Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Coup - and not a lot else....

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Players: Dan, Paul I, Paul II, Alturo, Jon, James III (or Jim), Andy, Soren, Tonio, Tom, Tom II and Tom II's mate...
 
Despite the absence of our intrepid Essen trio, our latest recruits more than made up for them not being around. And even Tonio turned up for a bit (ie the 'bit' before anyone else turned up...)
 
Sorry for the total lack of any reports this week - life events seem to be catching up on me...
 
Games played tonight were:
 
Coup: Guatemala 1954
Soren had brought this along after buying it from the designer at London on Board. And Jon was so impressed, that he immediately bought Soren's spare copy. This has all the usual Coup goodness, but with 25 different roles to choose from. In other words, 25 different ways to kill James...
 
Here's a brief summary:
For those who have played Coup before, this game will be instantly familiar - yet deliciously different. Games are still played with 3 copies of 5 different roles, and the winner is still the last man standing, but this time the roles are selected from a pool of 25 different ones, guaranteeing that each game will be different from the last.

Each game will have a 'Finance' role (think Duke), a 'Communication' role (think Ambassador) a 'Force' role (think assassin) and 2 special roles (think Contessa or Captain). Because there are so many roles to pick from, the 'counter-actions' have been simplified enormously. Many of the roles cannot be simply blocked by producing another different role, but a number of them can be blocked by another player claiming to have the same role (like Captain - Captain in the original game). Rikki has posted a list of the roles elsewhere, so I won't bother going into detail here.

This new version feels slightly more 'thinky' than the original, which I find can start to feel a bit scripted after numerous plays with the same group. Because each game will likely be played with a different set of roles, players have to consider how these roles might interact, and therefore what the most effective strategy might be. Don't get me wrong, this is still a quick game, full of bluffs and plenty of interaction, but it can't be played on auto-pilot in quite the same way as the original sometimes can.

In short - this is a total hit for me. I loved the original Coup, and this is more of the same, but with so much more variety. The artwork is great, the theme interesting (I won't go into detail about whether or not it makes light of a politically sensitive historical situation) and the box is functionally small.

If you liked the original Coup then chances are that you'll really enjoy this too. If you weren't taken by the original game, then CG54 is unlikely to change your mind on that one, unless your main beef was that the original didn't have a great enough variety of roles...
 
Small World - Paul and Alturo joined Jon for a classic 3-player game. As always, it's as much about pointing the finger at the perceived leader as it is about anything else. And Jon proved to be the master of misdirection, although only by a few points from Alturo.
 
Also played tonight was Greed, ? Sentinels of the Multiverse, Epic Spell Wars and Splendor.
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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The one without many reports....

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Sorry for the lack of any reports this week - but thanks for Neil for his contributions to give this blog some substance...



 
20th Century
It’s by Vladimir Suchy, Czech Games, it’s no 877 on the Geek, and the cover looks like a naff jigsaw drawing. Chris had mentioned it and so I’d signed up to join him playing his mate, James’s copy.

It’s got several auctions although coins and science to bid with are very tight. Then there’s some tile placement for the towns and cities and connecting rail tracks you’ve won. Each tile depicts some countryside with a town or two/three and comes with some waste that you need to get rid of by owning a recycling centre or two (or eight if you’re James), plus a worker to activate one of the towns. Each of which produces coins, science or victory points in various combinations.

You can then grab a little bit of technological assistance, a bridge, train to help your workers move, or some flower-power parks or lakes, or other industrial units. Finally in each round you bid on the catastrophes; not collecting more waste or pollution. It was here I suffered badly, oh well!

The other two fought out an intense land building regime having way more tiles than me. I thought their collections of waste might hold them back but they’d managed that very tidily.

Scoring comes at the end of each of the 6 rounds and these can differ increasing replayability. The others commented that with four the competition impacts big time, their way of telling me I’d hardly been involved(!), which was factually true. It was tight at the end, James had been about a dozen points up from the first round but couldn’t quite hold Chris off.

I think there’s a decent game in here. I can imagine it would be tighter with more players. My problem was I fell behind early on and had no idea how to get back into the game. Would certainly give it another go.

Final Scores; Chris - 140, James - 137, Neil - 96.




The Little Prince
Not sure about this one. It’s all a little bit too cute and I think I may have grown out of twee unless it involves listening to Belle & Sebastian. It was new to both Chris and James although on Chris’s ‘lookyoutlist’ for Essen so was happy to try and explain a few of the rules I’d remembered. Actually, it was this or Fleet and do I not like that!

So, we started building our planets, mainly by picking anything but the scoring tiles which is daft really, you have no idea what you’re collecting that might score for you. Never mind.

