Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The night of much dice rolling......

Players: Ian, Barrie, Philip, Gareth, Iain, Russ, Jon, James, Niko, Tonio

Attendance was in double figures again this week, and for the first time we were able to have 3 games going at once. After last week’s lack of finished games we went from the sublime to the ridiculous - there were 10 completed this week! So, without further ado, here goes…..

For Sale
The first 6 through the door sat down to this quick property-auction filler. The first few sets of properties had large spreads, meaning that no-one really wanted to drop out early and take the low-valued houses. However, with only $14000 to play with, you have to choose when to bid high, and when to cut and run. And with 6 players, the last player in a round may find that (if they’re lucky) 1 or even 2 properties have been taken before the bidding even gets to them.
James and Barrie managed to pick up a couple of the high-value properties, with a few bids going through the roof. In the second phase, Jon found himself the recipient of both zero value cheques (one of which he traded for the “12” property), although he still avoided last place.
For the second time running, this game produced a tie, with only 2 points separating the first 3, and the last 3 places. As a relative newcomer, Niko did the decent thing and helped Gareth avoid another last place.
James 48; Barrie 48; Philip 46; Jon 38; Gareth 37; Niko 36

By now, everyone else had turned up, so we split into 3 groups to play –

Small World
This game was new to Niko, but is easy enough to pick up and the game was soon underway. Jon’s Heroic Trolls set up a good defensive position, whilst Gareth’s Wealthy Tritons took over the North-west coastal region. James’ Flying Giants, as to be expected, took several unconnected mountain regions and Niko’s Diplomat Dwarves set themselves up between the Giants and the Tritons.
The first conflict took place after Niko had used his Diplomat power with James, and therefore attacked Gareth, who responded with some Stout Sorcerors. Jon’s Dragon-Master Skeletons then waded in and evicted the Sorcerors quite quickly, necessitating Gareth bringing on his 3rd race – the Seafaring Humans.
Whilst this was going on, James’ Giants and Underworld Orcs were happily raking in multiple points each turn, which helped to paint a nice fat target on his back. Niko had brought on some Ghouls (or ‘Girls’ as he preferred to call them) and then quickly declined them to adopt some Mounted Amazons (or ‘real girls’) to blitz through James’ Orcs in double-quick time, and score an impressive 16 points in one round.
Some final races were introduced to mop up a few late points, and it was generally felt that James had triumphed, until the scores were totted up and it was found that Jon had just pipped him to the post, with Niko again graciously preventing Gareth from propping up the rest.
Jon 88; James 83; Gareth 78; Niko 77

Stone Age (thanks to Philip for info on this one)
Ian and Russ hadn't played this before, so Philip explained the rules (and by the look of the scores, he did a pretty good job). Philip followed his usual strategy of breeding meeples at the ‘love shack’ and buying cards (cultures, shamen and tool-makers), and was able to pick up a few tools as well. Ian and Russ concentrated more on buying huts, though Ian also pursued the civilization cards route, collecting mainly green cultures. Russ picked up the best shamen though, and also a few hut multipliers.
Luck seemed pretty even between the 3 players with the dice, although Philip had the good fortune to pick up the 7th culture with his bonus card pick (Ian had bought up both copies of Pottery, so he couldn’t get the full 8). These 7 cultures (worth 49 points) turned out to be to be decisive in Philip’s winning score, though 30 points from shamen didn’t hurt any.
13 points between first and last is pretty close though, so the 2 newbies certainly held their own. (This game was played with face up cards, as per Philip’s usual method of play...more on that later...)
Philip 181; Ian 175; Russ 168

Loco! (thanks to Barrie for info on these 3 games)
Iain, Tonio and Barrie started proceedings with 2 games of Loco (the card version of the rather nicely produced "Quandary"), where Tonio led from the front as the trainer, coach and all round "Dad”. Tonio's a great guy, and he likes his food, but how he managed to get into such a flux squeezing in so many apologies in one game we will never know! Tonio - you did fine man... chill!
That said, even the most hardened, dead-eyed game player would have winced at the result of game 1, where Iain managed to end proceedings with the total score of 7 for all three players!! That’s just wrong…
Iain 3; Tonio 2; Barrie 2

After such a "marvelous” first game, the second one had to be better (and longer), and it was, although strangely with exactly the same result as the first – Iain winning with Barrie and Tonio tying for second place.
Iain 34; Barrie 29; Tonio 29

This group felt it was time to move on - so they did to -

Ticket to Ride: The Card Game
Same players, same table, different card game. After very apologetically showing the other players the ropes, and being asked if he could sing (?!), Tonio led a cool game of this mixed review classic.
Barrie seemed to sort of miss the point and failed to keep his route cards in his hand, or for that matter, bothered checking them, leaving his traveling fate in no-ones hands in particular. Ian and Tonio did rather better, and in the final summing up the scores were (unsurprisingly) -
Iain 123; Tonio 104; Barrie 55

