Thursday, 7 January 2010

"Oh the weather outside is frightful.........."

(This games night was actually Wednesday 6th Jan, not Thursday as the blog date suggests...)

Players: Barrie, James, Gareth, Jon, Scott, Daniel, Philip, Paul

Despite the ice and snow, several valiant IBG'ers made it along to the London Apprentice for the first evening of gaming for 2010. And in their midst was another welcome newcomer, Paul, who walked in (a la Captain Scott) from Osterley to join the happy throng.

The first 5 through the door decided on trying out a new (to the IBG'ers) card game, namely -

Coloretto (thanks Gareth for this info)
This game was the forerunner of Zooloretto, but plays in about 20 minutes. Both Gareth and Barrie had tried it before, but it was new to Scott, Paul and James.
After a quick run through of the rules it was straight into the game. Basically everybody was collecting different coloured Chameleons, the more of one colour gives a hgher score, but collect more than three colours and you score negative points.
The game was fast and furious and Paul the newcomer picked up the rules quickly. Gareth went with the strategy of keeping to fewer colours but not collecting that many Chameleons, whereas Paul and James seemed intent on collecting as many cards as possible. By the time the last round counter appeared there was a clear winner - Scott on 33 points, followed by Paul on 29 pts and everbody else was trailing at the rear.
Scott 33; Paul 29; Barrie 19; James 18; Gareth 18

Daniel and Jon had arrived whilst Coloretto was in full swing, and after being told by Gareth that there was "only 10 minutes to go", took the opportunity to have a drink and a mardle. 20 minutes later, and after an inquisition into Gareth's erroneous timekeeping predictions, Coloretto had finished, Philip had made the numbers up to 8, and the group split into 2, with the first table electing to break out Philip's copy of -

Steam (thanks to Philip for this report)
This was played on the North American map using the Basic ruleset and randomly determining Starting player (giving money to non-starting players as suggested). Philip was the only one who had played before (once) - though Gareth also has a copy and had read the rules (although on previous evidence, this is no guarantee of playing correctly....)
Paul started with a link from Boston to Hertford through Worcester. Philip linked Albany to New York via Poughkeepied and built an extra piece of track pointing South-East from Albany. Gareth connected New York to Philadelphia and Scott connected Maine to Boston. Most of the players upgraded our locomotives and made a single 2 point delivery. 
In the second turn Gareth took the Locomotive tile, puttting him in the same position as everyone else. Scott developed another link from Boston to Hartford, this one via Providence, and Paul a link from Boston to Maine, so that they now had effectively the same track network. Philip completed his connection from Albany to Hartford via Bridgeport and Gareth linked Philadelphia and Scranton. 
The third turn saw Philip link New York and Philadelphia, Gareth build out to Syracuse via Binghampton and beyond towards Ottowa, Scott link Hartford and Albany by the direct hill route and Paul urbanise and link to Romford (blimey - that's some train line - USA to Essex....)
After that, Philip claims to have a slightly hazy memory of events, although he does remember that at one point Scott conducted City Growth for 3 Yellow Cubes in Albany - apparently out of spite! However, on the same turn Paul urbanised Sherbrooke into a Yellow city, meaning he had a 6 link route for the Yellow Cubes and he was able to place 2 more Yellow cubes in his new city. Philip built a Hill route from Rutland to Sherbrooke, giving him a 4 link route for the Yellow Cubes, which he proceeded to use, there being a dearth of cubes in the East...
Meanwhile Gareth was happily dominating the western side of the board, with Scott's push along the Mohawk fairly easily deflected. Paul built a couple of track sections linking Towanda into Gareth's network, on the principal that a link is a VP. Philip urbanised New Haven, linking it into Bridgeport, and the game ended with much sharing of links between Philip, Scott and Paul, whilst Gareth's western domination was enough to earn him the win.
Gareth 50; Paul 46 (won tie-breaker); Philip 46; Scott 40

