Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Forget London - let's all head for the Americas.....

Players: Vicky, Jim, Scott, Philip, Paul, David M, Jon, Barrie, Gareth, David S, Daniel, Johan

Just when you think that Spring is nearly here, it goes and snows again! So on a cold and wintry Wednesday evening, a dozen IBG'ers decided that they would leave West London behind, and transport themselves across the globe to much warmer climes....

And so it came to pass that there was much Central American jungle exploration, Communist cigar and rum trading, and power production for the cities of Brazil. But in order to re-acclimatise themselves, they ended up with a trip to the Arctic.....

The first group through the door had another go at -

Katzenjammer Blues (thanks Gareth)
A quick five-player bidding game to start the evening off. With lots of Jazz cats and cool mice. Scott took the win again and Gareth narrowly missed coming last for a second week running (even with Barrie’s determined effort to make it so…)
Scott 8; David M 4; Barrie 3; Gareth 2; Philip 0

Whilst waiting for more people to turn up, Jon collared 3 other players to join him in the abstract game of –

This was new to Scott, and each player took 2 tokens, which means that conflict arises within a couple of rounds of laying tiles. Vicky’s grey token was the first to depart, but then everyone else clung on until Jon found both of his pieces isolated on a single tile, resulting in a double-suicide. David and Vicky then obliterated each other, leaving both of Scott’s tokens facing each other across the last unplaced tile for the victory.
Scott won; David M 2nd; Vicky 3rd; Jon 4th

In the second game, David was dispatched rather quickly, following a double-team effort from Vicky and Jon. Scott then managed to take out his own token along with one of Jon’s and Vicky’s in a single tile of carnage. Scott had again found himself in a corner by himself, leaving Vicky and Jon to do a “Beachy-Head” giving him the 2nd win in a row.
Scott won; Jon / Vicky 2nd; David M 4th

A third group had now arrived and had a couple of games of -

High Society
Barrie 14 ($21k); David 10 ($14k); Dan 5 ($26); Johan 16 ($11k)

Barrie won; Daniel / David; Johan bust!

High Society was still being played on table 2, so out of politeness (!), table 3 chose another filler in order to try to finish at the same time –

Circus Flohcati
If anything was learned from this game, it was that Jon should not buy a lottery ticket tonight – considering that every card that he turned over seemed to be a turn-ending duplicate.
Scott got off to a flier, managing to lay down 4 sets for a guaranteed 40 points. This resulted in him being a bit of a target for stolen cards though, with Vicky proving to be the most active thief. David kept his head down, and despite a recount, fell a single point short of preventing Scott from picking up his fourth victory of the evening.
Scott 64; David M 63; Jon 48; Vicky 39

Table 2 turned out to not be as polite as table 3, and got on with their own game of -

Tikal (thanks for the report, Johan)
Johan and Barry had played this game before, but Dan and David were Tikal ‘virgins’. After quickly going through the rules and mechanisms (too quickly in fact) it was decided that Barry was the oldest member in the group and he therefore started.
Barry and David tried to spread themselves out via building temples and uncovering treasures, whilst Johan simply was building temples as high as possible. Dan was uncovering loads of treasures – far too many, in fact, as it transpired that a small but crucial rule had been overlooked (namely, that you can only uncover one treasure per worker per tile on your turn). Dan had uncovered two treasures with one worker on quite a few occasions before the mistake was spotted – but the game continued anyway.
The jungle was divided into two distinct camps as David and Johan put the tiles in such a way that it cost quite a few actions to get to the other side. Johan started off in the lead closely followed by Dan and David. Barry from the beginning had difficulty catching up – which was probably due to his age….
Johan 77; Dan 77; David S 65; Barry 53

Johan claimed the moral victory (as he would, of course) due to the incorrect application of the rules that distinctly advantaged Dan, but then again the game would have been quite different if the rules were applied correctly. We will never know……

Back on the first table, their selection for main game of the evening was -

Cuba (thanks Gareth for this info) 
It was decided to re-start the game of the month, whereby the same game is tabled four weeks in a row. So for February, Cuba was nominated. A few rules were clarified, that had not been applied correctly in the last two games (thanks Scott), and Jim, being the newbie, was given the full monty. So hopefully, at the third attempt, the game was played how the designer intended.
Differing strategies were used: Gareth (Inn, Hotel & Large Branch Office); Philip (Saw Mill, Black Market); Paul (Cigar Café, Light House, Cigar Factory and Small Branch Office); Jim (Dam, Cigar Factory and Distillery).
Gareth 99; Philip 84; Paul 84; Jim 72

It was becoming obvious that it was going to be one of those evenings when the tables just wouldn’t ‘sync’ in terms of finishing games, so table 3 decided to pick their ‘main game’ and chose –

