Wednesday, 28 August 2013

From Tokyo to Hamburg

Compact.  It was a compact summer’s night.  A good number to split up nicely and tour some of the world’s weirder places; Tokyo, the 7 Wonders, Hamburg, the Wild West, the Catacombs and Mice World – and I don’t mean Disney even if Sean sounded like he was part of a Disney comedy, when he wasn’t eating that was!  Enough.  The reports are in, off… we… go….

King of Tokyo  (thanks Paul!)

Neil committed suppuko glory by going into Tokyo and staying until the bitter (and very quick) end.

Lots of super powers were bought, particularly by Phil who seemed at the start intent on spending money instead of anything else. Paul bought something that let him scarper at the first sign of danger, without taking any damage. Andy then bought one that let him buy anyone else's super power
(it seems that even the super powers of Japanese B movie monsters are not beyond the reach of capitalism). Paul then bought something that let him do untold damage, mainly because Andy was next and he couldn't resist the temptation to buy it up, thus Paul protected himself from losing his 'no damage to me' power. Dominic, James and Andy swapped big blows and killed each other off. Paul had really a really good position at the end and was confident of wiping Philip out until he realised that Philip had 17 points with enough cash to buy another card which took him up to 20 points and claim victory.

Final Scores; Philip - 20+, Paul - 14 and still standing, Andy, James, Dominic and Neil dead as

7 Wonders  (and again, ta Paul)

Tom had promised to turn up at 8.30 so the first 'real' games of the evening was selected on the basis that it'd be over by that time and Tom wouldn't have to wait before joining in with the fun. As it happened, Tom was early and the game lingered, so he had to wait after all. Being a solicitor he'll appreciate our intent though.

Fresh from kamakazie in Tokyo, Neil decided to arm up and caused much of the table to get big guns in order to protect themselves / teach him a lesson (delete as appropriate). Paul's strategy was to get as many straight victory points as possible. Andy, James and Dan went for a bit of everything (including weapons of mass destruction).

James, Neil and Dan all did pretty well on the wildcard front when it came to science cards, meaning that their scores were bumped up nicely at the end. James and Dan seemed to end up with loads of money too, mystifying Paul who was fairly broke for most of the game and what money he had was donated to Andy as opposed to cash rich Dan.

James had to explain to Neil that he couldn't construct the same building twice. That was at the start of the game and Neil hadn't played before. Fair enough. James took a much bigger delight, when counting up scoring cards at the end, in gloating that Paul had neglected this rule too and that he'd build 3 duplicates, so he'd need to surrender them with no points. He then went on to state that even with those building that James razed to the ground, he would not have won.

The spoils went to Dan, with all his military might, money and sciencey stuff.

Final Scores; Dan - 59, Andy – 48, James – 47, Neil – 39, Paul 36ish

Mice & Mystics  (cheers Philip)

Another Wednesday evening, another game of Mice and Mystics, although Sean and his friend Kyle (?) replaced James and Alex.

Although Sean and Kyle had never played before Dominic decided we'd try Chapter 3 as he was bored with earlier chapters. He had completed Chapter 2 successfully on an earlier occasion, apparently.

We started with 1 skill each and our starting equipment. Kyle took Ned with Thundersqueek and Sean took Filch with a skill allowing him to take an extra action for 2 cheese. I took Tilda and the First Aid skill. Dominic took Maginos and Chain Lightning.

Chapter 3 sees the mice venture back into the castle searching for more information about enemy plans. For some reason we don't have to cross the courtyard but start under the kitchen, where we easily fought off 5 Greedy Roaches, Filch earning the Roachmaster title due to being ahead of the roaches in the initiative order (so no defence for them) and his skill allowing him to attack twice. While Filch was killing the roaches we did some searching, finding some disguises and a useful +1 Lore helmet for Maginos.

We then crawled up into the kitchen, where we successfully attracted the attention of the maid and killed off the rats. We also found a Grape and a Dinner Fork before walking into the Dining Room, where, disguised, we took part in a game of chance with half a dozen rats. The odds were stacked in the rats favour, so we lost all of our cheese, but not before 3 rats had been persuaded to exit.

The remaining 3 rats were easily dealt with but the last one managed to attract the attention of Brodie, who promptly pounced on the chair, attacking 3 mice there and knocking out Ned. Filch was able to get in a wounding blow, choosing to prevent Brodie chasing, but then Brodie pounced on him, knocking him out as well. For several turns the game hang in the balance as Brodie repeatedly pounced on Tilda, who just about managed to defend and heal herself, while Tilda and Maginos failed to damage Brodie. Finally a powerful swing of Tilda's mace penetrated Brodie's fur and the cat fled- earning Tilda the Catmaster Token.

