Yet another Tower Game?

Got a chance to play this new title from daVinci Games this afternoon and thought I'd write a review on it. The game "Lucca Citta" at first seems to yet another reniesance tower building game such as Campanile or Clock Tower, and well it is. But hey, you never know maybe they've added some flare to the game to make it different? We'll see

The components are staright forward. It comes in a small boxx with two decks of cards. The cards consist of a Player shield card and a player building card. The shield card is used to show turn order and the building card is used to show what phase a building is in. Then there are four "tower" cards. The remaining cards are the building cards. These cards com in six different colors, and have three distinguishing features; shields,  windows, and address numbers. The number of shiels plus the number of windows always add up to three. Yet there maybe three windows and zero shields, or two windows and one sheild and so on. The numbers on the address go up to I believe 100. That's it for components. Simple, clean.

The players "field" is made up of three sections. The first or the bottom is the "building" field. Her a player may build one tower of each color by placing one card section on top of another card section. These must be placed in order, they may not be shuffled around once they are placed. The second field is the "completed" tower field. These are where the towers are placed once it reaches three levels. The last field is the "show" tower field.

The game is played in rounds. In a five player game we had five rounds. Before the first round, each player is given four cards. The player will choose two out of the four, then the other two are shuffled back in the deck. These two card are all showed simultaniously. This will show the starting build field for each player and then player order is determined. whoever has the most shields showing from card in their build area goes first and so on. ties are broken by the player that has the largest address number showing. Then at the beginning of each rounds a set of three cards are laid out up to the number of players plus one. So in a five player game there would be six sets of three cards dealt to the middle of the table.

So on the first players turn he does these set of action. First he "may" show a completed tower to the show field. By doing this he scores his completed tower equal to the number of the same color cards as all other players have in both their build and completed pile. Then the player chooses one set of three cards showing and plays them. He may place cards in his build area by placing it on top of an existing tower or start a new one( a player may only build one of each color up to six). Or he may lay a card out for the city wall. Or he may discard the card. Once he plays his cards, any tower that was completed goes into the completed field and is scored. He gets one point for every window in the completed tower. If he gets a "city tower" card he may place that off in his city walls area.

After the first player plays, then every other player in the turn order does the same actions. The last set of three cards is discarded.

After the fifth round the game is completed. Then in turn order each player may "show" a completed tower, and score them accordingly. The final scoring deals with the city walls. For each card a player set aside for the city wall(placing them face down) he first must determine if he can support them. To support them he must have in his building area 2 shields for each wall segment. And he must be able to support ALL the wall segments or he looses the bonus. Then if he has wall segments and any "tower cards" he add them together and multiplys that number by the number of completed towers he has. So is he has 2 wall segments( and four shields to support), 1 tower card, and 4 completed towers then 1+2x4=12 bonus points.

Thats it. The person with the most points wins.

My feeling of the game. I liked it, it seems to have a nice balance of tradoffs in turn order collecting shields and scoring windows. Timing is everything. You don't want to "show" towers too soon, as you won't get as many points as waiting for other players to play the same color cards. However on the flip side, there is only five rounds of play, an you need to squeeze as many completed towers in to score. The luck comes in of course with the card draw, as it is random what each pile will contain. Which may work for you or not. But it didn't seem to screw anyone in the game I've played. I did notice that by the end it was quite close the number of towers and number of wall segments that each of us had played. So the scores for the bonus was quite close. I think the real scoring happens in looking what other players have been playing, and determining when to complete and show a tower to recive the maximum points against others unfinished towers. Remember, you don't score the same color cards in other players "showed" towers. So turn order is important, timing is important, and paying attention to what other players is playing is important. Very interesting play. It also plays fairly quickly, you can get a full game in in about 20-30 minutes tops. I'm not sure how it will scale with less players, but with 5 it seems quite balanced and solid.

December 2, 2005 in Game News and Reviews | Permalink | Comments (5)

Island Fever

I thought I would give my first impression of the new Stephen Dorra’s new game Kreta. In Kreta you are playing to control the islands of Crete. It’s a straightforward area control game, with a few twists.

The board is the island of Crete that is broken up into several different regions. Each region includes one type of farmable resource, which I believe there are 5 types (Cheese, Wheat, Grapes, Olives, and Thyme). Sounds like a Simon and Garfunkel song eh? Each region has different VP values ranging from 2-5. Also the regions are broken up in borders that each vertices is numbered 1-26. However there are only 11 rounds, so only 11 of these areas will be scored in a game. Also on the board evenly disturbed to every third or forth region are seaports.

