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Topics - Hounk

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Mage & Witch are not visible. Compare the "clipboard" picture, which I took with standard screen capturing and where the mage is on my long unfinished inn road, while the witch in a bigger unoccupied city, and the other picture, which I took with the JCZ feature, and where both figures are invisible.

By no means a big deal, but I considered it notable.

I just played a game vs. Adda ('cause SteveAllen claimed, she had improved), and found a pretty grave scoring bug (in particular for 3+ player games), which is definitely new in this version: tied trade good majorities don't score points any more. See the picture below:

Other Games / Klask
« on: October 09, 2017, 05:35:19 AM »
Klask is a game, I played a few times on a public game weekend and instantly bought my own copy. It is a dexterity game in the vain of Table Football or Air Hockey, but with a smaller foot print (though it will still take much more space on your shelf then most other games) and more fun, too!

Each player gets a magnetic pawn to place on a board and a corresponding piece, to move the pawn from under the board. You can only move on your half of the board, because of a wall between the two halves of the field below. Main goal is to get a marble into a round pit, functional the opponents goal. But there are also three tiny magnets on the field, and if you manage to connect two of them on the other players pawn (by aiming the ball on it or him collecting them accidental, you also score a point. Additional possibilities to score are, that the opponent might sink his pawn into his goal or looses control over it, if he launches it across the board to your side, where he can't pick it up again with his piece below.

I must say, this game is a sheer fun as a starter for any game evening. Yes, it plays strictly 2, but a match (to 6 points) is always fast and normally fun to watch, too. So you can consider it in larger groups, too.

Other Games / The Great Zimbabwe
« on: June 15, 2017, 03:35:10 AM »
I mentioned already in Decar's new review index thread, that I want to feature this game, so here we go. There's a caveat, though with this game (and any other by Splotter, a Dutch company run by the designers), I want to mention upfront: they do quite small printruns and go OOP notoriously fast. TGZ was reprinted last autumn, yet it was already OOP at publisher level, when I ordered my copy a couple of months ago. At that time, as of now, it is still easy possible to get a copy from several retailers of BGG's "GeekMarket", for around 70~80 € which is the normal price, you would pay at the publisher's site as well, and imho very reasonable considering, what great a game you'll get. This might and probably will change within a few months to double or tripple the price and take several years till the next reprint. So if this review peaks your interest, I'd rather get the game sooner than later.

In TGZ you are playing the kings of different tribes in pre-colonial Africa aiming at building the most impressive monuments for the renown of their tribe and god and to become an UNESCO World Heritge Site in the future. :) Building these monuments, as well as educate craftsmen, who make the ritual goods needed for raising the monuments will reward you with victory points, and at the start of the game, everybody needs 20 to win the game. The very special twist on this game is, that to build monuments, you must first gain some knowledge, in the form of cards. There are so called "specialist", which let you for example breed cattle (the main currency of the game) or place new resources onto the board. There are several gods, you can choose from to worship, for a rulebreaking special power and finally there are the different technologies you need as requirement to place your craftsmen on the map. Each of these cards will increase your reputation and therefore the expectations of your and the other tribes in your leadership. In game mechanics this means, they will raise your "victory requirement" (VR), 20 VP will not be enough anymore, it can go up to 40 VP! (As a fun twist, there is one "easy going" god, you can potentially choose, who gives you no special ingame benefits at all. But he will lower the expectations in you, so you need actually 2 VP less to win the game.)

Scoring track and tiles for the turn order auction; picture from BGG by Game Junkie Canales

Gameplay gets pretty deep and thinky, in particular during the last few rounds, but the rules are really simple, intuitive and straight forward for such a "heavy" game. Each round starts with an auction for player order, in which the player who bids most for going first (normally) has to pay something for the player last, while the ones in between often pretty much break even. All cattle spend in the auction are distributed among the players, nothing goes back into the bank. This felt to me mindblowing unique and not making much sense at first glance, but it is a straight forward and easy to apprehend mechanic, which really works out nicely and gets an important part of the game. At first, the only benefit of first player is getting first pick on the cards, which still can be worth it to spend a little, but not overspend it. But because the resources you need to make the sacred goods to upgrade your monuments are very limitated, it gets HUGELY important in the end game.

