Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Isleworth Boardgamers have a baby............

Players: Tonio, Jon, Gareth, Barrie, Jayden, Julia, James, Johan, Philip

Well, the big news of the week is that Ian has had a baby boy - "James Henry Alexander" weighing in at 7lb 7oz. Congratulations Ian! We look forward to having you back with us when the sleep deprivation has started to wear off...

Tonight at the London Apprentice, we were back in the Riverview Room. No newcomers  this evening (for the first time in several weeks) but a good turnout meant that we were able to comfortably split into 2 groups for most of the evening...

For Sale
A few people arrived nice and early, so we got out this regular favourite. Jayden and Julia were new to it, and Tonio had watched one game before. One of the nice things about For Sale is that you can explain the first half of the game, play it, then explain the second half. This enables everyone to jump in and start playing really quickly.
There were some large spreads of property values revealed in the first few turns, and Jayden soon found himself a little short of cash. Philip also made some big early purchases, leaving himself out of contention for the last auction or two.
During the second phase, there were a few “oohs” and “aahs”, as it was discovered that putting down an ‘18’ value property wasn’t enough to prevent you picking up the void cheque! No-one appeared to be running away with the game, and when the final scores were totted up, it turned out to be a tight finish, which those few coins saved from the first round proving vital –
Barrie $48k, Jon $46k, Philip $45k, Julia $43k, Jayden $39k, Tonio $34k

Everyone had now arrived and we split into 2 groups, both choosing to play Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling games. The first of these being -

This was a first-time for all the players. The first fifteen minutes were spent setting up the colourful board which showed a map with seven cities connected by roads and villages, and learning that the objective of the game is to be the first player to place all seven of their palaces on the board.
Johan and Philip moved into an early lead, building new palaces each round. Gareth was not far behind, but due to bad planning managed to win no money for one round, which meant no building during the next one.
Jayden's governor card, which allowed him to go first in each round, was perceived by the other players (well, Gareth actualy) to be “not that great.” He might have held onto this card a tad too long as well, thereby reducing his scores in the first half of the game.
Julia collected lots of action chits from her governor and was given a few “helpful hints” by everyone else (ahhh – aren’t they a nice bunch…)
As the game progressed and the group became more confident, there was a lot more interaction – namely stealing governors from each other, which can really screw up a player’s plans. However, in the case of Johan, this may well have helped him win the game.
The game came to a close quite abruptly, so once it was evident that Johan was going to place his last palace, everybody went on a hasty final building spree. In the end, Johan and Philip had managed to build all seven palaces, but Johan won on the tie-breaker (amount of gold.) Gareth came in third place with 6 palaces and close behind was Jayden and Julia.
This was an enjoyable game which is likely to see the table again soon.
Johan 7 palaces (20 gold); Philip 7 (2); Gareth 6 (17); Jayden 4 (11) Julia 4 (10)

Meanwhile, the other group had decided to go exploring in Central American jungles -

