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Topics - Decar

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News and Events / Fjords - Grail Games
« on: October 26, 2020, 12:58:40 PM »
Long time HiG / Rio Grande fans will know of Fjords

Well Grail Games is working on a new edition, new artwork and co-designed with Phil Walker-Harding, who will be adding some content, while maintaining the original gameplay.  Sounds promising!

Increasing player count from 2 to 4 players.
PWH is producing 5 mini expansions that add flavour to the game.

General / If you could ask Klaus-Jürgen Wrede one question
« on: August 26, 2020, 03:35:56 AM »
I'm running this on Twitter at the moment and thought it would be nice to ask the question here too:

If you could ask Mr Klaus-Jürgen Wrede one question—What would it be?

News and Events / New version of 7 Wonders
« on: July 31, 2020, 12:28:12 AM »
Many moons ago we voted on 7Wonder being our favourite not-Carcassonne game. Asmodee have released images of the new version of 7 Wonders.

They've only gone and updated the art work!

Generally, I'm ok with the design changes but what's most concerning is they've decided to change the card backs. At least that's something Carcassonne got right. Now old and new are not compatible.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, forum old timer, and good friend Rich_The_Fish and I have been playing a few games of Dominion online.

We've not played for a very long time, but thought it was time to check out:

The base game is always available for free, but during the pandemic they have been kind enough to cycle the expansion, so it was a great chance for us to try some of them.

If you're not familiar, Dominion is the 2009 Spiel des Jahres winner, and said to have invented the deck building genre.
Every player starts with an identical deck of 10 cards, each turn you draw 5 cards then use a card in your hand to play an action. Then use coins to buy more cards.  After that you clear-up and discard any cards you've bought or not used during the turn. Then you draw back up from your deck.  When your deck is empty you shuffle your discards, so your deck cycles and changes over time.
The aim is to buy cards that give you Victory points before the game ends, that can be triggered in a few different ways.
Each game is played around 10 different Kingdom cards that perform different actions, so the trick is to find the efficient way to beat your opponent in scoring.

Neither Rich or I are experts, we're very much casual players, and we enjoy exploring what the cards have on offer.

The Dominion Games website has implemented the 2nd edition base set, that I'm not yet familiar with either.

First game: Base game + Prosperity

The Prosperity expansion introduces Colony and Platinum cards.  This can drastically alter the behaviour of many strategies, as these cards are much harder to acquire.

Royal Seal, Vault, witch, Expand, Peddler, Moat, Remodel, Laboratory, Market, Mint

It took us a while to work out how to best use the cards.  I realized expands is a great way to turn Gold into Platinum and Platinum into Colonies.  I went for a very straight forward Laboratory, Market combo. Rich tried to use the Witch to slow me down, but 2 lucky Moats protected me for a lot of the game, and Expand allowed me to turn them into Silver.

Game 2: Base game + Prosperity – Rematch

We thought we'd play this again as we were both familiar with the cards.

I went for the same strategy, but also used Expands to manipulate Estates and Duchy cards.  It looks like Rich over invested in Silver, that's dangerous to do when there's Colony cards to be had.  If i recall correctly, I forced Rich to take Provinces over the last Colony card. A sign that the end is nigh!  Much closer game this time around!

Game 3: Base game + Alchemy

Alchemy adds a new currency (Potions), that are used to buy specific cards. We played the suggested set: Potion Mixers

I realized pretty quickly that, the Alchemist is a pretty dangerous and repeatable engine, and although Rich picked up a Bureaucrat, I was essentially immune.  In this game, I could use remodel to acquire 2 Provinces in one turn to ramp up the pressure for a convincing win. The University and Golem made a great combo too.  I essentially had 2 different engines running.  By the end of the game, I could play every card from my deck :D
I completed one turn with 26 coins and 5 buys, which is mostly devastating for Rich who's system failed to materialize in this game.

Game 4,5,6: Base game + Guilds + Cornucopia

These are two smaller expansions that offer cards that do something when you overspend and introduces the concept of coffers (money you can spend on a later turn).  We played the suggested set: Baking Contest

It took us quite some time to read all the rules on the cards.  The guild cards have some quite complex effects.  On my first game I misfired a masterpiece, then misfired a stonemason, and basically killed any chance I had of catching rich in the first 5 turns of the game.  It was a pretty devastating defeat.

