Wednesday, 30 June 2010

"You looking at my wimple.......?"

Players: James, Jon, Paul, Emma, Scott, Mark, Keith, Jim, Ian, Barrie, Tonio, Daniel, Gareth, Philip, Vicky, Maynard, Jeff, David S

18 gamers again tonight - and a night off from the football. Good to see David back with us again after a long time away (which he obviously used to grow some more hair...)

It was another night of varied fare in the boardgaming world, including a first outing for one of James' new purchases, which involved chasing around an Abbey late at night with 6 young girls, and sneaking up behind a nun in a tight-fitting habit. Or in other words - Paul's no.1 fantasy experience......

Anyway, the evening started with a card game new to IBG -

Guillotine (thanks Scott)
We started the night with a French Revolution, chopping the heads off the aristocracy - worth a lot of VPs in those days. Jeff taught the rules to Scott, James, Paul and Emma.
A very simple game played over three days (rounds). 12 nobles are lined up and the first in line gets killed by the active player which goes clockwise. Rather boring you might think until you factor in the hand of action cards which can do all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff, rearranging the order, adding bonus points or some rather awful ones to target the leader.
Getting into an early lead Scott and Paul looked like viable targets, most of the attacking came from each other though, Paul making Scott discard a random noble and Paul havng a -2 sitting in front of him. Jeff was struggling to find any popular noble to kill and James tried to pull off some very nice actions but then noticed the words 'randomly choose', which would not actually be very good if he ended up with the unpopular noble. Emma kept quiet (figuratively) and focused on improving her own score. The second round went rather quickly after a noble's death triggered the end.
The first two rounds had no negative scoring which left the third and final round with lots of very unpopular nobles lined up to be killed. Scott tried to start a master plan, playing a card so that he could control the card the player to the right would take and rearrange the order meaning he could set himself up as well. Sadly Jeff stopped him and the rest of us in our tracks by playing a card to end the round early, seeing he was in last by quite a fair way. This caused James to cry out "You know what you've done don't you, you know who you've let win!"
A quick count up of the scores had them very close but Emma pulled out a surprise of her own, the scores being:
Emma & Scott - 9 points; Paul & James - 8; Jeff  5

Several others had now arrived, and James was trying to drum up enough support to get a good number of people to have a go at his latest purchase –

Nuns on the Run
James managed to find 6 other willing volunteers, which meant that we were playing with the full cohort of novices. No-one had played before, and James was even allowed to break the golden rule of not having played the game prior to introducing it to IBG – hence a rule-reading session was in order.
This game is basically Scotland Yard in reverse – instead of having a single ‘Mr X’ trying to outwit his pursuers, you have 6 novices trying to stay away from the Abbess and the Prioress. Novices can choose to creep around quietly, (which makes them less likely to be discovered but slower) or run around, (which makes them noisy but fast). Each turn, the novices write down on a log their current location, and only bring their token onto the board if they have been seen. The Abbess (the ‘fat one’) and the Prioress (the ‘fit one’) have pre-programmed routes, but they can deviate from them if they hear or see one of the novices. Dice rolls determine how acute their hearing is on each turn. The novice that recovers their ‘secret wish’ and returns to their cell first is the winner. The ‘guards’ win if they catch novices 7 times, or keep them running for 15 turns.
There were some initial confusions about where a novice could be seen, but after a few turns, the sequence of play became second nature and the game started to roll along nicely. First things first – Mark had a torrid time. His novice must have been wearing hob-nailed boots, carrying a pair of clanging cymbals and having a 6-foot flashing neon sign above her head. James was controlling both the Prioress and the Abbess, and discovered Mark cowering in a side-room after only 2 turns. He returned to his cell, and with hindsight, should have probably stayed there for the rest of the game…..
Emma owned up to being seen at the beginning of the game, and placed her token on the board, only to discover that she was actually out of range of the guard’s vision. Bit of a giveaway, that…
Scott was doing a good job of keeping hidden, until Jon inadvertently knocked over a dustbin lid, causing the Prioress to turn around and nearly bump straight into Scott’s novice. A swift foot-chase ensued, with James choosing incorrectly at a 50/50 junction and losing the naughty little novice in the process. Emma was also spotted at this point and was returned to her cell, almost colliding with Mark’s novice who had failed to outrun ‘the fat one’ for the second time. “Go back to your cell slowly,” was Scott’s cheeky advice, “because it will make the game longer….”
Paul’s novice had been neither heard nor seen since the beginning of the game, (and his solitary contribution had been to reveal his fetish for ladies in black uniforms…) but suddenly, on turn 10, he declared that he had made it back safely. There were groans from Jon, Keith and Scott, who were only one turn away from getting back too.
A close-run adventure indeed. James admitted that he had probably made a mistake at the beginning by choosing paths for his guards that ended at the same location. It would probably have helped his cause if he could have got at least one of them to be patrolling the corridor outside the cells towards the game’s end too.
All in all, this was a really fun game. It took far too long, but that was entirely down to having to learn the rules at the beginning. A second outing with some experienced players would definitely not last more than 45 minutes, which would be a perfect length for a game of this ilk.
Paul - won; Jon, Keith, Scott, Emma, Mark, James - lost

And now, the 'gamekeeper' (literally) gives his view....
To give a contrasting viewpoint I was playing the ‘bad guys’ in this game; consider me Hattie Jacques to everyone else’s Kenneth William’s in a game that could easily have been called Carry on Convents. Basically the job of the nun is to select a route to patrol the grounds of the nunnery and hoping to spot anyone foolish enough to wander into view (or to foolishly announce incorrectly that they’d wondered into view (erm… Emma…  ))
Not many decisions to be made until you see someone and then it’s a bit of a lottery trying to guess where they went. It’s fun, but at the same time I think this game went on too long (too many players, a dodgy rendition of the rules at the start… (?erm…).. you decide) It’s an interesting position being one against everyone else, a bit like Saboteur but where everyone knows you’re 'it' before the game starts and plans accordingly, which must be how Gareth feels most times we play…
Given this was the first time for everyone it’s not an easy role to handle and I started badly in selecting a route sending both characters to the same location and thus giving free reign to the novices to disappear to other parts of the board. If it wasn’t for the generosity of Mark’s novice (almost wanting to be caught by the fat nun, ho hum, not sure what this says about you Mark…) being picked up 3 times I’m not sure I would’ve been able to find my way downstairs to the bar let alone several novices trying to avoid detection in a dark convent.
The game livened up at some stage when the same nun heard Jon, spotted Scott and eventually caught Emma, but apart from that it was a quiet evening and when on the 10th turn Paul announce he’d made it back I was none the wiser. Would be good to play this on a PC with the ability to run through the game at the end and see how close you were at times and what various novices were up to while you were hanging out in the kitchen...
So, mixed feelings after the first run. It’s certainly a fun game, but I think our run came in over 2hrs which is too long for this to sustain interest. From a strategy aspect you have to cover more of the board with the nuns than I did on the first routes chosen, and possibly 7 is too many for an initial game. For sure it’ll come back to the club again soon, probably with fewer at the table next time and I guess I’ll probably want to play the other side. I would suggest though that you’d want someone who’s played before to be the nuns next time… hey, Tonio, I’m sure I heard that you’ve worn a wimple a few times in the past?

On arrival, Jim declined the offer of being the 5th player in the new game of the month,  and opted to wait for other late-comers. David and Daniel duly obliged by arriving a few minutes later and Jim proffered a choice of games, and the decision was made to play -

Verflixxt (thanks for this report Jim)
This is an older roll-and-move game that offers a few choices a with a smattering of good old fashioned screwage of your opponents.
32 large, sturdy tiles are laid out in a preset pattern and they are the path that the players must move one of their 3 men along dependant on the result of a die roll. The tiles are laid out with the numbers from -1 to -8, followed by six “lucky clover tiles” then the tiles ranging from +8 to +1 and finally more minus tiles, this time from -1 to -10. Guard pieces are then placed on the lucky clovers and the +8 and +7 tiles. These guards can be moved by any player instead of their own piece providing any players pawn is on the same tile.
The game itself is simple; if you move one of your pawns off a tile in response to the die number you rolled and it is the last piece on the tile, the tile is yours. So you would think that you would want to avoid the large negative numbers like the plague, but you’d be wrong. And that is because the lucky clovers turn minus numbers into plus numbers. As you can imagine, much of the shenanigans of the game involve trying to get the lucky clover tiles.
The game played quickly with David being particularly spiteful to Daniel and Jim trying to keep out of their way. All agreed it was a nice light, fun filler style game but also all agreed that it need the full complement of 6 (or 8 with the expansion) to make it “nasty” as it could potentially be!
Jim 28; David 26; Daniel -23!

