Wednesday, 12 January 2011

There's something brewing with the IBG'ers...........

Players: Steph, Scott, Tonio, Ian, Philip, Gareth, John B, Vicky, Maynard, Daniel, Barrie, Paul , Jon

With 2011 well and truly under way, the numbers had grown back up to 13 IBG’ers tonight, including Tonio, who was a year older than this time last week (but didn't look it….)

Fortunately, there wasn’t so much Brass flying about this evening, so we were able to manage a slightly better variety of games played, including a prohibition-flouting game which gave Vicky yet another opportunity to express her undying love for long-suffering Maynard….

The evening began with a round of the ubiquitous Apples to Apples (whatever happened to Dixit?) for the early-birds, before a few other IBG'ers turned up.

Despite three copies of Brass floating around last week, this week it looked like there were none, Barrie who proposed the idea didn’t bother bringing his with a “oh, there were loadsa copies las’ week” but fortunately for the diehard fans, John came along to the rescue -

Brass (thanks to Scott for this report)
Philip was already sitting at the table and the rest of the room frantically tried to find a game to avoid getting a seat in the game, so it would be Scott, Philip, John and Gareth (who had called in his place but was running a bit late).
After a while Gareth ran to the table and sat down and was immediately thrown in to the game with just enough time to take his coat off. Everyone could remember the rules enough so off we began, with some clarifications on rules about loans and cotton selling getting income not cash.
Scott and Philip went for the early mill sales again, Gareth built lots of mills but selling them didn’t appear to be his priority, it later transpired that he thought you could sell as many mills to one port as you liked rather than requiring one port/mill, this would cause a few problems for him and spent much of the game taking loans and hovering between negative and slightly positive income. John, with the most experience at the table, was busy developing away his level one industries and before the canal age was over had built two level 2 mills and ports and sold them, mostly catching up to Philip and Scott in the income stakes and a fair amount of VP’s but with a big boost to the next phase as all those level 2 industries would score again. Gareth unfortunately at this point failed to sell much of his cotton through one port and ended up losing two unflipped level 1 cotton mills - he shed a tear inside (I imagine).
The rail phase was literally that, many actions were spent building double rails and by the end of the phase almost everywhere was full of rail and in a lot of cases, not a lot of industry. At one point Gareth manage to carefully time the use of coal leaving John the opportunity to overbuild Scott and Scott was also lucky enough to engineer two turns in a row and enable himself to overbuild John’s coal back again and refill Iron all with level 4 industries, this wouldn’t be quite enough to catch up with John who was easily adding on to his successful Canal Phase.
Everyone managed to get their cotton mills built and flipped before the end this time, especially Gareth who made it his mission not to lose any more ground. Philip was left the only one to bother with ship building and managed to get all of his built during the game (Gareth would have maybe built some as well but another rules mishap over Birkenhead, which has its only awkward rules, was to blame).
The rail phase was a lot closer and similar scoring throughout, plus John’s existing industries from the first phase was enough to catapult him into the lead.
John 134; Scott 125; Philip 115; Gareth 98

Maybe next week will be the game with all the rules correct? It was nice to play a four player game, as you have a lot more to watch out for as prime locations and connections will be made quickly so you have to stay on your toes to build the network you want. Developing early seems to be a good idea, or at least not letting one player get all the cheap develop actions is the best idea.

As an alternative to Brass, there was the opportunity to play a game with a somewhat different theme –

Paul brought along a copy of this out-of-print game about illegal alcohol production in 1920’s America, having played it once before (which included a major rules error…) He had no difficulty in recruiting a full-house of 6 players, and made a good fist of explaining the rather lengthy ruleset for the game.
The idea is that players represent ‘bosses’ of families who are producing and selling illegal whisky during the prohibition era. It combines a blind auction, some basic area control, some buying and selling, and a lot of negotiation.
No-one was quite sure what to do at the beginning, therefore most players bidded low in the first round, not wanting to have to make the first choice from the available cards. Vicky chose to be the first player to buy an extra truck, and ended up with lots of spare shipping capacity for several turns. Maynard dropped several mobsters into Texas Lil’s and ended up control of that particular Speakeasy, whilst Jon  started to place his family into Barleycorn’s (even though it wasn’t open for business yet). Paul expanded his ‘family still’ early on, which resulted in increased whisky production for him.
When producing whisky, Maynard turned out to be a useless distiller (marginally better than being a useless tosser a few weeks ago….) rolling only 1’s and 2’s for the first 3 turns. However, on turn 4, he really got it together and rolled a 6 – hurrah! Now he had whisky to spare - except that Vicky decided that now was the ideal moment to play one of her ‘thug’ cards on him, which resulted in all of Maynard’s hooch being poured down the drain. Young love, eh?
Everyone was starting to get a hang of the negotiations, and so whisky was being traded and trucks rented with gay abandon. Except that Barrie refused to accept Jon’s offer of allowing him to sell at the public dock of Barleycorn’s (which was now open, and firmly in Jon’s control), citing his previous experiences of Jon claiming to be a good dwarf during Saboteur. That was a long time ago, man! (April 2010 to be precise....) 
Anyway, as Barrie was starting to produce vast quantities of liquor, he decided that he would still patronise Jon’s premises, but at the safer minor dock. He also decided to upgrade its potential purchasing capacity with a couple of speakeasy improvements, which further added to Jon’s cut of the profits from all sales.
By turn 8, Jon had hoarded 3 cards which he played just as the trucks were pulling up at the speakeasies to unload their cargo. This enabled him to rent a truck, steal one of Barrie’s shipments to put in it, and then take all the profits from another of Barrie’s loads. This thuggery was enough to take him over the $100k limit and win him the game by some margin.
This was a really fun game that would almost certainly play differently next time (don’t let someone get early control of a Speakeasy then upgrade it for them…) now that everyone is familiar with how the game plays out. And Paul admitted that it was much better playing by the correct rules!
Jon $115k; Daniel $63k; Barrie $41k; Vicky $35k; Maynard $32k; Paul $27k (really? That’s barely more than you started with!)

