Tuesday 30 March 2021

children games: Little Bird Big Hunger, To Market, Act Fast

I recently tried a number of children games designed for young children aged 3 to 5. It was an eye-opening experience for me. I normally don't seek out games for young children, so I am unfamiliar with this genre. These game won't be interesting to adults. In fact I would say they won't work at all. However when I look at them from the perspective of a 3-year-old (as best I can) or from that of a teacher of a 3-year-old, I realise they are cleverly designed and deliberately crafted to teach things to children which we adults take for granted. 

One game I tried was Orchard. This is a classic which I have never heard of. It is an evergreen title and has celebrated its 35th anniversary. It even has a number of spin-offs. Yet I am unaware of it because I rarely look into games for young children. 

Little Bird, Big Hunger is a game about baby birds growing up. You need to feed them specific types of food so that they can grow up to become full-fledged adult birds. This is probably a good game to convince kids to eat their vegetables.

During game setup, everyone takes one set of four tiles. There are flowers of different colours on the back of the tiles, so that you can tell which tile belongs to which set. 

Players take turns rolling a die. The die faces are various food types. Regardless of who rolls the die, everyone gets to collect the food type as indicated by the die, if his bird needs that food type. In the photo above, the die face shows two food types. In this case you pick one from the two options. The food types are flies, worms, seeds and berries. 

The face-down tile indicates the food types you need for your bird to grow to the next stage, which is on the front of the tile. Initially the baby bird only needs two food types. In the second stage (photo above) it needs three. Eventually in the third stage it will need four. At this point in the game, the little bird had eaten seeds, and it still needed worms and berries. A mechanism similar to The Settlers of Catan is used here. Regardless of who is rolling the die, every player has the chance to collect something. This keeps everyone engaged. It's a clever concept. 

We did a full 4-player game. Now all the birds were in Stage 2, i.e. they all needed three types of food. 

Worms! Yummy! 

This bird is at Stage 3 now, and has eaten flies. It still needs two servings of seeds and one serving of berries. 

The first player to have his bird fully grown-up wins the game. The fully grown bird flies into the sky (photo above). Others may still continue to play until all the birds are grown up. One thing I didn't notice until after our game was that every picture of the birds featured a bee. That's something the teacher can point out to the children, or ask the children about. Children may notice these details more often than adults. 

This game is To Market. The game box is turned into four shops. Each shop accepts only one particular form of payment. The yellow shop only accepts thick coins. It has a big coin slot. The blue shop accepts credit cards only. It has a long thin slot. In real life, when you pay using a credit card, the shop does not keep your card. In this game, this aspect is simplified. Your card will be confiscated by the shopkeeper. Don't try to explain this to your child. 

Every player starts the game with three coins and a credit card. You also get a notepad - your shopping list. Your goal is to buy all four items on your list. On your turn you roll a die to see which shop you get to visit. You pay using the required payment method, and then you claim the tile representing the item on your shopping list. This is mostly a luck-based game, but a small decision element is injected. Two of the die faces are wild. You get to choose which shop you want to visit. For adults, this is a no-brainer. You simply visit any shop which you have not yet visited. However for a 3-year old, this is a meaningful decision that teaches logic. 

This is Act Fast, by Wolfgang Kramer (Take 6, The Princes of Florence, Tikal, El Grande). This is a speed game in which you compete with your opponents to claim tiles from the table. Every round, a player rolls the four dice, and they will tell you which tiles are up for grabs. However, if a fire is rolled, you are not allowed to claim any tile. If you accidentally claim any, you are penalised. You must return one previously claimed tile. In fact, if you make any mistake, you will be penalised in the same way. If the four dice all show icons of tiles which have already been claimed, you race to claim the rainbow tile instead. The player who wins it immediately swaps it for one other unclaimed tile. When the only tile remaining is the rainbow tile, the game ends. The player with the most tiles wins. 

