Players: Russ, Fi, John, Scott, Steph, Gareth, James, Barrie, Jon
The final IBG Games Night before Christmas saw a very welcome appearance from Russ's better half, Fi, and newcomer John. Tonight, we were sharing the upstairs room with the poker players (many of whom showed a keen interest in our 'strange' games!) The only downside was that we were located at the end of the room which is endowed with what can only be best described as "romantic" lighting....
Everyone decided to stay together at the beginning of the evening, and have another go at -
The evening kicked off with 3 rounds of this slightly random card game. Following last week’s victory, Jon was still trying to claim that this game is all about skill, and after scoring 0 and 5 in the first 2 rounds, it looked like he may have had a case.
Fi laid the lowest card in the first hand for both the first and second rounds, and then spent some time looking round the table to see which pile she should take in order to shaft one of the other players (namely Jon).
Scott appeared to playing his own game of “Collect as many bulls' heads as you possibly can”, with a mammoth score of 63 after 2 rounds, although he was making a good fist of taking his beloved Steph down with him! Steph, however, was more concerned about being given a supposedly sub-standard hand of cards, enquiring gracefully at one point – “Who dealt these **** cards?!” Er…that would be Gareth then…
During the 3rd round, Jon was unable to maintain his run of low scores, and copped a massive 27, whilst Fi, Gareth and Russ picked up fewer cards to run in 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Apparently, this game (according to Jon) is a complete luck-fest again….
Fi 24 (10/1/13); Gareth 27 (12/10/5); Russ 31 (6/15/10); Jon 32 (0/5/27); John 45 (27/3/15); James 51 (17/25/9); Barrie 51 (25/7/19); Steph 53 (13/19/21); Scott 78 (24/39/15)
It was time to split into 2 groups, with the gang of four deciding on this deduction game -
Mystery of the Abbey
This game comes from the same family as Cluedo, but is a much more strategic and enjoyable experience than its more popular grandfather-game. It basically involves wandering around an abbey for a number of rounds, eliminating as many of the 24 suspect monks as possible en-route, before finally attempting to reveal who the murderer is.
Jon was the only player not to have played before, but the general premise and mechanics of the game are fairly straightforward to pick up. At first, it felt like there were any number of the monks who could have committed the crime, but as the game progressed, more and more suspect cards were passed between the players, hastening the finale.
Jon had a “free revelation” early on, which he used to guess (incorrectly) that the murderer was a Benedictine. Steph and Scott were engaged in some interesting back-and-forth questioning, which more often than not appeared to result in one of them taking a vow of silence (if only you could do that in real life…)
John made a couple of revelations of his own, which also turned out to be incorrect, but by the 4th round, most of the players seemed to have narrowed their quest down to 2 or 3 suspects.
It was at this point that Steph (who seemed to know what she was doing), made a revelation that the murderer was a Father. Jon had only 1 Father left to cross off, so raced to the Chapter Hall to accuse Father Michael of the crime. It turned out that Steph’s revelation had been rather more guesswork than fact, which had well and truly led Jon up the garden path.
However, Steph’s next accusation was rather more accurate and she successfully nailed the evil monk – Brother Jacques. Scott had done a good job of keeping one of the other Fraciscan Brothers to himself all the game, but could not get to the Chapter Hall in time to make his own accusation.
The result of all this skulduggery at the Templars Abbey, was that Steph’s correct accusation was enough to win her the game, whilst Scott’s masterly inactivity secured him second place with no points!
Steph 3; Scott 0; John -2; Jon -2
Meanwhile, the other 5 players took to their canoes in order to negotiate the treacherous waters of the
Niagara (thanks to Gareth for this info)
James brought along his copy of this game, which was requested a couple of weeks ago by Barrie. Gareth and Barrie had played the game a couple of times last year, but it was new to James, Russ and Fi. Therefore Gareth quickly ran through the rules and the board was set up.
This is a very interactive game, with moving discs used to represent the flowing river. Each person has two canoes which they paddle down the river to collect, or steal gems without literally cascading over the waterfall.
The game started slowly, while everybody got to grips with the mechanics. By the time they had used up their first supply of paddles the sky had changed from mixed weather to storms! This meant the river was flowing with great speed. Fi was the first to lose a canoe over the falls, but she wasn’t alone.
By now, gems were being collected at a steady rate and then being stolen just as quickly. At one point, a pink gem which Barrie collected, was passed between three other players, before it was moved to the safety of the bank.
The game progressed with all parties collecting a similar number of gems. It was only towards the end that Russ moved into the lead. Gareth managed to prevent him from winning at this point, but more by luck than good judgement. This did mean, however, that both he and Barrie lost a canoe over the waterfall. Unfortunately this was only delaying the inevitable.
In the final round Russ managed to bank two more gems putting him in a winning position ahead of everybody else. All agreed - another fun, light-hearted game, with the added tension of the movable river and the waterfall. Russ 8 gems; Gareth 5 (lost one canoe); James 5; Fi 4 (lost one canoe); Barrie 4 (lost one canoe)
Both tables had now finished their respective games, so Russ defected in order to have a shot at –
This was new to Steph and John, but it's so easy to pick up that it was soon underway. Russ and Jon seemed to have the uncanny knack of always rolling for the same prize, which was unfortunate, and resulted in a few trips to Doc Badluck.
