Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Spy Who Conned Me...........

Players: Scott, Steph, Barrie, Gareth, Paul, Tonio, Keith, Jon, Johan, Maynard, Vicky, Adam, Lasantha

Another IBG evening, another 13 IBG'ers to enjoy it, including this week an appearance from Adam's girfriend, Lasantha. She made a very brave stab at playing a couple of games, before retiring with Steph to engage in activities of a more conversational nature.

Although James was not present tonight (he was on his way back from Paris) he had used 'game-mule' Scott to pick up a copy of one of his games, which we were more than happy to break out of its shrink-wrap for him. It turned out to be an opportunity for yet more back-stabbing, misdirecting, and downright lying (as if we needed an excuse...)

Whilst all the other early arrivees seemed happy enough to have some food and engage in a good old mardle (showing my Norfolk roots there…), Jon and Scott decided that it might be an idea to actually play a game at the games club. So they picked up Jon’s recently acquired copy of –

Café International: The Card Game
This is a reasonable implementation of the board game of the same name. Cards are played depicting men and women of 12 different nationalities, and they have certain restrictions as to which tables that they can sit around in the café. Points are scored depending upon how many other guests are seated at the same table(s), and whether they are all of matching nationalities.
Scott proved himself adept at scoring at the right times, whilst Jon found himself unable to play any cards on several occasions, leading to a number of penalty points at the end of the game. Scott gradually stretched his lead and the final scores weren’t particularly close.
This game seems to play better with 3 or 4 players (the tables are cycled through much quicker, with less likelihood of being stuck with 12 cards that you can’t play), and therefore may see another outing at the beginning of an evening with more players.
Scott 175; Jon 145

With Steph, Keith, Adam and Lasantha ensconced in a game of Pinguin Party (that no-one knows anything about), there was time for a light filler prior to the main games starting – step forward –

Pick Picknic
This was the usual mix of quick corn-munching, chicken-slaughtering fun, with Maynard seemingly out-thinking himself at every turn. He had suffered the same fate with this game’s older brother (Sneaks and Snitches) a few weeks ago, so maybe needs to have a bit more practice with the blind-bidding genre…
Johan did his usual trick of playing foxes at every opportunity, and refusing to make bargains with other players (shame that his dice-rolling wasn’t up to scratch tonight….) whilst Jon and Scott were much more diplomatic, sharing a couple of fields of spoils without squabbling.
When the dust and the feathers had settled, Johan had ended up ruling the roost, whilst Maynard was the prize turkey...
Johan 46; Jon 43; Scott 38; Maynard 21

Keith and Scott found them in the precarious situation of trying to find a game they were interested in that they could also convince Steph and Lasantha to play. Lasantha took a keen eye to Brass (not knowing anything about it) but Steph quickly herded her away from it, favouring instead -

Cash-a-Catch (thanks Scott for this report)
Scott mentioned that Cash-a-catch included a bell and it was soon being set-up for play, with some test ringing for good measure. Everyone kind of understood the rules and we were off.
Strangely we had quite a few auctions with low numbered fish and a wide variety. Keith would often still take these eventually and bin half of them but still managed to get a lot of money out of doing so. Steph took the advantage of being able to hit the bell first by putting her hand right above it, forcing anyone who wanted to hit it, to also hit the bell (sneaky....)
Steph and Lasantha pulled in some good hauls regularly while Scott had one great round and then couldn’t get going again after that. However, Keith continues to hold the title of best salesman:
Keith 82; Steph 70; Lasantha 69; Scott 60

After having proposed it as the next Game Of The Month, Tonio brought out -

Carson City (thanks Tonio for this one)
It being Tonio’s game, he went over the rules as haphazardly as a drunk sheriff. Luckily we are seasoned gamers here so by the time someone reminded him about purchasing land we think all the rules were covered. Gareth did a great job of setting the board up, which can almost take as long as explaining the rules, but not quite.
After claiming plots of land (2 each) there are four rounds, but with the first one is being rather short it serves as a good way to learn the order of play. The first thing is to choose your identity; then place your cowboys; then resolve all actions in order (including buying land, then buildings, then generate income, then get victory points) but only if you have invested a cowboy in that action. You may have to fight someone to take an action if you both went on the same space. Contrary to Gareth’s recollection of the rules, you can only place one cowboy per space – we checked on that one!
The highlights of the game:
• Paul mostly liked having guns, much to Barrie’s annoyance (because he wanted them).
• Tonio was generally very lucky with the dice and won almost every gunfight even against the odds.
• Vicky generally lost every gunfight she was in, but made some excellent contributions to the building of the now sprawling metropolis.
• Gareth did not build much and his contributions to the metropolis were, frankly, negligible. And then people kept encroaching on his ranches… how rude!
What did we learn?
• Don’t forget that you’ll need to build houses for most buildings. Tonio forgot at one stage and fixing it robbed Gareth of income and a victory point.
• When you draw in a battle the tie-breaker is lowest turn-order on the track. Barrie did regret having the Mercenary (player 7) a couple of times. Paul quite enjoyed it!
• A well-timed Grocer (doubling production on any one type of building) can be as good as the “Sherrif on the last turn” strategy.
The winning strategy was due to a combination of the kind protection of the Church, the two grocer-enhanced banks, and having plenty of VPs for buildings. Who says that you need the Sheriff to win at Carson City?
Tonio 36; Paul 31; Barrie 31 (lost to Paul on the tie-breaker!); Gareth 29; Vicky 28

