Yet another group of gaming sessions that I had a great time at. This edition features The Jester’s Court (my local FLGS), Sergio’s House, and a new location, my wife’s school. My wife, Maile, teaches at a local school called Juniper Ridge that focuses on alternative learning styles. I bought 5 games for her class for them to keep, and I went in to teach them how to play. Lords of Scotland, Firefly: Shiny Dice and For Sale are also played!
Machi Koro, Coup & Hanabi
Since the school is new and this is my wife’s first year teaching there I bought some board games for her class room and recently went in to teach her kids how to play them. They’re 8th graders but they did an amazing job at learning the games and helping one another. I was pleasantly surprised!
We had two copies of Machi Koro, two copies of Coup and 1 copy of Hanabi so I described the games and split the kids up by their interest in the games. 1 by 1 I described the games to the groups and they broke off to play. I played Coup with one group and Hanabi with another. Since Machi Koro only supports 4 players I let the kids have all of those slots.
I spent a lot of the 2 hour time slot walking around and answering questions and being a Rules Referee. One group playing Machi Koro had very few questions, and the other had a good deal more, but both went off without any serious hitches. Coup generated the most questions by far, and a lot of time was spent walking between those 2 groups and dealing out rulings about assassination attempts. Hanabi was only played once because it was the game I was least familiar with.
Together with the 4 kids at the table we blindly built our fireworks show, since in Hanabi one can see everyone else’s cards but not their own. Together we scored 17 points, which I thought was pretty good since it was 4 of the 5 players’ first time playing.
Outcome – I was the second person eliminated in my group of Coup, but together with my Hanabi group we got a respectable score for a first attempt! I look forward to going back and playing with them again soon!
The Jester’s Court
This past Board Game Night we were all setting up for Munchkin Gloom when we discovered that we had 1 too many people. Since one of the owners, my friend Trudy, really wanted to play I bowed out to read the instructions for Shiny Dice in preparation for a gaming session at Sergio’s house. While I was sitting nearby one of my buddies, Brian, suggested that we play For Sale. It was my first time playing but the game was SO easy to learn that everyone picked up on it instantly. Jeremy and Ethan joined us and we began. In For Sale players go through multiple turns of two main phases, both of which are bidding phases.
In the first phase players use their starting coins to bid on properties which range in lavishness from a cardboard box with a value of 1 to a 30-point space station. For further reference a truck with a camper has a value of 14, and a nice 2-car garage home is a 22. Four cards/properties are laid out at random (in a 4 player game) and the players bid on them. Losing bids get half of their final bid back to use on future turns and at any time a player can choose not to raise their bid when it’s their turn (or bid at all) and take the lowest available property. That’s one of the greatest things about For Sale: the balance of Current Turn vs. Future Turns. One has to strategic with their finite money and maneuver their way to getting the best properties.
The second round begins after all of the properties are dealt out through the first bidding phase. During the second phase players bid on rent instead of more properties, and they use their available property cards (with different values, remember) to make blind bids for the 4 random rent cards. These cards range from $0.00 to $15.00 and serve as victory points at the end of the game. Players each lay one of their properties face down and then all are revealed; the highest valued property takes the highest rent card, the second highest property card takes the second highest rent, and so on.
Rent plus remaining money from the first round are tallied up and the winner is the player with the highest rent/remaining money combination.
Outcome – On the first game of For Sale I came in 2nd place. In the second game I came in 1st place. If that trend continues then next time I will come in SUPER-1st place, which is even better than regular 1st place.
Firefly: Shiny Dice
Even though I had played Shiny Dice for the first time at The Jester’s Court earlier in the night, we had bumbled our way through the rules and it was a learning game, so at Sergio’s was kind of the first time I had played the game really. It was Sergio’s first time playing it at all and technically my second time.
In Shiny Dice the players take turns rolling the 15 custom dice. There are 10 Crew Dice and 5 Foe Dice. The enemies are recognizable to anyone familiar with the show; Niska, Saffron and Badger and each one affects the players in different ways. Niska renders a member of the crew unusable, Saffron disables crew members (but they can be used after she is defeated if the player chooses to press their luck and continue with another turn), and Badger steals goods which can be converted to victory points at the end of the game. The Crew Dice, which are divided into Hero Dice (each with sides representing Mal, Zoe, Jayne, Wash, and Kaylee) and Crew Dice (each with sides representing Book, River, Simon and Inara) are activated to deal damage to the enemies, save other crew members, re-roll dice, etc. These powers are used to maximize damage to the foes and minimize the number of dice used to do so.
After the enemies are defeated a player loses all “K.O.ed” dice and can choose to either end their turn or press their luck to take another turn. For example, if a player used a total of 3 dice to defeat the foes on his/her first turn, then they might choose to try again, rolling the same 5 Foe Dice and the remaining 7 Crew Dice. It’s risky though, because if a player presses their luck and takes a second turn (or third) and fails to defeat the foes, then they lose all points gained during previous turns. That’s the gist, anyway.
The rule book is a little lacking on some of the finer points of the game and there is little clarification, and the optional missions are one TINY step away from being useless/always a bad idea. Regardless the game is fun and we had a good time playing it. It’s an inexpensive way to play a quick game in the ‘Verse, and the component quality is simply outstanding. It comes with 2 player mats instead of 1, an unnecessary but very welcome addition, and the dice are amazing!
Outcome – Sergio beat me. He’s a horrible, horrible person.
Lords of Scotland
Let me start off by saying that the Z-Man Games reprint of Lords of Scotland is beautiful! The artwork is great and the cards are beautifully printed linen. It’s the kind of high-quality components I have come to expect from the small-box, card games produced by Z-Man Games. I had never played the original Lords of Scotland and was honestly lured in by the title, the box artwork, and my love of another Z-Man card game, Arboretum, so I purchased it. Sergio and I gave it a shot.
The game starts with the oldest player getting to go first (finally, a benefit to that!) and players can either play a card from their hand or recruit one from a line of available cards. Some of the available cards are facedown, but as a s round progresses more are turned face up. As cards are chosen from the lineup more replace them. If a face up card is taken a face up card replaces it, and the same for face down. A round lasts 5 turns and a player has to chosen how to play his cards and/or choose new ones.
The cards, which represent Scotsmen of different clans with values ranging from 1-12, are played to represent a battle called a Skirmish in the game. The different clans have different powers and there are bonuses for playing only cards from a single clan. At the end of the Skirmish the player who has fielded the most powerful army gets to go next on the next round and gets first choice of Supporters (cards from the deck laid out face up at random with different values) which count as victory points at the end of the game. The game ends when a round is completed and a player had 40 or more Supporter value/victory points. Highest wins.
There’s a little more to the game that that, but in short it is a fun, fast, super portable filler game with lots of strategy. It is another game where a player must balance winning the current round against planning for successful future rounds. These types of games greatly appeal to me and I usually do pretty well at them.
Outcome – Sergio might dominate the sky, but Matt controls the Highlands of Scotland! You might even say that I came in SUPER-1st!!!