Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Life is like a Hurricane, Here in Isleworth




Right ho, venerable readers, your music homework for this week is as follows:

Doris Troy - Doris Troy
Cory Branan - The No-Hit Wonder
Joe Pug - Live at Lincoln Hall
The Meters - Cabbage Alley

On with the reports!

Saboteur

James had brought along with a gang of three work-mates: Donny, Denny and Mehdi.  Apologies, boys, if this isn't completely on the nose - it does however work for comedic reasons relating to the similarity that this has to Huey, Dewey and Louie.  Let us all now pause to imagine James jumping off a diving board into a pool of gold coins.  Now to back to our regular programming.

So, to commence proceedings, Scrooge, his nephews, Gareth II, Dom and I settled for a game of Saboteur.  Somehow, despite having now been attending IBG for almost three years, I have never before played Saboteur.  Playing wth three other newbies and Gareth II (who as usual wears his heart and allegiances on his forehead) wasn't the greatest of introductions to a game which relies entirely on the interaction between the players (much like The Resistance, for example).

After the preliminaries, it soon became pretty clear very early on where the gold was when Denny asked exactly how the gold should look.  The following round, he outed himself as a Saboteur by breaking the tool of Mehdi who had done nothing to afford such a card-based slap across the chops.  I, meanwhile, as a fellow saboteur, was doing my best to get rid of any useful cards out of my hand, having been dealt approximately three dead ends from the get go.  Dom, to my right, was playing an intelligent game but James was soon pointing his crooked finger at him with a shout of "J'accuse!".  James's beady eye was soon cast upon me as well meaning that all three saboteurs had effectively been outed.

Things thereafter entered into a rote sequence of breaking and mending of tools with a brief spot of Gareth II berating poor old Denny every other turn for trying to lay a route whilst holding a broken axe.  In spite of the saboteurs having been identified relatively early (and perhaps helped by Mehdi's discard of a useful rockfall), it became apparent a good few turns before the end that the expedition was doomed.  I had therefore triumphed over the mean bully boy Sinden.  Huzzah!

Tom, Gareth and Denny:  Victors!   Team Scrooge:  Losers!

Yedo

Faced with a breakdown of 4-4-3 (with the unconventional use of the goalkeeper to shore up the midfield), Gary, Phil and I embarked to the big table next to the river to house the Yedo and its beautiful (yet bloody gigantic) board.

Cutting to the chase, Yedo is a bit of a behemoth.  Three hours (and eleven game years ) after I had started to unpack various meeples and counters, the scores were finally being totted up.  At the same time, it doesn't feel at the end like your brain has been in a boxing match with Mike Tyson (like Power Grid) - rather, it's a game where you are engaged from the offset but everything moves at such a pace that it doesn't feel overly heavy.

There is player interaction but that is for all intensive purposes limited to the bidding phase, control of the watch patrol and, perhaps, most importantly, ensuring that you are able to place your peons in such a fashion to be able to undertake missions as effectively as possible.

There is an element of worker placement but as Gary identified during the post-game pow wow, the vast majority of the options available will not suit your needs on any given round.  There are some options that are usually worthwhile (the majority of which are concentrated in the harbour area) but purchasing resources is usually prohibitively expensive - at least compared to the comparative winning bid price.  Instead, everything is driven towards acquiring an infrastructure (in terms of weapons, geishas and annexes) which will then allow the players to complete more difficult missions, in turn acquiring greater rewards, with little downtime between each mission as possible.

Keeping this in mind, I rather lucked towards the later stages picking up a number of missions which required a dojo and weapons master, the only two annexes I had.  This allowed me to build up a considerable bank of cash (key to my hidden end game object of most money) which in turn gave me decent control of the bidding phase.

Phil was looking good for a while, helped by his refusing to trade his shuriken to me (which was essential to some of my high level missions).  However, he had been using a number of action cards to avoid the gaze of the watch patrol.  Acccordingly, come Round 10, I lulled him into a false sense of security by placing one of my workers with one of his in the Castle, located two steps down from the patrol.  Phil duly added another worker only to see me play two action cards:  the first to move my worker out of the area and then moving the patrol an extra space where his two men were situated.  Phil, powerless, duly moved his workers back into their purgatory, leaving him with only two workers available to him for the next few rounds.  A lesson for all us on the risks posed by the Watch Patrol!

