Friday 31 December 2010

my 2010

I have done this before for 2008 and 2009. This will be an even longer post than previous years, so you may want want to just skim or even skip the long boring lists. As usual, let's start with the fancy stats.

The detailed statistics. Total plays shot up to more than 1000, because of 260+ plays of Dominion against AI's and 280+ plays of Race for the Galaxy against AI's. I still had 50+ plays of Race for the Galaxy against Michelle (my human wife). Number of distinct games played continued to increase. Similarly for new-to-me games. And I continued to have even more games played just once ("singles"). I guess I really am a game taster.

I have played more than 140 different games in 2010. My game collection comprises more than 200 games, including expansions. I think I have played less than half of my collection in 2010, because many plays are of games belonging to friends - Han's, Allen's, Jeff's, Chong Sean's, etc.

Percentage view.

Comparing the fives, singles and others, the plays are slightly higher than last year. Only the dimes had a huge jump, because of the computer versions of Dominion (with all expansions - Intrigue, Seaside, Alchemy and Prosperity) and Race for the Galaxy (with all 3 expansions too). In 2004, the big contributors were Carcassonne and Lost Cities; in 2005, Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper and Ticket to Ride; in 2008 and 2009, Race for the Galaxy.

Percentage view. The numbers are pretty crazy. But the dominance of the dimes in 2010 didn't beat that in 2005. Now this is the first time you hear Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper beating the double-team of Dominion and Race for the Galaxy.

I exceeded my quota of 20 new games per year. Again. But but but some are gifts, and some are rewards for translation work. And some are for my children. Strictly speaking I only acquired 17 games. I've been a good boy.

Raw statistics of plays (including fives and dimes):

1. Race for the Galaxy338Still loving it, although Michelle has been my only human opponent in 2010. She recently beat me 87 to 37. Humiliating. I eagerly look forward to the new story arc expansion.

Race for the Galaxy

2. Dominion273I have been enjoying the quick vs-AI games because saving so much time in shuffling and handling cards let me appreciate and explore the strategies more. It surprised me a little that although I liked Prosperity, I still liked Seaside more.

Computer version of Dominion downloaded from the internet.

3. Halli Galli27Mostly with elder daughter.
4. Ubongo23Mostly with younger daughter.
5. Innovation19One of my favourites of 2010. I don't mind the big swings because I feel there are things than I can do to try to improve my position. Your decisions do matter. Just like history, unpredictable things happen, both good and bad, and you just try to make the most of it while going with the flow.


