Saturday, 26 March 2016

boardgaming in photos: play and work

It feels like it has been a long time since I have done a photos post like this. I checked the photos I have been accumulating. The oldest one was from almost two months ago. Most of my blog posts are about new games I play. Photos posts are for the non-new games I play. Not necessarily old games, just games that I have already written about before in my normal blog posts. Photos posts are one form of me sharing my personal journey.

28 Jan 2016. Playing Ticket To Ride with Eva and Teck Seng. Teck Seng wanted to try the game, so I brought it to the office. We all started in the north eastern corner, so it was quite tense. All of us needed to go to Montreal.

29 Jan 2016. Ruby and Benz. In January when a local newspaper interviewed me, they asked me to recommend some games that can be played with children. One of the games I recommended was Pandemic. After my colleagues read the article, they were keen to try it. So I brought it to the office. No, don't ask me whether we do work in the office. But yes, they loved the game.

4 Feb 2016. Han was in town before Chinese New Year, and we gathered at Allen's place to play some games. Samurai is one of Allen's favourite games, and he's very good at it. I had thought this time I would finally beat him, but he won yet again. This is an older version of Samurai. The latest version has different artwork and components. I have seen the photos but not a physical copy. I think I prefer the older version, especially the black pieces, which are classy. I wonder whether Allen will buy a copy of the latest version. He already has two copies of the older version, one copy for playing and the other for collection / backup / cultural heritage.

We were done with Honshu (main island) and were now fighting over Kyushu and Shikoku.

13 Feb 2016. During the Chinese New Year holidays I taught my mum Red7. The kids had played the game before.

My mum looked clueless, but when we played, she beat all of us. There's a Cantonese saying which is roughly equivalent to "wolf in sheep's clothing" - pretending to be a pig in order to devour the tiger.

21 Feb 2016. I held an open house during Chinese New Year and invited colleagues and friends over to play boardgames. Carcassonne was popular. Those who tried it liked it so much that later on when we ran out of tables to play on, they played on the floor.

Halli Galli attracted many spectators and got the contestants really pumped up, as you can see in this photo. Kit Loong (left) got so excited that he broke the plastic stool he was sitting on. Thankfully he was not injured.

Loopin' Louie worked well for young and old, the youngest being Kwe Long's 2-year-old son. My colleagues later asked me to bring this to the office.

Risk Express is one of Reiner Knizia's lesser known games. I had not played it for quite some time. I only thought about it when I was preparing for the open house, because it's a game suitable for people new to boardgames.

This was my homemade version of Ca$h N Gun$. My wife Michelle does not allow gun-like toys at home, so I did not make toy guns. Thus the finger guns.

Zombie Tower 3D. I just checked their Kickstarter page, and the next edition has been funded successfully. Congratulations!

26 Feb 2016. Edwin, Xiao Zhu, Eva. Some of my colleagues like cooperative games, so I recommended Samurai Spirit. I said this was very difficult to beat, much more so than Pandemic. They already struggled with Pandemic, and had asked me to play with them again to teach them the strategies. I told them that they needed to be very calculative and not waste any action or any opportunities for optimisation. I was rather OCD with the components - cards must be laid out with the right side up, and must be discarded with the right side up. I kept fixing their errors for them. They probably think I'm crazy.

I taught my colleagues Samurai Spirit at the normal difficulty level, and not the easy level. The designer recommended so. Only if you keep losing at normal level do you then step down to the easy level. As I played with my colleagues, I explained the various tactical considerations behind the actions they take. We played carefully and meticulously. Part of doing well in Samurai Spirit is remembering the cards you've seen. With more people playing, we had more brains to help remember stuff. We ended up winning without too much trouble. I was surprised. This was supposed to be a difficult game. Now it felt like I had exaggerated to them about how tough the game was. When was the promised challenge?!