This really put the skids on Phil's progress and, despite my being stopped from being able to complete my black mission in hand on account of the Temple being blocked by Gary and Phil, I still managed the win.

For another account of how the game ran out, here's the lovely Monsieur Barnetto:

"Sensei(sic) Gary, sadly, started the game blissfully unaware that this is no ordinary worker placement game! He merrily recruited workers in the first two rounds, dreaming Agricola-style dreams of extra actions without the feeding cost (albeit a little befuddled by why there may be so little early competition for said workers)! Sadly, he was totally misguided - and further hampered by his spendthrift approach to the bidding in the first few rounds. His failure to recruit geishas and buildings meant that he had little he could do with his four early recruits - so befuddled was he by this twist on the worker placement he even resorted to profligately using two people (at the palace and then converting the acquired VP to 3 mon) that he could simply have achieved by placing one to raid the church of the same amount! His other early "strategy" involved buying weapons it turned out that he had no use for... a sad sight really!

Around turns 3 and 4 the light did begin to dawn and Sensei(sic) Gary finally managed to please the emperor and make a reasonable fist of completing a few "quests", but really it was all too late."
I think that Gary's being a bit harsh on himself here!  Acquiring the workers early isn't always a bad thing.  The majority of the green cards require only one worker to be activated.  If you manage to set up a position where able to complete a good number of green missions early on then you can establish a sizeable money lead and subsequently a bit more flexiblity in terms of how to approach completing your missions in hand.  I think the most interesting aspect of Gary's play was his focus on completing as many missions, as quickly as possible, often foresaking the bonus elements.

Finally, Gary and I have reached the conclusion that Yedo cannot possibly be classified as a Euro as Phil didn't win it!

Tom 47,  Gary 36,  Phil 34

Port Royal (II) (thanks Jon)

Four players looking for something to close the evening out with – Jon had learned Port Royal a couple of hours earlier, so offered to pass on his knowledge to the others, hoping that he had remembered all the rules correctly.

James was collecting the cards that gave him bonuses for trading with different coloured ships, but the game probably didn’t last long enough for him to gain the full benefit of this. Dom appeared to start slowly, but was soon raking in cash due to the Admiral, who gave bonuses if he revealed five cards without busting (not particularly difficult to do). Gareth II appeared to have his eyes set on sailing to victory with expedition cards (financed by some black ship bonuses), but only got one expedition completed before game end.  Jon was relying on his multiple mademoiselles to give him some juicy discounts off some valuable cards, but could not get this engine going in enough time to achieve the magic 12 points.

And so, it was Dom who quietly collected sufficient points to end the game, with no-one else in a position to challenge.

This is a fantastic little game – simple to pick up, several viable strategies, a healthy dose of luck and works well with different player counts. It’s one of those games which continues to prove the adage that a great game doesn’t need anything more than a deck of cards and some creativity. I’m just surprised that it wasn’t John B that introduced it to me!

Dom 12; Jon 9; Gareth 8; James 6

I cant remember who won the first game of Port Royal, but it wasn’t me – therefore it must have been Gary or Tonio! Probably Gary, as Tonio taught it and teachers never win (unless they are James, which is because he teaches half the rules wrong…)  (Ed:  Using my bat like hearing, I do recall overhearing Gary doing his customary dance of joy so it must have been him)

Finally, there was a game of Libertalia in which I heard that James triumphed but I have received no report via email, post or carrier pigeon so will happily assume that the reports were wrong and that Mr Wooden was in fact triumphant instead.  Pirates Cove was played too but that report was apparently lost in the Bermuda Triangle.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

To The Funny Farm





Right, unlike Paul, Neil and Jon ( what on earth got into you boys?) I have nothing to put forward in terms of my own board gaming habits.  I will therefore use this particular soap box to bludgeon you all with my immaculate taste in music.  So, be prepared for a weekly dose of the albums I'm currently grooving to.  No time like the present:


  • American Music Club - Mercury
  • Nathalie Merchant - S/T
  • Wye Oak - Shriek
  • The Jayhawks - Tomorrow, The Green Grass
  • Paul & Linda McCartney - Ram
  • The Flame - The Flame (1970s South African Power Poppers cum future Beach Boys)
  • Jenny Lewis - The Voyager
  • John Cale - Fear

Go forth and improve your record collections, my disciples!  But, in the meantime, some reports.

