Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Drier and More Complicated than it Looks

Welcome back to the regular weekly blog.This week we had three guests all the way from Minnesota: Ryan, Eric and Colleen, come to sample our strange English ways. They were warmly welcomed as Paul explained the concepts of “doing a Gareth”, “doing a Jon” and, wait-a-minute there’s no such thing as “doing a Jon”, at which point providing entertaining but dubious catch-phrases for the benefit of foreign guests entered the Isleworth Boardgamers lexicon as “doing a Paul”.

For Sale (Thanks Jon)

The evening began with For Sale. A few sharp comments about sub-prime mortgages were exchanged. Philip, Jon and Paul were the old hands, so Philip did the rules explanation and we were underway. Eric rather overbid on his opening property, but after that, the high value properties were being shared out quite evenly.
When the game was over and the cheques counted up, the scores turned out to be incredibly close, with 3 players tied for third. Jon’s ability to avoid the null cheques helped him to squeeze into first place.
Jon $48k; Paul $44k; Philip, Emma, Ryan $41k; Eric $34k

We were still waiting for the full complement to show up, so we turned to another light quick game, a bit more respectable than the property market…

Cash and Guns (thanks Paul)

Cash and Guns was tabled to make our American guests feel right at home, as quite obviously they were all packing firearms as Americans tend to, and they almost definitely have a habit of enacting a Mexican standoff when they get home at night. Well, really we got it out because it didn’t take long and six people could play, but hey, it *might* have made them feel more at home, who knows...

So six guns were pointed and the game began. Emma took a loud delight at almost everything that happened. Barrie shamefully ducked most things that came his way. Gareth was braver but was soon shot to death. Paul and Philip pointed their orange foam weapons at each other for most of the game, and every time they used the same card making almost all of their brandishing in vein. Ryan was a card short so had to pilfer the pack of poor, dead Gareth.

Gareth was the only dead man at the end of the game, which was almost certainly due to the poor aim of everyone else, not their kindness.

Emma: 110, Paul: 105, Barrie 85, Ryan: 70, Philip 30, Gareth: RIP

By now there were enough people to start organising serious games. Paul was eager to try Shipyard, as he had been the previous week. However this week there were two unsuspecting Americans willing to try it with him, so I agreed to make a fourth. One of the Americans picked up the box and looked at the rather crowded pictures of many components on the back. At this point Paul chimed in with “It’s drier and more complicated than it looks!”- raising a few eyebrows even after he had hastily explained that he had meant to say the opposite…

Shipyard (thanks again Paul)

Shipyard is an excellent flowing Eurogame. However it is a game with lots of bits. LOTS of bits. Consequently the rules explanation took slightly longer than it would for Cash and Guns. OK, it took quite a bit longer than for Cash and Guns. OK it was a long rules explanation, as players at the next table kept pointing out as they finished game after game while Paul was still explaining how the amidships sections with cabins were needed for crew, whilst cannons needed different fixings and cranes different again.

However once the game started it pushed on nicely, with never too much of a 'thinking break' at any turn. Eric launched the first ship somewhere near the end of the first round (of four), followed by Ryan and Philip, with Paul being last to test the waters, albeit with the maximum sized 9 piece vessel. Ryan and Eric both managed to get three ships onto the test canal by the game end, while Philip and Paul had two each.

Points are mainly derived from the test runs and fulfilling government contracts at the end of the game. Once Eric had launched his final ship he was in the lead with Paul in second place, so the main question was whether Eric could maintain the first place spot by fulfilling his contracts. As it turned out he did better than everyone else at meeting his contractual obligations, so in fact he extended his lead into a convincing win. Philip got more contract points than Paul so caught him on points and then beat him on the tie breaker as he had a guilder or two left whilst Paul was broke. Ryan was gallantly bringing up the rear.

Eric: 78, Philip: 70 (+ 3 coins), Paul: 70 (0 coins), Ryan: 57

Shipyard took that particular crew of gamers to the end of the evening. Meanwhile other games had been played: here's a report on Acquire from Jon.


4 IBG’ers were looking for a game to play - the battle lines were drawn – Scott and Jon on one side, Dan and Emma on the other. Graciously, the latter two agreed to join in with Acquire – and then Andy arrived and turned it into a happy band of 5.

Jon (1 play) was the only person apart from Scott who had played before, so Scott explained the rules to the other 3. Emma decided that she couldn’t cope with a game about buying shares in companies, so Scott skilfully turned the game into buying lizards from pet-shops(?!) Weird – but at least it kept Emma happy.

The details of the game have mostly been lost to the ravages of time, but basically: Dan bought enough red shares in one go to monopolise them – unfortunately, they only paid out once. Emma maxed out in purple – but then ran out of cash so spent a fair few goes simply placing tiles. Jon had learned from his first game and tried to predict which company would grow the biggest and buy up all their shares. Unfortunately, this turned out to be purple, so he lost out to Emma… Andy did a bit of everything. And Scott did a lot of everything, and consequently cleaned up.

Considering how old this game is, it feels remarkably modern, and certainly has a very simple rule-set for its weight. Definitely one to bring out a few more times.4

Scott $52,900; Jon $39,600; Andy $32,800; Emma $26,800; Dan $25,200

Dixit (Thanks Dan)

The rather pleasant nap I was enjoying during Acquire was disturbed by Emma yelling "Is it time for Dixit?" or something similar in my ear. Jon, Andy and an initially reluctant Barrie (It’s not that I don’t like the game it’s just that I always win really easily) joined us. It was Andy’s first ever game of Dixit and it showed with giving a rather too obvious clue on his first turn. He quickly got into the swing of things and after a bit of mid game tussling on the VP track stormed as much as a Rabbit can into the lead only for Jon to hop past everyone else to secure a comfortable win. All I can say about Barrie (I always win really easily) is "Not Last"

Jon - won, Andy, Emma, Barrie, Daniel - stuck in the meadow nibbling Dandelions.

As if one light guessing game wasn’t enough, the crowd moved on to:

Wits & Wagers (Thanks Dan)

Who would have thought such a simple game would be the cause of so much rules debate? Yes, that can only mean one thing - Gareth was playing. We learnt some very interesting things during this game, namely that giraffes are slightly less than four hundred feet tall, Darwin wrote the Theory of Evolution sometime before the second world war, and the Eiffel Tower stands on more than three legs. Who says games can’t be educational and fun at the same time? Daniel won with a last round all or nothing gamble. Emma, Andy, Jon, Barrie, Gareth and Colleen need to brush up on their obscure trivia.

And now for something completely different!

Sister Club starting from Monday 26th September

he bad news is that Gareth is leaving us. The good news is that he’s setting up a new club on Monday nights!

In his own words…

"I am looking to start a new Monday night club in Richmond and Kew. If you are interested in playing games such as Puerto Rico, Agricola, Ra, Stone Age etc, then please come along. All games will be explained and new-comers are welcome. The venue is the Triple Crown Inn on Kew Foot Road, Richmond (next to the Rugby ground) and I have booked the meeting room upstairs for the evening.

The hire of the room is free on the understanding that we buy a couple of drinks each. Sorry no food apart from bar snacks, but the landlord is happy for us to order in food. The venue is a 5 minute walk from Richmond mainline station (20 minutes to Waterloo) and the District Line tube station. There are also plenty of buses and free parking at the Old Deer Park car park after 6.30 pm which is adjacent.”

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