Monday 31 December 2018

my 2018

The dark blue Total Plays line uses the right axis, the other lines use the left axis.

My 2018 has been similar to 2017 and 2016. I have settled down into a new equilibrium - not playing as much as before, but still playing regularly. I played 295 times. I played 69 distinct games, of which 37 were new to me. My wife and children played less compared to previous years, continuing the trend. As the children get older, they develop their own hobbies and interests.

This chart shows how many distinct games I have played in 2018. The colours indicate how many times I have played the game. Many games are only played once (green).

My dimes (games played 10 times or more) contribute most to my play count. I've played Star Realms 107 times, Ascension 63 times, and Pandemic Legacy Season 2 17 times. My fives were Hanafuda Koi Koi (6), Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle (5), Azul (5), and Diner (5).

Star Realms and Ascension were mostly against Han, using the mobile app. Pandemic Legacy Season 2 was with the Benz group. It wasn't as impactful to us as Season 1 was, but it did give a different experience and there were interesting surprises.

Pandemic Legacy Season 2

17 games entered my collection, which is higher than 2017. 9 were gifts, including many Dice Hate Me card games from Allen, many of which I have yet to play. I supported Martin Wallace's Lincoln on Kickstarter. I bought an older game Zooloretto because younger daughter Chen Rui said she likes it. I bought Innovations: Figures in the Sand (an expansion) second-hand, because I've always liked the game. I also bought Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle and three more Exit: The Game games. I bought Keyforge, because I was curious.

I hosted a few game sessions inviting colleagues over. It was fun playing some older games of mine, and some less complex games. Friday sessions at tend to be new games and gamer games.

New-to-me games in 2018:

  1. Hanafuda Koi Koi - A fun cultural experience. It is unlike other traditional games I've experienced, and unlike any modern card games I know of.

    Koi Koi

  2. Pit Crew
  3. Sidereal Confluence
  4. Majesty: For The Realm
  5. The Quest for El Dorado - Knizia does deck-building with this race game. Pretty decent.
  6. Kingdomino - Good family game. The award is well deserved.
  7. Rising Sun
  8. Unlock! Squeak & Sausage
  9. Diner - This reached 5 plays because the children wanted to play it. It's a speed game.
  10. The Lepak Game
  11. Unlock! The Island of Doctor Goorse
  12. Flamme Rouge
  13. Spirit Island - A complex and challenging cooperative game. There is tremendous pressure especially in the early game as you try to survive.

    Spirit Island

  14. Tesla vs Edison
  15. Unicornus Knights - It was fun calling our princess crazy (Siao Za Bo)

    Unicornus Knights

  16. Clans of Caledonia
  17. Wir sind das Volk! - I played this not long after I watched The Lives of Others, so the game felt much more real. This game can be a little daunting to learn, because it does have many exceptions and special cases, but once you actually sit down to play, it is quite manageable. I like how it tells a story.
  18. Exploding Kittens - It's a little silly, but it can be enjoyable.
  19. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle - Low complexity deck-building game. It is fun to see all those Harry Potter story characters in the game. Unfortunately I am not sure when or whether I'll get to play all the way to Game 7.
  20. Century: Eastern Wonders
  21. ROOT - A complex and serious game in a cute disguise.
  22. Azul - A pleasant and clever game. I quite like it. It is one of the few new-to-me games that I am enthusiastic about.

    Azul with Chen Rui.

  23. Dragon Castle
  24. Hellapagos - Clean and compact survival game. Someone will die. Quite likely everyone.
  25. Feudum - Gorgeous, but a bit too much work for the amount of fun I get.
  26. Quarto
  27. Downforce
  28. Auztralia
  29. Exit: The Game - The Forgotten Island
  30. Exit: The Game - The Polar Station
  31. Coimbra
  32. Minerva
  33. Brass: Birmingham - It was good to play a Brass game again.
  34. Anachrony
  35. Raiatea
  36. Lincoln - Simpler and not as strong as A Few Acres of Snow, but still presents a number of interesting dilemmas.
  37. Keyforge

Friday 28 December 2018


Plays: 3Px1.

