Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Is everyone still hiding..............?

Players: Daniel, Ian, Keith, Jon, James, Paul, Johan, Barrie, Gareth, Philip, Scott, Steph, Adam, Tonio, Steve (Woody), Tet

The numbers rose to 16 IBG'ers this week, including a welcome to 2 new faces - Steve (Woody) and Tet. I'm ashamed to say that I didn't get to speak to Woody, and merely swapped keys (?!) with Tet, so if you want to know more about who these newcomers are, you'll have to hope that they return and that I get to chat to them properly.....

As a follow-on from last week, there was again a table that focussed on the hidden-identity theme, but fortunately, there was also the option of duelling it out in the Wild West, bribing a church official, or becoming a masochistic blood-letting imaginary god for the evening. Lovely.....

Before the main event, James, Steph, Tonio and Scott ignored (for once) Steph's pleas for more Apples to Apples and decided to sip on some -

Witch's Brew (thanks James)
There’s no truth to the rumour that Tonio joined in to try and get some new recipe ideas for the family’s home made wine…
Scott, who’d previous stirred the pot, ran over the rules and the concocting began.
An interesting game this one. Looks kinda silly at first glance, but there’s more going on than first apparent with some interesting push your luck, turn order manipulation and ‘rock/paper/scissors’ dynamics in play. Players select 5 from 12 characters each round, each allowing a different action. Then in turn someone picks one of their 5 and announces the role (“I am the wizard”). Anyone in turn who also selected this card in their 5 has a choice. To either take over the role or to claim a small prize leaving the original incumbent. After everyone has played whoever is left with the role claims the full reward, and leads off the next round.
Different roles allow players to collection ingredients or gold, complete potions, use a spell book or use other players' ingredients/gold for your own purposes.
So unsurprisingly Scott started off well, and Steph had a good few early rounds as well. James and Tonio quickly realised the race was on for 3rd and 4th place. Tonio ran out of gold around now, and seemed to struggle with 1 blue potion for a while giving James a step up into 3rd. But there was no stopping Scott and Steph, guzzling potions quicker than Barrie can finish a Guinness.
Towards the end I finally managed to collect enough ingredients to launch my master plan when Scott brought the game to a conclusion by bring up his 4th crow (I’ll leave that image to your imaginations)…
When the potion fumes had dissipated (please, Jon, cut back on the beans for lunch) it was discovered that Tonio and James were 3rd and 4th (as expected) but Scott and Steph had tied for the win.
Scott & Steph 20; James 11; Tonio 10

Nice little game, although I think would play better with more players (takes 3-6). Next time will try to find a larger audience.

With the 'real' games starting, how much better can you get than -

The Resistance (thanks Scott for all Resistance reports tonight!)
Despite Steph’s poor attempts at recruiting players (you wanna be a spy? do you wanna be a spy? How about you?) and Paul getting a bit hot under the collar at such a proposition (is he James Bond in disguise, was it really a sporting injury - who can tell?!) Initially a table of 6 (with newcomer Woody and veterans Scott , Steph, Gareth, James & Tonio) quickly grew to 8 as Barrie and Philip walked in after the identity deal, so that’s who you could have been, now you will be....
The plot cards were used again and have become a useful way of adding more information in to the game but they must be used carefully or else they will be your downfall as Barrie would prove. Using a card to take leadership (before new cards are issued so he gets to do that as well) and giving Steph a card to reveal her identity, she of course picks Barrie and goodness is confirmed, at which point accusations fly at both of them for engineering some sort of plan between the two of them.
Up until this point there had been a lot of rumours around but Philip and Woody had innocent painted faces, so there was little to detract from the slur on Barrie and Steph’s character. With a couple of successful missions without them, their case wasn’t looking good and Gareth (with the shifty eyes) sitting between the other spies had managed to get in on an identity deal where all three spies were next to each other, which is never an easy situation.
Resistance won (Scott, Philip, Woody, Tonio & James); Spies Lost (Steph, Gareth and Barrie)

