17th May 2023
There were 11 attendees this session and the longer games selected had a transportation theme this week.
Shorter games this session were Ukiyo the competitive pattern laying game on its fourth club outing, High Society also out for a fourth time bidding and acquiring wealth for your socialites and Kingdomino on its seventh session but not seen since session 17. It was nice to see this quick and simple tile selection and placement game back out with some varied kingdoms being built trying to maximise terrain types and crowns for that score multiplier whilst still keeping to the 5x5 grid.
The longest game of the night was new to the club - Pan Am. So this was our aeroplane game, where the focus was on building an airline empire. The game has a nice retro feel matching its Pan Am era theme. The aim is to outbid rivals for lucrative landing rights and buy planes with longer range to reach the far corners of the world. Claim routes, cope with events, worker placement your engineers and resolve their actions and then resolve what Pan Am a non player airline is doing. The victory condition after 7 rounds is the player with the most stocks in Pan Am. It is a combination of worker placement and auction game mechanics with the overall aim of acquiring stock meaning tricky decisions on how to use your cash throughout the game.
Also new to the club was Heat: Pedal to the Metal. This is a car racing game and four players were soon doing laps of the US themed map and grinding gears or spinning out on the corners. Each player controls one car, we played the basic version of the game with limited special cards, no weather and just two laps of the track (there are four tracks available) so there is plenty of variety and even a four race championship option in the box. Gameplay is quite simple, choose your gear which then sets how many cards from your hand you can play to set your distance travelled that round. Standard distance cards range from 1 to 4, then there are stress cards that let you draw a random distance card from your deck and heat cards that clog up your hand. You generate heat by boosting, changing through more than one gear in a round or trying to go around a corner too fast. If you don’t have enough heat cards available you spin out and are reset in first gear before the corner. So the game is about managing your deck to cruise through the straights in high gear and crunch down and safely loose some of that speed before the corners and limit the recovery time after. There is also some interaction between the cars with slipstreaming and blocking.
It took a few rounds and spinouts (3 players managed this) to work out the strategies involved in the corners and when to push your luck with the stress cards. Pole position changed quite a few times during the game so the card mechanic did balance quite well and in the end it was quite close with three players crossing the finish line in the same round and so the victor was the one who made it farthest past the post.
The final table was a gloves off committee rumble (Catherine, Simon, and Jyo) and started with a play of the pretty tile collection game Azul, on its third play at the club - with Catherine taking the win. Then a game of High Society, where you’re not just rich… you’re Mr Darcy rich, but don’t spend your money too frivolously - Jyo took the win with Simon having spent the most and being ineligible to win (it’s not a score of zero, you don’t even get a score).
With the other tables deep in planes and automobiles there wasn’t a chance for players to swap around and it only seemed fitting for our final game to be one of Simon’s train related games. Gulf, Mobile & Ohio is a so-called cube rails game (although more modern printings have replaced the cubes with train meeples) and is focused on route building and auctions in the South of the US. Up to 23 historic railroad routes have two stocks: charter (for the founder) and common (for auction later); and the game revolves around auctioning all those stocks (potentially 46 auctions throughout the game). Buying stock puts money in the company to put cubes on the map connecting cities which scores victory points. The route building is made interesting since there are only six colours of cube and a railroad may not be adjacent to another railroad of the same colour. At the end victory points from building routes, founding new lines and connecting lines and cities determine the winner, any money unspent is ignored. It was a very close game and it came down to the last auction, Catherine had $8, Jyo $6, and Simon $9; meaning Simon won the last auction, founded a company that put him in the lead, and triggered the end of the game (a win by $1).
The next session is 31st May, join us if you can for another varied selection of game types and themes. Contact us to suggest games so we can bring those or matchmake in advance for longer games, it does help to start these early and have players read or watch the rules in advance. Via discord, twitter or email for more information.