Monday Night Tabletop Round-up 03/11/14

It can be hard to concentrate on game night but when the games are good and the players friendly it doesn’t matter when your brain lets you down. The dice is a different matter though, is there even a 3 on this thing!?

Lost Legacy

Players: 6 (Plays 2-4)

Duration: 15 minutes

Is Lost Legacy the next Love Letter? It certainly plays very similarly to the 16 card microgame and is even co-designed by the same guy but while the two games have a lot in common it’s unfair to say that this is a straight reskinning (unlike the Batman rethemed ‘Love Letter: Capture the Inmates of Arkham Asylum’, yes that’s really a thing) and it adds extra depth to the straightforward card-play of its predecessor.

At the start of the game players are dealt a hand of one card and then one additional card is placed face down in the centre of the table (known as the ruins). On their turn players draw a card from the deck, play one of their two cards and apply its effects. Cards also have a number in the corner and at the end of the round, players try and guess where they think the lost legacy card is (either in another players hand or in the ruins) starting with the lowest number that a player holds. However, if multiple players have that number then they are denied a guess.

I came in a bit late so only managed to squeeze in a quick round but what I saw liked. Card powers are nice and varied, for example they can let you mess about with other players hands, alter the ruins by adding cards or inspecting them, give you extra guesses at the end of the round and there is even one that forces you to deal yourself a wound – take two wounds and you are out but if you are stuck with a wound card at the end then you are denied a guess. Lost Legacy has a short play time with a nice amount of depth which makes it the perfect filler so again, is it the next Love Letter? Yes, and that’s no bad thing.

Machi Koro

Players: 4 (Plays 2-4)

Duration: 30 minutes

This is a game that I have been hoping to try for a while. Partially because of the constant barrage of retweets by Pandasaurus games of any mention of it on Twitter but mostly because the combination of cute artwork, simple city-building and short playtime is very appealing.

At its heart Machi Koro is a simple engine builder which basically means that you are spending money to make money as efficiently as possible. In this case each player is the mayor of a small town that is competing to be the first to build 4 special buildings. There are a whole selection of regular buildings available to buy too and these are represented by cards that have a number on them. On their turn players roll a dice and check their town, if the number they rolled matched any of their buildings then they can claim money from the bank for that building. Some buildings let you collect money on an opponent’s turn and even steal it from the player that rolled the dice. Players can also build multiple copies of a building or get supporting buildings to bolster their income to get those four target buildings (all of which have their own bonus abilities once built).

My opinions on this game may be skewed as frustratingly, I was not even halfway to affording the special buildings when the game wrapped up but I will try not to be a sore loser. At times this game felt completely down to chance. A few bad dice rolls could see a lucky opponent pulling into an uncatchable lead unless you push your luck harder to lengthen the odds (with more frustration when it doesn’t pay off). I think this game may have been a case of expectations not matching experience as (rather naively) I didn’t factor in the random dice element as much as I should have. Next time (and I do want a next time) I will try and spread my buildings a bit more or do something really stupid and lose with a grin instead of a pout!

Five Tribes

Players: 4 (Plays 2-4)

Duration: 2 hours

I must have been eating stupid pills on Monday because initially I could not get my head round Five Tribes. The explanation was clear but the iconography and scoring were a little tough to break down so it took me a good 30 minutes of playing to appreciate the mechanics of this game but once I did I found Five Tribes to be excellent.

The game takes place on 30 tiles which are placed randomly in a 6×5 rectangle. 90 meeples in five colours are then randomly distributed across these tiles (3 to a tile). Players bid for turn order and on their turn they pick up all the meeples on any tile they choose. They then move their fistful of meeples around the board dropping one off in each tile they pass through. The last meeple they drop off must have others of that colour in it. They then remove all meeples of that colour from that last tile and take that meeples colours special action as well as the special action of the tile they are from. In addition if this tile is now empty then that player can claim it by placing a camel meeple (cameeple?) on it.

Meeple actions and tile actions are quite diverse so I won’t go through them all but examples include buying goods cards, assassinating other meeples (and potentially claiming their tile), buying genies (which give you powers and victory points), upgrading tiles (to increase their value), getting straight victory points and more. The game ends when there are no possible moves left or one player runs out of cameeples. Points from goods, tiles, genies and so on are totalled up and the one with the most is the winner.

Get points win game. OK so I may have copped out a bit there at the end but there are too many actions and scoring options to list individually. This game is a lot of fun. At the start of the game the colourful modular board and crowds of meeples give you an almost overwhelming amount of choice but as the game goes on and the board starts getting more and more sparse you really have to balance your best possible turn without benefitting other players. I really liked the fact that you were invested on other players turns to see if they would ruin that move you wanted or even to help them out a bit (we are a friendly group). Overall this game was a hit for me. It looks great and despite a stuttering start (for me) it played smoothly with just the right amount of brain-burning puzzle-solving and player interaction.

Pandemic: Contagion

Players: 5 (Plays 2-5)

Duration: 1 hour

Pandemic: Contagion is the black sheep (or should I say black plague) of the Pandemic family. While all the other games have players grouping together to save the world, Contagion has you competing to infect it. This is supposed to be a quick filler but we took a while to get through it probably due to my malaise holding the game up. I can only think that my pie and chips were putting me into digestive shutdown!

At the start of the game players receive a player board to track their three characteristics (incubation, infection and resistance) and disease cubes in their colour (in a nice touch these are the same as the original Pandemic). 10 City cards are placed in the centre of the table (in a 4 player game) and a special event deck is created with 9 random event cards (which help players) regularly interspersed with 3 WHO cards (which do not). At the beginning of the turn a card from the event card is revealed and each player then gets the chance to take two of three possible actions; draw cards (equal to their incubation level), play cards to infect a city (with the number of cubes equal to their infection rate) or mutate their virus (which costs cards in increasing quantities as the level goes up).

Contagion is an area control game with the added twist that once an area (city card in this case) reaches a set number of cubes it is scored and then removed. At the time this game didn’t really click for me and I felt there was some ambiguity on the cards. For example when an event card is revealed it can give players an extra ability but it is not explicit whether this is one of their actions of not. Similarly, winning certain cities gives me a bonus I can play at a later point but can I play it at any time or only on my go? If it’s the latter does it count as an action? I am still not sure. A few short extra statements on the cards would easily clear this up. However, like Machi Koro, even though I personally struggled to get to grips with it I would like to play it again.


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