Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Wake up and smell the coffee.........

16 IBG'ers turned up tonight, and it was like a re-uninion of all the Lord Lucan's - with Jim, Scott, Jeff and Barrie all turning up on the same night. I think that they must have heard that James was bringing cake again (which he didn't), or that Pippa Middleton was turning up to play games (which she didn't) or that Neil was buying all the drinks (which he didn't). Whatever the reason - it was a fine turnout and good to see these old (some of them very old) faces again.

Played tonight was a game about coffee, a couple of games about burgers (or something) with a few Kings, Dukes and Mayans thrown in for good measure.

First up -

With Jim making one of his very rare appearances to IBG, it seemed right and proper that he should bring an obscure little card game along – especially one entitled “Fool”…. This is your standard trick-taking fare, but with the twist that the player who lays the worst card (lowest or not following suit) does not get to lay a card during the next hand. This does add a nice layer of extra thought into the game, as it is not necessarily a no-brainer as to what ‘throw away’ cards you lay down. The object is to get rid of all your cards, and Jim, Barry, Scott, James and Jon were the protagonists.
Three rounds were played – the first wasn’t scored, the second was scored (but the scores have been lost to the vagaries of Jon’s washing machine) and then Soren decided to actually read the rules and realised that we had been playing the scoring all wrong. Therefore we played a third round with the correct scoring method, but as James won, it was deemed null and void…
This is another one of those games (along with the ‘Steven Seagal’ game) that I could happily play for a good half an hour or more at the beginning or end of an evening. Maybe we’ll get a chance to play it again in 2014 when Jim next appears…..

This game is proving popular at IBG - it's amazing what fun you can have with just 15 cards...

Coup (thanks Neil)
The second coup attempt of the evening; Barrie, Gareth, Gareth II, Dan II, Philip & Neil.
With the favoured Dukes taking income the coup’s came thick and fast early on, with several Captains falling on their swords. Ambassadors then became abundant and by keeping out of the tit-for-tat strikes of the coups and Assassins it suddenly came down to Barrie and me - I slowly collecting income for my own Assassin, Barrie’s Duke funding the death of my protectress, until I had the wealth and he tried to bluff, and his earlier victory faded from memory.
Twice I have won this game, and twice by the Assassin’s stealth!

And then there was the 'Game of the Month' -

The Castles of Burgundy (thanks to Neil for this one)
The Influential Princes of 15th Century; Barry of Canadia, Barrie of Up Nerth, Gareth of Architekton, and Neil of the South Folk.
The decrees of conduct are plentiful, the principles governing exceptional behaviour similarly so; after all Master Stefan of the Fields had compiled the ‘Great Book of Estate Management in the Realm of Burgund’. Prince Barry had travelled through them on three or more previous Quests, Prince Neil had studied at the Chez Moi Academy, and without the contribution of Edward Bears.
The undertaking set is the construction of a unique estate in the Valleys of the Loire. There will be grazing pastures, mines to provide wealth, castles for status, buildings of authority, and ships to aid the trade of one’s produce. Knowledge comes in various guises and should be collected with hindsight. The Silvering currency is scarce, workers are plentiful if time-wasters, and the fortunes of the dice provide irritations rather than being all encompassing.
Each of the five recurring sequences of activities start with a vast array of opportunities for growth, and short-term strategies. Prince Barry was the perfect exemplar; buildings and ships were much in demand. My South Folk heritage had me designing fortresses providing early esteem in the eyes of our masters. Prince Barrie had a penchant for meadows of cows, the odd mine here and there. Gareth assembled markets and became a fine purveyor of goods, as well as a gatherer of sheep. After rediscovering the Lord amongst my churches I turned to the North Folk for extensive piggery husbandry. Further excursions into mining gave Princes Barry and Barrie the wealth to select castles and more cows respectively. Knowledge flowed as the estates evolved as all reached the twilight of their deeds.
Mighty estates had indeed been developed and the prestige of all was within a tolerable margin. However, a victor was evident, following on from his successful earlier coup, our protagonist from Up Nerth had maximised exceptional knowledge and established a truly magnificent estate.
Barrie 215, Neil 199, Barry 190, Gareth 182

There was also a second game of this played, but no-one was very forthcoming about telling me what happened, so I'll guess that Jeff destroyed both Jim and Scott, who both then went and had a good cry in the toilets about it.... (feel free to correct me on this anyone...!!!)

