Wednesday, 10 November 2010

"He came last in a train-based Eurogame........?!!!"

Players: Maynard, Vicky, Jim, Scott, Steph, James, Jon, Paul, Tonio, Adam, Barrie, Gareth, Johan, Rob

14 IBG’ers tonight, back in residence in the Riverview Room again, and with a very warm welcome back to ‘smiley’ Rob, who we haven’t seen for several weeks (although he did meet up with a few other IBG’ers at Essen). There were many new things at IBG tonight – mainly games of course, as we are still in the post-Essen honeymoon, but down in the bar they were also breaking in a new barman. I believe that Barrie is still standing at the bar trying to order a chicken pie and chips……

We also had the usual mix of monsters, dwarves, gluttons and traitors – but enough about the IBG’ers, let’s find out what games they played (and prepare yourself for a shock result…….)

First up for the early birds, the current ‘light and fluffy’ game of choice is –

Apples to Apples
James, Steph and Scott were halfway through the game when Jon arrived, but the more the merrier, so he jumped right in. We were also playing with a dummy card played by ‘the house’, and as it turned out, the house was quite an astute player. It chose to play ‘Indiana Jones’ in response to the adjective ‘perfect’, and  it deemed Florence Nightingale to be a good example of someone ‘honourable’.
In complete contrast to this, leftie James decided that feminists were not ‘shallow’, and Steph completely denied the concept that ‘being in love’ could be described as ‘hot’. Jon’s response to this was to invite Steph to come round his house at 10.30pm on a Friday night to see just how hot being in love could be. He quickly retracted this offer when James misconstrued this to mean that Jon was hitting on Scott’s beloved. Scott, meanwhile, kept his eyes firmly on his hand of cards the whole time…….
Anyway, to summarise, James somehow won just about every card going, Jon and Steph won hardly any, and the house came in second with a score of 9. Consequently, the house was immediately evicted and not allowed to play any more games for the rest of the evening.

Back for a second outing was -

London (thanks Gareth)
A fun evening, with Barrie in good voice singing along to a number of eighties classics, a rare appearance by Rob and Johan trying to screw over Gareth again, who then got his revenge later on.
London became the new game of the month by default, Gareth quickly ran through the rules for the two new players Rob and Johan. Hopefully he didn't miss too much out this time!
The game moved pretty quickly and after about 90mins we were adding up the scores and reviewing the game.
Rob 'Rodney Trotter' was cautious with his money, expanding slowly but making sure he didn't go into debt.
Johan 'Harold Steptoe' lacked cash when needed and took a long time to control and expand his boroughs on the board.
Barrie 'Del Boy Trotter' expanded quickly but incurred heavy loans that he was unable to pay back at the end of the game.
Gareth 'Arthur Daley' generated a lot of cash early on giving him a lot more flexibility towards the end of the game, which allow him to take the win.
Gareth 56; Rob 32; Johan 31; Barrie 16

It was now time for another Essen purchase, but this time an older game. James had managed to pick up a German version of – Scott brought along his new toy of Poseidon and had attracted the attention of Jim. Maynard happened to be looking for a game as was drawn in towards us, deciding to also reserve a space for Vicky.

Fearsome Floors
This was played with 6 players, so that each player used 3 tokens. Everyone had played before, except for Tonio, but a quick recap of the rules was provided for everyone’s benefit.
Adam and Tonio managed to make some nice suicidal moves, and after about 30 mins, James had got 2 of his tokens quite near the exit, so it was decided that the game should be played until someone got 3 tokens out. Unfortunately, this extended the game for a further hour, when James and Jon both had their 3rd token escape on the same turn.
This is a fun game, but things we have learned from this experience are:
  • 6 players are too many;
  • players can over-analyse their moves if not careful;
  • don’t ever play until someone gets 3 tokens out;
  • when several players have taken out their phones and are checking the footbal results / downloading games / looking at pictures of themselves on the IBG blog, the game has overstayed its welcome.
James and Jon - 3 tokens escaped; Adam, Steph, Paul – 2 tokens; Tonio – 1 token

And now, for an (underwater?!) train game of Scott's. Surely only 1 winner.... -

Poseidon (thanks for this report Scott)
Despite having read the rules beforehand, Scott had to check a few things and it turned out to be quite complicated to explain but was much easier once we got going. The game is about building a shipping empire in ancient Greece, you start with some money and you can found new nations or buy in to other player’s nations. The game uses a similar mechanic to the 18xx games but this is apparently a simplified version to be playable in an evening.
Each nation has a starting position on the board and from there they can send out their exploration ship to lay trading posts, these will earn money for the nation when they send their fleet of ships out to visit it. The stock of trading posts for a nation is also the same stock used for merchants which are the ownership markers of the nation (shares) so a nation has to decide whether it will use its markers to expand its empire or to issue merchants and have more money in the nation.
The game has set number of rounds - 5 merchant rounds to start new nations or invest with others, interspersed with 2 or 3 exploration rounds to expand your network, purchase ships for your fleet, and to send the fleet out to earn money for each merchant in player’s hands.
There are also phases to the game that are dictated by the purchase of ships. Ships must be bought in order and once a level 4, 6 or Endless ship is bought, a phase change occurs and older ships will disappear that were now too antiquated.
The game began very cautiously, everyone started a nation at the lowest possible price and bought 4 merchants for themselves, except Scott who started his just slightly higher in value to be first in the exploration rounds.
The first two exploration rounds grew the empires slightly and everyone bought one or two ships with which to support their fledgling nation’s income.
The middle of the game was a slow growth until someone bought a four ship and triggered phase two. At which point, nations are allowed to release more of their merchants and get the nation's money for them. All of the companies raised some money and the market was flooded with merchants.
By now, everyone had recouped enough money out of their nation and merchants to start a second nation; Jim was the only one who didn’t, deciding instead to invest in other people.
Towards the end of the game we were speeding up. Once the first 6 ship was bought the market was filled with the remaining merchants as people needed to fund the best ships. Scott got himself in to a predicament, having two nations with only a 4 ship each and having already released all of the available merchants, and the 4 ships were about to disappear when the first Endless ship was purchased. Jim made it his mission to buy one as soon as possible and with the last new nation on the board he had plenty of money to buy up lots of ships forcing the last phase of the game. Vicky and Maynard had wisely kept money in their nations and not sent their fleets out every turn; Scott had been greedy and as a result needed to fund two ship purchases out of his own pocket resulting in a big chunk of money gone right before the end of the game.
Maynard 2,803; Jim 2,583; Vicky 2,465; Scott 1,805

