Armoured Heroes, Not Mangoes, Morroccan Rugs and Railway Companies

Assam the trader standing in a sea of coloured rugs in the board game Marrakech.

It’s time for our weekly visit to Rougham to meet with the Bury St Edmunds Board Games Group once more. Jobby recounts the evenings events…

Upwards, Ever Upwards

Sarah and I arrived at the Bennet Arms for our Thursday night fill of board games. The pub was busy when we arrived with a couple of newbies in one corner and several of the usual suspects around. After some preliminary chats we split of for some lighter faire whilst waiting for the stragglers.

Tonight, we made sure we played a game with Tom who is the host of this group. Tom suggested Rhino Hero which neither of us had played before. We were joined by one of the Simon’s and Jim just nipped in as we were dealing out the cards.

This game is all about building a tower of cards. On their turn a player adds one or two folded cards as walls and then lays a card on top as a roof. The roof of the previous player dictates how many walls you must add and sometimes other little actions (draw a card, reverse play, etc.) Sometimes you have to put the wooden Rhino Hero on top of your roof… You read that right. Sometimes, you have to pick up a wooden rhineeple from mid way in this wobbling card tower and put it on top. You can imagine how that goes!

And it did. We managed to get an excitingly tall tower. People who had arrived late were standing and commentating as we played. Players were afraid to even breathe near the rickety tower. Tom got very, very serious on his later turns. Eventually, courtesy of Simon, the whole thing came crashing to a halt and he was declared the loser (funnily, no one cared who won). A very amusing start to the evening!

Rhino Hero being played. Many cards are stacked up in a tower. Tom is placing the Rhino on top of the tower.
Tom suddenly gets very serious and the tower wobbles as the eponymous Rhino Hero flies to the top!

Won’t You Buy My Wares?

Still not convinced that everybody had arrived we continued with some lighter games. Tom toddled off to make sure the new people were happy and was replaced at our table by Jack. We pulled Marrakech out of our bag and there were many ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ as people fondled the felt-y little rugs. Jim was particularly excited by Assam, the little wooden guy who wanders around the market, treading on players’ rugs and causing them to pay each other money. In fact, Jim photographed Assam declaring that would be his new Facebook profile pic!

Assam the trader standing in a sea of coloured rugs in the board game Marrakech.
Which way to turn? The board fills up with rugs in Marrakech.

Jim and Jack seemed to really enjoy this game. It’s really simple but there is enough play there to keep it interesting. Somehow I pulled off a really good win although I think some of that was luck rather than judgement!

Squishy Orange Fruit?

Now was the time for meatier games. Sarah was interested in the new Reiner Knizia game, Blue Lagoon, which had arrived hot from Essen Spiel via Damien. I had heard Simon talk to Simon and mentioned the words ‘worker placement’ which had made my ears prick up. Also, they seemed to be talking about a game that involved fruit so I was interested. Sarah and I went our separate ways at this point.

Turns out Simon had been talking about Mangrovia, not Mangovia, as I thought I had heard. Slightly disappointed with the lack of fruit I took my place at our table of three as Simon explained the rules and we set up.

This game has scoring reminiscent of Livingstone where players vie for majorities in both columns and rows by building huts in spaces on the boards. The huts reminded me of Tobago and I think this game is from the same publisher (maybe). Building huts is achieved by playing a terrain card that must match the space being built on, as well as cards or baubles to pay the cost of that space. There’s some other shennanigans going on but that’s about the shape of it.

Game of Mangrovia in action. Yellow, red and orange wooden huts are on a board depicting space with numbers.
So many little huts! Area control in Mangrovia. Are those… Christmas baubles…  printed on the board?

That would be nice enough but this game has a lovely worker placement mechanic. Players place baskets on a track. The space indicates two actions which are taken as a boat moves around the track. The first action happens as the boat sails to the other end of the track and the second action happens as the boat sails back. This means if a player goes first with their first action then they will go last with their second action. Very clever. I very much enjoyed this!

It was an incredibly close game. Each of us seemed to try and concentrate on a couple of things which meant we were often treading on each other’s toes. During the final scoring Simon thought he’d won until the other Simon revealed his stash of baubles to claim the victory on the tie-breaker! I was only four points behind, 91 versus 95, so it was all very close.

More Stocks and Rails

Sarah’s table was still tied up (they had moved onto another game) and people were leaving. We decided to play a quick-ish game with Jenny joining us to bring us to four. Everybody seemed happy to play Mini Rails which I have been covertly trying to get everyone in this club to play so I’ve always got opponents! A quick rules explanation and we were off.

The turn track in Mini Rails. There are two green pieces then two black, then two brown and finally two pink pieces.
An unlikely situation in Mini Rails: each player’s pieces are next to each other on the turn track!

As normal, the new players had the look of “Where’s the game in this?” during the first round or two. As the game went on the look of enlightenment dawned on their faces and players began to discuss how to mess up opponents. The moves became more deliberate and the game revealed itself from the deceptively simple rules. My hope is to start getting this played repeatedly by the same players to see how it develops. I’m convinced that several plays will begin to reveal little tricks in play and increase the competitiveness.

As it happened, Simon (not him, the other one!) won by a comfortable margin. But not before we had a round where we’d successfully lined up all of our pairs of markers in pairs of the same colour!

A satisfying end to a great night!

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