Wednesday, 13 November 2013

One in six, plus, one in five, equals CABOOMMMMMmmmmm!!!

An interesting amalgam of folk with James back in town with a fistful of Yen-produced games.  We were joined once more by Jen our Leeds lass who turns out to live nearer to Bradford in fact, as well as Dan II [Natasha], Tom, Jon, Noel, Philip, Dan, Andy, and me, Neil, with star guest of the evening John Bandettini no less, hurrah!.

Cheaty Mages  (thanks Jon)

The evening started with 5 of the IBG’ers having another go at this Japanese game (aren’t they all Japanese nowadays???) [EDIT: yes they are, the other five of us, James, Neil, Jen, Dan II, and Philip tried ‘Say Bye to the Villains’ but co-operatively LOST, nuff said!] Players bet on which of 5 characters will win the battle, and then take turns to play spells which affect each character’s chances of winning.

Jon and Noel shared the winnings in the first round, which saw Dan using up most of his cards to no avail. Jon also took some spoils in the second round, with Andy and Tom also joining in the fun. The final round was characterised by the judge disallowing direct (face-down) spells. As this was all that Dan held, his chances of adding to his zero total score were not great….

With most of the spells played face down, there was an air of uncertainty about what exactly was happening. It looked as if Jon, Noel and Andy were trying to boost different characters, and with a final card Noel moved a face-down card from ‘Andy’s’ character to his own. It turned down that both of them had placed a ‘double-winnings’ spell on their characters, but Noel had managed to swap a massive 8-power card from Andy to his own, to steal the win.

This is a fun and quick little game that reminds me of Colossal Arena, but plays in a very palatable 25 mins. Nice stuff!

Railways of England and Wales  (Cheers Jon)

Another Wednesday evening, another outing for this ever-popular train game – this time on the England & Wales map. Jen was the newbie, but proved to be a quick learner, despite playing against veterans Jon & Noel.

The first auction went to $11k for the start player, with Jon finally giving way to Noel. Imagine how pleased Jon subsequently was when he realised that Noel was picking a completely different starting location anyway. Noel started around Manchester for some easy early deliveries. Jon picked the unusual starting location of Devon, due to the available service bounty for the first cube delivered to Barnstable. Jen went back to her roots and set up camp in the North-East – a little too close to Noel for his liking though…..

Noel obviously delivered the first cube for the 1-point bonus, whilst Jon benefitted from his service bounty. Jen attempted to be the first to deliver 4 different-coloured cubes, but failed to bid high enough to be start player in the 3rd round, ceding that bonus to Noel.

Jon had used his early cash influx to upgrade his engine a couple of times and eventually took the 3-link delivery bonus. His strategy was fairly obvious from the off – connect Dover to Plymouth for a major-route bonus and then build up a big enough engine to make use of the spread-out cubes in the South of England. Noel and Jen built parallel routes North-South, with Jen ending up in London, and Noel in South Wales.

Jon had leapt into a healthy lead and was looking to empty enough cities to end the game, but Jen and Noel decided to work together to throw a spanner in the works for him. As Noel stated to Jen “I think we’re in the same boat here”, to which Jon replied “Yes – but there’s only really room in that boat for one!”

Nevertheless, their concerted efforts to keep adding cubes to the board succeeded in extending the game by about 3 rounds, and with Jon’s cubes starting to run out in the South, the scores were getting closer. However, he had kept enough stocks tucked away in Dover to ensure that when the game end was finally triggered, he had enough of a buffer to still win fairly comfortably.

The contest for second place was much closer, with Jen just failing to overhaul Noel’s score. Amazingly, the players had only accumulated 6 bonds between them by the end (Noel 3, Jon 2, Jen 1) and were all flush with cash in the final few rounds. This had been another fun game, and good to see that the Cornwall-Kent network can be a viable strategy in the right circumstances. Next up – Neil’s Canada map…???

Russian Railroads  (cheers Philip!)

