Wednesday, 6 April 2016

It was a drastic solution to a little flambe problem


Contributors: David, James, Peter

Gareth, Sarah, Philip, James B and I started the evening with a game of The Great Dalmuti. Steve Jackson lists this as one of his favourite games so I've always wanted to try it and whilst fun I'm not sure we played it to its full potential. I think it could be great with more interaction and inventiveness from the players by ordering the peon about, switching seats and wearing hats rather than just a straight card game. Which is how we played it.

Once Tom and Dan turned up we followed that with a game of Family Business. It was an early blood bath and I could only look on as my gang (the infamous gang the Bank Robbers) were set upon by everyone else. However I bravely managed to hang on, that or the others felt sorry for me, to see at least a few other rival gangs take some hits. It came down to a 1v1 scrap between Dan and Peter (iirc) and Dan managed to come out on top by defeating Peter's Purple Gang (ehm)
Once a few more people turned up we split into a few tables and Raj, Peter, James B and myself opted for a quick game of 7 Wonders. Raj was new to the game but the rest of us were seasoned hands, this meant that the game went very quickly which threw Raj off a few times but I think he managed to pick it up by the second age. I concentrated all my efforts on science, as no other players were doing so this allowed me to build up quite a large selection. Peter meanwhile was building up a nice selection of civic buildings as my nearest rival. When it came down to scoring I ended on 61, Peter 47, James B 44 and Raj on 37. With no real competition for science I was free to score some massive points while ignoring military and I didn't even have to build the last section of my wonder. After 7 Wonders and Bohnanza (played on the other table) had ended Dan, Tom, Alex, James B and I started a game of Flash Point: Fire Rescue. I think we used Flash Point: Fire Rescue – Extreme Danger or some characters from the expansions. We got off to a terrible start, James wasted his first turn as the Dog, hanging around outside waiting for us to open the door for him whilst I managed to completely miss using the Fire Engine hose. However we soon turned it around and Tom went about removing hazardous materials from the building (although they weren't anywhere near the fire we were confident enough that we could contain it without his help). This was yet another mistake as some terrible rolling meant the fire spread rapidly trapping both Alex and I in the basement with no easy way out. Dan bravely fought the fire alone with a little help from James but it was too little too late as the entire building collapsed killing us all. We had only managed to save one person laugh

To end my evening was a game of Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Rumble at Castle Tentakill with Alex, James B, Dan and Tom. A pretty funny game with great artwork and tongue-twisting spells that should be fast and furious. However I think a few of us over thought the spells rather than just playing which slowed it down. Would happily play again but maybe faster next time



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Was a week of lighter fare... with Jon/Phil and Paul providing most of the opposition.

Started with Karuba which feels like you should pronouce it like some kind of Mexican chant... to cut to the chase a great little family friendly Haba game where everyone has tiles numbered 1-36 and is looking to build routes and move explorers along the routes to temples... It was so good we played it twice ! I think Jon won the first time, but to be honest most time Jon wins tend to be wiped from my memory soon afterwards... Beginners luck for sure. Second time through Paul triumphed with me second and I definitely remember Jon coming last... That definitely happened.

After Karuba we upped the difficultly stakes with a game of CVlizations... a semi-hidden role game with wonderfully cute graphics, again a simple game play and (as I didn't win) oodles of luck involved. Phil got off to a flyer collecting many many cards, while Jon opted for this 'Hey, look how well James is doing' strategy to distract attention... WHY OH WHY do people still listen to him, he's been pulling the same trick for 6 years ! yuk Anyways, Jon picked up a card allowing him to make 2 purchases per round, and used this to great advantage with all the resources he'd been hording... Paul was picking up lots of bonus resources each round in a smooth and 'under the radar' kind of way... and Phil just seemed to be dominiating with loads of buildings, a seemingly endless supply of resources and the (ever) luxury of being seated on the left of Paul.
So third age was a points fest. Jon starting piling up VP's Paul continued to build and Phil kept taking the cards I wanted before I could get them... I had about 5 cards at this stage... nowhere near a winning position, but I had a nice engine going... you know the type - if only the game lasted another 10 rounds I'd have wiped the floor with everyone... I think Phil won (to be honest I can't remember)... might have been Paul. Given I can't remember it suggests it was Jon, but I'm *sure* it wasn't... convinced... bet the house and sell my granny convinced it was someone else... although not me... I'm also sure of that. Last... crySo last up, by process of elimination, we played Carcassonne. A much malaigned game which is way way better than most people give credit... James brought his big box +++ version with a zillion expansions but we opted for the basic river plus inns & traders and some other stuff, but not the pigs... and the ones that let you take a bonus tile... and the giant meeple that counts twice... bit random for sure.

