Wednesday, 30 April 2014

How did that happen?

11.57pm, Tuesday the 5th of May, 2014.

Paul wondered quite how he'd been hoodwinked into editing the blog for the only month with 17 Wednesdays in 2014, when he was sure the rest of the months had four or maybe five. Had Jon and Tom moved some Wednesdays into April from March or May under the table when he wasn't looking?  

Well, it was nearly over, and he had actually really enjoyed it, but it was time to get on with other stuff, so he started day dreaming about playing games again, instead of just writing about them. Then he chuckled to himself as his thought process led him to the inescapable conclusion that he couldn't claim to be surprised about getting the month with all the Wednesdays, as every week he turned up and was utterly trounced at board games by the very same people and this week was actually even worse than normal. His record for the evening was:

 - Played: 5
 - Came a very low last: 4
 - Managed to draw for last place: 1

This week Noel posted on our forum saying that he'd been in Florida and had played at a local club there, and had even won some games, which he might send us a writeup on. 'Thanks for rubbing it in, Noel', thought Paul grumpily, his brow tight down over his eyes and thought that it'd be wise to get his blog up before Noel had a chance to make him look worse.

Normally he managed to take at least one 'second from last' result. But this week? ... this week he'd been stressed at work, and was distracted by his wife's up and coming birthday. Yes, that was it, how could he manage to do well, Yeovil had just been relegated causing him much heart ache and well, ... he started to devlve deeply into his pool of excuses ... it was almost Summer. And he wasn't sure if Jon, Dan or Neil had taken the drugs tests that they really should have done. And the noise from those planes on Heathrow's flight path on Wednesday evenings means it's IMPOSSIBLE to concentrate. Surely if he sprinkled a few of those around the blog entry then people wouldn't realise.

He swallowed hard, thought 'you've got to do this, get it over with', braced himself and hit 'post' so that the rest of the world could see his shame.

Roll Through the Ages (Neil)

Jon started building the Hanging Gardens. Neil the Great Wall. Paul went for more dice. More dice didn't seem to quite do it. 

Score: Neil the most, Jon nearly as much, Paul a long way back

Splendor (thanks Jon)

New to Paul and Jon, but Dan was singing its praises, and it promised to be short and light, so this was a good sign. It has a disconcertingly simple ruleset – pick up gems, reserve or buy cards and the game ends when someone hits 15 points.

There are some bonus tiles for each game (awarded for collecting certain numbers of gems cards), and these give players something to aim at, and help to dictate strategy.

In the first game, Jon was the only player to snag a noble, allowing him to cross the finish line before Dan could quite get there (Paul had only just stumbled out of the starting blocks).

Jon 17; Dan 12 ; Paul 6

In the second game, both Dan and Jon were clearly basing their strategies on claiming a couple of specific nobles, with Jon wondering if he could even sneak a second noble. There was a choice to make when Jon could finish the game on 16 points, but was unsure if Dan would be able to beat this. Hanging on another round might mean that he could claim the second noble and score even higher. However, he opted to end it there and then, and it proved to be the correct decision, as it transpired that Dan could also end the game and score 16 points. And so, Dan and Jon crossed the finish line hand in hand for an honourable draw (whilst Paul had stopped to tie his laces just before entering the finishing straight…) 

Jon 16; Dan 16; Paul 9

Ticket to Ride: Switzerland (thanks Jon)

ime for a mid-weight game to fill 45 mins or so. Step forward the 2-3 player map for Ticket to Ride. The differences with this map are that locomotives can only be used for tunnels, and a number of the tickets are ‘country / city to country.’

There was an initial flurry of mini-routes being claimed in the North / Central area of the map, to establish North-South and East-West links. Paul then started to hoover up all the locomotive cards, and began his attempt to single-handedly dig his way through the solid rock of Southern Switzerland. Unfortunately, he must have had a defective drill bit, as he was constantly needing to produce extra cards to complete the tunnels.

Dan was the first to search for extra tickets, and kept all 3. He had built a line right down into France in the South-West corner, and seemed happy with the new tickets that he had picked up.
Jon was the next to select more tickets, and did so twice before the end of the game. Paul followed suit, giving him a brief respite from his mole-like activities.

All of a sudden, Jon had laid a 6-link tunnel (Paul wasn’t the only one to hoard locomotives) and the game was one turn short of ending (cue the usual groans…)

Paul was the first to tot up his scores, but had failed with a couple of tickets and so did not maximise his score. Dan was in confident mood, until he suddenly realised that he had failed to connect his routes to Germany, meaning that he failed to score for 2 of his large tickets. The fact that he only needed a single train to complete the routes, and had placed his last 3 trains in a fairly non-consequential place only added to his general chagrin. Don’t worry Dan – we’ve all been there!

Jon’s ticket-diving had proved to be profitable, as he had completed all of his 9 tickets, and combined with having the longest route, this led to a convincing victory.

This is a nice 2-3 player map, which emphasises completing tickets over gaining points for claiming routes.

Jon 159; Dan 76; Paul 72

San Juan 

Jon zoomed to the end and was the first to 12 buildings to bring the game to a close. Paul tried a production strategy but ran out of time against Jon's spint, preferring to look at the view as he sauntered to the end. Dan managed to get the best end game cards.

Scores: Dan 36, Jon 21, Paul 21

Le Havre (thanks Neil)

Neil was challnged by J
on to make Le Harve sound interesting. I love someone that takes thing literally.

Le Havre, the underrated port at the end of the Seine, has the widest beaches, typical of Normandie. It has a wonderful stretch of beach restaurants where the Horas have succumbed to seafood delights, and Josie's chicken nuggets of course. There's an impressive skate board/roller blade/bmx track by the beach with the locals keen to show off their daredevil skills and tricks: frightening.

It also has a brilliant art gallery, the Andre Malraux, which boasts France's second largest collection of impressionist paintings and is well worth a visit I can tell you. The rebuilding of the city centre after the war is amongst some of the most interesting in France. The centre is one of Europe's few 'grid' cities, but is well lined with lime trees and huge squares. It was made a World Heritage Sight in 2005, just after our first visit coincidentally enough. How's that for interesting and exciting!

And the board game reflects all of this bustle, the intensity of a cultural giant with the need for much feeding and more than a little planning... or something like that.

Scores: Less relevent now we've got a bit of travel writing.

And now it's May...