06-May-2002All month
 
Babel

Scores: Oggie 15, Tel 9
Ratings: Oggie 7, Tel 7
Winner(s): Oggie

Carcassonne

Scores: Paul 97, Tel 60, Andy 53, Steve 47, Oggie 18
Ratings: Paul 8, Tel 8, Andy 8, Steve 8, Oggie 7
Winner(s): Paul

Citadels

Our second outing with the new English cards. We broke the rules a little by replacing 3 of the originals using the Witch (we definitely prefer this to the Assasin), the Emperor, the Abbot and introducing the Artist as the ninth card.

Andy, who seems to have a bad streak of luck with this game, got off to a bad start losing a turn to the witch and losing his early 2 districts to the warlord (they were the only 1 pointers in the game at the time). He claimed vengence on one and all when he got the crown. He somehow managed to deal the Emperor face down 3 deals running to keep hold of the crown while selecting either the Warlord, or the Witch who enchanted the Warlord, and destroyed some BIG buildings. Having claimed his revenge he then knuckled down to some building. While this was going on Oggie was repeatedly given what shall be forever termed Ogdens Choice of the last 2 cards. The new cards were obviously popular as only the artist of the new cards ever made it that far.

Steve with the advantage of having second pick for a large chunk of the game managed to be the first to complete 8 districts after building 2 small districts ( with the Architect) in the last hand. Although his districts were all relatively small the bonuses for 8 districts and for all 5 colours was enough to win him the game. Paul just beat Tel for second with Andy close behind in 4th. Oggie claimed the wooden spoon.

The game seemed to play in just over the hour and was enjoyed by most, though Andy is still not keen. The new cards do add more variety to the game.

Final Scores
Steve 27, Paul 24, Tel 23, Andy 21, Oggie 18

Ratings / 10
Steve 7, Paul 7, Tel 8, Andy 5, Oggie 7
 
Scores: Steve 27, Paul 24, Tel 23, Andy 21, Oggie 18
Ratings: Steve 7, Paul 7, Tel 8, Andy 5, Oggie 7
Winner(s): Steve

Die mauer

Scores: Steve -5, Paul -41, Andy -55, Oggie -58
Ratings: Steve 5, Paul 5, Andy 5, Oggie 5
Winner(s): Steve

Don Pepe

6 mafia bosses each with 4 members of their gang are sat round a table. One member of each gang is armed with a knife and another with a gun. Situated on the table are more knives and guns, drinks, business rights and a cash register. Each player takes control of one gang and is trying to earn more money than everyone else. To achieve this they aim to keep their leader alive as long as possible, occupy the seats containing the business rights and to occupy the income doubling cash register. Each player holds five cards that can be played to do such things as shoot the character across the table, knife the character sat next to you, poison 3 drinks, place an exploding cake, move a cake, explode the cake or move a character.

Into the game and after initial placement most of the gang leaders were clustered around the two ends of the table. So not suprisingly a cake (which wipes out 3 characters around the bomb) was soon attracted to one end of the table. After a bit of juggling and Oggies leader legging it down the other end of the table it blew up taking a couple of henchmen with it. On more than one occasion carefully placed bombs found their way back to their owners before blowing them to bits. Amongst all this mass carnage Anne and Steve were amassing plenty of cash. However Steve was also attracting more than his share of the hits, and was in the end the only player to be eliminated a couple of minutes before the end of the game. This left Anne a clear run to mop up despite taking a couple of late hits and Oggie finishing strongly.

A game that got a mixed reception, Steve was not too impressed while Anne loved it. It is possible in Don Pepe to eliminate players from the game, and while in our case Steve only had to sit out about 5 minutes it is possible with a chunk of bad luck for someone to get killed off early and be sat out for the majority of this 30 mins game.

