Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Flicking Good Fun at IBG...........

Players: James, Emma, Keith, Paul, Jon, Johan, Noel, Andy, Mark, Scott, Philip, Ian, Tonio, Gareth, Barrie, Maynard, Woody

17 IBG’ers again rocked up to the finest public house on the north bank of the Thames, to pit their wits against each other in a selection of the finest board and card games on offer today. This included a welcome return to our token Irishman, Noel, after a few weeks away, and the continued presence of Maynard who is obviously making the most of his pre-infant freedom. One of the IBG’ers also had a birthday tonight, but I promised not to mention who she was……. (ooops….)

Tonight saw a real variety of games played. There were a few abstracts, a couple of auctions, some ‘classics’ as well as some newer fare. There was even the opportunity to get up out of your chair, stare a zombie straight in the face and utter in a blood-curdling scream – “I’m gonna flick you to kingdom come!” (That is, if you could decide which is your best flicking finger, of course…..)

First up was a new game to IBG -

Keith, Paul, James and Emma were already underway in this game when Jon walked in, but as Paul was taking control of 2 characters, he generously offered one to Jon so that he could join in too. This is a ‘dungeon crawl meets maual dexterity’ game. Really? Yes, really!
One player plays the dungeon master (I really tried not to use that term, but never mind…), and as it was his game, that privilege fell to James. The other 4 adventurers work together to attempt to travel deep into the dungeon, fighting all kinds of despicable monsters as they go. The dungeon is made up of a series of rooms, which are essentially game boards with wooden obstacles sticking out of them. The adventurers start at one end, and the monsters at the other. Each individual adventurer or monster is represented by a wooden disk, and these are flicked at each other in turn, in order to try to cause damage points. The adventurers have special abilities which they can call on at certain points, which, if used effectively, can help overpower the numerous despicable foes in front of them.
When Jon joined the game, the adventurers were still in the first room, which was only occupied by 4 monsters. They had obviously been ruminating for some time, as James was becoming a little frustrated – “Hurry up - this is an EASY room – you’ve only got 4 monsters to beat – wait until you get to the room with 13 in it – I’ll have you all for breakfast…!” Stung by this criticism, Paul invoked his “go bananas” special ability, and attacked 4 times in a row without stopping. Nice.
And so it went on. This game was characterised by a number of things:
  • The adventurers took a long while to plan their strategy, only to realise that when push came to shove (or flick), they didn’t actually have the manual dexterity skills to pull off their plans.
  • Emma doesn’t know which finger she favours when flicking
  • Emma doesn’t like being given advice
  • Keith has a tendency to flick his disk about 3mm only. Not useful.
  • Jon’s wasted childhood of endless games of Subbuteo finally paid off as he threaded his disk through the eye of a needle to take out some stubborn zombies
  • Paul enjoyed getting in a rage
By the time that the final room turned up (James was licking his lips in glee), the adventurers had started to get a feel for the game (but were still rubbish at flicking). However, a combination of Paul’s rage, Emma’s arrows and Jon’s magic spells (and despite Keith’s attempts to shove Paul into the firing line) managed to see off many of James’ monsters before they could use their numerical superiority to good effect. Their rotting corpses were soon strewn all over the dungeon floor, and the adventurers congratulated themselves on their reasonably straightforward victory.
James decided that he had played a sub-par game as the DM, but I’m sure that he will spend every waking minute between now and next week, brushing up on his single-digit disk-propelling skills.
Emma, Keith, Jon, Paul – all won; James – lost (big time)

The looong game of the night was -

Power Grid (thanks Johan for this one)
Only Andy and Johan had played PowerGrid before, so the evening started with explaining the rules. We played Germany. As with most people who are PG virgins… there was a lot of cautious auctioning and buying.
Noel at one stage was in a very good position having acquired two windfarms and a nuclear plant, but stalled due to the unavailability of good powerplants that would take him further. Mark was initially very coal dependent and often in front, so he had to fork out quite a bit of elektros to power up his plants. Johan and Andy played quite conservatively, where Johan initially was able to power up four cities, but then was overtaken by the others due to their buying.
Step three was reached with all players being able to power up 8-10 plants. After another round, Johan had acquired sufficient elektros (250) to build up to 17 cities and power 16 of them (13 elektros left) . Noel was able to light 15, Mark 14 and Andy 10. Andy thought there would be another round and did not buy enough resources to power up all of his cities. He would have had 15 as well. Congratulations to Mark and Noel who played PG for the first time and played it well!
Johan 16; Noel 15; Mark 14; Andy 10