Looking around, and noticing that no other group was near to completion, Jim produced 'Pandemic-Lite'; aka -

Forbidden Island (thanks again Jim)
The rules were quickly explained and the cards dealt, roles assigned (Jim - messenger, David – diver, Daniel – Navigator) and the island started sinking around us. With two natural plotters planners in Daniel and David, a fortuitous distribution of treasure cards allowing us to gain the treasures quickly and even two Water Rises cards being turned over together thus limiting the impact of the water rising, our escape from the Island was done with ease. Next time, with a higher starting level, I doubt we shall be so fortunate. Time will tell!
David, Daniel and Jim all survived Forbidden Island.

It was a good night for James, as he managed to find some takers for another of his new purchases –

James had played this before, and was able to explain the rules clearly. The beginning of the game involves travelling around Europe, garnering certain amounts of ‘knowledge’, before jetting off to warmer climes to dig for ancient artefacts. This is one of those games where the mechanics and theme really do mesh together well – the more knowledge that you collect about a certain archaeological site, the more likely you are to strike it rich. You can also decide to collect congress cards (basically the lecture circuit), which give increasing returns depending on how many you have at the game end.
The one feature of the game which is highly thematic but also highly frustrating is the digging for treasure itself. This involves delving into a bag and picking out tokens that could be artefacts (valued 1-7) or dust. Having more knowledge increases your chances, but luck does play a huge part in what you find.
As it turned out, Scott was ‘Mr Lucky’, finding 38 points worth of artefacts in 34 digs, whilst James was ‘Dusty Bin’, picking up only 26 points from 39 digs. Jon and Mark were somewhere in the middle.
However, Mark had been allowed to collect all but one of the congress cards for himself, giving him a massive 28 points and a comfortable victory.
Opinion? The mechanics for acquiring knowledge and the ‘time track’ around the edge of the board are great, but it really all boils down to whether you can handle the luck involved in the digging process. Oh – and don’t let one player pick up all the congress cards….
Mark 59; Scott 48; Jon 46; James 36

The other groups having finished their games, the happy Forbidden Islanders looked for challenges new. Gareth had a rummage through the games Jim had brought along and chose -

Vikings (thanks to Jim again for this report)
Phillip and Vicky were press-ganged enrolled into making up the maximum number of players. Jim explained the rules briefly, but then went for drinks while the others set up the game and Gareth read the rules to everyone. Jim explained some of the key strategies from his previous plays, including the need to have fisherman for the end game. And the game was started.
The players have a choice of 12 randomly selected Vikings (fishermen, gold smiths, hunters, scouts, noblemen, warrior or boatman) at the start of each round, with each Viking coming with a land tile (a start, middle or end island) or a Viking ship tile which have the advantage of being able to generate money or VPs if defended against with a warrior standing on a land tile under the ship, or limiting the value of score for the Vikings placed on the land tiles in the column. Each Viking costs between 0 and 11 coins, but the value of the higher value Viking/tile combinations lessens as the lower placed Viking colour groups get taken, which is a key part of the game – paying a high price to guarantee the Viking/tile you want, or hope to get it cheaper by waiting.
There was much thought, if not a lot of certainty, put into many of the choices made, with Gareth concentrating on the longest Island for bonus VPs, Vicky making many islands for another bonus, Philip playing thoughtfully and Jim looking to gain most money having lost badly at the last game he played by running out of cash early on!
After the quickly played six rounds final scoring was done and Jim, having stressed to the others the essential need to get Fishermen for the end game, had failed to heed his own advice, suffered the minus points and did a magnificent job of trailing in last against three players who had never played the game before.
Vicky 50; Philip 40; Gareth 38; Jim 24

Apparently, this was so good that it was played again -

Guillotine (thanks Philip)
It was (perhaps thankfully from Jim's point of view), a pretty brief game of Guillotine, with Robespierre ending day 1 after 5 kills and the Scarlet Pimpernel (played by Gareth) ending day 2 after 1 kill.
Admittedly there were at least a dozen kills on day 3, with extra cartloads of nobles added by both me and Jim. Jim's 8 point Count+Countess won out over Gareth's taking Marie Antoinette by playing "Let them Eat Cake", normally a rather useless action card.
And that's as far as I'm going to write about a game I lost....
Jim won; Gareth - 2nd; Philip - 3rd

Also played tonight were Dungeon Lords, Atlantis, Dixit, Saboteur, Circus Flohcati and In the Year of the Dragon, but our intrepid reporters seem to have had a week off, so we may never know how these games turned out.

Next week will be in the Conservatory, as there is a function upstairs, which could be interesting as it is also World Cup semi-final night. Let's see who the die-hard IBG'ers really are......

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The Spice of Life at IBG.....

Players: John, Jon, Barrie, Gareth, Scott, Steph, Ian, Jeff, Philip, Toby, Paul, James, Daniel, Mark, Tonio, Jim

16 IBG'ers turned up on a warm summer's evening, fresh from seeing England destroy Slovenia in the World Cup (ok, we scraped through, but who's counting...) It was nice to see John back with us after a long absence, and he had the decency to bring a number of new games with him.

As if anyone needed reminding, the Isleworth Boardgamers are an eclectic bunch, and as such, play an eclectic range of games. Tonight was the very definition of "something for everyone" (well - unless you're a hardcore wargamer or CCG'er I suppose....) with just about every category represented: light, heavy, Eurogame, card game, board game, dice game, party game, co-op game. Just no Ameritrash for Daniel - we're working on it.....promise.....

And to start off, something from the lighter end of the spectrum -

Loopin' Louie (thanks James for this summary)
Few games illicited such an enthusiastic early response this evening as this one did. Personally I remember playing this game in my 20’s with 3 (uber-competitive) friends for several hours at the expense of games like Risk, Cluedo etc… So as a start up game it was ideal while dinners were being scoffed and beers quaffed …well, it’s that kind of game – for once no green baize required.
Playing (of course, at the expert level, we’re not wimps) initial thoughts were that finally we’d finally found a game that Scott sucked at… However despite a later Scott victory putting the champagne on ice, the feeling remains however that if one can keep Scott away from small coloured cubes and onto finger flicks and dice that we might finally start to put a dent in his all-too-high winning percentage.
Steph seemed to be adept at the high (looping the loop) flick, although this could be down to drinking too much coffee during the day, while James’s small measured flicks to dive bomb the chickens seemed to largely contradict his professed vegetarianism.
A few early gamers also had a go but to be honest I can’t remember who as things weren’t being taken that seriously, especially scorekeeping. I think we all won some and lost some, but as half the games descended into disorder (much like the English defence) it was more ‘Chaos in the Old World’ than ‘Die Macher’ and the scoresheets were put away.
Eventually some more sensible gamers arrived and it was time to put the toys away… It’s not likely to herald a change in direction of the club as members choose to bring along Mouse Trap, Buckaroo and Operation in place of Power Grid, Agricola and Puerto Rico, but it’s nice to play games like this everyonce in a while……especially if you’re playing Scott.

