Tuesday, 30 October 2012

"It's a Space Station" or "He Found It Less Exciting"

Starting with a game that definitely was exciting (and was not a space station)
Article 27: The UN Security Council Game (thanks Woody)
Article 27 is one of the new games brought back from Essen by Woody.

A game of negotiation, manipulation and downright deceit ... players represent a country at the UN Security Council.

In each round, one player acts as the UN Secretary General, presents a proposal to the Council and presides over a negotiation period that lasts no more than five minutes. The proposal will affect five issues – military, currency, etc. – in various ways, and each player has a secret document for the round that tells him how a change in each issue will affect him. All players openly negotiate on what they need in terms of points and bribes in order to vote for that proposal.

After at most five minutes, the Secretary General closes negotiations by banging his wooden gavel, then players vote yes or no on the proposal. Any "no" vote kills the proposal, as in the United Nation's actual Security Council – but vetoing a proposal costs a player points, so he might prefer to look for deals that will enable him to say "yes". The Secretary General scores a bonus when his proposal succeeds, so he and others who will benefit might be willing to negotiate to make the proposal sweet for all.

Each player scores based on bribe money on hand, points scored from proposal cards, and how well the player fulfilled the secret agenda card he received at the start of the game.

In the end, Jon won having managed to take multiple bribes during his stint as Secretary General. Woody in second with 5 of his 6 secret agendas passing, while Philip in last had all of his secret agendas thrown out (and his proposal as S-G vetoed- ed).

This is definitely a light game but with enough to keep enjoyment levels up (unless you are Soren !).
Jon 54 Woody 45 James 44 Soren 42 Neil 39 Philip 30
Another light game which inspired both of today’s post titles...

Among the Stars
James explained this light exercise in science fiction card drafting. The players are alien races building, yes, space stations. Each race has a special power, which seems not to matter much. There are four years in which players have 7 cards (6 in first year) to play. However, instead of playing all 7 cards you are dealt you choose one and then pass the remaining 6 to your neighbour. Play continues in this way until the cards run out at which point the year ends. You play a card three ways- either for the particular room it shows, which costs credits and scores VPs, or discarding for money, or discarding to build a power reactor, which gives you more power- needed to install some of the more valuable cards and especially military assets. From the second round dispute cards appear, which add VPs to player A while subtracting them from player B based on such things as who has the most power reactors. That is really the height of the player interaction in the game.
There are also some long term goals set at the beginning of the game, for most rooms of a certain type etc. James’ alien special power was to set another long term goal in secret. This and the fact that he had played before allowed him to claim most of the long term goals for an easy win. I came last with my military focused space station. I was underwhelmed by this one- if I want to play a fairly quick space-themed card game I’ll choose Race for the Galaxy any day. Sorry, no scores recorded...
Returning from space via Mars...

Mission Red Planet (thanks Jon)
There was an hour still left of the evening, so plenty of time for a ‘proper’ game – and Mission Red Planet was the selection of Noel, Jon and Neil. Noel and Jon had played before, but Neil needed a rules explanation. Unfortunately, not enough emphasis was put on the warning that the Discovery cards could be brutal (Noel and Jon had actually forgotten this fact I think – at least, that’s the mitigation that they are claiming…)
This game plays quite well with 3 players – there is slightly less chaos, and plans can be made and executed (to a certain extent!) However, there are less spaceships launching, so it is more difficult to land on particular zones of Mars.
After the first scoring, Neil had collected the most tokens, but during the next few rounds, Noel challenged him in a couple of areas. Jon had decided to lump all of his astronauts on a couple of zones, and then used one of his characters to spread them out into neighbouring areas. The second scoring was a little more even, but with time rapidly running out, the players dumped as many astronauts as possible onto the Martian surface.
Both Neil and Noel moved astronauts about on the planet on their final turn, but as Neil went second, he was able to make the most of this ability and claim a couple of areas from Noel.
On the face of it, it looked like it was going to be close, with Neil and Jon in a strong position. However, when the Discovery cards were turned over, everything changed, as in one area that Neil had committed multiple astronauts to take the majority from Neil, he was forced to remove all those astronauts and Noel took the 15 points on offer instead. He was also unfortunate that another region unexpectedly didn’t score for him and he was left with a paltry total of only 29, whilst the unexpected bonus for Noel allowed him to pip Jon for the victory.
This is a really nice game, with some solid mechanisms and a good level of interaction. However, those Discovery cards really need tweaking otherwise I don’t think that Neil will be over-keen on playing again!
Noel 58; Jon 54; Neil 29
We’ll finish with another on the “less exciting” chart.