With the girls having had enough of games night, they retired downstairs to the use the pub for its secondary function of supplying alcohol (primarily being to provide boardgaming tables) leaving Scott and Keith to entertain themselves with a 2 player game; while awaiting another table to finish one of their epic games -

Galaxy Trucker (thanks again Scott)
Keith spied Galaxy Trucker and was intrigued as to how it worked so despite Scott having played it many times and being at a great advantage, Keith insisted that he be blown up in space willingly. Suffice it to say, Keith now knows how to play Galaxy Trucker and why he shouldn’t play it with Scott, especially two player.
The game loses a bit of its spice with only two as there are lots of ship components available and gunning for finishing first is not very different in the scoring stakes so a lot of the speed challenge is taken away but this was suitable for Keith’s first game. Especially when trying to build a level two ship on the level 1 board...
Scott 112; Keith 42

After a number of weeks of being left on Jon’s games shelf, it was a welcome return for –

Small World
This was played with the Grand Dames and Cursed expansions, as well as the fantastic Tales and Legends event deck. For once, I didn’t keep detailed notes of which races each player chose, but the general flow of the game went something like this:
Maynard had some early Giants, which set up camp in the mountains and proved difficult to budge. Adam had some Sorcerors, but found it difficult to target single tokens to fully utilise their powers. Johan went Underground, which picked up a number of early points but he found himself rather isolated and was consequently picked off quite easily. Jon had some Bivouacking Skeletons, which expanded slowly but had good defence.
At one point, Maynard rather overpaid (6 VP) for an event card, although it did grant him immunity from having his declined Giants being attacked. Adam and Maynard had now started to rake in a number of VP’s, and Johan and Jon appeared to be lagging behind a bit. Therefore, Jon and Johan made a gentleman’s agreement not to attack each other for a few turns, which enabled them to leave their mutual borders lightly defended.
Jon used his Dragon-Master ability to good effect, effectively pushing Maynard’s active race back, but this good work was to be undone by Adam storming across the board with a phenomenal number of Kobolds.
By this time, Johan had a good number of declined Ghouls, and was also able to pick up 6 VP’s when he selected the Amazons, due to their Cursed status.
Jon was all prepared to decline and have a devastating push with a last active race, but was thwarted by the final event card, which ruled that active races wouldn’t score in that round.
And so the points were totted up. The general concensus was that Maynard, or more likely, Adam had triumphed, but when everything had been counted, it was the wiley Johan who had come out on top, with Jon in second place. That will teach Jon to honour alliances!
Whilst the game was being packed away, Vicky came over to see how her beloved had got on. "They all picked on me!" was his summation of events, stopping just short of adding "…and they stole my lunch money!" Vicky patted him on the head, said "there, there..." and took him home for some milk and cookies…
Johan 93; Jon 85; Maynard 73; Adam 71

With 6 IBG'ers willing to go the distance there was time to break out this new game belonging to James -

The Resistance
It's been a while since we've played an 'end of evening altogether' game (Nanuk, Saboteur, Diamant), so it was great to be able to have a go at this fun little psychological number. The idea is that 2 players are spies, and the other 4 are upright members of the resistance. The group must go on 4 'missions' with varying numbers taking part in each mission. The start player selects a certain number of people to go on the mission, and then the whole group votes as to whether the mission goes ahead or not. If it does, then the mission-members secretly vote as to whether the mission succeeds or fails. If it fails (at leat one 'failure' card played), the spies have triumphed, otherwise the good guys have won through. Whichever side is the first to win 3 missions is the overall victor.
The first game saw Gareth and Tonio win through as spies (even though Jon, of course, was heavily suspected as being a spy). The second game was played masterfully by Paul and Jon, who successfully diverted attention away from themselves onto Gareth and Barrie, thereby allowing the spies a second victory.
In the third game, opinion was divided as to who were the flies in the ointment. Scott had been fairly obviously a spy, but who was his partner in crime? The most obvious culprit was Barrie, who, it has to be said, had looked suspicious from the beginning of the whole game, despite never actually being a spy. The other possibility was Paul, although his cool exterior was difficult to penetrate. The choice for the final mission had come to Jon, and after a conflab with Gareth, who was being unusually vociferous and helpful, decided to omit Scott and Barrie from the party. There were general murmurs of assent from around the table (apart from Scott and Barrie) but when the final votes were counted, the mission had failed and the spies had won for the third game running. And who was the sneaky liar? Why - Gareth of course, who had played a very clever game of misdirection and had taken everyone in.
Despite the calls for a 4th game, it had gone 11.15pm and we had to reluctantly pack up. This was a load of fun, with plenty of laughs thrown in, and should be staple addition to our collection for that 'end of evening' experience.
1st game: Gareth & Tonio - won; Jon, Scott, Barrie, Paul - lost
2nd game: Paul & Jon - won; Gareth, Tonio, Scott, Barrie - lost
3rd game - Scott & Gareth - won; Tonio, Jon, Barrie, Paul - lost

And that was the end of another Wednesday's gaming at the London Apprentice. We'll be back at the same time next week for more of the same.

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