Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The day that IBG went to Essen

Many of the regular Isleworth board gamers were off at Essen this week, sampling the newest games available, soaking up some serious board gaming vibes and no doubt filling more than one car with games for the trip back.

The mass migration to the German industrial belt for four days left three die hard board gamers in Isleworth, which, if we look on the bright side, makes the blog easy.

Players: Gareth II, Noel and Paul

Ten Days in Asia

Gareth and Paul were first up and decided to play a short two games of Ten Days in Asia. Apart from

being set in a different continent, the difference between this and its European cousin is that train tracks exist in this game, which simply provide another mechanism for getting around. All else remains the same.

In the first game Paul found himself very focussed in the Middle East and Central Asia, with a great inconvenience arising every time he picked something further west than Pakistan. In the second game he was also struggling to get clear of the Arabian lands but a couple of planes made that easier.

Gareth was more dotted about. Both players found themselves wincing at not being able to connect two mini sets easily. Eventually Paul got lucky before Gareth.

Scores (both games): Paul won, Gareth II lost

Cleopatra and the Society of Architects

A pretty Days of Wonder game, revolving around the architects of ancient Egypt building the monuments which are now ruins. A nice mechanism for acquiring cards, which are used to build the structures although often at the price of becoming corrupt. You get points for building, but at the end of the game the most corrupt individual is fed to the crocodiles and immediately loses. Therefore there is a balance between a decent amount of corruption and getting eaten alive, but if you go completely squeaky clean then you won't get very far.

The sphinx's were first to be built, followed by the pair of obelisks. Gareth seemed to start off big and collected his fair share of corruption, but balanced this by losing some in the bidding. Noel was building quickly and pipped Paul to the Mosaic Garden, however this actually worked out best for Paul as he then had two different mosaic tiles and they allowed him to build a roomy contemplation garden which helped reduce his corruption level (well it would, wouldn't it - good theming Days of Wonder!) Paul then seemed to be throwing caution to the wind and building, corruption tokens and all, as quickly as possible. There was one other auction for lowering / raising the corruption, which Paul paid big money to win. He hoped that this, plus another massive contemplation garden would bring his corruption down sufficiently for him to not be thrown to the crocs.

Noel made a call to bring the game to a close, which meant that he figured he was in with a shout, but after the corruption tokens were gathered from their homes under the pyramids and counted up, it was revealed that he'd miscalculated and Paul's new line on the straight and narrow meant that he sneaked under Noel's corruption tally and Noel was instantly snapped up. Gareth was shown to have not taken very much corruption at all, so  the final scores were between Gareth and Paul, with Paul coming out the eventual winner.

One point to note is that we started off trying in vain to balance the walls on top of the garden edges (the outside edges of the upturned box), but after we knocked them over multiple times, Gareth applied some common sense and just put them against the sides, whereupon we twigged that actually that's maybe where they are meant to be.

Scores: Paul 62 (8 corruption, reduced from 17), Gareth 39 (5 corruption, reduced from 8), Noel 'would have had' 50 (10 corruption  -reduced from 14 - so eaten alive)

Stone Age (thanks Noel)

Paul, Gareth II and Noel then moved a little further back in time for another popular 'family' strategy

game, and Paul's first play at, Stone Age. Old hands Noel and Gareth II did an all over the place rules explanation in a classic too many cooks way (Noel should have kept his tuppence worth in his pocket probably). Fortunately Paul wasn't one flint short of a spark and he picked it up quickly.

Noel got an early start on the farm increasing his wheat production, while Gareth picked up some early culture cards and Paul expanded his family. And so the course was set while Noel had food a plenty, Paul's family regularly had wood and stone for dinner as a result of their propensity to procreate. Both Noel and Paul kept a wary eye on Gareth's card acquisition and picked up some good culture sets themselves. Noel built all three 1-7 Joker buildings, not for huge points scores but it did keep him in the lead on the points track and built up a number of huts for his multiplier cards. Paul matched his growing population with some relevant multiplier cards and Gareth had a stock pile of gold at the end but without anywhere much to spend it.

By closing time, we were finished, and Noel's balance of huts, culture, multipliers and some fine dice rolling earned him top place. Paul's hungry mob came in second and Gareth's small clan of alchemists a good bit further back.

Scores: Noel 190, Paul 144, Gareth 125

The messages from Essen by text and email are:


From James: "Jon's opinion of the sequel to Love Letter is that he preferred Love Letter... but would prefer to spend an evening playing Kings of Mithral to both... [Ed - begs the question why any Essen time was spent on a game with such low expectations in the first place]."

From Jon: "James demoed Snowdonia and only got 4 rules wrong [Ed - sounds like a normal Wednesday night to me]. Neil bought most of Essen. I've been impressed by the quality of the female hotel staff ..."

From Neil: "Yo Porli. My feet are killing me but my eardrums have burst with James' endless trading tips. Don't buy anything Japanese from him."


From James:

"Blog update... Patronize... Neil 60 James 51 Phil 44 Jon 32.. Jon may dispute this but I would pay him little attention" [Ed: not sure if 'Patronize' is the name of a game or the flavour of the text?]

"Phil and Neil both let the club down by losing to an American at a game of legacy... worse as Phil proclaimed the game as looking like any other poor euro while standing right next to the designer... our reputation has never need lower."

"Jon hit the world record score in 7 Wonders of 80 points although he was playing some first timer Italians" [Ed: Ruthless]

"Phil bought Russian Railroads after winning a game... Neil got panned at Yunnan by Italians with green hair... he still bought the game."

"Neil has taken over the game buying obsessive award from Barrie this year... the gaming industry is guaranteed a profit in 2013."

"I taught loads of people Snowdonia but found out in the last game that I've been playing it wrong for ever... nothing new there then..." [Ed: no comment - just a knowing smirk]

"Jon is singing along to T'Pau... he has a bit of a red head problem..."

"Phil fathered 6 kids today..."

From Jon:

"We've forced James to eat in the same restaurant 3 nights running which serves fantastic chicken but has a somewhat limited Veg menu. Le jacket potato. Chortle!" [Ed: And the London Apprentice had the veggie fish and chips back on as a special this week - having second thoughts James?]

An email and attachment from James:
Jon's customary rule check
"So this is phils new purchase. . A commie game about building the trans siberian.... Note the empty hotel. .. was full and bustling until we arrived. ..Not sure why we're playing this game. ..Phil will very likely win. .."


From James:

"Trains and Stations did not appeal to Neil and Phil"

"Played mayday mayday. .. a resistance style game. . Jon (AS USUAL) was evil and teamed up with some 12 year old jail bait to win... I blame Phil. .."

"Spent evening in pub with makers of cornish smugglers... good group of guys (based in Penzance"

"Neil almost picked a fight with Richard breese... can't take him anywhere. .."