Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Their Finest Hour or "So Adventurous a Tale"

The evening once again began with Tumblin’ Dice, first a three player and then a five player game

Tumblin’ Dice

Game 1: James II 95; Jon 88; Paul 53
Game 2 was remarkable mainly for the immense enjoyment Woody (who wasn't even playing) derived from seeing me miss shot after shot....
Game 2: James 75; Paul 73; Jon 72; Emma 47; Philip 25

Then we moved on to a massive eight player game of Emma’s new purchase…

Dixit: Odyssey (Philip’s version)

The familiar game is enlivened by a board and some special cards to indicate guesses- and with 7 or more players everyone can make two guesses (bonus points for a correct single guess). Soon the cryptic clues were being considered, the cards were revealed and the guesses were made.

Both Jameses were playing, but James I left after one round, having attempted to guess card 9…, while James II went from strength to strength, successfully guessing other’s clues and also attracting plenty of wrong guesses to his chosen cards. Jon’s “Their finest hour” turned out to be a Rooster getting 1st place on the podium rather than an attack by fighter planes or a rabbit landing on the moon (complete with specially adapted helmet). My own clue “Prosperity” had apparently been used for the exact same card when Emma played the game at Tringcon. Not surprising for Dominion fans, since said card shows a Cornucopia (for some unexplained reason, one trapped in a block of ice). The cards continued with such clues as “Apocalypse” and “ain’t so Artful now”- the latter being guessed by almost everyone as a picture of a street kid down on his luck. By the time we got round to the final player –Emma- we had exhausted the pack and were drawing the cards again, so it was perhaps just as well that James II guessed correctly for the 6th time and reached the finish line.

As a special treat, we have an alternative narrative of the same game. It is the same game, though you might not have guessed it…

Dixit Odyssey (same game, from Jon’s perspective)

Emma had brought along this new version of this creative game, and then announced that she had to leave at 9pm. So, we humoured her and joined in a 7-player game. The difference with this version is that it can now handle 12 players (supposedly) and you can vote for 2 different cards instead of just one.
The first point to note is that the voting chits have been replaced by voting ‘cards’ that you place 2 pegs in to indicate your choices. Except that the pegs do not stay in the cards. Classic schoolboy error. The worst design decision since Olaf the Hairy, High Chief of all the Vikings, accidentally ordered 80,000 battle helmets with the horns on the inside.
The second point to note is that working out the scoring takes forever. FOREVER. And the art isn’t as good either. Hence, the game was willed to as quick a finish as possible, with James I managing to exit prematurely, and Jon and Woody casting mournful expressions after him. I can’t remember who won, but several of us lost (45 minutes of our lives…) 

The players now divided, with Andy, me and Alex diving into Andy’s newest purchase…


Only I had played before, so I explained the rules as the components were spread out over the table- just as well that I had appropriated a large and well lit surface.

I adopted a rather obvious strategy of building the Hotel (activate for 2VPs) on turn 1 and trying to score 2 VPs with the Architect on other turns. Alex went for a Dam/Golfcourse combination which was soon earning him 3 VPs a turn. Andy played more subtly, shipping goods and keeping a close eye on the Parliament.

This allowed him to enact suitable bills, including a Water subsidy which netted him 6 VPs before I spent my last money on bribing it away. By this time I had added the Inn (activate for 1VP), since Andy had scored 2 Vps with the Architect earlier in the turn. I was apparently in the lead at this point- but the others had built more buildings…

Andy prised me from the Parliament building to enact a Money Subsidy- giving three VPs to Alex and none to himself. In the final turn Alex spent his money on Rum and shipped it for 6VPs, which lead to a narrow victory.
Alex 68, Phil 66, Andy 65

The three of us played a quick filler…

Get Bit

This simple and silly game features robots getting eaten by a shark. Each turn you play a card and move your robot. The robot furthest behind loses a limb and picks up his cards. Lose four limbs and you are out of the game. After an initial round where Alex discovered that low cards were bad I lost three limbs in quick succession, and the fourth shortly thereafter. Andy only lost one limb the whole game, leaving him the inevitable winner.

Alex now sat out while me and Andy played…

Penguin Party
In the two player game many cards are removed to keep up the uncertainty. Both of us seemed to have fairly balanced hands and with the pyramid base being only 7 cards it didn’t take long for some colours to be blocked off. The scoring was very close in both games and ended in a tie.

Going back in time both actually and thematically, while we were enjoying Dixit: Odyssey, Noel, Johan and James I were doing a spot of digging in Ancient Greece.

Pergamon (thanks Noel)

On Noel's arrival, James needed no persuading to jump out of Dixit and Noel set up Pergamon which he had brought and played before. After one quick rules run through and a promise of a 30minute game, Johann arrived. After a second rules run through (please note 2nd rules run through including the end game scoring bonus) and still promising a 30 minute game Johann, James and Noel started excavating treasures and displaying them for points.

Johann and James displayed plenty of tat for regular VPs while Noel focused on high quality older artefacts focused on collecting the bonus points on each of the 4 scoring rounds. This took him to the win with 28 points, with James on 27 and Johann on 22 asking for a 3rd rules run through to try to get that final point. James in particular had the longest and most polished exhibit and thought he should get extra points for that... but that must be one of his different games.
Noel 28, James 27, Johann 22

The same three joined up with three more from Dixit for…

I'm the Boss (thanks again Noel)

After going unplayed last week, several IBG'ers were keen to get Im the Boss played and with 6 free gamers after a slightly longer than promised Pergamon, this pure negotiation game was brought out. Paul and Johann who had played before reassured everyone despite the slightly concerning 1-4 hr time frame on the box.