Final Scores
Anne 15, Oggie 14, Steve 10, Tel 10, Paul 7, Andy 4

Ratings / 10
Anne 8, Oggie 7, Steve 6, Tel 7, Paul 7, Andy 7
 
Scores: Anne 15, Oggie 14, Tel 10, Steve 10, Paul 7, Andy 4
Ratings: Anne 8, Oggie 7, Tel 7, Steve 6, Paul 7, Andy 7
Winner(s): Anne

Dragon Delta

This game has been described as a cross between Chinese Checkers and Roborally and it sums the game up perfectly. 6 players try to cross the middle of the board by using a program of five moves made from a set hand of cards. Having bought the German version of the game at Essen and being unable to find English rules anywhere we had to resort to translating the French Rules using one of the Web based automatic translation tools. The rules came out on the whole readable, of course this doesnt mean they were correct. However we were able to play the game according to the rules wed got.

The game started with each of us having our playing counter located in our home village. Each village is on an island, with lots of small islands between them. The aim of the game is to place stones on these small islands,connect to these stones via planks then using these bridges cross to the village opposite yours. Of course everyone is trying to do the same, so the middle of the board can get a bit frantic. To confuse matters more, each stone may only support 3 planks, there are planks of different lengths and the islands are different distances apart and the are cards that allow a player to remove a stone/plank and cards to force a player to miss a turn. If a player tries to make a move which they cant (due to pre programmed moves) they fall in the water and return to their home village.

Andy got off to a flyer getting about 2/3 of the way across on turn 1. This just meant that everyone else ensured he got no further. In the ensuing madness Steve almost got home, but again everyone conspired to ensure he couldnt finish. Andy was then forced into the water as Tel made a push for home. As he was stopped, Anne got within a whisker of winning she somehow managed to grab defeat from the jaws of victory by forgetting to step of the plank. This allowed Paul to charge through and claim the victory. After an early dunking Oggie seemed reluctant to leave the comfort of his starting village.

While I dont think this will ever make my top 5 games list (before you ask I donít know !) it certainly provided enough entertainment and required enough thought in the hour it took to play that i cant wait to play it again.

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

Guillotine

Scores: Steve 24, Andy 23, Oggie 18
Ratings: Steve 7, Andy 6, Oggie 6
Winner(s): Steve

Magic the Gathering

Scores: Tel , Steve
Ratings: Tel 9, Steve 9
Winner(s): Tel

Magic the Gathering

Scores: Tel , Steve
Ratings: Tel 9, Steve 9
Winner(s): Steve

Magic the Gathering

Scores: Steve , Tel
Ratings: Steve 9, Tel 9
Winner(s): Steve

Magic the Gathering

Scores: Tel , Steve
Ratings: Tel 8, Steve 9
Winner(s): Steve

Magic the Gathering

Scores: Tel , Steve
Ratings: Tel 9, Steve 8
Winner(s): Tel

Magic the Gathering

Scores: Tel , Steve
Ratings: Tel 9, Steve 9
Winner(s): Steve

Magic the Gathering

Scores: Tel , Steve , Andy
Ratings: Tel 9, Steve 9, Andy 8
Winner(s): Steve

Magic the Gathering

Scores: Tel , Oggie
Ratings: Tel 9, Oggie 7
Winner(s): Tel

Magic the Gathering

Scores: Tel , Oggie
Ratings: Tel 8, Oggie 7
Winner(s): Tel

Maskenball Venezia

A game that is absolutely in the party game genre. Up to 10 people sit around a table. There are cards depicting certain hand signals and gestures. Enough sets are used so there is one per player. One of each card is shuffled and one card is dealt to each player. Then follows a period where players try to make their gesture so that no more than two other players see it. Bluffing is allowed but if more than two people believe the same bluff then you lose points. Once a player thinks he has identified a gesture they take a matching card from the center of the table. Once a player has identified 4 people they can call a halt to procedings. Points are scored for correctly guessing a players gesture, and if upto 2 players correctly guess your gesture. Points are lost if you incorrectly guess someones signal or if more than 2 people guess the same incorrect signal for you. Multiple rounds are played until someone has hit 10 points.

Now Im not a big fan of this game, probably because Im absolutely hopeless at it. Despite spending the whole game desperately watching for even the slightest move I just dont seem to see anything. But people were obviously making the signs as Steve managed to acquire the required 10 points after only 2 hands. In the first game. After much staring and more bluffing we finished a second game, this time in 3 hands and won by Oggie.

