Monday, 6 January 2014

Mined over matter

The Gods smiled down on two weary gamers, as the planets aligned and the clouds parted and other things happened in the sky and Sam and I were able to fit two games evenings into two real evenings. And there’s the official GNN tomorrow! We are living the high life !

One Sunday we played a new game, The Hive. No photos from this day since my phone was across the room, plugged into the speakers, pretending to be a juke box. The Hive is a simple strategy game (or maybe it’s very complicated and I just haven’t twigged it yet) whereby the aim is to place and move your hexagonal pieces so that they surround your opponents queen bee.

The trick is to trap her long before that happens, since a piece cannot move if it breaks the hive. It’s intriguing, but it needs more table time. I’m sure there’s more to learn. The end is usually an anti-climax, since it can be clear who’s won several moves before it’s happened, without anything you can do about it.

Sam won three times, and then he won at 7 Wonders, with Dirk pushing me into third place! Is there anything more humiliating than coming third in a two-player game?

But that’s enough about Sunday. Again today, the two of us met up for more games! And again, there was a new game on the table. Sutter’s Mill has been sitting in Sam’s games cupboard almost longer than the Gold Rush lasted. Now was it’s chance to shine. Would it be 24 carat, or fool’s gold? I didn’t care, since my character had a cool hat and a shifty look. Good start.

Since it was our first play, any thought of strategy was secondary to working out what did what. The rules weren’t great, with large chunks repeated throughout. But the game is clear enough, once you’ve worked out what “conducting business” means. It means getting gold according to how buildings you have. You get buildings by combining men and cards in order to have the most influence in them.

And that’s how Sam played it: he owned buildings, even if they weren’t actually useful at the time, in order to get gold for buildings. I owned buildings which got bonuses for mining gold at a particular stage in the game.

Then, after mining for gold, the trick is to get your meeples and cards out of town as much as possible. Preferably leaving a low-valued card and one lonely meeple in town once the vein of gold has been exhausted and the game ends. Anything left in town counts against you. Gold and cards you managed to save from town get you points. We counted up, and despite the rules assuring us that ties were rare, it couldn’t have been closer.

Andrew 116
Sam 115

Sam had more gold, but I got all my cards out in time. An interesting game. Perhaps better with three, which would make it harder to keep track of what your opponent is up to.

After this, I requested Samurai, which doesn’t get enough love here in GNN. This time we played strictly according to the rules, which made the game drier with far fewer opportunities to parachute in plenty of troops at once (not that Edo-period Japan had invented the parachute. Or perhaps they had, but they certainly hadn’t invented the aeroplane, making parachutes somewhat redundant).

So we patiently built up our forces, and a lot of pieces were taken off the board as many battles ended in a draw, but Sam was a clear winner.

And so we finished the game and the evening. And there’s more to come tomorrow!


  1. I liked Sutter's Mill, even if I erroneously called it Cutter's Way in a text to Joe (70's movie?). Slightly Pompei-ish in the sense that there are two time-based elements to the game.

    I know I won Andrew, but you left out Castles of Burgundy, which I won. And I won that particular game.

  2. How could I forget our nail-biting game of CoB? Sam won.

  3. So many games I've never played... I like the sounds of both Hive and Samurai, are they two-player only?

    Oh, and someone stole our idea

  4. "all the classics" ? I guess that's Tinner's Trail and Alhambra, right?

  5. Hive is 2-player, Samurai goes up to 4.

  6. Hmm, that event at the Cube that Adam linked to is only two days before our screening. I hope they don't trash the place. You know what gamers are like.

  7. a screening? What's that, Andrew? Sounds like a LOT of fun...