Tuesday, 31 January 2012

"Playing Card He Lightly Chooses"

Ora et Labora
Another three player game, with Gareth the only person who’d played before. Rules explanation was fairly swift and Gareth was randomly determined as starting player. He began by chopping wood, Andy took peat, and I also chopped wood (using the Joker), then Gareth built the ‘Cloister Courtyard’ which allows you to turn 3 different goods into 6 goods all of the same basic type.

Andy now built the Priory, which allowed him to use a building occupied by a Prior-  the Cloister Courtyard being the only available choice. I built the Spinning Mill, which gives coins for having sheep without using up the Sheep.

I was looking to spend my coins on an extension to my property, but Andy was faster. Play continued with me planning to place all my workers before buying another building. In this I succeeded, and after buying a bit of seaside was able to build and use the House Boat (a relative of the House Goat in Agricola?). The others were building away too- more rapidly than me because not so concerned about recovering all their workers.

Soon we got to stage ‘A’, one of five stages in which everyone can place a building from their hand which costs food and fuel. I built a Fishing Village next to my House Boat. The game continued with Gareth building the Stone Merchant, which is the only way to get Stone in the early game- unsurprisingly both me and Andy were soon paying Gareth for its use. Andy beat me to the ‘False Lighthouse’ and I ended up buying a monastic building which converted clay and stone to pottery and wrought Iron, both worth VPs. Gareth meanwhile had bought some hills and mountains and a Peat Charcoal Kiln.

As stage ‘B’ appeared, with me building an Artist’s Quarter next to the Fishing Village, Andy and Gareth stormed ahead of me on the building front, with stone circles, shipyards, scriptoria and the like. I concentrated on accumulating basic goods- particularly Sheep to help my spinning mill. I was able to take Sheep myself using ‘Joker’ and pay Andy to take Sheep in the following round, leaving me with 12 sheep at one point, several of which went into making the Hamlet in stage ‘C’, just above the Artist’s Quarters.

The appearance of the Quarry heralded a new source of Stone, if someone could afford to build it- it would cost 5 coins to buy the mountain required and another 5 to build the Quarry. I started saving coins by use of the Spinning Mill, and by building the Fuel Merchant, but Andy built the Quarry ahead of me. I was now making frequent use of other player’s buildings since they had built more than me- I picked up some books from one of Andy’s at about this time.

Stage ‘D’ came and I built the Village- it was already apparent that Andy was a little behind in this area of the game as he hadn’t saved enough food and fuel and had to be content with less valuable settlements. I piled up even more Coins on the 10 I had saved for the Quarry and purchased a 20 Coin building which allowed me (for a whisky, which I’d obtained from Andy’s False Lighthouse a little earlier) to use an occupied building- including other people’s without paying for them as a quick rules check clarified. In fact I used it for a very mundane gathering of Grain via Gareth’s Farmyard. Shortly afterwards Gareth built the Whisky Distillery, increasing costs on using buildings.

We were now getting into the final stages of the game. Andy built the Castle, allowing him to play another card from his hand. Gareth concentrated on building as much as possible and also on gathering sheep and grain so he could turn them into meat via his slaughterhouse- a technique I also used- both of us looking to build the Hilltop Village at stage ‘E’ for 30 food (and 3 fuel).

Going into the final turns Andy built a valuable Round Tower, forcing me to build the Guesthouse instead. Actually the Guesthouse won me the game- it allows you to use one of the unbuilt buildings, and I was able to activate it twice, first to turn 6 different goods into an 8vp chalice and then to turn chalice, wrought iron, pottery and book into a 30 VP sacred painting. Both me and Gareth played the Hilltop Village, while Andy had to be content with Shanty Town.
Gareth 191 Andy 198 Philip 202

Ticket to Ride: Asia (thanks Jon)
This was a 4-player game played using the ‘Legendary Asia’ side of the board. The unique feature of this map is that when building sections of track through mountains, the danger of this process is simulated by having to give up a certain number of extra trains. However, you do receive 2 points for each of these trains, so there is probably a viable strategy in using these routes to burn through a lot of trains and finish the game before other players have completed their routes.
Also, in order to humour Paul, we allowed him to use the rather strange “Alvin & Dexter” expansion, which introduces aliens and a Godzilla-like creature to the board. Actually, this does add some interesting new strategic options, and could be quite cut-throat if you know what the long route cards are.

As no-one was familiar with the route cards, no player took any extras, despite Jon and Dan both finishing off their initial hands with several trains left. Shamu suffered from this being only his second experience of TTR, and failed to achieve 2 of his routes, which, had he completed them, would have given him a competitive score. Dan’s 15 point bonus from moving Dexter the most proved to be decisive, as he came out on top by 9 points from Jon. Paul was a further 12 points behind, but was just glad to have been able to bring his new toys to the table….
Dan 121; Jon 112; Paul 100; Shamu 72

Last Will (thanks Jon)
Another of John’s games, which as usual, he explained clearly and succinctly. Although with this game, however clear the explanation is, you need to play it a second time after you’ve eventually worked out the best card combinations.
Jon majored on properties, and managed to lose all his money (the object of the game!) with one round to go. However, he fell foul of the ‘can’t go into debt whilst you still have property’ rule, and was forced to waste a couple of his last actions. Dan had a more mixed portfolio of loss-making activities, and managed to also go into debt in the last round. David and Shamu fared less well, and were left with money in the bank at the end of the game. John used his inside knowledge and took a card which, combined with multiple actions, allowed him to blow a stack of cash in the last round, and come out on top. And to be fair, it probably should be the case that an experienced player wins against newbies, so Dan and Jon can hold their heads up high that they got as close as they did!
John $-8; Dan $-2; Jon $-1; David $12; Shamu $15

Outer space next...
Eminent Domain (thanks James)
More deck building goodness (now I think about it I wonder if the word domain was chosen in the title for its proximity to Dominion ?). I managed to *finally* find time to learn the rules to his during the week so brought it along, and Noel, Paul and David were all up for the inaugural game.

So, it's a space themed deck building game. Each turn players take 2 actions, one just for them, and one which others can also do as well. These basically involve discovering planets, colonising planets, raising an army to invade planets, trading or researching. As the game develops planets get settled which gives bonus's or research uncovers more powerful cards and each player’s deck grows differently. During the game you can trade for VP, and settled planets (and some research) also get VP... Most VP at the end wins!

