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.....

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