Greed

Having expressed an interest in playing DXV's latest Queen design (following an initial run with a 40 degree temperature at UK Games Expo back in May), I was very pleased to see it laid out on the table upon my entry into the Apprentice's hallowed upstairs chamber.  This pleasure was matched by the sight of the ragtag group of individuals positioned around the game:  James "The Collector" Sinden; Phil "Mr Linguine" Thomas; Paul "The Model" Dawsey; and Natasha (in all her ruddy glory).

Frankly, with this game, in the initial stages, there are so many cards in hand that it is almost impossible to effectively control the cards being passed left (as at least one will be useful to the left hand player's engine).  This soon switches to there being so few cards available that you simply want to choose a card that will somehow progress your position whilst balancing the benefits to the future recipient of the remaining cards. Accordingly, heads go down and not much attention is paid to what others are doing so this may well read as an exercise in solipsism.

After a very brief rules refresher, we pressed ahead.  Naturally, I misread the card in my first play, resulting in an income of bugger all which somewhat crippled me from the offset (although subsequent thefts by Paul and Phil meant that there was little to no effect upon my final balance).  Thanks to a Seance, I was able to play two cards out of hand relatively early on.  Matching this with no ability or willingness to draw cards from the pile, I was left with a relatively low number of cards in hand of three.

Taking this into account with my rather narrow strategy of looking to pile as many markers as possible on my Bookies (whilst protecting it with the HQ - which is turn was insured by a late play of Insurance Office), I was left with a significant dilemma when the $45k if you hold $90k action card fell to me.  To my left, Natasha had established a beautifully efficient model whereby he was drawing in wads of cash from either playing thugs ($15k a pop) or action cards ($10k or so per gun icon of which he had three) - he was therefore rather cash rich.  Unfortunately, keeping the card for myself would mean crippling my own engine, so it had to go.  Natasha had naturally brought in another large haul of cash in the interim and the card was laid immediately thereafter.

Over the other side of the table, James had an army of thugs and Paul a rather large number of properties with matching income symbols (with almost a dozen markers in total).  Phil's empire wasn't looking particularly impressive but he's always a dark horse in games like this so he couldn't be counted out.
Nevertheless, Natasha's extra $45k saw him push for the win with approximately $15k to spare from Paul in second place.  I need to give this a few more plays to see how much variety is there but I have enjoyed both plays I've had immensely, despite being sat to the immediate right of the victor on both occasions.

The Manhattan Project (thanks Phil)

"The worker placement game where it all blows up in your face" is how I described this to Natasha during set up. Little did I realise how much I personally would contribute to that aspect of Natasha's game experience... but I digress.

I think everyone except Natasha had played before (Ed:  Not so - first game for me too), although possibly only once in my case. I picked up some cheap and fairly useless buildings at the start enabling to mine one yellow cake and train one construction worker. Paul had some early aeroplane production. James, Tom and Natasha quickly developed some efficient engines for making Plutonium, with Natasha's mine producing seven yellowcake an obvious target (Ed:  didn't stop two of you gits spying on my tiny - but essential - mine instead!).

I managed to pick up some better buildings, including some more productive mines, a couple of Uranium labs, and a building that produced three Fighters and three Money. I had no way to make Plutonium, but with only one Plutonium bomb on the table I felt fairly safe. That quickly changed when Tom took the Plutonium bomb plans, but I did manage to pick up two Uranium Bombs over the course of the game, enough for a winning score if only I could play and load them.

James was first to build the Bomb and so Paul bombed him fairly heavily, although refusing to take out his Bomber (whcih would have crippled James's ability to load any bombs he produced). I then decided, figuring Natasha had a good thing going, to bomb Natasha's massive yellowcake mine into the Stone Age - four damage which was all my bombers (I used three fighters killing Natasha's fighters and also refused to take out any Bombers).

