Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Isleworth Boardgamers go 'clubbing' to see out 2009......

Players: Barrie, Gareth, Ian, Vicky, Maynard, Scott, Steph, John B

Squeezed in between the Christmas and New Year celebrations, the intrepid Isleworth Boardgamers managed one last session before 2010 was upon us....

Jon wasn't able to make it tonight, so handed over 'blog duties' to the very capable Gareth. So, here is Gareth's (mostly) unedited version of the night's events...

A good turn out, for a one off Tuesday evening, between Christmas and the New Year. As everyone was arriving it was decided to have a quick game of an old favourite -

Most people had played this game before, but Gareth quickly ran through the simple rules for any newbies.
The good dwarves got off to a bad start, with Maynard showing his true colours early on, breaking Gareth’s tools and generally causing mayhem. This escalated during the mid game, resulting in the slow progress of the tunnels. The remaining two evil dwarves, Steph and Scott became more daring, precipitating lots of broken tunnelling equipment on both sides and a couple of rock falls by the Saboteurs, impeding progress of the tunnel.
By the final round the good dwarves were still two tunnel segments away from any of the potential gold cards. However, both Gareth and Ian had been freed from 'broken tools hell', so were able to place the final two tunnelling cards to expose the winning gold - a well earned result for the good dwarves.
Ian 3; Gareth 3; John 2; Vicky 1; Barrie 1; Maynard 0 (Saboteur); Scott 0 (Saboteur); Steph 0 (Saboteur)

It was decided (as no one else looked as if they would be turning up) that we would finish Saboteur after 1 round, and split into two groups. One to play Power Grid, the other –

Gareth brought along a copy of Cuba, a Christmas present from his wife. This game was new to Maynard, John had played it a few times and Gareth and Barrie had both played it twice but were yet to finish a game. The object of the game is to amass victory points by shipping merchandise and erecting buildings within your plantation. As three of the group were fairly new to the game we agreed to use identical plantation cards.. Gareth quickly ran through the rules and John advised throughout the game...
For the first couple of rounds everybody started building. Gareth constructed the large bank and the hotel which set him up with ample money and additional victory points. Maynard built the rum café and distillery, Barrie also built a distillery and John the reservoir and golf course.
Early on Gareth increased the tax and passed the building act to increase costs for everybody, but as he owned the bank, he didn’t care. These were quickly changed in subsequent rounds by John to a more favourable lower tax.
The game progressed quickly and John's experience started to show as he pulled away from the other three players. During the mid game Barrie went on a building spree, erecting the Tobacco Factory, Café and the Inn for the additional VP’s. Whereas Gareth added the large branch office to ship additional goods without having to use the mayor card. Maynard then built the product house to provide some cash and John, the Small bank for peso’s and sawmill to increase his victory points.
A miscalculation by Barrie, meant he lost a lot of un-stored products which he had planned to ship the following round, which cost him dearly. Towards the end of the game both market acts were passed, first increasing the number of goods in the market which were quickly bought up by Barrie and Maynard and shipped out for extra victory points. Then, reducing the market allowing all the players to sell their goods for a high profit.
When the final scores were calculated, John had a comfortable lead followed by Gareth and then Maynard and Barrie. An enjoyable game sufficiently different from other worker placement games and is sure to be tabled again soon.
John 84; Gareth 70; Maynard 62; Barrie 60

Power Grid
Nothing at all is known about this game, except that it was played by Ian, Vicky, Scott and Steph (and it was Vicky's first game).
I expect that they bidded viciously for many power stations, bought a polar-cap-melting variety of fuel and built a vast network of cities across some part of the globe. Oh, and someone probably won (I'm guessing Steph....)
I'm sure that one of the protagonists will inform us all of what happened in the fulness of time...

(Postscript - Scott has of course now produced a fantastic account of how this game played out - check it out in all its glory here. Highlights were:

- "This left Scott with time to snooze and still beat the tortoises to the finish line."
- "Ian has unfortunately lost the Power Grid crown for now, as his beginner’s luck has diminished!"

And so, I was wrong - it was in fact the hare-like Scott who triumphed tonight, with a very close race for second by the 3 tortoises...)
Scott 17 cities ($176); Steph 14 ($234); Ian 14 ($187); Vicky 14 ($152)

This was a new family game brought in by John and not the usual fare for the IBGers. However, as it was Christmas, everyone was more than happy to give it a try. We split into two teams whose objective was to build a coloured wooden structure determined by a hidden card. Instructions would be delivered by the team leader either by grunting or waving of arms while wielding a large inflatable club(!) Each structure was worth a varying amount of points and the first team to ten points won.
In the first game, problems in communication with team (a) (Vicky, Maynard, Scott & Steph) meant that their first two structures were built incorrectly scoring no points, which allowed team (b) (John, Barrie, Ian & Gareth) to make a convincing win. Now everyone was familiar with the rules we played a second game and mixed up the groups. No wrongly built structures this time and it was Scott & Steph’s team aided by John and Gareth who finished first. Closely followed by team Vicky, Maynard, Ian and Barrie.
Game 1 – John, Barrie, Ian & Gareth - 11pts. Vicky, Maynard, Scott & Steph - 2 pts
Game 2 - Scott, Steph, Gareth & John - 11pts. Barrie, Ian, Vicky, Maynard – 5pts

6 Nimmt
The final game of the evening was 6 Nimmt. New to Vicky, Maynard and John, but with very simple rules it didn’t take them long to pick up the main ideas of the game - ‘Play a card and hope your neighbour picks up the high scoring row of cards before you have to’.
Scott won the first round with a zero card count, closely followed by Steph on 3pts and Gareth on 7pts. After round two Gareth took the lead, closely followed by Scott and Barrie who was now in third place.
But Gareth’s smugness turned to horror as he picked up a healthy 35pts in the third round putting him back down to fourth position. Scott won the third round and the game with a great total of 11pts.
Jon’s premise from last week that the game is very much luck based with a little bit of skill was reinforced by Scott’s win this week compared to his last place the previous week.
Scott 11 (0+10+1); Steph 28 (3+25+0); Barrie 30 (11+14+5); Gareth 42 (7+0+35); Ian 50 (22+13+15); Maynard 55 (24+20+11); Vicky 60 (18+19+23); John 91 (32+25+34)

So a fun night had by all and back to the normal Wednesday night slot for the New Year. Also thankfully back to the usual compiler of the Blog, ‘Jon’, after his week’s break from gaming, instead babysitting both his children and his chickens.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Female of the species is more deadly than the Male......

Players: Russ, Fi, John, Scott, Steph, Gareth, James, Barrie, Jon

The final IBG Games Night before Christmas saw a very welcome appearance from Russ's better half, Fi, and newcomer John. Tonight, we were sharing the upstairs room with the poker players (many of whom showed a keen interest in our 'strange' games!) The only downside was that we were located at the end of the room which is endowed with what can only be best described as "romantic" lighting....