6. Roll Through The Ages19Game play records not accurate. I played many solo games on the iPhone. Very good implementation.
7. Times Square14I like it, but wife is lukewarm unfortunately.
8. At the Gates of Loyang12Numbers slightly boosted by the simplified games that I have played with my 5-year-old elder daughter.
9. Pandemic11Many games played with my Hong Kong friends. I still haven't played the bio-terrorist variant in the expansion.
10. Blokus 3D10With children.
11. Keltis10
12. Twister9With children / wife. Not with fellow male hardcore gamers. Not at Old Town Kopitiam Cheras or any public venue.
13. Space Alert8Want to play this more.
14. Hive7With children, sometimes with simplified rules.
15. Agricola6
16. Through the Ages6My wife and my classic.
17. Uruk6A little disappointed. I did play with wrong rules in quite a number of early games. I should give it more plays so that I can reassess it, but the enthusiasm is not there.
18. Viva Topo!6With children.
19. Connect Four5With children.
20. FITS5
21. Ingenious5With children.
22. Le Havre5
23. Snakes and Ladders5With children.
24. Blokus Duo4
25. Cash-a-Catch4
26. Chicken Cha Cha Cha4
27. Galaxy Trucker4
28. Hansa Teutonica4Want to play more.
29. Lost Cities4
30. Pick Picknic4
31. Twilight Struggle4
32. Wasabi4
33. Aton3
34. Battle Line3
35. Blokus3
36. Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers3
37. China3
38. Go Away Monster3
39. Kakerlaken-Poker3
40. After the Flood2
41. Alien Frontiers2
42. Automobile2
43. Battlefields of Olympus2
44. Blue Moon2
45. Bonnie and Clyde2
46. Campaign Manager 20082
47. Carcassonne2
48. Catacombs2
49. Endeavor2
50. Factory Manager2
51. Fluch der Mumie2
52. Gulo Gulo2
53. Horus Heresy2
54. Jambo2
55. Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation2
56. Memory2
57. Othello2
58. Power Grid2
59. The Princes of Florence2
60. Space Hulk2
61. Saint Petersburg2
62. Stone Age2
63. Thebes2
64. Through the Desert2
65. Ticket to Ride: Switzerland2
66. 10 days in Asia1
67. A la carte1
68. Age of Steam1
69. Airships1
70. Axis & Allies Global 19401
71. Axis & Allies Pacific 19401
72. Carson City1
73. Castle1
74. Chicago Express1
75. Cluzzle1
76. ColorMonsters1
77. Cyclades1
78. Didi Dotter1
79. Die Dolmengotter1
80. Die Handler1
81. Die Macher1
82. Dixit1
83. Fight the Landlord (斗地主)1
84. Dune1
85. Dungeon Lords1
86. El Grande1
87. En Garde1
88. Funny Friends1
89. Get That Toy1
90. Gin Rummy1
91. Goa1
92. God Dice1
93. Greed Incorporated1
94. Grimoire1
95. Hammer of the Scots1
96. Homesteaders1
97. Ice Flow1
98. In the Shadow of the Emperor1
99. Indonesia1
100. Kahuna1
101. King of Siam1
102. Klunker1
103. Lifeboat1
104. London1
105. Ludo1
106. Macao1
107. Magical Athlete1
108. Mare Nostrum1
109. Medici1
110. Minnie's Garden Game1
111. Mystery Rummy #4: Al Capone & The Chicago Underworld1
112. Mykerinos1
113. Nuns on the Run1
114. Old Maid1
115. Planet Steam1
116. Power Struggle1
117. Ra: the dice game1
118. R-Eco1
119. Saboteur1
120. Samurai1
121. San Juan1
122. San Marco1
123. Shipyard1
124. Strozzi1
125. Summoner Wars1
126. Surprise!1
127. Tales of the Arabian Nights1
128. Taluva1
129. The BoardGameGeek Game1
130. Ticket to Ride1
131. Ticket to Ride: Europe1
132. Ticket to Ride: Marklin1
133. Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries1
134. Tikal1
135. Tongiaki1
136. Vasco da Gama1
137. Wan's Star Wars prototype1
138. Warriors of God1
139. Way Out West1
140. Wizard1
141. Zombie State1

New-to-me games in 2010:

  1. A la carte - Rather disappointed. Rules seem to be those for a simple strategy game, but I feel it's actually very random, more random than worth the effort to learn the rules.
  2. After the Flood - Tense and tight.
  3. Alien Frontiers - Excellent new designer and publisher. Gave me the Catan feel.
  4. At the Gates of Loyang - Pretty solitaire and probably would be too long with 3 or 4 players. I've only played with 2, and it's alright I guess. Gives me a puzzle-solving feeling. Overall I feel so-so.
  5. Aton
  6. Axis & Allies Global 1940 (combining A&A Europe 1940 and A&A Pacific 1940) - Enjoyable but I feel execution is too long and tedious. But I guess once in a while it's good to spend that much time and effort to do such a monster game.
  7. Axis & Allies Pacific 1940
  8. Battlefields of Olympus
  9. Campaign Manager 2008
  10. Carson City
  11. Cash-a-Catch - Exciting ring-the-bell-quick fun.
  12. Catacombs
  13. Cluzzle - An even more non-gamer-friendly version of Barbarossa
  14. ColorMonsters
  15. Cyclades
  16. Didi Dotter
  17. Die Dolmengotter - Good abstract area majority game, but I think needs more players to be fun.
  18. Die Handler
  19. Dixit
  20. Dune - Amazing how such simple base rules can facilitate so much story. The special cards do help to support the story. It's important to read the cards before your first game.
  21. El Grande
  22. Endeavor - Succinct. Beautiful. I'm proud for being able to resist buying it.