 There's more a touch of Race for the Galaxy in this rather than Dominion-style deck building. It's quite simple once you get the concept down, although seemed to play a bit clunky (probably us more than the game).

So, right away I was struggling...unable to colonise in the first round while everyone else was it felt like catch up from the start. David seemed to be on a colonial frenzy, while Noel and Paul were both researching and improving their decks. Paul seemed to be playing a 'pick up 3 cards' action every other turn. The part of the game where you get a chance to repeat another players 2nd action suggests a good strategy is to make sure your tactics are close to other players (so you can take advantage of this)... This seemed to pass me by as I decided to go for a warfare strategy on the basis that no one else seemed to be doing it... or maybe I'm just naturally anti-social?

Despite themes of warfare and trade there is VERY little interaction in the game apart from the 'repeat' action phase. I found myself wondering if you could almost play this solo with little difference, which is not really a positive thing to be thinking... I'm sure that future expansions will aim to modify this as there is little point having cool spaceship bits if you can't invade someone else’s space... I mean I'm hoping to play this with Jon one day, and how's that gonna look if we can't plan to spend the game picking fights with each other?

The game ends when 2 decks ran out, and Noel brought this to a close taking the last research while David had previous used up the colonise deck. One last round (again, I was 4/5 towards trying to do something and was scuppered by this quick finish) to maximise points and that's it.

David took the win, and seemed to be ahead for most of the game from my perspective, Paul nipped me into 3rd place and I was surprised to see I was ahead of Noel as I'd thought he was doing well... hard to say for sure though as the game does feel like multi-solitaire and so you're not focused much on other players while you try to work your own 'game engine' into shape.

It's quick, maybe this 1st game took a tad over an hour, but to be honest I'm not sure anyone other than David felt too enthusiastic about it (and he won, so his opinion doesn't count ) I think a 2 or 3 player game would be better... less downtime, less chaos... but the game really does need some interaction. Even Dominion has curse cards!
Scores David 21, Paul 18, James 17, Noel 15

A little painting follows

Fresco (thanks James)
Despite a previous weeks less-than-enthusiastic game of Pastiche, the painting theme hadn't put people off. Noel showed an interest in the game, and I'm always up for this one so with the addition of both Pauls we quickly abandoned the rest of the club to fighting over wills and set this up on the table with the best light before anyone else could get there first...

I've explained this game several times already, so it's not too hard to teach. The theme works so well that you just tell the story of the game and it all seems to click. With the complexity of Stone Age and great components, this game really should be in everyone's collection.

After a quick double check of the rules we just added the extra paints expansion as this adds to the game but with minimal extra rules... and we were off.

Noel quickly finished a tile in round 2 before realising that it affected turn order... it's something you need to adjust to in this game as there is a price for taking the lead early. However soon everyone was grabbing the high cost paints and trying to take the higher value tiles before they all went. I think I managed to nab the big 24 in the middle, but everyone seemed equal early on as the lead switched several times.

The middle game was a bit cat and mouse... the odd tile here, some early starts, to grab the best tiles from the market... the tiles were being slowly removed but no one seemed ready to make a move.

Then Paul decided enough was enough and made a dash for the finish line completing 3 painting tiles in 1 turn and taking a healthy lead... and from here on it was a game of catch up as there would only likely be 1 or 2 more rounds and existing paints needed to be used up. At the other end of the scale the other Paul had run out or paint cubes at this stage, and Noel seemed to keep the pace, but in the last round I managed to convert all my remaining cubes at the altar to pull within a few points. So it all came down to money...

I thought I had a shot, but as it turned out Paul had been sitting on a nest egg, and managed to steal the win by 3 points.

Great game, always fun to play and lots of decisions going on. I'm going to put Paul's win down to beginners luck... anyone up for a rematch next week?
PS. I've left it for you to work out which Paul was which. Mainly to protect one of them from the humiliation of the scale of his loss...

Paul #1 108, James 105, Noel 70, Paul #2 58.

More Euro goodness...
Santiago De Cuba (thanks Tom):
John B had brought along Cuba's little sister, Santiago De Cuba, and managed to find willing participants in Tom & Louise - Tom being halfway through a game on Yucata despite having no idea what he was doing!

Despite making somewhat of a hash of his one and only property purchase (whilst John B cornered a particular colour, including the all important shipping building), Tom managed to keep up with the others through a focus on the black and red commodities. However, Tom's chances of a win were somewhat thwarted by John's decision to send out a ship with no cargo, leaving Tom left with 4 lonely black blocks in his warehouse.
In the meantime, Louise slowly accumulated victory points through an intelligent use of the various vendors. This coupled with a tidy 8 VP haul for the sale of a large batch of citrus pushed Louise into a unassailable lead with John and Tom tying for second.
Louise 47, John B 41, Tom 41

And finally another deckbuilder...
Ascension - Storm of Souls (thanks Tom)
John had also brought the new expansion to Ascension, which Tom was willing to try out having played the original (plus The Fallen) on iOS. This made Louise the only one without any experience of the deck builder. Not that this stopped her from wiping the floor with the other two.

Taking advantage of a continuous stream of monsters in the centre row and a void event granting an additional honour for each centre monster banished, a large pile of red honour tokens had soon accumulated before her. John's strategy of accumulating constructs soon began to bear fruit and Tom managed to eventually create a decent draw engine using The Dreamer's Glass; however, it was soon clear that their efforts were again a case of too little, too late with Louise winning at a canter.

Louise 67, John B 60, Tom 56

P.S “Playing card he lightly chooses” is a quotation from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Grand Duke [The person who draws the highest value card wins the duel, a slightly simpler game than the ones described above...]

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

"Shepherds and Ploughmen"

We abandoned Eclipse for some rather more down-to-earth subject matter...

Agricola (Thanks Andy)
Agriholics Phil and Andy were joined by Tonio, who hadn't played this game for almost a year, for a bash at some 17th century farming. The early rounds played out with Phil accumulating enormous amounts of building material using his Resource Seller occupation. Andy getting a bundle of clay due to his Clay Worker and Tonio putting out his Mushroom Collector, which gives two food in return for leaving behind a wood each time you take wood. But then he didn't really take that much wood, which held him back later in both room building, which stopped him growing his family, and putting up fences.

