Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Heroes, Cats, and Agriculture, or "A too-too French French Bean"

The evening began with the usual game of Memoir, Jon substituting for Paul (who was unable to attend). Turning to Jon for the Session report:

Memoir ‘44
Jon had already set up the scenario by the time that James had arrived, and his first observation was – “I don’t much fancy the Germans’ chances” (they were outnumbered 9 units to 6 by the French resistance). James then managed to randomly select to play the Allies – so he was happy. The scenario is probably set up for the Germans to retreat into the nearby towns and set up a strong defensive position (the Axis player wins if the command deck is exhausted before anyone claims victory). However, Jon decided that attack was the best form of defence, and immediately struck out down the centre, wiping out one of the French units. James responded with a Barrage, which reduced one of the Axis units to 50%, but Jon continued his attacks, this time on the right flank. With the use of far superior tactics (and the odd fortuitous dice roll), Jon had soon picked up 3 of the 4 medals needed for victory. James was literally shell-shocked, and his only response was to insist that Jon used the Allies’ 3 dice for his final roll, as the Axis ones were obviously loaded. This resulted in 3 infantry being rolled – enough to wipe out another of James’ units and claim the victory. James’ iron-clad grip on this game is starting to loosen…..
Jon won; James was ground into the French dirt.

More players had now arrived so we started some short games. Scott and I paired off for Race for the Galaxy (see below) and the others turned to Botswana (thanks Jon)


The presence of animal miniatures in this game was enough to get Emma’s interest, so she joined in along with Jon, James, Keith (and for the second game) Shirief. All the animals scored highly in the first game, which resulted in Emma coming out ahead.
In the second game, James cleaned up on zebras, having the 0 and 5 in his hand, which enabled him to score big, although the other players were quite close in scores.
Emma 29; James 20; Jon 17; Keith 7
James 21; Keith 18; Emma 14; Jon 11; Shirief 11

Meanwhile, at about the same time on a table quite close…

Race for the Galaxy

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I don’t remember much about this game. Scott was Imperium Warlord, I was Epsilon Eradni, the Aliens goal was present as was first-to-discard, one-power-in-each-phase and most Developments and most Military.

We both Explore-Settled on the first turn. I put down abandoned Alien Uplift Camp, Scott put down virtually the same card but with Alien bonus instead of Genes bonus. The game continued with my going for early Prestige (Imperium Invasion Fleet, Alien Booby Trap) and Scott getting a firm cards lead by trading, soon leading to him picking up the discard goal. We tied for the Aliens goal as I put down Alien Rosetta Stone World and eventually Hidden fortress allowed me to get the military goal

No one called produce the whole game, so my Malevolent Lifeforms just sulked in a corner. Alien Tech Instituted helped me a little but by then Scott had Imperium Lords in play and was able to develop his 12th card, taking the Developments goal in the bargain

Scott 63, Philip 44

While most of the crowd gravitated to the Adventurers, me and Scott and Shirief played a filler, waiting for Gareth and Andy.

A colourful retheme of an earlier abstract, this card game sees players collecting plastic animals while manipulating how much the animals are worth. The game ends when 6 cards have been played on an animal. There are exactly 6 cards for each animal in the deck, ranging from 0 to 5 (and 5 different kinds of animals). However, for the three player game, three cards are removed, creating uncertainty.

I, with the 3,4 and 5 in Leopards, collected Leopards and (when the Leopards had run out) Zebras. Shirief collected Lions, Elephants and Rhinos and so did Scott though he favoured the Elephants against the Rhinos which worked out well for the final play of the game, a 0 on the Rhinos. I was glad not to be forced to play my last card (a 0 on the Zebras).

Philip 37 Scott 32 Shirief 21

Back on the Adventurers table (Thanks Keith)

Adventurers is a light dungeon game which has been played before in the London Apprentice. Each of the players controls one adventurer and tries to amass as much treasure as possible without being squashed by the stone ball, tipped into lava or falling into the chasm.

This time Keith decided to discard any notions of subtlety and sent his adventurer straight for the biggest treasure. After a quick look at the rune cards he was off across the lava pit. Quite a gamble given that he had only seen three of the cards, leaving a 36% chance that he would be dumped into the boiling lava. But, this time he was lucky and raced across the lava pit collecting treasure along the way.

While Keith fumbled several attempts at the main treasure James and Dan collected the four minor treasures and Emma cleaned up the remaining treasure in the lava pit. Jon dithered for a round, then decided that Keith's plan had some merit and joined him at the main treasure, only to see Keith snatch the treasure and rush off towards the exit.

While Keith ran for the exit, the others searched the river and found a multitude of small treasures. Unfortunately, Emma found her handbag full of gold bars a little too heavy and was forced to discard a few while clambering out of the river.

Even with their lengthy swim, all of the adventurers reached the exit well ahead of the boulder, giving the unusual result that no adventurers were puréed, none were immolated and nobody plummeted to their doom. Quite disappointing really.

Final scores: Keith 28, Dan 26, Emma 22, Jon 13, James 11.

Andy and Gareth had now arrived, as well as Johan. The six of us split into 2 groups of three, Andy, me and Shirief playing Agricola and the others Puerto Rico.


