Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Gonna have to do better than that, boys.....

Players: Paul, Dan, Philip, Scott, Woody, Andy, Gareth I, Gareth II, Jon, Noel, Tanya, Rufus, Sophie, Richard, Amanda, Mark, Alex

A great turnout tonight – 17 IBG’ers including (whisper it quietly) 3 of the fairer sex. A welcome return to Noel’s better half, Tanya, and also to Mark, who we hadn’t seen for some time. Paul had also brought along a work colleague, Alex, who was introduced as being a ‘backgammon master.’ I guess that Tumblin’ Dice has certain similarities to backgammon (it has dice, and 6’s are good….?)
Tonight saw another appearance for the current IBG euro-fave, Through The Ages, and this time it was both Gareth and Andy that took on the grandmaster Scott (who apparently took it easy on them). They should have known better......

Tumblin Dice (thanks Woody)
It was time for a bit of that shove dice action again! Jon brought his 'father & son project' in and off we went. It was Alex's first time and Philip was still trying to hone his style, Paul and Woody being seasoned veterans. After a slow first round, Alex and Philip got the hang of things and started scoring better points and knocking opponents dice off the board. With Woody scoring well, the final round was about 2nd place. Paul appeared to be the unfortunate recipient of attacking opponents, leaving Philip and his new stylish technique in 2nd place.Philip 73, Alex 63, Paul 63, Woody 121

Amanda, Jon and Mark stepped in to join Philip. More of the same with the less experienced players appearing to pick on the expert Jon. Despite a poor final round, Mark had put three solid scores together and hold on for the win.
Amanda 93, Jon 45, Philip 96, Mark 103
6Nimmt (thanks again Woody)
A quick bit of fun (and luck). Don't collect any cards and if you do, make sure they have as few bulls heads on them as possible.
Woody took the first card and little else. Positions change and both Alex and Noel looked strong until late on when they had to take cards each.

Woody 3, Noel 4, Paul 11, Rufus 14, Alex 24, Sophie 25, Jon 27

Touted as “Noel’s favourite game”, and chosen to play by Tanya, this was new to Richard, Jon and Gareth II. This is basically a negotiation game, where everything is up for grabs. The rules are fairly straightforward and Noel had put together some handy laminated player aids, which he was very proud of. Tanya simply rolled her eyes….
Jon claims that his chances of victory were scuppered due to a rules misunderstanding caused by Noel’s beautiful player aids, which meant that he had some unfulfilled orders for the Cathedral which couldn’t be completed. Richard miscalculated when the game would end, and was left with a couple of potential deliveries that couldn’t be made. Noel triggered the game end at just the right time for himself, and along with some last-minute bonus cash from his wife, he pulled off a convincing win.
This is a nice negotiation game, which would definitely be easier a second time around, as values would be a little clearer.
Noel 585; Tanya 505; Jon 475; Gareth II 465; Richard 360

Village (thanks Philip)
Of the four of us, I had played once, Amanda twice and Rufus and Sophie were new to the game. We put all the cubes in the bag on the first turn, which predictably resulted in very few black cubes- only one indeed.  Rufus began by taking Grain, as did Sophie, while Amanda taught one of her men to make Wagons. I picked up a new family member. As the turn continued I picked up two more family members and Amanda one more. I then switched into the Council Chamber (using one of my second generation workers), earning first place and two cubes- choosing Green. I also taught a man to make wagons. Amanda had picked up an ox and plough, thereby maximising her grain production. Everyone except me participated in the market and no one went travelling. Rufus and Sophie placed members in the Church, paying a coin to guarantee it.
In the next round  we had the appropriate ratio of cubes and so all 6 black cubes duly appeared. I was the first to have a family member die and I chose my wagon maker- the yellow section of the village book rapidly filled as Rufus and Sophie also killed craftsmen.
I was able to advance to the fourth rank of the Council Chamber and travel twice, skipping family growth on this occasion. Again I did not participate in the market.
Round 3 saw my travelling family member die, just after reaching the third location. I also sneaked a family member into the church this round. The others now began to travel as well. Rufus had become first player with a man in the council chamber and so I was last- for the rest of the game as it proved. I think this was the round I managed to sell a surplus wagon on the market. I had sneaked a man into the church and he now died, claiming my third space in the book.
In rounds 4 and 5 I was unable to go travelling by taking a cube as the other players took them first, so I had to do it the hard way by gathering 3 cubes of the same colour and using the well. Still I managed to reach the sixth location. The final member of my first generation died off, in the farmyard, and then my traveller died, filling the green section of the book and meaning I had reached maximum points for death as well as travelling. Meanwhile Rufus and Sophie had  been filling the unmarked graves because they were forced to kill of craftsmen. Amanda had avoided this by removing craftsmen back to the farmyard, but also by being very economical with her use of time- only two or three of her meeples died in the whole game!
For round 6 I needed to end the game fast so I trained one meeple to make livestock and one to make plows, thereby incurring 12 time and causing my plow-marker to die and fill the last unmarked grave. The other players only had one action each left and rather a lot of accumulated resources, but managed to gain at least a couple of points through the windmill.
In the final scoring Sophie had 23 points through market tiles, which edged her into second place, but my points for travelling and the book gave me a solid lead.
Philip 58; Sophie 45; Rufus 40; Amanda 40

