Let’s Play Pollyanna

March Gaming – Scots, Trains and the Reformation

Just had a mammoth weekend of gaming. I am not going to give details of everything I played but I will pick out a few highlights. These are three major games which I played for the first time.

I started on Friday with Hammer Of The Scots. This is a block wargame from Columbia Games. Now I am not a big wargame fan, but I had read the rules for this game quite extensively and found them simple enough to internalise (which is one of my big issues with more complex wargames). So I decided to buy the game and give it a go with a friend over the other side of town and have a few beers (I also took along a large bottle of Chimay Blue to help things along) as an alternative to Comic Relief. I am not going to go into the rules here but you can look them up online if you want. I played England and had a number of lucky card draws which saw Edward sailing up the coast into north Scotland on a couple of years. The second time it happened I had the cards and forces to coordinate a pincer movement from the south and the Scottish rebellion crumbled a few years in the the 14th century.

On Saturday we had our monthly games session. This month it was short games so I took along another fairly recent acquisition – Chicago Express. This played extremely well and was so interesting it got another play at the pub on Tuesday. I still think most of the group play too nice and try and drive the lines towards Chicago too much. Both were five player games and I would like to see how it plays with three or four just to see if there is any more skullduggery involved.

And finally on Sunday I played Here I Stand. For those that aren’t aware of the game it is a card driven conflict game for six players. It is set at the time of the Reformation in Europe. It isn’t an out and out wargame to my mind – a lot of the ways to gather up VPs don’t involve wars and battles. It does however have a long rulebook, over 40 pages, which isn’t always organised very well. However each player has different goals and different things they can do. The Ottomans are basically trying to invade Europe and gain territory. The Protestants are trying to translate the Bible and turn various countries Protestant. The Pope is trying to burn the Protestant heretics, building St Peters and prevent them from exerting religious control. The French (who I played) get points for building chateuax. The English get points for producing a heir – although they also got points in our game by invading La Belle France. Finally the Hapsburgs start the game with masses of territory and reasonably mobile forces – but everyone is nibbling away at their territory. The French, English and Hapsburgs can also pay for voyages of exploration and settlement in the New World which also gets rewards. The play is fairly straightforward although there are a lot of cases with special rules. I have owned the game for some time and now that I have played it I have found it a long and absorbing game and can’t wait to play again. Fortunately everyone who was involved also want to give it another go – however some don’t want to play the same power again.

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March 18, 2009 Posted by | Games | Leave a comment

Welcome To The Future – Future Noir and FFG’s Android

We played our first game of the Fantasy Flight Games game Android this weekend. By some strange quirk of fate I ended up winning despite not finding the evidence to prove my guilty suspect guilty. Me winning a new game is quite unusual so I will probably have to put up with a month long losing streak to compensate.

On to the game itself, as it was being set up I was amazed at the number of bags of bits and cards that were produced from a rather modestly sized box. We all knew it was likely to be a meaty game and so it proved. The game seemed to take an awfully long time to play – in fact we ended up playing exactly half the game which took about 4 hours. The whole game is supposed to be playable in 3 hours. We never read out the flavour text of the light cards (or most of the few dark cards) that got played – I think that if we had done so it would have improved the atmosphere of the game but would also have made the game take longer.

We are currently talking amongst the group about why it took so long – most people seem to be going with the group playing too nicely (not playing enough dark cards) which also had the result that the conspiracy puzzle was finished very quickly and quite a lot of evidence was amassed for some of the suspects.

I like the game quite a lot, and for me the downtime was just about manageable but would be better if it was about half the time. That would give a run-time of about 4 hours for a full game with 5 players. So I would definitely like to play it again (probably as a four-player game) but it is one of those experience games (a bit like Arkham Horror) which will probably only get played a couple of times a year.

March 8, 2009 Posted by | Games | Leave a comment

Sufficiently Advanced?

A month or so ago the role-playing game Sufficiently Advanced moved to a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial licence which means that it is free to download (although printed versions are still available through lulu).

The game itself is set sometime far into the future. The players are agents of the Patent Office, and inter-governmental organisation run by transcendent AIs. Apparently the players work to keep the peace between the many human civilizations spread across our universe and stop the development and use of dangerous technology.

If you want to download the rules you can do so from here.

February 27, 2009 Posted by | Games, Science Fiction | Leave a comment

Die Macher

Last Saturday was a trip up North to play a game of Die Macher.  It was a pretty poor showing from me (the Green Party) I came in fourth in a five player game, although I wasn’t too far behind third place.  Although it is a long game, a very long game some would say as we played for over six hours, time just flies by when you play.   I find it a far more involving game than some of the other big games, like Civilisation, that I play from time to time.

Anyway we played a few variants which I hadn’t played before and which I think we all agreed made the game even better than the rules included in the box. These were sourced from Brian Bankler’s blog. We did not play placing more than 4 workers, the cabinet workhorse, or the opinion poll variants.

Thinking about the game we still ended up with loads of money on the last round and that always feels a little unsatisfactory so I might suggest the paying for more than 4 workers, and allow purchase of multiple opinion polls (but only publish one) as this should suck some money out of the players’ grasp.

February 26, 2009 Posted by | Games | Leave a comment