In the main action phase you can (optionally) pick a specialist or god card, (optionally) use one or more of your specialist cards) and choose one of three main actions:
1) Place a new monument: Straightforward, 1 VP for free. You can place it on any space on the board, that is empty and not (orthogonal or diagonal) adjacent to another monument.
2) Raise up to as many of your monuments, as you can afford by one level: monuments grant you significant more VP the higher they get. 1 VP for level one, 3 VP for lv two, 7 VP for lv three, 13 VP for lv four and 21 VP for (the maximum) lv five. You need sacred goods delivered to your monuments to raise them, and they have to be different from level three onwards. So you will need (your own or somebody else's) craftsmen to do so. And you have to pay them for their goods one to three cattles. (This is set by the "owner" of the craftsman, and the cattle goes back to him or her at the end of the turn.)
3) Place craftsmen: This action can be taken to increase the price of your craftsmen's goods (from 1 or 2 cattles to 2 or 3), but only one of the gods allow you to ever make them cheaper again (even on turns, where you take one of the other two actions)! Also you can take a new technology card (increasing your VR!) and most important placing new craftsmen (increasing your VP, and potentially granting yourself a revenue in cattle and you and your fellow players options to increase their monuments.

Game in progress with sample technology cards in front, including their "price tag" of one, respectively two cattles; picture from BGG by Derek Lee

These are not all the rules, but most of them, and I think sufficient to get an idea of the game. Now what makes the game imho special enough to justify the high price? At first there are the two truely unique and sweet mechanisms: the way the auction for turn order works out and the "Achilles and the tortoise" resembling way, you are running with your VPs behind your VR.

Then, the board is highly modular and will grant different paths to optimize each game. There is one starting tile and 10 other tiles, you will form a board of with a random subset of tiles (depending on player count 3 to 8 plus the starting tile) in 4 different possible orientations. This is the same in "Food Chain Magnate", another very fine (and more famous) game by the same company. While I like both games, I would still recommend TGZ over FCM as a starter, because it is "less cutthroat mean". (You will still feel achieving at least something, building your monuments when loosing, while with FCM it is possible to end the game with $5, never getting your business to run.) Also distances are important in this game, and some of the spaces are water, on which you can not built anything, but which are considered one space for distance in case of orthogonal adjacency to other water spaces. And it makes a big difference in setup, if several of these areas form a big lake or river, or not.

2 player game with comparable few water spaces and player aid in front (very useful, as it condenses pretty much all the rule on a small sheet!); picture from BGG by Alessandro Celestini

Replayability is ramped up further by the gods. There are 12 different in total, but only 8 of them in each game. And their rulebreaking powers are huge! African tribes had been in general monotheistic. This is represented in the game in that way, that you can choose only one of them and have to stick with him or her for the rest of the game. So you must play accordantly to make most use of the choosen one, and potentially reduce the use for others of their gods, to play successfully. Still the game seems to be playtested to exhaustion, and while some powers might be more obvious in their usability then others, it is considered perfectly balanced at BGG.

Sample of gods; picture from BGG by Joris Wiersinga, co-designer of the game

The artwork is also gorgeously looking, and very thematic, resembling true native African art. I played the game 3 times to date with different groups, and while not everybody was equally impressed with the game, there were several players, who too found it truely amazing, and acclaimed it half an hour into their game for it's intriguing and unique, yet clean and easy to grasp design.

Official Rules / Abbey And Mayor (New Edition) - Wagon questions
« on: March 13, 2017, 07:37:14 AM »
Does anybody know, if the rules for the wagon have been changed with this edition. Cron from Hunter & Cron seems pretty sure, that the wagon can now move from one object to another one without road connection, as long as it moves to an adjacent tile.

Other Games / Kolejka
« on: February 23, 2017, 06:16:48 AM »
I talked a little bit in chatroom with Merlin_89 after our Base Game League games a few days ago, and now had another couple of games with my regular game group, after I introduced another group to the game before my chat with Merlin. I played games of 4 and 5 players, and it suits great these player counts, though I suspect, it might scale down to 2 and 3 nice as well. Setup is simple, and you see nicely on the board, how to adept to different size of the group. So far, everybody, I played with, and myself, really enjoyed this game, so I thought, it might be time to share my thoughts here about it.