Everyone decided to stay together at the beginning of the evening, and have another go at -

The evening kicked off with 3 rounds of this slightly random card game. Following last week’s victory, Jon was still trying to claim that this game is all about skill, and after scoring 0 and 5 in the first 2 rounds, it looked like he may have had a case.
Fi laid the lowest card in the first hand for both the first and second rounds, and then spent some time looking round the table to see which pile she should take in order to shaft one of the other players (namely Jon).
Scott appeared to playing his own game of “Collect as many bulls' heads as you possibly can”, with a mammoth score of 63 after 2 rounds, although he was making a good fist of taking his beloved Steph down with him! Steph, however, was more concerned about being given a supposedly sub-standard hand of cards, enquiring gracefully at one point – “Who dealt these **** cards?!” Er…that would be Gareth then…
During the 3rd round, Jon was unable to maintain his run of low scores, and copped a massive 27, whilst Fi, Gareth and Russ picked up fewer cards to run in 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Apparently, this game (according to Jon) is a complete luck-fest again….
Fi 24 (10/1/13); Gareth 27 (12/10/5); Russ 31 (6/15/10); Jon 32 (0/5/27); John 45 (27/3/15); James 51 (17/25/9); Barrie 51 (25/7/19); Steph 53 (13/19/21); Scott 78 (24/39/15)

It was time to split into 2 groups, with the gang of four deciding on this deduction game -

Mystery of the Abbey
This game comes from the same family as Cluedo, but is a much more strategic and enjoyable experience than its more popular grandfather-game. It basically involves wandering around an abbey for a number of rounds, eliminating as many of the 24 suspect monks as possible en-route, before finally attempting to reveal who the murderer is.
Jon was the only player not to have played before, but the general premise and mechanics of the game are fairly straightforward to pick up. At first, it felt like there were any number of the monks who could have committed the crime, but as the game progressed, more and more suspect cards were passed between the players, hastening the finale.
Jon had a “free revelation” early on, which he used to guess (incorrectly) that the murderer was a Benedictine. Steph and Scott were engaged in some interesting back-and-forth questioning, which more often than not appeared to result in one of them taking a vow of silence (if only you could do that in real life…)
John made a couple of revelations of his own, which also turned out to be incorrect, but by the 4th round, most of the players seemed to have narrowed their quest down to 2 or 3 suspects.
It was at this point that Steph (who seemed to know what she was doing), made a revelation that the murderer was a Father. Jon had only 1 Father left to cross off, so raced to the Chapter Hall to accuse Father Michael of the crime. It turned out that Steph’s revelation had been rather more guesswork than fact, which had well and truly led Jon up the garden path.
However, Steph’s next accusation was rather more accurate and she successfully nailed the evil monk – Brother Jacques. Scott had done a good job of keeping one of the other Fraciscan Brothers to himself all the game, but could not get to the Chapter Hall in time to make his own accusation.
The result of all this skulduggery at the Templars Abbey, was that Steph’s correct accusation was enough to win her the game, whilst Scott’s masterly inactivity secured him second place with no points!
Steph 3; Scott 0; John -2; Jon -2

Meanwhile, the other 5 players took to their canoes in order to negotiate the treacherous waters of the 

Niagara (thanks to Gareth for this info)
James brought along his copy of this game, which was requested a couple of weeks ago by Barrie. Gareth and Barrie had played the game a couple of times last year, but it was new to James, Russ and Fi. Therefore Gareth quickly ran through the rules and the board was set up.
This is a very interactive game, with moving discs used to represent the flowing river. Each person has two canoes which they paddle down the river to collect, or steal gems without literally cascading over the waterfall.
The game started slowly, while everybody got to grips with the mechanics. By the time they had used up their first supply of paddles the sky had changed from mixed weather to storms! This meant the river was flowing with great speed. Fi was the first to lose a canoe over the falls, but she wasn’t alone.
By now, gems were being collected at a steady rate and then being stolen just as quickly. At one point, a pink gem which Barrie collected, was passed between three other players, before it was moved to the safety of the bank.
The game progressed with all parties collecting a similar number of gems. It was only towards the end that Russ moved into the lead. Gareth managed to prevent him from winning at this point, but more by luck than good judgement. This did mean, however, that both he and Barrie lost a canoe over the waterfall. Unfortunately this was only delaying the inevitable.
In the final round Russ managed to bank two more gems putting him in a winning position ahead of everybody else. All agreed - another fun, light-hearted game, with the added tension of the movable river and the waterfall. Russ 8 gems; Gareth 5 (lost one canoe); James 5; Fi 4 (lost one canoe); Barrie 4 (lost one canoe)

Both tables had now finished their respective games, so Russ defected in order to have a shot at –

Dice Town
This was new to Steph and John, but it's so easy to pick up that it was soon underway. Russ and Jon seemed to have the uncanny knack of always rolling for the same prize, which was unfortunate, and resulted in a few trips to Doc Badluck.
John was the early card-collector, picking up several property claims in one turn. After having multiple cards stolen from him in previous games, Jon opted to avoid collecting them, and instead tried to hoard nuggets and cash. Scott was also raking in the cash, resulting in Russ being left rather short in the readies department. This was compounded by Steph inexplicably picking on Russ at one point, even though he clearly had the least resources out of all the players – a truly evil move….
And finally, just when Russ did manage to hold up the bank to collect a few precious dollars, he was presented with a card by Jon that forced him to share the loot. Talk about kicking a man when he’s down….
The game ended when the nuggets ran out. Steph had managed to hold onto the Sheriff and also had a tidy pile of property claims. John also finished with a number of property claims, but had no cash or bonus cards. Jon had only 5 points from cards, but had somehow managed to accumulate most of the money in the game, which was enough to just overhaul evil Steph for the victory.