A party game that plays in about 15 minutes. Ideal for some light relief in the middle of a games day and definitely a game where the more players the better.

Final Scores
Game 1 - Steve 10, Anne 8, Oggie 5, Andy 4, Tel 3, Paul 2
Game 2 - Oggie 11, Anne 6, Andy 3, Steve 2, Tel 2, Paul 2

Ratings / 10

Paul 8, andy 7, Anne 7, Steve 6, Tel 6, Oggie 6
 
Scores: Steve 10, Anne 8, Oggie 5, Andy 4, Tel 3, Paul 2
Ratings: Steve 6, Anne 7, Oggie 6, Andy 7, Tel 6, Paul 8
Winner(s): Steve

Maskenball Venezia

Scores: Oggie 11, Anne 6, Andy 3, Steve 2, Tel 2, Paul 2
Ratings: Oggie 7, Anne 6, Andy 7, Steve 6, Tel 6, Paul 6
Winner(s): Oggie

Mulle + Money

Scores: Steve 46, Anne 43, Paul 33, Andy 32
Ratings: Steve 7, Anne 7, Paul 8, Andy 8
Winner(s): Steve

Pit

Scores: Tel 430, Andy 60, Anne 0, Steve -40, Paul -80, Oggie -80
Ratings: Tel 8, Andy 8, Anne 8, Steve 7, Paul 7, Oggie 8
Winner(s): Tel

Ra

Scores: Oggie 46, Steve 33, Paul 31, Tel 31, Andy 20
Ratings: Oggie 7, Steve 8, Paul 8, Tel 8, Andy 7
Winner(s): Oggie


14-May-2002All month
 
Bohnanza

Despite having bought the expansion ( which allows up to 7 players) to Bohnanza 18 months ago tonight was the first time any of the cards had been used. There are a couple of minor tweaks to the rules when playing with 6. Firstly a 3rd field only costs 2 gold, the players have different size starting hands (3,4,5,6,6,6) and players draw 4 cards at the end of their turn.

Play started slowly as we were aqll jostling for position to setup our fields as we wanted. But once the game got going there was plenty of trading going on, with Oggie regularly having to skip his planting phase due to having traded all the cards from his hand away. The game was played very courteosly with gifts often repaid with gifts or trades later in the game. As is usual in our group once it bacame obvious that the game was nearly over every turn became a trading frenzy for the active player, desperately trying to trade away those useless cards in his hand for anything useful. Tel claimed the win, now some would say this was because he had both the first and last turns, but I of course believe it was down to other factors.

A good humoured fun game where it is often to your advantage to gift a bean away which is useful to an opponent.

Final Scores
Tel 15, Steve 13, Boog 12, Oggie 12, Andy 11, Paul 10

Ratings / 10
Tel 7, Steve 8, Boog 7, Oggie 8, Andy 8, Paul 7
 
Scores: Tel 15, Steve 13, Boog 12, Oggie 12, Andy 11, Paul 10
Ratings: Tel 7, Steve 8, Boog 7, Oggie 8, Andy 8, Paul 7
Winner(s): Tel

Guillotine

Andy turned up 15 minutes early so the 2 of us played a quick game of Guillotine. 12 nobles are layed out in a line for each of the 3 days. Each player starts with a hand of 5 action cards. On his turn a player may play a card from his hand, then must take the front noble from the line and then draw an action card. Each noble is worth VPs from -3 to 5. Whoever has the most VPs at the end of the third daya wins.

There were most of the big scorers out on the first day, but Andy didnt think he was going to get any of them so ended the day using the scarlet pimpernel very early. The second day produced mainly middling cards, Tel did manage to acquire a 4 point card only for Andy to immediately force him to place at the end of the line and get it himself on the following turn. Day three brought 4 palace guards into play but these were split two each. The deciding move of the game was Tel managing to give Andy the 2 -ve cards in the line.

Excellent filler that plays great with 2 players and finishes in about 10-15 minutes.

