Wednesday, 6 October 2010

TV series spin-off game at IBG shock (and it’s not BSG)………

Players: Scott, Steph, Emma, Keith, John, Jon, Paul, Barrie, Gareth, Johan, Adam, Iain, Daniel

Several regulars were absent this week for a variety of reasons, but it was still a good turnout. There was a welcome return after many weeks away to the one and only Emma, as well as an appearance from John who promises us that he will now be ‘semi-regular’ (which is great because he appears to have more games than James has had nut roasts…)
Tonight saw the introduction of some cute animals (in Emma’s honour), Scott being eliminated from a game before he’d even had time to realise that it didn’t contain little wooden cubes, and an attempt by the IBG’ers to re-write the American constitution (well, someone had to…..)

Having been offered it by a LOB member who saw this at a bargain price, Scott couldn’t resist adding some more fun, silly games to his collection; maybe all the Martin Wallace and 18xx is finally getting to him... anyway he brought it along to try out -

Snorta! (thanks Scott)
The game features a host of little animal figurines and barns for up to eight players to hold an animal, but here you don’t need to feed your family or buy a Cooking Hearth, you just need to remember which animal each player has in their barns as you will only hear their sound once before the game begins.
The game works with everyone having a deck of cards with animals on them, then kind of like snap, each player flips a card on their turn and when there are two identical cards face up, the players with matching cards need to recall the opponent’s animal as quickly as possible and make their sound. Therefore, if you are Keith and you draw the cow, everyone remembers “mooo!” very easily. Result - Keith picks up a lot of cards...
The other players trying it out were Dan, Scott, Steph and Emma. After Emma had spent a few minutes looking at all of the animals and picking her favourite, we all drew randomly and began. Poor Keith had a terrible time with his cards matching so frequently that people were saying 'moo' before the cards hit the table. Emma was on fire for this game and could remember everyone’s animal noises with ease; she quickly ran out of cards and rarely picked up any.
Emma won; Scott, Steph, Daniel, Keith - all lost

Next up were more animals -

Pinguin Party (thanks again Scott)
Fast becoming the most played game (if it’s not already) at IBG and a five player bout between Scott, Steph, Adam, Emma and Gareth ensued.
Early on Gareth and Emma were doing alarmingly well, two rounds and zero points. The others were doing fairly okay. From round three onwards it all got a bit hectic and vicious as Penguins died, leaving usually very unstable pyramids and almost everyone taking some points. It’s here where Steph broke from her normal tradition of wiping the floor with everyone and taking on a hefty load of points, glaring at murder suspects across the table.
Gareth and Emma managed to keep steady but Scott did well to rein in some points and catch up for a joint win.
Scott & Gareth 5; Emma 6; Adam 7; Steph 11

And now for something completely German -
Meuterer (thanks to Dan for this report)
Meuterer packs an awful lot of game into such a small package. What you think ought to be a quick filler is actually a complex and involving game of bluff and strategy. It's notoriously intractable rulebook saw us playing the "Gareth Rules" for the first couple of rounds, so we rebooted only to discover toward the end of the game that we were now using one of the character roles in slightly the wrong way.
As such, there isn’t much of a report for this one, so here instead are some Fun Pirate Facts:

  • The earliest documented instances of piracy are from the 13th century BC and pirates were some of the first people to operate democratic government in their communities.
  • Pirates are the most common cause of the spread of Malaria in Third World countries, they can also live on a single grain of rice and are immune to an increasing number of chemical agents.
Actually I think the pages of my encyclopaedia are stuck together and some of those might actually be about Mosquitoes.
Well, at least we know the right rules to play with next time. We think.
Daniel 36; Jon 29; Steph 27; Paul 23

To play alongside the Meuterers, the 5 remaining players opted for something light -

