Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A bit of PR at IBG.......

Players: James, Gareth, Vicky, Maynard, Scott, Steph, Barry, Philip, Ian, Iain, Paul, Tonio, John

Jon was away this week, entertaining long lost relatives (although John with an 'h' turned up instead), so the rest of the IBG'ers have gallantly put together this week's report.

In his absence, there was the usual mix of trains, planes and automobiles, some dice rolling, some card playing and a trip to some place with a 'Z' and a 'V' in it somewhere...

Oh, and there was the very first outing at IBG for the number one strategy board game that definitely does not contain any reference to slaves......

So here we go - not necessarily in chronological order, but they all happened at some point during the evening....

 Chicago Express (thanks Scott for this report)
Iain was more keen than ever to play Chicago Express this week, recruiting Ian and James immediately with it set-up ready to go when Steph and Scott arrived. Steph still professes that she doesn’t like train games but saved a seat for Scott and so a 4 player game commenced, with Iain and Scott having played a few times before, and James and Ian new to it all.
At Iain’s warning not to overspend on shares, James played his tactic of wait around not doing much in the first few turns while he sees what others do. Scott invested fully with the red and yellow shares with a couple of $ to spare, while Ian got started on the blue and Iain on the green.
As the initial red owner, Scott started with a share auction of green that went to Ian, diluting the best starting line but it was followed by share auctions of red and yellow going to Iain and James respectively, diluting both of Scott’s investments, but now there were more players to build track for them too.
Early on Iain was keen to progress green, Scott got the red moving, Ian the blue and James the yellow. With blue only having one share auctioned they almost ran out of money at one point and almost blocked off by Scott using the yellow trains as sacrifices but decided to play a bit nicer and focussed on getting yellow closer to Chicago.
By the mid game, green and yellow had progressed well, with green shares ending up spread across lots of players while yellow was focussed equally between James and Scott and a lot of effort put in to getting them moving West. Blue and red were concentrating on middle ground, making more money from a stopover in Pittsburgh and getting it upgraded, benefiting Iain and Ian who were the only ones to have both blue and red interest at this point.
Late game, green had connected to quite a few cities while not actually making a run for Chicago, the fact that investment was now split amongst everyone was the reason, it was in no-one’s interest to trigger a Chicago payout as we would all benefit equally. With yellow being taken over by Scott getting a third share, a run for Chicago was made, with Ian grabbing the last yellow share just before payout time and James still intent on keeping yellow profitable since it was the line he was most invested in too. Red and blue hadn’t done much recently, all attention was on yellow except for Iain who tried to get a bit more life out of blue seeing as it would benefit Scott the least.
As the black line was now in play, Ian got himself invested first with a slightly high bid considering Scott immediately put up the other share of it for auction, triggering the end of the game this round and an unexpected alliance between Ian and Scott to get the black line to Chicago, making back some money on their late investment.
With two companies in Chicago and three others on the wayside, the final scores were:
Scott $90; James $72; Ian $68; Iain $52

And so Iain had been bested at his own game and paid the price for getting a rainbow of shares resulting in any action taken helping others just as much as himself. With heavy investment in yellow by Scott and James, combined they created a train line twice as profitable as any other and this paid off well in dividends, especially after Scott got himself the biggest stake.
That’s also the first time I’ve seen yellow do so well, it is a game very heavily influenced by how people want to play the train lines, the rules are simple and it plays quickly, making it a very rewarding game. Oh, and the train companies do have names but they’re much easier to describe as colours!

Puerto Rico (thanks James for this one)
So given I think we’ve had a run out of most of the top 20 games in the last year it was time to make up for what could appear to the casual observer as an intentional overlooking of the #1 game on the geek… Nope, not the BGG perennial favourite but the big daddy, the overlord, the game that makes El Grande look like La Piceno, the one and only....Puerto Rico. No idea why this game has been so scurrilously skipped. On occasions a game can be discarded due to an irrational and thinly disguised contempt by Barrie (Le Havre anyone ?), but it really looks like this has just been the forgotten sibling, destined to sit in the corner while it’s elder brothers get to play with the Subbuteo set.
This was the first game in a while for Paul, James and Barry and the first game ever for an over-excited Ian - like a school kid on Christmas morning he was bouncing off the walls at a chance to play the ‘Take That’ of the geek game charts. Even a dodgy overview of the rules by a rusty James (both in age and memory) failed to dim his enthusiasm, and the ½ hour long set up of this game (SOOoooooo many teeny tiny pieces…) only helped to heighten the anticipation.
We were aware before starting of the ‘newbie on the left’ rule but as none of us felt like we could even remember the rules, let alone strategy it didn’t seem like much of a risk. Seating order was Paul, James, Barry and Ian and to give Ian a chance to get used to the game Paul took the Gov to start with. However this meant him going 4th for the Gov which is probably not the strongest starting position for a noob.
Early rounds went smoothly enough, Paul developed some Indigo, James collected quarries, Barry became Mayor to recruit some slaves, voluntary helpers and Ian still looking slightly perplexed and having worked out by now that going 4th wasn’t much help developed some corn, tried to raise some cash and made a mental note not to go 4th next time.
From here it’s all a bit vague as I don’t have the flash memory of the latest Pentax to track all the moves. In general though James went for buildings giving bonuses on the Settler phase (free slaves colonists and extra plantation), Barry developed a good production line for corn and sugar, Paul focused on Indigo and Ian was probably already working out what he would do differently next game now he understood how the game actually worked.
James was the first in with coffee while Ian produced the first tobacco although at one stage had 3 idle slaves workers in San Juan as he was running out of open buildings. After a few shaftings on the Captain role Paul decided to buy a Wharf and go it alone on the high seas. Barry held a monopoly in the corn market and took control of one of the export ships as the only producer of sugar.
At the ¾ stage James took one of the bonus buildings with his Tobacco riches and everyone anticipated the end game soon… In fact the phrase "only 15 minutes to go Gareth" was probably uttered a dozen times between 9:30 and 10:45 as we all slowly realised we were in this for the long haul and weren’t going to be able to fit in a quick game of Nanuk before home time. (…we’re doomed…)
It looked for a while (“…only 15 minutes to go Gareth…”) as if the end game was going to be triggered by James filling his building requirement but eventually after a couple of big Captain turns we used up the last VP and it was time to count the spoils. 
Ian, Paul and Barry all scored in the 40’s, it would be churlish of me to separate them (although Ian did come 2nd) but James ran away with the game at the end with a score of 62. Despite the 2 hr plus running time we all considered this a triumphant return to the tables for Puerto Rico and hopefully won’t be another year before the game comes out again…
James 62; Ian 40 something; Paul 40 something; Barry 40 something 

Thanks to Gareth for the next 5 short reports

No Thanks
The evening started with a short game of 'No Thanks' and true to form Steph came in first with lowest score.
Steph 1st, John 2nd, Gareth 3rd and Maynard 4th.