And back on the other table, it was time to visit -

Small World (thanks to James for this report)
It took Barrie's casting vote to determine this would be the game played (instead of a few laps of Formula De). It's hard to say whether Barrie simply prefers this game, or that he saw the opportunity to punch out all of Jon's fresh new counters for both expansions. The glee in his face pushing out all the new races does suggest the latter, although given that half the new counters seemed to end up on the floor, perhaps his skills lie elsewhere...
Starting races were Flying Giants (James), Heroic halflings (Barrie), Historian Sorcerers (Fi) and Ransacking Goblins (Gareth). The new expansions were already getting some play, and were causing paperwork to go flying around the table as the expansion rule sheets were rapidly passed around (note to self, check BGG for condensed printable race and trait explanations).
Initially James's Giants used their aerial talents to spread completely around the board before immediately going into decline creating a few rounds of 'pick on the dormant giants' from the other players. Shortly after Gareth's Goblins joined them into extinction which created another chapter for Fiona's Historians to log... James next picked up some Spirit Amazons and Gareth chose the Bivouacking Gypsies. Barrie's Halflings were next to disappear and he took control of some Commando Skeletons who then proceeded to inflict their boners (?!) on the Amazons. With the ‘1 new skeleton for each 2 territories’ trait, his Skeletons seemed to be multiplying like rabbits at one stage, owning most of the lower half of the board.
Last to make their initial change were Fi's Historian Sorcerers, finally closing their tome on the early stage of the game and transmogrifying into some Peace-Loving Elves.
Then, a short kerfuffle ensued… Gareth's Caravanning Gypsies had been happily, if slowly, moving making their way across the board when it was realised that they could move to anywhere each turn rather than only to neighbouring regions... This resulted in a short, parallel variant of Small World, during which the Disgruntled Gameplayers tried to take a few territories from the Unrepentant Rules-Explainers... but soon enough the Gameplayers went into decline and things settled back down again.
Next the Amazons slunk back into the rainforest to become some Were-Tritons which sparked a few tit for tat rounds. First, taking advantage of the full moon, the Tritons picked on the Gypsies, who then up'd caravans and picked on the Skeletons pushing them into retreat. While all this was going on the Hippy Elves were quietly ignored (seemingly happy planning a trip to Glastonbury and discussing vegetarian recipes) until their true nature revealed itself and they turned into the Genocidal Elves, proceeding to wipe out the remains of 2 species (Giants and Amazons) in one turn, without so much as an apology - Peace-Loving my arse….
With the end of the game looming there was still time for a couple more regenerations as the Peace-Loving (Nazi) Elves changed into some Merchant Ghouls and the Skeletons showed their green nature in becoming the Forest Orcs. The last action of note involved the Gypsies enacting some revenge on the Tritons (never ever upset a Gypsy - have you seen Drag me to Hell?!) before things came to a close, with Fi racking up 109 points for a very convincing win.
Some remarked that she triumphed through a combination of quiet but effective gameplay... others noted that she was sitting nearest the bank... but overall, she made a worthy winner and will have to be firmly put in her place next time around!
Fi 109; Gareth 79; Barrie 77; James 66

Back at the 'Dice Towners' table, it was decided to finish the evening off with a display of bravery (or cowardice) –

This was new to John, and he soon cottoned on to what was going on (after leaving a little early in he very first mine, not realising that he couldn’t re-enter.) As neither David not Gareth were involved in this game, there were no obvious candidates for the pusillanimous player, which resulted in some brave (and foolhardy) decision-making. 2 games were played – with Scott winning a very tight first round by a point from Russ, and Steph racking up a clear victory in the second.
Game 1: Scott 34; Russ 33; Jon 30; Steph 22; John 17
Game 2: Steph 44; Scott 36; Russ 31; John 26; Jon 14

And that was all there was time for (apart from Jon playing the hilarious solo game entitled “Check that all 6 gazillion Small World chits are back in the box and not on the floor.”)

So it appears that the ladies (if you can call them that…) of IBG stomped all over the poor gentlemen tonight, winning 4 of the 7 games played. Maybe the blokes were just being too chivalrous to an 8-months pregnant newcomer…..?

Anyway, Santa is saddling up his reindeer, and here’s hoping that he brings lots of nice things to all of us boardgame addicts out there. There will be one more Games Night next week – the last of 2009….

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Santa Hats, 80's T-shirts and lots and lots of cards.........

Players: Ian, Philip, Jon, Gareth, Barrie, Scott, David, Stuart, Daniel, Rick, Tonio

A Christmas party in the Riverview Room mean that the IBG'ers were relegated to the Conservatory again (although to be fair, the pub did reserve us the 3 biggest tables in there.) We welcomed another newcomer tonight - Rick from Brentford, who joined us for the first time.

Tonight, Barrie decided to give us all a trip down memory lane by wearing a Global Hypercolour t-shirt that was last seen being worn circa 1989. If my memory serves me correctly, the “colour-transforming” properties of these shirts lasted for about 3 washes, after which point they became simply a rather drab piece of retro fashion. (No IBG’er was brave enough to lay hands on Barrie’s torso to discover if his shirt was still ‘active’ or not…)

As we had the chance to seat 10 people comfortably around one table, we took the opportunity to try out this crazy card game -

6 Nimmt!
The first round was played with the full complement of 10, and then Philip (sans hair) arrived, so the boundaries were daringly pushed back to include an 11th player (which appeared to make no difference at all to how the game played). Tonio seemed genuinely perturbed that he did not understand how to play the game at first, despite being given the sound advice of “play any card in your hand…”
Both rounds played out very quickly (as they should), although our resident accountant Ian gave great thought to every card that he put down. There is a school of thought that says that playing random cards in this game is just as effective as using any sort of strategic thought – although Philip tried this approach and crashed and burned. The first round resulted in a tie between Stuart and Jon, and Gareth won the second with a measly but very impressive single point. Overall, Jon had steered clear of the bulls' heads enough to finish with the lowest score (but only just). He claims, therefore, that this game is all about skill...
Jon 20 (5+15); Daniel 23 (16+7); Gareth 24 (23+1); Tonio 25 (6+19); Rick 26 (20+6); David 26 (12+14); Ian 26 (19+7); Stuart 31 (5+26); Barrie 38 (22+16); Scott 43 (21+22); Philip 15 (?+15)

It seemed like everyone who was going to arrive had arrived, so 3 groups were formed. Rick had brought along his copy of Dominion in a rather nice bullet-proof box, so it seemed rude not to give it a go –

It was decided to choose a random deck, which resulted in a rather nasty and cash-poor selection, including the Witch, Militia and Thief, but no Moat to repel the attacks. Unsurprisingly, curses were soon being flung about in great numbers, and this was the first deck to run out. Very few Provinces were bought, and the Cellar and Festival decks soon ran dry too. Philip was the only player to have scraped together enough treasure to make any worthwhile purchases, and won what was a very low-scoring game.
Philip 12; Jon 8; Rick 5; David 2

The second game was again played with a random selection, but thankfully no Witches this time. Cash was more readily available this time, and Jon had the opportunity to buy a Province as early on as about turn 5 or 6. He decided against this, for fear of clogging up his deck and slowing everything down, instead choosing to take more Gold. By the mid-game, Rick had started to make good use of his Spy, whilst Philip was using his Council Rooms, vast wealth and extra buys to plunder the Victory cards. David was starting to try to use his Remodels to gain Golds and Provinces, but the Province deck ran out before this came to fruition. Again, Philip (who has obviously played 1 or 2 games of Dominion before) romped away with the victory. 
Philip 36; Jon 27; David 26; Rick 16

The third and final game saw the introduction of the Gardens, but being another cash-rich game meant that this strategy was unlikely to be viable. The Remodel card was available again, and this time David made good use of it from early on, Remodelling Remodels into Gold, and Golds into Provinces. This worked a treat, and again the Province deck ran out pretty quickly, with David picking up more than his fair share of them. As Rick noted, it was nice to see this strategy work so fluidly, as it certainly helps to prove that there are several paths to victory in this particular game.
David 35; Philip 24; Jon 22; Rick 18