This is a very simple game, but I was completely surprised by how well it works for adults. This is an engaging and exciting game. Even adults will easily make mistakes, especially when the fire is rolled. Adults will claim tiles by mistake, because everyone is tense and keen to grab tiles as quickly as possible. In the early game there are many tiles on the table, so finding the right one is not easy. In the late game, although there are fewer tiles, the twist introduced by the rainbow makes things tricky. You have to be very careful in making sure none of the icons rolled can be found before grabbing the rainbow tile. If you make a mistake, you will be penalised. 

As a party game, this is a riot! I think this would be a wonderful drinking game. Just don't do it when kids are around. 

Friday 26 March 2021

boardgaming in photos: Space Hulk 4th Edition

The first edition of Space Hulk came out in 1989. That's more than 30 years ago! Yet the game does not feel aged and is in no way inferior to more current games. I have played Space Hulk before, and I think it was the first edition. The recent version I played was Allen's fourth edition. I couldn't tell the difference other than the game components. They did not change the game rules much. Allen paid a specialist to paint his set for him, and the guy did an amazing job. So we knew we must get it played! 

We played Scenario 1. The space marine team had five members, and they started at the top left. They had to get to the control room at the top right and blow it up. By doing so they would complete their mission and win the game. The aliens, known as the genestealers, had to stop the space marines. 

The purple arrows in the photo above were the entry points for the genestealers. The green discs were blips, i.e. what the marines detected using their sensors. Each blip represented 1 to 3 genestealers. The exact number was known by the genestealer player but not by the marine player yet. At this point the marines were moving towards the control room, and left one marine hanging back to watch out for genestealers threatening to attack from behind. 

Allen played the marines and I played the genestealers. I've always felt Space Hulk was a game about the marines, like the classic movie Alien. The story was about the marines on heroic missions, and the genestealers were a part of the missions controlled by a human player to make the missions come alive. In our game, Allen's marines ran into my genestealers near the T-junction in the middle. His marines entered that short stretch of corridor, while my genestealers hid around the corner along the longer corridor. This was bad for him. When my genestealers pounced from behind the corner, they were almost upon the marines, and the marines did not have much time to shoot. My genestealers descended upon the marines swiftly, and promptly killed a few, including the one with the flamethrower. The flamethrower marine was the critical guy in this scenario because the marines needed the flamethrower for destroying the control room. Once the flamethrower marine was killed, it was game over for Allen. It was a rather abrupt end, which surprised both Allen and I. Genestealers were much stronger in hand-to-hand combat, and marines should always try to shoot them down from a distance and not allow them to get close. 

The genestealers look pretty scary. 

Since our game was much shorter than expected, we decided to play the same scenario again, this time swapping roles. I did the same thing as Allen. I assigned one marine to watch my back, since the genestealers threatened from behind. 

This green marker was an overwatch marker. When a marine was put on overwatch, it would automatically fire at anything which moved during the genestealer player's turn. Every time a genestealer moved within sight of the marine, it would get shot at. Overwatch was crucial for the marines because they had fewer action points than the genestealers and would not be able to shoot down the waves of genestealers using just their regular action points. 

Despite having assigned one marine to guard my back, Allen's genestealers manage to get to him, and promptly killed him. I had to get another marine to turn around to deal with the genestealers behind my team, but he too fell quickly to the genestealers. 

Now I had only three marines left. The captain and the flamethrower marine were in front and they were now near the control room. The flamethrower marine had now lit up two sections, killing all genestealers within those sections and also preventing those beyond those sections from moving forward. The flamethrower marine had been using the flamethrower to kill many approaching genestealers. By now he only had one shot left, and that had to be reserved for destroying the control room. The corridor to the control room on the left was occupied by two genestealers, and the captain was now standing between them and the flamethrower marine. 

The third marine was facing backwards shooting at the approaching genestealers. Unfortunately he wasn't able to shoot all of them down. These genestealers didn't bother attacking him. They were aiming for the flamethrower marine. So they slid off into the side corridor after surviving the gunfire. 

The two genestealers ignored the marine who had fired at them and went after the flamethrower marine.

