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.....

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the link.

    Emma's right. I have confused Dan and Gareth in photos before.