Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Mammoth amounts of dice.......

Players: Scott, Tonio, Paul, Sharief, Alex, James II, Jon, Maynard, Vicky, Soren, Paul A, Barry, Wii, Scott II, Emma, Woody, Philip, Andy, James

19 IBG’ers rocked up tonight (well, 18, until James graced us with his presence late on…), including a return visit from some of our latest recruits, and a welcome back after a few weeks away to Alex and James II.

What is it with dice and IBG'ers? A year ago, even the mention of one of those 6-sided random little cubes would have been met with distrust and disdain. Now it seems that just about every game that we play has at least one die in it somewhere - and some of them seem to have hundreds! Anyway, the rolling of the dice tonight gave us an insight into the reason for the credit crunch (Maynard's fault) as well as an opportunity for James to play one dice game with completely different dice stolen from 2 other games. That's just greedy (that's just James......)

Looking for a quick opening filler, Maynard chose –

Pick Picknic
This game was characterised by Sharief’s uncanny ability to always roll favourable dice, whilst everyone else failed miserably in this endeavour. Especially Maynard, who rolled against the odds several times, and lost out spectacularly each time (this perhaps explains why a former employer of Maynard’s is now a rather infamous “ex” bank…..)
Anyway, Maynard’s foxes snaffled a few chickens along the way, but this was not enough to catch Sharief, who proved to be king of the farmyard.
Sharief 41; Maynard 35; Paul 29; Jon 27

With a group of 7 looking for games, they were split 4 & 3, with the 4 choosing –

Ticket to Ride: Europe
The Europe version was new to Alex and James II, but the changes aren’t huge, so the game was soon underway. As usual, the game started with lots of card-collecting, until James decided to lay the first set of trains.
Jon had been hoarding pink cards, and used them to complete the long 8-train section at the top of the board, for a healthy 21 points. There then followed a battle through central Europe between Paul, James and Alex, whilst Jon kept himself to himself in Russia. Paul did his best to block Jon out towards the end, but the availability of stations helped Jon to just avoid this problem.
With Jon laying his final trains, the game was over. Jon’s station had enabled him to finish his 3rd route, and he had also picked up the longest route bonus, by a couple of trains from James. This was enough to give him a convincing win, with the other 3 fighting it out for second place.
Jon 130; Alex 94; James II 93; Paul 86

And the 3 chose -

Agricola (thanks to Andy for this report)
With Andy having acquired his own copy of Agricola, fellow IBGers could have trouble persuading the addict to have a go at anything else. And this proved to be the case as it got its first outing this week with Sharief and Maynard.
Sharief had played the family game once before but that was several weeks ago so a quick refresher on the rules and an introduction to the occupations and minor improvements was needed. Once play began he was quick to understand that snapping up wood was a good thing and he was also able to swiftly purchase an oven in order to get a baking strategy going. This does however require a good understanding of when to take certain actions and he did end up getting caught out once or twice by harvests, when those hungry workers need feeding, and ended up going begging on one occasion.
Maynard employed an aggressive mid-game expansion policy and made good use of a couple of cards to get discount rooms and jump ahead in the family growth stakes. But the metaphorical chickens came home to roost when the expansion led to feeding problems that subsequently restricted him to a family of four by the end of the game.
Andy benefited from two cards that gave him food for keeping at least three sheep and that, combined with a mountain of vegetables gained through a couple of occupations, solved any food issues. This advantage came to tell in the last couple of rounds and meant he could spend the final stages filling up the gaps in his farm while the others had to deal with the rumbling tums of their growing families.
Andy 44; Maynard 24; Sharief 18

And now - 2 for the price of 1. So keen were they to write something, that both Philip and Soren have given us mammoth reports on this game new to IBG -