A very intriguing game, took a bit longer than expected but we were all new and some poker chips could have sped it up a little too. It will have to be played again soon if for nothing more than Scott to redeem himself...

Well, if you've picked yourself up from the floor after that shocker of a result.......

After escaping from the slimy nasty in Fearsome Floors, the same players were persuaded by Paul to take on a slightly more abstract game in -

Metro (thanks to Paul for this one)
Although the art nouveaux images and blurb about the 1900 world exhibition tries to set the game up as a Paris based train game, actually it is about tile laying and route following, giving good opportunity for generating points for yourself and also for thwarting others. The idea is to build tracks for yourself that cover as many tiles as possible, whilst getting more points that anyone else.
James having wiped the blood-stained 'Fearsome Floor' with us previously, didn't really seem to be too bothered about doing well, other than the omnipresent chance to get at Steph, of course. Just as well, as everyone else was bothered, and made sure that they vented their pent up feelings of frustration in the direction of James' black track, by minimising them at every possible opportunity.
Adam and Steph had played before, and their experience quickly told with some nicely intricate patterns, Steph, short and Adam, gamewinningly - one track earned him more than half his points, and more than the winning margin. As he pulled so far in the lead, no one else seemed to notice when Paul wrote down his final score as 54, but Adam obviously did, insisting that it was written up as 56, and let's not forget it!
Paul and Jon disappeared downstairs for a drink, debating the shapes on the tiles and if it was indeed possible for trains to collide. Jon - the answer is 'no', the tracks are so laid out that it just can't happen mate. My game and I checked.
Adam 56; Paul 32; Tonio 31; Steph 29; Jon 28; James 12

Meanwhile, back on the 'London' table -

Modern Art (thanks again Gareth)
James joined us for a game of Modern Art. Basically a bidding game with a number of different mechanisms to bid for paintings offered by the players.
A fun, not too serious game that lasted about forty five minutes, lots of new bidders jumping in at the last minute before the makeshift auctioneer's hammer came down.
By the fourth round Gareth has a second win of the night, followed by Rob and then James.
Gareth 362; Rob 341; James 280; Johan 255; Barrie 172

As previously mentioned, Jon and Paul went to the bar to get a drink (and to have a heated debate about train tracks), and while they were gone, James defected to another table and Adam persuaded Steph and Tonio to join a game of –

Bacchus’ Banquet
When Paul and Jon returned from the bar, they found Tonio lamenting the fact that this choice of game was nothing more than a glorified version of Fluxx, but he (graciously) agreed to play anyway. This is a ‘hidden roles’ game along the lines of Bang, where players have different victory conditions based upon their characters.
Steph drew the Caligula role, and after a few rounds only needed another good slurp of wine to win. Unfortunately, Jon (as one of the conspirators) had 2 daggers in front of him, and having worked out that Adam was also a conspirator, they contrived to get the 3rd dagger in play and plunge it into the heart of Steph.
Paul and Tonio had been trying to stuff their faces with food and drink, but had not quite been greedy enough to win.
Overall verdict: Not Fluxx, but not Power Grid either. As long as it doesn’t go longer than 30 minutes, it’s a fun filler for up to 8.
Adam and Jon – won. Steph died. Paul and Tonio lost.

Despite a number of IBG’ers leaving at this point, there were enough willing punters left for a quick game of –

There were 6 players in this game, which is one of those unfortunate numbers that means there could be 1 or 2 saboteurs. And for the first 2 rounds there was only 1. And for the first 2 rounds it was Jon. And for the first 2 rounds, he lost miserably.
During the first round, Jon managed a small amount of subterfuge towards the end, as he had looked at all 3 destination cards and managed to persuade everyone that the gold was elsewhere. His plan succeeded for about a minute, until the good dwarves dug up some coal and realised that they had been tricked.
In the second round, Jon used a rockfall, which was successful for holding up mining operations for a couple of turns, but with 5 good dwarves on repair detail, the digging soon resumed, and the gold was discovered.
For the last round, Jon was spared the shame of being evil all game, and Tonio and Adam took up the reins. Unfortunately, they fared no better, and despite a desperate rearguard action, they finished with broken tools and no reward.
It was proposed that next time (in order to give the saboteurs more of a chance) we play with the ‘broken tools’ variant, whereby good dwarves can only share in the gold rewards if they have no broken tools in front of them. Might even things up a little…….

And then it was time to pack up and make our way back into the cold night air. The IBG'ers will be back next week, same time, same place, and I'm sure that Scott will be among them, keen to resume normal service again......

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