Formula D
Tonio and Vicky then joined us and we had a quick game of Formula D using the Silverstone track and the basic rules. Gareth took pole position with a lucky dice roll and was off to a flying start closely followed by Tonio and John, Maynard on the other hand stalled early on.
By the mid game Gareth and John were fighting for 1st, Tonio and Vicky in the middle of the pack and Steph and Maynard towards the back. Gareth managed to take the win of the single lap race with John just not managing to cross the finish line quick enough, Vicky cam in 3rd followed by Tonio, Steph and Maynard crashed out on the final bend.
Gareth 1st; John 2nd; Vicky 3rd; Tonio 4th; Steph 5th; Maynard 6th.

A new game introduced by John. Basically you are artists trying to restore a fresco in a renaissance church. Each player has 5 workers and has to plan their work day by day including buying paints, mixing colours, selling art or restoring the fresco. A fun middle weight game which plays quickly in around an hour.
Gareth 75; Maynard 67; John 64; Vicky 53.

The game of collecting different coloured Chameleons, new to Vicky and Maynard, but they soon picked it up. The joint win went to Gareth and Maynard.
Gareth 41; Maynard 41; John 29; Vicky 26.

The final game of the evening was the classic bluffing game Perudo. Vicky managed to get here first win of the evening.
Vicky 1st; Gareth 2nd; John 3rd; Maynard 4th.

Perudo (thanks again Scott)
To fill the gap between Formula D finishing to get a couple more players for Scepter of Zavendor, we decided on Perudo for a quick filler. So Iain, Scott and Philip played with a suggestion from Philip to combine two colours and have 6 dice each.
Iain was a bit rusty on the rules and lost the first two dice as he got to grips with how it worked but in Scott’s usual tradition, he lost all of his dice first and by a high margin. Losing dice early when he didn’t trust Philip’s bids (when they were usually exact) and in a last ditch attempt to save his last dice, went with an exact on Philip’s bid of three 5's and realised that Philip was a great liar who had no 5s whatsoever.
In the face-off between Philip and Iain, Philip was up and down with his dice while Iain managed to stay steady at 3 dice, increasing to 4, then it all fell apart for Philip who slowly lost more and more and in a final bid of four 4s from Iain, Philip called “impossible” but with three 4s and a 1 revealed from under his cup, Iain had won the game.
Iain 4 dice; 2nd Philip; 3rd Scott

Scepter of Zavendor (big thanks once again Scott)
Scott, Iain, Philip, Steph and Tonio were all eager for a game, with a welcome return to Tonio, the current holder of the scepter from last time. Iain and Philip were both new so a quick rules run through left them a bit dazed and confused but they got to grips with it quickly after the first round, which is fairly simply to get an opal and/or sapphire while maybe increasing your knowledge a little.
For the characters and starting knowledge tracks, Tonio drew the Witch (cheaper gems), Iain the Mage (cheaper artifacts), Steph the Elf (regular income track), Philip the Fairy (income boost track), Scott the Kobold (Extra gem slots).
With Philip’s boosted income, he started strong and moved up his knowledge track, and got himself a spellbook and some emeralds pushing him far in to the lead; however, this attracted the penalty of being in first to pay extra for artifacts, a penalty he would now keep for most of the game, so also pursuing the artifact track was his next priority.
With Philip in first, Scott held back to stay in last place to get an extra discount for artifacts while gaining knowledge of the artifacts to spend a couple of turns picking up two cheap crystal balls, then two Elixirs later on to start a run of diamonds after previous getting more sapphires
Tonio was a bit perplexed as usual and followed behind Philip in an emerald strategy, but with his discount for gems could purchase them easier. A lack of gem space prohibited getting too many active gems though while Philip ended up getting both artifacts to allow more gem space.
Iain went with extra sapphires early and then seemed to lose steam a little and his strategy became cloudy with which knowledge track and artifacts would be best to pursue next. He went with knowledge of gems giving him both cheaper gems and cheap artifacts which allowed him easy access to whichever ones he wanted later.
Steph maxed out her knowledge to get extra income per turn while also being the first to get an Elixir and start diamonds, followed by Scott who got a head start with his artifact discounts, but Steph pursued cheaper gems to pull in to the lead with diamonds.
Everyone seemed happy in the paths they had chosen except maybe Iain and Tonio who still seemed a little lost, not having money at the right time while the rest of us bought what they secretly had really wanted may have been an issue. By mid-game when the mirrors started to turn up (causes others to lose gems), Tonio showed us his vanity purchasing two magic mirrors (the first one wouldn’t tell him he was the fairest of them all) while Steph got the other one and between them, Scott, Philip and Iain lost all of their Opals.
A lot of other artifacts were left in the middle while everyone purchased more expensive gems before Iain and Philip cracked and bought up a lot of the emerald artifacts. Leaving Scott and Steph to get themselves some Masks of Charisma (Steph managing to get two of them), which was a powerful position getting a huge discount later from Sentinels, the most VP generating items. Also, Steph’s mirror could now tell her she was the fairest of them all with two masks to prove it, much to Tonio’s disappointment.
Going in to the end game, Philip, Steph and Scott were leading the way with first place switching between Steph and Philip often while Scott stayed just enough behind to get third but not far enough to fight with Tonio and Iain over last. However, with the big sentinel/artifact purchases to come there was plenty of opportunity to change it. To add a bit of urgency, we were getting quite late in to the night and a bit of goading, particularly from Steph kept us on track but this did leave us calculating rather quickly and left with a lot of spinning heads by the end, so the purchases from this point may not have been in everyone’s best interest but ultimately I think it worked out okay.
With Steph’s discounts on Sentinels she managed to get her greedy hands on three of them scoring for diamonds (not very many VP but trying to stop Scott getting it, although he didn’t want it either really), knowledge and artifacts (Toad).
Scott managed to get two sentinels scoring for sapphires and the other one for artifacts (Raven), while also picking up one of the expensive artifacts to boost some knowledge and get a few more VPs.
Philip got himself the sentinel for emeralds which paid out highly but with a shortfall of cash going in to the last round couldn’t get another one and settled for a cloak (losing gems for others).
Iain decided against saving up for a sentinel and pursued the cloaks as he had a lot of discounts for buying them and forced us all to lose two gems after a bidding war with Tonio, who was keen on getting himself a cloak too (if it was a funky looking hat, I’m sure he would have bid more), the gem loss was particularly painful for Steph who lost two of her diamonds.
I’m not sure if Tonio ended up with a sentinel but between Scott, Steph and Philip who had purchased any which would have been useful for him, money poured in to artifacts instead was best to secure the most available VPs.
With no time for the dust to settle, the scores were scribbled on a napkin (which was all we could find in Jon’s absence) just in time as Steph thought it would be best to pack away the score counters first, but the scores were as follows:
Scott 65; Steph 63; Philip 58; Iain 50; Tonio 46

And so Tonio had lost all of his beginner luck, Philip had been overwhelmed by the penalty for being in first too long, with Scott and Steph battling fiercely as Scott just pipped her to the post with 2 extra VP. Being Iain and Philip’s learning game they had done quite well with a lot of pressure to get it finished too. The important thing to plan for is your amount of money saved going in to the last few rounds to ensure you can get at least one of the high scoring sentinels you need. Hopefully it gets to be played again soon!

