New Acquisitions for April 2016 + The Skye's the limit and the Whisky is galore

This month we discovered a new game (which wasn’t very new, it was just new to us). Isle of Skye slipped under the radar, not only for us but many around the gaming community seemed to have missed it too.

Isle of Skye may have suffered because at a quick glance it looks like a Carcassonne spin-off. Let me start by saying it is most certainly not like Carcassonne although I can why many saw it that way.

Each player is a Clan Chieftain on the Island. Each is trying to develop their territory. There are 6 rounds of play. At the start of each round, players draw 3 tiles from the cloth bag. There are placed behind a screen. Then each player has to decide which of these three tiles he or she wants to ‘keep’. The tile not wanted is determined by placing your Axe on it. Remember, this is behind a screen so this decision is secret. You may want to lose a tile that doesn’t help your territory develop (within your game plan) or you might want to Axe a tile you think would be great for an opponent. The other two tiles must be allocated a value, from 1 gold upwards. When everyone is ready, the screens are removed….

First, the axed tiles go back into the bag. The two remaining tiles, with their allotment of money, are dealt with as follows. This is the clever bit……..

In turn order, a player can buy 1 tile from those on display in front of the other players. This purchase cannot be denied or opposed. If a tile is bought, the buyer gives the other player the money that was put onto the tile. The player who has lost the tile gets to keep the money paid plus they get to keep their money that was on the tile. For example: Player A has valued a tile at 6 gold. Player B buys it. He gives Player A 6 gold which now belongs to Player A plus Player A gets back the 6 gold that they original put on to the card. In effect it returns 12 gold in total for use later. This goes around the table with each player getting the chance to buy another player’s tile. Only one tile can be purchased per round. It is possible that one player has both their tiles bought from them. At the end of that purchasing phase, any money on a tile that has not been bought goes into the supply next to the board. This system is simply beautiful. If one or both of your tiles are great for your territory, then you may want to put a lot of money on to it or them, making it hard to for someone else to purchase it. If no-one does, you get to keep the tile(s) but all that lovely money you put on to them is lost. Ouch! But if someone did buy such a tile, you will get a lot of gold to use on a later turn. Pitching the right price is very strategic and the core of the game. A player who loses an expensive tile will increase their cash-in-hand substantially so game balance is restored. The value of a tile’s price can be based on a tile that is not much use to you but may be considerably desirable to another player. You may be absolutely sure in your mind that another player will want that tile, so you put a high price on it because you know it will be purchased. However if that player can’t afford it or thinks it is over-priced, then you will keep the unwanted tile and lose your gold you put on to it.

Each player starts with a Castle tile. That is where your territory begins. After the purchasing round, players add their tiles to their tableaux. Tiles must be matching on the connecting sides. There are three terrain types that must match – Mountains, Fields, and Water. There is a 4th element – Roads. You do not need to match a road with another road. In effect, a road can come to a sudden end but there are reasons that you might not want to do this. Each Castle tile has three roads leading from it. The Castle is valued at 5 Gold. This is your income each round. It can be increased by adding whisky barrels (which appear on lots of tiles). Each whisky barrel in your tableaux adds one more to your income BUT only if it is connected to your castle by a road.  Hence, you may want to keep a road open and not bring it to an abrupt end. Whilst on the subject, from round 3 onwards, players get a catch-up bonus. You will get 1 extra gold for every player ahead of you on the scoring track. In rounds 4, 5, 6, this bonus is increased to 2,3,4 respectively.

How to score victory points is also clever. Four scoring tiles are randomly placed in the centre of the board, in slots marked A, B, C, and D. There are a lot of such tiles and only these four will be used in a game. Each of these tiles will be scored three times during the game. In the 1st round only the tile in A is scored. In the 2nd round B is scored, 3rd A and C, 4th B and D, 5th A, C and D, and 6th round B, C, and D. This order of scoring never varies so you must think ahead and expand your territory in such a way that ‘suits’ the scoring tiles.

