Match Report 8th November 2010

This week saw the return of Malcolm, Ian and Daniella but no Crispin! Sadly he was not feeling well and was no doubt concerned about this affecting his performance and the possibility that he might loose again.

Fresco (Age 10+, 2-4 players, 45 min playing time)
The Fresco board and components
With so many games coming back from Essen it is no great surprise that another one found its way onto the gaming table for this week’s fun. The game chosen was Fresco, a game that’s theme (given away in the name) is the restoration of a ceiling in a renaissance cathedral. Unlike a number of the games we have played of late where there is plenty of opportunity for devilment this game is more about
decisions and managing the resources available to you, in particular the 5 apprentices available to each master painter (us the players). The objective of each player is to use the resources available to them to paint as much of the cathedrals fresco as possible and thereby earn as many victory points as possible.

In simple terms the game turns are broken down into the following stages:

1. Decide what time you want your apprentices to get up and go to market to buy the paints used in painting the fresco.

2. Once you get to the market decide which market stall to visit and what colours you want to buy. The earlier you get to the market the more choice you have but the more you have to pay and the more likely your workers are to leave you. Once a player has visited a stall whether they buy one set of paints or three the market then closes and is not available to the other players. So getting there early has some important advantages as the last person to get there has no choice, having to accept what is left.

3. Decide if you want to send any apprentices to the cathedral to paint part of the Fresco and thereby collect victory points and a small payment from the bishop.

4. Send some apprentices off to paint portraits and so earn the money necessary to buy more paints.

5. Spend time in the workshop blending the primary colours bought in the market into greens, oranges and much needed purples.

6. If time allows send some of the apprentices off to the theatre to improve their mood/party and make them forget the early hour they got up. The apprentice’s mood barometer is an important dimension in the game. If you neglect your team and over work them then you will loose an apprentice whilst if you look after them and let them lie in or send them to the theatre then you may gain an additional apprentice and so be able to achieve that much more than your fellow players.

The Players during a game of Fresco
Happily in spite of frequently finding myself getting to the market last of any of the players I still managed to win! :-) This is perhaps a reflection of the fact that I was more familiar with the interplay between the various elements of the game and how to get the most out of my poor overworked apprentices having played the game twice in Essen, plus a little luck.

The Players during a game of Fresco
The quality of the board, components and rules is awesome. But the game is a more thoughtful than the ones we have played of late and perhaps more to the taste of some than others. The game comes with a number of additional options to add further interest and for families looking for an interesting game as we approach the festive season then Fresco should certainly be considered. All our players I believe agreed what a good game it was but perhaps because it had less social interaction it would be one that our group may not clamour to get out in a hurry. Using the thru-the-portal marking system the players gave it 24 out of a possible 36 points.

Straw (Age 6+, 2-7 players, 30 min playing time)
Having put Fresco away and eaten the munchies obtained from Waitrose we gave allowed ourselves a quick game of Straw with all the normal trickery you would expect of this game. Generally speaking it is not a good idea to sit next to Ian when playing Straw and so it proved for Malcolm on this occasion. However although Malcolm was forced to break the camels back a number of times the victor in the end was not Ian, but I think Daniella.

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