Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Who on earth am I......?

Players: James, Gareth, Barrie, Jon, Maynard, Scott, Steph, Daniel, Noel, John, Philip, Ian, Johan II

13 seems to be the stock number of IBG’ers at the moment, which is cool as it allows us to always have at least 3 games on the go at once. There was a warm welcome tonight to our latest European IBG newcomer, Johan from Sweden. Without wishing to stereotype people by their nationality, I think that he will probably have to be referred to as ‘Swedish Johan’, to distinguish him from our resident ‘Dutch Johan’. Rather spookily, they are both nurses too…….

Tonight saw a nice variety of games played, although there was a definite leaning towards those which involved ‘hidden identities’. The result of which was that by the end of the evening, there were a number of IBG’ers wandering about having a bit of crisis of identity, not knowing exactly who they were – Sheriff / Spy / Renegade / Geek? At least Jon was safe in the knowledge that whatever happened, it was a certainty that he would end up as a Spy……

So, with Steph positively pleading to play this as a starter we commenced with a 4 player game of -

Apples to Apples (thanks James for this info)
... no make that 5 players... no 6, ok 7,... 8 ?! With the number of players increasing quicker than the bids on Scott’s 'now up for auction' copy of Goa we realised the benefits of this game to begin the evening... I’m wondering what the world record is for the biggest game of Apples to Apples... ?
Now, apologies, but not realising I was going to write this up I have no notes... and being above a certain age my memory is vague. I do remember that Ian won though with about 6/7 cards, I got off to a hot start and then apparently fell asleep, I think Scott ended up with 4 cards, and (and this might be a little sketchy) Gareth might’ve got one.
Certain members amongst us, in lieu of having any tealeaves to read, like to use the adjectives won in Apples to Apples to gain insight into the personalities of each player.. so from memory (and, I admit , a rather large touch of imagination) I present a few examples of the kind of people we have along to the IBG:

Ian – Arrogant, Grimy, unreliable, unfriendly (and 3 more of a similar nature)
Noel – Subterfuge, Untrustworthy, Spylike
Gareth – Imprecise, Rule-befuddled
Jon – Devious, persuasive, Not-to-be-trusted-in-games-of-small-world-ness
Scott – Calculating, mathematical, Complex-quadratic-equation-solvingish
James – charming, witty, entertaining, suave, oh, and, inventive and massive-self-deluded-ness

(ok, I may have made a 'few' of those up... but Ian’s did come out something like that... honest!)

After that, it was an earlier-than-usual appearance for -

The Resistance (thanks to Scott for this one)
Scott’s plan to have a table of the Resistance all night started off well and first to the table were eight of us, with those only mildly interested being forced to play Revolution instead. There were a few comments like, "oh but this is an end of the night game isn’t it?" Its okay, nothing bad will happen, except if you’re on the wrong team....
Scott again had the good grace to join the league of spies, assisted with new-to-the-game Steph and untrustworthy Barrie (when he’s on the resistance side at least).
A lot of attention was deflected with teaching people the game, making it easy for the spies to go undercover and no-one dared accuse Steph of playing games, using an innocent approach of rules reminders (probably as a bluff) with Barrie playing that classic ‘fool’ tactic ("oh, if I’d played that card to look at what was played last round ,we’d have time to catch the spies but now we don’t - oh no! now they’ve got away with it...")
With 8 players it was quite tricky as there were three people sent on the first mission and Scott quickly put in the first sabotage, but there was enough deflection to not pin it down to anyone. Steph used her undercover ways to sabotage the next and by the third no-one had enough information to root out the spies and yet again it was failed.
A whitewash (or technically a red wash) for the spies.
Scott, Steph and Barrie – spies win; John, James, Maynard, Noel (I know, I was pretty sure he’d be a spy too), Gareth - lose

After Ian had shown some interest in a rematch, Jon did not need any more encouragement to bring out –

Daniel and Philip also joined in (more by default than anything else, as they weren’t interested in an early evening game of Resistance), but the rules are simple and so we were soon off and running.
Jon had a great first round, getting 3 cubes onto the board, whereas Ian failed miserably and ended up with the dreaded 5 Gold for the second round. Philip soon got into action by taking the Spy for several rounds running, which enabled him to remove some of Jon’s surfeit of influence from the board. Daniel started well and got several cubes into the Plantation, but after that seemed to lose his way, and chose to bid 5 Gold on single areas, that unfortunately were subsequently won by players with Force or Blackmail.
By the mid-game, Ian had been using the middle row of characters to good effect, and for a couple of rounds had 10 tokens to bid with – racking up plenty of support and influence in the process. However, as we have come to learn quickly in this game, it doesn’t take many rounds for the wheels to come off, and he was soon back down to a single Blackmail plus Gold again.
Jon had pretty much locked out the Cathedral and Town Hall, whilst Philip was gunning for the 50 support provided by the Fortress. There was quite a battle going on for the Harbour and the Market, with multiple cubes switching about at the hands of the Apothecary.
In the last round, Jon had 2 Blackmail which was enough to secure him the Apothecary, which he used to finally get the majority of influence in the Harbour, whilst forcing a tie in the Market. This swing of points in the last round ensured that he came out on top, with Ian (despite what the scores look like!) being close behind. Daniel wore a bemused look on his face all the way through, so you may have to ask him what he really thought of the experience!
Jon 189; Ian 127; Philip 91; Daniel 44

Apparently The Resistance can’t go on all night and the group split up. While waiting for the next table to reform there was a quick hand of -

No Thanks (thanks Scott)
This was requested by Steph, as it is her go-to game for a quick win; well, not today.
Steph took a big gamble early on and stole a few of the high cards away from Scott who was getting a bit too greedy with sending them around the table. This to’ing and fro’ing left Gareth in a nice position to sample a few cards here and there but otherwise avoid the big ones.
Gareth 38; Scott 58; Steph 91

Keeping with the hidden identity theme, Gareth was keen to try -

Shadow Hunters (thanks again Scott)
Steph and Scott also obliged, along with Dan, Ian and Philip. The game was new to a couple of people but it’s quick to catch on. With 6 of us there were a team of two shadows, a team of two hunters and a couple of neutral characters with their own agenda.
The game started off cautiously, no-one daring to attack anyone until they knew who they were, except Dan, eager to attack anyone within range. Scott was soon to follow with the attacks and they looked promising to be our Shadows. Scott was soon everyone’s target, if not already, and ended up revealing himself as a vampire to recover health after an attack.
Once the ball was rolling and health was spiralling towards death, Dan ended up being the first to die at which point he proclaimed victory! Being the neutral character with a death wish, wanting to be the centre of attention and the first to die to win. Scott was under the impression that the game continues until either the hunters or shadows are defeated but apparently not - any winning character stops the game.
Dan – won; everyone else - lost

With the first going so quickly, a new hand was dealt in and in an unfortunate turn of events, Scott believed Gareth to be one of the good guys early on (and as a shadow again, started launching the attacks) and when Gareth was nearly defeated Scott had switched to be the focus again (note for next game: refrain from attacking people too early, it makes you a target) and was the first to die. Gareth soon revealed himself as a shadow as well for a healing opportunity, his special power being that he can lie and had unfortunately lied to his ally, and Scott had wasted his efforts (as usual).
Gareth put up a valiant fight against the now revealed hunters Dan and Steph, while Ian and Philip as Neutrals seemed to favour Shadows and Hunters respectively. Ian was quickly bumped off and just Gareth was left to fight against three others, who were all rolling well and the game was over. Philip didn’t need to ally with the Hunters, he was hoping to raid a dead body for a necessary piece of equipment to win but sadly could not get the last piece, even though he had two out of three for most of the game.
Dan and Steph – won; everyone else - lost.