Valley of the Mammoths (thanks firstly to Philip)
Five us arrived early last Wednesday evening, so we happily started up Soren's Valley of the Mammoths. Soren explained the rules. I seem to have been half-asleep at this point, but perhaps I should encourage future rules explainers to emphasise one vital point: You can't have a camp or a cave without a woman!
Anyway, by the time the rules had been finished and the game was actually beginning several more club members had drifted in. We all placed our camps in a kind of star arrangement centred on the first player to pick. I had a partiuclarly foolhardy site right next to the volcano. All of us went on plains and planted crops.
The first event occurred, a flood, destroying Tonio's village and crops and paralysing his tribespeople. Tonio then quit the game. Score one for the environment!
Animals appeared and we spread out cautiously. I sent both my women and one warrior to trap an animal on the volcano, not realising a) that my women weren't worth anything in combat, even against animals (I'd understood that women could fight animals and assumed that meant they'd be good at it) and b) that my camp would be destroyed because there were no women left in it. Fortunately for me everyone else failed to notice b) and my camp survived. Unfortunately, one of my women was killed in the fight with the animal.
Wildfire broke out, providing most players with fire (I picked fire up from the volcano). Emma, cut off by fire and the river, played a river crossing event to allow her to enter the mountains on the other side, moving almost all her tribe there. The first player (whose name I have unaccountably forgotten- Paul, Tonio reminds me) left his camp with just one warrior and one woman, and I raced three warriors into it sensing an easy capture (but playing "Sharpened Stones" just to make sure). However, he was able to kill the woman before the man, so the camp was destroyed for lack of women.
Harvest time, and I played an event to increase crop yields by 4 food. A second event gave me an extra birth, which compensated for having only one women, especially when one of the births was twins (taking notes, Gareth?) Emma played an event allowing her to give birth outside of the camp.
Winter began with bitter cold, eating into our food supplies. Foolishly I pushed on, sacking Emma's original camp while she established a Cave on the other side of the river (with a second Cave to follow soon). Meanwhile the first player had built himself a cave, Soren had established a Cave next to his original camp but his food stores were running low...
A pack of wolves appeared at the place I was about to build a Cave, Soren sacked my camp using a card which gave one of his men extra movement, and I captured the first player's cave and woman (left there alone) with a card which gave a group of warriors extra movement (the same group that had sacked Emma's camp). I killed all the wolves with a traps event card. Soren began to lose people to hunger.
A Cave-Bear awoke in Soren's cave, killing the warrior and woman he had left there. The first player used up the rest of his warriors in attacking his old cave, but I foolishly sacrificed my only woman in its defence, meaning that it disappeared! (No camp or cave without a woman!) I established a new cave where the pack of wolves had been and prepared for another one on the slopes of the volcano.
Soren was the only one with a Camp left in the plains so he planted crops. Emma played a card allowing her to plant crops on mountains and antother to choose the sex of a birth- she chose female. The Summer began with Earthquakes killing Emma's people. The first player reappeared as a smaller tribe far away from everyone. I established my cave on a Volcano and Soren's scouts entered the Volcano to pick up Fire.
The next Summer event made Summer last an extra turn. I was forced to abandon one of my caves in order not to lose both to the first player and/or Soren. The first player used a card to steal food from me and Soren attacked my warriors with Amazons and then played another card to covert the last warrior in the space to his side.
I forget the next event of the Summer. I was struggling to survive, even with the Tiger which kept wandering into my cave (We must have drawn that chit from the bag three times at least!) Soren built a camp near me and struck south at Emma, moving past her warrior with a card and entering her undefended cave with its woman. That exposed his original camp to the first player, who descended on it, only for Soren to play Scorched Earth and remove it before it could be converted.
After that it was almost all over. Soren easily captured Emma's other cave with its crops, just in time for the harvest, wiping Emma out so she reappeared on the last turn. We had a turn to stop Soren, and probably would have failed anyway, but the event deck reduced all human movement to one space so guaranteeing our failure. Soren won, although the game ran him a close second.
Chaotic, but I'd like to play again, if only because now I might be able to remember the rules!

