Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Who's the Boss.....?

Players: Jon, James, Paul, Scott, Daniel, Vicky, Johan, Gareth, Tonio, Jim, John B, Barrie, Philip

A healthy turnout tonight for our pre-Christmas Meal session.

As December turned out to be a nightmare month for me, this post has been put together a month in arrears, so apologies for the lack of the usual fluency and side-splitting humour (ahem.....)

Scott and Jon were the early birds, and after being joined by Vicky, they chose to have a quick game of –

Archaeology: TCG
This was new to Vicky, and it was understandable on the first turn that she failed to pick up the 2 broken cups that were available in the market place. Jon was therefore able to snaffle these up for an early 15 point lead.
Vicky and Scott got into some early ‘tit-for-tatting’ when the thieves turned up, whilst Jon found that his archaeological digs were turning up yet more broken cups. When his sandy explorations also revealed numerous maps, he was able to raid the pyramid and benefit from the many treasures contained within.
All in all, rather a runaway victory, with Scott coming in second.
Jon 108; Scott 66; Vicky 52

At the request of Jon, John had brought along –

Jim and Paul had not played before, so John introduced them to the game in his usual efficient manner. Jon requested that the winter side of the board was used this time, and his request was granted, so, with extra packets of Kendall Mint Cake in their pockets, the gallant mountaineers set off.
Jon set off at a sprint, determined to get up and down the mountain as quickly as possible with his first climber. He managed to get within one space of the summit, and pitched his tent to ride out some bad weather which had appeared. Behind him there was a queue of Paul and Jim, who were unable to pass, which did not change when Jon made a dash to the summit and back to his tent in a single move.
Paul and Jim decided that discretion was the better part of valour and started their descent, with Jon hot on their heels. Because Jon had used up a lot of movement cards to get to the top, his acclimatisation level was dangerously low. However, the players had reached the end of 6 turns and reshuffled their decks, and Jon had calculated that he only needed a single solitary acclimatisation card to come up in his first 6 cards for him to be able to get down the mountain safely. And what happened? Of course, against considerable odds, none of these cards came up, and he perished within sight of safety. 10 points had become 1!
John was meanwhile engaging in some form of shuttle mission with his 2 climbers and 2 tents, keeping them out of the worst of the weather.
When the final card was turned, and the final push up the mountain finished, Jim had succeeded in doing best overall, with Paul just pipping John on a tie-break (getting the highest spot first). Jon was still grieving…..
Jim 14; Paul 12; John 12; Jon 7

Ever since he walked in this evening, John had been extolling the virtues of, and seeking some willing volunteers to try out –

I’m the Boss
This is a very simple, but strangely compelling pure negotiation game, played with a deck of cards and a rather garish board. The basic idea is that there are a number of deals to be made during the game, for increasingly larger amounts of money. Each deal needs certain characters (represented on the cards) to be part of the deal and players have the opportunity to play these character cards and thereby cutting themselves in on the deal. However, the player leading the deal (“The Boss”) gets to ultimately decide who to involve and what to offer them. The fun starts, though, when other players start to play cards which will disrupt the current deal in progress. They can remove certain characters from play, steal characters from other players, and even declare themselves “The Boss” and take over the deal. A very simple premise, but a highly entertaining game.
Before the game had even begun, James and Paul decided to point out that under no circumstances should Jon be trusted. Thanks guys…… However, there is so much to-ing and fro-ing in this game that this somewhat misguided advice was forgotten anyway.
Paul decided that it would be a good strategy to take his time deciding which players to bring in on his deals. This proved to be not such a good idea, as he quickly found other players throwing in their “I’m the Boss” cards to take over the deals and reap the spoils of the largest shares.
Deals often changed hands multiple times during a turn, and Scott was the king of thieving characters from other players, ending up with 3 main characters in front of him at one stage.
In a crucial deal towards the end of the game, Scott and Jon managed to quickly broker the deal between themselves, giving them a slight leg-up in the money stakes.
When the game ended, the wads of cash were totalled up, and it turned out that Jon had just pipped Scott to the post by the narrowest of margins.
Jon 48; Scott 47; John 43; James 37; Paul 28

