Seventy fifth session - Sand Worms and Hidden Monsters

St. Ives Tabletop

3rd April 2024

Seventeen gamers at this post Easter session playing nine different games over four tables, including Dune: Imperium possibly inspired by the recent cinema release.


A few different starter games this time. A five player game of Cryptid started first with three players falsely declaring they knew the location of the hidden monster before Neil O. finally located it in a forest, near marsh and water and two spaces from an obelisk.


Another table got Big Dig out for an eleventh club play of this simple pass and play wipe clean tunnel connecting game. Then they switched to Kingdomino, another popular tile laying starter game on its eighth club play. The final table chose Scout for more rounds of set collecting card fun.

Then we got split up into the longer games.

Civilisation: A New Dawn

James T. introduced 3 new players to Civilization: A New Dawn (last played in session 53), but this time without the extra complication of the expansion rules. The game is based on the computer game series of the same name and covers 4 eras from ancient to modern. The aim of the game is to be the first to achieve the games chosen 3 objective cards - though you have a choice of 2 options per card - such as building a number of wonders or controlling a certain area of the map or attaining a certain technology level.

Each player has a row of 5 action cards that can build cities or wonders, expand your area of control, attack or reinforce, research technology, or send off trade caravans. The actions get a power level depending on where they are in your action row, so control which terrain types of the map or how much research you get. Once used they get reset to power level 1 and so its about managing this row to get the best outcomes in the game. Researching allows you to upgrade your action cards from level 1 up to level 4 depending on the level you reach, which gives you better outcomes or options - such as stronger attacks or the ability to move over water spaces. This game had France (James T.), America (Neil O.), Rome (Jeremy J.) and Sumeria (Darren C.) growing their empires, claiming resources, fending off barbarians and trading with each other. Resources can be traded for building wonders which give you special bonus actions or improvements. Defeating barbarians gives you goods that help power up your action cards. You can also get goods and alliance bonuses from trading with players or neutral states on the board.

Civilisation: A New Dawn

The game had each of the emerging civilisations being quite nice to each other as there was enough space and resources for everyone. But then Rome claimed its second game objective and all eyes turned to stopping them continuing their progress. Though their goals were briefly interrupted by America taking over a city, and France trying to use their flying military to take over another city. In the end Rome used Urbanisation to create a new city and progress it to maturity and obtain the last objective for a win. Overall this game has interesting hand management, technology tree and area control mechanisms which are fun and has little downtime between turns as you can be making your world domination plans!

Dune Imperium

Rich W. also took on the challenge of teaching a game to three new players, with Ollie W., Graham W. and Steve L. keen to join the Dune: Imperium in-crowd. During setup, Steve briefly considered a change of surname for the duration, but decided it was important to send a message that boardgames were not just for W’s so left things as they were.

As the only experienced player, Rich generously took on the role of the spice addict, Countess Ariana Thorvald (3/3 difficulty to play), while the newcomers all had easy options with useful ‘signet ring’ resource benefits in Paul Atreides (Ollie), Count Ilban Richese (Graham) and Earl Memnon Thorvald (Steve). Ollie got off to a flying start, taking and then consolidating an early lead as he quickly moved up the Fremen and Bene Gesserit alliance tracks. At first, he was closely followed by Steve, who used Earl Thorvald’s special ability (+1 spice) to accumulate a mountain of spice and generally suck up to the Spacing Guild. Meanwhile, Graham and Rich languished at the back, causing the others to wonder if Graham had listened to Rich’s explanation of the victory conditions or slept through it. All was about to change though, with Steve slipping back into the pack by mid-game, while Graham rapidly surged up the VP track due to a run of conflict successes (including a well-timed back-stab) and use of some helpful intrigue cards. At least, that’s what he said, but maybe the others shouldn’t all have gone to the refreshment table at the same time?

By round 8 it had become a two-horse race between Ollie, who was holding two Alliance tokens and looked to be narrow favourite for the win, and Graham. Further back, Steve’s strategy (if he ever had one) had come unstuck while Rich was still suffering from a bad case of teacher’s curse. Or maybe it was all that spice his character was addicted to that was his undoing? Either way, the momentum Graham had built up over the last few rounds continued to the end as he acquired two of the very powerful ‘The spice must flow’ cards (immediate +1 VP each time) in rounds 9 and 10. These enabled him to leapfrog Ollie, who was already on the magic 10 VPs, before Rich seized one of Ollie’s valuable Alliance tokens, sending him backwards on the VP track. Elsewhere, Steve had fortuitously acquired an end game bonus intrigue card very much at the eleventh hour and this boosted his VP total into the realms of respectability, much to Rich’s disgust. Final scores were Graham 11, Ollie and Steve 9 and Rich 7. Interviewed after the game, the victor magnanimously attributed his win to fumbling about and flying by the seat of his pants. It worked!

Isle Of Skye

Isle of Skye was back having been popular in the early club days, session 7 has a good description of the game mechanics in this tranquil tile laying Scottish crofting themed game.


The final table of five chose Ginkgopolis with two previous players and three newbies. This game can be a little difficult to teach and needs a play to fully grasp the mechanics of balancing the cards, tiles and resources. This has been out on the tables a couple of times recently in session 72 and session 74 which have a description of the game mechanics. The new players grasped the end game point scoring from districts and a battle for control of the central red district ensued resulting in a five story building that should have ensured dominance, but a cunning one story expansion of that district at the edge of the city gained control for Ian FW. over Iker P. netting a valuable 15 points. Sophie FW. had suffered from her city tiles being built over and her being bumped out of the city, however that does provide consolation victory points and she had a good tableau with some end game scoring cards so she was just pipped into second place by Ian.


There was time after the eco-city building to try some planet building in Planet. It has been a little while since Planet has been out on the tables, it was actually played back in session 1. The game mechanics are very simple to teach but working out the best tile placement on your dodecahedron magnetic planet core can be a bit brain bending. Every round you place a magnetic pentagon tile on your core, then from the third round onwards you compete to entice animals to your fledgling planet based on their terrain preferences. Basically just counting up how many triangles of a certain terrain type you have meeting specific conditions, like the biggest zone of desert not touching ice, or water that is touching dirt or most individual zones of forest.


Everyone has a hidden goal related to a terrain type and there is an end game score related to how many triangles of that terrain type you had incorporated into your planet. Then you count up points for animals gained, one point if they prefer the same terrain type as your hidden goal or two points for other terrain types. There was a fierce competition to acquire the desert snake with three gamers tying on the conditions required for three rounds but Sophie just tipped the balance in the final round. However Ian had been quietly working on enticing a lot of forest and water preferring animals to his planet with the secret desert goal which gave him a lot of two point card scores and the victory.

The next session is the 17th of April. Join us and bring some more games to share, classics or new games, there is always something to suit all tastes. If you let us know in advance via Discord, particularly for longer games, then we can try and book others in and have everyone review the rules ready for a faster start.