For the first part of the evening it was decided to stay in 2 large groups, and after a last-minute defection by Jon, it was a full-house for –

7 Wonders
This was new to Johan and Noel, but James did a good job of not confusing them too much and we were soon underway. As is common with this game, you don’t actually pay much attention to what is going on around the table, apart from the players on either side of you, so this report may be brief!
Warmongering did not seem to be a high priority with anyone around the table, apart from Maynard, who had become frustrated at his lack of success playing the pacifist in previous games, and therefore decided to play the aggressor this time. This had the knock-on effect of James also building a small army, which in turn made its way around to Jon. By the end of the game, only John had resolutely refused to get involved in such macho behaviour, choosing instead to build victory point buildings and Guilds (oh, and accumulating so much coinage that by the end of the game, the bank had run out). Unfortunately for Maynard, his neighbour Noel had decided to meet force with force, and ended up with more Military points than Maynard anyway.
In his first game, Johan was doing well and stacked up a lot of victory point buildings. Had he succeeded in defeating Jon’s army in round 3, he may have even been close to winning. Barrie tried the ‘Agricola’ strategy, of getting a little bit of everything, which we are finding is probably not the way to win the game. He also managed to be the one player in this game who built a duplicate (VP) building and was publicly shamed as a result.
James had focussed on cards that gave VP's in the 2nd and 3rd rounds and consequently posted a very competitive score. A large proportion of Maynard's total had come as a result of his collection of Scientific buildings, which the rest of the players had allowed him to collect almost without competition.
When the scores had been totalled, the result was very close, with the top 6 players within 7 points of each other, but Jon and John headed the field, and agreed to an honourable draw rather than work out what the tiebreaker was (actually it was coinage, in which case John would have sneaked it by a couple of coins).

Meanwhile, back in 'hidden identity' land -

Castle of the Devil (thanks Scott once more)
With Dan not interested in the Resistance but we had yet another hidden team game and so Scott taught this to the table after refreshing himself of the rules. This time pitting the order of True Lies against the order of Open Secrets who are racing against each other to collect the sacred items - Goblets or Silver Keys respectively.
No-one knows who is on their team at the start and during the game you need to work out who you are allied with and also get three Goblets/Keys. If you think you know who is on your team and that you have all the items you need between you and your team mates then on your turn you announce victory. If you get it right then your team wins, otherwise you lose (Ian described it a bit like Cluedo which I guess I can see the resemblance).
Primarily on your turn you will have one of two options, firstly you can start a fight with another player, you become the attacker, they the defender. Clockwise from the attacker, the players on the sidelines can either support the attack or the defence. Each character has a special ability that can be added to support the fight, if appropriate, as well as particular items. If the result ends in a tie then the aggressor gets to draw a card and this is the primary way for cards to enter the game, especially at the start. Otherwise the winner, either defender or attacker, gets to look at the loser's allegiance or their hand of cards and steal one, but not both at the same time.
Once players have some more cards, instead of fighting you can trade cards, you pass one to a player of your choice. If they accept it they give you one back and they involve various powers during the game and there are two special items (bags) which when traded give the trading player a chance to draw a card from the deck. When the deck is empty the bags become either a key or a goblet (putting 4 of each in the deck and making it easier for a team to get to the three they need).
On to the game, Steph seemed to be the favourite and within a short period of time had successfully won a large number of fights and knew the allegiance of everyone at the table, so who would she be chums with? Dan and Gareth knew who each other were early on too but with a mix of both supporting each other or going against each other it was difficult to tell if they were on the same team or not. The other half of the table, Ian, Philip and Scott were left with a fair number of failed fights, putting our trust in the other team members (and hoping we weren’t all on the same side and leaving the ones with the power to draw all the items).
It wasn’t long before Steph and Dan were flirting across the table with lots of secret trades and forced draws, getting them both a full hand of items. It wasn’t looking good. Some last minute passing gave Scott an item to pass away and stop that player from declaring victory (they have to accept the trade too) but was quickly shot down when Steph quickly passed it on with a card to move cards around the table.
Luckily Gareth could declare victory before Steph - he was obviously part of the Order of True Lies and successfully picked his team mates Ian and Scott. With three goblets in Gareth’s hands alone, we also had two keys between us so the other team couldn’t have won immediately anyway.
Gareth, Scott, Ian – won; Dan, Steph and Philip – lost

Looking for a quick filler, it was a welcome return to the strangely-titled –

This was new to Noel and Johan, and after a combined effort from the other players, the rules were (sort of) explained. After a couple of hands, it all starts to become clearer though.
In the first round, Johan got into a rather unfortunate run of putting down exactly the wrong card at the wrong time, and racked up a big total. Maynard was keeping him company in terms of collecting numerous bulls’ heads, whilst Jon managed to steer clear of trouble and ended on the sought-after zero points.
There was time for another round, and this time Johan had honed his tactics and ‘won’ the round on 6 points. Noel and Barrie were the big scorers this round, along with Maynard again, who was at least consistent (having scored 24 in both rounds). Despite having to take a couple of big cards, Jon had scored low enough in the second round to keep hold of his lead.
Despite the slightly random nature of this game, it is always lots of fun, with many cheers and groans (mainly from Maynard) during the ‘reveal’.
Jon 12(0+12); James 16(9+7); Noel 24(4+20); John 24(16+8); Barrie 30(6+24); Johan 36(30+6); Maynard 48(24+24)

It was now time to split the group of 6 up, with 3 of them opting for John's latest purchase -

Rallyman (thanks John for this report)
Three intrepid Rally drivers from the Isleworth Board Gamers had submitted their entry forms for the first annual London Apprentice Rally. Luckily they were all accepted. After a quick go through of the rules and a look at the first stage they were ready for the off.
As it was decided that John was the most experienced Rally driver he was first away. He roared away from the start line and was soon in a high gear. Next up was James and he also roared away after giving John time to get away from the start. The rally stewards then made a crucial mistake by letting Jon start before James had got far enough away from the start.
John continued on driving well but maybe a little cautiously. James meanwhile feeling the pressure from Jon tried to push it a little too much and span out of control. Luckily for James he spun out onto some grass so he did not damage his car. Jon seized the opportunity to roar past James. (Lots of roaring in rallying). A couple of tight corners negotiated well by all drivers saw this short stage come to a close, with James and Jon both nipping through a shortcut at the end.
Times for the first stage:
John 2:50; James 3:10; Jon 2:20

The second stage was a lot longer, with some fast corners at the beginning and end and a couple of very nasty hairpins in the middle. Jon started this stage in first place and made sure his lead was never in danger with some very smooth driving. James tried hard to push the pace and got away with a couple of risky moves before coming a cropper on the final bend. Again he span onto the grass. John obviously feeling left out by all the fun James was having also had a nice spin coming out of the last bend. These two spins meant Jon came home well clear of the other two drivers.
Times for second stage:
Jon 4:40; John 6:50; James 6:40

Total times: Jon 7:00; John 9:40; James 9:50

All of the drivers enjoyed the event and are looking forward to next year’s (week's, month's...) rally.