James had brought this one along, and after only having played a solo game at home, was keen to try it out with real live opponents. Tonio had not played at all before, so he took on the unfamiliar role of student.
It has to be said that Tikal is a beautiful game to look at (hence the background on the IBG blog header), and is one of the games where the theme does help new players to understand the mechanics.
James started out by cordoning off some nice treasures, Tonio and Barrie began fighting over a fast-ascending temple, and Jon wandered around aimlessly, doing a bit of this and a bit of that.
Following the first scoring round, the players’ paths began to diverge a little. Barrie headed off down the side of the board, discovering a multitude of temples as he went. James split himself between following Barrie, and trying to nobble his own little corner of the board for some surreptitious temple-uncovering of his own. Tonio started to pick up a few treasures and Jon continued to wander aimlessly….
It was then that James pitched his first camp in a clearing right next to the nearest corner of the board, placing a ‘5’ level temple within easy reach. Unfortunately, he barely had time to peg down the guy ropes before Jon snuck straight in and set a guard on the temple. James proffered the opinion that Jon was still sore after the Small World / Dice Town incident 2 weeks ago, but, in reality, Jon’s memory barely extends to 2 minutes ago, let alone 2 weeks. Instead, Jon politely questioned the wisdom of building an early camp in such a remote area of the jungle (whilst Barrie chuckled in the background…)
Nevertheless, James continued to uncover temple levels and collect treasures, and at the mid-point, was a little way ahead of the pack.
During the second half, the jungle became divided, with Barrie on one side, and everyone else on the other, with a growing area of blank tiles and volcanoes in the middle. Barrie’s temples were rising fast, and he scored heavily in the third scoring, despite only having 3 non-matching treasures.
Tonio was quietly racking up the points too, after having set up both of his new camps, and also having the majority in a ‘10’ temple right at the entrance to the board (something he had been fighting with Barrie over for the whole of the game).
The scores at this penultimate scoring were –
Barrie 67; James 58; Tonio 58; Jon 55.
Whilst the final few tiles were laid, Jon pitched a camp in a seemingly innocuous part of the jungle, but right next to his expedition leader. Barrie had a very strong board position, but had also run out of workers to place.
The final scoring arrived and, going first, Jon placed another camp right next to one of Barrie’s ‘7’ temples, and moved in his expedition leader from the other side of the board. This contributed to a final round score of 40 points, leaving Barrie needing to add 9 points to his board position to achieve victory.
This is one of those occasions in boardgaming where you just have to take your time to maximise your score, and with a bit of thought, Barrie managed to work out a way to win back Tonio’s ‘10’ temple, which was just enough for the victory.
An incredibly tight finish, and a thoroughly enjoyable game.
Barrie 97; Jon 95; Tonio 94; James 90

It appeared that Maharaja was going to take a few more minutes to finish, so the Tikal crowd decided to fill time with this great little fish-eating game -

Hey! That’s My Fish!
This game takes about as long to set up as it does to play! As soon as a few moves are completed, several penguins have become isolated, which is either good or bad depending on the number of fish that they have become stranded with.
It was genuinely quite an even spread – which was borne out by the final scores –
James 27; Tonio 24; Barrie 23; Jon 21

Maharaja had finished quicker than anticipated, so that group decided to move on to an old favourite –

Not much information on this one, I’m afraid, except to say that Johan relied on a lucky final mine to score more than zero, and Gareth came convincingly last for the second week in a row. Jayden’s winning tally of 54 gems suggests that the disasters were a little bashful about showing themselves this week.
Jayden 54; Julia 36; Philip 32; Johan 28; Gareth 4

The two groups finally synchronised their games, and rejoined forces to finish off the evening with “the evil dwarf game”, aka –

Due to an error in reading the rules (step forward so-called ‘rules guru’ Jon…), there were 4 saboteurs in the first round, rather than the maximum of 3 - which might help to explain the relative ease with which the bad guys triumphed.
No such excuse in the second mine, but the honest dwarves were again thwarted, mainly due to Johan having numerous rockfalls in his hand, which he played with undisguised glee. (The highlight of this mine being when Tonio, in a state of confusion about who was a saboteur, suddenly piped up, "Am I the only one who doesn't have a clue what's going on....?!") 
It was during the third round that the infamous “not-such-a-sneak-peek” event occurred. Up to this point, every other card that James had picked up seemed to be a map card, and he had been mocked mercilessly for his ‘ultra secretive’ approach to looking at his chosen destination card. However, next up – Philip - who managed to make his examination of a destination card about as secret as the recipe for ice. Most of the people in the bar downstairs probably got to see what was on the card (although Gareth managed to somehow miss ‘the great reveal’….)
Anyway, despite Jayden slapping an early broken tool on Barrie (when they were both saboteurs), the evil dwarves prevailed for the 3rd time in a row – not a good night for gold-mining.
So, Johan and Jayden tied for the victory (and there really is no tie-breaker in this game), whilst “Map-Boy” James and “Myopic-Boy” Gareth, both being honest for the whole game, failed to score.
Jayden 6; Johan 6; Barrie 5; Philip 3; Julia 2; Jon 2; Tonio 2; James 0; Gareth 0           .

During the evening, Gareth had also been taking a few snaps to put on the pub website (trying to make us all look attractive, interesting, intelligent and fun at the same time...not an easy task!) However, one dropped camera and several failed shutter depressions later, Gareth's major learning experience of the night had been that if you want to be in the picture yourself, choose your photographer wisely.....

'Time' had already been called, so it was time to pack up and retreat back to reality for another week.

Same time, same place, next week..........see you there!

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