Seventy sixth session - Paint your Wagon

St. Ives Tabletop

17th April 2024

15 gamers brought quite a variety of new games to try at this session. There was a bit of an art and train theme going on and more short and medium length games than usual.

Everdell: Newleaf

Everdell: Newleaf was the longest game out, Everdell is a club favourite and three more players were keen to try it with the New Leaf expansion. As all three knew the base game it didn’t take long to explain the train based additions that New Leaf brings and then the Bats, Bees, Hedgehogs and Snails were soon constructing in their woodland and recruiting critters. In the end Natasha M’s strategy of a slow start in the first season paid off with her accumulating enough resources to play a lot of purple end game scoring cards. James T. had built quite a nice engine with cards generating bonuses after other cards were added but his police state (Judge and Dungeon) was no match for Natasha’s Evertree, Everwall, Palace, King and Queen. Kathy J. tried to acquire a lot of event based end game bonuses and visitors but those just didn’t bring in enough victory points and Iain was stuck struggling to find some specific cards in the now even bigger deck to maximise his woodland city. However it was a fun friendly game and everyone was enjoying the new cards and options.


Ticket to Ride: Paris was the first of the new games, a new variant on the popular Ticket to Ride train series, this version is for a shorter game of around 10-20 minutes with a small map and a slight French twist by incorporating bonus points for collecting sets of red, white and blue train cards.

Canvas Canvas

Canvas was the first art themed game with a deck of transparent cards with art elements and icons on them. You layer the cards to generate paintings consisting of three elements to make a unique painting with the different colour icons at the bottom accumulating or covering each other up depending on the order you layer the cards. There are some randomly selected preset scoring cards so you know what types or combinations of icons will score the most in the painting competition. Everyone can generate three paintings and then the scores are calculated.

Art Society

Rich W. brought his shiny new game, Art Society, to the club for its first ever outing and soon enticed Steve L. to play. On closer inspection, the reason for the shininess became clear; it was so new that it was still in its shrink-wrap. Set up was interesting, consisting of punching out five counter sheets while Rich swiftly read the rules. Fortunately, the game scales well for a higher player count and Jason joined in to share the load. By the time Jeremy J. sidled in to be the fourth player, there were piles of loose counters in the middle of the table, but not much else to do. Great timing Jeremy!

Art Society is a tile placement game where players compete to buy works of art to fill their own player board, earning VPs for artistic placement and avoiding faux pas. Fortunately for Steve (who finds irregular shapes particularly challenging to place) the works of art are either square or rectangular, albeit ranging from the very small (size 3) to the huge (size 9). Landscape, portrait, still life and impressionist styles all feature and much of the beautiful artwork will look familiar, albeit with a twist (think La Giaconda in a funny hat as an example). There are also four different styles of frame and, while players lose points for committing faux pas, (two impressionist paintings next to each other? Zut alors!) adjacent artwork with the same frame style is helpful as it earns the player a small objet d’arte which can be used to fill in annoying gaps on their wall. Players take turns to be the auctioneer, choosing player count +1 paintings to bid on in each auction round, employing their own set of single use bid paddles numbered from 1-20. The twist is that the extra painting not bought by the players goes to a museum, where it increases the end game VP value of the relevant art style (still life, impressionist etc).

Art Society

Jeremy was the first to complete his board by the simple expedient of buying the largest paintings on offer, although the end result looked more like wallpaper than an art gallery. Meanwhile the others still had around 20% vacant space to fill and would have liked the game to go on for another two rounds or so. When the collections were scored, Rich lost out with the only faux pas of the evening, but the others were all within one point of each other. Jeremy’s wallpaper approach just failed to secure the win (proving once and for all that it’s what you do with your art that counts, not how big it is), which narrowly went to Steve. However, this owed something to a helpful late game assist from Jeremy, who alerted Steve to a nuance in the scoring which he had not picked up on.

Living Forest

Living Forest is a different forest and animal guardian based deck building game with a push your luck element. The aim is to be the first to plant 12 trees or collect 12 flowers or extinguish 12 fires. There are three phases, first the Guardian animals push your luck phase where you draw cards from your deck to create a guardian line but you have to stop if you draw three solitary symbols.

In the action phase if you have less than three solitary symbols you can have two actions otherwise only one action. For the actions you can use the other element symbols on your guardian cards, so the strategy is to try to stack your deck with symbols to give many of the same element in a round to power up your actions, but the best guardian cards tend to also have those solitary symbols that may limit how many actions you have in the round. You can buy more guardian cards or plant trees that can also add permanent element bonuses, collect flowers or extinguish the fires.

Living Forest

In the final phase the forest spirit Onibi attacks adding fires in relation to the number of guardian cards taken and applies penalties for fires left burning. There is also a mechanism that allows a little interaction between the players so they can try to slow down someone who is approaching completion of one of the goals. But generally it is friendly game with nice artwork about who can get their guardian deck generating the right elements to claim one of the goals first.

Mini Express Mini Express

Despite the Everdell expansion including a train it would be hard to call it a “train game”, luckily the late comers table decided to bring a proper “train game” in Mini Express. Similar in style to Mini Rails (seen in sessions 28, 34, and 56), players only have two possible actions: buy shares or build track. Whereas Mini Rails is cut down to the most simple and abstract version of this (relying on the turn order mechanic to add difficult decisions), Mini Express’ actions are more complicated – still simple in one sense, but slightly less clear how they interact. There’s still no money (which makes this unlike most train games), but influence which is gained by building track and used to buy shares. The “clever” bit of this game is that shares are worth different victory points for different players (depending on your influence), so even if you have the same share portfolio as another player you will (likely) score differently. A game that becomes clearer after your first play.


Jeremy J. introduced Steve L. and Rich W. to Subastral (first played in session 44). Its a game where you are in the shoes of a Biome researcher gaining knowledge about different environments for their journal. Your research can go wide where you get knowledge across many different areas, and you can specialise in 2 different biomes. You use the cards in your hand to select cards from the tableau - either adding them to your thesis or picking up more cards for use in later turns. In the first game the new players picked up the hang of the game with Jeremy showing them how to build a pretty good journal. The second game Richie submitted amazing research on Tropical Rainforests which secured an obvious win!

Rich W. brought a new game to the club - Sea Salt & Paper - which is a set collecting game with great origami art work on the cards. A players turn consists of choosing a card from one of the 2 discard piles or drawing 2 cards and discarding one of them. If you have any duos (matching or complimentary cards) such as boats, fish, crabs or shark and swimmer - then you can place these down and activate an extra action - like have another go, take another card or steal a card.

The aim is to get to at least 7 points from the set collection cards in your hand and any duos laid on the table, at this point you can say “STOP” or “LAST CHANCE”. If you say stop, then everybody counts their cards score. The gamble comes when you say last chance, then every other player gets one more go. After that if you have a higher score, then everyone else only gets score based on card colour and you get your score and a card colour bonus! If you get beaten, then they get their score and you only get the card colour score. The winner is the player who gets to a set number of points and so you keep playing rounds until then. Its a quick and simple to teach game where the gamble mechanism gives people a chance to catch up, though it can backfire!

The next session is the 1st of May. Please join us and see what range of old and new games are brought along to play. If you have any special requests do let us know in advance via Discord, then we can try and arrange other players and let people brush up on the rules.