On another table, the current GOTM was played -

Troyes (thanks Philip for this report)
Following on from my rather embarrassing misreading of the rules a fortnight earlier,  I embarked on a 4 player game with three players who hadn’t played before: Scott, Tonio and Ian. The victory condition cards in play were Influence (Tonio) Cards (Scott), cubes in the Cathedral (Ian) and meeples on cards (me).
I drew Start player and, after explaining the rules, and examining began placing meeples. I ended up not getting any yellow dice, with 2 white and 2 red. In a related development Ian had 3 Yellow dice and 1 white. Tonio had 2 yellow, 1 white and 1 red and Scott had 2 white,1 red and 1 yellow. The Greys of course had the 2 remaining red dice, spots 1+2.
The cards were revealed as Archery (roll black dice, 3+s get you hits on event cards), Tithing (collect 1 Yellow die from each opponent for free to form a group of Yellow dice) and Journeyman (swap influence for deniers). The event deck got off to a flying start with heresy (everyone loses 2 influence).Ouch!
After seeing off the black dice, I paid 2 deniers for Tonio’s red 6 and slammed it straight into Archery, getting 2 hits off three black dice. The first round continued with several cubes being loaded into the Cathedral, Ian fighting the starting event with his yellow dice (Journeyman seeming unattractive given low influence levels) and my buying a yellow die and pushing Tonio out of the yellow building. Someone polished off Heresy and Scott and Tonio and me were able to pass out early while Ian continued for a round, getting us needed cash.
Turn 2 saw the cards Tax Collector (collect money from people in the Yellow building), Chivalry (turn one White die into 2 Red dice) and Blacksmith (boost a group of red dice by +5). The events were Succession Crisis, which kicked Scott out of the red building, and the one that makes everyone lose 3 deniers. Tonio had rolled a red six and a white six, and after much deliberation put the white six in the Cathedral. Of course, someone bought the red six from him. Not sure what else happened this round. Tonio pushed me out of one of my spots in the red building. The Cathedral continued to be popular.. Ian invested in the Blacksmith. Scott went into Archery, killing the 3 deniers event...everyone ended about the same time.
Turn 3 saw Captain (1 VP per event card you have a cube on, does not include completed events(?), Pilgrimage (use dice of any colours to get VPs, is free to enter but the divisor is 7 making it tough to get a good return) and Goldsmith (get VPs and Cash). Event cards saw Scott kicked out of the Grey and the Red building. Tonio invested in the Goldsmith, as did I. Scott collected some cash from everyone with Tax collector and Tonio kicked a grey meeple out the Red building. Scott also went into the Blacksmith. I bought some dice and went on Pilgrimage, and kicked Ian out of the yellow building.
In turn 4 the events kicked Tonio out of the red building and Ian out of the grey building and added a couple of cubes to two event cards, but they moved back in at my expense, bringing me down to 2 yellow dice and 1 white die. Scott finished off the event that was chucking people out of the grey building. Ian spectacularly failed his Archery (1 hit off 5 dice!), and Tonio joined the crowd at the Blacksmith. I was able to put a single white die into Tithing.
Turn 5 saw me as Start player again, up against 3 Black dice, which hurt both me and Scott (sitting next to me and having rolled three ones on his 1 white and 2 red dice). I was however able to recover a little with Tithing, putting the dice into the goldsmith. Having seen Tithing at work Ian also invested in it, and I became the last player to use the Blacksmith. All of us were using the Blacksmith against the events quite successfully. Tonio used Journeyman to get some cash form his influence.
In Turn 6 Ian was able to tithe into the Goldsmith while I scattered some arrows over the events. However, Tonio’s archery then finished off the events I had started, while Scott took the Captain slot, so I changed plans and went into Chivalry. But there were no white dice left by the time it got round to me again, so I went into Journeyman instead, making 1 influence into 6 gold. My influence had been low all game and lowering it would make no difference to the influence card , but if the deniers card was out there 6 deniers would make a difference… The others were mostly fighting events and finishing the Cathedral.
I lost 2 VPs on the Cathedral and scored nothing for cubes in the Cathedral or influence, but got the full 6 VPs for meeples on cards. Scott had the 6 Vps for influence but was also hoping for the deniers card to be out there.
 Philip 39; Scott 35; Tonio 35; Ian 29

In retrospect Archery proved pretty disappointing given all the hype about it on the geek. Tithing was probably a better idea for the first turn, but neither I nor anyone else saw it. Journeyman proved unpopular due to low levels of Influence. Blacksmith and Goldsmith are strong, Pilgrimage seems weak (although useful for the meeples on cubes card).
Scott was definitely unimpressed with the game- he particularly disliked the randomness of what got victory points at the end. Ian said the game was a bit too complicated for what it was. Tonio had been complaining all the way through the game but I think that might just mean he likes it!