Thanks to Scott, Gareth and James for keeping a record of everything that went on tonight.

See you next week....

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Football's coming home......

Players: Gareth, Barrie, Tonio, Vicky, Maynard, Jon, Daniel, Rob, Emma, Steph, Scott, Keith, Toby, Ian, Iain, Jeff, Philip, Barry

The summer is almost upon us (optimism is a great trait) meaning that the radiators in the Riverview Room have finally been turned off, and the doors to the fire-escape opened (just in case Scott's lightning brain or Philip's lightning hands accidentally set fire to something...)

There were 18 IBG'ers out this evening - including a welcome to newcomer Barry (who had the good grace to spell his name differently to our very own 'founder member' Barrie), although he turned up a little late to take part in the first main games, but waited patiently to join in a bit later.

Tonight saw the unveiling of Rob's World Cup game, which was given a quick outing based around the 1930 tournament. I can promise you, it won't be the last time that it makes an appearance in the next couple of months......

But first, there was the unveiling of another new game -

Acqua Dolce (thanks Scott for this one)
On the face of it a seemingly innocuous card game about managing a shared aquarium, full of a variety of fish, plants, little houses and food for them too. To start the night off in a welcome change to Mamma Mia! the players were Jeff, Keith, Steph and Scott. Keith was new to it and the others are fairly new to it too. The aim of the game is to empty your hand of cards first but at the same time the aquarium needs to have met at least 2 of its 3 goals, for the basic game those being:
Have a top, middle and bottom dwelling fish in the aquarium, have 3 plants and 2 houses, and have 7 different types of fish.
The tank starts empty, you have a hand of 7 cards and must draw at least one new one each turn, you then have three actions to play cards in to the aquarium, normally one action is playing one card unless you have at least 3 of a schooling fish in which case you can play multiples in to the tank with one action. Certain fish also have requirements that must be met in the tank otherwise playing them causes you to draw a replacement card as a penalty but it can be worthwhile sometimes.
After everyone has taken their 3 actions you end the round by checking to see if there is a piranha fish, if so he eats another fish, then all of the remaining fish must be fed (cards left in people’s hands count as well as food played in to the tank), any fish not fed or conflicting with requirements of other fish are removed from the tank to bring the delicate balance back.
The game plays slowly to start as the tank is populated and everyone has hands full of cards to feed them. Most players were holding back a building to avoid the plant/building goal being triggered until they wanted it to. Jeff was collecting a lot of cards and not putting much in to the tank, and consequently feeding a lot of the fish each round because of it.
Scott and Steph were getting lower on cards while Jeff played a round to empty his large hand of a couple of big schools of fish but still kept hold of one card, the resulting round end saw lots of fish left to die at the hands of Jeff who wasn’t feeding them anymore and prevented Scott or Steph from ending it soon as all of the goals had been reset.
Jeff never got down to no cards though. Steph started collecting a lot (obviously going for the same trick) while Scott stagnated (after kicking himself for missing an opportunity to play all his cards in a turn) and Keith started to get lower on cards as well. However, as you expected, Steph showed us all how it was done with a couple of big schools of fish and the missing building to fulfil all three goals and still have enough food around the table to keep them alive.
Steph 0 cards; Jeff 2; Keith 4; Scott 5

Meanwhile -

High Society (thanks Gareth)
We started the evening with a quick game of High Society, this being new to Emma and Toby. Gareth gave a quick explantion and the game began. Emma appeared to ignore the rule about person with the lowest money going out first. Only after purchasing a number of cards was this emphasized again - but too late. Gareth got a lucky break with the 4th red card coming out early and he took the win with a relatively low score.
Gareth 11; Toby 9; Barrie 4; Iain 0; Emma out (20)

With strange games with fish, and an old version of High Society going on, Jon grabbed the newly-blonded Vicky and ‘chauffeur’ Maynard to join him for a quickie(!) Vicky chose – 

Circus Flohcati
This was Gareth’s German version, so the action cards took a bit of deciphering, but it was nothing that 3 well-educated, intelligent individuals couldn’t deal with (so we were obviously stuffed…) 
Sets were being laid down quite evenly between the 3 players, and Vicky raised a few eyebrows by laying a set of ‘7’s at one point (worth 10 points as a set, but potentially 21 points at the end of the game if left in her hand…) However, it was soon all over, and when the points were totted up, it turned out to be a close affair:
Jon 75; Vicky 70; Maynard 68

Tonio had by this time turned up and recruited a couple of players to try out -

Rat-a-tat Cat (thanks Gareth for some reason)
Not a great deal of info on this game. Hopefully it will be tabled again with a more in depth review by someone who actually played the game.
Ian 21; Philip 20; Tonio 12

At this point in the evening, there was definitely a throwback to the recent elections, as 4 IBG’ers were trying to canvass support for their various games. As a result, we learned that Rob should never go into politics, as he only managed to secure 1 vote for – 

