Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Pastel camels and comic-book nerds (that would be Tom)......


Players: James, Tom, Andy, Jon, Amanda, Sean, Gareth II, Noel, Gary, Philip

Relegated to the conservatory by some grey-haired, male get-together in the Riverside Room, the IBG'ers got down to business with another mix of fine games to pique the interest of the normal human beings trying to enjoy their dinners in the pub.

Tonight's highlights included auctions in ancient Egypt, spaceship battles in outer space, a shoot-out in the Wild West and a host of tasty-looking pastel camels that would challenge even the best 20:20 vision in the group.

A nice gentle introduction to the evening for the early arrivees. Amanda won a convincing victory in the first game, trouncing Jon with a killer combo of Captain and Assassin. Next up, Noel took Jon out in a close finish, which was slightly anticlimactic as Jon miscounted Noel's coins, and allowed him a simple coup on the last turn.
At least Jon's copy is sleeved again thanks (once again) to the generosity of Neil...

Santiago de Cuba
Jon had made noises about wanting to learn this one, and James duly obliged, with Amanda also joining in for good measure. The rules are relatively simple, with players moving along a street, and choosing the actions associated with the space that they stop on. The goal is to collect resources (isn't it always...?) and then ship them off for the best profit.
James was kind enough to remind everyone at the beginning, the dangers of running out of money (severely limiting your choice of destinations) and then proceeded to practically demonstrate this limitation to his own chagrin.
Jon somehow developed a huge wealth late in the game and whizzed around the streets of Santiago, bringing the game to what he (and Amanda) thought was a swift resolution. However, James 'clarified' the end-game condition, resulting in an extra round of play. Jon requested a secret 'scoring' at this point, to see if the extra round would make any difference to the final positions. Answer: no it didn't! The scores were relatively close, with Amanda having made the best use of her resources, and James bringing up the rear (serves him right for screwing over Jon for a nice juicy delivery on the 3rd ship...!)
Actually a fine, simple to learn Euro that plays in under an hour - lovely!
Amanda 45; Jon 39; James 35

Eclipse (thanks Philip)
Gareth had borrowed a copy of Eclipse from a friend and he and I roped Sean into playing. Sean was new and took the Terran Federation. I had played half a dozen games or so and took the Terran Alliance. Gareth said he'd played four or five games and took the Mechanaema.
After explaining the rules to Sean we randomly determined who was to go first. Gareth's cube was drawn, but Sean objected to this method and insisted on rolling dice. I won a roll off against Sean and started the game by taking the only available Improved Hull. The rest of the techs were either too expensive or unsuited to early play, so Sean explored Ring I, finding a science+advanced science hex. However Gareth had left two Ring I hexes in the box, so we reshuffled and dealt Sean a science+advanced science hex. Sean insisted on a third shuffle and dealt himself...the same science+advanced science hex. Sean grudgingly accepted the result- and discarded the hex.
Gareth also discarded his Ring I hex (double Ancients). I was perfectly happy with my single Ancient, and Sean and Gareth now drew more acceptable hexes (without Ancients).
By the end of turn 2 I had found 3 sectors with one Ancient, one sector with 2 Ancients (in Ring III) and one sector with a single money planet. Sean and Gareth meanwhile had expanded to occupy several systems, carefully blocking themselves from contact with either me or each other. Both had picked up at least one 2 VP chip and chosen to keep them.
By careful saving I was able to build 2 Cruisers in turn 3, upgrade their Hulls and take out one of the Ancients- drawing a helpful 8 money. In turn 4 I took out another Ancient, drawing 6 Materials. In turn 5 I built a couple more Cruisers and took out the double Ancients, losing a Cruiser in the firefight but gaining one on the Discovery tile. Unfortunately I had also overspent, meaning I lost a system. Meanwhile I had been researching the 2nd line of techs- Gauss Shield, Fusion Source and Tachyon Drive. In turn 7 I explored the remaining Ring II hex and was able to find a backdoor to Sean's empire, guarded by a single Ancient.
Sean and Gareth had both invested in Orbitals and were rather light on ship, though they had some fairly advanced techs. However, I chose not to attack Sean and simply took out the remaining Ancient, finding a free Neutron Bombs tech which I took as 2 Vps.
In turn 7 I bought Quantum Grid and stormed the Galactic Centre with 4 Cruisers and an un-upgraded Dreadnought. I left a starbase to guard myself against Sean- who was busy fortifying his own sectors with Starbases. Gareth took out an Ancient at this point, finding Shard Hull. The Galactic Centre was destroyed at the price of the Dreadnought and I discovered Hypergrid Source which I installed on my cruisers.
In turn 8 I warily watched Sean build 2 Dreadnoughts- but he sent them to attack Ancients rather than me. Gareth also held back from attacking me, so I was able to pick up Advanced Economy and retake the system I'd abandoned earlier. Gareth's ships would probably have smashed my Ion-Cannon equipped Cruisers at this point- he had a mix of Plasma Cannons and Plasma Missiles.
Fortunately in turn 9 I was able to buy and install Antimatter Cannons on them. Gareth urged Sean to attack me- Sean's dreadnoughts now had Conformal drive so could reach the heart of my empire. Sean paused to research Neutron Bombs, allowing me to build interceptors so I could pin him at the edge of my space. But two could play that game- Sean also built interceptors and in the end he was able to overwhelm my pin and send a Dreadnought to my undefended home system.
Gareth was not idle- he moved 2 Dreadnoughts and 4 Cruisers into the Galactic Centre and upgraded them some more. The final fight in the centre pitted his force against 4 Cruisers and 3 Starbases on my side. His Plasma Missile took out one Cruiser- his Dreadnoughts benefiting from 2 Positron Computers. However, I was able to destroy both Dreadnoughts and in the end it came down to a single cruiser vs a single starbase- with the cruiser victorious. I also lost the mass interceptor fight against Sean- his Dreadnought being the deciding factor. And of course I lost my home system.
So, the once-mighty Terran alliance lay in ruins, its homeworld lost, the Galactic Centre torn away. Only a few peripheral systems and no ships remained.
And yet... the strain of the all out attack on the alliance had bankrupted the enemy economies. The Federation survived, only losing 2 systems, but the Mechanema were forced to abandon everything except their home system. The Galactic centre lay unclaimed.
Philip 32 Sean 22 Gareth 9.
Legendary (thanks Tom)
Following Ra, Noel went off to play with some pastel camels, leaving Andy, Gary and Tom to try Andy's shiny new copy of Legendary.
Legendary is a semi co-operative deck builder set in the Marvel Comics universe which plays like a bastard stepchild of Ascension and Penny Arcade: Gamers vs Evil - in a good way.
During the lengthy set-up, Andy's special random allocator app set the villainous mastermind as the Red Skull (nemesis of Captain America), provided him with supporting villains of HYDRA (Captain America), the Brotherhood (X-Men) and Spider Foes (Spiderman, duh).
At the same time, the boys were provided with a hero deck consisting of Nick Fury (SHIELD), Gambit (X-Men), Emma Frost (X-Men) and Iron Man. This was rather fortunate as Fury and Iron Man naturally get on rather well together as do the two X-Men.
Andy lucked out in acquiring Iron Man's ultra rare card early which gave him a largely increased card draw and a big advantage in defeating the appearing villains and mastermind. Gary on the other hand had a more unfocused deck which had certain degree of emphasis on Nick Fury but also a bit of Emma Frost thrown in which worked well with Tom's Gambit heavy deck.
In the end, Red Skull got nowhere near to his goal of 12 villains escaping from whatever jail in which they were housed with both Tom and Gary taking big scalps defeating Venom & Juggernaut and Green Goblin respectively. It was however Andy who had defeated Red Skull on three separate occasions who had run away on the points scoring front.
A very enjoyable take on the Ascension system especially for a comic book nerd like Tom (although he is a bit more of a DC man himself).
Andy - Super Mega Winner; Tom and Gary – Winners