I needed to use my captain to defeat both the genestealers blocking my way to the control room. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to complete my mission before being overwhelmed by the horde of genestealers. The captain was better at close combat compared to regular marines, but genestealers were still stronger. The captain only rolled one die, and added 1 to the result. Genestealers rolled three dice in close combat. When my captain attacked the genestealer immediately in front of him, he rolled a 3! I thought this was it, game over. To my surprise, Allen's die roll was even worse! 

This was the view from the direction of the control room. The captain killed the first genestealer blocking the way, but there was a second one still in the way. To my delight, the captain managed to kill it too. This captain was certainly the MVP of the day! With these two genestealers out of the way, I now needed to complete my mission before the other genestealers rushed my flamethrower marine. I carefully counted the action points I needed. The captain would move forward to the control room door, open it, and take one more step forward past the doorway. By that point, I would run out of action points - both the captain's action points and the team's shared action points (called command points). I needed the captain to move one more step aside, so that he wouldn't block the line of sight of the flamethrower marine. I needed the flamethrower marine to be able to look inside the control room, in order to take aim, and then destroy it. Aaarrgghh! Just one action point short! What a shame it was, after those two hard won fights. 

Then Allen pointed out to me that the captain didn't really have to step aside. The place he was standing was part of the control room. So if the flamethrower shot at the captain, the captain would burn, and that would light up the control room. What a gruesome way for our MVP captain to die - at the hands of his own comrade. 

A dramatic way to die!

"Chief, it's been an honour!" exclaimed the flamethrower marine, before being overrun by genestealers. The marines knew this was going to be a suicide mission. Even if they managed to destroy the control room, there were so many genestealers they knew it was impossible to make it back out alive. 

The marines complete the mission right at the last moment. They would not have lasted one more round. This was a really close game. 

After Space Hulk, Allen and I needed to play some Patchwork to calm our nerves.  This is a small box game but it takes up a lot of space at the table, because all those pieces need to be arranged in a circle. 

Friday 19 March 2021


The Game

Cities by Martyn F was published in 2008. I have heard of it before but have never tried it. I recently borrowed it from Allen to give it a go. After trying it, it gave me a feeling that I had played a game from a very different era. 2008 wasn't that long ago. It's just that we don't get many games of this style in recent years. 

Cities is a tile-laying game, like Carcassonne. However everyone builds his own city, and not a shared city. Also the edges of tiles do not need to match up. The scoring rules incentivise you to lay your tile in specific manners, but there are no hard rules limiting your placement. The only restriction is your city is a 4x4 grid and you cannot place tiles beyond this 4x4 limit. 

Everyone has an identical set of 24 tiles, and each tile is numbered. You also have 7 tourist pawns. When a game starts, pick a leader, who will randomly remove 8 of his tiles from the game. He then shuffles his tiles and stacks them face-down. He draws three of them, and reads aloud their numbers to everyone else. The other players then find those same tiles from their own sets. Everyone now starts his own city by placing his three tiles, with only the corners touching, like in the photo above. No peeking at others. 

Every round, the leader draws a tile, then reads the number out to everyone else, so that everyone will be adding the exact same tile to his city. Although everyone uses the same tiles, there are may ways to place tiles, and players will usually end up with very different cities. 

After placing a tile, you may decide to take a tourist action. You may place a tourist in one of the four sections of the newly-placed tile. If you have no more tourists in your supply, you may take an on-board tourist and place him. The other tourist action you can take is to have one on-board tourist move one step. That is slow, but he can walk in any direction and need not go to the newly-placed tile. The only rule is he may not jump into a lake. 

There are four terrain types. Tourist attractions are yellow. Parks are green. Terraces are orange. Lakes are blue. Tourists on attractions, parks and terraces will score points for you, in different ways. The rulebook comes with three sets of scoring rules, from beginner to advanced level. I will explain just the advanced rules. Experienced players should start with the intermediate scoring rules, and once you have warmed up, go for the advanced rules. 

If you have a tourist at an attraction (yellow), the tourist will score based on the size of the attraction. E.g. the tourist at the bottom right scores 5pts because the attraction size is five squares. In addition to that, each adjacent terrace scores 1pt. This attraction has 2 attached terraces, so that's an additional 2pts. In total this attraction gives 7pts. 

