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More Heroes of the World and Thunderstone

I managed try Heroes of the World out on some gamers last night and it got a universal thumbs up. It was also the first board game i have won in January (or at least it feels like it). Now i must not let my enthusiasm for the game be lifted by a very occassional triumph. As an aside the name of the shop 'Boardgameguru' came about as an ironic reference to my performance over a weekend of gaming were i managed to come last in all seven games played. Back to the game - it is a light and tactical game and to be successfull your main prority is to set your self up to take advantage of what the player to your right does whilst not leaving anything for the player(s) to your left. I think an early wonder is quite good as well even if only to scare the other players.

I have now played Thunderstone multiplayer a few times and all i played with preferred it to Dominion. It could just be the 'cult of the new' but the theme seems to help the game rattle along and despite the low (overt) interaction we all enjoyed the game - especially when the 'Noxious Slag' reared her head in the dungeon. My only concern is that it's going to see a lot of table time and the variety in the game might wear thin before the expansion comes out in the spring.

Magic the Gathering

Sometime in 1995 i had one of those 'Eureka' gaming moments when i was introduced to Magic. Within a week of ripping open my first booster i had a couple of thousand cards and went on to have my life dominated by making decks and playing them at tournements in and around London. I stopped being obssessed by the game some time in 1998 and gave up altogether a year or two later.

I played a Zendikar booster draft last night, my first exposure to a new set in a long time, and despite coming very last i thoroughly enjoyed it. It's amazing to that, after seventeen years, the game feels fresh and interesting. Having a boardgame 'habit' is bad enough for my wallet; i don't think i'll be rekindling my love affair with Green/White weenie decks.

Board Game Prices

I have noticed when restocking games that prices are continuing to go up. The Combat Commander series now has a RRP of £59.99 ,Railways of the World £58.99 and Descent £69.99 These are just three examples. Without doing a detailed analysis i would guess that most mainstream games have increased in price by between 40% and 75% in the last 20 months. That is a huge increase compared to RPI. I am not going to speculate as to the reasons. I know board games sales have bucked the trend of the recession but i don't believe that the elastcitiy of demand is such that these increases are sustainable, especially in a market where good games are released week after week.

Infinite City

Infinite City got it's first outing last night. I enjoyed the game, sort of Carcassonne meets Fluxx meets Dominion. The tiles are chunky and there are a lot of them with game play incredibly simple. Lay a tile, place a dobber on it then carry out the instructions on the tile. The game ends when someone has all their fifteen tokens on the table and then the person who has the most points wins - points awarded for areas over 3 continuous populated tiles and points on some buildings.

The actions on the tiles allow for a lot of screwage, it's difficult to plan too far ahead as your opponents will no doubt shift your men and break your areas. It seemed sensible to try and keep a few defensive tiles in your hands at all times and to forge alliances. I need to play it more before i make my mind up. I ducked out after the first game and two friends played again, which they abandoned after the first turn because one of them had a stella draw which resulted in them playing five tiles and having ten in their hand at the end of the round. Game over. I suspect three or four players might be the sweet spot - with five or six it might just be too anarchic.

Thunderstone - Dominion killer?

I played a couple of solo games yesterday and was very impressed. The 'build a deck' mechanic of Dominion is, probably, the most interesting game mechanic of the last few years, and imitations were never going to take long to appear. Thunderstone borrows (steals?) the mechanic and uses it to make a fun dungeon crawl game. Like Dominion the main interaction between players is the race to the finish though there are interesting timing questions as you take the limited saupply of heroes. Thuderstone is a little rough around the edges and there are a few rules that are not clear without a reference to the Geek. However, it is a fine game and already has a first expansion scheduled for release in the Spring. I suspect that, like Dominion, the game will be even better with expansions

It does not have the finesse of Dominion, but Dominion does not have the fun of Thunderstone.

World Without End

'As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods, they kill us for their sport'

King Lear must have played World Without End. I do like this game, i like it a lot but i am begining to wonder if it's a Euro man's snakes and ladders.

Planning in this game can be rewarded with what seems like cruel fate. Pay your dues at the end of chapter? Check, everyone else fails and then an event causes everyone to lose their action next turn. Build up medical knowledge seeing that everyone else ignores it? Check. Event gives everyone free medical knowledge. Ok what else can go wrong? Oh an event wipes out the plague a the begining of the fourth chapter...At least the event that wiped out a house got rid of that redundant medical knowledge generator

I think the lesson is to keep the plans flexible, be happy grabbing incremental point scoring opportunities and enjoy the ride. Everyone in my game got hit to a lesser or greater extent, and whilst it might feel like a lottery at times in all the games i have played the winner was the best player (not me!)

