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.  

No comments:

Post a Comment