(Report of games played on Wednesday 7th April)
Players: Gareth, Barrie, Paul, Philip, Ian, Emma, Russ, Iain, David, James, Scott, Steph, Vicky, Maynard, Keith
15 IBG'ers turned up for this post-Easter session, including a warm welcome to newcomer Keith.
Blogmaster Jon was taking a week off in the wilds of Norfolk (apparently the last internet-free zone on earth) so the rest of the valiant IBG'ers have cobbled this together in his absence. However, it appears that while he was away, the general standard of gaming seems to have gone downhill, with the usually mild-mannered IBG'ers spending most of the evening shooting, torturing and throwing each other into live volcanoes......
Downfall of Pompeii (thanks James for this report)
If ever a game was invented for Steph, this was it. Not a Castillo this time for depositing obedient caballeros, but an erupting volcano in which to toss doomed Romans. Steph could do well, if she could just avoid throwing all her own meeples in the volcano through habit… An easy-peasy game to pick up this one, played over 2 phases. To start with players populate Pompeii with locals seeking a new future in the Roman Empire. This involves playing cards to determine in which buildings to place the villagers under the watchful eye of a fuming Mt Vesuvius which is waiting for the right card combinations to trigger the eruption.
The 2nd phase (once volcano day arrives) involves everyone drawing tiles to slowly submerge the city in lava flows while moving a couple of their pieces towards one of the many city exits. Any poor locals too slow to escape (or distracted by the arrival of their dinner) are deposited in the volcano, preferably accompanied by screams of terror… and the winner is the player with the most survivors. Teachable in about 5 minutes and playable in under an hour. What more could you want for a first game of the evening (ok, dancing girls, beers, fast cars, your very own lifesize model of R2D2… but hey, this is Isleworth after all….)
So given this was a first game for all, strategy was at a minimum (not that any recent Isleworth Boardgamer evidence suggests strategy might improve with further plays). The city slowly filled up, with the occasional sacrificial townie dropped into the volcano to appease the gods (for some reason always James’s people… anyone want to hazard a guess why?). Despite the volcano showing signs of life and coughing more than Emma after a cigarette break, the townsfolk continued to settle in Pompeii (these Romans are crazy…)
Then… finally… disaster… the screams could be heard from Twickenham as - no, not a striptease by Jon - but lava started to flow and everyone ran for the exits. Ian’s rescue mission started out promising but as the exits became blocked his remaining folk became trapped. James’s humanitarian aid seemed more to resemble the Keystone Kops out to foil a burglary. Heaven help us if he ever joins the Fire Service.
Steph and Scott seemed happy throwing each others meeples into the volcano as though it were a normal night at the Agius household. It’s possible we got a rule wrong somewhere in this stage of the game, as towards the end it was obvious that any surviving Pompeian’s were getting trapped quite quickly and, in the words of Nanuk, DOOMED.
Still, for a 45 minute filler this packed a lot of theme, a tinge of strategy and quite a bit of running around like headless chickens. The final result - a few townsfolk saved, but the vast majority ending up toasted in the volcano.
Scott 7; Steph 6; Ian 5; James 5
Pickomino (thanks to Paul)
Emma and Russ had just finished their food for the evening when it was suggested that we kick off with a quick game of Pickomino, a game about chickens plucking roasted worms from a barbeque. Obviously this didn’t deter Iain, whose game it was, as he ordered food and wolfed it down as the game progressed. Not sure if that meant that (a) he just didn’t care, (b) he likes worms so it didn’t put him off at all, or (c) that he is only too aware that a Reiner Knizia theme isn’t really worth the cardboard it is written on, so 'realism' doesn't enter into it?
Russ had played Pickomino previously, so was able to give us a whistle stop tour of the fairly simple rules. It is a dice-based ‘push your luck’ game, in which players attempt to pluck the most worms from the BBQ by rolling the highest scores on the dice and sorting the results into sets. The element of skill in the game is down to the ‘shall I roll again?’ decision, after some rolls have been made, to go for friendly dice rolls and more worms, or to be satisfied with a lower score.