Love Letter (thanks Jon)
A quick filler was needed, so James brought out another Essen purchase – with the fanfare of “it’s only a deck of 16 cards”.
Basically each player has a hand (if you can call it that!) of 1 card, and on his turn picks up another card and then has to play one. The cards have various effects and a numerical value between 1 and 8. After the draw pile has been exhausted (about 3 minutes), whoever is holding the highest valued card in their hand wins.
Sometimes ‘less is more’ (see Linq) and ‘the best things come in small packages’ (see Verrater….and my wife…) but unfortunately, this game doesn’t appear to hold to these assertions. It appears to dissolve into ‘hunt the princess’ (the highest value card), and whoever is lucky enough to draw that card seems to win (or lose, if they draw it right at the beginning and are targeted by a soldier).
Shame – I really wanted to like this one…. (ps – terrible name…) 

“It’s a Space Station” is a quotation from A New Hope. “He found it less exciting” is a quotation from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

"Empty Chairs At Empty Tables"

“Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”
Today’s report combines the events of 10th and 17th October. 10th October only generated 3 Session reports and 17th October 6. 17th October had a good excuse as some people were at Essen, 10th October not really. Today’s title comes from Les Miserables:  fortunately for the Isleworth boardgamers, our chairs and tables were only temporarily empty!
Starting with a quick card game...
6 Nimmt (thanks Noel)
Noel arrived just in time to make it for a 7 player chaotic game of 6 Nimmt. Philip had decided it was time to forsake his random blind card playing and focus on the best possible choices. Not sure how different that makes the outcome with unexpected cards being picked up by Amanda early on and a huge set of bulls hit (:-)) Woody's hand shortly after. After all the chaos Noel and Dan rejoiced in their shared victory.
Noel and Dan, 7; Philip, James I Scott, Amanda, Gareth all lost, Woody lost harder.
On the 17th we started with a longer card game:
Modern Art
One of Reiner Knzia’s classic auction designs, the secret of Modern Art is putting the correct value on the intrinsically worthless. The thematic content is much enriched by reading the flavour text in the rulebook, which is also quite funny. Anyway, me Noel and Richard battled it out, with myself employing a consistent formula that a fair price for a given painting was 50% of its expected sale value that round. Noel more or less followed my lead while Richard used a higher fair price measure, meaning he bought most of the paintings.
Bad news for me- I was using the wrong formula. The correct fair price is 66% of expected sale value (I leave the reasoning as an exercise for the reader). So Richard won easily.
Richard 586 Philip 487 Noel 385.
Amun Re
Noel, Richard and I moved onto another of Dr Knzia’s auction games, and we were joined by David and Andy. The game was quite lengthy as people put a lot of thought into the auctions, which was ok for four of us but Richard was thoroughly bored by (at most) halfway through. It is a credit to his sportsmanship that he stayed the course.
The Old Kingdom started off with all three camel provinces being auctioned, which lead to a consistent low sacrifice pattern for this part of the game. I was playing a high sacrifice game and therefore ran out of money by the end of turn 3. Andy and Noel gained the 5 point bonuses at the end of the Old Kingdom and were clearly in the lead, though David had made the most money.
Lots of money was spent on provinces during the new Kingdom, except by me since I had (almost) no money. Curiously this meant my financial position improved sufficiently to have 2nd most money at game end- most money going to David. David also had the most Pyramids, with Noel close behind him.
David 47 Noel 41 Philip and Andy 38, Richard 32.
Going back in time to the week before, another classic game, not by Knizia this time.