Andy took the first fireplace and bagged some sheep, which gave him a handy food bonus, and Phil, despite having the House Goat, which gives an extra food each harvest, ended up scratching around a little for food. Tonio used his Raft to get the supplies he needed. Phil then more than made up for his early feeding problems by taking the first Cooking Hearth and snatching the next herd of sheep and soon he had something ridiculous like about 18 food, which solved his feeding woes for a while. Family growth appeared in round five and Andy managed to take it first, before Phil built two rooms and quickly moved to four family members. Andy renovated early and Tonio revealed his masterplan by playing the Wet Nurse, which allows him to take family growth when he built a room, and the Spinney minor improvement. This, much to the disdain of Andy and Phil, meant that he would take one of their hard-earned units of wood each time they used the three wood space. Humph.

Andy continued accumating minor and major improvements and made a late attempt at getting some baking going, taking the Clay Oven from under Tonio's nose. Tonio managed to avoid begging by eating some raw grain but he built two rooms and immediately gained an additional two family members meaning things were finely poised heading into the last few turns. Phil played a rather belated Woodcutter and Wood Deliveryman which just about provided sufficient wood for his fences.

But Andy played a last round Braggart, which gives bonus points for the number of improvements the owner has put out, and he managed to pip to the post Phil, who had a much more rounded farm (he had animals!) but a couple of empty spaces. A thoroughly enjoyable game.
Andy 40, Phil 37, Tonio 26

Another game by the same designer was played on another table...

Ora et Labora (Thanks John)
Three Isleworth Board Gamers decided to lay the newish Uwe Rosenberg game. Scott had never played before, John had played twice and Gareth had the game but had been put off by what looked to be five different rule books in the box.

The first thing to do was decide whether to play the Ireland or France version of the game. John mentioned that he thought the Ireland version was a bit easier, so of course Scott wanted to play France. Cooler heads prevailed and off to Ireland they all went.

Unlike Agricola and Le Havre resources are fairly easy to come by, the trick to doing well is having the right resources. Scott soon got a pretty good resources engine up and running and for most of the game had a big pile of various resources including plenty of cash. He soon expanded his land and quickly had plenty of room to spread. John spent most of the game with a comfortable amount of resources and land but always lagging behind Scott. Gareth went for a more minimalist approach with less resources and less land that the other players.

Scott concentrated throughout the game on getting as many settlements built as he could and although it was John who built the Castle it was Scott mostly using it to build new settlements. He eventually got all but one settlement in play.

John also tried to go for settlements but focused so much on making sure he had the 30 food for the final settlement that he did not have the energy to build it, doh.

Gareth had gone more for lots of building that created goods worth victory points, though he also managed a couple of good settlements.

The game ended with everyone wanting another turn or two.

First up you score the settlements, Scott 134, Gareth 87 and John 84
Then the buildings, Scott 82, Gareth 80 and John 63
Finally goods, Scott 6, Gareth 45 and John 13
Which meant Scott had won.
So congratulations to Scott who despite spending half the game with his head in his hands muttering 'There are just too many choices' managed to win in the end.
Scott 222, Gareth 215 and John 160

A rather lighter game was played elsewhere... 

Ticket to Ride Asia (Thanks Paul)
Ticket to Ride now has several additional flavours - one of the latest being a joint expansion "Ticket to Ride Asia - the Team game" and "Ticket to Ride: Legendary Asia". The former was the more unusual and, although Jon and Paul had given it one outing already, the fact that there were four people looking for a game and as there are teams of 2, it needed 4 or 6 to play - too good an opportunity to miss.

It was thought to be a good idea for Jon and Paul to play on separate teams as they were the only others to have played this version before. Maynard, it transpired was a TTR veteran on the iPhone, whilst Woody hadn't played any form of the game before. Jon and Paul had in fact been on the same (losing) team in their previous game and James (one of the previous victors) couldn't resist the opportunity to shout over from another table that it would be a competition to see who the consistent loser would be.

The rules certainly add a new twist or two. As well as the new board spanning from Western Pakistan to Eastern China and the necessary new route cards to match it is a team game. The players in each team of two must sit next to each other and place a rack between them. Both the route cards and the train cards may then be held in an individual’s hand, allowing only that person to use them, or be placed in the team rack, allowing either team member to make the most of them. The location of the cards is determined by a few simple rules and there is the opportunity to take a whole turn to place up to 2 personal route cards in the team rack.

Both team members have 27 train pieces to place; the game ending when the total combined trains within a team is 4 or less.

One interesting facet of the game is that play is carried out in a clockwise direction and therefore each team has two moves before the next team has a chance to play. With careful coordination this can be used to good effect, particularly when blocking. But tactics cannot be discussed and the contents of a players hand must be kept secret from their team mate, therefore coordination is key to the game, and it was difficult to get right.

The game started with Paul and Woody laying many more bits of track, but their coordination went awry part way through, with Jon and Maynard usurping them quite easily and finishing with only one piece between them, having completed all six routes quite significantly ahead. Paul and Woody had just managed to complete all six routes but still had quite a bit of unused track, to little avail as the experienced team were far too far ahead.

Jon therefore escaped being the only one to lose two games in a row - kindly leaving that honour to Paul. He pretended not to care too much as he was pleased to get his new game to the table, but is only too aware that he's on a rather long losing streak in all games that needs to be dealt with soon.

Scores: Jon and Maynard: 146, Woody and Paul: 109

 From trains to  WWII...

Memoir ’44 (thanks Jon)
Due to the arrival of the Winter / Desert board from Santa, Jon was finally able to break out his Eastern Front (ie Russian) expansion with James this week. Apart from having a snowy board / tiles, and new minis, the major change is that the Russians have a slightly different method of sending orders to the troops. In order to simulate the Russian ‘Political Commissars’ who dictated to the generals what should be done, the Russian player must decide a turn in advance what card to play. This makes it almost impossible to react quickly to what your opponent does, and forces you to make a slightly longer-term strategy. Jon chose to play the Russians, and James manipulated the Axis forces (which, unusually, were Finnish). This scenario saw the Russians in a strong defensive position within a couple of Finnish towns, but there were numerous Finnish ski-troops to contend with who could move 3 hexes and still battle. There was also a contingent of Russian troops and armour in the South-Eastern corner, trying to break through a Finnish road-block by a frozen river.
The ski-troops made a swift attack on some isolated Russian troops and armour in the North-West of the map, but were unable to deliver a killer blow. Fortunately, the Russian Political Commissar had foreseen this move, and was able to counter-attack with some success. Combined with some withering support from a bunker on the edge of town, the Russians were able to scoop up 3 early medals.