I thought about whether it was the right thing to do when I explained to them the intricacies of decision making in Samurai Sword. I learned many of these from scratch when I explored the game myself. To me, this exploration and learning were part of the fun. By directly teaching them these lessons I had learnt, I was denying them the joy of discovering these tricks themselves. Ultimately, I think what I did was fine, because my colleagues were not hardcore boardgamers like me. They were casual players and they just wanted to play and have fun. They were not the type to think very deeply about game mechanisms. By guiding them, I helped them speed up their learning process so that they could play more effectively and be competitive.

They later played the game by themselves, and lost. I was happy. Not because they lost, but because the difficulty I had promised earlier had finally been delivered.

4 Mar 2016. Ruby, Benz, Edmond, Xiao Zhu, Edwin. Ruby said she was interested in games with a traitor mechanism, like Templar Intrigue which I had taught them before. So I taught them Saboteur. We played 2 rounds (normally a complete game has 3 rounds). The first round was very exciting. We had 7 players, but it felt like we had 5 saboteurs! Normally in a 7 player game there should be either 2 or 3 saboteurs. You won't know for sure till the round ends. We later realised that Benz had incorrectly identified his loyal card as a saboteur card; and Edmond had misunderstood what a good dwarf should be doing, and had been doing all the wrong things. When I explained the rules earlier, I jokingly said that it was easy to identify the saboteur card because the saboteur had an evil face (in addition to the card having the text "Saboteur"). Benz had drawn a loyal card, but he thought the loyal dwarf's face looked evil, so he thought he was a saboteur. I guess I should not have made my game teaching too colourful.

I was a saboteur in this round, and I was rather confused because it seemed I had too many accomplices. It was hilarious when we found out why. It was also very exciting because being saboteur was naturally nerve-wracking. You need to pretend to be good, yet you must find ways to undermine the team's effort. For the second round, we played correctly, but it turned out to be rather anti-climactic. There were only two saboteurs this time, and the loyal dwarves managed to dig a path all the way to the gold mine very quickly, ending the round. The saboteurs didn't have time to do much damage. No accusations flying around, no nasty cards played on one another. Victory for the loyal dwarves felt boring. It was crazy. Maybe the saboteurs should have been more proactive, or the loyal dwarves should have been more aggressive in competing to be the one to find the gold mine.

This was the early part of the first round, when everyone behaved like loyal dwarves, steadfastly digging the tunnel towards the three possible locations of the gold mine.

This was near the end of the round. If I remember correctly the real gold mine was the card at the top. I had seen it using a special ability card. I was a traitor, and I had lied that the gold mine was the bottom card. At a crucial moment, I played a tunnel card that prevented the loyal dwarves from advancing to the bottom card. Playing such a card meant announcing to the world that I was a saboteur, but I was fine with that because my intention was to mislead. I wanted to lure the loyal dwarves into wasting their cards by hindering me, by undoing the damage I had done, and by pushing towards the wrong goal.

6 Mar 2016. For elder daughter Shee Yun's 11th birthday, we organised a small party, getting her to invite some friends over to play, which of course included playing boardgames. Escape was a hit with the children. After lunch, they were so eager to play that they couldn't wait for the table to be cleared. They sat down on the floor to play.

Qwirkle works well with children. The rules are not complex, and it is language independent. There is some strategy too.

The result of this game surprised me. It was younger daughter Chen Rui (right) who won. She was the youngest among the children, since the other children were mostly her elder sister's classmates. Shee Yun and Chen Rui have played many boardgames with me, so they have an advantage over their friends. However I had expected Shee Yun to win because she had been leading throughout most of the game. Chen Rui had kept one important tile and waited for the best moment to play it. She did it just before the game ended, and scored big. That catapulted her to the front to win the game. I had not expected this from my innocent little precious princess. I had underestimated her.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

T.I.M.E Stories

Plays: 4Px3.