From chickens to penguins -

Pinguin Party (thanks Scott)
Kicking off the night as usual, Scott and Steph recruited Paul in an attempt to create the best penguin pyramid possible.
The rules take all of 5 seconds to explain but how best do you play out your cards? The best way is to watch Steph - the first two rounds she managed to get all of her penguins in the party while Scott and Paul took a point or two. It looked good for Steph going in to the last round and unfortunately for the rest of us, none of us got all of our penguins played leaving the final scores as:
Steph 2 points; Scott 4;  Paul 5

And from penguins to fleas -

Circus Flohcati (thanks again Scott)
Toby and Dan had now joined Scott, Steph and Paul while Scott just got out the flea circus game and started shuffling, “fancy playing this?!”. A quick rules check with Tonio about his german special cards and we were off.
Scott was first and you may say fortunately picked up a 7 immediately but it was quickly stolen by Steph. Early on a lot of low cards were on the table wasting a lot of the high cards now being drawn and so everyone started collecting some low numbers and everyone got themselves one set of cards for ten points.
Some more collecting started after Paul, with the help of a special card, managed to get 9 different colours on the table, all pretty low again. Some started collecting more low sets while a few lucky card draws from Dan and Paul cascaded them above the rest of us. After Scott was stolen from a couple more times the final scores were:
Paul 52; Dan 50; Toby 42; Steph 41; Scott 39

So for Toby and Steph, the 'steal from Scott' strategy hadn’t won them the game, leaving us all at the bottom.

Some other early arrivees had a go at -

Atlantis (thanks to Tonio for this report)
Jeff brought this reimplementation of Cartagena to the table. It was new to most players. It's a tile collecting game where you play a card and take a tile, slowly dismantling the board and creating holes in the play area, that you then have to pay to cross as you try to get all your meeples to the mainland.
There is an advantage to getting your first guy over asap, and Tonio playing last both started with more cards and was able to "piggyback" off other players. There is a rule stating that you cannot end your go on the same tile as another player, so some creative and sometimes lucky play meant Tonio got to the mainland first and was therefore able to pick up two cards at the end of each turn.
James on the other hand had to get all 3 men out at once, due to poor card options. Jeff was the first to use his free bridge as he mis-costed a journey and was running very low on cards.
At the end of the game everyone has to just pay the cost to get everyone home without being able to pick up any tiles. Luckily these costs were not too high, James paid 5, Ian 3 and Jeff only 2, but it wasn't close!
Tonio 21; Jeff 9; James 9; Ian 6

Everyone had now turned up, and so we split into 4 groups, John finding several willing volunteers to try -

Long Shot (thanks to Dan for this informative report...)
Long Shot is a game about horse racing, specifically with ten horses in the race. If someone were to ask me to name ten famous horses I would probably only get as far as Red Rum, Mr Ed and Sarah Jessica Parker before giving up. Horses were first domesticated by the Egyptians, or then again it could have been by the Ukrainians - history was never my strong point. They proved to be pretty rubbish at domestication, not being able to grip the vacuum cleaner properly between their hooves and constantly breaking plates during the washing up, so people decided to jump up and down on them presumably to teach them a lesson. The horses didn’t like this much and would frequently run away, and so horse racing was born.
Horses usually have four legs, as do tables, but it’s not generally wise to confuse the two. The horses in this game were quite untablelike and very small, that’s not to say that they were midget horses they were just horses on a smaller scale, sort of like average sized horses only very far away. Midget horse racing might have been a better theme for this game, or even just midget racing - I Kid You Not - but, alas, Wednesday night was to be the inaugural IBG thirty florins flat hurdle hunt.
There have been many famous odes to horses such as the Byrds 'Chestnut Mare' or the Osmonds 'Crazy Horses'. Jim Morrison once wrote the arty psychedelic poetry 'Horse Latitudes' which includes the line "In mute nostril agony" which pretty accurately sums up how I felt about the game. It might have been a laborious trial of rolling dice and randomly playing cards without any real strategy, or then again maybe it was a fast paced ball game involving twenty two men competing for the greatest prize in world sport. The TV was on and I’m easily distracted.
So, what happened during the game? Dice were rolled, some midget horses moved around a strangely oval race track, paper money exchanged hands and eventually the game came to an end. Some people may have enjoyed the game, or horses in general, more than I did. There is a special website for people like you.
Final Scores: Steph 175; Germany 1; Ghana 0

Er...for those who enjoyed the game a little more than Dan, and for anyone interested in the real scores - Steph (who had jumped ship from Age of Industry) owned the first 2 horses and romped home, with 'Heavy Betting' Jon coming in second. John went lame and ended up at the back of the field.
Steph $240 (175 winnings/40 bets/25 spare cash); Jon $165 (0/110/55); Daniel $155 (50/65/40); Mark $125 (0/70/55); James $85 (0/40/45); John $60 (0/25/35)

Now it was the turn of the heavier Euros to surface -

Caylus (thanks Gareth)
This week we played the final outing for Caylus as game of the month, again the game was played with 3 players who had all played before this time Gareth, Phil and Toby. Play was pretty evenly matched at the beginning and the game moved quickly. By mid game Gareth had taken the lead but Phil and Toby were accumulating a large amount of resources ready for the last phase.The scores came in very close at the end with Phil buying 2 major buildings with his favours but it was not enough to take the win from Gareth, his first on Caylus.
Gareth 94; Phil 90; Toby 88

It's been running for several weeks at IBG, and now we finally get to find out what goes on when we play a game of -

Dungeon Lords (thanks Tonio again for this one)
After winning his first game last week, Tonio was keen to give this game another go and see if it was just beginners luck. Jeff, always keen to Lord it it the Dungeon and Barrie equally eager to be The Lord of Dungeons again (after a similar virgin victory) convinced Ian to give it another go and so we were set.
The game takes place over two "years" which are divided into four seasons. Adventurers arrive after the second third and fourth seasons. There are also three special events.
The first few rounds were the usual gentle start before the adventurers arrive and start destroying the dungeons: 2 Vampires and an Orc came to town looking to be hired and Ian and Barrie duly employed a vampire each, which made them both a little more evil. Tonio and Jeff went for traps and no-one went for the rooms that were available (gold making and goodness generating).
By the time the first foursome of fearless adventurers arrived Barrie was most evil, then Ian, then Tonio and finally Jeff. The adventurers are given out with the strongest going to the most evil so Jeff and Tonio got the best deal, except even the wimps weren't going to be push-overs. The evilness chart did not change much. By the time the second lot of adventurers were allocated, Ian was most evil and the third time Barrie was back on top.
Tonio and Barrie were starting to make a few mistakes at this point. Tonio took actions requiring gold but couldn't pay his dungeon tax and so couldn't buy the room he wanted. Barrie built a lovely extension to his dungeon and promptly lost it to an earthquake (which we all knew was going to happen) because he'd placed his room at the wrong end of the dungeon. In a game where you don;t really get that many actions, to waste a couple of actions so foolishly can cost you the game.
And so the first battle begins... there are four rounds. At the end of each round there is normally healing (if there is a priest and if a monster has attacked) and then the conquering of a tunnel/room and fatigue (if the adventurers are not all already dead - which they generally are not).
Ian slayed a rogue with a pendulum and a vampire in round one. Then in round two a kamikaze imp took out the first priest and a witch took out the second. Battle over and only one room conquered!
Jeff's monster slays the wizard before he has a chance to execute his spell, and then in round two a trap door takes out the rogue. A poisoned meal finishes the battle and Jeff has also only conceded one room (trap door prevented conquering stage in round 2).
Barrie poisons the warrior and his vampire swoops in to attack. At this point the Paladin is triggered. Oh dear! In round two the Paladin is conquered, which, although it's worth more points than the regular adventurers, it also resulted in Barrie losing 3 rooms! (Only 3 rooms because the Slimer monster used his ability - nice monster!)
Tonio used a gold ring and his one monster, the goblin, to kill a warrior and stab the priest, but conquering and fatigue were skipped as the ring was played. Round two fatigue was enough to take out the priest and in round 3 another adventurer died to a poisoned meal. battle over and only one room lost.
Things were not looking too bad at this point, but the second "year" is harder and at this point the note-taker, Tonio, started playing phenomenally badly. In two consecutive plays Tonio couldn't execute 2 of his three orders. Barrie did help by having a good old chuckle, but to be fair it is normally him who is steaming up about poor choices or things generally going wrong!
One of the three events that happen every "year" is monster pay day. This can be very tight, and everyone suffered from monster pay day at some point in this game. Ian lost a vampire because he couldn't afford the evil, Jeff lost his dragon, Tonio couldn't afford a Golem because he would have had to pay twice and so on. Tonio was hoping for at least Lord of the Imps, but the special event wiped out all imps not in full employment and Jeff stole even those few points away.
Despite all this Jeff became most evil in the second year and the battles went something like:
Barrie used pendulum and slimer to take out a rogue, while Tonio used his goblin and newly acquired vampire to kill a heavy duty wizard. Ian showed skill and mastery by using a witch and two darts to take down a warrior and a wizard in one go. Jeff's Demon eliminated the rogue and saved the room.
Round 2, Barrie and Tonio relied on fatigue to take care of one guy each. Nice. Jeff deals some damage with an heroic kamikaze imp and a ghost playing the supporting role (he is NOT a monster).
Barrie was the only one to finish his battle in round 3. Ian defeated all his adventurers by the end of round 4, but Tonio and Jeff had to settle for losing another room and everyone back in the town talking about how much of a nice dungeon lord they both are.
Conclusion: Jeff won his own game for the first time. This game can be very unforgiving if you make a poor choice of a bad mistake, and choices you make really do influence future choices.
Both Barrie and Tonio won their first games and scored 0 in their second. Let's see what the future holds...Showdown next week??
Jeff 23; Ian 16; Barrie 7; Tonio 0