Meanwhile, Daniel had recruited 3 others to have a go at -

Vegas Showdown
Comparisons with Princes of Florence and Amun Re are justified, and, despite the slightly dodgy paper player mats, this is a quite nice game to look at, whilst being remarkably simple to pick up and play. It was new to all apart from Daniel, but the rules explanation took no time at all, and the game was soon in full swing.
Bidding was understandably quite cautious at first, although Daniel jumped right in and picked up quite a bargain with an early Theatre (resulting in the general consensus that "he knows something that we don't....")
James seemed intent on picking up as many big rooms as possible, most of them returning a healthy income. Barrie did nothing to assuage the rumours that he likes his food, by choosing to buy both the Restaurant and the Buffet. Jon chose to buy some Lounges to assist in making the connection across his board, but his lack of Slot Machines left him rather short of cash for future purchases.
As the end of the game approached, Jon suffered from one of Gareth's 'Princes of Florence moments', and had to waste a turn renovating his casino to fit in one of the Lounges. James was raking in $15 per turn by now, and had a commanding lead. Barrie was endeavouring to end with the highest population, but was just pipped to this by Daniel, who just needed to place his Theatre for a massive 12 points - but failed.
The result was that James' big money strategy paid off, whilst Daniel proved to be the ultimate gentleman by losing at his own game.
James 45; Jon 39; Barrie 30; Daniel 29

This game had been such a success, that it was decided to give it another go straight away -

Vegas Showdown
This time, Jon was determined not to run short of cash, and started buying up Slot Machines from the beginning. Daniel also went for the money, picking up the High Rollers Room in the first turn, shortly followed by Table Games, which enabled him to get both down into his Casino early on.
James changed tack this time, and eschewed the mighty dollar for early points, whilst Barrie again picked up rooms with high populations, but also found himself short of cash.
Rather bizarrely, all the Premier rooms that came out were of the same type, meaning that the game came to a rather sudden and unexpected early finish. Jon and Daniel had a nice income stream, which would have been useful if the game had continued for 5 or 6 more turns, but as it happened, James again rode to victory, courtesy of his Fancy Lounges and his shared highest population with Barrie.
James 21; Barrie 11; Daniel 11; Jon 7

Steam was still puffing along, so it was decided to roll some dice....

Roll Through the Ages
Jon had brought this along on a whim, and it caught enough eyes to make it to the table. This "Yahtzee-esque" game was new to Daniel and James, but is quite easy to get to grips with, especially after a round or two.
Daniel was determined to roll as many dice as possible, so quickly built up to 6 cities. He also eventually purchased the Agriculture development, which helped him to feed all those hungry mouths. Barrie also bought Agriculture, and spent the entire game hoarding a veritable EU grain mountain. Somewhat ironically, he also suffered from a couple of droughts as well as 2 bouts of Pestilence (courtesy of Jon and Daniel) which left him with rather too many disasters.
James chose to buy a selection of low-cost Developments, and it was the 5th of these which triggered the game end. Both he and Barrie had managed to build a good-sized monument, but Jon had used his Quarrying development to good effect, and dug up enough stone to trade it in for the Empire. This gave him 8 points plus a 5-point bonus, which combined with his completed Pyramid gave him a convincing victory.
It transpires, therefore, that Jon is not so much of a gentleman as Daniel when it comes to winning or losing your own games....
It is also interesting to note that when given the opportunity to scribe their own names on the score sheets, the players chose to identify themselves as "Jon", "Baz", "Jim" and "Jeffy Jeff Jeff"......


The Steam group had finally run out of it, so Gareth left and the remaining trio opted for 3 quick rounds of -

No Thanks!
There seem to be very few details about what went on here - so much so that the players are simply identified as numbers.... (anyone else old enough to remember New Musik?) Perhaps someone will fill me in on who the pretty good No Thanks player "Player 1" is.....?!

Game 1: Player 2 49; Player 1 59; Player 3 77
Game 2: Player 1 32; Player 3 62; Player 2 122
Game 3: Player 1 78; Player 2 92; Player 3 90

And there was just time for the other table to have their own "bidding for cards" game -

High Society
This game was characterised by the Thief coming out as only the second card - with James being the brave soul to take it. He was then fortunate to pretty quickly win the "2", allowing him to ditch this card, probably having made a small profit on what the other players had paid to avoid the thief.
Jon and Barrie both picked up a low-value status symbol and a "2x" card, whilst Dan picked up 3 status symbols totalling 12 points.
Meanwhile, James seemed determined to hoard every card that he could get his hands on, including the remaining "2x" and the "-5". However, this had left him somewhat short of cash, and when the game ended it turned out that he was unsurprisingly eliminated.
After the sums were calculated, it transpired that Daniel's purchase of the final status symbol, the "4", was the card that won him the game, whereas had Barrie or Jon picked it up, they may well have triumphed instead.
A terrific way to spend 10 minutes of your life (that's 10 actual minutes as opposed to 10 "Gareth minutes"...)
Dan 12 ($43k); Barrie 10 ($34k); Jon 6 ($43k); James 20 ($18k)

And so, it was back out into the "Big Freeze", safe in the knowledge that, whatever the weather, the IBG'ers would be back for more top-quality gaming at the same time, same place next week.... 

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