We now descended into the Tunnels below the Dining room, where we fought off several roaches, a centipede and (following a surge) a spider. On into the next set of Tunnels. Some of us fondly hoped this was the final tile, but Dominic explained we would need to flip it again to reach the Library. Why we couldn't have gone there direct from the Dining Room I don't know. Anyway, these tunnels were defended merely by Rats and we saw them off easily, even though they ambushed us (an unlucky Search). Oh, and Ned had a vision which meant we moved the chapter end marker up one.

At some point Filch had levelled up, gaining the ability to choose 1 card from 3 when searching. Unfortunately, Filch repeatedly failed search rolls so this ability was of very little use (one time he was able to use it and he found nothing of any interest). Ned also levelled up, taking a skill that allows the spending of a cheese to roll an extra die in attack. He also found some fishscale armour. Tilda found a useful potion which could cure a mouse of all wounds and any unfavourable statuses.

We entered the Library to find Captain Vurst and 5 elite rats staring down at us from a desk and a bookshelf- all with ranged weapons. Maginos launched the Grape at the desk with the Dining Fork but failed to damage any rats. Ned searched, finding a scroll which cured Filch's wounds, and charged towards the desk. Tilda also charged towards the desk, having first launched Filch onto the bookshelf with the Dining Fork.

Filch performed admirably up there, killing both elite rats, but then we realised he had no way to get down. So he was busy searching- and not finding anything as usual. Meanwhile the rest of us were tackling Captain Wurst on the desk. Maginos singed his fur with a powerful Chain Lightning and Tilda dealt the final wound with her Mace, ending the scenario.

Catacombs   (and once more, thanks Paul!)

After rolling dice and swapping cards, the logical progression is obviously to unwrap the index finger and indulge in some flicking fun. Catacombs allows players (Dan and Paul) to flick / crawl their way through a dungeon controlled by a dungeon master (James). Paul's not normally into the fantasy games, but the temptation to flick was too much, and so fighting the skeletons, flames spirits and the big nasty dragon was on.

Of course, when I say 'fight', the implication is that it was at least fairly evenly balanced, with some skeletons being hit, roughly in proportion to some of our heroes. Alas 'twas not to be, as Dan's flicking skills were questionable, and Paul's worse. James occasionally looked up from him iPad to administer a killer blow and not once was he seen to have fear in his eye. Paul and Dan bumbled through, mainly pushing their missiles and melee shots harmlessly past the evil monsters. They did manage to get to the end of the game, only to be severely pommelled by a dragon, but it is quite likely that a more ruthless opponent than James wouldn't have let them get to the corner shop.

Scores: James won, Dan and Paul lost

(Ed: I was called to adjudicate on a crucial decision only to leave my glasses behind; was it touching?  How the hell could I see?  I opted for ‘yes’ and retreated swiftly.)

Walnut Grove

An odd one this, in all the right ways!  A cracking tile placement, worker placement, resource management game about the settlers in Western US, designed by two Finns no less.  Tom took Andy and me through the rules and we were off.

Over eight seasons you collect and place your tiles to grow your ranch, you then send the dudes out to farm, mine and generally work hard for you.  Next the head honcho pops into town where he may sell some of the resources farmed or pick up some more, hire more dudes, arrange to build another house, some barns or other improvements.  Then, not only do you need to feed your dudes but you need to keep them warm too.

Andy had a fetish going on for wood whilst Tom and I seemed to be trying to do the same things although I went first in the play order and still didn’t manage to compete!  Both of them did well picking up improvements that negated my dude and coin collections.  Tom showed us how to construct some excellently fenced fields despite not having as many dudes as either Andy or I had.

An excellent game, and very quick too.  A bit of player interaction and with five different scoring opportunities it proved important to do well in all of them to win the game.

Final Scores; Tom – 26, Andy – 24, Neil – 21.

Die Speicherstadt

10.30; time for a quickie, except nothing is obvious. Can we do Feld’s homage to warehouses in Hamburg in super-fast time?  But of course!

I ran through the rules for Tom and Andy who had played once before and off we went.  Damn them both for going after my bids.  So I walked away in round one and starting collecting coins instead.  Tom picked up some fine moustachioed firemen and Andy was off on the contracts.  In the second round I secured the first of my four offices, but the others progressed nicely with more contracts and sellers.

Andy snuck in a fire fellow just before the first fire and then blow me down if the second fire didn’t happen almost immediately and I was 6 points adrift, costly as it turned out!  The boys picked up a lot of goods and ships, selling the goods (probably not in accordance with the rules but hey ho!) and fulfilling their contracts.  I managed to get the Bank, the Harbour and some late firemen but not enough.  We also neglected to remove some of the cards so we had an odd end with just the 4-point fire happening; I’d escaped the 3 point one!  Tom, cool as you like, with his completed contracts and at least half of the firemen in tow, strolled home comfortably.