James repaired a little, but he had enough stored Plutonium and Uranium to keep going. Meanwhile: Tom built and tested a Plutonium Bomb; I built my first bomb; amd Natasha designed extra Bombs.  Natasha had the opposite problem to me, with no Uranium production but was able to build a bomb once he'd found the Plutonium plans.

James won fairly shortly thereafter- he took the bomb plans action the turn before to get the right design for exactly 45 points. Natasha was nowhere near winning and had a large amount of yellowcake left, so my bombing action had been completely futile.  I did however have the grace to say as much to Natasha as we packed up.

Tom's Two Cents:  I enjoyed my first play of this but it's certainly one which will require a few more goes to get a proper feel for it.  In this game, I built up a rather lovely engine of produce three mine, produce one Uranium and then immediately convert said Uranium into three Plutonium.  However, once the required workforce was put into place to run it, I didn't quite have the cojones to push ahead with a two turn cycle (one turn of actions then immeidate pick-up next turn).  This is due in no small part to paranoia from accumulated fighter forces, the threat of spying by other players and the desire to block vital spaces on the gameboard.  As a result, I ended up with only eight points from my initial test although I was in a position to launch a 22 point Plutonium bomb on my next turn if James hadn't drawn the game to a close.

Diamant

Everyone's favourite push your luck game featuring Pinchy the blue lobster and Beer Fart, the green gas monster.  Natasha had not played it before but soon got into the swing of things, whilst the rest of us were old hands.

Somehow, the game ended with all players having so many gems that each had to return 10 to the pot to finance further explorations.  Surely, not in the spirit of Diamant where at least one player (usually Dan) should be bankrupt and cursing various Gods, both denominational and non-denominational.

This led to the highlight of the game where, despite the obvious benefits of hiding your money, Phil decided to tip all of his winnings so that he could make some change thereby allowing everyone to know what he had - the magnificent fool.  Naturally, the game finished with Natasha doing his best to beat the Phil's easily calculated leading total on his final run but was just unable to pull it off due to two snakes becoming lodged in his voluminous bosom.  James had built up a head of steam towards the end of play but paid for failing to bring anything in from the first two mines, making Phil a worthy (albeit foolhardy) winner.

Coup (plus Reformation)

Having all eventually escaped the evil blue lobsters of doom, James produced the Coup: Reformation expansion to have its metaphorical cherry popped by IBG.

The C:R expansion simply introduces one additional double sided card for each player identifying them either as a Protestant or a Catholic, plus an Alms card placed in the middle of the table.  Naturally, Protestants can only target Catholics and vice versa unless all players are of the same faith in which case anything goes.

However, the twist is that the players are able to change their affiliation or the affiliation of one other player as their action, paying coins to Alms for the privilege.  A third potential action is to take all money from the Alms card if you do not have the Duke (or ate least you say that you don't which the other players can naturally challenge).  Although, only a couple of cards, C:R really gives Coup a good kick in the derriere, introducing some genuinely interesting decisions in terms of manipulating the players' various affiliations.

Paul took the first game at a canter at which point James (not so sportingly) pointed out that everyone had won a game during the evening except me.  I of course pointed out the fact that it was impossible for us all to have won since there were five of us and we had only played four games.  My future as a maths teacher is looking pretty bright right about now.  Naturally, James then offered the opportunity for me to put my money where my mouth was with a second game of Coup.

Naturally, this game ended with me in an impossible situation where either way Natasha would be able to manipulate matters so that James, the only other player left standing (Phil having miraculously gone out within two turns and Paul incurred James' sizeable wrath), would have to coup me.  This led to tears of laughter, and lots of pointing and shouting although no declarations of love or of jihad.  I was promptly deposited from my throne with Natasha put out of his misery soon thereafter.  Well, at least I didn't come last in any of the games (I think... where's Neil with his notebook when you need him?) and wasn't involved in any tie breaks (I forgot my baby oil).