John was the early card-collector, picking up several property claims in one turn. After having multiple cards stolen from him in previous games, Jon opted to avoid collecting them, and instead tried to hoard nuggets and cash. Scott was also raking in the cash, resulting in Russ being left rather short in the readies department. This was compounded by Steph inexplicably picking on Russ at one point, even though he clearly had the least resources out of all the players – a truly evil move….
And finally, just when Russ did manage to hold up the bank to collect a few precious dollars, he was presented with a card by Jon that forced him to share the loot. Talk about kicking a man when he’s down….
The game ended when the nuggets ran out. Steph had managed to hold onto the Sheriff and also had a tidy pile of property claims. John also finished with a number of property claims, but had no cash or bonus cards. Jon had only 5 points from cards, but had somehow managed to accumulate most of the money in the game, which was enough to just overhaul evil Steph for the victory.
And back on the other table, it was time to visit -
Small World (thanks to James for this report)
It took Barrie's casting vote to determine this would be the game played (instead of a few laps of Formula De). It's hard to say whether Barrie simply prefers this game, or that he saw the opportunity to punch out all of Jon's fresh new counters for both expansions. The glee in his face pushing out all the new races does suggest the latter, although given that half the new counters seemed to end up on the floor, perhaps his skills lie elsewhere...
Starting races were Flying Giants (James), Heroic halflings (Barrie), Historian Sorcerers (Fi) and Ransacking Goblins (Gareth). The new expansions were already getting some play, and were causing paperwork to go flying around the table as the expansion rule sheets were rapidly passed around (note to self, check BGG for condensed printable race and trait explanations).
Initially James's Giants used their aerial talents to spread completely around the board before immediately going into decline creating a few rounds of 'pick on the dormant giants' from the other players. Shortly after Gareth's Goblins joined them into extinction which created another chapter for Fiona's Historians to log... James next picked up some Spirit Amazons and Gareth chose the Bivouacking Gypsies. Barrie's Halflings were next to disappear and he took control of some Commando Skeletons who then proceeded to inflict their boners (?!) on the Amazons. With the ‘1 new skeleton for each 2 territories’ trait, his Skeletons seemed to be multiplying like rabbits at one stage, owning most of the lower half of the board.
Last to make their initial change were Fi's Historian Sorcerers, finally closing their tome on the early stage of the game and transmogrifying into some Peace-Loving Elves.
Then, a short kerfuffle ensued… Gareth's Caravanning Gypsies had been happily, if slowly, moving making their way across the board when it was realised that they could move to anywhere each turn rather than only to neighbouring regions... This resulted in a short, parallel variant of Small World, during which the Disgruntled Gameplayers tried to take a few territories from the Unrepentant Rules-Explainers... but soon enough the Gameplayers went into decline and things settled back down again.
Next the Amazons slunk back into the rainforest to become some Were-Tritons which sparked a few tit for tat rounds. First, taking advantage of the full moon, the Tritons picked on the Gypsies, who then up'd caravans and picked on the Skeletons pushing them into retreat. While all this was going on the Hippy Elves were quietly ignored (seemingly happy planning a trip to Glastonbury and discussing vegetarian recipes) until their true nature revealed itself and they turned into the Genocidal Elves, proceeding to wipe out the remains of 2 species (Giants and Amazons) in one turn, without so much as an apology - Peace-Loving my arse….
With the end of the game looming there was still time for a couple more regenerations as the Peace-Loving (Nazi) Elves changed into some Merchant Ghouls and the Skeletons showed their green nature in becoming the Forest Orcs. The last action of note involved the Gypsies enacting some revenge on the Tritons (never ever upset a Gypsy - have you seen Drag me to Hell?!) before things came to a close, with Fi racking up 109 points for a very convincing win.
Some remarked that she triumphed through a combination of quiet but effective gameplay... others noted that she was sitting nearest the bank... but overall, she made a worthy winner and will have to be firmly put in her place next time around!
Fi 109; Gareth 79; Barrie 77; James 66
Back at the 'Dice Towners' table, it was decided to finish the evening off with a display of bravery (or cowardice) –
This was new to John, and he soon cottoned on to what was going on (after leaving a little early in he very first mine, not realising that he couldn’t re-enter.) As neither David not Gareth were involved in this game, there were no obvious candidates for the pusillanimous player, which resulted in some brave (and foolhardy) decision-making. 2 games were played – with Scott winning a very tight first round by a point from Russ, and Steph racking up a clear victory in the second.
Game 1: Scott 34; Russ 33; Jon 30; Steph 22; John 17
Game 2: Steph 44; Scott 36; Russ 31; John 26; Jon 14
And that was all there was time for (apart from Jon playing the hilarious solo game entitled “Check that all 6 gazillion Small World chits are back in the box and not on the floor.”)
So it appears that the ladies (if you can call them that…) of IBG stomped all over the poor gentlemen tonight, winning 4 of the 7 games played. Maybe the blokes were just being too chivalrous to an 8-months pregnant newcomer…..?
Anyway, Santa is saddling up his reindeer, and here’s hoping that he brings lots of nice things to all of us boardgame addicts out there. There will be one more Games Night next week – the last of 2009….