Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Monster Raving Loonies.....

Players: Gareth, Philip, John, Scott, Jon, Paul, James, Paul A, Andy, Barrie, Woody, Emma, Tonio, Amanda

14 IBG’ers assembled for some more dice-rolling, token-flicking, card-collecting, cube-manipulating fun. It was a very warm welcome to our latest recruit, Amanda, who was dragged along by Scott. However, she stayed for the whole evening and even made noises about returning again, so we obviously didn’t frighten her too much. Scott even chose not to play anything by Martin Wallace, to make sure that she was broken in gently…..

Tonight was the night when the 2011 Formula D season got underway (the 2010 season was rather truncated, so we’ll see how this one goes….) and the dice were also in evidence in many of the other games. There was also the introduction of a monster-ravaging filler based in Japan, and James sulked because he didn’t have enough flicking to do. Ho hum……

Tonio had press-ganged the early birds into playing Terakh, and I think that James may be telling about this ‘experience’ at a later date…. The next few to arrive sat down for some good old-fashioned dice-rolling fun -

This was new to Amanda, who did very well to pick up the concept and concentrate on the game whilst also trying to eat her dinner. Jon proclaimed himself to be ‘rubbish’ at it, but then proceeded to do rather well. Scott started strongly but then called Amanda a liar once too often and paid the price (and lost some dice into the bargain…..) Paul A was the first to lose all his dice, closely followed by Scott, then Amanda. At this point, Gareth had 2 dice, Jon 1. With Gareth rolling two 4’s, and Jon a 6, Jon had nowhere to go and Gareth was duly victorious.
Gareth -1st; Jon – 2nd; Amanda – 3rd; Scott – 4th; Paul A – 5th

After last week’s successful (if rather long) introduction, James had brought back –

This time, Paul and Jon teamed up to defeat James as the Dungeon Master, controlling his hordes of evil minions including the Gorgon. Paul and Jon worked well as a team, blasting their way through the early rooms without much trouble. James looked on patiently. Paul and Jon then bought some new equipment and fought through another room. James looked on impatiently. Paul and Jon then used their cash to heal themselves, almost back to their starting levels. James looked on in a kind of apathetic sulk.
Then came the final room. James came out of his stupor and brought out the Gorgon, whose special ability meant that she could incapacitate an adventurer on one turn, then kill them on the next. Jon’s Barbarian went beserk straight away, but made the almost fatal mistake of not picking on the Gorgon, but instead took out some of the lesser monsters. This meant that James was able to then kill off the Barbarian and the Thief, before the Wizard summoned forth a helpful skeleton to distract the Gorgon and allow the Archer to get in a final killing blow.
Several things were evident from this game:
  • There is not a lot for the DM to do in the earlier rooms if the Adventurers are semi-competent.
  • The game is still a bit long for what it is.
  • We (and by ‘we’, I mean ‘James’) got a couple of rules wrong which favoured the Adventurers.
The general post-game discussion concluded that maybe the game would be better (and quicker) if just the last 2 rooms were used, and the Adventurers started on slightly less health. This would give the same game experience, but might help alleviate the problem of sulky Dungeon Masters….
Jon and Paul (Adventurers) – victorious; James (sulky DM) – not victorious