For Sale (thanks to Scott again for this report)
Keith and Emma were new, Adam needed a refresh while John and Scott knew more than enough.
Everyone seemed to pick it up fairly quick and some reasonable winning bids in the first few rounds until Emma started caring about which property she got and also bidding was fairly aggressive to own a space station and a guaranteed win for a $15,000 cheque. Scott and John had ended up spending the most with Scott locking John out on the last bid with his remaining $2,000.
Going in to selling properties, there were lots of cries and cheers as unexpectedly low properties were winning top dollar while high values were barely selling - there must have been a banking crisis in the middle somewhere. Sadly, Emma’s tent which came with its very own snake didn’t gain her anything.
Scott & Keith 63; Adam 52; John 44; Emma 32

And now for something completely Euro -

Taj Mahal (thanks Gareth)
Taj Mahal played with the correct rules, this time. Barrie took an early lead but then had a few stand offs with Gareth who collected loads of cards. Iain built lots of palaces and Johan quietly sneaked into the lead towards the end and took the win. A very close ending.
Johan 46; Iain 44; Gareth 44; Barrie 40

And now for something completely different -

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Game (thanks Scott again)
Despite having a mainstream theme the game actually looked fairly promising - there were different decks of cards to draw items, a moon changing mechanic (so that Oz can go ape on a full moon and kill all the bad guys), an assortment of monsters and a functioning board even though it looked a bit like Cluedo (it was Buffy, in the Graveyard, with the Stake). Emma picked Willow before the box was open, Adam was evil and picked the villain Adam with a few minions to aid him, Scott was Xander, John was Oz and Keith playing the lead role of Buffy.
Adam was the only one to have played before and didn’t give us much advice so we did run around like headless chickens trying to fight evil, which if I remember rightly is what they do in the show anyway. Xander managed to succeed in not being very good at fighting and after drawing a couple of help cards, was assisted by a couple of lovely ladies and they distracted him while Adam strolled over and killed Xander in about round 3, possibly earlier.
Willow by this point was trapped in a room and being beaten to death by Spike who was rolling fairly poorly and despite Willow’s best attempts and being in a room with weapons failed to escape and was killed. Buffy hadn’t heard the news and was trying to take out a vampire on the other side of town and was doing an okay job until Adam strolled over (technically running away from werewolf Oz) and beat down on Buffy. Oz got in a few bites but was back to regular old Oz pretty quick and couldn’t do much to stop Buffys death. At which point Adam had won and the rest of us had not been saved by Buffy as we clearly should have been in the original script.
Adam wins; John, Scott, Emma & Keith lose.

Like most games where one player is evil and there are multiple goody characters that individually aren’t that impressive (except Buffy of course), it’s probably best played with two or three players and have multiple characters each so that people don’t get shut out too quickly. Either that, or Scott should just learn to roll dice better....

Whilst waiting for the Taj Mahal boys to finish, there was time for a quick filler –

After its successful introduction last week, Scott brought this classic trading game back for a second outing. Neither Keith nor Paul had played before, but the rules for this game are hardly complex, so we were soon underway.
Paul cornered the first hand, with Scott unfortunately in possession of both the bull and bear for a maximum minus score. Jon then took the next 2 hands, with Paul finding that his beginner’s luck had run out to pick up minuses in both rounds.
The intention was to play 5 rounds, but realising that Johan, Gareth and Barrie had already started another game, it was cut short in favour of something meatier. The result still stands though, of course……
Jon 145; Paul 25; Keith 0; John 0; Scott -40