With some more new arrivals who hadn’t heard of this fancy new game called The Resistance, the table continued to host it (what you don’t realise is that there is a kickback involved, sponsorship deals and everything – but that’s what a spy would think!) Scott, Steph, Gareth and Barrie stayed playing while introducing Adam and Tet (another new player at IBG). With just the 6 of us, we had the intense and cosy 2 spies, 4 resistance, possibly the best number to play with for that reason of people needing to play their part very well to succeed.
From the get go, Tet was playing a strange game and didn’t seem to trust anyone or go along with anything anyone else was, but being new it was difficult to read what that really meant and he exuded a confidence of not being sure about everything. Despite this, to Scott at least, it felt like he had good intentions and Barrie and Gareth doing their usual double act of pretending not to be spies really badly, making them look obvious as spies, was the downfall of yet another resistance plan as they were in fact working for the good guys. Creating enough mystery that Steph and Tet could walk through with ease and no-one was any the wiser.
Spies won (Steph and Tet); Resitance lost (Scott, Adam, Barrie and Gareth)

Before anyone could look elsewhere for another game, we quickly set-up again now that everyone knew how it worked. This would turn out to be a very intense affair for Scott who, being given leadership in turn one and a spy card to boot, had to go undercover for a couple of rounds. Getting Gareth on his side and running two successful missions, it was looking easy for the resistance but four players were needed on the third mission and both spies were sent along. Scott trying to stay in character called out as part of the discussion that he was good and would of course be playing a good card. Adam was apparently oblivious to the subliminal messages and knew he was the safest to sabotage the mission. Adam was the obvious fall guy and so we returned to the last successful team of three to seal it for the resistance. No, not quite so easy as the undercover spy was imbedded. Scott at this point was feeling the pressure and if you looked closely you may have seen the cracks; however, Steph was his saving grace, when it came to the decision of who to trust - Steph announced “I trust Scott” which pretty much sealed their fate....
Spies won (Scott & Adam); Resistance lost (Barrie, Gareth, Steph and Tet)

Apparently, something other than The Resistance was played tonight, including a cosy little 2-player that James and Jon pulled out -

Alea Iacta Est
Despite having possibly the worst title in gaming history, this is actually quite a neat little dice-rolling game, and with 2 players, it plays pretty quickly. James focussed his efforts on getting provinces, whilst Jon had a mix of Patricians (but not the right Provinces to put with them) and bonus tiles. Jon also spent a lot of time in the Latrine (!) and consequently ended with a number of re-roll tokens.
In the last round, Jon felt he was miles behind, so saw no harm in using his tokens to re-roll his dice 3 times (but still ended up with the same number he started with…) However, when the scores were totted up, there was amazingly only 1 point in it, and using up those re-roll tokens (which are worth ½ point at the end) had cost Jon the game.
This is a fun, quick game with 2, but would probably be better with 3 or 4 players.
James 39; Jon 38