Andy, Gareth I and Scott played Through the Ages on the other table.  As we left, all three were spotted doing the conga down the banks of the Thames singing loudly Napoleon XIV's one hit wonder "They're Coming To Take Me Away Hahaaa!" throwing little yellow and blue cubes into the air like confetti.  Oh, the humanity!  Since none of the boys offered me a report, they can't prove otherwise.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

A Tale of Two Eclipses

A somewhat select company for the last July evening- and the last of my blog reports. There were 7 of us, split into a four and a three, and Eclipse was the lighter of the two choices available. No flitting from game to game that night...

We begin with Gareth I's version of Eclipse- for Dan read Natasha throughout...

Eclipse (One- Gareth's tale). 


Four gamers sat down to play Eclipse, Gareth and Phil had played it quite a few times, Dan only once with the wrong rules and Tonio was a new comer. After spending around 15 minutes setting up the boards and admiring the new plastic spaceships from the expansion Gareth tried valiantly to explain the rules in 8 mins being timed by Dan unfortunately he failed and only got around 3/4 of the way through. Then the game started everybody played humans as the game was new to some. The first few rounds were quite long as people were getting to grips with the rules. Dan reluctantly made a pact with Gareth, therefore Phil and Antonio also made a pact. All of the space tiles were explored and they were laid in such a way that combat between non pact players was only viable through the centre hex.

After killing off all his aliens and a few of Gareth's Dan moved into the centre hex with his highly armoured black 'borg' cubes. He then proceeded to increase his number of ships and defensive capabilities while the other three players built up the armories in there fleets. Finally in last round combat between players commenced. Phil attacked Antonio's planets breaking the pact and taking the traitor card. Gareth using the warp drive attacked Phils home world destroying it and then went bankrupt. Dan just sat in the centre hex and watched on as everybody else rolled lots of dice. In the end Dan was the winner followed by Tonio then Phil and last was Gareth. Yet another fun game of Eclipse that allows you to roll lots of dice and in Phil's case read a book while waiting for some of the slower players to decide what they want to do.

And in between Eclipses we have a very short session report of a very long game. (Actually it ended before Eclipse did). 

Through the Ages (Andy)

For the record, Charlotte, Scott and I had a very close game of Through the Ages, which was won by Scott, with Charlotte second and me last. Not sure of the scores but there was only about seven points between first and last.

A real thriller!

So thrilling Andy remembers every move in painstaking detail... but "perhaps it would be wise not to carp or criticise"...as you are about to judge my own session report on the game described above by Gareth.

Eclipse (Two- Philip's tale).

An all human game of Eclipse featuring myself, Gareth, Natasha (aka Dan II) and Tonio. Tonio's first and Natasha's second game so we went all human. I was the Terran Republic, Gareth the Terran Conglomerate, Natasha the Terran Alliance and Tonio the Terran Directorate. We used the variable turn order variant, not that it really mattered and also some of the expansion techs.

Natasha started with some exploration in ring II- everyone else followed suit except that I explored ring I. Gareth pre-empted me by exploring his Ring I hex and orientating it so as to shut me out. We continued exploring and Natasha bought Improved Hull and also picked up a Cruiser from a Discovery tile.

Somehow Gareth had enough resources to buy Plasma Missiles in Turn 2, though he had to burn materials and money. I think he got lucky with some discovery tiles. Tonio bought Sentient Hull. I bought Gauss Shield and by turn 3 had 2 Cruisers which were able to take out some of the local Ancients, finding a bonus Science Discovery tile which then went towards Advanced Economy.

Natasha and Gareth met. Natasha had three cruisers to Gareth's one dreadnought with plasma missiles but they wisely decided not to fight each other and exchanged ambassadors. Tonio and I also exchanged ambassadors. For some reason there was no connection between the two halves of the Galaxy except through the Galactic Centre. Natasha swept into the centre with his cruisers, which now had plasma cannons as well as improved hull, and took it easily. Tonio and I built up defences in case Natasha moved onwards, but Natasha simply fortified the centre. Gareth had Gluon Computer by this point, so his Dreadnoughts were looking really frightening, but there was no one he could attack except Natasha and he choose not become a Traitor.

Tonio had bought Flux Missiles but quickly decided they were pretty useless (they might have been good had he been in a position to fight Gareth). I was collecting the middle row of techs, with Fusion Source and Tachyon Drive. Natasha mused about attacking Gareth and I decided to encourage him by offering an exchange of ambassadors.