So we had a second game, this time I focused a bit more on the baker, and getting gold.  It was no good though because Rich had worked out how to use the masterpiece to purchase a lot of silver.  He stormed ahead, I was left floundering buying 1 or 2 Duchy.  It was pretty embarrassing.

So we played once more,  I fancied trying to use the Tournament to pull a prize to either slow Rich's Big Money strategy, but before I could blink Rich was on the war path again claiming all the provinces going.  The game was over really quickly, 16 or 17 turns.

For the first time, I'd not enjoyed a game of Dominion, I couldn't see a proficient way to go faster than Rich's solution.  So I spent another 90 minutes researching the cards to find some alternative means.  It's safe to say Dominion is a complex game, and after a bit of research, the key is to build a more finely crafted deck, rather than floundering buying action cards with little result.  If I get chance to play this again, I might play better.  But with so many combinations to try, I may have to try other games first.  Well played Rich, you found a mighty fine card to batter me with after our Alchemy game earlier :D


I'm really quite impressed with the Dominion games implementation.  When playing complex strings of cards, it does a great job keeping track and visualizing options.  Although I always find digital versions of deck builders much harder to keep track of the cards in your deck and discard piles.  Dominion games has a subscription service that offers all the Dominion expansions for 4€ – 5€ per month.  If I was playing more regularly and with other people I could be tempted, only one person needs to subscribe to access the cards.  Although not extortionate, when compared to other online services, BoardGameArena comes in at about 2$ per month, it's hard to compare.  The implementation of a complex game is solid, but it's up against variety.

Have you been playing anything online with friends during the pandemic?

Rich, DanIsThirty, and I have manged to play a few games on BGA.  Troyes, Targi, and even Carcassonne.

Rich has also introduced us to Welcome To too, it's a great draw a card and write game, that's as therapeutic as it is intensely infuriating.

Upcoming Scheduled Games / Dominion online game
« on: March 26, 2020, 03:34:49 PM »
Dan, RichTheFish and I hooked up this evening on our slack channel to play a game.

Rich couldn't even upgrade to a premium account on BoardGameArena because there are so many games taking place.

So we decided to sign up to

It's a really great implementation, although I don't appreciate the subscription model for accessing the expansions. So we played a random selection of basegame cards.

Here were the results:

As you can see, my deck was nowhere near sharp enough to compete with Rich's

Great game guys, looking forward to a rematch soon.

Hopefully no one thinks we should migrate to another popular forum.

....Edit: Should have captured the buy row:

Artisan (6), Bandit (5), Market (5), Moneylender (4), Council Rooms (5)
Moat (2), Harbinger (3), Merchant(3),  Workshop (3),Gardens (4)

It's time for our 5th annual Gencant contest!

For those of you who don't know:  GenCon is the largest tabletop-game convention in North America by both attendance and number of events.
However, lots of people, like me, can't attend this large convention.

Since 2015, Carcassonne Central has takes part in the large 'unconvention' that uses social media to unite those not attending Gencon—GenCant
More details here:

History of GenCant at Carcassonne Central
In 2015, we attempted to break the high-score using a Carcassonne base-game.
In 2016, I shared a solo-variant of Carcassonne called:  Carcassonne: Solomo
In 2017, I shared The Abbot's Walk
In 2018, I shared The Knave of Carcassonne

This year I share: Carcasonne: The Invaders.

I am going to publish the rules later today, subscribe to this thread to get updates ASAP!

Post your entries on this thread, provide a photograph of the board and score-track before final scoring.

To post on Twitter include: #GenCant2019 #Carcsolocon @Carcassonne in your tweet.

Keep your eyes peeled for The Invaders!


Leven 87
Meepledrone 85
Rosco 81
TheSteveAllen 48?  --> Possibly
RichTheFish 14  :o

General / Requesting art assets from the artist—discussion post
« on: July 27, 2019, 03:39:37 AM »
Please make sure you have read:

If you wish to discuss this further use this thread.