Final Scores
Tel 29, Andy 26

Ratings /10
both rated it a 7.
 
Scores: Tel 29, Andy 26
Ratings: Tel 7, Andy 7
Winner(s): Tel

Lost Cities

Scores: Tel 95, Paul 63
Ratings: Tel 7, Paul 8
Winner(s): Tel

Lost Cities

Scores: Paul 175, Tel 100
Ratings: Paul 8, Tel 7
Winner(s): Paul

RoboRally

Once everyone arrived we continued the evening with another WOTC game this time roborally. Since we didnt want to playing this all night we picked two of the easier boards and started with 3 checkpoints (this was reduced to 2 later in the game). We started with 1 option card each.

Boog got of to a flyer using his option card to speed his way across both boards, while Steve didnt draw a movement card so remained at the start, Paul misunderstood the board and got crushed on turn 1, and Oggie despite jumping on the conveyer belts managed to end the turn back on the start square, neither Tel or Andy made great progress but they did manage to escape the starting square. Boog drew only one movement card in round two so managed to step of the conveyor belt before it threw him from the board, but didnt get too far. Steve managed to use an option card to make good progress down the board. Oggie set about travelling down the alleyways and back streets to avoid trouble and managed to end the game without taking a point of damage. Tel and Paul got into a shooting match travelling down a conveyor both taking damage and both ending the turn next to a bomb which forced them to play the next round randonmly. Boog also got caught in the blast of this bomb. Steve meanwhile managed to find his way to the first checkpoint. While the three random robots wandered aimlessly around the board taking damage, Andy almost made it to the checkpoint. He finished his movement on the right square, only for Oggie to fire his tractor beam at him dragging him kicking and screaming onto a conveyor belt and ultimately his doom. Tel awoke from shutting down on a conveyor belt facing into a pit, he managed to back up and end the turn adjacent to the start square. Oggie did make it to the first checkpoint just before Steve finished the game by gaining the 2nd checkpoint.

I was a big fan of Roborally when I bought it many moons ago and am delighted to give it an occassional airing. However it can suffer from analysis paralysis, often a runaway leader cannot be caught and if the boards are make too tricky the game can last far too long. Tonights game didnt luckily didnt suffer from any of these, though Steve did always look favourite once he got the helicopter option card (which we played wrong). The game lasted 90 minutes and a good time was had by all, but Paul did complain that we didnt have the opportunity to be nastier to each other. Perhaps next time well start with 2 option cards.

Winner
Steve

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


17-May-2002All month
 
Lost Cities

Scores: Tel 107, Paul 94
Ratings: Tel 7, Paul 8
Winner(s): Tel

Lost Cities

Scores: Paul 136, Tel 86
Ratings: Paul 7, Tel 7
Winner(s): Paul


21-May-2002All month
 
6 Nimmt!

The second game of the night also took about an hour to play and is another game where luck is more useful than skillful play. 6 Nimmt is one of the favourites within the group for providing fun, and tonight was no exception.

Anne got off to a really bad start claiming 49 points in the first hand. The second hand proved a little better with her taking 16 to put her within a point of ending the game, Paul meanwhile pulled in more than his share of the points in this hand claiming 35 points. Hand 3 was one of the most unusual hands weve ever seen. After the first play 104 ended on of the rows, this was joined by 103 on the next round, 102 on the third and 101 on the fourth. So we now had the four rows capped by the four highest cards. And so the hand continued with in each round one row being replaced to be finally capped by another high card. The hand ended with Andy complaining that he could count that far while adding his total. Anne managed to avoid picking any cards up allowing the game to go into a fourth hand. Midway through this hand a chorus of Dont forget rule two went up as somebody tried to avoid picking a large total up by plaing his card in the wrong pile. Anne couldnt avoid taking any points this hand but Andy had another mare to finish in last place. Oggie had managed 4 good hands and claimed a convincing win.