The parks (green) score in the same manner. Let's take the tourist at the top right as an example. He scores 4pts for the size of the park, and also 4pts for the number of adjacent terraces. Total 8pts. 

If any tourist is at a terrace, he scores points based on his line of sight. This works differently from the attractions and parks. The tourist looks in all four directions, and scores points for every square of lakes and parks he sees. Let's take the tourist at the top left as an example. To the north he sees 1 lake. To the east 1 lake too. To the sound 1 lake and 1 park. Total 4pts. His line of sight is blocked by other terraces and attractions. 

Once everyone completes his city, the game ends, and the highest scorer wins. This is a game where you do not interfere with your opponents at all. This is literally multiplayer solitaire. You are just competing to see who has done the best placement. 

The Play

I started with the intermediate rules, and immediately moved on to the advanced rules after one game. I find it clever and necessary that the initial three tiles only touch in the corners. This creates challenge, without which the early game may be too easy, and players may lay tiles in too similar a fashion. During play, I don't look at others' cities and only focus on my own. There's certainly enough to keep me occupied. Anyhow, it's not like I can do anything about others' cities, other than annoying them with my suggestions. 

There are only 13 rounds in a game. After you place your initial three tiles, there are only 13 more tiles to be placed to fill up the 4x4 grid. You have 7 tourists, which means about half the time you will be placing a new tourist to help you score points. The game is all about creating situations conducive to your tourists scoring points. Most of the time you will be placing a tourist on the new tile. I rarely get my tourists to walk, but walking is a powerful option because sometimes you get to build multiple large regions or lucrative terraces. You are limited to placing one tourist on your new tile. So sometimes you have to ask a tourist to walk to a better spot, or drop one a few steps away from an ideal spot and ask him to walk. 

One thing I do when playing is I set a benchmark for scoring. It is just an arbitrary number at first, like 5pts or 6pts, but it helps me judge whether it's worthwhile to place a tourist on my latest tile. Naturally this benchmark will differ depending on which scoring rules you use. You need to set a much higher benchmark when using the advanced rules. 

This was one of Michelle's completed cities. After we completed our cities, we realised she had misunderstood the rule for terraces (orange). Terraces don't score based on region size. You can see she had created a few large terrace regions above. We restarted our game. Thankfully it's a short game. 

That attraction (yellow) region at the top right scores many points. The attraction itself is size 7, thus 7pts. There are 7 adjacent terraces, which means 7pts more. Total 14pts. The tourist sipping tea at the terrace (orange) on the top left is doing well too. To the north, 1pt (lake); to the east, 1pt (lake); to the south, 4pts (lake, park, park, lake). 6pts is decent. 

The attraction (yellow) at the top right is a lucrative one (11pts!). It is not big, just size 4, but it has many adjacent terraces (orange). Not surprising I guess. Sometimes the tourists traps are more profitable than the actual attraction. There is a decent tourist spot at the bottom right. Unfortunately I couldn't move that tourist into the attraction region in time. The tourist at the terrace scores 3pts. If he had walked just one step and entered the attraction region, he would score 5pts. 

The Thoughts

Cities is a game with an adjustable difficulty level. The basic level is good for casual gamers and new gamers. When you use the more advanced rules, there will be enough challenge for experienced gamers. There is no aggression. It will work as a family game. It feels a little like Kingdomino. It is also a little like Bingo. There is little player interaction, so if you need player interaction, this won't meet your needs. It is a light game. For old gamers, it will be mostly a filler. 

Friday 12 March 2021



The Game

Yamslam is an easy-to-learn and smooth-playing dice game which works well with non-gamers and casual gamers. The core mechanism is commonly seen in many other dice games. You get to roll dice three times on your turn, and after every roll, you may set aside and lock some of the dice. After the third roll, you score points based on the combination you achieve. 

You have 5 dice in Yamslam, and they are just simple dice with faces numbered 1 to 6. Odd numbers are black and even numbers are red. There are 7 types of poker chips in the game, corresponding to 7 different combination you can make with your dice. The point values of the chips range from 5 to 50. 