And now time for some serious dice-rolling -

Formula D (thanks Scott for this report)
Gareth finally got to restart his wish of starting a Formula D tournament, maybe one day we will get past the basic rules, but for this one with 7 of us and most new to it, even more streamlined rules were used. We each got a car with 18 points of damage to use up which you can use however you like so you haven’t got a specific allocation for tyres and engine etc.
Playing in starting position order Gareth (how convenient he rolled a 20), Woody, Tonio, Scott, Paul, Amanda, Emma.
Like usual it can be quite tricky to change your positioning in the game unless someone rolls far too high for a corner and loses some momentum to allow you to overtake; unless you are someone like Gareth who rolls exactly what he needs to reach the next corner and he stayed in the lead throughout. He was crowned victorious with ease, the rest of us had some other racers to deal with and it would often end up quite clogged on the corners and most of the straights with lots of dice rolling to see if you’d damaged your neighbour. Much to Emma’s disappointment, to take damage you need to get 1-4 on a D20 - she always looked to see if the number 4 had slipped out of the damage area every time she rolled one.
Woody has been awarded with most disappointing racer for starting in second and then slipping back a place on almost every corner, perhaps he wanted to be next to Emma who he tussled with on and off the track. Perhaps it was the complicated rules that after reading them for 5 seconds realised that we had explained all the information he ever needed to know - change gear up or down, roll dice, move car. Repeat.
Scott came under Tonio’s fire early on for not taking Amanda’s turn for her (something Woody had been hounded for, “Don’t move my car” was Emma’s favourite saying of the night) and letting her decide for herself how adventurous she attempted to be on the corners. It looked like it could all go pear shaped at the start but it soon reined in and she competed with Tonio for third place after Scott was hot on Gareth’s heels. Sadly, Tonio got the third place and his smile was firmly planted as he got to stand on the podium.
Paul managed a consistent race starting and finishing in fifth place although at some points he was gaining and others falling far behind but Woody and Emma did a good job ensuring they were in the bottom two. Emma tried to overtake Woody on the last corner (with a 0% chance of success as Woody was a step ahead having already stopped twice on the last corner) and having quite a battered car anyway it was death or glory. Emma picked death.
Gareth – 1st; Scott – 2nd; Tonio – 3rd; Amanda – 4th; Paul – 5th; Woody – 6th; Emma – Did not finish

This was the last outing for the GOTM –

Troyes (thanks to Philip for this one)
A four player game, three of us had played before. The new player, Barrie, was starting player, followed by me, John and Andy. Initial setup saw me taking 2 White and 2 Yellow, Barrie taking 2 Red and one of each, John 2 Yellow and one of each and Andy 2 White and 1 of each.
The cards were revealed, and the events removed one of Barrie’s meeples from the Palace and lost everyone 3 money. Barrie saw off the one Black die and attacked the money losing event. I bought into the Miller, as did John. Andy used the Archer. Barrie also used the Archer, finishing off the event he was fighting. There was a rush to get cubes into the cathedral and I placed a 3rd meeple in the Bishopric.
Second round cards were Templar (1 White die to 2 Red dice) Blacksmith (Boost red dice) and Hunting (get influence from Red dice). The events knocked a grey meeple out of the Palace (effectively locking us out from the 1,2,3 palace spaces) and a cube off the Cathedral- mine as it happened.The Black dice defeated, I raised some money through the Miller, now giving me 6 gold for every 4 Yellow pips. Archery continued, Andy taking a couple of events and Barrie one. I bought into the Priest. The others favoured the Blacksmith, one of them Hunted, and there were various meeples entering buildings and pushing out other meeples. One of the pushed out meeples was one of mine in the yellow building, and I spent my last influence rerolling a yellow die to put him back in.
Third round cards were Pilgrimage (points from dice of any colour) Joust (points for having most red dice in front of you) and the Sculptor (Yellow dice to VPs). The events included lose 2 influence, which didn’t affect me, but zero influence was still not a good place, so I bought some red dice and went Hunting, pulling a meeple from the Yellow building. Having Hunted I was able to go into Sculptor, using the Priest to boost my VPs. The others continued their onslaught on the event cards, with Andy taking Templar for future use. I was able to reoccupy the Yellow building later in the turn.
That set the course for the rest of the game. My white dice were used on Priest and to get me 3 cubes in the Cathedral (fortuitously, one on each level). Yellow dice raised money with Miller If necessary but mainly went into Sculptor, earning 7-8 VPs per batch with the +9 boost from Priest. I used Hunting one more time when low on influence and also invested in Pilgrimage. Everyone else merrily fought the event cards, with some diversification into Pilgrimage and Sculptor. On turn 5, with the lead coming up, I put a meeple in the Palace to fight off the Black die. The game ended awash with money and with the other three players high in influence. John had also placed one cube on each level, but Andy and Barrie had only one level taken and so lost 4 VPs each. The character cards were Cubes in the Cathedral (me), Money (John) , Event cards (Andy) and Influence (Barrie).
Philip 50; Andy 47; Barrie 45; John 40

This game saw a clash between two styles of play that have been denounced as broken on BGG, the Archer and the Sculptor+Priest (Or Monk). Despite the apparent victory of Sculptor, I would observe that most of the players were concentrating on red dice and event fighting, while I had little competition for yellow and white dice- in particular no one tried to dislodge me from the Bishophric.

