Tuesday, 11 October 2011

A New Grudge Which is Born Today or “The Shares are a Penny”

Another week, another meeting...
The evening started off with Tumblin Dice:
Game 1 Woody 127 Jon 116 James 91 Paul 71
Game 2 James 28 Jon 28 Woody 26 Noel 23 Paul 19

Which was followed by a quick game of Coloretto: I sat out setting up my latest acquisition (see below) instead.

Coloretto Scores James 28 Jon 28 Woody 26 Noel 23 Paul 19

More players had now arrived and various games were brought forward. We’ll start with another light dice game (thanks Paul).


Quarriors was just some of the 'hotness' which John B brought along, raved about by Tom Vasel and climbing the rankings.

It has been simply described as 'Dominion with dice' which isn't far off the truth. Everyone starts off with the same set of dice which are stored in a pouch. Each turn they pull out six and roll them, and then act on the results, which may include rolling more dice, buying more dice, casting spells or launching some creatures (which need to be paid for with other dice from their roll). A monster which is put forward automatically attacks any other creature on the table that has previously been put forward by anyone else.

Points are scored by putting forward a creature that was rolled and paid for, and having that creature survive until that player’s next turn, i.e. having them survive all attacks from the other players. If a monster survives, the player not only gets points, but gets to discard any dice that they don't want and therefore make their aggregate rolls more powerful.

So instead of managing a stack of cards, players manage a bag of dice.

In this game, John kicked off and it took a while for Dan to become the first with points on the board as most of the 'starting' creatures were put forward and then killed off by the others before a round had passed.

Paul had managed to buy one of the big beasties which had the ability to take the attack and defence characteristics of any other monster on the table. This, more by luck than judgement, got him the first big score of the game.

John followed suit with a starter creature. Paul made some nice rolls and managed to put himself into quite a commanding lead, with Dan and John keeping him in their sights as they also managed to keep some of their creatures alive.

You may be forgiven for thinking there were only three players in the game, but you'd be mistaken as James was also playing. Knowing this, you might justifiably assume that James was playing a different type of role to everyone else - maybe the games master - and therefore didn't score points or do anything of note. No - actually James was in the same boat as the rest of us, it was just that...well, James hadn't scored any points or done anything of note. A reviewer with a kinder heart might have simply neglected to mention this and let James' lack of scoring go unnoticed, but, well, I'll let you draw your own conclusions. Whatever conclusions they are let me categorically state that it has nothing whatsoever to do with the grudges that James holds and brings back to the table weeks later (although it might well have something to do with a new grudge that is born today).

So the game progressed along a similar vein with Paul pulling further into the lead as he'd managed to ditch some of the lower value dice, and Dan and John vying for second place.

The general consensus was that there was a good dollop of luck in the game and that it'd take a few games to work out how to 'play' the luck, but if a player gets a healthy lead then it is difficult to catch up.

Consequently, when Dan had the option to extend the game or to bring it to a close, and he chose the latter, mercifully putting James, still on zero, out of his misery.

Even James admitted that it was quite fun, and even Paul couldn't quite bring himself to say that it was all pure skill, although it certainly didn't take anything away from the feeling of pure pleasure that he will get when typing in the scores below.
Paul: 11, John: 4, Dan 4, James 0

Meanwhile, on another table a metaphorical world away…me reporting this time.

Ankh Morpok

Martin Wallace’s latest design, featuring the Discworld’s most famous city. Players take on a secret identity and place minions, build buildings and cause trouble. I’d played it twice on Saturday at Tringgcon but was happy to play it again. Alex was also keen, being a Discworld fan. Woody, with no knowledge of Pratchett’s works gallantly joined us to even out the numbers…

The first game saw me as Chrysoprase (objective: make money) verus Alex as Lord Selachii (objective, control areas) and Woody as Lord Rust (same objective as Lord Selachii). I quickly selected the Scours as the cheapest area to build in which would get me an income. Alex spread out rapidly, and soon I was trying to stop Alex as much as meet my own goal. Woody professed confusion. Possibly it was a cunning plan, but we never found out, as I soon proved unable to stop Alex winning.

