Eightieth session - From Harmonic Butterflies to Cattle Coups

St. Ives Tabletop

12th June 2024

There was a great turnout filling the hall with 5 tables of games, showcasing a few of the goodies brought back from a recent convention but also some classics.

The first table got stuck straight into a long game Orleans a bag builder set in medieval France.


Orleans was back for its third time on the tables, first played in session 49. It is pretty quick to teach as there are simple mechanics that repeat over 18 rounds. Reveal the event for the round, pull followers of different types from your bag and deploy them to different actions then resolve the event, which can be good (harvest) or bad (taxes, plague). The challenge being the diversity of actions available and did you manage to pull out the right followers for the actions you were planning. The five players were soon travelling the roads and rivers around Orleans gaining goods and building guildhalls or developing their own specialist buildings and generating money or development points and cursing when key followers hid in the bag, the plague killed off a follower or the monks went on a pilgrimage. End of game scores are a combination of the number of guildhalls built multiplied by development level, plus points for resources and cash hoarded. A couple of minor mistakes were made with the rules, but they were applied consistently so that was fair.


The players tried a few different strategies, Kathy J. had her monks brewing and selling beer to fund her pharmacists to convert that into development points. Darren had a nice academic setup going and windmills raising money too. Iain and Dave were doing best travelling the map and building guildhalls. In the end three players had reached the maximum development level six but Iain had managed 10 points in multipliers yielding 60 points and the cash/good generating strategies of the others came close but couldn’t compete.


Then the table finished the night with a bit of bluffing and assassination with a couple of rounds of Coup.

Ecosystem Settlers of Catan

Another table started with club favourite Ecosystem before settling on the classic Settlers of Catan.

Great Western Trail

Great Western Trail is a long game about cattle ranching in 19th Century America. In this strategy game players are cattle ranchers trying to transport their herd across the Midwest to Kansas City. The game includes elements of deck building, hand management and set collection. Ultimately, the aim is to amass the most victory points which can be done in a number of different ways - by transporting and selling high value cattle, building different structures or focusing on the transport track.

Great Western Trail

On this occasion, 4 players tackled this game after pre-arranging it on Discord - Ryan H-G, Janek T, Alice W and Jyo K. 3 of them were experienced players and this clearly showed as they predictably crushed Jyo K. We expect this game to make a return to the club soon as it generated a lot of interest!


The fourth table tried a new game called Harmonies. Harmonies is all about creating habitats out of rivers, mountains, forests, grass, buildings and fields. On a players turn they get to choose a set of 3 tokens representing some of the different habitats, and they can also choose an animal card to try and encourage them to make their home in their land. The trick to placing the 3 habitat tokens is that you need to create the patterns represented on animal cards which includes placing some habitats vertically in a stack of up to 3 tokens. Having the correct pattern allows you to place a marker indicating the animal has moved in! Once all habitat tokens have been drawn from the bag, everyone scores all the animals that have moved in and you get points for habitats if they have been correctly placed - such as the length of your river or number of large trees.


This was a fun new game introduced by Steph H. to Graham W., James T. and Jeremy J. Though we all did a good job of inviting frogs, meerkats, rays, crows, squirrels and peacocks to our ecosystems, it just didn’t beat Steph’s ecosystem which included many critters like otters and koalas.

Res Arcana

After Harmonies the table chose to play Res Arcana (including the two expansions Res Arcana: Lux et Tenebrae and Res Arcana: Perlae Imperii). This is a contest of mages to see who can be the best. Each mage (player) gets a deck of 10 random artifacts which can include dragons, demons and other magical creatures they can summon. A round starts with collecting essences - fire, life, death, water and gold - depending on your abilities and artifacts in play. The mages then take mini-actions such as activating their abilities, invoking artifact powers, or paying essence to bring an artifact into play from their hand. They can also use gold to build a monument that brings in a few victory points and a simple power, or they can use a large amount of essence to claim a place of power which usually then has to then be powered up with a particular essence to gain more victory points. The actions continue in turn until everyone passes, and then a check for a winner is performed before resetting abilities and powers and starting a new round.

Res Arcana

The competition was between Jeremy the Infuser, Steph the Duelist, James the Alchemist and Graham the Bard. Steph was first to claim a place of power - an Alchemists Workshop and then proceeded to regularly make pearls worth a victory point each, James as an alchemist also managed to utilise his ability with some useful artifacts he had to create pearls, but never quite managed to claim a powerful place. Jeremy went down the dark side and had a fire pit he threw life essence into to create enough fire and death essence to claim a powerful Sacrificial Pit and then used his infuser ability to help power it up. Graham used his bards ability to claim extra gold so he could buy several monuments, but after claiming the Sunken Reef he used the combination of a tree of life and hypnotic basin to really jump ahead in points by powering up this place of power. Despite James using his elven bow and Jeremy sending out his earth dragon to steal life essence from Graham, it was a clear win for him with 17 points, followed by Steph with 13 points. Jeremy and James were trailing as they didn’t quite manage to get the 13 points needed that trigger the end of the game.


While the fifth table chose Papillon a tile drafting area control game about attracting butterflies to your garden. Then Fantastic Factories was back from session 45 with dice, worker placement and card drafting mechanisms all working together to create action chains to generate goods and hence points.

Fantastic Factories

The next session is the 26th of June which will be a charity night to raise money for our hosts the St Ives Corn Exchange. Please join us for the usual night of varied gaming but with a bake sale and games raffle too.