Posts Tagged ‘Review’

Small World

January 9, 2014

Smallworld is a quick playing civilisation and conquest game with a light-hearted family theme.

Each player selects a combination of race and power, and uses their selection to conquer territories on the board. Each territory you hold at the end of a turn scores you one point, collect the most points to win the game.

You can only have one active race at a time, which you use to conquer territories. You can then place it into decline, to no longer conquer, but to still score points on the regions it holds. You can also have only one race in decline at a time.

The key decisions are in which race to select from the available options, and when to move on to a new race. There are always six available races, and you can pick the next one for free, or spend victory points to pick a race further down the stack.

It’s important to trade off the advantage of purchasing a more expensive combination against the benefits it’ll bring.

The next choice is when to place a race in decline, too early and you won’t get the full benefit of your selection, too late and you’ll miss out on valuable scoring opportunities.

You need to watch how your opponents are doing. If you let another race sit in decline scoring lots of points a turn, then you will quickly fall behind. Don’t be afraid to go into conflict with other players, playing a friendly game by not attacking others will only see you lose quickly.

It should take around an hour to play, turns are quick and not overly complex, so there’s little excuse for analysis paralysis or long downtimes. Definitely worth playing and adding to the collection


Lost Cities – the board game

March 15, 2010

Lost Cities is a board game designed by Reiner Knizia and published by Rio Grande Games.

Players compete to explore one of five lost cities, moving along a track by playing numbered cards to get closer to the goal. The closer you get, the more points you score.

It’s a nice quick game, easy to learn and fast to play. It’s possible to play with either three rounds or one, and a one round game is a good way to finish an evening when there’s not enough time to play a longer game, or a good way to start when waiting for a tardy player.

There are 110 cards, with two sets numbered 0 to 10 in each colour. To take a step along a path you play one card, and then to take another step you must play a card of the same value or higher.

Turns are quick, either playing a card or discarding, then drawing to refill your hand.

As you move along the tracks there are certain bonus tiles, either extra points, free moves or artefacts (worth points at the end of the game). The bonus tiles are randomly dealt at the start of the game, and great attention needs to be taken of them to ensure victory.

You have five playing pieces to move along the tracks, one is larger than the others, and worth double points. It’s important to send this piece along your best scoring track, to maximise its value. A piece that only moves a couple of spaces will lose points, so don’t start along a track unless you are sure it is possible to move a fair way along it.

The game finishes when all cards are used, or when five pieces have crossed a bridge (about 2/3 along a path). Then each player scores their points, and a winner is declared.

This is a fun game to fill a spare half hour / hour. It’s unlikely to hold up to many repeated plays, and it’s not going to replace your favourite game any time soon.

Ticket to Ride

January 4, 2010

Ticket to Ride is a game for 2-5 players. You compete to collect sets of matching coloured cards, which you use to claim routes on the board, linking up cities to score points. You score bonus points by connecting certain routes (determined by destination tickets) or by having the longest route at the end of the game.

It’s a simple game to learn, with only three possible actions in a turn it’s very quick to explain. It’s quite quick to play as well, each turn is only a few seconds long, with only the very rare turn taking a minute or more to play. As such, it’s a great introduction to gaming , and something that people who don’t think of themselves as gamers could probably be induced to play without great hassle.

It works well with only two players, something that many games fail with, but I feel the best number of players is 4-5. With only two players then it can be quite easy to complete your Destination Tickets, with more players it’s quite a lot harder.

Longer routes are worth more points, but are harder to complete. Certain routes can be claimed by sets of any colour, and some require specific colours. Locomotive cards act as jokers, making it easier to complete these long routes. You need to complete a number of the longer routes (five and six in length) to be in with a chance of winning.

In addition to claiming long routes, completing Destination Tickets is key to winning the game. If you fail to complete a ticket, it costs that many points from your final total. Some tickets are worth more than 20 points, the difference between completing on not is the same as scoring several long routes on the board.

There are a number of expansions and follow on games, Ticket to Ride: Europe is the most popular, ranking 47th on board game geek’s list of games. It adds ferries (require locomotive in the set of cards claiming the route), tunnel (harder routes to complete) and stations (allow you to count routes not yours to complete tickets). This evolution of the game appears to add some interesting new rules, which I’ll probably pick up at some point, to see how much of a difference they make.

Dungeons and Dragons 4: First Thoughts

October 21, 2008

I know I’m pretty late to the party, but I’ve finally had a chance to read through my new copies of the Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide, and I’m pretty impressed with them.

The rules are presented clearly and are well explained, and the system has been streamlined from the Third Edition. Everything is less random, from the creation of statistics through to the number of hitpoints and on to the allocation of skills. This makes is quicker and easier to create a character.

I’m not sure how the system will play, but it seems to have been focussed more on the combat, especially the use of miniatures to deal with the positioning of PCs and NPCs. I think you will need to be careful not to foucs on the combat to the exclusion of all else, but roleplaying can happen no matter the rules system.

As a GM I’d be careful how I use maps and figures, making sure to only bring them out after combat starts, or to use them throughout a dungeon. Suddenly bringing them in to play at the start of an encounter would be a hint that it’s a combat, and it’s best not to railroad people into these outcomes.

So, my initial feelings are that it’s goning to make the game easier to get into (and so drag people away from Warcraft and its ilk), but could lose some of the depth previously available, which the GM will have to work to replace.