RogerBW's Blog

Thirsty Meeples February 2015 04 February 2015

Back to the boardgame café for two new games and one old one. With images; cc-by-sa on everything.

We began the evening with Black Fleet, a simple game of merchantmen and pirates. Your merchantman takes goods from port to port; your pirate ship runs down enemy merchantmen, steals their goods, and buries treasure; the two ships of the Navy, controlled by whichever player is active, chase down and sinks pirates. Movement cards give one a choice about which ships to move farthest.

One is never at a loss for what to do on one's turn. There's usually a merchant run to be completed, or an enemy merchant within range to be robbed. Conflict is assured, indeed pretty much forced by the narrow sea lanes.

Everything is scored in doubloons, rather fine small metal coins (I'm a sucker for weighty components in a game). One buys upgrades, from a set dealt randomly at the start of the game, and when one's bought all four one can pay some more to win the game.

Fortune cards allow one to break the rules, and the possibility of fortune cards prevents too much analysis of optimum routes. I ended up winning by having two money-earners ready to go without warning, bringing me in enough cash to buy the final card.

It's probably a good introductory game, but even we experienced beardy gamers had a lot of fun with it; I don't think I'll buy it straight away, but I wouldn't be surprised if I picked it up eventually.

We went on to revisit Among the Stars, which we'd played last July with just two players, and thought it didn't really work. This time we had three, and used objectives (Suburbia-style "score this much for having the most of this type of thing") and alien races (each tweaking the game in a minor way).

It was much more enjoyable without the dummy player mechanic, even if we did pretty much fill the table.

I messed up several of my cards through failing to supply energy cubes, but still thought I was doing reasonably well, until one player picked up forty points of game-end bonuses.

I think Suburbia mostly fills this sort of building-game niche for me, particularly since it accepts a greater complexity in return for being able to have both forward and backward influences (if thing A gets a benefit from being placed next to thing B, in Among the Stars you need to place thing B first in order to gain said benefit, whereas in Suburbia it doesn't matter as long as they end up next to each other). Still better than I had thought it was, though I think it might even be improved without the hand-passing.

Finally we had a couple of rounds of Council of Verona. In a setting borrowed wholesale from Shakespeare, one's playing characters either into the council or into exile; some characters have things they want to happen (like "more Montagues than Capulets on the council"), while others have powers ("move someone from exile to the council"). One puts face-down influence markers on people whose objectives seem like to succeed (or of whom one wants ones opponents to believe that one thinks their objectives are likely to succeed).

Doesn't leap out and beg to be bought. Yes, there's something to it, and it's probably better with four or five players where one has four influence markers each rather than three; there seemed to be a significant advantage to being the last to play (last player won each game).

See also:
Thirsty Meeples July 2014

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