However, Jon had run out of any left sector command cards, which allowed James to finally pick off 2 of the weakened Russian units. The Russians then concentrated on attacking the road-block, but the heavily-sandbagged position was proving tough to break through. The Finns then opted to move through the trees to counter-attack, and whilst taking out another Russian infantry unit, they left themselves rather exposed and were quickly annihilated.

It was beginning to look bleak for the home team, and despite trying to bring their artillery within range of the last remaining Russian armour, they had enough weakened units to allow the Russians to close in with a decisive blow, picking up the 5th and 6th medals. However, had the dice fallen a little more kindly (or luckily…) for the Finns, then they were certainly still in with a shout of victory too. Fun to play with a new board and army – I’m sure there will be ample opportunity for James to take his revenge!
Russians 6; Axis (Finns) 3

 One card game to another...

6Nimmt (thanks Jon)
8 players – 15 minutes to kill – ideal conditions for a long overdue return for 1 round of this game of high skill and strategy, where the most astute and intelligent player is usually rewarded with victory… And so it proved to be, with Jon playing his cards to almost perfection, picking up only 2 bulls’ heads in the process. Groans and cheers in equal measure as always.
Jon 2; Dan 5; Woody 7; Paul 17; Maynard 18; James 20; Tonio 22; Soren 33

 More cards...
Verrater (thanks Jon)
3 weeks running now, and it seems that this game has finally clicked with Woody. He scored in every round bar one, and held the lead from round 4 until the end. Maynard did very well in his first game, scoring heavily in the first 3 rounds and picking up just enough points in the following rounds to hold onto 2nd place. Jon went for the offices at the end, but even those 6 points gained were not enough to trouble the leaders. And the least said about Paul’s efforts the better (except that he made another valiant effort to pick up 15 points in one round, and only just failed. One day, Paul, one day…..) Lots of fun and head-scratching again.
Woody 24; Maynard 19; Jon 18; Paul 12
Cards again ...

Gloria Pictoria
The fox was once again among the chickens as the four of us settled down for Gloria Pictoria. I don’t have the scores but I remember winning!
Philip 1st, Tonio, Scott and Andy other.

P.S "Shepherds and Ploughmen" is a quotation from Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

"The guns that go Boom! Boom!"

To begin in space...
We were so excited about playing Eclipse with the Alien races that we set up Andy’s position for him before he arrived. I chose the Planta, Scott, opposite me had the Orion Hegemony, David the Hydra Progress and Andy (by random selection) the Mechaenama.
In the first few rounds my double Explorers kept landing me with Ancients while Scott, who was itching to fight, couldn’t find any. David was happily researching away and both me and Scott made first contact with Andy. Andy gave Scott an alliance after looking at his powerful ships but rejected my alliance offer with scorn.
I picked up a fair few discovery tiles fighting the ancients. Two of them were cruisers, which was just as well given my losses. More interesting was Conformal Drive and Shard Hull, both of which I placed on my Cruisers, which were also equipped with Plasma Cannons as well as the Ion Cannons.

Meanwhile Andy, playing an AI Race, had gone for multiple Computers- giving less firepower but greater accuracy. He also had Improved Hull. Our ship designs were soon tested against each other as I launched 4 cruisers at the Galactic Centre. Andy took advantage of this to attack the sector the cruisers had come from, cutting them off from the rest of my Empire. I was forced to panic build Starbases to prevent Andy spreading out into my systems and taking them over (Planta’s disadvantage is that it is very easy to take its undefended systems). Andy defeated my starbases and dreadnought, destroying the latter before it could fire any of its impressive array of weaponry. I destroyed the Galactic Centre defence enemy with no losses- again firing first proved decisive.

So now I had the Galactic Centre and a small empire, severed from each other by Andy. I offered Andy an alliance, but he continued to refuse me, so I brought my four cruisers back to his sector. Andy researched and built Starbases, but Scott’s moment had come as he occupied an undefended Galactic Centre and a couple of lightly defended Mechaenama sectors. He now had the Traitor card for -2VPs, but since he’d just gained about 7 Vps in the process he wasn’t worried.

Andy’s ship design proved superior to mine and my Cruisers were destroyed- though his losses were heavy enough to stop him going further. The game now moved into a rather uninteresting stage for me and Andy. The only route out of my space lay through the sector Andy had conquered, which had a few Starbases in it. But Andy himself had been beaten up by Scott and was equally out of contention.

Scott and David now faced off. David’s technological advantages against Scott’s military and (given the sectors he had conquered from me and Andy) economic might. Both of them had Antimatter Cannons and Computers, so it was basically a question of which ship fired first- but Scott took the initiative by attacking David so he wasn’t losing systems. David had just perfected a defensive build that took Scott’s ships out before they could fire when the game ended.
Scott 43 David 36 Me 33 Andy 26
 From space to the skies...
Airlines Europe (thanks Noel)
Noel, Woody, Jon and Paul ambitiously decided at 10pm to squeeze a game of Airlines in that final hour. As Noel and Jon had played before it wasn't quite up there with Gareth's all newbie game of Egizia starting at 1015 (without any previous rules reading). However, at 1130 we all agreed it had been worth it, though perhaps not the next morning.

We decided to develop a unique IBG variant by dealing each player a mixture of 3 short and 5 long routes to eliminate some lucky initial draws of lots of smaller airlines which appear to be most beneficial. Jon started things off by collecting 8 million from the bank on Round 1. A different strategy from his multiple share collecting last week?  Noel quickly expanded and collected the bonus and majority in the Grey airline before the first scoring round. Paul established a 1 card majority in the purple and black airlines which stayed at the lowest points of the share index until right at the end of the came and also developed an early majority in Orange. Woody levelled up with Paul on the Orange and dealt in plenty of brown. No surprise there! :D

Noel and Jon were the first to buy Air Abacus, producing some 'Aha's' from newbies Paul and Woody, and led on this at the first round. When Noel won the majority in Air Abacus on round 2 with 4 Shares Jon not so subtly suggested that he would definitely win out the big points on Round 3 'Unless some-one challenges him for it...'. Paul stepped up and some frantic buying later could have taken the 3rd round points if the final scoring round had come up before it did. As it was Noel retook the lead in Abacus shares and pushed on with the Grey airline. Jon had a massive hand of cards in round 3 and steadily pushed up what had previously been a small but high scoring portfolio. The final scoring card was the last card in the deck and at final counting Noel won with 95, Jon 2nd on 88 and Paul & Woody tied with 75.

