Thursday, October 21, 2010

Nile - review

"Nile" is a straight forward card game for 2 - 5 players. I've been playing this with the guys at work during lunch and it's proved itself very popular. Our first couple of games went quite slow but now we're easily getting two games in during the lunch break with minutes to spare.

The cards in the game represent five basic crops, Lettuce, Castor, Wheat, Papyrus and Flax. During play you'll be playing cards of the various types out on the table in front of you into your "fields". Of course it's not that simple!

At the start of your turn, you turn over a "flood" card. The crop shown on the Flood card is then harvested by all players that have that crop planted. So if you have a field with three Wheat cards in it and the flood card was "Wheat" you would take the top Wheat card from your field and place that in your score pile. You'll be collecting cards of the various types like this throughout the game.

Once the flood has been dealt with you can "trade". There are two types of trade neither of which is actually trading with other players. The first type of "trade" is where you discard two cards and draw one from the deck, hoping to get a card that you need. The other trade type is to discard two cards and turn over a new Flood card causing extra Harvests.

After the trades you get to plant new fields by playing cards straight to the table in front of you or into existing fields. You can plant two matching cards ( for instance two Wheat ) as a new field. You could also plant two cards of two different crops ( one of each ). Additionally you can any number of cards that match into fields you already have planted.You can't however plant just anything! You cant plant any cards that match the current "Flood" card, and you cant plant a new field unless playing more cards than any other player has on the table in that crop. So if the Flood card is Lettuce, I can't play that, and if any other player currently has Flax planted I can't play that... unless I can plant two Flax and he only has one. If you do manage to plant a new and bigger field the other players have to discard their smaller field!

The last thing you do on your turn is to draw two cards.

You go through the draw deck once for each player, and as players are constantly adding cards to their score pile each iteration gets quicker as the deck is shrinking.

There are two more card types that add flavour. A single "Locusts" card when drawn makes the player with the biggest field (largest number of cards in that field) discard the entire field. The other type of card is "Speculation". On your turn you can play up to two speculation cards. These cards have two crops on them, if the next flood card matches either then you immediately get to draw three cards into your hand.

At the end of the game, you sort your score pile into the different crops and score one point for each card in your smallest pile. If you haven't got one of every crop, you score zilch!

That's it. Simple stuff, yet it is tactical and you will be making plans and actioning decisions during play.

Some anecdotes for you.

I discovered that one player was tracking what crops I had harvested and had deduced that I hadn't any Papyrus, so he made great efforts to keep a big field of Papyrus in front of him, denying me any score at all at the end. It worked too!

During another game I was again trying to harvest a Papyrus, if I got it I would have at least one of every crop type scored. I had a two Papyrus field in play and was very aware that the Locust card had not come out yet. So to protect that field I built up a field of four wheat ( so if the Locust came out they would take Wheat and not my precious Papyrus ). A few turns later I still hadn't scored it, so started discarding cards to generate new floods and did manage to get Papyrus in flood, Huzzar!.

In a similar incident I wanted to plant a field of Castor but one of my opponents had a two Castor field. So again I started discarding to cause Floods and that paid off, I flooded Castor, reducing the size of his field. Then flooded Lettuce and was able to play out my two Castor in a new field.

On a number of occasions I've felt the pressure of trying to score that last type of crop and watching the deck shrink far too quickly, adding a level of interest to the game, a tenseness.

In summary, I'm really quite taken by the game and it's proved very popular with my group.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Where there is Discord - Session Report

Yesterday was a good day for me! Why? Well I got to play a game of "Where there is Discord : War in the South Atlantic" right through.

It's a solitaire wargame where you control the British task force heading south to retake the Falkland islands in 1982 and the reason I was so happy about playing it is that I dont get it to the table very often at all.

The reason it's a rarity is that it is massive, the sides of the board actually hang over the sides of my table and the game play itself usually takes me about nine hours! I'm not able to leave games set up overnight so reserving the time and table can be a challenge.