And now, Gareth had decided to bring out some of his back-catalogue -

Hare and Tortoise (thanks Woody for this one)
A pretty decent family game and one to get the kids learning maths .... so therefore, a group of adult board game players struggled ! ... only joking. Object is to get from the start to the finish, moving places according to how many carrots you eat. Must get rid of your three lettuces at certain points around the course before you can finish. Finally, must finish with less than a certain number of carrots. Various other features to make the game more strategic and interesting, so worth a try.
Woody shot off like a hare. Gareth had a clear plan of attack and Maynard decided he wanted to roll the dice as many times as he could and try to get a ‘1’ .. meaning he would miss a turn! Positions chopped and changed with Woody managing to get home far quicker than his skill and understanding of the game should have allowed. Gareth’s strategy got him home in a close second. Despite Woody shouting ‘1’ every time Maynard rolled the dice and him getting said ‘1’, he followed home in third with Barrie an unfortunate last!
1st - Woody; 2nd - Gareth; 3rd - Maynard; 4th - Barrie

And Gareth's second offering of the evening -

Member’s Club (thanks again Woody)
An interesting card and betting game where you the braver you are, the better the returns. Careful selection of which order you place your cards and how many of each ‘suit’ is required to try and make your bets pay. Worthy of another game, perhaps with more players.
Gareth 21pts; Maynard 12; Woody 5!

After a period of waiting due to other games not finishing at the same time, Jon, Barrie and James finally sat down to a 3-player game of –

Small World Underground
After last week’s rather mammoth 5-player game, there was a determination from all concerned to move this one on a bit quicker. This was achieved, although the game still took well over an hour. I failed to keep a detailed record of who did what this week, but these are the highlights:
  • The river running down the middle creates an interesting dynamic, with often having one player on one side, and two on the other, which can unbalance things a little.
  • Barrie unleashed the Balrog at one point, which spent most of the first part of the game decimating Jon’s races, before coming to rest in a region that then became unconquerable.
  • Jon decided to experiment a bit with the race combinations, so spent 11 coins over the course of the game (and passed up the opportunity to pick up 5 coins on another race) in picking what he deemed to be the ‘most interesting’ combinations.  (That was one of his excuses for scoring so poorly, anyway…!)
  • On the last turn, Jon had to decide whether to attack Barrie or James with his new active race. He chose to give Barrie a little bit of a hiding, which as it turned out, probably gave the game to James – which I hope that James remembers.
Overall, this was a fun game, although it still suffers from the problem of having too many powers / effects to worry about at the same time (eg race / special power / relic / popular place) – which slows the game down and makes it difficult to get a handle on who is in a strong position. The original game is often characterised by players trying to subtlely suggest who is doing well, and should therefore be the next target (“Ooooh – 12 points in one round – well done!!!”) However, there wasn’t any of that going on in the 2 games of SWU that I’ve played so far. Maybe it was due to unfamiliarity with the new races and powers etc, but I suspect that it may also have something to do with not easily being able to assess how strong a position each player is in.
Anyway, it’s probable that I’ll sway more towards the original game (with the excellent Tales and Legends event deck thrown in) for my Small World fix in the future….
James 97; Barrie 90; Jon 74

Now, it was gateway game time -

Ticket to Ride:Switzerland (thanks Paul)
With three people left to play something, Keith, Emma and Paul pulled together the trains and train cards from Ticket to Tide with the map and modified rules from the Switzerland edition - a simple three player game where all players were familiar with the base game.
The few minor modification for this version include only having 40 trains, only being able to use locomotives tunnels (although in Switzerland that wasn't much of a draw back) and picking locomotives like they were normal cards. With Switzerland being land locked there were also long route cards from countries bordering the Swiss with multiple choices of routes for big points.
Scoring was done using Keith's chosen variant, by scoring all track points at the end.
Zurich was quickly established as the 'hub' city where all players needed to go, and managed, although maybe not in the most efficient way as is often the case with Ticket To Ride.
Emma did leave herself exposed by making one route plan very obvious by placing track at either end of a short hop and some unclaimed 'joining track' in the middle - but claimed that it was a bad way to play by taking it from her, and as it was her birthday both Paul and Keith decided to play nice. On any other day of the year...
Paul got loads more routes quite early on and quietly set about linking all countries. Keith got his routes once a bit more committed later and gambled on being able to link the east and west. Emma's newer routes later required less of a gamble.
Paul eventually wiped the floor with everyone else, closing out the game, claiming the longest route, the highest track points and completing all of his routes. Emma got nearly all of hers and Keith failed on a couple of biggies bringing him down by 25 points.
Paul 134; Emma 88; Keith 54