  23. Factory Manager
  24. FITS
  25. Fluch der Mumie - Lots of fun and suspense.
  26. Funny Friends
  27. Get That Toy
  28. Go Away Monster
  29. God Dice
  30. Greed Incorporated - I'm in the minority for not liking this. I'm biased by my poor performance in that first game. This game is brutal and unforgiving, and if you fall behind, you may never be able to catch up or even get anywhere near the leading pack. But I must admit being unforgiving is a feature and not a flaw. If all players know the game well and play well, I think this can be a tight and thrilling game.
  31. Grimoire
  32. Hansa Teutonica
  33. Homesteaders
  34. Horus Heresy - Strong narrative, but I felt a little restricted / railroaded.
  35. Ice Flow
  36. In the Shadow of the Emperor
  37. Innovation
  38. King of Siam - Excellent quick and thinky game.
  39. Klunker
  40. Lifeboat - Not to be confused with Lifeboats, this is a card game.
  41. London
  42. Macao - I can't point to anything particularly wrong, but it feels JASE (just another soulless Euro) to me.
  43. Magical Athlete
  44. Mare Nostrum
  45. Nuns on the Run
  46. Planet Steam
  47. Power Struggle
  48. San Marco
  49. Shipyard - Pleasant surprise. I look past the rondel mechanisms. They are just tools. I do feel like I am building ships in this game.


  50. Stone Age
  51. Strozzi - Feels a little old-school Knizia, like it was designed around the same time as Medici. It left me a little cold, because I've played many Knizia games of similar style and weight.
  52. Summoner Wars
  53. Surprise!
  54. Tales of the Arabian Nights
  55. The BoardGameGeek Game
  56. Times Square - There's a spark of genious in here. Excellent two-player game but needs a few plays to grasp the strategies.
  57. Tongiaki
  58. Ubongo
  59. Uruk
  60. Vasco da Gama
  61. Viva Topo!
  62. Wan's Star Wars prototype
  63. Way Out West
  64. Wizard
  65. Zombie State

Games acquired (including bought, received as gifts and self-made) in 2010:

  1. At the Gates of Loyang
  2. Axis & Allies Europe 1940
  3. Axis & Allies Pacific 1940
  4. Factory Manager
  5. Hansa Teutonica
  6. In the shadow of the emperor
  7. Innovation
  8. Tales of the Arabian Nights
  9. Twilight Struggle - Bought the deluxe edition but have not played this copy yet.
  10. Uruk: Wiege der Zivilisation
  11. Agricola: Farmers of the Moor expansion
  12. Dominion: Seaside expansion
  13. Keltis expansion
  14. Race for the Galaxy: the Brink of War expansion
  15. Times Square (self made) - my good friend in Hong Kong, Ben, was recently in touch with Reiner Knizia's assistant Karen (work related), and he passed on an article I wrote about him and his designs back in 2007. Reiner liked the article and had it posted at his website. I felt a little embarassed, because (a) in the article I really sounded like a fanboy, and (b) I mentioned so many of his games that I had self-made. So now Ben has to buy 100 of Reiner's games so that Reiner won't sue me.
  16. Funny Friends - This and the next one are rewards for game rules translation work. I probably would not have bought these myself.
  17. Planet Steam
  18. 10 Days in Asia - This and the next three are mainly for my children. Or maybe to be more accurate - for me to play with my children.
  19. FITS
  20. Ubongo
  21. Viva Topo!
  22. ColorMonsters - review copy.
  23. Wizard - complimentary copy for translation work of this specific game.

Other thoughts on games:

  • Favourite new-to-me games in 2010: Hansa Teutonica, Innovation, Shipyard, Endeavor.

    Hansa Teutonica

  • I also quite like: Axis & Allies Pacific 1940, Axis & Allies Europe 1940 (admittedly I've only played the Global version), Dune, King of Siam, Die Dolmengotter, Times Square, After the Flood.
  • Pleasant surprises: Shipyard, Zombie State, Cyclades
  • Deserves more attention: Times Square, Cash-a-Catch
  • Classics that I'm happy to have revisited in 2010: Die Macher, Age of Steam
  • Wish I had played more: Taluva, Twilight Struggle, Warriors of God (should do this again before I completely forget the rules)
  • Favourites that I hadn't played in 2010: Lord of the Rings, Brass, Traumfabrik (Dream Factory), Attika, Axis & Allies Guadalcanal

Looking back at 2010:

  • I'm playing more and more games with my children, who are 4 and 5 now. I've started using full rules (I call them "adults' rules") with my elder daughter, as opposed to using simplified variants, and she likes it.
  • In 2010, my wife Michelle had 178 plays, 49 distinct games. Most played games are Race for the Galaxy (55), Innovation (12), At the Gates of Loyang (9). Older daughter Shee Yun (5 years old) had 124 plays, 30 distinct games, most played games are Halli Galli (22), Twister (13), Ubongo (11). Younger daughter Chen Rui (4 years old) had 68 plays, 19 distinct games, most played games are Ubongo (18), Halli Galli (9), Blokus 3D (8).
  • Han is back in town after a long out-station work posting, so we can play more regularly now.
  • I now sometimes play at Old Town Kopitiam Cheras too, joining the Friday night open gaming sessions organised by Jeff.
  • Allen the new father was house-bound starting September, so Han and I added another gaming venue - Allen's home, so that Allen had some gaming company and baby Ethan had some uncles to smile at (or cry at, depending on his mood).
  • Memorable game sessions: Dune, Die Macher, Axis & Allies Global 1940, marathon session in Hong Kong. Wait a minute... none of these involve my longest running kaki (fellow gamer) Han?! That's not right! Got to fix this in 2011. Actually we did have a number of exciting sessions - Horus Heresy, Space Hulk.
  • I was quite happy that my article about being game tasters received many responses from fellow gamers. Eric Martin of (temporarily down but will be online again soon as part of posted it to BGN.
  • I did an interview with Jeff (a.k.a. CK) who runs (Facebook / blog / webstore), an online retailer in Malaysia which actively develops the local boardgame community. I've always been interested in the behind-the-scenes aspect of the local boardgame industry (if you can call it that), so this little project was very interesting for me.

    After a game of Axis & Allies Global 1940 (combined game of A&A Pacific 1940 and A&A Europe 1940).

  • I started a Chinese blog.
  • I received a review copy for the first time ever.
  • I saw my name printed in games for the first time because I had helped with some translation work.
  • A reader's suggestion gave me an idea of ranking games by year. I did it for 2009 games that I have played.
  • I gave a home to the concise reference sheets that I have been making over the past 7 years.

Tuesday 28 December 2010

bored gamer

Lately I find that there are fewer and fewer new games that really interest me. I follow many boardgame blogs and browse all the time. Nowadays I often skip to just the final thoughts sections of articles. I don't have much patience to read through descriptions of game mechanisms. This is coming from a person who used to enjoy reading game rules. I think this is partly due to the increasing number of games being published. There is just too much information, so only games with some surprising element or some special element catch my attention.

Another reason is I've already played so many games, so I'm simply getting harder to please. I'm sure many recent games are good, but unless they offer a significantly different experience I'm usually too lazy to find out more about them. There are already so many good games that I'd like to play more of.

Here are some games that interest me.

  • 7 Wonders - My only worry is whether I will dislike it because it is too light.
  • Dominant Species - I like heavy games like Indonesia, Die Macher and Through the Ages.
  • Sid Meier's Civilization (Fantasy Flight Games) - I am a big fan of the PC game series. Han is buying this so I'll have a chance to play it.
  • Inca Empire - Complex game with network building and has an interesting tension between competition and cooperation.
  • 20th Century - Just because Shipyard by the same designer was such a pleasant surprise.

I still maintain an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of games I'm interested in. I rate them by eagerness of buying, 10 meaning I'll definitely buy it, 4 to 6 meaning I'm unsure, 1 to 3 meaning I've decided not to buy it (to different levels of certainty).

Well, I complain about the lack of new interesting games, yet I still go over my 20 games per year quota. Sigh... I think I just have too many unexpected purchases. I bought 10 Days in Asia because it was on sale and it would be good for my children when they are older. I bought FITS for my children too. Really. OK, I can see all those eyes rolling.

I wonder whether I'm entering a plateau stage of this hobby, or even a slowdown stage. Hmmm... maybe I'll tell you after I play Civilization. :-)

Saturday 25 December 2010

solo Roll Through the Ages

Recently I have been playing quite a number of solo games of Roll Through the Ages on the iPhone. In the solo game, you just play 10 rounds and see how many points you score, as opposed to checking the normal game end conditions. Also rolling three skulls mean you lose 3pts as opposed to other players losing 3pts. I enjoy the solo game a lot, and have learned some new tactics. I appreciate some of the finer points of this seemingly simple game. There are some clever design considerations behind many aspects of the game. Here are some things I've learned.