And if it's economic games that you want, we had one that was such a monster that 2 IBG'ers were needed to write the report -

Age of Industry (thanks to Scott & Jim)
Martin Wallace’s new economic beast was unleashed on IBG by Scott this week, the game is similar to Brass, another game by Wallace, and the idea behind it was to streamline Brass and make the mechanics suitable for different maps and future expansions. Having gained some interest from Paul and Jim we began setting up a 3 player game, with Scott doing his best to explain the rules, which go something like this:
Set during the industrial revolution, you are businessmen dabbling in various industries trying to make your mark and leave with as much money in hand and industries on the board as possible. To do this you will have a hand of cards depicting either industries or regions of the board; a region card is simple, you can use it to build any industry tile in that region as opposed to the industry cards which are for specific industries and you must be able to connect the new tile to an existing industry of yours on the board via your own railways.
Industries get you points as soon as they are on the board but ideally you want to ‘flip’ them as well so that they pay you back a profit, industries will flip as their necessary requirements are met. Industries include coal and iron which are needed for building railways and advanced level industries, they flip once their initial supply of coal/iron is used up. Cotton mills and factories need to sell to a market demand tile on the board or to a port industry tile; the purpose of building a port is purely to provide a sales point for a mill or factory. The last industry type are ships which provide a link to a foreign coal market along with a market demand tile, however, we played on the Germany side of the map which does not use ships.
To fund building all of these industries, you have easy access to loans and can take as many as you like without using up an action but you must pay $1 for each loan each round so it’s best to not leave to many un-flipped industries on the board if you’re in debt.
On your turn you get two actions, they can be used to build industries, build railways, develop industries (meaning you discard a lower level industry tile to get access to a higher level one earlier, factories require this before you can build them), sell your goods (as many as you can match up to ports/demand tiles), or draw more cards.
Turn order is decided by who spent the least during the previous turn and the game ends when the draw deck has run out and at least one player is out of cards.
The game began with Jim up to the plate first, faced with an empty board and a ton of ways to start. It is a very daunting game at first to get to grips with but Paul and Jim took it in their stride, dipping their toes in the water and observing Scott closely, who had played 3 times beforehand at this point. The Ruhr is the biggest town and a big attraction for early investors, between us there was some coal, iron and mills popping in to existence around it. Connecting up to the north and within a few turns we all managed the same plan of selling some cotton through our own port, dubbed “Scott’s master plan.”
Scott headed South next and set up a new mill operation while also jumping over to the East with another mill. Jim had misunderstood slightly and built some railways around Scott towards the markets to prevent him using them - while this tactic works for preventing industries, everyone’s railways can be used to sell goods and transport iron/coal. Scott took advantage of this and shipped both cotton mills at the same time.
With lots of railways being built, mostly by Jim, Scott kept the stocks of coal supplied while Paul and Jim kept their sights on the Iron, usually building an ironworks just before the other wanted to, well, at least that’s what Jim would proclaim afterwards regardless of what was built. Jim set his aims higher than just cotton, like the rest of us; he developed his factory technology and began setting up shop, getting himself in to a position with a factory and some cotton on the board and with two places to ship it. Unfortunately Scott and Paul had other ideas and each used up one of the markets before Jim had the chance to do so leaving him with nothing but a failed master plan.
Paul dabbled in a bit of everything too with a venture in to factories and a lot of tussling with Jim over positioning, often building railways where the other one wanted them and snapping up small town spaces where there was no room for competition. Scott let them have their quarrel while he focused on his East Germany empire that was now established and connected across to the West.
We were getting closer to the end of the game and a lot of the board was filled with most markets already sold to, leaving just future ports as the point of sales. It was now time for people getting in to their level three technologies to make space by building over their lower level ones, overbuilding loses the 1 VP on the board but gets you a few more VP for a higher technology and you get to make profit on it again, since you already have your position established its easier to play cards that match too. All of us got in to the swing of it and set up a few more sale contracts with level 3 mills/factories and ports.
Scott had also gotten himself in to a predicament, all of his coal mines were on the board and the coal was being used up fast with all of the level three industries and railways requiring it. This leads to another rule of the game - you can in rare circumstances build over other people’s coal or iron works if there is none on the board and none in the distant market (a way to purchase coal/iron at an increasing cost if you are connected to it through a port symbol). This left Jim in a great position to overbuild Scott and catch up to the growing pile of gold coins in front of him. Fortunately for Scott, Jim didn’t have the right card at the right time and needed both actions rather than doing a special build (use both actions and any card as a wild card), instead choosing to overbuild his own coal mine, still netting Jim a large amount of money from restocking the distant market and flipping his coal immediately, Jim managed to pull this off a second time just before the game ended too. Restocking the distant market and flipping coal or iron immediately are the most lucrative investments you can make with just one action.
As the game came to a close with no draw deck left but a few cards left to dwindle from players hands, Paul confessed he had a two turn plan that he would like to get in to action but it looked likely that this would be the last turn since Scott only had one card. However, as Scott does, he avoided the obvious and seeing that the other players couldn’t do too much with just one more turn, especially as Paul didn’t gamble on a two turn plan, from last place in the turn order he delayed the end of the game building a couple of railways instead before ending it the turn after.
Now we could set the scoring algorithm in to action, just what everyone was waiting for. The scoring is fairly simple and Jim had pen and paper at the ready as with three players the money gets quite high. Together with your money in hand you get money back for your railway investment, each piece of track pays $2 plus $1 for each industry tile in the towns it directly connects to. Once you have your money total you divide it by 5 and this is how many VP’s they are worth, this is then added to the value of your industries on the board and voila!
Now we go back to Jim in the studio for the results:
Scott 56; Jim 52; Paul 44.

It was clearly a game with many options and strategies available to obtain those all important VPs. Many of the subtleties of these various options and strategies revealed themselves to Jim and Paul as the game progressed, some from the effect of their moves, but also from the impact the others had with their moves.
Although Jim and Paul claimed to have little idea what they were doing, at neither time did either feel out of the game although both suspected Scott had the game "sewn-up" especially after a couple of turns where he gained fairly large sums of money and/or VPs. In fact Scott always seemed to have a lot of cash while the other two eked out a rather meagre existence at times, often in debt to the bank.
The game seemed over rather quickly in the end although it wasn't far short of the 2 hours play time Scott had suggested - it certainly didn't feel like two hours had passed. When the scoring was done, Jim was surprisingly close to Scott but insisted this was due to good fortune rather than any strategy!
This is a great game, lots to do and think about without it hurting your head and it would seem to offer great replayability. The only down side appears to be that it will eat away 1/2 of the time at the weekly gaming session at IBG. Looks like the oft talked about whole day game playing event will have to come into being....

