Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Tonight, Matthew, I'm going to be a Cylon.....

Players: Philip, Barrie, Jon, Ian, Gareth, Iain, Daniel, Tonio, Toby, John, Niko

4 newcomers to the IBG’ers tonight – a very warm welcome to Toby, John, Niko and Tonio, bringing our cohort into double figures. Unfortunately, there was some confusion over the reservation of tables in the Riverview room, which rudely interrupted our first game, but nothing which some swift furniture re-arranging couldn’t solve….

Ian graciously stepped to one side to allow the other 10 of us to have a go at this little ‘hidden identity’ card game. (Actually he was graciously stuffing his face with some of the London Apprentice’s fine fare, whilst competing with Philip for the title of ‘smartest-dressed boardgamer in West London’)
Anyway, back to the game. This was new to a few people, so after a brief rules introduction by Jon (who somehow made the game sound incredibly complicated) we dived in. With 10 players, the draw deck exhausts after only about 2 rounds, so the game ends pretty quickly, and you really do rely on everyone to work collaboratively to find the gold.
In the opening mine, the saboteurs played with great subtlety at first – perhaps too much subtlety, as the gold was discovered without too much difficulty. The roles were then re-dealt and Ian switched places with Tonio, who also had an appointment with something of a comestible nature. It was at this point that the local church fundraising committee appeared, and it turned out that we had mistaken their ‘reserved’ sign for ours, and nabbed their tables. After some swift negotiation and some musical chairs, we relocated to the west end of the room, and continued the game.
Philip chose to play a broken tool on Gareth very early on, which turned out to be a bit of an own goal for the good dwarves. Iain finally mended Gareth’s pick-axe with about 1 card left to play, completely disproving the ‘better late than never’ maxim. This time, the saboteurs were more blatant, and before long, the mine had pretty much ground to a halt.
It turned out that there were 4 saboteurs – all sitting next to each other – and all looking quite pleased with themselves at their collective skulduggery.
Due to all the general table confusion, time had ticked on a bit, so it was decided to call a halt to the game rather than playing the 3rd round.
Daniel 6; John 6; Jon 4; Toby 4; Ian / Tonio 4; Iain 0; Niko 0; Gareth 0

A game of Battlestar Galactica had been eagerly anticipated, so all the newcomers plus Gareth and Daniel went off to hunt down Cylons, whilst the other 5 chose to have another bash at.....

Age of Steam
The Germany map was selected by Iain, and its own special rules were explained. This was Jon’s first playing, and Iain made a reasonable job of guiding him through what the game was all about.
AOS isn’t a hugely complicated game in terms of mechanics, but it’s pretty hard for the newcomer to get to grips with in the first few turns, as current decisions are largely based on future actions (i.e. you issue shares on the basis of what track you might build and what goods you might ship later on in the round). Having said that, the other players were generally quite generous with their advice to the newbie in the first couple of turns. This advice swiftly stopped after Jon managed to transport a good that Iain was rather relying on, and also nearly shut Ian out of Berlin, in subsequent turns.
Philip set up camp in the south, and had rather a nice little circular route going on unopposed for much of the game. Jon headed for the North-West and managed to connect to a border city in the North-East for a nice long route. Ian and Iain created a maze of routes around Berlin, and Barrie played the opposite tactic to his first game, and mixed it up with everyone else.
Iain made some expensive connections early in the game, and ran disconcertingly close to bankruptcy (after warning Jon against the dangers of doing precisely that). Ian had a nice little network going, but just failed to transport enough goods to bolster his income.
Barrie built the most track but also issued the most shares. Jon benefited from being able to transport a few goods largely unopposed, but didn’t see the end coming and wasted his penultimate couple of turns. Iain successfully kept the bailiffs at bay (just), but Philip’s combination of highest income and lowest share issue was more than enough to give him the victory.
This was a long game (the last round was rushed through at break-neck speed as ‘time’ had already been called at the bar) and seems to be one that favours those of a very mathematical predisposition (so what’s your excuse, Ian?!)

Battlestar Galactica (thanks to Gareth for the report)
The board was set up quickly and Dan gave a good overview of the rules, while our stand-in waiter, Philip (hereafter known as ‘Manuel’), managed to spill Barrie's pint. Luckily the board and table were narrowly missed, but not so Gareth’s shoulder and back (another shirt for the new missus to lovingly wash and iron).
After selecting characters, the game started in earnest. Very quickly Galactica was under attack. Tonio and Gareth got to roll the dice lots of times, dispatching the plastic raiders with ease, whilst Niko launched salvoes at the two base ships that had appeared. John patched up the FTL drive and Toby and Dan tried to explain tactics.
The first jump was made and things quietened down for a while. Accusations were made over who was a Cylon, which were cut short when Niko initiated Martial Law and took the presidency from Toby. The power of being Admiral and President going to his head, he proceeded to start nuking base ships. Civilian ships were being lost and resources were starting to be depleted at an alarming rate.
More jumps were made and everyone was then assigned a second card indicating who was a Cylon. Toby was found to be a collaborator and thrown in the brig. An election was called and the presidency was transferred to John. Scouts were sent out and lost, more dice rolling by Gareth and Tonio as fighter battles raged and further accusations made over who was a Cylon.
Finally, after 3 hours, the game ended abruptly as the landlord called time. No clear winner, but a fun game had by all.

Dan (Saul), Gareth (Starbuck), Toby (Giaus), Niko (Admiral Adama), John (Tyrrel) and Tonio (Lee Adama). As it transpired Dan and Niko were the Cylons.

The next games night is next Wednesday, 7th October, same time and place. Hopefully we’ll get to finish some games this time!


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