The World Cup Game (thanks Rob for this commentary)
Donning long, baggy football shorts and twirling moustaches, Jon, Dan (who had arrived by this time) and Rob set about recreating the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay by playing the World Cup Game by designer Shaun Derrick. First of all they randomly selected four national teams, with the bonus team going to Dan. Jon was in control of tournament favourites and hosts, Uruguay as well as Brazil, Bolivia and Romania. Rob drew Yugoslavia, Mexico, the USA and Paraguay, while Dan fielded Chile, Belgium, France and Peru. His bonus team turned out to be Argentina, second favourites and a powerhouse of South-American football.
A look at the four World Cup groups confirmed Rob’s fears, Mexico were joined in Group A by three of Dan’s teams. He knew his only hope came in getting Yugoslavia through from Group B. As Dan played cards to fire Argentina into a four-goal demolition of France, Yugoslavia’s match with Brazil was turning out to be the crucial leg in Group B. Brazil scored and then defended their lead, while Yugoslavia had a goal disallowed for a foul in the area. Yugoslavia’s hopes hung on the possibility of a last-minute equaliser, which would give them top spot. 
Rob’s other chance lay with the USA in Group D. He knew the Yanks would be a better prospect in the later stages of the cup, so tried to bribe his other team in the group, Paraguay, to throw their game and let Team America win. What happened behind closed doors is unknown. Maybe it was a cultural misunderstanding or maybe it was Dan playing a 2-goal card for Paraguay, but the proud South Americans refused to take the dollar and flattened the States two-nil. 
Meanwhile in Group C Uruguay put first Peru and then Romania to the sword, scoring four goals twice with only one goal from Romania in reply. Both Argentina and Uruguay qualified into the semi-finals unbeaten, with Argentina scoring twelve goals against lesser opposition.
It all came down to the last-minute of extra-time in the group stages. As the teleprinter rattled, Yugoslavia could not equalise and ran out of time. Meanwhile Paraguay had managed to dislodge the US and make it to the semis with Bolivia.
The semi-final cards were drawn and Jon’s Uruguay and Bolivia were paired, while Dan’s rampant Argentina took on Rob’s footballing minnows, Paraguay. Despite a stubborn Paraguayan display and two disallowed Argentine goals, Argentina edged it 2-1. In the other semi, Jon took advantage of Dan and Rob’s preoccupation to give Uruguay an easy passage into the final with a 3-0 thrashing of Bolivia.
So the stage was set for the greatest football rivalry south of Mexico to be played out in front of 100,000 screaming fans. Uruguay versus Argentina for the greatest prize of them all, the inaugural World Cup trophy.
As the armies of both neighbouring countries were put on standby, Dan played Argentina into a two-goal lead. Jon’s Uruguay answered with a goal or their own minutes later and the stadium’s crowd were on their feet. Dan had cleverly kept back some more goal cards from the previous rounds and stretched Argentina’s lead again, while Jon could only bemoan his lack of defence. Despite a late Uruguayan consolation goal it was Argentina that triumphed 4-2. 
The final whistle blew and Dan pulled his shirt over his head in celebration, running around the room scattering games tables and pieces in his wake. Argentina were the tournament’s top scorers with an incredible 18 goals in five matches and worthy winners of Isleworth Boardgamers’ 1st World Cup.
Winner: Dan; Beaten Finalist: Jon; Wooden Spoon: Rob

There had been a little more interest from the non-footballers for -

Shadow Hunters (thanks Philip)
For the first game Scott went first and I was the Vampire. As the characters were dealt, Emma expressed her joy at not being a boy, which conveyed some information to those who had played before. Unaware that there could not be 3 Neutral players in a 6 player game, I assumed that roughly 2/3 of players would be in my interests to kill. The other players were using Hermits' Cavern cards, but I just attacked the first person to be wounded- which happened to be Stephanie. 
Emma, who had picked up the Hand Gun, shot at me in retaliation for my picking on Stephanie. A little later I picked up a Hermits' Cavern Card. "I bet you are either a Hunter or Neutral..." I gave it to Stephanie and it had no effect. I had been merrily attacking the one person in the group who was my ally. Doh! I apologised to Stephanie and stopped attacking her. However at this point Scott started to attack her instead. 
Meanwhile I picked up the Cursed Masamune and attacked Emma in retaliation for her attack on me. Keith and Toby were playing very cautiously, staying out of the way. The cursed Masumane was repreatedly stolen as the game went on, and meanwhile I picked up a White card which forced me to reveal myself as a Shadow. Interest in killing me was now expressed by many, but not really acted on, and my bloodsucking ability healed me of what damage I was taking. My ally Stephanie was however taking heavy damage.
Emma now drew a White Card which allowed her to reveal as a Hunter and Heal all damage. She appeared as Ellen, a 10 HP Hero with the special ability to void someone else's special ability. I picked up a Machine Gun. After some discussion it was decided I would not gain 2 hps per person wounded by the Machine Gun but only 2 hps per attack. Emma now came under heavy fire, and with only a few hps left used her special ability to void mine. Chance brought her and Scott within range of my machine gun on the very next move and I fired it, killing Emma and also killing Scott, who turned out to be playing an 8hps neutral with his goal being for the person on his right (me) to win. One enemy and one ally down.
A little later Toby also drew a card allowing him to reveal as Hunter and heal all damage. His character, with 14 Hps, had a special ability to prevent all damage to himself for 1 round, if he activated it at the end of his turn. He decided not to use it, a big mistake.
Stephanie now revealed her character, a Shadow with 13 HPs that got an extra turn when revealing for each dead character. With 3 attacks on Toby he was at death's door, just in time for Keith to fatally wound him with the Cursed Masamune. Keith was playing a Neutral with the aim of surviving- so he had won, as well as me and Stephanie and of course Scott. With both Neutrals actually working for the Shadows the result was perhaps not very suprising, although Stephanie was really close to dying at the end... 

We almost unanimously decided to play again straight away (Scott dissenting but reluctantly being drawn in).
I was Brian, a 10 hps Neutral who wins if his character is on the Altar of Despair at game end or if he kills a 13 Hp or more character with his attack. If he kills a 12 HP or less character with his attack he is revealed. I decided to lie low and wait for damage to accumulate on other players. Most of the Hermits Cavern cards were not very useful but I knew there were one or two in the deck which asked about hps, so I kept drawing them.
Stephanie was attacking people, seemingly at random, but not drawing much retaliation, when Keith drew a Hermits Cavern card which allowed him to see Scott's character. From then on Keith tried his best to kill Scott. Meanwhile Emma had picked an item which allows you to roll twice for location and pick one. Really useful for me given my first win condition, but so far was I from attaining that win condition that I never even landed on the Altar Of Despair at all! Toby quite soon stole the item from Emma. I had picked up a variety of more or less use items, including Holy Armour (your attacks do 1 less damage, attacks on you do 1 less damage). 
Toby joined in the attacks on Scott, and Scott died swiftly, a hunter of some sort. This forced Stephanie to reveal as a Neutral. Her win condtions were either be the first to die or be alive a the end of the game with all the Shadows dead. So she was on the Hunters' side for the rest of the game.
Toby now revealed as Wight, attacking Emma. Emma revealed as a 14 HPs Hunter with special ability to, once per game, damage another charcacter by rolling a d4 at the beginning of her turn. Keith went down under combined fire from Stephanie and Emma, playing a Valkyrie (your attacks do d4 damage). 
Emma was now heavily wounded and trying to survive attacks from Toby. After a few rounds she toook refuge in the Wild Woods, healing to 11 damage. I then rolled the Wild Woods, did her 2 damage, and attacked her. I rolled a 1, and announced I had won the game, only to remember that my Armour would reduce the 1 to 0. Oops.
Toby would have had little difficulty killing Emma on his next turn, as he had 2 rolls to reach a place to attack from. However, before that could happen Stephanie drew a White Card which did 2 damage to everyone else, killing her ally Emma! So the Shadows won, with neither Neutral winning though both survived.