Shirief was briefly reminded of the rules as we set up the three player game with cards taken from all three decks, dealing 10 of each type and discarding down to 7 of each type. Rather than recite the game move-by-move (which I couldn’t remember anyway) I’ll describe broadly what happened in each area.

Food is always tight in the three player game and the sheep arriving in turn 4 didn’t help anyone. Andy’s Charcoal burner was the only major source of extra food, although my Boar breeding allowed me to survive the first harvest (with extra Clay from Resource Seller I could buy a Cooking Hearth for that crucial 1 extra food). Subsequent harvests continued to be tight, the worst moment being the third Harvest when Shirief, who had mistakenly thought fireplaces were made of wood, found he was 1 food short. Shortly after this point I invested in a Basket Maker’s Workshop, allowing me to eat Reeds, and Andy, who had a fireplace, also built a Clay Oven. Shirief played the Cooking Hearth minor improvement and no one went short of food thereafter.

Wood was not a problem. Andy had the Woodcutter as well as the Charcoal Burner, Shirief had the Forester (the only occupation he played) and I had the Wood Collector. We were all able to Fence quite a large area and expand our houses.

There was enough Clay (partly helped by my Resource Seller) for everyone to build a Cooking improvement or two and for me and Shirief to renovate. Andy had the Conservator but didn’t get round to playing it and stayed with a Wooden hut.

I had plenty of Reeds thanks to a combination of Thatcher and Reed Pond. I could easily afford a Lasso, which give me a vital tempo advantage in the last third of the game, and I was even able to eat my spare Reeds with the afore-mentioned Basket Maker’s Workshop. The other too fought for the remaining Reed and lacked enough to build the full five rooms.

I took the greater part of the Stone, building the Well on the penultimate turn. Family Growth appeared as late as possible and only I went up to 5 family members, Andy and Shirief reaching four. Andy had a fair Grain engine and plowed 5 fields, while Shirief and I only managed two or three. I had plenty of Vegetables and one cow and one sheep, Andy and Shirief had sheep but not cows and none of us had wild boar at the end despite the Boar Breeding card being in play.

Philip 40 Andy 26 Shirief 11.

The game of Puerto Rico on the other table hasn’t written a session report, but apparently Johan gave a lot of good advice to Tonio…

Tonio 47 Gareth 43 Scott 40 Johan 35.

Puerto Rico gave way, almost by anagram, to Perudo. (Thanks again Jon)


Tonio sat to the left of Jon. Big mistake. First off – Jon bluffed, and Tonio lost a die. Then, Jon actually did have four 4’s under his cup, and Tonio lost another die. Another bluff later and he was down to 2. 2 soon became 1 and then it was all over. Surprisingly, Scott was the next to go, and at this stage, Gareth had 4 dice, Johan 3 and Jon 2. When Jon went down to 1 die, it looked all over for him, but a couple of bad calls from Johan and a successful ‘exact’ call, left Jon in the final with Gareth. With Gareth ahead 3 to 1 in dice, it looked bad for Jon, but with a final double-bluff on the last die, he came out victorious (his first win ever in this game). Glorious.

Jon 1st; Gareth 2nd; Johan 3rd; Scott 4th; Tonio 5th

Meanwhile, to her outspoken horror, Emma had been dragooned into a card game about pussy cats (she was hoping for Apples to Apples). Thanks to Keith again for the report.

Felix is a lightweight game by Friedemann Freise about auctioning sets of cats.

Each player contributes one face-down card to the set being auctioned. The cards are mostly cats (good and bad) but there are also dogs and the occasional rabbit. Everyone knows one card in the set, and when bidders drop out more of the cards are revealed, so there is an incentive to stay in for a round or two. However, some of the players may have contributed bad cats, or even dogs. So there's an element of guesswork and bluff in deciding whether to stay in 'til the end or take a cash reward for dropping out.

Early in the game both Keith and Emma over extended themselves. Unfortunately, Emma was sitting next to Dan who knew exactly how to turn the screw and repeatedly bid just enough to force her out. This meant she took the smallest reward each time and remained unable to bid, while Keith made a slow recovery from his early mistake.
Their mistakes meant that the auctions in the middle of the game were between James and Dan, while Keith and Emma made every effort to drop nasty cats and unfriendly dogs into the pool. Towards the end Keith accumulated a reasonable pile of money and was able to snap up the final auction very profitably to sneak ahead of James and into the winners cat basket.

 Keith 71, James 70, Dan 56, Emma 12.

Apples to Apples was again rejected in favour of a game about Beans (thanks again Jon)

Andy had brought this along and was wanting to play, as he needed to learn the rules. Tonio was bullied into staying around, and Emma was of course attracted by the cute beans. This game was played in a very friendly spirit, especially by Emma, who lovingly provided Tonio with every bean that his little heart desired. Jon was the only player not to buy a third bean-field, and the final scores were incredibly close, with only one coin between the top three. Family-card-game-tastic!

Dan 16; Jon 15; Tonio 15; Andy 12; Emma 12  

The company then ended the evening with 7 Wonders. Only the scores have come back to us.

Dan 53 Keith 49 James 42 Jon 40 Emma 40

Footnote: "A Too Too French French Bean" is from Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience.

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