After attempting to drum up lots of interest for Container 2 weeks beforehand, Scott had managed to entice 2 other willing participants - Barrie and Ian - to join him in some ocean-going economics -

Container (thanks Scott for this info)
Ian went first and immediately began by competing with Barrie by building an Orange factory and producing goods. Scott started with a second warehouse purchase and snapped up some of Ian’s goods that were fairly priced. Barrie also went with the factory option and purchased a Brown factory to fully compete with Ian as well; unfortunately Barrie priced his a little higher so the sales took a little longer to start since Ian kept his low and Scott would do so as well.
Everyone had picked up the idea, though, and the game moved along smoothly, buying goods and shipping them over to the island. Scott stepped in occasionally to keep the economy from stalling too much, by suggesting that no-one fill up their ships with more than one or two goods at the start as no-one else would be able to afford paying a fair value for them all.
Since everyone is in control of how much they charge for their goods and you can’t buy your own goods you need to grab deals and price as competitively as possible. At one point Barrie was warehousing some goods at the top of their possible price, so, as subtlely as he could, Scott refused to do anything on his turn on a couple of occasions, as the only player with goods to buy from was Barrie, and Scott explained that they were far too expensive for his liking. The prices soon came down.
Since Barrie and Ian were both producing the same colours, the stock of containers were quickly diminishing. However, theyboth felt that they needed a lot more on their island before they could trigger the end, so for the second half of the game, either of them could produce and end the game at any time. This was worrying for Scott, as the control was out of his hands but he took advantage of the lack of all colours being produced and expanded to have both a white and a black factory and keep the supply of containers going.
Ian played a strange tactic toward the end, taking out loans just to buy some of his own goods for the island and keep his portfolio of goods stocked and diverse with one of each colour; once he was happy with what he had, he triggered the end of the game by producing the last of a second colour container.
Barrie had kept a good mix and the goods he had the most of were his lowest scoring ones. Scott hadn’t got one of each colour so his dual scoring good was lower but he had a good stock of his most valuable and second least valuable so those went and he scored very nicely with his goods (..and if you understand that sentence, you're a better man than I am...)
Ian unfortunately had two lots of goods with his most. Usually you can choose which ones to get rid of, but not if they are the dual scoring goods, so in this case Ian had to throw away $50 worth of containers instead of the $20. This was most disappointing for him since he had worked so hard at the end to get those goods worth more.
In the end, experience shone through, and the accountant found himself with a cash-flow problem -
Scott 120 (90 goods + 30 cash); Barrie 69 (50+19); Ian 63 (65-2)

After bringing this game along for several weeks on the trot, Tonio's perseverance finally paid off -

Settlers of Catan (thanks Gareth for this report)
All the players were familiar with the game, so no rules explanation was needed. It was decided to play with the basic set using a random layout. As it transpired the island had an abundance of sheep but little or no wheat (a bit like Wales), which really slowed production throughout the game. Dan got to place his settlement first, but this was of no great advantage as the island was pretty random.
In the first quarter of the game Gareth started expanding quickly, building an early city, and Dan began his fledgling road extension scheme. Stuart started collecting development cards and Tonio seemed to be a bit random in his strategy. Maybe this was a ploy to fool the others into thinking he didn’t know what he was doing, who knows?
By the mid game, Gareth had increased his development further and took the longest road from Dan, which was kept until the end of the game with his mega 15-piece highway. (Gareth’s love of motorways coming at an early age from living near to Spaghetti Junction in Birmingham). In revenge, the robber was used to great effect by both Dan and Tonio on the early leader Gareth, reducing both his sheep and wood production - resulting in much whining from Gareth… (At this point it should be noted that Tonio donned his Santa hat to distract the other players and also lessen the blow when stealing resources).
Dan had gradually increased his sheep production, and by claiming the sheep trade harbour this proved to be a winning strategy. Stuart took the largest army card and also got in the old favourite ‘wood for sheep’ trade (the old ones are the best…) whilst Tonio continued his rather erratic expansion.
As is par for the course with Settlers, what a started out as amicable trading at the beginning of the game, slowly deteriorated into a total closure of the market by the end. All this resulted in a tight finish, with Dan claiming victory, closely followed by Gareth (complaining that he’d had one fewer turn than Dan) and Tonio.
Stuart brought up the rear, but it should be noted that he was the most benevolent of the four players, placing the robber in the desert at one point rather than penalising anybody else, and was always happy to trade goods with the other players. It appears that he has picked up Tonio’s long-lost “Mr Nice Guy” tag…
Dan 10; Tonio 9, Gareth 9 (longest road); Stuart 8 (largest army)
While finishing up his game of Settlers, Tonio threw this game at the Container players, explaining that it was "quick and fun" -

Adios Amigos (thanks Scott for this info)
Scott appeared to have grasped the rules the quickest, and got the game started before Barrie and Ian had tuned in fully. In the first round he managed to shoot out 4 or 5 of the other desperados and keep one of his own alive.
The second round was fairly even, but at this point, the role of the dynamite hadn’t been fully understood. Barrie threw in the dynamite early and had 10 seconds shooting as many as he could, also reloading lots to throw Ian and Scott off guard. The 2nd round just went to Scott though.
In the third round, things changed and Barrie and Ian knew they had to take Scott out quickly - which they did. He lasted all of 5 seconds before his three guys were dead. Ian racked up the win against Barrie.
For the fourth round, all the players were getting to grips with the gameplay but their numeracy skills were failing them. They all stayed alive quite a while, but Ian secured the win for this round too.
The fifth round was another evenly matched fight. Ian secured himself a further win but in an attempt to seal the win had unfortunately called Dynamite and placed the wrong value of ammunition tokens on his victim. Ian lost the bonus of 3 gold for winning the round as a penance for his mistake. And when the smoke had cleared, Ian had partly made up for his poor showing in Container, to take the victory by a single point.
Ian 24; Scott 23; Barrie 17

As all the tables had managed to co-ordinate finishing at the same time, it was an opportunity to mix the groups up a bit. Jon joined Scott and Ian for a trip to ancient Egypt –

