26 April 2017

Isle of Skye boardgame review

Isle of Skye was bought when Caroline and I were going on vacation a couple of months ago. I got this idea that we should buy a couple of small games to bring with us to play at the hotel in the evenings or if the weather would turn bad.

This was the game that I liked the most, and which also had the most "game" in it - surprisingly how hard it is to find good small scale games...

Isle of Skye has a resemblance to Carcasonne, a game I dislike. It's not the first time I like a game similar to another that I don't however. In this case I found that the artwork was better looking and the game less fiddly, and it also had a bit more player interaction which brought the similar experience above average to good.

Isle of Skye is a tile placement game, with an interesting bidding/money system and interchangeable objectives to keep the game fresh.

Each player takes on the role of a highland clan trying to build a kingdom using tiles. Points are scored for a variety of objectives, such as most watchtowers, ships, hamlets, cattle, beer etc.

It is in many senses similar to Carcassonne in this regard, however the difference is that in Isle of Skye all players have their own individual maps instead of a shared one. And also, instead of randomly picking and placing a tile like you do in Carcassonne, you pick 3 tiles per player each turn. After picking tiles you place them in front of your player sheet - and behind your sheet you do a secret bid.
The bid is how much you are willing to purchase each tile for, one of the three tiles also needs to be scrapped. 

As all players to this step at the same time you first see what everyone has drafted, and plan how to incorporate the tiles that other players drafted into your own kingdom. During this step you also need to carefully plan your economy - do you save money for purchase of opposite player tiles or do you really want to keep the tiles that you drafted yourself and make them expensive to avert purchase?

As players reveal which tiles are scrapped and how they have priced the remaining two tiles, players take a round of bidding and purchasing. Starting with the first player all players have the opportunity to bid on one tile located in front of an opponent, or pass. You are only allowed to buy one tile per round. Smart players will know what victory points their opponent aim for and price the desired tiles expensive. 

Should you pass during the bidding step you are not allowed to buy anything this round. After the bidding/purchase all players now place the remaining and purchased tiles that they have on their map.

Tiles need to match in terms of geographic features, roads must not connect but oftentimes there are additional victory points  to be made for linking resources by roads to your castle.

Isle of Skye is a simple but elegant boardgame that provides opportunities for tactical gameplay and planning alike. With a multitude of victory conditions the game will remain fresh as scoring elements alter in between games. Points are also scored in a irregular pattern, which has you plan for both short and long term purchase and placement of tiles as no single turn provides victory points for all 4 victory conditions at the same time.

We have played this game with 2-3 players and it works very well. I would recommend to play it with at least 3 players, and hope to get a 4 player game sometime. Isle of Skye is a perfect lightweight game with good boardgame depth to play with people that are not regular boardgamers, and as I would imagine a good family game. Quick rules, quick gameplay and you can manage several sessions during a single afternoon with no problem.

It's hard to me to imagine breaking this open with my regular boardgame group as we tend to play highly thematic and long boardgames when we do get the opportunity to meet and play one afternoon. But if we did it would be part of a boardgame afternoon with a mix of small/fast boardgames such as 7 Wonders and the like.

Isle of Skye 7,5 / 10

23 April 2017

Frostgrave Death Cultists and treasure tokens

I got motivated to get some painting done this weekend, so I finished 4 death cultists for the Frostgrave Thaw of the Lich lord campaign, as well as 6 home made treasure tokens (it was about time). I wanted to try some new color ideas for the cultists, and beside the test model (guy running with a sickle) I think they came out pretty good.

The treasure tokens are based on Renedra textured plastic dungeon bases, I used sand god the gold, and greenstuff for the bags and scrolls. I had some metal bottles, glasses, the book and the Cthulhu statue in my bits drawer and added those as well. The gems are just pieces of plastic trimmed with a hobby knife.

I'm currently also waiting for some additions that I ordered from Wayland games, some pretty cool "Otherworld Miniatures" and Frostgrave range monsters and characters. I hope to get them next week, or the week after at the latest. Would be neat to have them home for next weekend's continuation of the campaign.

18 April 2017

Organizing and accessorizing Frostgrave

Caroline and I had a couple of days off work and managed to play a couple of Frostgrave games this weekend. As Caroline likes this miniatures game the most, and we started playing the Thaw of the Lich king campaign I figured that we could do something to organize our games to make things a bit easier.