Final Scores; Tom – 38, Neil - 32, Andy – 30.  (ed. I think!!)


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

"Hot August Night"

Another warm evening, but a good one!  In attendance this week; Jon, Paul, Woody, James, Tom, Alex, James II, Philip, Amanda, Dominic, Gary, Andy, Rob Harris (welcome back!), and Gareth too (Not Gareth II, the first one, who popped in with games for Rob and me), and oh, forgot someone… me of course!  And boy did we get through some great games, phenomenal list; Agricola, Biblios, Chinatown, Felix the Cat in the Sack!, Jaipur, Mice & Mystics, Santa Cruz, Die Sieben Siegel, Star Wars – X Wing Miniatures Game, Ticket to Ride – India, Tikal.  Without further ado, here’s what happened;

Jaipur  (cheers Jon)

Paul and Jon were the early birds this week, so opted for this highly-regarded 2 player game. Players collect sets of cards which they can then trade in for points chips. The more you trade in, the more bonus points are available, but the earlier you trade in, the higher their potential value. Very simple, but the mechanics work really well together ("elegant", if we really must use that adjective...).

Paul started strongly, trading in 2 diamonds for 14 points, whilst Jon replied with a set of 5 spice cards (which enabled him to pick up a 10 point bonus chip). There was then a general back and forth, with first Paul, and then Jon picking up multiple camels to give them some flexibility with card acquisition. The game ended with the 3rd stack of chips running out, and Paul was quietly confident that his 70 points was enough for victory. Unfortunately (for Paul) Jon had just pipped him with 78 points, having achieved the extra 5 point bonus for having the most camels at game end.

This game would usually be best of 3, but with other IBG'ers arriving, it was left at a solitary round. Top game though...

Final Scores; Jon – 78, Paul – 70.

Die Sieben Siegel

After Paul and Jon pulled out of Jaipur early we went off in search of seals with five intrepid adventurers, Woody, James and myself joining Jon and Paul.

James gave me a thorough run through, sounded a lot like Bridge to me, handy, played a lot of that back in Suffolk.  Bidding was interesting with everyone feeling pretty confident, more bids than rounds available didn’t bode well for somebody!  I went one under what I thought I would win due to this, but did take seals from Woody and Paul giving them ‘wild’ seals.

Early on Jon was unfortunate to collect an unexpected set of Yellows whilst Woody realised he might have bitten off more than he could chew – love a good cliché now and then!  Not sure if Woody was generous allowing me to win my Yellow as he discarded Green rather than taking with a Red trump, but from then on I knew I was safe although certain to take an extra set.  Thankfully, others struggled making their bids and when I jumped in with four cards remaining to take the last four rounds I escaped with only one black seal worth 3 points, while others were all higher, hurrah, an early victory for me!

Good enjoyable game, certainly a useful intro into Bridge.  We didn’t see the saboteur played this game, I’m told that’s Philip’s preferred strategy, would be interesting to play against him.

Ticket to Ride: India

Perfect timing by Amanda to make up a four with Paul, Jon and I.  Both Amanda and I were taken through the rules tweak for this map new to us. 

Four tickets, keep a minimum of two.  Mmm, always keen to give them all a go, three worked okay but the fourth was a little out of the way although only worth 5 points so I opted to be brave and keep the lot.  Jon kept two and persuaded Paul to keep his four as he was deliberating between two pairs he liked!  And off we went, choo choo! 

Jon started building small routes immediately and gradually Paul and Amanda followed.  I had my eye on two long ferry routes so went on a hoard cards strategy, until… it was time to get going and within three turns I’ moved into a substantial lead.  Paul then scored the longest single route and Amanda picked up some useful smaller routes as the centre of the board got a little congested, she was looking good for the Mandala bonuses of completing tickets by two separate routes.

Maybe Paul and Jon were still somewhere near Jaipur… Jon then realigned his strategy and built up an absolutely colossal hand so I decided it was time to get rid and get out.  Paul picked up more tickets so I thought that was him out of it… Thankfully I’d built my main three routes as Paul and Jon blocked me from constructing a huge circle, but I was looking good for the longest train bonus so failing in my smaller ticket wasn’t too bad.  As the end scores were calculated Amanda and Jon scored Mandala bonuses and all overtook me until scoring my 28 ticket plus the 10 bonus points took me comfortably clear again.  Hurrah!  (Two out of two, NEVER done that before at the club; call me invincible I thankfully wasn’t heard to mutter!)

Final Scores;  Neil – 106, Jon – 81, Amanda – 77, Paul – 77.

Mice & Mystics  (thanks Philip!)

After seeing Dominic, Alex, and James play this last week I decided to join them for chapter 2. They had been playing with 4 mice anyway. James chose Ned, Alex Maginos, and Dominic gallantly took the captured Lily. I was Filch. We were allowed to keep an item from last week- I kept the Spear. Lily took First Aid on the theory we'd need it once we'd reached her.