Final Scores
Oggie 28, Boog 49, Tel 57, Steve 60, Paul 62, Anne 70, Andy 83

Ratings / 10
Oggie 8, Boog 9, Tel 7, Steve 7, Paul 7, Anne 8, Andy 7
 
Scores: Andy 83, Anne 70, Paul 62, Steve 60, Tel 57, Boog 49, Oggie 28
Ratings: Andy 7, Anne 8, Paul 7, Steve 7, Tel 7, Boog 9, Oggie 8
Winner(s): Oggie

Autoscooter

First outing for autoscooter. The big attraction of this game is that it plays with up to 8 players with no downtime. Tonight we had 7. Each player starts with 10 VPs, these are won and lost due to collisions that occur as the players drive their bumper cars around the playing area. At the start of each of the 11 turns each player secretly selects a move from the 15 available. Each player also selects a number, the lowest number moves first. If there is a collision then VPs are exchanged depending on the speed of the 2 cars. Also if a car is hit from the side it rotates 60 degrees. So on its pre-programmed move it will be heading in the wrong direction.

On Turn one Steve set himself up for a hit on Tel for the following turn, unfortunately for him Anne hit him before he moved rotating him so that he moved straight into the path of Tel. For the next 3 turns the three cars remained locked together with neither Tel or Steve moving, but Tel ramming Steve each turn. Meanwhile everyone else was congregating in the opposite corner of the board. At one point 3 of the 4 cars in the corner were all motionless after a couple of head-on collisions. Oggie made a break for it and did a lap of the board. Halfway through the game and the dealock in one corner was broken as Tel, Steve, Anne and Oggie all had clear boards to play with however Paul, Andy and Boog were all still locked in the corner. To confuse matters more Oggie and Tel then steamed in as well. Anne steered out of trouble and stayed that way for the rest of the game. The game ended with everyone else involved in the gridlock in the corner. Neither Paul nor Boog had moved too far at all by the end of the game

There is a large does of luck involved in this game, so the pure stategist is unlikely to enjoy it that much, however it did provide a very entertaining hour of play. I dont think the game is worth the large price tag but will be quite happy to play it again.

Final Scores
Tel 18, Oggie 14, Andy 13, Anne 7, Boog 7, Steve 5, Paul 0

Ratings / 10
Tel 8, Oggie 6, Andy 8, Anne 7, Boog 8, Steve 7, Paul 7
 
Scores: Tel 18, Oggie 14, Andy 13, Anne 7, Boog 7, Steve 5, Paul 0
Ratings: Tel 8, Oggie 6, Andy 8, Anne 7, Boog 8, Steve 7, Paul 7
Winner(s): Tel

Lost Cities

Scores: Paul 137, Tel 58
Ratings: Paul 8, Tel 7
Winner(s): Paul

Lost Cities

Scores: Tel 108, Paul 84
Ratings: Tel 7, Paul 7
Winner(s): Tel

Lost Cities

Scores: Paul 93, Tel 20
Ratings: Paul 7, Tel 6
Winner(s): Paul


28-May-2002All month
 
Great Walls

The first time the grit game has hit the table. The game comes in round tube and consists of a flexible board, a pack of cards displaying tetris like shapes, 4 racks to hold these cards and four bags of coloured grit. The game is Go with a twist. It plays with 2,3 or 4 players and players usually play more than one piece per turn depending on the card they play. Each player is dealt 5 cards and on their turn they play one of these cards to place grit onto the baord to match the shape on the card. The idea of the game is to totally enclose areas with a ring of their coloured grit. The winner being the person at the end of the game with the most captured board.

None of the 3 players had ever played Go so had no idea as to tactics, and hence 3 different tactics were used. Boog started with a small enclosure and kept expanding it. Tel started 2 enclosures and tried to connect them, while Andy tried to develop 2 areas on opposite sides of the board. Boog didnt pay too much attention to everyone else but was intent on making his area as big as possible. Andy however was spending more time employing spoiler tactics, sometimes at a detriment to himself, while Tel seemed content to employ spoiler tactics around his territory. Tel and Andy were both forced to pass (and replace their cards) with no legal move, Boog had a legal move but counted the scores before deciding if to pass and end the game or to play. The count showed that Boog and Tel were tied on 50 each. So Boog played on, claiming 2 extra points, however the redraw had enabled Tel to 2 further plays for a total of 3 points and he took the victory by a single point from Boog with Andy back in third.

