Wednesday, 11 May 2011

IBG turns 21.................

Players: Paul, James, Maynard, Jon, Keith, Vicky, Gareth, Noel, Andy, Alex, James II, Philip, Tonio, Scott, Steph, Adam, Woody, John, Mark, Soren, Paul A

Well, all the planets must have been in alignment or something tonight, as the IBG attendance record was smashed, with 21 people turning up for some gaming action. Andy's mate Mark had come back for a second week (so we obviously hadn't done a great job of scaring him off) and thanks to a hiatus in the London on Board schedule, we welcomed a couple of LOB castaways - Soren and Paul A. And now they know that we're no tin-pot games club, maybe they will return......?

With such a large number of gamers, there was the opportunity for a wide range of gaming experiences, from the old, to the new, to the borrowed to! Anyway, without further ado, here's what took place.

First up -

Circus Flohcati
"After a lacklustre start, Scott came first and Tonio lost at his own game...." 'Nuff said......
Scott 65; Adam 54; Steph 52; Tonio 50 

I'm guessing that a 1981 Gibson Games card game can hardly be described as 'new', but it was to the IBG'ers -

Sherlock Holmes: The Card Game
This was a recent Ebay purchase of Jon's (pretty much the only way he's allowed to buy games these days....) and is really a glorified version of Uno with a nice theme attached. Keith had played before ("years ago") but it was new to everyone else.
The idea is that players have a hand of cards, and at the start of the game, there is one Villain card between them. Players try to play cards in such a way that they effect an arrest of the villain, causing the round to end and a scoring to occur. The villain can end the round by gettiing rid of all his cards (villain last). However, several cards allow the villain to change hands, and as the game progresses, it is possible for other villains to enter play. Therefore, keeping track of who has the villain(s) can be a tricky business.
Being the first time that everyone had played, it was understandably slow, and it was probably true that players didn't play enough 'Clue', 'Disguise' or 'Arrest' cards, as we managed to nearly get through the entire deck before the game ended. At this point, all 4 villains were in play, and Keith managed to successfully arrest Jon. However, as Paul had only a few cards in hand, he actually won with the fewest points.
Opinion? Depends who you ask. Paul thought it was good and enjoyed the theme. James didn't. For me, I would like to try it again, and would encourage players to travel about the country less, and do more detecting!
Paul 25; James 44; Keith 45; Maynard 76; Jon 82

Taking advantage of our LOB visitors, it was a chance to try something really new -

Puzzle Strike (thanks Scott for this report)
Another Dominion style game of deck building from a random assortment of actions to buy, this time though you are not trying to collect the most VPs, you are trying to beat your opponents into submission and the last man standing wins.
It’s supposed to max out at four players but we were rebels and played it with five anyway (although we did run out of a couple of damage point cards before the first death was upon us). Soren taught the game to Scott, Paul A, Alex and James 2.
Everyone starts with a basic hand of some low value money and everyone gets to select a character who each have their own starting cards/abilities. There is an impending doom mechanic on the game as at the start of each round you take one point of damage. If at the end of your turn you have 10 or more damage then you are out and any excess damage above 10 that you have gets passed around to the next player; so building up a large attack on someone can quickly escalate around the table.
The way the damage works is that it is always dealt out in 1’s but you can use particular actions to combine your 1's into higher values so that when you use an action to pass one card, you pass one high card instead of a low one and deal damage to your neighbour that much quicker.
Soren and James made the most use of the damage combination actions while the rest of us played it a bit like Dominion and were buying actions to create strings of getting more actions. However, there isn’t really time for that as you need to keep very focussed on dealing and preventing damage so there is a focus on only going for a select few cards that are always in the game that deal with moving/combining damage.
Soren made the best use of his and after a few rounds and an accumulation of 9 damage managed to offload most of it to Paul, who quickly died of his injuries passing some of the leftover to Scott who suffered much the same fate.
Alex had avoided collecting much damage throughout the game and so James was next up for the chop leaving Soren and Alex to duel it out but Soren’s earlier healing and more efficient actions left him victorious.
1st - Soren; 2nd – Alex; 3rd – James II; 4th – Scott; 5th – Paul A

Extra comments from Soren: "I still enjoy Puzzle Strike. The 10 different characters each with 3 unique special ability cards play very differently - very different 'engines' are possible and required for the different characters to be effective. In addition to that, you can, and need to to play well, fine tune your engine to the character and gameplay of the player to your left (who you are attacking) and to your right (who is attacking you). So there seems to be a lot of scope for becoming good at this and for competitive play and for replayability - while it is also fun played only casually/occasionally (as I do). Although it is only up to 4 players, it worked just fine with 5 players apart from running out of '1' gems and having to use card sleeves as extras."