Chapter 2 sees Lily in a mousetrap on the far side of the board, and the other three trying to reach her. For the first board we decided to let the Rats come to us as otherwise we could be pecked to death by the crow. So we all searched while we waited. The rats were easily slain and we avoided the crow in our race to flip the board over. Lily was still fighting a cockroach so we continued underground with more rats appearing. Just before crossing to the second tile I decided to search rather than enter, causing a piece of cheese to be added to the wheel. Alas, Ambush was drawn, so when we entered the second tile we were immediately surprised by Greedy Cockroaches. The cheese built up to cause a surge, bringing more rats, and both Ned and Filch were captured, although Maginos' Chain lightning finally cleansed the tile of enemies.

We burst through into the final room to rescue Lily, only to be confronted by 3 more rats and the awesome Skitter-Clack, a giant centipede. Maginos had built up loads of cheese and kept casting Chain lightning, but it just bounced off Skitter-Clack's carapace as his constricting grasp tightened on Lily. Once again the cheese build up was too much for us, and although Filch managed to reduce Skitter-Clack to a single wound, Skitter-Clack rolled a final cheese in defence, ending the game in triumph (for him!).

It would perhaps have been better to give someone else First Aid, then we could have healed before the final room...or maybe if I hadn't lingered to search we could have survived...

Chinatown  (many thanks Woody!)

Accommodating the five remaining players encouraged an adventure in Chinatown.

A rules explanation by James set things in motion and off the famous five went. Over six rounds, players acquire plots of land and businesses to build on them. Revenue is generated each round based on the size of the businesses partially or fully constructed. Considerable negotiation is required to swap plots, businesses, buy & sell. Tom and Andy had decent sized businesses up and running early whilst James & Gary completed smaller ventures but negotiated well for money and plots. Woody's misfortune with widely spread plots held him back early with little to negotiate with. The game progressed and in the final round, James & Gary held all the remaining key options which they fulfilled or sold handsomely.

Final Scores;  Gary - $940,000, James - $930,000, Tom - $840,000, Andy - -$770,000, Woody - $760,000

Agricola  (many thanks Philip)

Gary me and Andy set off for a three player game with Gamers’ deck shuffled in with the regular cards. 10 cards were dealt of each type, discarding down to 7. Gary had only played before on the ipad.

Gary went first with 3 Wood and I put down Village Elder for 4 Wood. I think Andy took the 2 Wood, anyway my next move was Starting player, playing Stone Exchange. In turn 2 I took the 2 Reed, and Andy put down the Grocer.

The game continued with my taking Day Labourer and Fishing in round 3, while Gary put down Market Crier and played Guest.

In round 4 again I took the 2 Reed and was able to play Axe with Start Player. Gary managed to take Clay, build a Cooking Hearth, and Cook Sheep thanks to his Guest. Andy took Day Labourer and some Wood (where Andy's move isn't stated, he's normally taking Wood!).

In round 5 I forgot where the Build rooms space is (thinking it was coming up in round 6 or 7!), allowing Andy to take 1 reed from the 'take 1 building resource' space and then build a room (he obtained another reed via Grocer, thus getting the first family growth in turn 6. Still, I managed to gather some wood and play Pieceworker - and I built 2 rooms in turn 6, also taking Start player with Wooden Bridge (a questionable play!).

My minor improvement with Family Growth in round 7 was a Gamer's deck card that allows you to swap a Grain for a Sheep (or vice versa) each harvest. I somehow found enough food (helped by Gary's Market Crier) and the game rolled on with Gary being next to grow his family.

I had built a fireplace by the next harvest, which, with the benefit of a Grain from the Crier turned into a Sheep, and also the drip, drip of the Well was again just enough to feed me. I then speeded up, building the fifth room, making the fourth and fifth family members, and playing Layabout to avoid feeding for the 4th Harvest.

This gave me the breathing space to start fencing pastures (2 pastures covering 6 spaces) and gathering animals, something Gary and Andy had already begun. I also played a Gamer's deck minor improvement called a Seed spreader, allowing me to sow one field when taking the Plough 1 field action.

In the final three turns of the game I renovated to Clay, picking up a Cooking Hearth, played a Land Agent, ploughed and sowed 4 fields, and build a Basket-Maker's Workshop after being blocked from renovating to Stone by Andy- who renovated his Wooden House all the way to Stone on the last turn. At the end I had the most improvements, which was worth 3 VPs from Village Elder.

Final Scores; Philip – 44, Andy – 38, Gary - 21.

Felix: The Cat in the Sack  (thank you Paul)

A mid-evening filler as we waited for other games to catch up so we could mix and match players, if desired.