Warning: First things first. This blog post will be spoiler free, so if you have not played the game, you can read on. If you want to comment, please don't reveal any spoilers. However I will be showing photos of some game components, the game setup of the first scenario, and also characters and a scene you will see at the start of the scenario. By my definition these are not spoilers, since you will see these at the start of the game anyway. If you don't even want to see these, then you may want to stop here, or skip to the Thoughts section.

The Game

T.I.M.E Stories was one of the hot games of 2015. Also there was a controversy about the content of the base game, because it only contains one (1) scenario. A scenario is not replayable after you solve the case. After you win the first scenario, if you want to play the game again, you will need to start buying expansions.

Here's the premise of the game. The time machine has been invented. You are employees of the Time Agency, and your job is to travel to the past to investigate and prevent time crimes. When you travel back in time, you take possession of the bodies of characters in that time period. You have their skills and abilities, and also their weaknesses. You know the date and location you are sent to is where a time crime takes place. You have limited time to find out how to prevent the crime. When time runs out, you will be recalled back to the present. You will have to go again to try to solve the case. Equipped with what you have learned from the previous run, you should ideally do better, and eventually you will be able to prevent the crime. It is only a matter of how many runs you need. Once you beat the scenario, there is no reason to play anymore, since you already know the correct course of actions to solve the case.

This is the game board. The four spaces at the top left are for placing the map of the place you are traveling to. The spaces at the top right are for placing cards and card decks you will use during a game. The track in the middle is the timer, or countdown track. When you run out of time, the mission ends in failure. The card deck at the bottom left is the main card deck for the scenario. A scenario, or a case, is basically one very thick card deck. The deck contains all the information you need to play the scenario.

In the card deck there are many sets of cards, and some of these sets represent locations on the map. When you travel to a location, you take the corresponding set of location cards and make a panorama using the card backs. You and your team will then need to decide which sections (i.e. cards) at that location you want to investigate. You place your pawn above the card you want to investigate, and you will get to see it. You can describe what you see to the others, but they don't get to see the card. Sometimes you'll glean new information. Sometimes you collect equipment. Sometimes you encounter danger, and you need to resolve it using your skills. Sometimes you are given a dilemma and you must choose what to do.

The first case happens in 1921 at an asylum. The first card of the deck reminds you to read the rules before opening the card deck.

The card deck is very thick. In addition to the many sets of location cards, there are also equipment cards. During the game, every round spent at a location costs one time unit. When you go to a different location, you roll a die to determine how long it takes. Usually it is 2 time units, but sometimes it is 1, and sometimes 3.

This bald guy is your boss, and you can tell he's not exactly a people person.

Since the first scenario happens in an asylum, the people whom you can possess are all patients who are mentally ill. That's why none of them look welcoming. Well, except for that hot lady on the right. But she's crazy too. Don't be deceived by looks.

During our game I picked this old hag. In this scenario, the characters have three types of skills - dexterity skills, negotiation skills and fighting skills. Ms Doume has all three skills. She is quite sturdy and won't be injured unless the attack is of at least strength 4. However she only has a health of 1, so she can only take one hit, and it's K.O. for her. Well, what can you expect from a frail old lady?

This is the first location in the first scenario. This is where you start off. The panorama has 5 cards. We had decided to split up into two groups to approach the people here. Two of us went to speak to the girl who was painting, and the other two to speak to the weird man sitting on the sofa. We could have split up to check out four different parts of the room, but we decided to go in pairs, just in case one of these nutcases decide to do something crazy. When you arrive at a location, there is a location card which describes what you see. From the narrative you can try to guess which parts of the location might be dangerous, or which parts might offer useful equipment, or what kind of challenges might be waiting for you. Then you can assign the characters with the appropriate skills to explore these sections of the location. If you see a safe box, you probably want to send the locksmith.

This is the map for the first scenario. Named locations are the locations you can go to. As more information is found, the map may be updated with more details and new locations. The white pawn indicates your current location. This die here is the time die. When you move to a new location, you must roll this die to see how much time it takes.