A fun, well presented light-medium game with some interesting decisions. The final scoring card in the last 11 cards does add some uncertainty to the final rounds which I'm not sure is mitigated for by the 1,2 and 3 VPs handed out at the start to everyone but the start player and perhaps a few tweaks are needed. That said, one person's random card draw is another's high tension. It is also questionable whether there is enough depth of strategy to explore and therefore do the card draws and the random scoring rounds become all important, but thinking too much about it probably isn't what this game needs! Fun, well presented and with a play time, probably (!), around an hour, I’m sure it'll get plenty more plays. Thanks also to James for picking up the Flight Ban Expansion which adds more underhand possibilities. Look forward to trying it out!
Noel 95 Jon 88 Paul 75  Woody 75
Before Airlines, some rather more local travel had occurred...

Letters from Whitechapel (Thanks Jon)
A pre-arranged early-doors start for this game, where Jon played the role of Jack, with Paul and James playing the policemen. Jon started off by picking a fairly central position for his first murder, and quickly used a couple of coaches to melt off southwards before the police could close on the murder scene.

Rather than running straight for place that the murder was committed, to pick up a definite trail, the police chose to close in more slowly, in what they described as a ‘dragnet’. The only trouble was, there was a gaping hole in the net which Jack had exploited, which meant that he slipped quietly through the thick cordon of policemen (or was that ‘cordon of thick policemen’?) Jack then turned North, and with a shimmy through some alleys and a gentle jog, he was back at his hideout in time for tea and crumpets. This had taken 8 or 9 turns and the police had found only a single solitary clue.

The second night began with a murder on the far West of the district, which made it harder for Jack to get away, as there would be less escape routes to choose from. Again, he used one of his 2 coaches for the first turn, to slide around the edge of the district. The police were quicker to pick up the trail this time, requiring Jack to use an alley token to try to put them off the scent. It was at this point that James’ misunderstanding of the rules (his game – no sympathy!) mean that the police miscalculated exactly where Jack could be.

Although they were only a single street away, they failed to spot Jack darting across a badly-lit intersection, from where he hailed another coach to once again melt into the night. Meanwhile, all 5 policemen converged on an area the size of an i-Pad, convinced that Jack must be trapped, and waved their truncheons about trying to arrest what turned out to be no more than shadows.

By now, PC Noel had turned up to lend a hand to the hapless buffoons in blue, but even his softly spoken words of wisdom could not prevent Jack from calmly stopping to light a cigarette before ambling through the front-door of his hide-out.

The third night would see 2 dastardly murders committed, but where would Jack be – North or South-East? Using logic and deductive reasoning, the police concentrated their forces on the South-East murder scene, only for Jack (in the North) to take 2 turns before sending the Peelers a cheeky text – “Got back to hideout and now having a lovely bubble bath.”

Paul and James now realised that their goose was well and truly cooked, and the 4th night was a formality. Jack had left the closest murder scene to last, and needed only 2 turns to once again stroll back to his dastardly lair. The police will be hearing his maniacal laughter haunting their nightmares for many weeks to come.

Playing as Jack is very different to being on the side of the police. You get to do very little, and have no-one to discuss your fiendish plans with. However, it’s a bit like being a GameMaster, where you have a large say in how the game plays out and the experience that the police have. However, short of leaving a trail of breadcrumbs, or having a giant neon sign above Jack’s hideout (which was incidentally at location 78), I don’t think that these particular police would have ever succeeded, as they seemed singularly incapable of finding their own buttocks with both hands and a map. Maybe next time….
From detection to betrayal...

Verrater (thanks Jon)
Woody and Jon were both keen for another go at this little German card game, and also roped Paul in for a second outing. Being a game about traitors, Noel was easily persuaded to take up the vacant third spot. Jon slipped into an early lead, and Paul soon found himself on the wrong side of a 3:1 split. However, he almost pulled off the coup of the century by playing his entire hand of cards, which would have won him a whopping 15 points, had Woody not taken one for the team and played his own hand of supply cards out as well.

There were very few points in it going into the final round, but as Jon was the start player, he was able to pick the appropriate action card to ensure his victory (just), thanks to a maximum 6 points from the offices. Another great game, and thanks to its portability, will be tucked into the games bag for the foreseeable future.
Jon 26; Noel 23; Paul 22; Woody 16

Believe it or not this was actually quite a well attended night- but at least half a dozen of the games played failed to be reported... 

P.S “The Guns that go Boom! Boom!”... is a quotation from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Princess.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

"What Progress has been made in Modern Gunnery"

An action-packed evening...

Memoir ’44 (thanks Jon)
First up, an early doors session of Memoir ’44. This was played using the Omaha Beach scenario, with Paul playing the heavily dug-in Axis and Jon playing the gallant Allies. Having not played the game for a couple of months, Jon needed to constantly reference the terrain cards which explained the different workings of the barbed wire, hedgehogs, bunkers etc, which definitely slowed the game down to an almost Real-Time simulation…

This is one of those scenarios which is completely ‘attackers vs defenders’. The Allies have to try to break through the gaps in the cliff to get to the victory medals in the towns behind, before the Axis forces obliterate them from the safety of their cliff-top bunkers. This resulted in the rather odd situation where Jon launched very few attacks, but instead tried to use the maximum range of his infantry to push forward on both flanks. As in real-life, Paul’s forces simply sat in their bunkers and took pot-shots at Jon’s exposed troops, hoping to achieve the 6 medals victory condition before the inevitable breakthrough happened.

