8th February 2023
This was a busy session with 4 lively tables hosting 19 gamers and 10 different games (some multiple times). Many of the games chosen involved exploring tunnels or caves or had some historical inspiration.
Kathy J. got a 5-player game of Clank going early as there had been some pre-session interest. Clank hasn’t been out on the tables since sessions 8 and 13. It is a light hearted deck-building game with a dungeon crawling theme. Soon the gamers were attempting to work their way down into the deeper caverns under the castle in search of better treasures but without making any noise, since making “clank” attracts the dragon.
Each turn you draw 5 cards from your deck and use them for movement, fighting, and skill (to find loot = more cards) in the chambers and caverns. New cards go in your discard pile and you work through your deck many times over the course of the game, trying to keep it balanced and enhance how far you can travel and what items you can acquire. Making clank means putting cubes of your colour in the dragon bag alongside the starting 24 black or neutral cubes. When new skill cards with dragon symbols are drawn you pull the number of cubes out of the bag matching the current danger level. As the game progresses there are less neutral cubes and more player cubes coming out, player cubes equate to health points - you only have 10 and healing is hard to come by.
After some early acquisitions of dragon eggs (that enrages the dragon) and each player picking up an artifact in almost consecutive turns the danger level was at 6. This means lots of player cubes were being drawn so it was time to head up to safety with that loot. Kathy J. and Steve L. had taken a slightly more risky clank generating approach and as the odds turned against them they were the first to succumb to the dragons wrath. Natasha M. and Tom M. made it out of the depths but needed to be dragged to the castle by helpful villagers to treat their wounds and count their treasures. Hannah S. lasted the longest having been a very quiet adventurer but didn’t get enough movement cards to escape the depths before end game. The final scores on treasures acquired were quite close but only those alive at the end counted. Despite the fatalities much fun was had and this one may be returning in future weeks to try some of the other maps and expansions.
Shorter starter games on the other tables were Cinco Linko, [Incan Gold][IG, and Point Salad.
Cinco Linko is an abstract game. As the name suggests, it is a variant of noughts and crosses or connect four, where you need to make a line of 5 in your colour. Each tile must line up with the flat side of another (no placing corners on corners) and your line of 5 can go orthogonally or diagonally.
Point Salad is a fun card-drafting game. There are 6 different vegetable types and a market of point scoring cards with options like 2 points per carrot but minus 1 point per onion. Your aim is to make the perfect combination of points cards and veggies to score the most.
Incan Gold is a push your luck game exploring a series of 5 tunnels under a Incan Temple looking for treasure and avoiding traps. Back from session 31 or look at our “Exploring and Adventure Board Games” reviews for this and other similar games.
Then the 3 tables worked out which 3 longer games they would be playing and settled on Sub Terra, The Great Zimbabwe and The Voyages of Marco Polo.
It was surprisingly the first time out for Sub Terra. It has been talked about many times and had a lot of interest but this session a group of 5 cooperative players all gave it a go. The game is about a group of cavers who get trapped deep underground and need to find a way out Each player chooses a character with 2 special skills, and then can perform 2 actions on their turn such as move, reveal a new location, heal, or traverse a hazards - such as gas, floods, slopes and rock falls. You can exert yourself for a third action, but this requires a dice roll (with 4+ as a success) and failure causes you to lose a precious life point. After everyone has had their turn, there is an event that can cause further hazards or even spawn a horror! Horrors will seek out the cavers and knock them unconscious. You must explore enough of the cave network to find the exit before the event deck runs out, or you all succumb to the hazards or horrors of the cave!
Catherine D., playing the Scout character, led an interesting group of 4 other cavers: Climber, Diver, Mercenary, and Bodyguard. Things started out reasonably well (apart from being trapped underground with no obvious exit) with a few groups of cavers exploring different sections of the cave finding gas chambers, flooded passages, and steep sections, but no horrors. Unfortunately Ian F.W. the Climber got hit by a cave-in, which started off a series of troubles, including various dead ends with a couple of horrors. One of the horrors was dealt with by Robin P. the Bodyguard, and Jeremy J. the Diver managed to hide from the other. After nursing their wounds the cavers soon found they were running out of time, and there were only a few unexplored tunnels on the other side of the case system. The Diver managed to reach a new area via some flooded tunnels but got trapped by a horror. The Scout then chanced upon the exit, just as the event deck ran out. This means you have to roll to not succumb to the darkness and horrors of the cave at the start of every round. The Bodyguard and the Diver were unfortunately overcome and lost to the cave system, but luckily the other cavers managed to use their actions to get to the exit - with Iker P. the Mercenary pushing himself to collapse unconscious on the exit!
The Great Zimbabwe was back from session 27 with a 5-player game of economics and logistics building monuments for African gods.
The final table of 4 set off on some voyages with Marco Polo. Played over 5 rounds, each player is a different character from history with a special power. Each round players roll 5 dice and then use them for actions: collecting resources or money, acquiring contracts, or travelling on the board. You start in Venice and travel east choosing different routes to get to Beijing. Higher value dice give better options for an action, but there is a turn timing element too as if a previous player has already chosen that action it will cost more. Victory is decided by points earned from trading posts and fulfilling orders.
There was still some time left for a quick table rearrange and more shorter games. Cinco Linko and Incan Gold returned with some different players who wanted a try having seen the fun the others had earlier. Another table got into the slightly longer Azul - last played in session 6, while others also tried Ninja Camp, a lightweight tile attrition game with a quirky animal ninja theme, out for a fourth time. Subastral a card collecting game was also back but for its fourth session in a row.
The next session is on Wednesday 22nd February. Let us know if there are any games you want to try. We are happy to bring and teach some longer games but for these it is best to watch a how to play video first and get started early. Otherwise, there are still many games that our committee and members bring for you to choose on the night. Contact us via Discord, Twitter, or email for more information.