And the meatier game chosen was a new offering from John –

Founding Fathers
It was already 9.20pm, and John was the only person who had played the game before. The box said ‘1-2 hours’, but suspicious glances were exchanged between Jon and Paul, who remembered their game of Giants a few weeks ago….. However, with the agreement that everyone would play as quickly as possible, John began the rules explanation.
This game is basically about the forming of the American constitution – a subject that Paul apparently has a genuine interest in. It is a card-driven board game, where cards (delegates) can be used to vote for or against one of the articles, seek influence in the debating chamber or use their special event powers to affect all manner of things. Points are gained as the game goes along, with more available in a final scoring round, depending on how successfully players have debated during the preceding 4 rounds.
For some reason, the use of the events on the cards makes it feel a little like Long Shot, with the final scoring reminiscent of Loco / Quandary. However, it’s obviously a little heavier than any of those games! Having said that, Founding Fathers isn’t nearly as heavy as several of us were expecting. The choices on each turn are limited (play a card or cards, then replenish your hand) and the 4 rounds do not particularly increase in complexity as the game goes on. So, following a very clear explanation of the rules from John, we were underway.  
In the first round, Jon benefited from being able to shut down the debating chamber early on, whilst claiming a debating token for all the unclaimed factions. This led to him picking up 3 debating tokens relatively cheaply. Two of Scott’s influence markers were removed from the assembly rooms by one of the players (it may have been John…) which set him back a little, but he took it on the chin (ish) and was soon back in the fray. Keith decided to peg back John a little in the next round (on the basis that he was the only one who had played before) but the scoring was generally pretty close.
Before we knew it, we were in the last round, and Scott played a nice move in the assembly rooms, putting down 2 delegates at once which effectively ended the game. All that was left to do was score the bonuses for the debating tokens, but funnily enough, the articles had been passed with each faction having even numbers, so bonuses were determined purely on the number of tokens collected by each player. With Jon having 4 tokens, he scored 20 points for them and just managed to squeak home ahead of John, with Scott and Keith very close behind. Paul had rather suffered by not seeing much action in the debating chamber, and brought up the rear.
As is usual at IBG, the rules to new games are often checked in the proceeding week, and it appears that we were playing a couple of things incorrectly (Planners should automatically be reassigned to their holder when they come to the top of the draw pile, and the scoring at the endgame should be based on majorities in each faction, not just the numbers of tokens earned.) However, as everyone was playing the same way, it didn’t affect the game too much (although it does explain why we lapped the scoring track, which only goes up to 30!)
And when the dust had settled, the most surprising thing of all was that the game had only taken 1 hour to actually play. This is most impressive on a first outing with 4 new players, and a definite plus point for the game. This may not be the last time that you see it played at IBG (unless John never brings it again, of course…..!)
Jon 33; John 31; Scott 29; Keith 28; Paul 18

And now for something completely different part II -

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Game (thanks Dan - of course...)

IBG Blog Classified ads section:

Wanted: Evil Overlord
We are desperately seeking an insidious and devious character who can fulfil the position of Evil Overlord. Skills required are wits, cunning, and a propensity to cackle maniacally. Actually being evil would be beneficial to the role, as would not being consistently whipped by puny high school kids every time an evil masterplan is put into action. No experience necessary. We seem to be having some trouble filling this position and due to the previous post holders being embarrassingly thrashed in recent weeks we are looking for an immediate start. Interviews to be held this Wednesday. Bring your own dice.

To be honest I don’t remember a lot of the details from the second Buffy game, other than the comfortable ease with which the vampire host was dispatched with. To be fair Adam was victorious as the baddie in the earlier game, but one does start to wonder about the rather poor showing on the part of the bad guys in recent club nights. What I can tell you about the game is that it is an unexpectedly indecent amount of fun, Emma’s 437 utterances of "Willow is sooo cooool" indicate that she might be quite keen on the character, and I can apparently pull off a pretty good Seth Green pout.
Emma, Steph, Iain, Daniel - all won; Adam lost by an enthusiastic pencil to the heart...

And finally -

Endeavor (thanks again Gareth)
Johan and Barrie both attacked Gareth's cities. Barrie abolished slavery meaning Gareth lost the few cards he had. Once again at the final count Johan took the win, this time by just a point.
Johan 50; Barrie 49; Gareth 45.

(What Gareth helpfully failed to mention that he was so unimpressed with losing to Barrie, that he sold the game to him. Barrie might have to find a new gaming partner to play with though...)

So the evening drew to a close. And what with the excitement of little blonde minxes running around killing vampires, mixed with 18th century American politics, that was quite enough for one night. I can't guarantee that Sarah Michelle Gellar will be back next week, but the rest of us will be....

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