This was more like it... surely the hours spent on the ipad version would give me an advantage.. Paul got off to a bad start with several meeples viscioulsy trapped before the 1/2 way point. Phil was builing in his corner, maybe because it was a good strategy, or maybe because he didn't want to have to get up and reach over the table so was easier to focus on one part of the map. Early on there was a small farmer battle between Paul and myself... more on this later. Midpoint a few largish cities were build benefiting James and Jon.. Paul was trying to build a metropolis but it always seems a long short. Jon had a lot of goods for the end game trader bonus scores... At this point I noticed a few good farmer spots and took advantage knowing I had a nice score at the end coming my way... noone else seemed to be worried about this (these guys were definitely not as cutthroat as the ipad) so it felt like a good strategy... At one point Jon put a cathedral in Pauls' city, and only then chose to explain the rule about this nullifying the points for the city... nice time to add a new rule Jon Jon was also insisting that we played by some rule from the 1850's around completing a 2 tile city being only worth 2 points... get with the show grandad.
So as the game drew to a close Jon was going to bag a lot of points from goods by wasn't involved in much farmer action. I had about 4-5 farmers on the board and could see $$ signs as I anticipated the scoring. Phil had lots of cities in his corner, but not much more.. and Paul was still desperatly trying to finish his super city.. Then... with the last tile Paul had a chance to finish... but the tile didn't fit (OUCH ! SO CLOSE)

To be honest we kinda lost count with the scoping having lapped the board twice and forgotten to use the 50/100 tile to track this... but with the farmers counted it was obvious (well to me) that I'd romped home with a large win... ahead of Jon (I think... again it gets hazy here) and Phil/Paul someway away back...

The farmer fight I had with Paul earlier was a tie, but bagged us both 36 points or something... I guess thats what having an EU farming subsidy can do for you. I look forwards to the Brexit expansion.

Oh, I forget... we also did some Deep Sea Adventure at the start and I won that as well... but being the modest chap I am I'll not talk about this anymore... blush 


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There were a couple of rounds of Deception: Murder in Hong Kong early on, which was new to me. I made it a little easy for everyone in the first round by drawing the Murderer card and promptly managed to get the rules wrong and choose a card of an opponent. The detective put me right but the investigators used the full powers of their perceptive detecting skills and concluded that a new player might just be the murderer, someone, perhaps, who didn't know the rules. It was all over pretty fast. In the second game I drew the murderer again, but this time, in an attempt to avoid detection, I correctly choose two cards from my own tableau. Foiled by this deception a number of wrong guesses were made before Dan honed in on my weapon and motive, or whatever it is the cards represent. I liked the game, a refreshing change from the usual social deduction resisting werewolves in Avalon. 

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

It's never too early to make a fool of yourself


Contributor: David

James B, Philip and I started with a couple of games of Monopoly Deal: The Card Game. Despite the name it's not too bad, the more enjoyable aspects of Monopoly (if there are such) distilled down into under ten minutes. There's set collection and a lot of take that game-play. It's slightly reliant on the luck of the draw and some cards are a bit powerful but it's fast enough that it doesn't really matter. In the first game I managed to win by collecting enough sets of properties using a mix of wild cards and building up enough of a bank to thwart off any attempts to seize my properties. In the second game James managed to steal an entire set from me to claim victory. 

