boardgaming in photos: REXKL, Ticket to Ride, Star Realms

9 Jun 2022. I attended the TTREXKL event as one of the gamemasters. This is a series of events organised by Kaki Tabletop and REXKL, at the old Rex cinema in KL city, near Chinatown (Petaling Street). The event promotes tabletop gaming and is not specifically for game designers and their prototypes, but it is an opportunity for me to get my games playtested with the general public. I brought five games. I had already decided to self-publish Dancing Queen, but I brought it anyway. I still wanted to get it played with more people to see if I could further polish it. The other games (all prototypes) were Beethoven vs Newton, Saikoyu, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Police. I managed to get four out of five games playtested, and I was happy with that. I wanted to observe people play, and learn from that. 
I was surprised that people seemed to be quite fond of Snow White. It was kind of okay for me. It seemed to click with people easily. This is a one-vs-many game, so technically it is Snow White versus the Seven Dwarfs. Snow White is the one-person team. The rest of the players are the dwarfs and they are one team. Snow White needs to find out who Happy is (I decided on this name so that I could make this dad joke: yeah, everyone is searching for happiness… ) while the dwarfs need to deduct who has overslept and has been left home. So this is a deduction game, but there is no doubt about who is on which team. Snow White’s identity is known up front. The game is simple, but you do have to pay close attention to what everyone is saying in order to be able to make your deductions. This keeps people engaged, and I think this is what makes people quickly take a liking. I will need to playtest this more with different groups to see whether it works consistently. Maybe this can be a publishable game. 
Saikoyu (mock Japanese name for “Psycho You”) in play
Video by Shean from Board Game Fantasy
This weekly event is still ongoing on Thursday nights, I think for two more weeks. If reception is good they may extend it or plan another run. 
This is the HABA game Mimic Memo, a game which teaches children to make and recognise various facial expressions. There are a few game modes and this is just one of them. This one is a cooperative memory game. The U-shaped track is the countdown track, and the pawn at the bottom left is for counting down. If it reaches the end of the track, the players lose. The green and blue cards will be shuffled separately and spread around face-down. On your turn you flip over a blue card and a green card to see if they match. You also have to make the facial expression on the first card you reveal. If the two cards match, you are successful and you remove them from the game. You goal is to remove all the cards. If the two cards don’t match, the pawn advances and you turn the two revealed cards face-down. 
There are many different facial expressions, and some are quite similar. You need to watch closely what others are doing to correctly identify the expressions. This game is part of the HABA Learning Program I run. It teaches children to express themselves and to recognise other people’s expressions and emotions. 
I taught Allen to play Remember Our Trip. This game is his, but he passed it to me to read the rules and teach him to play. We played the Singapore map. At this point we had built two landmarks (violet). Prior to this I did the Kyoto map with my younger daughter Chen Rui. 
Here you can compare how our individual boards differ from the common board. By examining the violet tokens on our individual boards, you can tell that we each built one landmark on the common board. 
This was a milestone. I had played 1000 games of Star Realms. I still maintain the habit of logging my game plays on
It had been a long while since I last played The Princes of Florence. This was one of the earliest games I purchased when I got into the boardgaming hobby. I am still fond of it. 
I played with my wife Michelle and younger daughter Chen Rui. This was the first time for Chen Rui and it was slightly overwhelming for her. We did not compete fiercely at the auctions. The Princes of Florence is best with 5 players, and the auctions is where the game is most interesting. With 5 players it can get brutal. We had only three, and we were not competitive, so our game was a little too peaceful. Well, that was the way Michelle and Chen Rui liked it. So I guess what was important was they were happy. 
My works
I hadn’t played for a long time and had forgotten some of the rule details. When completing a work, that work card itself being completed also counts as 1 point. Initially I thought it didn’t count. I had to double check the rulebook. 
Jesters are valuable, especially when you buy them in the early game. I remember they are worth about 600 – 700 florins in the early game. The starting bid is 200 florins, which means there is much space for competition. No one wanted to fight me for the jesters though, so I kept buying them. 
Chen Rui insisted on placing all the buildings onto an unused player board, like playing Tetris. 
One problem with the scoring board is it doesn’t have numbers on the multiples of 5. Only the multiples of 10 are numbered. This makes playing the game slightly inconvenient. This is a usability problem. 
When our game ended, Michelle (red) lost to Chen Rui (blue) by just 2 points. They were both just shy of 50 points. 
These were Michelle’s cards. She bought Bonus cards to help boost the values of her works. She also bought Prestige cards which gave her points at game end. 
I brought out The Princes of Florence mainly because I was gifted two mini expansions by a fellow gamer. Chen Rui hadn’t played the game before, and both Michelle and I were rusty. I wanted to play the base game at least once before trying the expansions. We still haven’t actually played the expansion. 
This is the African map of the Ticket to Ride series, called Heart of Africa. The route colour distribution gives you a tough time. Red, yellow and orange tend to clump together. Also blue, green and purple; and black and white. It is often challenging to collect enough of the colours you need. 
In the early game we already had a crisis moment. Michelle, Shee Yun and Chen Rui all needed to be in this area and they claimed routes hurriedly to avoid getting blocked. 
Things got hairy for me (green) in South Africa too. I expanded here along the western coast, while Chen Rui (blue) came along the eastern coast. We didn’t know how far the other needed to reach, and we were both nervous that we might be too late and end up getting blocked. 
One unique element in Heart of Africa is the terrain cards. When you collect enough of these, you may spend them when completing a route to double the route value. Normally when I play Ticket to Ride I don’t bother scoring the routes I complete. I do the route scoring all at once only at game end. In Heart of Africa I follow the standard rules because some routes will score double. I can’t wait till the end of the game because by then I might forget which routes to double. 
The south east was competitive. Thankfully it didn’t involve me. I was green. 
Most of my tickets were in the western half. 
This was around end game. With 4 players things were already tough. I imagine with 5 it would be downright punishing. 
Routes entering Mozambique were almost all claimed.
This is the Switzerland map, my favourite. It supports at most 3 players. 
My (green) situation was bad. I had started out from the capital Zurich and headed west. When I reached Bern, Chen Rui (blue) blocked my path. She not only claimed the route heading west from Bern, she also claimed the one heading north, and the one heading southwest. I should have said to her in the Darth Vader voice – Look! I am your father! How could you do this to me?!
I (green) had to get to Geneva in the southwest. Eventually I had to build a new path all the way from Zurich, parallel to the first path I had attempted. I did manage to get to Geneva, thankfully. Chen Rui wasn’t trying to screw me over out of evil. She really did need to connect a number of those cities. 
In this Switzerland expansion, jokers (locomotives) cannot be used on regular routes. They can only be used on tunnels (spaces with a bold outline). It is sometimes excruciatingly hard to collect enough of the colours you need for a regular route when you can’t use jokers. 
This expansion has country-to-country tickets, and the four countries neighbouring Switzerland all have 3 or more connection points. One big part of this expansion which I like is how you can draw tickets at a lower risk. If you have a decent network, chances are you will get a ticket which is already fulfilled, or one which is nearly fulfilled. Gambling and getting lucky is a wonderful feeling. It is not rare to finish the ticket draw deck. 


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