Boardgamecafe.net Meetup Report @ Old Town Kopitiam Cheras 8/4/2011
The OTK meetups continued to grow with 5 tables during R1 and 4 tables in R2! The Hacans were so curious about the OTK sessions they sent their Queen the Merciful to come look-see for shark food! On this nite, we appointed two Russian Power Grid Tsars. Other games in-play were Battlestar Galactica (Exodus), Power Grid: Russia, Citadels, FITS, 7 Wonders, Sneak & Snitches, Race for the Galaxy, Homesteaders, Navegador, Mines of Zavandor, Carcassonne, Nightfall.
Gamers: Emil, aycee, Karem, Heng, Li Li, Kevin Tan, Ang XJ, Suresh, Lester Lim, Caleb, Ken, Vincent, Zavier, Joshua, Silvia, Carrie, Calvin, Peter Gonci, Triona, Ian Binn, Rhyen and CK Au.
Games: Battlestar Galactica: Exodus Expansion, Power Grid: Russia, Citadels, F.I.T.S., 7 Wonders, Mines of Zavandor, Nightfall, Sneak & Snitches, Race for the Galaxy, Carcassonne, Homesteader, Navegador.
Location: Old Town Kopitiam Cheras | Google Map | Lat-Long: N O3° 6.195° E 101° 44.058°
Date/Time: 8 April 2011 8.00 PM – 5.00 am (Fri)
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: EXODUS EXPANSION
One of FFG’s most successful games, and one that’s a favorite with OTK regulars in particular the Cylon Couple (hehe). Well, what else would you call them when I’m sure to get a quick SMS confirming their attendance to our Friday sessions and to reserve seats in the Battlestar Galactica (BSG) sessions whenever we shouted in our Facebook event wall if anyone wants to do BSG. 😛
DerChef (Emil) has been wanting to do a session of BSG here with his spanking new Exodus expansion from as far back as a month or two back! Tonite seems like a good night….
The EXODUS Expansion adds – to an already great game – more options for the players to mess with each other’s head! For those bloodthirsty types, the Cylon Fleet board (above) is now added to simulate the Base Star(s) hunting for Galactica and her accompanying civilian ships. Now you get less respite in-between your jumps and basestar attacks!
There are also rules for interaction with NPC (non-player characters) so the other 15+ characters that are not chosen do get some possible “face” time.
The last addition is the introduction of the Final Five (someone told me FFG’s expansion on this game follows the plot timeline in the TV Series and with the Final Five being revealed in Season 3, they are also introduced into the game in their 3rd expansion – Exodus.
Ang’s Gaius Baltar – who has the special ability of being able to detect a Cylon (by looking at their loyalty card) – suffered an epic fail in this session when he tried to search for Cylons by taking a peek at Li Li’s (only one) loyalty card!
As a Final Five, Li Li’s loyalty card comes with a nasty surprise for Ang-Baltar! Apparently whoever examines Li Li’s “loyalty” will be executed without any trial! Ouch….. there went Baltar and his exalted presidency. Not that – I was told – Ang-Baltar was a useful president. LOL.
Beside these three main additions to the game, there were other smaller trinkets of change here and there such as the “trauma” token placed in the Sick Bay and Brig locations, given to the players who are sent to either of these locations and they can cause nasty things to happen to the player!
The situation seemed to be relatively peaceful in this session. I did not play and only popped in now and then to check on their progress and took photos, so I’m not the authoritative figure to confirm whether my observation was valid.
Seems like the Cylon raiders were just swarming around on the Cylon Fleet board (above) and hardly jumped into Galactica view to threaten mankind’s existence. I could be wrong though.
Yet barely halfway into the jumps needed to reach Earth (home), the Humans were already running very criticlaly low on their key resources especially “fuel”. With two jumps (at least) still required, and each jump having a 95% change of burning at least one fuel; it felt almost “impossible” for the humans to win.
Technically I would have thought the Humans were “gone” at this stage. At this point of the game, Galactica jumped with just one fuel… and my reading of the Tylium Planet card would be that you lose one fuel first (in order to reach Tylium) and then the Admiral (who’s a human) decide if you want to risk a raptor to search for fuel.
Since Galactica has only one fuel, this would have spelt doom for mankind.
Anyway we decide to FAQ this later at BGG (see my post here) and everyone – including the Cylons – agreed to continue the game by allowing the Humans to throw for fuel first – which they rolled higher than 3 and successfully found fuel!
