Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Eight Legged Freaks

An interesting start to the evening - Philip was offered the long since departed Salmon Linguine (Phil's petition to Taylor Walker for its reinstatement is still awaiting a second signatory). This was despite his having ordered the Vegetable Tagliatelle - which was what the dish actually was!  Much merriment was had at this mix-up - as it was when Phil decided to recount the story in detail to each and every IBG'er who arrived at the pub thereafter.  

This was then followed by the amazing sight of Phil deciding to eat his food by sucking it from the plate whilst standing up. Ever seen the bit in Oldboy, when he eats the live octopus?  It was like that... but worse.  

Neil moved quickly to wipe the veggie juices from the green felt and to expunge the burning liquid out of Jon's eyes so everyone could move on to the games and to repressing the memory of Phil's eating habits.

Glass Road

With Tom keen to play his second game in a matter of days (Ed:  And why the heck not?  It's a thing of loveliness), he risked life and limb and was eventually granted permission to attend from his lovely wife, Louise. We were joined by similar one game veterans Amanda and Philip although with two weeks having passed since their first play you could be forgiven for thinking they'd never heard of board games at all, never mind Glass Road.

Tom won first player (Ed:  if only all games were that easy to win) and began weighing up suitable opportunities. Philip had spotted something and started collecting resources and Amanda and I went off to the Feudal Lord to give ourselves more building options. As it turned out, Amanda picked up the Mason’s Guild, giving her three points per brick at game end, something Philip had done very successfully first time out. Philip was still collecting resources and Tom was still oohing and aahing over the available buildings -  nothing too obvious was available.

As for me, with my vast experience, I picked up the Slipway and the Bath house which scored me nicely on wood and ponds built adjacent to it.  That both Philip and Tom were planning for the latter was particularly useful (Ed:  it was somewhat lucky for me as I mixed up the meaning of adjacent and congruent - goodness, the things us board gamers have to put up with!). Tom took recompense by picking up two buildings, each of which were worth four victory points at the end, and Amanda decided to use up all her bricks.

Once again I used my hard learned knowledge to play the Builder as my first card in the penultimate round. Genius, loads of resources with to build - all I needed was one food to pay my builder, and boy oh boy was he furious when none was forthcoming. You know what builders are like at the best of times.  To add insult to injury, Tom built the building I had been planning on! Live and learn, I managed to build the Coal Storage soon enough which gained me one more point. Philip then did his amazing final turn, converting no end of stuff into more stuff times lots, and looking pretty good as a result. Amanda had forgotten everything she learned first game, and more (Ed:  she didn't even have any bricks for the Mason's Guild - the magnificent fool!). A close game with no obvious building combinations.  The scoring was very close and despite my gaff I just held off Philip.

Editor's Note:  I love this game - can't wait to try it again.  Neil's nefarious stealing of my dream buildings did affect me but the real issue was planning a perfect final round and not taking into account the real problems that would happen if other players played matching role cards.  A strategy solely based on scoring for buildings without taking into account the scoring for glass, bricks and sand is just not going to win you the game when playing against experienced opponents, especially the mighty Horabin.

Final Scores; Neil - 23, Philip - 22, Tom - 17, Amanda - 12 1/2.


Not having given this an outing for some time, Jon fondly remembered playing this on the ferry back from Essen, and we were joined by Philip, who, it is safe to say, got so excited during the second game on the ferry that he threw up! Happy days.

From the off we all followed different life paths: Philip was going heavily into health, relationships and science; I opted for academia, going to uni, getting a PhD, becoming a Professor all the while picking up the yellow money/materialism cards - my life goal; Jon was busy early on rolling the worst dice combinations he possibly could. Took him ages to pick up anything - must have been formatting his CV rather than writing the bloody thing.

Neither Jon or I spotted that Philip had collected the three cards that allowed him to pick any health, relationship and science cards for one symbol less every time. No wonder he won by a mile.

