Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The one where Gareth only scored 16 points...

Players: Darren, Daniel, Woody, Richard, Paul, Jon, James, Neil, Gareth I, Sophie, Rufus, Philip

Tonight was characterised by Philip wearing some trousers that really had to be seen to be believed, and Gareth wasting at least 90 minutes of his life to score a measly 16 points not once but twice...

Chinatown (thanks Woody)
After much shuffling and ordering of food, five sat down for a game of Chinatown. Only one player had played before (he shall remain nameless given the final scores!) and promptly gave a eloquent and succinct description of the game. We'll skip over the bit where he 'missing' part of the rules turned out to be on the reverse of the other bit of the rules .. doh!
A placement and negotiation game, player look to secure plots in Chinatown and then build businesses on them to gain money. The larger the cluster of like business, the more you earn. In addition, there is manic negotiation at the end of each phase as players try to swap or purchase plots and businesses from each other.
Approaches varied as some players built businesses as quickly as possible to realise profit early on, whilst others held back, looking to gather like businesses before building. Negotiations were varied with some being very active and others absorbing the action before making fewer but valuable deals.
When final count-up occurred, Darren with his two large plots squeezed into winning position.
Everyone seemed to enjoy the game, another outing would be welcomed ... and I will leave you again to think who might have been the only previous player of the game!
Darren 850; Daniel 810; Woody 760; Richard 710; Paul 680

Metropolys (thanks Neil)
A new game to all of us apart from our tutor James who had beaten his wife, and won the game they played too (does Philip do libel law does anyone know?) The map, is best described as a dog’s breakfast. How the designers managed to get yellow, green, brown, red and blue to look so indistinguishable is impressive to say the least. Bonus counters are place in specific areas on the map but I couldn’t even see those from the set up piccie, Jon won that round. And then the players' tokens, the buildings, come in white, red, smokey blue and smokey blue, I mean grey (that's almost the same as the smokey blue) - bizarre!
The game itself is pretty simple, you have buildings numbered 1-13, that come in 3 different heights. The start player places a building, say a ‘4’ in one area. The next player can pass or ‘outbid' him by placing a higher numbered building in an adjacent area. And round it goes until everyone passes, cannot place a higher building, or the last one has been built in a cul-de-sac. Only the winning building remains on the board and you collect any tokens you may have built on and then get to start the next build.
This works well and there appear to be endless building strategies. On top of those various additional bonuses are available. Each player takes a colour card and will receive 2 extra points for buildings in areas of their colour. The highest building in each of the five regions wins an extra 5 points. We also played with specific building contracts; 3 buildings around a statue, 2 joined by a bridge etc. which equate to between 4 - 7 points per build.
I decided to go out swiftly and built high and collected some early +3 tokens. Jon picked up several areas early on too, looked like he was collecting blues. James sat back, picked up some cheap areas and looked to me as though he was building around the edge of the city. Gareth went to order some food then picked up his single winning building to much confusion. He then got himself together and took a good number of areas one after the other. I was feeling it was all quite tight. Wrong.
James suddenly played masterfully, showing us all just how you can walk your way to victory. He placed his last 6 buildings consecutively leaving us all aghast, and with a good 5 or so buildings left unbuilt. Damn! And all along he’d been building around the lakes… plenty of bonuses collected for those.
All in all a very good game, plenty of scope for brain testing, good player interaction and opportunities for blocking your competitors too. We agreed it would have been excellent if it wasn’t for the ‘artwork’. It’s funny looking on BGG at the number of homemade boards, so easy to get right, so irritating that it wasn’t.
Gareth's quote: "I've just wasted an hour of my life to score 16 points..."
James 37, Jon 31, Neil 25, Gareth 16

Wanting a reasonably quick filler, to try to sync with another table finishing their game, James brought out this simple but very engaging co-operative card game. In essence there are 5 suits (colours) in the numbers 1-5, distributed in varying quantities. Players hold a hand of 5 cards in front of them, visible to the other players but not themselves. Clues can then be given about what other players are holding, with the object being for the team to lay down all the cards in numerical order before the deck runs out. Sounds simple but is frustratingly tricky.
James, Neil and Jon had played once before, but newbie Gareth didn’t seem to grasp the co-op nature of the game, by asking if he was allowed to lie when giving clues…
Jon had been given multiple pieces of information about his cards, but was distracted by father-to-be Paul saying goodbye, and consequently played an incorrect card. With a number of 4’s out of the game, the team were never going to score brilliantly, but when the deck ran out, they had scored 16 out of a maximum 25.
Gareth had wasted another 30 minutes of his life to score 16 points…

Felix the Cat in the Sack (thanks James)
Spotted an opportunity to introduce this game to a few who hadn't played before and jumped at the chance, cause a) it's a great game and b) it's probably the best chance I have of winning a game of this.
Rufus, Sophie and Neil all listened carefully (probably too carefully) to my rules and off we went. Early on people were feeling their way into the game... I should've taken the opportunity to pounce then but as it happens (well, lets call it chivalry) I let things develop slowly...
Things were close mid game, Rufus had taken a dodgy 'sack' (-10 or so) early on so was struggling, but Neil was plahying a cagey waiting game and Sophie seemed to be playing the long game too...
Then, the killer blow (for me), with a hand worth -10 or something... and I knew I was in trouble. Neil then took a good hand for all his cash and it was only Sophie and me with amy money left... bidding started to climb for the penultimate hand, which I took for a good score (plus 20 or something) but it was too late to challenge. Sophie took the last hand for minimal cash and a good score.
Can't recall the final scores, but Neil won (I think, apologies to Sophie if she'd actually won instead) Sophie 2nd (or Neil... ) and Rufus and me not so far behind.
Great filler. Looks like I need to try and find some more newcomers now... and next time I'll try to remember not to do such a good job with the rules...

Shadows over Camelot
Jon had promised Dan that he would play SOC “one more time” after its initial outing at IBG, so here was his opportunity. Richard and Darren also joined in the epic quest.
The valiant band of knights got off to a shaky start, as they did not commit enough manpower to the grail quest, which quickly stalled when Richard ran out of grail cards. Dan took on the Saxons, but did not have a ‘5’ card, which all seemed to have mysteriously disappeared from the deck.
A couple of quests were completed which brought some much needed white swords to the table, and all the knights started to use up life points to hold back the progression of evil. There had been no obviously ‘traitorish’ behaviour exhibited by any of the players, although Richard was starting to make comments about Jon’s apparent memory problems when it came to choosing to lose life points.
Eventually the brave knights banded together to fill the table with swords – 7 to 5 in favour of white. There was much rejoicing. Then Jon revealed his traitor card and, as he had not been discovered during the game, he could immediately turn 2 white swords to black. There was much groaning.
Another fun game of this Camelot co-op caper. And Jon again promised to play it one more time…

Also played tonight were Coloretto (no info), Stone Age (Gareth was a tool and probably scored 16 points) and an all-nighter - Titan (Philip eliminated due to wearing bright trousers...)

See you all next time...

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