Yokohama: A KneeJerk/First Thoughts Look After One Play

One play down, well actually, one and a half plays down but we won’t bicker with semantics here.

So yeah, that’s the Okazu box, I am playing the Deluxified version from Tasty Minstrel Games that just delivered to Kickstarter backers.

So, what is Yokohama, well at first glance and during setup, you can say that it’s a complete cluster f*^k of a game. There are tiles everywhere and on those tiles you have you have cards with spaces to build things on and all kinds of iconography everywhere and bits and coins and cards and tiles and stuff. Okay, that may be getting a bit carried away, but I think you get the picture.

But what at first glance appears like a cluster f&^k, really isn’t isn’t that, it’s a mirage-y as Bugs would say.

The game is silky smooth and it is ultimately very intuitive once you know what you can do on a turn and what you are ultimately trying to accomplish, POINTS!

So on a your basic turn you have 6 things to possibly do.

  1. Placement, this is the step where you place your Assistants out on the board. You may place 1 Assistant into each of 3 different areas or you may place 2 Assistants in one area.
  2. Movement, this is where your president piece comes into play. You may remove your President from the Board and back into your hand, move your President from your hand to the board or more than likely, you will move your President around the board. The important thing to follow is that your President may only follow a path that has their own Assistants in the areas passed through(except the Canal)
  3. Area Actions are then taken, first you figure the power of the action and this is done by figuring the number of player pieces of your color in that area, be it your President, your Assistants or Buildings and take the corresponding action. You can never exceed 5 power in an area, ignore anything beyond that.
  4. POWER BONUS, if you are the first to complete a 5 power bonus in that area, take the Power Bonus Token and receive the goods or money on the token.
  5. Construction, this is where you can build your Shops or your Trading Houses. Important to note, each player may only have one Shop in each area, plus there is only one Trading House allowed in an area.
  6. Recover, at the end of your MAIN action phase you take all Assistants from the area in which you carried out the area action and return them to your hand.

Easy enough, those are your 6 main actions. But along with those actions on your turn you have 2 Additional Action Phases that you can perform, both before and after your main actions, these additional actions are where you are going to Fulfill Orders or Fulfill Orders or even carry out a Foreign Agent Action, but this is all going to be part of an other post I think as I am rambling with rules and I already want to stop typing and just go play it again already.

See! I told you so, it looks like a Cluster F*(K

Ultimately the points are what really matters, right? You want to score as many points as humanly possible and you do that through many different routes, you can fill orders, you can buy tech cards(which are really, really important in the game, nothing like good old tech cards to tear up the rules), you can send your assistants to the Church, you can send your Imports to the Customs House for points and you can do a bit of set collection with those Foreign Agents I briefly mentioned earlier. All the while you are doing these things you are collecting goods, gaining points for building Shops & Trading Houses and fulfilling the Orders. There are just so many ways to get points, it’s almost like, and I know this will upset some folks, a better Feld point salad game than an actual Feld point salad game!

Our scores were a bit wonky this game, first place ran away with it, and I mean he smoked us, I’m talking 133 for first and 93 for second, 86 for third and 75 for fourth. I’m not sure of his strategy as I was too busy trying to do a little bit of everything, but that 40 point difference probably came from our lack of attention to the Tech Cards and Foreign Agent collection. But where’s the fun in specializing your first run through the game, it’s all about exploration and finding something that works or just trying to make something work.

I am anxious to play this one again, it reminds me of Orleans a bit in the collection of goods, or any other myriad of goods collecting and order fulfilling games,  but the route and network building in this one sets it apart and give it a seemingly huge advantage in my mind. I heard Le Havre mentioned a bit as we were playing, but I couldn’t tell you whether or not that’s accurate as I’ve never touched Le Havre. I want just want to play more, to see if you indeed do have to specialize in one area and fill in for more points or if you can try to do a bit of everything and manage to get a respectable score. I want to see how much the modular board changes how you play from game to game, because surely there are going to be different routes being built based on how everything is laid out. There are a lot of things I want to see, including the Station in action.

It’s 11:45 in the evening, I’ve had 2 gin and tonics and I’m wondering if Kerensa is asleep and if she is, I wonder if she wants to wake up and play.

…….to be continued

-Brandon

Circle the Wagons

Circle The Wagons

Designed by: Steven Aramini, Danny Devine, and Paul Kluka

Art by: Beth Sobel

Published by: Button Shy Games

A Preview by Eric Booth

Circle The Wagons is yet another game in the long line of what has become known as “Micro Games.” IE: “Love Letter” Or in other words games with a very minimalistic amount of components, are very portable, and usually play in around 15 to 30 minutes. So what sets “Circle The Wagons” apart from other micro games? Good question. And I have a good answer for you. “Circle The Wagons” feels and plays like a much bigger game. Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard that before. Well I can tell you it’s the truth with this game. There are many hard decisions that have to be made with a minimal amount of components, and only 2 players.

The game comes with only 18 cards, yes 18. But each of these cards have a wealth of information on them. They are all dual sided. One side will have 4 territories depicting one of 6 different territory types. Then each territory has a symbol on it depicting one of 6 different symbols used for end game scoring.

And this brings me to the other side of the cards. Each of the 18 cards has an end game scoring goal on it. During set up you will randomly choose 3 of these cards as goals to shoot for. So not only do you have these to work towards you also have the base scoring which is 1 point for each of your territory types containing the largest groups of each territory type.

Now how do you get these cards and what do you do with them once you have them? Well, at it’s heart this is a tile laying game. You will be drafting these cards from a circle of cards that surround the 3 end game scoring cards. Players will take turns drafting these cards from the circle. If the active player decides to skip the next available card or cards, these skipped cards are given to the other player as “Free Cards” to put into their town square. I really like this mechanic as it gives you a meaningful decision on which card you want and what you want to leave for your opponent. And also what card is going to benefit you the most for end game scoring. Cards are placed in your town square as per most tile laying games IE: “Hanging Gardens.” You can place them orthogonal to your other cards already in your town square. You can place them on top of other cards but you are not allowed to place cards underneath cards or diagonally, corner to corner, to other cards that are already in your town square.

So that is a basic overview of how the game is played. Now how do I feel about the game. I’ll tell ya partner. I’ve had a rip roaring good time playing “Circle The Wagons.” Oh, the first two games where a bit meh, but that was only because I misread a rule, several times in fact, that made the game very confusing. Once we got the misinterpreted rule correct we played several more games and it just started to shine. And it plays quick enough that we just jumped right into another game, then another. The more games we played the more I liked it. Each game felt different enough with all the options you have for end game scoring that it never felt repetitive at all. Oh there is the opportunity for “Hate Drafting” but that is very minimal as your opponent is trying to work toward whatever end game goal they’ve decided to shoot for. But yes it does happen and sometimes it is very necessary to keep that one card out of that dirty scoundrel’s town square.

Final verdict? I give this two rootin’ tootin’, beer bottle shootin’, hollerin’ and a hootin’, thumbs up. If you’re looking for that quick game to fill in while waiting for the rest of the gaming group to show up, or just something to play while waiting for Cookie to finish cooking them beans, then this is the game for you.

Full disclosure. I was supplied a copy of this game for review at no cost to me. But I assure this had no bearing on my review. Trust me. If this game turned out to have been crap I would have let you know. Look for “Circle the Wagons” on Kickstarter start April 4th.