Cute Dragons and Sick Dice

Did you go out for a nice Valentine’s Day dinner? Sarah and Jobby went to Rougham to play board games! Aw! …

Aw! How Cute!

We did actually have some rather yummy food at Yo! Sushi before heading out to join the Bury St Edmunds Board Games Group at Rougham for an evening of gaming. This week we were ten and started with some lighter fair to get us in the mood. Sarah and I had brought along The Tea Dragon Society but hadn’t yet played it. Helen declared she’d got it for Christmas but hadn’t played it either. Since I’d read the rules I offered to teach it – it’s really simple and this went well.

Ginseng just wants to eat – the perfect dragon for me!

The Tea Dragon Society is probably the most basic of deck-builder games, a rather simplified Dominion. On a player’s turn they either draw a card or buy a card. That’s pretty much the shape of it. The wrinkles come from how the cards interact. Card that are worth no points will promote bonus draw whereas cards that are worth a lot will cause a player to discard cards.

For what is meant to be a cute game I found this incredibly frustrating! A player will frequently find they have nearly enough ‘growth’ to buy a card they want only to draw a scoring card that forces them to discard some of that growth. This not only wastes this turn but also previous turns. There are some cards that mitigate these effects but if you spend the whole game buying those then you won’t get any points!

Helen won by a large margin. “Oh yeah,” said her other half. “She does that!” Well, it wasn’t a long game so I don’t mind and hopefully I taught Helen well enough that she can teach people how to play her copy.

Tactical Fatalities

A bit of waiting ensued from here as we waited for Tom’s table to finish playing Piepmatz, a card game about collecting sets of birds. Once they’d got through scoring (which seemed quite involved!) we split into three tables: one table playing Quacks of Quedlinberg, one playing Heaven & Ale and my table playing our copy of Dice Hospital (complete with cool ambulances!).

Rob joined Sarah and me for this one. It was only our second time playing so there was a little referring to the rulebook but I think it went well enough. Basically players draft an ambulance full of sick patients and then try to make them well again. Points are scored for discharging dice each round – the points awarded on a sliding scale so it is beneficial to discharge lots of dice at once.

Look at those lovely patients just waiting for treatment!

The treatment of patients is handled by placing a worker (nurse or specialist doctor) in a room in your hospital. That room allows a die or combination of dice to have their value increased. Get a die to 7 then it feels all better and can be discharged. If a die drops to below zero because of neglect it dies. Simple!

Well, actually there is quite a puzzle here. For example, I had a room that allowed me to heal three dice but they had to have sequential values and be green. If I had a 3, 5 and a 6 in green then I have to find a way of getting that 3 up to a 4 so I can use the room. The order of using rooms is very important!

In addition, players will always be taking on three new dice each round and there are only twelve beds in your hospital. If you haven’t got room for the incoming patients then you have to let some existing ones die to make room! Jokes about how the NHS is run were soon made! 🙂

Oops! I have had a couple of fatalities! Bodies in the mortuary will lose a player points at the end of the game.

Rob took to getting lots of specialists at the start of the game. “It’s worker placement. Always a good idea to have lots of workers!” he opined. About half way through he realised he had loads of workers but no departments for them to work in so U-turned on his theory and starting expanding his hospital. Sarah had a good mixture of each going on and was making good use of her General Practitioner. Meanwhile, I had a very specialist hospital that was dealing mainly with red patients with a little sideline in the occasional green patients. Yellow dice that came to my hospital tended to die.

It turned out that my tactical neglect of yellow patients would prove to cost me the game. Despite a couple of strong rounds that seem to put me comfortably in the lead, Rob caught up in the last round. With the final totting up, my fatalities caused me to lose enough points to drop into second place giving Rob the victory!

It was quite a long game but that was mostly because we were taking turns activating our hospital departments – in future, when we are more comfortable with the game I think all players will do this phase simultaneously. Also, the dice tower that game in the deluxe box was invaluable in a pub. Rolling twelve dice a round would certainly have ended in some escapees if it wasn’t for that cardboard tower with it’s little fenced off area.

Sarah had begun to flag towards the end of Dice Hospital and when we finished the pub looked to be closing up. We thanked Rob for a good game and said cheerio to the other gamers who were still left. Only two games played but still a great night!

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