24-Mar-2002All month

Our last game of the day was Medina. A clever game and again the product of last year’s trip to Essen where the aim is to rebuild the city of Medina. The point scoring system is varied with no obvious dominant strategy to winning the game. Each player can occupy each of four building types (one time only) and bonus points are awarded for building sections adjacent to the city walls and the meeple trail within. Bonus points are also awarded for having the largest building of each type, or by having the last building joined to one of the four corner towers via a wall section.

The final scores & ratings were:

Tel 49 (8/10), Paul 20 (8/10), Oggie 34 (7/10) and Andy 41 (8/10)
Scores: Tel 49, Andy 41, Oggie 34, Paul 20
Ratings: Tel 8, Andy 8, Oggie 7, Paul 8
Winner(s): Tel


Another new game and one that we had been waiting to play since purchased at Essen in 2001. Tenjo is a war game set in feudal Japan where players vie with each other to become Shogun. The game utilises a large game board and has some very high quality components. I should say before going any further that we are not experienced with games of this type so we spent a lot of time interpreting the rules. We also made a couple of mistakes when playing but just accepted the end result as it would have been too complicated to go back.

So where to start, this is a big ambitious game that promises a number of strategies with a fairly small number of rules. Each player starts with two castles, 3 family members (used to secure alliances with other players), two generals (or Diamyos), 100,000 Samurai, two shadow warriors worth 25,000 Samurai each – highly mobile reserve troops if you like, 25,000 money (Koku) and a number of element and ring cards (powerful cards used to manoeuvre troops, or affect combat by destroying generals/troops etc.).

Troops are manoeuvred around the board in an attempt to capture resource points, opponents’ castles, gain access to new provinces and of course destroy enemy troops. A 1D10 dice roll defines the number of moves and/or attacks you have available in any given turn (a turn is one month). Combat is again resolved using a dice role (1D20), but it is possible to weight the outcome in your favour by adding combat factors to the rolls. Troop losses could be harsh and at one point I managed to roll a 1 three times in succession much to my annoyance.

All of the castles are located around the edge of the board, so players can be spread apart initially. This did mean that it took several months before the first battle occurred as players were simply trying to gain position and hopefully also claim one or more of the 5 resource points in the middle of the board.

Occupying the resource points provided a regular monthly income (or additional Samurai). Failure to do this early on could mean that you would not have enough Koku to pay your castle maintenance at the end of the year (causing troops to desert/starve in proportion to the shortfall). However we found that combat over these was almost non-existent.

Every 12 months, there is an end of year sequence to run through. In truth we only achieved this once before ending the game. We had planned on playing the game for 1.5 hours but we had only completed the first 7 month of play by then, so we decided to end the game after 12 months (after 4 hours of play!!!).

We found that the Element/ring cards to be generally game altering in magnitude and cause several amusing moments during play. If anything they could be very harsh on the players and one player went from launching a devastating attack a castle to losing both his Diamyos (and as a result losing both his castles and all his wealth) in the space of a few minutes. The end of year event cards could also be just as harsh.

Generally it’s hard for us to assess the game overall, and a lot of the mechanics were compressed into the last few months (in fact 3 out of the 4 players became Ronin as a result of playing the element/ring cards). Timing would seem to be everything in Tenjo, attack too soon and you could lose a Diamyo or even a castle in the long run. All of us felt that the game was way too slow, but we also felt that we would give it another go since some of the mechanics were quite enjoyable.

Too much down time gave this game a low score in the end and everyone scored it 5/10. Final results were:

Tel 540,000, Paul 818,000, Oggie 642,000 and Andy 72,000
Scores: Paul 818000, Oggie 642000, Tel 540000, Andy 72000
Ratings: Paul 5, Oggie 5, Tel 5, Andy 5
Winner(s): Paul

Very Clever Pipe Game

This was the first game of the day to hit the table and also the first time it had been played by the group. Recently republished (we were playing the republished version), the game is a pipe-laying game but with a couple of variants both as a two or four player game.

We played the most complicated version of combined pipes and fields with each player choosing one of the following: black pipes, white pipes, light fields or dark fields. The mechanism for this is interesting with the each player being dealt nine cards, and then each player in turn openly chooses one of the four pipe/fields to go for. They then discard four of their nine cards (these were reshuffled into the draw pile). Of course the last player has no choice of what to go for but they still get to choose which cards to keep.

The cards are oblong in shape and are played into a ‘virtual’ grid either horizontally or vertically. The only rule for this is that when placing cards adjacent to each other that like colour pipes must be joined. At no time are you forced to lay cards next to each other but they must be placed in such a way that they could later be joined to other groups of cards.

Play proceeds in the usual way with each player placing a card into the grid in turn and drawing a replacement card from the draw pile. Once all the cards are drawn, play continues until all cards have been played. The aim of the game is to either:

Complete a pipe system in the chosen colour.
Enclose a field with the field of the opposite colour (pipes are ignored for this purpose and that orthogonal enclosure is the norm).

Completed pipes/fields are removed from the board and count as one point/card at the end of the game. The person with the most points wins. Because of how the cards are placed it’s possible to have a square enclosed by the cards. If this occurs then this is considered to be a pillar and counts as closure for pipes or as an enclosure for fields.

A very tactical game and one that typically appeals to us as by removing completed pipes/fields you can really upset your opponents’ plans. File scores/ratings were as follows:

Tel 14 (7/10)
Paul 7 (7/10)
Oggie 6 (4/10)
Andy 8 (7/10)
Scores: Tel 14, Andy 8, Paul 7, Oggie 4
Ratings: Tel 7, Andy 7, Paul 7, Oggie 6
Winner(s): Tel