Meanwhile, over on another table -

VivaJava: The Coffee Game (thanks Noel for this report)
Jon, Paul, Soren, Noel and Shirley sat down ready to get involved in the 'negotiatable' fest that is Chinatown. After a entertaining rules explanation, including neologisms from James we were all looking forward to renewing acquaintances with an old classic. It was also the 2nd game Noel had played at his first IBG visit several years ago, when his shelves had books on them and spare cupboards were a place for blankets and towels and not holding units for board games in transition.
Then Dan arrived and 5 became 6, Chinatown was abandoned and Viva Java was eagerly pulled from the games bundle for its first play for all. Billed as a sociable, strategy game that plays best with 7 or 8 the rules were (relatively) quickly refreshed by Noel and explained. Gameplay is quite straight forward with changing alliances developing to attempt to create the best coffee blends in your mini team while individually developing your research 'tech tree'.
Almost everyone quickly took the option to convert vps into research points although Jon forged ahead. Unfortunately this meant he was last to go in turn order for a couple of turns so couldn't pick up the best coffee beans or bonuses. Soren had a high quality black bean roaster which, despite initial advances from Dan, was eventually turned into a 4 of a kind black blend with Noel. James developed a bag full of the white beans, which although the worst bean, could have converted into a strong blend if he had the correct team mate. Unfortunately for him Dan couldnt help him out when needed. The next turn he did create a strong blend with Jon, which Noel pushed an Investment token on to also benefit.
It seemed that the investment tokens were a powerful ability if played on the right blend. Dan made the unfortunate investment in a mug of fine belfast dishwater concocted by Noel and Paul which didnt gain many points. Having initally disregarded the investment tokens, James traded most of his vps in half way through the game to develop this ability. This meant he was trailing far behind and was unable to catch up. With one turn to go Noel had a 3 point lead and with investment in 2 strong blends on the scoring slate carried a convincing win.
The verdict... Well certainly it would be better with 7 or 8 and there are not many games that play well with that number. I think I expected more negotiation and stronger feeling of a temporary alliance. Playing with 6 generally meant 3 two player teams and with a default to research if the vote was tied there wasnt much negotiation or denying a player the option to blend. Of course, further plays would refine the use of the tech tree, and the flavour cards (which we didnt play with) should add a further dimension. I think I will hold onto it for that occasional opportunity when 7 or 8 would like to play together (or at least until I have played with that number)
Noel 29, Soren 24, Paul and Jon 23, Dan 21, James 17

And to follow that -

King Up
The 6 coffee players were looking for a game to round the evening off – Dan vetoed The Resistance (boo!) and so Soren’s cute little filler made another appearance. The first round saw Jon left with the only veto cards at the end, so he was able to manipulate the tokens somewhat in his favour. The second round saw most of the tokens removed from the board and was therefore relatively low scoring. The third round ended very suddenly, when no-one vetoed the first vote (everyone assuming that some other mug would do it!) This gave Noel a huge 30 points from this round, which was just enough to haul himself past Soren into first place. James somehow managed a paltry 13 points in the last round, despite having all of his tokens still on the board, which left him in a sad last place for the second game in a row. That’s what a week in Paris does for you….. Noel 64; Soren 62; Jon 55; Paul 46; Dan 46; James 36

There was just time for a final game, and with Dan leaving, the other coffee-boys decided to go co-op. The reasoning being that at least James couldn’t come last 3 games in a row…. Paul was new to it, but it was hoped that his telepathic understanding with his brother might prove to be an advantage (spoiler alert: it wasn’t….) As per usual, the game starts with a flurry of clue-giving and card-laying and much good feeling. Then the hard part kicks in, and the team managed to successfully discard both blue 3’s, leaving that colour effectively useless. An interesting decision by ‘someone’ to tell Soren that he had a ‘5’, led him to attempt to play this card, when in fact it couldn’t be played for several rounds yet. It all went downhill from there, and the final score was a less-than-impressive 17 points. I suspect that this game will continue to be played until we eventually beat it (or until the earth’s core cools down – whichever comes first…)

Also played tonight were Kingsburg and Tzolk'in (which apparently Scott thrashed Jim at), but you'll have to guess the details yourself. Come back again next week to see if any of our Lord Lucan's turn up for a second week running.....
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