Two things were my main area of improvement - keeping track of all the spells you have access to, and quick reference of monster encounters.

The result was, after a couple of hours of work, a decent (still not finished) "wizard book". This was done by purchasing two thin binders in our local book store, and print out and insert all the wizard, soldiers, item and FAQ papers along with plastic pocket sheets from Ultra Pro where you can store the spells your wizard has knowledge of.

This alone saves time shuffling through the spell decks and storing wizard spells problems in between games.  The nice thing about the use of the plastic pocket sheets is that you can cut small pieces of matte tape and stick it on the outside and write with a ball pen the modified casting values.

My second project was to make monster cards, I had already made lots of simple stat cards in Microsoft Word for Blood Bowl, Muskets and Tomahawks etc that had the measurements of card sleeves. However, for Frostgrave I wanted something pretty and colorful. So a bit of searching the internet I found a site that allowed you to create your own Magic the Gathering cards for free. Perfect!

So I searched for artwork matching the monster profiles in the Frostgrave core rulebook and the Thaw of the Lich king (leaving out a few monster profiles that I do not fancy) and then used that artwork for the MtG card creator. Typing monster stats and special rules on the cards, then saving each card as a png file on my hard drive. After this was done I wanted to print full color sheets at my work, so I fired up Microsoft Word and dragged and dropped all cards into a single file, using the picture editing tools to resize the cards in centimeters to fit my card sleeves and arranged the cards 3x3 on each page.

Finally after having printed the sheets, I cut the cards out, and put them in Ultra Pro card sleeves with black backs (inspired by my friend Thomas who have used the same sleeves to great effect). The back of the sleeves help blend in the card as well as add some stability to the card itself. And if you want to draw monsters at random instead of rolling on the monster table in the book then you can just draw random cards facing down from a pile.

It would be great to print out magic items, potions etc, and but them in smaller sleeves but that could prove to be a lot more work than it's worth, those items are often self explanatory.

09 April 2017

Patchwork boardgame review

I guess "Patchwork" is proof that you can make a boardgame about just anything! Caroline bought this little  game a while ago while scouting our local hobby store for 2-player games. I laughed when I saw the box, but the game turned out to be quite fun in all its simplicity and I would rate it among the better 2-player games in our collection.

Patchwork is a resource and time management game with elements of Tetris to it. The goal of the game is to finish a quilt, and have as few empty spaces on your quilt-board as possible. Points are scored for having the least amount of empty spaces and the number of buttons (game currency) in your possession once both players reach the end of the game.

The game has no fixed number of turns, instead the main board is divided into "time spaces". During each players turn, you pick one of the three available patches in front of the turn token - pay the number of buttons the patch indicates and place it on your quilt.  

The patches available have several things printed on them. First you see the price (in buttons), you also see how time consuming it is to apply the patch to  your quilt, and finally you see how many buttons the patch generates whenever your player token crosses a button printed on the main board.

What I liked about this game is the non-linear player activation. Players alter turns only once one player falls behind the other. If player one is 5 steps ahead of player two, then player two can buy and place several patches on his quilt before catching up and pass by the leading player before player turn changes.

Patches with buttons printed on them provide resources for purchase of new patches, and every time you pass a button symbol on the main board you receive a payout from the buttons on your quilt.

Should you lack buttons to purchase new patches you can pass your turn over to the other player, doing so you advance your own player token on the time track so that it ends up just in front of the other player, then you get 1 button for every space your token moved. Thus you receive "money" for future moves but forfeit your current turn.

There is not much more to tell about this game or worth dissecting. The rules are dead simple, but offer quite a challenge between two equal players trying to both outwit each other with tactical choices.

I really recommend this game if you are looking for a easy to learn, quick to play 2-player game. I would also consider this very family/kid friendly

Patchwork scores 7,5/10

02 April 2017

Anno Domini 1666 Colonel Wolodyjowski painted up

The second of the two "Anno Domini 1666" miniatures that I bought while I was in Poland a couple of weeks ago, colonel Wolodyjowski. Also known as the "little knight" because of his short stature, which he makes up for by being the one best swordsman in the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth.

I had bad luck with the matt varnish on this model, I would have liked a matt finish but parts of the model are sadly still glossy despite two layers of brush on varnish.

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