The Game

At the end of the 26th century, Earth is a wasteland. A mysterious catastrophe 300 years prior had destroyed most of human civilisation. What was left of mankind formed four distinct nations, and they have been living mostly in isolation, except for when they meet in the old capital. At ground zero of the catastrophe, a new substance, neutronium, was discovered, which lead to great advances in technology and the invention of time machines. Using time machines to gather resources from the past, the nations developed quickly. However time travel came with risks, and if not managed well, could lead to disaster. Recently scientists detected a great asteroid heading towards earth. Upon impact it would create a new catastrophe. The mineral signature of the asteroid was found to be the same as that of the neutronium discovered at ground zero. Mankind realised that the first catastrophe had been his own doing, a result of meddling with time.

You are the leader of one of the four nations. As you prepare for the impending impact and eventual destruction of the old capital, you try to gain the most influence, so that your city state will become the new capital of all mankind. Translation: Score the most victory points before the game ends.

The first thing you'll notice are the robots. Well, they are not robots. These are exosuits. Anachrony is a worker placement game. You send your workers to work in your own city (player board) and also in the old capital (main game board). The old capital is exposed and not well-shielded like the four city states. Your workers need to wear these exosuits to be able to visit the old capital.

Those narrow tiles stuck into the exosuits are the workers.

These are leaders of one of the nations. You have two to pick from. They have different special abilities. E.g. the one on the left lets you recruit a worker at the cost of two water resources during Phase 6 of a round.

The full view of the game. The main board is the old capital. You send workers here to gather resources, exchange resources, construct buildings, research new technology and recruit new workers. Those arrow shaped tiles on the left are the timeline tiles, each corresponding to a round of play. The asteroid strikes between rounds 4 and 5, after which the old capital starts crumbling down. The game ends after the old capital is completely destroyed, or after Round 7. The five small cards on the right are game-end scoring cards. Throughout the game you need to consider how you will make use of them. At the bottom are four stacks of buildings. Not all buildings appear in every game, and the order in which they appear is random. This creates variability.

Above each timeline tile is a research project which players can work on. Every round a new project becomes available. If you complete a project, it becomes a new large (and powerful) building in your city. Some projects need to be triggered by a worker, some don't, just like regular buildings.

The time travel aspect is implemented as basically a loan system. Every round you may place some of your warp tiles (those triangles) on the timeline tile of the current round to immediately collect some resources or workers. This represent you going back in time to take resources. However, you eventually need to pay your debt. In a future round, you need to use a time machine to go back in time to when you took the loan, then pay the debt (interest free) to reclaim your warp tile. So essentially you are spending resources you don't have, but you have to pay it back later. At every timeline tile, the players with the most warp tiles must roll a paradox die and suffer the consequences. Thus the pressure to reclaim your warp tiles.

This was the situation in Round 5. The black player had many warp tiles on the timeline and would likely suffer some penalty.

This is the player board. The hexes on the left are the prep area for the exosuits. At the start of every round you need to decide how many exosuits you will prep for missions to the old capital. If you prep many, you will need to spend energy cores (a type of resource). Workers come in yellow, pink, blue and green. They are arranged in two columns - shut-eye and open-eye. Normally a worker needs to sleep after completing a task, and is moved from his workstation to the sleeping column. You need to do a wake-up call action to move workers from the sleeping column to the awake column. There are two ways to wake people up. If you give them a drink (coffee I assume) when waking them, they feel happier, and you get points. If no coffee, they are grumpy, you lose points, and some may even die of thirst.

The right side of the player board is for your buildings. You may build up to three buildings in each type. The building costs are printed on the board.

This section of the player board is related to time travel. When you roll the paradox die, it may give you paradox tokens (orange triangles). Collect three, and you are awarded a red building, which is bad. The red building takes up a building slot, and costs you 3VP. To get rid of it you need to spend resources, and the poor guy you send to dismantle it will die. That track in the middle is a scoring track. Each time you go back in time to repay a debt, you advance one step. So time traveling is not just about taking loans. It is also about scoring points whenever you pay your debts.

The big square tile is your nation. One important scoring action is the evacuation. This is a one-time scoring action which you need to plan for diligently. The nations have different pre-conditions and scoring criteria. This particular nation needs to have built 3 blue buildings to qualify for evacuation. Satisfying this pre-condition gives 2VP. When performing the evacuation, every genius worker and gold resource pair scores 3VP. The evacuation action can score a big chunk of points and must be planned for.

Notice the large tile with 3 heads. This side of it is shown before the asteroid impact. Once the brown stuff hits the fan, you flip it over to show the other side (next photo).

This side of the large tile shows the evacuation icon (on the right), reminding players they can perform evacuation now.