For the second game, Alex dropped out, leaving me and Woody.
I was Lord Vetinari (get agents in 11 areas, a tall order as there are only 12 areas in the game). He was Dragon King of Arms (get  trouble markers in 8 areas). I had a shrewd idea of his identity quite early on as he not only went out of his way to cause trouble but also built the one building that allows the owner to generate trouble (appropriately in the Shades). I wasn’t doing too badly, having managed to make a large amount of money via “Harry King”, and both of us being quite close to winning, when I foolishly played Rincewind, causing a Random Event to occur. The event was “Demons from the Dungeon Dimensions” Alex correctly  observed that the Things in the Dungeon Dimensions aren’t Demons. Nevertheless the effect was devastating for me, as the Demons occupied 4 areas, causing trouble and meaning that the areas did not count for my objective. Fortunately Demons are susceptible to assassination. In a tactic I should have pursued earlier I now built the building that allows its owner to remove trouble markers- but even so Woody was able to outpace me and win easily.

Not trouble but trains was the focus on the next table- though it seems Noel managed to cause plenty of trouble just the same (thanks to Jon).

Chicago Express
After last week’s successful outing, Noel did not need much persuasion for another. And with Andy just turning up, that made a happy band of 3 aspiring train barons.

This game turned out very differently from last week. Firstly, there were only 3 players, which made the distribution of shares completely different. Secondly, we had a spoiler in our midst, whose sole aim in life was not to see the glorious expansion of the infant locomotive transport system, but instead, to sabotage it at every possible opportunity.

Despite warnings from last week, Jon again managed to obtain 2 red shares, with Noel picking up the other. Andy quickly picked up a couple of blue shares, and this paid dividends (literally) in the first 2 rounds as his income grew.

By the middle of the game, Andy had majority shares in both blue and yellow, whilst green was shared out equally (causing the line to stall just after its starting point). Noel had one share of each company, and Jon simply had his 2 red shares and a green. It was at this point that Noel realised that it wasn’t particularly in his interest for any of the lines to get to Chicago, and systematically either blocked them off or drove them into the unforgiving mountains (boo hiss…….).

Anyway, the final share was issued, bringing the game to an end. Andy had undoubtedly been earning vast quantities of income during the game, the only question being, had he paid too much for the numerous shares that he had acquired? The answer turned out to be ‘no’, as his final tally was in 3 figures. The other 2 players were within a few dollars of each other, with ‘the rotten spoiler’ just pipping Jon for second place.

I’m really enjoying this game, so I think that it may well turn up at IBG again in the future…
Andy 107; Noel 93; Jon 89

Although a fourth table (Gareth’s) played in the Year of the Dragon and St. Petersburg, there are no reports of what happened. Meanwhile the Ankh-Morpok and Chicago Express players rounded off the evening with everyone’s favourite game starring Rowan Atkinson…(thanks again Jon).

5-player Bohnanza to close out the evening. Nice. Woody had only played once, so a rules explanation was required. Apparently he had hated it the first time round. I’m not sure that his opinion changed much following this experience either…
A quick summary of the playing styles of the various competitors:
Noel: Calculating and calm, in typical Irish fashion. A twinkle in his eye, but a dagger in his hand….
Woody: Refused to trade (with Noel!) at the beginning. Realised this clearly wasn’t working and accumulated a huge hand of cards. Went trade-crazy towards the end. Card-playing interspersed with a variety of expletives…
Philip: What you see is what you get. No games here. “I’ll trade this for that.” End of. Refreshing… (came last though…)
Andy: An English version of Noel without the Irish charm…
Jon: A happy, carefree trader, just seeking to help out his fellow-players wherever possible, regardless of the cost to himself. (Disagree?! You should have written this report then….)
Jon 18; Noel 13; Woody 12; Andy 10; Philip 8

“The Shares are a Penny”  is a quotation from the Nightmare Song in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe.

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