Wednesday, 11 August 2010


Players: Jon, James, Scott, Steph (for a bit), Keith, Philip, Gareth (also for a bit), Maynard (for a longer bit)

Summer holidays, football-watching, working late, Am-Dram rehearsals and "falling asleep" put paid to a number of IBG regulars this week, but there were still enough keen gamers to keep a couple of tables going.

There were a wide variety of games played - trivia, tower-building, auctions, dice rolling and fantasy warfare - but most notably there was a display of general manual klutziness from one IBGer..... 

The early-birds decided to test out their brains with this popular trivia game –

Gambit 7
Jon and Maynard joined the game in round 2, but there was still plenty of time left for them to show their ignorance on a wide variety of subjects. Scott got his decimal points a little confused, guessing that the average decibel level in a disco was 9.7, and several people were surprised to learn that the tallest ever giraffe was not as tall as they thought.
Our open-minded bunch of gamers also largely over-estimated the number of ‘positions’ described in the Kama Sutra. (No comment……)
Steph, Philip and Maynard all went for broke on the penultimate round by playing their Gambit 7 chip, but failed miserably. It was left to Jon and Keith to ‘rejoice in their shared victory’, with James only a point behind.
Jon 24; Keith 24; James 23; Scott 12; Philip 0; Steph 0; Maynard 0

Whilst deciding what to play next, Jon picked up his copy of Forbidden Island, only to be a complete butter-fingers and drop it all over the floor. As if in sympathy, Steph also decided to throw Modern Art into the general mess of components under the table, leading to 10 minutes of general ‘component-sorting’.
Actually, this is probably how genius game-ideas evolve. Imagine a game where glamorous art enthusiasts trek around a sinking island looking for priceless pieces of art, stopping only to engage in a variety of mind-bending auctions every turn? Hmmm…..maybe not………

Anyway, Scott left to take his beloved home, and the remaining gamers decided to pick up a quick manual dexterity game until he returned –

This is the game that Jenga wished it was – crazy irregularly-shaped tower building, with a few magic beans thrown in for good measure. The only thing missing from this implementation of the game (as opposed to the MB version Bandu), is the lack of standard foundation blocks. Therefore, the players decided to randomly assign the most stable blocks as foundations, with the player (James) who received the most obviously advantageous block being charged 2 beans for the privilege.
Philip, James and Maynard started picking up blocks for their towers, and it was Philip’s that was the first to topple. Jon had somehow managed to avoid picking up many blocks, and had acres of flat space available, but tried to get too cute with a curved piece and paid the penalty. Manual dexterity was not proving to be his strong suit tonight... 
By now, Maynard had run out of beans, and Keith was merrily passing on all manner of strange-shaped pieces for him to build with. The inevitable happened, and it was then left to James and Keith to duke it out.
James had fewer beans, but despite a valiant rearguard action, he was the first to fall, leaving Keith as the victor.
Being a further example of the wide variety of games that are played and enjoyed at IBG, I’m sure that this will turn up again on another week.
Keith 1st; James 2nd; Maynard 3rd; Jon 4th; Philip 5th

Scott had now returned, so after some debate, the group split in half to play 2 games – the first being –

Scott, Jon and Maynard pulled out this 3 round auction game. Maynard had only played once before, but it soon came ‘flooding’ back (see what I did there….?)
In the first epoch, Scott managed to snag the most pharaohs along with a number of monuments, putting him in an early lead. The RA tiles came out thick and fast in the second epoch, and Jon’s failure to pick up any civilisation tiles left him with a minus score for the round.
In the last epoch, Maynard won his auctions quite early, but accumulated a number of civilisations and monuments. Jon and Scott had a little back-and-forth before Jon was left by himself for the final auction. And of course, the obligatory chanting of “Ra!” had the desired effect and he was left with a pile of sand and little else.
Scott’s consistent scoring, collection of monuments and highest sun total were more than enough to give him a comfortable win, with Maynard just pipping Jon into second place.
Scott 49; Maynard 32; Jon 31

Spurning the chance to be hoodwinked by Jon again in Small World ("honest - I've only got 3 victory points and Gareth has got 75...") Keith, Philip and James decided they were brave enough to endure a first run at the club for -