James picked up elephants and suns liberally, Chris looking at stars and me goats, trees, roses, goats, coffins, snakes, and goats, but no lampposts, oh no.

Once we began picking up the scoring tiles things began to make more sense, and we’d all been doing ok with our white sticks. Chris and I managed to avoid giving James too many trees although he was way ahead on volcanoes. I stubbornly refused trees before realising I had no tree scoring tiles anyway. Damn. Scoring was close with those volcanoes impacting big time.

Final Scores; Chris - 58, Neil - 54, James - 52.




JamSumo
A pre-Essen Essen purchase. I’d pre-ordered it as you do and the designer said

Neil, you’re in Sunny Hounslow I only live in Ealing come and get your copy, I’ll put the kettle on..

So off I went and picked up a beautiful wooden board and four sets of six dice, even being able to select some black dice to replace the green so that there wasn’t a horrible clash of canary yellow and green in the components. The coffee was perfect too. Gavin, the designer, then took me through a couple of rounds to explain how it plays. Plenty of flicking dice, much interaction and aggression can be useful.

The board is a square chunk of wood with each corner having a lip that can hold your 6 dice. There’s hole in the middle of the board through which a die can fall. In the ‘Jam’ element of JamSumo you place one of your die on the corner lip, 4 pip facing up, and try to flick it through the hole. Each player does this with his 6 dice until one of them has got all through the hole. The dice left on the board score their face value as negative points. Any unplayed or dice knocked off the board score 4 each. Play as many rounds as there are players and see who’s scored the least.

In the first two rounds I showed the boys how it was done getting rid of my dice both times, them scoring low in the first round and high in the second. By the time the final round was done Chris had things sorted and James and I both scored high. I’d just held on from Chris though, 
12 - 13 - 18 for James.

You then switch your 6 dice to a 3 and stack them against the lip for the ‘Sumo’ element. This time you flick one of your die making sure it hits an opponents die attempting to remove their dice from the board. You score positive points for all remaining dice, scoring the face up value.

This is where the aggression comes in and where my children have fallen in love with the game. James set off well in the first round with me being blitzed off. Chris and I managed to get back into it in the next round and so all to play for in the final round. This is where Chris suddenly discovered he has no flicking ability whatsoever. James mentioned his years of flicking Subbuteo players around and I naffed up. James walked it, 12 - 10 - 8.

I love this game, and you know how I feel about dexterity, dice, and that stuff.


 
Other games played tonight were:

7 Wonders, Intrigue, Settlers of Catan, Nanuk and Splendor.
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Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The Keystone Boardgamers...

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Players: James I, Neil, Noel, Jon, Amanda, Dan, Gareth I, Gareth II, Alex, James II, Philip, Chris, Alturo
 
A good crop of gamers tonight, including a welcome re-appearance from Alex and James.
 
In terms of games, tonight saw the return of an old favourite, which also produced one of the most incompetent displays of spying in the history of the western world…
 
 
Pinguin Party (thanks Neil)
Never underestimate the power of the Knizia. This game is so simple and yet played with four it's so difficult to get all of your cards down. Chris, Alex and James II joined me for four high pressure rounds.
 The first round I decided to show them how to play the game. I managed to get out first time with the others collecting a number of penguins each. With Alex anticipating his monstrous roast pork dinner he managed an aberration of second round collecting an unhealthy amount of the penguins, as well as unhealthy question as to whether penguin would be nice to eat or not. I'm pretty certain it wouldn't be good but hey it must be worth trying.
 Round three saw Chris realising he was stymied immediately, and I managed to follow him pretty swiftly too. Alex had disappeared for his meal so Gareth II stepped onto the ice and played a good round although James had another consistent low scoring round too.
 The big finale. I managed to deal myself only two colours of penguins and so had no chance of getting them all down. Gareth crashed big time too and it was tight again between James and Chris. With the former taking it. Good, cool, fun.
 Final Scores; James II - 12, Neil - 13, Chris - 14, Alex/Gareth II - 17.

Coup
An early evening appetiser for the first to arrive. Gareth was the first to challenge Amanda's Ambassador - incorrectly as it happens. Jon got to 7 coins but decided against a Coup in favour of a cheeky assassination at Amanda's expense. He didn't believe her assertion that she had the protective Contessa at her disposal - but she did, and so Jon also lost a character.
After Gareth Coup'd Jon's second character there were all 3 Dukes on show, necessitating the use of a proliferation of captains instead.
It came down to a shoutout between Gareth and Amanda, but as she had snuck an Assassin into her portfolio, there was no competition and Gareth perished before he could initiate a Coup. Good fun stuff - we must use the expansion next time...
Amanda won; Jon, James, Gareth I, Alturo - didn't 
 