The Ra tiles started to come out quickly in the first Epoch, so there was a bit of a rush to pick up the goodies. Ian was scooping up Nile tiles like they were going out of fashion, whilst Scott was planning for the long-game, by getting a variety of monuments. Jon picked up a set of civilisation tiles before the Ra track filled up and the Epoch ended.
There had been an incredible paucity of Pharaohs revealed, resulting in Jon picking up the 5-point bonus with only a single tile – almost unheard of in Ra.
During the second Epoch, Ian again focussed on the Niles and Floods, although also managed to add a nice set of 4 civilisation tiles to his collection. Pharaohs had started to appear now, and Jon decided to keep collecting these to pick up the bonus again. Both Ian and Scott used up their bidding tokens before the Ra track filled up, leaving Jon with a ‘push your luck’ moment at the end of the round. He struck it lucky, and picked up 7 tiles before opting out.
In the final Epoch, Scott made a valiant effort to collect the most Pharaohs, and at one stage, he was neck-and-neck with Jon on 6 tiles. By this point, Ian had 9 Nile tiles in front of him, which required only a single Flood to score them. The first one was nabbed by Jon using a God tile, and the second came out with the corresponding disaster tile, so was useless. Ian was outbid on the third and final Flood tile to appear, leaving him (literally) high and dry.
Scott had collected 7 of the 8 different monuments, and a single set of 3, but the 8th one refused to reveal itself from the bag. By this time, Jon had also managed to collect 7 of the monuments, along with a couple of Pharaohs, which helped him regain the outright lead in Pharaoh tiles. This time it was Ian who was left on his own at the end of the Epoch, but fortune chose to vomit on his balance sheet again, as the final Ra tile was revealed before any more Floods came out.
Scott had collected the highest total on his bidding suns, with Ian having the least, but Jon had racked up enough points over the 3 Epochs to take the win.

On the Settlers table, an older Reiner Knizia betting game was tabled by Gareth, namely -

Turf Horse Racing (thanks Gareth)
Tonio and Stuart joined in, but had never played before, so a trial game was set up to explain the rules. Basically the players bet on horses, which then move along a track based on the movement numbers shown on cards and the result of a die roll. In the first trial game Tonio and Stuart tended to bet on the same horses which allowed them to move quicker along the track, but they did have to share the winnings, whereas Gareth went with the strategy of betting on the faster horse, but on his own, which gave him a higher score at the end.
The second race was more balanced, with Stuart just pipping Gareth to a win, and Tonio coming in third place. Mosstown Boy won the race followed by Lagoon Lady, and there was a tie for third between Raven Beauty, Roamin Emperor and the Red Baron. Gareth’s verdict – “A fun family game with an even amount of skill and luck.”
Stuart 17; Gareth 16; Tonio 11

Barrie and Daniel joined the old Dominion gang to roll some dice -

Dice Town
This was new to all apart from David, who had played a couple of times before, and he seemed to have made a good fist of explaining it to everyone else. Barrie was unhappy with the rule about the youngest person starting as the sheriff, as he felt that he was discriminated against. He was reminded that his t-shirt was probably older than his youngest opponent....
Unfortunately we have no idea what went on during this game, but appears to have been a pretty close run thing, with Barrie only snatching the victory from David on a tie-break (most property claim cards).
Barrie 29; David 29; Philip 24; Rick 24; Daniel 16

The Dice-Towners then decided to close out the evening with the ever-popular -

Again, details on what exactly went on are sketchy, but it is known that the disasters showed their face about as often as Father Christmas. This resulted in a shortage in gems, and the need to quickly invent a new unit of currency.
Philip appeared to have used his 'Daniel-San' magic to good effect, nicking the victory from the usually cautious David. Barrie came last with an amazing 34 gems!
Philip 59; David 56; Rick 41; Daniel 38; Barrie 34

Over on the other table, Ian had decided that a combination of working long hours and too much alcohol necessitated his early departure, and although Scott was swaying towards exiting too, he was lured back by the promise of an intriguing game of -

Tonight truly was the night of bizarre card games. This was another one of Gareth’s offerings (which he was “showcasing” in an attempt to sell it to Tonio). The basic idea is that you have a hand of cards in 4 different colours which you use to move 4 bears along a scoring track. The bears start at -1 and can eventually reach +3. Whenever one bear reaches the +3 spot, the round is over and everyone scores points for the coloured cards left in their hands multiplied by the space on the scoring track that the associated coloured bear has reached.
It appears that Gareth has played this before a few times, as he used his jokers to end the round (which gives you a large bonus) 3 times running. Jon and Stuart were consistently able to score very few points, which Jon blamed on having multiple “1” cards in his hand.
Anyway, Scott and Gareth racked up the points and Gareth came away victorious.
(Postscript: It has since been discovered that Gareth has again taught rules to his own game incorrectly – apparently having a pair of “1’s” counts as a massive x5 when scoring. Ho hum……)
Gareth 35 (6+14+15); Tonio 33 (9+12+12); Scott 32 (9+17+6); Stuart 20 (6+4+10); Jon 19 (6+5+8)

And so concluded another fine evening of gaming, with no fewer than 5 games new to Wednesday nights being played.

Gareth had brought along a veritable removal-van full of second-hand games to flog, and, complete with accounts book, he made a very passable impression of Del Boy in his prime. He appeared to be doing a roaring trade, which means that his new wife, Steph, should be expecting something very nice in her stocking this year….

Next week will be the last IBG get-together before Christmas, so don’t forget to post on our BGG Guild if you think that you’ll be around.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Our first Christmas together........

Plenty of curry, several bottles of beer, a few party hats and some strange little aniseed seeds all combined to help produce a great night out for the IBG’ers at their inaugural Christmas ‘do’.

Several new, interesting facts were discovered during the evening - namely that one of our members is a top Hungarian chef, another one has a collection of no less than 15,000 comics (I didn’t know that the Beano had been going that long…) and a third challenges the notion that a dodecahedron has 12 sides. Oh - and also that the unlikeliest of characters couldn't handle the heat....

But undoubtedly, the cherry on the cake was the appearance of the IBG WAGs – 4 stunning ladies who deserve a collective medal for putting up with such a strange bunch of boardgame blokes.

Thanks to everyone who turned up and helped make it such a fun evening – roll on the summer 2010 IBG BBQ!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

"Run for your life!!!........(you chicken)..."

Players: Stuart, David, Maynard, Vicky, Ian, Philip, Scott, Gareth, Barrie, Daniel, Jon, Tonio

Good to see that last week's experience of Factory Manager hadn't put off Vicky and Maynard, who joined us again, and, despite having a prior engagement, Tonio just couldn't resist turning up for the last hour...

We were sharing the Riverview Room with a few unsuspecting couples this week, but after some quick table re-arranging, the gaming started -

The first 4 through the door gave this little abstract another run for its money. Gareth was new to it, but a quick 30 second rules explanation and he was up to speed.
David decided that his previous failures at this game were due to being too defensive, so he began by hunting down Stuart and sending him off the board into oblivion within a few moves. Gareth was being pretty much left alone to become acclimatised to the types of tiles available, but inevitably he was drawn into confrontation with the 2 remaining players.
However, everyone managed to stay alive just long enough that they all finished up surrounding an empty space, which resulted in a 3-way tie.
Jon; Gareth; David – all won; Stuart – 1st off

Vicky and Maynard had now arrived, so Stuart and David cornered them and persuaded them to have a shot at –

Pandemic: On the Brink
Almost nothing is known about what went on at this table (as I suspect that all players quickly tried to erase the proceedings from their collective memory banks) except that they managed to fit in 4 separate games, and on each occasion failed in their quest to save mankind from destruction.
Apparently the first game passed in the blink of an eye, whereas by the 4th attempt, they at least got    close(r) to victory. Maybe a little practice is in order……
Stuart; David; Vicky; Maynard – all lost 4 times in succession!

