Discworldathon – Ankh-Morpork

So! It’s the end of January, which is In The Beginning for the Discworldathon! Discussions and the reading of Wyrd Sisters have been going on all month on Bex’s blog anarmchairbythesea and the proclaimed Discworld game for this month is Ankh-Morpork. This game was chosen for this month because the city of Ankh-Morpork features in nearly all of the Discworld novel, and it usually still manages to sneak a mention in those it’s not featured in.

For anyone new to Discworld, here’s a little introduction to the city of Ankh-Morpork in two quotes:

“Ankh-Morpork! Pearl of cities! This is not a completely accurate description, of course — it was not round and shiny — but even its worst enemies would agree that if you had to liken Ankh-Morpork to anything, then it might as well be a piece of rubbish covered with the diseased secretions of a dying mollusc.”
– The Light Fantastic

“Poets have tried to describe Ankh-Morpork. They have failed. Perhaps it’s the sheer zestful vitality of the place, or maybe it’s just that a city with a million inhabitants and no sewers is rather robust for poets, who prefer daffodils and no wonder. So let’s just say that Ankh-Morpork is as full of life as an old cheese on a hot day, as loud as a curse in a cathedral, as bright as an oil slick, as colourful as a bruise and as full of activity, industry, bustle and sheer exuberant busyness as a dead dog on a termite mound.”
– Mort

So that’s the proud city of Ankh-Morpork. A full review of the game has already been published on this blog, and can be read hereBut to sum it up, the game is a power struggled between Lord Selachii, Lord Rust, Lord de Worde, Commander Vimes, Dragon King of Arms, Chrysoprase and Lord Vetinari. All players draw a personality secretly at the beginning of the game and then have to meet the objectives stated on the card to win.

The game is brilliant in many ways, but mostly because for those who are familiar with the city and it’s inhabitants it is so well constructed. Every card that you play can be identified as a character from one of the books, with the uses of the card being dependent on the personality of that character.

In the books Havelock Vetinari always comes out on top. Even if no one knew that he was in the running. And the game reflects that by stating that the state of the city has been induced by the disappearance of Lord Vetinari. The game itself is those in a position of power in the city attempting to seize control whilst the opportunity is there. Commonly the character of Commander Vimes wins the game, as all he has to do is balance the board, preventing other characters from gaining too much control or money, or making too much trouble, until the cards run out. As Lord Vetinari is one of the personalities available to the game players it’s clear that he has vanished entirely on his own terms and has some kind of long-term plan. Or maybe he just wanted a holiday, who knows?

Sir Terry Pratchett, the amazing creator of the Discworld series (among other things) has the same fail-safe clause for the end of several of his games. It’s partly what makes the games so brilliant. In every Terry Pratchett game it’s possible for any of the game players to win, but in Ankh-Morpork, Guards! Guards!, and Witches if certain conditions are met, then the game ends and nobody wins. Which is fantastic, because it almost adds a cooperative edge to game play as everyone wants to win individually, but definitely none of you want to lose to the game!

I will admit that I’m slightly at a loss as for what to write now. I’ve summed up the game and a bit about the books, and to be honest, I really think that the city of Ankh-Morpork is too big of a feature in the series of the Discworld to be really described or talked about without me insisting that anyone reading this post goes away immediately to read every Discworld book so as to fully understand the enormity of detail in which the city has been described and personified and used a backdrop for all sorts of events.

To tie in with what the re-readathoners have been discussing over on Goodreadsthe city of Ankh-Morpork features shortly in Wyrd Sisters, the novel that’s been the subject of this month. Anyone who’s read the book will know that Wyrd Sisters is a very entertaining, silly, and just all-round highly enjoyable version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Featuring a Duke who murders his cousin, the King, so that he can be king and then goes mad. There are some differences, obviously, between Shakespeare’s tragedy and Terry Pratchett’s hilarious novel. But the story can be seen there nonetheless. Ankh-Morpork features in the novel as the place where the rightful heir to the throne is living with the acting troupe he was adopted by as a baby. This troupe is hired by the court Fool to perform a play for the Duke portraying him favorably, and the witches, Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick badly so that the witches will lose their power and the people will like him.
The brief featuring of Ankh-Morpork is funny in this novel as the Fool is robbed when he enters the city. The thief performing the robbery expected him only to be carrying a few dollars, but instead he was carrying a vast amount of money given to him by the Duke to employ the acting troupe. The thief then freaks out because according to Guild law he’s not allowed to rob more than a certain amount off of one person. Tomjon, heir to the throne, steps in and resolves the situation. Although it’s a very brief appearance made it holds true to the way the city is, Ankh-Morpork, the city where there is a Guild for everything.

