A Space Odyssey
The space faring race that we believed we'd be by 2001 is sadly not here. And it dose look like the Babylon 5 timeline may be the last hope for peace and space travel (yes, I am a B5 fan). But that doesn't matter. Just getting to Mars at this time in life, is a challenge and a dream of it's own. But in the gaming world, you just need the right team, at the right station to get from one planet to another.
Ganymede (from Sorry We Are French) is a card drafting game where you will be transporting mankind into the star, ship by ship, while building up your corporation as you go. Each player will have their own board, depicting Earth, Mars and Ganymede. With a reputation track that shows your corporation status, but unfortunately, no indication of where Weyland-Yutani is. As your reputation grows, so does your score, as well as the chance to preform extra actions. Max out your track and you have the chance to send a vessel into the stars, from Ganymede. And that is the object of the game. To get as many of your scientists, colonists, leaders and other types of useful human launched from Ganymede, into deep space.
On your board, you will select two scoring cards to place on the two spaceports situated on Ganymede. Each port has a prerequisite for types of humans needed, before it can blast off into the void, scoring you end game point. One port needs one human from each of the four sectors, (marketing/communications, leaders/managers, engineers and healthcare) while the other just requires three from the same sector. Each sector is represented by one of four coloured Meeple. Each scoring card has a fixed point value or a condition for scoring like, 1 point for each engineer you have transported or score the same amount of points as your reputation. Some even give you a bonus after your ship has departed, like a point of reputation or a free recruitment from any of the sectors. Plus the occasional card that will allow a ship to leave its port with one less crew member.
One giant step for mankind
How is this all possible? What technology will we need to take mankind beyond the starts? Well, anyone familiar to Splendor will latch on quickly. In the middle of the table, there is a pool of cards and tiles to pick from. Taking a tile will either recruit a human onto Earth or let you preform another special action. Special actions will permit you to transport a human to another planet/moon (Ganymede is not a planet) or gain a reputation point for example. The chosen tile goes into one of three spots on your board and each tile has a coloured symbol in the corner. If on a future turn, you take another tile and it has the same corresponding coloured symbol as a tile already in your tableau, it will multiply the effect of the new tile. Meaning you can recruit two or maybe three humans onto Earth, if you have all tiles with the same colour. Or mix and match the recruitment with a special action, as each tile has a choice of two options.
Maybe, you all ready have a team on the Earth spaceport and it is filled to it's capacity of six Meeples. You're going to need to transport them to the next relay point, Mars. To do so, you'll need to take a Earth card that has the same coloured Meeple as you have on Earth. Only if you meet the requirements on that card, will you be able to take it, sending the spaceship and the chosen crew members, to Mars. The same is possible for Mars, that has a smaller capacity of five Meeple. But this time, you'll take a Mars card, if you have the required Meeple there and transport them to either of the two spaceports on Ganymede. Be careful, as shipping Meeple to an overcrowded planet could mean some are lost in space...
In Space, no one can see you be special
These card, once taken, will go onto your tableau like the tiles. They also have the same coloured symbols on them and a dedicated space for them to be placed into. If you collect all five colour types of card, this will allow you, like when you max out your reputation, to launch a ship from Ganymede, whether it has it's full complement or not. Collecting multiple Earth and Mars of the same colour also has it's benefits, as some have special actions on them. These actions get multiplied for each card the same colour too. Adding a forth blue card to your board, with a move actions means you can transport any four of your Meeple to another space, or the same one, many times. Very powerful and useful.
Special actions can be had for ejecting tiles from you board, into space. On your turn, instead of taking a card or tile, you can discard any number of tiles you have to preform the same amount of special actions. Actions like recruitment, move, gain reputation, change the colour of a Meeple and choose a new scoring card. In fact there is a forth row in the middle of the table, and that is for these cards. They can be taken into your hand with a special action or whenever you launch a vessel from Ganymede, giving you the chance to replace it. Once a player has launched their fourth scoring card into the unknown sectors of space, the game comes to an end...
