Tuesday night was our regular gaming group night at Farmers Union in Exeter. The last couple of weeks we’ve had relatively low numbers, thought that hasn’t stopped us having some great games. Rather than splitting into two or more tables, we’ve been able to play 5 or 6 player games together – a relatively rare treat previously!
This week we started off with a game of Dead Man’s Draw from Eagle Gryphon Games, one of the games I bought in Essen and one that has been on my wish list for a while after hearing The Secret Cabal sing its praises in their podcast.
The game is a very straightforward push your luck game where players turn over cards from the deck one at a time and choosing whether to continue drawing cards or stop and collect what has been turned over. The reason you may want to stop is because if you draw a card of the same suit as a card already drawn… you bust and lose everything.
Another neat twist is that each suit has its own special ability. Cutlasses allow you to steal a card from another player’s loot and place it in the play area (meaning you could collect it), cannons allow you to discard another player’s highest card in a suit or kraken cards force you to draw two more cards from the deck, increasing your chances of going bust.
Each player also has a character card who grants them a unique power. Maybe you have an oracle power and can look at three cards at the top of the deck before drawing or maybe you get bonus points for a particular suit. All of these different elements add up to make what is a very simple game a fairly tactical and engrossing game.
After that we played Mission: Red Planet from Fantasy Flight Games. This is the second edition version released this year and designed by Bruno Cathala (a personal favourite), Bruno Faidutti and Steven Kimball.
As with most FFG games lately, the component quality and artwork is superb. From the card art to the little miniature astronauts and even the rocket ship launchpad, the production is excellent.
In M:RP players have identical hands of nine role cards, each with their own unique power and action priority. Each round players will select the role card they want to play and place it face down in front of themselves – once all players have selected you go through the roles, from highest to lowest, revealing your roles and taking your actions.
The idea of the game is to get area majority in the various zones of Mars in order to collect the resources in those zones (resources = VP). The game runs for 10 rounds, with a couple of scoring rounds interspersed, and then the game ends and scores are totalled. Most VP wins, obviously!
Overall, a really good game. I particularly like Simultaneous Action Selection mechanics and I also like light space themes. I’m less enamoured with area control, but in this game it was light enough and simple enough that it worked for me.
Third game for the night was CVlizations from Granna. Chris picked this one up for his personal collection in Essen after a demo at the Granna booth. It’s another Simultaneous Action Selection type game, though a little less simultaneous due to one unique element.
The game is a very light civilisation building game where, again, each player has an identical hand of action cards. Each round players will select two roles of the eight available, placing one face up and one face down. Each player in turn makes their choice of actions and then you turn them over in priority order (1 to 8).
The unique bit here is that the powers of the cards either increase or decrease depending on the number of players who choose those cards. As an example, if only one player chooses to play the Logging card they will get 2 wood. If two players choose the Logging card, each player who played that card gets 3 wood. If three or more players chose Logging no-one gets anything!
That’s where the importance of the viewable and hidden action cards comes in and plays an intriguing part in the game. You can see only so much information and that makes the reading of the game that bit more important in order to ensure you get something for your trouble. Move of the game for me was managing to pull off a Thieving with Doubling (play the other action a second time) and basically stealing just about everything on the table!
After each round of actions there is then a buying phase where players, in player order, purchase civilisation cards from the four available on the board. These will range from cards giving a permanent bonus to some actions to VP bonuses at the end of the game. Each player should end up with a tableau of a number of these.
The game is played over three rounds of action selection and then final scores are totalled up – the sum total of each player’s smiley faces (both cards and tokens).
It’s a very light, family friendly game with lovely Dixit-like artwork that has a nice sense of humour to it.
After this we didn’t have much time left before the pub closed, but it was just enough time to have a couple of hands of a current favourite trick taking game, Clubs.
Overall, a good gaming night with some great new games!