Wednesday, 25 May 2011

"Qu'avez-vous fait avec mon meeple......?"

Players: Barrie, Gareth, Jon, James, Andy, Philip, Scott, Maynard, Alex, Johan, Barry, Keith, John, Woody

Tonight we were unexpectedly relegated to the conservatory, where we mixed with normal people in the gloomy half-light. We did manage to borrow some lamps, but with a lack of power sockets (somewhat ironic as Power Grid was the game in the dark...) combined with the presence of some couples wanting a romantic night out, it remained a low-key, low-light experience.

Nevertheless, the group soldiered on, and for some reason decided that France would be the destination of choice tonight for more than one of the games played. So, if you read on, prepare to be educated in the correct translation of one of our game titles, along with a great word to use to describe someone a lot younger than you (i.e Scott......)

After last week's "less than successful" debut, Maynard encouraged everyone to start the evening with another go at -

Saboteur 2 (thanks Maynard)
With six players and fifteen roles to choose from, this was a fairly random but substantially less chaotic game than last time. Player guides had been printed giving everyone a clear idea of the various new roles and actions, so everyone was slightly clearer on the basics. A bit of advice on the new draw rules (you can now discard 1-3 cards and replace them from the deck, or discard two cards and pick up one to remove an unwanted card from in front of you) followed and the game progressed fairly smoothly.
A few fun discussions occurred about ladders, bridges and tunnels and crystals were created. Some bizarre card placements were made, leading to a fair degree of confusion about who was what and why they had chosen to do what they had just done. As the deck is larger and the motivations of the dwarves more diverse, a larger than normal maze of tunnels was created.
Some dwarves figured out where the gold mid-way through the game, only to be thwarted by Keith, who had become increasingly obvious as a Saboteur despite some subtlety in the earlier game. Other accusations were thrown around without a lot of justification, generating plenty of heat if very little light!
Scott cleverly played a "change role" card on Keith, forcing him to pick another card from the available roles. Amusingly he picked at random one of the remaining 2 Saboteur cards and proceeded to win the game by blocking any further attempts. He also had a thief card allowing him to steal someone else's gold. Maynard was a Geologist, who won 4 gold from the visible crystals, but Keith came in ahead with 5+1 gold (five for being the sole victor, one stolen from another player).

And now it was time for the Euro's to surface, the first being -

Power Grid (thanks Scott for this report)
It was a welcome return to Power Grid at IBG - Scott has just about recovered from an Agricola fixation and it had been long enough for everyone else to forgot rule number 1, 'Don’t play Power Grid with Scott' (or does this extend to all games now?); but five people joined him for a full complement. If there were components for 7 players, I’m sure we could have convinced Dan to join us too, mathy euros being his favourite after all...
We picked the France map and cut out one of the cheaper areas in the South leaving a lot to fight over in the North. With 6 players you play only in five regions but you need less cities to trigger step 2 and to finish the game (6 & 14 respectively).
Scott and Gareth bought low numbered plants and started in Paris, Johan right in the middle, Barrie to the North West and would soon quickly hop over Scott and Gareth to get to the North East, Maynard in the East and Barry in the South.
We had a very generous power plant market and big plants were out early but were spurned by a few players. Scott made sure to get himself some though and was able to power the final 14 long before his city count could match it. Johan in particular played a waiting game and when it came to buying more plants, he was out of luck as the shortage of good plants had hit following some sort of market crash, despite Barrie’s best attempts to help us all out and buy some plants that barely improved his capacity, but were better than nothing he assumed...
Maynard had come a bit unstuck by having lots of room around him and so decided not to be very aggressive with the house building while everyone else did and could earn a bit more money as a result. Once step 2 hit, Maynard, Barry and Johan lost the land rush to the Paris magnates who had access to the much cheaper connections. On the penultimate round, despite a big rush of plants to get to 14, no-one could quite afford to do so and we went in to a final round to see who could power and build the most. Everyone eyed up their possibilities of stopping Scott but he failed to build all 16 that he could power, settling for just 15 and the win, with a lot of tie-breaks to fight in the lower ranks.
Scott 15; Barrie 14 (38 electros); Gareth 14 (17); Johan 13 (31); Barry 13 (13) – very lucky indeed; Maynard 12

Despite some reservations of previous 6 player games of PG, this worked quite well and we kept it moving throughout so that it didn’t drag with the extra downtime of more people.

