Wednesday, 29 September 2010

All things Oriental.........

Players: Barrie, Johan, Gareth, Keith, Jon, Philip, Scott, Daniel, Steph, Adam

Relegated to the conservatory tonight, but with 3 large tables reserved for us it didn't affect the gaming fun. 10 IBG'ers turned up, including a warm welcome to newcomer Adam. Tonight saw the usual mix of card games, board games, euro games, tile-laying games and even some story-telling thrown in for good measure. There were several games that were new to IBG (as usual...), but more unusually, one of them, although new to IBG, was decidedly old (even older than Barrie, apparently)...........

There was also a definite shift towards an oriental theme this evening, with chopsticks being brandished in a sushi-making contest, and some cut-throat trading taking place in order to set up businesses in Chinatown....

But anyway, to kick us off -

Pueblo (thanks Scott for this report)
An odd game to start the night off, about building a pyramid. Everyone has 7 of the identically shaped blocks, 3 neutral and 4 in your colour, where a pair can form a cube but they can tessellate quite well in different orientations. The builders were Scott, Steph, Keith and Gareth.
The aim of the game is to build a pyramid with your coloured pieces being least visible from the outside, as the building inspector doesn’t appreciate the builders showing off their own work and getting some free advertising or something like that. Just to be clear, there is actually a building inspector who goes around the construction and will take note of any colours he sees along the row he is standing on (or if he reaches a corner, he climbs a ladder and has a look at that quarter of the board from above) and take notes in his little pocket book of which colours he sees, the higher the colour off the ground, the more points it gets.
Players can control where the inspector looks to some degree and can urge him to move up to four rows along after they’ve built a piece - there was probably some money or camels involved but we don’t see that.
Scott began and not really realising the implications had placed his block close to the edge and moved the inspector straight past him, not realising that when the inspector gets around again, he won’t be able to hide his colour under anything neutral - his excuse being he couldn’t see from that angle as it was the wrong side of the table.
Steph was under the impression that she needed to be noticed and was collecting penalties in quick succession. Keith must have been playing with smaller blocks or something as he managed to stay pretty hidden for most of the game, probably because the rest of us were so incompetent. Gareth was getting his fair share of penalties too.
Once started, it seemed difficult to get out of a mess and we all continued along the same path. At the end, the inspector checks every row, column and also from above to add to the scores the game at the end.
Steph didn’t correctly count but we estimated that she was off the score track of 100. Scott and Gareth tied for 2nd and Keith was a runaway winner with significantly less points than anyone else. The exact scores have been lost over time, there were no computers back then and Jon hadn’t arrived with his papyrus and writing sticks.
1st - Keith; 2nd - Scott & Gareth; 4th - Steph

And as if to counter the argument that the IBG’ers are slaves to the ‘cult of the new’, they go and pull out a game that is 107 years old –
This is one of those games that invariably used to come out at festive family gatherings – complete with the ubiquitous manic shouting – “Two, two, two, TWO, TWO, three, THREE, THREE….c**p I’ve got the Bear…” And it’s surprisingly fun – so a great idea to pull out at the beginning of an evening at IBG.
As we were in the conservatory, the gameplay was a little more reserved in terms of volume than it might have been had we been upstairs, but it was frenetic stuff all the same. I’m guessing that there is some form of strategy involved in deciding which cards to collect and which to trade, but the rounds finished so quickly that I’m still none the wiser…
In terms of doing well at the game, Scott, Adam and Steph (twice) all managed to corner the market, whilst Jon, Daniel and Keith only managed to collect minus scores.
Steph 180; Scott 80; Adam 80; Keith -20; Jon -40; Daniel -40
As Scott had been good enough to courier this game to IBG for Jon, it was only fair to break it out and have a go –
This game really is the very definition of over-production. Any game that includes a cute little melamine bowl for each player purely to store a handful of cubes in, is going the extra mile. The artwork is also great, and all in all it turns what could be a very average abstract game into more of an experience.
The premise is that the players are sushi chefs all trying to complete recipes for their customers by laying out ingredients in the correct order on a communal mat. Completing recipes provides points and also allows players to pick up action cards which will help them to complete future recipes.
Scott and Keith were soon off and running, with Scott doing especially well to complete a number of recipes ‘with style’ (i.e. all ingredients in exactly the right order – earning bonus wasabi cubes). However, at the mid-point, Jon made the schoolboy error of not having a 2-ingredient recipe in his hand, and therefore was stuck in the situation of not being able to complete a recipe without an action card, but not being able to get an action card because he couldn’t complete a recipe. Catch 22 indeed!
With the board eventually filling up with ingredients, Scott had proved to be the finest sushi chef at the London Apprentice, whilst Jon had probably killed most of his customers with a poorly prepared blowfish.
Scott 28 (22 recipes+6 wasabi); Keith 21 (17+4); Jon 15 (12+3)
Certain IBG'ers seem to be gathering a bit of a reputation for rules 'misinterpretations'.....
Taj Mahal (thanks for the info Philip)
Yes, Gareth was explaining the rules. The crucial part was about following suit: Gareth explained that everyone has to play the same suit as the starting player in each auction (there are 12 auctions in the game, although you're bidding for several different things at once so its more complicated than that). Anyway, about auction 5, I looked up some small point and happened to glance at the 'follow suit rules'. The actual rule is each player must play the same suit throughout a given auction- but it doesn't have to be the same suit as the starting player (or any other player).
Gareth's version encourages players to build diverse hands with some cards in all suits as you don't know what the start player might lead. The actual rules encourage concentrating on 1 or perhaps 2 suits. So perhpas its not that suprising that I, who had been coming last by a long way when we switched rules, ended up winning the game (by a single VP)...
Philip - won; Gareth - didn't; Johan and Barrie - claimed it was null and void........