After that was a game of Codenames, I was on the team of Dans, whilst James was clue giver for Soren and Philip. It looked as we had thoroughly trounced them but our clue of 'Thames' sent us in the wrong direction a couple of times which was enough to let the other team catch up. However it wasn't to be as we finally figured out it was 'Link' for the clue 'Thames' handing us the win.

Following that we split into two tables, Philip, James, myself and Tash went for a game of Snowdonia using the Snowdonia: The Daffodil Line mini-expansion. A lovely worker placement game where everyone went for slightly different strategies with varying successes. There are some nice mechanics such as the weather change and the ability for the game to essentially play itself if the group take too long or don't manage the resources, this means that there's always a reason to do something.



 
Philip enacted his strategy of moving his surveyor around the track, building stations, clearing rubble and utilizing action cards that provided end game bonuses for doing so. James meanwhile bought a train early and used the bonus worker to good effect. This extra worker (tempted from the pub) allowed him to clear rubble, build stations and score well on his bonus cards. Tash went for a mixed strategy similar to James whilst I went for concentrating on building rail track and stations using bonus cards that promoted this. At the end we had managed to successfully build the last piece of track linking to Gloucester station and it was time to see who had contributed the most. James won buy a single point from Tash, 105 to 104. Philip then came third with 87 and I pulled up in last with 75. The game had completed sections of the track which hurt my strategy as I was one or two track away from another 35 points. I think I needed to prepare for the change of the weather a bit more as on the sunniest day the game built three sections of track which I couldn't then use. It's actually quite thematic instead of just another cube pusher and would happily play again.

 

To finish the evening was a few rounds of A Fake Artist Goes to New York which resulted in the usual ham fisted art work and poor guesswork laugh



















Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Don't marry your sister, and don't eat her either, okay?



Contributors: Daniel, David, Jon


To 'kick off' the evening, my mighty Brazil came from behind for a late equalizer against Tom's fantastic France in Soccer 17, having had an early penalty stopped by the 'keeper then uselessly punting the rebound over the bar. Tom demonstrated that there are no depths of rules-lawyering he is not afraid to plumb, even when the rulebook is only a few lines of large-print text, god bless 'im.
We moved on to "Jane Austen: the don't whistle your sister game", currently in the running for GotY for David. It's a game where you send your coquettish ladies to elegant balls and then unleash a bunch of rogueish cads to seduce them. Something about discarding and drawing cards depending on money and influence, and, erm, other stuff with hearts and arrows, something something. I still don't know how you're supposed to play this game, but at least I finished just a point behind the most eligible batchelor James so I must be a natural pimp-daddy at heart. There is also, god help us all, a zombie expansion for this game so that you can play at Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, wherein I can only guess at the fun times to be had.
A quick round of Tumblin' Dice for the merry matchmakers (rules explanations for two other games were still going on at this point so the phrase 'dodged a bullet' comes to mind - although this will surely have ironic connotations later in the evening), and onto the rather raucous Magical Athlete. The first couple of races were fairly pedestrian but the fourth and final one was an absolute clustermug of hilarious combos. David was content just to inch his way along using his necromantic tractor beam to pull everyone back, which was then creating chain reactions as the other racers abilities were firing off each time they were sharing spaces or passing one another. Of particular note was Tomtoo's Gladiator whose frequent cries of "Challenge!!" were causing the table to devolve into fits of laughter. Ridiculous good fun, we need more games like this on the table please.
Guillotine followed, my first go at this one which is odd as it's been around for a while rather like myself I'm sorry to say. It's okay, a nice filler alternative to stuff like No Thanks! and I'm surprised it isn't played more often at the club. Glad we ditched that broken no-fun card before we played though. The piss-boy lived to see another day, so there was a happy ending for all concerned. Well, apart from all the toffs we beheaded that is.

The lure of Sentinels called in both Tash (The Wraith) and Gareth (Bunker), and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to play, picking up the mantle of Tachyon. Ken joined us as Parse and we made short work of Ambuscade in the Ruins of Atlantis after a very brief moment of concern where the French movie-star-cum-superhuman-trophy-hunter temporarily had the upper hand. 


