Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Bring it again Dan or "You get a good spadesman"

The evening began with a dice game, but for a change it wasn’t Tumblin’ dice (although the distribution of winners and losers ws not dissimilar)

Perudo (thanks Jon)
Ian won with 4 dice left
2nd – David; 3rd – Emma; 4th – James II; 5th – Jon; 6th – Scott; 7th – Philip (with the most amazing over-bidding ever seen!)

Next on the agenda (for me) was a bit of Terry Pratchett.

Discworld: Ankh Morpok
By now several others had arrived, including Tonio, who showed interest in Discworld. I tried to gather a couple more players, and was initially spurned, Jon going so far as to pretend not only that he couldn’t hear me but that I didn’t even exist, but finally managed to find three wiling extras. Since the game doesn’t take five, one of us had to bow out, and Ian was first to do so, leaving me with three new players.

The game was soon underway and much amusement was found in the cards from Tonio and David, who are Pratchett fans, though not so much from James II, who isn’t. I of course had seen the cards before. This time I heeded my own warning about keeping $5 spare, but James didn’t so I saddled him with Dr Whiteface (reduces your hand size permanently). I encouraged the others to stop me winning by pointing out when I was getting close. Despite the assistance of Gaspode the Wonder Dog, I proved unable to combat the efforts of all three opponents and was soon not close to winning at all. Both David and Tonio drew lots of cards early and found themselves saddled with too many poor quality cards.

A fair number of random events happened over the course of the game, including Explosion and Earthquake (both ineffective), Trolls (who became a target for assassination), Bloody Stupid Johnson (who rendered James’ newly built Scours apartment useless) and a Fire at the end (which destroyed 2 buildings). At one point I had a decent hand and hopes of playing for the win in a turn or two, only to see Tonio play the Chair of Indefinite Studies and swap hands with me.

The merry dance continued with everyone thwarting everyone else’s chances of winning, until the deck ran out, making James the winner as Commander Vimes.

Galaxy Trucker
Looking round for our next game, my eye alighted on Galaxy Trucker, which Tonio had taught me and James a few weeks ago. Tonio was predictably eager to actually play his game, and David was quickly taught the rules. The usual mixture of Meteorites, Pirates and Planets with valuable commodities ensured, and everyone was doing pretty well until round 3 when the Pirates started having ridiculous requirements, like ten guns (ok, Tonio managed to meet them…) Damage swiftly accumulated, with James losing most of his batteries to a single pirate encounter. The game ended with a triumphant win for Tonio.

While we were playing Discworld, others were excavating…

Pergamon (thanks Jon)
Noel had brought this out for a couple of weeks running, and Jon had been sufficiently intrigued to request another outing. Ian was also attracted by its Euro appearance, and Dan chose it as the lesser of 2 evils rather than Power Grid.
The game revolves around a selection phase which provides cash to excavate, and the necessary permissions to excavate to certain depths (with more valuable artefacts being deeper). This is followed by a mini-jigsaw phase, which results in sending exhibits to the museum – and maybe giving them a spit and polish for good measure.

Ian took a risk early on and was rewarded with a wallet full of cash. He used this to good effect and soon had a couple of valuable exhibits in the museum. Dan started out in bold fashion, slapping down his meeple on the highest cash value square – only to be retracted a few seconds later as he decided that his cojones weren’t quite as large as he first thought… Noel was using his previous knowledge to carefully accumulate artefacts, whilst Jon decided to exhibit little and often.

There are 12 rounds, but they fairly rattle along, and before long the final scoring round was reached, and it was no surprise that Ian had come out on top. It was a surprise that the experienced gameowner Noel had come third, although maybe he was just being nice to the newbies (probably not…) All in all, one of those games which feels like a reasonably meaty Euro, but in the golden ‘sub-60 minute’ timeframe.
Ian 25; Jon 22; Noel 18; Dan 9

They then turned to dice:

Quariors (thanks again Jon)

Shed-loads of small dice. Monsters. Plenty of symbols and text. Dominion with Dice.