Natasha, who was sitting on a pile of 10 VPs from Discoveries, had no interest in attacking Gareth, and we entered the final turns in a state of galactic peace. I picked up the Antimatter Cannon, the Zero-Point Source and, in the final turn, the Antimatter Splitter, a powerful combination which cried out to be used.

I think Tonio was nevertheless surprised when my Cruisers burst into his territory, picking three separate fights (I had three spaces to fill on my player mat). My dreadnoughts then followed suit. I had however, overlooked Gareth's purchase of the Wormhole Generator and he now invaded my territory with his super-dreadnoughts. I scraped together enough resources for a couple of starbases, causing Gareth to spend his last actions rushing even more ships into my home sector.

In the final combat my cruisers with 2 Antimatter Cannons each but no targeting computer proved surprisingly accurate, destroying Tonio's fleets in two of the three battles with him. Gareth's Plasma missiles on the other hand, despite their Gluon Computer, almost failed to destroy my two star bases. Almost- and Gareth's Neutron bombs did the rest, though he could not take the sectors because he had run out of discs.

Gareth's victory was Pyrrhic though. He had placed all his discs, out spending not only his income but his stored resources, and as the sectors he controlled all had money planets, he was unable to stave off bankruptcy, the first time I have seen a player go totally bankrupt.

Meanwhile Natasha, with his four starbases, 2 dreadnoughts and 4 cruisers in the Galactic Centre, had not fought anything apart from Ancients...

Gareth bankrupt Philip 22 Tonio 30 Natasha 37.

As someone said on Boardgamegeek, although the game was indeed all human, all Terran is the more exact phrase. 


Now, since my blogging days are about to pass into that strange land where IBG play:


I'd just like to say how much I've enjoyed writing the blog over the years, despite my recent slacking, and I hope that my successors will carry on the great tradition.



("Perhaps it would be wise not to carp or criticise") is a quotation from Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Nobody's business...

Natasha called this* blog entry the "worst blog ever". I wonder just how many bad blogs Natasha has browsed, because personally I think that this isn't even in the bottom 500, but, hey, I'm not going to argue with someone who can win Eclipse without fighting a single opponent (more of that in the next blog entry). 

Now, in its original version there were no pictures because I had a temporary attack of idiocy. In case anyone else should suffer from this, when you want to add pictures to a blog from your hard drive you need to press the "Choose files" button and not be mesmerised by the menu on the side.



See, a picture! (Not a picture of a game we actually played at any point in the several weeks covered, but, still, a picture). 

All reports were written by Neil, except for those that weren't. Thanks Neil. 

This next game is a bit like


Well, not its not really. But I like that picture.

 Glass Road 

A final appearance from Woody, who is off to sunny Portugal. Woody's first game of this classic Rosenberg, with Neil and me joining him. Collecting Ponds looked like a good strategy, with collecting Pits another possibility. Woody and I took the direct approach to Pond collection, with me playing an early immediate "gain 2 clay from each adjacent pond" building, but Neil headed us off at the pass by buying the building which gives you VPs for Ponds. Stymied, I espied a useful claymaking building- but Neil beat me to that as well.

Meanwhile Woody set about collecting Pits with a vengeance- I think he had 9 contiguous Pits by game end. I picked up the points for Clay and points for Wood buildings (although the later was only half points), and a method of turning Ponds into Wood, which was handy for all those stupid Ponds I had dug earlier. I had three bricks at the end of turn 3 and no earthly use for them. I was then extremely lucky in the final turn to see the building which scores points for used Bricks and have the resources available to build it, combined with the fabulous Water Tower (costs 3 Bricks and is worth 4 VPs- makes ponds) and a neat "re-use an adjacent immediate use" building which gave me 6 more clay.

Final Scores Me 27 Woody 22 Neil 17 (roughly).

The next game is not Constantinopolis...

 Istanbul 

Another outing for this gem collection game which sounds a lot more exciting than it actually is.... anyway same three players, Neil and Woody doing the obvious money-making strategy, me trying to be clever and picking up gems in other ways, Woody beating us to the punch with the old "not moving this turn" card- 5 gems to Woody, 4 to Neil and 4 to me but me with much less money than Neil.