Meanwhile, over on a third table, Ian, Stephanie and Tonio travelled Westward in a moderately Wild manner to arrive at -

Dice Town (thanks to Tonio for this one)
Stephanie and Tonio had been before but it was their first time as tentative guides. Ian obviously felt right at home because apart from the first two rounds and the very last round, Ian made himself Sheriff for the whole game.
Stephanie started the game the most confident. Holding the sheriff’s badge and rolling lots of queens (so as to steal other people’s cards) gave her a commanding opening game. Unfortunately, to make such a strong start can attract revenge beyond mere recompense. Tonio kept collecting gold nuggets but forgot to keep an eye on his dollars (of which he ran out a few times). There were plenty opportunities for him to sulk at being picked on...
Ian was served well by being able to adjudicate in his own favour as sheriff, and this worked well as a game plan. Stephanie was tactical, playing Queens and Aces to get as many cards as possible.
Some people don’t like games that are dice driven due to the luck element (and therefore supposed lack of skill) but the interaction makes this game. Players do have some control over what to keep and Stephanie remembered the pay-a-dollar-to-re-roll rule right at the end, conveniently.
After counting up the scores it was very close - Ian 38, Stephanie and Tonio on 40, but then Tonio remembered that he won the sheriff badge in the last hand (intentionally, of course) and with those extra 5 points final scores were:

Tonio (Grubby Gold Digger) - 45 (15 Gold + $2 + 10 bonus + 18 property)
Stephanie (Lady Cards-a-Lot) - 40 (7 + 1 + 12 + 20)
Ian (Mr Real Estate) - 38 (7 + 4 + 0 + 27)

Then to a tussle of words -

Lexicon (thanks again Tonio)
This is a word game (not Ian’s favourite type of game, apparently) with cards. Each player starts with a hand of 10 cards with letters that each have a value. The idea is in turn each player does one of four things with the aim of getting rid of their cards. (Play a word on the table; swap letter(s) from your hand for letter(s) in a word on the table; add letters from your hand to a word in any position; discard and then draw one card).
Rounds can be short because once one person is out then everyone else scores the points in their hand. It can also be vicious (well, vicious by word game standards...) It was agreed the game would end when one player goes over 100 and the player with the lowest score would win.
Stephanie, self-confessed word game fan, allowed Ian to win the first hand (to lull him into a false sense of security perhaps? To keep him interested?) but then won the next two. The fourth hand was Tonio’s first win, scoring 30 points onto Stephanie’s total.
And so was the pattern to be: Stephanie won another three hands and then took another big hit from Tonio’s second (and last) win; then won three more hands to force Ian over 100 points. She admitted that she did cheat in that last hand (“Quo” is not a word), but the game was dragging a little and frankly she should have won really!
Stephanie 80 (winner); Tonio 87; Ian 120 (also a winner, for having played through a word game!)

With Gareth’s collection to hand, he suggested that the Brass players should play a game of -
Saint Petersburg (thanks again Scott)
Everyone knew the rules, especially John who commented he always seems to play it when he comes to IBG (Stone Age next time then, and Gareth can go for tools instead of nobles...)
John, Gareth and Scott all played the 'collect as many nobles' game while Philip, wisely, decided to go for a building strategy and did so very effectively. With a long game and most of the stacks exhausted by the end, Philip had made the right gamble to invest in buildings for a long game and kept a balance elsewhere too.
Gareth unfortunately gambled on the wrong things at the wrong time, filling his hand with costly items and secured himself another last place, so all in all, not the best night for Gareth.
Philip 96; Scott 91; John 91; Gareth 69

And finally, the Bootleggers had left just enough time for another short game. And still being in the thieving and skullduggery mood, Vicky chose -
Daniel had left at this point, but the remaining 5 players sat down for a quick go at this fun pirate-themed card game. Vicky proved to be the most successful pirate, mainly as she was able to quietly send her own merchant ships to sea and attract absolutely no pirate attention whatsoever. Meanwhile, Jon's ships were being hustled as soon as they left port, while his own pirate fleet was about as effective as an inflatable dartboard.
Vicky 27; Maynard 20; Barrie 19; Paul 18; Jon
And that was all there was time for. Glasses were collected. Philip left. Tables were rearranged. Everyone else left. Philip returned to pick up his forgotten copy of RFTG....
See you next week....

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