Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Shh! You’ll wake him up!

So, with Essen still to the fore there were only a few intrepids this week.  With James being away the normal hoards decided to take a break too, the influence of the man is incredible!  So tonight’s star turns were Jon, Dan, Dan II (hereafter Natasha), Amanda, Paul, Philip, and me! And maybe an all-time low on games played as two meaty games, and one less-so, were played.  First, off to Russia…

Russian Railroads (thanks Philip!)

This was my third game of Russian Railroads, Neil's second, and Amanda and Natasha's first. The engineers available included two that advanced industry, one with +3 VPs and one with a black rail move, but were otherwise all rail moves. Natasha was first to pick compensation, choosing a rouble. I picked an industry advance and Amanda picked a rail advance. Neil, going first, took the two bonus workers, a choice he preferred throughout the game. Amanda placed three workers and took a train and a factory. I advanced my industry for +3 VPs, and Natasha bought the engineer (blackrail move+3 VPs).

By the end of the first turn I had pushed up to 5 VPs on the industry scale and had a factory ready in front of me. The others were pursuing rails in various directions. Natasha bought the second Engineer (anyrail move+3 VPs). I pushed on down the industry track, using the Industry+black rail engineer that had now appeared. Someone took the Industry+3VPs space, but I was still able to advance Industry two spaces onto my newest factory, which allowed me to repeat the Industry+black rail action and, with my remaining moves, generate the extra worker from the Kiev railroad.

By turn three the level four trains were becoming available and I built one as a factory, enabling me to take two ‘doublers’ and reach the bonus space on the Industry Track: I took the extra Worker card and the card that gives 1 point per Black rail space. No one bought the engineer this round, (industry+3 VPs). Neil and Amanda picked up their extra Kiev workers while Natasha forged ahead on the Vladivostok railroad. Amanda activated the first bonus on the St.Petersburg track, taking the Kiev Medal, but her grey rails hadn’t reached the medal space yet. Neil and Amanda were also making progress along the Industry tracks, while Natasha reached the second place and remained there for the rest of the game.

In turn four I bought the blackrail+industry engineer, Dan picked up his extra Vladivostok worker, and Neil and Amanda succeeded in scoring their Kiev Medals (which Neil placed that turn). I pushed my St.Petersburg blackrail up to space six, but was unable to buy a train that turn as the others blocked me.

In turn five I bought a level six Train and took my own Kiev Medal as well as four track advancements - meaning I was able to score it from then on. I also advanced my industry up to the 20 VP point. Amanda bought the engineer - 2 blackrails - for 14 points per level 1 factory, which I think she managed to score twice during the game.

In turn six Natasha bought the Engineer (any rail +black rail) and activated his St.Petersburg bonuses, choosing Revaluation and four track advances. He managed to lay down natural track on a long stretch of the railroad - four spaces at this point and I think six by game end, but never reached the end of the line so had no white track. He was getting 10 VPs a turn from Kiev as well. Neil picked up the bonus Engineer card and what later turned out to be the 10 VPs for each end of line card, and also pushed his grey track out far enough to get double points on the St Petersburg line. I gained my final worker and advanced my Industry to the end of the line - picking up two rail moves en route.

In turn seven I bought the Engineer (Brown Rail and Grey Rail). Amanda used her 2nd St Petersburg bonus to pick the factory+2 industry card (and the combined train value bonus card), which combined with the +5 industry bonus from the industry bonus space meant she reached the end of her industry track. I had been hoarding coins and had about half a dozen left, which combined with my eight workers allowed me to reach the end of all three railway lines and make enough space on the Vladivostok line for two white rail advances.

Final Scores: Philip – 403, Neil – 346,  Amanda – 332, Natasha – 330.

Robinson Crusoe  (many thanks Jon [I whispered; don’t want to wake anyone up!])

Thanks to James's bargain-hunting skills, Jon managed to snare the only English-language version of this game at Essen, and it didn't take him long to bring it along to IBG. Dan can always be relied upon to join in with such adventure-fare, and Paul came over to become the third member of the island-exploring party.

This co-op has multiple scenarios, but the first one is all about collecting a big pile of firewood and then building a fire, before surviving at least 10 months until a ship sails into sight to provide a rescue.

There's a lot to keep an eye on in this game, and not enough time or actions to deal with every threat. Players need to collect food and wood, as well as hunting beasts, all the while exploring deeper into the island to find the natural resources required to build useful inventions. Oh, and they also need to construct a shelter, with a multi-layered roof and preferably a palisade to keep out the wild animals.

Every time the adventurers take a risk with an action (sending one worker rather than two) they risk having an adventure. And for 'adventure' read 'an event that kicks you in the teeth at least once if not twice.'

In this game, the three amigos suffered a lot of resource deprivation, with one part of the island being unlucky enough to be ravaged by a hurricane and an earthquake in successive turns. Paul was taking quite a few wounds, and was needing to use actions to heal as often as possible. A shelter was soon constructed, and it was decided to focus on building some useful items like a map / shortcut rather than worry too much about the woodpile at first. An early successful hunt of a jaguar proved to provide much food, but unfortunately some of it rotted away due to there not being a fridge anywhere in sight...

The monthly events turned out to be less awful than they might have been, and some fortuitous dice-rolling also kept the 'adventures' at bay.

And so it came to pass that by the 10th month, although the weather had become atrocious, the boys had built a sufficiently robust shelter to keep themselves alive, and were able to focus on finishing the woodpile. A ship then sailed into view, and they were rescued from the cursed island. Well - Dan and Jon were rescued - Paul set a new low for the IBG'ers by falling asleep during the game (yes really!!) and therefore was left to sleep on the shore as the others made their escape.

This is a great co-op (although a little long on its first outing) and with at least 5 more scenarios to attempt, it will likely see lots more table time (although maybe not with Paul.....)


So, a game I was interested in at Essen, the designer Filip Milunski, a Pole, had come up with Magnum Sal and Mare Balticum in the past, two games I had, the latter being popular with the Horakids.  As it happens Philip was the first of us to have a look at this game and indeed play it.  His comment was ‘a game he’d play again if someone brought it along to the club’, not bad then!  As it was James was also interested so we took him at his word and dragged him back to the stand to play it again almost immediately.  Jon joined us too.  We played, I liked, I bought, we played it twice on the ferry home although Philip’s CV on one of those was almost non-existent. 

Tonight at the IBG Philip and I were joined by Dan II / Natasha to put together amazing resumes of our lives.  Basically the game is a dice fest, always a favourite with me – hold on that’s a lie, I’m far from keen on the dice, so what’s going on here then?  I don’t know it just seems to have the light feel of a dice game which you can tweak a little and still enjoy.  The dice allow you to buy cards, which make up your CV.  There’s some set collection involved,  and a life goal or two to head towards to.

Dan started off on his bike and was soon putting together the hippiest of hippy CVs; he studied at the “University of the Third Age”, made lots of “College Friends”, did the “trip Around the World”, “Inherited a House” and undertook some “Volunteer Work”!  Philip struggled in the Health, Relationship and particularly Knowledge, so concentrated on working his way through every job possible, spending his hard earned cash on various assets.  I was playing my Knowledge card and also invested well.  The last round saw me finally make use of the pension fund I’d taken early on and score a useful 15 points.  Unfortunately Dan had done even better on the life goals and took victory by a good margin.
Final Scores; Dan II – 65, Neil – 60, Philip – 49.

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