El Grande (thanks Jon)
Tonight saw a 5-player outing for James’s copy of this classic game, which was new to all but Philip. The rules were fairly straightforward and easy to comprehend, but it’s the action cards that add the complexity.
The 2 cards that allow movement of a player’s Grande came out very early, which meant that everyone was soon tied in to their bonus regions. Jon and James were vying for the northern region that James had his Grande in, whilst Noel’s central region was being challenged by Philip. Woody laid claim to the East side of the board, and changed one of the scoring tokens to boost his score.
Mid-way through, Noel was out in front, with Jon a little way behind and James lagging a bit at the back. The thing with El Grande is that there are a lot of action cards that mess with other players, so it essentially means that whoever is out in front should be taking the brunt of the ‘take that’ actions. However, James claimed that he was being screwed over regardless, and Woody always complains even if you look at him a bit strangely… (quote of the game [after Jon had just moved some of Woody’s cubes] – Woody: “Look at how Jon just stabbed me in the back!” – Philip: “Actually, I think that was more of a stab in the front…”)
Going into the final round, James had saved his ‘13’ card for a cunning masterstroke. However, Noel had also done so, and as he was first in turn order, James was relegated to 4th in turn order, so we will never know how cunning his plan was… Woody was storming up the leaderboard, courtesy of having the majority in two ‘8’ scoring regions.
Jon and Woody had dumped many caballeros into the Castillo, and as it scored twice at the end, it gave them both a boost. It all came down to the final placement of caballeros out of the Castillo, and when the final region was scored, Jon had just pipped  Woody to the post by a couple of points.
This was a long game (probably down to what Noel describes as the ‘first game dither’), and with 5 players felt a little out of everyone’s individual control. With so many ways to mess with other players, there is very little point in racing into an early lead, as you just paint a nice fat target on your back…or your front (as Noel found out to his cost). Maybe with less players there is more control? Tbc….
Jon 98; Woody 96; Noel 92; Philip 84; James 84
Another game played on 10th (and our last report from there)
Quandary (thanks Jon)
This is Loco or Botswana, but with nice Bakelite pieces. James was a bit distracted by the results of the latest Maths trade being published, but he still came in second (although if he’d chosen a different tile for his last action, he’d have won…)
As it was, this was a really close result – shame there was only time for one round. No picture as only Botswana images seem to be available!
Woody 30; James 29; Jon 28
Another quick game, this time from the 17th.
Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper (thanks Jon)
With 20 mins to kill before Andy arrived, a quick filler was required, and this fitted the bill. However, Andy arrived in double-quick time, so there was only time for one hand. Unusually, it was won by Jack escaping, as all the victims were revealed very early in the game. Jon was the player to play the ‘Ripper Escapes’ card, and therefore scored the 35 points. It would be nice to have time to play several hands of this game one week – any takers???
Jon 39; Dan 5; Mark 2
More cards...
Biblios (thanks Jon)
Andy had arrived, but the Euro-crowd were still up to their necks in Knizia auctions, so he joined Jon, Dan and Mark for some manuscript-collecting.
This game was new to Dan and Mark, but it’s easily explained and the game was soon underway. Several ‘dice adjustment’ cards came out early, which resulted in the sets having very unequal values. As is usual with this game, there are a few tense decisions, as you decide whether to take an early card, or to wait in the hope of turning over something better (you never do…) Everyone was trying to sneak off cards of certain sets, although Dan seemed bent on amassing a small fortune in gold…
When the auction pile was turned over, it was discovered that everyone had been stashing a lot of gold cards there (it was surprising that there were any left after Dan’s hoarding tactics…), so there wasn’t so much of interest to auction. However, the result is always in doubt until everyone finally reveals their cards.
Andy had clearly won the Holy Books category for 5 points, and Dan had pipped Jon to the Forbidden Tomes for 4 points. He had also been largely unchallenged for the 2 points on offer for the Pigments. Jon had collected 4 points for the Monks category, so it all came down to the Manuscripts, which Mark and Andy were tied for – but Andy had the card bearing the initial ‘A’, so took the set, and the game.
This is always an enjoyable game – it rattles along at a nice pace and has just the right amount of tricky decisions for a game of this length. It’ll be around for a while, I’ll wager.
Andy 8; Dan 6; Jon 4; Mark 0
And now for something altogether more exciting...

