Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Geek and Geeks and Geekiness

How do we use the Geek?  It’s all pretty interesting to me you see and although I’ve been signed up for years it’s only since getting to know you lot that I’ve felt confident enough to post a few things, as you’ll see not that much really! 

Anyway, I’ve recorded my plays over the last eighteen months or so, as well as my collection and wishlist.  I subscribe to all the games on both lists although rarely read many of the posts to be honest.  There are some great photos though and a potential new game can be made for me through a few good snaps, and the videos too of course.  

I’m pretty keen on the downloadable files people set up; like the home made boxes for cards or tiles and such like.  Have made quite a few for Stone Age, Agricola, Ora & Labora amongst others.  Also pretty keen on pimping games where appropriate; Pandemic, Thebes have some great figures, and wooden resources are always a treat.  Does mean I have a glut of bits going spare and I guess at some stage I should be passing those on maybe. 

There are also a few blogs I’ve subscribed to and from time to time I’ll go through the top 500 list and have a look at a few games I’ve not looked at in detail, or games by authors I think I like.  Then just recently started looking at some of the ‘print and play’ games, there’s quite a realm of those out there.  So am in the middle of producing a couple of those, see how they turn out.

I do always wonder if there is more I should be getting out of it though, what do you use it for?  Let me know!

Ok, so team IBG this week was made up of the following superstars; Scott, James, Tom, Jon, Phil, Me, Paul A, Soren, Jeroen, Dan, Michel (hurrah, we didn't put him off last week!), Amanda, Andy, Noel, Gareth, David
And we got through a good number of games all told; Hanabi (twice with different formations!), Snowdonia, In the Year of the Dragon, Pax, No Thanks, Coup, Chronicle, Super Heroes, Fleet, The Resistance, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Gauntlet of Fools... here are the piccies and one or two little stories to go with them;

Hanabi (thanks Jon, and for the eggs too!)

This was new to Philip but Neil, Scott and Jon had played a few times before. The gallant quartet didn't appear to be doing too badly, but had discarded an important '3' early in the game which blocked up one of the piles. For once, Jon actually remembered which cards he had in his hand, whilst Philip had rather a 'Jon' moment when he discarded a card he 'knew' was a 5. Easily done!

When the deck ran out the final score was 18. Not earth shatteringly good, but this is a hard game to beat...

In the Year of the Dragon (thanks Jon)

This was new to Neil and Jon hadn't played for years. Gareth was the veteran of the group...

Right from the off, Jon decided not to challenge for first in turn order, but instead concentrated on picking up the more valuable people. This meant that he needed a good supply of cash to use in case the tiles came out badly. Both Neil and Gareth picked up early scrolls, which scored consistently throughout the game. Neil had some unfortunate catastrophes which led to the death of several of his population, as well as the loss of the odd building level. Gareth maintained a healthy population throughout the game, and was scoring consistently well. With about 4 rounds to go, Jon was lagging well behind but had picked up a couple of the 'bookish' fellows, giving him a bonus of 9 points per round as long as he chose the right tile. Fortunately, he had stocked up with a lot of coins, so was able to guarantee this choice for the last few rounds.

When it came to the final round scoring, it was incredibly close, but Jon's late surge had (by luck or by design) been perfectly timed and he recorded his first ever win in this game, albeit by a very slim margin. Neil did really well to stay in contention all game, as this can be a brutal game for newcomers and veterans alike.

Scores; Jon 100, Gareth 98, Neil 92

Pax Porfiriana (thanks Michel!)

During Pax there was a bit of confusion, a lot of chaos/change of regime/war in Mexico but finally Soren won thanks to his anarchy skills.

Hanabi 2, “Hanabier” (thanks again Michel)

For Hanabi, we surprisingly didn't succeed but it was quite enjoyable.

Coup (thanks Philip)

This is a great little bluffing card game and we played it about half a dozen times- we being Philip, James, Jon, Noel, David and Scott. Each player has two role cards face down in front of them. On his turn the player takes one action. Usually a given action can only be taken by one role. But you don’t have to have the role to take the action- you can bluff. Anyone can call your bluff. If you can show the role card then they lose a life and you get a new role card (there are 3 of each role in the deck and 5 roles). If you can’t then you lose a life and have to turn over one of your role cards (and you now only have one role).

If you get to 7 money you can spend it all on a “Coup”, which removes a life from one opponent- this is unblockable and requires no role card in particular. Most other actions are blockable- e.g the Assassin can remove a life for only 3 gold but is blocked by the Contessa. One of the best roles in the game is Duke, which allows you to take 3 gold. It is a common opening for all players to claim to be a Duke- once the 4th player has made the claim you know someone is lying, but who?

Another role- the Ambassador, allows you to swap roles, and is also a common opening move (whether or not you have an Ambassador). Final role is Captain- steal 2 gold from target player, but blockable by Captains or Ambassadors.

Anyway much hilarious bluffing ensued. Highlights included; Me opening with a very slow and hesitant claim of Ambassador to exchange cards, prompting Scott to challenge me, whereupon I showed my Ambassador. Next game, me opening with a very fast and slick claim of Ambassador to exchange cards, prompting David to challenge me, whereupon I showed Ambassador. James getting robbed blind by Scott’s Captain and then my Captain, two turns running. Jon using Ambassador only to draw the other two Ambassadors (he explained this afterwards). People being killed just before they could execute a Coup. Every player winning at least one game and most two games.