And now time for some chaos -

Chaos in the Old World (a welcome return to Daniel's reports...)
Four harmless and unassuming IBGers sat down to play a run of the mill area majority game. Everything started well with players placing pieces on the board to indicate their opening strategy, Paul and Keith seemed determined to duke it out in the higher scoring areas whilst Daniel sectioned himself off in one corner of the board mopping up lower scores unchallenged.
All was going well when suddenly Paul stunned the room by yelling out in rage. Clawing at his skin until he was covered in bloody rivulets, he cried out in deep supulcheral tones "Blood for the Blood God!" before unleashing the Bloodletters of Khorne upon the table. Sitting next to him, a rather putrid Keith reached out with plague scarred hands and began to put his own foul smelling Daemons into place. Even more unintelligible than usual due to his feathered beak, Daniel squawked the equivalent of "bugger this for a game of soldiers" and ordered the cultists of Tzeentch well south of the slugfest developing in the more populous lands of the empire. This proved to be a smart move for the unpronounceable Lord of Change as Dark Elf corsairs suddenly arrived on the coast and began to butcher everyone in sight.
Ian’s transformation into the perverted god Slaanesh, lord of pleasure and pain and fond of whips, chains, and tight fitting leather underwear, seemed barely noticeable. He started to chase nobles across the board, drawing them into his debauched descent into madness, corrupting their bodies and minds until they were left nothing more than hollow puppets. Still, he knows how to throw a good party.
Whilst Tzeentch was sitting on a pile of warpstone and casting spells to hold the southern end of the map in order to increase his powerbase, a big three-way rammy developed in Brettonia between the other chaos gods. Manifesting themselves in the form of their most powerful Greater Daemons a huge battle ensued and when the dust settled only those megalithic creatures were left standing. All of whom fell to the Dark Elves before they in turn were finally chased off by an invading horde of Orks.
Undeterred by this setback Nurgle sent the troops out again, this time dripping pus further West. Everyone started moving southward to get a piece of the action as the whole South side of the map teetered on the edge of ruination. After one region went down Tzeentch bestowed additional power on his cultists who started moving warpstone around, using the glowing green crystals to inadvertently trigger premature ruination in the heart of the empire. Khorne twice tried to pin down Slaanesh in Troll Country but miscalculated the first time around and couldn’t get his Bloodletters up the mountains in time to do any damage. The next round he tried the same tactic but more successfully - still not enough to stop the region being ruined by Slaanesh. Skaven began to tread outside of their burrows and the devastation they caused across the uncorrupted regions drew the mighty chaos powers with foul smelling Nurgle gaining domination in the smoking ruins.
With a handful of regions all teetering on the edge it became apparent that Slaanesh was going to seize victory over the other chaos powers. Some recalculation by Nurgle and Tzeentch saw them temporarily join forces, dogpiling their cultists into Brettonia. Khorne brought out the heavies again in an attempt to wipe out some of the competition, once more stomping around the map in the guise of his Earthly manifestation. It wasn’t quite enough to stop Slaanesh clinching victory and everything in the riverview room returned to normal as the game ended on a points victory with one empire card left and just one ruination card in deck.
Daniel was closest to a dial victory being only two ticks away (everybody else had around seven ticks remaining). Ian had a comfortable 54 pts with Daniel and Keith lurking in the mid to high 40’s. Paul was a little behind on points but had made some headway in the final rounds by jumping into ruinations at the last minute to seize bonus VPs and dial ticks. With one more round it could potentially have gone either way. As it was, humanities fate was to be despoiled in the embrace of Slaanesh.
Ian - Chaos God; Everyone else - just chaotic

Meanwhile, on another table, it was cowboy time -

Carson City (thanks Johan)
After a quick explanation of the rules for newcomer Woody, Johan, Philip, Woody and Tonio started. The group was very kind to each other and didn't attack for most of the game apart from the end. Scores throughout the game were very close together, but the gap at the end was a bit more. Due to some crafty attacking by Woody and Philip, Johan lost a number of victory points, but due to a crucial error by Philip, by exiting early and not taking the fight further he probably lost the game altogether. Very unlike him - it probably was a bad night.....
Johan 33; Philip 34; Woody 36; Tonio 39

It was now looking like being a repeat of last week, with the return of another hidden identity game -

Castle of the Devil
Some of the new players to this game (step forward Jon and Barrie) seemed a little confused about what to do, and this confusion did not dissipate throughout the game. Steph chose to start by attacking Jon, but with everyone (amazingly) choosing to defend Jon, he was able to find out that Steph was in the same order as he was (Secrets). Fortunately, they both had Keys in their starting hands too.
After a while, a little pact arose between Gareth, James, Barrie and Scott, and they decided not to support Jon in any further fights (and also seemed to be attacking him at any available opportunity). In a moment of self-doubt, Scott opted out of this little gang for a couple of rounds, but was soon back in. However, Jon did manage a conquest of Barrie, and found out that he too was actually in the Order of Secrets. When Tet passed a key-containing bag to Jon, this was all the info he needed to declare victory, with the victors having possession of all 3 keys and the bag for good measure.
This game seemed to take an awful long time to get going, and I’m not sure how long it would have continued to go on for if the victorious Order had not had possession of the keys. Maybe 8 players is a couple too many…..?
Jon, Steph, Barrie, Tet – won; Gareth, James, Scott, Adam - lost

Looking for an ‘under an hour game’, it was the chance to give another outing to –

Keith joined for the first time, but the rules really are explainable in a matter of minutes, and the game was soon under way.
Paul shot off to a formidable start, and was collecting numerous bidding tokens each round. He managed to often achieve victories on the ‘middle-row’ characters very cheaply, which was probably the fault of the other players for letting him do so, but allowed him to pull away from the others in terms of Support (victory points).
James seemed to have been given free rein of the Fortress and Town Hall, whilst Jon was only able to conquer the Harbour. Keith was having the proverbial nightmare – wherever he laid his tokens he ended up tying or being beaten by another player, leaving him with 5 Gold for many turns. With hindsight, he probably realised that it’s worth ‘wasting’ a round by bidding 5 Gold on the Rogue, to achieve 2 Blackmail tokens for the next round, thereby getting your engine going. The only influence he did manage to get onto the board was in the Tavern, and thanks to a good haul of tokens in the very last round, he avoided being lapped on the Support track!
The very last round started with Paul way ahead, but as is common with this game, the Spy and the Apothecary can drastically alter the scores at the end. It was Jon who achieved this privilege, and chose to reduce the distance between himself and the leader by as much as possible, which had the result of getting James very close to catching Paul, but not quite enough. Had James won these 2 characters, he probably would have just pipped Paul to the post.
Paul 159; James 138; Jon 96; Keith 74

