Wednesday, 24 March 2010

A night to show your class........

Players: Scott, Steph, Tonio, James, Philip, Gareth, Barrie, Johan, Maynard, Emma, Jon, Mark

A round-dozen gamers endured the furnace they call the Riverview Room tonight, including a welcome return to Maynard after a few weeks away, and a visit from Jon's mate (yes, he does have one...) Mark, who was up for the day from Folkestone.

This evening, there was an air of class war about the IBG'ers, as one table decided to deliver baskets of fruit around Mallorca on the back of some smelly donkeys, whilst another table spent their time buying luxury yachts and exhibiting their status symbols and heirlooms for all to see. Oh how the other half live......

After a fun ending to last week’s evening, it was decided that the early arrivers should start this week by playing this game again as they munched their tea –

Wits and Wagers
For some reason, I ended up with the score sheet but have no idea what happened during the game (as I wasn't playing), apart from the fact that “someone” apparently reckoned that the longest single period of time that an astronaut had spent in space was 21,000 days. Hmmmmm……
James 155; Maynard 115; Scott 95; Tonio 60; Barrie 60; Steph 35; Emma 20

Following last week’s first outing, it was time for another go at –

This was new to Emma and Mark, and Jon did his best (apparently) to explain the rules and set the game up while Tonio did a much-needed ale-run. After the inaugural game last week, Jon had learned the value getting a run of fruit tiles, and not hoarding too many fruit pieces.
He had the opportunity to pick up a couple of early single tiles, which definitely gave him a leg-up in the race for the coveted 7 extra points. Mark appeared to have taken to the game well, picking up useful quantities of fruit, and making some effective deliveries.
And then it happened. The workers started to stack up on a lemon portion of the rondel. First 3, then 4, then 5. Another worker would make it 6, yet there were only 5 lemons left in the supply, which would necessitate everyone else losing all their own lemons. But who would do such a dastardly deed? After all, Johan, the evil Dutchman, was safely located on another table stealing land in ancient Mesopotamia. So the lot fell to Jon, who reluctantly and shamefacedly moved his worker onto the aforementioned tile, causing much wailing and gnashing of teeth (and rotting of lemons).
Tonio called it “playing negatively” (but secretly wished that he’d been able to pull that move off himself…)
Anyway, as the game panned out, Tonio, Jon and Mark delivered about the same amount of fruit each, but Jon’s bonus ‘7’ tile was enough to put him out in front.
Mark was apparently sufficiently impressed to buy the game himself the next day – a fine advert for a game if ever there was one.

Over on the second table, the current Game of the Month had been set up -

Tigris and Euphrates (thanks Philip for this one)
After some initial skirmishes in the North-East Philip settled down with a western Kingdom, building a Black/Blue Monument in the space between the rivers on the edge of the map. The Northeastern kingdom continued to grow, eventually sprouting two monuments side by side.
Many battles were fought over that kingdom, with catastrophe tiles destroying temples and removing leaders left, right and centre. Philip was slightly less successful in gathering treasures this game, partly because less treasures were gathered overall as energy focused on the Monuments.
Gareth suffered some early defeats and had a lack of red tiles throughout the game, which explains his score of 3 in Red (his other colours were all much higher). Johan and Barrie were tied on the first and second colour (Blue then Green in both cases, 7 then 8 respectively), with Johan pulling ahead on the third colour (Black 11 to Barrie’s Red 8).
Philip came out in the lead with his lowest colour, Blue, scoring an impressive 9.
Philip 9; Johan 7 (8/11); Barrie 7 (8/8); Gareth 3