On your turn you get three chances to roll dice, and you try to make a combination which will earn you a chip. Every chip value is associated with a particular dice combination. There are only four chips in each value. Once all four are claimed, you won't be able to get any more even if you make that particular combination. In the photo above you can see a Large Straight, one of the highest valued combinations, worth 50pts. The highest combination in the game is Five of a Kind. If you manage that, you may pick any chip in the game.  

If the dice are passed around the table one full round without anyone claiming any chip, you will remove one highest unclaimed chip from the game. Once all the chips have been claimed by players or removed this way, the game ends. Whoever scores the most wins. 

These are all the combinations you can make in the game. 

In addition to the point values on the chips, there are a few other ways to score bonus points. At the end of the game, if you have 6 or 7 different types of chips, you score a bonus. If you monopolise all four chips of a particular value, you also score a bonus. If you happen to be the one to claim the last remaining chip in the game, you score a bonus too. The last remaining chip is not easy to claim because by then there is only one valid combination. 

When new to the game, it is difficult to remember which combinations score how many points. Thankfully the combination names are written on the chips, which makes things much easier. When you win chips, you should organise them neatly like in this photo above, so that it's easy for others to see what you have. This is important. 

The Play

Yamslam uses a commonly used mechanic, so people who have played similar dice games will feel right at home with it. It does take a short while to be familiar with the the combinations, but they are mostly straight-forward. In the early game, most people will be greedy and try to go for the high-value combinations, especially the Large Straight. Since all 7 combinations are still available, odds are good that you'll be able to make at least one of them. If you fail to make a high-value combination, you may be able to fall back to a similar but lower-valued combination. If the Large Straight doesn't work out, maybe you can still get the Small Straight (four numbers in sequence). If the the Full House doesn't work out, maybe you can still make Three of a Kind or Two Pairs. 

Things get more exciting when some of the chips run out. There will be fewer and fewer combinations available, and the risk of failing escalates. 

The bonus points are well designed. They make you want to both go wide and go deep. You want to collect many different types of chips, and you may also want to monopolise a particular chip type if the opportunity arises. It's not just about going for the highest valued chip on the table. 

Decision-making is fast. From your first roll, you can mostly decide which one or two combinations you want to attempt. It's not a difficult decision. Sometimes the best decision is obvious. However making the logically best decision does not always give you the expected results. This is still a dice game with a luck element. What the game does well is it makes you feel you have made clever decisions. When you win, you feel it is because of your smart choices. When you lose, it's just bad luck. This is what good user experience is. 

The combinations are shown on the sides of the game box. 

The recesses are numbered so you know exactly where to store which chips. 

I took this photo above to discuss how well the game components are designed. The game box is metal and has an unusual shape. These make the game stand out. The shape is not just any random shape. It fits the purpose of storing the 7 stacks of chips. When you pack up the game, the chips should all go back to their designated recesses. By doing this, the next time you play you don't need to set up at all. The game is already set up. This is brilliant! The game box has a felt bottom, and serves as a dice tray. You don't have to worry about dice rolling off the table. This photo above likely triggers all serious gamers. No proper gamer will store the game away in this messy state. It was downright painful for me to stage this photo. If you do this with this game, sorry we can't be friends anymore. 

The Thoughts

Yamslam is a simple game with wide appeal. It is easy to teach and engaging to play. It works well with non-gamers and you can bring it out at (non-boardgame) parties and gatherings. You can even use it to teach maths - high school probability. Despite being a light game, there are many design elements in Yamslam that I admire. A complex game doesn't mean it is a good game. Sometimes seasoned gamers equate complexity with quality. Conciseness and compelling experiences are more important than complexity for the sake of itself. 

Friday 5 March 2021

the victory points mechanism

When I try to summarise a game within a few sentences, often I find myself saying, "... and whoever has the most points wins the game." So many games use this victory points concept that we don't really think about it anymore. When we sit down to play a new game, we just ask, "so what do I do to score points?" Sometimes it is difficult for me to get excited about a new game, when I see it as yet another game where you try to score the most points. 