That about wraps us up for this game and this month! I intend to have next month’s post Guards! Guards! up by the middle of the month, rather than the second-last day!

I hope this post has been informative, and you’re now burning with the desire to read Discworld novels for the rest of the year.

The Seafarers of Catan

5 - 5

Year of Publication: 1997

In The Beginning…

Was the island of Catan, and on that island small groups of people settled and expanded, becoming farmers, miners, shepherds and lumberjacks. However, the island proved to be too small to sustain multiple civilizations, so some of the people took to the seas to find new places to settle, and they became known as the Seafarers of Catan!

Okay, these Catan posts are going to be a little different to the normal reviews; as I’ve already done a full review post on the original Settlers of Catan I’m not going to do the “What’s In The Box” photos for any of the expansions or extensions, but instead only for the spin-off editions, like Starfarers of Catan or Star Trek Catan as those games are very different to the original. Instead all I’m going to do in these posts is to say which pieces are added to the base game to play the expansion and then review the differences in game play and give my opinion. All clear? Excellent! Without further ado:

What’s New?

Seafarers is obviously set over multiple islands, so each colour player is provided with 15 ships of their colour, which can be built by spending one sheep and one wood resource cards on your turn, and can then be used to travel to new places.

In addition to those the expansion also includes a large number of sea hexes and extra sea edge pieces to make the board bigger. Because several islands are involved in playing this game there are extra Catan Chits, with numbers on them to produce resources. There is also the new resource of gold, which allows a player who has a settlement built on one to claim one resource of their choice every time its number is rolled.

In original Catan each settlement gains a player one victory point, and a city is worth two. In Seafarers you get a bonus victory point for the first settlement you build that’s not on your original island, which is quite exciting. There are a few additional tiles that you put underneath such settlements so you don’t forget those points.

Lastly, in addition to the robber who lives in the desert, there is now also a pirate ship, which, obviously, lives in the sea.

Playing The Game:

As you can see from the above pictures, the way players begin the game is exactly the same as in the original Catan game, each player starts with 2 settlements, each with a road attached, and takes resources from one of those settlements to begin the game.

A players turn is exactly the same as in the original game; you roll the dice to claim resources (being wary of 7, which I’ll explain the differences of in a minute), then you build roads/settlements/cities/ships or development cards or trade for resources with other players and play development cards, and then you pass the dice to the next player, ending your turn.

Rolling Seven!

Rolling seven is the same as in the original Catan in that the player who rolls seven gets to move the robber, and can take a resource from any player effected by where they move it to. Additionally any player with seven or more cards in their hand still has to discard half of them (the lesser half in the case of an odd number, i.e. if I have 9 cards with a seven is rolled I must discard 4).

BUT!

In the Seafarers version of Catan the player who rolls the seven has the choice of moving either the robber, or the pirate ship. The pirate ship works slightly differently to the robber – the robber prevents resources from being harvested in the hex it’s on, but doesn’t do anything else. The pirate ship however has to stay in the sea, and so, instead of preventing resource production, it prevents a player from building new ships that would sit on any of the sides of the hex it’s on.

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As you can see, in this picture the pirate ship has been moved onto a hex that the orange player (me) is currently trying to sail through. However, until the the pirate ship was moved I could not build any more ships there.

Game play proceeds in the normal way; each player tries to build settlements, roads, cities and development cards in order to collect the required number of Victory Points – in this edition 13 – to win the game.

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Blue wins the game!

The winning player is the first to reach 13 Victory Points and the game ends immediately when that happens.

Strategy:

I would say that getting to the coast is key in this game; with the addition of ships the possibility to extend your road is literally doubled and the extra Victory Points gained both from having the longest road, and from building settlements on new islands are valuable. The winning player when we played had a combination of luck (good dice rolls gaining him lots of resources), settlements upgraded to cities, the longest road, development card Victory Points and settlements on a new island – so literally every possibility in the game!

Also, if one player is in a much better position to win than the others, feel free to make an agreement with the other players to not trade any resources with them, there’s no shame in sabotaging someone else’s chances to further your own cause!

In Conclusion:

This expansion is, in my opinion, worth buying, as gives that little bit extra to the basic game, making it more interesting. This game also has many different scenarios, some of which I may write short reviews of over the coming year, which gives it more diversity than the original version, which can be altered, but not drastically.

I recommend this game as an excellent family game, and good for both board game nerds and board game likers who aren’t ready for anything more intense.

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The smug face of the winning player.

 

 

Update! And Happy New Year!

Alright everyone!

It’s January and the Twelve Games of Christmas are now finished until December. Hopefully they’ve been an entertaining interlude over the holiday, but now it’s time to get back to business!