This was my 4th game of Russian Railroads, Natasha's second, and Andy’s first. Previous games had been 4 player.

The engineers available included the 3VPs +x2 lady in position 3 and the take another single worker action man in position 5. Otherwise they were all rail moves. Going 3rd I picked up a X2 marker and Andy a black rail move. Natasha opened by taking both coins.

I focused on the trans-Siberian railroad, making use of and eventually buying the doubler+3 VPs engineer. I was able to get my extra worker from that track by turn 2. Meanwhile Natasha pushed ahead on industry, building four factories in the first couple of turns, although he hadn’t realised that the level 3 factory only allows single worker actions.

Andy was first out of the door with a bonus from the St.Petersburg, taking the level 9 locomotive. I had planned to do that but instead moved 5 industry spaces, allowing me to take another train. Natasha got his second industry marker into play.

Both Andy and Natasha took the Kiev Medal for their second bonus and soon had the Kiev line scoring a good 45 points a turn. For my second bonus I took the factory+2 industry move card, which allowed me to reach my third bonus (Revaluation).

Andy bought the 4th engineer and Natasha the 5th, putting us all on one engineer with Andy the highest numbered and me the lowest. Natasha had been hoarding coins and Andy had a few but I had none going into the last round having spent my last coin on the 2 rails of any type action to reach Vladivostok and push to the third space with my White rail. At some point Natasha had taken the bonus card which gives you 3 things and then a choice of one of those three things- predictably choosing industry.

Natasha’s fifth factory was a level 9 and he succeeded in pushing both markers over it, so he had accumulated 3 final scoring cards. Nevertheless I was very comfortably in the lead. On Andy’s turn I pointed out that buying the last engineer was worth 20 points to Natasha and to him (in his case as a denial move). Andy nobly refused to take the last engineer and Natasha bought it. I concentrated on getting my white rail up to 5.

After end of turn scoring I was leading Natasha by about 65 points. Then we did end of game scoring- Natasha scored 101 points in end of game with most engineers, the bonus cards for factories, workers and bonuses, and I scored 20 for 4+ x2 markers. Andy scored 40 for 2nd most engineers and some bonus card.

Final Scores; Natasha - 385,  Philip - 370, Andy - 318.


CV’s second outing at the IBG saw me introducing Tom and Dan to the game and James showing them how to play it.  Tom picked up well on his life tasks, filling his boots with Knowledge and Relationships.  I managed to throw consecutive bad luck to lose two of my cards, Dan tried following this strategy but did have some life insurance to help him out once.  My misfortune eventually gave me a free card through Social Assistance.

James was picking up bits and pieces although where he was focusing was anyone’s guess.  He scored well on Health, something to do with only eating jacket potatoes with sour cream apparently. Tom scored very nicely on the life goals but it was amongst the money cards that the winner was to be found.  Dan had decided to concentrate on picking up assets, only for James to pip him to it in the last couple of rounds, thus hitting a useful life goal too.  Blimey, James won another game!

Final Scores; James – 52, Tom – 49, Dan – 39, Neil – 33 (nowhere near the lowest score in a 4 player game to date [28], hurrah!)

Blueprints (thanks James!)

Another 'filler' from Essen, although there's more to this game than most fillers... players draft dice to add, layer by layer, to a blueprint... at the end of each round (6 dice each) buildings are scored and various awarded allocated based on the dice selected and structure of the tower. For a simple concept (once you've memorised the 4 different dice colours and their respective scoring) there's a lot of thinking going on... Not enough to drag out a game, but enough to make each move meaningful.

This was a first for everyone with Neil, Tom and myself able to entice John B to join us for a full house.

After realising at the end of round one that you weren't scoring cumulative points for each building, but were only keeping the awards given out the game made more sense and everyone knew what they were doing from hereforth (well can't speak for Neil or Tom here but they always disguise their confusion well...)

John managed to build his 2nd tower out of all orange dice which pretty much swept the awards for that round, while also scuppering my chance of winning anything (grumble, grumble).