Kingsburg (thanks James for this report)
This was new to Philip and Keith, which meant trying to de-cypher another of James' dubious rule explanations. It's an odd game to describe. Players roll 3 dice and use the dice to select advisors (numbered 1 - 18) who in turn provide resources, soldiers & victory points. Resources (gold, timber and stone) are used to buy buildings that give bonuses in battle, extra dice, rerolls etc.
After 3 seasons like this where players are building up their defences, the Winter season has an invading army to defeat. The total game spans 5 years, with increasingly hard invaders each Winter, and at the end the victory points are totalled. Quite simple to play despite the board looking complicated at first glance. So let the dice rolling begin.
Philip took the VP path in the early stages while Keith realized that by lagging slightly behind in the building stakes gave him bonuses each round so played the long game.
James was trying to repeat his gazumping victory the night before against 3 computer opponents by building for battle bonuses, although he quickly noticed that human opponents (especially euro-hardened veterans such as Keith and Philip) weren't quite the numpties that the computer had provided.
After a couple of years Philip was leading in buildings and VP, James had the best defences and Keith lagged behind but had the advantage in resources.
It's a neat game mechanic as there are certainly several different paths to victory and the expansion adds even more options. Keith's plan seemed to be to take the 10-advisor with a sneak peak at the soon-to-be invading army and then to set his defences exactly...
So the game drew into its last year and Keith made his move with a double building move in the last Autumn. James fluffed his last chance, unable to complete the 7 VP Church as Philip snagged the 6 Advisor first, and Philip kept his nose in front building anything he could get his hands on.
So to the last battle, James picked up extra VP with his fortress but it wasn't enough. Keith jumped a point ahead but still not enough as Philip managed to hold on and win by a point.
Given the pendulum swings during the game it was a good close finish. And with a different swing of luck at the end these positions could easily have been reversed. Next times we'll break out a few more of the expansions and maybe try 4/5 players as I think this would improve the experience even more...
Philip 42; Keith 41; James 40

With Gareth arriving late in the evening and Maynard just heading off, we were left with three again and with a choice of lots of smaller games or something a little longer, it was decided to play -
Small World (thanks to Scott for this one)
Scott agreed to play this with an “ok, but I always lose”, which may have made the game even more appealing to Jon and Gareth.
Included in the game were the new races and Tales & Legends event cards.
Gareth was up first, and the first event seen for the second round would be that no-one scores points for active races encouraging us all to get a board position and decline next turn. Gareth took some Wealthy Trolls and sat in the mountains along the south hoping to have some troops left by next turn.
Scott went with the Dragon-Master Elves and blasted one of Gareth’s defences while securing as many other areas as possible for scoring.
Jon took the Commando Skeletons and invaded lands thick and fast, keeping away from Scott and Gareth and ended up with the most areas conquered.
Round 2 we all just declined to be able to score during the event.
The next event to hit was a protection against your declined race but only to the highest bidder. Scott and Jon ended up tying with Scott winning on a die roll, as the tiebreaker in the rules about shortest person wins didn’t appeal to Jon... (neither would you if you were 6' 2"!)
Gareth’s next race was the Humans, accompanied by a couple of tokens to prevent invasion in two regions, and he began invading the Skeletons.
Scott took some Peace-Loving Giants and merrily wiped up a couple of declined Skeletons and some indigenous tribes to be able to keep his peace loving ways towards active races and a bonus 3 VP.
Jon continued his avoidance of any direct conflicts and went with the Flying Gypsies, who get a bonus for abandoning regions each turn - which was made much easier since they could fly. Jon spent the rest of the game uprooting every turn and invading the areas he had abandoned the turn before.
Scott stayed peace-loving for a few turns and with his bonus 3vp for not killing any active races was scoring highly each turn; this was not sitting well with Gareth who was trying to entice the Flying Gypsies to be much more vicious towards Scott. Although Jon had picked off a few of the declined Elves he wouldn’t be enticed in to a big fight and split his interests attacking Scott and Gareth in declined areas.
Gareth had expanded well with his Humans alongside the Gypsies and Giants and soon moved on to the Alchemist Amazons who immediately went in to full-scale war with the Giants; wiping out their entire civilisation, save for one measly region that would soon be swooped on by the Gypsies, leaving Scott’s scoring potential to plummet massively.
A late game entrance of Princesses for Scott was not going to get more than a couple of points and there were little choices to pick an aggressive race without spending a lot of VP’s.
It came to the last turn and Gareth chose to pick on the Princesses rather than wipe out the one remaining Skeleton still sitting on the board from the beginning. Jon continued his Gypsies flying around to the empty regions.
It was time to count up and the scores were as follows:
Jon 95; Gareth 94; Scott 83
Scott’s mid game had looked too good and he’d been destroyed because of it, along with people’s natural inclination to target him it seems.. Gareth never factored Jon into his equation who had scored consistently with the Gypsies throughout and beaten him by just one point, Gareth had speculated on the win he could have got had he targeted the one Skeleton that remained but upon realising it would be a shared victory with Jon, he stated that he was happier to come second (yeah, right....!)

And that was all there was time for. A select bunch tonight but lots of fun all the same.

See you next week!

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