We set up again, upping the difficulty by using a team of villains this time, and as Ken needed to make an early exit he chose the environment and the villain team for us but didn't field a hero himself. 

Citizens Hammer & Anvil, stalwarts of the mutant army, Sergeant Steel and his crew of government funded anti-mutant operatives, and Greazer the hepcat intergalactic bounty hunter with his impeccable pompadour, all came together with one aim in mind: to murderate the three of us. We took on this motley bunch in the toxic atmosphere of the Pike Industrial Complex, so a hard as nails team of villains in one of the nastiest environments. Great, this was going to go well!

Tash went for the irrepressible fourth-wall breaking Guise (cough, Deadpool, cough), Gareth chose robot from the future Omnitron-X, and I plumped for magnificent mystical muso The Argent Adept. This turned out to be a ridiculously poor selection as they all have limited damage dealing and have a long set-up time, so we really struggled to make an impact until the point where it was too late to make a difference. Rather predictably we were absolutely hammered, only managing to take out Greazer before we all ended up incapacitated.
Then we finshed off with a big game of Bang! the card game the dice game the wtf game, wherein we argue the semantics of irony.

Positions!
Loaders - load!
Winders - wind!
Steady now..... and... launch catapult!

peeeeeeewwwwww ........ (splash)

Other things seen: Sons of Anarchy (lots of fun on that table by the look of it), a never-ending game of Greed (not so much fun by the look of it), Kingdom Builder with four newbies and the director's cut version of a rules explanation (how could you possibly have more fun that?).



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James B and I also played a quick two-player game of WWE Superstar Showdown at the start of the evening. There is something very fun about moving a wrestler around the ring, bouncing off the ropes and diving from the turn-buckle before pinning your opponent and claiming victory. James made a great start charging straight at me and delivering a series of blows before throwing me out of the ring. I grabbed this chance to position myself a little better and climbed back in to try and claw some ground back, after a couple of back and forth position moves I took my chance and delivered some powerful moves that left James reeling. Unfortunately it wasn't enough as James snatched an opportunity to pin me and I failed to tap out giving him the win.

I'm not sure how it would play with more people in a tag team but it looks like there would be a lot of downtime. There needs to be an expansion with more wrestlers and better options for more players but as a two player game it's extremely cheesy fun. Currently down to £5.87 on Amazon. 



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James, Neil, Paul & Jon had vowed to play through an entire season of Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 - although it must be said that it probably won't happen at IBG on Weds nights, due to its exclusive nature. However, the inaugural playing took place this week, with lots of excited noises by the players (mostly Paul) at all the envelopes and stickers and cards to be opened as the game progresses. Probably the most relevant envelope was the one that said "To be opened after you have lost 4 games in a row." That won't stay intact for long.....

The game starts in the same manner as regular Pandemic, although on this occasion, every disease in the universe seemed to be concentrated in the region of Asia. If this wasn't bad enough, as soon as the second outbreak took place (which didn't take long) a card was drawn which meant that xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xx x xxxxx xxxxx and xxxx xxxxx xxx x xx, which as you can imagine, was a bit of a bummer!
As he was the medic, James stayed in Asia to battle the vast mountains of red cubes on the board, whilst the other players tried hard to get as many cards to Paul as possible, who was single-handedly curing diseases.

In true Panademic fashion, the game first of all kicks you in the nuts, then just after you've got your breath back and think that you might be in with a chance, it tweaks you in the nipples, pulls out your nose hair and rubs your face in the dying remains of diseased continents. Basically, we ran out of cards in the draw pile and the game ended before we could cure the final disease.

But fear not - we get (potentially) another 23 opportunities for ritual nut-kicking - which is nice.....


Tumblin-Dice - this time James brought along some large, square-cornered dice to play on Paul's board, and consequently there were players other than Paul who managed to keep dice on the board.

James scored a massive 55 in the first round, but then rather lost his mojo and ended up coming last - even beaten by Paul, who had only scored 9 points after the first 2 rounds. But with a level playing field (well - as level as Paul's board can get), Jon romped to victory. Dice-tastic! Jon 177; Paul 142; James 138 








Wednesday, 16 March 2016

It's adventure time! Don't forget to pack the Gin.