  1. The single-vase and the two-grain-or-two-people sides are not always inferior to double-vase-and-skull, triple-grain or triple-people sides. In the case of the single-vase, sometimes you do need exactly one less skull to avoid a major disaster, and you're happy enough to have one less vase. In the case of two-grain-or-two-people, sometimes you actually don't need that additional grain or people, and also the flexibility can be very useful.
  2. It's good to have a 3-people dice in the first round because that means a new city.
  3. You do need to have a long-term plan. Some combos need long-term planning to pull off. E.g. Caravan lets you store lots of goods, and Commerce lets you score 1pt per good stored at game end. However you'll need to have been storing goods for quite a few rounds if you want to score big.
  4. Knowing when to stop rolling is important. Don't always try to get the perfect roll. Be flexible.
  5. I used to look down on coins but I now appreciate them more. With Coinage making them worth $12 instead of $7, they can be very helpful. Also in Round 1 if you get a coin ($7) and a double-vase-and-skull (one wood and one stone would be worth $3), the $10 means you can already buy a tech.

The solo achievements are a nice element. You get awards for fulfilling certain conditions, e.g. building all monuments, gaining 20pts from the Commerce technology, gaining 8 technologies. These led me to try different approaches and made me discover aspects that I have not explored before.

In this particular game I had 7 cities. I had locked one double-vase-and-skull die, and I rerolled four dice in my final roll. My face paled when I rolled this. What are the chances?!! It's 0.08%!!!

This was a major disaster - a revolt, and I would lose all stored goods too. Then I clicked to the next screen and found this.

Woohoo!! I forgot that I had purchased the Religion tech which protected me against revolts. That meant I was swimming in goods! 10 goods from this round.

I eventually scored 65pts for this game, which is a good score.

This is a summary of the game.

These were the techs that I bought.

I had seven cities, and five monuments completed. I like to go for the Great Wall because it protects against invasion. One down side of the solo game is there is no competition in building monuments.

There's a nice progress chart that shows the history of your little dice-built civilisation. This is a nice touch.

Thursday 23 December 2010

Merry Christmas

This is one of those rare posts with a "non boardgame" tag.

Merry Christmas! May there be lots of boardgaming and quality time spent with loved ones.

Wednesday 22 December 2010

do you read Chinese?

After further contemplation, I finally made up my mind to start another boardgaming blog in Chinese - The content will be similar to what I write here, so in a way I'm still writing one boardgaming blog, but in two languages. The Chinese blog will be targeting a different audience, and I imagine it will be quite different from this English blog. If Chinese is your mother language, then you now have an alternative Hiew's Boardgame Blog in Chinese. :-) And over there smileys look like this ^_^ (if I remember to do so).

Monday 20 December 2010

boardgaming in photos

28 Nov 2010. Kahuna, a game in the Kosmos 2-player series. It's a short game, and can even be a filler if played quickly. Such games are good because near the end of a game session, we often have a "just one more game" itch, especially when there is still a little time left before we absolutely need to go. Sometimes we end even up playing two short games.

In Kahuna players draw and play cards to establish bridges between islands. You control an island (place hand marker) when your bridges occupy more than half of the available spaces on the island. You can remove your opponent's bridges by establishing control and also by card play. Each player can only draw one card per turn and can play any number of cards. So you build up your hand gradually and need to find the right time to make your offensive moves.

In this particular game, I was black and Allen white. He lost the momentum of establishing control early on, and never managed to recover.

There's a user Joe Gola who wrote the funniest session report on Amun-Re. He uses a photo of this Gola island as his avatar. Try to search for that session report at BGG if you have not read it before.

28 Nov 2010. Power Grid, Central Europe map. Power Grid is one of my favourite games that I don't play enough of. So I have stopped buying expansions after the first two, since the base game already has 2 maps, and each expansion 2 more. This was a two-player game with Michelle, and we played the yellow, green and red regions. Michelle started in the centre, and I started in the north. She blocked me off quite badly, forcing me to spend a lot of money to connect to new cities.

My power plants at game end, only coal and oil power plants. There is a lot of coal on this map so it is relatively cheap and safe (not likely to be short of coal) to rely on coal plants.

4 Dec 2010. At the Gates of Loyang. Michelle and I started playing this again recently. I recently taught my 5-year-old daughter Shee Yun a simplified version of the game, and she likes it a lot, often requesting to play it. We play without Helper cards. The card phase is just laying out 6 cards and then taking turns to pick two, without needing to pay any money. Regular customers need not be served every round. The cart has unlimited capacity. There is no twin-pack action. Scoring is simplified - it costs $10 per step on the prosperity track. Surprisingly the game does work, for a five year old. I give Shee Yun the advantage of always being first to pick a card. I also give her hints and reminders. She enjoys it a lot. I get a little bored with this variant after a while, so sometimes I need to beg her not to make me play it again, especially when I'm tired. I suggest Halli Galli instead and usually she's happy enough with that.

