Wednesday, 19 January 2011

We've seen it all before........

Players: Vicky, Maynard, Scott, Steph, James, Paul, Tonio, Ian, Philip, Jon, Adam

With Barrie (“I’ll be there a bit late”) and Gareth (“I’ve got issues with an electrician..”) as late no-shows, there were 11 IBG’ers at the London Apprentice tonight for another night of great gaming. Nice to see Adam around again for the first time in several weeks.

The Isleworth Boardgamers are not renowned for being 'stuck-in-the-muds' and are always happy to embrace change, regularly trying out new games. But tonight, for the first time in a very long time (can't be bothered to work out exactly how long...) every game that was played during the evening had been played at least once before at the club. Maybe we're turning into a bunch of predictable, pipe-and-slippers, grumpy old so-and-so's (or maybe that's just Tonio...)

Apples to Apples was the warm-up act of the evening again (with Paul collecting a handful of quite unflattering adjective cards), but the first main game to hit the table was –

Paul and Tonio hadn’t played before, but James was keen to try out some of the expansions, so he threw in the extra paint colours and the deck of cards. As it turned out, these mesh in with the base game very nicely and probably don’t add too much to the game length (maybe another 15 mins or so.)
With several of the low value tiles removed, there is no guarantee that players will be able to paint on their first turn, and Tonio was the only player to do so. Consequently, he shot into an early lead. When he then mistakenly removed his scoring marker from the board, his retort was, “Well if some of you chaps would score some points too, then maybe it would be more obvious that it was a scoring track…..” Of course, this comment was to come back to bite him in the derriere later on in the game….
It wasn’t long before everyone else started to paint sections of the fresco. Paul picked up some useful cards early on (including gaining an extra point for using the bishop) whilst Tonio also picked up some helpful ones, which added to his income each turn. Jon and James were mixing paints furiously during the midgame, with both of them creating a couple of valuable gold (or brown as they appear) cubes of paint. However, the next turn, Jon was able to wake up at 5am (that’s what having 2 kids does to you…) and make it first to the fresco to paint 2 valuable sections. By the time that lazy-boy James had stumbled in, there was no use for his gold paint at all, and he was forced to save it to flog at the end of the game.
By this point, Tonio had somehow fallen behind by a country mile, and was reminded of his earlier comment with a certain sense of glee by the other players…
The end turn came suddenly, and Jon was able to paint the last 2 sections of the fresco, although as they were on opposite sides, there was no chance to get extra points from the bishop. James sold a number of cubes at the end, and with just the money to count, James, Paul and Jon were all in contention for the win. Jon had the most cash, but James had accumulated enough points to just pip Paul into second place by 2 points, with Jon a further 2 back. Tonio was apparently still on the scoring track somewhere…..
James 100; Paul 98; Jon 96; Tonio 78

With Gareth and Barrie having issues with even turning up this week, there was no Brass, and so Philip and Scott were at a loss as to what to play. Ian, with an excited look on his face happily joined the two of us for a quick game of -

Power Grid (thanks Scott for this report)
Scott picked the Central Europe map as it looked the most suitable for only three players out of the options brought. The slight tweaks are that coal is plentiful and there are some areas where nuclear plants are not allowed to be purchased if your cities are only in those regions. There is also one city which gives a discount to buying garbage, so for our game we played with two non-nuclear zones and the one with the garbage discount.
We all got underway with bidding and Ian got the cheap coal (#04), Scott the hybrid (#05) and Philip wanted early turn ordering so took the oil plant (#03). Ian started up in the North in one of the no-nuclear zones while Philip and Scott started in the middle and could end up blocking each other pretty quickly if they wanted to but connections were expensive so this looked unlikely.
Ian would establish himself as the coal baron, much to Scott’s discomfort as he was also pretty invested in coal so Ian made sure the prices stayed high but this would come back to bite him at the end game when he needed to buy coal at the maximum cost.
Philip exercised a balanced game using oil which no-one else risked competing with as oil would get expensive pretty quickly but Philip enjoyed the stable prices, he also was the first to get the garbage plants fired up, and by this point in the late game they were almost giving the fuel away.
Scott tried a mix of coal and nuclear but kept trying to stay early in the turn order and building fewer cities than Ian and Philip had lost out on some necessary revenue for later.
As we got to the end, Ian kindly pointed out to Philip that he could end the game if he had enough money as it was just the first to build to 17 and power the most, you didn’t need to power all 17, and Philip could only power 15. At this stage Scott had already resigned himself for another round as he didn’t have enough to end the game and resources were getting very scarce so first choice next round would be very important; however there wasn’t going to be another round as the only other player who could get to 15 cities was Ian who diligently did but having stocked up on two turns worth of coal had spent most of his money. Philip weighed up his options and built to 17 with the hope that he had enough money left to outshine Ian, and he did, by 8 electros. So a very well-played game by Philip and a shockingly poor performance by Scott - his performance review will highlight that he must try better next time.
Philip 17 cities (15 powered) – 19 cash remaining; Ian 15 (15) 11; Scott 11 (11) 101

The info for the next couple of games was provided by Steph (with a little creative flair from Scott...) -

Pinguin Party
A very close game in which Maynard won.

