Tuesday, 20 March 2012

"The Idiot, Who, In Railway Carriages..."

The evening started in traditional style...

No Thanks (but thanks all the same to Jon)
Whilst people were arriving there was time for a couple of rounds of this nice little card / bidding game. Barrie played the first round in gung-ho fashion, picking up numerous cards, but ending the round with a number of runs, which left him in second place. Philip had achieved the nirvana of 0 points, but everyone else was closely placed with only 10 points between them.
In the second round, Philip was hampered by running out of chips, but still had time to unnecessarily pick up the ‘32’ card to screw Jon over. Scott scored lowest this time, but it wasn’t quite low enough to prevent Barrie from being the overall winner.
The less said about Jon’s overall score, the better……
Barrie (25+14) 39; Scott (29+12) 41; Stuart (30+23) 53; Philip (0+76) 76; Jon (35+68) 103
Things then got a lot bigger...

Railroad Tycoon
Scott had brought this Martin Wallace Train game and Jon, Soren, Andy and I joined him on the enormous board representing the eastern half of the USA.
Each player starts with a secret Tycoon objective- mine being to issue the least Shares. Shares are loans of $5,000 each but cost $1,000 a turn and are worth negative Vps at the end. Since you start with no capital you are almost forced to issue shares (although it is technically possible to avoid them entirely with a well placed government land grant).

The round starts with a turn order auction. I didn’t bid much for turn order and consequently never won, while Soren bid high and won often, issuing shares where necessary to do so. Since I was after Soren (the auction is just for going first) this shouldn’t have been a problem for me...

Most of us started on the East Coast, with me and Soren fighting for the New York-Baltimore are and Soren and Scott fighting for the more southerly Baltimore-Mobile area. Jon started even further South and largely avoided fighting, as did Andy with his investment in the western side of the Appalachians as far as Chicago.

Soren followed a deficit spending policy, issuing vast numbers of shares and building all over the place, enabling him to make high value deliveries towards the end of the game. Andy followed an opposite policy, issuing only one share in the whole game and making lots of small deliveries. Curiously the two methods were roughly even, at least according to final score. Scott, Jon, and I pursued a middle way, but I failed to stop the game was ending and concentrated on setting up a high value delivery which never actually materialised. Jon on the other hand deliberately tried to end the game as he was running out of cubes to deliver. Nevertheless the result was something of a photo-finish.
Jon 45 Scott 43 Soren 40 Andy 40, Philip 39.
Elsewhere the focus was less the Industrial Age than the...

Stone Age (thanks Neil)
Having mentioned Stone Age when I arrived it was kindly unboxed and I sat down to my first game with Barrie, James and Alex. They decided that I looked so similar to the start player figure that I had to go first. Barrie clearly had us on the ropes early on picking up good building tile points. James followed tack too and it was soon a two horse race. He also had an incredible knack at throwing 6s. I thought I was creeping up at one point and then fouled up the order I resolved my meeples. Live and learn. Alex meanwhile was determined to feed his people and hit the civilisation cards, sharing out resources with gentlemanly generosity. So we came to totting up. Barrie thought he was safe, he’d extended his family up to 8, but James sneaked in by a 4 point margin, and with only 5 meeples too. Impressive. Honestly can’t remember the exact scores but it was something like;
James 165, Barrie 161, Neil 142, Alex 120
Next they turned to combat...

Quarriors (thanks Neil)

 Not something I’d seen before but it certainly fits the description of a ‘dice game’, there were 130 of the little belters. The rule run through saw me picking up one bit, and one bit only. Fortunately the friendly spirit continued and after a couple of rounds I had a reasonable idea of some of it. James dashed out into the lead but Alex pegged him back while Barrie and I enjoyed James’ choking on a peanut move. We then picked up a few points whilst Alex motored away with it. With four of the creatures empty of dice we finished well behind him.
 Alex 17, Barrie 8, Neil 8, James 6.

Another fantasy game...

Runewars (thanks Dan)

Tonio's gallant Latari Elves hiked up their stocking suspenders of power and boldly strode forth from their woodland haven. Rather unfortunately they chose to stride right into the Ore reserves targeted by the neighbourhood mutant warband. Handbags flew, nails were chipped, and the Elves were forced to beat a hasty retreat to a cool dark room. Aghast at this lacklustre attempt to expand his borders, Tonio raised a new army and once more sent the troops back into the fray, this time to victory and Appletinis all round. However, nothing gets a Chaos Lord’s back up more than some feisty Elvenfolk setting up an illegal campsite in his back garden, so the tussle for the mountains started anew.
Eventually Tom convincingly won the day by encouraging Tonio into an ambush by using the timeless fake retreat to draw the Latari army into unseen peril. The seemingly vulnerable routed troops then turned and overpowered their assailants, securing the day and the richest source of ore in Terrinoth for Tom's mighty Uthuk nation.
During this titanic battle a smaller yet no less significant one was taking place between the two tribe's legendary heroes. Tom's mischievous little critter hung around the edges of the battlefield assassinating troops from afar, being chased all the time in Benny Hill like fashion by the increasingly irritated Elves.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the map, the relatively undisturbed Daqan Lords expanded their territory, built a virtually impregnable fortress at the end of a valley to secure their land against invaders (not that this was really a concern), and quietly amassed the six Runestones required to secure victory for Daniel. Not only this, they also found the time to hang out with a friendly giant, preside over the Wizard's Council, and send their intrepid heroes to the ends of the known world. The first contact between the Daqan and the Uthuk resulted in Tom's assassin being turned into a kebab on the end of Sir Valamir's mighty blade, much to Tonio's delight. Although at one point the Latari had a chance to invade Daqan lands Tonio chose, perhaps wisely considering the line of siege engines poised to descend upon him in retaliation, to pull up short the rag tag remnants of his army.
 From fantasy to fire...