And now for Soren's version -

Valley of the Mammoths (thanks Soren!)
Emma, Paul A, Philip and Soren bravely ventured into the Valley Of The Mammoths with their stone age tribes in a scramble for survival and to establish viable civilisations.
Paul's tribe was quickly culled as Philip's hordes, which seem to have been Dhengis Khan's ancestors, swept over the valley on a killing spree.
After initial good look hunting for food and dodging Philip's hordes, Soren managed to build up a decent sized tribe and establish enough camps for a chance of winning the game. But then disaster struck with no animals nearby to hunt and most of the tribe starved to death, and the remaining few had to scramble for the nearest lake and spread out thinly to survive from turn to turn on a few fish.
Philip had built up a huge, seemingly invincible warrior tribe - killing loads of animals for food and breeding like an out of control fertility clinic. Philip looked certain to win the game as Soren's tiny remaining tribe had turned into the Fish-people who could not move away from their lake without starving to death; and Paul's tribe had finally been killed off completely by Philip's hordes, skirmishes with Emma and roaming wild animals. Although, Paul was resurrected with a decent, new tribe, it was no match for Philip's nearby fortress of warriors. But then disaster also struck Philip and most of his tribe suddenly died of starvation as he was left with few animals to hunt.
The future for all of humanity looked pretty bleak with only a few small tribes thinly spread out over the valley and roaming wild animals everywhere.
Only Emma seemed likely to survive at all with a small but stable tribe with camps in a remote mountain range at the edge of the valley, which she had built up quietly after a initial skirmishes with Paul and Philip. But unfortunately her females only seemed capable of giving birth to warriors and not the one extra female she needed to setup the final camp required to win the game. When she started moving her warriors out, we feared that she had the "Homo Camp" fate card to setup an all-male camp to win the game. Fortunately, Emma's warriors did not turn out to be gay, but simply went out to hunt and gather food and to form a defensive ring of warriors around her camps.
Soren's tribe was still tiny and tied to the lake, but a single warrior made a desperate and seemingly suicidal rush for one of Emma's camps - but aided by the "Flintstone-mobile" fate card he was able to simply rush past Emma's defending warriors and straight into the camp left with only a single female in it, who immediately joined the Fish-people tribe and setup camp with Soren's lone warrior - the final camp needed by Soren to win the game.
However, another of Soren's camps were left with only a single female - and recklessly within range of Paul's resurrected tribe, which of course immediately rushed in to "convert" Soren's single female and take over the camp. However, Soren's "Scorched Earth" fate card burned down the camp and killed off the female leaving Paul with nothing except an abandoned camp site - and a fish.
Emma's warriors rushed back to their former camp from the surrounding forests to take it back from Soren, but they failed miserably leaving Emma with only a single camp with a single female in an adjacent cave. Emma's widow looked very atttractive to Soren's lone, soon to be bigamist, warrior who simply walked in and said "Hellooo!" and "converted" her and her cave to the Fish-people, too. Again, leaving Soren with enough camps to win the game.
Luckily for Soren, an event partially immobilized all tribes on the following turn, so that nobody could reach any of Soren's camps and stop him from winning the game without even having to fight for it.
Valley Of The Mammoths is a very chaotic and random game, where bad luck effectively can put you out of the game, but where good luck and others' bad luck can also quickly put you back into the game - and it could go on for hours and hours (if played with the full 6 players and to the full 4 camps to win - we only played to 3 camps, which took about 1.5-2 hours with 4 players). But it is a great game to play for a FUN experience with a crazy, unfolding story of funny events and actions with hilarious cartoony illustrations.

As already mentioned, Tonio had abandoned Valley of the Mammoths for -

Oregon (thanks Woody for this report)
Tonio was keen to give this a spin after swapping it for another game ... Woody had tried it one online and had no idea what he was doing ! A quick walk through the rules with Scott doing a Paxman on Tonio and we were off.
People and building placement game where you have to use two of your four cards to generate grid references in which you can place people of buildings. Points awarded accordingly with bonus mining points that you only disclose at the end of the game. Careful placement, grouping and use of the joker and extra turn cards are clearly important.
It all looked quite close (except for Woody trailing behind) and Tonio pulled out a little lead, only to be beaten at the close by Scott with all his mining points.Worth another outing.
Scott 83, Tonio 64, Woody 59, Vicky 53

Paul and Jon were left looking for another game, but Emma was easily lured away from her group with the promise of a battle to be the king of –