Workers come in four flavours - engineers, scientists, administrators and geniuses. Some tasks can be performed only by specific worker types. Some tasks when performed by specific worker types give small benefits, e.g. the worker enjoys his work and doesn't feel tired, and thus doesn't need to sleep. The geniuses are good at everything. You can use them as engineers, scientists or administrators. In short, jokers!

After the asteroid impact, two of the exosuit prep spaces are disabled. You can send at most four workers to the old capital now, and from the second one onwards you already need to consume energy cores.

During the final countdown, whenever one of the six central spaces are used, it is destroyed permanently. Once all six are gone, the game ends. In this photo, five are already out and only the last one remains. Players do have some control over how quickly the game ends.

The Play

Anachrony is a worker placement game. You collect resources to do stuff. By constructing buildings, you add to your options. By recruiting workers, you get to execute more actions. Players' buildings create differentiation among them, in addition to their leader abilities and evacuation conditions. There are multiple ways to score points. The evacuation is an important one which you must plan for. My guess is the time travel aspect is a do-or-do-not thing. If you want to use it for scoring, don't do it half-heartedly. It would not be efficient. I am not entirely sure whether time travel scoring can be completely ignored. In the game we played, I was planning to do that, but then I constructed a building which let me time travel twice for one action. "Buy-one-free-one"! So I couldn't resist. All three of us did a fair bit of time traveling. I am not sure whether one of us would have done much poorer had he neglected time traveling, and instead focused on something else, e.g. research projects. None of us completed any research project. Han did spend more effort on scientific research, and scored points for scientific breakthroughs, but he never went all the way to complete a major project.

The five end-game scoring cards will probably give the game a slightly different flavour each time. They augment the values of certain actions.

The evacuation criteria differs for everyone, so you won't have a situation of two players directly competing, and others benefiting from staying out of the fight. In that sense there is some balance. However players do need to compete for resources and action spaces - the typical competition in worker placement games.

The three stooges (engineers) riding exosuits to get some construction done.

My evacuation pre-condition was three blue buildings, which I had achieved by this point (3rd row). Buildings themselves have victory points. See flag icons at bottom left of buildings.

These were my workers at game end. My evacuation criteria included having geniuses (pink workers) so my HR department had been focusing on them.

The Thoughts

Anachrony looks complicated, has an interesting backstory, and features time travel. Now that I have played it, I find it not as complex as it looks. To me it is mostly just another worker placement game. Some bits are interesting - how you have different types of workers, how buildings create new worker placement spots and new actions exclusively yours. Managing workers who need to sleep after completing a task is a new challenge. Don't expect too much from the time travel mechanism. It is just a loan system with a troublesome debt repayment process, which serves as an excuse to score points.

Tuesday 25 December 2018

Brass: Birmingham

Plays: 3Px1.

The Game

The Brass series is an important part of Martin Wallace's line-up of game designs. Brass was first published in 2007. It lead to the Age of Industry series. Brass: Lancashire and Brass: Birmingham were both published in 2018, by a different company, and using all new artwork. Brass: Lancashire is the new version of the original Brass, and there were some tweaks done. Brass: Birmingham has (of course) a different map, and some new mechanisms too.

In Brass: Birmingham, you play entrepreneurs during the industrial revolution, from the end of the 18th century to the 19th century. You build factories, you build canals and railroads to support the factories, and you make money!

This is your player board. Everyone gets a whole set of factories that can be built, and you organise them using this player board. Icons on the left side of a factory indicate the building cost. You need to spend money, and sometimes coal or iron too. When you build a factory on the board, you've merely started a business, and it is not profitable yet. You need to flip the factory tile in order to make it profitable. How to flip a factory depends on the factory type. If you've built a manufacturer, a cotton mill or a pottery, to turn them profitable you need to deliver your first batch of goods. If you've built a brewery, iron works or coal mine, the appropriate resources will be placed on it, and once all such resources are consumed, the factory is flipped. Once a factory is flipped, it increases your earning power - your income every round increases. The factory will score points at the end of the era. It will also contribute points to connected canals and railroads.

Each time you perform an action, you must play a card. For most actions you may play any card. The cards in the game serve as a countdown. When both the deck and the player hands are exhausted, an era ends. The game is played over two eras. The only action type which has dependency on what card it is you play is the build action. This is the most important action in the game. There are two card types. The one on the right is an industry card, specifying which factory type you may build. The one in the centre is a location card, specifying where you may build. Location cards are usually better because you can directly build without needing to have established a connection to the location. With industry cards, you can only build within your network.

