Thursday, 2 February 2017

It's Trajan' Again

Strictly speaking, it's Trajan for the first time under the umbrella of the blog, but when Andrew began singing to the tune of the old Supertramp song, the post title suggested itself.

So - Trajan. This is a relatively old game from the salad chef that is Stefan Feld. Macao and Castles of Burgundy have their fans at GNN, so we came to this vegan party somewhat belatedly. But having purchased it from Joe some time ago, I got around to playing it through yesterday, and tonight I talked Andrew through the rules. Andrew is great to teach rules to: no matter how much I waffle or go off the point, he simply nods and goes OK.

When in Rome

In Trajan we are Romans, hoping to assist the emperor (Trajan himself) by spreading our legionnaires (actual legionnaires, not the disease) around Europe, helping construct Rome, chatting about stuff in the Forum, playing a bit of one-upmanship in the Senate, and having the odd conflab with ol' Trajan himself. But, as this is a Feld game, the theme is less about dirt, chariots and Charlton Heston, and more about managing a moving abstract pattern - in this case, a mancala-style player board which determines which action (and which bonus action) you'll take.


Four rounds make a up a year, at which point the game ends. Andrew took to it like the veteran of Feld games he is, and duly trounced me:

Andrew 118
Sam 100

Note to self: try not to end a game with five bonus tiles that score a combined total of zero points.

Despite the AP-inducing abstraction, we found the time was barely 9.15, and decided to explore Pyramid Arcade a little further, having so far only tried three of the available 22 games.

We settled on Martian Chess. This is a 4x8 grid - or more specifically two 4x4 grids containing your pieces, with a 'canal' between them. You have three of three types of pyramid, with their own ways of moving - like the original chess, all can take an opposition piece. The catch in Martian Chess is that after your piece crosses the canal, it becomes your opponent's piece instead! So although it remains yours until the instant the current turn ends (i.e. - you can take a piece on your opponents' side of the board) after that, one of your army has essentially deserted the instant it completed a mission.

Canal Mania

That makes for a very counterintuitive game - especially for two men who spent a whole year in the early 90's playing chess against each other - and we kept getting the rules wrong and correcting each other. I managed the win:

Sam 19
Andrew 11

But I think I'm rather less enamoured of this than both Verticality, and the game we played next: Colour Wheel, the co-operative game of grouping colours together in only 27 turns. We'd had some success with this on its debut, but tonight it stumped us. We tried playing in silence, as an extra challenge, and failed. We talked about it, and failed. Then we talked about it a little more seriously, and failed again. To be honest though, the multiple failures reassured me there is a game here, as our early success was either luck, or being too drunk to mark our turns with the appropriate attention...

Andrew and Sam: lose, three times in a row.




  1. Trajan was fun, although it feels like six mini games tied together with an intriguing method of choosing which action to take next. Lots of possibilities for AP and I shudder at how it would play with the maximum four players.

    Martian Chess was odd. In the end we had to say "That's yours." When moving a piece across the central reservation just so we didn't try to take it next turn. It was so dissimilar to anything I was used to, it did feel a bit Martian.

    Nice to play a few games this week.

  2. Trajan! Well done chaps. Never played whilst in my possession - and I owned it for a good few years...
    Why are those pyramids so alluring? Is it just me... or are they sexy?

  3. Not sure I'd use that word, but they certainly come in lots of different colours.

    I like Trajan too, though it doesn't displace Macao as my favourite Feld the mancala thing was appealing. It didn't feel hard-going either, despite its 'heavy' rating on BGG. I think Andrew joined everything up better than me; I was playing fairly randomly in comparison and as we all know, that's no way to treat a Feldy.