Players: Woody; Scott; Amanda, Paul D, James, Paul A, Noel, Andy, Jon, Tonio, Gareth, Philip, Emma
13 IBG’ers at the London Apprentice tonight for another fine (if a little warm) night of gaming. No new attendees for once, but plenty of old faces!
A few classic Euros were played tonight, along with some other well-loved favourites. There was even the emergence of a DIY version of a game that showed the evidence of many hours of love and care, as well as a few coats of dice-proof varnish…
Puerto Rico (thanks to Scott for this one)
Woody had been eager to play this ever since he got a copy for his birthday but wanted to play someone else’s copy before trying his own, as well as letting someone else teach him the game. Good job we have Tonio around as resident teacher… They also allowed Scott to play, possibly a mistake, even though he’s only played the game a handful of times and we all needed a refresher.
At the start it all seemed quite balanced. Scott produced some corn before Woody or Tonio got their Indigo plantations up and running, Woody and Tonio were making use of building more buildings while Scott had temporarily run low on cash. This soon changed when no-one particularly wanted to trade or captain except Scott who let some money build up on the cards and got his empire running smoothly with the assistance of the prospector. He was also assisted by some sugar plantations that only he owned, while Tonio branched in to Tobacco and Woody into Coffee & Quarries, but Woody ran low on cash and struggled to get the coffee off the ground very quickly.
With only the three of us we all got some use out of the trader but Scott was utilising two ships for his corn and Sugar before the Tobacco or Coffee could build up. Tonio’s insistence that he had to take the production action may have cost him the game since Scott seemed to reap the most benefit. Woody’s frequent use of the Mayor to bring in new slaves brought the game to an end quicker than he would have liked when he was on the verge of buying two large VP buildings. Scott couldn’t buy them either, so he forced the end, partly to end their suffering as most of the VP’s were now safely on his player board.
Scott 46; Tonio 30; Woody 24
Agricola (thanks Philip for this report)
A three player game between me, Andy and Emma. Andy and me were fairly experienced (although not so much with 3-player games) but it was only Emma’s second game- on the other hand she’d scored 28 in her first game so was obviously a natural…
I started with an occupation- Seasonal Worker, best of a bad bunch excluding the Clay Deliveryman, whom I complacently assumed I could play some time between Round 1 and Round 6. Andy took 3 Wood and Emma 2 Wood. I continued with an unwise Starting player, paying 1 food for the “Field” minor improvement. Not quite sure what order things happened in after that, but over the rest of Phase 1 Emma played the Fieldsman and Baker Occupations and the Sack Cart minor improvement and Andy paid the Charcoal Burner Occupation. Me and Andy split the Reed 2 each, but Andy had picked up more Wood than me, a situation only made worse by his Charcoal Burner. Emma also took Day Labourer in turn 3 and turn 4, and Andy fished in turn 3, which left me in a somewhat embarrassing position in turn 4, with 1 food and no way to collect the necessary additional 3 food. True, I had picked up a couple of Clay, but as Sheep had appeared in turn 4, that would only get me 2 food. I pondered another route involving the Potter occupation, but that too only got me 2 food net, so I went for the fireplace and the Sheep and took a Begging card.
Stage 2 went by, Andy expanding his house and family by 1 room and member respectively, me expanding my house by 2 rooms, Emma picking up the Clay Oven and sowing a few grain fields, giving her a pretty solid food engine what with the baker and all.
Stage 3 saw me and Emma expand our families (Emma expanding her house by 1 room first of course), me finally play the Clay Deliveryman and Andy add another room to his house. Stage 4 saw me and Andy expand our families and Andy play the Reed Collector and the Reed Pond, suddenly swimming in Reed. I Renovated and upgraded to a Cooking Hearth. Family Growth without Room came out first in Stage 5 and was used once by Andy and twice by Emma. I managed to build a fifth (Clay) room and grow my family the normal way so we all had five family members by the end.
All of us managed to build fences- I had the most extensive, 3 pastures and 8 spaces, Emma had one big pasture of eight spaces and Andy had only a small pasture of 2 spaces. Thanks to the "Field" minor improvement, which got played at least 8 times, we all had a healthy complement of Plowed fields.We all had Grain, Emma vast quantities of it, and I think we all had at least one Vegetable. Emma and me picked up one of each animal with the help of the Cattle Market minor improvement, while Andy only had sheep. I had managed to Renovate to a Stone House. Andy had the Basketmaker’s Workshop and some Reed laid by, but still had only 4 rooms in his Clay Hut. The Yeoman Farmer occupation improved Andy’s score by 2-3 points or so and I thought he had the game sewn up, but the final scores came down as:
Philip 39; Andy 38; Emma 35
This was only new to Paul A, but a joint rules explanation whilst Jon was propping up the bar did the trick. Paul D was the fastest out of the blocks, getting cubes quickly into a number of regions. However, that only resulted in him becoming the early target for the Spies, which removed some of his influence just as quickly.
