Tuesday, 7 August 2012

"He should all means essay to put the plague away"

We’ll start with the all-nighter.

Through the Ages (thanks Scott)
The fourth week now for Through the Ages, with the previous week seeing Andy and Gareth hone their skills, trying to take down Scott. Despite their effort without Scott around to keep the rules in check they didn’t quite make it out of the Middle Ages.

This week Gareth tried to perfect a military strategy although struggled to get any early technologies and tactics that would work well together. By the mid-game though it was gaining traction and with Scott just about keeping pace, Andy bore the brunt of the aggression that curtailed his civilization and kept him the whipping boy. Towards the end Gareth had done enough damage to Andy and needed to close the gap with Scott who was focussing more on Culture than Strength and even had Andy stealing some of his science; but the defence against Gareth was high, and with a quick Age 3 Gareth failed to get his war started once he had boosted his strength further.

Scott started modestly with a library for some science and culture but all of the early upgrades for mines, farms, anything really were snapped up by Andy first of all and Gareth if not so it would be Age 2 before Scott could upgrade his mines, farms or science significantly. Moses early on had gotten all of his population cheaply and helped avoid a need for much upgrading in Age 1. Luckily Andy was the target for Gareth in the mid-game, giving Scott a chance to upgrade and having dodged some attacks towards the end of Age 2 he took off in the last age, leading in science and culture, rebuilding strength and keeping Gareth at bay.

Andy made a strong start with some Pyramids to get extra actions to steal the best technologies before Gareth could get his hands on them. An early Iron upgrade and things looking good, except there was a bit of a shortage of food and some events to kill population hit hard, followed by Gareth’s attacks keeping Andy in a bit of a rut, using any available food and rocks to rebuild military and having to conscript people out of mining that never really recovered all game, culture points barely got a look in.

The events at the end favoured a lot of infrastructure which helped Scott the most, then Gareth and Andy, keeping our positions fairly stable as they were quite divided by then anyway. The importance of a military presence was highlighted by Gareth who will seemingly keep trying to attack his way to a victory.
Scott – 180 Gareth – 125 Andy – 63
And now for something completely different...

Skull and Roses (thanks Jon)
Looking for a ‘quick’ game that would handle a large number of people at the beginning of the evening, Woody brought out 2 copies of Skull & Roses for a mammoth 8-player game. Notable events were:
Dan was the first to be eliminated, after playing do-or-die.
Surprisingly, Woody “the skullmaster” soon followed.
The game lasted for a whopping 45 mins (thanks to the judicious use of skulls by Tom and Rob).
Philip played a masterful game, keeping all of his mats and never finishing a bid until the very end, when he suddenly scored 2 points in 2 rounds and swept to victory. Well played sir!
I’d forgotten how much I enjoy this one (although maybe with slightly fewer players…) – bring it again Woody!
Philip - won; Dan, Woody, Tom, Paul, James, Jon, Rob – lost

Dan, Woody and our American guest, Alan sat down for a quick filler while the elongated Skull & Roses was concluded.

High Society (thanks Woody)
In Reiner Knizia's High Society, players bid against each other to acquire the various trappings of wealth (positive-number and multiplier cards) while avoiding its pitfalls (negative number and divisor cards). While bidding, though, keep an eye on your remaining cash - at the end of the game, even though all those positive-number cards might add up to a win, the player with the least money isn't even considered for victory.

Dan set off aggressively and seems destined to wipe the floor with Woody & Alan. Woody's caution meant that he collected very few cards when he was lumbered with the theif that stole his highest card. However, the tide turned when Dan's wealth of cards became void at the end as he had the smallest amount of money. That left Woody with 1 pt x 2 and Alan with 23 pts / 2 .. so Alan was the winner.
Alan 11.5, Woody 2, Dan lost.
Back to Jon, in plague-ridded Medieval Europe...