Apart from terrain on a tile there are icons that appear on some tiles if not all of them. I have mentioned the whisky but others can be depicted. There are animals (sheep or cattle, buildings (farms, lighthouses or brochs), ships and scrolls. I have done some research on Wikipedia and a Broch was probably a home for a clan chief. It looks a little like a not-very-tall tower and is only found in Scotland which has hundreds of them still standing today.

These icons feature on most of the scoring tiles. An example, each sheep in your tableaux scores a point, or maybe the players with the most and second-most number of ships, and so on. Of course all players are competing for these scoring objectives at the same time. Scrolls are a secondary scoring objective because scrolls are scored at the end of the game and only apply to the ‘owning’ player. You might have a scroll in your tableaux that says that you score 1 point for every two ships. So, as a strategy, you may value tiles with ships on more than the other players. Scrolls are further improved if the scoring icon they depict is in a ‘closed’ area, e.g., one that is complete. This can be a mountain range, a lake or a field. If the icon is in such a completed feature then it scores double points. Finally every 5 gold pieces you have at the end scores a point.

This is a lovely game. It plays in 45 to 60 minutes by experienced players so it makes an idea game to play if time remains after a main game of the session. I particularly love the buying tiles phase, so clever. The scoring tiles makes each game so different. Not only because they will be different for every game you play (there are 16 available and only four are chosen randomly), but even the order in which they turn up makes a difference. I like the catch-up money mechanic, a good idea. However I would say that no matter how the catch-up helps you, if you make two early bad decisions, the game can be unforgiving. But, it’s a short game so you won’t be ‘out-of-it’ for long. We aren’t playing 1829 here, that game can be unforgiving and you would still have 6 hours to go before your misery is over.

Highly recommended . If you already own the English edition then I would like to ask a favour. The only English rules I can find on the Web are tiny print size and I would love to have full-size scans of each page. Hope someone can help… . Now, on to the new games at chez von der Osten this month……

3 Mädchen und 3 Jungen

Piatnik

1971

 

Detektiv-Set

Moses

2010

Flinke Flosse

Ravensburger

2003

Komm gut heim!

ASS

2010

Mogel Motte

Drei Magier Spiele

2011

Gruselino

Ravensburger

1999

Dieren Kwartet

NSF

1955

De Vrolijke Vriendjes

Jumbo

1961

Auto Bingo

Schmidt

2000

Das Grosse Tierquartett

FX Schmid

1980

Mosaïik Spel

Unknown

1950

Mini-Wissens-Quiz für Kinder

Noris

2000

Les Littérateurs Célèbres

Nathan

1938

Schreibspiele

HABA

1995

Bibi Blocksburg: Die verhexte Tümpelei

Schmidt

2000

Pocket Quiz: Olympia

Moses

2012

Das Halsband der Königen

Days of Wonder

2003

Tiere Lotto

Bookmark

2005

Der sichere Weg

Nürnberger

2000

Stick Pictures

Mulder

1955

Rio

Ravensburger

1981

WM '74

Bielefelder

1974

Legespiel Bär

HABA

1990

Prinzessin Lillifee: Die Perlensuche

Die Spiegelburg

2007

Asterix Happy Families

Carta Mundi

2011

Snip Snap Snor

Jumbo

1955

Pettersson und Findus

Ravensburger

2000

Disney Princess

Carta Mundi

2011

Het Oud-Hollandse Ganzenbord

Jumbo

1954

Bedrohte Tierwelt: Afrika & Antarktis

ASS

1990

Mein Fahrrad

ASS

2010

Tierquartett

HABA

2010

Wort Fix

Ravensburger

2001

Edle Pferde

Berliner

1990

Galaxy Trucker

CGE

2007

Schwarzer Peter

FX Schmid

1975

Die schönsten Kinderlieder

ASS

1990

Sternenenschweif Geheimnisvolle Verwandlung

Kosmos

2006

Ferdi Fuchs Fussball Quartett

ASS

2012

Biene Maja

FX Schmid

1985

Verkade Kwartetspel

Verkade

1955

WWF World Wrestling Federation Quartett

Amigo

1992

Schwarzer Peter

FX Schmid

1998

Dobbertje Duik

Jumbo

1955

Lexicon

Miro

1960

 

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