Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Terror by the Thames........

Players: Tonio, Stuart, Jayden, Barrie, Gareth, Philip, Scott, Roy, David, Jon, Ian

11 gamers this evening, including a welcome to newcomer Roy from Guernsey, who was making a one-off appearance whilst visiting friends in the area.

There were a number of early-birds through the door, who decided to kick the evening off with a (not so) quick game of -

Frank's Zoo (thanks to Gareth for this report)
This was the third attempt at Frank’s Zoo, with IBG'ers having previously had more than a few problems understanding what appears on paper to be a relatively simple card game. A smaller group of five tried it tonight - rules were quickly explained to those unfamiliar with the game and the hands were dealt.
Play was quick and Jayden was first to get rid of his cards, followed closely by Gareth and Scott. Barrie who was playing for the first time was having problems with the concept of which animal outranked another, but to be fair, most players had had this problem on their first game (well, that’s what they told Barrie, anyway…)
When the scores were totted up for the first round, Gareth took the lead with 7 pts after capturing three lions. Jayden and Scott were equal second, with 4 pts each, Barrie was on 2 pts and Tonio had yet to score.
In round two everyone partnered off, which caused some debate about just how old some of the players were. Scott was solo (which he played to his great advantage), Gareth paired off with Barrie and Jayden with Tonio. Gareth then made the terrible mistake by playing three lions as a starting hand which were quickly captured by Scott with his Elephants and Mosquitoes . Play continued with Scott finishing first, then Jayden, Tonio, Barrie and finally Gareth. Therefore by the end of round two Scott had a commanding lead of 17 to Jayden’s 10, Gareth’s 8, Tonio’s 6 and Barrie’s 4.
As others gamers were now starting to arrive at the club, it was agreed to play just one more round. This time Gareth played solo, Scott paired up with Tonio and Barrie with Jayden. Scott finished his hand first, followed by Jayden and then Barrie who picked up a couple of lions at the end. Gareth came in fourth and Tonio last, but he did capture three lions in the process.
A fun starter game to get the brain warmed up before moving on to something more in-depth.
Scott 21; Jayden 16; Gareth 14; Tonio 14; Barrie 13

Frank’s Zoo was in full swing, so Jon persuaded Ian to have a go at this quick little abstract game. It was played with the variant of having 2 pieces each, and choosing which one to move on each turn.
The board is still quite large for only 4 pieces, and it does take a little while for them to come close to confrontation, but there is still some interesting choices to make about whether to play defensively or aggressively.
Initially, Ian kept both of his pieces close together, whilst Jon kept one by the sidelines, and sent the other on a skirmish mission. Following a number of back-and-forths, one of Ian’s pieces ended up off the board, and his other was only 1 tile away from one of Jon’s. Although Jon could have placed a tile to send Ian’s second piece into oblivion, the ‘no suicide’ rule prevented him from doing this. Consequently, Ian was able to send Jon’s first piece to its doom, and with no useful tiles to play, Jon’s second piece followed in quick succession.
This is a little different to the normal IBG fare, but could be a really fun experience with the full complement of 8 players.
Ian won; Jon lost

Maharaja (thanks to Gareth again)
This was the fourth play of what has become this month’s ‘game of the month’. Jayden, Barrie and Gareth were all familiar with the rules, but Tonio was new to game. Gareth quickly ran through the basics, while Barrie and Jayden set up the board.
The Character cards were distributed randomly, with Jayden getting the lowest number, allowing him to place his houses first. The first few rounds were fairly evenly matched, with Jayden, Tonio and Gareth each winning a scoring round. Gareth then slumped into decline, only picking up 9 gold in three rounds, allowing Jayden and Tonio to increase their leads. Barrie was a slow starter, generally messing up Gareth’s game plan with a knowing smile.
Mid-game, a missing piece was lost under the table. Tonio, whilst searching for it “accidentally” brushed against Jayden’s leg, resulting in much eyebrow-raising and a few well-chosen comments from the other side of the table. (The fact that Tonio, whilst taking a photograph, was later to describe Jayden as “very attractive,” did nothing to assuage the sarcastic remarks…)
Anyway, the game continued with Gareth trying to make a valiant recovery by winning the last three scoring rounds, but to no avail - Jayden had hoarded too many Action Chits from the Yogi character. This allowed him to finish the game with ruthless efficiency.
Gareth apparently rates Maharaja as an ‘eight’, and Tonio rates Jayden’s legs as a ‘ten’.
Jayden 7 Palaces; Tonio 6; Gareth 5 (27 Gold); Barrie 5 (9)

Although Philip had valiantly set up Agricola, there weren't enough takers (as everyone all too clearly remembered last week's marathon session...), so the consensus was -