Fury of Dracula (thanks Jon)
With 5 die-hard euro freaks being magnetically attracted to more Knizia fare, it was left to Jon to turn to the dark-side and join Dan and Mark for something altogether trashier. FOD is essentially Scotland Yard with more depth and theme. Mark chose to play Dracula, so Dan and newbie Jon took control of 2 Hunters each.
The Hunters spread themselves out to start with – Jon took London and Madrid, whilst Dan was covering central and eastern Europe. It took several turns to pick up Dracula’s scent, by which time another vampire had appeared and given Dracula a third of his required victory points. As night became day, this increased to half the points needed.
All 4 Hunters now converged on South East Europe, where Dracula was certainly hanging out – only for him to play an ’Evasion’ card, which allowed him to magically transport to any other location on the map. This was effectively the nail in the coffin (or stake through the heart) for the Hunters, who, although they eventually tracked Dracula down to England’s green and pleasant land, did not have enough time to destroy the dark Lord.
All players collectively agreed that the ‘Evasion’ card should be removed from the game, as it essentially resets the game to the beginning, giving the Hunters almost no chance of winning. There was also no combat at all in this game, which made the multitude of weapon cards redundant. Maybe this will get another outing and be slightly more balanced next time…

The fantasy theme continued...
Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards (thanks Jon)
Well, the other table’s examination of Knizia’s ancient Egypt was nowhere near ending, so Jon cheerfully resigned himself to more light-hearted Ameritrash. This was a card game that Dan had brought along, with the longest and most unmemorable title ever. However, the gameplay is simple, but strangely engaging. It’s basically a ‘last man standing’ game – a la King of Tokyo – where players use a hand of cards to cast spells on each other, trying to cause damage and eventually death to their opponents. If you can be last man standing twice, you win the game (a la Skull & Roses).
Dan and Mark both seemed to be experts, and probably took it easy on Jon, who won the first round. No such favours were extended second time around, which ended in Dan standing proud at the end. Mark then told some sob story about how he never wins the game – Jon fell for it and took out Dan in the second round, only for Mark to triumph leaving all players with one win.
The last round was therefore a decider and really went down to the wire. In the penultimate phase, Jon had only 1 health left, whilst Dan and Mark had 3. Somehow, both Dan and Jon survived that round, and with Jon going first in the last round, he had enough power in his spell to kill off Dan and take the victory. It was about as close as you could get, and made for a really exciting endgame.
So is Jon converted to Ameritrash? Not completely, but if this game came out again for 3 players, he’d probably jump in with both feet. High praise indeed….
Jon 2; Dan 1; Mark 1

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Then Mines of Gold, of Wealth Untold

A variety of games, most of them involving wealth, and one or two featuring gold mines...
We begin with some modern wealth...
Briefcase (thanks Jon)
It was great to see John back in our midst again, and as usual, he was able to bring something new and shiny for us to play – in this case, Briefcase. This is a deck-building game set in the modern business world, which shares a lot of similarities with other deck-builders such as Dominion, but has enough new elements to make it feel quite different. Players have a deck that is comprised of only 4 types of cards – Buy, Activate, Obstacle and Hire. These are used to purchase resources (Steel, Paper, Concrete and People) and buildings. The buildings are then activated by the players to give them extra cards and special abilities. Buildings provide points at the end of the game, as long as they have been activated.
As with many card games of this nature, the first thing to get to grips with is the iconography. Although not as mysterious as Race for the Galaxy, the icons did take a little working out at first.
The first few turns appeared to be fairly scripted, although maybe everyone was just following John’s example, as he was the old hand. Therefore, people and steel were collected to power everyone’s Power Stations to produce energy. Hire cards are used to essentially rent other players’ buildings at half the usual cost – the twist being that the cost is paid to the palyer themselves rather than the ‘bank’. For some reason, John and Paul both decided that Woody would be the fortunate recipient of all these free resources, despite the fact that he had the most buildings in his play area. Jon made some hurt, whimpering noises, but to no avail – his buildings remained unhired, and he was forced to plough a lone furrow. (Paul later admitted that he has a policy of not helping Jon in any game. If Paul wasn’t soon to become a father for the first time, there would be some choice words flying back in his direction…)
Anyway, the game started to pick up pace as everyone became more familiar with what was going on (and as a result of John receiving an SOS from his daughter…) and pretty soon the end game loomed (3 piles of resources, or the ‘Buy’ stack running out). Jon had the option to end the game, which would give just Woody a final turn, but would not allow hom to score much, or to allow another turn for all players. He chose the latter, which as it turned out, allowed John to score 7 points on his final turn and win the game. Jon scored 6 himself, and lost by a single point as a result of not having activated one of his buildings. Woody was also not far behind, but Paul was languishing at the back in last place – his evil machinations having come back to bite him on his not inconsiderable derriere…
John 20; Jon 19; Woody 17; Paul – a miserable 11