And at the dark end of the room, a dark game was played -

Dungeon Lords
(Here's an edited version of Iain's take on the game. To read his more in-depth opinion, check out his blog - Inconsequential Ruminations)
Jeff has played around twenty times and taught us well, throwing in jokes from the rules. We played for two and a half hours, but we ran through an extended tutorial and played slowly. Jeff said we could play it in 90 minutes with experience. The combat tutorial was superb. I wish more complicated games would include these as understanding the rules well made our first game much more enjoyable.
Jeff was so busy concentrating on teaching us, he made a few mistakes, picked up a lot of evilness and so had to draw both paladins. Ian managed to stay good, but ran out of money and food early. I thought I was going to win as I avoided any serious mistakes until the last turn, but I ran out of money and failed to get enough food, so my monsters deserted me and the last adventurers ravaged my dungeon. At least none of us got negative points, so we all got our Dungeon Lords licences. Final scores:
Ian 13; Iain 4; Jeff 3

The 4th 'main game' of the evening was another showing for -

The Princes of Florence (thanks again Gareth)
This was the last week for this game of the month. Vicky and Tonio were new to the game so Gareth ran through the rules at great speed and the game was underway. 
Everybody grabbed profession cards early on. Because there were five players it meant that bidding on the jesters and builders was high. Scores were pretty even by the mid game, but Gareth moved ahead towards the end and managed to play two works in the final round. Barrie tried valiantly to catch him by playing a couple of prestige cards, but it was just not enough.
Gareth 67; Barrie 60; Tonio 54; Maynard 52; Vicky 35

Whilst waiting for the POF crowd to finish, the footballers plus newcomer Barry had a quick nibble of –

Piece o’ Cake
This is a simple tile-collecting game with a cute theme. Only Jon had played before, but after the 2 minute rules explanation, it was time to slice and dice. 
Daniel immediately enquired about whether an “eat everything” strategy was viable, but he was referred back to Philip’s famous attempt to break the game this way, which ended in a sticky mess of Blackberries and whipped cream… 
The game started, and Barry went for chocolate, and ended up sharing this with Daniel (although both got the full 11 points). Jon took the Kiwi and the Gooseberries, while Rob had his eyes on the Strawberries. At the end, the scores were close, but Jon’s greediness had just won the day. 
Jon 29 (9 eaten / 20 kept); Daniel 27 (6 / 21); Rob 22 (4 / 18); Barry 22 (7 / 15)

Back at the Shadow Hunters table, it was time for some cut-throat negotiation in -

Lifeboats (thanks to Keith for this one)
In essence Lifeboats is a simple game in which players attempt to save their castaways in a number of small and rather leaky boats. All the key decisions, like which boat springs a leak and who to throw overboard, are made by voting.
From the start we all realised that cosmopolitan boats had the best chance of avoiding leaks because nobody wanted to risk drowning their own men. So we all packed into as few boats as possible, leaving one boat almost deserted.
Sure enough the empty boat couldn't muster enough votes to avoid springing leak after leak, and despite a valiant defence by it's crew it plunged to the bottom.  This left something of a shortage of places in the remaining boats and whenever a boat sprung a leak somebody had to get thrown overboard to lighten the load. So within a few turns we had turned this jolly family game into a cut throat competition with mariners getting hurled from the boats on every turn - excellent!!!
By the final turn almost all the sailors belonging to Pip the cabin boy had drowned and we were heading for a victory by Stephanie. Then Keith pulled one final stroke to bring two more of his mariners home and engineer a joint win with Toby.  Sadly, the boat carrying Stephanie's remaining men sprung a leak and they were seen no more.
Toby 23; Keith 23; Stephanie 15; Philip 14; Scott 7; Emma 4.

After two games of carnage in Shadow Hunters, killing each other, then a game of Lifeboats, killing each other, the group moved on to the obvious choice to end the night and to be able to kill each other some more - 

Ca$h 'n Guns (thanks again Scott)
Philip started us off by shooting Scott in cold blood in the first round, bringing shock and awe amongst the gangsters (especially Emma – who should have had good reason to shoot him too after the last couple of games) but at least the five remaining standing couldn’t split any loot. Steph defended Scott’s honour and virtue with a revenge shot at Philip next round.
The next couple of rounds saw a little more rumbling, some ducking and diving from Toby and then a round where it all kicked off as Steph didn’t want Scott to think she was being too nice and back stabbed him with a bang, bang, bang; while simultaneously Scott was pointing at Emma with a bang, bang, bang. Keith helped out the attack on Emma too with a bang and the two hits added to her already one damage taken a little earlier resulting in certain death, I imagine the last thought to cross her mind was......”why on earth did they sink that yellow lifeboat in the first few turns of the game, I still can’t understand it?!”
Despite Scott not having much cash, he was always as good as any to target, especially with 2 damage already, resulting in a couple of necessary dives just to stay in the game.
Steph, Keith and Toby had been running a good cartel since they escaped the lifeboats together but now it was getting serious and one of them needed to walk away with the most money, and so they turned on each other. Scott and Philip on the sidelines helped too and in the final round Keith had saved his bang, bang, bang for Steph but revealed it a stage too early and with hindsight available to her in advance she dived, proclaiming “I was going to do that anyway of course”. Keith had the remaining guns pointed at him and was shot down in a blaze of glory for Scott, Philip and Toby to pick up some much needed money.
In the end it was very close (for those still alive) :
Steph and Toby - $80k; Philip $70k; Keith $65k; Scott $60k; Emma - Deceased, bereft of life, pushing up the daisies...

Thanks to Gareth for the next 2 reports - 

For Sale
The fun filler was played to allow a different mix of players with another table for the next game. Barrie came out on top by a single point much to Antonio’s annoyance and Maynard and Gareth battled not to come last.
Barrie 57; Tonio 56; Vicky 49; Gareth 43; Maynard 42

Stone Age 
Maynard moved onto another table so Stone Age was suggested. Everybody had played before but some were a little rusty. Unfortunately time ran out before the game was completed, but scores was tallied. Gareth with the now predictable Axe strategy won with the other three close on similar scores.
Gareth 107; Barrie 86; Tonio 80; Vicky 79

With Maynard having been evicted by his dearly beloved from the Stone Age table, he joined in with the game which is soon to be known simply as “The One with Tonio’s Pants” – 