I tried a strategy of ignoring the blueprint and building a tall tower for round 4... which probably has potential as a strategy if carried out by someone clever than me... however in this case it was more Leaning Tower of Pisa than Empire States Building...

At the end (I don't have the scores) John managed to win quite convincingly (nothing new there) while the rest of us looked like we've just finished an unsuccessful game of Jenga.

Everyone seemed to like it though, only about 30 minutes to play, but a nice enough mix of randomness from the dice with enough tactical decisions to keep you interested.

Final Scores; John - 10, James - 6, Tom - 5, Neil – 3.


Not another Japanese game surely?  And only sixteen cards, who’d have thought it?  I can hear the yells now;

“So, what’s the theme then Neil??”



“Really.  Even the box comes with the exclamation: ‘Acorns rolling down’.  I mean who wouldn’t be keen to pick up a game thus described.”

Anyway, forget that bit.  Let’s have a look at the cards, all sixteen of them.  There are ten of them featuring the simplest possible drawing of… oh yes, an acorn.  They are numbered from 1 – 5.  Then there are four ponds, worth -1 or -2, and finally two loaches, which switch –ves to +ves!  Acorns, ponds and loaches.  You HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING!

With Tom, John and I still in shock James set out a row of four cards face up.  On your turn you add a card to one column.  It can be placed face down for the cost of one coin, or face up and you receive a coin from the bank.  If, on your turn, you think one of the column is worth the magic number, six, then you can take the column.  All cards are revealed and points won, or lost depending on the total. If it is six the round is over.  The first to 20 coins wins.


So, round one.  James starts and adds a face down card to a 2-acorn card.  John decides to gamble and picks the cards up, turning over James’s 4-acorn… “DONBURIKO!!” rings out.  Round over.  It doesn’t get quicker than that!

Things go a little longer in the following rounds, not much longer to be honest but we each get to lay a card at least!  Aha, I win the next round, and do well in the following one too.  Maybe it is down to skill after all… let me believe this for just a moment more…

And there we are, one more round and the bank will be empty, and I take that one too, and win the whole thing.  I do believe James will trade this one on.  I won’t be offering to buy it!  In fact the following day he got £25 for it.  RESULT!!

Final Scores; Neil – 21, John – 19, James – 7, Tom – 1

Two Rooms and a Boom!

Ok, who’s the President, who’s the bomber?  That’s all you have to work out.  Once sorted then keep them apart and the goodies win, stick ‘em together and the baddies have it.

New to all six of us; Jon, Noel, James, Jen, Tom, Neil.  Obviously you can’t trust Jon or Noel so this is perhaps trickier than it should be.

First round six cards dealt, three blue including the President, and three red including the Bomber.  We split into threes and had three minutes to discuss who was who, elect a leader for the three and they chose to move one person on.  All six said they were blue goodies although no-one wanted to admit to being the President!  Second round, another three minutes of discussions and another person shuffles around from each ‘room’.  One final minute of discussions and then the cards are revealed.  Turned out Jen, Tom and I who started together were all baddies, Jen being the Bomber, and we managed to get her over to the blues to blow that President sky high! HURRAH!!

Again, again… we all cried!

Ok.  This time there were three blues and three red at the start… Being the Bomber I decided to play red but not own up to my power.  I moved Jen on to find out about the others but we were none the wiser for the second round.  So, time for me to move over to check them out.  The President remained where he was so BOOM, another red victory… the power, the elation, the tension!

Again, again, again…

Take three.  So this time it was different.  Except that I was the bomber once more.  I decided to play red but not own up entirely.  It turned out that all the reds were with me for the first discussion, but where was that blasted President?

Second discussion and for once I believed Tom so decided to send him off in the hope of getting the President back, but instead they sent Jen back, already a red.  Unfortunately for the President he’d been sent over after discussion one, there he was, sat comfortably, beside the Bomber… CABOOM!!  Three out of three for the Reds, Cold War history rewritten perfectly.

Great game, and probably even better with more.


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