It is rather unique, because it was initially produced not by a regular game company, but by an institute for historical remembrance, and from these type of games, you would normally expect some recycle of old designs like Monopoly or "Snakes & Ladders" with some pasted on theme. Instead Kolejka is a fresh and interesting to play modern board game, which very well fits the unique theme it presents: queuing in Poland of the 1980s in front of shops, for days, for food, toilet paper and other things of the daily needs.

The game is very tactical. At first glance, I suspected, it might be a pure luck fest, like said biased by the origin of this game. But it offers a good amount of choices, how you can react with the cards you have in hand on the actions of the opponents, also when to pass, and when not. Additionally  memorizing the action cards, which had been plaid, and the deliveries, which had been made, can be a huge benefit on the last days of each week. In this regards, Kolejka needs similar skills like Carcassonne, but plays out hugely different nonetheless.

Although the rules are easy to grasp, the game is very deep by thematic means. It is amazing, how historical everything feels. Growing up, I was familiar with Polish folks standing in line for days in front of shops from television, but the rule book makes an excellent job, to set all the cards in historical context, and giving a much closer look at this period. In the three game, I had, there was never a winner by completing the shopping list. Instead, all goods of at least one item was depleted earlier, and the winner was determined by who got most of their personal list. I think, this also reflects a bit, how communism days had been in Poland.

Other Games / Port Royal
« on: June 28, 2016, 03:26:47 AM »
This is a game, I got familiar with at It is a light and fast engine building card game with "push your luck" mechanism, which does not determine game play a lot and leaves decent decisions to make. I really enjoyed it so far at Yucata, although I suspect 2 draw backs with the online implementation, compared to the regular game:

1) For live games there it is much easier to set up 2 player games then anything else, that's why I played mostly 2 players. However, I think, the game should really shine at bigger player counts. (It goes up to 5.)
2) Much of the thrill of the game should be the turning of everybody's cards, and this is not implemented well. You just see all available cards, once a "discovery phase" is finished. (Oddly, unless you are constantly click the refresh button F5.)  Also, table reaction to certain draws should add to the atmosphere of the game.

I was somehow confirmed in my suspicions by video reviews like from "Hunter & Cron" or "John Gets Games", so I finally bought it last week at my FLGS and hope to bring it to the table soon.

Online Games and Competitions / South Seas Tournament Yucata
« on: June 14, 2016, 02:24:06 AM »
You don't have to "request" for buddy list on yucata, just add the buddies you want to your own profile, regardless if they do it on return. ;)

I normally put players on my buddy list, after I experienced, that they are capable of live play in a decent speed, but of course, put Sesquipedalian now on my list, too.

Other topic: I just launched a Carcassone South Seas Tournament at Yucata. You might get trapped in a game, which lasts over a week or so, but I hope, most games will be live. I didn't want to be unpolite as a new user there, and "asynchronous play" seems a kind of "main philosophy" on this site, but at least players, who tend to make one move a day or less, will be certainly scared off by this post. So would be nice, if I see some of you in the tournament as well.

Other Games / Istanbul
« on: April 10, 2016, 04:57:58 AM »
I posted recently, I want to play it a bit more, before opening a thread for it, but made up my mind, after finding this comprehensive "Drive Thru Review":

Personally, I played it three times to date, once with the "introductory setup" 4 players, once with random setup 4 players, once with random setup 3 players. It's a game easy to get into, yet with seemingly different ways to win, which are better or worse, depending on the layout, so the game is not lacking depth. It was received well by everybody, I played with (the two opponents from the 3 player game have been different then the ones from the 4 player game), and the components are also beautiful, to everybody's agree, I was playing with. There is also already an expansion out (no surprise to a "Kennerspiel des Jahres"), and another one will be releases soon.