As is common with this game, it goes in waves – one or 2 players will find themselves with plenty of Force or Blackmail to influence various officials for a couple of rounds, only to somehow suddenly find themselves back with only 5 gold. And of course, the inevitable groans as 2 players cancel each other out whilst another official is bribed with nothing more than a single gold coin.
Paul A was finding it hard to get cubes onto the board, and, on reflection, should probably have targeted a couple of officials with his gold rather than spreading it too thinly. Although Noel started slowly, he soon built up his influence on the board, and found himself leading in 2 or 3 areas. The 2 Pauls appeared to have something of a private war going on, whist Jon was trying to hang in there in a couple of areas himself.
When the final round had concluded, Noel had the all-important Apothecary, which enabled him to keep control of the necessary areas to take the victory. Although it looks like a large margin, had Paul D managed to snare the Apothecary in the last round, it might have meant a 70-point swing between himself and Noel, which would have made things much closer.
Paul D claimed later that he wasn’t really concentrating during the game – all I can say is that I hate to think how long he will take to decide where to place his tokens when he is concentrating…..
Noel 201; Jon 124; Paul D 111; Paul A 71
Thurn and Taxis (thanks again to Scott)
With James, Gareth and Amanda looking to start a game of it they asked Scott a few of the rules and he ended up teaching and playing as well. The game is about creating postal routes around Germany and there are bonuses available for placing houses on your completed routes if you have one in every location of an area or at least one house in all areas. You build a route by drawing one or two cards and playing one or two cards (you either draw two or play two) and then score routes when they feature what you want in them, a minimum of three though.
The game gives you carriage cards as you progress through the game to encourage starting off with a ‘3’ route and slowly extending to ‘7’ routes but there are also bonuses for long routes early. You can only build one route at a time and if at any point you can’t extend it on your turn you lose it (scoring a route is at the end of a turn so gambling on getting a card you need for next turn can be risky.)
Scott got off to a good start collecting ‘5’ route bonuses and several of the area bonuses but after one turn of not being able to play due to poor logistical management (read: bad luck of the cards) Gareth was next in line for the throne having established several ‘7’ routes and their bonuses while dominating the larger area of the board. James kindly gave him a bye in the last round by leaving the card that Gareth could use to complete his final route on show and force the end for the rest of us.
James and Amanda had got into the game well but were usually a step behind to utilise much of the bonus scoring after Gareth and Scott had taken them. Originally it looked like Gareth had won on a tie break but there was one missing rule (by Scott this time and not the usual suspect!) that remaining houses also deduct from your score so Gareth was ahead by a few more points than recorded since he used all of his houses:
Gareth 28; Scott 28 (less a couple of remaining houses); James 23; Amanda 15
Parade (thanks Woody for this one)
A quick filler before the evening kicked off properly, five sat down for a game of Parade. A quick recap on rules and off we went. From the start, Scott was getting stitched up my Amanda (who knows what he had done to upset her, other than eating more than his share of the barbeque wings they had ordered). Philip clearly took Scott’s demise to heart and promptly started collecting cards as quickly as he could. Woody looked puzzled (what’s new !) but had no cards in front of him. The game progressed in the same vein with Philip getting more and more cards whilst Emma and Woody had none. In the end Emma had 8 points, Scott 13, Amanda 18, Philip 37 and when Woody discarded two cards, he put down a 3 & 4 to win the game with a meagre 7 points. Beginners luck yet again?
Shadow Hunters (thanks again Woody)
Andy, Emma, Philip, Tonio and Woody sat down for a couple of games. Philip provided the concise explanation of rules and the roles were drawn. Emma was the neutral and after taking a battering, revealed her role in order to heal her HPs. With the demise of Tonio (hunter), it was Philip and Woody v Andy. Emma decided that she was obliged to fight on the side of good and suffered the consequences. A victory for Woody and Philip. In the second game, Woody was the neutral and also had to reveal his role early on to avoid death. Tonio was again wiped out early (not due to lack of ability but wrong place, wrong time and a couple of big dice rolls) ... Philip and Andy then set upon Emma and with Woody’s help (he has no such morals and happily joined the shadows in order to win), Emma was dispatched and the second game came to a conclusion.
Inspired by James bringing this game to IBG a couple of weeks ago, Jon had used his recent holiday with his parents to good effect. Take 1 old Ikea wardrobe (rescued from a skip), some dowel, a few stickers, a lick of varnish and thrown in a master carpenter, and hey presto - you have a semi-reasonable homebrew version of this great game. (By the way – the master carpenter is Jon’s dad, not Jon…)
James was good enough to bring along the dice from his version of the game (a rather important omission in Jon’s copy…) and so we were able to get a few games in during the evening. Great fun, and after all that effort, I think that Jon will be bringing it along on a regular basis for the foreseeable future……
Game I: Paul D 111; Jon 77; Noel 70
Game II: Jon 67; Paul D 62; James 45
Gareth 53; Noel 47; Amanda 28
Also played tonight was Memoir '44 (James stuffing Paul) and Ticket to Ride: Marklin (James stuffing everyone).
And that was all the stuffing we had time for...