These are the player pawns.

These are the action dice. You use them to resolve challenges. When you encounter a challenge, it will specify the skill required to resolve it, the difficulty level, and also whether it will hurt you. To resolve it, you roll a number of dice according to your skill level. Each star rolled reduces the difficulty level, and when it drops to zero, the challenge is resolved. If you roll a skull, it triggers damage. Depending on the damage rating of the challenge and the resilience level of your character, he or she may get wounded or even killed. .

The basic mechanisms are straight-forward. You are going around to different locations trying to gather information to help you solve the case. You need to execute a series of actions that will stop the time crime, and you need to do it within the time allocated. If you fail, you will have to try again next time, but you will have learnt something from your current game to help you do better. Eventually you will be able to solve the case. It is only a matter of how many attempts it takes.

The Play

Jeff arranged a separate session outside of the regular Boardgamecafe.net Friday night sessions to play this game, and Kareem, Heng and I joined him on this adventure. We picked a public holiday to do this, and up front we decided we would play till we won.

The core mechanism of the game is quite simple. The main content of the game is that deck of cards which contains all the information about the scenario. You are basically exploring this deck and trying to extract as much useful information as possible within the limited time given. Sometimes you get information directly. Sometimes you are presented with choices and your decision affects what happens next. Sometimes you get equipment which is needed for accessing information at another location, or for resolving a challenge. Not every piece of information you get is useful. Not everything that you can do will help you solve the case. Your job is to find out what needs to be done and what need not be done, to allow you to complete your mission within the allocated time. Each time you fail, you should learn what you should have done differently, or not done at all, or need not be done anymore because you already have the information now.

Our first attempt (i.e. our first game) went quite well. We gathered much information. We didn't have enough time to resolve the case, but we felt confident we were on the right track. We went in to Game 2 with a plan. And... we did horribly. We wasted a lot of time doing things which in hindsight we should not have done. Throughout the games we discussed and debated a lot, not only on what should be done, but also on what should not be done; where to go and where not to go. Time units were precious and must not be wasted.

The cards tell the story. It is like reading a novel, but the difference is your decisions affect how the story goes. You are exploring and experimenting, poking around to see what the quickest path is to solve the case. The many decisions you need to make form a huge maze, and your job is to work out a path through this maze as quickly as possible.

Each time you play the game, you evaluate whether you have chosen a suitable character. If you think you have made a poor choice and it is causing you to fail your mission, you can pick a different character next time. If you think you will need to do a lot of fighting, then you had better pick the gangster to be your surrogate.

Every time you start a new attempt, there may be some things you no longer need to do because you have already learnt the associated information from a previous attempt. However there are things you still need to do, e.g. going to a specific room to speak to a specific person to convince him to give you a specific tool that you need to solve the case. Every time you do a run, you need to judge what is necessary and what is not. You need to keep in mind your time limit. You should do the absolute minimum so that you can complete your mission within the time limit. This is a lot like the Tom Cruise movie Edge of Tomorrow.

Sometimes you need to solve riddles. At one point we got stuck with a particularly tricky riddle. We knew we would not be able to proceed without solving it. We all stood around the game table pondering the information we had, sometimes solemn as statues, and sometimes debating like we were trying to end world hunger. We brought out pen and paper and even calculator. We tried to recall all the hints and clues we had seen previously, wondering whether we had missed something, or misinterpreted something. We really had to put our heads together to solve the riddle. When we eventually did it, it was very rewarding. I think it took us more than half an hour just for this one riddle.

We only managed to solve the case and save the day on our third attempt. Excluding a lunch break, we played for about 4 hours.

The Thoughts

The core concept in T.I.M.E Stories can be distilled down to just being mice trying to find the shortest path through a maze. That's basically what you are doing. You have a time limit. Within that time you explore the maze and try to remember the most efficient path. If you can't work your way through the maze this time, there's always the next attempt. Next time, you will be equipped with what you learn this time. Looking at it this way, the game mechanism sounds rather mechanical. To me personally, the core mechanism is not particularly impressive. It is unusual and refreshing, since there aren't many boardgames like this, but it's not the type of design which makes me admire its cleverness or ingenuity.