Players all start with a few different objects. Villages, Villagers, Ships, Forts, and one Abbot. These are the things that sway influence on each region you put them. The player also gets a deck of character cards that will be used during each of his turns.

Game play is pretty straightforward. On players turn he chooses one of his character cards and plays it’s action as long as the action is valid. The seven actions are as follows:

Admiral: Place a ship or move up to two ships on the board. A max of two ships my be in any one harbor on the board.

Commander: Add a villager to the board, or move any number of villagers up to 4 total spaces. This can be broken up into several villagers.

Abbot: Place an abbot on the board, or move the abbot 3 spaces.

Farmer: If a player controls a villager and a ship in one region, he may “farm” a resource chip on that region. Harvesting give you one VP for each of the same type. i.e harvesting one cheese give you one vp, harvesting the second cheese give you two more, and so on.

Architect: Build a fort or build a village (Up to the number of farmed resources a player has)

King: Mirror the action of a card that that player has already played.

Castellan: Initiate a scoring round. Choose the next rounds card.

There are 11 rounds in the game. The players can see the next round of scoring and possibly the round after. The goal is to create the majority of influence in a region that will be scored next. The scoring cards match the numbers of the vertices on the board. So each region that touches the vertices are scored, which is between 2-3 regions. The player that has the most influence, get the points that are marked in that region (ties share the full amount) and second place gets half rounded down. Therefore you spend the game moving around or placing these items on the board so that you can have influence as high as possible in each scoring region.

There are a few caveats. One is the abbot. When a player places an abbot in a region, it only allows himself to place Villages or Villagers in that region. Other players that wish to build there will now have to spend a turn to place their own abbot in that region. Second it the castellan. Each player may only play each character once until the castellan is played, at which point a scoring happens, and each player takes back all the character cards. A second thing the player who played the castellan card gets is a chance to select the next round card. He chooses the face up card and either keeps it for the next round OR he may discard it and take the next card in the draw pile. So this makes for some interesting player screwage.

Game play. I liked the game; it’s very straightforward play. I did however notice that there are some regions that I would consider POWER regions. One that scores the max of 5 points has 6 vertices, one of the players established a clear majority early in the game, and it scored 5/6 times for a whopping 25 points. So I think for plays after this initial play we are going to see more contention for those “power” areas. But besides that it’s a solid playing game. The flow is smooth. You spend the game trying to find ways to edge in the majority before someone pulls the castellan trigger. Lots of give and take. I liked my first playing. I give this Dorra a thumbs up.


September 21, 2005 in Game News and Reviews | Permalink | Comments (66)

Tricks, Trump, Crash and Burn!

Ok, so as most people who know me know, I am not always the biggest fan of Trick taking games. But I will always try it at least once to see if it will strike a chord. Todays menu was a new trike-taking game from Phalanx called Trump, Tricks, Game.

The game is pretty standard. It has four colors/suites of cards numbered from 1-13 and four trump cards. The game is played in four rounds, where each color is trump once in the game. The four trump colors are shuffled and lay ed out to determine the trump color order. The tricks are played pretty standard, where you play the opening color if you can, and the high trump, or opening color wins the tricks. However each player is only allowed to take exactly three trick for the first three rounds. All cards a player plays after the three won tricks become throwoff. The cards in the mid range have "paw" symbols on them, ranging from 1-3 on cards 6-7-8. To score in each of the first three rounds, you count the number of paws you have and multiply them by the number of different colors you have. The last round is special. The paws mean nothing, and each color card is weighted, ie. each red card is 4pts., green  are  3pts., yellow are 2pts. and blue are 1pt.

On my first playing Somehow on the first round I got all but one red card, which was trump in the next round. THIS IS WAY BAD. As I will most certainly win the first three tricks, that people could throw off no paws! So I ended up with 6 points, while other players were averaging 20-30 points.

It seemed that it is a good idea, to hold off gaining tricks till the last rounds as you will get  a more varied selection of colors and paws. It also seemed like a good idea to get as many final round trump cards as possible so that you can control the last round. This didn't seem to be what happened as both Ed and I got majorly hosed in a specific round.

This game seems REALLY fragile, and I'm not sure if it's striking a positive chord with me. I think I will stick to control nut as my trick-taking game of the year.

August 19, 2005 in Game News and Reviews | Permalink | Comments (0)


I was on vacation last week, so of course I didn't get any games in. Boo. I felt really bad, as my family love playing games with me, and I totally forgot to bring them with me this time. They were quite upset. I thought I would share games that I had an easy time getting my non-gamer types to play. This includes friends and family that always ask me before playing "This isn't a D&D kinda game is it?". I get that a lot. It's the stygma I've have since playing D&D in the mid-eighties. But I digress. Here are some sure fire winners if you are looking for family gateway games.