Snowdonia (thanks Noel)
With Dan's arrival, Noel moved from network building in USA in Trains to laying track in Wales by joining Chris, Arturo, James and Neil at the Snowdonia table. This was James' copy which has had a few plays at the club but was new to both Arturo and Chris.
 After a good rules through from James, with particular emphasis on judging the pace and finish of the game which is always difficult to pick up until a few plays through. Much to Noel's disappointment, Arturo (sitting to Noel's left) was the randomly selected start player and the first 4 players picked up the resource spots. However, there was a nice card left and Noel picked up that and repeated the same move for the first few turns, without getting any resource.
 James and Arturo picked up early trains that allowed them to encourage a 3rd worker out of the pub. Neil selected a card that granted a final bonus for getting the surveyor to the end of his ambling and in the same turn Noel grabbed the start player marker with the intention of starting to accumulate some much needed resource. However, with the card restock the 2nd surveyor bonus card came out so he used his first player action to take that to avoid Neil having the double bonus. One for the team..maybe...but probably just one for extra bonus points for Noel as he also pushed on with the start he had already made with the surveyor.
 James cleared plenty of rubble with some bonus cards to hit these bonuses, Arturo played lots of coal to gain repeated use of his 3rd worker (no easy jokes about the (in)efficiency of Spanish builders here) and Noel completed a balance of track building, rubble clearing and picked up the train that grants 9 points but no end game bonus. As Chris and Arturo completed out the track building to finish the game, Noel with cards and bonus aplenty was a good bit ahead in the final scoring.
Noel 125, Neil 98, James 87, Chris 77, Arturo 73
 
Trains
A pre-game substitution occurred, with Dan arriving, taking Noel's place, who defected from trains in America to trains in Snowdonia.
This was new to Gareth and Amanda, but they were familiar with deck-building, which helped. This was the first play of the NE USA expansion map, which has a large mountain range down the middle, and a nice row of points-scoring cities along the top. Amanda took the SW corner, Gareth the SE, Jon the NW and Dan - a la Noel - joined Jon in the NW...
This game moved at a pleasingly swift pace, with turns coming round quickly. With Dan doing a nice job of blocking Jon out, Jon was forced to save up and buy the expensive rails card which negated any extra building costs. This eventually paid off towards the end of the game when he was able to build across the Northern edge fairly cheaply.
Gareth had managed to build track up through a number of cities but had failed to add any stations. Realising that he was falling behind, he was tempted to buy up a couple of piles of cheap cards just to end the game, but was persuaded to keep going and buy a load of station expansions instead.
Amanda was being left to her own devices and was starting to build up a nice board position, although was accumulating a rather ominous pile of waste to go with it. Jon had secured enough high-value trains to give him some effective buying power - picking up a few Skyscrapers - and was able to buy up the 3rd pile ending the game. This was obviously a rules error, as it is in fact 4 piles that need to be completed, but as the 4th pile was only 1 card short of being depleted, it was calculated that it wouldn't have altered the result.
The final scores were very close, and had Gareth majored on stations a bit earlier, he might well have been in with a shout himself.
Jon 27; Amanda 24; Dan 22; Gareth 18
 
Terra Mystica (thanks Phil)
Four players, two new to the game. Alex dominated the cult tracks as Chaos Magicians, in his own little corner of the world. Gareth won largest area with his Swarmlings. My Dwarves scored quite a bit by Tunnelling: James' Nomads failed to find a scoring formula.
Philip 94 Gareth 90 Alex 84 James 73.
 
No Thanks (thanks Noel)
Chris had the top idea of getting a game of No Thanks in while Coup finished. Noel, Philip and Neil signed up. Noel picked up a couple of big scoring cards early but lots of coins to ease the pain. Neil was always keen to pick up cards to stop others adding adjacent cards and Chris was waiting patiently to complete a mega chain from 12 to 19 that didn't quite come off. 5 minutes later and one odd vegetarian meal later(Phil)  all was done,
Noel 41*; Phil 49*, Chris 63*, Neil 65*. (*ish) 
 
Council of Verona
Amanda had picked up this game recently, but was reporting that it had fallen flat for her, despite a number of attempted plays. 'Did you have the poison expansion?' asked Dan and Jon. 'No' came the reply. 'Aha - prepare to have some fun then.....'
4 rounds were played. After the first round, Gareth opined that it was a bit random. 'Maybe - but notice that only Dan and Jon, the experienced players, have scored so far....'
Gareth and Amanda subsequently picked up points in the second round, and despite a massive 8 points from Gareth in the last round, Jon had scored just enough to keep himself ahead.
Never have 2 tiny wooden cylinders made such a difference to a game...
Jon 13; Gareth 10; Amanda 6; Dan 5 

