Tuesday, 6 November 2012

“If today there are clouds o’er the sky, tomorrow the sun may be shining”
Glen More (thanks Woody)
Looking for a 60 minute game whilst waiting for others to finish, James offered up Glen More which he had picked up for an absolute steal at Essen and had always had a good reputation.

A simple board on which tiles are placed for selection, players take it in turns (last place player always acting first) to select a tile, connect it to their village and where position utilise the actions listed on that tile and any adjoining tiles in their village. A balance of resource management, workers and tile collection is required to maximise scores. There are three rounds of scoring during the game.

Finals scores should be taken with a pinch of salt, as Woody accidently placed one tile in the wrong place. Hard to say how this effected the final outcome but .....
Woody 56 Philip 48 James 45

Sentinels of the Multiverse (thanks Tom)
 Tom had brought along his kickstarted Enhanced Edition of SOTM with both expansions and soon had teammates in fellow Ameritrashers, Dan and Mark, with Gareth II making up the fourth member of the Freedom Four.

The first villain that our heroes had to face was the training wheels equivalent within the annals of Multiverse villainy, Baron Blade with his evil scheme to pull the moon into the earth. As the old hand at the game, Tom handed out suitable entry level heroes with Legacy (Superman equivalent who acts as more of a support hero who buffs other hero abilities; Gareth II), Wraith (female Batman with utility belt and various gadgets; Dan), Ra (Egyptian Sun God – major damage dealer; Mark), and Tachyon (female Flash who burns through her deck with a view to big attack payoff in the end; Tom).

With an exceptionally good card draw leading to the heroes soon having +2/3 damage and both Wraith and Ra effectively dealing 7-10 damage a turn, the fight didn’t last long, especially after two well timed Lightspeed Barrages by Tachyon. Baron Blade’s scheme had been foiled and all the heroes HP remained 20+, a relative rarity in a four player game. This may been in part due to our having forgotten to deal Ra 4 damage on each turn for his Solar Flare but generally the players stayed on top of the game despite its inherent mathiness.

After the relatively easy battle against Baron Blade, the team were up for another fight and luckily Grand Warlord Voss’s forces had been sighted raiding the Tombs of Anubis. A quick change of personnel to Tempest (Voss’s nemesis – he’s essentially Aquaman/Superman and a genuine allrounder; Gareth II); Fanatic (another allrounder with some very powerful cards; Dan); Expatriette (female Punisher with a weapon arsenal to match; Mark), and The Argent Adept (bongo playing magician who can build some deadly combos in support of other heroes; Tom).

GWV is a much more difficult villain than Baron Blade and it showed. Two relatively early Forced Deployments were somewhat of a god-send as was Tempest’s minion control and Expatriette’s quick drawing of both Pride & Prejudice, her favourite pistols. This game took somewhat longer and could have turned out rather badly for the team. However, all of the team contributed throughout to pull out a relatively comfortable win. Tempest and Expatriette were regular damage dealers (with the additional benefit of Tempest’s healing and discard search). Argent Adept both controlled the environment deck and healed the team with his magic horn (don’t ask). Fanatic was basically useless except for two shots of Wrathful Retribution dealing around 40 total damage to GWV.

A very satisfying turnout for SOTM and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, especially Tom who got to mime playing his magical instrumentation throughout the GWV battle (although, unfortunately, the bongos did not see any real use). With 15 heroes (two of which have variable powers), 13 villains (two of which are also variable), eight environments and an Advanced Mode, this will see a lot more play hopefully. Bring on the Shattered Timelines expansion next year, 40 dollar shipping be damned!

Coup (thanks Tom)
Following the victorious exploits of the Freedom Four in the Multiverse, Woody was espied looking for a quick game before he left for the evening. Tom suggested his new copy of Coup – a game which has been getting a fair modicum of Essen buzz, due to its supposedly high card to fun ratio (a bit like Love Letter which went down so badly with Jon the week before).

In short, there are five different role cards: Duke, Assassin, Contessa, Ambassador and Captain. Three of each role card are provided, meaning a total deck of 15. The Assassin is the only card with a wholly aggressive function; the Contessa the only defence-only card (blocking an Assassin); the other three role can perform dual functions.

At the start of the game, each player draws two cards from the deck, looks at the cards and then places them face down in front of them. These represent each player’s influence and if both of these cards are turned face up, the relevant player is out of the game. In addition as acting as influence, each card provides their respective player with its power. For example, if Tom had the Duke and Assassin in front of him, he can choose to use their powers. However, he could also either choose to use one of three non card related powers: Income, Foreign Aid, and Coup; or he can bluff and pretend that he has one of the other three cards in his influence. The downside to bluffing is that if you choose to do so and are challenged by another player, you must turn one of your influence cards face up as punishment pushing you closer to elimination.

There are four ways in which your influence can be affected: you bluff and are successfully challenged; you unsuccessfully challenge another player; you are targeted by an Assassin (and are unable or unwilling to challenge, or defend with a Contessa); or you are the victim of a Coup (an unblockable attack requiring payment of seven coins). A side effect of the affected influence is that players also gain more knowledge as to the cards remaining in play, as once a card is turned over, it remains that way and can no longer be used. So it’s a bluffing game with imperfect information and a healthy dose of luck.