4 Dec 2010. The Princes of Florence. It has been quite a while since I played this, a game I like a lot, and also one of my earliest purchases when I got into the hobby. I played the 2-player variant with Michelle. Not as satisfying as the full 5-player game, but I guess better than none. Both Michelle and I was a bit rusty and we both miscalculated and were unable to complete one of our works.

4 Dec 2010. Another game that we had not played for a long time - Tikal.

The treasures that I collected. I didn't manage to get as many as Michelle.

I used both my tents (natural coloured), but Michelle only used one of hers (red).

One of the looted treasure sites.

Both my tents were next to volcanoes. I guess my explorers were daredevils.

11 Dec 2010. A 3-player game of Hansa Teutonica. This was my first time playing with three. Allen was new to the game. Han has played before. With three players the game seems to be less tense. As is probably common, we started with trying to increase our actions. I was first to establish an office at that action-improving city in the south, but Han quickly established another office, taking over control. He earned quite many single VPs because of that. I went with a tech strategy (which I don't think is viable by itself), maxing out on three of the techs. I didn't spend much effort on building a network. Because of my book tech, I had more round tokens (merchants) available, which I used to claim two of the Coellen spots (7VP and 8VP respectively). The combination of maxed techs and Coellen merchants won me the game, but only barely. I had 42VPs, Han 41VPs, Allen 37VPs. I have played 4 games of Hansa Teutonica, and I feel there is still a lot to explore. So far in the 4 games noone has completed the east-west connection.

My book, bag and envelop techs were all maxed out.

11 Dec 2010. Innovation. Allen seems to quite like this too, and suggested to play again. I had a big lead in this particular game, because of my strength in castles in the early game. One of the cards I had robbed all top cards with castles from Allen and Han and put them into my score pile. But in Innovation, even a 4-0-0 lead doesn't guarantee victory. Allen had a come-from-behind victory, reaching 5 achievements before I could claim another. I was only one action away from getting my 5th achievement. I had a card with 3 clocks which I could play so that I would have 3 of all the 6 icons, and would claim that special achievement. Innovation is quite fun. Although it can be random, I feel there is still a lot you can do, and many interesting uses of the card powers.

Friday 10 December 2010


The Game

The easiest way to describe this puzzle-like game is "it's like Tetris". You have many pieces of different shapes and sizes that you will slide down a slope, and you try to slide them down to cover up as many dots as you can. One difference from Tetris is once you decide where to drop your piece, you can't slip it sideways while it is in flight. Also you can't rotate once it is in flight. Everyone starts the game with a different piece, but after that the next pieces to be used are determined by a common deck of cards. There are four levels in the game, each with slightly different rules. In Level 1, every complete row is worth 1pt, and every single exposed dot is -1pt. In Level 2, there are some white dots which are worth (positive) points when exposed. In Level 3, there are both white and black dots giving positive and negative points respectively. In Level four, there are pairs of icons, which are worth 3pts if both are exposed, -3pts if only one is, and naturally 0pts if neither is.

Level 1 - just try not to leave too many dots exposed.

The end of Level 1 for me. 8 completed rows - 4 exposed dots = 4pts.

Level 3 - normal dots (if exposed by end of the level) is still -1pts, white dots give positive points, black dots give -5pts.

Level 4 - Five types of symbols and two of each type.

It is quite tricky to keep both symbols of the same type exposed, while not getting too many negative points from the normal dots.

I think I did pretty well. Later on I will slide that 1x3 piece down the remaining gap on the top left. So I will have (3pts x 4 pairs of symbols) - 7 pts for exposed dots = 5pts.

The Play

Whoosh... It was over so fast that I don't remember much, except I beat Allen who taught me the game. Heh heh... And I decided to buy the game, because it's something that my children will be able to play. Really. It's not for me, and it shouldn't count towards that 20 games quota.

The Thoughts

FITS is not as easy as it looks. Sometimes I have to pause and think a little. It is quite tricky. You need to think of the remaining pieces and how they will fit. Surprisingly by only varying the starting piece, the game can become very different for each player, even though after the first piece everyone will be taking the same pieces to add to his/her own board every turn.

This is undeniably a multiplayer solitaire game, but that's not a problem. It's fun enough to watch your opponents (and yourself) crash and burn. It is actually not exactly easy to have a positive score.