Quite early on I opted for early retirement and although this gave me a free card each round when combined with my sole relationship card, I had peaked too early and obviously was festering in some old folks' home. Jon nipped in picking up a few good professions to gain twelve bonus points through one of the communal life goals, thus pipping me to second place.

So, what did I learn? Don't go chasing money. Get a career to make retirement bearable. And most important of all: get a life!

Final Scores; Philip - 78, Jon - 48, Neil - 46.


Three players. 45-60 minutes to kill – perfect for the much underrated area majority game, Mykerinos. This was new to both Andy and Sean, and Jon had forgotten Sean’s aversion to rules explanations. Hence, two minutes into the introduction, Sean was requesting “Let’s just start playing!” A nice idea – but not very practical if you don’t know what those little cubes do – or those tiles – or that map of a museum – or how to win the game. So Sean had to put up with Jon blethering on for the next five minutes about how to actually play the game...

Anyway, once started, things went fairly smoothly. Andy majored on Lady Violet tiles, which gave him extra cubes each turn. Jon also picked up a couple of these, whereas Sean didn’t get any early on, giving him a numerical cube disadvantage.

Jon and Sean were both placing into the museum to maximise their end scores, whereas Andy was choosing to neglect this element of the game in favour of collecting sets of patrons.  The game moves along at a fair pace, and it was soon time to tot up the scores. Andy had completed 2 full sets of patrons for 10 points, whereas Jon and Sean only had one set each.

However, Sean and Jon had both achieved the maximum room bonus for two of their patrons, pulling them ahead of Andy, with Jon having the right collection of patrons to pull off the victory.

Jon 62; Sean 54; Andy 41

Finally, Splendor, the wonderful new engine building game was also played by Andy, Tom, Dan and Sean.  Little is remembered other than that Sean managed to sit through the rules explanation without being distracted.  Dan won at a canter thanks to his aggressive acquisition of Stage II and III cards, with Tom and Andy trailing just behind.  Sean, however, was nowhere in sight.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

There's a Rat In Mi Cloister

Players: Paul, Jon, Natasha, Mark, John, Philip, Andy

Many thanks to Jon for providing no less than four session reports - more than making up for your intrepid editor's absence.

A very select band of IBG’ers turned up tonight, with a number of old classics being wheeled out (if you can call Agricola an old classic…)

Battle Line

Paul and Jon were the early implementers this week and, with minds nice and fresh, Battle Line was the chosen option.

As usual, there were the constant hard decisions about which cards to lay down (Ed:  not as hard as if you played with the tactics cards, you heathen!) and with subsequent groans as the next card drawn would have been perfect two turns previously.

The game went down to the last few cards again, with Paul running out of options first, and Jon having the necessary cards to close the game out.  The tactics cards weren’t used, as both players prefer the ‘purity’ of the base game (Ed: BOOOOOOO!  Go play and Schotten-Totten then, you puritans).  Might be fun to try them sometime though (Ed: I was hasty. Let's never fight again xo).

Jon 6; Paul 3

For Sale

With a few more IBG’ers starting to turn up, the opening filler of choice was the perennial favourite: For Sale. New to Mark and John but, as usual, the rules are easily explained in two minutes flat (looking at the scores, maybe Paul should have listened more closely as well…)

Paul somehow managed to acquire both zero cheques, which effectively put him out of the running, whilst the other 3 players ended with incredibly close scores – with Mark just ending up top of the pile.

Mark 67; Jon 65; John 64; Paul 48

TTR: Nederlands

A second outing for this game at IBG, with the For Sale crew staying together to play. It was actually Mark’s first experience of TTR, and although the Nederlands map adds the bridge tolls to the game, it is still easily explained even for a first game. The trick with this game is to try to be the first to claim popular routes, so that other are paying their bridge tolls back to you. However, knowing which routes will be ‘popular’ is not always easy.