Meanwhile back at the Long Shot table, it was another appearance of the latest darling of IBG -

A third outing in as many weeks for this game of pictorial creativity. Mark was probably at a disadvantage here, being Hungarian and having no clue at all about who ‘The Goodies’ were, but he was a good sport about it all. John threw in a nice clue about Eric Clapton’s son, whilst Steph referenced Guybrush Threepwood, the main character from Monkey Island (apparently).
It’s surprising how often several players have cards that match the storyteller’s clue so well, and this was perfectly illustrated when Jon chose to explain his card with the words “Ding Dong”. The 6 cards were revealed, with one of them displaying a ringing bell. Was Jon being that obvious? Actually no, as his card was a picture of a well, referring to the children’s nursery rhyme. Only 2 players actually chose the bell though, which raises an interesting point – maybe choosing an obvious clue will throw people off the scent as much as a subtle one? I’m sure that Philip or Barrie will choose this strategy if they ever get to play the game…..
Daniel 34; John 31; Jon 28; Steph 26; James 24; Mark 18

The GOTM had finished, and fresh from his victory, Gareth was keen to try out a game of -

San Juan
This was (supposedly) new to Gareth, and James had played a few times before against the AI on the downloadable computer version (which is an excellent implementation actually.) Jon explained the rules and the game was off. With 3 players, this game fairly rattles along.
Gareth started off by putting down a Smithy (giving a discount on all production buildings) and then proceeded to buy numerous production buildings. Jon meanwhile, chose to not build for 2 turns and then put down a Library. This gave him an extra bonus each time he selected a role, but had put him a little behind in terms of buildings and resources at the beginning. He then had the bizarre situation of not picking up a single Violet building into his hand for 3 rounds, further delaying his ability to get an engine running.

James had got a little combo of production and Violet buildings going quite nicely, and there was soon a cycle of production and trading running most rounds. Jon finally managed to get some Violet buildings in hand, and set up an effective combination of Aquaduct and Trading Post, negating the need to pick the Producer or Trader role.
Towards the end, Gareth managed to get a Guild Hall in play, and had 5 different production buildings for a 10-point bonus, whilst Jon finished the game with a City Hall for 8 points. James also had a City Hall for an extra 5 points.
When everything was totted up, Gareth and Jon came out tied on 31 points, but Jon had managed to retain more cards in hand for the victory.
Personal opinion? This is the game that Race for the Galaxy wished it was – straightforward, streamlined, over in 30 mins and with no tiny iconography that needs a Rosetta Stone to decipher. ‘Nuff said.
Jon 31 (23 + 8 bonus) – 5 cards in hand; Gareth 31 (21 + 10) – 1 card; James 21 (16 + 5)

And now it's back to Planet 'Out there Somewhere', from whence Daniel sends us another 2 reports -

Wyatt Earp (thanks Dan!)
With a natural break occurring at a couple of tables we were treated to the fabled gamer mating dance with several individuals milling about the room, boxes of their favoured games clasped in hand and hopeful looks on their shiny faces, calling for other gamers to flock to them in twos and threes. At the remainder of the Dixit table however there was only one question - Zombies or Cowboys? Mark has had a yearning to replay Wyatt Earp for a long time since last having a game a couple of years ago and with it being a fairly quick and accessible game the decision was made to hunt down some bandits in the Old West.
Although it can seat up to four, like most rummy based games Wyatt Earp is generally thought to play best with three. With five players at the table there was temptation to follow the grand tradition at IBG of breaking the game with one more player than it is rated for, however Toby and Steph instead decided to keep within the rules and combined mental efforts in order to become the gestalt known as Stephoby.
Hideouts were played tit-for-tat between Daniel and Stephoby, allowing Billy The Kid to escape the Marshall's men till the very end of the game with an escalating reward building up on his wanted poster. The game finished in the third hand after a titanic battle to bring Billy to justice, which could have won the game outright for any of the players but ended up with honours shared amongst everyone at the table.
John eventually collected the largest amount of bounty with Daniel not far behind, and we were treated to another IBG phenomenon as Mark cheerfully adopted what must surely be a club motto by now "Not Last!" Sadly Stephoby’s aggressive play was hamstrung by John twice finishing the round immediately before their coup de grace and they never really recovered despite a profitable haul in the last round.
This was the first outing at IBG for this popular Wild West themed Rummy variant and based on the pleasant reception received it may well appear again. However, it really does play better with three...
Clint Eastwood - John; Lee Van Cleef - Daniel; Yul Brynner - Mark; Slim Pickens - Stephoby

With half the cowboys heading off into the sunset there was just enough time for Mark and Daniel to have a hand of -

Mamma Mia! (thanks once more Daniel...)
It’s less challenging and lively with only two players and the game flew past at speed. It may have gone even quicker if either player knew the rules, it does seem mighty complicated for a simple filler and the rules a touch too convoluted for an addled brain at the end of the night. After a slow start Pizzas were baked with little incident and the game declared after the second hand in Mark’s favour.
Mark 5; Daniel 4

Making its way around the room was the lifeform they simply call -

Dixit (thanks Jim for this one)
Hugely popular game at IBG, but left brainers like me (according to Barrie) would dislike and be no good at it. Scores were enormous for other players with a tie for first place and me lagging way behind with 8 or 9 points.
See how Barrie's theory was disproved? I scored some points and Ian (apparently another "leftie") scored even more.
I am personally still smarting from the fact that my clue for tin soldiers (quoting a line from a pop song from 1967 called "Hole in my Shoe" by a UK beat combo called Traffic) failed to gain me any points. The defence that all the other players weren't born until the (late) 80's has no substance - Neil from the "Young Ones" (a popular TV show of the 80's) had a hit with the song in 1984!
Would I buy it? No
Would I suggest it? No
Will I play again? Yes, but only after Mind Gym training for the right hand side of my brain.
Scores - not known, except that Jim and Ian obviously didn't win........

There was little time left in the evening, but James had gone burrowing into Jim’s bottomless bag of games, and came out with gleaming eyes and a shiny tin, namely –

Forbidden Island
Jon was keen to have a go at this new release, and Gareth was also persuaded to join in (prior to him finding out that it was a co-op…) Jon had watched the Dice Tower video review, so had the general gist of what was going on. James took the rulebook, and did an excellent job of skim-reading and explaining the relevant points.
This is basically ‘Pandemic-Lite’, borrowing several familiar mechanics from its more famous big brother. The theme this time is a treasure hunt on a rapidly-sinking island. Players need to work together to collect 4 treasures and make their way back to the Helipad (‘Fools’ Landing’) to be airlifted off the island before it sinks into the sea. The island is made up of 24 tiles, randomly placed into a defined pattern, and each tile can become flooded and later sink entirely if it is not shored-up. Jon persuaded his 2 cowardly-custard compatriots to try the ‘normal’ difficulty level, rather than ‘novice’, and the game began.
Jon had the Messenger, and his special ability of passing treasure cards without being on the same tile as the other player proved highly useful. All the Treasure tiles turned out to be near the centre of the island, as did Fools’ Landing, which certainly helped make the adventurers’ jobs easier. The waters rose 3 times, but before the 4th rise, all the treasure had been collected and the players reconvened at Fools’ Landing for Gareth to airlift them to safety. And all done and dusted in 30 minutes.
Although the choices that you get to make within the game are limited (and somewhat straightforward), the modular board and randomised Flood stack certainly allow for increased replayability. Maybe if Jim brings this again, the IBG’ers will dare to try it on ‘Legendary’ level…
James, Jon, Gareth – all won

Enough variety for you? And if you live in the SW London area, why not come back next Wednesday in person and join in the fun for yourself......

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

"USA win World Cup" (you heard it here first.....)

Players: Scott, Steph, Jon, Paul, James, Jeff, Barrie, Iain, Tonio, Keith, Gareth, Philip, Daniel, Mark

14 IBG'ers turned up tonight, including a welcome 2nd appearance (after a long absence) from Mark. There was the usual mix of Eurogames, fillers and dastardly saboteuring, but surely the highlight of the evening was the hosting of the 2010 World Cup. There were shocks aplenty and penalties pretty realistic then.......

And if that wasn't enough, there was a tender reconciliation between 2 hardcore IBG'ers - and it was all brought about through the words of a 17th century English poet.....