And the other 3 chose -
Stone Age (thanks Noel for this one)
Johan, Barrie and Noel set about developing their settlements in the thematic, intuitive game that is Stone Age. Despite this being an easy to pick up, quick-playing game with straightforward rules & strategy our 2 experienced players (and rules explainers) managed to make some basic mistakes in the game that surely would have seen them eaten by bears if the game was even more thematic...
This was Johan's first play but he quickly established a large resource collection and began to acquire some Tools to help him with subsequent hunts. The Tools were generally avoided by Barrie and Noel, and Barrie in particular made some early plays into the building stack. Noel then got involved with some early building and it was clear that these Stone Age communities would be quick builds with few 'Culture' cards in play.
Johan now put his Tools to good use, so to speak, and did some good work in the gold mines, quickly converting these into buildings. Noel's building plans had to be put on hold on 2 consecutive turns when he forgot to count the necessary resources to pay for the development cards, leaving him short for the building costs. However, those development cards, with their Meeple Multipliers would turn out to be crucial in the end game scoring. Noel also managed to gain a couple of the 'wildcard' buildings to good effect with high point scores.
Meanwhile, Barrie's building continued apace and at the endgame stage had a lead of some 15 points over Noel and Johan. At this stage the Development cards came good for Noel with a 32 point score from the meeple multiplier taking him past Barrie (who had misread his tool multiplier and ended up with the unsatisfactory result of multiplying 3 by 0).
Maybe minds were on the deceptions that were to come...
Noel 106; Barrie 88; Johan 83

And still, the other table were keen to switch identities again -
Bang! (thanks again Scott)
The night’s theme had now been firmly established - everyone except Scott wanted to play COTD again but something quicker would allow time for The Resistance again. So Bang was proffered from the table ‘o’ games and fitted perfectly to our theme.
Another one for Scott to teach as he had the most experience with it but the cards have lots of symbols and the player aid card doesn’t explain everything in enough details but a reading of the rules as we played corrected a few of the early mistakes.
Ian was the Sheriff with the rest of us hidden - one the Deputy trying to help the Sheriff; one the Renegade trying to kill off everyone but must kill the Sheriff; last of all are the Outlaws who just want to see the Sheriff bumped off.
There was a lot of Banging around the table with innuendos aplenty and Steph was quickly banged to death, losing one of the Outlaws. Fortunately for her, The Resistance was started up on the other table and she left to join them.
Gareth was the culprit but he seemed to be playing a renegade game, Phil was doing his Deputy duty of putting everyone else in jail and soon Scott, Gareth and Dan were all imprisoned while Scott was killed in his cells, never to escape (who also bailed to join The Resistance). It’s hard to say who was winning or losing, those that could leave the table or had to remain.
I hear Gareth was killed off next and then Dan, Dan stuck to his guns of not wanting to play The Resistance and Gareth joined the other table as well, leaving the Deputy and Sheriff to duke it out? That doesn’t sound right. Well Philip had played a good game and despite putting everyone in Jail was actually the Renegade and Gareth had played a respectable Deputy in hindsight but getting locked up in your own jail wasn’t his best move. Ian and Phil battled it out and rumour tells me that Philip won but all other witnesses were deceased so it’s anyone’s guess.
Philip – won; Everyone else – lost
And to round the evening off, there was only one choice –
The Resistance
With constantly increasing numbers of players at the beginning of the game, Steph dealt out the character cards about 4 times (not helped by actually dealing some of them face-up….) Finally, the number of players settled at 8, and the rules were hastily explained to newcomer Johan. With 8 players, you have 5 Rebels and 3 Spies, but as the hour was late it was decided to play without the plot cards.
Barrie was the first mission leader and instantly chose Johan and James to go with him. Although this mission succeeded, we have learned that this tells us little about the players’ identities. Noel suffered from his reputation of being devious, and as the next mission leader, his choices were ignored.
Scott, however managed to get his selections of himself, Johan, James and Barrie passed. However, a single ‘fail’ card revealed the presence of at least one spy. Suspicion fell on Barrie, partly due to his speed of choosing the first mission crew, and partly due to his support of Noel’s choices.
Therefore James picked himself, Scott, Steph and Johan for the 3rd mission. This appeared to have been an excellent choice, as the mission succeeded, further heaping suspicion on the protesting Barrie, who was still trying to point the finger at Johan (how rude...)
As the next mission required 5 participants but also 2 ‘fails’, there was general optimism that a choice of the previous 4 plus any other player would bound to be successful. Steph took rather a long time to decide who to take on her mission, firstly picking Barrie, but after several disapproving noises, picked Gareth. When the cards were turned over, to the surprise of 5 people, there were 2 ‘fails’ amongst them. All eyes turned to Steph, and Scott took the part of witness for the prosecution by putting forward a good case as to why she was the spy (taking her time to choose, and first picking Barrie). This sounded convincing, and if true, also meant that Gareth and Barrie were probably the other bad guys.
It appeared that Johan hadn’t quite grasped this, as he chose differently for his mission, but his ‘lack of understanding’ was forgiven as he was a newcomer. Jon (who had been unusually quiet up until this point) had decided that Scott’s arguments held water and chose himself, Johan, Scott, James and (against his better judgement) Noel for the 5th and final mission. Gareth and Barrie tried to protest their innocence, although Steph appeared resigned to her fate. The cards were collected and revealed. Was it a famous victory for the Resistance? Was it heck – 2 ‘fails’ were in the pile and smiles immediately broke out upon the faces of Steph, Johan and Jon, who had been conveniently sitting next to each other.
In this game, the ‘double-bluff’ by the Spies in round 3 (Johan and Steph both passing the mission) had been the key to their success, as no-one believed that neither of them would have failed this mission. A risky strategy indeed, but successful nonetheless, and yet another win for the Spies.
Steph, Johan, Jon – spies won; Noel, James, Scott, Barrie, Gareth – lost
And that was the end of a very enjoyable evening. I'm guessing that there will be the return of some Euro-fare next week, as there was a definite lack of cube-pushing tonight. But if there's one thing that you can be sure of, it's that there will be more opportunities for underhand spy shenanigans....

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Telling Stories at IBG.........

Players: Maynard, Keith, Philip, James, Paul, Noel, Emma, Scott, Steph, Adam, Lasantha, Jon, Barrie, Gareth

Tonight saw 14 IBG’ers turn up at the London Apprentice, including a very welcome return to Emma, as well as a second appearance from Lasantha (who I apologise to for mis-pronouncing your name during the evening…) There was also a brief walk-on role for one of Jon’s friends, the be-suited Ian, who stayed long-enough to marvel at the wonders of the modern boardgame, before exiting to have dinner with his pregnant wife. He promised to return on another evening though……

This evening saw a nice variety of games played, including the return of some well-loved favourites, as well as a vast amount of story-telling. For one of the games, this was more of the gentle ‘Jackanory’ ilk, whilst the end of the evening saw some ‘story-telling’ of a slightly more underhand and dubious variety…

First up was a welcome return for an opener that saw a lot of table-time in late-2010 -

Apparently - "what happens in Dixit, stays in Dixit....."
Adam 31; Steph 28; Scott & Lasantha 25; Emma 21; Paul 17

Paul felt a bit too old to get the younger generation references (his words not mine), but then most of the clues were in-jokes/knowledge between Adam, Lasantha, Steph and Emma – Scott managed to get a few but it wasn’t a very fair game to Paul. 