Mark, John and Jon all started out placing routes in the middle of the map, radiating out from Amsterdam, whereas Paul chose to keep himself to himself and headed up north.  Jon built east to west along the bottom of the map, and as he got to the south-western corner he was joined by Mark. This resulted in much sighing and head-holding from John, which indicated that he may have been blocked out of a needed route.

The game was heading towards a conclusion, and twice running, Mark chose to pick new tickets. Eyebrows were slightly raised from the TTR experienced players, as this is a difficult map to lay extra routes late on in the game, but they gave Mark the benefit of the doubt as he has demonstrated his ‘gaming intelligence’ on more than one occasion in the past.

Paul spent his last few turns laying trains on longer cheap (toll-wise) routes, and Jon, after careful consideration, decided to pay Paul one token to also dump trains on one of those routes. Jon then paid one more token to lay enough trains to trigger the last round. Curiously, as no-one wanted to use any more toll tokens, for fear of losing the end-game bonus, nobody did anything in the last round. Jon considered the lottery of the final turn ticket-dive, but being cautious by nature, he decided against it.

And so to the final scores. John revealed that he had indeed been blocked out by Mark and Jon, and failed to complete a massive 34-point ticket, leaving him on an unfortunate 45 points. Jon only had his starting three tickets (which were not especially high in value), as did Paul, whereas Mark revealed that his two ticket-collection turns had proved fruitful, and had enabled him to complete seven tickets, putting him way out in the lead.

And so it was all down to the bonuses for the most toll tokens – and Paul had pipped Jon for the 55 bonus points by a measly two tokens, which was enough for him to just sneak past Mark for the narrowest of victories. Had Jon not paid Paul that 1 token and laid another down, there would have been a 40 point swing between the two of them, and a different winner (probably Mark). But how many games could we say that for??!!! (Ed:  Answer on a postcard to the usual address)

The toll tokens definitely give this game a different feel, although there was a feeling that the size of the bonuses may be a little much (nearly a third of the winner's score). Good fun though.

Paul 180; Mark 177; Jon 157; John 48

Notre Dame

Just 3 IBG’ers stayed until the bitter end, and Andy was happy to pick another of his games to finish the evening off. It was new to Natasha, but he refuses to have a rules explanation last longer than four minutes, so any misunderstandings on his part were his own fault.

Newbie Natasha came straight out of the blocks, hitting the sector that gives straight points as often as possible. This is an unusual strategy, but he was fed by Andy and Jon both passing these cards on in the first round. Jon made the mistake of passing on the Notre Dame card in the first round, which allowed Andy to go in by himself, as Dan had trashed his copy of that card.

The rats were proving to be less problematic than usual, with the doctor coming out at an opportune moment, which helped Dan to focus on his points accumulation.  Jon was trying to steadily amass cubes and money, whilst Andy had a good presence in the hospital, and also had a stack of cash.

As often happens with this game, the end seems to suddenly approach at a rate of knots, and Jon realised that he had waited too long to start collecting points, and was never going to catch up. Natasha'ss engine (or lack of) had started to stall slightly, with rats becoming more problematic, whilst Andy appeared to be storming onwards.

The last round saw Andy placing two cubes in Notre Dame to Jon’s one, and had used his vast wealth to max out on points each time. Natasha had never had enough coins to bother with Notre Dame, and used his actions elsewhere.

With the points counted, Jon was miles behind, but Natasha had just managed to hold on for a very impressive newbie single-point victory. Good to see a slightly different strategy win this game, which is always a fulfilling experience, especially with three players.

Dan 70; Andy 69; Jon 55

It would appear that Agricola was also played by Natasha, Phil and Andy but the results have been lost to the mists of time.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Doctor is In

A hello from your erstwhile editor:

Hello loyal readers!  Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this week's shindig so I have nothing to contribute other than to wrestle with Blogspot's awkward formatting and deleting all of Jon's ellipses.  However, having seen that two games were played by Herr Doctor Knizia, I could not miss the opportunity to invoke Ra.  Enjoy!