Paul bid too high early on and ended up without enough coins to do anything other than take two coins for most remaining hands in the game. To him it seemed like everyone else had vast vaults of coins for most of the game, while he could only scrape enough together for an opening bid.

There were some high prices paid by several players (at least three hands went for > 20), usually making it worth their while, but only just. Amanda took the honours, timing her late entry into the ring perfectly in her first outing.

The main surprise was that Rob managed to come behind Paul.

Final Scores; Amanda - 52, Jon - 48, Neil - 42, Paul - 36, Rob – 25.

Santa Cruz  (wow, comprehensive Tom, thanks!)

Following the end of the world's longest game of Felix: The Cat in the Sack, Rob was able to escape to the island of Santa Cruz where James and Tom were already waiting on the beach with their cokes and Tom's bright red shorts.

Santa Cruz is a design by Marcel-Andre Casosola Merkle - designer of IBG favourites Verrater and Meuterer (together with other well received designs such as Attika and Taluva).

The idea behind the design is that Merkle wanted to create a world where the players were able to firstly explore the island (the first round) and then interact with the island (and with more knowledge of the available objectives, the majority of which are hidden at the game's start; the second round).

There are three methods of transport around the island: road, river and ship. Each player takes one of four decks of seven cards, three of which focus heavily on a particular form of transport and the other being more balanced. They are also given three hidden objective cards which they are able to choose to score (rather than move) on their turn - the twist though is that the scoring cards affect all of the players. Therefore, if you have the sheep scoring card and delay playing it, other players (usually without knowing it) may move on to a sheep tile meaning that you will have effectively gifted them points.

50% of the game's scoring is provided by these hidden objective cards - the majority of which relate either to commodity tiles (sheep, wood, gold etc), movement around the island or proximity to tiles near to the island's two volcanos. The remainder is provided by the island tiles themselves and bird tokens. The bird tokens are provided when players explore certain tiles - these tokens are upside down and chosen randomly leading to a windfall of between one to three points (the equivalent of the majority of the island tiles). Any bird token scoring is hidden from the other players which can allow for a last ditch surprise comeback as happened in this game.

In the first round, Tom took the road deck and soon explored four adjacent areas which he was able to score alone. This was pure luck on his part as his bad play provided James and Rob with two opportunities to scupper this objective. To compound this, Rob then blocked Tom out of the only readily available wood tile - preventing Tom from achieving both elements of his wood/sheep card. Tom also failed to allow in his route for use of his sole river card. James inadvertently helped Tom's cause by playing his Volcanic Eruption objective which destroyed Tom's two buildings in the area but also freed a river route back into the volcano area and a further bird token.

The first round ended with James in the lead with Tom and Rob somewhere off the pace. Rob took Tom's hand, Tom took James's (stating his evil intention to use the volcanic eruption himself) and James took Rob's.

James's position was further assisted by drawing the Gold 10 point objective (which hadn't been in Rob's first round hand) and scoring it alone. However, Tom scored very well on two Fishing objectives - thanks to possessing the two high value fish tiles on the island (which provide bonus points for fish objectives) and was acquiring a large number of bird tokens.

The game finished with James in the lead, Rob 2nd and Tom 3rd with only the bird tokens to count up. James only had one bird but Tom had almost double figures. Tom proceeded to then turn over his large mound of tokens one by one slowly moving his marker up the track. With one more token to go, Tom had moved past Rob and was two points off James. A three point Parrot token was turned over and Tom had won by a point. Amazing stuff.

In the post-match chat, all three players agreed that this game appears to be an absolute gem. Hope to have a number of more plays over the next few weeks.

Tikal  (many thanks indeedy Paul!)

If at this point you scroll to the top of this blog, you'll see that the backdrop the the 'Isleworth Boadgamers' title is what appears to be a vivid green with some triangles, barrels and red squares. Take a leap of imagination and the green becomes Mexican jungle as if is cleared for adventure, with tents pitched and explorers scurrying round tombs as they are excavated. Yes, it's Tikal, the classic game which gives the IBGers our flavour graphic. One assumes that it is chosen due to its status as one of the all-time classics, as opposed to the realism of the tents, but that's another tale, maybe lost to the mists of time (actually we could ask Jon, but I prefer to dwell in the mystery).

Woody was the only inexperienced Mexican jungle explorer, so Jon ran through the rules for his benefit, which are elegantly simple enough for this not to take long. The previous week's Tikal played three rules which contradicted Jon's understanding, so the manual was checked and the Tikal-veteran himself had to concede that James (who wasn't even playing) was right on each occasion. With either Jon or James having to be proved wrong, Paul was onto a win-win situation and simply sat back to see which of his friends would have to eat humble pie. Joyous.