Apparently, the first IBG'ers through the door played this game at the request of Scott -

Tonio's brief synopsis reads: "Scott lost again. James got all the answers right and is consequently being head-hunted by 118 118." 'Nuff said....
James 13; Steph 0; Iain -1; Jeff -5; Keith -7; Scott -8

With most players having arrived, it was time to choose some meatier fare, which for Philip, Gareth and Keith meant a go at the current GOTM -

Caylus (thanks Philip for this report)
The random set up again put Stone furthest down the track, with Carpenter closest, followed by Cloth/Food. Gareth was playing almost the same strategy as the previous game, ignoring the Castle and building as many buildings as possible. He did however put 3 loads in the castle, 2 for the Walls and 1 for the Towers, and he also purchased some favours on the jousting field, money and points being his focus.
Keith played a Castle-heavy strategy with few buildings and 11 loads in the Castle (2,5,4). He pursued 3 tracks simultaneously, leaving only the building track untouched. Later in the game he made use of Bank and Jeweller to turn money into points.
I went for the Buildings Track and the Cube track. I built the 2 Cloth building, the 2 Stone 1 Cloth building, the Lawyer and the Church. I delivered 9 loads to the castle (2,3,4) I also built several Houses, but this time I was able to turn two of them into Blue buildings via the Buildings track on the last turn.
One of my workers spent almost the whole game in the Inn. We were all being fairly nice with the Provost; despite several opportunties for sabotage no one lost a worker that way.
On the final turn I had 3 Gold, 5 Stone, 4 Cloth and 2 Food. I placed my workers to pick up an extra 3 Stone (1 from Keith activating my Stone resource building) and 2 Wood, while using the Jousting field and the Castle. At the Jousting field I bought a Buildings favour, building the College (2 Gold, 3 Stone, 14 points, 1 Favour) which gave me an immediate rebate of 1 Gold via the Cubes track. At the Castle I delivered 2 loads of Cloth, Wood and Food, but Keith delivered more so I didn't get a favour there. Scoring the Towers I had 2 favours, which allowed me to get another Gold and build the Cathedral (5 Stone, 3 Gold, 25 points), raising my total to 93 points (and I had used everything up, so 93 was my final score).
Keith was not far behind on 86, and Gareth wasn't far behind Keith on 79: had Gareth managed to deliver a load to the Dungeons he would have been tied with Keith.
Since neither Keith nor Gareth used the Buildings track or the Lawyer, I had the Blue Buildings to myself. Had there been more players, I imagine that would not have been the case...
Philip 93; Keith 86; Gareth 79

At the far end of the room, Barrie and Jeff had chased away the normal people and set up -

Dungeon Lords
Again, Tonio proves himself to be a man of few words: "Basically we were a bunch of pansies. No Dungeon Lord was particularly evil (no Paladins). End of Year 2 was exciting as Demons and Dragons were turned into sheep and their ineffectual nibbling at he adventurers were worse than nothing at all as Healers healed and Dungeons were lost." 
Looks like it was a close run thing between Tonio and Jeff, with Iain seemingly having a day off....
Tonio 12; Jeff 11; Barrie -1; Iain -15

And now to the game you've all been waiting to hear about (haven't you....?) -

The World Cup Card Game (thanks to James for the commentary)
So forget all the action on the TV the real World Cup took place last night in Isleworth, as 32 quality teams managed by 7 inept managers (any of whom could do a better job than Maradona though) all trying to win the ultimate prize (sorry ladies, it’s not a night on the town with Jon, that’s for the last place team).
Everyone had a mix of good and bad teams (feel free to put England in either of those categories). Jon did well with France, Germany and Argentina, James had Brazil, France and Portugal, Paul had England, Steph had the Netherlands and Scott had Italy… a couple of latecomers (Dan and Mark) were given a few teams out of sympathy (Honduras) and out of certain managers not wanting to have to support them in the game, as in real life (Portugal)… not sure who had Spain but chances are they probably fell out with themselves before the tournament started and refused to listen to their own managerial instincts.
The league part of the game goes on a Group by Group basis resolving all 6 games before moving to the next group. All managers have a set number of ‘action’ cards for each team and can choose to play 1-4 per team per game. The only downside here was that muggins forgot to print out a world cup wall chart and so results were scribbled on our regular scoresheets, napkins, the back of hands and anything else we could grab. Game play here, although quite simple, felt frantic as we tried to shepherd 48 games through in 45 minutes while tracking scores and league tables, resulting in more frantic hand gestures than Jose Mourinho directing traffic.
So to the results… Group A – and the first shock as France drew all their games (hands up anyone surprised at this… can I say we got there before the real world cup on this one?) and failed to qualify while Jon adroitly managed to steer both SA and Mexico into the next round. Argentina qualified in Group B but only as runner up to Greece (yes, really). England and the USA made it out of Group C but Germany stumbled (oh, if only this were true) which left Serbia and Australia to qualify. Group E saw the Netherlands and Japan squeeze through and then another shock as Italy stumbled out (in last place) leaving Paraguay and Slovakia to edge out plucky New Zealand. Brazil and Portugal got though the group of death, Portugal only by the narrowest margin having scored 1 more goal than North Korea, and finally Spain and Switzerland advanced to take the last 2 spots.
Now onto the playoffs and gameplay here changed to be closer to the mechanics of the board game itself. 3 cards each per manager involved (however many teams they had). Each turn you played an action card against any team and picked one up… once all the cards (draw pile and hands) were gone the scores were totalled. I think this is a more elegant way of managing the games; there must be a good reason why it’s not used at the group stages? Again some more shocks as Brazil fell to the might of Switzerland, and Portugal won their local derby with Spain. Argentina, England (a goalfest 4-3), the Netherlands, Mexico and Japan all won comfortably while the USA managed to oust Australia on penalties. By this stage managers were starting to feel the competitiveness. I have no proof of this but I’m sure that Scott and Steph were kicking each other under the table during their games...
QF matchups were closely fought with 3 going to penalties. England drew 3-3 with Argentina and then won the penalties (you can tell this is not reality can’t you?), and the Netherlands lost on penalties to Switzerland after a tough 1-1 draw. The USA pipped Mexico on pens after another 1-1 draw while Japan squeezed by Portugal 3-2.
So to the Semi-Finals. If England ever found themselves in a WC semi with only the USA, Japan and Switzerland to bet you’d like their chances… however being England they, of course, lost, again on penalties, after a 2-2 draw with Switzerland. The USA thrashed Japan 5-2 which would’ve been a great game to watch... if you were supporting the USA… which in reality none would be.
And to the final…USA v Switzerland. Hands up who has that on a betting slip?... The tension was palatable, as the USA took an early lead. Switzerland pulled one back for a 1-1 draw at half time. Then (could it be something wrong with the ball being used?) a goalkeeping blunder took Switzerland ahead before the USA equalised and finally won the Cup with a last minute winner… Oh and England won the 3rd place with a 5-2 drubbing of Japan.. .too little too late, I don’t give much for Capello’s (Paul’s) chances once he gets home.
So the USA won the world cup… I’m so glad this was only a game … and kudos to Scott, their successful manager. I hear Barcelona are on the phone right now ready to make an offer…… yes, here it is - they’d like Agricola for Power Grid. Scott, are you interested ?
Winner USA – Scott; 2nd Switzerland – Paul; 3rd England – Paul; 4th Japan - Jon

With Caylus finishing in the time it took to play the entire World Cup, the groups mixed up, with Daniel drumming up support for a welcome return to -

Vegas Showdown (thanks Daniel for this one)
Las Vegas Baby! Four miles of bright lights and casinos, thirty four thousand hectares of bustling city, half a million souls (not to mention the millions of tourists) and Laurence Fishburne being all moody over terribly bloody crime scenes.
Las Vegas started as a few shacks and eighty odd people in 1905 but it wasn’t till the post war rise in popularity of legalised gambling that it defined itself as the world’s casino capital. And if it wasn’t for the interest of organised crime gangs then maybe even today we wouldn’t have such mighty meccas to the one arm bandit as The Golden Nugget or the MGM Grand - lives and futures hinging on the turn of a card or the roll of a dice.
All of this sadly has very little to do with Vegas Showdown, a light yet enjoyable auction bidding game. If Bugsy Siegel were to take time off from his busy schedule at the concrete shoe factory to play this game he would probably form an aggressive buying strategy, and would no doubt step outside of the rules to build rooms on black market credit. He might even threaten to pump a cap into somebody’s bottom. Then again he probably wouldn’t say anything due to the fact he’s been dead since 1947.
The IBGers were far better behaved and there wasn’t even a double entendre about jumping aggressively into an early slot in sight. Gareth adopted a patient strategy, holding back his bids for only the most useful casino rooms, while Pip seemed determined to roll in filthy lucre by buying up every game table and slot machine in the game. Mark and Daniel both missed an opportunity to collect on a bonus score which put them behind for most of the game and Gareth took a rather laid back early lead and ultimate victory. Pip ended up William Wilkerson to Gareth’s Bugsy Siegel, Daniel was chased outta town whilst Mark ended up as little more than a chalk outline in a back alley.
Gareth; Philip; Daniel; Mark

