Tuesday, 11 June 2013

By the Mystic Regulation

Summer has begun. Let us start with a fantasy euro.
Terra Mystica
Neil and Woody hadn't played before, so we went with the starting game scenario. Barrie took the Halflings as he hasn't played them yet. Neil chose Witches and Woody Nomads.

Neil and Woody went with immediate Strongholds. I took the 3 Power +1 shipping starting tile and 6 power digging action to dig around Woody. My first temple choice was Air 2, and then I built Earth 2 and Water 2 in the following turns. Barrie timed his Stronghold for the spades bonus turn (turn 3). Most of us managed two towns, and I built a third in turn 6 at the price of spending all my resources (including 3 priests turned into coins, what a waste!).

Woody somehow didn't manage to keep up in the score race, not sure why exactly, I guess he didn't have any special way of scoring and wasn't paying too much attention to vps from the round tiles. Both Neil and Woody motored their way up the cult tracks, maxing two tracks each while I languished in (usually) second place. The usual Mermaid shipping meant I had connected all my buildings, and Neil also connected his buildings, by dint of focusing on the eastern side of the map- he had slightly less buildings than me at the end. Woody and Barrie failed to connect their buildings, but Woody's main settlement was larger than Barrie's so he obtained third place. Neil obtained 8 points from his starting tile in the last round, which proved decisive.

Final Scores Neil's Witches 106, My Mermaids 99, Barrie's Halflings 93, woody's Nomads 77.

Analysis: Bit of a comedown from 147 last game on my part! Probably would have been better with a scoring favour rather than three income/once per turn favours. Barrie pointed out he was not favoured by intial settlement placing. Unlike Neil, who also seemed to understand the game quite fast for a new player.

Now for the “kids table”
To start the evening, a very simple filler from Queen Games. Each player has a deck of 15 cards valued 1-15. 3 gems are placed out each round and players play a card face-down to attempt to win a gem. Highest card wins. Different coloured gems are worth different points and sets of gems (3-6) are worth bonuses.
Woody found if difficult to gain any gems at all (he could blame his very recent dental work for that maybe…) whilst Jon set his stall out early by picking up the least valuable gems without too much competition.
When it came to scoring, Jon had managed to pick up 6 each of the low-value red and white gems, giving a massive bonus of 20 for each colour and taking the win. It worked this time, but he might find more competition for the cheapo gems next time!
Jon 58; Jeroen 38; Gareth II 38; Neil 34; Woody 25

What is it with these fantasy kingdoms...
Kingdom Builder
This game appears to polarize opinion – Paul could play it all evening, Neil could happily throw it in the Thames (if the tide hadn’t been so far out…) Fortunately, Neil was engrossed in pushing wooden cubes around on an indiscriminate landscape, which left Paul free to contentedly push wooden houses around on an indiscriminate landscape…
The scoring options tonight were Lords (having most settlements in a sector), Merchants (connecting locations) and Knights (settlements on a single horizontal line).
Several players were picking up the same terrain card a few times in succession, which was making expansion difficult, but James managed to spread out enough to pick up a number of special abilities that enabled him to put extra settlements on the board each turn. This was to prove the decisive factor, as everyone else had a number of settlements left in their supply when he brought the game to an end. He therefore scored full Lords points in 2 sectors, and with plenty of Knights points as well, he earned a well-deserved victory.
James 70; Jon 63; Paul 44; Jeroen 34

Last item on kids table,”a crime in itself”...
Small World
If the blog is to be believed, then this game hasn’t seen the light of day at IBG since December 2011 – which is surely a crime in itself. Jon had seen it shedding a quiet tear on his shelf as he was leaving the house this evening, so threw it in the bag out of sheer pity, but then found some willing volunteers to resurrect this classic fun take-that game.
This game was also played with the Tales & Legends expansion, which mixes the base game up nicely, adding some subtle (and not so subtle) events to each round of play.
James began proceedings and instantly spread his Tritons across half the map and instantly declined them. Paul could not allow James to remain in such a strong position, and despite Jon’s protestations to “leave poor James alone”, he wiped out half of his forces with some rather aggressive Commando Amazons. Feeling truly sorry for James, Jon then took revenge on his behalf, and picked off some of Paul’s thinly spread Amazons with his Dragon-Master Trolls.
James then brought on a second race and proceeded to score big points for a few rounds running. An event card then forced everyone to declare their points, revealing that James was indeed ahead by a substantial amount. Despite this concrete evidence, he became more and more obsessed with encouraging all the other players to attack Jon (whilst singularly failing to do so himself).
By this time, Jeroen had some skeletons causing chaos on the board, and Paul had brought on some Giants to dispense mayhem from their lofty mountain heights. Jon (ever the peace-keeper) had some Diplomatic Sorcerers, which he used to maintain an uneasy peace with James for a couple of rounds, whilst his declined Trolls (protected to some degree by their troll lairs) continued to pull in a few points each round.
James was now evangelising his mouth-frothing “kill Jon” gospel to anyone who would listen (no-one), but eventually took matters into his own hands and started attacking the declined Trolls himself. Jeroen had been quietly totting up a number of points from his declined Halflings, whilst Paul was having difficulty getting a foothold with any of his races.  
The final round finally arrived and James picked up a Wealthy race for the instant 7 point bonus that it gave – a fine tally to end the game but was it enough? Not quite – Jon had just scraped enough points together to overtake James for the victory, with Jeroen not far behind in 3rd place.
“I told you so!” James screamed apoplectically at Paul and Jeroen, but to no avail, as they faded quietly off into the night. Lessons learned tonight? Don’t take a big early lead, and don’t expect Paul to do your dirty work for you.
What a fabulous game…….
Jon 101; James 91; Jeroen 85; Paul 73
Meanwhile, over on the “serious” table:
Power Grid
Noel, Gareth II, Alexia and Sean settled down for an evening of Power Grid and a first play for Noel and Gareth on the UK and Ireland map and first go at Power Grid for Sean and Alexia. We played on the Scotland, Southern Ireland, Midlands and South England areas.

At the first auction alexia and gareth picked up the low value plants and started in the midlands, noel started below them in London and Sean alone in the wilds of Scotland. Noel started his second network in Ireland after building a small 4city network in the south of England to take advantage of a good central spot in Ireland and access to plenty of open cities. Sean followed a little later while Alexia and Gareth didnt venture to the peat bogs and green fields, preferrring the industrial Midlands for their networks.

By the middle game Noel had some high capacity plants but was a little behind in network size, Gareth had cycled through a number of low value plants and massively outbid others for some of the higher value ones..50 being the chosen number on 2 occasions as he tired of the dallying around 28 and 30. Alexia held on to her low value coal plants much to Noels dissatisfaction as she was careful not to overbuild her cities and as such picked up all the cheap coal Noel was after for his big coal plants. Sean had been building aplenty and had city lead at 12. If he had been able to build out and end the game early he might just have been able to supply enough cities to take an early win but a couple of auction choices didnt go well and money was too tight to complete his network. A little later Noel built 6 cities out to finish the game and win with 16 powered cities.

An interesting map with some choke points in the midlands and Scotland which encourages a different decision about when to expand to your second network. If Northern Ireland was selected as an area (i should have insisted!) in addition to Southern Ireland and only 2 areas from England/Scotland/Wales then more players may have been encouraged to build the second network. As it was, another enjoyable play at a great game, and Sean's new favourite game! Success!

Noel 16 powered cities, Gareth 15, Sean 14, Alexia 13.

P.S “By the Mystic Regulation” is a quotation from The Grand Duke by Gilbert and Sullivan.

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