Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Pedal to the metal.....

Players: Barrie, Gareth, Philip, Jon, Russ, Johan (late again...)

We welcomed newcomer Russ, and although there was some sort of committee meeting in the room upstairs, we still took up our regular camp (and quickly saw off the young couple sitting behind us, trying to have a ‘deep-and-meaningful’). Whilst awaiting the inevitable late arrival of Johan, we decided to go motor racing….

Formula De
In memory of the absent Johan, we set up the Zandvoort track and got going with 2 cars each on a single lap. Philip and Jon both stalled at the start, and Gareth got off to a flier. It seemed to take an eternity for everyone to clear the grid, but eventually we were off and racing. Helped by some nice dice rolling, Gareth’s first car absolutely stormed round the first few corners, hardly needing to change down gears at all. Russ and Barrie also got one of their cars to pull away, but the rest were stuck back in the pack, with more than a few potentially damage-inducing collisions occurring.
Things started to spread out again, only to bottleneck once more at the “2 stops” Turn 4. It was here that Gareth’s second car’s gearbox nearly detached itself from the chassis, as he desperately tried changing down gears to prevent a massive overshoot – catastrophe was narrowly averted.
At this crucial point in the game, with tyre and brake points being used up with gay (I use this word advisedly…) abandon, the single pencil that we were using mysteriously disappeared. Several accusations were levelled at various parties, but the elusive scribing-tool failed to materialise. (Gareth nearly had a coronary when Jon suggested using a pen, so we improvised.)
By now, Gareth’s lead car had turned the final corner, so Russ made a valiant effort to catch him by changing up to 6th gear, with anything but rolling a 30 putting him in a great position. What happened next? Silly question - he rolled a 30 and spun out. Everyone’s tyres, brakes, bodywork and engines miraculously survived, so all cars crossed the finish line.
And the result? After shooting past Russ’s stricken car on the last bend, Barrie came in 2nd and 6th, which was enough to win him the overall championship by a single point.

(Postscript: This game has the unfortunate combination of tiny plastic pieces placed in exact positions on the board, and multiple large dice. Add to this a player who seems hell-bent on bringing these 2 components into an unfortunate marriage, and you have a level of drama that I’m sure the designer never intended for this game….)

The "not so" flying dutchman had now joined us and we split into 2 groups, one group heading off to ancient Mesopotamia to build civilisations, and the other engaging in violent conflict with fantasy races.......
Tigris and Euphrates
(Thanks to Johan for info on this game)
It was a little while since everyone had played this game, so Philip give a quick explanation of the rules, and then it began.
Russ and Philip started attacking each other in the first 2 rounds, whilst Johan quietly built his little kingdoms. Russ initially accumulated a great deal of the blue (Farm) tiles, whilst Philip started off with four red (Temple) tiles.
The 2 protagonists very quickly saw that their aggressive strategy was counter-productive, so they started building up to attack Johan, which they eventually did with great success. On one of his turns, however, Johan swapped his six tiles and was fortunate enough to draw four red (Temple) tiles, which he was able to use to attack back and regain the kingdoms he had lost.
In the meantime, Russell build a monument (blue and green) and started collecting these quite successfully, whilst Johan built a green and black monument.
In the end game, Russ made a crucial mistake by joining two kingdoms and having Philip and Johan battle, and in the process was left with a very small kingdom himself, due to the removal of the tiles. Johan - who won the battle – inherited a big kingdom, and then ended the game by taking a blue and a treasure cube.
The end result was a tie between Philip and Johan for the most cubes in their lowest colour, but Johan won by having one more red than Philip had black in the next fewest (that sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is!)

Small World
This was Gareth’s first outing with this game, Barrie’s second and Jon had played twice before.
Jon started and used his Pillaging Ghouls to set up camp in one corner of the map. Gareth then waded in with some Merchant Orcs which gave him some nice bonuses. Barry then did the Small World equivalent of invading Poland, and took a big chunk out of Gareth’s Orcs with his Dragon-Master Skeletons. Jon declined almost immediately, keeping all the Ghouls and bringing in some Sorcerors. Gareth then proceeded to wreak his revenge on Barrie (with a touch of encouragement from Jon) and hit back with some Forest Elves, which led to some interesting back-and-forth encounters. (Barrie: “Why don’t you attack Jon’s Sorcerors?” Gareth: “Because you attacked me first…take that!”)
Somewhat surprisingly, Gareth kept the Elves for the rest of the game, as they had some good forest territory and regenerated every turn, bringing in at least 10 points each go. Barrie had a brief flirtation with some Tritons, before ending with a hoard of Ratmen. Jon eventually ditched the waning Ghouls and brought in some Amazons for one final push.
There had been an interesting selection of Races and Abilities on offer during the game, as very few defensive capabilities were available, which was reflected in the slightly lower scores, with the result perhaps closer than some had expected...
Jon 91, Gareth 87, Barrie 74

So it seems that the Elves aren’t quite as namby-pamby as they first appear, and Barrie suffered the same fate as the Third Reich…

And, not withstanding a valiant, but ultimately futile attempt to squeeze in a game of High Society, that was the end of another very enjoyable evening of gaming (made even better by Liverpool winning their first match in the Champions League...) See you in 7 days time!

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