Steph & John won; Adam & Tonio didn't

Skull and Roses
Game 1 - Tonio
Game 2 - John (also played - Steph & Adam)

With Andy in the house, there obviously had to be an appearance for -

Agricola (thanks Woody for this one)
Eager novices Andy (no he's not!), Mark and Woody were joined by Phil, who clearly spotted easy prey ... and then a last minute addition of Keith made it a five player game. Phil flew out of the starting blocks, piling occupations and minor and major improvements onto his board and was soon swimming in resources and reproducing like a disease! A combination of alcohol, wrong orders, a lack of lighting and absence of spectacles meant that Mark was destined for a night of under-performance and finishing with a two roomed stone house with only two family members & two beggar cards, was to ensure a somewhat subdued score.
Woody identified that last place was going to be taken and settled for modest progress. What might have been a reasonable score was ruined when he ate his animals leaving a huge pasture devoid of life!
Andy and Keith made a good fist of trying to keep up with Phil’s pace. Keith had crops everywhere and managed to grab two ‘free’ family members whilst Andy had fingers in just about every pie and therefore only one minus point at the end.
In the end, with a full family and a bit of everything else, as well as numerous bonus points, Phil took the honours.
Phil 45; Andy 34; Keith 24; Woody 19; Mark 7

This month's GOTM also made its 3rd appearance -

Gareth 135; Noel 115; Vicky 110

And now a second outing at IBG for -

Colosseum (thanks again Scott)
The game of putting on a good show - it was new to most players, including Soren who taught it, Alex and James 2, while Scott had played it once many years ago. The game revolves around auctioning items for the various shows and improving your arena to house bigger and better shows while attracting more visitors. The key mechanic is that your score is not cumulative and only records your highest achievement within the 5 rounds so having the best show throughout doesn’t make a difference if you don’t have the best show right at the end as Scott would soon learn the hard way.
Scott got himself in to an early lead and put on the best show for three consecutive years, earning him some bonus visitors for the future but had ignored improving his stadium enough to keep up. There is also a benefit to being 1st as the player in last gets to steal an item from the player who is trailing behind so Scott started to struggle from all the thefts. When Alex quickly switched to a giant performance in round 4, he stole the show easily as he had been preparing all of the items needed for the last few rounds at the expense of better shows earlier.
Soren and James seemed to be struggling for most of the early game, switching between 3rd and 4th most turns and not earning quite as much as Scott and Alex but Soren had a plan and in the last round put on the best show in the land, using all of the bonuses he had collected throughout the game to give his last performance an extra burst of energy just to surpass Scott who had recovered to put on a very worthy show. Alex’s big jump in round 4 was difficult for him to surpass and it wasn’t good enough to compete in the last round. James unfortunately continued to struggle and having run the same show every round except the last, and only buying a slightly better show for the finale could not cut the mustard. He looked like he had fun with the lions and horses though...
Soren 92; Scott 83; Alex 75; James 57

Extra comments from Soren: "Finally got to try Colosseum, which I think I got from James in a math trade a long time ago. It is a very good, auction, trading and set collection game. I thought I had fallen hopelessly behind Scott because of all the podium tokens etc. he got throughout the game, so I gambled on putting up the biggest of all the shows although I was missing several assets for it, to try to at least get a respectable second or even just third place. However, I managed to get most of the required, missing assets, plus a couple of nobles and, surprisingly, blazed past even Scott to victory."
Meanwhile, James had produced this 'new to IBG' exploration game -
Lost Valley
This is a tile-laying game combined with some resource management mechanics. Players take it in turns to explore the 'lost valley' in hope of finding gold mines. They then use resources to trade for items that will be useful in mining the gold, while trying not to waste too much time running back and forth across the landscape.
Right from the off, James and Paul got into bed together and set off on one side of the river. Maynard and Jon took the road less travelled, and had soon uncovered a cluster of mountain mines. With trees nearby, this was prime gold-mining territory, except that there was nothing to eat in the near vicinity. In contrast, James and Paul had stumbled across a bear cave, which contained a never-ending supply of delicious animals. Conveniently forgetting that he was a vegetarian, James dined on the finest venison and rat, whilst Paul used his shotgun to blast away at anything that moved. It was only later that we discovered that the shotgun was a 'one use only' item, and should have been safely stowed away after its first misfire.
No matter, Maynard stocked up on river-gold (easier to mine but worth less), whilst Jon used a couple of sticks of dynamite to good effect in the mountains. As the game came to a close there was a last desperate dash to the source of the river to collect a large stash of newly-discovered river-gold, and then it was all over. When the dust had settled, the scores were incredibly close, but Jon's dynamite had just won him the day.
Jon 24; Paul 22; Maynard 22; James 21
Revenge of the 'B' Movie
John 6 (3+3); Steph 5 (3+2); Adam 3 (3+0); Tonio 3 (3+0)
Elsewhere, time for another quick filler -
No Thanks (thanks Scott)
This was the game where Gareth failed miserably. He apparently employed some kind of new tactic where you try to collect as many sets of unconnected cards as possible. Bad idea.....
Steph 49; Adam 55; Gareth 106