After a few rounds of card taking, Johann got the negotiations going and concluded the first deal with a small profit. This made him an immediate target and Noel used some cards to take his investor card and James did the same to Paul, continuing a 'healthy' rivalry from last week. Noel and James I used these early to get in as minority investors in most deals. Jon and James I played for the big deals and Paul and Johann card collected to try to get their investors back. The game finished quickly in 45 minutes, mainly due to a rule interpretation that deals could be concluded quickly by grabbing and slamming down the deal counter. As such, offers were made and accepted quickly. Snooze you lose in this game.

Checking through the geek pages suggests that most play with a 'Going once, going twice, gone' conclusion to a deal. Certainly this would give more strength to the negotiation aspect of the game rather than quick deal sealing which did quicken the game but felt a bit unsatisfying.

At the end of this frantic game, Noel and James II shared  the win with $40, with Jon on 39 and Johann on 30. James I & Paul both lost. If only they could work together...
Noel $40 James II $40, Jon $39 Johann $30, James I <$30, Paul<$30

The group now abandoned Capitalism for Revolution…

Revolution (thanks James I)

So, after a short deliberation over what to play next Noel took out his copy of Revolution plus un-punched expansion and the thought of being allowed to pop out fresh counters from cardboard drove Jon into such a frenzy that he’d already torn apart the expansion wrapping before anyone could stop him. The effect of fresh smelling cardboard on a grown man can never be underestimated !

So while Paul, James, James II and Johan held back Jon until the foaming had subsided, Noel started to set up.

6 players, new boards, some new bits and a whole new building to colonise. Fun stuff indeed. No really change to the rules, but 4 more roles to select each turn and with 6 players a strong likelihood of more conflicts which is really where the fun part of the game hits home.

Early on James (II) took the initiative, managing to place several counters and pick up lots of bonus points, James (I) was close behind with a run of 3 rounds when he managed to play to Force-Blackmail-Force tactic successfully… For some reason Jon’s pawns were the early target of a few moves which I’m assuming were due to long standing grudges likely from previous games of Small World or the Resistance. It’s possible Johan had spent the first ½ dozen rounds at the bar as he was still on 0 points around a third into the game.

By mid game Noel and James (I) were contesting the Harbour and Courthouse, James (II) was in full control of the Cathedral and the new building (the palace) and the Guardhouse was generally preventing anyone from extracting revenge. Jon, Johan and Paul were playing the long game (or perhaps had fallen asleep, it was hard to tell) and had pawns spread about but not attracting too much attention.

This game generally starts out slowly as pawns get placed and then from mid game on folks realise that the end is just around the corner and the more interaction options start to get selected moving other pawns on and off the board and switching things around. And this game was no exception. Jon had a few rounds where he was manoeuvring to control the Town Hall and the Market, James (II) continued to rack up support over pawns and kept control of a few buildings. Noel took firm control of the Harbour… to be honest not sure what buildings Paul was owning at this stage, the portaloo perhaps?

So to the end game… it took a few turns where people could’ve ended the game but chose to move different pawns, and this played right into my benefit as for the last round I had a dozen forces and blackmails to use. With literally the last move of the game I managed to not only take control of the Town Hall but split control of the Palace and thus deliver no points to both Noel and James (II) who’d been squabbling over this for most of the game. As points were tallied this move totally annexed any opposition and I managed to win by a landslide, with Jon sneaking into 2nd place ahead of James (II), and Noel slipping back to last place. I guess you’ll not be bringing along next week then Noel ?

James (I) 142, Jon 105, James (II) 97, Johan 77, Paul 57, Noel 55

At some point earlier in the evening, there had been another game of …

Get Bit (thanks Paul)

Get Bit appeared on the games pile, courtesy of James. Jon, James II, Emma and Paul asked James nicely if they could play it as it was small and there was only a small time period to fill. He said 'no' so we took that as a 'yes' and dived in for some 'sharks chomping swimming robot' action.

A very simple game with a fun, although unnecessary theme slapped on top. Four robots are out swimming one day when an apparently iron-deficient shark decides that they'd make a tasty snack. The robots obviously lacked some team spirit, when swimming away from the shark keep leaving their mates behind to get chomped.

The game is actually supplied with a plastic shark that has a flip-top head that snaps shut with a satisfying snap, and robots that actually do lose limbs when the shark has its fill.

The robots line up in front of the shark and the players try hard to keep them from being in last place. The mechanism for doing this is to play cards with numbers on - all players start off with the same set. All players decide on a card to play, setting it face down in front of them. When the cards are revealed, the lowest card swims to the front - safe they think - but no, as the next highest then swims in front of them, with the distinct possibility that they end up at the rear again as fish food. However if two players play the same number, both cards are discarded and the robots swim nowhere.

So it is a bit of bluffing, a bit of working out which payers are likely to play what and yes quite a bit of luck.

In this game James II was first to have all four limbs chewed from him, hitting Davy Jones’ Locker with a clank. Fairly shortly after one hand meant that either Jon or Paul would go out, but either option would leave Emma as the winner. As luck would have it Jon got bit first, leaving the scores as:

First: Emma, Second: Paul, Third: Jon, Fourth: James II

Well, the sharks were out tonight… and that was just the players!

P.S “So Adventurous a Tale” is from “Behold the Lord High Executioner” in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado.

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