Small World
After a few tries of Small World: Underground, it was nice to return to the familiar surroundings of the overground version. This was played with all the race and ability expansions, which meant that there was more than a little perusing of various player aids throughout the game.
I didn’t keep a detailed note of what happened, but basically Emma started off with some skeletons, which reproduced remarkably quickly. Paul chose the Barbarians, which also took a strong foothold, and Jon started with the height-challenged Pygmies. Paul’s second race was the Amazons, which swept across Jon and Emma’s races, and therefore made 2 enemies. Jon retaliated with some Elves, whilst Emma continued her assault with the Skeletons. Unfortunately, she kept them active for a little too long, and only had time to bring on one more race – the Pixies.
Paul declined his remaining Barbarians for a final round assault with some Ratmen, and Jon pulled out some White Ladies (these were also Wealthy and had 4 more coins on them, making them worth 11 points before they had even entered the board. So, as a result of this final windfall, and a nice little feud between Emma and Paul, Jon was able to sneak ahead for the victory.
Jon 106; Paul 96; Emma 91

And now for some co-op action -

Forbidden Island (thanks again Woody)
If you think you’re getting an unbiased review, think again !! (well what do you expect, you’d only have positive things to say about one of your babies !) Having finished Oregon, the same quartet sat down for a quick spin of Forbidden Island. A meaty game it is not, a good way to get novices and kids into board gaming, then yes, look no further.
Sensibly, the team accepted Scott’s demand that they start on the hardest level. With roles and treasures dealt, play ensued. Communication and strategy change ensured the team looked on for a victory, despite the appearance of water rising cards twice in the first round of play. However, it was not to be ... with four cards remaining in the draw pile and one of them being water rising, Tonio needed to draw two and avoid the disaster card. It didn’t happen and the team sunk without trace.
Tonio, Scott, Woody, Vicky - all lost

And now to find out who was best at rolling dice to become the -

King of Tokyo (thanks Scott for this one)
To wind down we thought we’d battle it out over Tokyo and each other, there were a couple of frowns from James and Woody but they agreed eventually since they didn’t have many other choices and majority rules! The game was new to Vicky who picked it up quickly, the rest of the players being Scott, Philip & Soren.
True to form and really not wanting to play the game, Woody didn’t seem to last very long, a bit too greedy on sticking around in Tokyo and eventually remembering you can’t heal in Tokyo was soon out of the running and dead in the water. This left a deadly duo of James and Soren who were both in Tokyo and both next to each other at the table, with an eye on destroying the rest of the table, there was just one flaw in their plan, they couldn’t roll any attacks despite cards allowing them to re-roll. There may have been a small graze given out but that was all and soon the tables turned on James who was out next, Soren had run for the hills at the first sign of trouble.
Vicky sat precariously low on health and with a lot of victory points rolling had failed to address her poor health, she didn’t quite survive to fight another day, I guess giant monsters don’t recover quite the same way the other animals at the vets do.
This left a rather battered table with Scott, Soren and Philip left, Philip had done a good job of hiding in the corner collecting victory points and there was a small allegiance between Scott and Soren to kill Philip before he won; there was just one small flaw in that plan, neither of us could roll sufficient attacks. It was so bad that we all ended up slowly healing to near max and rather than trying to kill each other off it became a race to get to 20 points. With lots of energy and a card available for some bonus points, it was in Soren’s grasp a split second before the rest of us.
Soren – 1st (20 points); Scott – 2nd (19); Philip -3rd (16); Vicky 4th – deceased; James 5th – deceased; Woody – last - deceased

And finally - yet more dice -

Tumblin' Dice (thanks to Woody for this summary)
A bit of mindless fun to end the evening .... 3 games were played. A tiered board and four dice each. Flick the dice down the board, each tier being more risky and therefore more rewarding. Points scored based on the value of the dice multiplied by the tier it is on. Challenge is to try and flick the dice in the right position, dislodge your opponents whilst protecting your own.

Game 1Vicky 55, Woody 105, Scott 101, James 118.

Game 2Woody 111, Emma 96, Jon 109, Paul 167, James 58 ... note James gatecrashed the game and after starting with 4 smaller dice from another game, he moved to dice from King of Toyko

Game 3Jon 135, Paul 135, James 71, Woody 116 .... Jon wins on a play-off

Also played tonight were Troyes and Mamma Mia, but we have no details I'm afraid.
And then it was time to pack away our huge stack of dice, and melt off into the night, promising to reconvene next week at the same time and place.....

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