I wish the next session report was about Pax Porfiriana which looked really good. I'd also like to apologise to Dan for suggesting that Theodore Roosevelt should be in Pax Porfiriana because he wasn't President. Not only was that insensitive but it was also dead wrong (The period covered by PP includes TR's Presidency.
Anyway, this is another game set in the same country.

 Railways of Mexico 

A different (earlier evening), a different group of players, a different kind of game... anyway I managed to set up the cubes with minimal redunancy apart from 3 reds in Mexico City. I won the bid for start player and rushed into an early lead in the North-West which seemed to accelerate into the mid game. In fact I was so far ahead I confidently declared I had won, only for Jon to put me in my place by a one point victory right at the end.

From Mexico to Mantua. Well, close...

 The Council of Verona (thanks Neil)

One I nearly backed on kickstarter due to it’s Shakespearian theme, until I realised it was yet another ‘micro’ card game, get three cards with different abilities, play them and then somebody, completely randomly, wins. Might as well play snap, noughts and crosses or any old dice game….
Anyway, I was wrong. No surprise there. I was right once last week but so got confused in the ensuing discussion I changed my mind to wrong.

This is very, very good. Your three cards will be either a Montague, Capulet, neutral or a combination. Your goal is to place your drafted cards into either the Council of Verona - hey, that must account for the game title! - or Exile. You then place tokens on any card you wish, which is where you can gain VPs from, or influence otherwise. Amongst the tokens in the expansion we were playing with are a vial of poison and another with the antidote.

After placing all your cards and three of your tokens the latter are revealed and poisoned characters die off. The remaining cards are resolved according to their agendas one at a time with any remaining tokens scoring VPs for their owners.

During the card drafting I held on to three Montagues; the Lord, his Lady and Benvolio. I played the Lord into the Council in the first round and put my ‘0’ token onto an Exiled Capulet. Next round I played Benvolio into the Council which allowed me to move a card from there to Exile, so I shipped out a neutral to ensure Montague Council control. I placed my ‘5’ token onto the Duke this time. For my final card Lady Montague joined her husband in the Council, used her ability to switch my ‘0’ token onto the Lord to remove one of Dan’s from a ‘likely to score card’ and I decided to place an ‘antidote’ token onto another Montague, just in case he’d been poisoned.

As the tokens were revealed it was looking good for the Montagues on the Council. Then each card was resolved and I managed to have 2 VP tokens in play, the same as Jon, with none of the other three surviving the cull! 5 VPs to me, damn, Jon had 6. Never mind, cracking little game.

But was Juliet poisioned Neil? Answer, of course she was, she always is!

Next up a game which has as much to do with British India as Chess does.

 Raj  (thanks Neil)

Jon's turn-to filler in the absence of Mr Dawsey and Tenakee. Bet on the tiles, hope no one else has bet the same, and win the tiles. John opted for the reverse psychology during the first game picking up all the negative tiles he possibly could. Jon and I seem to stay out of the main clashes and so towards the end should have picked up the remaining tiles cheaply. I did, Jon didn't!! I won the first round my a good distance.

Round 2 didn't go quite so well, for me that is. John had clearly go the hang of the game by now and stormed into an unassailable lead. Second place was up for grabs but I blew it by matching with everyone and having all my bets voided. Not sure how the final scores came out, I think Jon noted them down.

But Jon didn't tell anyone- judging by our next report, he must have got the hump!

 Camel Up (thanks Neil)

So, hot game, might have won the Spiel de Jahre by the time this is published. My pre-game impression: race game - tend to be single faceted and thus do not appeal; camels - mmm, not my favourite animal, in fact i'm not particularly animal-friendly so also off-putting; betting game - being instituted by Lloyds, Abbey and some Irish bank I have a natural inclination to avoid betting.

On set-up I was able to add, 'contrived dice mechanic' that makes those old pop-up dice things look like the mac of dice mechanics. The wooden camels that stack - more mmm, bit chunky, yellow and green, yuk; the blue and white, hurrah, get stuck at the back, wrong.