Jon set off after temples, while Neil and Woody started hoarding treasure and after a short number of turns Paul pitched an outpost tent to give a shortcut to the jungle.

Jon and Neil set about trying to outmuscle each other in one section of the board, whilst Paul busied himself at his new tent. Woody took a few turns to get the lie of the land, eventually getting a far flung section of the board for himself.

Paul took a slight lead for the first two scoring rounds, but ran out of steam and was overtaken convincingly by Jon. Neil eventually suffered due to lack of treasure and being mercilessly picked on by Jon.

Final Scores; Jon - 92, Paul - 85, Woody - 82, Neil – 66 (ed: whoops!!)

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Ten players and some dangerous cheese

During the summer we have tended to get less of a turnout, what with people going on holiday, choosing to spend their time outside or watching the athletics on TV. Ten intrepid boardgamers weren't tempted by any other way to spend their evening last Wednesday and instead rolled, flipped, shoved and carefully placed stones, pawns, cubes and discs on a board from 7.30 until the London Apprentice closed and called a stop to everything. What tremendous fun!

Paul stepped in to guest edit as no August editor has come forward. 

Coloretto (thanks Woody)

A quick game of coloured chameleons whilst we waited for the extraordinarily late Mr Sinden ! Quick refresher on the rules and off we went. Nothing much to report other than the arrival of food, a bit of light banter and the eventual appearance of said Mr Sinden.

Scores: Woody 27, Andy 21, Paul 17, Neal 17, Philip 16

Via Appia (thanks Neil)

The first of two adventures for the intrepid trio of Sinden, Dawsey and Horabin. The latter had reread and reread the rules and James still found more, between them they had at last covered the lot… or had they?

With a gentler touch James took control of the bigger tiles early on with me deciding to get the bonuses for taking my man to the next town asap. Paul enjoyed the shoving but was a little hesitant in road construction and so built an amazing supply of small stones.
Money wasn’t the issue it had been, in fact in was flying around the table, and certainly made for some easier decisions mid-game. It was around this time that James’s rule reminders came in very useful for all. And don’t let Paul or me tell you different. Ever.
Late on in the game Paul was getting in the swing and moving forward with his road construction and man movement quite nicely. James was still picking up good points for the larger tiles and I was sticking to my ‘get the man to Brundisium asap’ which brought an early ending to the game.
During the final count up James maintained his lead with some good construction bonuses, and Paul overtook me comfortably too. And we had all the rules sorted too, every single one of them, hurrah! We also agreed that this is, in fact, a quite brilliantly constructed game. The flow through income – crushing stones – building roads – using roads is simplicity itself, but makes great sense and, once you know all the rules, it works very neatly too, no money worries at all.

Scores: James 54, Paul 52, Neil 48


Our second adventure brought us forward in time but out in the jungle lands. James’s rule explanation was exemplary and we were soon off destroying forest and looking for treasure and lost temples. Whilst James and Paul got cosy around a few temples I decided to stay clear of them. Paul had an uncanny knack of uncovering the volcanoes and first scoring round went ok with me only a little behind. Unfortunately it was the second one that made me understand I was nowhere near where I should have been.

Paul sealed a temple early on with James following suit when he’d built it up to the maximum value of ten. They also pitched a few tents whilst I tried to reposition my little fellows. James and Paul scored ok although both were getting in each other’s way over one average value temple. James’s collection of jewels was impressive and helped him maintain a good lead.
Final round and I suddenly found myself with a neat little network of temples. A late tent building exercise allowed me to move in for some good late points, not enough but not too bad either.

Another thoroughly enjoyable game and again setting up the terrain and using your ten actions each turn felt you were at least trying to plan something. Will be very keen to have another go at this again soon.

Scores: James 122, Neil 113, Paul 108.

Puerto Rico (thanks Philip)

This was a three player game between me, Andy and Woody. All of us had played before, Andy most recently. Woody went first with no plantation, me second with indigo and Andy third with corn.

Woody opened conventionally with Settler Quarry- I picked up a Coffee and Andy a Tobacco. I followed with a Small Market, as did Andy. Woody passed, waiting to man his Quarry.

The game continued with my obtaining a small Indigo plant and a Hacienda as well as a Corn plantation. Woody picked up a 2nd Quarry. Woody spent several turns not producing any goods while Andy was first to produce and sell and ship, placing 2 corn on the size 6 ship. Woody built a Large Market and a Hacienda and a Hospice and began building up production. At some point I shipped - placing another 2 corn on the size 6 ship. Andy had left off corn for sugar and tobacco.

I saved my money and bought a Coffee roaster and a Large Market, enabling me to sell my Coffee and then buy a Wharf. By this point I had 4 corn plantations and so was able to produce 5 corn by taking the Craftsman, which I then shipped with my Wharf. The size 6 ship stayed loaded with 4 corn- becoming 5 corn later in the game when Andy had a colonist free to man his corn plantation. And as there are only 10 corn in the game I now had a corn monopoly (if only I took Craftsman- which held true after I had manned my 4th corn plantation. Only I took Captain for that matter, that is in the late part of the game after I'd built the Wharf). 