Players: James, Gareth, Neil, Jon, Philip, Amanda, Paul, Andy, John B, Luka, Donald

Newbies Luka and Donald were work colleagues of James (apparently he’s their boss) and they impressed us with their refusal to show due deference to him. We’re more than happy to see them return again.

Lost Cities (thanks Paul)

Gareth and Paul arrived early and Paul had Lost Cities primed and ready to go as he hand't played it for ages. 

As soon as they started their first missions (Ed: way to get into the deep Knizian theme, Paul), everyone else started to arrive, so they only played one hand (rather than the usual three) so that everyone else could join in.

After this one and only hand Paul was ahead, but who knows how it would have turned out; after all Gareth was to Paul's left.

High Society (thanks Jon)

A good number of IBG’ers turned up early, resulting in a couple of fillers being played whilst the numbers were finalised. One of these was the excellent Knizia classic, High Society, which was new to Amanda, but James explained the rules (more on that later…)

After the first round, James left the table to take a phone call (apparently Yeovil FC are looking for a new benefactor and had heard that James had just been given a huge pay raise) so the others bid for him. In his absence, he surprisingly failed to win any bids, despite the temptation to let him have the ‘1’ card for £30m.

Amanda took two of the negative cards (the thief and the x ½), but was fortunate to pick up the ‘1’ card immediately after the thief, which effectively gave her a profit over the other players.

Jon gave in to the pressure to take the -5 when the bidding got too high, but was then struggling to pick up any positive cards cheaply enough.

Donald picked up an early x2, and then bided his time to add the ‘10’ to his portfolio, giving him a potentially game-winning score of 20. The question was – how much cash did he have left in hand?

It was at this point, Amanda queried the process for adding bids – she was under the impression that you had to add a higher card each time you bid – and blamed James for his unclear rules explanation (where have we heard that before?)

Luka had sneaked his score up to 14, so was sitting pretty if he had more cash left than Donald. Jon and James needed to obtain another status symbol, but for a bargain, as neither were very flush for cash. So as the end-game approached, they were left with the usual difficult decisions about whether to bid for further cards, which would potentially give them the least cash and therefore eliminate them – but without more points, they couldn’t win anyway. Delicious.

The last red card was turned over, James and Jon had failed to pick up any more points, and so all eyes turned to Donald as he revealed his remaining cash reserves – which turned out to be only £10m – not enough to keep him in the game. It was therefore Luka’s 14 points that turned out to be a winning score.

Amanda came in last with 6 points, but was found to have a bagful of cash stashed in her hand, and could definitely afforded to bid for more points. She blamed James (fair enough) and was determined to do better next time.

Luka 14; Jon 9; James 8, Amanda 6; Donald 20 (least cash)

Suburbia (thanks Paul)
John and Andy joined Paul for his second trip to the 'burbs. Paul managed to recall most of the rules, and on reading the rule book even challenged John B's rules knowledge from his one previous game, although he probably should know better.

The goals were strange, which is a major factor as they are probably game winners. One was the most Lakes, and another was the largest Lake. Paul's personal goal was the fewest Lakes. Hmmm (Ed: one big lake next time?).

John went for industry, Paul Commerce and Andy built a fancy restaurant and some airports. Paul went for steady income which took some time to build, whilst Andy bought the waterfront development card and made lots of money on developing waterside property, instead of getting any income. John did a little of both and for most of the game had the highest 'attraction' level.

Near the end of the game John realised that although he's left a nice space for one very large Lake, he was one turn behind Andy who then always had the power to get all of the Lake prizes.

Andy did indeed capture both Lake prizes (a cool 30 points), plus his own personal goal which was to get the lowest income at game end. John got his goal of the most industrial areas, and Paul managed to achieve his fewest Lakes, meaning he got none from the other bonuses.

The 'goals' won the game, which had managed to stretch out for most of the evening - unlike two weeks ago when two games of Suburbia were played back to back.