The transportation network is crucial. In the first era you build canals, and in the second era railroads. Building railroads require coal, and if you want to build two for one action, you need beer too. To sell goods (and thus flip factories) you need to connect to the appropriate merchants at the edges of the board. To make use of some resources, you need the transportation network too. Often to build factories at certain locations, you need to extend your network to those locations. Canals and railroads score points too. At the end of the canal era, all canals are removed from the game, so that in the railroad era, you start from scratch rebuilding your network. This doesn't mean canals have been destroyed or made illegal. The game is only trying to convey that the canals can no longer support the needs of the industries, so railroads are needed.

You will run out of cash, and you will need to take loans. This is classic Martin Wallace. Picking the right time to take loans is important, because each time to take a loan, your profitability drops. It is not easy to increase your profitability, so you need to manage loans carefully so as not to stunt your own progress.

These chips are optional. They are huge, and they fit the game well. There is a recess in the box designed specifically to fit this box of poker chips. The chips also nicely fit some spaces on the board meant for keeping track of money spent in the current round.

Flipping factories is an important part of the game and needs to be explained in more detail. To flip a pottery, a manufacturer or a cotton mill, you need to perform the sell action. Your factory needs to be connected to a merchant (along the edge of the board) who buys the specific goods. Usually it also needs access to a beer resource. When performing the sell action, the beer is consumed, and you flip over your factory. You increase your income level, and your factory will score victory points at the end of the era.

Flipping the other type of factories - the resource factories, require fully consuming the resources on them. When you build a coal mine, iron works or brewery, you place some resources on them. If the coal market or iron market is short on resources, you can already sell your resources there to make money. If other people take goods from you, they don't pay you. By taking your goods they are helping you towards flipping your factory. Usually you welcome people using your resources, unless you have plans to use them yourself. Supply and demand are what drive your decisions whether to build these resource factories, and which type to build. You want to build when there is demand, or when you predict there will be demand.

One interesting mechanism in the game is how player order is determined. Every round when you spend money, you place them here instead of directly paying money to the bank. The turn order for the next round is determined by the least amount of money spent in the current round. Big moves usually cost more money, which means if you've pulled off something big, most likely next round you'll go late. Sometimes it is important to manipulate the turn order.

These two are jokers. They don't exist in the original Brass. The one on the left lets you build in any city, and the one on the right lets you build any industry. To get a pair of such cards, you basically sacrifice one turn. They seem to be very powerful and well worth the cost of one turn, but when we played, it turned out that one turn was often more valuable. I was the only one to have collected such jokers, and I did it only once. I did it only when I was truly desperate - when I really wanted a specific card but didn't have it.

The Play

I own the original Brass. It's a game I like a lot. I have played it a couple of times, but it had been a long while since I last played. Such is the fate of boardgames when one owns too many of them. I had a chance to try Brass: Birmingham because Han brought along a copy when he was in town. I did a 3-player game with him and Allen. The game supports up to four players. With 3 players, some cards are removed, and some merchant locations are left empty, making a section of the map less accessible and less lucrative.

In Brass: Birmingham, you will be competing for space - space to build factories and space to build canals and railroads. Everyone wants to build factories and make money, and the available slots and types at each city are both limited. Each city only supports a few industries. However, there is also collaboration among the players. Maybe collaboration is not the right word. It is basically making deals. You make offers and hope others cannot resist helping you, because they will help themselves too. There are very real supply and demand relationships in the game. Player actions are driven by real demands and not any forced scoring rule. When you see many people building manufacturers, cotton mills and potteries, you will want to build breweries because these factories will need lots of beer to sell their stuff. If people have been building railroads and consuming coal from the market on the board, you will want to build coal mines so that you can immediately supply coal to the market and make money. When you build resource factories, you are inviting others to take the resources and help you flip your factories. Your opponents are often willing to help you because they are getting free resources. They save the trouble of building such factories themselves, and they save money because they don't need to buy from the market. This kind of win-win situations is one of the interesting aspects of the game.

The story arc in the game starts with you having a little money and needing to grow your business empire to make money efficiently. You spend money to make more money, and it takes time to build up to a healthy, regular income. For most of the game you are doing this. Only towards late game you may be spending money for the sake of points. The factories you build throughout the game are worth points, but most of the time you make decisions based on business sense. Potteries are very expensive, but score many points. Normally you need to plan far ahead to save enough money for them.