Other Games / Hostage Negotiator
« on: April 27, 2019, 08:10:08 AM »
A new Hostage Negotiator kickstarter begins on the 30th April introducing a career mode that you play over several games.

I've not had much chance to player frequently, but Van Ryder Games are teasing the new campaign so I thought I'd take the opportunity to give it a go.

I've signed up as the rookie Officer Decar, and it's first day on the job.  C:-)
I wont post any spoilers, but the new content seems to have you make decisions, in a choose your own adventure style, where you adjust stats and events throughout the course of the campaign's progress.

Here's my wrap sheet:

My first game starts with the terrorist Arkayne, who is holding 7 hostages captive in a warehouse in Down Town.
Activists from his group were arrested a few days before and he wants them released!
Little does he know Officer Decar doesn't negotiate with terrorists.  No wait! That's exactly the whole point of the game.

If you're not familiar with Hostage Negotiator, your job is to save the hostages and capture an abductor over a limited number of rounds.
Each turn sees you plan your negotiation tactic, by playing a series of cards.  You must roll to see the outcome of each negotiation card you play.
When successful the cards allow you to lower the treat level (talking the captor down), or increase your rapour allowing you to access better cards.
When you're unsuccessful the threat level increases and the conversation may end abruptly; and if the threat level increases too much, the abductor starts to kill your hostages.
At the end of each turn a terror card comes out that usually impacts the game or the next turn.
Your job is to save the hostages and capture (or eliminate) the terrorist before the deck of terror cards run out!

Arkayne is a relatively easy character to start the game.  Our general strategy is to keep the threat level low, keep him calm and when possible build up my rapour to access good cards.

In the first turn, thanks to some good dice roll, I was able to attempt an early extraction, to manipulate my odds, I also got a card allowing me to treat partial success (a roll of 4) as success if I discard two cards instead of play them.  Thankfully, I saved 2 re-rolls from the previous round.

So I play the mitigation card first but only roll blanks!  What a total waste of a card!
I've got no back up now. It's time for my first Minor Extraction.... and I roll blanks again!  Gah!
I use my first re-roll....but I get ANOTHER BLANK!
My months at the academy aren't helping now....breath.....I have to make this last re-roll count:
"No that's not what I meant", I gingerly snap down the telephone.
I roll a partial success, I discard 2 Small Talk cards to claim my first victory.
Arkayne's mad, the threat level increases, but we've saved our first hostage!

No sooner than we draw breath, the terror card comes out and Arkayne takes his chance nabbing 2 additional hostages!  :o

Over the next few rounds, I struggle to acquire any powerful cards, but I manged to reduce the threat level right down and persuade Arkayne to let 2 hostages go.

I mange to wrack up 11 points to spend on cards, so the next round is likely to be make or break!

Over the next round or so, we successfully keep Arkayne cool, and rescue 3 more hostages.
But then, a terror card simply accelerates the game, towards the penultimate 2 rounds:

But, I should focus on the positives, Arkayne was calm, only 3 hostages to go and most importantly, no one had been killed...yet.

I was prepared for the penultimate round, essentially a replay of my first extraction.
Mitigate the dice and execute a minor extraction:

Officer Decar is clearly improving—all hostages saved, but only one round remains!

The pivotal terror card removed one of my negotiation dice!
After the last round the terror level had left me with only 2!
I was down to only one die!

I have to lower the threat level to gain an extra die, it's the only way I'll manage to eliminate the abductor.
I play a Keep Cool, but it fails.
I play my last Keep Cool: "Stay calm Arkayne, it'll all be over soon, the hostages are safe.", I stumble and use a re-roll: "No, no you don't understand..."—Success.

Officer Decar, pulls the mic away from his sweating brow....."Sniper, take the shot..."
"Damn it Jenkins! Execute Plan B!", my last re-roll; one die roll stands between the abductor's escape or elimination:

"Arkayne is down, repeat:  Arkayne is down."

Pretty intense for a first day on the job!
I'm not quite sure how I feel about shooting terrorists, I didn't seem to have an option to capture him, so it was only going to end in one of two ways.
But at least the public is safe.

There are at least two more scenarios to play in the campaign during the kickstarter, so if I have time, I'll be keeping you posted!