The Final Frontier
Space travel has never been so quick and smooth as it is in this game. After an initial play through, games become quicker, from an hour to almost half that time. It's light mechanisms give you plenty of choice on your turn and even thought some of your Meeples may be stuck on planets due to no ship wanting to take them to the next relay point, there is always something else you can do. It may slow you progress in this space race but can turn your game around. Especially if you are watching the other players.
There is a mild bit of interaction in the game, mainly from the pool that players are drafting from, in the middle of the table. But you can be nasty by watching what the other players are doing and take cards away before they have a chance to take them. But it is really a light family affair, that is easy to slip into, unlike Ripley's spacesuit. It has a low entry level and a concentration level that will not burn your brain out like a Martian heat-ray.
This is a small, compact game that shines like a beacon in space. It's theme comes through, unlike it's counterparts (Splendor or Century: Spice Road) as a space race to colonize the far flung reaches of the galaxy. With it's fluid drafting actions and rapidly increasing tension, as player multiply there actions, bringing their crews to Ganymede quicker and quicker. It's exciting up to the last round.
The game could even be called pocket sized, as all the components are smaller than what they should be. Small Meeple and cards, conceal the really cool retro artwork that looks like if came from a computer game in the late 80's. Which is a shame. Only the player boards and rule book, justify the size of the box that resemble a Monolith in space.
May it live long and prosper...
I have just gotten back from a little last minute break with the family. Something that we haven't done for a handful of years.
Do I like holidays...?
Well, not really. Sitting by a pool. Looking at other city centers. Exploring old buildings. Trying to find somewhere nice to eat! Not that I hate all of that, but doing it every day, for a week! Phew!!!! And all the while I am doing that, I'm thinking of all the other things I could be doing, at home. Music. Videos. Playing with friends. Removing weeds.
But I will say, I enjoyed the food and drink. And of course, the chance to be with my family.
I am somewhat sidetracked. I should be talking about games. Well, I'm just getting to that.
Just before leaving for this vacation, I prepared in my head a small list of games that would slide into our baggage. Small games that squeeze into small spaces (due to player 4 being a baby and more luggage then everyone else) and be squeezed into those small pockets of time that happen while away (before lunch, before bed). I also wanted to take games that hadn't seen the light of day. We are so use to playing Quirkle, Codenames, Splendor and Timeline in our everyday lives, change would be good.
So I packed four games that I wanted to play because they hadn't been played much or not at all. This list consisted of Harald, Kenjin, Elder Sign and Songbirds (which I was in the process of reviewing). But when they were put on the table to be played, my family had difficulty understanding the rule (maybe because they had their holiday, relaxing heads on) or they were not interested in playing that type of game... They stated that the would rather play Splendor or Qwirkle. =(
Both games got a lot of plays, in those quiet moments of the day when we weren't at the pool or wondering around a tourist attraction.
You're probably asking yourselves, "Barry, was this a cunning ploy on your behalf to get more games?" To which I will honestly say "no." But I will probably use it in the future if I feel the need to get hold of some new games.
***What is "the Monthly Video?" 0:20
***A Review of Reviews 1:39
Burky & Badger: Micro-mania
Burky & Badger Spoiling Storytelling
***First and the Last 8:12
***Question Time 15:33
What games to take on holiday?
***The Monthly Giveaway 20:02
Being a shrew business person doesn't come easy, unless you are just playing a card that will make you shred. In fact, most board game will convince you that you'd probably be a great business person due to the difficult decisions that you handle easily on your turn. And in Chartered, it's no different.
You'll be establishing warehouses in Amsterdam, contributing to the city that will grow to become the wealthiest city in the western world. You can become the best merchant, build chartered enterprises and purchase stock to profit from their expected growth. Your goal? Profit and wealth.
This is one of those "easy to learn and difficult to master" type of games. Where the rules give you only one of two actions to preform each turn. Buy a plot of land or construct a warehouse. And by the time it is your turn, you will have already decided what to do...fast paced decision making each turn.
Each space on the board has a number allocated to it. There is one card of each number in the deck and you will have a handful of ten cards, or plots of land to start the game. Buying another does nothing but give you more possibility's on your successive turns. As there is no hand limit, you are only restricted to the money that it costs to buy a card. Also restricted by your conscience, as you know that at the end of the game there is a penalty to pay for each remaining card in your hand.