Right, so the game; great fun, great laughs and a real treat, that's what i've read. My inhibitions tend to kick in during these 'party' games and I start analysing play a bit too much. By their sheer nature they're not designed for this.

Anyway, five of us took the reins (?) and did some actions and dice fell out of the pyramid, sometimes, and we gambled and tried to influence something or other. Green camel and orange camel took a lead and held it. White camel looked doomed from the start until blue camel did and then didn't. At the end of each round I picked up 2 coins compared to everyone else's 3-8, wow! And then the game ended, orange camel, representing the Netherlands, won, huzzah!

As the big bets were by paid out by the tote I won 8 coins on the first camel, maxed out! and then I won another on the last camel, maxed out 2 'maxier!' One to play again, undoubtedly.

Final Scores; Neil - 27, Soren - 25, Noel - 24, Philip - 23, Jon - 22 (well it is his game after all!)

Next report is about a completely different game from


Granny Wars (thanks Neil)

My ninth outing at Granny Wars, more than anyone else in the whole wide world who's logged their plays of this great little thriller!

We were five, an odd five to say the least, me, Philip, Dom, Woody and Tom (his 4th logged play!). All started with it's usual no idea of who's sponsoring which Granny until about half way through when there's a glut of useful cards to play. A few Grannies got nailed to and by their sponsors and it was left to the power cards at the end of the game.

We obviously all let Woody win. His possible last outing at IBG for a while if his adventure tales of living in Portugal come off... but it was close!

I didn't let Woody win, I was just incompetent. Probably channelling my blog-writing skills...

And now for something completely similar, except on a Saturday. 

Bring & Buy (and Play) Report

So, the first B&B (&p!) at the London Apprentice. Despite a few weeks notice this gave more punters the chance to change their minds. Anyway, there'll be another one, it'll be called Play (and Bring & Take Home Again) next time, catches the day's events a bit more literally.

Saying that, Woody sold a few, I sold a couple and had several pre-sales too so the Essen budget is getting towards the 'travel and accommodation paid for' stage; it's the games I might like to buy that need funding next!

Essen budget? It isn't until October, plenty of time.

Right. Me and Basti (Hora jnr) set up and had just started a 2-player Istanbul  when Soren and ladyfriend/wife/mistress arrived but there were no stopping us by then. Despite a good start my son soon took over and thrashed me 6-4. Good news though, he loved it, it's coming on holiday with us, hurrah!

I hope the holiday didn't consist solely of games of Constantinopolis

By the time we were finishing attendance had almost reached it's peak with Woody arriving but deciding to sell his wares straight out of his boot, and Tom came plodding in too. Scott and Charlotte arrived and set up 6 Nimmt! for three enthralling rounds, I know I lost all three, Basti won one and Scott amassed in excess of 40 points in one round, is that possible? 

We were joined by a friendly gent who later purchased from Woody and then Canadian Barry arrived announcing his imminent departure from the UK back to his native North America as they say in RotW, Calgary to be precise.

Pretty sure that is Canadian Barrie! Anyway, everyone seems to be fleeing these shores. Its like the end of the Third Age. Except without that hideous eye thing

Next up Scott and Charlotte were happy to try Splendor, great to find someone who hadn't played before! We gave it two goes with Charlotte taking the first narrowly from all of us, and me winning the second just ahead of Scott, Basti was asleep by this time I think, 2 points, a record low!

2 points is pretty low. I could get lower though.

Having purchased Egizia from Woody - yes I know I wasn't supposed to but it's been on the list for yonks and I've never seen an English version this side of the Atlantic so I just had to have it - Charlotte and Scott were keen to give it a run out and teach me in the process, always good to have Scott running through the rules I find, top man! As it was I probably wasn't listening too well as they and Basti managed to score handsomely with me some 30 VPs behind, oops!

Woody still sells a good game then.

So, four hours of gaming, good bonhomie and very little buying, it was time to drag it all back home and face Mrs Hora with the clutter I had hoped to shed. Ah well, another day, different result, fingers crossed.

*Of course, really he gave that title to a previous version of the blog, which I subsequently edited, turning it into this version, which is probably worse still!