While I had been busy setting this up neither Andy nor Woody were idle. Andy invested in a University and set about buying two large buildings- Woody bought two as well and I somehow found the cash for the remaining large building- the one that gives you bonus VPs for VP chips. 

As only I was really taking VP chips there were plenty left at the end. The Colonists nearly ran out, but the game ended with both Woody and Andy filling their building displays. 

Scores Philip 64, Andy 44, Woody 40

Post writeup note from a comment made when this review was posted on Board Game Geek: "Note the rules error pointed out by the first reply, looks like Woody should have done better..."

Stone Age (thanks Philip)

Woody and Andy and me played this fast game of Stone Age, Woody starting.

I concentrated on taking the Farm (increasing my Food level) and initially obtaining as much wood as possible. I then switched into building huts, obtaining other resources partly from cards and partly directly. I focused on one stack of huts so as to end the game quickly. I had good luck with the Farm (and also cards that boosted it) and never had to hunt for food. I had a few Farm multipliers and later picked up some Hut multipliers as well.

Andy took the Farm but also increased his supply of people and collected pictures and people multipliers. He built up lots of high value resources, which worked well when a 1-7 Hut came up near the end of the game (the penultimate hut in the stack I was drilling). He rarely needed to hunt because he had food from the picture cards as well as the Farm.

Woody focused on obtaining tools, which often had to be used for hunting. He collected cards of all types. Unfortunately for him only 3 tool multiplier cards came out and not enough pictures for both him and Andy. He took the last Hut in the stack I was drilling- a 1-7 Hut- but ended up using a single piece of Wood to build it (I would have built it next turn otherwise so he decided not to prolong the game).

Scores Philip 158, Andy 146, Woody 105

Mice and Mystics

This game was't written up, but it is certainly worth mentioning two facts about it:
 - Cheese seems to be dangerous in this game. We overheard. A top for anyone playing in the future that might arrive late for the rules explanation.
 - It's a co-operative game and they won! 

Score: Alex II, James II, Gareth II and Doiminic all won

Some of the Mice and Mystics players went on to trade beans in Bohnaza but we know much less about what happened in that than in the previous game.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

"Lazy Jack was even lazier than usual"