Flash Point: Fire Rescue (thanks Dan)
A second outing for this game at IBG, this time using the correct rules. Tom picked the Fire Captain while Tonio chose the Paramedic, and the close proximity of dangerous chemicals to the fire made the Hazmat technician a straightforward choice for Daniel.
The fire fighters were called to what looked like the most unsuccessful party in history, with almost all the survivors hanging out in either the kitchen or bathroom. Tonio quickly treated the first three that were encountered and, with Tom yelling orders at him on his turn, was able to drag them to relative safety. Daniel was struggling in the main living area, unable to reach the remaining Hazmats through the wall of unchecked fire. When a chain of explosions knocked him off his feet and set a serious conflagration in motion he switched to the fire engine operator and set about using the deck gun to douse the roaring flames from afar.
With six survivors rescued and achingly close to victory the challenge faced was that the remaining people in the building were in the bathroom at the centre of the house, a dangerously uncontrollable blaze between them and the fire rescue team. With all the enmity of Runewars left behind, Tom and Tonio produced some brilliant teamwork to move around in the ambulance together in order to be best placed for what would likely be the final rescue. With their newfound partnership in full swing, Tonio jumped to the fire engine and switched to the rescue specialist whilst Tom exercised the second stage of his incredible master plan. This involved hacking an enormous hole in an external wall and using his remaining actions to order Tonio through it and into the very heart of the burning building, whence he discovered that both bathroom bound victims were false alarms. Disappointment turned to real alarm when everyone realised that Tom's handy axing action had depleted the supply of damage cubes, and alarm turned into dismay when the inevitable happened on the fire advance roll and the words 'hapless' and 'Tonio' were once again linked together in the same sentence. Tonio looked at the dice roll, then he looked at the lone remaining damage cube. Then he looked at the dice again, back at the lone remaining damage cube, and then he looked at Tom. A fireball tore through the corridor of the house, blowing out an internal wall, absorbing this last cube and then some, and the burning building collapsed on top of the hapless Tonio.
Tom and Daniel could only stand and watch this noble, heroic, and, it has to be admitted, foolish gesture. Then they had a damn good laugh about it.
On another table...

7 Wonders (thanks Jon)
No idea about this first one – I didn’t even play it! I do know that it was Stuart’s first game, and it was with James’ new ‘English language version’ rather than his German one. Let’s imagine what else happened on the basis of the scorecard that was filled in…….
Johan went military-crazy and gave James a good spanking in this department.. Stuart was the only person to pick up points for culture cards. If he’d had more experience of the game, he might well have cleaned up by collecting more of these. Johan and James both missed out on building at least one level of their Wonder (schoolboy error). John appears to have played a good all-round game, including picking up a large number of points with blue cards.
Less obvious from the scorecard was the ‘fact’ that John played the game in a dinner jacket, Johan refused to speak in English and conversed purely in Dutch for the whole game, James had lost so much weight (due to his attempt to ‘pull’ on the beaches at Rio) that he barely had the strength to hold a hand of 7 cards, and Stuart looked on in bemusement, wondering what he had let himself in for……
John 55; Johan 48; James 45; Stuart

Returning to the Railroad Tycoon table...
Felix the Cat in the Sack (thanks Jon)
Time for another bidding filler. Pretty close result, apart from Scott who had a great haul during one of the early rounds and then avoided picking up anything too horrible.
Scott 48; Simon 35; Philip 33; Jon 32
And one last quick game...
Kingdom Builder
Scott and Jon had both played before so I started in this quick game which displays a fantasy landscape, complete with deserts, fields, forests, chasms, water, and entire hexes full of flowers! Three rules for scoring points applied- Lords which gives points for having the most settlements in each quadrant, Workers which gives points for settlements next to castles and locations and hermits which gives points for each separate group of settlements.
Each turn each player plays a card with a particular terrain type, places 3 houses on said type and uses any bonus abilities- which are gained by placing next to locations. I soon had 2 ‘extra house on desert’ and 1 ‘extra house on whatever you are placing on’ abilities and others similarly, with Scott monopolising the ‘move a house to the water’ one. A concentration of houses round castles and locations scored me well on the Workers and I was also quite favoured by Lords, while nobody really bothered with the Hermits.
Philip 60 Scott 57 Jon 54

P.S "The Idiot, Who, In Railway Carriages" is taken from the Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado. As I came last in Railroad Tycoon, I suppose I can claim title as 'the idiot'...

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