Daniel had also arrived, which was the perfect opportunity to have a go with Gareth’s copy of –

Dominion: Intrigue
The base set wasn’t available, so all cards were taken from the Intrigue expansion. This was everyone’s first experience of the expansion, and it was decided to pick a random selection of decks (although not using Barrie’s iPhone App which he was frantically brandishing about). This may not have been the wisest idea, as the final scores testify, but it did give quite a good flavour of what Intrigue is all about.
Gareth started by choosing to pick up a number of Saboteurs, which was quite an aggressive card, causing Daniel and especially Jon to lose a number of their more valuable cards. Eventually, Daniel became fairly immune as his deck consisted of mostly low-value cards anyway!
Money was very tight, as there were hardly any ‘extra buys’ available and very few coin cards. The advantage of Jon losing so many cards was that his deck got reasonably thinned out, which (combined with the “+3 cards” ability of the Torturer) enabled him to eventually get enough treasure in his hand to pick up a couple of Provinces.
The game ended with 3 decks running out (Stewards and Pawns had been quite popular) and Jon was the only player to have picked up any worthwhile Victory cards.
Jon 18; Daniel 7; Gareth 4

Dominion: Intrigue
It was (sensibly) decided for the second game to use a pre-determined set-up from the Rulebook, and it was thought that “Best Wishes” sounded nice and friendly!
This time there were no Saboteurs, but there was a Torturer again, which was used by both Daniel and Jon. When targeted by the Torturer, Jon chose to pick up Curses which he hoped to be able to trash with his Trading Post or Upgrade, but it never seemed to quite work out! He also picked up a few Nobles, which helped to boost his final score.
Gareth decided to have a go with a rather nifty Wishing Well and Scout combination, which effectively allowed him to rearrange the top of his draw pile and then “guess” which was the next card to come up. This enabled him to put more treasure into his hand and start buying the Provinces up.
Daniel decided to collect several Tributes, which were very useful for picking up multiple goodies each turn.
This game concluded with Gareth picking up the last Province (by which point, everyone’s decks were pretty full.) It was a tight finish, but Jon just pipped Gareth, having disposed of enough Curses to just keep him in front.
Jon 44; Gareth 40; Daniel 25

There was a determination amongst certain IBG’ers tonight that the following game definitely would get finished –

Agricola: Farmers of the Moor (thanks Scott for the report)
After the last attempt at Agricola with a full complement of 5 players and the expansion with occupations, people were a little scared off from trying it again and it had earned itself a bit of a bad reputation. However, this time it had been planned to play in advance, was limited to 4 players and got set up early so it could definitely be finished this time round.
As usual, Scott has produced an excellent commentary on how the game played out, which is published in all its glory here - it's well worth a read.
A couple of comments of note this week were:

"Barrie made a quick grab for family growth without room" (surely a warning to any prospective parents out there...)

"Ian completed his grain engine with a clay oven purchase and with all of that food could take the 'family growth without room' space twice to get up to the full 5 people, even asking 'can you go above 5?' Answer - 'No, you can’t - that’s crazy talk!' " (Obviously one man's 'crazy talk' is another man's 'creative accounting'.....)

Overall synopsis from Scott:
"I thought it would be much closer in the end (and it was between Phil and Ian) but I had more of a lead than I had expected. I guess the horses do add quite a lot and I kept up with Phil in points for cards and bonuses.
Barrie, unfortunately, held back on the early rooms and I think suffered as a result and maybe the played occupations weren’t as useful as they could have been. First games with Agricola (base game or expansion) are very punishing though and it takes at least a game to get comfortable with everything, so in that respect Ian did very well - but then he usually does..."

After consulting Barrie at the Agricola table (“we’ve nearly finished - only 4 rounds to go!”) the 3 musketeers decided that this gave them about an hour to have a bash at –

Small World
Gareth started the game with some Alchemist Ghouls, which he declined whilst strong, enabling the Ghouls to continue attacking and scoring points. Jon’s Stout Giants headed for the mountains, and then swiftly declined too, making way for some fortified Sorcerors. Daniel went on the rampage with some Pillaging Skeletons and quickly started picking up points.
A combination of Jon’s mountain-hugging Giants and defensive fortifications painted a nice fat target on his back fairly early on, so he was soon beaten back by the combined weight of Daniel’s Skeletons and Gareth’s newly-acquired Flying Ratmen. These Ratmen were racking up quite a few points in conjunction with the declined Ghouls, until some Mounted Trolls entered the board courtesy of Daniel, setting up their Troll’s Lairs as they went along.
The end of the game was nigh, so Gareth chose the Wealthy Elves for their instant bonus, finally saying goodbye to the remnants of the Ghouls. Daniel’s remaining skeletons were replaced with some Underworld Humans, which made good use of their bonus coin abilities at this stage of the game.
Jon’s Giants were all but wiped out, so he chose some Forest Halflings to conclude the game with. Their “Holes in the Ground” were useful in making a barrier to help protect his few remaining Sorcerors from attack, whilst holding onto a couple of forest regions helped to increase his score.
As seems commonplace with games of Small World, the result was genuinely unknown until the coins were all revealed. It proved to be a very close finish, with Daniel’s extra bonuses at the end just tipping the balance in his favour over Jon, with Gareth not far behind in 3rd. This game always seems to provide an enjoyable experience, and packs a lot into 45-60 minutes.
Daniel 102; Jon 99; Gareth 89

After failing dismally to save the world, the Pandemic group decided to also have a shot at –

Dominion: Intrigue
Again, we have no details to share with you about how this one played out (a few reporters appear to have taken the week off...) It is known that David had played before, and that they probably also played with the “Best Wishes” set-up.
For a first game, the other 3 players seem to have done really well, as Dominion is one of those games which does take 1 or 2 plays to ‘click’.
David 44; Stuart 32; Maynard 27; Vicky 18

Well, tonight we learned that you can fit a whole game of Small World into the time it takes to play out the last 4 rounds of Agricola, and so, joined now by Tonio (who just couldn’t stay away for a whole night), the 2 groups merged to do a spot of gem-hunting –

After an evening of head-scratching and brain-aching, this game is such a great release – minimal decision-making, with groans, cheers and laughter a-plenty.
Last time it was David that played the role of Chicken Licken (as he was cheerfully reminded of, from across the other side of the room), running at the first sign of trouble, and consistently finishing in second place. This week, Gareth took up the mantle, and ran at the first sign of absolutely no trouble at all.
There were others who chose to be much braver, but an unfortunate run of disasters saw them leave the mines with decidedly emptier carts.
And so it came to pass that Gareth (plus smug grin) proved that occasionally the coward can triumph over the brave.
Gareth 20; Barrie 12; Tonio12; Scott 9; Ian 4; Daniel 2; Philip 1; Jon 0!