Contributors: Daniel, John B, Neil, Paul D, Jon

Coup in space and a crowded Tumbling Dice championship were on the go early on, followed by a whole bunch of stuff. Adventure land, or Adventure time? Isn't that a cartoon or something? Anyway, it's the airiest of kid's games; turn over cards, hoover up some tokens, and occasionally roll some dice. There will be VPs at the end. Also not Japanese, which is an oddity for James. It was pleasant enough, although there were a couple of times I thought I was in danger of falling into a coma with all the repetition involved.

Council of Four, played by four, Philip probably won? Everybody else dogpiled into Automobiles, the box looked like Trains but the game was something else entirely.

A few rounds of 'Dixit in Hong Kong' I'm personally not convinced that the traitor element adds anything to the format but the game itself was fine. We were led astray by the machinations of 'Pliko' James, who misdirected us handily from the murder weapon and it all went downhill from there. In the second game I was put into a difficult corner as the murderer and had to tilt at the most obious yet wrong clue on the table to prevent being outed. Jon eventually ended up correctly pinning the crime on me, but it was so very close as he was torn between combinations on Ken's tableau and mine. Third go around and Ken was the murderer, and despite the rest of the group correctly identifying both clues with exactly the right logic they decided to guess at pretty much anything but that combination. A bad day for CSI all told then.

Followed up with Quadropolis on one table, Ginkgopolis on another, and Airships (no polis I'm afraid) on a third. "Alan" not-Tom, "no, the other one" John, and DLT Tom joined me in the high and mighty pursuit of Luftschiff manufacturing. I got things off to a fine start by grabbing the easiest airship, only for John and then Alan to successively steal away the bonus token with their own builds. Intent on showing the lads how it's done I then bought a new hangar despite completely forgetting that I already had one in play, which made for a totally wasted turn. Alan made a half-hearted attempt at getting the Hindenburg going but nobody else wanted to follow so the effort petered out quickly. John looked like the best shot to steal victory as he was amassing quite the fleet, but my canny purchases from the market gave me a top-quality company packed with the best staff and latest innovations, and a lot of VPs as a result. I took the opportunity to end the game with the last airship build as soon as it became available and despite failing at the first attempt it was a cinch the second time around. At the final counting, I had enough points to pip John into second place and took the honours. Tom went down in flames whilst Alan suffered a slow puncture.


A welcome return for Diamant maxed out to eight players finished off the evening, we had lots of fun. Tom is the new Gareth, he nearly broke one of his high heels in his rush to scarper out on the first turn, but still managed to take a close victory. It must be a couple of years since this last got played at the club, and we ought to make sure it doesn't gather dust for so long in future!





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James compared Quadroplois to Between Two Cities, but personally I think it’s a lot better. You also get two significantly different versions of the game, the base version and the expert version. Having said that neither of them are that heavy.

The base game runs four rounds, you buy up to four tiles each round and place them in your city. To get a tile you place one of your architects (You have four numbered 1 to 4) which determine not only what tile you can get (You count along the row or column you have placed it by and get the tile in the position that matches your architect) but where you are allowed to place it in your city (You need to place it on a row or column with the same number as the architect used to acquire it). There are six different building types (Eight in the expert version) and they all score differently.
 

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Despite Jon saying that his first play of Ginkgopolis left him thinking it was too thinky for him he managed to get lumbered with a second game, maybe he was just worried about defending his first play, 2 point, victory? The box says 45 mins, we took nearly two hours for the first game but managed to crack through in just over the hour last night.

So you draft some cards which you can either a. exploit for resources, building tiles or VPs, or b. use them to build, new areas or taller buildings. You're looking to get area majorities and there are bonuses to be gained from helpful engineers and each building you grow skywards. I think it plays smoothly, everyone stays involved throughout and by holding onto 1 card each time your draft the randomness is hugely lessened.

And then Jon won again. By 2 points, 2 freaking points, again.  