NOTE: Actually I think we didn’t ask the Cylons (Lester / Heng) whether Humans were allowed to search for fuel first. We just assumed they gave their permissions! LOL.
Ah well, it actually didn’t matter coz even if the Humans survived the Tylium jump, they were just delaying the inevitable. The basestars finally found Galactica and took out the four unguarded civilian ships. The Humans perished due to total loss in population.
Someone also made an interesting remark saying the only two male characters in-play ended up as Cylons while the other four female characters were Humans. An interesting observation. But it’s still not distracting everyone to the simple fact – male or female – Humans sucked at OTK! LOL.
I’m beginning to agree with wolfx’s observation that perhaps it’s not the game that’s the problem here…. hahaha.
MINES OF ZAVANDOR
Zavandor brings out memories of diamonds, rubies and other precious gem stones. It’s also a game – Scepter of Zavandor – that can be painfully long to play yet mesmerizing. The last Scepter game we did was during our SJ Meetup back in Jan this year (sessrep here).
When Z-man announced the release of their Mines of Zavandor game, which at first glance appears to be a card version of Scepter, we did not hesitate to pull a couple of cases in (a case being 4-6 units of the game).
The first play of this game was actually last week (1st Apr) which happened to be one OTK meetups which I had to excuse myself as I was feeling under the weather. Rhyen did the rule teaching for the game (being one of our resident Zavandor experts; the other being aanemesis).
Rhyen teaching the rules of Mines of Zavandor to all first time players ie Jimmy, Peter Gonci and Vincent.
The game board and design are beautiful – which is unlike Scepter with it’s more “serious” look. In this game, you are candidate for the King’s Throne, and your objective is to follow a path thru the tunnels in the mountain until you reached the Coronation Chamber (which is the room located at the bottom right of the mountain above). The one with the most VP wins the game and becomes King of all Zavandor.
It’s an economic-VP engine game where you juggle your resources – one of the four different gemstones – in order to acquire the best-mixed of improvement cards (above).
Game is played over 11 rounds of 4 phases – Income, Trade, Auction and Upgrade.
In the Income phase, you get to draw new gem cards which you can use as “resource” for bidding and upgrading your improvements. You also get a Trade phase where players can trade gem cards with each other, or you can simply trade 2:1 with the bank.
The purpose of trading is to help you form the right mix of gem cards you wish to use for 1) bidding for the improvements, or 2) paying for improvements.
Improvement cards are the key to your resource engine for eg the Sapphire Fox Shrine improvement allows you to use sapphire cards (the cheapest resource) as any gem cards during upgrade.
The way the Improvement cards are arranged reminded us of Power Grid! You have a set of four Improvement cards which all players bid to acquire in the current turn; and another set of four Improvement cards which are opened face-up as the “future market”. Haha…
With the other stacked Improvement cards also face-up – and can be examined at any time by the players – this game does present “complete info” for the players.
Jimmy’s Improvement card engine (above)…
… which was simply no match to Rhyen’s engine (above). Well, rhyen’s the one who read the rules and also the one who has played twice so it’s not a fair comparison….
The game mechanic can be a little confusing at the start but once you get a turn or two under your belt, it all makes sense. The Auction mechanic is interesting; all players submit as blind bid for all four Improvement cards at the same time….
There are also some funky Improvement cards like the Dragon Hoard card above which can be pretty useful at game-end but it also sets you back by 3 points. Cute dragons….
There’s also a variant – using the flip side of the game board – where each player starts with a different clan with their own unique characteristics. Overall I find this a light-medium game with some Zavandor-feel that can be played under 1 hour and has beautiful components.
But Scepter of Zavandor it is not. And as long as you set the proper expectation, you won’t be disappointed.
CARD SHARKS A-PLENTY IN OTK
Lately with Kareem and derChef Emil’s presence at OTK, card games have gained momentum at OTK since these two are known to be “card sharks” and between them, they possess an almost unique collection of card games among M’sian gamers.
Nightfall, Innovation, Glory to Rome, Sneak & Snitches, Ascension, Munchkin Zombies (yeah I saw this box in Emil’s loot!), 7 Wonders (Kareem has his copy long before the supplies hit local stores), Summoner’s War etc.
Today saw Sneak & Snitches on the table first…
… followed by Race for the Galaxy…
… while Citadels was also seen at the other table.