Paul left the Dixit table at this point, he didn’t knock anything over on the way out but I could sense that maybe a part of his upbeat nature had been tarnished forever. The rest stayed for -

Bacchus' Banquet (thanks Scott)
Adam taught the rules to the game where everyone has a hidden role (except Caligula), and each role has a particular win condition having collected a particular string of cards. Steph to her dismay was Caligula again and had to reveal this and attract the attention of the assassins who wanted her dead.
Emma and Lasantha seemed to start out strong collecting presents, so few presents were ever offered their direction again. Scott collected some food as subtly as possible keeping quiet after that game of Dixit (I told you, what happens in Dixit, stays in Dixit). Steph got underway with her goals and collected a huge mass of wine (This is one of Caligula’s goals but whether Steph just really needed a few drinks is a different matter), she was however now getting quite full and needed to relax a bit before collecting the meals needed to win the game.
Adam was quick off the mark to die spectacularly with a sample of poison which Steph had wisely avoided, but Adam was a rebel and thought nothing could kill him - even the Princess Bride reference was not enough to save him - no immunity had been garnered for this batch of poison. He quickly reformed and began collecting presents as well (hmmm...aren’t there only supposed to be two characters collecting presents...we seem to have three...)
The rounds moved forward slowly and Scott carefully amassed lots of food, once he got to four dishes it seemed pretty obvious he was trying to get to five of them, but with a special card still in hand and only sampling the lighter dishes so far had enough room left, even for a deer, and got his fifth and won the game. At which point two things were realised - Emma didn’t need to collect presents and she had been trying to deflect attention away from her assassin stare. Adam had also not needed to collect presents but because he had read his new secret objective incorrectly.
Scott won; Emma, Lasantha, Steph – 1 card away from winning; Adam – was 1 card away from winning on the wrong secret objective...

After several months collecting dust in James’ closet, it was time for a return of –

The Adventurers
James was keen to bring this out again to show off the pre-painted miniatures that he picked up at Essen last year, and it has to be said, they are very cute. Noel rocked up just in time to get the final seat at this game, so there was a full complement of Adventurers that set off on their daring mission.
James had decided that it would be fun to add in a couple of variants that he’d read about – 1) when players dropped treasure it was left on the board and could be picked up by anyone else following behind; 2) two players on a single square essentially ‘blocked’ the path. Time would tell if these were good additions or not.
Barrie started off like a cat on a hot cross bun and sprinted off towards the treasures hidden in the walls by the lava room. Daniel wasn’t far behind him, whilst everyone meandered around the ‘walls’ room, examining the glyphs.
Once the walls started to close in, everyone made a mad dash out before anyone got squished. Paul had been very carefully studying all the glyphs, but then decided that treading on a dodgy floor tile would be a good idea. Actually, he realized his error before turning over the tile, but gallantly kept going in order to keep in with the theme of the game. Result – a piping-hot death. Bizarrely, the dodgy tiles were al strung in a line across the lava pit, and therefore everyone had to skirt around the area anyway.
By this time, the boulder had picked up speed, which had all the characters dashing for the exit. Noel jumped into the river, whilst Barrie and Jon decided to attempt to out-run the boulder and go for the fabled ‘9’ treasure. As they both stood by the alcove, fumbling about with the lock, the boulder did its Usain Bolt impression and moved 5 squares in one go. Jon was hoping that Barrie’s impressive frame would shield him from the boulder’s effects – it did not. Both characters were reduced to pancakes and had to bring on a sub back at the lava room.
Dan and Noel had now sprinted to safety, with Paul following close behind after risking the 3-plank bridge (another variant courtesy of James…)
Jon and Barrie had long since given up hope of beating the boulder to the exit, so it was just left to the heavily-laden James to crawl his way out. He reached the final square, he could see the daylight streaming through the crack in the exit, he could smell the sweet fresh air, he could hear the accolades being awarded……SQUISH!
Daniel 18; Noel 13; Paul 4; Barrie / Jon / James – dead

Pinguin Party
Gareth 9; Philip 7

With Paul being ‘persuaded’ that he really wanted to play Tales of the Arabian Nights, it left 4 players in the Adventurers group, which was the perfect number for a welcome return to a classic –

This was new to Noel, but in trademark fashion he picked up the rules very quickly. It was decided to play with the auction variant, as this really does add a tremendous amount to the gameplay, whilst at the same time eliminating the ‘luck-of-the-draw’ issue when taking tiles.
Barrie seemed to have forgotten his experience at the hands of our Norwegian visitors last year, and started bidding heavily for the opening tiles each round. This did allow him a little enclave in the South-East corner of the jungle, where he quickly capped a ‘5’ level temple. Jon had raced across the central portion of the board, capping another ‘5’ level temple with a single worker, and moving a reasonable force of workers onto a further temple site.
Scott and Noel had started to uncover a multi-level temple close to the starting camp, which led to some inevitable fights over ownership, which swung backwards and forwards as the game progressed. Jon was the first to build a new camp, which enabled him to cap his second and last temple, but allowed him to be blocked in by the inconvenient placing of a volcano tile by Barrie. (It was also an opportunity for Jon to ‘do a Gareth’, by placing a tile in such a way that his camp could not be reached. Oopps! Luckily Scott noticed in time for the mistake to be rectified before it had any effect on the game…)
Scott had been picking up multiple treasures, and had several full sets which were scoring good points for him. Unfortunately, his ownership disputes with Noel had led him to be slightly light in the temple department.
Towards the endgame, both Noel and Barrie placed camps on the far edge of the jungle, giving them easy access to some large temples, although Jon also managed to sneak a second camp into the far corner. He had managed to build his central temple up to its max ‘10’ level, and Barrie had given up fighting for it, concentrating instead on several smaller monuments.
For the last 2 rounds, Jon didn’t bid on any tiles, saving himself a few points in the process. During the final scoring, Jon scored last (having been in the lead at this point), and despite Barrie’s best efforts to thwart him, had enough temples to stay in the lead. The other 3 players’ scores were very close together, and despite coming last, Noel had produced a very creditable performance in his first game, and was only actually 6 points behind second place.
This is one of the few games that I don’t mind devoting 90+ minutes to, as it just seems to ‘work’. Lovely….
Jon 101; Barrie 87; Scott 85; Noel 81

With not enough interest for another go at the GOTM (Carson City), the Euro of choice was -

No report for this one, but there does seem to have been some post-match debate around the 'expedition card strategy' with talk of house-rules to limit the ability of certain individuals to churn through the deck. Whatever, the scores were -

Gareth 50; Philip 43; Keith 34; Maynard 31

Meanwhile, there was the opportunity for some 'choose-your-own-adventure-style' gaming, with another appearance from the aforementioned -

