Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Forget Swine Flu - beware the Blue Disease........

Players: Jon, Ian, Philip, Jayden, Tonio, James, Stephanie, Scott, David, Stuart, Barrie, Johan

A really warm welcome to 4 more newcomers tonight - Stephanie and Scott (a married couple), and David and Stuart (not a married couple). Also, a welcome return to Ian, who has had a baby and a haircut since we last saw him.

The early-birds this week were Jayden, Stuart and David, so they decided to sneak in a quick game of -

This was Jayden’s first exposure to the game, and he mostly seemed concerned about what was causing these deadly diseases to spread so quickly around the world (infected globe-trotting Antipodeans, probably….)
Not a lot else is known about this game, apart from the fact that there was no Medic amongst the selected roles, very few yellow cards turned up (rumours of inadequate shuffling were rife) and that the red disease became rampant in Asia and brought a swift end to the survival of mankind as we know it.
Jayden; Stuart; David – all lost.

A few more early arrivees meant that we could have a go at this quick bidding card game -

No Thanks
Philip picked up the first card, a 29, and along with it a hatful of chips. Scott was the first person to run out of chips (thanks to some aggressive play by his wife!) and found himself picking up unwanted cards for a couple of turns.
Jon had just 3 cards (in a run), and Philip’s big stack of chips nearly saw him through to the end of the game – but not quite! They ran out at a crucial moment in the last couple of rounds, meaning that he was forced to pick up a big number.
Scott ended with a huge number of chips – but an even huger score! Stephanie had managed to pick up several low-numbered cards in runs, and was able to combine these for a very low score at the end.
Stephanie 4 (15-11 chips); Jon 22 (24-2); Ian 35 (38-3); Scott 42 (71-29); Philip 54 (64-10)

James and Tonio (dressed in 'half-term civvies') had now joined us, and whilst Ian did a beer-run, the other 6 had a quick game of -

For Sale
This was Tonio’s second game of For Sale, but he still appeared somewhat bemused by the whole experience! 6-player For Sale seems to be all about the opening bid, as you are hoping that several properties have gone before the bidding gets back round to you again.
Tonio ran short of cash quite early, and was resigned to picking up some less desirable residences. In the second half, there were some quite narrow spreads of cheque values, but Scott seemed to be able to play the right card at the right time and romped home for the victory. The newcomers were making their mark!
Scott 58; James 48; Stephanie 41; Jon 39; Philip 38; Tonio 35

By now, the remaining stragglers had turned up, and so (after getting a bit excited and smashing a pint glass) we split into 3 groups, the first choosing some manual labour down on the farm –

Philip "the memory man" has written an unbelievably detailed session report of this game over at BGG, so rather than repeat everything here, go over there and check it out! Suffice to say, it was only Ian's second game, and Philip is proving to be a veritable guru of Agricola, scoring 50 and winning convincingly in his last 2 outings. Bring on the next challengers.......

The second group decided to build space ships from sewer pipes -

Galaxy Trucker (thanks to Tonio for info on this one)
James brought this space-trading themed tile-laying game to the table, and did a great job of introducing the game concepts. The first round is designed to help you get into the game, so once everyone had been shown the different types of tiles, it was time to go for it.
One of each card type was played and it became obvious that those battery cells were going to run out quickly, especially when you lose the cells if you are not carrying stock. At the end of the first round James had a modest lead and it was at this point that a very smartly dressed Barrie joined in. (It was agreed to give Barrie 15 points as a starting bonus).
James 20, (Barrie 15,) Tonio 12, Jayden 11
With Barrie having been given a very quick outline of the tiles and the general advice to ‘try to have a bit of everything’, round 2 was underway. It was clear that having missed round 1, Barrie was at a large disadvantage - only having double engines and double guns with very few batteries (that were lost to an early attack), and lots of loose connectors meant that his ship was reduced to about 5 tiles by the end of the round.
As for the rest of the players, their ships were much more impressive this time and Tonio managed to avoid having any loose connectors at all, meaning a strong and “good looking” ship (much like himself), allowing him to almost keep up with James.
James 51, Tonio 39, Jayden 22, Barrie 18.
By round three there were some issues with the rules - most of the group had forgotten the one that states that you can look at the piles of cards during the building phase. James then let everyone know (after a friendly nudge from Stephanie on the other table) that there was a rule about keeping two pieces in reserve on your board.
At this point it also became apparent that Barrie had not realised that you were allowed to use the tiles that others had turned over! This was a bit of a brutal round for Barrie and Tonio, who, possibly from being rushed in the building phase, ended up losing points due to ship damage, no stock and a poor placement in the race. James, on the other hand, was finding his feet and managed to extend his lead.
James 58, Jayden 30, Tonio 26, Barrie 16
The game could have finished there and James would have been the conclusive winner, but the decision was made to play on…
An early and vicious side-on attack succeeded in cutting both Barrie’s and James’s ships in two and they both lost a large number of resources. Barrie was left with no engines and was drifting through space for the rest of the game, whereas James, having very little in the way of defence, lost the little cargo he was able to carry.
Jayden retired early when the opportunity arose to board an abandoned station and leave his ship without a pilot (wise move) and Tonio was left to clear up all the baddies who attacked, and to keep the “Jennifer Lopez” (ample booty) all to himself. And the result of all this random space carnage? 
Tonio 92, Jayden 60, James 51, Barrie 5

Conclusion: Barrie is not a fan of Galaxy Trucker. Tonio would be happy to play again. (Jayden and James appear to have kept their opinions to themselves!)

The third group had decided to spend their time trying to cram a vast number of fantasy races into a very…..