This was the first half of the game, we were still building canals. I (light grey) started in the south (left), unlike Han and Allen who both started in the north. The merchant in the south traded in all three goods - pottery, manufactured goods and cotton. Other merchants only traded in one goods type. My canals had now connected my factory in Birmingham all the way to the merchant in Gloucester. There was a barrel of beer in Gloucester. That meant I could do selling now for my factory in Birmingham.

You have a hand size of 8. Although which card you play only matters when you build factories, even when you are performing other actions, it is often not easy to decide which card to use. You want to keep cards which might be useful. In the early game this can be painful because most cards are potentially useful.

I (light grey) started off in the south (left) and had built four factories by now. Allen (brown) started in the north, and worked tirelessly expanding southwards. His canals were now connected to the canal network in the south. He made a mistake in the early game. The north did not have the merchant he needed, so he had to expand southwards. Han (yellow) started in the north, but later switched to build in the west.

My (light grey) brewery here was built by playing a location card. Allen (brown) had built the canal leading to Walsall, and blocked off my network. I could not expand my network here then build my factory using an industry card.

This was the second half, we had started building railroads. When the first half ended, canals were all removed, and Level 1 factories too. So the second half was almost like a reset. Most of my (light grey) factories were in the east, Allen's (brown) in the centre, and Han's (yellow) in the southwest.

To check whether a factory has been flipped, you look at its background colour. If the top half is black, it's flipped. If the background is fully in the player colour, it's not yet flipped.

I (light grey) built many railroads. I knew they were going to be worth many points.

The Thoughts

Brass is not a new game. I originally considered writing about Brass: Birmingham just as an expansion, explaining the differences from the original and skipping the basic rules. Brass is a relatively old game (2007!) in this age of too many new games. Many people may not have tried it. I like the game a lot, and would be happy if more people get to know it and play it. Thus the longer version.

Brass: Birmingham has many trademarks of Martin Wallace designs. It's not easy making money. You need to manage your finances carefully. The supply and demand work naturally, and it's a beauty to experience. This is meaningful user interaction.

Brass: Birmingham is a variant of Brass. The underlying engine is the same, but there are some notable differences. No more shipyards. You get potteries instead, which are similar but not exactly the same. There is now a need for beer to make sales. There are merchants limiting where you can sell. The map is of course different, but the spirit of the game is still the same. The artwork is quite different.

This is the original Brass, and the art style is very different. I prefer the old art because it is clearer and more practical. The new art is too dark. It is beautiful and stylish, but the old art is pretty good, and I prioritise practicality.

In the original Brass you stack all factories of the same type like this. There is no player board. You can only see the cost of the topmost factory. You can't see the cost of the others stacked below, and you can't see the income increase or the victory points which are printed on the back of the tiles. To see these details you need to pick up the tiles and examine them. In the new version all this information is displayed clearly on your player board, so this is an improvement.

Sunday 23 December 2018

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Monday 17 December 2018


Plays: 3Px1.

The Game

Minerva is a design from Japan, by Hisashi Hayashi, a prolific designer. His designs include Yokohama, Trains, Rolling Japan and String Railway. I had not played any of his designs, Minerva was my first time. Minerva was first published in 2015. I played the 2017 English edition, and the artwork is completely different, very much Westernised. Initially I didn't even know this was a design from Japan.

You are Roman governors sent out to found and develop new cities. Everyone builds and manages his own city, starting with a humble fountain. You buy building tiles from the centre of the table to add to your city. Some buildings are free, some cost resources. Some buildings will produce resources for you. Some improve your culture level. Some give one time benefits. Some score points at game end.

A game is played over six rounds. At the start of every round, some buildings are added to the pool at the centre. The number of buildings and the types of buildings are random. During your turn, you can construct a building, or you can trigger a production run. If you don't want to do either, or are unable to do either, you pass and exit the round. Once a player passes, remaining players must pay to perform actions. When the passing player's turn comes again, he earns $1. When you pass early, you put pressure on your opponents, and you may also earn some side income.

These at the centre are the buildings you can buy. Those which are not free have the resource costs at the top left of the tiles. At the top right of the photo you can see six rows of red tiles. These are glory tiles. At the end of every round, everybody compares glory tokens earned that round, and claims these glory tiles accordingly. This is one of three main ways of scoring. Those five buildings on the left are temples. They are the second may way of scoring points. They score points at game end based on various criteria. Whenever one is constructed, another is drawn from the deck to replenish the row.

