Portsmouth On Board - 13 November 2013 - The Shire, Endless Sci Fi's and Cube Empires

Well we kicked off with Southampton in my last post, (SOB 11.11.2013) now we are starting off the Portsmouth On Board page! As you may know I attend two groups regularly each month. Southampton is held every Monday, but Portsmouth is held every two weeks on Wednesday at The British Legion near Fratton Station. Portsmouth however has a great deal more members and as such the diversity of games involved is wide. If you wish to find out more about the group, visit us on Meetup.com (Portsmouth On Board)

"Concordia - and yes I'm using my digital camera this time!"

My last Southampton session was unplanned, but by luck someone had brought Terra Mystica along - this time it was intended that I was bringing my copy of the game all freshly opened and bagged up as I was playing host to Nigel and his friends from Games Quest (www.gamesquest.co.uk). Nigel had already played the game once before but I was teaching the game anew to his Polish friends. 

Trying to keep things as simple as possible, I used the introductory races as suggested by the rulebook - thankfully for me that meant I could test out the Halflings who I was eager to use to make a refreshing change from my first two games where I just ignored expansion and went straight for cult optimisation. I barely had time to explain each one before our resident female snatched up the Witches for her own - not sure if that was down to her playing the colour Green or if there's some hidden secret there. . . . hmmmmm. 

I was expecting teaching the game to be a hard task given the complexity of the game. That's not to say the rules are complicated, but there's a lot going on and the players need to be aware of them from the beginning. But teaching was wrapped up in about 20 minutes and by the first couple of turns they had picked up the game pretty well with only the odd rule-check required which is only to be expected for someones first time at a heavy Euro game.

"Terra Mystica - Halflings leading the points front"

It was a highly enjoyable game and one which required some stringent resource management as the bonus tiles and objective tiles didn't lend themselves well to income generation. As such the first 3 turns were very quick, but as normal with this game the last half is exponentially longer! The Witches grabbed a deserved second place for a last minute town to overtake the Nomads who were sadly leapfrogged on the Cult tracks reducing their influence there. The Mermaids fell a little behind but expanded their settlement well and I find them to be a difficult race to use well anyway. My Halflings took the trophy for establishing the largest settlement and making the most of their racial ability with mass terraforming. Surprisingly I'd managed to do well on the Cult tracks despite saying to myself at the start I was going to ignore them mostly, but hey when you've got spare priests after grabbing the cheap spade exchange rate (spades = terraforming in this game) what else are you going to do?

But that wasn't the big surprise as I turn my head to my right and see that my good friend Jim's 5 player game of Core Worlds expanded was still in it's last phase. How?! Core Worlds taking longer than a 4 player game of Terra Mystica? Seems as if the Analysis Paralysis in that game was a little prominent, which I expected to be the case in my game, but all four of us managed to keep the turns fairly quick.

"Core Worlds with Galactic Orders"

We still had time for one quick filler courtesy of Nigel in the guise of Eight Minute Empire - now this had intrigued me for some time as the title makes it sound like you're playing an epic game in a very short space of time. Well yes and no. You're building a big empire, but it's essentially cube pushing and eight minutes is only true if each player knows exactly what they are doing and can do it quickly! So OK, eight minutes is doable, but for us it was more like twenty to twenty-five.

"Eight Minute Empire"

Essentially it's a mini-area control game with a resource card element. You choose a card from a row of eight that has both a resource and an action on it. Obtaining multiples of the same resource is beneficial at the end of the game but you also have to balance out being able to move your cubes out to occupy territories. Points were very tight with only a 2-point spread from first to last...............guess who came last.........yeeeaah, going for a set collection strategy didn't pay off! I wouldn't call the game anything special, but it's innovative in how it's implemented in what can be a 10 minute game so kudos to the designer for a unique idea. It's fine, but give me a game of Kakerlaken Poker, No Thanks or Love Letter any day!


With the final orders declared at the bar - the night ends with reports from the other games flooding in . . . and finally a conclusion to the Core Worlds marathon that was taking place. Never did find out who won that game actually - going to have to check with Jim next time I see him!

"Early setup stages, too many at the bar and a strange mutant on the right there"

2 weeks till the next meet - do I opt for something a bit more simpler or do I think they would enjoy Caverna?

Games Played

Terra Mystica
Core Worlds
Letters From Whitechapel
Eight Minute Empire
Ricochet Robots


"Ricochet Robots"

"Letters from Whitechapel"