A second adventure began, but this time several other players tried to jump on the “leave early and get rich quick” bandwagon, resulting in the wheels coming off that particular strategy.
At one point during the game, a barmaid appeared in the doorway to the Riverview room to be confronted by 8 grown men sitting round a pile of cards and plastic gemstones, chanting loudly, “GAS, GAS, GAS…” She beat a hasty retreat.
It was all quite close going into the final mine, and after several early departures it was left to Philip and Jon to play Indiana Jones, whereupon the gems started to rain down. Jon finally opted out, with Philip picking up a few scraps on his own. His eventual departure proved timely, racking up a very respectable 29 gems, which was more than enough for the victory, and a feather in the cap for heroic explorers everywhere.
Philip 29; Jon 20; Scott 14; Daniel 12; Gareth 11; Tonio 5; Barrie 2; Ian 1

And so ended another fine evening of gaming, and despite being punctuated by a rather disconcertingly expensive round of drinks, it seems that a good time was had by all.

Remember that there is no IBG games session next Wednesday (9th December) - instead we are off to a local curry house for the inaugural IBG Christmas meal out.

So - we reconvene in 2 weeks time. Au revoir until then!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

"I...Have...The Power.......(Grid)"

Players: Scott, Steph, Philip, Ian, Gareth, Daniel, Russ, Toby, Tonio, Stuart, David, Jon, Jayden, Julia, Maynard, Vicky

It was great to have newcomers Maynard and Vicky with us for the first time. Toby also joined us again, and it was nice to see Julia taking a week off from her debating class to make an appearance (apparently, playing board games was more interesting than debating British politics....)

As is becoming the norm, several people were in by 7pm, and so there was a chance for some more animal antics -

Frank's Zoo (thanks Gareth for this report)
The first five gamers that turned up at the pub agreed to try this highly confusing card game once more. Scott, Gareth and Steph had played it before, albeit incorrectly and Toby and Ian were newcomers. This was the fourth attempt at Frank’s Zoo and hopefully (with the helpful explanation of the rules from a BGG'er in the Netherlands) it would finally be played how Doris and Frank had intended!
Basic rules were explained by Gareth to Toby and Ian. The first round was then played to set up positioning. Scott got rid of his cards first, then Steph, Gareth, Toby and finally Ian.
Gareth then went on to explain the more complex nuances of the rules regarding the lions and hedgehogs. The teams paired off with Scott and Toby, Ian with Steph and Gareth playing solo. The concept of which animal outranked another that caused Barrie so many problems last week was an equal conundrum to Toby. Ian was the first to go out with two lions. Closely followed by Gareth and Toby both with hedgehogs. Then Scott with two lions and finally Steph with no lions or hedgehogs.
Scores were totted up and Scott and Gareth were now in equal first with 11 points, then Steph on 8, Toby on 7 and Ian at the back with 6.
For the final round Gareth paired off with Toby, Scott with Ian and Steph on her own. It was close finish with Scott and Ian chipping out their cards for first and second places, but Gareth who went out third managed to get 4 lions and some hedgehogs, Steph went out fourth also with a hedgehog and Toby last.
So it was all down to the final scoring - 
Scott 19; Gareth 18; Steph 14; Ian 14; Toby 7

Meanwhile, more early arrivals sat down to try out a few games of -

After a 2-player game last week, it was time to try with more players for this abstract tile-laying, path-building game. In this first game, Jon showed his (slight) experience by heading for a corner all by himself and letting everyone else self-destruct (actually David was helped on his way pretty early by Stuart…)
Jon won; Stuart 2nd off; Tonio 2nd off; David 1st off

Vicky and Maynard, a newcomer couple, had now joined us to make the numbers up to 6. The question on everyone’s lips was, “Are they lovey-dovey or will they fight tooth and nail?” That question was quickly answered as Maynard slapped down his second tile in such a way that it sent his SO off the board into instant oblivion – a true IBG move! Maynard then continued his rampage by taking out David’s piece, but then succumbed himself, leaving Jon, Tonio and Stuart to run rings around each other. As it happened, they all ended up surrounding the final tile, for a 3-way tie.
Tonio, Stuart, Jon – all won; Maynard 3rd off; David 2nd off; Vicky 1st off

This final game saw Vicky last a little longer, but Tonio and David did not. Stuart and Jon danced a fandango together, but ultimately wound up dancing around a single tile which led to their demise. Meanwhile, Maynard had cordoned of a lovely 6-tile section of the board to himself, and casually ambled about, waiting for everyone else to perish.
Maynard won; Jon, Stuart 4th off; Vicky 3rd off; David 2nd off; Tonio 1st off

A third group had now arrived and set up a quick game of -

For Sale
Not much is known about this one, except that Julia had apparently become highly excited when the scores were totted up, thinking that she may have won, despite holding both blank cheques! (Maybe she thought they really were "blank cheques" and she could choose the value?!) As it turned out, it was a very tight finish (as often happens) with Philip just pipping Daniel and Jayden to the victory.
Philip 56; Daniel 55; Jayden 54; Russ 45; Julia 41