Scott says; “Correction, I didn't win any of the six (I believe everyone else got one except for Noel who got 3 and Jon with none who only played in one round) and I prefaced my explanation of the game that I wasn't very good at it, somehow I can be challenged very easily but yet I can be a spy with Noel and shift blame on to Jon quite successfully. I should stick to the Resistance.”


Snowdonia (thanks James and Phil)

Scott was keen to try this before opening his own copy (sensible man!) with David also bracing the welsh weather for the first time, while Noel, Phil and myself all were happy to take another trip to Snowdonia. Last time out the game seems to play very slowly at first, with few white cubes appearing to drive the game along. Noel announced pre game that this time round he had a better feel for the pacing and was not going to be caught out again... perhaps...

The game started at a canter, not only with several sunny days on the horizon but also white cubes a plenty and before we'd had chance to pronounce Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogogoch the first side of the board was clear of rubble and players were starting to wonder if we might be done in 30 minutes.

Phil was, once again, pushing his surveyor around the board as though this was a game of Formula De... and for some reason, once again, we let him pick up the bonus card with all the extra points if he reached the last station... he won last time out with this strategy so on the scale of dumb moves this ranked probably as just as high as trying to fit in a game of Through the Ages into a standard Wed evening...

David was first to buy a train, closely followed by myself... and we were all content with this up until another invasion of white cubes pushed the game tracker past the train tax tile and we had to lose them as we hadn't saved up an iron bar for insurance. From this point Noel Phil and Scott all brought trains, partly cause it made good strategic sense, but also cause it was a subtle way to gloat at us...

Around mid-game the weather turned sour... but already 2/3 of the stations had been cleared. The game was playing totally differently to last time when a slow start accelerated. This time round players were scrabbling to find ways to make points before we hit the last station. I, at this stage, was feeling far behind, but had a few plans lined up to build several pieces of track in one go using some cards as bonuses. Noel kept picking up the first played marker and as the player on my RHS it always meant I went last, very frustrating along with a realisation that Phil (on my LHS) was more concerned with moving his surveyor than taking the first player marker... it's the last time I sit next to him... where's Paul when I needed him, could always rely on him helping me out through shrewd manipulation of player order

Suddenly the weather cleared up and it was obvious the game would be ending in 2 or 3 turns. I managed to pull off my plan to clear 4 tracks in a turn, and with David also clearing 2 we were down to the last 2 moves. Scott had a (not too subtle) plan to try and gather enough tracks for a 25 point bonus, but luckily David stopped this. Noel was doing well on the stations, but had, once again, mistimed the ending. Phil was shappy with his Surveyor and bonus points and I was just hoping when it all got added together that I'd managed to get a good cross section of points.

And then it ended with a flurry of station and track building. The scores are a little bit fiddly (there's good reason you get a 7 Wonders style score pad in the box)...

Noel indeed had done alright with the building, but with 0 bonus points from his cards was always going to struggle. David had more points across the board, as had Scott, but without the large bonus he was eyeing in the previous round his challenge was faltering. Phil managed to get 36 points from his surveyor, but little else... and as luck would have it (or because I was the person picking cubes out of the bag, as others might suggest) I managed to sneak the win, despite feeling for 3/4 of the game that I was out of the running as I had no active train and was nowhere on the surveyor track.

Great game (well I would say that)... and a very different experience than the other 2 times I've played it with the white cubes really speeding up the start and the weather a totally different pattern than before. At the moment this is probably my Essen game of choice for 2012.

Scores; Noel 39, David 53, Scott 53, Phil 55, James 63

Resistance (thanks Philip again!)

We finished off the night with this old classic. Scott was first off with a Jon and Scott team, passing the first mission easily. I proposed a Jon, James and Noel team, but was voted down. James went for a James, Jon and Scott team, which failed. Jon was now leader and he passed a card to David asking for it not to be used on himself. He then selected David, Noel, Jon and Scott. Me and James knew this was wrong, but we were voted down and bizarrely the mission passed. David used his card to check Jon’s mission card, specifically because Jon had asked him not to.

For the next mission Noel picked Jon, him and David. The mission failed, so we were down to the wire. I thought the spies were James and Noel, Jon thought they were David and Scott (Jon could deduce that I was not a spy). After quite a bit of arguing a team was put together which once again excluded me (I forget who was included) and therefore doomed the mission. My least successful Resistance member performance ever- not a single mission. Congratulations to the real spies!

Scott and Noel won, Me, James, David and Jon lost.


After the previous week’s inauspicious start I joined in another game of Fleet with Tom and Dan.  My amnesiac’s version of the rules no doubt helped, but also the fact that we ran badly out of time meant it’s second outing for me left me even more uncertain about the game. 

Tom clearly decided that vessels, any vessels, were a must for him and the strategy was pretty good to be fair. Dan decided he wanted to spend the game in various fisherman’s pubs, never going to be a winning tactic in my book but he clearly felt at home there, ‘nough said really.  I went with the same strategy that took me to third out of four last week, and picked up processing vessels to enable to turn crates into coins and cards.  It just about paid off this time although we ran out of crates, and undoubtedly had a couple of rules wrong too.  I read them the following day, the rules.  Always useful at some stage really, and maybe I should play it properly once before making my mind up once and for all (didn’t stop me buying Swordfish in the week though!).

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