Jon had missed his opportunity to play it last week, so was keen to grab a place at the table for the second outing of –

This is very different fare from the normal Eurogames, card games, co-ops and fillers at IBG, being a more creative ‘party’ game, if you had to give it a label, but is great fun all the same. It was new to all players apart from Scott and Steph, but is a very simple game to understand and start playing.
The tone of the game was set in the first round, when Scott gave a clue about ‘Sex in the City’, which managed to get the one vote he needed, although not for the reason he intended (a picture of a large apple referencing the city that the programme is set in – yeah…pretty subtle eh?....)
It was when the time came for Jon to be the storyteller that a truly seminal moment in IBG history occurred. Jon had a picture of a bell ringing and gave the literary clue “For Thee”, expecting several of the well-read individuals around the table to get the John Donne connection. However, despite being surrounded by some of the finest intelligentsia in SW London, the only player to get the right answer was Jon’s arch rival and nemesis, Steph. Jon expressed his appreciation and new-found respect for the Kiwi girl-gamer, and all was suddenly warm and fuzzy at the Dixit table…..
Other highlights included Paul’s inability to get any takers for his “Spit Spot” clue (a Mary Poppins reference) and Steph’s long and detailed story of how she was mocked as a child for eating milk-sodden cereal, ending with the phrase “Never Eat Soggy Weetabix”. Harking back to last week, this was referring to the points of the compass on show on one of the cards, but proved to be far too subtle for the blokes around the table.
This is one of those games where the scores are secondary to the ‘game experience’, but for the record, Keith sneaked past the magic 30-point mark first, whilst Paul just managed to haul himself up to half-way.
Keith 32; Jon 27; Scott 27; Steph 24; James 19; Paul 15

Paul went on a beer run, so we looked for a quick filler, and Scott wanted one that he hadn't played before, so he chose –

Piece o’ Cake
Paul must have some sort of special powers as he managed to get a round of drinks in about 3 minutes flat. As he’d been good enough to get the liquid refreshments, Jon stepped aside and settled for being the rules explainer. The game was also new to James, but is easily described and understood.
Paul and Keith both decided to go for the majority in chocolate, whilst Scott had the Strawberries sewn up pretty early. Steph tried her successful strategy from last time of collecting and eating in equal measure, whilst James concentrated on collecting as much as possible.
After the 5th and final cake had been shared out, it was the Steph and Scott combination that ended up on top, with Scott just pipping his missus to the post.
Scott 23 (8 eaten/15 collected); Steph 21 (7/14); Paul 18 (7/11); James 17 (0/17); Keith 16 (16/0)

To round the evening off, it was time to reconvene as a large group, and find out who would make the most devious –

Jon and Steph, in their newly-formed alliance, were Saboteurs a couple of times, and Paul also turned to the dark side, but tonight was a night for the good dwarves to triumph (despite a couple of close shaves). And the shining light amongst them was Scott, who kept his head down and dug for victory. Scott 8; Philip 7; Gareth 6; Mark 5; Steph 4; Jon 4; Dan 4; Paul 3; James 2

I think there were also games of High Society and San Juan played, but no-one's owned up to them, so no details I'm afraid.

England are playing Slovenia next Wednesday, but it's an afternoon kick-off, so the English contingent will still be able to come out to play with the Dutch, New Zealand, American and Hungarian IBG'ers.

See you then!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

"Naughty Elephants Squirt Water......"

Players: Jeff, Keith, Jon, Gareth, Philip, Johan, Toby, Vicky, Maynard, Steph, Scott, Emma, Ian, Iain, Tonio, Barrie, Jim, Paul

A fantastic turn-out of 18 IBG'ers meant that there was the opportunity to play a wide variety of games tonight. We had everything from a test of general knowledge, a test of managing a dastardly dungeon, a test of describing pictures in an oblique fashion and a test of knowing when not to send your workforce to the outskirts of a French town......

There was also the proud unveiling of an iPad and the equally proud unveiling of a tattoo. Oh, and Tonio has decided to start a campaign to put khaki-coloured suits back in fashion.

To start the evening off, another of Tonio’s seemingly endless collection of fillers –

This is basically a general knowledge game, the idea being to try to guess the number of correct answers from a list of 10 ‘possibles’. For instance, a list of 10 countries was read out, and the players had to decide which of them were amongst the 10 poorest in the world. You then bid how many you think you can get, and the highest bidder tries first (a la ‘Name that Tune’ in reverse). The first person to get it right scores the points, and everyone else scores minus the number they were away from the winning bid.
As lots of IBG’ers kept arriving, and in keeping with the spirit of the club, we ended up playing with more players than the supposed maximum, but it seemed to work ok.
Questions included philosophers, poisonous plants and Olympic venues, and when the head-scratching had subsided, Philip had turned out to be the brightest cookie, with Johan being the only other player to score positive points.
Philip 9; Johan 6; Maynard 0; Jon -1; Gareth -1; Steph -6; Scott -8; Emma -9

Some more players waiting for other boardgamers decided to fill their time with a quick game of - 

Mamma Mia! (thanks Paul)
Everyone had played before apart from Iain, but no one very much or very recently, so checks of the rule book were needed at the start and mid-game, but nothing significant.
In the first round Paul powered into the lead taking three pizzas, mainly based on the hope that other pizzas would fail, which they did!
In round two everyone else did some good catching up with Iain and Toby managing three and Keith and Barrie on two.
Then in the third round, Paul managed to sneak two more pizzas, taking the game, with Iain and Toby getting four (Iain having more ingredients at the end, so winning the tie break and securing second place).
Paul 5; Iain 4; Toby 4; Keith 3; Barrie 2

Jim, arriving at the "gaming hour" of 19:30 was amazed to find so many people already present and playing games. Fortunately Vicky was looking for a game too and Jim had a new-to-him two player game -

Sumo (thanks Jim)
This is an old Hasbro game where each player is a Sumo wrestler, the idea being to knock your opponent out of the ring (the board) by clever use of defence and attack cards in your hand. A quick read through the short rules and the game started.
After 10 minutes of milling around, Jim managed to push Vicky’s wrestler out of the ring, both of us being left with a rather "is that it?" feeling. [N.B. Subsequent games away from IBG prove that it is actually a nice quick filler with some strategy/bluffing and sudden attacking moves, much like the real thing].
Jim - won; Vicky - didn't

A couple of new games from Scott and Steph this week; the first one up being a quick card game about penguins having a party. Being a Knizia, it is immersed in theme as usual....