What makes me enjoy the game is the story the scenario tells. To me the meat is all in the stories - the characters, the puzzles, the choices you have to make, the challenges thrown at you, the consequences of your actions. It may all be effectively an elaborate maze, but how the subtle clues guide you and how your choices affect the storyline make it all feel realistic and relevant. They pull you into the story. You are there in that asylum facing these choices. You really need to imagine yourself in that situation in order to feel what the right thing to do is. If you only think of the whole thing as a maze, you're missing the point. The text descriptions and the drawings all give you clues. They help you solve the case. All the details of a scenario give you a context to make decisions. You will still make many bad moves. Sometimes there is no hint for whether you should take Door A or Door B. However you do need to remember the era and the environment you are in, and the people you are dealing with. The game is immersive. I truly enjoyed my time travel with my fellow players. What we saw and what we told one another we saw all mattered. Our imaginations ran wild. Is that sound an indication of danger? Is that guy who he claims he is? The scenario designer puts us in a hostile and strange world, and we need to put our heads together to decide how best to explore it.

Once you solve a case, you will not be able to play it again anymore. You already know the answer. There is no point to play again. Normally it will take a few attempts to solve a case, so technically playing a scenario does not equate playing one game. A scenario gives you a few games. One good thing about this is you are actually going through a campaign. This series of games are all part of a greater goal. Each game should be thought of as one step in an overarching mission. You try to remember what you have learned from previous games, and if the current game is not looking hopeful, you start considering what you should try instead in the next game. It's an amazing feeling. A game of T.I.M.E Stories is not an isolated 1.5 hour game. It is part of something bigger. Not many games give this kind of experience. This is one thing I like about it.

If I get a chance to try another scenario, I will jump in with both feet.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

collection snapshot Jan 2016

The last time I made a photo record of my boardgame collection was not that long ago - October 2014. I'm doing it again because I just made a major rearrangement of my games. I switched from vertical storage to horizontal storage. I did this after reading an article on Spielbox magazine. According to a museum curator grade boardgame collector, the best way to store boardgames is horizontal. I have been doing vertical all these years. If I remember correctly I got the idea of vertical being better from BGG. Vertical storage means you won't have boxes stacked atop one another and the upper boxes damaging the lower ones due to their weight. Also it is easier to take a box off the shelf. However one problem I always have with the vertical system is for some games the components fall all over the place inside the box and they get quite messy. Most boardgames have some form of box insert, and these box inserts are usually designed for vertical use. When you store a boardgame vertically, components may fall out of their designated slots. The Spielbox article says that vertical storage is better as long as you only stack boxes of similar dimensions, and you don't stack too many. I have decided to trust the professional and ignore the hobbyists. I did a major rearrangement, and while I was at it I also did some cleaning. Many boxes had gathered some dust and I wiped them clean using a slightly damp cloth.

Since the last photo record, I had not gained many new boardgames (by boardgame hobbyist standards, mind you). Maybe just a dozen or so.

Here's my main storage area. Most games are now horizontal. From this photo it may seem like I still have much room for growth, but this is misleading. I have brought some games to my office, so this photo record is not 100% complete.

This photo was taken in Oct 2014. The games were mostly vertical then.

Zooming in to the leftmost columns of my main storage area.

Recently acquired games include Ships, Pandemic: The Cure and Machi Koro Deluxe.

Some of the games at the bottom are still vertical, because these are Han's and Allen's games. I didn't remember whether they prefer their games vertical or horizontal, so I didn't touch them.

This is the first offshoot section, where I keep some children's games and games which children can play too. That stack of magazines at the bottom right are Spielbox magazines. Log from Meeples Cafe still keep free copies for me.