And after a highly successful debut last week, a welcome return for -
Skull and Roses (thanks again to Woody for this write-up)
After last week’s debut for this game and others giving it a whirl earlier in the evening, five very obviously devious, untrustworthy and twisted reprobates sat down for a last hurrah of the evening. What ensued would not have looked out of place if the players had been wearing neckties, six shooters and cowboy hats, knocking back whiskey and smoking cheroots in a wild west saloon.
Smack talk, staring, deceptive body language ... it all went on as each player tried to goad the others into crazy bids.
Game 1 – Finished fairly quickly... Woody having made one successful bid went after the win and promptly got knocked out. James in particular seemed to have his number, but everyone was stitching everyone else up. The only other successful bids both came from Paul who won without losing a card.
Game 2 – This time Jon went for it, only to find the same outcome as Woody in the first game. Then Paul having one successful bid followed suit, caught trying to bluff, he was forced to turn over his own skull! Noel and Woody found themselves with one card and one successful bid each, while James still had all four, but no bid. Two lost cards and one successful bid later, James knew Noel only had a rose, but did Woody have a skull or rose? One failed bid later all was known and James was able to make one final bid to win!
The evening wouldn't be complete without an outing for -
The Resistance (thanks for these in-depth reports, Scott)
(The whodunnit series...)

Game 1
With Steph returning to the fray of IBG, The Resistance has been revived and tonight we fitted in two eight player games before calling it a night. The players were Scott, Soren, Philip, Adam, Steph, Alex, Gareth and James II. The ellusive eight player game where with only three spies to five resistance members you may be fooled into thinking it would be really easy for the Resistance, but there are a lot of places for those three spies to lurk and there are a few more people to lay the blame on if you get accused.
Up first was Philip to lead the charge and using the variant of picking whichever mission you’d like he went for the first mission and picked himself plus his neighbours Soren and Adam. Everyone seemed happy for it to go ahead except Scott who claimed he knew one of them had to be a spy but was being rather coy on who exactly it may be.
It turns out Scott’s instinct was right and the mission had failed but this didn’t seem to improve his credibility at all. Up next was Adam who went with a team of four and amongst his selection had picked himself and Philip which the table didn’t seem too happy about so the vote was shot down and Steph was to pick a team instead.
Adam also had managed to indirectly give Scott a card to look at someone’s played mission card and Adam seemed confused about him getting it from another card effect. Some may think he accidentally let it fall into Scott’s hands when Alex should have had it instead - could Adam have slipped up as the spy? Some believed it was a big ploy for Scott’s next trick of getting Steph to pick a team with herself, two others she thought were trustworthy and Adam who Scott could look at his played card as he was also still under suspicion from the first mission. Steph didn’t seem to trust Scott and so he wasn’t sent and Gareth and James were sent instead. Adam played a good card (at least according to Scott) but the mission failed and all eyes were with Scott and Adam as Spies in cahoots.
Up next was Alex (our resident Spy) to select a team, he managed to get one of those lovely ‘I can never believe what you say anyway’ cards for looking at your neighbour’s allegiance. This was given to James so that he could use it to look at Scott and in the process prove Scott and potentially also Adam’s innocence but he decided to look at Gareth instead, on the premise that Scott sounded trustworthy enough (tell that to the rest of the table next time please James), but those two were on the mission that had just failed and the game was quickly descending in to chaos.
Alex took us on the 4th mission that needed two spies to fail it and before any resistance members could put their logic together, Alex had a team of himself, Steph, Gareth, Soren and James. It seemed wrong to Scott, mostly because Steph was starting to act shifty and play the confused gamer card where she concentrates so hard on being a spy and a good guy at the same time she forgets the rules of the game. On that logic Scott pronounced that we shouldn’t trust Steph, because even if the Resistance went on to lose the game, at least we could say “We didn’t trust Steph” and feel better about the whole situation. No one else was interested, they were happy for it to go ahead, Soren had a no Confidence card he could play but declined to use it as the mission was going forward with him on it.
Lo’ and behold all three spies played a sabotage card, Spies won a triumphant victory and Steph coyly turned over her traitorous portrait while obviously Alex revealed himself as a spy and new to IBG Soren had also kept quiet in the corner and aided his team mates. A quick win - so quick that Gareth started handing out the character cards immediately for another round. In consolation, Steph had told Adam that even though he didn’t win, he was quite attractive (on his character card at least).
Spies Won (Soren, Steph & Alex); Resistance lost (James, Gareth, Scott, Philip & Adam)