Pinguin Party (thanks Scott for this report)
You have a hand of cards with different types of penguins, the aim of the game is to play out your hand of cards or finish with as few left as possible. To play the cards you build a pyramid out of them (specifically a 2D one for anyone totally lost at this point), you can either play a card next to another penguin in the bottom layer, that can hold 8 penguins, or you can place a card on top of two other penguin cards but only if the card you play matches one of the penguins underneath.
The trick of the game is to play your cards at the right time and get all of yours in while cutting off the penguins that you have none of.
If you can’t play a card on your turn, you take a number of points equal to the cards you have left and the other players continue until everyone has passed or someone has finished, at which point the player who finished first can discard up to two point tokens and everyone else who hadn’t already draws points for the number of cards remaining. The winner is the player with the least number of point chips; you play a number of rounds equal to the number of players to give everyone a chance to start.
Tonio was here early and Ian arrived just in time to join in the fun.
Most rounds saw people take a couple of points after getting most of their penguins played until a later round saw Tonio annoyed even more than usual at Scott after he blocked off the yellow penguins early after he hadn’t drawn any of them, while Tonio had a hand filling up with them.
There was a slight intermission as Barrie entered and as subtle as a sledgehammer, he walks in and bumps in to Scott, crying out that he almost damaged his new iPad, what a shame that would be :)
Despite any lucky play on Scott’s part, Steph managed to triumph as usual by getting all her cards played on the last round earning her minus 2 points for final scores as follows:
Steph 2; Scott 4; Ian 7; Tonio 8

Against Jon's better judgement, 5 players assembled for the second outing of this month's GOTM -

This was completely new to Toby, and Johan needed a refresher of the rules too, but it’s always worth taking a few extra minutes to go through them thoroughly.
Gareth tried Dan’s opening gambit from last week, and moved the provost back on his opening turn. It therefore required a little diplomacy and trust between Johan and Jon to move it back again.
Gareth had obviously come with a premeditated strategy, and started erecting buildings at every opportunity, completely ignoring the castle or the favour tracks. Toby is obviously a quick learner, and was soon sending batches to the castle along with acquiring buildings along the way. Jon chose to focus on the castle, not building a single building until near the end of the game.
Midway through the game, Johan decided to place one of his workers in isolation at the edge of town. Jon felt that it was only right to use his free provost move to send it back, but promised not to pay any deniers to move it back further. Therefore Johan paid 3 deniers to move the provost back to its original position, only to have Philip jump in and deny him use of his worker after all. This was the second time that Philip was to use the provost to screw with Johan’s plans, which rather put paid to any chance of success for the Dutchman.
With a couple of rounds remaining, it was obvious that Toby and Jon were both wanting to build a ‘blue’ building, and it was only through some co-operative provost-moving that this proved possible. As it turned out, the newbie came out on top by a comfortable margin, having played a good mix of strategies throughout the game. Maybe the veterans had been too nice to him – only through a rematch will we find out…….
Toby 77; Jon 62; Garth 57; Philip 52; Johan 46

The Sumo twins were now joined by Keith and Paul, and Jim proffered -

Yspahan (thanks again Jim)
This is a favourite game of Jim's that he had religiously brought with him every time he had attended IBG but never played there, An explanation of the rules (with only one minor detail omitted) with heavy emphasis on the merits and benefits of camels and gold, and the effect of the camel train as a bonus, and the game was under way.
The first week (round) played out and the omission in the rules came to light - the building cubes played already played are all removed from the board and returned to their owners. This did not adversely affect anyone because all the building work was complete.
The second round was a tenser affair for such a light game and the lead changed frequently as the building of the players "bonus effects" cards developed. Jim had remained stubbornly in last or next-to-last place throughout.
At the end of the third day, Jim's experience showed through as he concentrated on placing cubes on the camel train and gaining cards for every cube while the others stayed mainly focussed on completing the buildings. A final flurry of card play after card play on the final turn pushed Jim a long way ahead of the others.
Jim mentioned that the game now had a list price of a staggering £41, but Milan-spiele had the German copies on offer at 11:90 Euros if anyone was interested in ordering a copy. All three other players opted to do so. It looks like the game will be played again soon at IBG, but I’m not sure that a win, let alone one so large, will be possible ever again!
Jim 108; Keith 73; Paul 65; Vicky 59

For the second new game from Scott and Steph -

Dixit (thanks to Scott for this report)
Dixit was brought to the table gaining lots of interest, particularly from Emma over the cute little rabbit scoring pieces. Don’t be alarmed, the scoring track and pieces might be overwhelmingly childish but the game can be quite devious as Tonio and Steph would be showing the rest of us, those being Scott, Emma and Maynard.
The game is very simple, you have a hand of 6 cards with some very zany and artistically drawn pictures on them. One player is the storyteller each round and they pick one of their cards and say whatever they like about it, they can quote a phrase, sing a poem, say just a word or even make a sound to describe their card. This is played face down and every other player must choose a card from their hand best describing whatever it is the storyteller is going on about.
The cards are all shuffled up and placed face up on the table for people to vote on which one they think is really the storyteller’s. The scoring is what makes the game interesting because if everyone picks the right card then everyone except the storyteller gets 2 points, so they shouldn’t make their clue too obvious, but if no-one gets it right, everyone except the story teller gets 2 points, so they can’t make it too obscure either. In all other cases the storyteller and the correct guessers gets 3 points. You also get 1 point for everyone else who guesses your card instead of the storytellers so it pays to play something very fitting to the story. The first person to 30 points is the winner.
The problem though is that coming up with a phrase that only registers with part of your audience and relates to one of the amazingly diverse and quirky cards can be extremely difficult, but it’s also the great fun of the game.
The game had so much love for it that after the first game, we played again immediately, which was almost past breaking point for Maynard but he was happy enough to play again.
The games formed a bit of a mish-mash in my mind so the highlights of the games are as follows:
Tonio always having a great card on someone else’s story, so much so that he would often have everyone guess his while he guessed the storyteller’s correctly.
Emma laughing hysterically at most of the cards as she saw them, giving away a lot of information particularly when she was storyteller, after which she started looking at all of the cards before placing them to disguise which one was hers a little better.
Maynard having a story of “Naughty Elephants Squirt Water” which must have slipped past Steph when she was a youngster in New Zealand as everyone else correctly guessed the compass that was played.
Scott believing he had the best clue ever in the world for a card he had been staring at all of the first game, this being his head stretched a little in to the middle of the table and a click of his tongue, and that was it. Tonio pulled his famous trick of playing a better card for the clue and everyone else picked his metronome while only Tonio successfully guessed the donkey (you know, from Shrek, oh, you didn’t get it either?!)
Steph showing her deviousness with her story of “Ships don’t sail in winter” playing a picture of a tree holding a bunch of flowers on a sunny day; if you looked closely enough he had a tattoo (as does one of our IBG'ers, as the warm weather allowed us to discover tonight...) of an anchor and with his wilting branches it was clearly winter, clearly! Suffice it to say this was well above the level Scott thought we were playing the game (i.e. the lowest possible); we all started staring at the cards much closer after that, especially on Steph’s turn.
Some rules to suit our needs, when Tonio and Steph both reached 30 at exactly the same time on the same space in the first game, we decided to keep playing until there was a clear winner. After which there was still enough interest to keep going; so a second game started and Scott introduced the “keep the same hand of cards you had, but discard any if you don’t like them” rule for the beginning of the second game, partly so he could play that donkey card he had just thought of a clue for and also get rid of the other ones he couldn’t find any use for.
After a lot of good clues from most and some dubious ones from most as well, the scores for the games were:
Game 1 - Tonio 37; Steph 35; Emma, Maynard & Scott 22

Game 2 - Tonio 31; Scott & Steph 25; Emma 21; Maynard 20

It was thoroughly great fun had by all, with Emma still wanting to play another game of it but Lexio seemed to be enough of a distraction to tempt her away. Beware if playing with Tonio, he is unstoppable. Beware if playing with Steph, she is tricksy, but we all knew that anyway. For those who missed it, tune in next Wednesday...

Philip's comment - "Don't remember much about the game..."
Stephanie 186; Scott 179; Emma 164; Jim 113; Philip 101.

And to round the evening off -

Nanuk (thanks Gareth)
The Arctic hunting game Nanuk was tabled for the second week running and the unofficial IBG adapted rules for 8+ players were used (2 cards dealt rather than 3). Three tables were joined together to accommodate everyone and the rules were quickly explained to the newcomers, with the game underway in less than 5 minutes.
There was a good number of successful hunts as well as some tragic failures. When the scores were totalled up Toby came out on top, closely followed by Vicky who took the most polar bears for the bonus points. A great way to end the evening off.
Toby 9, Vicky 8, Ian 6, Iain 6, Barrie 6, Paul 5, Gareth 4, Jon 4, Maynard 3, Keith 0, Johan 0

It should be noted that several players were a bit distracted during Nanuk as Barrie had been showing off his latest toy (a shiny new iPad) and a rather addictive little game of Air Traffic Controller. Show-off......

For those of you wondering if that was all the games that 18 people managed to fit into an evening, you'd be right - there was also an apearance from Rat-a-tat-Cat, Pandemic and Dungeon Lords, but as no-one has sent me any information about them, you'll never get to hear about Barrie's famous victory.......

See you next week.

And....."C'MON ENGLAND!!!!"