Sixty Fifth session - Empires and Acquisitions

St. Ives Tabletop

18th October 2023

A big turnout of 18 which led to a lot of different games being played, some old favourites, some returning and some new.

Filler games included some of our go to set that many club members know how to play; Big Dig (10 sessions), Braggart (9 sessions), Seven Dragons (7 sessions) and For Sale (6 sessions).


There was also some action with Queendomino the sequel to Kingdomino getting a couple of plays. This has the same core mechanics but a few new rules added in. The biggest addition being a new terrain type that lets you add buildings which have a variety of new ways to score victory points. There are also towers, knights that can raise taxes to help pay for these new buildings, a dragon that can be bribed to destroy buildings in the market and the queen who adds an extra crown to end game scoring to the last kingdom she was enticed to visit (based on how many towers it has, queens apparently love towers). In one play Tom M. tried an interesting strategy focusing on the new buildings with end game points per isolated terrain type, he collected four different terrain scoring tiles and focused on not connecting terrains, the opposite of usual Kingdomino play and racked up 30 points that way plus a good wheat field region leading to a clear victory.


Longer games then spread out over the tables.

The Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion adventures continued, following on from session 64 where the gamers learnt the basics of the Gloomhaven game, this session saw the Jaws of the Lion delving into the mystery of Vermling Raiders on the road and following the trail to their hideout.

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion

Adventuring spoilers... With Theyren the Hatchet and Trocian the Red Guard leading the way, but Jo the Voidwarden and Milly the Demolitionist close behind they found the Vermling nest in a hole in Gloomhaven's outer wall. The Vermling had already spotted them so battle quickly ensued.

The game has four introductory scenarios, adding new elements and rules until the 5th scenario where all the rules have been explained. In scenario two you find out about: traps and how monsters and players can be pushed or pulled (and so into the traps!); loot in the form of coins on the map and dropped by fallen foes, as well as chests; and negating damage by being able to lose cards for that scenario - which means you get exhausted quicker as you may run out of playable actions (cards).

Adventuring spoilers... The party quickly dispatched the guards outside the hideout, with Trocian using a his Flaming Sickles attack to deadly effect by dragging an elite Vermling onto a trap. Bursting through the nest's ramshackle door the Jaws found themselves beset by more of their foes, but they too were overcome (with only minor wounds to our protagonists) by throwing axes, explosives, confusion and mind control.

Searching the cave revealed a note indicating that someone called Roland had hired them to kidnap people and take them to a ship in the harbour. Surely it would be wise to follow this up, even though the city guard could probably handle it?

After scenario two a shop becomes available for players to get items that help once or more during a scenario, such as armour, weapons and potions. The third scenario introduces: experience for successfully completing a scenario or using various abilities of your character during the play through; difficult terrain which can be avoided by jumping; and long rests which allow a character to forfeit a turn to get some healing, reset items and choose a card to lose from the discard pile instead of a random one in a short rest.

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion

Adventuring spoilers... Our intrepid party, now kitted up with some useful items, such as winged shoes, stamina potions and studded leather, head down to the Gloomhaven docks. They find a decrepit ship leaking black ooze into the water and two Zealots guarding the gang plank. The guards turn hostile as soon as the Jaws approach, but with Jo leading the charge the first guard goes down with the other staggered.

Theyren decides to run onto the black ship only to be met by three more Zealots and their pet giant Vipers! The ship is covered in black ooze making the way difficult to cross, but the Zealots and the Vipers close in on Theyren and do some serious damage as well as wound and poison him. Milly quickly follows and throws her biggest explosive - The Big One and takes down two of the Zealots. Jo supports with healing and giving Theyren extra attacks to take out the vipers. Meanwhile Trocian finishes off the guard and joins us on the boat.

After traversing the ooze on the boat, Milly runs into the boats cabin and deals a major Piston Punch to the head Zealot who is standing over some sort of blood stained altar. Reeling from return attacks Milly had to negate some damage otherwise end up on floor again. The rest of the Jaws piles in to help finish off the remaining foes, though Jo nearly fell down exhausted after such a long battle.

In the aftermath, the team find a necklace of the missing blacksmith, which may bring some little peace to the widow Sandy, and a curious map leading to a building in the Boiler district - maybe this will give more answers about what this character Roland is up to?

The combat is done using modifier decks of cards which alter positively or negatively a base attack number. There are two special cards - 2x damage and no damage - for a critical hit and miss respectively. At the end of scenario 3 you get to choose a perk - which allows you to alter your character’s modifier deck - such as take out some negatives or add some positives with special bonuses like wound or poison. After each intro scenario characters get new or updated action cards to give them more abilities and choices. So after these two scenarios our players are really getting some cool moves to invoke in the game.

Dune Imperium

Dune: Imperium, previously reviewed in session 49 was a quick decision for the next table.

Ticket to Ride: London

A pre-session request for Ticket to Ride was easy to satisfy with the London variant Ticket to Ride: London actually being played on the night. This is a scaled back quicker to play version of the original game set in 1970’s London and with bus routes rather than trains! The same gameplay but with just 17 buses per player available and an additional district connection score.


Then the table switched to another classic and pre-requested game Catan which was last played in session 62.


The last tables settled on Museum and Gulf, Mobile & Ohio. Museum is a set collection game themed around Victorian International Museum owners attempts to acquire the best collections to exhibit. First played in session 20 there is a brief description of the rules. Kathy J. managed to capitalise on her previous experience and was able to collect all four parts of her secret objectives and get a maximum 7 part architecture domain score for a commanding victory but it was very close between second and third place and now the rules and card distributions are better understood it should be a much more even game next time.

Gulf, Mobile & Ohio

Gulf, Mobile & Ohio is nominally a train game but really an auction game, the mechanics are nicely explained in the session 54 blog. The game was very close: Graham W. played a tactical game, limiting Simon W’s income. Simon spent his money very well, and they ended up joint winners.

Scout was the final game of choice for those wanting a last gaming fix before home time. This is a quick card game based on the circus and scouting for artists to improve their shows. Ultimately the mechanics are about playing down consecutive runs of numbered cards in sets in ascending or descending order for points.

The next session is 1st November, there will be plenty of games on offer but do let us know in advance if you have any particular suggestions and we can try an organise that. You can contact us via discord, twitter or email for more information.

Finally an advert and save the date for the annual charity night, traditionally our last session before Christmas. This will be held on November 29th, three sessions away. Any donations provided in lieu of entrance fees or from the games raffle and bake sale that members can kindly donate to, will be given to a local charity. We have previously supported EACH and St Ives food bank.

Then there will be no sessions in December due to the holiday festivities and we restart 2024 on January 10th.