Players: Neil, Andy, Soren, Jon, Tonio, Paul, James I, James II
Relegated to the conservatory by what can only be described as a 'room full of grey-haired men with beards', we garnered the usual inquisitive stares, as we brought the world of boardgaming into the lives of normal people trying to have a quiet meal at the pub.....
Nice to see Tonio back with us again - apparently the combination of being a teacher and getting married this year is curtailing his gaming time. Nice to see that his soon-to-be-wife hasn't told him to stop wearing that flat cap yet.......
With players arriving in dribs and drabs, as soon as there were enough, we broke out this perennial filler.
It was new to Neil, but this didn't seem to matter as he romped to victory. Soren on the other hand, experienced the For Sale equivalent of the credit crunch.....
Neil 62; Tonio 51; James II 49; Jon 48; Soren 37
Super Dungeon Explore (thanks Paul for this report)
James I had been waiting to play Super Dungeon Explore for a while, so when Tonio came along with it under his arm and keen to play, it was too much for them to resist. James II seemed pretty happy to join the crawl too, so Paul arrived back from the bar to find out that he'd be playing a game with big fantasy miniatures in the public bar downstairs, which wouldn't have been his first choice on how to spend a Wednesday evening - but he rolled up his sleeves and gave it a go.
As Tonio started to explain the rules, it slowly dawned on him that he'd only played once previously, which went smoothly, but that was after a monster swatting up session and it was months ago and the rulebook and number of 'things to know' for a smooth game was quite large. Nonetheless an extremely valiant attempt to plug the gaps in his knowledge went on for much of the evening.
James I, James II and Paul happily allowed Tonio to be the bad guy / dungeon master, so they chose their characters and after the long rules had been run through as quickly as possible, made a start. Unfortunately the game didn't ever really manage to develop a rhythm as there were too many things to remember and Tonio had to take a turn in between each of the good guys' turns, so we stuttered along for most of the evening. The adventurers slowly managed to get to the second board before a time check at 10.30 told us that it was pretty obvious that we weren't going to come close to finishing and so the decision was made to pack up and try something lighter that we could all understand for the remaining few minutes.
The main lesson learnt was that games with very big rule books need to be thoroughly understood and fresh in people's minds before attempting them, otherwise play them on a weekend not a Wednesday evening. It's probably a very good game if both of those things are in place, and you fancy a dungeon crawl.
Game abandoned (but it was pretty obvious that Tonio's bad guy was going to be annihilated by our good guys if we'd played to a conclusion...!)
And on the big table in the centre of the room, Jon had co-opted some willing recruits to satiate his recent bizarre addiction to all things trains -
Railroad Tycoon (Rails of Europe)
With everyone having played the game before, it was much quicker (by RT standards) to get going. The limited lighting and shiny board resulted in some early discussion as to whether cities were actually black or blue, but this was soon resolved.
Soren and Neil began the game in Berlin / Amsterdam, whilst Jon chose the extreme South-West to pick up the Service Bounty for delivering to Constantinople. This quickly jumped him up the income scale, but he had to abandon this link as it was impossible to build a viable network from that location. Andy began in Moscow, and it soon became apparent that he was going to try to build the Major Line to Vienna as quickly as possible (although he also picked up a hotel in Milan, which proved to be a good move).
Neil was the first to pick up a Major Line bonus, taking the Amsterdam to Marseilles route. Jon had his eyes on the Berlin to Rome bonus, but Soren pipped him to the post, leaving Jon with 4 links of track, all in different locations - not a great strategy....
As the game progressed, all the players took several loans to finance their rapidly expanding networks. Neil built down into Spain, but the poor cube-distribution in that area was making him work hard for his points. Soren had a nice little network running from the tip of Italy up to Scandinavia, and was neck-and-neck with Andy, who had quickly upgraded his engine and was running goods backwards and forwards from Russia to Western Europe with impudence. Jon was suffering from his early choices and was lagging miles behind - his only hope was to break out from Paris and try to connect to Constantinople for the 8-point bonus.
With multiple deliveries being made each turn, the game was coming to an end. Andy had started to pull away from everyone else on the score track, and Soren missed a possible opportunity to pull him back when he chose to urbanise Copenhagen rather than a city in the middle of Andy's network. This may have limited Andy's point-earning potential, as he was running several cubes from one end of his network to the other for massive points.
Jon finally connected Paris to Constantinople, and as a result was also able to make several 4-link deliveries, whilst Neil's opportunities were starting to dry up.
The last empty city marker was suddenly placed and the game came to a close. Jon had somehow managed to overhaul Neil for 3rd place, but Andy had retained his lead to take a well-deserved victory from Soren in 2nd place. Scores always seem further apart when you mark them on a track on the board, but in fact, they were remarkably close, with only 6 points between 2nd and 4th.
The post-match analysis revealed a couple of anomalies: Jon had forgotten to distribute any Rail Baron cards (secret missions) - although the game seemed none the worse for that. A quick tot up of the empty city markers also brought to light the fact that Andy can't count to 13 - he had in fact put out 14 markers at the beginning of the game. This may have brought the game to a close one round earlier, but probably wouldn't have affected the result.
Another fine game, which will continue to be brought to IBG as long as there is the demand for it, and as long as Jon has the strength in his arms to lug that massive box around......
Andy 55; Soren 49; Jon 45; Neil 43
With Andy leaving but an hour left on the clock, there was still time for something relatively meaty -
New to Neil, and Soren had played a few times before a while ago. This proved to be a vicious game - the disasters came out very late, causing multiple loss of population and buildings. Soren's lack of Stone, and Neil's lack of food left them bereft in buildings and population respectively. Although Jon also lost all but 6 of his population, this was enough to win the game.
Unrelenting death and destruction - a great way to finish off a Wednesday evening...
Jon 18 population / 24 buildings; Soren 9 build / 21 pop; Neil 6 pop / 22 build
And this is fast becoming another great way to round off the evening -
Pitchcar Mini (thanks James for this report)
So for the remaining 30 minutes we took out what could become the flavour of the month for a closing game and set up Jon's PitchCar track. New to Tonio and James II we took the necessary 10 seconds to explain the rules (ah how refreshing after Super Dungeon Explore!) and after picking 2 cars each for maximum carnage we set off. Paul took advantage of his pole position and careered into a lead while everyone else scrambled arouond the first few bends...
After the first lap, positions started to make sense with James I holding 2nd and 3rd, Tonio 4th and the last 4 places a bit of a scramble. Paul's lead though was already looking unassailable unless he decided to go the kamikaze route (sadly he's far too sensible for that...)
2 laps in and Paul's last place 2nd car was slowly catching up, whilst his first had lapped a few back markers. Tonio had taken 2nd place from James so it was looking like a race to come 2nd... James II had decided that this was more a scenic drive than a race and was stopping to take photos and have a loo break at every opportunity.
Last lap and positions were up for grabs. Paul's lead car finished at a canter, and suddenyl his last place car, seemingly from nowhere came to grab 2nd place. Tonio took 3rd despite some reluctance to actually cross the finish line. James took 4th and 5th with his 2 cars that had spent most of the race holding hands around the track. Tonio took 6th and James II ran out of camera film and so crawled in with the last 2 spots.
Lots of fun, as it was last week too. and plans are already afoot to obtain the full size version for future mayhem in the weeks ahead :)
And that brought the end to proceedings. Back in the Riverview Room next week for more of the same...