Independence Day games

Even though next board game club meeting is tomorrow, I invited Robert and Olli to my place for some games. It was a very good way to spend the Independence Day in my opinion, especially as Johanna was out of town.

First we played some new games I hadn’t yet tried. I’ll write more detailed previews later, here’s just session detail.

First game to hit the board was Pirate’s Cove. It’s a very beautiful game with an attractive theme. Pirates are just too cool. The year of pirateering took us 60 minutes. Olli won the game hands down: his ship was the best and he managed to gather lots of treasure. I didn’t get any points from treasure, none at all. I think that’s pretty bad… Well, I still came second. I got few fame cards, at least. I also got beaten many times and never got around developing my ship.

We had some rules problems. The rule book is quite messy, it’s pretty hard to find anything there. The worst mistake was probably Royal Navy — we treated it like any other Legendary Pirate. That was wrong, but fortunately it didn’t come up before the very end of the game. All the special cases make the game’s theme strong, but the rules are rather complicated. Still, it’s a fun game — or at least will be, with more players. Now it was ok. Fortunately it took only an hour.

Then we moved to the second largest box: Viva il Re! aka King Me!. That one had much better rules, only three small pages! It’s a very simple game of bluffing and deduction. We had a great time playing it. I got a nice lead on the first round and managed to keep it. Viva il Re! is far from serious, but is easy to learn, fun to play and looks neat. It’s a definite keeper.

Next largest box was Fist of Dragonstones. That was ok, except Robert won on the second turn. Which was fine, because it was clearly obvious that the game needs more than three players to work well. I’m looking forward to trying it with five or six players. It’ll live or die depending on it’s length. If it’s relatively quick, it’ll be a nice game, if it drags I know I won’t be playing it much.

Last of the new games was Scream Machine. This one worked much better with three. Actually, I wouldn’t play it with five or six — four might be doable, but I think more would be too much. Now the game took about 40 minutes, which was nice. The game is pretty simple and there are interesting mechanics — mainly the local/national customer thing. It’s a fun little game. The card art is neat, but perhaps a bit too busy. More subtle pictures would make the cards a bit more functional. It was fairly close until the very end when Robert took the victory with a safe lead.

As I had had my choice (four of them, actually), I let the guys choose what to play. Robert wanted to play Tigris & Euphrates, which was fine for me and Olli. Last time I played (at HelCon), the game ended 6-5-5-5. This time the scores were 19-13-9 — but we had three monuments, huge kingdoms and bloody wars, and that is always fun. Robert had perfect monument combination for few turns and otherwise did the best job, so it was a victory well deserved.

Olli chose Alhambra for the last game of the evening. It was the first three-player game for me. I totally lost the game on the last round, with scores 156-143-122. Robert won and Olli was second. It was pretty fun, even though the end game dragged a bit. Alhambra is probably best with four, then three, then five, then two, then six. It’s playable with the whole range, but six players is not recommended. It works, but the downtime is terrible and you can forget all ideas of control.

It was a fun afternoon of games. It’s great to stay at home and have other people come to me. We had the whole collection of hundred games (well, almost hundred games) available and also my record collection for background music (Tom Waits for Pirate’s Cove — “Ship is sinking, ship is sinking…, In Extremo for Fist of Dragonstones and Aavikko for Scream Machine).

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