Ra (thanks Noel)
Ra was new to Gary but Noel, Tom and Andy had all enjoyed previous auctions through 3 Egyptian epochs offered in Knizia's classic game. The first epoch was over quickly with Gary taking the early points for the most Pharoahs and Andy plenty of scoring Nile tiles. Noel had a number of buildings but picked up several negative scores and finished the 1st epoch with 0 points (really -2 but a rules check confirmed no negative scoring). Meanwhile over on the Eclipse table the rules explanation continued....
The 2nd Epoch lasted longer with Noel and Andy out first and hoping for the Ra tiles to be pulled. Noel had increased his number of buildings while Tom had a culture set and Gary still led the Pharoahs. In the 3rd Epoch Tom lost some of his buildings through picking up a disaster tile but also gained his 7th different building in the same collection. Noel too now had 7 different buildings and a couple of sets of the same building to boost his building points further. Tom's early exit from Epoch 3 meant he sat disappointed on the sidelines as everyone added to their empires.
Final scoring and Noel's buildings took him to the win:
Noel 34, Tom 26, Gary 24, Andy 22
Wyatt Earp
Just enough time for the 4 remaining IBG'ers to have a go at this rummy variant to round the evening off. Players put down melds of outlaws, and the amount of cards played will determine the reward that is shared out at the end of each round. Throw in a few special cards, and the first to $25k is the winner.
The first round played quite slowly, as everyone got to grips with the special abilities of the 'sheriff' cards, and the scoring at the end of each round is not exactly intuitive. However, from the second round onwards things speeded up considerably, as players got the hang of playing and discarding cards to their advantage.
James picked up a couple of juicy large rewards the final 2 rounds, which saw him fall just shy of he $25k target, but with the pub about to close, he was declared the winner anyway.
This card game plays quickly but has enough going on to make it an interesting experience. Definitely worth a return at some point in the not too distant future.
James $24k; Jon $19k; Noel $18k; Tom $18k

Also played tonight was Through the Desert. This was brought along by James for Jon to buy for a song, but following the play, he decided against the purchase (not quite as child-friendly as he had hoped). Noel also hummed and hahed, before turning down the purchase possibility too. James has fallen short in his endeavour to write up the report, but the final scores were:
Noel 79; Jon 72; James 69; Amanda 66

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