Friday, 16 September 2011

The Lost Weeks

Jon has passed responsibility for writing the blog over to me, Philip. You'll find my name often enough in previous blog entries. I studied history at university, so its perhaps appropriate that my first task is to piece together the scraps of evidence that have survived from the period 10th August 2011 until 7th September 2011, when the blog was in limbo.

10th August 2011: A Pirate's life for me

Games played: Memoir 44 (Probably between Paul and James with James' Germans trouncing Paul's Americans); Puerto Rico; Last Calll (a game about mixing drinks and avoiding ice cubes); Mines of Zavandor; Pirate's Cove (on which see below); Perudo, 7 Wonders, Haggis and Tumblin' Dice.

Pirate's Cove pitted five pirate captains against each other. Each turn we secretly chose to sail to one of 6 islands. If more than one captain selected the same island, there would be a fight. Players could either run away (risking Mutiny) or fight until crippled in one area (hull, cannons, crew, or sails). Crippled ships got very basic repairs, meaning they were likely to lose their next fight too. Indeed one of the players (I think it was Dan) was on the losing end of a fight most rounds.

The winners of the fighting (or those lucky enough to have picked an island without competition) could pick up treasure, coins, VPs or equipment cards, including the powerful Parrots...James benefited from a parrot giving him maximum sails (allowing him to fire first in combat), while I had a couple of parrots which boosted gun power (in succession, you can't keep more than one parrot in play).

There was one other pirate ship in the vicinity, the notorious Captain Hook, who sailed to a schedule, always visting the islands in strict order. This meant he could be, and was, avoided, until the final round when three of us decided to challenge him in order to bury our treasure (and turn it into points). Captain Hook was defeated, but there was one more fight to come: between me and James, who had tied for points. The tie breaker battle was won by me, helped by the sacrifice of my parrot...

17th August: Mars or Bust

Puerto Rico, Penguin Party and Felix the Cat were played, and probably several other games, but we only have a session report (from James?) for a mysterious landing on Mars.

Mission Red Planet

It was Paul P's first game at the IBG and he joined James, Jon and Noel for Mission: Red Planet. On a previous outing it was felt that the official method of allocation of Bonus/Discovery cards at the start and through the game was somewhat unbalanced (more keenly felt by everyone other than James who had stormed to victory). It was therefore decided to use a variant based on BGG information and some creativity from Jon. Each player was initially allocated 3 bonus cards. They could then choose one to discard after each scoring round and were therefore left with one bonus card at the end of the game. The remainder of the bonus cards were discarded and the a discovery card was placed underneath each of the outer planets. The role of the Scientist enabled players to look at 2 of these discovery cards. A further overview of the short ruleset for new players Noel and Paul P and the Mission was off.

In the first round Paul P, Noel and Jon all chose the Secret Agent enabling them to allocate 2 astronauts and launch a ship. James mistakenly thought that at the start of the game there may be plenty of space aboard for a squadron of his astronauts but unfortunately, as he was last to go in the first round, there wasn't and his astronauts stayed at base. This early setback encouraged James in the early game to verbally attempt to deflect any potential attacks on his 'poor team of depleted astronauts'. During the first scoring phase, despite some initial brotherly conflict (Paul P and Noel), Jon astronauts were the most targeted, killed and left eternally spinning through space. Whether this was due to James verbals, Jon's position within the outer zones making him more vulnerable, Jon's good start or just because it was Jon, who can say, but all probably had a contribution. At the end of the first scoring round Jon and Paul were both in the early lead. However, Noel had managed to secure good control in the northern territory which delivered the maximum 3VP resource and had got a look at the hidden card for that area which told him that it would score highly in the end game with an extra 6VP.