Now for Renaissance wealth...
Medici (thanks James)
Being late meant I was in the position of grabbing any position at a table that was needed players, and luckily a game of Medici was about to start with room for one more. I hadn't played this for 3 years, in fact since my very first evening at IBG... As luck would have it I somehow managed to win that game, and so my casual arrogance with that memory betrayed me as I pooh-pooh'd the offer to review the rules and just launched straight in... and proceeded to screw up the first round totally, lagging in last place on about 75 points while Gareth and Andy jumped ahead with around 120
The more astute readers might at this point marvel at the excessively high scoring in the first round... indeed... just who are these talented Medici players who can score 100 points in a single round ?

Ok, perhaps at this point I should mention that Gareth was responsible for reading the rules...

...and suddenly the penny drops.

So... after a pause... a review of the rules... and a re-scoring (10% from memory) of the first round we carried on. Personally I was still last, but feeling like I had been brought a 2nd chance.

And the 2nd round everything worked perfectly for me, and I picked up the 30 point max, plus 25 from goods... which launched me into 1st place with Tara 2nd and the others squabbling at the back.

To the 3rd and final round. My plan at this stage was to do nothing rash as I had a 25 point lead. Luckily Gareth and Barry had a disaster round as they were left at the end with no cards and only 1/2 filled holds... This cemented 4th and 5th place and despite some good scores from Tara and Andy my lead was unassailable. The battle for 2nd was close though, with Andy just squeaking it with a 20 point bonus for 1 of the goods. With 2 games in 3 years and 2 wins, I'm very much looking forward. to trying this game out again in 2015.
James 129, Andy 105, Tara 104, Gareth 91 and Barry 69

The legendary wealth of Moorish Spain comes next...
Granada (thanks James)
Some people would call this Alhambra with a proper board, Barry though was worried that a great game would be ruined by an unnecessary tweaking of the rules. However both Gareths, Barry and I decided to give it a go and see how it compared to its older cousin.

So to create Granada, take Alhambra, merge the boards into one proper board, change the walls for moats, simplify the scoring (all colours are the same scores and have the same tile distribution) and add some weird twist about double sided tiles. That’s it really.

It was the first time for Gareth (#2) and given this game punishes players who don't really get the concept of construction of the palace it's hard to win I think playing more experienced players. I was lucky to pick up initial tiles that all merged perfectly for a long moat, and by the time the first scoring came round was already on an 8 points bonus.

No one was choosing to select the other side of tiles, so that aspect of the new game was pretty much ignored, but by the 2nd scoring players were looking around to see where they could compete with others for each for the 9 types of buildings in their palaces. Again though experience worked and Gareth (#1) and I put together a bigger score with me taking a good lead after this round.

The game then carries on until all tiles are used from the bag. Gareth (#1) was in full catch up mode by now, and Barry was collecting some solid tiles. Gareth (#2) by this stage had probably realised where he had gone wrong and was struggling to put together a moat of any size.

I was lucky though, and picked up some tiles at the end to add to my moat and despite the initial scoring giving Gareth a momentary lead I had enough points in the tank for the end scoring to run away with the win. Barry almost pipped Gareth (#1) for 2nd place with some late scoring as well...
Good game (well I would say that...) , although Barry was not impressed with the differences made to Alhambra. Personally I think Alhambra is probably a better game out of the box, but this is a nicer package, and the simplified scoring helps a lot. The double sided tile thing though is a mess... should just ignore this for future games with the rule that tiles are randomly places meaning the distribution of buildings is random each game.

James 151, Gareth (#1) 128, Barry 123 and Gareth (#2) 85

Followed by some actual gold mines...
Oregon (thanks Jon)
Woody and Andy knew what they were doing, but Jon had only played once before a long time ago, so Woody gave a nice clear recap. Woody was also good enough to give some early game advice (take note Paul….) which was useful in helping Jon to build his coal mine next to his general store.
Andy started right in the middle of the board, whilst Woody managed to congregate several workers around some harbours in the South West corner.
Jon had picked up a couple of gold mines, and managed to build them next to one of Andy’s at the top of the map. He then placed a worker right in the middle of them, picking up 3 ingots in a single turn.
It was looking like Jon was going to end the game incredibly quickly, until a quick count-up revealed that 3 of the green meeples were missing. Nevertheless, he was still able to get them on the board in the next few turns and the game finished. Woody had a large lead at this point, but Jon had spent much of the game mining, and had racked up a massive 43 points in gold and coal, enough to overtake Woody and take the win.
The moral victory goes to Woody, though, for the generous strategic advice at the beginning!
An excellent 45 minute game – must play more often…
Jon 97; Woody 84; Andy 69

