Saturday, 31 July 2010

It does exactly what it says on the tin (or box)............

Players: Toby, Vicky, Maynard, Jon, James, Scott, Gareth, Keith, Tonio, Jeff, Philip, Ian, Paul

Tonight saw 13 IBG'ers gather from various parts of South-West London (and further beyond) to play some excellent games together.
This evening we saw Scott have a schizophrenic reaction to rolling dice and Maynard have a less than enthusiastic reaction to some box art...

James and Jon had arrived early for some quick 2-player games, but a couple of others had the same idea, so we opted for -

Roll Through the Ages
This was new to James and Ian, but it's a quick game to learn and play. James decided to go all Egyptian and build the Great Pyramid, but his lack of irrigation meant that he was affected by drought on a number of occasions.
Ian and Scott also did some monument building - or rather some partial monument building. Because the game end came before they could remove the skips and scaffolding, they lost out on a number of points.
Jon disdained the manual work and opted for using his large workforce to research developments, which triggered the game end just in time. He was also fortunate to inflict a couple of incidents of pestilence on his opponents, whilst narrowly avoiding a point-sapping invasion himself. Scott took this opportunity to loudly declare - "I hate rolling dice!"
The results in this low-scoring game were:
Jon 13 (16 devs + 0 monuments - 3 disasters); Ian 8 (15+2-9); James 7 (11+13-17); Scott 4(11+5-12) 

Whilst waiting for any stragglers, there was time for another quick filler -

Pick Picknic
Keith and Jon spent most of the game placing foxes in empty fields, whereas Scott and James managed to hunt down vast quantities of grain. Towards the end of the game, they both placed chickens in the same field of plentiful corn. James offered to share the spoils - Scott chose to fight it out with the roll of the die. The result? Let's just say that Scott changed his opinion of dice-rolling from the last game......
Scott 44; James 32; Keith 31; Maynard 26; Jon 16

Toby and Gareth had both arrived, and played a couple of 2-player games whilst waiting for the others to finish -

Dominion (thanks Toby for this report)
Gareth and Toby elected for the Interaction scenario because 'its more fun'. Gareth favoured the thieves and villages and was trashing Toby's copper early on but Toby had struck lucky enough times with his draws to get Villages and Festivals which, combining with Milita, meant that he was soon stringing 5 or 6 treasure minimum per hand without the use of treasure cards.
Toby still bought a few Gold though and guarded himself with purchasing 3 Moat cards in one turn. Not that they helped that much as silver and gold trickled from his hand....Gareth stringing two thieves together in one hand....but it didn't come fast enough.
After a couple of high treasure hands (combo'd Festivals with some gold in addition leading to a 13 treasure with 4 buys at one stage) Toby snaffled a couple of Provinces. Gareth pointed out that Thief and Village were out and Moat was down to a mere one card left - that pretty much ended the game.
Several sets of cards were untouched e.g. Council Room and even Library only had one purchased. I think that snaffling cards with +action and +treasure on them remains a handy way to combat a thief heavy hand but I suspect the game was actually decided by more than a little early luck for Toby in his draws and some unfortunate ones for Gareth later on where he was limited in treasure and what actions he could take.
I think the Interaction scenario does genuinely qualify for being 'more fun' though!
Toby 15; Gareth 3

Toby's first game.
Gareth - won; Toby - didn't

With 9 gamers searching for a game, there was much humming and harring, before someone had the bright idea of putting 6 games on the table and rolling a die to decide what was played (actually I think that it was Scott with his new-found love of the 6-sided randomizer...) The results were Container (whoops from Scott) and Arkadia. Maynard picked up the Container box, looked at the picture on the box (of a stack of shipping containers) and put it down again quickly. He was not inspired.....

