Posted in Board Games

Game-a-Day Fortnight: Day 8 – Sultaniya

IMAG5194The Sultan has decreed that whoever builds him the most amazing palace will be named Grand Vizier.

Sultaniya is a game for 1-4 players. Everyone starts with a different palace base displaying large, gorgeous character art, with an equal gender spread, which is a big plus.

Each palace base also has a few different rooms already placed and different ways listed to get points. Perhaps you get points by planting palm trees in your palace, where someone else scores towers or domes.

But all palaces need good security – so everyone competes to have the most guards.

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You also have two secret goals each. These might be having a certain feature aligned on as many floors as you can, or having lots of a certain type of feature on a single floor.

Some tiles have sapphires on them. As well as these symbols being involved in some of the secret goals, whenever you place a tile with sapphires on it, you get to grab that many big plastic sapphires from the sparkling pile of wonders.

Sapphires are the only currency the Djinn Union accepts. You can hire these beings of phenomenal cosmic power for such menial jobs as: revealing new tiles, removing a room and replacing it with another one, building two rooms at once, looking though all possible rooms for a single floor and building one.

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The more tiles you add to your palace the harder it is to place new tiles. You see, the art has to match up, adding a puzzle-like element. So Djinn powers are very helpful to deal with this.

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Sultaniya plays pretty quickly, decisions each turn are easy to understand but meaningful. And while competitive, it’s not cutthroat – there’s not much direct interaction with the other players, aside from taking tiles they may want. You only score at the end of the game, and scores can be pretty close – our latest game had only 1 point difference.

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Each of the tiles is beautiful, and details on the rooms are varied, with nice little touches like parrots, monkeys and fountains – there’s some especially flashy stuff on some of the roof tiles. As you build your palace, it’s just a nice time where you’ve got the fun of tackling your own little puzzle, while enjoying the art and the other players’ company.

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Posted in Board Games

Game-a-Day Fortnight 2016 – Day 7: Hive Pocket

Hive Pocket is an abstract tile placement game, where you place chunky insect tiles with the aim of surrounding your opponent’s queen bee.

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Like in chess, each player is black or white and each type of piece has different movement abilities. Unlike in chess, there is no board.  In Hive, you form the play space with the pieces themselves, placing pieces for your first few turns, which – except for the first turn – aren’t allowed to be touching your opponent’s pieces.

Another key rule is the “One Hive” rule. At all times, the hive must be connected as one. If moving a piece would separate the hive into two sections, you can’t move that piece. Also, if your piece couldn’t squeeze into or out of a space without moving other pieces, it can’t. This leads to a lot of movement to block other pieces moving.

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But how do pieces move?

Your queen bee can only move one space, but this can often shake the game up in big ways. Beetles move one space, too, but can climb up on top of the hive and sit on other pieces, preventing them from moving. 

Grasshoppers move by hopping over at least one other piece, but can go in a straight line as far as possible till an empty space. Grasshoppers, like beetles, are great for filling (or getting out of) gaps where other pieces would be stuck.

Ants and spiders scurry around the outside of the hive – ants as far as they want, spiders exactly three spaces. And that’s it – except for the mosquito, lady bug and pill bug expansion pieces with their own unique movement rules.

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It’s very strategic, easy to learn, hard to master, and very engaging every turn.

Every time I’ve played this game there have been dramatic reversals, with a player moving from what appeared to be certain doom, to relative safety. How you move your pieces has huge repercussions for how your opponent can move, and what you can do next turn. You can often look at the hive and see no possible moves, only to find one last respite which changes everything and lets the game continue for several more rounds.

Hive comes in a few versions. Hive Pocket fits in a handy little bag, making it portable but with pieces that are still chunky and satisfying to place. Hive (the non-pocket version) has even bigger pieces and is not as portable. We feel like Hive Pocket is the perfect size, and comes with mosquito and lady bug pieces.

Hive is challenging, strategic, engaging and fun. A great portable game for two.

Posted in Board Games

Game-a-Day Fortnight 2015 – Day 8: Carcassonne

Carcassonne‘s box says “Especially good for two players”. We agree 🙂

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Carcassonne came out in 2000 and has been a worldwide hit ever since. It’s a great, easy to play tile-laying game. You take turns placing tiles and maybe claiming them with your little meeples, to score points later on. You want to finish the feature you claim, and the other players probably want to stop you (or at least share your points by connecting up to your feature with a tile claimed by their own meeple).

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It’s simple and pretty quick to play (we just played in about 40 minutes), good for newcomers and experienced players.

Recommended for all board game collections 🙂

Posted in Board Games

Game-a-Day Fortnight 2015 – Day 5: Suburbia

Suburbia is basically “SimCity the Board Game”. It takes longer to play than anything I’ve posted this fortnight, but it’s a fantastic game and a candidate for my favourite 2-player game ever. Though, it actually plays 1 to 4 players.

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Suburbia sees you buying property from the Real Estate Market (which gets cheaper the longer it’s there) and trying to build a city that fits together well, to give you a better income and reputation.

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It’s well paced, loads of fun, pretty funny (Suz focused on lakes, but see my elementary school down in the industrial and airport district) and a game that you sort of play together and apart.

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Lots of stuff I could go into here, but let’s leave it here and let my favourite board game site Shut Up & Sit Down explain more about, this, one of my favourite games.

Posted in Board Games

Game-a-Day Fortnight 2015 – Day 4: Tsuro

Tsuro is another great, fast game. It’s beautiful too, and sort of zen.

You play by placing tiles with paths to follow (anyone touching any of the paths must follow it), flying around and trying not to stray off the board (and lose) or crash into another dragon (both lose).

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At first, you just move a little way. Later, when tiles connect up, you’re zooming all over (and hopefully not off) the board. Whoever survives the longest, wins. You’ll always have a winner by the time the tile deck runs out.

I think it’s a better game with more people (can do 2-8 players), as you’re all passing by each other and it can get hectic. It’s a good game when you’ve got 15 minutes – though I find we’ll often want to play two or three times in one sitting 🙂