Although, this felt like an impossible task for the Allies, they eventually broke through in relative strength on the right flank, but with only one infantry member on the left. After mopping up a couple of Axis units, they were within one hex of 2 towns which would have given them the victory, but Paul called on his off-board big guns and launched a barrage at the horribly exposed Allied infantry, wiping them out within smell of the baguettes and soft cheese that would have greeted an Allied victory. A long game (sorry Paul!) but looking back, it was actually well-balanced and incredibly close. As Santa was on the ball this year, the next game may bring the Russians into the war…..
Paul (Axis) – 6 medals; Jon (Allies) – 4 medals
A card game followed

Verrater (thanks Jon)
If appearances are anything to go on, this game shouldn’t even see the light of day. For starters it is simply a small deck of cards, but takes 45 minutes to play. Secondly, it is completely in German. Thirdly, it only really plays with 4 players. However, underneath there is a great little game involving conflict, bluffing and the obligatory traitor. Players start out representing opposing factions (Eagles / Roses), and each round there is a conflict between landscape cards controlled by each faction. Each player gets to secretly select a role to help them each round, which includes the traitor who switches sides at the last minute. The role selection element to this game is identical to Citadels, but feels a lot more subtle, as there are less roles which directly affect the other players. Woody was the unfortunate soul to find himself on his own after one of the other players (Paul) played traitor, which was compounded when he played all his supply cards in an attempt to score big points, only to fail by a single point. This left him short of supply cards for a couple of rounds, which meant that there was no real incentive for any of the other players to play traitor. James cleverly got himself ahead by several points going into the last round, by turning traitor at an opportune moment, but had to choose his final role carefully, as there was still the possibility that Jon or Paul could overtake him. James chose to build an office (giving him 3 points), whilst Paul switched sides (again!) which meant that allied with Woody (who by now had a massive stash of supply cards) maxed out his potential score. Jon gained maximum points (6) from his 2 offices, and along with the points from taking the Strategist role, he came within a hair’s width of catching James – but not quite. A really close finish. Personally, I really enjoyed this game (although Woody may have a contrary opinion) – simple, interactive and with plenty of difficult choices. Once you’ve learned the different roles, the German text makes no difference, and it feels more like a board game rather than a card game. Not bad for something that is small enough to slip into your pocket!
James 28; Jon 26; Paul 25; Woody 15
Painting next...

Pastiche (thanks James)
So, by a equal measure of cunning and threatening to throw a strop if it didn't happen I persuaded Paul, Woody and Tonio to try out one of my new Christmas games... Pastiche... a game i've been after for a while and that I had high hopes for given the relativly simple rules, family friendly theme and quality components... read the review below to get a feel for my optimism for this game.


So... it's never a good sign when you go over the rules, and although quite simple keep discovering little extras as you review. Generally a sign of tweaking... and generally adding needless complication.

Players play hex tiles to match up primary colours and create secondary and tertiary colours. The aim being to have the right colours to finish masterpieces and earn VP (first to 35 triggers the end game). There's also a bit of trading involved (other players and the bank) and some bonus end of game points. There's a slight settlers vibe to the game, but we quickly realised that the trading element seemed a bit superfulous with other players as it was hard to get the 'hard to get' colours and so no-one was really up for trading them.

Tonio enthusiastically (have those 2 words ever been used together before in a session report ?) started creating minor masterpieces... a degas here, a rembrant there... quickly building up a small gallery but not banking a great deal of points. I was focused on the more complex but higher scoring paintings (for some reason the Mona Lisa is not a high scoring picture in this game?). You can switch potential paintings with a gallery of 4 to try and target specific colours or artists, but I think I was the only person to remember this rule (or more likely forgot to mention it in the rules) and so noone else seemed to be taking advantage. The spirit of Gareth lives on!

Paul was also going for the high scoring pictures, but Woody seemed to be struggling with his painting. His Da Vinci's looking more like Kandinsky and his Van Gogh more like Vandalism...

It's not a long game. 45 minutes on the box and I think we took about an hour. I brought the end game on finishing my 3rd picture and hitting the 35 point level sopt on. At this stage Tonio only had 24 on the table and Paul and Woody not much less. Bonus points are awarded for anyone with pictures by more than one artist (not a good rule in reality as the paintings available are pretty random, and chances are noone will complete more than 3/4 during a game). No one had anything here. however the other bonue allows payers to partially complete any of their paintings with paint in hand. This took my score to 38 and Tonio suddenly realised he couldn't made some bank deals on his last go which would've given him a score of 38 as well... history doesn not sadly record what happened next but lets say that in one alternative reality Tonio indeed scored 38 points for a tie of first place... but in the real world he came a gallant 2nd... Paul 3rd with 32 and Woody by this stage was doodling stickmen on postit notes and trying to win the Turner prize.

So, for me disappointing. Tonio seemed to like it (apart from the ending), but overall a kinda meh feeling... the mechanics look great, but in reality it's hard to plan ahead so there was a lot of downtime during turns, and the number of colours available made each move quite hard to see when choosing what tile to play to match what colours. Could be a good 2 player game I think (less downtime, easier to plan ahead), but fell flat with 4.
James 38, Tonio (real world) 34, Tonio (alternative) 38, Paul 32 Woody 24
From paintings to aristocrats...

St.Petersburg (thanks Noel)
Noel joined Tonio, Barrie and Laurent who was preparing for his first game at IBG. St Petersburg was a good choice, easy to pick up, some interesting decisions and strategy and quick playing. And so it proved. Noel started slowly in the points department and was still on 3 when all others were clustered around 20. He had however been steadily building his cash flow with green workers, helped by the mistress of ceremonies. Tonio decided to pursue an alternative cash poor strategy and some grumbling later collected plenty of workers to earn the benefit from the tax man...which unfortunately stayed unplayed in his hand of cards until the end of the game. Barrie and Laurent developed a balanced collection of each cards with Laurent upgrading to a useful palace for points and cash. After 4 or 5 turns Noel's cash flow allowed him to buy up the best buildings and upgrades and he shot past the group. The momentum was with him and when the end of the game came quicker than expected due to a clear out prior to the aristocrat phase he took the win. Noel 96, Laurent 70, Barrie 66, Tonio 61.
A very quick card game next.

Loco (thanks Noel)
The same group also played a 2 minute game of loco. This ended even quicker than expected with no one realising the end game conditions of one colour completed except Tonio.
Noel 25, Tonio Barrie and Laurent all had 23

A rather longer game was in progress elsewhere.
Scott, Andy, me and Amanda played as Terrans- my faction had the Planta on the reverse, cue various jocular remarks on sentient plant life being the most attractive part of the game.

The usual exploration began with all of us coming across habitable systems and no aliens on the first turn. Andy picked up a discovery tile worth 8 cash, which allowed him to expand a little faster than others. Pretty soon Andy and Scott ran into each other and agreed an alliance. Amanda researched shields and plasma cannons early while I saved up and bought advanced economy and later advanced labs. By now the Aliens were appearing and with a couple of cruisers I was able to defeat them, one ship at a time. Amanda had a little more difficulty against groups of two Alien ships but her shields protected her sufficiently.