Castle Panic 
After the success of the last outing using the Overlord variant, it was unanimously decided to play it this way again. Daniel decided against taking on the evil role this time, so Jon volunteered to control the monsters. 
After having seen Daniel’s success last time with a concerted single-zone attack, Jon chose to copy this and set out with a number of monsters in the Red sector. Thanks to some helpful tokens, he was able to bring a number of monsters on at once, and soon the walls and towers were a-crumbling. Despite some valiant defence by the Barbarian and some skilled archers, a couple of Trolls managed to wreak havoc inside the castle perimeter, and had reduced the so-called “castle” to a single tower and 2 walls by about two thirds of the way through the game.
However, the early combinations of powerful tokens now made way for several rounds of feeble goblins entering from random sections of the forest, and were easily dealt with. But there was still the ‘draw 4 more tokens’ to come, and when played, this again ramped up the pressure on the defenders. 
However, with this glut of monsters on the board, Jon was now left with 2 Giant Boulders in his hand, which he dare not use for fear of wiping out his entire force of bad guys. Thus, he was only able to bring on 1 monster per round. With the tokens rapidly diminishing, Jon decided that it was time to release the boulders. A ‘6’ or ‘3’ would destroy a wall. He rolled….a ‘6’! The wall in front of the last remaining tower collapsed like a British Airways negotiation. “It’s ok”, uttered Daniel in a reassuring voice, “as long as he doesn’t have another one”…….which was the only encouragement that Jon needed to roll in the final boulder. A ‘3’ would destroy the last wall. Another ‘6’ would bring the final tower down. Anything else was useless. The die hopped and skipped across the battle-scarred landscape, and finally came to rest, proudly displaying a second successive ’6’. The Giant Boulder smashed into the solitary tower, and the sound of falling masonry heralded the Evil Overlord’s victory. With dice-rolling like that, maybe Jon should have been playing Stone Age….. 
Jon (Overlord) won; Daniel, Maynard, Rob, Barry – all lost

And that, as they say, was that. Oh - and we also discovered during the evening that Emma can't tell Daniel and Gareth apart. Well - they are both rather handsome devils I suppose, and I hear that they also use the same hairdresser....... (ps - the way to tell them apart is to ask them both if they'd rather play a cube-pushing Eurogame based on trading in the Mediterranean, or an immersive dice-fest with a number of zombies and Cylons thrown in......)

Take care one and all - and see you next week.....

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The politics of IBG............

Players: Steph, Jim, Emma, Vicky, Philip, Gareth, Scott, James, Ian, Barrie, Jon, Daniel, Russ, Maynard, Iain, Toby

A rainbow alliance of 16 gamers assembled in the Riverview Room at the London Apprentice tonight, including a welcome to newcomer Toby, who had wandered in from nearby Brentford.

Tonight saw post-election fever evident amongst the group, as one table sought to make valuable coalitions, Gareth won an outright majority and Dan decided not to vote for economic games. Fortunately, the room didn't close at 10pm, there weren't queues of gamers unable to get in, and no-one resigned in the middle of it all.....

The early birds were persuaded by 'someone' to start the evening off with -

Fluxx (thanks Dan!)
Some people like economic games, some relish a heavy Euro and others enjoy games involving zombie sharks being hunted by ninja pirates. That's not forgetting the party games. Where Fluxx sits in amongst these is anybody's guess.
The numbers sitting down to play started with five early arrivees, which quickly became six, seven and then eight, until almost the entire club appeared to be involved.
Details are hazy although not everyone got a go, some turns were missed altogether and the game was thrown twice without any apparent impact on gameplay. Perhaps the experience was best epitomised by the exchange "Who won? Who lost? Did anyone lose in this game?" "Actually I think we were all losers..."
Ian won; Emma, Steph, Scott, James, Dan, Russ, Toby, Ian - all lost

Before the main games started, one of the opening fillers was -

Pick Picknic
Quick summary of this 'chicken eats corn, fox eats chicken' simultaneous selection game: James' foxes were much in evidence. Daniel doesn't like sharing stuff, preferring to rely on his dice-rolling skills to take the whole lot himself. Many cries of "ohhhhhh!" as foxes turned up in fields devoid of plump, tasty fowl. The game ended with 2 felds with oodles of corn in it that no-one could gobble up. Iain's luck with the dice was even worse this week than it was last week playing Exxtra - no wonder he prefers economic games... 
James 34; Dan 29; Maynard 24; Jon 23; Russ 20; Iain 16

And for some of the next to arrive -

High Society (thanks Jim for this one)
Although the official start time is 19:30, Jim arrived 10 minutes before then to find 2 full tables of games already in play. Talk about keen! Fortunately Gareth and Barrie were also looking for a game and the trio and decided to play a quick game pending others arriving. High Society was produced. Vicky joined the group and then James made the game up to 5 players.
After some interesting bidding, double bluffing and a few cusses, Gareth ended the game with the most treasure but the least money so he was out. The lead for the treasure was shared by Vicky and Jim, but Jim's frugality (not luck as some would have...) meant he had the most cash on hand and thus won the game.
Jim 14 + $20k; Vicky 14 + $15k; James 12; Barry 8; Gareth 18 (least cash)

Mamma Mia!
Ian (4 pizzas/6 ingredients); Emma (4/3); Steph (4/3); Scott (2/7); Toby (2/5)

Lexio (thanks again Jim)
At the end of High Society, Emma came over and asked to borrow Lexio, but Jim declined unless he was playing too, so off the two of them went to join Steph, Phil (returned from his holidays) and Toby (new member!) Vicky declined to take Jim’s place and instead helped distribute the players’ starting kitty and watched the game. Having watched a game, I think Vicky wants to play next time!
Neither Phil nor Toby had played before so Jim explained the rules and the game started. As before, it took longer to explain the game than play a round. No “powerhouse” hands emerged although they did get frighteningly close a few times and Toby did get caught with a “2” still in his hand in one round so had to pay out double – had he not had to do he would have almost certainly won the game.
After the 5 rounds the points were tallied and the final results were:
Jim 161; Toby 157; Emma 156; Phil 145; Steph 126

Back by popular demand (well, Jon asked for it) was the organised chaos that is -

Space Alert (thanks for this one Daniel)
With a triumphant fanfare the replacement crew for the recently renovated Sitting Duck, resplendent in their military issue Rayon Leiderhosen and Deely Boppers, boarded their vessel. Spirits were so high that nobody even mentioned the hastily welded hull or the way the entire starboard wing appeared to be held on purely by the application of elastic bands and sticky tape.
Surveying his crew as they took their positions, Captain Jon gave a Space Corp standard double fisted salute to each one in turn - Iain, Maynard, Security Officer Russ and finally Communications Officer Daniel. In order to break the new crew in gently a quick test mission was organised. The Communications Officer did his best to present the key instructions for controlling the ship, which largely comes down to pressing one of three buttons (in the right order... and at the right time please...) and without undue delay the Sitting Duck once more returned to the depths of enemy territory.
The test mission was a resounding success, so much so that the crew found time in the last few minutes of the mission to break out the sun loungers and cocktails. Only a last minute moment of complacency saw an enemy ship break through the red sector shields causing a minor amount of structural damage and the resultant loss of the ships waffle iron.
Result: Mission complete.

