Players: James I, Neil, Noel, Jon, Amanda, Dan, Gareth I, Gareth II, Alex, James II, Philip, Chris, Alturo
A good crop of gamers tonight, including a welcome re-appearance from Alex and James.
In terms of games, tonight saw the return of an old favourite, which also produced one of the most incompetent displays of spying in the history of the western world…
Pinguin Party (thanks Neil)
Never underestimate the power of the Knizia. This game is so simple and yet played with four it's so difficult to get all of your cards down. Chris, Alex and James II joined me for four high pressure rounds.
The first round I decided to show them how to play the game. I managed to get out first time with the others collecting a number of penguins each. With Alex anticipating his monstrous roast pork dinner he managed an aberration of second round collecting an unhealthy amount of the penguins, as well as unhealthy question as to whether penguin would be nice to eat or not. I'm pretty certain it wouldn't be good but hey it must be worth trying.
Round three saw Chris realising he was stymied immediately, and I managed to follow him pretty swiftly too. Alex had disappeared for his meal so Gareth II stepped onto the ice and played a good round although James had another consistent low scoring round too.
The big finale. I managed to deal myself only two colours of penguins and so had no chance of getting them all down. Gareth crashed big time too and it was tight again between James and Chris. With the former taking it. Good, cool, fun.
Final Scores; James II - 12, Neil - 13, Chris - 14, Alex/Gareth II - 17.
An early evening appetiser for the first to arrive. Gareth was the first to challenge Amanda's Ambassador - incorrectly as it happens. Jon got to 7 coins but decided against a Coup in favour of a cheeky assassination at Amanda's expense. He didn't believe her assertion that she had the protective Contessa at her disposal - but she did, and so Jon also lost a character.
After Gareth Coup'd Jon's second character there were all 3 Dukes on show, necessitating the use of a proliferation of captains instead.
It came down to a shoutout between Gareth and Amanda, but as she had snuck an Assassin into her portfolio, there was no competition and Gareth perished before he could initiate a Coup. Good fun stuff - we must use the expansion next time...
Amanda won; Jon, James, Gareth I, Alturo - didn't
Snowdonia (thanks Noel)
With Dan's arrival, Noel moved from network building in USA in Trains to laying track in Wales by joining Chris, Arturo, James and Neil at the Snowdonia table. This was James' copy which has had a few plays at the club but was new to both Arturo and Chris.
After a good rules through from James, with particular emphasis on judging the pace and finish of the game which is always difficult to pick up until a few plays through. Much to Noel's disappointment, Arturo (sitting to Noel's left) was the randomly selected start player and the first 4 players picked up the resource spots. However, there was a nice card left and Noel picked up that and repeated the same move for the first few turns, without getting any resource.
James and Arturo picked up early trains that allowed them to encourage a 3rd worker out of the pub. Neil selected a card that granted a final bonus for getting the surveyor to the end of his ambling and in the same turn Noel grabbed the start player marker with the intention of starting to accumulate some much needed resource. However, with the card restock the 2nd surveyor bonus card came out so he used his first player action to take that to avoid Neil having the double bonus. One for the team..maybe...but probably just one for extra bonus points for Noel as he also pushed on with the start he had already made with the surveyor.
James cleared plenty of rubble with some bonus cards to hit these bonuses, Arturo played lots of coal to gain repeated use of his 3rd worker (no easy jokes about the (in)efficiency of Spanish builders here) and Noel completed a balance of track building, rubble clearing and picked up the train that grants 9 points but no end game bonus. As Chris and Arturo completed out the track building to finish the game, Noel with cards and bonus aplenty was a good bit ahead in the final scoring.
Noel 125, Neil 98, James 87, Chris 77, Arturo 73
A pre-game substitution occurred, with Dan arriving, taking Noel's place, who defected from trains in America to trains in Snowdonia.
This was new to Gareth and Amanda, but they were familiar with deck-building, which helped. This was the first play of the NE USA expansion map, which has a large mountain range down the middle, and a nice row of points-scoring cities along the top. Amanda took the SW corner, Gareth the SE, Jon the NW and Dan - a la Noel - joined Jon in the NW...
This game moved at a pleasingly swift pace, with turns coming round quickly. With Dan doing a nice job of blocking Jon out, Jon was forced to save up and buy the expensive rails card which negated any extra building costs. This eventually paid off towards the end of the game when he was able to build across the Northern edge fairly cheaply.