Hoity Toity (thanks James)
Actually ‘Fair Means or Foul’, as this particular version of the game outdates several members of the club. Scott seemed to remember playing a german version Adel Verpflichtet before and the game has been through a number of different names (Adel Verpflichtet, Adel Verplicht, By Hook or Crook, Fair Means or Foul, Grever & baroner, Spionage!) before its current incarnation. It comes with a big pedigree though, having won the Spiel des Jahres in 1990.
Basically this is a bluffing game… a grown up (? hmm, looking around the club perhaps not the most accurate description) version of paper/scissors/stone… players can choose to either play the role of an upper class gent (or laydeee) to visit an auction house to buy items, and then display them at an exhibition… they can chose to be a thief and steal cash at the auction house or property from the exhibits, or the last option is to be the detective and land the thieves in jail. Aristocrat, Thief, Detective… Paper, Scissors, Stone, but with nicer components. J
ames took an early lead (well it is his game so that’s only fair) picking up a few items at the auction and displaying them safely… I think due to this being a new game to all of us (more or less) folks were wary about playing the thief early in the game… although as things progressed everyone became far less reputable… (note for next week, don’t leave Scott alone near the drinks money…). He had the first thief in jail after a fine piece of sleuthing by Steph (she obviously knows him well) and at the half way stage James and Steph were out in front with Scott 3rd and Maynard at the back…
However there is a nice game mechanic in that if you play detective and catch a thief you can advance the number of spaces equal to your position. This helped Maynard pick up some ground while sending Steph and James to the clink. A win-win (unless you’re James or Steph)…
The end game seems to involve collecting as many artifacts as possible for the eventual ‘winner takes all’ last round when everyone shows an exhibition and the winner gets 8 spaces. James was looking good for this until one of his exhibitions was plundered by Maynard and Scott which left Steph to slowly build a collection to rival one of the Saatchi’s and thus take first place and the right to exhibit her plunder at the Tate.
James came 2nd and is now exhibiting at the V&A. Scott came third and can be found as an exhibit at the Natural History museum and Maynard staggered in to last place and was last seen being taken away after exhibiting himself in public.
Steph 1st (end of track); James 2nd; Scott 3rd; Maynard 4th

There has been a noted absence of train games at IBG, so it was time to start to redress the balance a little with - 

Transeuropa (thanks to Scott for this report)
This was new to everyone but Scott and Steph had both played Transamerica before. It is essentially the same game but set in Europe instead. The newbies were James and Maynard.
The rules are very simple - there are different coloured cities across the board in 5 different colours and there is a card for each town. Each player gets a random card of each colour and the first person to connect all of their 5 cities on the board wins the round with everyone else losing points based on how far they were away from completing theirs. Once someone has lost the 13 points they start with then the winner is the person remaning with the most points.
The way you connect your cities is by building one or two pieces of generic track on your turn, everyone has a marker to choose where they start on the board and must build track from this, but when connected up to other starting pieces, either player can use the enlargened section resulting in all players eventually connecting up one large shared network.
Each round runs fairly quickly and Scott and Maynard got the best networks down during the game, with Scott winning rounds 1 + 3 and Maynard winning round 2.
Steph and James suffered with some poor city draws (or bad railroad building depending on your outlook of the game) with James being the trigger for the end after round 3 as he hit 0 points. This left Steph just one point away from the end of the scoreboard, with Maynard (6 points) and Scott (9 points) safely away.
Scott 9; Maynard 6; Steph 1; James 0

A quick filler was needed now, so Jon brought out his latest acquisition –

Piece o’ Cake
This is essentially a set-collecting game with a novel theme and some interesting mechanics. The tiles are slices of cake, sporting a variety of delicious toppings, and the idea for the start player to construct a cake with 11 slices, and then divide it into 4 portions (each containing 1 or more slices). Everyone then goes around choosing a portion, with the start player choosing last. Points are awarded for having the most of each flavour of topping at the end of the game, along with the slices that a player may have chosen to ‘eat’ during the game.
Tonio’s eyes lit up as he realised that the game was about food, and he started off by immediately devouring some chocolate cake. He was vying with Mark for collecting the most Kiwi and Gooseberry slices, whilst Emma had soon cornered the market in Strawberry (worth 10 points). This left Jon to pick up the valuable chocolate slices, whilst also having an early majority in Cherry.
The endgame saw Mark’s hopes of collecting Kiwis and Gooseberries snatched away from him, and he was therefore left with the less valuable Plums and Apricots.
The other 3 players’ scores were relatively close, with Jon’s love of Blackberries being enough to tip the balance in his favour.
Jon 32 (9 eaten + 23 collected); Tonio (3 + 24); Emma 26 (8 + 18); Mark 15 (8 + 7)

Transeuropa had now finished, so out came -

High Society (thanks for this one James)
A game of High Society played by the Islesworth Boardgamers… surely a mismatch if ever there were one. However, given they couldn’t find a game called 'Lowlife', it would have to do for James, Scott, Steph and Maynard… but James, tuck your shirt in first please…
A great filter this one, easy to teach with a couple of unique mechanics. Game one was a learning exercise for Steph and Maynard although it ended up a close run thing. Maynard had the most points at the end but the least money so its back to cardboard city for you I’m afraid. Scott scored 10 ½ and James and Steph ended up on 12… but as James had the higher single luxury item he just (toodle-)pipped this one.
James 12 (highest item); Steph 12; Scott 10.5; Maynard lost