Feeling a little more confident the crew decided to head off on an extended mission deeper into enemy territory. This time round they also had to contend with a pesky screen saver shutting down the ship's computer every three minutes as well as some far more difficult opposition. Nobody anticipated just how tough the challenge would be and when some seriously heavy enemy artillery appeared Captain Brown Shorts did his best to rally the crew to action stations.
A lot of effort was put into tackling the immediate incoming threats, so much so that the crew completely failed to respond to two gigantic spaceships advancing slowly toward them. Perhaps sensing their impending doom, both Daniel and Iain tried several times to unsuccessfully leave the ship, clawing at the walls in the blue section.
With the port side of the ship largely unattended it fell quickly to enemy attack and a direct head-on collision saw the ship rent asunder in the last moments before it was due to return. With most of the ship vapourised the crew were trapped on the blue section as it trailed off into the depths of space. They somehow managed to find an escape capsule and returned to Space Corp HQ for a vigorous and no doubt painful debriefing.
Result: Mission failure. Abject, humiliating failure.

Cap'n Jon and his crew were given one last chance to redeem themselves, this time with some battlebots coming along for the ride to help them out. This time round the crew would be facing threats onboard their ship as well as outside and very quickly into the journey the main reactor began to heat up beyond control, threatening to explode before the mission was barely underway. Some good organisation saw the crew attending to perform some maintenance work on the reactor in double quick time. Too quickly in fact, as both battlebot squads (by this point following Maynard and Daniel), were put out of action for a turn.
As a result of delays and some miscommunication Daniel raced to the top of the red section with his battlebots ready to fight wildly against an invading blob of slime which was in fact at that time pulsating on the lower deck. After almost exhausting himself flailing at a non-existent enemy for several turns, Daniel then launched his battlebots in the close range interceptors and kept them circling the ship for several turns, whilst Iain hammered on the cannon activation button.
As well meaning as this tactic was, earlier delays meant that the incoming Stealth Fighter broke through the red sector shields before the battlebots were even airbourne and Iain found himself on the wrong floor firing a cannon which was completely ineffective against the enemy shields. The whole port side of the ship was rocked with massive explosions and barely remained together, only a couple more hits away from complete destruction.
Fortunately for the crew, Jon, Russ and Maynard were far better organised and managed to work together very effectively to fend off a destructive yet slow moving Juggernaut class battle cruiser that was closing in on the starboard side. Their elation was short lived as realisation dawned that the central section was once more left unguarded - several more explosions occurred as the ship's shields were mercilessly stripped away under the incoming assault and the white section of the ship took several hits.
The oozing slime that was eating away at the bowels of the ship spread across the lower floor and finally began to cause some damage to the beaten and battered craft. There was a sharp intake of breath at the table as everybody wondered if the Sitting Duck could hold together for one more turn before returning through hyperspace...
Result: Mission successful.

Triumphant yet bedraggled, Captain Jon guided the limping wreckage of his vessel into the scrapyard at Space Corp HQ. The crew were received with appropriate ceremony, a choir singing space fleet battle hymns and corporate jingles, and each were awarded a second star under their namebadge. Much celebration followed and even the threat of potentially being sent out on another mission in the future couldn't dampen their spirits.

At IBG at the moment, you don't have to ask twice to find some takers for -

Ca$h 'n Guns (thanks once more to Jim)
Ca$h and Gun$ was proffered to the group next because it supported 6 players. Steph explained the rules to the newcomers to the game and the game was started, tentatively at first but as the subtlety of the game (subtle? A game where you point guns at each other?) began to dawn on a few of us noobies.
About halfway through the game and with three guns pointing at him, Toby decided to bluff out the threat - an expensive mistake as three slugs hit home and he was out of the game. The remaining rounds played out fairly evenly, and although Jim was shot in both the big kitty rounds (painful…) he survived the game.
Steph and Vicky tied - £75k and two hits each; Phil 70k; Jim $55; Toby (RIP) had $65k.

Meanwhile, at the dark end of the room -

The Princes of Florence (thanks Gareth for this report)
This game of the month was into its 3rd week and still attracting new players. The game was new to James, but Gareth, Scott, Barrie and Ian were all familiar with the rules.
There was a lot of tension early on in the game. With five players, the wrong move could spell disaster. James was on a steep learning curve but did well considering. It was a slow start with everybody going for the limited stock of Freedoms and Profession cards early on rather than playing works.
There were some very high bids from Scott and Barrie in the auction rounds and later the Recruiting cards became key to scoring Prestige points. Positions were close until the penultimate round when Gareth took all money rather than points for one of his works. He then outbid everybody in the final round for the last recruiting card which prevented the others from scoring any works.
This allowed him to play two works for 18 Prestige points plus the bonus 3 pts, giving him a winning score.
Gareth 64; James 48; Scott 44; Barrie 41; Ian 41

After the thematic adventures of Space Alert, Jon managed to persuade the rest of his crew to come back down to earth to play -

This was new to everyone, although Iain had apparently played China's earlier incarnation, Web of Power, a few years ago. The rules are fairly simple (play up to 3 cards, to place up to 2 pieces, in 1 region per turn), although the subtleties of the coalition scoring aren't immediately obvious.
With 5 players, the competition for regions was pretty fierce. Jon managed to nab an early majority in a central region, which he also placed enough envoys in to get a majority for the end-of-game scoring. Russ (despite his assertion that he "always does terribly at these sorts of games") had picked up on the importance of the coalitions, and had started to strategically place his envoys to good effect.
This game plays a lot quicker than it looks as if it will, and before long, we had scored the majority of the regions and the draw deck ran out. As Jon (the starting player) had triggered this, there was time for one more round. In this turn, Daniel nearly managed to prevent Iain from gaining a majority of envoys in one region, but Iain had enough green cards to place 2 of his own envoys which allowed him to score 2 separate coalitions.
The coalitions were scored 1 at a time, and it seemed that Jon's experience had been enough to sneak him the victory, but as it turned out, he had no roads longer than 3 houses, therefore Russ was able to overtake him for a well-deserved win. Just don't believe Russ in the future when he says that he's bad at a particular game......
Russ 41; Jon 38; Iain 35; Maynard 32; Dan

(Postscript: Yes I know that technically they're supposed to be called "alliances" and not "coalitions", but, in light of national events, it seemed more apt that way.....)