Officer Decar chalks down the events on his crib sheet:

EDIT: I realize now that in order to capture the abductor, all I needed to do was successfully rescue another hostage.  I hope taking that sniper's shot doesn't reflect badly on Officer Decar's permanent record :(

News and Events / AIRECON2019
« on: January 17, 2019, 03:09:01 AM »
Just a quick note to say we're heading to AIRECON.

It's a medium size gaming convention in Harrogate Friday 8th-10th March.  It has a small trade fair and seems to be mostly groups of folks playing games.  There's a big library of games, but we might take some of our own!

Mrs_Decar, Rich The Fish and I are heading there on the Friday, staying over in a nearby hotel.

Let us know if you're thinking of coming :(y)

General / Favouritism Poll #8 - Spiel Tiles
« on: December 28, 2018, 11:32:48 AM »
We've not had a favourtism poll for ages and ages and with all the talk about Spiel Tiles, I thought it would be a good time for people to vote of their favourite.

Spiel tiles have been given out since 2014 at Essen Spiel when making purchases at an HiG booth.

Back in 2014 (it seems like only yesterday), the first Spiel Tile depicting a gaming Hall and HiG's booth in the centre was put on display in a CCCR tile.

In 2015, we saw a really useful RRRR tile where the local towns folk are playing board games.  I wonder how many travelers stop for a quick game or two.

In 2016, we see two knights fighting in a CCCC tile.  I think this might be the first time HiG have released a tile in this configuration, with only a single city placement.  I doubt I'd ever place a farmer in that one-city farm it produces.

In 2017, We see some villagers preparing their goods, possibly at an inspection before entering the city gates of a CFFF tile.  One of the carts seems a little too heavy for the donkey though, it looks to be way off the ground!  I wonder if any of them have any contraband boardgames C:-)

In 2018, A new set of tiles were released!  This shows a statue of Hans riding his pig in the centre of a roundabout, also another donkey is causing chaos:

I find it very difficult to decide between 2017 and 2018.  I love the statue in 2018, but I also love the chaos of city life captured in 2017 and the comedic value of the donkey floating in the air.  So 2017 gets my vote.

Which tile do you like the most?
Do you use them in your games?
Have you noticed any nice things going on in the tiles?

Voting is open for the next 7 days, but if you're joining us late, feel free to post your opinions!

News and Events / Goodbye & Good luck Udo Schmitz!!
« on: October 31, 2018, 03:44:15 PM »
While at Essen, I got to see Udo Schmitz of Carcassonne-on-Tour (CoT) for a few minutes.
Udo has been the most positive driving force for Carcassonne over the last 6 years while has worked for Hans im Glueck to promote Carcassonne across the globe.

I was fortunate enough to meet Udo for the first time at the UKGE in 2015 where he described many of the wonderful events CoT had hosted in Germany.
Due to his wonderful hospitality and love of Carcassonne, we met again at the Carcassonne celebration at Essen 2016.  He was without doubt the main reason Dan and I could even attend.
Though the majority of Udo's work has been based in Germany, he's often globe trotting visiting friends and always in the search of the greatest Carcassonne fans.
Even if you've not had the pleasure of meeting him in person, you'll have likely received his benefit; he's often a source of mini-expansions and other rarities, that we share here on the forum!

It's hard for me to express what a big impact Udo has had on my enjoyment of Carcassonne and of the boardgaming hobby.
For example, the First international Carcassonne meetup held in Ostriz in April was a phenomenal event unlike any other.

Unfortunately, Udo's time at Hans im Glueck will cease at the end of 2018.

This is a momentous blow to the Carcassonne Community, but we must will him the best of luck for his new adventure at Schmitz Spiel.
It's very hard to know how Carcassonne will feel without his presence, especially from outside of Germany.

If you're a forum member at Carcassonne-Forum, Udo has shared his goodbye message:

Please take a moment to share your kind words!


Other Games / 10 Games to describe the Hobby
« on: August 07, 2018, 05:31:04 AM »
We've been inundated with top 10 games lists.  We even made out own

But TheSteveAllen is attempting to, in his words on Slack: "stick with a game until I feel like I understand it well enough to be able to give a good game to a regular player"

Which made me think, what ten games best describe the hobby?