The victory points mechanism is a convenient one. In complex games where the designer wants to reward you for various different good actions, giving you victory points is a simple solution. Otherwise it might be impossible to unify the many different actions or aspects of a complex game. Your success is measured in one consistent currency. Bad actions get no points, or even cause  points to be deducted. Good actions earn points. It is a little like how society generally defines success by wealth. Money is victory points. Straight-forward, quantifiable, unambiguous. I'm not making any political, sociological or philosophical statement. I certainly do not believe our goal in life is to chase money. It's just that money is easier to measure than happiness. Maybe. 


Many of my favourite games use victory points. Through the Ages, Race for the Galaxy, Food Chain Magnate, Carcassonne. Many popular games use it - Terraforming Mars, Wingspan, Terra Mystica, 7 Wonders. Victory points is not a problem per se. I just wish there were more games which use other ways to determine victory. There are many such games. Many war games determine victory based on area control, e.g. capturing the opponent capital in Axis & Allies. In Chess you win by cornering the opponent king. In Mahjong, there are many different game-winning combinations you can aim for. There are race games where you try to cross the finish line first. In head-to-head battle games you try to reduce your opponent's health to zero. It's arguable that this is just another way to present victory points. Your victory points is how far you have reduced your opponent's health. 

Through the Ages

Cooperative games tend to use victory points less, and are objective-based instead. In Pandemic you need to cure four diseases. In Samurai Spirit you need to protect the village. You don't need to compare whether one player is doing better than another, so you don't need victory points to measure the success level of any player. 

Samurai Spirit

Games which use victory points apply different granularity. I find that those with fine granularity feel more distant from their theme. Building a monument gives you 20VP. Leftover money is 1VP per $3. First player to pass in a round gets 3VP. The VP starts to feel more and more like just a number you manipulate. In a game with coarse granularity, you think about the VP less and more about the action you need to perform. In The Settlers of Catan you only need 10VP to win. The contest for that 2VP for longest road feels more real than just one out of ten ways to score points in other point salad games. To take it to an extreme, in Chess you need to score 1VP to win, and trapping your opponent king is the only way to score 1VP. 

The Settlers of Catan

The number of different ways to score points affects how real the victory points feel. In Russian Railroads there are many ways to score points, even for not being start player of a round. Victory points become just an abstract measure of success. Many different accomplishments in the game give you victory points. It is almost like whatever you do, you'll be praised. You just try to get praised more efficiently than others. If a game only has a handful of ways or just one way to score points, the corresponding actions will feel more real. In Power Grid, your victory points is the number of cities you can power. There is much you need to do to power cities - buy resources, buy power plants, build your network. You think in terms of powering cities instead of scoring victory points. 

Russian Railroads

Power Grid

I am tinkering with game design now, and one thing I try to do is to not use victory points. I want people to slay dragons, and not increase the dragon kill count by 1. Victory points is a useful tool. It's just that sometimes it takes away some immersion. We already have so many victory point games. Let's explore more different and fun ideas. 

Wednesday 3 March 2021

boardgaming in photos: Pandemic Bio-Terrorist, Yokohama


14 Feb 2021. My copy of Pandemic is the first version, so it's not as pretty as the current version in print. One of the modules in the On The Brink expansion is the Bio-terrorist challenge. I have played it twice before. This time I brought it out again mainly to satisfy younger daughter Chen Rui's thirst to play the evil mastermind, carried over from our Betrayal Legacy campaign. She did not play as much traitor as she had hoped, and even in those games when she did play traitor, they were not satisfying enough. It sounds like I'm raising a supervillain here. Chen Rui played the terrorist, and I seated her alone at the north side of the map, while Michelle, Shee Yun and I sat together along the south side of the map. 

At game setup, the black disease was rather concentrated. It was in India and the Middle East. We knew this would be a high risk area. 

When drawing roles to play, I shuffled all five basic roles with all expansion roles and drew three at random. All three turned out to be expansion roles, thus these three unfamiliar colours at the CDC in Atlanta. 