As promised I am now going to unveil all the plans and things that we’ve been preparing for this year.

The Plans:

Aesthetic Blog Changes:

First though, for anyone who’s been on the blog regularly, they might have noticed that we’ve had a bit of a makeover. Dave took an editorial walk around the blog and we decided that it was probably time for a change. So,  there’s a new banner, which is tied into part of my plan for the year, plus there are some updates on the About page, making our About info somewhat more up-to-date.

We now have a Contact page, which is quite exciting. Our official blog email is there and that’s checked at least three times a week by me. We’d like to invite anyone reading this to contact us if there’s a game you think we should review, or if you’re developing a game and would like us to play it for you, and help promote it!

Whilst Dave was wandering around editing stuff he thought that the blog looked somewhat like it was run by a pair of goths, hence the new, slightly less gray, colour scheme.
Okay, that’s all the aesthetic changes that have been made since November, now, onto the plans for the year!

The Games and Posts-Related Plans:

As you’re all aware from my November and December Updates there are interesting things happening this year.

The first of which is the already mentioned Discworldathon, which is happening on three blogs run by my family, and a fair few others run by people I don’t really know. Over the rest of this year there will be Discworld game posts going up, approximately every other month starting this month. These will be much shorter than our previous in-depth game reviews, and more tied to the books and films. These are a side-branch of what we normally do, as we thought a little cross-genre blog interaction could be a really good and interesting thing, definitely something with potential for the future. Discworld fans, keep an eye out for those posts!

The second plan for this year is to begin research into old games, from different countries around the world. To research the cultural history of those countries, and the developments of the games that they traditionally played. To be totally honest I don’t have any idea how that’s going to pan out, or even if it’s going to work. At the moment I don’t really know how much information is available to me and I don’t have tons of time to trawl through every resource or book or whatever. So, we’ll see how that goes. My intention is to try and post one research-based post per month, focusing on one country at a time. If there’s lots of information to be had I may extend it to two months focused on the same country.

The third plan is for a series of short posts, similar in nature to those about the Games We Made making suggestions for games you can make at home if you’re bored, or if you don’t have lots of storage space for boxes and such. My idea is make a collection of paper games that can be stored flat in one big folder, or something similar. Those posts will be a little sporadic, as they’re taking the back burner to all the other stuff at the moment, but I think they’ve got potential to go on for a decent amount of time.

Lastly, Games We’re Reviewing This Year!

I hereby proclaim this to be a Settlers of Catan year! I intend to find and play every expansion and spin-off of this game series over the next twelve months. Although there are a lot, there aren’t actually enough to post a different expansion or spin-off every week for twelve months, so the Catan posts will be mixed in with other Catan-ish games that I can find over the rest of the year.

Very very lastly: I can’t promise one post every week at the moment, as I’m in the throes of moving into a new flat, which doesn’t have any wifi yet, and might not have for quite a while. So I’m going to have to borrow wifi from other people for a while, or write all the posts on my phone (which isn’t an appealing idea to me). My new years blogolutions are:

  1. To try and post as regularly as I can, even if it means sitting in Starbucks for five hours writing posts.
  2. To follow through on all my plans for the year at least long enough to see if they’re worth making a permanent feature.

That’s everything! Hopefully this wasn’t long enough to bore you, and you’re still going to come back and read our first real post of the year, whenever I get it done!

 

On The Third Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me…

Tempo, Kleine Schneke (or Snail’s Pace Race)!

The Rules:

All six racing snails are placed on their colour on the board and players place bets on which two snails they think will come first and last in the race, respectively. Players then take it in turns to roll the dice and move the snail of the colour shown one space forward on the board. Generally two snails will be moved, as the dice will show different colours, however one snail will be moved forward two spaces if the dice show the same colour when they’re rolled. This continues until all snails have finished the race.The winner is the player who guessed most accurately the winning and losing snails.

For Christmas?

Yes! This game is great for everyone because there is no strategy or tactic to it; it’s not about skill, it’s about guessing and getting lucky with the dice rolls! Plus it would be funny to see Aunt Jean get frustrated over the apparent lack of any kind of method to the game, the very existence of it will upset her delicate world-view, which will add entertainment value to the overall experience of the game. Because every player has to guess which snails will win and lose you could make it interesting (if there are no kids playing) by placing bets on your snails to add a little edge to the game. After all, it’s Christmas, and there should be plenty of sweets around that could be used as chips.

Happy Third Day of Christmas! I hope you’re still trying to eat your way through the Christmas dinner leftovers and haven’t even thought about cooking anything fresh for the last few days!

On The Second Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me…

Scwarzer Peter (Black Peter/Old Maid) and a book about German robbers and thieves.

The Rules!