And now - yet more dice -

King of Tokyo (thanks again Scott)
The game of giant monsters battling it out over Tokyo, their traditional stomping ground. At this point Paul decided he would get going  (he has a long drive back to Isleworth and all...) leaving the remaining six of us from Formula D to take arms against each other.
There are two ways to win the game - be the last monster standing or the first to 20 victory points. On your turn you roll six dice and you get two chances to re-roll. There are 1’s, 2’s, 3’s, energy, healing and attack on the sides. The numbers are easy; if you get three or more of them you score that many points plus 1 point per extra dice, four 1’s will get you two points. Each dice with a heart heals one damage up to your maximum of 10 (you can’t heal if you are crushing buildings inside Tokyo), you can collect energy which can be used to purchase special power cards (extra dice, bonus actions/healing/ VPs etc. – it’s a huge deck, you’ll probably not see all the cards in even a handful of games).
The attacking is very strange, as you don’t pick a player to attack as such. If you are the first person to roll attack symbols then you go into Tokyo (you get 1VP for entering Tokyo – the board that comes with the game is purely to stand up your creature and clearly show that he’s in Tokyo), after that if anyone rolls attack dice then they attack everyone inside Tokyo (except if they are in Tokyo and they attack everyone outside Tokyo), with 5 or 6 monsters alive there is room for two in Tokyo and after that point only one. If you get attacked in Tokyo you have the option of running away, allowing you to heal and less likely to be targeted but if you are brave enough to stick around you get 2VP at the start of your turn if you are still in Tokyo.
We all selected our monsters and began (they look different but they all operate in the same way). Emma quickly selected the ‘cute’ dragon despite it being called Mega Dragon, the shame that Emma has now inflicted upon his reputation will see him shunned from anywhere half decent worth fighting over.
At first we all seemed quite eager to attack, that was until Tonio started collecting cards to hurt us more and successfully rolling lots of attacks, after which point we spent most of the time recovering from Tonio’s fiery breath (*insert your own joke here*). Gareth built up some extra healing and after an early stint in Tokyo for points was then just sitting by the wayside rolling 3’s and hearts.
Scott spent most of the game collecting energy for cards and keeping alive from all the attacks but by the time he had a fist full of special powers the game was nearly over. Amanda did her best impression of an evil monster performing regular attacks on Tokyo but quickly fleeing to heal.
Emma’s cute dragon didn’t fare very well and was the first to die, we suspect of shame. Woody dealt the final blow and this was quickly followed by Woody’s demise at the hands of Tonio - those two just can’t play nicely...
The VP totals were getting quite high and it was close between those alive - well not Scott, who forgot about the winning conditions while he was getting juiced up.
In a bizarre twist of fate, we let Gareth win yet another game; this makes three in a row and some sort of record most likely. Scott blamed the dice since they had been a vital feature in all the games thus far this evening.
Gareth 21; Amanda 17; Tonio 15; Scott 6; Woody & Emma - Deceased

After reading John’s session report from 2 weeks ago, Jon had asked if he could have a go at -

This game was new to both Barrie and Jon, so John did a good job of explaining the relatively simple rules. During the game, not a lot of positive church cards came up, so the dice tended to lose their value rather than gain. This is a difficult game to play well on a first outing, as it is not clear how many cards of each set you need to pick up to ensure a majority. There is a player aid on the inside of the box lid describing the card distribution, but it is the most ridiculously obtuse aid I’ve ever seen, and may as well have been giving directions to the nearest McDonalds for all the sense I could make out of it.
Anyway, when push came to shove, Barrie misunderstood the scoring, and collected tons of just one colour, Jon tried to collect 3 colours (but not enough of any of them to score) whilst John and Philip scored with 2 colours each. However, John’s colours had higher dice values which mean that he had won. Some interesting mechanics, and a quick play time, so definitely worth another outing.
John 7 (3+4); Philip 5 (2+3); Barrie 2; Jon 0