The 2nd game was a quickie with the 4 reds appearing quicker than a show of hands at a communist rally. James was sitting on a x2 and the thief for half the game... not a good strategy and one destined to end him up with zero points at the end.
Scott managed to bag 16 points - but spent all his cash in the process and so was forced to go on the game to make ends meet (and I don’t mean Power Grid).
This left Maynard and Steph. This time Steph went one better than the 12 and won with 13 while Maynard retired to his yacht to ruminate how close he came with his 6 points.
Steph 13; Maynard 6; James 0; Scott 16 (lost) 

Whilst the other table finished High Society, the fruity four played one more filler –

No Thanks!
This was new to Mark, but the concept is easily picked up, so he was soon into the swing of things. Only one round was played, with Emma having a solitary ‘32’ card for the majority of the game, after having collected it along with a hatful of chips early on in the game.
Mark found himself a little low on chips, and consequently had to pick up a couple of unwanted cards, whilst Tonio picked up a variety of cards in the teens and then somehow managed to string them all together for a very impressive final total of only 4.
Tonio 4; Emma 23; Jon 26; Mark 68

The 'Game of the Monthers' now needed a fresh challenge. Gareth had picked himself up and polished off a burger in time for the start of -

Saint Petersburg (thanks Philip)
The opening round saw a multitude of Fur Trappers, which Philip invested in, Gareth also taking 1, and various other trades. Philip was lucky enough to snap up the Potemkin Village in the first building phase, which he was then able to upgrade to a 4 income 2 VP building that came out in the specials, priced at 14 rubles.
The other 3 players took an early lead by investing in point-giving buildings. Philip confined his buildings to a Warehouse and an Observatory, using the Observatory to hunt for Aristocrats whilst also buying Aristocrats whenever he could afford to, with the help of a useful Gold Mine. Wharfs and Fur Mills appeared, and he had a hand full of Aristocrats going into the final turn, when he was fortunately able to play them all.
The players discovered a rule that had been forgotten in the previous game, namely that money is worth points at the end. In the final scoring, Philip's nine different types of Aristocrat vaulted him into to first place from a long way behind the other three. Johan and Barrie were very close, with Johan just beating Barrie, as in Tigris and Euphrates, but Gareth was not as far behind in Saint Petersburg as in the previous game.
Philip 75; Johan 70; Barrie 69; Gareth 63

After a quick swap around and some liquid refreshment, it was time for some flea-based luck-pushing -

Circus Flohcati (thanks again Scott)
James disappeared for this one, leaving Scott, Steph and Maynard to be joined by Tonio, who was already calling Scott out for being mean and unkind before even saying "hello" (this being the one week Tonio didn't bring Galaxy Trucker and someone, Steph, finally wanted to play it and apparantly this was Scott's fault - well why not?!)
Steph and Maynard were new to the game so Scott tried to remember as much of the rules as possible since he couldn't read the German ones included, before deferring to Jon and Gareth for some clarification, and then Tonio to explain it again when he joined.
The first game saw lots of failed attempts to draw cards from the deck without getting a duplicate while all but Steph tried to collect some low numbered sets.
Steph usually just grabbed as many high value cards as possible and also managed to draw almost every special card involving 'draw from the deck as much as you want until a match is found', the rest of us picking up the low numbered cards that were left behind.
The scores were faily close but Scott pulled off a good combination of sets and high value cards.
Scott 63; Steph 53; Tonio 46; Maynard 42

Before anyone could suggest anything else, Tonio was setting up for another round.
Right off the bat, two large cards were out with a 6 (Scott) & 7 (Steph), this was closely followed by Maynard stealing the 7 and Tonio stealing the 6 (he'd forgotton the colour of the 7 or just wanted to get back at Scott).
Steph managed to play exactly the same as last round, drawing all of the special cards to keep drawing cards from the deck (but still had to be reminded every time what the card meant). She also picked up almost every 7 by the end of the round, and with a set of 6's and a set of 5's on the table, all the other players thought they were toast.
Everyone else concentrated on making sets and stealing from Steph as much as possible. Despite Steph's perceived lead, Scott still reigned victorious in a even closer round of scores.
Scott 67; Tonio 65; Steph 61; Maynard 58

