Southampton On Board - 2 December 2013 - Knights, Big Monsters and an Wool Excess

A late arrival (curse you Southampton traffic as per usual!) meant I almost thought I was going to be stuck for a couple of hours testing out Le Havre on the Ipad while listening to a 6 player game of Catan take place (seriously 6 players are you mad?!), but thankfully I was invited into a last minute game of Lancaster not realising that it could house 5 players - result!

Knowing very little about the game and even the rules which had to be explained in a hurry due to my lateness, I was keen to show just quickly I can pick up a game and formulate strategies. I did have some worry though when I noticed Queens Games was the publisher and my most significant encounter with them was the god awful and hateful and frankly hellish. . . . . Kingdom Builder which if you listen to my podcast you'll know it's a game I detest with a passion. 

"Lancaster - it does look pretty but arggh, boring wooden cubes on the left!"

The game however plays very smoothly and there was next to no Analysis Paralysis despite the plentiful options available. I'm not entirely sure why it's called Lancaster though considering Lancaster doesn't appear on the game board anyway - I'm probably going to get flak for that, but please bear in mind I have little to no knowledge or interest in British history whatsoever. However I noticed that Somerset was one of the counties you could visit and it was one of the "top" ones - as it should be. . . . seeing as I'm originally from there.

During the game you have to acquire knights which you place down in worker placement style in the various counties as well as your own castle building and in the "wars" against France. You can upgrade these knights over the course of the game and build up your castle so that more money and squires (spend for actions) can be obtained.

When placement is finished a voting round takes place for 3 laws to be in place which allow each player to gain victory points or resources depending on what they already have. This was a highlight of the game as depending on how much influence you had (boosted by buying politicians from each county) you could make your vote count for the laws you want. I liked this part of the game very much and so based my strategy on this part primarily. 

The game finished with me scraping a victory after lagging behind for a significant part of the game. Not bad after a quick crash course on the rules, but that's a good thing about the game - it's simple to learn for a Euro, there's several paths to victory but you do benefit from a balanced approach and you can catch up if you start badly. The component quality is also very good and chunky, but then it carries a price premium.

"5-6 player Catan is madness - it drags the game out too long. I wonder who's stuck with the useless wool?"

The Settlers of Catan had finished their game at the same time as us and proceeded to finish the knight with a couple of games of King of Tokyo. We however tried out some filler games, starting with Coup, which I recognised as it gets mentioned a lot when people talk about Mascarade (see my review of Mascarade). Unfortunately given the choice, I'd play Mascarade due to the hidden nature of the cards. The first impressions of Coup was that there was a serious power imbalance with certain cards - the Duke must have been used a hundred times. It's also not as laugh inducing as Mascarade but then the latter is designed as a party game so that's only to be expected. It's a simple filler, not very thematic, but does its job.

"Coup - there's more colour in the table cloth then there is in the game"

Following a few games of Coup we moved on to Sushi Go, a very simple card drafting game (think 7 Wonders) where you pass cards around and collect sets of various types of Sushi. It's about as simple as you can get, after all it's just a little filler, but it's nice enough. It made me want to play 7 Wonders again.

"King of Tokyo - Oi, Gigazaur, get back in Tokyo AND KILL THAT STUPID CYBER BUNNY!"

Games Played

Settlers of Catan
King of Tokyo
Sushi Go