The 8th Voyage of Sindbad

So, last night was a busy one. I’d been having these dreams about a city in India so thought I’d go to see what it was all about. Along the way I was transformed into a hideous ape, kissed by an ifrit, I fed starving masses, discovered my hidden family fortune, was married, widowed a week later, sprung someone from prison, found a magical city, stole a diamond, saved a village, escaped prison myself, and finally returned to Baghdad to live out my days as a respectable citizen.

It was a pretty awesome evening.


In the end all that wasn’t enough to win (if winning is even the right word!). That honour belonged to a former prison agony aunt turned sex-changed prince who angered the king of the merfolk with her zealous proselytising and the King of Thieves himself.

I ran a solo game myself, it meant tweaking the rules a little (it’s trickier without someone else to be storyteller) but I still had fun. I was a (wrongfully) disgraced royal cartographer fleeing the Vizier’s soldiers. I avoided cities, stuck to the wilderness, where I came upon a map to Stonehenge but that journey didn’t end so well. I saw terrible things and not long after my past caught up with me and I was imprisoned by the Vizier’s men.

I managed to escape and travelled to far off lands searching for a mysterious woman who haunted my dreams but my exile and imprisonment had made me a bitter and envious man. I never did find that woman but I did find salvation, I even saved an entire city of bewitched people and finished at peace, forgiven by the Sultan, with a whopping great diamond to boot.

Games Me

Terra 2

Had my second game of Terra on Thursday and it was tough. Still great fun but not the improvement I hoped I’d get knowing a bit more about the game.

I didn’t get a chance to eat before heading out so my thought process was painfully slow; I highly doubt I would’ve won (Mike and Matt have played a hell of a lot more than I have!) but it was quite annoying to spot every mistake I made a turn or so after I had made it.

I scored low 90s as Halflings but I seriously screwed up my opening placement which left me neighbourless. Still, all a learning experience! I’m tempted to have a go at some online games to get a bit of practice in before I play again.

Games Me

Terra Mystica

I’ve found a local gaming group and I played my first game of Terra this week. I’ve been curious about it for a while now as it’s so highly rated but playthroughs and reviews haven’t quite done it justice: it’s brilliant.

A (very) brief explainer for any readers who don’t know Terra:

The map is split into hexes (think Civ) and each hex is a different type of terrain (forest, lake, wasteland, etc.)

Each race can only build on a single type of terrain, to expand your territory you terraform adjacent tiles to convert them to your terrain type. Each race’s player board indicates how costly it is to convert each terrain to your preferred terrain.

Tiles are claimed by building dwellings which can subsequently be upgraded to other building types. Each has a certain cost and offers certain benefits. Some costs can be mitigated by building on tiles adjacent to other players but your build action will help them generate resources.

Each turn you will produce resources: workers (cubes), money, priests, power. These are spent to perform actions. Production and action costs vary between races so race choice is very important (each race also has a special power); your choice should be informed by already selected races and the round bonuses (round bonuses are randomly ordered each game).

Various actions throughout the game score (or spend) victory points. At the end of the game you can convert outstanding resources into points and points are scored for largest contiguous empire and a number of other scoring mechanisms and potential bonuses based on what you chose to build in the game.

It’s pure strategy and there’s more to it than I’ve explained here. It’s also really really good.

There were five of us playing, I was the only newbie and of the others two had played before a few times and the other two played pretty much every week. I was the Giants (one of the regular players picked my race for me) and I came third with a score in the low 100s, which I think is pretty good for a first play? As you’d expect the two guys who play every week came first and second with scores up in the 130-140 range, the two other guys were in the 50-70 range.

I could’ve scored a little higher but there a few mechanics I didn’t fully understand until I’d missed an opportunity to capitalise but I really can’t wait to play again. I’m some way off knowing the best race based on reward order and all that jazz but I could certainly manage my economy better now I’ve played once.

Roll on next week!


Locked Room Mystery

(If you’re after the literary variety try The Case of the Transported Cat)

In something that looks equal parts Saw and The Crystal Maze, “escape room games” are becoming a popular attraction in Budapest:

If I’m honest I can’t make head nor tail of the drawing in front of me. It looks like a plumbing diagram.

And while it’s clear that the sequence of noises – a church bell ringing, a frog croaking, a cat mewling – are code for something, I am none the wiser.

I’m in a dimly lit cellar, furnished with creaking chairs, broken toys, and old computer monitors. The low-arched brick ceilings have been whitewashed, but there are few other concessions to civilisation.

With time pressure mounting it’s vital that my team and I piece together some kind of logic among the junk, if we want to make an escape. That’s the challenge. Identify each puzzle in the room, unravel its mystery in turn and you may get out before your allotted hour is up.

But still ringing in my ears are the words of owner Attila Gyurkovics before he locked us in: “Getting out is not guaranteed.”


Art Games

The World of Imagination

The world of imagination is the world of eternity; it is the divine bosom into which we shall all go after the death of the vegetated body. This world of imagination is infinite and eternal, whereas the world of generation is finite and temporal.

William Blake, spotted in an article about D&D that’s worth a read. I’ve never played D&D but I really really want to. Years ago I picked up the 4e Player’s Handbook and it was a fun enough read but I didn’t take it any further. More recently I’ve caught up with Acquisitions Inc, watched a buttload of Tabletop and I’m the slightly excited owner of the 5e Player’s Handbook (and Monster Manual). I have nobody to play with but I’m holding out hope.

Talking of Blake there’s an exhibition of prints on at the Ashmolean this Winter to which I’m definitely paying a visit.