Scott was keen to play this after having Tonio explain it last week but we didn’t have enough time left to play it, this time we also recruited Dan and Vicky to join -
Ticket to Ride: The Card game (thanks Scott)
Tonio started explaining the game with “Have you played Ticket to Ride before”, “not really”, “good!”. For those who have played any of the other games in the series, the mechanics at work are very different and surprisingly in most cases, they seem more interesting to play.
You have a hand of tickets which you are trying to accomplish and you can draw coloured train cards to fulfil them, instead of connecting locations on a board you have to just match the train colours listed on the destination ticket with trains you draw in to your hand. However it’s not that simple as you need to get train cards from your hand to a separate “on-the-track” pile of train cards - the journey is not necessarily that easy. On your turn, other than drawing more trains or tickets you can play train cards in front of you (your railyard), either three different colours or as many of you like of just one colour, the big thing to take note of is that you cannot play the same colour that someone else currently has in front of them, unless you play more of the same colour which then discards all of that colour in front of your opponent (thematically, the colour signifying a route under construction so you can’t start your own until that’s finished or you can do a better job– is that better for you Tonio?)
At the start of every turn, you get to place one of each different colour you have in your ‘railyard’ and move it to your ‘on the tracks’ card pile which is played face down; you aren’t allowed to look at them again until you score them, so memory plays a part in completing your tickets as well.
It was suggested we play a practice hand a few times round the table to get used to the mechanic and after Dan played 4 black train cards Scott enquired as to whether we were still doing a practice hand, after it was confirmed that we were he then proceeded to play 5 black cards and destroy Dan’s fledgling train business. However after a few more times round the table, it seemed no-one wanted to stop and the practice turned in to the main game, which was unfortunate for Dan (not that Scott wouldn’t have made the same move anyway but his conscience is clear).
The game was mostly smooth in the first half, playing a few cards here and there, discarded one or two, by the mid-point (once through the deck), Scott and Tonio had quite a few cards in their track pile and Dan and Vicky looked a bit worried, well Dan didn’t quite so much with his care free attitude to everything.
In the mid scoring, Tonio and Scott had both completed all 6 of their starting tickets while Dan and Vicky did 3/4 of theirs. In the second half, Tonio was targeted a bit more by Scott, seeing his main rival across the table, to which Tonio was upset that he might lose at one of his own games (again!). Scott had his fair share of punishment too and struggled to get some useful colours played before the end.
Tonio took a risk at the end in drawing more tickets, he was definitely keeping one of them but wasn’t sure about two. With some encouragement from the rest of the table, we suckered him in to drawing too many and this cost him some valuable points at the end. Vicky and Dan had done well and not failed too many tickets. Tonio and Scott had failed one or two more but also completed many more, picking up more of the bonus scoring cards (issued to players who complete the most tickets with key cities highlighted on them).
The scoring was very close but Scott had just won, thanks to Tonio’s ticket completion greediness.
While we waited for the other tables to finish after TTR, we had a quick go at -
24/7 (thanks again Scott)
Dan wasn’t sure whether he was playing or not but came back to the table to jump in just as we started and picked up the rules as he went along, usually being pointed to a good move available by Tonio, “if you have a 2 you can play it there and score big”. Obviously Dan would always have the right tile, the same trick even worked on Tonio when he was struggling. Vicky wasn’t given many nice scoring opportunities and it was a close fought affair between the others with only ten points between them. We let Tonio win one of his own games at least.
Haggis (thanks for this one Scott)
Jim being keen to try his luck at another game of Haggis he quickly recruited Scott, and John was on board for a game too. Everyone knew the game so we were quick to start and Scott started off strong with a bid of 15 and played all of his cards before John had played any, which worked in his favour slightly as Scott gave all of the tricks he bombed to John, who then quickly recovered to finish second before Jim.
Scott 86, John 57, Jim 0
Round 2 was a closer fought battle as no-one wanted Scott to win another hand, yet he still prevailed but with a slightly less impressive score and Jim beat out John for the second (some sort of sub-game with Scott around)
Scott 54, Jim 40, John 6
Round 3 ended being the last as people started going home and possibly Jim and John had given up hope by now as Scott finished yet another round with ease (it’s all luck they tell me.) John got just enough points to stay ahead of Jim who didn’t score any in this round either.
Scott 75, John 20, Jim 0
Final Scores - Scott – 215; John – 83; Jim – 10
Fortunately it’s a quick game so there might be time for a rematch soon.

