Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Why oh Wai oh Wii oh Wi................

Players: Jon, Barry, Scott II, Wai, Ian, Daniel, Vicky, Maynard, Gareth, Noel, James, Tonio, Andy, Woody, Philip, Calum

This week we were relocated in the Conservatory at the London Apprentice, but the bar staff were good enough to reserve at least 4 large tables for us, and this time supplied the portable lamps, so our gaming could continue in style. It was just as well, as 16 IBG'ers turned up, including Calum, a mate of Jon's, who turned out to be no slouch at boardgames (except for Nanuk, that is...)

It was Wai and Scott II's final week with us, as they have been visiting the UK from Canada, and in honour of this momentous occasion, I have decided to finally spell Wai's name right on the blog! It was great having you guys along for a few weeks - safe journey home....

Now, there were a lot of games played this week, and I'm compiling this following a week's holiday, so there'll be a few more 'scores only' reports than usual, and thery are probably completely out of order. Nevertheless, hopefully it gives some indication of the good times that we get up to at IBG...

Dominion Intrigue (thanks James)
So Paul and myself, again taking advantage of an early start and this time fortunately not interrupted by either Tonio’s or Gareth’s latest game de jour decided to revisit a modern classic. I was keen to try this having spent my lunch break sorting out all the decks from the mass of cards I discovered when I’d opened the box earlier in the day… Interestingly neither of us had played that much, although experience on the android ‘androminion’ app probably gave me an advantage.
I think the sets we used were as follows Pawn, Minion, Scout, Secret Chamber, Shanty Town, Ironworks, Trading Post, Tribute, Upgrade, Wishing Well... but I could be wrong. Pawn is a good cheap card and Tribute became a better and better option as the game progressed. Some big money rounds could be gathered for cheap one of these cards turning up.
I didn’t take long to start tucking into the Provence cards and I think Paul realised mid game it was a lost cause. He’d gone for a varied selection of cards which is a fun way to play the game but rarely is a winning strategy. I’d sooner pay like this that just go down the money only route which although it does win a lot of the time doing this… is just plain dull…
Still a fun way to start the evening, it’s strange after playing a game on a touch screen for a while to then play with physical objects. The dealing’s a pain though!
James 60 odd; Paul 30 odd

Havana (thanks again James)
Having lost the night before to Liz (my long suffering partner) I was keen to get this to the table again. Managing to persuade Paul and Maynard with a promise it wouldn’t be more than 30 mins (well in theory…) we set up and started.
Very easy to explain this one, everyone has a set of 15 action card from which 2 are secretly selected each turn. These cards basically earn resources (workers, money, bricks or rubble) and the resources build things for VP. The main twist is that the turn order is based on the lower cards selected and the higher value cards can perform stronger actions. Turn order is vital as some resources are only available to the first to select a specific action. First to 20 VP wins (for the 3p game)
So I managed to buy a 7 point building early on and was feeling confident with my over in 30 mins claim at this stage… Paul was gathering cash and Maynard seemed to be taking delight in stealing things from both of us. Lots of interaction in this game, you need to be always looking to get one over on the other players if you want to do well. (I like to think this is why Liz beat me the night before, I’m basically just too nice !).
By midgame Paul and Maynard were both picking up 3/4/5 point buildings and soon I realised I was doomed to failure once again. It was just a case of who out of P&M could hit the magic 20 total first. Maynard had first dibs in what would transpire to be the last round, but Paul just had enough to afford the last building to get him to the 20 total. He might claim this was superior planning, I prefer to think he lucked out...
I like this game. It’s a big box for not many actual pieces, but a lot of game in what is there. Will be interesting to see how it works with 4 and given my failure rate so far I need to keep getting this to the table until I can finally win one!
Paul 20; Maynard 18; James 12

For Sale
Early doors filler, with a full contingent of 6 players. As always, it’s all about relative values. Scott II found himself picking up some good deals in the auction largely due to sitting to the left of Barry, but the ending was very close, with only 5 points separating the first 3 players. Our Canadian friends turned out to be both the best and worst at buying and selling properties...
Scott II 52; Barry 50; Jon 47; Calum 42; Ian 36; Wai 28

Ticket to Ride Europe
Calum was a complete newcomer to this game, whilst Scott had only played the original version. Jon made the mistake of throwing away his long-route at the beginning, even though he would have been able to complete it, and then got blocked out in the middle of the board, necessitating the formation of an expensive circuitous route.
Scott and Calum were both making a good fist of West-East track-building, but it was Dan who had the best plan, and despite nearly being derailed in Scandinavia, he strolled to victory with ease, including a bonus for the longest route.
Dan 130; Calum 110; Jon 106; Scott II 55