And deciding that France was definitely the place to hang out, 4 other IBG'ers opted to visit -

Troyes (thanks to Andy for this one)
Troyes! A heady combination of ancient knights, clergy, brigands and, er, dice. The new game of the month (correctly pronounced as in the French word for three – we must resist the American abomination 'Troy-yez') got its first outing and John got to work explaining things to first time joueurs James and Andy. Alex had played before, albeit with a smattering of slightly different rule interpretations.
We won't go into the rules here, save that you put workers in various places across the city which give you dice that you can use to take actions such as fighting off raiders or building the cathedral. The twist is that you can buy dice off your opponents so invariably if the dice are playing nice you're probably not going to get to use those good rolls because some freluquet will buy them off you.
James immediately got stuck into the city hall and made good use of the events to rack up a huge wodge of cash while also dealing with several batches of brigands for some nice victory points. John cleverly used a space in the bishopric (!?) several times to earn huge hauls of VPs while Alex sucked up to the powers that be by helping to build the cathedral at every available opportunity. Andy did his bit in fighting off raiders while trying his best not to look confused.
After six rounds the game ends and the final scores showed it had been a close game with only seven points separating all the players. John's 'use dice to get masses of points trick' hadn't been employed quite enough, meaning moneybags James stole home first, much to everyone's surprise, with the other three bunched closely behind.
James 46, John 42, Andy 40, Alex 39

And the third Euro (played without Andy or Scott!) was -

(Report to follow.....)

By this time Jon had arrived, and after messing about playing San Juan on James's phone for a while, we decided to play the real thing -

San Juan
Gareth had brought his shiny new copy of this old game, and for once, the 'founder members' were reunited to play a game together - just like the old days........
Jon had played before (just minutes before, actually...) and after a quick run-through to refresh Barrie and Gareth, the game was on. Barrie started by buying several production buildings, which he used to generate a reasonable income. Gareth built the Prefecture which enabled him to abuse the Councillor role to good effect - so much so that Jon was later forced to build one too to keep up with him.
Gareth also erected the Chapel very early and was able to place a card under it nearly every round, whilst Jon majored on the purple buildings, making good use of his Carpenter and late Quarry. Jon finished the game by building his 12th structure (a City Hall), but Barrie had been unable to start turning his income into points. He had a Triumphal Arch, but with no monuments to go with it, its triumph was non-existent....
Gareth had picked up a palace to go with his Chapel, which was by now bursting at the seams, and when the scores were totalled, he was only 3 points behind Jon, with Barrie trailing a little way behind.
And so it was that Jon pipped Gareth to first, with Barrie bringing up the rear - just like the old days.......
Jon 28; Gareth 25; Barrie 11

And with a mass exodus following the completion of the Eurogames, only one more game was played -

Parade (thanks again Scott)
To end the night off, a quick game of Parade filled the void for the plucky remnants, Scott, Barry and Johan. Scott did explain the rules with a few visual aids but Johan’s final score may indicate otherwise.
Scott and Barry played a close game, having to end up picking up a colour or two but tried to have the most of it with just the odd card remaining at full value. Johan on the other hand managed to collect fewer cards in a lot of conflicting colours with Scott and Barry; ending up with a very impressive score as a result - it’s a shame the winner is the one who scored least.
Scott 15; Barry 20; Johan 70

And that was it. Back to the Riverview Room next week, where the lighting is (marginally) better!

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