I’ve been slack since my previous resolution to post a weekly report – I didn’t go to game night 11 and forgot last week’s!
This week was a bit of an interesting session though. We were joined by Paul Grogan of Gaming Rules, who has been working with the likes of Czech Games Edition (CGE), Mage Company and designer Vital Lacerda, designer of some awesome games like CO2 and Kanban: Automative Revolution. Take a look at Paul’s YouTube channel for a look at some awesome video content.
Anyway, last night Paul came along with a bag full of goodies. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to try out Vital Lacerda’s new game, The Gallerist, due to player count and available time. However, we did get to try a prototype game of which I cannot name. It was an interesting idea of, basically, converting a First Person Shooter (FPS) video game into a tabletop experience. Even though the components were all prototype, the kernel of a good game was there so I’ll be interested to find out more about it once it makes the next leap towards publication.
By the time we finished the prototype Gary had arrived, so there were then six of us. I had a bag full of games for up to eight players, including my newest arrival, Asking For Trobils. I had backed the project, for the second time, on Kickstarter where it managed to collect just shy of $37k from nearly 900 backers. It is a worker placement game which plays up to seven players with a funky space theme. The idea is that Planet Paradise is being overrun with trobils, a pesky alien menace. Us, the players, are tasked with collecting the necessary resources, such as space carrots, traps and more, to ensnare said trobils.
The interesting thing about the game for me was the ‘bump’ mechanic. In most worker placement games (think Lords of Waterdeep or Stone Age) the action of placing a worker naturally results in that space being blocked for other players. In Asking For Trobils though players can bump other player ships from spaces they have used. The bumped ship goes back to the player’s hand and can be placed again on their next turn, whereas an un-bumped ship would have to be recalled as a turn. This is great because not only does it mean no-one is ever blocked from a space they need, but it adds a subtle extra strategic element to the game. Do you really need to go to the comet for some crystals and thereby freeing up your friend’s ship for him?
It wasn’t a universal hit. Murray has decided he isn’t fond of sci-fi themed games and Paul thought it was terrible! Me, however, despite my natural backer bias thought it was good. Most worker placement games are, by necessity, a more limited player count type game. Stone Age plays four, Lords of Waterdeep plays five (maybe six with the expansion) generally due to the available spaces on the board. With the bump mechanic and limited worker count it can get away with seven players easily without adding to the average game time. It means it’s pretty unique in my collection, so there it will stay!
After taking 20 minutes to pack away the thousands of pieces of Asking For Trobils Andy had arrived (taking us up to seven players!). Out of the various options left the only two that we could all agree on were Camel Up, last year’s Spiel Des Jahres winner, and Bohnanza… so we decided to play them both!
We started with Camel Up, which plays in no more than 30 minutes and involves players betting on which of the five chunky wooden camels will win stages of the race as well as being overall winner and loser. It’s got some nice components, including a pyramid dice shaker, some fun mechanics and a nice range of simple choices to make. There’s limited down time for every player, rounds (using all the dice) are over quickly, especially with more players, and has a nice bit of tension when someone decides to use the dice pyramid and move the camels!
After Camel Up three of the guys decided to leave a bit early and so four of us carried on with a round of Bohnanza, which is an older classic card game from Uwe Rosenberg who designed one the great games of the last 20 years, Agricola.
In Bohnanza players are bean farmers, planting and harvesting different beans from their hand of cards. During each turn players also have the opportunity to trade the beans from their hands with the active player to increase their bean counts and earn more money from the eventual harvesting.
It’s a great little game of hand management with lots of player interaction. I’m sure it’ll see plenty of table time this year. We had just enough time to finish before the pub kicked us out!