This is the second offshoot section, downstairs. These are also children's games or games which children can play. The other boxes contain my children's toys. Only when I took this photo did I realise that I had forgotten to rearrange the boxes here. I did it afterwards, but I have no photo to prove it.

Monday, 7 March 2016

boardgame tool: ScorePal

Do you record your plays? This Android app ScorePal looks good, but unfortunately I am an iOS user. If you use an Android phone, check it out, and let me know if it's good.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Trickerion

Plays: 4Px1.

The Game

Trickerion is a Kickstarter game about magicians and magic shows. You are an unknown magician trying to make it big in show business. You develop new magic tricks, buy materials to make the equipment you need, set up the equipment, and eventually you perform. You manage a team of assistants to help you do all these. This is a worker placement game. Your goal is to become the most famous magician in town (score the most victory points).

This is the game board. It looks complicated, but it's really just four regions to which you can send your workers to perform actions.

These are game components of the green player. The round discs are the workers. There are different types. The magician (i.e. yourself) has 3 action points, while the lowly errand boy has only 1AP. Actions you can perform have different AP requirements. If you send an errand boy to do an action that requires 2 or more AP, you will need to find ways to supplement his AP. Else he won't be able to execute the action.

The square tiles are your equipment. After you gather the necessary materials, you can manufacture equipment. Each piece of equipment can be used only once. The moment it is set up for a performance, it will be exhausted. If you want more you need to execute the manufacture action again.

These are the fronts of the action cards. Four of the colours represent the four regions on the main board. The fifth colour represents the workshop on your player board. You need cards for placing workers because where to send which worker is something everyone decides secretly and simultaneously. Only after these action cards are committed by everyone they are flipped over to reveal who is going where.

This is the player board. At this moment I have three workers (discs). There is space below each worker for an action card. The top right section of the player board is the workshop. It is a region you can send workers to to manufacture equipment.

These are the materials you need for making equipment.

This region of the main board is the performance theatre. If you send a worker here, there are two things he can do. He either sets up equipment on the stages (those cards on the right), or he performs a show. Only the magician himself can perform. The audience area is actually the score track. You keep track of your fame (victory points) there.

This reference booklet contains the details of all magic tricks in the game, e.g. materials required, benefits gained. When you develop a trick, you take the trick card from the deck and it belongs to you exclusively. Buying materials to make the necessary equipment for your magic trick is tedious and costly, so usually you try to minimise doing this by developing tricks which need similar materials. Thankfully the raw materials do not exhaust like the equipment does.

This is the player board again. That row in the middle is your storage space for raw materials. You only have 6 spaces, so you can have at most 6 types of raw materials at any one time. At the top you also only have 3 spaces for magic tricks.

This is one of the regions on the main board where you can assign workers. Workers are placed in the round spaces. There are differences between these spaces. The leftmost spot gives 2 extra action points. The two central spots give 1AP each. The rightmost spot gives none. There is an advantage in sending your worker here earlier. Such bonus AP also means it is possible to send a lower level worker to do a higher level task.

Those rectangles with icons specify the kind of actions your workers can perform. The grey dice determine which new workers are available for recruitment. The white dice determine which type of new magic trick you can develop. The black dice determine how much money you can collect (sometimes magicians need to do children's birthday parties to make ends meet). The two actions at the bottom are changing a die value, and rerolling a die.

This is another region on the main board. You buy materials here. Normally only the four types on the left are available in any one round. You can perform an action to change what will be sold next round. One player has done so here - the dove will replace the metal sheets next round. There is also an action which allows you to buy an item which is not officially sold (smuggled goods I guess). A player has done this too - the ropes in the middle.

This is the player board again. The action cards have been played, and revealed, but the workers have not yet been sent out to work. The smaller board at the bottom is supposed to be an extension to my player board, but we didn't have enough space to place it to the right of my player board. You gain such expansions when you recruit a middle-tier worker.