During the second scoring phase, Noel played his Recruiter card immediately allowing him to regain all of his previously used characters. This helped him in the next round to secure a spaceship to take only his astronauts to one of the previously unscored territories. Paul P did have an opportunity to redirect this ship but chose instead to level the playing field in a territory in which he was involved. Noel lost a couple of astronauts as James secured control of the southern territory and Paul P gained control of two of the central areas. In the final round, Noel reinforced his two high scoring territories and managed to redistribute to pick up another central area in addition. James benefited from Paul P reinforcing his lead in an area in which the hidden event card gave the VP's to the player with the second highest number of astronauts in the area. This also meant James secured the 9 point bonus for the greatest amount of Ice (1VP) resource. Jon tried but was just unable to redistribute his astronauts to complete his personal bonus card.
. A interactive, interesting and decision filled game in around 1 hour and a thumbs up for this variant.

Noel 50, James 36, Jon 28, Paul P 27

24th August 2011: Tokyo, Vegas and Manhattan

Again probably more were played than the records show, but at least we have five session reports (four due to Dan).

First, some giant monsters battling over a famous city.
King of Tokyo

After an initial official 'practice' game in which we let James demonstrate how to win, with only woody providing some resistance by means of a super defence card, we started Kings of Tokyo. Dan, not having seen the quick demise of anyone previously trying to tough it out in tokyo from the start, took on all comers for 2 rounds before blazing out in a trail of suicidal glory for the sake of a couple more points. James was next to go with Gareth and scott forming a formidable combination in the middle with scott cowering behind the aid of Gareth's special attack and defence card. And when Gareth bailed from Tokyo taking his card with him scott followed him straight out. With Noel and scott both around 5 points off the win, Noel managed to pick up a 4 point card and there was little anyone could do on the final round before the inevitable victorious march into Tokyo.

Noel 24, Scott 16, Gareth and Woody 12ish, James and Dan dead.

Next some casino owners doing much the same except with money rather than claws.

Lords of Vegas

Dan joined Noel and Tanya for lords of Vegas despite his best instincts telling him not to play negotiation games with couples. Tanya reassured him that she would take most opportunities to attack Noel if at all possible. Fortunately for Noel the random site selections pitched Tanya and Dan against each other on one side of the board in a huge battle for control of a 7 point casino. Numerous paint jobs and take over attempts ensued with control frequently changing hands. However when Noel picked up a site in the middle of the casino which Dan had sprawled into, Noel was able to trade with Tanya strengthening her control of the casino and in turn, developng his own position on the other side of the board. Dan quickly traded out his remaining tiles and attempted to build up another casino site. Noel had relatively little opposition in his areas and had 2 five tile casinos. He had his eyes on massive expansion and 'negotiated' a cash sale of one of one of Tanya undeveloped sites on the Strip. Many millions lighter he then realised the miscalculation and lack of enough dice to expand this greater than a small 2 site casino. It did however provide some security to his overall position by ensuring that area could not be developed. There was now only 1 remaining casino in dispute, between Noel and Dan. Noel was able to repaint his casino to use up the grey tiles and keep him safe from takeover and at game end 1 turn later, Noel, King of Tokyo, had enough to add the title of Lord of Vegas.

Noel 50, Tanya 32, Dan 32.

The same players now turned to a light card game.

This was new to dan and he quickly developed substantial sets in most colours. His diversification looked to be his downfall but the cautious game played by Noel and Tanya, keeping a close eye on each other, meant that dan was able to win with a couple of full set colours negating the negative points from his other sets.
Dan 38, Noel 32, Tanya 28.

They then rounded off the evening with a return to the high money theme...

High Society

Finally a game of High Society, which was new for Tanya. However, unsurprisingly she quickly grasped the game which requires accurate valuation and shopping for desirable, expensive items. It was also no surprise that she proved skilled at getting Noel to spend most of his cash as he finished with the least amount. Tanya had steadily accumulated enough points to take her first win at IBG and everyone had one win each to finish the evening.
Tanya 17, Dan 10, Noel lost.

Now our only report for this evening which doesn't feature Dan (credit to Paul for the report). Another urban area, although it isn't entirely clear what is going on there, except that it involves stacking highrises...


Played by Paul, Barrie, Hannah (Barrie's daughter down from Manchester) and Gary - Hannah's boyfriend.