Worm tiles can also be reclaimed and lost if a player does push their luck too far or is just unlucky. After a reasonably well balanced start to the game, a spate of losing tiles from Russ, consistently low starting rolls from Iain, mediocre luck from Paul, and wise change in tactic from Emma and a huge amount of skill (ahem!) from David, saw the latter player take a commanding lead, which he would increase by the final tile.
It was noted that there was a suspiciously high correlation between those players with low scores claiming that the game was all luck, and those who did better who, surely with their tongues pushed firmly into their cheeks, asserted that skill was the main factor in this game. A balanced observer would probably say that it was a bit of both, but quite obviously we didn’t have one at the table for this game, and most certainly not the one tasked with the ‘write up’...
David 9; Emma 3; Paul 2; Iain 1; Russ 0
Ian and James were still a bit confused going into the first round but seemed to have picked it up by the end. Unfortunately a cautious approach hadn’t got them many completed pizzas and Gareth’s attempt to put in almost every pizza recipe in one round didn’t pay off when only one of them was actually successful. Steph and Scott did well in the first round as they generally do!
The next 2 rounds saw quite a few successful recipes from everyone with a bit of a comeback from Gareth to actually get some pizzas completed but James and Ian were still struggling a bit - but at least by the end they had understood what they needed to do. Maybe next game will be their time to shine.
Scott 6; Steph 4; Gareth 4; James 3; Ian 2
Ca$h 'n Guns (thanks again Scott)
After successful persuasion from James to get Scott and Steph to bring this along as well as 6 willing players, the foam pistols were drawn from the game which consists entirely of what it says on the box. Scott, Steph & Gareth had played before while James, Maynard & Vicky were new to it.
The premise is simple, we are all gangsters robbing a bank, but after the hold-up we need to share the loot and the only way we can decide to do that is by way of Mexican stand-off. Each round there are 5 money tiles revealed (ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 each), each player then loads their gun with one of their 8 bullet cards (5 clicks/blanks, 2 bang’s and 1 bang, bang, bang) and on the count of three each player points their gun simultaneously at who they want to shoot. Once you see how many people have a gun pointing at you there is a second count of three where anyone can take a dive to avoid getting shot (they will receive a $5,000 penalty by taking a shame token though).
If anyone still standing has a gun pointed at them, the bullet cards are revealed, bang bang bang’s get resolved first and anyone getting shot by those cannot shoot their target unless they played the same card, then any bang’s and clicks are shown to see if they hit their target or not (if your target took a dive you don’t have to reveal what you would have used).
Any hits knock a player out for that round and they receive a wound marker (get three of those and you are out of the game), from those still standing who didn’t get shot or took a dive they split the loot amongst themselves evenly. If they cannot split everything evenly they take what they can and leave the rest to add to the next round. After 8 rounds anyone still alive counts up their loot and the one with the most is the winner.
Everyone got into the spirit of this immediately and it was time to finally get some revenge on our fellow IBG’ers. In a surprise turn of events, everyone didn’t point at Scott in the first round. Gareth did though, and for most of the game (I don’t know what I could have possibly done to outrage him, especially when Steph has done her best to annoy him recently by way of saying he looks like a monkey and a bit like a goblin).
James got some revenge on Steph though, holding his gun right up against her head, which scared her even more than usual when playing with James.
With a lot of blanks in the bullet decks and many people not getting targeted by multiple people at once there were quite a few rounds with lots of survivors. This caused the loot to pile up but a couple of high paying rounds saw the tables turn and Steph took a couple of shots while Vicky was often scared away by two guns, flinching before three was called for the chance to dive.
Towards the end a few players in particular had some cash piling up in front of them, mainly Scott, Steph and Vicky. Gareth made it his priority to point out that Scott had the most while Scott tried to pass it off as not having any $20k’s, which wasn’t fooling Steph for a second as she accused him of lying.