This is somewhat different from your favourite games, as it allows you consider games you might not like, but you know are solid designs.
I kind of think this is a list of games to should try, to get a board feel of the boardgaming hobby:

  • Carcassonne - competitive tile layer
  • Ticket To Ride - set collection
  • Catan - dice rolling / trading
  • Pandemic - co-operative
  • Dominion - deck building
  • 7 Wonders - drafting
  • Castles of Burgundy
  • Stone Age - Worker placement
  • Skull King - trick taking  ;D
  • Battleline - war game / area control

I feel my selection may be tending on the older games, but I feel all of these titles stand the test of time.
What 10 games describe the hobby for you?

News and Events / Brettspiel Advent Calendar 2018
« on: August 06, 2018, 01:30:15 AM »
Frosted Games has accounted this year's Brettspiel Advent Calendar:

• Agra, Quinned Games
• Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea, Matagot & Surprised Stare Games
• Carson City, Quinned Games
• Carthago, Game's Up & Capstone Games
• Codenames, CGE
• Crisis, Ludicreations
• Das tiefe Land, Feuerland
• Die Burgen von Burgund, Alea
• Dixit, Libellud
• Elfenland, Amigo Spiele
• Great Western Trail, Eggertspiele
• Ground Floor 2nd Edition, Spielworxx
• Gùgōng, Game Brewer
• Keyflower, R&D Games
• Krieg der Knöpfe, ADC Blackfire
• Luxor, Queen Games
• Menara, Zoch
• Mercado, Kosmos
• Outlive, Pegasus Spiele
• Penny Papers Adventures: The Temple of Apikhabou, SitDown Games
• Rajas of the Ganges, Huch!
• Santo Domingo, Pegasus Spiele
• Spring Meadow, Edition Spielwiese
• Teotihuacan, NSKN & Schwerkraft
• Wildlands, Osprey Games

That's not too interesting, but the Box illustration is by: Dort Matthäus
Rather nice I think.

Other Games / Ruthless: Legends of the Black Flag
« on: July 31, 2018, 12:31:25 PM »
Thar she blows! -  (aka Context)

We’ve been lucky enough to be sent a review-copy of Ruthless: Legends of the Black Flag by Roland MacDonald (published in the UK by Alley-Cat games) a couple of months before its release.  Roland MacDonald is a highly accomplished artist having worked many years in the computer-game industry and has an impressive resumé of credits.  He’s now turned his attention to game designs. I believe this is his first title to be picked up by a publisher, though he has self-published a few smaller projects.  Rich the Fish has followed his work for a number of years, and I became aware of his talents when Roland self-published the Reiner Knizia classic ‘Battleline’ in a limited print-run.  This classic finally got the attention to detail it deserved; the end result was phenomenal.

Thanks to Rich the Fish, I was fortunate enough to sit down and demo Ruthless at the UKGE 2018 and have the game explained by Roland.  If you’re read my write up, you’ll know I was impressed, but Rich got in contact with Roland and he was kind enough to send us a copy.

So a word of warning:  The copy I have is a prototype, meaning components are non-final.  I’m aware of a few minor tweaks, but the end result shouldn’t be too far off.  I’ve also included some Legendary metal coins that are not included in the game.  Roland was also kind enough to send us some prototype play-mats that are not included in the game, but an additional purchase.  Bear this all in mind when you’re looking at my photos!

A Pirate I was meant to be… (aka Theme)
You know what I like from a game.  You all know I like straight-forward games.  Most of you know I like deck--building games.  Some of you know I like pirates too.  I don’t know any personally, but when it comes to anti-establishmentarianism and accessibility-for-all, pirates are leading the way.  There’s a world of opportunity, and pirates know how to make the most from it.  You could call them the first ‘adventure capitalists’, if it wasn’t for the rum of course.

I’m a big fan of abstracts and rarely care for theme, but Ruthless is somewhat different for me.  But I find all the bits that make up the game have been interwoven tightly. The game has balanced delicately the mechanical implementation with its thematic components.  For me that’s a big deal because usually they offset each other; here they work together.  On top of all that it’s wrapped in a wonderfully engaging art-style and has clear and precise iconography.