Power Grid
David and Vicky were given a quick re-cap of the rules by Scott, and the Brazil map was chosen as the arena of combat. The 2 westerly regions were ignored for this game, which does make the board quite cramped (although relatively cheap to connect).
Before the game started, Scott warned that due to re-stock levels, coal would be scarce and expensive, whilst oil would be much more plentiful. Despite giving this advice, he then proceeded to do his best Arthur Scargill impression in becoming a veritable coal baron. The other 3 players heeded the advice, and all chose to buy oil-fired power stations, creating a bit of competition for this particular fossil fuel.
On the map, David started out in the very cheap South-East, with Scott and Jon fighting it out in the northern sector. Vicky wisely stayed out of trouble and opted to start in the centre of the map.
As Vicky triggered step 2, all the players picked up a garbage-powered plant, as this had become relatively cheap and plentiful. Not for long though. Jon was relying on the garbage to power his main station (3 garbage – 6 cities), a fact that had not gone unnoticed by David and Scott, who took the opportunity provided by Jon going last in turn order to hatch an evil scheme to completely clear the market of garbage. This left Jon only able to power 6 (instead of 10) cities for a round. Vicky decided that this was a fight not worth participating in, and wisely opted to diversify into nuclear and wind power.
Step 3 suddenly appeared, which triggered the inevitable bidding war for large power stations. Scott paid out the most, stumping up 80 elecktros for the ‘46’ plant, whilst David also bidded high for another coal-guzzler.
Jon had managed to hoard enough fuel on a previous round to power up a maximum of 16 cities without needing to buy any more fuel, and had just enough Elektros to buy 7 cities in a single turn to end the game. David and Scott had been banking on another turn, and although Scott also had 16 capacity, he didn’t have enough cash for the extra cities that were needed to out-power Jon.
And so it came to pass, that Scott, after 3 straight victories at Power Grid, and 4 straight victories in other games tonight, was finally pipped into second place…..
Jon 16 powered (17 cities total); Scott 14 (14); Vicky 10 (13); David M 8 (11)

The Tikal explorers had finished exploring, and so opted to buy and sell houses instead -

For Sale
Johan 57; Barrie 56; Daniel 52; David 52

David 62; Barrie 61; Daniel 59; Johan 55

(Apparently Daniel reports that he was more pre-occupied with keeping his greasy fingers off the cards than actually trying to win the game. I could make a highly sarcastic comment here, but as it was my copy of For Sale that he was playing with, I applaud his commendable attitude....)

With Cuba now finished also, tables 1 and 2 combined and set off to the Arctic for a new IBG favourite -

Nanuk (thanks again Gareth)
After two successful weeks Nanuk was tabled again. Seven prospective hunters journeyed out to find fresh game, but not all of them were successful.
The first two hunts were doomed and team leaders Barrie and Gareth returned home empty handed. No fish, no birds, no points.
Then the tides turned for the tribe and the final four hunts were all successful. They collected three large colonies of seals and a small herd of deer, allowing the community to see through another harsh winter with plenty of food and new fur hats for everyone.
The overall winner was David, the leader on the third hunt, with Philip choosing to stay back at home in the village with a rather heavy cold (deciding it was better to be in the nice warm tent rather than out in freezing Tundra hunting down animals…)
David S 11; Dan 11; Barrie 10; Paul 10; Gareth 8; Jim 7; Philip 6

Nanuk had just started, so the Power Gridders stayed together and Vicky requested “something with dice”. And it just so happened that Jon had brought along –

Roll Through the Ages
This was new to everyone apart from Jon, but the rules are fairly simple, and it only takes a round or 2 to get into the swing of things.
Vicky chose to max out on city-building, giving her 7 dice to roll on each turn. She also managed to pick up the Empire development, which gave her a 7 point bonus at the end, but her lack of monuments was to be her undoing.
David opted to pick up some cheaper developments, and also chose to protect himself against all disasters (which did save him 3 disaster points at one stage).
Scott managed to collect a lot of goods (helped by his Caravan storage) and bought both large Developments at the end of the game for a good score.
Jon had decided to build only 5 cities, but picked up the Masonry development which helped him to complete both the Pyramid and Temple monuments. Combined with the Empire development, this gave him a massive 44 points in total.
This game really is tough on new players compared to those that have played before, as the knowledge of development combinations and game length significantly inform a player’s strategy. Having said that, Vicky’s inability to total up 5 small numbers at the end to discover her final score, is less excusable (we’ll assume that the lateness of the hour and the recently played Power Grid were to blame…….)

And to round the evening off -

6Nimmt! (thanks Gareth for these scores)
6Nimmt Two single-round games were played of this card game, which is as much luck as it is skill (which I’m guessing is why Gareth didn’t win either of them…) Both were won by David S. The games can be described as fast, furious fun, with lots of cheers and groans when the cards are revealed. Fingers crossed you are not the one to pick up the collection of bulls heads!
Game 1 - David S. 0; Jim 7; Dan 8; Paul 10; Barrie 23; Gareth 27; Philip 36.
Game 2 - David S. 10; Paul 12; Gareth 14; Phil 17; Barrie 28.

And that brought down the curtain on another evening of fun at the Apprentice. We'll be back at the same venue (upstairs in the Riverview Room) for more gaming around the globe next Wednesday......Adios!

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