Game 2
Same players, same game, different allegiances, before we’d even really discovered what was happening from the first game it was all being mixed up again.
Straight away the "let’s call our neighbour a liar" card was released by Gareth and strangely they always seem to find their way in to James’ hand. To date he has always been a resistance member (unlike Alex who has always been a spy) and despite Gareth trying to use it as early leverage to prove himself innocent (or at least on the same team as James), James decided to go a different way and look at Scott’s card. After a brief pause of staring at the card, assumingly to come up with a convincing lie, he accuse Scott of being a commie to which Scott replies in his highest pitch innocent voice that how dare James accuse him of such treachery, and that he had just showed his hand as a spy by accusing Scott. Steph wasn’t being fooled by such an outrageous reply, Scott must be a spy for sounding so obviously in faux shock, or does Scott just have a naturally high defensive voice.
Scott stuck to his guns and Gareth decided just to ignore that corner and pick a team of four with himself, Adam, Steph and Soren. An unlikely team if ever you saw one (See game one, reference: Steph’s always untrustworthy), unfortunately for the resistance they passed it and someone had sabotaged it, and Scott wasn’t anywhere near it. The table broke down into lots of conversations about who to trust and in the end no-one really could be. The next mission which was mission one couldn’t be decided by anyone and four attempts were rejected before it moved around to Adam and by now we were facing the premise of going with whatever Adam wanted. There were also two No confidence cards on the table and a question of whether that can cause the game to end. As apparently five failed attempts to go on a mission fails not only that mission but the whole game!
Adam picked a team of Philip, himself and Gareth, it got voted ahead because we didn’t have any other choice and Steph and Scott (who just realised someone had given him a no confidence card) declined to use theirs for an instant win for the spies. Trust was renewed with Scott and the accusations made between Philip and James were getting stronger. James at this point cried that he was very confused about the whole situation, especially when this mission failed and barely anyone was around to accuse.
So it was looking like an easy win for the spies again, Steph was up next to pick a team and it was obviously Steph & Scott, plus who else could be trusted? Apparently Alex, Gareth and Soren. With a last ditch attempt to get a blue result, two spies needed to be present for this one to fail. Despite a few people against it, the mission passed and went ahead. To the horror of the table as the cards were turned over, two sabotage cards had been played and by none other than Scott and Alex, with Adam the trusty sidekick. Turns out you should have trusted James all along. Scott was thanking his lucky stars that he had pulled some wool over everyone’s eyes after being ousted from the start. Steph was especially disappointed since Scott hadn’t taken the option of ending the game early by playing a no confidence card to fail a mission for the fifth time (thinking that that seemed a bit of a hollow victory), only to rub salt in the wound of the resistance members so thoroughly beaten yet again.
Spies Won (Scott, Alex & Adam); Resistance Lost (James, Gareth, Steph, Philip & Soren)

Shadow Hunters
Hunters won - John, Steph, Gareth, Noel (not sure who else played....)

And that brought to an end a very enjoyable and busy night of gaming. You'll be pleased to know that there was still one more table available in the Riverview Room to play games on, so we can still squeeze a few more bodies in! So if you're in the West London area on a Wednesday night, why not drop in and see us - you'll be very welcome!

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