Tales of the Arabian Nights (thanks James for this one)
An impossible game to write a session report for, given that it's nearly all storytelling and I don’t have time to write a novel before lunch... however it would be amiss not to note down a few of the more interesting events that occurred tonight to each adventurer...
Adam started the game by encountering a ‘sad goolie’. I may have the spelling wrong there, but hey, I heard what I heard. History, sadly, did not record what happened during that encounter although it can be said that Adam came out of it insane and wounded. Adam also had the best good luck/bad luck story having set off on pace to win the game within 30 minutes. Then, just as he was about to return to Baghdad triumphant he met (history does not record who) someone who cursed him and forced him to go on a pilgrimage to complete the game...
Emma, (spending most of the evening unsure whether it was more fun to play the game or read from the book) was both scorned and wounded (hmm, probably not in the same encounter as Adam... but who knows!) Being the hussy she is, Emma then spent an evening of delight after seduction by a pursuing sage... However the one true lesson she learned from her evening was never to travel anywhere without her brass trumpet... (?!) Best not ask too many questions about that one.
James obviously upset a lot of locals as he managed the neat trick of being both Exiled and Outlawed at the same time. However Dan’s attempt to also have him ‘Banned’ from the Apprentice by making up fake food orders failed. “Fried potatoes on a plate” ... really Dan...?
Dan’s behaviour can probably be explained due to developing an envious nature from an early encounter, and from then on everyone had to watch their backs as he was attempting to rob everyone in sight. The highlight for him was during a mid game encounter when a man he had accosted and made friends with started to “pull something out from inside his robes”... (Emma’s ears perked up at this news...)... to produce, no, not a brass trumpet, but a golden girdle. You don’t get surprises like that every day.
And this brings us to Paul, who despite some early wounds (ouch, no, not the beard!) still managed to turn on the charm and (after proving that he was not married) successfully spent many nights pleasurable company with an ugly hunchback. I’m not sure if it was this or another crime that imprisoned him later, but let’s just say the hunchback left with a smile.
End result... who knows really. James and Adam managed to (eventually) get back to Baghdad with enough destiny and story but really Dan was happy enough with his girdle, and towards the end Emma had found a black horse to keep her company (apparently stolen from James) so it’s only poor old Paul, left rotting in jail, who would probably regret setting off on his adventures.
A fun, fun game. Slightly overlong with the 5 players and it definately suffered from the extra hour after Adam had come so close to winning, as we were all distracted trying to reach a conclusion within the pubs closing time after this (and it prevented us having a game of The Resistance..) I think with 3 though this would be a great way to spend an evening.... so long as Dan understands that a golden girdle is not a real clothing option suitable for Wednesday nights.

At some point in the evening, Gareth and Keith also dared to step into the Dominion pit with Philip - usually a recipe for a good solid beating, but it appears that they held their own tonight (well - Gareth did at least...)
Philip 36; Gareth 33; Keith 22

And to end the evening, the game that is fast becoming a firm favourite of the IBG’ers –

The Resistance (thanks for the first of these reports Scott)
This week, there was only time for 1 game, but it was decided to add in the plot cards, which apparently give the good guys a bit of a helping hand. Not tonight they didn’t. We have also given you the option of reading 2 different reports – one from ‘either side of the fence’ as it were…..

Scott, after his run of 3 spy drawings last week was determined not to draw a spy and try and stay on the resistance and hunt them down instead. However, playing for the good guys is not always so easy either:
The cards were dealt, and Scott, having finally ended up as a good guy, needed to work out who were the 2 spies? Gareth and Barrie often play the confusion game and spent much of the game two weeks ago tricking the resistance into thinking they were spies when in fact they were just having a bit of fun. There was also Noel, who I hear is a mean spy, and Jon who I know can never be trusted (oh how that is reinforced this week), and Philip, who is always one of the good guys and a shame Scott didn’t put his trust in him this week.
Scott was first leader, and had a plot card to give away to enable someone to become leader in a later round. He gave it to Jon along with a joint adventure on the first mission, putting all his eggs in one basket. Scott went with the probability that Jon had to be fighting for the good guys at least once.
The first mission went through easily and Philip was up next, picking himself and the successful compadres from mission 1 (along with giving another plot card to Jon enabling him to see a played mission card before it gets shuffled up). This would be the downfall for Scott as Jon played a sabotage card, looked at Scott’s mission success card, and announced Scott as the spy. Not only that but he kept the straightest face possible (I recommend never playing poker with Jon!)
Next up was the big mission, four people and all the resistance was needed. Scott wasn’t being trusted and tried to fight his way back into the good books, trying to point out the logic that Jon is pure evil and so should never be trusted, he can look you in the eye and all you will see is a black pit of doom swirling just beneath the surface (or maybe that was just how I felt). Despite thinking he’d been left out to dry, Noel had kindly sent Scott on the mission, which he didn’t actually contemplate until after he’d voted it not to go ahead (thinking Jon was going instead). This didn’t help the accusations flying towards Scott but Gareth had got his hands on a plot card to look at a mission card as well, looking at Scott’s and reassuring the table that he was good and thus confirming Jon as the spy. However there was still a spy at the table and they had sabotaged the mission.
Leaving the last spy to be between Noel and Barrie, Jon (the mostly confirmed spy but still a lot of fight left in him to try and convince us otherwise), passed his accusations to Barrie and in a last ditch attempt to prove he was good, Jon sacrificed himself going and gave it to the other three good guys (apparently) - Noel, Gareth and Philip. Scott and Barrie shot this proposal down but the rest of the table were happy to be led to their deaths at the hands of Jon. I’m sure there was a torturous wait for Gareth and Philip to discover if the mission had failed, but Barrie and Scott knew what was about to happen. Once it had been sabotaged Noel held out his hand, Jon got out of character and returned to his natural inclination of devilry, and hi-fived Noel, the most deadly duo you could come across.
Ah, to be a spy again!

And now - rewind.......
The cards were dealt, the eyes were closed, the Spies’ eyes were opened, and it was Noel and Jon who were staring at each other. They were both veterans of playing this role (in fact Noel has done nothing else) so this was going to be interesting. 
In the first round, Scott (fresh from his triune spy duty last week) was the mission leader and chose Jon to accompany him (will he never learn?) All went well and the mission succeeded. Next up was Philip, and he predictably chose Jon and Scott to accompany himself on mission 2. Jon had to play a ‘fail’ card, which is where the fun began.
For some reason, in the first 2 rounds, both plot cards had been handed to Jon and he now used one to look at Scott’s mission card (it would have been suicide not to have used the card at this point, as everyone knew that he had it). Now came the daring double-bluff – Jon calmly and coldly declared that Scott had played a ‘fail’ card. Scott hit the roof, and rebuffed this slur on his character. The trouble for the other good guys was who to believe? Scott (who had been the resident spy last week) or Jon (whose totally unfounded reputation for misdirection in these types of games is well-documented).
Fortunately for the spies, it was Noel up next, but his selections were somehow discounted, resulting in Barrie becoming the mission leader. He chose to send Scott, Noel, himself and Philip on the mission, and again it failed. However, Gareth used his recently acquired plot card to again look at Scott’s mission card, which was of course ‘ok’. This should have unequivocally proved Jon’s guilt, but he somehow managed to create a smoke-screen which suggested that Scott had played the ‘ok’ card as a bluff, whereas Barrie had played the ‘fail’ card. Gareth was truly in a quandary.
Barrie had worked out the true identities of the spies, but it was Jon’s turn to pick the mission, which only required 3 members. In a final effort to win the day, he refused to pick himself (as a ‘demonstration of his virtue’) but managed to sneak Noel in on the mission. Barrie and Scott were obviously not convinced, but Gareth had been swayed and the fateful mission went ahead. Its failure was inevitable, and the high-fives exchanged by Noel and Jon revealed their true identities.
All I can say is that I’m glad that we only had time for one game, as I don’t think that I could have handled the tension for much longer….
Jon / Noel – spies won; Scott / Gareth / Philip / Barrie - lost

A fantastic way to end another great evening at the LA. If you're an IBG'er and didn't get a chance to play The Resistance tonight, then don't worry - I have a feeling that it will be around for several weeks to come.....