Blow the man down - (aka Gameplay)

Like a traditional deck-building game, every player starts with a starter-deck with some low-value treasure cards and some weak inexperienced crew, namely ‘Powder-Monkeys’.

In front of all the players is the familiar ‘buy-row’ containing pirates you’ll be recruiting to join your deck. Treasure cards are available in another deck, which you can obtain through plundering. Both these card types will ultimately end up in your deck.

During round you’ll be using your hand to form a raiding party, which means grouping the pirate cards you acquire and play during a round in such a way as to maximize their raiding-strength.  This is pretty elegant and works by building pairs, straights and flushes which is all pretty intuitive.

The Pirate cards have a variety of special actions, but they also belong to suits of cards: (Hearts, Skulls, Anchors, Swords and Kraken).  There are 10 cards in each suit: 1-7 (4-10 in my prototype deck), a Parrot card, Quartermaster & Captain.

On your turn you must perform one of the following 5 actions if you have cards in your hand, followed by an optional recruit action:

Trade - Play your money cards and receive coins
Brawl - By playing 1 Powder-Monkey you can knock a card out of the ‘buy-row’.  By cycling-cards you can limit your opponent’s choices or hopefully find something you’ll need
Bury - Equivalent to trashing cards from your hand or discard pile.
Plunder - You can use 2 Powder Monkeys to pull the top card from the treasure-deck.
Board - Allows you to play a pirate from your hand and perform their special action.

You may then Recruit, allowing you to spend the gold you’ve accumulated to hire a pirate from the Pirate-Deck (‘buy-row’).  But, you may only recruit 3 pirates in a round.

The boarding actions are where the meat of the deck-building lies.  When you recruit a pirate, you may take their action immediately.  This offers the player’s some hard decisions.  I’d like to recruit the 8 of Swords so I can get one more coin and bury a treasure card, but the 8 of Hearts is also available and that will score me a flush at the end of the round.  It can be really tough knowing where to invest; weighing up short-term and long-term goals against your opponent..

It’s really rewarding trying to work out how best to use the pirate cards to maximize your scores.  There are some familiar traits founds in most deck-building games.  Do you invest in cheap cards to win some easy points, or do I hold out and invest in the more expensive cards which allow me to top-deck or rescue cards the cards I’ve already played to the discard?

The Treasure cards which you acquire through plundering (which we’ve taken to calling Plunder-Monkeys for no good reason) can be used in two ways too.  They can be cashed in immediately for a reward, or you can add them to your discard-pile then hope for a bigger payout later.  Cash flow is important.  Attack-cards can be played to make you return a coin to the supply or discard a valuable card.  This can be gruelling when you are trying desperately to save up for a valuable purchase.

Simple enough...right?

Deck management is tough in Ruthless because there are only 5 rounds (6 with 2 players) and given you will be drawing 5 cards each round there is a really high chance you might not see the cards you were hoping for.  But burying cards is one of my favourite actions.  It’s another familiar mechanic in a deck-builder: trash weaker cards to streamline your deck and allow your hands to be more predictable.  In Ruthless however, buried cards can be put towards scoring end-game rewards; as an example, one gives points to the player who buried the most treasure.  Now rather than simply trashing rubbish cards, players are given another route to victory and they have to determine when the most suitable time to do this is!  This is precisely what happened during a game I played with my wife.  She had removed some of her starter-coins from her hand to thin her deck, I saw this and I decided to bury rubies.  As a result, I managed to achieve a tie-break at the end of the game.

As I said before, Burying and Plundering cards also gives the players choice:  If a hand is particularly bad, players have the option to invest in the legendary achievements rather than building the best raiding party to earn 6-points.  The alternative could be to maximize the treasure in your deck or spend the turn burying cards, which could win you 8-points during the end-game scoring. Recognising when to do this feels a lot like a trick-taking game, especially during 4 player games.