Maynard was looking to make an exit, so Paul and Keith tempted him with a short game of -

Ingenious (thanks again Paul)
It was indeed short and gave Keith an opportunity to avenge his defeat at Ticket to Ride with a resounding victory. The game was new to Maynard, but very simple to pick up, which he did in no time. Paul had played a bit before, but as it he found out, was a total novice compared with Keith, who reached the end of his board with all colours apart from one, while Paul and Maynard were battling it out for second place from very early on. In fact Paul managed to pip Maynard for second by a point, even though his average for each colour was much less than Maynard's, one colour held Maynard back.
Keith 14; Paul 9; Maynard 8

And for the second time tonight -

Ticket to Ride: Switzerland (thanks James)
A rare occasion where a games gets 2 plays in the same evening, but Gareth was very keen to squeeze this into the last hour and Barrie and myself more than happy to indulge, even if it did mean missing a game of Resistance at the table next door.
Barrie and Gareth had both played copious times before on their ipads and were professing a sound knowledge of the game (whilst bemoaning that they actually had to shuffle cards themselves rather than pushing a button to do this… what kind of lightweight gamers are they?) In their defence we were using the teeny-weenie cards from the original US edition, but still, you’d think they’d never played Dominion before….
Basically it’s vanilla TTR rules, but with some route cards involving countries instead of places, and some offering a choice of multiple destinations. Pretty simple and very little opportunity for even Gareth to get the rules wrong… although he did pull a fast one early in the game proclaiming that there was a typo on the board (Brig instead of Brio on the card) and used this to take a new route card… hmmm, hmmm…
So what happened… Lots and lots of cards in the early rounds… everyone up to about 20+ before the first train was laid. Not sure about anyone else but I found I wasn’t paying that much attention to the other trains on the board whilst collecting my own sets. Unlike the Nordic’s map which is more compact and far more prone to blockage, this map felt big enough to accommodate 3 strategies and so routes could be taken in order rather than having to grab the bottlenecks early and try to fill in the gaps. Having a couple of country to country cards from east to west I was spreading across the middle while Gareth and Barrie seemed to be building routes in the north.
To be honest, not much happened during the game, apart from few tunnels failing to get completed. No one really interfered too much with other tracks and everyone seemed to be getting to where they needed to be…
I was the first to collect more route cards, always a promising sign to judge how you’re doing compared to others and it looked promising that I’d like France to Austria. Then, as things started to approach an end game Barrie suddenly went on a route collecting spree I think picking up new route cards 5 for 5 goes in a row… trying to make up for the shortfall in points gained with routes from all the bonuses with the cards. Gareth then brought things to a close taking a couple of small 2 and 1 routes to use up his last trains.
Gareth counted first and hit 96, I started off with -9 for failing to complete a route to Lausanne (cursing the lack of red cards available towards the end) but having picked up a few lucky (already completed) routes from my new routes collection I ended up with a whopping 113... all eyes turned to Barrie who had almost a full deck of route cards to work through. Not a promising start as he noticed that Martigny was not in Italy (the clue is in the name Barrie) and begun by going backwards… in the end a lot of the cards were low value and although he’d completed more cards than anyone else he could only ruffle up 97 points… enough to pip Gareth…. until Gareth added on 10 for his longest route.
So the moral of the game would appear to be that iPad victories are worth nothing in the real world… and that shuffling is for real men.
James 113; Gareth 106; Barrie 97

There were some valiant efforts to get enough players together for a final game, which only eventually succeeded when Emma revealed that it was her birthday, therefore everyone should play -

The Resistance
Emma needed a rules recap, but then proceeded to play a masterly game, brazenly claiming that Woody was a liar after he had looked at her played mission card. As Woody is such a good bluffer himself, that did add an element of doubt to a game that was characterised by Ian not sending himself on any mission (his protestations of “I always play like that” were met with cries of “yes, and you’re always a spy!”)
Paul also managed to drop himself in it by claiming that both himself and Scott were good, when it soon became clear that at least one of them was a spy. With the scores at 2-2, Jon was left to decide between Emma and Woody as the final spy and chose…..wisely. Emma was indeed the 3rd evil one, and their plot had been foiled at the last.
A quick check on an i-Phone also revealed that that is the last time until 2016 that we will have to play this game, as that is the next time that Emma’s birthday falls on a Wednesday…….
Woody, Jon, Scott, Philip (good guys) – won; Emma, Paul, Ian (spies) - lost

Also played tonight was Quandary and Perudo.

See you next time!

No comments:

Post a Comment