Rattus (thanks Jon)
New to Philip and Amanda, Jon tried a rules explanation based on his play last week, and hopefully didn’t make it sound too complicated…
Amanda made good use of the King throughout the game, and ended up as the only player with cubes in the castle, squirreling 5 away for the final scoring. She also dumped myriad cubes onto the board, which Philip and Jon then helped return to her supply.
Philip only took one character card all game (the Knight), and used it to good effect when ravaging (mostly Amanda’s) regions.
Jon used the Monk and Merchant to manipulate his cubes and rat tokens around the board, and as he had co-located with Philip in several regions, he did not fall prey to the Knight’s power too much.
Again, the Witch was not chosen all game (actually, Jon had left it in the box for the first 2 turns, which didn’t help…)
In the final scoring, Amanda failed to add to her castled cubes, whilst Jon had spread out enough to retain the most cubes on the board.
Jon 10; Philip 6; Amanda 5
Another filler...
6Nimmt (thanks Jon)
After much humming and hawing about how to accommodate 7 players at the end of the evening (with no Saboteur, Nanuk or Diamant available), Dan decided to leave (or did James push him…), so the remaining 6 played this 100% skill-based game.
The first round saw Rob lead with an impressive 2 points, whilst Amanda was hoovering up cards like there was no tomorrow.
In the second round, Jon hit the magic zero, and again, Amanda found the cards magnetically drawn to her.
Always good fun, with plenty of moans and groans thrown in for good measure!
Jon 4 (4+0); James 14 (12+2); Tom 16 (8+8); Rob 22 (2+20); Philip 32 (11+21); Amanda 65 (36+29)
A nice gambling game to round off the evening...

Lords of Vegas (thanks Paul)
As Woody had spent months in Vegas paying his way playing poker, and Alan had been to the gambling capital of the world many times, it was a home from home for the two of them. Paul is always more than happy to pretend he's there, so the three players were transported back to the 1951 Nevada desert plots of a city yet to be built.

Woody sprinted into the lead on the money stakes, gathering huge amounts of cash while Paul and Alan were spending everything they got. Alan started to build large from the start in the C block with a silver casino. Paul was spread out and had to concentrate on a small number of gambling dens, ignoring several of his plots.

Woody decided to invest his riches by sprawling, and as we saw, when Woody sprawls he really sprawls. He turned a two lot purple casino into a six lot by paying double for each of the additional four lots, which would surely pay him back handsomely when a purple casino card came up. And the odds were with him as only a handful of purple casinos had been turned thus far.

In the meantime, Alan's silver casino spread to the strip and the strip was turned, so it was his turn to rake in the winnings.

Paul build two medium sized enterprises which he eventually also managed to spread to the strip.

Meanwhile, the clock was ticking past eleven o'clock and it was looking unlikely for the game to be finished, but strip cards came, gold casinos came, Alan's silver casino came a few times, so surely the purple casinos would come soon for Woody so that he could clean up? At least one? Maybe?

But the bar staff came and called time on us at 11.30 with quite a few cards left to play, so the game was brought to an early end, with Alan claiming the most victory points and Woody curious to see just where those purple cards were.

So after we decided to finish, Alan turned over the next few cards for curiosity's sake, which would have all paid out to him, meaning that he'd have built on his lead and almost definitely won by a margin. Woody's curiosity also got the better of him, so he too then searched through the remaining cards and found that the bottom five or six were all purple and would have not have been drawn! What are the odds on that happening? And Woody had been responsible for shuffling the cards during setup!

So with the game unfinished, the probable scores would have seen Alan win, with Paul capitalising on Woody's unbelievably harsh luck coming in second, with Woody still waiting for the never-to-appear purple cards as the sun came up...

While we waited for the casinos to close, the rest of us were feeling a little thirsty...

Lemonade Stand
Jon had been keen to play this, and persuaded Tom to slip it in at the end of the evening. This is quite a simple ‘predict supply and demand’ card game, although Jon seemed incapable of understanding the straightforward ruleset until about halfway through (thanks to Tom for his patience!) Basically, players decide each round how much lemonade to produce, how much advertising to do, and what price they will sell at. A ‘weather’ card is then turned over, which affects how much demand there is for lemonade (no-one wants a refreshing cold drink if it’s raining). Supply and demand is then resolved, and players take the profits into their hands.
The end of the game was a bit rushed, as the pub was closing, but a final round hoorah saw Jon produce a vat of lemonade and sell it to the hordes of sun-drenched customers for a massive profit.
A little bit multi-player solitaire, but quite a lot of game in a small, quick package. Worth another outing…
Jon $3.25; Tom $2.80; Rob $0.95; Philip $0.30???

P.S “He should all means essay to put the plague away” is a quotation from in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Yeomen of the Guard.

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