Barrie was the only one that had played before, but the game features very simple rules with a subtle strategy and lots of opportunities for doing a dirty on the opponents. Gary and Hannah dutifully started off by getting at each other, but unfortunately realised that it was not serving them best to just do that and soon both got down to some very profitable stacking some highrises for worthwhile points. Hannah ended up winning with Gary and Paul joint second and Barrie one point behind both of us.

31st August 2011: The Lord of Pleasure

I'm not entirely confident that these games were played tonight, but they were definitely played at some point in the Lost Weeks and this is the emptiest spot!

Chaos in the Old World

Ian has been wanting to play this for ages, and I'd expressed an interest the week before, so with Dan willing as ever and Paul interested we were setting up a four player game when Paul had to make up the numbers elsewhere.

The game can be played with three. The players represented depraved and malicious deities from the Warhammer universe. I was Slaanesh, Lord of Pleasure, Dan was Khorne the Blood God and Ian was Tzeeentch, the Changer of Ways. We're all trying to corrupt the Old World while hindering each other as much as possible. A key mechanic is the dials. If you get enough "ticks" during your turn, you an advance your dial one or two "clicks", getting bonuses and eventually winning the game. Its also possible to winn on points but a dial victory has priority. Slaanesh gets ticks from corrupting areas with nobles and heroes in them. Tzeentch from corrupting areas with magic and warpstone in them, and Khorne gets ticks from killing other player's cultists.

The first turn saw me occupying Tilea, Ian Estalia and Dan the Empire. Dial clicks for me and Ian followed. Dan then summoned his Greater Demon into Tilea but amazingly rolled four misses on four dice (4+ to hit) for two turns running, leaving me quite happy in Tilea. I picked up extra ticks in the Empire (casting a spell to prevent combat with Dan) and also in Kislev, an area full of heroes (who killed my cultists, but only after they'd earned their ticks).

Soon I'd acquirred both the Power of Pain and the Power of Pleasure, allowing me extra points to spend on spells and summoning minoins, and had got a bonus 2 extra nobles, which I placed in isolated low value areas. Ian however was scoring more points as various areas became Ruined.

Ian summoned his Greater Demon to attack my cultists, I summoned my Greater Demon in response and cut him down. As we went into the final turn I needed two dial clicks to win a dial victory, which I managed thanks to the "tougher cultists" upgrade protecting my vulnerable minions. Ian won on points at the same time.

A close and fun game which would have been even more fun with four players!
Meanwhile on the other table the exploitation was economic rather than diabolic.. thanks to Paul for the report.

Puerto Rico

The classic has been making several appearances in the games pile in recent weeks, suggesting it ain't lost any of that old magic. There was a full complement of five who were keen enough to dust it off this week, most of which hadn't played it for a while with one new player - James III (or is it IV?)

First steps were taken by Woody who quickly built up some Indigo capacity for production, whilst Paul, Keith and Alex concentrated on violet buildings giving them benefits of more money during the trading phase, more plantations when they came out and so forth (although as it was the start of the game, these were cheap so the benefits were limited).

James III delved into a bit of Indigo and a bit of Sugar. Paul went for corn, needing no production facility. Keith had eyes on the bigger picture grabbing a coffee roaster. Woody supplemented his Indigo with some quarries to allow himself to build buildings efficiently. Alex spread his moves across a variety of strategies.

Colonists were scarce throughout this game, as there were not so many empty spaces to attract them into play.

Paul was the first casualty of the shipping phase, being caught without a warehouse and having to dump a fist full of his hard earned corn, but this soon caught up with most people on the board. Woody in particular was certainly a bit aggrieved to have been talked into placing his Indigo on one boat, which ended up coming back to haunt him. Lessons learnt, by the end of the game people had acquired good storage facilities. James III and Paul had also invested in Wharves which helped them ship whatever they wanted without cause for concern.

Keith suffered from being to the left of Paul, who had also started to produce coffee, meaning that Keith was always at Paul's mercy when it came to cashing in the java, so he spread his portfolio to tobacco to give him more options.

Woody was the first to start the process of buying the large 'big point' buildings, and managed to get his hands on two by the end of the game.