The Resistance
It seems such a long time ago that this game used to end the evening at IBG almost every week, but it hasn't seen the light of day for many weeks. And so it was a very welcome return for several old-handers (James, Noel, Jon, Gareth) some newbies (Chris, Alturo) and a floating voter (Neil). And a memorable return it was...
With 7 players there are 3 spies, making it very difficult for the good guys to succeed. And in this game, the spies were Gareth, Neil and (of course) Jon.
1st round - Neil chooses Chris to accompany him, and the mission passes.
2nd round - James chooses Neil and Chris, as well as himself, but unfortunately makes such a song and dance of the fact that Neil or Chris could fail it and blame him, that it immediately heaped suspicion in his direction. It did of course fail, and James was subsequently pilloried for being a suspected spy.
3rd round - Alturo then chose the mission that required 2 failures, and chose the previous 3 players to go on the mission with him. No failure cards were played, so the mission succeeded.
4th round - Noel was bemoaning the fact that everyone had agreed to all the missions going ahead, resulting in very little information being gained regarding Gareth, Jon or himself. He himself was believing the general suspicions regarding James, who in turn was pointing the finger squarely back at Noel. For some reason, Noel picked Neil and Gareth to go on the next mission, which was an absolute gift for the spies. They could easily fail this with either 1 or 2 fails, which would heap suspicion on Noel and almost guarantee a final mission victory.
And so the mission cards were revealed, one by one - pass.....pass.....and.....pass! By some moment of keystone cops incompetency, neither spy had chosen to fail the mission and so the good guys had won the game. Jon threw his hands up in horror, bemoaning the lack of basic intelligence shown by his fellow-spies - whilst James and Noel chuckled loudly long into the night.
Less a resistance victory - more a spy suicide - but they all count. Whatever, it was a brilliant return for fantastic game.
Noel, Alturo, Chris, James - won by default. Neil & Gareth - should be shot. Jon - bemused.
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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

HOW LONG UNTIL Essen??

Wow! Four of the five newbies returned, not only is that a record but it’s the closest I’ve seen to a miracle over the last few years, great to have you back one and all! And welcome to Chris, a fellow Waggler and owner of www.thegameshunter.co.uk.

We were zapped downstairs and although that’s not much of a problem it does mean the public gets to see us in our full glory. After one false start and an ever increasing turn out games were chosen and off we went in our little groups.

Dead of Winter

This attracted five; Tom and Jim, Chris, Jon and Dan. No idea what went on but I’m betting they all got zombies after putting up a good fight..

Meanwhile John Bandettini had an upcoming Essen release in the form of Heroes Wanted. The call rang out and suckered in were James, Andy, Natasha and Noel. No report for this one either although I did hear that Storage Wars could be a better game..

Puerto Rico

So down to me and my lot, Paul II, Gareth II and Arturo to get to grips with this classic. Gareth whipped through the rules and in true Gareth style showed us all how to play. Saying that good efforts from Paul and Arturo on the buildings and Arturo did impressively well with bonus points come game end. It’s a great game and I mustn’t leave it to one game a year.. keep reminding me someone, please!

Final Scores; Gareth - 58, Arturo - 49, Neil - 44, Paul - 33.

7 Wonders

We followed that up with another beauty! Very close this one, very close indeed. Arturo and I went for some early military might although Gareth with his two freebies on his board came through strongest come nightfall.

He also scored well financially. I maxed out on my pyramid building scoring me a whacking great 20 points, although only 6 on other buildings where both Paul, with 24, and Arturo, 20, performed brilliantly. Not much going on with the yellow cards to be fair and Paul managed good returns on both purple and green cards..

Final Scores; Neil - 45, Paul & Arturo - 43, Gareth - 40.

For Sale

So, another quick game followed for the four of us. Another classic of course. For some reason I was allowed to pick up some great properties relatively cheaply. And then even better flog them on for hefty profits. Paul was paying some attention to come in second place and it was good to see Arturo pipping Gareth for third!

Final Scores; Neil - 73, Paul - 63, Arturo - 55, Gareth - 50.

Machi Koro

Talking of Essen.. last year’s gem had a double run out for Neil, James, Natasha and Noel. My first game strategy of wheat farming didn’t work too well it must be said. The other three didn’t fair that much better with Natasha’s 6 rolling not earning him anything - buy a 6 card for heaven’s sake - until Noel got himself going with a cheese factory and it was game over.

The second run out was a bit closer an affair with Noel again doing well and me being involved. James had gone the cafe and restaurant route, too many jacket potatoes I reckon, he got very little. And then Natasha started rolling 4s and that was that… blimey this finishes in a hurry, just when I needed a little time to build on my extensive portfolio…


And thus ended September for the IBG. Great month, roll on Spieltober!!