Container (thanks Scott for this one)
The 5 IBG'ers who least hated the idea joined in the game of doing exactly what it says on the tin and shipping containers around - what more fun could you have on a Wednesday? The players being Scott, Keith, Tonio, Gareth and James in a rough descending order of positive interest shown; Scott was the only one to have played before.
It’s a game of simple rules and tough decisions, you can buy factories and produce goods, buy warehouses and fill them with other players factory goods, send your ship in to another player’s dock and buy from their warehouses and then send the ship along to the island in the middle to sell your containers via a blind bid auction, again selling to the other players. The idea of selling the same containers seemed to bemuse Tonio immensely. The game does give the players full control of how containers are priced at each stage and what a container is worth on the island, the trick is to gauge what the worth is to other players to make the maximum amount of profit from it.
The score at the end is based on money in hand and goods on the island (which are worth different amounts to each player based on a card drawn at the beginning assigning their values), since you constantly buy from other players, to drive the economy the government of the island will match any bid paid for goods on the island as long as the shipping player doesn’t buy his own goods. Players have to be careful early on to balance how much they spend on infrastructure like factories as the money goes out of the game with shipping goods to introduce money in to the economy.
James was up first and opted to get in to factory producing, Tonio went with warehousing, Keith with factory goods and to complete the pattern, Gareth went with warehousing too. Leaving Scott with a relatively simple choice at this point to become the designated shipper and picked up the very cheap priced goods that Gareth was offering.
Once Scott got his ship to the island and with a generous early bid from Tonio showed that shipping was possibly going to be the most profitable and as the game progressed, everyone dipped their toes in to it as the game often does.
By the mid game, the roles had been defined and James and Keith were competing to be the best factory producers, Keith assumed the market would support an increase in his prices but James kept his steady and Keith lost a lot of momentum in his game plan from lost sales. Tonio invested a lot of his money early getting goods on his island space and was clearly in the lead with those but he had two loans funding it at one point. Gareth was the primary warehouser and Scott would often pick the goods up soon after they were placed, a lot of talk around the table particularly from James tried to force more money out of Scott’s pocket by getting Gareth to increase his prices. In one ambitious turn from Gareth, Scott rejected to buy at the over inflated warehouse and bought a warehouse of his own forcing Gareth to re-assess his ludicrous prices. With factories producing a lot of goods per turn, the warehouses making a good profit and everyone having enough to buy large shipments for fair values, a lot of the revenue streams were evening out in their effectiveness.
The goods on the island were inflating rather quickly though, particularly with shipments that would give players a full range of colours (from white through three different shades of brown to black) and to ensure everyone got the shipment they wanted they would increase the bids slightly from the previous auction. The only downside to that was that everyone had the same idea and on almost every bid there would be a tie amongst those who had bid the most forcing a re-bid of at least the same amount (very good for the shipper to squeeze the players out of another $ or two) and then if it was still tied the shipper could choose (it was never Scott that got chosen, designated the player to target all game).
Towards the end, Keith’s island looked a little empty and was struggling to sell goods, with Gareth (the main buyer) usually buying from James even though it would be beneficial to help the player in last but James did have the precious black containers which were the scarcest and potentially the most lucrative to a players island because of it.
Tonio had made it known that the large pile of white containers on his island were good and he needed to increase the number of low value containers to offset them; because at the end of the game each player has to discard the containers they have the most of (they oversupplied the island) and gives an incentive to stock the lower value containers along with the higher value ones. Therefore the shippers had tried not to put white on their ships in danger of lowering Tonio’s bid.
Once two colours have all been produced the game ends that turn and James and Keith were in the best position to control it, as we neared the last turn and being thrown out of the pub, Scott sweet talked James in to extending the game so that James could get his shipment sold on the island along with the un-implied effect of Scott getting his sold too. In a last auction, one that seemed to work well for Tonio, the highest bid of the game on three containers gave Tonio and Scott a big boost, Scott for the cash he earned on his sale and Tonio on the prevention of losing his stack of high scoring containers making him a similar profit.
We quickly totted up the scores and Scott announced his, heard it put him in second and after a quick recount and carrying the 1 this time came up with a score that was 10 higher and enough to win, with Gareth relegated to second, we couldn’t have Gareth beat Scott two weeks in a row now could we?! 
Scott 124; Gareth 119; James 104; Tonio 100; Keith 77

So it appeared that Scott’s early game and last turn shipping success had just clinched the win, within the quick clear up we didn’t get a chance to analyse exactly what happened to everyone on the island but Scott had failed to get a low value container to be his highest quantity on the island and had lost one of his highest values costing him around 22 points (losing 3 tens instead of a possible 4 twos).
Gareth had obviously succeeding in milking a large profit out of his warehouse empire, being the only player with max warehouses. The fight between Keith and James over factory pricing had lowered the profits from it significantly and produced lower scores as a result. Tonio had maybe invested a little too much early money in his island goods and was forced to have loans tying him up as a result, but James and Gareth had both required loans as well; Scott and Keith managed to avoid them.

