This week has been a very game filled one for me. So let’s get down to business!
Sunday had me sitting down to a two player game of Blood Bowl: Team Manager. The card based reimagining of one of my favourite Games Workshop properties. I really enjoy Team Manager it has that right mix of randomness and tactical play that I like about Blood Bowl. It also does a really good job of translating the key mechanics, abilities and Star Players of the full game into card form. It plays out as a representation of a whole season of a league so you also see your team and staff improve over the length of the game. Something that in proper Blood Bowl takes multiple games. I’ve never played it with two players before and found the quicker change of pace refreshing. When playing with a full five people the game can drag on a bit but on Sunday we were done in under 45mins and had a good time in the process.
Monday saw my copy of the Core Set for A Game of Thrones The Card Game Second Edition (try saying that ten times fast!) finally arrive. I devoured the Learn to Play manual on my commute home and after a quick dinner I dragged my wife into playing the tutorial game. I’ll give my full impressions of the game another time but so far I’m really liking it. There is a good variety of cards included in the Core Set and I am eager to get involved in the competitive play scene for the game in London to see how far down the rabbit hole goes. Kim however didn’t get on with our first game, she found it a bit overly complex and long winded. But I am hoping that if I can get her to try it a couple more times she’ll learn the flow and what the majority of the keywords do and we’ll have a good game that we can play against each other. I am also hoping to rope in a few people for a Melee game soon too.
Wednesday brought with it the busiest meet up we have had for my little group in Bishop’s Stortford. Kim and me got there a bit early and played a quick two player game of Splendor. Were interestingly this time due to the cards that came meant that the more valuable cards become impossible to get. I ended up winning by gathering cards that gave points from the second row. It took away that sense of progression I like so much with your usual game of Splendor. This is the first time things have turned out this way when playing so I am hoping that this will be a rare occurrence.
As people arrived and we waited for the stragglers we played a few rounds of Pick-A-Pig/Pick-A-Dog. A game of speed and good pattern recognition. It is very silly but also enjoyable. Everyone is madly grabbing cards from the table and hoping that they aren’t making any mistakes. You have to weigh up the need to have lots of cards while making sure each card only has one change or is identical to the previous one you picked up. It was quick, got everyone laughing and helped everyone perk up for an evening of gaming. So it served its purpose as an opener well.
After we had finished picking pigs and dogs we split into two groups. One to play Bruges and a bit more Splendor. The other to play Cosmic Encounter and [Redacted]. I was in the second group which meant I finally got to play my copy of Cosmic after owning it for over a month! YAY!
Cosmic Encounter did not disappoint. We played with the recommended basic rules which involved removing the Flare Cards from the game and only playing with the green bordered alien race cards. The game was still awesome even with these limitations. The base rules a fairly easy to grasp with us only having to pause play a couple of times to clarify things. Then the alien cards come in and bend or break the established rules. So you end up with this nice balancing act of having to remember what everyone’s special ability is while also having to do a mixture of negotiating with and attacking each other to gain the five colonies needed to win. In the end it was a three way shared victory which while not perfect still felt good. (I’m more of a fan of complete solo victories in games like this) The powers that came up involved me effectively having two hands of cards, someone that could make the winner of an encounter the loser and the loser the winner, another player being able to grab used artefact cards from the table with the other two players being able to choose what cards to give players and what they need to give up to the warp.
It was great and I cannot wait to play it again, perhaps adding on some more complexity.
[Redacted] on the other hand was a mixed bag. I enjoyed it…eventually but the time it took to get to that time was long. Very long. It is a game of many components and tiny icons on the board that each do a different thing. The aim is to get into the building, grab some enemy Intel, call in a helicopter and then get out. There are social deduction elements as you try to work out who are your friends and enemies. You can move about the board freely as long as you can reach your destination in one continuous movement. If you encounter another player on the way you have to have a confrontation with them. This involves either choosing to do nothing, being friendly then sharing info/items or going straight in for the kill and attacking them with one of three weapon cards in a Rock, Paper, Scissors style mini game. To do nothing or be friendly both players need to play the corresponding card.
In the early stages of the game there was a nice sense of tension as nobody know who anybody else was. Later on when it became obvious who was on which side that tension dropped and things started to turn into a mad dash. Then just as things started to get interesting I was arrested (in the game!) and eliminated from the game. Closely followed by my opposite number on the other side a few rounds later. So we ended things without any helicopters being called or giant explosions occurring which felt sort of anticlimactic.
I think I would enjoy it more if I play it again. It is just a shame that the setup time was a bit on the long side. Also the game’s initial complexity was a bit overwhelming.
That’s it for this week. I doubt I’ll manage to squeeze as many games in in the coming week but you never know!