22nd March 2023
Little did we know on Wednesday 11th September 2019 that 4 years later, despite a pandemic, the club would be hitting its fiftieth session with a sizeable group of regular attendees and frequent newcomers. In that time 169 different board games have been played with at least 335 individual plays and also 4 different RPGs.
The most popular games have been Ecosystem, 7 Wonders, Concordia, Everdell, Kingdomino, The City, and Tomb Trader with 6 or more plays each. So it was quite fitting that Concordia was back on the tables this session, a new version of Ecosystem, Ecosystem: Coral Reef, was out for its first trial, and Dice Hospital was back from session 2. 17 people attended this session focusing on 5 games and continuing the D&D scenario.
There was just 1 short game to start this session - Concept. This is a word association game. Using pictures and symbols on the board, 1 player must give clues to the rest of the group to guess the word or phrase required. Many of this session’s answers seemed to have a Shakespearean theme.
Then 3 tables set up playing longer games: 2 games focused on historical colonisation, whilst the third focused on running a hospital for sick dice.
It has been a while since Dice Hospital has been picked for a play, so it was nice to see this quirky title back out. Catherine D. soon had the ambulances delivering 3 dice to each players hospital each turn. The aim is then to use your available resources (doctors, nurses, and specialist rooms) to heal and then discharge the patients for victory points - the more you can discharge at once the better. The values on the dice show how sick they are and each treatment rotates the dice up. You need to get the dice to show a 6 to move them into the discharge room to make space in the hospital. Fail to treat them and they deteriorate and can even die, unsurprisingly bringing penalties. Each round you can choose from the available ambulances giving some choice in the severity of the patients arriving and the dice colour (red, yellow, green), which equates to the type of treatment they will require, but it also sets choice order for the next round. You also choose an upgrade for your hospital, either a new treatment room or staff member, and these specialisations may help with treatment bonuses for certain dice colours or numbers. Then you allocate the treatments available, adjust the dice face to match, discharge, and score points. Players repeat this until 7 rounds have passed. The hospital soon starts filling up and it can be a tough choice between healing every dice a little and preventing fatalities, or focusing on a few dice to get them out the door and making space for the next wave of patients.
The Concordia table was quickly underway with Roman themed merchants spreading out across Europe developing their trading empires. See session 13 for a more detailed description of the gameplay.
Meanwhile, Endeavor focused on a slightly later period in history with intrepid explorers leaving Europe and colonising the New World. All 3 players took an early slavery card to get their tech trees kick started. There are 3 main ways to score points, through progress on the 4 tech trees, holding forts on the world map, or some building bonuses. Kathy J. focused on exploring and tech tree optimisation and managed to become governor of 4 territories, however Oliver W. had more imperialistic leanings and came in behind taking many of these acquisitions for himself, while Iker P. played a more balanced game with some exploration, conquest, and building. In the end Oliver W. abolished slavery giving everyone an end game penalty and it was time to count up. Iker P.’s experience meant he had a reasonable lead, but the 2 newcomers with their different strategies ended up with only 1 point difference. Once the scoring concepts had been explained each round is fairly simple to play out, so this is a medium complexity and length game with some potential to add in more advanced rules when more people know the basics.
Finally, those who could stay a little later tried Ecosystem: Coral Reef. This is a variant on the club favourite pass and play card tableau builder. It is the same concept as Ecosystem but with different species and scoring mechanisms. Neil O. got to grips with the new cards quickly and his coral and eel focused ecosystem was the clear winner, but there were some other good card combinations scoring for the other players. In this version of the game balance of plants, prey, and predators is also important for the final diversity bonus.
The role playing table continued their 5th Edition D&D story with the session starting with the ambush that had been setup last time. See the blog for more details.
The next session is on Wednesday 5th April. There is bound to be a mix of new games and popular requests on offer. Do contact us if you have a particular game you want to try or play more of and we can try to matchmake some other gamers in advance. Contact us via discord, twitter or email for more information.