A game that can be very different each game based on how players will value their goods, a very tactical game where a little bit of negotiation can be useful. Keith was hoping for some price fixing with James on the factory goods. Given its nature as a good game to play a few times to really get the system, a future game of the month it may be!

And the 4 lucky souls that avoided Container, tried their collective hands at -

Jon had played once before against Tonio, but it was new to Vicky, Maynard and Toby.
The 4-player game is very different to the 2-player version. Firstly, you get less turns, so scoring banners get used much more frequently. Secondly, it is more difficult to set yourself up for some good scoring, as 3 others get to mess with your plan before you can play again.
The sudden arrival of the end of the game took Toby a little by surprise, as he still had a banner left at the end. Maynard (despite his mumblings about misunderstanding the rules at the beginning) put together some large scores at the end and ran in with a good total.
Jon had managed to manipulate the scoring pieces in the castle at the right time, and had amassed quite a few points by the mid-game. He then picked up a variety of coloured seals to ensure a few extra points at the end - enough for the victory. And the general consensus on the game? Definitely worth another try....... 
Jon 97; Maynard 85; Toby 69; Vicky 60

A Brief History of the World (thanks Ian)
It was the second outing in a row for this sort of hybrid of Risk and Small World. Ian and Jeff had played last week, Phillip was new to this version but had played the older, longer version - History of the World, and Paul was completely new to the game.
The game started with the smaller empires in Epochs 1 and 2 going by very quickly – owing to some bad play and atrocious dice rolls Ian was way behind after Epoch 2 with the other 3 closely bunched – but the happy consequence of that was that he got first pick in Epoch 3 when the Romans came up, with their 15 armies. The Roman Empire this week was somewhat short lived though as, having gone second in the turn, the remaining 2 players piled in and sacked their way through the Romans double quick. So after the 3rd Epoch Phillip was in first, Ian second, Paul 3rd and Jeff last (I think).
In the next 2 Epochs notable empires included Jeff getting the Mongols and doing some great pillaging around China, Ian getting the Arabs and having a nice little jihad around the Middle East, and Paul taking over most of China and India.
In the last Epoch with Paul being in last place and therefore getting first choice of empires, he was very unlucky that probably the 2 best ones in France and Britain didn’t show up, so he ended up going with the Americans and scoring well in taking over North and South America. Jeff was indignant that even picking second the best choice he had was Russia, which meant he was treading all over his own remainder of the Mongols, and couldn’t reach Europe without invading regions he already owned.
Phillip was the Qing Dynasty and scored pretty well, then Ian was left with Japan and a measly 5 armies but managed to augment this a little with 2 extra armies from a population explosion event. He also lucked out in drawing an extra event card from Japan’s special ability which gave him no loss of dice when invading by Sea. He just about managed to sneak into the lead narrowly over Phillip by the end of the turn.
When bonus points were revealed Phillip had scored the most but missed out on overhauling Ian for the win by a single point. A very tight game, and it probably came down to a bit of luck in the end that very improbably out of the seven possible empires in Epoch 3, the 3 that didn’t appear were all of the European based ones (France, Britain, Germany) which left Ian scoring well in Europe with his legacy empires.And there was just time for a couple of games to round off the night -
Ian 162; Phillip 161; Jeff 143; Paul 134

Mamma Mia!
Vicky 6 recipes (4 cards left); Toby 6 (3); Jon 3; Maynard 2

Roll Through the Ages
Philip 15; Jeff 14; Paul 14; Ian 10

Also played was Nuns on the Run - a report might follow (or it might not....might need to roll a dice to decide........)

See you next time!

No comments:

Post a Comment