20 Mar 2016. I bought Pandemic: Legacy because it reached the #1 spot on BGG. I like Pandemic well enough, but it's not among my personal favourites. I was curious why the Legacy version could make it to the top. I originally intended to play it with my children. We used the new copy of Pandemic: Legacy to play basic Pandemic. The rulebook recommends being familiar with the basic game before playing the Legacy rules. The children were not all that keen. So eventually I decided to play Pandemic: Legacy with a group of colleagues who were interested.
By now I have played more than 10 games of Pandemic: Legacy. I have not yet started writing about it. I plan to do so only after I see the full story of the game. Like Risk: Legacy, the game rules and game components change as you play. New elements are added. A story unfolds as you play game after game. Events leave permanent effects on the board and on characters. Changes will happen in at least 12 games. You play from January to December. Each month some new elements are added. You play a month at most twice. You get a second chance if you lose the first time (this is a cooperative game so everyone wins or loses together). If you fail both attempts, you just move on to the next month. I have completed September now. Three more months to go, i.e. at least three more games to play. So far I have been enjoying the game immensely.
The game board and game components have changed in the Legacy version. I don't feel strongly about the old or the new. From a practicality standpoint the new components are probably better. Disease cubes are smaller and are less obstructive.
10 Apr 2016. The children and I played 3 games of Coconuts. Chen Rui wanted to go again, but Shee Yun and I didn't feel like playing more. I suggested why not try the solo version. I made up rules on the spot for her. She had to stack all the cups this way, and she had to launch the coconuts into the top cup. There was no limit to the number of attempts. Each time a coconut hit home, the top cup was removed, and she continued with the next cup. The objective was to remove all cups from the stack. She actually managed to play for about 5 minutes before getting bored. In 10 years' time she would probably look back at this photo and think what a prick I was making her do such a silly thing.
17 Apr 2016. Long time no see, Friday. Now this is a real solo game. It had been a while since I last played it, so I only dared to play the beginner difficulty level. Yet I still lost. Twice. I couldn't even make it to the showdown with the two pirates. In this photo I made it to the 3rd stage (red), but I couldn't complete it. Robinson Crusoe fell down a ravine and died when exploring the island. What an idiot.
Robinson died because of these three cards. These are aging cards. Friday is a deck-building game. Each time you need to reshuffle your deck, you must add an aging card before reshuffling. Aging cards are all bad. They represent Robinson getting old, getting stupid, getting weak, getting crazy. In this particular round, I drew one Stupid card which reduces Robinson's strength by two, and two Scared cards which neutralise the highest numbered strength cards. Robinson couldn't resolve the problem, and didn't have enough life points left. Game over.
30 Apr 2016. This was my second time playing Ships. This time it was with Han and Allen. They were both new to the game. What I had learnt from my first game was the importance of planning for the end game. This time I stockpiled grain and prepared to build many warships in the last region. This photo is of the last region when the game ended. I was green, Han yellow, Allen blue. Allen was leading in points throughout most of the game, but he hadn't been storing grain like Han and I. Keeping grain to build warships in the final region is lucrative because warships give influence discs and these discs are worth many points in the final region. Both Han and I wanted to quickly reach this region and build warships so that we could catch up to Allen's score. We had to time it just nice and end the game before Allen started buying grain here himself and building many of his own warships. The cubes are merchants, and are placed when you build merchant ships. Allen could build merchant ships here to buy grain and then use the grain for warships.
Han was the eventual winner. We built many ships in the final round. Game end was triggered by having at least 5 ships in the final age (the two boxes at the top left). In this photo we had 10 ships. That means at least 6 of them had been built in the final round.
We brought out Vanuatu. This was also my second time playing. The first time was 3 years ago. I quite liked the game after my first play, but some time later started having doubts about my own judgement. If I think about it coolly, Vanuatu is not all that different from many other Eurogames. Yes, it does have quite a unique action mechanism, one which is pain-inducing. However many Eurogames are like this - one unique or clever mechanism supported by a slew of overused scoring methods and common mechanisms. I felt that if I were rational, I should not like Vanuatu that much. Now that I have played it again, I still quite like it. I don't fully understand why. The artwork helps. I think the whole package clicks. The various actions feel right and feel logical. The game is immersive. I am convinced by how the mechanisms represent the setting. There is also a sense of progress as the map expands and more opportunities appear. With three players, we already have to be very careful about how we place our action discs. There is was plenty of danger. Last time I played with four, and there were some downright painful moments when a player could do almost nothing in a round due to being blocked by others. I imagine with 5 players the feeling would be akin to self torture. This is all good pain, like a shiatsu massage for the brain.
A new version of Vanuatu is coming out. There were problems with the Kickstarter project of the first version. Many backers did not get their copies. I am happy that there is a second edition. More players will have the opportunity to try this wonderfully agonising game.
This was late game. Normally islands cannot be placed next to one another. In our game the order of the tiles being drawn forced us to create this situation.
Game end. Han came first. I was second. Allen third (not yet wrapped around the score track).
5 May 2016. Chung is an old friend from Hong Kong, a uni mate. He was in town, so I invited him over to play some games. I taught him Red7.
He liked Forbidden Island a lot. We have played Pandemic before, which he also liked. Unfortunately we lost the game (this is a cooperative game). We played the medium difficulty level. I had thought we would be able to handle it. We only managed to retrieve three of the four artifacts before the whole island sank beneath the waves, sending us to our watery graves. I wonder whether the game is harder with only two players, or our strategy was wrong. I'd like to think it is the former, but that may be my pride talking. Has anyone played with two, and is it harder than with three or four?