The majority of the game I’ve played are 2-player.  I’ve enjoyed trying different strategies to win games. Ruthless supports a lot of strategies that you’d find across the deck-building genre.  The pirate’s boarding actions seem limited but can all be used to manipulate the deck expertly.  As an example, I purchased a 7 of Swords to take the top-deck action: draw 2 and take one.  I was fortunate enough to select a Captain of Swords, that I could play next round to rescue a card from my discard pile.  I saw a great combination by pulling out the 9 of Swords, who, next turn, allowed me to rescue the 4 of Swords.  A flush of 4 cards is a high scoring hand and I was able to make sure of the final Bury Action to remove a treasure-map (-1 point) from my hand when scoring at the end.  Ruthless is full of small smart exchanges like this and although this was one of the longest combinations I’d managed to execute, it is significant to note that my opponent had turns during each of my plays.  This blocks those +5-buys or +5-attacks leaving a sour-taste found in a lot of deck-builders.

There will be rounds where you seem to not draw the cards you need, nor be able to generate quite enough gold to get the crew you want and this can be difficult at times.  Understanding this has gotten easier with more plays, I now find sometimes saving money for one turn grants you access to some powerful cards that can be crucial later on.  The game attempts to counter this in two ways, during the first two rounds building raiding-parties only gives you 1 point, as opposed to 6 in later rounds; simply because you should invest in deck-building. The other counter is more strategic. At the start of the round, if a player pulls a particularly bad hand, they may use the parlay token to discard and redraw.  That in itself is simple, but what if I know there’s a good chance of a rescue-action to pull back a card just discarded.  This isn’t a free action though, an unspent parlay token is worth a point at the end of the game.  For a simple-game, there is a smorgasbord of options. 

At 2 players the game never overstays its welcome and with a quick setup we can now blitz through a game in 25-30 minutes.  At time my wife felt like she had no chance of winning, but we’ve found the biggest point margin to be only 5-points.  I’m pretty sure an alternative play by either of us would have meant the game going the other way.  What we like is that all the different strategies available to us seem comparable or comparative with one another.

Just a word of warning, the next paragraph is possibly the single best gaming experience I’ve had for an awfully long time.  However knowing about it, may reduce the chance of you experiencing the same gold.  So just skip ahead 1 paragraph if necessary:

Potential Spoiler Warning:   The treasure deck contains dubloons, precious gems and an array of ancient artefacts.  Typically, the treasure-deck will grant at least 2 gold when the plunder action is taken.  I happened to need 2 gold to purchase a very important card before Rich The Fish could during a make-or-break moment.  I was fortunate enough to have 2 powder-monkeys in my hand.  So off they went to find me some buried treasure.  I drew the top card of the treasure-deck.  My minions had returned with a potato (aka Yukon-gold), a measly potato, worth a single gold coin.  I guess you had to be there, but I didn’t expect to go treasure hunting and find a potato.  It was hilarious, this push-your-luck element really made me laugh.  Having spoken to Roland about it, he said this card almost didn’t make the final cut, as some players wouldn’t like it.  For me though, it was a wonderful demonstration of Roland’s thoughtful design and it made me appreciate the push-your-luck nature of treasure-hunting.  I still think those Powder-Monkeys may have been holding out on’ll be happy to know they went to see Davy Jones soon after.

Shiver m’ timbers - (aka Components)

Obviously, we were playing a prototype, so I can’t review the final card-quality and other components.  There are two things that I can talk about: The Rule book (on BGG) and the art work (and iconography).

The Rulebook - The rules are concise and to the point. There are enough examples provided to mean I had a good understanding of how to play without needing the cards out in front of me.  Similarly, I didn’t need to get the rules out to set the game up and make sure everything had been done correctly.  It’s all straightforward. But having the designer introduce you to the game at the UKGE has probably helped here.  I’ve still needed to pop back to check for certain situations, like tie-breaks though and I’ve found the layout and formatting is easy to navigate.  Most importantly, I’ve found I can remember what I’ve read, which is always a good sign!

The Art:  Honestly, I don’t feel qualified enough to talk about the art in this game.  It’s simply gorgeous and there’s a ton of it. The 10 buccaneers manifest a fearsome crew; they ooze character.  Similarly, the treasure cards demonstrate an attention to detail which separates Ruthless from its peers.  For example, the aztec statue has pockmarks and wear, which subconsciously makes us assign history and worth to the artefact.  All of the art is vibrant and colourful and with the careful use of colour and layout-designs nothing feels confusing, distracting or cluttered.  The iconography is intuitive too and the decision to include a player-aid helps reinforce everything found in the rulebook.