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Gambling, theft, bribery,'s just not cricket....(but it is IBG....)

Players: James, Ian, Jon, Gareth, Johan, Scott, Keith, John, Daniel, Paul, Tonio, Philip, Noel, David, James II

15 IBG’ers turned up at the pub this week, including newcomers David and James, who were trying us out rather than their usual Ealing group. James had the bad manners to have the same name as a current IBG’er, so he will be hereafter known as James II. (Let’s hope that his tenure at IBG is slightly longer than his Royal counterpart's reign…)

Tonight was not a night for the faint-hearted, as we did not play nice, caring-sharing, morally upstanding games. Our selection this evening included acts of poisoning, gambling, corruption, duelling, theft, extortion, blackmail, bribery and downright lying. ‘Twas great fun though……

Top of the pile tonight, a new offering courtesy of James' recent Paris trip -

Sobek (thanks James for the report)
Hey ho, a new starter game, and let’s be honest... anything to avoid another game of Penguin Party...! Scott, Ian and James as early arrivals all decided to give it a go, but due to the staggering of the respective entrances it meant that James had just finished explaining the rules to Scott for a 2 player game when he had to do it all again for Ian... d’oh...
Basically Sobek is a snazzy version of rummy. Players select cards from a 9 card market, but are penalised if they choose not to take the first card in the row by adding all skipped cards to their ‘corruption’ pile. Cards can be resources to collect, or character cards with rule breakers. Sets of 3 or more resources can be laid down for scoring at the end of each round and 3 rounds makes the game... oh and the player with the most corruption cards is penalised. All in all, nothing too complicated, but a nice little 20-30 minute filler once you know the makeup of the character cards. And not a penguin in sight.
So, despite the theme of buying and selling at a market I safely thought we were far enough away from uber-economics wizzo Scott’s comfort zone that the playing field was even...I thought wrong...
The first round was as competitive as a game of Agricola between Phil and a chimpanzee. Scott scored more in one set of 6 cards on the table than Ian and my full hands combined... It’s possible he did this while also solving Fermat’s Last Theorem and devising a cure for cancer, but I can’t be sure. The 2nd round we were ready though and provided tougher competition as Scott only managed to win the round whilst solving the world’s economic problems and mentally completing Schubert’s ‘Unfinished Symphony’.
At this stage I believe Scott offered to sit out the last round and see if we could assail his lead... an offer that was turned down, not out of having any hopes of us catching and winning but more that he should be forced to sit through the last round as well as punishment for doing so well.
Things were closer this time round, but I think Scott was distracted by the SMS’s he was receiving from Barack Obama to thank him for bringing peace to the Middle East. At the end I think James managed to at least tie Scott’s total score from 2 rounds, while Ian, no doubt distracted by making plans for how to wreak revenge at a later date in another game, lagged a little behind.
Scott 117; James 88; Ian 68...

So... next time... anyone up for penguins ?

Whilst waiting for more gamers to turn up, Gareth grabbed Jon and Keith and a copy of –

This was Jon’s Playroom Entertainment version which contains the very nice but completely superfluous cauldrons.
Keith was forced to take the first potions (blue) with Jon having to follow suit shortly after. Gareth was smugly adding cards to the cauldrons each round, making the totals reach 13 and causing Jon or Keith to pick up. However, this just allowed Jon and Keith to accumulate the most in 2 colours (which would not count at the end of the game), and with the endgame approaching, Gareth had run out of low cards and was obliged to pick up multiple potions, including a fair amount of poison.
“We’re not going to bother recording the scores are we?” he implored.
Hell, yes……
Keith 4; Jon 8; Gareth 16

It was time to pick the ‘main courses’, and Jon drummed up support for one of his recent acquisitions –

This is essentially a blind-bidding / area control game, where players are simultaneously and secretly bidding to influence various people within the town who grant a variety of priviliges. Many of these priviliges include adding influence to one of the 7 buildings on the board – and at the end of the game, whoever has the most influence in each building earns a substantial amount of support (VP’s!)
One of the interesting mechanisms is that all bids are lost, regardless if they are successful or not, and so the players can only use the bidding tokens that they have ‘won’ during the last round (although the bank will always top you up to a minimum of 5 gold). Bidding tokens come in 3 varieties – Force, Blackmail and Gold, with Force beating everything else, and Blackmail trumping Gold.
This leads to some interesting decisions – do you spread your bids thinly, in the hope of picking up a few cheap bargains, or do you focus all your tokens on 1 or 2 areas? Whatever you choose, whenever the bids are revealed there are invariably groans as players realise that their bids have cancelled each other out, whilst other areas have not been bid on at all.
James II started very strongly and was soon in a commanding lead in terms of influence in the buildings and points on the track. However, the wheels soon came off, and he found himself constantly being out-bid. Jon was dumping a number of cubes into the cathedral (which also earned 6 support each turn), whilst the Harbour was keenly contested between Ian and James I.
For several rounds, James had a very nice engine working, where he had 2 Force, which he used to gain 2 Blackmail, which he used to gain 2 Force again etc. However, this could not be sustained, and he soon found himself begging at the Bank’s door for his 5 gold agin.
The Spy and Apothecary were used to great effect in the later rounds, which allowed manipulation of the cubes already on the board. Jon had the choice of who to deny points to in the final round and tried to be diplomatic by choosing James I (to even out the scores as much as possible). James looked up with a curled lip and warned – “I won’t forget that…..” As it was still early in the evening, it was likely that James would have plenty of opportunities to make good his threat….
Anyway, thanks to some late-game cube manipulation, Jon came out victorious and wounded James came last.
Jon 150; James II 132; Ian 115; James I 86

This game is very easy to pick-up, plays in under an hour, has almost zero downtime, has quite a bit of interaction and elicits multiple groans and celebrations each turn. What’s not to like? (Except – don’t screw James over next time…)