Another game, another set of hidden identities -

Shadow Hunters (thanks again Scott)
We managed to get eight players squeezed in for a full complement of 3 shadows, 3 hunters and 2 civilians - playing was Scott, Steph, Tet, Adam, Gareth, Barrie, Ian and Dan (upon hearing Shadow Hunters, he ran over...)
As is usual for the game, a few fists were thrown before asking any questions and a vengeful Steph revealed her identity early as the werewolf so that she could counter attack would-be foes. Dan and Barrie, soon revealed themselves as Hunters to better attack Steph and she was quickly killed.
Not long after, Ian went all out for a quick kill of Barrie who had previously just been wounded (kick him while he’s down why don’t you?) and declared victory having killed a character with a high HP.

Well, that was quick, on to another hidden identity game....

The Resistance (thanks Scott for The Resistance full-house...)
In the way the game was originally expected to be played at IBG, the end of the night was full of backstabbing and outright lies, mostly by Philip this time, not known for such uproarious behaviour (in games.) The line up for two more back-to-back games was Scott, Steph, Gareth, Barrie, Philip, Ian and Woody.
First up would be a plot much akin to something Jon would do, and it is clear his bad influence has spread throughout the group and in particular on the impressionable Philip. He took Scott along for an initial two person mission and immediately sabotaged it, accusing Scott of treachery most foul and despite keeping Philip out of mission for a while (for some reason people seemed to believe Scott – I know, I don’t understand it either) he had got one win in for the spies and made the job easier for the other two. Well it didn’t take long and with two more failed missions, the despicable duo, Gareth and Barrie, were also to blame.
It had not been helped by some confusing collaboration between Woody and Ian who had looked very suspicious - Woody had seen Ian’s identity but wanted to keep it secret for a bit longer, to help prevent the spies apparently, but then the spies already know who is good and bad, holding information just made them look very suspicious. Creating enough confusion for an easy win for the spies.
Spies won (Philip, Gareth & Barrie); Resistance Lost (Scott, Steph, Ian and Woody)

After a quick win for the spies, the resistance was determined for a better outcome and fortune favoured them this game as Gareth and Scott went on an early successful mission. Gareth had also passed some cards on to Scott and Steph, and quickly Gareth was left out of the loop.
Philip, Scott and Steph made a little sub-team between themselves and helped to prove each other to be good with the plot cards. The team was looking very believable as another mission was passed successfully. Ian was the leader next and knowing himself to be true and there needing to be two spies on the mission, picked the other good members and it all went through successfully.
A quick win for the Resistance, maybe Gareth shouldn’t have given so many useful plot cards away, being the dirty spy that he was.
Resistance won (Scott, Steph, Philip & Ian); Spies lost (Gareth, Barrie and Woody)

With only the ‘hardcore’ IBG’ers left, it was the opportunity for Paul to try out his copy of –

Café International: The Card Game
As Jon had picked this up recently for 99p on ebay, he had played it a couple of times, so was able to fumble his way through the rules. Due to the lateness of the hour (a fine excuse) he managed to incorrectly explain the scoring rules, but this was rectified early on, and didn't affect the outcome.
There is actually a little bit of strategy going on in this game – mainly about how long to hold onto cards to increase their scoring potential, at the risk of that country’s table being filled before you have a chance to lay them down. Anyway, a blow-by-blow account is not called for – suffice to say that James was in the lead when the last card was laid, but as he still had 7 cards in hand (worth -2 each), Jon slipped into first place – just! A very close finish, and a nice 20-minute filler to end the evening with.
Jon 114 (120-6); James 112 (126-14); Paul 108 (110-2)

And on that note, it's time to say 'au revoir' until we reconvene at the same time and place next week....

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