Stone Age (main info from Philip, with 'help' from Barrie)
Ian and Philip stayed around for a second game of Stone Age, and were joined this time by 2 veterans – namely Gareth and Barrie (not to be confused with Gareth Barry - Manchester City and ex-Aston Villa midfielder). This time, Gareth and Barrie insisted on face down cards (as per the rules). Gareth pursued a single-minded tools strategy, reveling in his fetish for sharp implements, and never taking the Love Shack or the Field. Both Philip and Ian put a low priority on tools, allowing Gareth to pick them several turns running. Gareth combined this with great dice luck, rolling 6’s repeatedly, which allowed him to stock up with food and earn large numbers of points for huts while collecting civilization cards as well. Barrie had a more mixed strategy, with some tools, a little bit of ‘meeple-mating’ and a high food level. A big score using the”1-7” hut shot him into the lead at the mid-point; he also managed to roll four 6’s on one of the cards you roll dice for, giving everyone +1 food level, resulting in much whooping, high-fiving and general lovey-doveyness in his direction.
Philip maxed out with 10 tribes-people but spent much time feeding them and although he was collecting hut multipliers, he unfortunately built less huts than anyone else. He claims that having face down cards meant that he inadvertently collected the wrong type of civilization cards, including one on the last turn which actually decreased his overall points total! (Hmm…sounds like the type of excuse that one of his opponents might make…)
Ian had a fairly high food level and a few extra people, as well as several huts, allowing him to finish ahead of Philip and only a few points behind Barrie. Gareth however was the runaway winner, with a collection of tool multipliers accompanying his excellent score for huts (and not having Niko playing the same game and making him look good).
Gareth 145; Barrie 120; Ian 112; Philip 110

Dice Town
This was new to all except Jon, who had only played it 2-player before. It’s a light dice-rolling game where you have to collect higher numbers of dice in different playing card values, in order to earn a selection of bonuses. It’s quite interactive as there is a fair amount of card stealing and bribery (the corrupt ‘sheriff’ decides who should win ties and will take all manner of sweeteners).
As the game progressed, it became obvious that James was constantly picking Jon to steal cards from, and it turned out that he was still sore at Jon for identifying him as a target in Small World! (Note to all IBG’ers – don’t get on the wrong side of James early in the evening…)
Jon ran out of money early on, which really limits your options, whilst James collected a vault-full of the stuff. He also seemed to spend most of the game as Sheriff – seemingly enjoying the temporary power that this imbued him with.
It was also discovered during this game that Russ appears to lack the fine motor skills to successfully roll 5 dice from a small cup without spraying them all over the table and floor. (It’s just a good job that his day job doesn’t rely on good manual dexterity in order to prevent him killing people……oh - he’s an anaesthetist….) For some reason, that reminds me of an old Bill Cosby skit....
Anyway, James’ vast wad helped earn him the win, ending with nearly twice as many points as Jon.
James 35; Russ 28; Iain 26; Jon 20

No-one else had finished their games, so there was just enough time for the ‘Dice Towners’ to squeeze in one final game of –

High Society
Iain hadn’t played for a long time, so was reminded of the rules (several times). The cards came out in quite a strange order, with the majority of the status symbols appearing before any of the multipliers or ‘bad cards’.
Iain was spending money like it was going out of fashion, and needed to reminded of the rule about the poorest player being eliminated at the end (to no avail). Everything else was quite tight, and despite Jon picking up a “x2” for only $14,000 at the end, James still had enough points to win his 3rd game of the evening – a worthy achievement indeed.
James 20 ($29k); Jon 16 ($44k); Russ 8 ($34k); Ian 12 ($23k)

Small World (thanks Tonio)
Niko (identified as the experienced member of the duo, following his first outing earlier this evening) did a great job of explaining the game to Tonio and was apparently “very gracious.” Niko started with Alchemist Tritons and managed to control most of the board quite quickly, and accumulated a lot of VPs. Tonio began with Heroic Halflings, which, although sturdy, were unable to thin out the Tritons. Niko moved on to his second tribe, Flying Ratmen and all but wiped Tonio from the board – maybe a consequence of hanging onto the Halflings for too long. By the time Tonio tried his next tribe, the Merchant Dwarves (after considering Diplomat Humans and realising it would be a mistake in a 2-player game), it was all a bit too late. The fact that the Merchant Dwarves only provide 5 race tokens probably didn’t improve his chances much either.
Consequently, the result was a bit one-sided, but Tonio was keen to try the game again – and he’ll undoubtedly get the chance on another evening at the Apprentice.
Niko 112; Tonio 72

And that, as they say, was that. A veritable feast of gaming (and dice-rolling), where James showed his competitive side, Tonio was the all-round nice guy, and Gareth actually won a game!

See you all, same time, same place, next week....


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