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Friday, 20 April 2012

Board Game Night!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Share it Please

Not exactly stellar photography, I know...

Yesterday we had another board game night and managed to work our way through three games; Ad Astra, The Name of the Rose and finally Space Alert. As I mentioned in my High Frontier session report we have been playing quite a lot of wargames this past month or months so I've been in the mood for something different. We hadn't played Ad Astra in quite a while even though we've always enjoyed it, so it was fun seeing it hit the table again. Anders also used his Hotz space mat to enhance the visuals. Nice touch!


Ad Astra

When I try to quickly explain Ad Astra to new players I usually say that it's kind of like Settlers of Catan in space but with less emphasis on luck.  I might be selling it short, but it does convey a lot about the nature of the game. Basically you all start in the Sol system with one planet type (resource) each and then you need to expand out into the galaxy where you can start colonising new planets, building factories, terraforming stations and new starships. To win you try to amass victory points by means of three different scoring cards that you need to consider carefully when to play.

In our game yesterday I started with a mineral planet and raced out to find my first energy planet (which you need to fuel your spaceships). The others dod the same but while they started building colonies, which will give more resources, I built a terraformer instead - giving me a VP lead by left me with less resources. I built another spaceship instead and jumped from system to system looking for food. Unfortunately I couldn't find any so my plan to build more terraforming stations didn't work out. The others had built up more balanced space empires, although food produce still proved to be a rarity in the galaxy. I was still ahead in points but the rest were quickly catching up. In the end I decided to play to my only strength: the mineral I had at the start of the game. Thanks to landing at two more mineral rich planets I could produce quite a lot of it and then discard it all for victory points. This put me in the lead at 55 points (the game ends at 50) but as I thought I'd won Anders revealed his alien artifact card: Omnibus Rebus Responsum. This particular artifact meant that if its owner ended at exactly 42 victory points at the end of the game s/he would be the winner, and Anders had just ended on... 42.

Good game which was fairly close between all players. I really felt like my lack of resources would come back and bite me in the ass but I managed to hold off until the end. Fun to see the Omnibus Rebus make an appearance as well. Hehe!


The Name of the Rose
The space mat theme didn't work as well this time around. Monks in space?

This is one of those games that I rarely suggest myself, probably because of the games dry-ish theme, but always have a blast when actually playing! As you might have guessed from the title the game is based on Umberto Eco's novel of the same name. In it you take the role of one of monks of a benedectine monastary and you have tro try and avoid suspicion as you do your daily choirs (or not do them as the case might be). At the beginning of the game you are each dealt a card that tells you which colour monk you are and you need to keep it secret from the other players. During play you want to keep your colour monk low on the suspicion track while you try to push the others up. Of course, you have to do this without raising suspicion as to your own identity. It's all very sneaky and reading the other players is a large part of the game.

The other times I've played The Name of the Rose I've done very well, ending lowest on the suspicion track and managing to figure out who everyone else was while not being figured out myself. This time however was a bit different. During the second turn I moved my own monk (black) to a position where he seemed less suspicious and Jimmy immediately blurted out "You're black!" which he then stuck to during the rest of the game. While accusations such as this is common in The Name of the Rose I think this put a seed in the minds of my fellow players and in the end it cost me. Also I don't think anyone of us focused as much on the game as we usually do which lead to a lot of guesswork towards the end. We simply hadn't paid attention to what the others were doing all that much so accusations were fairly mixed. In the end Anders managed to pull of a surprise win (surprising since he hasn't had much luck with the game in the past). As the orange monk he avoided suspicion and was able to get away with... whatever he was doing. It was fairly close though, with all of us being within nine points of each other.


Space Alert
The HMS Sitting Duck on her maiden (simulated) voyage!

I first played Vlaada Chvátil's Space Alert while living in Tokyo and actually played it rather intensively for a while. It was always a lot of fun with the players stressing out trying to take care of all the incoming threats, malfunctioning missile batteries and infiltrating saboteurs. In the game you play the crew of a new experimental spaceship and you need to survive for ten minutes while it comes under attack from exterior as well as interior threats. Oh, and don't forget to jiggle the mouse now and then so the screen saver doesn't crash the entire ship's electronic systems! Yeah. During play you use a CD that plays the current mission for 10 minutes and during this time you need to decide what everyone is doing by laying down order cards (go left, push button A, take the elevator etc.). These 10 minutes are very frantic as you're scrambling to make sure you have enough shields for defence, that you fire when you need to to kill the attacking space amoeba and that you have enough juice in the reactor to power everything up! When the 10 minutes are up the mission is over and you go through all the order cards one by one to see what actually happened. Hilarity often ensues when you realize the mistakes you've made and things rarely goes according to plan...

We played the first two tutorial missions which went well, since they're both extremely easy. Then we had our first proper (yet simulated) mission and things didn't go quite as well. Me and MartinH actually managed our half of the ship with surprising deftness, taking out three incoming threats with minimal damage, all the time not forgetting to jiggle the mouse! Jimmy and Anders on the other hand seemed to bump into each other more than a few times as they fought about pressing the same button, tried to fire weapons with no power or tried to charge an already overcharged reactor. In Jimmy's defence he did manage to send out a couple of missiles that helped destroy stuff, but that was more luck than skill. Anders on the other hand only managed to do one thing properly over the 12 turns! I guess the pressure got to him. Oh, and he did manage to look out the window once. In the end some unstable satellite (or something) destroyed the ship and we called it a night. We had a great time with Space Alert as well and vowed to play it again soon.



All in all a great night, although in hindsight I guess we should have switched The Name of the Rose with something more spacey to keep the theme going. Race for the Galaxy or (my game of choice) High Frontier would have been grand! Speaking of High Frontier both Martin H and Jimmy seemed intimidated by it and they thought it seemed very complex, something I've been worried about. However I'm confident that once they actually try it they'll realise that it's not as tricky as it looks and that there's a fun racing/resource game at its base.

In other news, we're playing Diaspora on Monday! You might remember the Kaulback cluster me and a few others created way back that didn't go anywhere. This time we have an all new crew and starting from scratch, so cluster creation it is. I dare say all of us are more motivated than last time so I'm really looking forward to this. Anders picked up Dust Warfare yesterday as well, so it'll be interesting to see what it's like. Finally I'm most likely getting a copy of Lords of Waterdeep next week. Sure it might just be a watered down combination of several "proper euros" but it does have a theme that appeals to me so I'll give it a try.

2 kommentarer :

  1. Gillade verkligen Space alert, när vi spelade det - coolt med appen till det.

    ReplyDelete
  2. En app?! Detta ska undersökas!

    Ja det är verkligen kul när det blir rätt blandning av kompetens och förvirring. Hehe! Expansionen verkar kul också; det blir lite rpg av det då man skapar sin karaktär som får xp och levlar upp under spelets gång.

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