 
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Tumblin' Dice

I took the opportunity to bring along a Tumblin' Dice set that was made for me by my Dad, inspired by Jon having created one with his father. His is pine from an ikea wardrobe, mine is MDF with some stuck on images of dice. And my Dad included 6 sets of five dice, instead of four sets of four. All six slots were taken for this first game of the evening and so it made for the most dice in one game of Tumblin' Dice that I've ever seen.

One would maybe think that it'd lead to crowded steps, where the MDF couldn't be seen for strategically placed dice, but for the first few rounds most of them just went off the end of the board, leading to comments of the board or the dice being a touch too small. Jon also insisted on sending all of his dice down the same channel on the right and watched countless cubes tumble off to oblivion over on the 3 and 4 steps. Neil managed to position his cubes quite well, only to find that everyone was out to get him and almost all of his purple dice on the 3 and 4 steps were knocked off by his fellow tumblers.

Paul claimed victory, although it was his set and it could be claimed that he had an advantage due to being the only one to play with these dice and board before. Either way, lots of fun and it will be back.


Automobiles

As it's already been noted, the game box is branded identically to AEG's trains and also, although I haven't seen it, to Planes. Trains gets a lot of love at IBG, especially with the Rising Sun expansion, although Planes suffered from terrible reviews so I'm not sure it's ever made it to the table. And they're all by different designers, so the common thread seemed to be the 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' theme. John B had played three times so far and convinced four other board gamers to join him to simulate the Daytona 500 indy car race.

The race track is made up of four lanes, each split into many slots, with the shorter slots being on the inside of the track (which take the cars a shorter distance) and the longer slots being on the outside. These slots represent the gears of the car and are coloured differently, from white on the inside, through light and dark grey to black on the outside.

Players have bags of coloured cubes, some of which are white, grey and black, which allow the players to move their cars and some are other colours which are for special abilities, and some are brown to represent 'wear' (for Trains players, this is the equivalent of 'waste' cards - i.e. they are given to you when you travel a long way and they clog up your bag). Wear cubes can be discarded, so it's a case of careful bag management, attempting to get a good balance.

The mechanism for playing is that each player pulls seven cubes from the bag, and uses them to either move or buy other cubes. So a bag building game instead of deck building.

And the first to complete three laps is the winner.

It seemed to work very smoothly. John B sped off to a huge lead being the first player and pulling some great cubes in the first hand, so it soon turned into a case of 'catch the leader'. Part way through Paul managed to overtake him temporarily, only to be left in his wake. Tom was in Paul's wing mirror vying for second, whilst 'Midlands John' and Neil were slower to move through their gears.

But as the game progressed, things started to even themselves out and as the end of the third lap was in sight, Tom and Paul had both overtaken John, and were fighting it out for the lead. On the last pull, Paul managed to get the better cubes and so roared through the checkered flag first.

I would be happy to play again as I thought it played really well, and I don't think the world of gaming is too full of good racing games. Helped by my victory, of course.




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Tumblin' Dice
Rigged board. Magnets or something. Paul's dad is a hustler...

Deception: murder in Hong Kong
Loving every play of this. Ken having 'spoiled food' and 'cake' in his clues, rather made him the chief suspect when James indicated that the murder took place in a supermarket. Turns out it was in fact Dan's seasoning that was the giveaway, which I managed to pluck out of thin air at the death (excuse the pun). Looking forward to playing this with 6, when you add in a couple more roles...


Adventure Land
OK - I admit that it's lightweight fare, but that's just what my tiny brain appreciates. It gallops along and doesn't have too much opportunity for AP. And the fact that I beat James by a single point (after collecting bonuses for collecting the most gold and beating the most fog creatures) made it all the sweeter. Good times....



Ginkgopolis
Worst name for a game by a country mile. I played it with Paul & Neil the other evening, and despite winning, felt that I had played appallingly but got some lucky card and tile draws at the end. I was happy to play again to see if the luck factor was as big as I suspected, however Neil threw in an extra couple of variant rules (keep an extra card / score double for having all resources in an area) which definitely made it more strategic. And I still won, so make of that what you will....