And so, they moved on to a game where everyone knew the rules -

Saint Petersburg
No report, but scores were -
Johan 42; Barrie 40; Gareth 37; Philip 31

(those scores seem unbelievably low...rules check anyone....?!)

Looking to play even more new games tonight, next on the list was -

Chinatown (thanks again Scott)
This is a game vaguely reminiscent of Monopoly (apologies for the bad language...) but without the dice and a bit more negotiating power. The board is a map of 6 districts, each with 15 property spaces; every turn, players draw a number of those property locations and place ownership markers on them. They also draw a number of business tiles with which they will build up their income. Between those business tiles, property locations and money in hand, players negotiate to get the locations they want to build up the business they want. There are 12 different types of business and they have a set size that they are trying to achieve from 3 – 6 tiles. The more tiles a player can get next to each other on the board of the same business, the more they will generate in income each round, with a slightly higher income if the business is complete upon meeting its target size.
This was a first game for all with Jon, Keith and Scott competing to be the best tycoon in town.
The first couple of rounds saw less interaction as property locations were spread around the board, but there was a swap here and there to get some size 2 business started for later on and amassing the business tiles to add to them later. Jon fared slightly worse after the first round with scores being much closer after that.
By the middle game, Scott and Jon looked to have some good positions but not quite enough tiles between them to make sufficient use of them. Keith had the business tiles but not the locations. Players were reluctant to give too much power away from their locations so growth was slow and everyone was trying to keep everyone else in check and have no-one run away with the game. Keith suffered slightly because of this as Scott and Jon could grow a little more, Scott often starting defunct businesses just to get the income from 1 or two tiles regardless of their future, as the others were holding back from doing so.
By the end, Keith and Jon were in a powerful position with some big businesses on the board. Scott had faltered with his scattered empire and couldn’t capitalise in the last round. This left the scores as follows:
Jon $1,160,000; Scott $1,110,000; Keith $1,070,000

Scores were so high because the minimum denomination is $10,000, so really the scores were quite close. Jon had done well after the first round and kept a steady growing empire, Keith had lost out in the middle game with less to offer the other players and Scott had lost out at the end from not getting enough big businesses finished, but had secured enough in earlier rounds to counteract it slightly.
An interesting game which plays in an hour with the whole game being about negotiation, worthy of some more plays to see how a 5 player interaction would work

Whlist the rest of the group started a game of Saboteur, Philip and Scott opted to break out -

Race for the Galaxy (thanks to Scott for this report too)
In game one, Philip had got a good thing going and was amassing the goal cards quickly. Scott was floundering in his galaxy and struggling to find any habitable plants or fund any developments - they had Prestige though and that’s all that matters. As such, his civilization were stuck at home and Philip’s had prospered throughout the galaxy, being rewarded by the intergalactic council for building and terraforming the correct things.
Philip 65; Scott 30

Scott was keen for a rematch -

Scott was eager to get out of his galaxy this time, building up some military might and taking over planets, no need for any terraforming. The goals this time were a bit more evenly split and Scott kept hold of prestige leader. The game went very fast with lots of planets being settled and Scott and Philip often picking the same actions cards to play each round. There was little end game scoring and scores were much closer but Scott had won this time.
Scott 40; Philip 30

The game of Saboteur was aborted as there was a mass exodus after the first round, so a new game was sought. And amazingly, there are still some gamers at IBG that haven’t yet played –

Pinguin Party
The 2 newbies this week were Jon and Barrie, with veterans Steph and Gareth making up the foursome. It would probably be fair to say that Barrie’s participation in this game could best be described as a ‘learning experience.’ Having a handful of purple penguins during one round, he omitted to get any onto the bottom of the pyramid, rather scuppering his chances of getting rid of any more of them. Consequently, he picked up a few points…..
Going into the final round, Jon had 2 whilst Steph had 4, but with Steph getting rid of all her penguins and Jon being stuck with 2, these positions reversed to give Steph the win.
Steph 2; Jon 4; Gareth 5; Barrie 13

Also played during the evening was Tales of the Arabian Nights, but I've no idea how that panned out. Check out Daniel's report of the last time it was played at IBG (nearly a year ago!) to give you a flavour of  what it's all about....

So that was quite enough sushi, stock markets, penguins and pyramids for one night. We're back in the Riverview Room next week for much more of the same. Cheerio!

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