Building a warehouse is a satisfying action to take. If you construct in the the middle of nowhere, you create one of the nine enterprises in game. Placing several of these "LEGO" like bricks on the board and stacking a HQ of that enterprise on top. Giving you some revenue and the chance to buy some stock, if there is any available. If you construct next to an existing enterprise, you make it larger, increasing the value of it's stock. Or joining two enterprises together, forcing a merger and a liquidation of stock.
It's not until you buy the right to become the owner of an enterprise that things become doubly interesting. Not only is your stock worth four time the amount to you, but also watching as other players either help you grow bigger or play elsewhere. Or worst of all, swallow your enterprise with their own, when they merge them.
All in all, with it's simple set collecting and area control, this is another game along the lines of a Ticket To Ride or New York 1901. Building in three dimensions and preconceiving the rises in the stock market (or manipulating them). A family style game with a heavy economy element, because it's all about the money. If you have the most after selling all your stock, guess what...You win!
Find out more by clicking the link to Kickstarter below or watch the video.
Immortal 8 is the latest game from Moonster Games, who gave us such great such as Crossing, Imagine and Miniville, (Machi Koro) that are proudly sat on my shelf. All of those are light, fluffy family games, but their latest game is aimed more at the hard core gamer.
what's my name?
In Immortal 8, you are in fact an immortal God. One of 8. You will be dealt your role at random and regard it in secret. Only you and you alone know your power and secret scoring ability for the end of game.
You will then construct a civilization, from nothing. You won't be needing any wood or clay to build the temples, treasury's, market or war machines. They just come into being. You are a God, are you not...?
Everything that is built has an action and sometime a bonus, that will give you civilization tokes of either the Military, Science or Chaos. Building that are built by you can be used by you. Building that others have built can also be used by you. At a cost. But your not restricted to building just buildings. There are the eye catching and elegant Wonders that can be used by all players, granting them some God like powers.
And Heroes. Every Greek God had heroes, why can't you. Create one that works for you. Make them in your image or not. Throw the other gods off on who you are. The last thing you need is for them to know what your objectives are. Because they will hamper you, burden you,
call you funny names.
a god's game
So each player will be a God and have two rounds in which to get as many points as they can.
Each God has their own way to score points as well as common path of victory points. Each round is made up of a draft phase, kingdom phase and supremacy phase. So not a lot of time to generate a victory.
In the draft phase, players will have five cards to draft from. But only a maximum of three can be constructed. The other get turned into different values of currency, depending on the card drift turn. Some constructions will give you civilization tokens that will be used by certain Gods to gain more points. This is a good way to get "found out" by the other players, as to which God you are.
In the second round there are only four cards, of which only two can be constructed...
In the kingdom phase, you get to active and use the actions of the buildings you have built to give yourself more civilization tokens and money. Money is used to use the buildings of the other players at the table. Don't worry. They won't rob you blind. Unless you are on the opposite end of the table. The further away the building you with to use is, the more it will cost. Luckily, they don't collect your money, they just gain some culture, in the form of a 1 pointed token.
A pool of Wonders will lay in the center of the table for everyone to use. Only once can you activate one of these and they grant tremendous power. Even the possibility to collect diamonds, a very rare provider of points. On top of that, if you have a Hero, they can go and do some dirty work for you too. Like give tokens to others or destroy buildings for fun.
Finaly, there is the supremacy phase, where the owners of the most Military and Science tokens will receive a four pointed, Supremacy token. Big points that are added at the end game.
"I am he"
The end game is the moment of great intensity. As one by one, the Gods reveal themselves and score their points. A nerve wracking event as you thought they were someone else and they score big points on your behalf. Building a building next to a player that profits off of it can be a huge mistake, although it gains you culture points. Maybe they shouldn't have use your building because they gave you enough culture to win.
The game becomes even more intense if one of the players is Tomorrow. They can score big if they can divine every players God.
All in all, a very deep and tactical drafting game that plays quick, doesn't flood the table with too much information and has you double guessing everybody's agenda. Check out the How To Play video below.
Or click the buttom below to find out more about the Kickstarter