We now hopped on the IBG merry-go-round, and when it stopped, Paul and James hopped off together -

Yomi (thanks Paul)
Paul had been wanting to play Yomi for a while, due to Tom Vasel's rave reviews on the Dice Tower and had arranged for a couple of decks to be shipped from the US with some incoming friends. In the meantime, James magically came up with a full set so they met early with the aim of playing the two player game before anyone else arrived. Tonio was there early too, and being the kind hearted peeps they are, fell for his sob story and agreed to play the game that he has been asking people to play for weeks.
Later on that evening, P&J managed to manoeuvre themselves into a place where they could play the two player game without feeling too antisocial.
Yomi is a fighting card game. The word means 'reading' in Japanese - like 'reading you opponent's next move'. Each deck is a character and is filled with attacks, throws, dodges and blocks. It is unashamedly 'rock, paper, scissors' (as played by 2 potential candidates in this week’s “Apprentice”) in as much as each move will beat something else, but also be beaten by something else. Players can also throw combos together and of course each character has their own special ability to be able to, well do something rather special.
Each player starts with 100 hit points, and the first to bring their opponent down to zero of less wins. In Paul's case his character could play three aces and inflict 45 damage.
James decided to play the part of a gambling panda, so his special ability was to do random stuff if he managed to inflict damage, so piling on the misery.
Only one round was played and it was a learning experience. There is a good mix of luck and skill, but both left thinking that to play really skilfully, you'd need to know how to really get the best from your deck in terms of combinations and also to know the weak points in your opponents deck. There is a lot to it that wasn't apparent from the rules, but was very apparent when confronted with two decks of unfamiliar cards.
Paul ended up winning as he managed to unleash his 45 point attach mid-game, and although James made a valiant effort to claw back, it was never going to be sufficient. But the scores were really incidental, and only after a few games would they be really worth counting.
Paul 12 points left (won); James -6 points left (lost)

And with not a single die in sight -

Skull and Roses (thanks for this to Scott again)
To wrap up the night, the survivors from King of Tokyo (all 6 of us) tried our hand at bluffing each other for the win instead of just rolling the best dice. This seemed at particular odds with Gareth who managed to keep his record of being first but this time he was first out of the game having pushed his luck far too much.
For the rest of us we were locked in a battle of trying to figure out who had their skulls left. Initially you would think that Emma only had skulls and she would always seem to play it, this had been bad news for Gareth but Woody finally figured out the best time to select it and managed a successful reveal with Emma. Scott and Tonio were still from time to time trusted to not put their skulls in the mix but people never learn, Amanda seemed to always play roses but people had already fallen foul of someone else before finding out whether she had played her skull or not, or even if she had one left.
Woody, with his early lead and dwindling set of tiles, was eager to get in the win and not let the others play too many tiles. This had the effect of bids getting quite high to almost always trying to turn over everything successfully. This rarely panned out and eventually everyone (well not Gareth who had left the table some time ago) was on a half-win with the next successful call the winner.
Because it was his game, we let Woody have the honours of bidding five when the rest of us had just played one tile, he slowly turned them over to reveal that we had all had the intentions of winning the game this round, he was just hustling us earlier and we fell right into his trap.
Woody – winner; Amanda, Scott, Emma, Tonio – half-way; Gareth – Out of tiles

James had been frustrated by bringing this along, only to see other people having fun playing it whilst he was sulking in his catacombs. No matter, he was able to summon up a few volunteers just before the end of the evening to play –

King of Tokyo
Scott did a good job of quickly explaining the rules, and so the dice-rolling fun was soon underway. After a number of conquering and re-conquering forays into Tokyo City, Barrie was finally killed off, followed soon after by James. It was therefore left to Philip and Jon to duke it out, and when Jon failed to roll the requisite dice to score the 3 points needed for victory, Philip killed off his final 3 life points for victory with his next roll. Lots of fun, and a perfect filler for the end of the evening. Could well be a keeper.
Philip – won; Jon - 2nd; James – 3rd; Barrie – 4th

And with Philip, fresh from his Tokyo-stomping victory, rushing out of the door to catch his lift, that was the end of another successful evening of boardgaming with the Isleworth Boardgamers. Catch up with us next week to experience more of the same…

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