Following that relatively long overview, the game itself plays relatively quickly. Gareth, Mark and Dan were knocked out lickity split, ending up with a matchup of Tom vs Woody. Woody had a full complement of influence remaining, whilst Tom was down to one. A rather tedious exercise of Woody drawing coins with the Duke and then promptly having them stolen from him by Tom’s Captain (despite it later turning out that Woody could have blocked Tom with his own captain) lead to two Coups in a row by Tom and victory.
Definitely worth another play with some evil bluffers. James and Jon – your time is now.

Magical Athlete (thanks Tom)
Woody, defeated and dejected, left the table to have a mosey over to the Snowdonia table and its pretty pink components. An hour left before closure, Tom took the opportunity to suggest Magical Athlete which he had been waiting to play since July.

A race game, it starts with a bidding process which is very similar to Show Manager/Atlantic Star with each player (in a four player game) obtaining a five character team for five separate races. The teams will consist of characters from a 25 strong starting set (of which five are removed before the bidding begins, for the purposes of uncertainty during the bidding). Once the teams are chosen, the races begin with each player choosing one character from their team to participate. Movement is controlled by a normal 6 sided die but will be affected by various character abilities. Points are then awarded for each placing. The group decided that first place would be awarded one point, second two points etc. so that the person with the least points would be the winner. This was helped by the absence of Thief from the bidding pool.

It would be a long and exhausting exercise to go through each race on a blow by blow basis. However, there were some definite highlights. Tom’s Cupid racing into a huge lead in one race, only to be constantly drawn back by Dan’s Pirate, resulting in Tom reaching across the table to grab Dan by the non-existent lapels and bellowing “I. Hate. You. Daniel!” Mark’s unreasoned and unrelenting attack on Dan’s character with his Necromancer, despite Gareth II being in the lead. The Siren/Troll combo resulting in the race participants moving all over the shop. Mark’s spawning of The Philosopher’s power in the final race, resulting in Gareth II’s Gladiator essentially advancing one extra space per turn. The list goes on. There was lots of shouting and lots of laughter.

In the end, however, Gareth II was victorious with 11 points. Dan and Tom followed with 12 (Dan probably getting the nod for having more first places). Mark was last with 15.

A light hearted adventure in die rolling, Tom played it again at the weekend with non-gamers and it was a real hit (except for Louise who was last in every race!).

Mission Red Planet
With newcomer Amanda [Not to be confused with oldcomer Amanda, who didn’t turn up this week-Ed] arriving, the group split into 2 three’s, with Noel and Jon showing Amanda the wonders of Mission Red Planet – a second outing in 2 weeks for this nice little area control game. This week, though, they adjusted the Discovery cards so that there were no drastically terrible ones available, following Neil’s unfortunate demise last week.
Jon and Noel were being very gentlemanly for the first two-thirds of the game, and it was only their own astronauts that were becoming lost in space. As it turns out, maybe they shouldn’t have gone quite so easy on Amanda, who showed that she could quickly pick up a new game.
In the last scoring round, she managed to expand into a number of sectors, and scored a large bonus for having several sectors with only her own astronauts in them. She also scored the ice bonus, and when the final scores were tallied, she had nearly double Jon and Noel’s scores.
Amanda 65; Jon 33; Noel 33

The evening ended with four of us playing this welsh railway game. Instead of building individual railways between different locations, all players are building the same railway up the Snowdonia mountain. Players own bits of track and station fittings and can keep rubble they have cleared, but the railway as a whole is a collective effort, with occasional contributions from a neutral party to keep the game going.
Earlier in the evening we had been considering a five player game and Woody teased me that I would have to play Pink, which is one of the five colours. As there were only four players Pink could have been left out but I decided to play Pink anyway, leaving out Purple.
The game crudely models Welsh weather with Sunshine, Rain and Fog being the available states. You can tell the weather two days in advance. The game began with Sunshine, followed by Fog and then a prolonged period of Rain, which made it more difficult to clear rubble and build track.
While the others were coping with the weather, I took the opportunity to push my Surveyor- a piece which starts at the first station and can be moved between stations even before a path has been cleared to them. The further the Surveyor gets the more he scores, with 21 points if he reaches the furthest, 7th, station. I reached the 7th station about halfway through the game, which was perhaps a bit early since it meant I couldn’t use spare actions on the Surveyor later.
Another Scoring mechanism takes the form of cards- each card has a special one-off ability and a scoring objective- for example build 5 pieces of track for 40 points. I took an objective which required 1 piece of track and 12 points of rubble for 22 points and also an objective which gave 15 points for reaching the final station with the Surveyor.
Everyone starts with two workers (not including the Surveyor) and a third worker in the Pub. You can only liberate your worker from the Pub if you have an engine and pay one coal. He returns to the Pub at turn end and has to be coaxed out again with more coal. Coal is difficult to obtain but you normally get some when you buy an engine.
James was the first to buy an engine, taking the one that clears extra rubble. I had intended to buy the same but instead went with the one that is worth 9 bonus Vps at game end. Noel picked up Ivor, which allows working in fog, and Jon, who was last to pick, chose an engine that allowed him to lay extra track.
Shortly after James bought his engine the sun came out and we were able to clear rubble and build track with a vengeance. I was fortunate in clearing exactly 12 pieces of rubble, while others didn’t quite make the requirement on all their cards and some were rather surprised by the game’s abrupt end and still had tonnes of useless raw material.
Philip 108 James 96 Noel 86 Jon 84
“If today there are clouds o’er the Sky, tomorrow the sun may be shining” is a quotation from The Grand Duke by Gilbert and Sullivan.

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