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EPSOM GAMES CLUB February 19th 2011

The EPSOM GAMES CLUB game playing day was held at the Royal British Legion in Epsom. I believe this was their second such meeting and there was talk on the day of making it a monthly event.

I went along with my good friend James who hangs around on BoardGameGeek and so got wind of the event.

The venue was good, the people were friendly and the games were enjoyable. I was made to feel very welcome despite being an outsider and managed to play five new games during the day.

I spent most of my time playing and not much time taking photographs so there aren't pictures to go with each bit of text, sorry. Photos of games mentioned will be labeled as such otherwise they're just fillers so you can get a taste of the other action that was going on around the room.

There are no pictures of my first two games, I was just too excited!

First up was a light card game called Sabotuer by Amigo Spiel. Everyone is a dwarf attempting to mine their way to gold. One or two players, depending on the total number playing, are saboteurs trying to stop the others getting rich. Players have cards that allow them to build a tunnel complex. Most of the dwarves are trying to dig towards the three hidden goal cards (only one is gold, the others are coal) and the saboteurs are trying to head the tunnels off to dead ends or sabotage the other players' digging equipment.

It's a very light game. The saboteur(s), of which I was one, are easy to spot so there's no mystery. I wouldn't recommend this based on my single playing.

My second game was Vikings published by Hans im Glück. This is a board game ostensibly about Vikings exploring islands but suffers from the standard Eurogame problem of the mechanics coming first and the theme being tacked on later. The components are decent but the red and green bits were very hard for me to distinguish (I know it's my problem and not necessarily something a games producer should worry about but I can still whine about it). Consequently I found it difficult to plan my moves ahead of time and, whilst everyone else seemed to have worked out who was going to end up with what from the buying phase, I was left to react to the situation when my turn arrived. Undaunted however, I managed to score quite well at the end of the game.

Vikings is ok and the mechanics are interesting but the theme felt weak. The red/green problem didn't help but wasn't a game breaker on its own. Good company made this enjoyable but it won't be finding its way onto my game shelf.

Next up was Sun, Sea & Sand published by Cwali.  It's a game about managing a tourist resort. Here's a picture of the bits:

As you can see it's a bright game. The general tone of the artwork and the primary colours bring a real sense of summer to the table, you can almost hear the seagulls as you play.

The red and green components are further distinguished by being different shapes which made this easy for me to keep up with. However, there's a general sense of fiddlyness to things that marred the enjoyment a little. Thicker card and bigger counters would help, particularly for the ships. If this was corrected in a new edition I'd be tempted to buy a copy.

Gameplay revolves around each player allocating their workers to different tasks that improve their resorts, keep tourists longer and so increase income. Each task costs money and time so longer tasks tie up a worker for several turns. This looks like it should be the main consideration when planning your moves but in reality nobody was ever short of a worker to allocate.

I bimbled along concentrating on making a resort that looked pleasant and collecting the tourists I thought would enjoy it as they arrived on the quayside. Others, I noticed, spent a certain amount of effort booking tourists in ahead of time and trying to ensure attractions and accommodation were available when they turned up. Whilst I'm sure this is a viable tactic it all seemed like too much work for me. I also avoided worrying about the random backpackers that mill around supposedly benefiting you if they decide to stay. In reality the effort of attracting them isn't repaid by their visits.

Despite my failings I enjoyed the game and placed high enough in the final rankings to not feel embarrassed.

After a spot of lunch I played Lexio a Korean tile game from Dagoy. Lexio is a wonderfully tactile game with an appealing oriental look to it (unsurprisingly).

I was rubbish at it due in part to my deplorable starting tiles and my inability to count like a Korean. If I saw a copy for sale I'd buy it though, it's worth the money just to look at.

The game is essentially rummy with knobs on.

My final game of the day was Goa from Rio Grande Games (among others). The game is pictured above.

Talk about ending on a high note, this is a real winner and I've already set about adding it to my collection. The setting is spice production on distant colonies and the game includes an innovative auction phase and a more standard production/payment/improvement mechanic.

Once again the theme is tacked on to an essentially abstract game about resource management but the artwork and presentation are top notch and I found myself drawn in to the setting anyway. I had my usual problems distinguishing between some of the counter colours but I feel more forgiving this time because the colours were chosen to fit the theme unlike the red and green vikings that caused me problems earlier in the day.

I came last in Goa but enjoyed every minute of it. I look forward to playing it repeatedly in the future and I'm excited about introducing my usual gaming friends to it.

I'd like to thank the organisers of the Epsom Games Club and all the people I met on the day for providing an enjoyable day out. I extend a special thankyou to the people I actually played with who put up with the old fool who couldn't see the counters and didn't know any of the rules and never shouted at me once.