Scores: Andy: 107, Paul: 94, John: 82

Glass Road (thanks Neil)

After an outing a couple of weeks ago it was time once more to get this one infiltrating the club, it’s a big Horafave at the mo’. Up for some glass and brick production were Amanda, Philip and Jon. So everyone has the same fifteen cards and the same starting land, then it’s choose five cards, three you will get to play and you hope to play the remaining two by piggybacking off your opponents. From there it’s about collecting resources and building.

The initial buildings that came out were particularly good ones, lots of VPs available for continuous sand pits, ponds and shrubberies, plus an upgrade of 300% on glass production. Going last in the first round I decided to play the Feudal Lord as he lets you have a private offering of buildings, I’d thought the sand pits might get purchased before I had an opportunity. And amongst my private buildings was one that gives 4VPs for a 2x2 block of sand pits – the Friends of Nature House (go tree hugger!), now if I could only get the Sediment Factory .

Amongst the others Amanda was targeting ponds through the Floodgates, gaining VPs per pond at game end. Jon went for the Plant Nursery collecting Groves/Shrubberies as well as the Glassmaker’s Village giving him 1VP per sand, and Philip had his Glassworks increasing glass from 3 to 9VPs as well as using the Shingles Manufacturer to help with resource production.

As the final round came around I was fortunate enough to be able to build an extra building, the Hot Springs, worth 4VPs which gave me total from my buildings of 10VPs: Lumber Storage, the Spa, Soup Kitchen and those beautiful Hot Springs. Added to that I got 14VPs through the bonuses: seven from a network of seven adjacent sand pits – the Sediment Factory; four for a 2x2 sand pit formation; and three from forests left in my lands - the Forester’s Office. 

Amanda scored well on buildings with 8 VPs although Philip pipped her there by one. She also achieved 8VPs through the bonus tiles, Jon hit 14 VPs and Philip 7 VPs although he maximised his glass production to gain 9VPs through that. My estimations of 15-20 points being reasonable were on the low side, and I’d achieved my highest score to date.

Final Scores; Neil - 27½, Philip – 26, Jon – 22, Amanda – 19

Havana (thanks Jon)

1 hour left to play – 4 players available – “speed Terra Mystica” was vetoed, so Havana it was. This was new to Gareth and Philip, but having just played Glass Road, the main mechanism was very similar (choose a character to give you a special ability this round, which may well be affected by what other players choose).

Jon started by gathering a stack of workers, despite there being only one building available which required then to build – he was banking on more valuable worker-buildings coming out later.

Gareth was the first to get some buildings constructed, and he also took great pleasure in removing building materials from other players at every opportunity. Philip was accumulating a fair amount of building materials, whilst Neil was picking up as much debris as possible – keen to clean up the rubble-strewn streets of Cuba.

Gareth used his Siesta card to ensure that he often had the coveted first player advantage, but this did limit the number of positive actions that he could undertake during the game.

Jon managed to accumulate enough building materials to build a couple of buildings to take his total to 10 – within a single build of victory – but still no worker-heavy buildings became available.

Neil then looked like he had constructed his way to victory by taking a couple of large buildings, but could only get up to 14 points – 1 short of the win.

The race was therefore on to get the final building built, and going first in turn order might be vital – which Neil managed, picking up even more debris and converting this into the necessary materials to buy a little shack and win the game.

As usual, this game plays wonderfully quickly; this is no engine-building experience, it’s a case of grabbing as much stuff as you can, as quickly as you can. A refreshing change of pace.

Neil 16; Jon 10; Philip 5; Gareth 5

Finally, as a special treat (and because James couldn't find it within himself to file a report), Natasha's account of James' triumph at Lords of Waterdeep:

James, Luka, Donald and Gareth (Ed: or so I deduce) played Lords of Waterdeep.

They placed workers in an atmosphere of little-to-no tension as there is more than enough of everything to go around and no time pressure.