On first impressions I like this game, the cards add an element of luck to the game, but not too much that it will supress tactical play. We played the game in about an hour.

Final Scores
Tel 53, Boog 52, Andy 29

Ratings / 10
Tel 8, Boog 7, Andy 7
 
Scores: Tel 53, Boog 52, Andy 29
Ratings: Tel 8, Boog 7, Andy 7
Winner(s): Tel

Guillotine

Scores: Kev 32, Paul 26, Oggie 26
Ratings: Kev 7, Paul 6, Oggie 7
Winner(s): Kev

Mamma Mia!

Next up was the Pizza building game. Players are dealt 6 ingredient cards from a common deck and 1 pizza card from their own pizza supply. On their turn a player may play any number of the same ingredient onto the common discard pile followed optionally by a pizza card. Each pizza requires certain ingredients to be completed. Once the ingredient deck is exhausted whoever drew the Mama Mia card scores the round. This is done by starting from the bottom of the discard deck the cards are laid out, once a pizza arrives if the required ingredients are present the pizza owner gains 1 VP. If there are ingredients missing the player can make up the missing cards from their hand. Whoever has the most VPs after 3 rounds wins.

Andy got off to a flyer. He was the only one to build any pizzas on the first round, completing 3. The second round was a lot closer with everybody making pizzas. However the final round again belonged to Andy giving him a comfortable win.

Although this is a memory game, there is also an element of bluffing going on as to whether you are going to be able to complete a pizza from your hand. A great little filler that plays in about 20 minutes.

Final Scores
Andy 8, Tel 4, Boog 3

Ratings / 10
Andy 8, Tel 7, Boog 7
 
Scores: Andy 8, Tel 4, Boog 3
Ratings: Andy 8, Tel 7, Boog 7
Winner(s): Andy

Pit

While we waited for Kev to turn up we played a few rounds of Pit. Its becoming a bit of a regular start to the evening to spend the first half hour manically shouting numbers at each other trying to collect the 9 commodities of the same type.

Three out of the four hands finished when someone had collected a set of Barley. Boog took the first hand using the Bull as a wild card for the ninth. Tel claimed all 9 Barley cards in the 2nd hand, but then used the Bull to make up the nine in the 3rd. Oggie bucked the trend taking the last hand with Sugar.

It seemed a little quieter tonight but then again Kev wasnt playing.

Final Scores
Tel 170, Oggie 75, Boog 45, Paul -20, Andy -40

Ratings / 10
Tel 7, Oggie 6, Boog 6, Paul 5, Andy 7
 
Scores: Tel 170, Oggie 75, Boog 45, Paul -20, Andy -40
Ratings: Tel 7, Oggie 6, Boog 6, Paul 5, Andy 7
Winner(s): Tel

T Rex

We finished the night with a game of T rex. Tel hadnt played this before so a run through of the rules was needed. Each player is given an identical deck of cards containing numbered cards in 5 colours. From these decks each player draws 5 cards. Two of the colours are chosen one as a trump colour, the other as a Negative Trump. On each of the rounds 2 egg cards are displayed and these are what the players are trying to win. On his turn a player plays a card from his hand onto his own discard pile. Each card has a colour number and symbol. If the symbol shows a number of cards then the player draws that many cards, if it shows a comet then if it is the highest numbered comet displayed the turn ends on this players next turn, unless someone playes a higher comet. At the end of the round the Highest displayed card gets first choice at the eggs with the second highest taking the other. All players then discard either their top card of the discard or deck. The player of the lowest displayed card has the option of changing one of the two trump colours. At the end of the game totals are calculated as the number of eggs in each coloured squared and then totalled.

Boog played the game concentrating on just two colours, saving his big cards for when these two colours were available, Andy played in 3 colours while Tel seemed intent on winning as many cards as possible in whatever colour was there. Boog held a close lead for most of the game, however Tel won the last hand and managed to sneak the game from Boog.

Initial impressions are that I like the game however I suspect I missed some of the subtleties that will come with more play.