The big game of the evening on "the girls' table" was -

Power Grid (thanks to Steph for this one)
After a series of short games there was the sweet relief of a more serious game. This was going to be a six player game, the maximum possible number of players (but still of course with one area cordoned off [are you sure....?]). The players were Toby (Jug), Jim (Jeem), Phillip (Pip), Vicky (Olive) and Stephanie and Emma (who after rejecting the names Bilbo and Baggins could not resolve which of them had more right to be named Samwise).
All players selected their starting plants and then began the population of France. The three girls all went in the north, centring around Paris, while the boys all hung around the vineyards in the south.
Vicky and Emma were having a little tussle over the outskirts of Paris, leading Emma to howl in protest when Vicky leapt over her to pounce upon the cheap nearby cities. The boys were more peaceful, setting up their own little lines to the north, west and north-west. But it was the third round when things started to get more interesting.
Vicky had been holding back a little cash, never building more than she could power and scooping up the cheapest fuel available. Stephanie had spent a bit more money, but had been taking in more money as well, powering and building as cheaply as she could without getting in any fights with the other girls. These opposing strategies gave the two enough money to take full advantage when the plant-market threw out the 32 (3 oil for 6 cities) and the 29 (1 oil or coal for 4 cities).
POUNCE! After short bidding tussles with the other players, the girls took their prizes, Stephanie with tremendous relief that she could now power her cities a bit more cheaply, Vicky dealing with Emma's protests that "You're ruining my life!" (Emma had previously been the oil baron, possessing both 3 oil for 2 and 2 oil for 3 cities.) Needless to say, neither Stephanie nor Vicky could afford to build more cities that turn, but were confident this shortcoming would be made up later.
With nobody near 6 cities (the point for going into stage 2), it was still time for the strategies in powerplants to change. Phillip was going across the board - taking a little of everything. Jim was focussing on playing both clean (wind) and dirty (coal). Emma was determined - she had her oil and she would stick to it. Steph, like Pip, was splitting both coal and oil (though later she would snatch the '30' - 3 garbage for 6 cities) ... Vicky was another going across the board, and Toby, the only new player, was powering extremely cheaply with both wind and nukes (cheap even from Stage 1 thanks to the nuclear-obsessed beauty of France).
Eventually, without anybody having been trapped with nowhere to go, three players all at once took it into Stage 2. Stephanie was powering the most, but was staying squarely in the front, having higher plants than anybody but Vicky, who was staying warily just behind in cities, aware that if she shot to the front, she would suddenly be buying oil at a premium.
This was the period that the boys started to suffer. The girls had already made some great acquisitions with the power plants, and as Power Grid is wont to do, after the flood comes the famine. That unpleasant stage where a power plant for four starts to look fantastic ...
All players started to grow their cities in anticipation of Stage 3, grabbing the last of the single-links, skipping throughout the various north and south cheap points and waiting for the point at which they would finally be able to bid for the bottom row.
The deck was starting to look smaller - it had to be coming out soon. The players had all build up to around 10 cities ... 11 cities ... and then the power plant market was once again open for business. A few plants were purchased that turn, and then, it happened ... Stage 3 came out.
After having fallen to last place for the first time that game, Stephanie was unable to believe her luck. "So, it's not Phase 3 for plants, but definitely for building, right?" "You're sure?" "We can build Stage 3 now?" Yes, yes, you can, go ahead ...
And she grinned at her pile of money underneath the table. It should be JUST enough. She grabbed her fuel, as did the others, and then uttered the magic words "Okay, this might take awhile..." One city, two city ... "It's going to come down to money, isn't it?!" came from somewhere across the table while Vicky and Emma started to look nervously at their money (They would both be able to power 14 cities) ... three cities ... (at which point somebody noticed that Stephanie was sneakily able to power 15), four cities ... and then Stephanie was left nervously looking across the board for one more city, at which point Jim pointed out that actually, she'd done it, she'd already reached her 15.
Vicky and Emma had a close call for second - Emma quite delighted that I'd been terrified she'd snatch the win from me. The boys unfortunately had been messed up by the power plant market, though Phillip had managed a quick climb at the end to 13. Jim was just behind at 12 and Toby was left with last place, but an enormous pile of money.
Stephanie 15 powered cities (17 elecktros); Emma 14 (24); Vicky 14 (18); Phillip 13 (41); Jim 12 (20); Toby 10 (112)

Having had enough of placing wooden houses into regions of China, this group decided to put on their best Indiana Jones accents and morph themselves as if by magic into -

The Adventurers (thanks to Maynard for this one)
Five brave characters stepped up the vine-laden steps to the entrance of the Temple of Chac to try their luck. Not all of them made it...
Russ, Dan, Iain and Jon strolled through the Walls Room, pausing regularly to plunder some loot without pausing to check the glyph clue tiles. Maynard took a little more time but stopped to check all four of them, planning a wander through the Lava Room. All made it out without any great movement from the walls and well ahead of the boulder, which was taking a little while to get going.
Iain, Jon and Dan then made a beeline for the alcoves at the far end, and started to pick the locks with a moderate amount of success. Russ aimed for a high risk, high reward strategy of wandering into the Lava Room unaided, which was rewarded with an instantaneous plunge into the lava. As the boulder was still some way away, it was a lonely wait in purgatory before his second character could be brought into play.
Maynard took an early promenade via the safe route through the lava room, correctly remembering all the glyphs and collecting a fair few treasures along the way. Jon then decided to risk all with a cut across the corner and amusingly also plunged straight into the lava, joining Russ in the wait for a chink of light to appear as the boulder passes.
The boulder started to gently accelerate, and this allowed Russ and Jon to finally bring on their reserves. Russ then cheerfully restarted his plundering with a trip to the far side of the lava field, picking up a single treasure before greed overcame him when he stepped fatally into the third lava trap, putting him out of the game.
Iain and Maynard then headed for the far end of the tunnel and the 9-point treasure alcove, while Jon and Dan went for a quick dip in the river. After a few tries Maynard actually managed to pilfer the Chac Medallion but was now heavily laden with nine treasure cards, leaving him stumbling behind as Iain made a run for the exit.
Jon and Dan successfully trawled the river bed before getting ready for the jump to avoid the waterfall. Jon made a leap and lost three of his treasures before emerging next to Iain near the exit. However Dan was less fortunate, amazingly throwing four dice and getting three ones, losing him every single one of his treasures.
Iain dashed out of the exit, closely pursued by Jon and Dan. Trudging along behind was Maynard whose heavy load level coincided with a sudden burst of speed of the boulder. He desperately dropped three treasures but to no avail; he was crushed to death five spaces from the exit.
Iain 16; Jon 9; Dan: escaped with his life but nothing else; Maynard: crushed to death; Russ: died in a pit of lava (twice!)
The five POF players had by this time decided that there was just enough time to fit in a game of -
Saint Petersburg (thanks again Gareth)
Barrie had brought along the expansion to allow an additional player and the rules were quickly explained to James. The game moved quickly with five as most cards were being purchased each round.
By the mid game Ian took the lead with his strong supply of buildings collecting 20 VP’s a round. Gareth managed to purchase both Observatories which were used to collect as many Nobles as possible.
The game ended abruptly when the buildings ran out and despite Ian’s attempts to grab any noble that would produce more points for Gareth, he didn’t manage to stop him from getting a second win of the evening.
Gareth 93; Ian 77; James 71; Scott 63; Barrie 52
A rare double win for Gareth who still holds the record for coming last in the most games this year!

And that was all there was time for. I know that a game of Perudo was played at some point (as the dice-crashing cacophony coincided with the Space Alert crew desperately trying to hear their instructions being relayed via the loudspeaker on Daniel's mobile phone) but there are no scores or report at present, so we'll simply assume that someone lied better than everyone else and won the game...

More of the same next Wenesday night - looking forward to it already......