As booty from the Aliens I found a Conformal Drive (move 4 hexes, cost 2 energy) and an Axion Computer (+3 to hit, costs no energy), both of which I installed on my Cruisers. I was now preparing to attack the Galactic Centre, I just needed an Antimatter Cannon. Andy bought the first one to become available and before I could buy the next one Amanda had entered the Centre and destroyed its guardian.

Meanwhile Scott had been fitting out his ships with Improved Hull, Plasma Cannons and Proton Computers. Benefiting from a timely Artifact Key for +15 raw materials, his large fleet successfully drove Amanda from the Galactic Centre on the penultimate turn.

For the final turn Scott began to invade my territory. However, Amanda counter-attacked at the Galactic Centre, paralysing Scott’s invasion fleet. I was able to gather all of my fleet (4 Cruisers and one Interceptor which I’d started the game with) against about a quarter of Scott’s (one Dreadnaught one Cruiser) and the battle was still quite close, with my Antimatter Cannons certainly showing their worth.

Back in the Galactic Centre Scott defeated Amanda. Andy had stayed out of the battles, since he could only reach Scott and he didn’t want to be the Traitor. Meanwhile I had ploughed my spare science and raw materials into researching and building 2 Monoliths for 3 VPs each.
Philip 40, Scott 30, Amanda 29, Andy 23

From Space to Sky...

Airlines Europe (thanks Jon)
Noel had brought this Union Pacific re-make along, and found 3 willing newbies in the shape of Barrie, Jon and newcomer Lauren. It is pleasantly simple to understand and play, with only 4 possible options each turn. It has a slight feeling of Ticket to Ride (card drawing and routes) Chicago Express (share collecting) and Alhambra (scoring rounds). And it plays in around an hour – which is just about right for the weight of the game.
Noel used his prior knowledge to start laying shares into his portfolio, as well as starting to increase the value of his holdings by expanding a number of routes. Jon and Barrie completely misjudged how quickly the first scoring round would come up, and both of them had only 2 shares in front of them at this stage. Jon’s grand total of points after 1st round – 1!!! The game skipped along at a fair rate, with Noel extending his lead and Barrie and Jon gradually clawing their way back in to it. The last scoring round held off just long enough for Jon to squeeze out the majority in the valuable Abacus shares, which gave him 2nd place by a tie-break from Lauren. The result was actually very close (apart from Noel being way above in the clouds…) Well worth another play.
Noel 90; Jon 56; Lauren 56; Barrie 52
Not air but time travel  next...

Mansions of Madness – Forbidden Alchemy (thanks Tom)

Following a brief but satisfying game of Penguin Party between Tom, Jeff and Andy (who was visiting from his regular jaunt at the Epsom Games Club) – Jeff mentioned that he had brought along Mansions of Madness, together with its new expansion, Forbidden Alchemy. Being the one game that Tom really wanted to have a crack of the whip at, Tom eagerly agreed, with Andy brought along for the ride.

Due to Dan’s absence and the lure of Eclipse and Pastiche (although the latter didn’t appear to be particularly satisfying for its participants in the end), a three player game was begun with Tom and Andy (both new to MoM) as the investigators, and Jeff the “Mansion Master”, if you will, due to his knowledge of the game mechanics.

The scenario chosen by Jeff was “Lost in Space and Time”, a phrase that will cause dread to any erstwhile Arkham Horror players. This was preferred over the two other new scenarios introduced by Forbidden Alchemy, “Return of the Reanimator” and “Yellow Matter”.

In brief, the scenario revolves around a mysterious Dr Sine, who during a conference in 1925, introduces to the public the ability to bring the dead back to life, not by way of any elixir (as favoured by Herbert West, the Reanimator himself), but by the manipulation of time and space.

Having put together the modular game board (and been informed by Jeff of the controversy surrounding the various errata in the FA expansion), Tom and Andy chose their investigators. Having been informed by Jeff that a good balance of health and sanity was necessary, Tom stumped for the hobo, Ashcan Pete, and his trusty dog sidekick, Duke (with his excellent +2 modifier to strength and dexterity for combat). Andy, on the other hand, adopted for the equally balanced, Vincent Lee (a new investigator to the MoM game), picking the Field Medic and Grays Anatomy cards in the process.

Upon our intrepid odd couple entering the mansion’s garden, the investigators were informed that they had stumbled upon an open grave showing signs of gruesome operations having been undertaken upon human subjects. Tom’s obvious Hobo response was to jump in the grave and try and solve the puzzle box located therein – this would prove more difficult than originally anticipated due to an unlucky tile draw, coupled with Ashcan Pete having a few IQ points less than Duke.

Whilst Pete tried to open the box by repeatedly bashing it on the gravestone, Vincent (i.e. Andy) began to investigate the garden area, ultimately heading into the western entrance to the Mansion. The Mansion being roughly designed in a linear U shape, Tom and Andy had decided that they should split up to investigate the two halves of the layout.

Finally, Pete’s repeated bashing of the box brought him to the attention of a flesh eating zombie. The zombie was easily despatched by Pete (with the assistance of his canine pal) through that trusted combination: rip off left arm; claw eyes; rip off right arm. No need to destroy the brain here. Soon after, the box was opened, revealing a very useful combat knife.

In the meantime, Vincent located an old safe that had been looted of its contents, with a large hint being dropped that its contents may be accessible in the past. The safe would have to be left to its own devices for now. Further ahead, Vincent came across a stone slab in the floor of the generator room of such size and weight that the only acid would burn through it. With no acid to hand, he was forced again to leave this tantalising aspect behind.

Having obtained a completely useless magic slate (Hobo’s are notoriously useless at magic), Pete moseyed up the attic stairs only to find them shape and shift underneath him, sending him hurtling back down headfirst. This not only resulted in damage to his health but the onset of schizophrenia. It was at this time that Pete heard the voice (sounding rather like Jeff, who was being nice to the newcomers) that perhaps the laboratories or operating room may be worth visiting, considering the human experiments and so forth.

Vincent and Pete then begin to head towards the laboratory area, whilst Jeff continued to draw and place trap cards, and generally to try and throw the investigators off the case with various interruptions, such as illusions of never-ending hallways. One of these interruptions resulted in Vincent becoming a bit overzealous. After having searched most of the rooms in the area (including a surprisingly quick solution of another picture puzzle by Pete), a time machine was located by Pete in the laboratory, giving rise to the unique mechanic of this particular scenario: the ability to travel between three separate time periods of the past, present and future.