Gareth had managed to build track up through a number of cities but had failed to add any stations. Realising that he was falling behind, he was tempted to buy up a couple of piles of cheap cards just to end the game, but was persuaded to keep going and buy a load of station expansions instead.
Amanda was being left to her own devices and was starting to build up a nice board position, although was accumulating a rather ominous pile of waste to go with it. Jon had secured enough high-value trains to give him some effective buying power - picking up a few Skyscrapers - and was able to buy up the 3rd pile ending the game. This was obviously a rules error, as it is in fact 4 piles that need to be completed, but as the 4th pile was only 1 card short of being depleted, it was calculated that it wouldn't have altered the result.
The final scores were very close, and had Gareth majored on stations a bit earlier, he might well have been in with a shout himself.
Jon 27; Amanda 24; Dan 22; Gareth 18
Terra Mystica (thanks Phil)
Four players, two new to the game. Alex dominated the cult tracks as Chaos Magicians, in his own little corner of the world. Gareth won largest area with his Swarmlings. My Dwarves scored quite a bit by Tunnelling: James' Nomads failed to find a scoring formula.
Philip 94 Gareth 90 Alex 84 James 73.
No Thanks (thanks Noel)
Chris had the top idea of getting a game of No Thanks in while Coup finished. Noel, Philip and Neil signed up. Noel picked up a couple of big scoring cards early but lots of coins to ease the pain. Neil was always keen to pick up cards to stop others adding adjacent cards and Chris was waiting patiently to complete a mega chain from 12 to 19 that didn't quite come off. 5 minutes later and one odd vegetarian meal later(Phil) all was done,
Noel 41*; Phil 49*, Chris 63*, Neil 65*. (*ish)
Council of Verona
Amanda had picked up this game recently, but was reporting that it had fallen flat for her, despite a number of attempted plays. 'Did you have the poison expansion?' asked Dan and Jon. 'No' came the reply. 'Aha - prepare to have some fun then.....'
4 rounds were played. After the first round, Gareth opined that it was a bit random. 'Maybe - but notice that only Dan and Jon, the experienced players, have scored so far....'
Gareth and Amanda subsequently picked up points in the second round, and despite a massive 8 points from Gareth in the last round, Jon had scored just enough to keep himself ahead.
Never have 2 tiny wooden cylinders made such a difference to a game...
Jon 13; Gareth 10; Amanda 6; Dan 5
It seems such a long time ago that this game used to end the evening at IBG almost every week, but it hasn't seen the light of day for many weeks. And so it was a very welcome return for several old-handers (James, Noel, Jon, Gareth) some newbies (Chris, Alturo) and a floating voter (Neil). And a memorable return it was...
With 7 players there are 3 spies, making it very difficult for the good guys to succeed. And in this game, the spies were Gareth, Neil and (of course) Jon.
1st round - Neil chooses Chris to accompany him, and the mission passes.
2nd round - James chooses Neil and Chris, as well as himself, but unfortunately makes such a song and dance of the fact that Neil or Chris could fail it and blame him, that it immediately heaped suspicion in his direction. It did of course fail, and James was subsequently pilloried for being a suspected spy.
3rd round - Alturo then chose the mission that required 2 failures, and chose the previous 3 players to go on the mission with him. No failure cards were played, so the mission succeeded.
4th round - Noel was bemoaning the fact that everyone had agreed to all the missions going ahead, resulting in very little information being gained regarding Gareth, Jon or himself. He himself was believing the general suspicions regarding James, who in turn was pointing the finger squarely back at Noel. For some reason, Noel picked Neil and Gareth to go on the next mission, which was an absolute gift for the spies. They could easily fail this with either 1 or 2 fails, which would heap suspicion on Noel and almost guarantee a final mission victory.
And so the mission cards were revealed, one by one - pass.....pass.....and.....pass! By some moment of keystone cops incompetency, neither spy had chosen to fail the mission and so the good guys had won the game. Jon threw his hands up in horror, bemoaning the lack of basic intelligence shown by his fellow-spies - whilst James and Noel chuckled loudly long into the night.
Less a resistance victory - more a spy suicide - but they all count. Whatever, it was a brilliant return for fantastic game.
Noel, Alturo, Chris, James - won by default. Neil & Gareth - should be shot. Jon - bemused.