So it came to pass that almost everyone targeted Scott in the subsequent round but it was a foolhardy move, with the big loot gone and Scott not caring he took a dive while everyone else got nothing either as there were too many of them. He almost 'did a Gareth' and forgot to take his shame marker though but Steph was there to correct his ways (as usual!).
The last few rounds saw some attempts on Steph’s life, still mainly from James, as she had two wound markers. There was also a lot of firing going on across the other half of the table, with a bundle of cash going to some people’s hands, who were quick not to point out exactly how much they were collecting to avoid the repercussions (particularly James who had been keeping quiet in his corner for most of the game...)
With everyone still alive at the end, the final scores were as follows:
Scott $95k; James $65k; Vicky $55k; Steph $35k; Maynard $35k; Gareth $30k
It is a quick, fun game that also has a couple of nice variants, one where each player draws a card at the beginning to give them a secret special ability to be revealed during the game. Such as - you are carrying a grenade and if anyone shoots you they also get hit that round, or the double gunslinger who gets a second gun and the remaining bullets of the first person to die during the game.
Or there is also the undercover cop variant where the cop is trying to call for back-up without the other gangsters realising who they are, and killing them off first.
I’ll bring it along a few more times to see if people are still keen to shoot each other up. (I'd say that's a fairly safe bet.....)
Formula D (thanks Gareth)
This game was new to Steph, Vicky and Maynard and was the second race of the year, this time using the Monaco track. Gareth took an early lead from pole position closely followed by James. Stephanie stalled on the grid making slow progress from the start but managed to overtake and block Scott on the third corner causing sharp braking, the screech of tyres and lots of protests from Scott. Vicky and Maynard fought over 3rd and 4th positions for most of the first lap.
By the start of the second lap James had moved into first with some crazy driving and much crunching of gears. Gareth played it safe and remained in second place and Scott had now moved up 3rd but his car was looking pretty damaged.
By the final corner Gareth and James were neck and neck and Gareth being on the inside corner (this went to a referees decision due to James protests) got to move first but couldn’t accelerate fast enough and James overtook a few feet from the finish line taking the chequered flag, closely followed by Gareth, with Scott also making the podium in 3rd place.
James 10pts; Gareth 8; Scott 6; Vicky 5; Maynard 4; Stephanie 3
Inquisitio (thanks Russ for the report)
To round off the night we had a quick game of Inquisitio. I soon realised that I didn’t remember the rules as well as I thought and hence made a bit of a hash of explaining them! It’s a very light game of avoiding the Spanish Inquisition which doesn’t really stand up on its own merits and needs people to buy into the theme.
Needless to say with only one drink in us and with Iain suffering from a post-Liberté headache it didn’t really go down too well!
David ended up with the most guilt points at the end and hence was burnt at the stake as a heretic; Iain won with -12 guilt, I was next with zero, Barry had 3 guilt and Emma 6, but at least we all survived the torture.
Previously when I’ve played there’s been a lot of quoting of Monty Python, announcing the tortures in a portentous voice and arguing about who really did consort with the Succubus (most seemed pretty eager to admit to that sin).
My opinion is that with a certain mood it’s lots of fun, but the scoring system is a little too awkward to fully just relax and call for Cardinal Fang to bring out the comfy chair...
Iain -12; Russ 0; Barry 3; Emma 6; David - burned at stake
Wits and Wagers
Emma 220; Steph 130; Vicky 60; Maynard 35; Scott 25; James 10; Gareth 0
Stephanie 6; Vicky 6; James 4; Maynard 2; Emma 1; Scott 0; Gareth 0
Also played was Liberte (check out Iain's blog for his opinion), Saint Petersburg and Tigris & Euphrates, but with no scores or reports, that's all the information you're getting!
Thanks to everyone who compiled reports without me being there to nag you. See you all next week, when we will endeavour to return to some more civilised gaming....