Heavyweight-Euro of the evening was selected by Scott and crew -

Greed Inc (thanks to Scott for this report)
With John and Keith both getting a copy two years ago and not getting around to playing it, or very rarely playing it, they were excited at the prospect of getting a play in while Scott was happy to join in for the three of them to indulge in corporate shenanigans, syphoning off as much wealth as possible through blatant disregard of the running of your companies.
The game’s structure is fairly simple, there is a stock market of goods prices which will rise and fall throughout the game within particular boundaries. Each player starts off with a CEO in one company and a hand of assets to sell in to their own, or other players companies. These assets will either be raw goods producers like sand and land or they will convert goods, such as housing from sand and land. It’s pretty difficult to get one company everything it needs to be self-sufficient so players are allowed to trade resources around for whatever price can be agreed - this makes owning two or more companies in harmony very beneficial.
At the start of each round everyone selects one of their assets to sell and then a secret bid (from the companies) is made to purchase one. The highest paying bid gets first choice and whichever player owned the asset gets a seat in that company structure, filling up the lucrative board positions first before filling up empty spaces below ready to take-over the company once the current board is all, or in part, fired. And they will get fired because that’s the only way to get money back in your personal supply, accepting blame and getting a payoff is what makes the corporate world go round, and no sooner are you kicked out of one company do you move along to the next and do the same things all over again.
Money however is worthless at the end, you need to fritter it away on extravagant purchases in an auction against the other players, the purchases getting increasingly better each round but the minimum bid is always the previous winning bid so it can quickly escalate and only those who are continuously earning the big bucks will prevail.
All in all, it sounds quite extravagant but your options are pretty simple and there are a particular number of rounds before all of the assets have been distributed and sold which triggers the end of the game.
We all started the game cautiously and in the first round there were two producers of land and one converter to make houses but with no sand around, it was fairly useless. Still, Scott thought it would be a good investment or at least he thought it was not as bad an investment as Keith and John and sat doing nothing for a round. With no money in people’s hands at the start, there is a slow process to build up those first companies and get payoffs and so for the next couple of rounds we did just that. There were some cross pollination for John and Scott’s company as they appeared in each other’s boardrooms, while Keith was mostly building up a personal empire, but costing him double to recruit more of his own staff.
Scott managed to get some houses built with the help of John and Keith taking it in turns to provide some sand to go with his land while Keith got some personal conversions going from land to cotton to microchips or something strange like that.
Soon it came the time to see how much money the companies had made for the round, and surprisingly John had opted not to do so favourably this year, prompting lots of flying accusations in the board room and payoffs aplenty. Scott got in on a small payout while John had pocketed enough to start buying up VPs but no-one yet had enough to start a new company, the old ones staying under the same leadership without the whole board being replaced.
Once the ball had started rolling it was difficult to stop. There were enough assets in companies now for them to start making some useful monies and soon multiple companies were being run and all of the profits diverted in to one at the expense of the other. Scott profited from John and Keith both having a continuous chain of companies that they controlled so they couldn’t bid on a new one, leaving Scott to start a new company each round while completely destroying or passing over ownership of another. This was creating a heavy revenue stream for Scott and it looked bad for the other executives who could only afford one luxury yacht instead of two, how would they survive?
Keith locked himself up in companies who were making plenty of money but avoiding a falling revenue which put Keith out of sync with John and Scott and left him with little enough money to bid with until near the end, where it was a bit too late to catch up with the now sky-high price of VPs. He did however manage to convince Scott to process some goods for him on the promise that Scott would get some payout but then quickly shifted it to a different company with which Scott (the target) could not get any. I believe Scott started a lawsuit but couldn’t be bothered to appear in court in the end and continued to enjoy some well earned R&R on his private island.
Scott 54; John 44; Keith 38

Main game #3 was selected by Paul -

Lords of Vegas (thanks to Paul for this one)
I picked up Lords of Vegas at Leisure Games recently on the back of several 'this is A LOT of fun' reviews on the web. After playing it once before bringing it along on Wednesday, I hope that I made a better job of the rules explanation the second time round (during the first play, one comment from a player after my stuttering run-through was 'well I haven't got a clue about the game, but I'm willing to give it a go...')
Thankfully the rules aren't ever going to be an issue as Lords of Vegas is extremely simple and even after explaining the rules in Greek, anyone would pick it up after just one turn.
The scene is 1941 Las Vegas, a time when the place was a desolate desert town, and the glimmering neon city of today was merely an idea in the head of a casino boss or two. Each player takes the role of just such a casino developer and as the years unfold, casinos are built, expanded, taken over, traded and remodelled, all with the aim of making big money. Oh, and there's some gambling too.
Let's get one thing straight - there are a lot of random elements in the game. But before too many hardcore gamers start rolling their eyes and bemoaning a lack of skill, does that mean that luck rules the day? Not necessarily. As befits a game set in the gambling capital of the world, it is all about playing the odds and there are a lot of strategic elements at play.
The theme is very strong throughout, as all of the mechanics are based on that most 'Vegas' of activities - taking a risk. The banknotes ditch the normal portraits of Abe Lincoln and George Washington in favour of pics of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Elvis, whilst the board is based on the main street in Las Vegas, 'The Strip'. Overall the artwork and components do a great job at keeping that Vegas feeling whilst facilitating the gameplay.
Cards are drawn which have specific real estate lots on them, which will be later developed into casinos. The colour of the card dictates which casinos pay out, but players can always see how many cards are left of each type of casino and play the odds appropriately. All actions have a monetary cost, and therefore players must assess the best use of their money in order to maximise their chances.
When casinos pay out, all casino owners get cash, but only the boss of a paying out casino gets victory points which are based on the size of the casino, so ensuring that you are the boss is critical. The victory point track starts off going up in 'ones' but after eight points it goes up in 'twos' (from eight to ten to twelve...) meaning that single unit casinos aren't going to help after a certain point. The jump between spaces on the points track goes up every few squares, and therefore the bosses must ensure that they control the size of their casinos carefully, otherwise they'll waste points, or won't go anywhere.
This game played out fairly evenly for the first few spaces, then Dan started to jump into the lead as he'd managed to grow a couple of casinos quite quickly. This is probably down to some 'sharp negotiation' / 'a little ducking and diving'.
The players always have the option of having a flutter if they can use the cash, and most players in this game decided to gamble at Noel's. The age old maxim of the house always winning was not lost on Noel as he didn't lose one bet placed at his house and grinned as everyone seemed to throw their cash at him, although towards the end he also got tempted to try a flutter elsewhere and took a taste of his own medicine by handing over a fistful of 'vegas dollars' himself.
Gold casinos seemed to come up quickly at the start, so Paul got some good payouts, but then aqua (yes - in this game 'green' is officially known as 'aqua') and silver casinos were bought up heavily allowing some nice returns from Dan, David and Noel.
Noel sprawled his casinos quite a bit, and got unlucky on more than one occasion as his units were taken from him. Unlucky - but he did know the risk he was taking.
One nice feature of the game is that players can take as many actions as they like within their turn, and can do them in whatever order they like, providing they can stump up the cash. Another is that trading can take place at any time, between any two players, irrespective of who the current player is, keeping players involved throughout the game.
A possible downside is that towards the end the number of options start to get limited due to the lack of available casino tiles in the appropriate colours. Because of this the last few turns seemed less fun and it'd be interesting to see if this was a normal feature of the game, or if we just got unlucky.
The games largest casino grew to ten tiles, and the last few turns allowed each player to attempt to gain control of it. David pulled off a coup in the first attempt even though he only had one die against several from Dan and Noel, but it eventually went back to Noel who, after all, had put in most of the investment, so it kinda seemed fair.
The final payout is always for all of the casinos right on the strip, and so Paul managed to edge ahead of Dan as he had two of sufficient size to move on a couple of spaces.
I really enjoyed it and I believe all players had a lot of fun. I don't believe that the luck element is actually a drawback, but more of a feature of the game, however it'll be interesting to see if in future plays the endgame slows down quite as much as it did here.
Paul 49; Dan 40; David 32; Noel 26

Over at the 4th table was the current GOTM -

Carson City (thanks Johan for this summary)
Three veterans against one first timer. Guess who loses....
After an excellent explanation of the rules by Tonio, Johan was the first one to start. Tonio, Philip and Gareth started claiming cheap land to build on, whereas Johan was trying to start building a mine, but immediately got into trouble by Gareth who won the battle for the $4 mine. Tonio and Philip started to claim cheap land for future building and so the game went on.
As it was Johan's first time, it took around 3 rounds before the idea of winning and strategy set in, but never mind, gaming is not only about winning...right?! Right...
Anyway, Philip was gaining lots of money, but not so many points in the beginning. If memory serves me right, after the first three rounds almost everyone (apart from Tonio), did not have any victory points.
In the last round, Johan simply was trying to annoy everyone into battles (he knew he was losing....) of which he won only one, but that stopped Gareth gaining some valuable points!Tonio 41; Philip 36; Gareth 35; Johan 25