Yesterday's was of the usual length, but do not fear, every minute of that game was great fun. I just love the way the game builds in intensity as you play. My wife noted my occasional bellows of "Oh yeah!" and "In your face!". Sadly she also noted my occasional wail of pain. It's that kind of game, it gets to you.

Before I say how it went I want to advise that anyone playing this game grabs a copy of the "Expanded Order of Play" by Board Game Geek user Doug Adams as it can save quite a bit of looking up when you haven't played for a while.

So here's what happened in May 1982...

1st : Had to reduce demands on US resources and send two ships home. I regretted this later.

3rd : Had a terrific offer from the French to train with them that meant I got to bounce all future Mirage and Dagger attacks. This undoubtably saved me a few ships.

4th : A bad day all round, not only did the world hate the interference with the banking system neccesary to stop the Argi's getting more Exocets, but worse still a surface battle group snuk through the screen and managed to sink HMS Yarmouth before getting away.

6th : HMS Avenger had to be sent to Chile rather than sent to the Falklands as a reinforcement. Once again, this came back to bite me later.

7th : Today felt like I was stabbed in the back. After sending the Avenger to Chile yesterday, today they stopped giving me intel because of all things I upped the security at Malta!

8th : Finally the weather started letting me interdict Argi' supplies. HMS Splendid spotted the Argi' Carrier group but couldn't get permission to fire, dang!

9th : Splendid got the permission it needed and sunk the Carrier. Also launched a joint Vulcan/Harrier bombing attack on the Falklands airport which was mildly successful but at the cost of a Harrier.

10th : HMS Sheffield sunk out in the defence zone

11th : HMS Invincible had to withdraw with a couple of escorts for repairs.

12th : Had an opportunity to launch an SAS mission against the Argi' Exocet supply, but cancelled it because of potential international reprecussions.

15th : An Exocet attack took place but the missle missed. Harrier "Red 2" took on four Skyhawks, he got two of them before he was shot down.

16th : HMS Ardent sunk by bombs.

17th : Two destroyers taken from picket duty to escort a "friendly" Russion trawler away from the task force at the worst of times. Immediately after, a raid by Skyhawks sunk the Invincible. I was devastated. Fortunately the remaining Harriers managed to make it off before she went down.

The very next raid meant the loss of HMS Brilliant to an Exocet. I was really cursing the Russians at this point. Then a second Exocet came in and sent HMS Brilliant to the bottom. All in all, a very bad day.

18th : The dreaded Exocet struck again, this time HMS Glamorgan. Revenge was sweet, the next attack in was by a pair of Etendards but a rapidly scrambled Harrier managed to shoot the one carrying the Exocet out of the air. "IN YOUR FACE!" Doubly sweet because intel said it was the last they had.

19th : Harrier lost to bad weather, such a waste.

23rd : After delay 3 Para land in San carlos but HMS Glasgow and HMS Andromada both lost.

24th : Both the Welsh guards and the Gurkhas failed to get a lodgement when landing.

25th : Intrepid lost, 42 Commando lost, vicious counter attacks fought off by the SBS and 8 Commando.

26th : HMS Fearless sunk. The people back home couldn't take any more and the government ordered a withdrawl.

And so the game ended in a complete loss. Looking back over it there were a couple of decisions that I went the wrong way with. I definitely should have gone with the SAS attack on the Exocet supply, those things are just too dangerous to ignore. Why didn't I attack, because of the International Opinion. i think I was being too precious about it. With every other option I had, I ensured Exocets were blocked withheld banned etc but this a big regret.

In San Carlos I should have placed "junk" ships on either side of the ones carryingout the landings, to soak up Skyhawk attacks. Failing to do this cost me a landing ship which subsequently meant I lost a unit on sure beacuse it was at diminished strength

Also I will study my troop loading more carefully next time. I felt I was almost wasting a turn/day sitting in San Carlos not unloading everything I could.

Once again, a Great Game