Bohnanza - I don't care who you are, and what walks of life you are in, I can get anyone and everyone to love Bohnanza.

Bluff - Acts like poker, lots of player interaction, bluffing game. Everyone loves it.

Pickomino - This is a new one for 2005 that I've had tons of success. My new favorite fluffy game.

Ticket to Ride - This one suprised me how many people love playing. The theme you wouldn't think would impress folks but I was wrong. My copy's cards are so worn now that I may need to buy a second.

Coloretto - A quick card game that has a good amount of screwage, and player interaction.

Razzia - Funny this one, I've not got many folks to play Ra, but Razzia seems to click with folks. Maybe the pre-gamers Ra.

I'm the Boss - Everyone loves this game that I've introduced it to. A completely evil game that I always thought required the right kind of people. Just to find out that most people have a wicked vindeictive side. ;)

Trendy - Oh yeah, Trendy is the ultimate filler.

Blokus - Great for folks that like spacial games, who doesn't like blocks?

Can't Stop - A puch your luck game that anyone can pick up and start playing in a minute. Lots of tension, lots of fun

Franks Zoo - A ladder/trick game, that even I like. Falls inline for folks who grew up playing spades, hearts. This one seems to click with them.

10 days in the USA - Easy to learn, everyone has picked this one up as a favorite.

Too Many Cooks - Another card game that looks like a kiddie game, but ends up being meaty and evil.

High Society - Another card game that I've had lots of success introducing to folks.

Settlers of Catan - Of course I can't leave this one out. The ultimate gateway game into gamer-hood. Not everyone likes it, but If I can get people to play and enjoy this one, I can bring them into the fold.

This is my must have collection for every home in America. ;)

Next on the Agenda for the weekend, is my new Game Table top for my foosball table. I am making it portable, and big enough for the biggest of games. Should be pretty when its all done. I will blog the progress.

August 16, 2005 in Game News and Reviews | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cool Cool Water

Ugg! A whole week without any games! I think this is the first true dry week i've had in over a year. Going to start twitchin, and wanting to play Tichu. Help me quick!

March 13, 2005 in Game News and Reviews | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tetris and the Third Dimension

Now this looks cool! My favorite video game Tetris, now in boardgame form. Watch the commercial, looks like hours of mindless fun:

Tetris Tower!


February 18, 2005 in Game News and Reviews | Permalink | Comments (1)

Cradle of Civiliazation Games

I'Jiroft_artifact_gameboard m always interested in the historical footnotes in the gaming world. This one comes out of Iran, or the beginnings of civilization itself. Which shows that games outdate written language. Last year I found an auction at christie's of a D20 dice from the roman era, which predates D&D by a few years...;)

Five Ancient Game Boards Identified among Jiroft Relics

February 8, 2005 in Game News and Reviews | Permalink | Comments (1)

Alpha Niner Bravo

As some other folks around are doing, I am also doing an alphabet soup for 2005. This is a good chance to force myself to played some unplayed titles that sit on the shelves begging to be played. This month was supposed to be my "A" and "B" month, I wish I could have played more. I could also go in reverse as I got in a "Y" and "Z". Not a bad start.

"A"ge of Steam: Can you believe it, have never played AOS before. Have played Volldamf. AOS is a pretty cool game, very tense. Being my first play, it was just all about not going bankrupt. Money is uber tight.  I am hoping to get more plays of this in this year.

"B"illabong: Funny little checkers like racing game where you try and get kanjaroos through the billabong. Not bad.

"Y"s : Pretty cool blind bluffing game.

Das "Z"epter von Zavandor: Ok, way cool outpost replacement. So far for 2005 this is by far my favorite game.  If you haven't played this yet, DO SO! Very cool.

"Z"ircus Flohcati: Very fast little card game. Fun 5 minutes.

Starting tommorrow is the month of "C" and "D". I got an early start at fridays lunch and had a chance to play Chessington . I know it's few days early but hey I'll take it. Chessington is a interesting race game where the pieces match movement the same as chess pieces.

Here are some of the games that I am hoping to get on the table this month. These are all the ones I haven't played yet and have access to:

  • Cannes
  • Capitol
  • Carolus Magnus
  • Clans
  • Condottiere
  • Domaine
  • Doge
  • Dragon Delta
  • Drunter und Druber

I've heard good things about Carolus Magnus and have been wanting to try it for a while. I am shocked about Domaine, as I have it on my shelf. So sad!

January 30, 2005 in Game News and Reviews | Permalink | Comments (0)