The components are beautiful, especially the coins. The coins are quite small though. That on the far right is a slave. The rules call this an assistant, but I'm pretty sure he's a slave. At the end of every round you may spend money or glory tokens to buy one slave.

These are the slave prices. This table means if you have X number of slaves (regardless of used or unused), you pay Y amount for the next slave you buy. Slaves become more and more expensive, and you can buy at most five. Those icons at the bottom mean (1) any resource can be spent as $1, (2) if you want to build but are short on a particular resource, you may spend $3 in place of that resource.

The production run is a crucial part of the game. You start the game with just one measly grain. Once you spend it, you have no resources left. Your buildings don't automatically produce every turn or round. Instead you need to take the production action. There are two ways to do production. The first one is constructing a residential building. It's free, and everyone starts with 9 such buildings to be used for the whole game. When you construct a residential building, you trigger a production run in the same column or row it is in, starting from the building itself and going in one direction, until you reach an empty space or another residential building. All relevant buildings along this path produce resources.

In the photo above, the rightmost buildings of both rows are residential buildings. Let's look at the second row. The moment I played that residential building, I triggered the other buildings in that row, from right to left. My buildings produced three scrolls, which represent the art of writing. When scrolls are produced, I get to claim an art tile, which is the third main way of scoring.

Once both ends of a row or column have residential buildings, it is no longer possible to add more to trigger production. This brings us to the other production method - using slaves. You can place one slave into a residential building to use it again. Thus by using residential buildings and slaves, you can do production four times for a particular row or column.

The first temple scores 3VP per military building next to it, including diagonally. The fourth temple scores 2VP per stone resource at game end. The fifth temple scores 3VP per other temple in the same column or row.

So the three main ways of scoring are the temples (scored at game end), the glory tiles (glory earned every round), and the art tiles (first come first served awards subject to having enough culture in your city). Leftover resources and money do give some points. So do the player order tiles in the final round. After 6 rounds, highest scorer wins.

The Play

What I remember most about Minerva is how tight resources are. You have limited opportunities to produce, so you want to make the most of them. I tried to construct as many buildings as I could before I triggered production for a particular row or column, so that by the time I produced, I could produce more. It was a cycle of producing, then more or less using up all the resources produced, and then producing again. This defines the underlying tempo of the game. At the same time you are competing with your opponents for the glory tiles and the art tiles.

This game is a lot about timing. Let's look at the glory token competition at the end of every round. Do you do a production run early, which may give you fewer glory tokens? You may end up with too few to compete well, or you may not have enough to spare to buy a slave. Do it late, and someone else may have passed, making your actions more expensive, and possibly even unaffordable. The art tiles are first come first served, so there is always pressure to grab the art buildings early, to grab the art tiles early, even if it means you are being less efficient. The nature of the competition in this game is similar to that in Agricola - grab it before your opponent does.

In the early game I was so focused on my own city that I didn't pay any attention to Allen's or Han's cities. I had missed one important rule, and thought that production runs only went horizontally. I built my city row by row, unlike Allen's city above which had one row and one column. If you look closely at his row of buildings, both ends had residential buildings now, and both residential buildings had a slave each. This means he had done production for this row four times.

This was Han's city. At this point he had one residential building in each of the four directions of the compass.

This was my city. Due to the initial misunderstanding of the production run rule, I had built it in rows only. One thing unusual you will notice is the two adjacent residential buildings at the right end of the first row. The residential building on the left occupied a space which was previously occupied by another building. The residential building on the right was constructed first to trigger a production run. Then I used a special building to relocate one building to another part of the city, thus creating a space. Later, in this space I constructed the second residential building. The second residential building helped me trigger a production run for almost the whole row. It was just one building fewer - the one which was relocated.

My city at game end. I was quite the prolific writer, scoring all the scroll art tiles. I had only ever bought one slave, deployed to the residential building at East End. I used all nine of my residential buildings. You can count them.

Han and Allen optimising their last few moves.

The title bars of the buildings are colour coded for easy recognition. E.g. purple is for military buildings.

This temple gave me many points. 3VP per adjacent green building meant a 21VP bonus!

The Thoughts

Minerva is a game of tight resource management and meticulous production planning. It is a game with careful timing. Even though you'll be doing your own thing at your own cities, you do still compete in many aspects - in grabbing buildings, in racing to claim art tiles, and in the arms race to get glory tiles. The order buildings appear, and the number of buildings coming up each round, are randomised. This can greatly affect each game. E.g. some games are richer in some resources but not others. This creates variability from game to game.