Forty Ninth Session - Bags of Birds

St. Ives Tabletop

8th March 2023

This was an 19 person session despite the horrible cold and snowy weather, and we had 3 board game tables active playing 7 different games between them, and the D&D story also continued.

Short games this session were Ecosystem, now at its fifteenth session showing what a popular and easy to learn game it is. Ukiyo was also back from the previous session, Coloretto had its fifth outing, and Patchwork Doodle was back for its third for some Tetris-style colouring in boxes fun.

Dune: Imperium had been pitched on Discord in advance and so it was easy to fill its 4 seats. The other gamers split into 2 tables of 5 and selected Wingspan and a new game to the club, Orleans.

Dune Imperium

Dune: Imperium is obviously inspired by Frank Herbert’s book series. In this game the action is on the desert spice producing planet Arrakis, with each player taking on the role of a Great house. It is a deck-building game with an asymmetric start due to the different unique leaders, but otherwise the same deck of starter cards. As the game progresses you develop your pack and can bias it towards certain strategies. You might become more powerful militarily, able to deploy more troops than your opponents. Or you might acquire cards that give you an edge with the 4 political factions represented in the game: the Emperor, the Spacing Guild, the Bene Gesserit, and the Fremen. Play proceeds with players placing Agents to the game board, and then when there are no more in hand to place revealing the remaining cards, which will provide Persuasion and Swords. Persuasion is used to acquire more cards, and Swords help your troops fight for the current round’s rewards. Overall victory points are determined by combat and politics.


It was actually Wingspan: Oceania Expansion that the table selected, meaning the players had to learn a new food type: nectar. Nectar is a wild card resource that can be used to feed any bird as well as activate spaces on the new play mats and many of the new birds’ special abilities. One in three of the dice faces have this wild resource making acquiring food easier than in the base game. Spent nectar is also a new way of scoring victory points for end game. However, nectar does have a drawback - it spoils and is discarded at the end of each round, so you need to make sure you can use it to place new birds before the round ends. Nectar may make the game easier for beginners, because food management is less critical, and creates bigger end game scores as more birds will be played and bigger engines developed over the 4 rounds. The expansion also adds more birds of course, all from “down under” with some new abilities and new end of round goals.

Kathy J. finally managed to successfully pitch Orleans, a bag builder worker selection game with a Medieval French theme - it has been on the options table for a few weeks now. The gameplay is fairly simple. Each round pull a certain number of workers out of your bag, deploy them to do actions, put used workers back in the bag. Each player taking turns doing their actions going round the table doing one action each until everyone is done. This timing can be important because some actions like building a guildhall or claiming a citizen counter will prevent later people doing so.


There are 18 rounds in the base game, with an event tile being drawn at the start of the round - it actually occurs at the end of the round so you have a chance to acquire what you need that round to avoid the penalty or maximise the bounty. Some events are good, others like plague are bad as a random worker may die, and some are just inconvenient like the monks going on a pilgrimage and not being useable that round. Everyone starts with the same 4 base workers, after that everyone’s play diverges as there are many choices: gaining more workers of different types, adding special buildings or technology tiles, gaining goods, exploring the Orleans locale and establishing guildhalls, research to gain development points etc. Of course depending on what workers actually come out of the bag that round may force a delay or change of strategy, and there are ways to rebalance your bag by sending workers away to do beneficial deeds, another way to generate money and also citizen tiles.

In the end Graham W. was the run away winner with a fine carpenter and farmer strategy in early game and then beneficial deeds and guildhalls in late game. The other 4 players were pretty even in score with their fairly balanced strategies trying a bit of all the ways to score points. Now they understand the mechanics and many options available they seem keen to try again and test some different strategies.

The role playing table continued their 5th Edition D&D story and there is a separate blog available about their exploits.

The next session is on Wednesday22nd March - our landmark 50th session. As always there should be a mix of games on offer to suit all tastes, including many different themes and game types. Do let us know if there are any games you want to try so we can bring them along and matchmake some other gamers in advance. Contact us via Discord, Twitter or email for more information.