Board Game Session Report for January 10, 2003: Trias, Cave Troll, Java, Ultra Vilelence, Cave Troll


B20 session. 5-player Trias, 3-player Cave Troll, 3-player Java, 2-player Ultra Vilelence, 3-player Cave Troll.


Players were Matt, Ralph, Adam, Gary, myself. New players to the game were: Matt, Gary, myself. Gary had the first turn.

We spent 21 minutes going over the rules.

The theme of the game is dinosaur herds trying to survive the shifting continents of Pangea. The continent is made of randomly assembled hexes representing three different land types.

The game starts by placing a few herds.

There are four phases to the game. 1) Shift a hex, of a type given on a card in your hand, or on the next card drawn, further from the center. 2) spend four action points on actions of various cost: move a herd, reproduce a herd, shift another hex of your choice, save three herds from drowning. 3) Eliminate drowned herds. 4) Draw back to a hand of one.

When an island separates into more pieces, the newly grown island's herds score first and second place for majority on the island.

Game ends when a player draws a meteor. The majority on the remaining islands score at that point. The player with the highest score wins.

The artwork on the hexes is sparse but effective. The dinosaur herds are cubes, so you really have to use your imagination to get into the theme. There's nothing else, physically, to this game.

I started off close to the center of the island, which is a beginner's mistake, because all the scoring is going to happen away from that point. Gary felt bored with this game. I don't blame him, because there's not much to this game. Ralph was able to set himself off on a few islands that he could score, as did Matt and Adam.

This is another game that isn't particularly meaty, nor does it have a pleasant look to it. The bits Take me back to the complaint I had about Ursuppe, which was too fiddly to be particularly fun.

Game lasted 54 minutes. Final scores were:

Gamers acting interested in Trias.

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Cave Troll

Players were Ralph, Gary, myself. Gary was a new player to the game. I had the first turn.

We spent 15 minutes going over the rules.

Cave Troll is an area control game with a dungeon exploration theme. There are adventurers and monsters. There's a dungeon with various number of gold pieces in every room. There are events and artifacts. Each player controls a set of these, except artifacts are drawn randomly.

Basically, the majority of adventurers in a room gets the gold in the room when a scoring round is kicked off. The player with the most gold at the end of the game wins.

There's really not much more to the game except for the special abilities of adventurers, monsters and artifacts which are explained in a table. The rules take a page and the table takes another page, so it's simple to learn.

This game went surprisingly. Unlike the last game, a lot of the special token came out early, even a scoring round near the beginning. Gary ended up with the Chalice, so he loaded up an entrance and distributed them across the dungeon at his leisure, then drew a scoring tile as his last turn thereby doubling his reward instantly.

Game lasted 26 minutes. Final scores were:

Ralph and Gary enjoy the end of Cave Troll.

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Players were Ralph, Gary, myself. Gary was a new player to the game. Gary had the first turn.

We spent 12 minutes going over the rules.

It's been so long since I played this favorite, that I had to review the rules myself. Gary looked over the Java Strategy paper I wrote, and really got into this game, starting off with a few major reservoirs. The end game was intense, as we tried to maximize our scores once and for all. I was surprised that there were big spaces left on the board, and the speed of the game. Gary kicked off final scoring, and Ralph took advantage of it (knowing how much he needed to win, being the final player.)

Game lasted 64 minutes. Final scores were:

Java end-game.

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Ultra Vilelence

Players were Ralph, myself. New players to the game were: Ralph, myself. I had the first turn.

We spent 50 minutes going over the rules.

This is a game that's meant to be like a computer first-person-shooter, with monsters, monster generators, objects and power ups. The goal is to eliminate the opponent on a game board that starts out face-down, and revealed during play.

Oh, man! It took a long time to get through the rules. There's a lot to keep track of in this game, and it's not easy to double check the rules. The final confrontation between Ralph and myself seemed anti-climactic for all the effort it took to reach each other.

I'm really undecided about this one, because it has some good ideas, and may even be more fun with the second module and more players. Though, it seems pricey for what it comes with: a bunch of punch out counters and a photocopied instruction set. The game needs dice, which isn't mentioned until you start reading the instructions! (You'll need two six-sided dice of different colors, one eight-sided dice and one 10-sided dice.) Also, have some baggies handy to hold the tokens... the box it comes with is not good enough to hold the pieces... it'll open and you'll lose pieces.

The artwork, though, is excellent for the theme.

Game lasted 82 minutes. Final scores were:

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Cave Troll

Players were Kyle, Jim, myself. New players to the game were: Kyle, Jim. I had the first turn.

We spent 7 minutes going over the rules.

This was a low key game. The interesting tokens generally didn't come out until later in the game. Kyle bewailed the fact that he couldn't play an artifact unless it was his turn. He really wanted to pull his flaming sword out when he was being undercut. Jim, too, lost track of that rule.

Kyle, however, spread himself out and pulled kicked off the scoring round on his last token, thereby maximizing his reward.

Game lasted 33 minutes. Final scores were:

Kyle and Jim pretend to be interested in posing with Cave Troll.

Click here to buy Cave Troll at

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Click here for Adam's take on this session.

Click here and scroll down to "10th" for Ralph's take on our games.

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Contents by Vitas Povilaitis
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