Wednesday, 27 August 2014

You Can't Go On, Thinking Nothing's Wrong...

The assembled boardgamers (L-R):  Gareth II; Andy; Dan; Waitress; Phil

A very short blog this week since only our poor souls managed to venture down to the banks of the Thames.  A report was provided to me by the lovely Dan (although classified as "not a report").  But before we get to that, the final list of listens for the week:

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band - East/West
Mickey Newbury - An American Trilogy (Possible pick of the month - along with Lee Hazlewood)
Cousteau - S/T
Stevie Wonder - Innervisions
Bombino - Nomad
Billy Preston - That's The Way God Planned It
Ellen Foley - Nightout
Slave - Just a Touch of Love

By the way, anyone venturing into the Oxfam Music Shop in Ealing Broadway or Acton Recycling Charity Shop on South Ealing Road, I have recently got rid of all those albums that I haven't listened to in years - I need space for new arrivals.  Help yourselves - they're all exemplary of course *cough*.  Any way, onwards!

It was a cosy night for just the four of us in the end, although apparently somebody was asking around for us at the bar and left before anybody arrived. We were also almost joined by a random couple at one point, but they preferred to settle down with the pub's copy of Jenga instead of the meagre fair that was scattered on the IBG games table.

Games played were Dead of Winter: A Crossroads GameAirships, and who is going to drive Phil home tonight?

Dead of Winter

Gareth II was a Betrayer but was just a single morale point away from preventing the main objective from completing. He also couldn't quite fully arm the private army that he was amassing to help him usurp the colony and invest himself as dictator for life (no matter how short that may eventually become) and so would not have been able to claim victory even if conditions had turned out more suitable for him.

I had my victory condition, which was to rescue helpless survivors, handed to me on a plate by Gareth who was bringing them in by the van load as a by product of raising his troops. The plus side was that I was able to focus on doing good for the community overall and slaughtered so many zombies that we were able to pile their heads up as a makeshift barricade (that's not really part of the game, I'm just paraphrasing my fevered imagination). As we had to collect usable samples in the hope of finding a cure, this was a big contributor to completing the main objective.

Phil also completed his personal victory condition, all by himself this time, and spent most of the game rummaging around in the Grocery Store banging bin lids together making a god awful racket. This resulted in a number of his survivors being devoured by the shambling hordes that he was attracting with all that noise.

Andy's goal was a bit more pessimistic; in a fit of pique during a low period he had to pile up some wooden barricades around the colony, soak them in petrol, and set the whole thing alight. Not a plan with the repercussions thoroughly thought out, but it was his to implement and not an easy one to complete. We were deliberately attracting as many zombies to the colony as possible in order to knock their blocks off to collect samples, and the overwhelming number of them kept crushing the barricades. At one point we also voted the resolution of an event to end with more barricades being destroyed, so it was an uphill struggle for Andy all game long.


New to both Phil and Andy, but easy to learn and get stuck straight into.

I started by spending my bonus tokens like they were gong out of fashion to secure some early red dice. Andy was the first to build an airship but I promptly stole the bonus marker from him with one of my own. He then made a booboo by replacing a building that was providing white dice with one that converts white to red, promptly leaving him with not enough white dice to make the conversion. Gareth kept struggling with near misses on his dice rolls and couldn't capitalise on the excess of bonus markers he was generating as a result. Phil built a monster dice throwing engine but left it too late in the game to start it up on acquiring VPs, and the game ended before he could properly exploit his position. My early charge for VPs and push for a quick end were enough to secure a convincing victory.
I can't remember who scored what but I had something like seventeen points and a six or seven point lead over the closest competitor.

Some interesting things learnt last night: Phil may be all coy about games that don't involve trains or farmers but he has a secret past as a D&D Dungeon Master; Gareth II is unable to read out loud in anything more audible than a mumble; and dice hate Andy but only when he isn't rolling a bunch of sixes (or fives or eights).

After receiving Dan's report, I asked all of the four players to provide a retrospective opinion of the games played and received a response from all of them:


It is good, yes. I was dubious about the zombies beforehand but they are more of a MacGuffin than the central part of the game. Actually, they are more of a timer for making bad stuff happen and you either drain your resources to get rid of them or take big risks in letting them pile up. The game is more focused on the survival of the colony and personal choices than you would expect from something containing the Z word.

The traitor mechanic is hands down the finest implementation I've seen in any game; the lines are really blurred as not only might there not be one in the game at all, but every honest player also has their own rather selfish objective to complete at the expense of the shared objective so you are all kind of traitorous to a certain degree. If there is a betrayer then their task is not as straightforward as simply tanking the game for everyone else, they must instead achieve something which will require them to co-operate for most or even all of the game if they are to pull it off.

The much vaunted crossroad cards were quite a nice feature. I don't know if they really make the game or not but it was nice to have some random events that added a bit of story and which made sense by being tied to specific locations, characters, and situations. There was one weird moment where we had Christmas fall at the end of January, but I guess that the survivors were all a bit disoriented and hadn't checked their calendars for a while.

I'm not sure what the other guys thought as we were a mixed bag of gaming tastes but it seemed to go down OK with everyone and Phil refrained from stabbing me with his steak knife, so that's a good sign.


While I would rather play Dead of Winter than Love Letter or indeed Through the Ages, I am hoping to play something else for the foreseeable future. We were fortunate no one rolled the "instant death" result.

I'd be happy to play Airships again though.  Thanks Gareth. 


Did somebody say Through The Ages?


*mumble mumble*

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