This game is not for the control freak, or the self pitying (Lear, were he a gamer, should definately avoid this one). It is a very tense two hours of crisis management played on a lovely board with quite a bit to think about.

Heroes of the World

A friend from Spain is living with us at the moment and having never played a 'proper' boardgame before 2010 is now demanding a new game every night and has worked his (and mine) way through the Spiele Des Jahres winners of the last decade.

As a diversion from the relentless demand for Zooloretto and Carcassonne i tried 'Heroes of the World' as an introduction to area majority . Somewhere at the back of my mind i was hoping he'd like it and demand 'El Grande' or 'History of the World' next. Perhaps a little unrealistic...

Well he did not like it but i did. It's made by Sirius game who don't seem to have a website or to be very good at publicising their games. It's a shame as 'Heroes of the World' deserves a wider audience. Gameplay can be described as 'A briefer brief History of the World'. It has attractive components and the game is played on a map of the world divided into nine regions. Each region has either three or four boxes in which discovery tiles are placed. On a players turn he or she plays a historical leader card from his hand who has 'influence' in one or more regions on the board. The leader has ratings for how many population can be placed on the board, how many dicovery tiles are drawn form a bag and placed on a region, a conquest rating for bashing people and an income. The player gets to take all of these rated actions in the order above. All of the activities can only take place in a region where the leader has influence and when the discovery boxes are full a region scores - with the players with the most population in a region scoring points depending on the value of the discovery tiles (tiles vary in value from 0 to 4 - hte zero ones are great for screwage)in the region. Players can spend their income to buy Wonders of the World which provide a one off benefit or can buy VPS or to move population around.

The game is played in two epochs, the first ending when four regions have been scored and the second when eight regions have scored. There is a different deck of leaders ofr each epoch and a different set of discovery tiles. One of the best parts of the game is that at the begining of the game you are dealt two random leaders and on your turn you select a third from a face up pile or a random leader from the deck. This gives you a little bit of control, you can try and plan ahead or keep a portfolio of leaders to react to other players moves.

This is a light and quick game and is not going to appeal to those looking for a quicker version of '7 ages' or even, 'Endeavor'. It will appeal to family gamers and i think it would be an excellent purchase if you wanted to try and ween a teenager off 'Risk'. Just don't try it on my lodger....

BoardGameGeek new features

The 'Geek has a couple of new cool features

The games tab now allows you to see the ranking of family games, gamer's games and light games. I hope that those new to the hobby will make use of the family and light games tabs because a lot of people see that Agricola is the number one ranked game, buy it and are then lost to the hobby.

The second is the ability to find a random game - hoping to unearth a gem i stumbled across this. Maybe not so cool after all.

New Releases : 19th January 2010

We can call of the search as the last (and great) Essen releases are arriving in the UK next week

The first is Dungeon Lords from Czech Games Edition and Zman. It’s original, entertaining, and moderately complex – moreover, it's the most fun you will ever have playing a Euro. Vlaada's best since Through the Ages and one of the picks' of Essen 2009

‘Thunderstone’ is an adventure game that borrows heavily from the ‘build a deck’ mechanic of Dominion. Where Thunderstone differs from Dominion is that it adds some theme and narrative to the mechanic and I can’t wait to play this. Tom Vassels’ excellent video review can be viewed here

‘Infinite City’ is a tile laying game in which players try to control districts and buildings in the city,one commentator has described as ‘a cross between Carcassonne and Tigris and Euphrates’.

The last of the Essen releases is Cyclades, a strategy game that plays in an hour with gorgeous components. I drooled over this at Essen but as it comes in a rather large box i could not bring one home. This review is worth reading.

Panzer General : Allied Assault is a quick playing game of WWII using a unique blend of cards and a board game. It’s based on the Xbox live game from ubisoft. A review of the game can be found here

I have two new sets of expansions for Steam and Age of Steam from Bezier games. Both products contain three expansions, the first is ‘Alabama Railways, Antebellum Louisiana & Four Corner’ and the second ‘1867 Georgia Reconstruction, South Carolina & Oklahoma Land Rush’

For fans of Cash n Guns i have imported 'The Uzi expansion', originally a give away at Essen 2008 this was reprinted in a small edition. I also have a few German expansion cards (The Golden Eagle, the Saboteur, the Manipulator) for Planet Steam - if you like a set then please email me. They are £10 each inc. P&P.