At the top left you can see I have manufactured equipment (stack of square tiles) for my magic trick.

These stages (cards) around the theatre work like a sushi belt. They come in from the left, and when they reach the rightmost spot, they are dismantled. If no performance is held when a stage is dismantled, the equipment set up on it is wasted. In this photo all stages have some equipment, so all of them are eligible for performances. You can perform at a stage only if you own one of the equipment on it. When you perform, all equipment owners get something, but as the performer you get something extra. So there is incentive to execute the perform action, even though you are helping the other equipment owners.

In Trickerion, recruiting workers is the same thing as the family growth action in Agricola, so we stacked the new worker like the newborn child in Agricola.

I know three magic tricks now (the three cards at the top). There is overlap in their raw material requirements, so I can save some effort.

When setting up equipment on the stages, the icons on the equipment tiles matter. The type of trick (of which there are four) determines which icon must be placed within a circle. If you want to score a bonus, you need to create pairs of icons that match. When you place equipment tiles, you can create opportunities for cooperation. Or you may see it as creating opportunities to leech off the actions of other players. When more than one player has stakes in a stage, who will be the one ultimately executing the performance?

I played with Jeff, Boon Khim and Kareem. They were all deep in thought.

My player board. I now have a Level 3 (highest level) magic trick, at the top left. Since there are only 3 spots for tricks, I had to discard an older trick to make way for this. I also have 6 types of raw materials now, which means I will have to discard if I buy a new type.

The Play

Trickerion is mainly a worker placement game, with an additional twist added to the core worker placement mechanism. There is a production life cycle you have to go through, from developing a magic trick to buying materials, making equipment, setting up the equipment and eventually performing to the public. I think in a typical game you'll probably go through this 3 to 5 times. Some parts of a life cycle can be done multiple times, e.g. you can produce more equipment and use them for more performances. Different players will go through their life cycles at different paces, and sometimes when your phase coincides with your opponents', competition ensues for the action spots on the main board. You don't often get completely blocked out though. Usually the worst case is the better spots are claimed by others.

I feel the game is mostly an efficiency game, a tactical game. It's about how you optimise your actions when going through the life cycles. You want to watch your opponents and observe their progress, so that you can gauge which spots will be more hotly contested, and which ones are less in demand.

One of the spots on the game board - the Dark Alley - lets you take special action cards. These are single-use cards which can replace a normal action card for one round, and they provide all sorts of additional powers. Coordinating your actions to make the most of such special action cards is quite fun - the card combo type of fun. This is quite tactical in nature, since these cards are single-use cards.

The final scores - Kareem 126, Boon Khim 122, Jeff 109, me 103. Both Jeff and I had recruited fewer workers, and we felt this was the main reason we trailed the others. In addition to that, my game wasn't very efficient. The others had done better at creating combos and making good use of the special action cards.

The Thoughts

I find Trickerion a little tedious. There is much work, and I feel the enjoyment I get out of it does not justify this amount of work. There is much effort required in picking which magic tricks to develop, in buying the necessary equipment and eventually in orchestrating the performance. However I feel there really is not a lot of competition or interaction in developing magic tricks. There is little benefit in competing for similar tricks which need similar materials. Players doing this will likely fall behind while others who face less conflict soar ahead. Once you pick your first trick, your subsequent tricks will likely be of a similar nature, because you want to reuse your existing materials as much as possible. So I feel there is little need to compete with others in this aspect. Most of the competition is in being more efficient. The game is mostly tactical. There is not a lot of long-term strategy to think of. This doesn't mean the game is poor. It depends on what you like.

There is some challenge in trying to create good combo moves, and when done well this is satisfying. The game is won or lost on many small tactical decisions. Players don't have very different overarching strategies.

Trickerion introduces some changes to the worker placement mechanism. The setting is interesting. The graphic design is good and the production quality is high. It's a Kickstarter game though, so I'm not sure whether it can be found easily even if you want to buy it.