6 intrepid souls now decided that there was enough time to fit in a game of -

Battlestar Galactica + Pegasus Expansion (thanks Daniel)
The cast - David (Chief Tyrol); Stuart (Starbuck); Tonio (President Zarek); Toby (Leoben); Russ (Admiral Cain); Daniel (Ellen Tigh)
Destination - as most of the table were unfamiliar with the Pegasus expansion it was agreed to finish the game under standard victory conditions rather than to play the New Caprica endgame.
A full complement of six with a Cylon Leader onboard. Although clearly nobody was going to trust Toby, the player numbers meant he drew from the friendly agenda deck and Leoben threw himself so whole-heartedly into the human cause that nobody doubted his intention to guide the fleet to survival.
As always jovial accusations of toasterhood quickly flew around the table, by general consensus Tonio was declared the most Cylon-looking person at the table and Daniel the shiftiest, however both players worked hard for humanity’s cause and the first few turns passed without major incident. It even looked possible that the entire crew might be human (for the time being anyway).
A massive Cylon attack started to build up culminating in a toaster boarding party landing on Galactica. Some quick thinking and good teamwork saw the infiltrators swiftly shot down, then the fleet jumped to it's first destination. Eyebrows were raised at Admiral Cain's choice of taking the fleet to a barren planet and the manipulative Ellen Tigh helpfully chose this moment to point out some other items of suspect behaviour on the part of the military leadership. However it didn't further Daniel's own credibility much when he then suggested the benefits of throwing the Admiral out of the airlock "just to be on the safe side" and fingers of accusation began pointing at him instead of Russ.
With the fleet becalmed there was some urgent repairwork undertaken on both Galactica and Pegasus led by Chief Tyrol while the fleet waited for it's second jump - this time to a much more appreciable destination. By now Ellen's soapboxing on the merits of flushing the senior command into space were gaining popularity but before she could bundle the hapless Admiral into the airlock, Cain outed herself as a 100% red-eyed Cylon. Russ admitted that the threat of losing both his reveal power and super crisis card forced his reveal, as well as encouraging him to choose the better destination second time round in an attempt to establish his Humanity. He then slyly handed his unrevealed loyalty card to his power crazed rabble-rousing neighbour.
Justified by Russ' reveal, the Ellen Tigh witch hunt swung into full gear when the next skill check confirmed that one of Tyrol, Starbuck or Zarek must be the second skinjob. The evidence was tenuous yet damning and seized upon by IBG's version of Oliver Cromwell who seemed determined to throw the entire crew into the void. Starbuck was first to be sent to her doom and Stuart flipped over his loyalty card to show his Cylon origins - surprising both Russ and Daniel as the loyalty card Russ had passed over was therefore a third Cylon card, making one too many in the game - ooops! Both Stuart and Russ had been Cylons from the start so Ellen was declared to be Human after all.
With both Cylons revealed and hitting Galactica with some heavy crisis cards things began to get a little fraught with resources dropping too quickly and the Destiny deck being seeded with fistfuls of Treachery cards. Fortunately Toby was able to use Leoben’s special ability to even up the Destiny deck a bit (or so he kept claiming). When David, now promoted as Admiral Tyrol, chose a weak destination for a jump there were questions as to whether there might have been a fourth Cylon card in the loyalty deck.
Some good moves from Tonio, who as President Zarek had gotten comfortable in the President's office and not needed to move for the length of the game, saved the fleet by bringing the power of the Quorum into play at key moments. Ignoring Cylon taunts and syrupy tactical 'advice' being offered by Stuart, some judicious dishing out of executive orders to players hard at work in the engine room onboard Pegasus enabled the fleet to move quickly toward it's final jump and only just made it to safety before resources ran out.
Result - Humans win.
(Toby revealed his Agenda card and only just missed out on joining in the win - he needed Morale and Population to be within two points of each other but a late battering on Morale just snatched the win away from the Cylon Leader.)

Whilst BSG was playing out, 2 other groups formed and decided to immerse themselves in the Power Grid universe, the first group opting for the original -

Power Grid (thanks to Gareth for this report)
After playing the Brazil map at the weekend, it was decided to try the new Spain and Portugal map tonight. There were five playing and it was decided to exclude the pink region of the map, which was unfortunate because it had one of Gareth’s favourite cities, Barcelona in it (he loves the Gaudi Architecture apparently…)
Everybody had played the game before so no rule explanations were needed, just a run-through on the differences for this map - the restriction on uranium in step 1, the forced introduction of the 3 large wind plants and players in Portugal only cannot bid on Nuclear plants.
The game started off slowly in the first few rounds with all the players being evenly spread around the board. By the fourth round, Philip, Steph and Scott had built 4 cities each, closely followed by Ian on 3 and Gareth behind on 2. Steph then built 3 more cities to initiate step 2 of the game. Gareth and Scott held back while the other 3 players continued to increase their number of cities.
By step 3 it had evened out again with Steph and Philip on 11 cities and Scott and Ian on 10, Gareth was now well behind on 7. In the final couple of rounds more power stations were bought for the end game and Scott just moved ahead of Steph and Philip, building and powering 17 cities to their 16, with Ian and Gareth fighting for fourth place.
This map has more expensive links than others, which does seem to slow down the speed of expansion on the board although the restriction on uranium and forced wind turbines did not appear to have much effect on the game.
Scott 17 cities; Steph 16 (148 Elektros); Philip 16 (139); Gareth 15 (138); Ian 15 (134)

The second group opted for Power Grid's newest incarnation -

Power Grid: Factory Manager
This was new to everyone except Jon (2 previous plays) who quickly found out that this is not the easiest game to set up and teach. However, the game eventually got under way, with only a few hiccups (as Julia seemed to constantly forget what her workers were for…it’s a good job that her loving husband-to-be was on hand to gently remind her each turn…)
A certain groupthink definitely developed in his game around bidding for turn order – there were no bids over 1 for the first 4 rounds, with many tiles being won with a bid of 0. Jon tended to favour being first in turn order, whereas Vicky seemed content to go last and pick up the big discounts.
Jon decided on putting in a computer in the first round, that did nothing for his production, so was a little cash-poor for the next couple of turns. Everyone else started ramping up their production and storage capacity, and factories were soon being expanded to fit in the vast number of machines being bought (as few workers were being expended on bidding.)
Maynard and Vicky seemed to be quietly building quite efficient little factories, whilst Jayden had a few “Oh” moments, as he realised that ripping out outdated plant was going to be necessary.
Julia gave off the convincing air of someone who didn’t really know what they were doing, and seemed to be buying very little each round. No-one was running particularly high-energy units, and as the energy price didn’t rise much during the whole game, this wasn’t really a factor.
All too quickly, the last round arrived, and the final few machines were bought and installed. The scores were totted up and it was a genuine surprise (at least to her fiancé) that the dark horse of the group, Julia, had triumphed convincingly, increasing her production and storage capacity in the last round, which when added to her ‘savings’ proved to be more than enough for the victory.
Julia 268; Jon 247; Maynard 239; Vicky 212; Jayden 191

After a couple of retirements, and a little debate about what time was left, the 2 Power Grid groups decided to gather together for what is turning out to be the IBG large-group filler of choice –

Whilst Jon did a drinks-run, someone else explained the rules to the newcomers. A total of 7 players led to the possibility of there being 2 or 3 saboteurs in each mine, although as it turned out, there were always 3.
Gareth appeared determined to suspect that every move of Jon was suspicious, and as it turned out, this was well-founded, as he was a saboteur 3 times running.
During the second mine, tools were being broken in an apparently random fashion, although the ‘piece de resistance’ was Julia managing to convince several people that Vicky was a saboteur, when in fact she was the evil one herself. So much for the ladies sticking up for each other….
With the saboteurs having won the first 2 rounds, they looked in good shape for a 3rd victory, until a sudden surge towards the line saw Maynard discover the gold, and take the pick of the rewards. Having twice been a successful saboteur, and then finding the gold in the final mine, he romped away with his second victory of the night – he's certainly one to watch out for at future games nights!
Maynard 11; Jon 6; Ian 6; Julia 5; Gareth 4; Vicky 0; Jayden 0

And with the BSG game finishing just before 'time' was called, that was it for another night.

Tonight was "farewell" to Julia, who is very shortly returning to the land of many sheep in order to get married (to Jayden....not a sheep...) and settle down. I'm sure that she will take the memory of her Factory Manager victory with her...

Hope to see the rest of you - same time, same place, next week - for more boardgaming shenanigans.....