Upon discovery of the time machine, a rather blatant clue was dropped in respect of the kitchen – leading the investigators to conclude that the clue was in the looted safe. Luckily, Pete had somehow come across the combination to the safe on his travels. A trip to the past was therefore in order but it was decided that this should wait, in case any monsters appeared on the way – one of the side effects of time travel being that any monsters must stay in their current time period.

It was decided that Vincent would make the trip to the kitchen whilst Pete would mooch around investigating the hallway outside the hidden laboratory. The combination, together with two magical items, was handed over to Vincent with a couple of evade related items passing the other way. This would prove to be a mistake on Vincent’s part, although he wasn't to know it at the time.

Thanks to a Mythos card, Jeff triggered an event which caused a flying Byakee to appear on the rooftop ready to ambush Vincent as soon as he stepped outside on the way to the kitchen. Vincent was duly ambushed and the risky decision was made to stave off going back in time, with the intention being to let Vincent try and kill the Byakee with his newly acquired Plague of Locusts spell. Having duly failed his horror check (and in the process acquiring the debilitating new mental affliction of rage), Vincent’s Plague of Locusts spell was a bit of a damp squib, leading to his being roundly pummelled by his winged assailant.

Whilst Andy was busy rolling to avoid Vincent being ripped to shreds, Tom’s idle curiosity got the better of him as he asked Jeff what the card was that costs a healthy three threat points (threat being the Mansion Keeper’s currency that must be paid to undertake any action). Reading the card, it was noted that if the card was played in the same round as a change of time, a Hound of Tindalos could be put on the board at any locked door. Jeff duly set aside three threat tokens in his stockpile with undisguised glee.

Soon enough, Vincent could take no more punishment and it was decided that the time machine should be activated, sending the investigators back into the past. Although Vincent was saved for the time being, Pete was in a whole world of trouble.

Cue a real humdinger of a fight as Pete went head to head with the Hound of Tindalos in the storage room adjoining the hidden laboratory. The fight was going rather well for Pete due to his having done some decent damage with his handy knife when Jeff decided to spice matters up by introducing to a Cult Leader to the board... in the same room as Pete and the Hound. The Cult Leader went immediately to his special attack of a fireball, which Pete dove out of the way of. The room was now on fire, which immediately did two damage to both the Hound and the Cult Leader. A stab to the side by Pete and the Hound was dead; unfortunately, the room was still on fire and Pete hot-tailed it out of the room (passing his evade check). He was quickly followed by the Cult Leader who threw another fireball. The fireball was again avoided and the hidden lab was now on fire as well. This was getting ridiculous! Fortunately, the Cult Leader had been hoist by his own petard and soon perished in the flames, allowing Pete to escape to the hallway and safety.

The only problem was that there was a potential clue in the storage room, which Pete could access but only with the consequence of four fire damage, which would probably leave Pete with only four health remaining. The bullet was bitten, the clue was obtained and it was a locked cabinet... to which Vincent had just obtained the key. Disaster! The decision to draw the Cult Leader into the hidden lab (although the best option at the time) had proved very costly indeed.

Whilst this battle for the ages went on, Vincent came across a chemical trap in the hallway to the kitchen. Having solved the puzzle with ease, Andy simply had to roll a seven or below to avoid it. A nine was rolled, curses were yelled, and Vincent had gained a nasty mutation. Luckily, Andy had a card that would let him remove any such side effects and the mutation didn’t hang around long.

In the kitchen safe, Vincent found a seed together with a clear hint that the next clue would be on the rooftop and accessible in the future. 2+2 = plant the seed in the garden next to the rooftop and climb up the plant in the future. This was duly done, allowing Vincent to scamper up the beanstalk to a vial of acid and a clue relating to the generator room. “Back to the stone slab!” was the cry.

Unfortunately, it was here that the investigators’ quest ended. Just prior to the necessary shift to the future, a Mythos card had been turned which placed some disembodied hands in the past, two cultists in the present and a massive Shoggoth in the future. Jeff naturally placed this behemoth in the same room as poor ol’ Ashcan Pete, who by this time had acquired some very nasty internal bleeding. The Shoggoth charged. A willpower roll of 6 was required. The die was rolled. It teetered for seconds on the edge between 2 and 8... before landing on 8. Hit by the bulldozer charge, Pete took four damage and died. At this point, Tom enquired about the health of Duke and got no reply. The assumption was made that Duke was absolutely fine and would enjoy his time in this post-apocalyptic future, listening to Bob Marley – like the dog in I Am Legend.

As this point, having read out a rather gruesome description of Pete’s death at the amoeba-like appendages of the Shoggoth, Jeff revealed that he had satisfied his winning condition which was to feed one of the investigators to his pet Shoggoth in the future period.

The intrepid investigators never really found out why it was necessary for Dr Sine to turn them into the equivalent of Shoggoth Pedigree Chum, but it was still a rather satisfying conclusion to an adrenaline pumped game. “Return of the Reanimator” next time anybody?

Rounding off the evening...

Code 777 (thanks Jon)
It was 10.45pm, and there was time for something quick to finish the evening. Jon suggested Code 777, as it was very quick to explain, and nobody knew differently in order to put up any objections. With the benefit of hindsight, this was maybe the right game, but definitely at the wrong time, as it takes more brain burning than is generally acceptable at this time of night. The basic premise is that each person has a 3 digit code which they are trying to guess. You can see each other player’s code, but not your own. Each player takes it in turn to read out a question and give the answer from what they can see (eg can you see more red numbers, or blue numbers) The other players then use this information to start deducing what their own code is. The trick is in how you record the information that you have gleaned on your notepad – and it wasn’t until about halfway through that the penny dropped about the most effective way of doing this – by which time it was too late! Hence, we have learned: 1) Don’t play this at the beginning of the evening; 2) Remember to distinguish between tiles that you have seen, and tiles that have been deduced; 3) Don’t trust Jon to pick an appropriate game at 10.45pm.
Jon 2; Noel 1; Barrie 1; Lauren 0

P.S “What Progress has been made in Modern Gunnery” has been taken from the song of the Major-General in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. Antimatter cannons are currently top of the range J