Troyes (thanks to Philip for this report)
Another meeting of Isleworth Boardgamers, another game of Troyes with Ian, me and Tonio. Well, Woody was the 4th player and new to Troyes, so some things changed.
Not the cards though. Theoretically, the odds of getting the same 3 initial cards in the deal are 1/27. But there they were staring back at me, Priest, Archer and Miller,once again.
I wasn't complaining mind. Since I had set up for a "cubes in the cathedral" strategy (which happened to be my objective card), I had 3 citizens in the white building, meaning Miller was a strong revenue source for me.
Meanwhile Woody had the Event cards objective and he proceeded to shoot his way through the event cards while putting just enough cubes in the Cathedral to escape any penalty. The Templar (swap 1 white die for 2 red dice) he also used effectively.
Ian was equally single-minded in his pursuit of the meeples in buildings objective, and he and Tonio mercilessly hounded my meeples from the white building, forcing me to spend at least one die each turn putting a meeple back in the white building- running to stand still as it were. Tonio's strategy was unclear. He used the "swap money for influence" activity, only to find he had too much influence and not enough money...
Meanwhile the Sculptor had appeared (as it had done in the previous match, odds against now rising to 1/81). Me and Ian were able to take the lucrative Sculptor VP spots, and I bought into Priest for the combo, but I didn't actually manage to use the Priest cubes on Sculptor as I was running low on Money and spent them on Miller instead.
Woody 49; Philip 42; Ian 36; Tonio 27

San Marco (thanks to Noel for this one)
Noel and Gareth convinced Vicky to join them in their 3rd game of San Marco in as many weeks. This was new to Vicky but she quickly realised the value of the scoring cards and managed to co-ordinate card selection and meeple placement to ensure an early double scoring of one district with no one else picking up points. She shot into an early lead and Noel and Gareth stopped looking suspiciously at each other and targeting Vicky with more focus.
Shortly afterwards Noel was able to repeat Vicky's feat of scoring unilaterally as Gareth was unable to manipulate the cards to avoid leaving Noel in the majority in the central district with Gareth and Vicky tied for second place (and hence no points!) Noel then took the lead and was able to build on that with some thoughtful (too much thought for some...) card dividing and selection. Conscious of his mistake at the final hurdle last week he was particularly careful to ensure Gareth didn't have a final surge from last place.
And finally a game of San Marco completed with no rule errors!
Noel 76; Vicky 49; Gareth 42

No Thanks
New to Scott II and Calum, but one of the simplest games to teach. Calum was the first to crack and picked up some high cards, but was soon followed by Dan. A lack of chips saw Scott pick up cards that he obviously would rather not have done, whilst Calum's strategy of picking up higher cards started to pay off, as he was making a nice run of numbers. However, Jon had managed to get a nice single complete run, along with a nice pile of chips, to leave him with a nice small score.
Jon 13; Calum 29; Scott II 50; Dan 66

Ticket to Ride Europe (II) (thanks to James again for this one)
So, after Havana we realised that all the other games were in full flight and that we 3 were on our own… After a brief look around we settled on an old classic. It’s always a fun game to play but seems to often get lost under the weight of all the new stuff. Was a good move to make this game of the month and to play several times in the last month.
My long route was the Spain-Sweden stretch, and having seen Scott win the previous week by claiming the 8 train stretch I was aiming to try and take a route going that way. As usually though the real scrap in Europe is around the Germany/Switzerland axis with all the small 1/2/3 steps. And with a 3 player game meaning each route can only be taken once things got cramped quite quickly. I think at one stage I had to mentally reroute about 4 times over the course of 3 rounds as my options got snaffled by other players. I collected 2 sets of extra routes towards the end, Paul stuck with his original routes and I think Maynard took 1 set.
Despite expecting not to finish them all I was hoping this and the 21 points from the 8 route would be the winning strategy. Things got tight at the end, and luckily for me as Maynard started the last round I only had one more route to claim to finish my long route.
Paul ended up with a dozen trains left which is never a good thing. And so to the scoring… I was ahead on the track so went last. Paul hit 107 Maynard 112 and myself 122… so if Maynard had the longest route it would be a tie… 
Eventually after several recounts, Paul’s route won this by 1 train (!) meaning he jumped Maynard into 2nd place but left me in front. Thanks Paul!
James 122; Paul 117; Maynard 112

Castle Panic
It's been a long time since we've had the opportunity to rummage inside Tonio's pants (!), so a game of Castle Panic was well overdue. As Calum and Scott II were both new to the game, it was decided to play without the Evil Overlord variant.
It was a close-run thing, with several boulders doing damage to the masonry at inopportune moments. However, the Defenders won with one tower left and Dan (of course!) was Master Slayer...
Dan 15; Scott 12; Calum 12; Jon 7

This had not been played for a long time, and was characterised by Tonio complaining (as always) that everyone was picking on him. (Actually, his language was a little less blog-friendly than that….) The Canadians amongst us threw some interesting seal-clubbing comments into the mix, but all in all, a fun time was had by all.
The general groupthink developed that people rarely went on the hunt, and it therefore rarely succeeded, up until the end when Jon and 2 others bucked the trend for a successful hunt and a large payday. Definitely a game to pull out occasionally when there are a large number of willing players!
Jon 15; Noel 12; Dan 9; James 7; Gareth 6; Scott II 6; Calum 1; Tonio 1

And here are the scores of the other games played:

James 26; Gareth 21; Vicky ?; Maynard ?; Paul ?; Noel - 0!

No Thanks
Noel 91; James 55; Tonio 47; Gareth 471 (the writing was smudged here... I'm pretty sure there are 3 digits though...) (a steward's enquiry revealed that it was actually "47!" - so a tie for the win.....)

Family Business
(order of survival) James; Noel; Vicky; Maynard; Gareth; Paul

Gareth 32; Woody 21; Philip 14

There was also a looong game of Le Havre, but I'm afraid that there are no details. I think that Andy liked it though, so I'm sure that it will feature again soon....

Back in the Riverview Room next week, but as I'm absent, expect a little wait for the next blog. Cheerio!

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