Wednesday, 17 April 2013

"It's been far too long..."

Players Philip, Gareth I, Gareth II, Jeroen, Barrie, Soren, Amanda, James, Dan, Jon and Paul.

The outstanding game of the evening was a session of Saboteur right at the end of the evening, which hasn't been done for far too many Wednesdays, where the 'main' games of the evening all ran their course and finished at roughly the same time to allow for a large group game.  Lots of hidden identity, false accusations  bluffing and a lot of fun it was too (even Gareth who defeated the odds by randomly being selected as a saboteur for all three hands seemed to enjoy it).

Terra Mystica (thanks Philip)

Jeroen was going first and picked the Halflings. Gareth picked the Auren and I picked the Giants- I know they have a bad reputation but I have to play them some time and this looked a pretty good opportunity- Stronghold scoring on first round, guaranteed +1 temporary shipping, no neighbours on the terrain tile and good chances of power gain from the Auren.

Our initial placement had no settlements next to each other- I made sure I took spaces which were 1 shipping away from other red spaces (for those of you who have a map, I took D7 and G2). Gareth had exactly the same policy (taking C3 and G3). Jeroen was doing his own thing on the Northern continent.

As said I took +1 temporary Shipping. Gareth took the Priest, don't remember what Jeroen took. Gareth took the first opportunity to upgrade his shipping, so I anticipated his next move by placing a dwelling next to it (D6). From then on the Auren and the Giants were constantly gaining power from each other, with the Halflings out of the loop.

The Halflings didn't help themselves by rushing their stronghold- I did point out that the 5 VPs for it on that turn was less than the 6 Vps they would get for it if they waited for the turn with the Spade bonus. I also rushed my stronghold, but thats the Giants for you.

Matters proceeded quite efficiently- Gareth built 3 towns and I built 2 (with the help of a couple of bridges) and Jeroen 1 I think. I ended upgrading my Spade rate a couple of times, I think Gareth also upgraded his on the final turn for the points. Suprisingly Jeroen's Halflings didn't uprade their spade rate, despite the discount.

I was eventually able to connect all my structures through Shippping 2 and a judicious placement on the desert tile at the eastern tip of the central continent (E8). Gareth also connected all his structures through shipping, and he built more than me. Jeroen had fewer structures- poor access to power hurting him. 

Gareth of course motored up the cult tracks, easily scoring highest there too. I scored second most there, the halflings not even bothering with some tracks. Eventual score was something like Auren 138 Giants 101 Halflings 76 (The Giants score is accurate, the others are guesses).

On The Underground

James had played this elsewhere recently and decided it was good enough to make the purchase, so on that basis found it easy to tempt a table of London sightseers to chase round the classic map of the underground for 90 minutes. 

It seemed to have some similarities to other route building games, with the twist that there is a passenger who moves each turn, whose route can be manipulated and this generates some points along the way. In James' previous game, he won by focussing on this passenger, which was information he gallantly volunteered to give the rest of the players a chance. 

Paul played his first few turns using BOTH of his route colours - the obvious thing to do, so he thought. Then he looked round and saw that no one else had touched their second colour and his resolve was tested (well, it wasn't really because he couldn't take his moves back, but it did make him think twice). Amanda and James were snaking with long routes and it seemed after a while that both might get some nice extra points by forming a big loop, so some tactical blocking was employed and both plans came to naught. Dan raking in some points by hitting the terminuses (thanks to James for this new word) and Jon seemed to be focussing his initial efforts on the west, until his second line came out in the east.

At the end of the game it was pretty close and it seemed as though the passenger movement wasn't necessarily the game winner, but a combination of factors.

Scores: Amanda 34, Paul 34 (joint winners - the rules said that there was no tie break), Dan 32, Jon 32, James 31

High Society 

After On the Underground  Amanda left and the remaining players decided to play a classic filler, while waiting for other games to finish to play something together. Everyone knew High Society  although Paul needed to dredge it from his memory banks. He was bidding for the starting cards, whilst everyone else were only laying money on the table to push his bids up. It worked, and he had taken the 7 and a '2x' in the first two cards. At that point James then reminded him that 'the player with the lowest money at the end loses automatically, you do know that Paul, don't you?' So Jon kindly took the negative card, Dan got something  but the cards to mark the end of the game came fairly thickly, and the others started bidding high. Dan got to a stage where he'd got some cards of some value, but needed to go for broke in order to take the lead. He went for it, spent all his cash and went broke, meaning that everyone else only had to keep one money card to stay in the game and it was highest number wins. Paul's earlier efforts paid off nicely and he managed to keep ahead of James and Jon.

Scores: Paul 26, James 14, Jon 14, Dan 24 (but the least money so he lost)

Saboteur (thanks Jon - and thanks for the spelling lesson)

It was just like the old days - the end of the evening and 8 IBG'ers staying around for a few fun rounds of gold-hunting dwarf adventure.

3 rounds were played. The first was quite close, but the good guys got there in the end. This was despite Barrie having a peek at 2 of the destination tiles, to only then build a path straight to a piece of coal. This would normally be perceived as the work of a saboteur, but in fact turned out to be the work of a dwarf with the memory of a goldfish.

The second round was a whitewash. The good dwarfs very quickly built a path straight to the gold, before any of the saboteurs could intervene. Gareth (one of the saboteurs) showed his cards declaring "I had nothing useful to play". This was met with hoots of derision as his hand revealed 2 broken tools, a dead end and a rockfall - pretty much the best hand that a saboteur could possibly hope to have.

The third round was incredibly tight. James had joined the saboteurs this time and with some judicious tool-breaking and rockfalling, it looked as if the bad guys had succeeded. Only for Soren to pull a great path card out of nowhere, and with all 3 saboteurs amazingly having no evil cards to play, it was left to Paul to lay the triumphant final path card.

Loads of fun - it's been far too long....

Scores: Dan 8, Gareth II 7, Paul 7, James 4, Soren 4, Jon 3, Barrie 2, Gareth 0

And so the evening drew to a lively close with mined gold being dished out and much debate about the strategy that each team should have played. Also played this evening were In the Year of the Dragon and an unrecognisable filler at the start of the evening, although both go without a writeup so will very soon become distant memories.