The game ended when the victory point chip supply was zero, which occurred half way through a shipping phase. Initially it was thought that this would mean that Paul missed out on his shipment points, due to being last in that turn, but Keith then found a section in the rule book which said that those points are written down and still counted (phew - thanks Keith).

All agreed that the scores were fairly unpredictable as the game had been well balanced. Paul suspected that Woody would take it with his double haul of big buildings, but as it turns out his initial victory point chips were a little short to give him victory, and Keith's delving into the rule book made all the difference.
Paul 52 Woody 49, Keith 44, James III 40, Alex 38

Jon's newly crafted masterpiece was on display all evening, but was only put to use once the board games started to finish.

Tumblin Dice

Dexterity games seem to create a split in the boardgamers - some had been eyeing up the board all evening, with half a thought that they'd rather have been flicking and nudging, whilst some seemed to be much more at home with the planning, calculating, analysing and the nimbleness of fingers kept to distributing cubes according to strategy as opposed to the laws of physics.

The first game was Scott, Philip, Paul and Alex, although Alex departed after the first round so Woody took his place. As Alex had scored a mere 9 points, it was thought that Woody had been unfairly disadvantaged, but as his next score was 6, feelings of pity rapidly vanished. Scott's suggestion that dice still count if they land on chairs wasn't taken up, although it would be an interesting variant.
Paul 142, Philip 82, Scott 80, Woody/Alex 66.

After this game, Scott and Philip went back to thinking games, and as seven wonders wasn't finished it was left to Paul and Woody to take 2 sets of dice each for just 2 rounds.

Paul 153, Woody 91

Seven Wonders then finished and both members of the IBG Tumblin-Dice owners club were extremely keen for some of the action. In the first game James took an early lead and never looked back. By the time the last round came along, a combination of the gulf in scores between James and everyone else, plus a good dose of gloating and goading from the leader, caused the three trailing players to care far more about pegging James back than winning themselves. However against all probability (actually, probably not against any probability whatsoever) the reds, greens and blues consistently missed James' blacks time after time after time, instead causing havoc amongst themselves, or just rolling off the board after a failed sabotage attempt. James therefore increased his lead after this last turn to come to an easy victory.
James 132, Jon 74, Woody 52, Paul 52

The time had gone 11, but too much Tumblin-Fun was being had, so the four dice flickers decided to enjoy one last game. Of course the chance to stop James from leaving as the runaway winner was a bigger motivation for Jon, Woody and Paul and the fact that James was relying on a lift meant that he was forced to put his title on the table - not that took much coaxing.

This time round dice were flicked more carefully, the game being in the balance right up until the final tumble, with the spread being close enough for anyone to have won. In fact the only reason Woody was a few points behind was that he scored zero on his last dice, otherwise the result may have been significantly different.
Jon 99, Paul 97, James 96, Woody 85

September 7th: An Allied Victory at last

The sources are rather better for this final "lost week" than they are for earlier weeks.
Ian, Scott, Phil, Gareth, Andy, Johan, Paul, Emma, James, Jon, Tonio

Games played:
Settlers of Catan
Tumblin' Dice x 3
Stone Age
Pillars of the Earth
Cleopatra and the Society of Architects
Memoir '44

Memoir'44 (thanks Paul)

After an utter trouncing during the first 4 outings of this WWII 'simple' battle simulation, Paul, playing the allies, wasn't feeling confident. Sorry allies, but the truth must be told, even if it is at a cost of... well, the survival of the free world in this case. The pattern soon continued, the tactic of playing his best card first failing, as four dice rolled against James' best position all failed. Paul did manage to strike first, winning one medal, but James then absorbed the tank attack and picked them off one by one, to lead 3 - 1. As other IBGers started to arrive, there were familar 'how manay is he beating you by this week, Paul?' questions as people shuffled off to food and Perudo. However those uber-keen Germans were getting a little careless and came chasing out in the open from their snug clifftop hideaways and the tables started slowly to turn. The allies learnt the value of staying put and managed to eke out medal after medal until, much to everyone's surprise, not least Paul's, the allies matched history and came away victorious.