As soon as there were more tempting options than people had actions - people gained another action for free, to prevent any tension or real choices from having to be made.

James won by fulfilling more of the following criteria than the other players:

1. James went first (by luck) and was therefore not stopped from buying the best building and used to income momentum to stay ahead.

2. James's starting quests were better than the other players (by luck), both matching their special mission and being income generators as opposed to non-matching point scorers.

3. James's special mission did not clash with any of the other players (by luck), giving him a free run at those quests.

4. James picked up (by luck) the small minority of Intrigue cards which were not complete crap.

5. James did not use any turns to stop other players or deny them bonuses, as any such effort to introduce competition to this race game is as futile as it is self-destructive.

Congratulations James on your skilful victory!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

And don't call me Natasha

Upon a cold Wednesday in March, the Magnificent Seven and their trusty wench Natasha gathered to sacrifice themselves to the gaming gods by sitting downstairs in the Apprentice.  Most of the pub appeared to be watching England exorcise the remaining ghosts of Danish Dynamite that hadn’t been previously expunged by the sight of Nicklas Bendtner showing off his Paddy Power undergarments.  Those who weren’t cheering along Britannia in a midweek international friendly against a middling to poor opponent were treated to the spectacle of seven gentlemen (and one bearded lady) stood around a table filled with cardboard boxes in relaxed conversation, interrupted by several brief interludes where one would pick up one of the boxes and give it a little shake.  Ah, some board-gaming mating rituals never change.

The City

A planned brief filler between Tom and Phil quickly expanded to a four player with the arrivals of Gareth II (surely due a promotion to King of the Gareths soon?) and Neil.  John B arrived in time to also join in but declined, preferring instead to spectate, yawn and shuffle the discard pile (when called upon) – bless him.
Not much to say about the game itself other than the fact that Tom being the only one to play before was at a significant advantage (helped by a particularly helpful fountain based card draw) and won very handily with the others nowhere in sight.
Neil seemed to enjoy the game and Gareth even proposed a rematch at the end of the night so it will be certainly be in the bag for future IBGs.  Tom Lehmann remains a genius – so that’s nice.

Robinson Crusoe

Natasha had previously made clear his desire to partake in a castaway fantasy fun time with Dan.  Dan, gentleman that he is, could of course not refuse such an entreaty and thus was spotted strolling into the pub with a large portable package primed and ready for action.  Unfortunately, this romantic folie a deux was interrupted by Tom and Gareth II: Tom hasty retreat from Andy’s proposal of a Through The Ages ménage a trois with Gareth II (oh, Andy, if only you’d proposed Legendary – things could have been so different).
Not much can be remembered from the expedition to La Isla Bonita (the first unsuccessful, the second abandoned on the grounds of clear success just around the corner) other than the following:
  • Dan did stuff – most likely manly exploring, building shelters and murdering defenceless octogenarian turtles.
  • Natasha developed a close bond with a spider living in her hair.  After several days, the spider tired of the companionship and bit Natasha in the face.  Hilarious.
  • Gareth II thought that his character's special shortcut was the solution to all of the group’s problems.
  • Gareth II sprained his ankle.
  • Natasha was attacked by a Sea Lion.  Sea lions are aggressive sorts who provide lots of food.  Shame that our food stocks were full meaning that the sea lion’s carcass had to be thrown back into the sea untouched.  Doubly hilarious.
  • Gareth II REALLY liked the idea of his shortcut.
  • A dark shadow (strongly rumoured to be Natasha) stole into the camp and ate all the food.  The fat bitch.  Ironically, this was mirrored by Natasha ordering and eating two pie n’ mashes and somehow acquiring, through fair means or foul, a leftover plate of onion bhajis and pork pies.  Tom sampled one of the pork pies which may explain his later visual and auditory hallucinations during Augustus.
  • Tom got told off by Dan for not guaranteeing the build of an invention but trying to build two at once.  He failed both and was forced to refrain from breaking into an impromptu rendition of "If I Was A Carpenter".
  • Ruddy hell – we’ll build the stupid shortcut!  What do you mean “it isn’t as good as you thought it was!”  It could only be as good as you said it was if it led us to the front of the queue at Space Mountain via La Gavroche and the harems of the Sultan of Sodding Brunei!  I hope that innocent ankle sprain becomes gangrenous!
  • Gareth II didn’t get gangrene – but he, along with the rest of the party, died a horrible death from exposure and starvation.  Stupid shortcut.