Small World
This was new to Johan, and Stuart had only played 2-player before. David started off with Swamp Humans, which is a good combination for racking up quick victory points. Jon then brought on some Forest Ghouls, closely followed by Stuart’s Bivouacking Sorcerors, who proceeded to set up an impenetrable barrier next to Jon. Johan got a quick bonus from his Wealthy Tritons and set up camp along the coast.
Jon naturally declined his Ghouls straight away, and brought on some Fortified Amazons, which he used to stomp over Stuart’s Sorcerors, before they had a chance to use their special power. Johan started to attack the Humans, which resulted in David declining them and pulling out some Commando Halflings. They wiped out a few Ghouls, and set up their special ‘Hobbit Holes’ as a defensive line.
By this time, Stuart had wearied of his Sorcerors and had brought on some Beserk Elves. Their inability to be killed meant that he stuck with them right through to the end of the game, although this did prevent him from scoring from a declined race. (Maybe he had a ‘thing’ going for those happy, frolicking, slightly camp creatures……)
Johan took over the South-West region of the map with some Diplomatic Trolls, and used their combined defensive abilities to good effect . The final couple of turns saw some Giants, Ratmen and Wizards mop up a few extra points, but at the end of the game, Jon’s Amazons (several of whom were in the mountains) had scored enough points to earn him the victory.
Jon 98; Johan 85; David 78; Stuart 66

Although Agricola had finished on the other table, the 2 groups stayed the same, and the Small World’ers decided on a re-run of –

The roles selected for this game were – Stuart (Dispatcher), Johan (Medic), David (Operations Expert) and Jon (Scientist). Now with 3 healthcare professionals around the table (OK..actually 2 and a student), you would think that this team would have a fair chance of saving the planet...wouldn’t you....?
David assured us that we were playing the ‘normal’ game with 5 Epidemic cards. Turns out, we were actually playing the ‘Heroic’ game with all 6 Epidemics (not that it made much difference, as it happens). The blue and black diseases seemed to be the first priority, as there was the potential for multiple outbreaks, so the whole team moved in to do a swift clear-up job. The Medic was then sent off to the Far-East, where Hong Kong was proving to be the epicentre for more disease-related mayhem, with a dangerous number of red cubes entering the board.
2 Epidemics showed up reasonably close together, but apart from a couple of outbreaks everything seemed to be getting under control. Jon managed to pass a black card to Stuart, who cured the associated disease, and then there was a general move to the East to attempt to cure the red plague. This was achieved by Jon using his Scientist special ability, and then Johan floated around hoovering up most of the remaining red cubes.
David had moved to South America to set up a research station, but another Epidemic and a couple of outbreaks were starting to make things a little tense. Stuart was using his Dispatcher ability to good effect, buzzing the other players around the board to the hotspots. Jon and David managed to meet up in Bogota to exchange cards to enable David to cure the Yellow disease on the next turn, whilst Johan then met up with Jon in Europe to pass over a blue card to enable Jon to discover the final cure on his turn.
And so it came to pass – David cured the Yellow disease and pulled 2 cards from the deck. And of course – the second card was the 5th Epidemic. No matter, the only place in real danger was northern Europe, where 3 cities had 3 cubes. Jon was poised to cure the Blue disease and win the game on the very next turn. The infection cards were shuffled and what was revealed? Essen - resulting in a catastrophic chain reaction of blue disease outbreaks and the end of civilisation as we know it. So near, yet so far…..
Stuart, David, Johan, Jon – all lost (just)

Meanwhile, the Agricola players had decided to go back even further in time, to the...

Stone Age (thanks to Philip for this info)
The game began with Scott and Stephanie taking cards, Philip going for the hut and Ian on the tools, allowing Scott to take the field. Stephanie placed the reminder of her meeples in the wood spaces, as did Philip, forcing Scott to gather bricks to pay for his card.
The game continued with Philip trying to build up his population and picking up picture cards, whilst Ian built up his arsenal of tools and tool multipliers. Everyone was buying cards, often all 4 were purchased each turn, so it isn't surprising that the game ended with the cards running out.
Philip had purchased some expensive huts during the game (including a 7 Stone Hut near the end), and also collected a complete set of picture cards to finish on 165 points - and last place.
Stephanie and Scott finished in the middle (although their exact scores seem to have mysteriously vanished) - Scott had picked up all the Shamen cards and had 9 tribespeople at the end.
Ian, however, had all (or very nearly all) of the tool multiplier cards and 11 tools, emerging as the winner with a very commendable 202 points. So much for having the proverbial “baby brain” then…….
Ian 202; Stephanie ?; Scott ?; Philip 165

There were about 15 minutes left, Johan had departed, and both of the other tables were still going, so Jon, Stuart and David had a quick go at –

High Society
This game was new to both David and Stuart, but 5 minutes are all that are needed to get players up and running.
David picked up some early status symbols, but then also decided to take the hit with the “1/2” card, and the thief. Stuart picked up a “x2” and a couple of status symbols, but the addition of the “-5” left him a little short on points. He also forgot the ‘least money loses rule’, until he was reminded of it as he was about to flop down his last 2 remaining bidding cards.
Jon won a couple of auctions late on, and the game end occurred with just 2 other cards remaining. Stuart and Jon were equal on points, but at the ‘great reveal’, Stuart was found to have slightly less cash than the other 2, handing the win to Jon.
Jon 15 ($25k); Stuart 4 ($35k); David 15 ($21k)

And so, 4 hours, 12 players, 9 games and 1 smashed glass later, it was time to call it a night. Only another 7 days to go before the good ship IBG sets sail again - we'll be waiting at the dock for you....


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