The whole deck of cards is shuffled and then dealt out between all the players. Each player then looks through their cards and removes any pairs they already have in their hand and lays them on the table in front of them. Once this is done players take it in turns to draw one card at random from one other player and see if it makes a pair. Once all pairs have been laid down the player left with the Black Peter card is the loser.

For Christmas?

Yes! It’d be a good way of keeping the kids calm and in one place whilst you get dinner going, or out of the oven. Aunt Jean could even be enlisted to help play as it’s simple enough that she can’t get confused. This game would be a good stocking-filler for the kids as it’s pocket-sized. It can also be played with up to 6 players (when playing with one deck of cards) so it’s good for those times when there’s a group of people together!

Happy Second Day of Christmas! Keep playing games, keep eating sweets, keep opening presents and keep reading about our Christmas games!

On The First Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me…

Teddy Memory – and suggested that I work on my memory before buying him another present…

The Rules:

This game is just Pairs, but under a cuter name. Very simple and straightforward. You shuffle all the cards and lay them face-down on the table/floor/whatever surface you’re playing on. Then the first player picks two cards and turns them face up. If they’re the same that player gets to keep them and takes another turn. If they’re different they have to be turned over again and play passes to the next player on the left. The winner is the person with the most pairs when all the cards have been picked up.

For Christmas?

Well, why not? It’s a nice easy game that can be played by any number of people (provided you have enough cards and a big enough table or floor). It’s also fantastic for all ages because it forces you to exercise your memory muscles! Brain-active games have been shown to help prevent Alzheimer’s, so get all the oldies playing with the kids and then everyone can have healthier brains! It’s definitely a social game too, so Aunt Jean (see Twelve Games of Christmas – 2013) won’t be able to complain that no one wants to spend any time with her! (Unless of course she doesn’t want to play the game and then, well, what can you do?)

Anyone who was reading this blog as far back as 2013 will already have a feel for how these posts go. The only difference really is that this year they’re all kids/family games rather than just any game we really liked during the year.

Merry Christmas everyone! Play many games and bring joy and game-related arguments to all your family and friends!

Lotti Karotti or Funny Bunny!

5 - 5

Number of Players: 2-4

Year of Publication: 1999

Creator: Ian Steven (artist)

Go back to whichever hole you jumped out of and leave us alone!

What do you call a happy rabbit? A hop-timist! (Not the place for bad rabbit jokes? Okay…)

Lotti Karotti (the German name for the game, the English is Funny Bunny) is a simple and fun game in which you race against the other players’ rabbits, and hop that little bit faster than everyone else!

What’s In The Box:

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  1. Three-dimensional playing board
  2. Game rules
  3. Deck of action cards
  4. 4 x 4 coloured rabbits

Playing The Game:

Objective: To get one of your rabbits to the big carrot faster than anyone else.

To begin the game the deck of action cards should be shuffled and placed face-down at the side of the board and the carrot should be twisted until there are no holes showing in the board. Next each player should choose a colour of rabbit to be from the four available. As it doesn’t say in the rules who plays first we just did Rock, Paper, Scissors for it. Once a first player has been determined they draw the first card from the deck and turn it face up on the table. They then perform the action on the card which will be either, hop 1, 2 or 3 spaces, or twist the carrot.

Normally players will place a rabbit onto the first, second or third spot on the board on their first turn. This normally creates a que of rabbits, like this:

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Here two rabbits are adjacent to each other.

If this happens and the player in the middle or the back turns over a card that tells them to hop they are allowed to jump over any number of rabbits that are adjacent to them to get to the next empty space. Like this:

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The second yellow rabbit has hopped over the first yellow rabbit and the purple one to reach the third space on the board.

When the carrot is turned it causes holes to open up at different points on the board. If one of your rabbits is on a hole when it is opened by another player (or yourself) it falls underneath the board and is immediately out of the game. Likewise if a hole is opened next to where one of your rabbits is and you turn up a card saying to hop one space you also have to hop into the hole, you cannot hop over it.

Winning The Game:

The first player to get a rabbit to the top of the carrot is the winner.

Strategy:

It’s not really possible to have a strategy for this game. This time round that we played it all my rabbits ended up in underneath the board and there was absolutely nothing I could have done about it. I would say just try and get your first rabbit as far along the board as possible. But otherwise don’t think it through too much, because it’s a game of chance with the cards really.

History and Interesting Things:

  1. Between 2001 – 2002 this game was recommended for two awards and won 1.
  2. I have absolutely nothing else interesting to write here.

To Conclude:

As kids games go this is pretty great. It doesn’t involve any complicated thinking but also, because of the nature of the ‘carrot’ cards, doesn’t get boring either. It’s a good quick play for children of all ages with a cute theme.