Through the Ages (thanks Scott)
Continuing our learning streak, Gareth was roped in and despite having played it before he needed a bit of a walkthrough, to be fair the last time Scott showed him how to play it was around 2 years ago, but Gareth opted to do most of his rule learning as we played giving Andy the advantage.
This game I opted for the Pyramids for an extra action under the leadership of Julius Caesar, while Andy went with the Hanging Gardens for the happiness and Homer for the culture (copying my last opening game almost entirely), Gareth undertook the Great Library giving him some culture and science with Alexander the Great leading the way militarily (something subliminal about Gareth and greatness in there).
Early on I had the opportunity to upgrade my mines but not many other options so I got them up and running, giving me a nice income boost. Andy kept a focus on his early culture but was starting to lag behind with upgrading his infrastructure, although he was keeping the necessary cards in hand to stop Gareth. Gareth had a bit of trouble from Andy but kept a balance for science and culture so was not too far behind and could grab the opportunities of age 2.
Scott utilised his tactic from last game with the help of Christopher Columbus to colonize a territory while bidding on some others and then taking James Cook for the culture boost, something urgently required as Scott was currently in last place having focussed on making mines and science. Andy caught up with his mines and farms, a Genghis Khan to milk some more culture out of his military and then a shift to Napoleon to maintain some military might. Gareth didn’t gain much more momentum on his production but made use of his military to try and gain the lead which sparked an arms race that Scott was winning with his additional production, and Andy not following far behind, Gareth ended up losing out on the events that were benefitting only the two strongest nations. He was biting off more than he could chew.
As the game drew to a close Scott focused heavily on science production, discovered a lot of technologies and scored a whopping 35 points from the Space Flight wonder. Andy and Gareth were living in the modern age but with their empires stuck in the Middle Ages, Andy was trying to scare people away with spear carrying warriors and Gareth still using the bronze mines he started with, it was looking like a fight for second place now (although Andy had hinted as much at the start).  Despite Scott’s push for some military he decided to play nice and not start any fights, easy wins being so distasteful you understand and king making between the two struggling nations a bit unfair. Andy and Gareth’s efforts could not muster any late game Wonders or much improvement in their culture production so it would come down to the events and despite Gareth’s final push to bolster his empire it wasn’t going to catch up to the lead Andy had edged.
Scott 207; Andy 136; Gareth 123

Ticket to Ride Europe (thanks once more Woody!)
Mixed experience levels showed ... A quick cover of the rules and the highlight of the Europe edition novelty of 'stations' which allow a player to use an opponent's route to complete one of theirs. Collecting cards of the same train/colour in order to link stations with you trains .. the longer the link, the more points. Completing routes to collect bonus points, players have to choose between picking up cards, placing trains or acquiring additional route cards.
Dan was out building connections early by the end of the game, had the longest single route (collecting 10 bonus points). Woody and Paul had a battle of wills, seeing who could last longest before putting down any trains. Paul 'cracked' ... although that later became better described and outstandingly good tactics ! Woody and Alex were forced to use a couple of stations each to complete routes (sacrificing the 4pt bonus for each unused station).
At the finish, With two unfinished routes, Mark's impressive performance took a dent. As Dan had minimal routes, Paul's 10 complete routes saw his race past for the win. Choo choo!
Paul 158, Dan 127, Woody 98, Mark 82, Alex 66

Drakon (thanks Mark)
Three brave adventurers, Barbarian (Woody), Amazon (Dan) and Knight (Mark) descended into the lair of Drakon in hope of stealing the dragon's treasure. The first player to collect 10 worth of gold coins was to win this fun, filler, tile-laying game with a dungeon crawl theme and some backstabbing elements. I don't think it was too hard for the players to get a feel for the theme of the game right from the start thanks to the authentic dungeon smell of the copy they were playing. :)
After entering the dark and stinking corridors, Knight suspected that probably too much good won’t come from sticking together with his fellow adventurers so early in the game he left them behind and went on his own way to find some of those gleaming coins. And it didn't take long for his suspicions to be proven well-founded. Barbarian soon found some gold but Amazon watched him in envy and stitched him up by calling Drakon who came roaring and chased Barbarian out of its lair. To add to his misery, Barbarian lost his purse while fleeing from the dragon. Meanwhile, in a far corner of the dungeon, Knight found Drakon's treasure chamber that should have secured his victory in a couple of rounds but Amazon caught up with him using her special power to get to the chamber quick. They both started stuffing their pockets with gold in a frenzy. The clinking of coins echoed through the corridors of the dungeon and it even lured the frightened Barbarian back into the lair once again!
But this time he got lost in a magic cul-de-sac... By this time Knight had 8 gold pieces, Amazon had 7. So they both dived in to the treasure pile in order to pull off victory. And fortune favoured Amazon. She snatched a 3-piece while Knight only managed to grab a 1.
Dan 10; Mark 9; Woody 4.

Kakerlaken Poker
This is a strange little German card game that Noel brought along, with an incredibly simple ruleset (which Noel has wisely adapted). Basically, there are 8 sets of bugs – everyone has a hand of cards and passes a card face-down to any other player, stating “This is a …..” The receiver then decides if the passer is telling the truth or not. And whoever is wrong takes the card. And cards are bad.
Anyway, Noel was the first to start to accumulate cards, closely followed by Gareth, who eventually collected 4 bats and triggered the end of the game. However, Rufus used some sort of Vulcan mind control, and came out the winner after only collecting 3 cards.
Great little psychological game.
Rufus 3; Tanya 5; Jon 6; Sophie 7; Noel 14; Gareth 14

Tumblin’ Dice
More dice-flicking fun to end the evening. Philip decided to adopt a new technique and remain seated, at 90 degrees to the board. This should have been about as effective as facing a Jimmy Anderson delivery with a stick of celery, but somehow it worked, and in a very close game, he just came out ahead. In other news, the lovebirds ended on the same score. Ahhhhhh…
Philip 117; Jon 110; Tanya 108; Noel 108; Rufus 73

And that was the end of that. Thanks to everyone who turned up tonight - looking forward to a good turnout again next week!

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