Southampton On Board - 18 November 2013 - Gemstones, Trains and Broken Meeples

Well after getting good feedback from posting up the weekly gaming reports, I'm glad to be continuing the trend with last night's Southampton On Board session. Due to upcoming reviews I was keen to get some particular games to the table in preparation, that of Spyrium and Ticket To Ride: Europe. Fortunately my wish was granted despite the other quality games available. Quite a good turnout as well with 3 full games going on at once.


Spyrium was the first game to be played, and despite how much I like it, it's tricky to sell the game to others. Essentially you are an entrepreneur in the Industrial Age as a new resource "Spyrium" has been discovered. You have to acquire victory points by forming patents, constructing new buildings, utilising the experts available and claiming rent. The unique mechanic is that everything takes place within a "market" of 9 cards that show the experts, buildings and patents. You place your Meeples between the cards in the market and then remove them to activate or construct the card you want. However the position of everyone else's Meeples can bump up the cost of doing so due to high demand within the market. As each Meeple leaves the market, things get cheaper, but you risk losing the card to someone else if you leave it too long.

It's a great mechanic and bear in mind this game costs around £20-£22 to obtain and for something that's produced by Asmodee who are pretty good with quality, that's a bargain for a game with such depth, yet few components. Well I say few, it's hardly sparse with the cool looking green gems, fantastic artwork cards and the clear and concise board. That is just a light spoiler of the game, I'll be reviewing it properly later in November. Four of us were playing and each of us had a completely different strategy from mining excess Spyrium to hoarding money to working the factories. The first time I'd played the game I won by focusing on mining so I went for the complete opposite approach and sought to ignore Spyrium and monopolise the rental and market and construct as many buildings as possible. Another victory in the bag, but even though this is only my second game - I'm really liking this so far. 

I mentioned quality components - well. . . . normally they are spot on, but for the first time I've encountered one minor issue. . . . and it's a Broken Meeple! For the first time ever I've seen one up close - maybe it's a sign or an omen stating that my blog shall go on?

"My Broken Meeple blog now has a devoted follower - I shall instruct all my readers to now follow in his shining example (hacksaws not provided)"

Across the other tables were other popular games of recent months including Guildhall, which is a light card game I've been wanting to play for a while, but needs must unfortunately, and Terra Mystica. Now believe me I like Terra Mystica, but I'm not a fan boy and Z-Man Games are not paying me to publicise it. It's pure coincidence that in the weeks that I'm playing/reviewing the game (expect the review on Wednesday) that suddenly it's appearing at every games session for the last fortnight. Right, disclaimer out of the way.

"I swear I'm innocent!"

To round off the night we needed something light to get over the strategic influence of Spyrium and so without any hesitation I pulled out a Ticket to Ride game, the classic light gateway game and so far the only train game I actually enjoy. But then most other train games I've been introduced to have been 18xx or similar Euro games copying the style so that's maybe that's the reason. I hate the British train system, but I don't mind trains in general so please someone find me another train game to enjoy if you can. . . . maybe that deck-building game by AEG?

In particular I opted for the Europe map - not simply because I'm reviewing it soon, but also because it's the best one for new players as due to the train station mechanic it's not quite as cut-throat as some of the others. Set up took a while as I'd forgotten the setup rules (always a pain when you first play a game in your collection), but thankfully it's only a one-off. Only just got everything on the table, I'd forgotten just how darn big the board was. But isn't it just a beautiful board?

"Yeah, none of those plastic trains, I got me some quality wooden pieces to pimp my game up!"

My first impressions is that I enjoy this map - it's designed very well, but competition seemed to be on the lower side with regards to tracks. I think that was probably just luck of the tickets, but Europe is definitely a map I'd recommend for 4-5 players. I've got India and Switzerland for small groups which are far more contested. However Europe makes for a nice friendly introduction game and the tunnel rules allow for some randomness . . . . much to Jacob's annoyance as apparently health and safety measures are low on his list of priorities when it comes to digging tunnels, being crushed several times in one game.

A very close finish for the top two players despite using different ideas, but unfortunately I fell just short as I was having difficulty obtaining the right train cards to do my long ticket. Next time I'll try a different approach.


We barely finished both games on time to pack up the last game and get out of town, but it's good to get a full night of gaming in the time. Looking forward to next week! And maybe I'll go back to the camera - we had extra lighting this week so I gave the Ipad another go!


Games Played

Ticket To Ride: Europe with 1912
Terra Mystica