To begin in space...
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)
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)
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)
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.