With James vetoing any bidding games (goodbye Ra and Medici), there was a concensus on the Revolution table for –

Dice Town
James II had not played before, and Ian needed a quick recap of the rules, so Jon obliged. James was as good as his word and stole cards from Jon as soon as he could. Ian went heavy on gold nuggets whilst Jon cornered the market in hard cash. Both James’s consequently found themselves broke at one point in the game, although James I managed to rob the bank shortly after.
With almost the final action of the game, Ian stole a General Store card from Jon which enabled him to take the Doc Badluck action. This one act swung the game from Jon to Ian, who proved to be the biggest, baddest cowboy in the whole of Isleworth…
Ian 31; Jon 27; James II 27; James I 13

With 20 minutes to kill (which was not enough time to play Ra), before the much-awaited return of The Resistance, Ian chose –

High Society
This was new to James II, and he started off with the rather strange strategy of buying nearly everything available, with seemingly money no object. The other players twice reminded him that the player with the least money at the end automatically lost, but it seemed to make no difference.
Jon opted to pick up the -5 tile, followed by a “x 2”, which gave him a mammoth minus score for most of the game. Ian and James I had both picked up a number of status symbols, but, as it often does, the game came down to the wire with bidding on the final tile. James I needed to bid high in order to have a chance of winning, but knew that this was likely to almost bankrupt himself. James II was already out (he had only had 1 biddding card in hand for a number of rounds), Ian thought that he didn’t have enough cash and Jon realised that he was already consigned to ‘the worst score ever’. James bid high, but when the remaining cash was revealed, he had indeed overspent, but by only a measly $3k. Meaning, that with only $4k left in hand, James II had won his maiden game. A very strange game indeed!
James II 16 ($4k); Ian 8; Jon -8; James I 23 ($1k)

Two other tables had also finished, and joined forces for a quick go at -

For Sale
David 53; Gareth 50; Tonio 45; Philip 40; Noel 39; Johan 35

And now it was time for the much-anticipated -

The Resistance
There were 14 IBG'ers keen to play this game, but fortunately Gareth had brought another copy so we were able to split into 2 groups of 7.
In the first group, Noel played a blinder in the first game as one of the spies, ably assisted by James and Paul. James' strategy was - "Point the finger at Jon at every opportunity" - which is probably fair enough...
In the second game, it truly went down to the wire, with the last choice on the last mission. David and Daniel had been sniffed out, but unfortunately for the good guys, Noel had once again used his Irish charm to pull the wool over everyone's eyes, and turned out to be the snake in the grass after all.
What we learned tonight:
- This game is a LOT of fun
- Jon can actually be trusted occasionally
- Noel cannot......

Game 1: Noel, James, Paul (spies) - won; Jon, James II, Daniel, David - lost
Game 2: Noel, Daniel, David (spies) - won; Jon, James I, James II, Paul - lost

Resistance II (thanks Scott again)
With so much fun last week, it looks like the Resistance effort will be taking over many a closing game at IBG for a fun packed 10 minutes where you immediately want to play another game straight away.
On table 1 we had a few newbies (Johan, John, Ian and Phil), joining the newbies who knew the rules after playing last week but none the wiser on strategy (Tonio, Gareth and Scott). The rules were quickly explained and cards were dealt.
Scott would now find himself in a precarious position, that of being a spy three times in a row (and by the third game really wanting to join the resistance as it’s a lot of pressure trying to stay concealed, especially when your poker face is tired).
Unfortunately in game 1, Scott, John and Ian all drew spy cards and were sitting right next to each other (there was also a permanent grin on Ian’s face which wasn’t going to help during a Spanish inquisition), this was looking dubious for the spies already. Johan managed to pick himself a perfect team straight away, followed by Phil picking the same two for the next mission and had sealed two rounds for the good guys with no spy in sight; this was looking rough for the next mission which had to have a spy. Scott, as leader, talked his way on to the mission but once it failed, his cover was blown (i.e. if Scott was good, why didn’t he pick the same team members again that just passed mission 2?) There was no amount of saving the day and with a requirement of needing two spies on mission 4, it was near on impossible to ever achieve.

Resistance 1 – Spies 0

Round 2 was a bit more prosperous for Scott as the now permanent spy, he had Gareth on the team, and Johan! A perfect spy if ever I saw one. However, the rest of the table was very smart and a quick-witted Philip was hard to pull the wool over. Tonio always looked across the table at Scott with suspicion and John and Ian, as the now official resistance members, were joining in the chat to oust the wolves spies.
The spies gave some good talk and used the well-known tactic of rushing leader decisions and talking nonsense to confuse the group - and it worked! Scott and Johan had delved deep into a mission and only Johan had sabotaged it, perfect! Scott then was up for leadership and needed to get two spies. He was already held in suspicion but needed two spies at this point for mission 4, so Gareth needed to go (picking Johan would be far too obvious) and with a bit of sweet talking, Tonio was convinced and the mission managed to go ahead. Once it failed, Gareth and Scott were both avoided, but Johan was still held in high regard and was sneaky enough to plant the last bomb in resistance HQ and get a win for the spies.

Resistance 1 – Spies 1

Oh no, Scott was a spy yet again and was feeling the pain of talking himself out of accusations all the time; but with a spectacular shuffle had also managed to pick the same team of spies, who also must have been feeling the pressure as they would not be trusted twice (Gareth is rarely trusted once). Gareth opened with a dangerous ploy, he took Tonio on the first date (sorry - mission...) and sabotaged it. Tonio now knew for sure that Gareth was a spy and he always comes across as so likeable and believable (especially when he’s jokingly insulting you), it got an early win for the spies though, could they keep it up?
The resistance was getting smarter and they were wise to deducing the suspects now, especially with the same team members, they were forming a bond. However, this was completely broken when Gareth managed to talk his way back in to the good books and alongside Johan they both revealed themselves as spies on a three person mission. It was down to Scott and with a cunning ploy to go on a four player mission to secure his innocence and then be picked again for the last four player mission where he could wreak havoc on the unsuspecting victims.
Despite Tonio, Ian and Philip seemingly being fooled, John being the true resistance member not going on the mission fought his corner and in some sort of reverse logic, when Gareth, Johan and John (plus someone who has been lost from the records) all voted against the first attempt of getting Scott to destroy the last missions, this somehow confirmed to the non-believers that John was in fact good and he managed to get on the mission instead. It was close and no-one was truly sure what was going to happen until the tension mounted card turning had finished, although Scott, Gareth and Johan knew they had lost much earlier.

Resistance 2 – Spies 1

Tune in next week for more resistance fun and if Philip gets his wish, someone may explain the actual theme behind the game.

Game 1: Tonio, Gareth, Johan, Philip (rebels) - won; Scott; John, Ian - lost
Game 2: Gareth, Scott, John (spies) - won; Tonio, Ian, Johan, Philip - lost
Game 3: Tonio, Philip, John, Ian (rebels) - won; Johan, Gareth, Scott - lost

It was then time for this great night of gaming to come to a close. Not the most edifying selection of games maybe, but still a fantastic way to spend a cold February evening.

It will still be cold (outside) and it will still be February next week, so why not come along and join us....