Funny friends
Short version: Maynard won and the game was funny.
'Scott-enhanced' version:
Steph was the stud among muffins, in some sort of reverse gender game. Adam and Maynard wanted to see what it was like to be a girl while Steph and Vicky saw the world through a man's eyes.
Apparantly Vicky was maybe too nice for the game as there were not many tales to tell but he had achieved many of his life goals. Steph had had a tumultuous time with the females at the table, getting in to a relationship twice with Adam but breaking up with her pretty swiftly too.
Maynard was then the next target of Steph's affections and they had ended up married with children. Steph had now been tied down and this was not suiting his goals while Maynard had gleefully sapped up her own in marriage bliss and handily won the game.
Adam and Vicky looked on with an almost complete outlook on life. Steph blames his troubles on the drink as he continued to try and wash away the pain.
Maynard - won; everyone else - didn't

Errrr...I'm confused, but that doesn't usually take much so I think that we're best off moving swiftly on.....

With Adam and Steph having left, Vicky and Maynard were left on their own, and were also about to depart, when James called out from the Fresco game, “We’ve only got 10 minutes left.” Vicky and Maynard looked unconvinced (wisely), but were suckered in by the suggestion that they stay around and set up a game of –

7 Wonders
Yep – it did take more than 10 minutes for the Fresco-Four to finish, but this time was well spent by Vicky and Maynard setting up the game and not (!) explaining the rules to Ian. Despite Ian’s protestations that he would just ‘make it up as he went along’, James did a quick rules run-through for him and then divvied out the starting wonders. Much to his dismay, his newly-arrived Mannequin-Pis did not feature, but as it is the most over-rated monument in the entire solar-system, it was no great loss to the game.
Vicky eschewed her usual science-collecting tactic and left that privilege to Tonio and Ian. Paul went heavy on yellow and purple cards, whilst James found himself without enough brick (between himself and his neighbours) to build his second level wonder.
Jon focussed on getting enough stone to quickly build all 3 levels of his wonder, whilst trying to stay at peace with his neighbours, Ian and Vicky, for at least one round. Ian was making a good fist of understanding what on earth was going on, despite having his bonus ability written in German on his board. Maynard built heaps of blue victory-point buildings, only to have 1 torn down in the final reckoning (thanks to sharp-eyed Paul) as it was a duplicate.
James and Paul amassed sizeable armies, and in the 3rd age, so did Ian, which resulted in Jon spending the last 3 turns recruiting even more soldiers to trump him. The game was over quickly (one of the beauties of it) and after some Agricola-like totting up, James revealed the scores in suitably dramatic fashion – with Jon just edging out Paul for the win.
Jon 55; Paul 52; James 51; Vicky 46; Maynard 44; Tonio 43; Ian 37

After the game of Power Grid, there was talk of another, but Scott was too ashamed and Philip’s suggestion of Race for the Galaxy was approved by Ian and so it was signed and dated and he is now officially a member of the Race for the Galaxy IBG club (sub-chapter of Isleworth Boardgamers) - 

Race for the Galaxy (thanks again Scott for these reports)
Ian warned us he might be a little slow and needed some teaching of the latest expansion, but he picked it up very quickly and was amassing Prestige like it was going out of fashion. The game almost ended on someone getting to 15 prestige (Ian with 14) which has so far been near impossible to achieve. Despite all of the prestige, and subsequent VP, gathering Ian had not played that many cards to boost his score and Scott with his range of goals and several 6 cost developments just eeked out the win from the prestige ruler of the galaxy. Philip was also playing and to be fair the scores were very close...
Scott 64; Ian 54; Philip 52

At this point Ian deserted us to build a wonder while Philip and Scott stayed to continue their more advanced galaxy colonization instead.

The first game went well for Scott, who had been playing lots of cards to speed the game up with Philip still thinking about his next turn, only to realise it was over and the score counting was required.
Scott 45; Philip 33

Then Philip found his feet and got back in to the swing of the game for the next two, both of which Scott held a steady performance but it wasn’t winning any prizes. It would probably help having a strategy that was a bit more focused and not fighting Philip for most prestige when he was gaining it faster.
Game 2: Philip 43; Scott 39
Game 3: Philip 51; Scott 39

We did however manage to play at a rate of one game per age in 7 Wonders, after which Jon reminded us that the only time he’d ever played RFTG it took an actual age - maybe we need to introduce more people to the RFTG sub-chapter...

Tonio was halfway out of the door, but it didn’t take much to persuade him to doff his scarf and cap and rejoin the 3 remaining IBG’ers for a quick game of –

High Society
This really is an excellent little filler game, which never fails to hit the mark. Tonio was new to it, and despite picking up the most points, was also the most broke at the end, which left Paul taking the win by only 2 points from Jon and James. File this one under – ‘Really must play it more often….’
Paul 14 ($26k); Jon 12 ($22k); James 12 ($21k); Tonio 16 ($6k)

And so it was time for Tonio to re-don his cap and this time make it all the way out of the doors of the London Apprentice. We may not have played anything 'new' tonight, but the 'oldies' certainly held their own and made for a very enjoyable night's gaming.

See you next week for much more of the same.....

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