The Bio-terrorist pawn is black. At game setup, Chen Rui had two infection cards in hand. The terrorist draws infection cards instead of player cards. Infection cards can be used for remotely infecting a city and also for traveling around the map. 

The location of the terrorist is normally kept secret, and is recorded on a sheet. The location of the terrorist is only revealed when a normal player happens to be at the same location. The normal player may spend one action to capture the terrorist. Mainly this forces the terrorist to discard all her hand cards. A captured terrorist can easily escape. She only needs to draw cards, then play a card to escape to the city depicted, after which she can continue to wreak havoc. 

The good guys need to find cures for all four diseases, just like in the base game. The terrorist spreads a fifth disease. The good guys need to either find a cure for it too, or fully treat it, leaving no cube on the board. The Bio-terrorist variant is certainly harder than the base game and not just different, since there is now an additional disease to contend with, which is controlled by a malicious player. 

The terrorist has more turns than the players. She takes a turn after every normal player turn. However the terrorist only performs 3 actions on her turn, compared to the 4 actions of normal players. Also one of the terrorist's action is reserved for movement only. In the photo above, the terrorist (black) is on the board because she happens to be at the same location as the blue player. So she is exposed. She has been spreading the purple disease in Karachi, and it is now on the brink of an outbreak (3 cubes). The good guys must treat some purple disease to prevent the outbreak. 

The purple disease situation in the India and Middle East area is temporarily defused, but the black disease is spinning out of control now. The terrorist has gone to Paris and now Paris is on the verge of a purple outbreak. This is a major headache for the good guys. 

The cure for the purple disease has been developed. Near the bottom of the map, there is a purple vial placed over the purple disease icon now. To find the cure for the purple disease, you can use five cards of any colour, but one of the cards must depict a city which currently has a purple cube. If the terrorist has spread the purple disease far and wide, it may be easier for the good guys to find a cure. 

A purple outbreak has now occurred in Paris, and there is only one purple cube left (see petri dish on the left), which means the good guys are near losing by running out of purple cubes. There are only 12 purple cubes in the game. When a purple outbreak happens, the good guys will be forced into a bad situation and will not have much breathing space. The terrorist can keep threatening to use up all the purple cubes, and the good guys have no choice but to keep treating the purple disease. This means they are being forced into a reactive mode and they do not have much flexibility. They will have less time for handling the other four diseases. 

Eventually it was the black disease which caused us good guys to lose the game. We had a chain reaction of outbreaks, and we ran out of black cubes. 

13 Feb 2021. Han, Allen and I met up (online) to play Yokohama again. This time the board setup was very  different from our first game. The production locations were dispersed. The silk farm was at the top right, which made it hard to get to. The employment agency was at the top left, the other harder-to-reach location. This meant it was more costly (action-wise) to recruit assistants and to buy buildings. 

I (green) managed to be first to complete two of the achievements (top left). The bonus for being first isn't really that big, just 2 Victory Points. Being able to complete achievements is helpful. The points are decent. The first achievement required having 5 copper in hand. I noticed an opportunity and completed this achievement quite early. All of us already started with 1 copper. At the copper mine, if I was able to place 4 Power, I would gain 2 copper. Placing 4 Power also allowed me to build a shop, and one of the shop slots gave exactly 2 copper! This was just perfect! I had to rush for this before the others noticed. 

This game I used the same general strategy as before - fulfil as many orders as possible. I (green) completed the most number of orders. However I didn't have as many techs as the others. Three of my orders gave me imported goods. At one point I had 4 imported goods, and I ran to the Customs House to trade them in for 22VP. Being able to claim that most lucrative slot was a huge boost for me. 

Allen (red) and Han (blue) were more aggressive in constructing buildings. Both of them had trading houses (large buildings) - 3rd row 2nd location (blue), and 3rd row 3rd location (red). 

The third achievement required building presence in four commercial locations, which was not easy. Allen (red) managed that and scored 10VP for it. 

I still kept to the more conservative strategy this game. I should explore something different next time.