The only other thing I should mention here is about the decisions made for components.  The prize tokens are a great way of summarizing each round.  Legendary Achievements are selected at the start of the game and provide different ways to focus end-game scoring.  This gives the players some direction and means that specific winning-tactics are not always guaranteed to succeed.  The use of cards and tokens are simple additions but provide good structure to the game. 

Dead men tell no tales- (aka Summary)

Deck-building is quite a varied genre.  I find Dominion is pretty complex and it’s been on the street long enough to provide an almost endless range of combinations to play.  I usually find that understanding a few basic strategies can mean an easy victory over a new player.  This causes two issues: i) No one wants to play with me anymore, ii) players have to invest a lot of time to improve their skills.  For some that’s worth-while, complexity isn’t something we should frown upon.  Ruthless is a more direct affair.  With the help from the player-aid, newbies at least know what they’re aiming for, even if they can’t immediately penetrate the versatility presented within Ruthless’s cards.  There’s also just a chance that new comer might hit a powerful combination and strip a master of a necessary 3-point lead at just the right moment (or wrong moment for the master anyway).

There is also a trait in modern deck-builders to focus on selecting cards that enable long and powerful combo-chains that inflict damage against targets, like the *-Realms franchises for example.  There’s countless multiplayer solitaire builders which shun almost all direct interaction.  In contrast, Ruthless focuses on maximising each round, which, though subtle, means that all players are in the game until the very end.  There’s an opportunity to reset.  The round structure enforces plays to be reset enabling even the weakest players to try again.  As I described earlier, giving the players multiple fronts to invest in provides many different routes to end-game victory. 

Ruthless feel like a game that’s always been here.  It’s a warm and friendly gaming experience, it feels trustworthy.  Granted there are no ultra-new hipster mechanics but instead I see careful use of existing ones.  This is a deck-builder built on heritage of poker-hands, push-your-luck, hand-management but it doesn’t over do any of those parent mechanics.   For me, Ruthless always feels welcome at the table, in the same way that games like Carcassonne and 7 Wonders do.  Key for me is that Ruthless is accessible.  The rules are quick, easy to explain and easy to remember; but there are nuances that more experienced gamers can experiment with.  Ruthless feels like a game that’s carefully watched its peers, taken the most suitable bits and then carefully rounded off the edges.  I think that’s most evident in the classical Raiding Party construction and the intuitive action choices.

Ruthless: Legends of the Black Flag is available to pre-order and Alley Cat games scheduling an October delivery; but I’m secretly hoping it’ll be here in time for International Talk Like a Pirate Day:  19th September!

Best of all, Ruthless has been given a sub-title….so I’m hoping for more subtitles in the Ruthless license soon!

Links of Interest

Bonus Review: Ruthless Player mats

I’ve really liked using these.  Even though it’s a luxury item, it has help embed the theme even more.  The communal tableu makes it easy to set the game up and manage all of the rounds and cards during play.  The player boards are nicely laid out too, I particularly like the home for the new-recruits which might become lost otherwise.  I was skeptical because I thought the canvas mats would wear too easily, and though they are showing signs of wear, this seems to give them character.  Much like the captain’s table, the tiny dings and dents entrench the players into theme.

Bonus Mini Review: Legendary Coins

I never thought I’d say it, but good components really do enhance a game.  These coins have a subtle design and work well for this game.  I particularly like the weight and size of the coins.  No doubt you’ll be seeing these in future photos.

News and Events / Game Crafter Character Meeple
« on: July 27, 2018, 09:48:19 AM »
A website called Game Crafter allows people to upload component designs and boardgames then sell their bits and bobs from the site.

Last week they opened up Custom Meeple screen printing

And now have a range of custom meeple: meeple&hPP=25&idx=products&p=0&is_v=1

I've not used the service - but I suspect some folks on the forum may be considering making me some custom Decar Meeple for my birthday next year, I thought this might help them! ;)

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