The second week when we played the 'game of the month'. Johan, Gareth, Philip and Barry battled it out. We had time for two games this evening and here we go.....
Puerto Rico (thanks Johan)
The first game had a slow start for Philip who after three production round, still hadn't produced anything at all! Johan was racing ahead as he was able to buy the Harbor whereas Gareth went for the 'all corn' strategy. Barrie hadn't played for some time and was experimenting with getting it right.
All seem to be going well for Johan until Philip got some coffee and started trading and raking in the doubloons and building big buildings. The game was ended fairly early as Philip had built two of the 10 doubloons building (both with colonists on) and the final scores were:
Johan 37, Gareth 40, Philip 53, Barry 30.
The second game was very different, although Gareth stuck to his 'all corn' strategy. Johan started producing coffee and corn early on and fairly quickly got the Harbor and Warf combination. Philip again was slow to start but built three of the big buildings in the end! Barrie improved his game play and diversified really well. The game ended in the last round by the building area being full and the victory points being all spent. Final scores:
Johan – 63, Gareth – 40, Philip – 48, Barrie – 47

There were also 2 games played of - 
7 Wonders (thanks James for the report)

The first was a four-player game for which we have the scores only:

Tonio 57; Daniel 48; Jim 42; Vicky 39

After the previous 4 player game had finished a few others decided they wanted to join in for a 6 player experience. Jon and James and Paul jumped in while Vicky, Dan, Tonio were happy to play again.. Tonio (after his stonking victory in his first game) mainly to see if he’d finally found a game he could win more than once (the answer, for those of a nervous disposition... no).
So the wonders were distributed and the first age began... (It’s a hard game to describe equally cause the game play is fast and generally you’re only focusing on your own play, and those of your immediate neighbours... so apologies if this report seems heavy on Jon, Tonio and my own actions, while vaguely discussing the moves from Vicky, Paul and Dan... )
Jon and myself immediately went for a resource heavy approach, Dan (with the Colossus of Rhodes) build up some military and Tonio tried a different strategy taking bonuses where available and trying peaceful coexistence with his neighbours (a strategy based on the Swiss ideal but in eventuality as  successful as the Polish...)
Militarily this was an interesting game with 3 players winning nearly all the battles (+13 to +18) and 3 taking losses (-4 to -6). Vicky was collecting science points like some hyperactive Einstein ending up with 26 at the end of the game, double her nearest competitor.
Jon with the 15 point wonder (Pyramids of Giza) piled up points in Guilds and bonuses (much to James’s irritation given he got none of these cards passed on...) and as expected Dan whopped some neighbourhood ass with his colossus (erm... more tea vicar) but didn’t manage to achieve much else.
Paul having not played since Essen and only receiving a passing recap struggled a little (next time, hey Paul?) and Tonio realised he might have to live off his first game victory for a few more weeks with no guilds, no markets... and no 2nd win...
So the final scores... Tonio, James and Paul fell back in the 3rd ages with 37,40 and 43... But things were close at the front... Dan with 51... Vicky with 55 but in true nail-biting fashion Jon managed to sneak ahead with 56 despite -5 for his military defeats...

Jon 56; Vicky 55; Daniel 51; Paul 43; James 40; Tonio 37

Much like Germany in post war Europe...I’m liking this game more and more every time I play it... I’m sure with the current cards it might have a limited shelf life but word is that expansions are just around the corner (Any chance The London Apprentice will be available as a Wonder?) and it wouldn’t surprise me if this becomes the Dominion of 2010-11-12.

It's the Christmas Meal next week, and then one more session before Christmas.

No comments:

Post a Comment