Boardgamecafe.net Meetup Report @ OTK Cheras 12/7/2013 – Among the Stars, Tzolkin, Suburbia, VivaJava The Coffee Game, Asara
No Theme night means we get to play whatever we fancy… so after weeks of harvesting, we finally got VIVAJAVA THE COFFEE GAME back to the table even if it’s just with 7. AMONG THE STARS (hinting at an ARTIPIA Theme Nite soon), TZOLKIN, SUBURBIA and ASARA were played. SPACE CADETS made a brief appearance but….
Gamers: Ian Tan, Seraphina, Ivan, Sinbad, Lester, Stefan, Kareem, CK Au, Waiyan & others.
Games: Among the Stars, Tzolkin, Suburbia, VivaJava The Coffee Game, Asara.
AMONG THE STARS
The early birds started with Artipia’s AMONG THE STARS when I arrived at OTK for tonight’s meetup session. Surprisingly waiyan – who’s usually not so into card games – was enjoying herself at the AtS table.
One of ARTIPIA’s highlights in last year’s Essen, this game has just got it’s expansion THE AMBASSADORS kickstarted. If you have been wondering what’s the fuss with all these Kickstarters, check out this Kickstarter blog post we updated a few days back.
Watch out for an ARTIPIA night @ OTK soon….
The other early birds – Sera & frens – were trying to shut down the world dabbling with the Mayan calendars in TZOLKIN. Lovely gears and oh, those crystal skulls. J
After TZOLKIN, this group attempted SPACE CADETS…
… but didn’t get very far and flunked their Academy exams. 😛
Rules not done well. They decided maybe something more down to earth? Like SUBURBIA?
City Sim theme has a general appeal and this game plays well with 3-4 players.
I like how they arranged the three suburbs to free up valuable table space for this game which requires lots of table space for your suburbs to grow.
VIVAJAVA THE COFFEE GAME
Our barista fren Ian has been chomping at the bits to get a session of VIVAJA THE COFFEE GAME last week(s). This week he got his wishes (and so did I) in getting VIVAJAVA to the table.
Kaz going thru the VIVAJAVA rules with the rest of the group. We did the full complement of 8 players then. I did not join that session and have been trying to get 8 players to come to the table to do another brewing round.
Cute coffee-meeples as part of the Kickstarter promos for this game…
We only got 7 players for this session. It’s good but I think 8 would be perfect as with this number, no player will get to do solo – like yellow above who was brewing on his own in the Asia space.
The game is about collecting the right type of beans in order to (cooperatively) blend a new Top Cup!
The rating of each blend is based on poker except this game rewards the 5-all-different (color) beans combination, known in the game as the Rainbow Blend (eg Samba Mama above)!
Players score points for each rated blend they collectively blend as long as the blend remains in the Top 5 best seller list in the world!
The countries throughout the world where you can carry out field researcher (to harvest more beans of the color you need). The map is divided into three regions, each having three countries for research.
Like VITICULTURE, the game is a rush to 21 VP (which triggers game end). The turn order is ala POWER GRID with the player who’s behind in VP having turn order advantage.
This is a coop game where every player thinks how best to screw the other party. Our session moved along briskly… maybe becoz one team managed to make a blend right off the bat in turn one. I guessed the changed the tempo of the game as the other players – instead of stepping back to do Research to set up their engine – also quickly went into blending in order not to stay too far behind in VP.
The game has four different Research tracks where players can choose how to specialize or diversify their research moolah. We didn’t get to do much research in this session – as noted above, the early Blend changed the game tempo to be more pro-blending. I do observed there’s a good number of end-game VPs coming from the Research tracks.
A solid fast-moving high player interaction semi-cooperative game that has the advantage of fitting up to 8 players. Wouldn’t mind to get this more often to the table. If you like this game – and like me, love it’s pretty artwork too – then you should check out it’s current Kickstarter VIVAJAVA THE DICE GAME. The kickstarter is due to end in a few days’ time so hurry!
Click here to go to the VIVAJAVA THE DICE GAME Kickstarter page
This game was a nominee for various game awards, and came from Kiesling and Kramer who did the Face Mask series (Java, Mexica, Tikal, Torres) that’s very popular with OTKers. Too many influx of new games caused this game to be off the radar…. but tonight in R2, we decided to take this out for a 3-player session to see if it compares well with it’s better known Face Mask siblings.
ASARA is about architects building towers. To build one, you need two minimum items; the base of the tower and the turret (top).
You can add as many sections of trunks & windows (mid-section) as you wish at any time but when you start a new tower, it must be complete with a base + turret.
Ivory (white) towers score the highest prestige points (VP) but also cost the most. And money is not exactly free flowing (you do get 20 coins each year but these gets spent quickly).. though if you use one of the “professional” expansion, you do get access to more cards (which can translate to more money – or actions).
Above: The Professional expansion that allows a player to add two more workers (cards) to his hand which if he does not wish to send them to perform actions, can always be “sold” for 5 coins/card. Does help to improve liquidity in the game.
The centre court where you need to send your worker if you wish to perform the build tower action. You score for each tower section you build, plus each tower scores at end of the year; and an end-game bonus scoring for highest tower, most number of towers, etc
The game uses the color cards to represent workers (so essentially this is a worker placement game unlike the Face Mask series which are action point games) but with an interesting twist. When a section – say the Bank (above) – has not had any worker performed an action there, the first player to do so may place a worker of any color (and immediately performs the action). In the example above, a green worker initiated the first action in the Bank.
Subsequent player who wishes to invoke the remaining actions in the Bank section will need to play a worker of the same color (ie green) or spent two cards of any color (as a joker) to represent “green” worker. Makes for some interesting bluff where you try to decide if your opponents have workers of any specific color to lock them out of any section.
Game is played over 4 years (round) and with each year having only 8 cards per player, the game moves along briskly.
Above: Nice colorful player shield to keep your “assets” well hidden (see below)…
Here’s an example of two towers built. Endgame scoring is for the tallest tower in each color (scores for the 1st and 2nd tallest only).
You score for both height and width.. So while you want to have the tallest tower(s) of the 5 different colors, you may also want to build more towers (wide) to score the Most Number of Towers endgame bonus.
How does this game compared with the Face Mask series? It’s much lighter than even TIKAL but it plays differently and has more Euro feel. Choice of actions look simple – and easy to learn or teach – but the “limited” cards you get each year means you do need to prioritize your options. Glad we finally got this to the table…. hint: Kiesling & Kramer Theme night? 😛
Stay tune here for upcoming news of our BGC Retreat – when, where, price, etc. We’ve already made a site visit and like the place very much.
Meantime feel free to read our past Retreat reports…
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