Medieval wealth next- from Baking, mainly.
Neill, Gareth and I played, with my taking 1st player. I adopted a 2 red 1 white 2 yellow placement, with Neil 2 red 2 white 1 yellow and Gareth 1 red 2 white 2 yellow. Initial cards were Tithe (steal yellow dice), Baker (earn money for yellow dice in the play area) and Archer (shoot at events).
I opened with Baker, Neil with Archer and Gareth with Tithe. Play continued with everyone using the cathedral and Gareth agriculture.

In round 2 Confession (+2 to each die in a group), Militia (yellow dice to red dice) and Hunting (red dice for influence) were revealed, along with The Resistance, an expansion event that causes players to become spies or resistance members depending on their secret identity... just kidding, it actually adds another red card and each turn wipes 2 cubes off each event. The ‘knock cubes off the cathedral’ event came out this turn and stayed around a bit, knocking 2 of Gareth’s cubes off.

Neil took Baker, Gareth used Tithe for four cubes on Militia and I used the Archer to shoot at the Resistance, only hitting twice on five dice.
Fortunately Neil was also shooting and he had better luck and chose to take out the Resistance since anything else would be lost to them next turn.
Turn 3 saw Pilgrimage (VPs for dice groups of any colour), Sculptor (yellow dice to VPs) and Banquet (VPs for most red dice in an area (need not be your area)). No one used Banquet as red dice were fairly evenly divided. Gareth used Tithe with Baker for 16 gold (11 gold profit) and I kept shooting at the events while Neil went Hunting and to Confession. Gareth had the money for Sculptor and I invested in Tithing and pushed another follower into the Red and White buildings.
During Turn 4 Neil shot down the ‘cubes off the Cathedral’ event which was now threatening his cubes, I was able to Tithe into Baker and then buy Sculptor and Neil and I put more cubes into the Cathedral.
Turn 5 saw more of the same with Gareth going on Pilgrimage. Secret identities were money (me) influence (Neil) and cubes in the cathedral (Gareth), with Neil managing to score most points on all three! Unfortunately don’t have an exact note of the scores but roughly...
Neill 45 Gareth 32 Philip 30

The wealth of Ancient Egypt...
Gareth, Neill and Tara embarked on this without a cloth bag for the pieces so we had to use a shopping bag. First Kingdom went smoothly with me on least Pharaohs and Neill on most Pharaohs, a patter repeated for the rest of the game. Tara and Neill had Niles and floods, I did not. We all managed a civilisation tile but Tara had three.
In the second kingdom my suns were very low, resulting in repeated calls of Ra, which only served to cement Neil and Tara’s lead, Tara collecting 4 different civilisation tiles this round. I picked up a couple of disasters, killing pharaohs (whom I had too few of to matter) and floods and niles. I did however manage to collect all 8 monument types, shame they don’t score yet...
Third kingdom my suns were almost as low so more calls of Ra and I managed to collect 4 of one type of monument. Neil also had all 8 monument types, Tara only had 3 and a set of 3 but nevertheless won, helped by her most suns to my least suns. Scores approximate.
Tara 52 Neil 40 Me 25.

Ok, this one isn't about wealth...

Skulls and Roses
Reversing my usual tactics I decided to bid heavily, resulting in an early flip to the Roses side and the loss of three of my cards. Down to a rose, I switched tactics and pretended to have only a skull left, passing except when forced to bid, and only bidding one then. Meanwhile Woody was also on Roses but successive bids failed on Neil’s repeated skulls, including 2 bids by Neil! Someone eventually turned my rose over, forcing me back into the bidding. James made a successful bid and it seemed to be between him and Woody, with Woody winning the final round by an immediate maximum bid.
Woody won, Jon, James, Tara, Gareth, Neil, Philip lost.

P.S “Then Mines of Gold of Wealth Untold” is a quotation from Utopia Unlimited  by Gilbert and Sullivan