Final Scores
Tel 23, Boog 21, Andy 18

Ratings / 10
7s all round
 
Scores: Tel 23, Boog 21, Andy 18
Ratings: Tel 7, Boog 7, Andy 7
Winner(s): Tel

Taj Mahal

With the other table engaged in Great Walls, the rest of use cracked open Taj Mahal. When we first tried this game, the whole group panned it. This was pretty much our first introduction to Knizias wacky score-lots-of-different-ways mechanic which led to much scratching of heads and perusal of rules. This, and a couple of rules which we managed to get wrong, conspired to suck all of the fun out of the game. So bad a time did we have that one member of the group even elected to go home to fix his boiler rather than continue. Of course, the next time we played it it started to click and has continued clicking ever since.

The board is split into 12 regions, each of which has a commodity chit and spaces for a number of fortresses. Roads connect fortress sites to other regions. Each round, players use cards to bid for the right to claim the commodities and build fortresses. The cards contain a number of symbols such as elephants and monks. Each turn, a player can either drop out of the bidding or play another card. If he plays, he lays the card in front of him and totals each type of symbol he has. If he has the majority of elephants when he drops out, he claims the commodity chip. If he has a majority of one or more of the other symbols, he builds one or more fortresses and takes a token for each symbol he had the majority of. Pairs of symbols are traded in for special cards. Except for the specials, cards are discarded when played. As a player can only usually expect to get back one or two cards at the end of the round, careful hand management is very important. Added to this, each player may only play cards of a single colour each round so having a fist full of cards is no guarantee that you will be able to lay a new card in your turn. This leads to a bluffing element, as well as some very interesting decisions. Points are scored for capturing commodities, building fortresses, and building chains of fortresses across multiple regions. Additionally, one of the special cards (known in the group as The Bird With The Bird) scores two points each time it is used and some of the fortress sites contain chits which may give additional points or cards. At the end of the game, each player also scores points according to the number of cards he has of the same colour.

Last game, I failed dismally with an elephant strategy, being forced to withdraw time after time without a majority and ending the game with only a couple of commodity chits and a massive four fortresses on the board out of a possible twenty-odd. I decided to vary the mix a bit this time and tried to supplement elephants with a few chains of fortresses and by trying to capture The Bird With The Bird special card early and using it often. About halfway though the game everything seemed to be going to plan with clear score track between myself in the lead, Kev a good few points back and Oggie somewhere over the horizon. Kev was picking up commodity chits and putting some nice fortress chains together and was scoring regularly. Oggie on the other hand has waving a bad run of the luck with the cards and had been forced to withdraw time after time with nothing to show. His frustration was reflected in his final mark for the game.

Everything changed however when Oggie managed to join two fortress chains together and wrest control of The Bird With The Bird. For four turns in a row he scored spectacularly. Kev was also building on his early chain foundations while Id stopped for a breather to restock on cards.

Coming onto the last round, there was only a one point difference between all three of us. Kev had managed to take The Bird With the Bird and had a connection point to a big chain, but was low on cards. Oggie had a connection to his bustling metropolis which by now pretty much spanned the whole board and was fanning an unhealthfully large number of cards. I could only connect to a smallish chain but would score well if I could take the commodity chit and had slowly been building up a set of yellow cards for the occasion. Finally, a tile on a fortress site was worth four points to whoever could claim it. So, everything to play for. In the final reckoning, Oggie stormed to victory by adding to his chain, taking the four point tile and having a set of 9 blue cards at the end.

Things to learn from this game - dont let anyone connect chains of fortresses together. Unless its you. The bidding rounds also proved interesting in a 3 player game. Playing to stop anyone being able to drop out to take a particular fortress site was sometimes more important than taking a particular majority yourself. And all, of course, within the confines of tight card management.

Final scores - Oggie 68, Paul 65, Kev 60
Marks / 10 - Oggie 6, Paul 9, Kev 8
 
Scores: Oggie 68, Paul 65, Kev 60
Ratings: Oggie 6, Paul 9, Kev 8
Winner(s): Oggie