I am not surprised FITS was nominated for the Spiel des Jahres. It's easy to learn, quick to play, and suitable for families and casual players. There are a number of official and unofficial expansions to it, and I think they are necessary to keep the game interesting if you like the game. The game only comes with 4 levels.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Concise reference sheets

I often make rule summaries for games that I own or games that I want to play. It is a form of taking notes when I read game rules. It helps me get a grasp of the rules while reading, and when I sit down to play a game, the reference sheet also helps as a reminder. I use these reference sheets to teach games too. I always try to keep the rules to one A4 page, preferably even just half a page.

Over the years I have accumulated quite a number of reference sheets. I upload them to once in a while, in batches. I want to make it available here at my blog too. This post will be where I keep the latest version of my reference sheets.

Download latest version here.

If you come across any error please drop a comment in this post, or send a message to my BoardGameGeek mailbox. My username is hecose. 

List of games (currently 300+) can be found here

Saturday 4 December 2010

boardgaming in photos

21 Nov 2010. Recently Michelle and I embarked on a mini-mission to play all the Ticket to Ride games in our collection. We played Ticket to Ride (USA) using the Big Cities expansion, TTR Europe, TTR Switzerland, TTR Nordic Countries and TTR Marklin (Germany). This one was TTR Marklin. I (white) focused on the western side of the map where there were more VP chips that my passengers could collect, but the routes were shorter and thus scored less points. Michelle (red) focused on the eastern side of the map with longer (and higher-scoring) routes. I used a passenger card to steal one of "Michelle's" chips in Berlin, but that was not enough to beat her. Also she ended the game quickly and I still had one passenger that I had not used for collecting chips.

My younger daughter Chen Rui (3.5 years old) arranged these. It looked like a fortress to me but she insisted it was a train. These pieces are actually purple but they look more blue here.

Passengers are unique to TTR Marklin.

We had not played Saint Petersburg for a long time. It was good to revisit it. I was definitely rusty, managing my cashflow rather poorly. I did not plan ahead well enough, and often ran short of money when I needed it, e.g. in the craftsmen phase when I needed to buy more craftsmen. Michelle bought a victory point-generating building early, which gave her an early lead. I managed to catch up by mid game by getting lots of buildings myself, but in the end I lost to her by 2pts because of (I think) the accumulated effects of my small mistakes throughout the game.

Saint Petersburg was quite well received when it came out in 2004, but if released today I suspect will not be as well received, because it very much embodies the typical Eurogame, where you build an economic engine and then use that engine to generate victory points. Theme is quite thin and the game can feel quite mechanical and mathematical. Nevertheless I still like the game. Enough interesting decisions and overall it has a quick pace.

Mykerinos, one of the earlier games from publisher Ystari, which we had not played for quite a while. It has a bit of area majority to win tiles. In this photo the majority is evaluated for every pair of tiles. When you win majority, you can either claim one of the tiles, or you can reserve a room at the museum. If you choose a tile, it comes with special powers and it will also be worth points. The tricky part is the value of the tile depends on which rooms you reserve at the museum. So there's a dilemma between grabbing tiles and racing to book the museum rooms that will help you the most.

The museum.

Innovation. I had so many coin symbols, and because of that, Translation (blue card) let me claim the World Achievement.

Ticket to Ride (USA) using the Big Cities expansion (in the 1910 expansion pack). Big Cities is good for 2-player games, because the tickets always include one of the main cities, so usually they force the players to compete to connect to the same cities. In this game I mostly worked in the north and Michelle the south, but still we had to compete at some cities.

I (green) needed to reach Nashville, and Michelle (red) needed to reach Atlanta. She placed the train to reach Atlanta before I could place mine to get to Nashville. Thankfully I was able to get to Nashville later by using the 3-black route.

Card back of the 1910 expansion. I like the artwork.

27 Nov 2010. At the Gates of Loyang. It's nice to bring out once in a while. It certainly looks good. The game is a little solitairish and puzzle-like. It's mostly about being efficient in generating enough supply (vegetables), capturing enough demand (customers), and matching them (planting the right vegetables for the right customers). There are various tools to help you with that - Market Stalls, additional fields and the big variety of Helpers. The scope of the game is not as wide as Agricola or Le Havre (also by Uwe Rosenberg).

28 Nov 2010. Ticket to Ride Switzerland. Zurich is always a chokepoint, so often at the start of the game we make sure we claim one of the routes leading to it.