Other Games / Taj Mahal
« on: February 26, 2016, 08:27:32 AM »
This is a game, I bought a few months ago on eBay together with a bunch of other board game. It was not one of the main games, I went for in that offer, these had been "7 Wonders" and "Andor", but never the less, the first game I introduced to my gaming group and till now, we played it quite a few times. Unfortunately, it turned out, that one in our regular group of four, doesn't really like it. I first blamed it to the fact, that he was introduced to the game later then we other three, thus giving him a disadvantage. But after a few more games, this did not really change, so we probably will leave it to occasions, when he has a night off our gaming meetings. There are plenty of other games, we can agree al four of us on.

Taj Mahal is an older game by Reiner Knizia, which combines quite intriguingly different mechanisms and ways to score points. The meat of the game, is resource management in the form of collecting cards, which give you some form of influence. In each round, you have to consider, if it serves you best to withdraw early, getting better picks for the next cards, or fighting for a specific token. You will not succeed, if you always fight for the maximum, occasionally even have to withdraw without getting anything, to strengthen yourself for later rounds. There are only 12 rounds total, so this is always a tough decision, but not everything in the game. You build up a network of palaces in your player colour, which gets more rewarding, if you can connect them in lines across the map, and there are also 4 different commodities to fight for, which also make more points, if you collect sets of the same one. Plus there are bonus tiles scattered across the board and bonus cards to gain, which are also very valuable to improve your strategy or give straight away points. One nice touch is, that the regular cards are discarded after playing them, while the bonus cards can be taken on the hand again until some other player has the right to claim them. There is lots going on with not to many rules, but everything fits together nicely, thus making it often a tough choice, what to do in a given situation. In our group, I'm doing quite well at the moment, though I think, we still need quite a lot more games, till we scratch the knowledge of good strategies. It looks like a game easy to learn, difficult to master. But it still plays fun to (most of) us.

I wrote this already on GitHub, but Dan encouraged me to mention it here, too.

In a game with Halfling, he put the CCFF splitter tile with volcano to a city with his builder. But he did not get the bonus turn for it.

I don't know, if you, farin altered something in the code or just a result of Windows 9's "appmania" calling every program an "app" and trying to treat everything like that in hope of winning over apple with that and forgetting, that some people still use a regular computer rather than a dumb-ass-phone or similar device with touch screen.

However, before Win9 I found everything nice within the JCZ folder, now I have to make a "search for files altered today", to find it in a folder C:\Users\xxx\AppData\Roaming\JCloisterZone, which can not even be browsed in Explorer. (At least not, unless I render hidden files and folders visible.) Hopefully, this will be gone again with Win10, but can that in any way be altered?

This is something, which bothered me for some time now. I think, there had been some rule alterations simply because the translation was a mess. But theme wise the fact, that the "Princess" in the German version can remove a knight, while in the English this is a must actually makes sense.

Keep in mind, that the "Princess" original is a "Burgfräulein", so a lady of lower nobility then a princess, who, when got engaged, most likely would have married a knight. So, when a medieval knight left his position for her, it would have been an erotic adventure, that might happen, but not necessarily would. It needed two persons willingly doing it. But when a princess came to town, her daddy, the king, would have most likely ordered some protection for her. So a knight leaving his post actually would not have doing so in a case of subordinating his duty, but rather be obligatory reassigned to a new work.

Of course, Carcassonne was always a game, which put more concerns in game mechanics and enjoyment of game play then the theme. Theme wise it makes no sense, that you have followers either as monk, knight or thieve, that a "football" or even 6 point city has the same demand for farming products as a 50+ cathedral city, ect. And I think, the HiG rules play better, give more tactical options and make therefore more sense. Nevertheless, is there any indication, that that was the initial purpose for this particular alteration?

Now that was quite an obscure situation, I want to leave it open for the moment providing a "quiz". Can anybody guess and describe, what happened here?

Yesterday Rosco and I played a game featuring Little Buildings, a few other minis (Phantoms, Wind Roses, Fliers, Mage & Witch and Festival to be precise) and T&B. We played with the "one point each building" rule, however both wonder now, why the big farm in the lower half was worth 43 points. To our opinion, there are 8 cities and 9 buildings attached, and with pig worth 8*4+9=41 points. Can anybody spot the two extra buildings or another purpose, which should net two extra points?

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