Although not half as lazy as me since I haven’t written up my session reports and am posting this more than 2 weeks late.
Feld of Light...
Rialto (thanks Neil)
A second outing of the year for one of the new Feld games, and I think this will be considered as the lightest one. Saying that it was quite some time since Barry and I had played our first game and our explanations to Gareth were less than fluent it must be said.
Anyway, it is pretty simple to learn so after the first of the six rounds he was off. Barry opted to do some early building as Gareth went for control of the Doge track. I decided to see if I could cope without many buildings and took an early lead with the area 1 majority.
As Gareth also picked his way nicely through the buildings, thus gaining useful additional cards and actions, it was clear that my strategy was absolutely useless! I tried to get into buildings but by then I should have been moving into more areas, which is where Barry was filling his boots, and sometimes very cheaply too. Unfortunately Gareth got confused in the final round with gondolas and bridges… pretty tricky to steer a bridge through an Italian canal but there you go!
All in all a good game and will be possible to play this very quickly once everyone gets to grips with the few strategy options. Top marks Mr Field!
Final Scores; Barry – 82, Gareth II – 76, Neil – 64.
Kingdom of diss...
Kingdom Builder (thanks Neil)
After a massive ‘dissing’ following my first play of this some time ago I recently relented and decided it must be good as SO many folk said it was… and then I found myself buying a copy as the price was just right. So, keen to give it another play. Gareth had played twice before so he lead Barry and me through the rules and off we went.
The three ‘target’ cards were; Farmers – 3 VPs for each of your settlements in the area with the fewest of your settlements; Hermits – 1 VP for each of your separate settlement areas; Miners – 1 VP for each settlement next to a mountain. We played with the areas featuring; barns, paddocks, harbours and towers.
Whilst we all looked to distribute our settlements over the four boards I was stymied in my attempts to significantly increase the number of my lowest settlements for the Farmers card. Barry also had a significant settlement area on one board although towards the end was able to split this up somewhat. Gareth lead the way with an impressively even spread of settlements and made good use of the harbour bonus token.
The game played pretty swiftly, as Barry said that’s because there’s so little player interaction and you can be ready for your turn almost immediately after playing your last. For that he felt it was very much a ‘solitaire’ experience and I’d have to agree with that. On the other hand the variable set ups and different target cards do at least make each game somewhat different and I certainly enjoyed this more than my first game. It could well be perfect for the family, play time is good; they don’t concentrate too well after 1 minute so this is ok compared to a 90 minute feast I prefer! Plus I think they would enjoy setting up there areas, always a popular mechanic with them.
Final scores; Gareth II – 71, Neil – 60, Barry – 55.
Fields of horses...
Agricola ACBAS (thanks Jon)
Paul and Jon had arrived a bit early on this glorious summer evening, so decided to have a go at some animal husbandry. Paul hadn't played for some time, so needed a rules refresher, which Jon just about managed - although failed to mention until halfway through the bit about scoring 1 point for every animal! Fortunately, Paul was collecting animals at a rate of knots anyway, so hopefully it didn't make too much difference... This was played with the expansion, which gave 4 extra buildings to choose from. Although their effects can be subtle, they can give a real shift to a player's strategy. Jon picked up the building that allowed him to build a fence during every breeding phase as long as he had bred a horse - so horses it was! Paul got a couple of expansion areas into play quite early, and ended up building a fine array of fences to contain his ever-expanding boar empire. Jon had managed to place a feeding trough in a stable, giving him the room to breed a large flock of sheep, but at the expense of boar and cows. A late building purchase enabled him to place boars on empty spaces near the forest, which helped avoid the -3 penalty, as well as helping to fill his 2 expansion boards. With the final round over, Paul felt that he hadn't done well, but it was actually a lot closer than he thought, with Jon's purchase of the half-timbered house for 5 bonus points in the last round helping to secure the victory. A fantastic 2 player game, which apparently has another expansion coming out soon... Jon 50; Paul 42
Barrels of broke...
Montego Bay (thanks Jon)
This was one of those games that was on the original £7.99 Works sale - and was worth the purchase price. Simple rules, nice components and enough gameplay to keep it interesting for the 45 minute game time. Lazy Jack turned out to be even lazier than usual, being hired only twice during the game. The huts had an interesting layout, with 3 in a row having the broken barrels next to each other. Paul and James seemed to be able to avoid these broken barrels the best, with Paul especially talented at helping his workers to arrive at the profitable huts - placing 7 barrels onto ships on more than one occasion. Paul's barrel-acquisition was enough to help him to a fine victory, with the other 3 players spaced evenly in his wake.
 Paul 49; James 40; Woody 32; Jon 24
Sands of ease...
Forbidden Desert
By this time, Dan had arrived, and Woody had left - and it was time for some co-operative action with Matt Leacock's new offering. The IBG'ers were currently 3 games played, 3 losses, so it was time to knuckle down for a first victory. The crash site was at the top of the desert, along with 2 of the 3 potential watering holes. The adventurers decided to methodically work their way southwards, not worrying too much about the water situation for the time being. They uncovered all the tunnels next to each other, which isn’t great for moving around the landscape, but isn’t too bad for sheltering from the sun together.

Dan drew an equipment card which gave water, which was a relief to Paul and Jon who were running dangerously low. The clue tiles came out very nicely for the team, and the launch pad also appeared in a favourably central position.

At one stage, the sand was really starting to build up, but a quick hoover with the Dune Blaster regained some precious time. So much so, that the adventurers soon found themselves with all 4 parts of the flying machine, and near the launch pad. All it needed was for James to join them and they had won – except that James inexplicably wanted to do some more sand-clearing rather than reach the safety of the Launch Pad! Fortunately, his team dissuaded this rather reckless behaviour, and they all reconvened at the appropriate location and flew to safety. A win for the IBG’ers (at the ‘normal’ difficulty level)!
Next time – let’s ramp up the difficulty…..
Show of cards...
Show Manager (thanks Jon)
Another outing for this current favourite of IBG – this time with James and Paul joining Jon and Dan. James had recently sold this to Dan, after failing to generate any interest at IBG when he had tried to play it in the past. The fact that it has now been played 4 or 5 times in as many weeks is probably just a coincidence, rather than the alternative hypothesis that people are keener to play games with Dan rather than James….

James picked up some heavyweight green actors in the first couple of turns, so Jon also decided to recruit for this particular performance – except Jon’s were from the bargain basement end of the Equity availability rosta. Wasting no time, he put on a show in one of the less salubrious venues, limiting James’ possible gains, and giving himself a show to draw cash from later in the game.

Paul and Jon were competing for actors late in the game, with Paul’s eyes lighting up every time Jon flushed the cards. Dan had managed to non-synchronise his plays with the other players, which gave him some freedom in what he picked up.

The end, as it always does, raced up, and when the roar of the greasepaint had subsided, Dan had just succeeded in pipping Jon to the post by a mere 3 points. Well played sir!

After James’ performance, he might be glad that he’s sold the game on now……

Dan 54; Jon 51; Paul 39; James 27