Dan had played before, so explained the rules, which are not particularly complex. As is common with deck-building games, a first play is always affected by players’ unfamiliarity with the cards (or in this case dice). Therefore, at least 3 of the players followed the rule of ‘if it’s expensive it must be good!’ Noel was plagued by some rather unfortunate dice-rolling (his monsters never seemed to get into play), whilst Ian brought out a couple of meaty chaps that quickly totted up his points. The game ended when the requisite number of dice pools had been exhausted, with Ian just pipping Dan to the win.

My opinion? If I feel the need to build decks, I think I may prefer Dominion. If I feel the need to roll dice, I’ll stick to Tumblin’ Dice. If I feel the need to roll dice and fight monsters, I’ll take King of Tokyo. What it is to have such choice…..
Ian 9; Dan 8; Jon 6; Noel 4

And finally to cards…

Wyatt Earp
Ian had exited, but the remaining 3 had time for something else, so Dan brought this nice little rummy variant out of his bag. It is easy to pick up, and plays quickly, so was ideal for the end of the evening. The game end condition is when someone gets to $25k, and after a big second round, Jon had reached $24k. However, Noel played a judicious Hideout on Jon in the third round, and as all the Wyatt Earp cards had apparently disappeared from the deck, he couldn’t remove it until it was too late. This gave him an appalling 3rd round score of $4k, allowing Noel to squeeze past him for the victory. Nice card game – bring it again, Dan.
Noel $30k; Jon $28k; Dan $18k

Meanwhile Electricity and Egypt had been the themes on Scott's table (thanks Scott)

Power Grid
Despite Emma’s best efforts for Roborally, everyone else jumped in to other games and left Scott, Barrie and Emma. Barrie suggested Power Grid and we were all happy enough to play.
We picked China seeing as Emma did well at that last time and thought she might do again. We began and the Garbage plant was hotly contested and Emma couldn’t get it after Scott bid a fortune for it. Then Andy walked in and with no other game to play we restarted with four players.
Scott was less interested in garbage this time and Emma was happy to get herself a bargain, and no sooner had we completed the first auction (again) but then John walked in and we set-up a 5 player game!
This time there was more interest in the garbage plant but Emma stuck to her guns and won the rubbish, then when any other rubbish plants came up later in the game she was first to buy them, earning herself a reputation of hanging around the bins a lot. Scott went cheap with oil and started in the middle of the board, Emma tried to secure the cheap corner of the board for herself but Andy thought he would share it with her, much to her discontent, especially since the rest of the board was rather crowded with Barrie in the middle and John to the South, John had himself a nice wide open space but the connections were quite expensive.
We trundled along nicely until John finally could afford 7 cities while the rest of us were quite squeezed in our area of the map.
Step three took a while to come and there was a real lack of high capacity plants, this was good for Scott who got one early and was poised to end the game shortly, John bid very high to get himself enough capacity but fell short on the city building front as a result. Andy and Barrie got themselves big plants too but couldn’t match the full 17 of Scott. Emma had benefited from limited competition from the rest of us and some good plants but not quite enough capacity.
Scott – 17, Emma – 16 (30 cash), Barrie – 16 (15 cash), Andy – 16 (5 cash), John – 15
That’s the scores I remember anyway, they are open to dispute from anyone else’s memory.
Something else we could all agree on, having side-stepped Roborally a second time. This didn’t go very well for Scott due to his uncanny ability to find the Ra tiles from the bag. In the first round, Emma got herself a lead in Pharoahs while Barrie focussed on Monuments, John was diversifying while Scott tried to get a bargain and with two Ra spaces left managed to draw two in quick succession before any positive tiles came out.
In the second round, John got the pharaoh lead and some nice floods, Scott got a nice hand of river tiles but sod all to water them with.
Towards the end, Barrie kept his monument focus as the rest of us had won very few of them and despite not scoring well earlier he ran away with the game with a huge end game score. John was close behind with high suns, pharaohs etc. while Scott and Emma never seemed to get the bargain they were looking for. Emma maybe could have done a little better after her highlight of purchasing one flood tile for the 13 just to stop Scott (who later picked one up that round)
Barrie – 1st, John – 2nd ,Emma – 3rd, Scott – last

P.S “You get a good spadesman” is from the Nightmare song in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe

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