powers of the cards in the Millionaire's Row expansion.

The Demolition Company is a card from the Millionaire's Row expansion. If your die roll activates it, you earn $8 but must demolish one of your landmark buildings. This is a building you need to be careful with, lest you demolish any expensive landmark building.

The Moving Company lets you, or rather, forces you to give a building to another player. This can be quite annoying to your opponents if you combo it with many Loan Offices. When you build a Loan Office (for free!), you gain $5, but each time it is activated, you need to pay $2. However if you conveniently give the Loan Office to an opponent, you will never need to pay the $2. The obligation is passed to your opponent. Evil! Both of these are from Millionaire's Row.

Look how much fun Chen Rui is having with these new evil cards in Millionaire's Row.

I have played many games of Machi Koro with my children. Since adding the Harbor expansion, I have never won. They like to gang up on me, but in this game there aren't that many ways you can collaborate. However I still do lose to them all the time. It was only after we added Millionaire's Row that I started winning again. Comparing the two expansions, I think Harbor is almost necessary if you want to play regularly. It makes the game more variable because of the market mechanism (not all buildings are available all the time). The added cards also mean more variety. Millionaire's Row adds some more cards, some of which are a little quirky. It feels less necessary, but if you've played a lot of Machi Koro, spicing it up now and then is always good. The way we played - mixing all cards in - may not be ideal, because there are probably too many card types, which makes collecting the same cards difficult. The cards may be a bit too diluted. I'm too lazy to sort out the cards though, so I'll probably continue to play this way. We still have lots of fun this way.

This was worth taking a photo. It had been such a long time since the previous time I won a game.

27 Dec 2015. The children suggested FITS, which I hadn't played for a long time.

The numbers not covered are worth victory points. The solid circles not covered will entail a penalty.

3 Jan 2016. I brought the family to Meeples Cafe. It had been a long time since our previous visit. Log from Meeples Cafe always keeps for me a complimentary copy of every issue of the Spielbox magazine. By then I had accumulated quite a stack. Our visit was a belated birthday celebration for Chen Rui, who is a December baby. It was very crowded when we got there. Thankfully we didn't go too late. Our table was one of the last few remaining.

The children wanted to play Cloud 9. We had played this before quite a few times. I don't insist on trying out new games, but I do try to avoid playing games we already own. We might as well play at home. Cloud 9 is an excellent family game. I recently tried its new incarnation Celestia. I prefer the older game, because it is simpler.

The children asked to play Dixit too. Now we do own this game, but their argument was the cards in this set was different from the ones we had. They did have a point, so we played. I (green) did very poorly. I think I came last.

Forbidden Island was another game the children suggested. We had played this quite a few times. We played twice this day, beating the easy difficulty level without breaking a sweat, but losing when we moved on to the normal difficulty level. It was quite exciting though, and in my opinion much more fun than the easy game.

This was the first game which we won.

This was the second game. The helicopter pad was in a far corner, on the right, which was a pain. It kept flooding, and we had to keep going back to pump the water away. The moment it sank, the game would be lost immediately because we would not be able to leave the island. In this photo it was flooded again, i.e. showing the blue side.

We lost the game. The water level reached the deadly stage before we could retrieve all four artifacts. The flooding had cut off our path, and we had to rely on special abilities or specific cards to get to the helipad.

The game we enjoyed most this trip was Coconuts. The idea is to use a catapult (in the shape of a monkey) to launch rubber coconuts into plastic cups. The game starts with many cups in the centre of the table. Whenever you successfully land a coconut in a cup, you claim that cup and place it on your player board. The goal is to claim 6 cups to build a pyramid. This game is harder than it looks. The catapults are not precise, and the rubber coconuts often bounce. Sometimes a coconut drops into a cup only to immediately bounce out. Sometimes it lands in a different cup after bouncing out. It's crazy!

Chen Rui taking aim.

Scoring is exhilarating.

17 Jan 2016. I played Zombie Tower 3D with the children.

21 Jan 2016. Teck Seng wanted to learn Catan, so I brought it to the office. Teaching and playing this game again reminded me how wonderful it is and why it has become a classic. In our game Eva and Teck Seng competed fiercely for the longest road trophy. On one of Eva's turns, she built three roads at one go to overtake Teck Seng and wrestle the trophy from him. Intense! I started upgrading my settlements to cities earlier than the rest, which helped me gather more resources. By the time the others started doing it, ore and grain became very scarce. I was fortunate to have started doing upgrades when supply was higher than demand.

I was green. I had two separate regions, and I never linked them up.

22 Jan 2016. I brought 10 Days in Asia to the office also upon a colleague's request. I told them this was geography mahjong. The game we played was very funny. Teck Seng and Xiaozhu played as a team. With two heads thinking, they should be doing better than the rest of us. However they kept making mistakes and tripping over each other that they ended up doing worse than everyone else. We kept hearing them exclaim oh no we should have played this card, or oh gosh we should have picked that card, or why did we place this card here? It was more entertaining than a comedy show.

We got to a point where three players were one card away from winning (excluding the duo of Teck Seng and Xiaozhu naturally). It was nail-biting. We exhausted the draw deck and had to reshuffle the discard piles to form a new draw deck. At that time I could sense I was not likely to win. I needed a China card or a Thailand card, but I hadn't seen them so far, so they must be in the hands of the other players. Sure enough, I later learned that Teck Seng and Xiaozhu had both the China cards, and Ruby the Thailand card. Ruby was the one who announced victory. However when she showed us her 10-day itinerary, we spotted a mistake. She had planned to take a train from Thailand to South Korea, but the train networks of these two countries didn't overlap. Ooops. Eventually we decided it was a tied game with no winner.

I realised I had taught one rule wrong. When you draw a card from the draw deck, if you don't like it, you can immediately discard it. I had taught my colleagues that they must replace it with another card in their hands. Sorry...


Shingo said...

Is that a Japanese version of Catan? Wow board is much smaller than I expected. Still quite nice to look at.. reminds me of old computer game.

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

It's a Chinese version, but published by Capcom, a Japanese company. I'm not sure whether this version is still in print though. Also as far as I know, Capcom did not publish any expansions for it. The board is made up of four double-sided pieces as opposed to many individual hexes. You can create various configurations with the four pieces, but there won't be as many combinations as using individual hexes.