7 Wonders obviously made it’s customary appearance…
Nightfall making its first appearance in OTK (courtesy of Emil).
Elsewhere Heng decided to do some evangelising and taught the Citadels group how to play Carcassonne.
POWER GRID FEVER!
With the POWER GRID MSIA Tournament being the talk of the town, this game is naturally getting all the buzz! So when we shouted on our Facebook wall that we’ll be trying out the new RUSSIA map for the first time in OTK, we knew we will get some players… but we didn’t know we’ll get not just one session but instead two sessions of POWER GRID on the RUSSIA map in the same nite! Wow!
Rhyen, our resident Power Grid expert explaining how to play the game to Suresh and his fren who were here to learn the game (in order to enter tomorrow’s qualifier at Mage Cafe! Bravo!).
Russia presents a smaller market for power plants with only three power plants in the current and future market respectively. While this may seem like a minor change but having only three power plants to choose from can make for a very different bidding phase.
Map-wise, Russia has cheap connections clustered around its central region with the fringes being very very expensive connects.
The first session was a 6-player game among rhyen, Suresh + fren, Peter Gonci, Aycee and Jimmy.
I was told the game went to aycee with Peter being second.
That was the FIRST session.
Triona, fresh from her invigorating victory from the Wolf Game Shop Qualifier (sessrep here) decided to drop by OTK Cheras (for the first time!) with her fren Ian Binn to check out what’s the fuss about the Russia map.
They ended up playing the 2nd 6-player session on the Russia map with Heng, Rhyen, Jimmy and Peter Gonci.
The map above gives you an idea how the network distribution can work in Russia.
This 2nd session went close to the wire with Heng trying to find his best build in the last turn to determine if he can stop rhyen from closing out the game. Afraid not. Rhyen became the 2nd Russian Tsar we crowned at OTK tonite, joining the 1st Tsar Janvier.
I did not play in any of the sessions but from what I gathered from the veteran’s feedback, Russia continues F.Friese standard in delivering different yet quality expansion maps for the Power Grid series year after year. The other map in this expansion pack JAPAN will be the map we are using in the Power Grid Tournament Final hence we are not likely going to play JAPAN map until after the FINAL.
My gut instinct is telling me this Russia/Japan map will give the China/Korea map a run for their money as the “best” expansion map for the Power Grid series. We do have the Russia/Japan map available in our webstore and retailer stores (Boardgame Depot Bangsar) so if you wanted an early preview, pls feel free to pick up a copy from these stores. Or drop by OTK Cheras la!
While the main table was busy with Power Grid Russia, one of the three R2 tables did Homesteaders.
No IMF bail out required this time but Lester won the session on account of simply being debt-free.
The last game of the day was NAVEGADOR, Rio Grande’s (and Mac Gerdts) latest hot new rondel baby.
We did a 5-player game with Kareem, Emil, Ang, Caleb and myself.
Kareem using his Jedi Mind Trick to con Ang into spending all his hard-earned trade moolah to buy ships. Well, if you are into the Navigating strategy, buy la shipyards to support your plan! 😛
This game saw an early building rush… way before the navigators got their ships moving towards Nagasaki. I’d thought “building” would end the game.
But I was wrong as the navigators finally started mobilizing their ships in numbers and rush towards Nagasaki.
Leaving poor Black (that’s me) behind in Bahia smoking pot! :S
Nagasaki on the verge of being breached…. we did play a rule wrong (even though this was already our 3rd play). A small misplayed rule but one that does affect the choice of action/strategy in mid-game. Would be interesting to play this again with the proper rule.
This game plays pretty fast and offers interesting decision via the rondel. Not as deep as IMPERIAL (which I still regard as the best of Macs’ rondel games) but close. Perhaps we might do a RONDEL GAME DAY. J
However we are really serious about doing the Age of Exploration Game Day at Boardgame Depot in May (after we conclude our Power Grid Tournament). Watch our Facebook page for news on this game day.
We adjourned around 5 am since some of us have to wake up early tomorrow for the Power Grid Qualifier at Mage which starts at 2 pm. But today was one of the busiest OTK meetups with more than 20 gamers spread over 5 tables in Round 1, and even up to 4 tables in early Round 2.
OTK Cheras hosting 3 tables even though it’s past midnite!
The appearance of Empress Hacan the Merciful may indicate the re-emergence of Twilight Imperium 3 soon at Boardgamecafe.net’s meetup! Dare we hope? 😛
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