Without any report, I must rely upon a straw poll of one, Phil.  When initially asked how he was enjoying the game, he was unable to form any words other than a gurgle.  Soon afterwards, he was witnessed asking whether anyone had a plastic bag in which he could be sick.  So, better than Augustus then (see below, intrepid readers).
Aha!  Breaking news - our Arts correspondent, Neil Horabin, has provided this concise report of events on “the other table”.

The roar of those engines overhead was deafening, twice a day. The day stopped and all heads looked skywards to watch that graceful dart ripping through the peace of suburbia. A feat of engineering that was too ahead of its time, one of the few technological improvements that disappeared rather than being superseded; now they’re simple museum fodder. What has that got to do with the latest Gerdts’ board game? Absolutely sweet Fanny Adams! Philip mentioned the supersonic jet during the game and memories came flooding back.

Following the customary ‘who doesn’t mind what we play less than me?’ debacle (Ed:  don’t blame me – I was waiting for ten minutes just to order a solitary pint of delicious ale and came back to find John in the middle of unpacking this behemoth), John had set up his copy of Concordia so when four adventurers went off to look after Robinson Crusoe, Philip, Andy and I sat down to take on this Essen ‘star of the show’, or at least it was during the four days last October. Gerdts is associated with the ‘rondel’, a mechanism that is like a pie chart of options, and he’s used popularly in Imperial, Navegador, but unfavourably in Antike so Natasha told everyone. Anyway, he’s ditched it here for the cult-of-the-new-card-draft. It works well in fact. On your turn you play a card and take the action. You can move your dude or ship between various cities around the Med, and where they end up means they can build in those cities they’ve ended in between. Other options allow you to gather resources, buy additional cards and you can even copy someone else’s last action, a popular move.

It was all very enjoyable. Philip taking my moves for me, I either copied him or he blocked what I wanted to do.  The rascal!  Andy was out and about conquering cities and John seemed to be trying to avoid any interaction with the rest of us.

Pretty straightforward so far. Yeah, well, for the first timer it’s getting your head around the end game scoring that taxes the brain. Apart from John, the rest of us just went with it and had absolutely no idea how we were faring. It’s actually only a little bit involved but in a very interesting way. VPs are scored for various set collections and you can influence the multiplier as well as the items. I’d say you need to focus on three of the six options, try to maximise those, and maybe you’re in with a shout. Philip and I weren’t. Andy pushed John quite hard, but he’d saved the biggest points earner for the end and won, as he rightly should have. Good game, would certainly play a few more times, see if I could work on my score some.

Final scores; John – 150, Andy – 140, Philip – 111, Neil – 111.


Natasha, world travelled harlot that she is, said it best when he uttered “this is not a six player game”.  By that point, Tom and Dan hopped up on onion bhajis and pork pies were playing a quickly devised variant of curling with their little Roman meeples.  The only other thing of note was Gareth II taking literally five minutes to pull off a long combo during which he acquired four cards – what he failed to mention was that these cards were turds of the highest order, putting him outside the medal places and primed for decimation along with Tom.

Dan and Natasha tied for the lead and it was agreed that matters would be settled by a bare knuckled brawl on the pebbled shore of the Thames outside the pub.  This soon descended into a magical cross between Women In Love and From Here To Eternity so we had to fall back upon the highly fallible Duckworth Lewis Method.  This handed Dan a well deserved win.  Or at least that’s how I remember it.  I sure picked the wrong week to start smoking peyote.