Paul (Allies): 5, James (Germans): 3

One dice game deserves another...

Tumblin'Dice (thanks Paul)

Jon bought the board that he'd sacrificed a quality wardrobe, a week's holiday, some saw blades, a couple of letrasets to produce. James forgot the dice. Emma had bought a copy of Perudo for £1 at a charity shop, so 4 sets were quickly snaffled for some tumblin' action. They were a little smaller than the 'proper' set, lighter and had round corners. Well, let's just say that they were different enough to void all of the scores below.
James 155, Paul 92
James 118, Jon 93, Emma 75, Paul 75
Jon 104, James 99, Tonio 78

Another dice game now came into view, an old classic this time (thanks again to Paul).

Settlers of Catan

Emma had never played before, so was told that she simply couldn't be a paid up IBGer without having played the game that got most of us started with 'proper' board games. No one had played for a while, so it took a while to get going.

Andy and Johan snaked away duelling for the longest road on either side of the board. Emma got herself somewhat penned in, meaning that she couldn't expand by way of road, so would need to use the strategy of cities and development cards. Paul was attempting to build up vast supplies of wood, while trading them at the wood harbour. Part way through the game Emma realised that she was late for another appointment (just how long did she think a eurogame would take, anyway?) and proceeding to work out that Johan was in the lead, and that she'd be able to escape to her other friends sooner if she helped him win. Actually this was quite late in the game, and Johan, albeit that he bemoaned bad die rolls all the way through the game, was quite a way in the lead and would almost definitely have won anyway. Paul and Andy did their best to stop him, with Andy taking the longest road back, but all in vain, as win he did, with a little help from Miss 'but I've broken a promise to my other friends' Bardo.
Johan 10, Paul 8, Emma 6, Andy 5

Meanwhile a medieval cathedral-building game had appeared, but this own has only a limited dice element.

Pillars of the Earth

Gareth has been muttering about making this Game of the Month for a while. The game features a Bausackesque six wooden piece structure which turns out to be completely superfluous to game play (one piece is placed each round and when all six are placed its game over). The game is worker placement, with plebeian workers going into quarries and forests to get sand and wood and stone and rather posher workers getting the opportunity to influence events, earn VPs and pick up helpful allies. The posher workers are drawn out of a bag at random to determine turn order, with the first few drawn out having to pay for the privilege or go to the back of the queue. Mine always seemed to be left in the bag.
There's quite a lot to the game but much of turns around craftsmen turning resources into VPs. In addition to the sand and wood and stone mentioned earlier the fourth resource is metal which is hard to obtain and gets lots of VPs especially at the end of the game when the best craftsmen are available. Gareth went for a wood strategy, helped by getting Alice at the start of the game (+1 Wood a turn). I used a mixed metal/sand strategy, while Scott concentrated on getting VPs directly. The end result was quite close, except that Scott was maybe half dozen points ahead of the pack. I thought the game was ok, but Gareth seemed to have lost interest...
We now went back in time a few thousand years to...

Stone Age
I was sitting to Gareth's left. Scott, on Gareth's right started, I think Ian was playing on my left. Anyway I unwisely went for extra people right at the start three times in a row. The first time the hut was the only option left from the three in the middle, but the second and third times I could have had a field...
While I floundered trying to feed extra mouths Gareth's usual tools strategy seemed to be fairly sucessful. However, the tools cards just didn't come out in time and Scott was able to motor his way to victory using a full set of picture cards.
Meanwhile, having finished settlers the other table moved on to (thanks Paul):

Felix the Cat in the Sack.

This is what we wrapped up the evening with. Can't remember the exact scores for this game, apart from that I'd accumulated enough mice that in the last hand of the game I could afford to outbid everyone, and there were quite a few high scoring cards still out there, netting me 40 odd points in that hand, which was easily the game winner. There was a real satisfying moment as Andy played the last card, so he knew it was a biggun, but he also knew that I had the cash to take it, so was powerless to do anything.

That is the end of the reports from the Lost Weeks, hopefully soon a full report will be forthcoming for 14th September.

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