Power Grid: Factory Manager
Although Russ wasn’t around, Scott had brought his copy of this game, and rounded up newbies Ian and Philip to join ‘veteran’ (1 play!) Jon. Scott did a good job of doing a concise rules explanation, whilst Jon passed the Mensa test of putting out all the machines on the board.
This game played out quite differently from last week. Scott and Jon started off by buying some computers to reduce their power output, whilst Ian and Philip concentrated on improving their production and storage capacities. Ian began by bidding on the highest number turn order tiles (with the biggest discounts), but by round 4 had realised that this left him with less choice in the machine market. Subsequently he took the lowest value tile in the last round.
Jon had quickly increased his storage capacity to 11, but was struggling to produce enough goods, as very few production machines were making it into the market. Scott was quickly developing his production and storage capacities, and at one point had a zero power output (later discovered to be an error – power always has to be at least ‘1’ – sorry Scott!)
Philip was quietly constructing a nice little factory, whilst trying to keep a lid on his power consumption. A few inefficient old machines were thrown out of a few factories, to be replaced by shiny new models. Not many seasonal workers were hired (in contrast to last week’s game), but only Ian seemed to suffer from the odd manpower shortage.
In the last round, everyone managed to ramp up their production output, and there was genuine curiosity about who was going to come out on top. The scores were totted up, and Scott was found to have triumphed over Jon by 8 Elektros. However, a quick recount by Jon found that he had miscounted by 10 (slightly worrying as he had been playing banker all game), and therefore had actually pipped Scott by a measly 2 Elektros, with Ian and Philip coming in creditably close behind.
This game was much quicker than last week – about 1 hour 15 mins, which felt much better. Ian remarked that the game was ideal for accountants – which probably isn’t far from the truth – so we expect him to wipe the floor with his opponents next time he plays!
Jon 244; Scott 242; Ian 224; Philip 210

War on Terror (thanks Stuart for this info)
This was Stuart and Roy's first time playing War on Terror whilst Dave had played it once before (but a long time ago). A quick run-through of the rules and everyone was up to date with how to take over the world.
Dave started with his settlements in the Americas and Antarctica, leaving Stuart and Roy to go for Europe, Asia and Australasia. Secret messages were exchanged between Stuart and Dave, stating that Dave would leave Stuart to take over Asia and Australasia, and Dave would have the Americas and Antarctica.
Stuart soon kicked Roy out of Asia, leaving him alone in Europe, by which time Dave had conquered the Americas and Antarctica. Everyone was buying terrorist cells in their rounds as a deterrent to be attacked, but all the players were too nice and only a few actually made it onto the board.
Roy was the first "Evil" player but the Axis of Evil was spun a total of 4 times with everyone having one go as the balaclava-wearing terrorist (Roy had it twice – he seemed to like it…)
The end of the game came about quicker than expected with a very unlikely win for Stuart (who claims to never win anything), but not before Dave and Roy had conspired to attack him with nuclear missiles - a plan narrowly thwarted by Stuart playing his last two cities giving him the final 2 victory points needed for victory.
(Postscript - Stuart actually tied for first place in Tobago 2 weeks ago, so don't believe his "never wins anything" bunkum...) 
Stuart won; Roy and David lost.  

The Capitalists and the Terrorists had now finished their respective games, and after a brief consultation (and a couple of departures), the remaining 5 decided to roll a few dice in -

Dice Town
This was new to David and Roy, but takes mere minutes to explain (and one round to become clear). Jon avoided his mistake from last week and avoided stealing cards at the beginning of the game – he left that dubious honour to Roy, who was also rolling Full Houses like they were going out of fashion.
Scott spent much of the game as Sheriff, constantly uttering, “I don’t care who wins the Queens, as long as you promise not to steal from me…” David got in on the general card-pilfering himself, whilst Stuart avoided picking up any cards, and spent much of his time mining for gold.
The bank was robbed consistently by most players (but often with a single ‘ten’) and when the gold mine eventually gave up its last nugget, the scores were tallied.
Amazingly, it turned out to be a 3-way tie between Jon, David and Scott, and it was assumed that as Jon had the sheriff, he would be the winner. As it happens, the tie-breaker is the player with the most property claim cards, but as Jon had the most of these too, he was able to claim his second victory in succession.
Jon 27; David 27; Scott 27; Roy 21; Stuart 20

There was just time to join up with the Maharaja crew for a very enjoyable, and long overdue game of –

This was a first game to a few players, but the ‘old hands’ soon filled them in – especially with the most important “this is how you know if you’re a saboteur” information!
In the first mine, 3 saboteurs emerged (Barrie, Gareth and David) but they were not strong enough to thwart the brave, honest dwarves. The second mine was started by Roy, who immediately placed a ‘T’ junction. Jayden promptly broke his lamp – an early accusation that was worthy of the mighty “I haven’t got a clue what’s going on” Tonio. However, as it turned out, Roy was an honest (if slightly suspicious) dwarf, whilst Jayden was in fact a saboteur (along with the aforementioned Tonio). Regardless, the honest dwarves triumphed again.
The final mine was characterised by Gareth looking at a destination card and then promptly forgetting which one he’d looked at. This wasn’t helped by Jon also mis-remembering this information, and advising Gareth wrongly as to which one it had been. How the honest dwarves again found gold is a mystery, but they did, despite the best efforts of Scott, Stuart and Jayden to prevent them doing so.
When the dust had settled, Gareth had just pulled ahead of the pack to snatch the win. Stuart had somehow managed to miscount the number of nuggets on his 3 cards, and apologised for inadvertently ‘cheating’. Except that he had miscounted downwards – which made him both bad at arithmetic and rubbish at cheating at the same time.
Gareth 6; Roy 5; Barrie 5; Tonio 5; Scott 5; David 5; Jon 4; Stuart 4; Jayden 3

And that was all we had time for this week. Time enough for Jon and Stuart to both "miscount" their scores, for balaclava-wearing gameplayers to scare off the locals, and for Jayden to vow to keep a closer eye on our resident Italian from now on.......

More of the same next week...

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