Monday, 27 June 2011

boardgaming in photos

9 Jun 2011. Kingsburg is a game I have played once before a long time ago. I played the computer version, and I didn't like it at the time. The unique aspect of Kingsburg is how you roll dice and then allocate them to specific spots on the board to gain resources / benefits. You have 3 dice, and can use them individually or in any combination. Allocating them is tricky because once a spot is claimed others may not use the same spot (i.e. worker placement mechanism). So sometimes you decide to allocate them all at one go for fear that if you don't, you won't have a chance to place any dice left for your next turn.

Resources are used to construct buildings, which have various abilities, including defending the kingdom from invaders. At the end of each of the 5 years in the game, the kingdom is invaded, and the invaders gradually grow in strength. There are rewards for defending successfully, and penalties otherwise.

The player board, on which you mark the buildings that have been constructed. There are 5 types of buildings (in rows) and you must build from left to right.

Chong Sean kept telling me the game is good, that I should have played the boardgame version and not the computer version. Now that I have done so, I still find the game to be so-so. I may be biased by the initial poor experience. I don't find the dice mechanism particularly interesting, despite its uniqueness. The game feels like repeating cycles of collect-stuff-build-stuff. The building types are different and you can go for different approaches for gaining victory points. You do feel like you are building up your domain to protect the kingdom.

16 Jun 2011. I recently found a free fan-made computer version of 7 Wonders, and have played many games. I've played more than 100 games within the first few days of downloading the game. This screenshot shows the game-end scoring calculation. Having the computer take care of this saves a lot of time. Games can be very very fast. It depends on how much thinking and opponent-observing you want to do. If you play by gut feel, you can finish a game in 2 minutes. I had fun with this free version. I just hope I don't get sick of the game because of it. I've ordered the (physical) game and don't want to burn out before I receive my physical copy.

The computer implementation is overall quite good. Minor complaints: a little troublesome to see your opponents' wonders and to examine the tableau of non-neighbour opponents.

I have also learnt a few more things about the game. (1) Coins can often be a big part of your score. That situation in my first game where the winner Henry had a huge stack of coins is not really rare. (2) Specialisation is not necessary to win. Quite often a well balanced civilisation can win. Specialisation can be more effective for some strategies, e.g. the science strategy.

The result of this particular game surprised me. I managed to beat AI3 (sitting on my left) which had 50pts from science cards. Thankfully I had built that Scientist Guild purple building myself to deny it from the AI.

17 Jun 2011. 2-player game of Le Havre with my wife Michelle. In this game both of us were heavily in debt, but I've always thought of the banks or loan sharks in Le Havre as very kind people. Your regular interest payment is always $1 no matter how much you've borrowed. Here you can see I have organised my steel in neat stacks in preparation for building steel ships and luxury liners. Luxury liners give a lot of points and I find that they can often be a game winner. Or maybe it's just that Michelle rarely spends effort to stop me or to compete with me.

19 Jun 2011. 2-player (variant) Endeavor against Michelle. Michelle was red, I was green, white was the neutral colour. In this particular game we were short on shipping ability, and were often stuck with no more available cities to colonise. We should have either constructed more buildings with shipping ability, or constructed more buildings with attack ability (so that we could attack already-colonised cities). Or perhaps we were too careful in shipping and always tried to avoid helping each other open up new regions.

24 Jun 2011. Wan and Shan visited my home for the first time. Previously we've always played at Carcasean in KK (Kota Kinabalu) with Chong Sean. We did a 5-player game of Cyclades with Han and Allen. This was my second game. My first game was a 3-player game with Han and Allen. 5 players is more interesting.

The board for auctions and creatures.

I still enjoy Cyclades. It is more about the preparation and manoeuvring for war, rather than war itself. During the game you spend most of your time in the auctions. There can be at most one island invasion in a round. You not only need to position your navy to support the invasion, you also need to make sure that you win the auction for the army movement, and that your plans are not interrupted by some creature. But then of course when an invasion does occur, it can have a big impact to the game. One player's chances may be significantly boosted, another player's shattered. Money is tight and discounts (for gods' favours and for creatures) are very helpful.

This island with 3 buildings was initially Shan's (red), but Allen (blue) had used the Pegasus creature to invade and conquer it from a distant island. Shan was determined to take back what was hers. Look at that chain of ships preparing for the attack. Later Allen used a creature which allowed him to sell anything for $2 each. He almost wanted to sell all three of these buildings. We all laughed that he was too nasty! He took over Shan's island just to burn it to the ground! This was scorched earth tactics! Of course he considered doing this only after realising the difficulty of holding on to the island. Eventually he decided to only burn one of the buildings, because the other two could potentially help him assemble a set of four to build a metropolis. However Shan reclaimed the island before he could do that. The events on this island was the funniest story of our game.


Dave said...

There are some board games I'd rather play on the computer: Settlers, RftG, San Juan, sometimes even Acquire. I somehow think 7 Wonders would be one of them, but I'd need to find & run a different program, as I'm a Linux user.

Sue G said...

The expansion for Kingsburg improves the game a lot. But it's definitely not my favorite game.

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

For me most of the time I prefer playing the boardgame versions. In some cases the AI's are not challenging enough. Sometimes the game moves so quickly that I get sloppy and I don't fully appreciate the game. But the Race for the Galaxy computer version is one that I admire a lot. Very good AI. If you have not tried the computer version of Blue Moon (also by Keldon), do give it a go.

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

What does the Kingsburg expansion change? I know there is an expansion but have not read up about it.
Compared against other dice games, I much prefer Airships and Roll Through the Ages.

Sue G said...

You get a card at the start that gives you some additional ability. There are two building tracks which can also be changed from game to game by the use of overlays(I find them more interesting than the original set). There are event cards that occur yearly. Finally, there are tokens that are used to secretly bid how many soldiers you are committing rather than the random dice roll. I find them far preferable to the dice roll. It is a significantly more interesting game than without the expansion.

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

Thanks Sue. I didn't realise there are quite a number of tweaks in the expansion.