In a continuation of the filler games, Steph wanted to play - 

No Thanks! (thanks Scott for this info)
Steph is a force to be reckoned with - for a game of seemingly no skill, she manages to do very well... it must be "luck".
The first game played was with Scott, Steph, Tonio and Maynard. Scott and Tonio didn't fare very well in this round while Maynard gave Steph a run for her money. However, he wasn't quite a match for her, as she managed to take the 35 with a lot of chips and with the 34 coming out later (also to a pile of chips) and no other cards in her hand, she had just won by a point.
Steph 19; Maynard 20; Scott 46; Tonio 57

With Tonio and Maynard having had enough, Scott and Steph joined Barrie, Gareth and Philip for a game of For Sale but no-one really wanted to play it enough, so it got packed away again and we had another round of No Thanks.
Barrie gambled on what looked like some good card combos but didn't send them around enough to make a profit.
Gareth was constantly intimidated by the rest of the table into not sending around cards as we might just take them to spite him.
Phil would run out of chips often and take too many cards whilst Scott and Steph fought over first place. But, with 5 wins out of the last 6 of No Thanks, Steph won again by picking up only about 3 cards as usual which were all very low.
Steph 12; Scott 18; Gareth 36; Barrie 38; Philip 56

By popular demand (i.e to keep Emma happy), it was time to have another airing of –

Small World
James and Tonio had swapped places for this game, and Jon explained the rules to Mark who had not played before.
Jon began with some Forest Giants, who unsurprisingly took up residence in the mountains, but failed to make very much of their potential Forest bonuses. Emma started with the mounted Humans, and soon cut a substantial swathe across the South East corner of the map, picking up some useful points.
James chose the Flying Orcs, which turned out to be a difficult combination to score well with, as they required 3 attack units in order to gain each bonus point. Mark selected the Hill Ratmen, and had soon spread their vast numbers over the Western half of the board.
Emma was the first to decline, picking up the Spirit Wizards, and Jon followed soon after with the Merchant Amazons, whose large offensive numbers facilitated some handy early conquests. James had had enough of his Orcs, and decided to bring on some Heroic Sorcerors, which he used to good effect against the Amazons and declined Humans.
Mark chose to hang onto his Ratmen for 4 turns, finally bring on some Swamp Tritons in the second half of the game.
Emma chose the Wealthy Skeletons as her last race, whilst Jon succumbed to the 5 coins on the Bivouacking Dwarves. James made a last effort with the Seafaring Elves, but by his own admission, had failed to make up ground after a slow start.
As always, the final scores were relatively close, but Mark had been afforded the newbie’s privilege of being left largely alone by the other players, resulting in a comfortable victory.
If he ever ventures out of the safety of South East Kent again, he may not find such benevolent opponents next time……
Mark 100; Jon 90; Emma 88; James 82

And finally -

Nanuk (thanks once again Scott)
With Small World still going at the other table, the No Thanks crowd started Nanuk to cries from Emma that she wanted to play, but to be fair, she also cried out to want to play Small World. somtimes you just have to make tough decisions like that in life....
Despite playing Nanuk regularly, Gareth still had a new rule to add that we hadn't played before, the person who collects the most polar bears also gets a bonus 2 points at the end.
The bidding usually starts off fairly low, until it gets to Philip who always seems to jump up the number of days and/or animals to catch to astronomical proportions! This time though, they were a bit more achievable, with some successful hunts by Scott and Philip on their own. Gareth even got in on the action in a couple of the hunts, joining the successful gambles of Scott and Philip.
Barrie tried to be too ambitious and the rest of us convinced the table it was a good idea to join him in his hunts, leaving just Steph to actually follow through with those intentions. One of those hunts did in fact pay off, while the other was quickly devoured by polar bears.
In a strange turn of events Gareth didn't come last in this game, but Scott had been left to collect almost half of the deck and with a record breaking 6 sets and most polar bears had won convincingly.
Scott 20; Philip 14; Gareth 11; Barrie 9; Steph 9

And so ended the night of many fillers, where Scott and Steph had hustled their way to a win in almost all of them. Let's just hope that they don't ever start playing for cash......... 

Next week is the last IBG session before Easter - so remember to bring your chocolate eggs and bunny ears along. See you there!

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