Time to get the Turkey ready..
So, another missed week by me last week, my attendance record is fast becoming my non-attendance record. Never mind. Here’s what I got told about, many thanks to some new authors this week, fantastic chaps!!
In attendance: Paul, Paul II, Tom II, Tom III, Dan, Arturo, Noel, Philip, John B
A simple game brought along by John that involves playing cards in sequence around the table and if you didn’t have a higher card in that colour you had to flick out one of the buckets in your pyramid of 10. Person with the most buckets in their pyramid at the end of the game wins.
A little bit of thought goes into your pyramid stacking and the direction you send the round when playing first and it didn't outstay its welcome as an enjoyable filler. Paul II was the victor. Noel was first eliminated and Arturo second.
Not a week goes past since Essen without this game being played at least once. This week was no exception and by now everyone knew the rules (although John challenged one that we'd been playing since we'd been taught it by our official Essen trainer Neil. Philip looked in the rules book and ended up agreeing with John. I went along with it all). [John was right... I got it badly wrong! ED]
Philip went underground and lived up to his corridor wondering reputation by maxing on corridors. John spread out and seemed to have lots of bug rooms of all shapes. Paul created wonderful gardens looking out in all directions.
Philip edged ahead during normal play, but John and Paul had been completing orange rooms and therefore gaining more bonus point cards only to be revealed on completion of the Castles.
So after the initial scoring, Philip was in the lead. When Paul totted up his bonuses, he overtook that mad pretender Philip, but then when John did the same he leapfrogged everyone and took the crown.
Still a lot of fun, and Paul was delighted not to be trailing a long way behind as he had in his previous castle building attempts.
Scores: John 139, Paul 132, Philip 121
Evolution (many thanks to Paul)
A joint rules explanation by Tom II and John B educated us in the ways we could evolve our dinocreatures to grow, feed, protect ourselves and even turn carniverous and chomp on other players creatures.
This game involves everyone starting with one creature way back when the earth was very young and man had not yet invented the internet. Everyone is dealt several 'ability' cards which, if played in the right way, allow the creatures to evolve into having this ability, which then allows them to do good stuff, like use their long neck to get food more quickly, use their tree climbing ability to scurry off when predators are on the prowl, or indeed use some unstable DNA to spawn more dinocreatures.
Each turn involves gathering at the watering hole for food, and in the initial turns life is good and grub is plentiful. But as time marches inevitably on, food becomes scarce and so each creature needs to develop in order to survive. One way of developing is to turn carnivorous and start to eat other creatures. But in doing so, a meat muncher must be sufficiently bigger than it's pray, so growing very big is a valid defence mechanism, as is growing horns or shells, or the ability to climb or burrow your way our of danger.
To start with only Noel fancied some prime rib, but as the game went on the necessity of having the eat meant that many creatures followed suit.
Philip was quietly bringing in a good number of points each round, and was my favourite to win, but Tom II has used his stock of unstable DNA to create a horde of species which all clocked up points each round and ended up winning comfortably.
A very fun game, with a strong theme and it played six players comfortably within 45 minutes. I suspect this'll be played many times again providing John B brings it. Or James has a copy (or course!)
Scores: Tom II 55, Philip 46, Paul 40, John B 40, Noel 39, Tom III 39
Trains (cheers Paul II!)
Paul II and Arturo asked Dan to explain a second new game to them. Its just like race for the galaxy fell on newbie deaf ears. After a brief explanation about cards, hands and discards we were off.
Dan led the way going for the top right of the map, Paul II the bottom left which left the unfortunate Arturo stuck in the middle. After a few rounds everyone got how to play and given the newbies were copying Dan initially it was all still to play for.
Dan and Paul II's geographical advantage enabled them to snaffle up more cities and bonuses. Its hard to know what Arturo could have done so possibly a flaw in the game map?
Dan majored on cards which enabled him to recycle trains quicker and was happily buying up bonus cards rather than bigger trains. Paul II got the upgrade cards first and then was regularly able to afford the 8 cost bonus cards. Dan's lack of big trains left him with 7 to spend a few times which ultimately cost the victory as Paul II snuck the win by 1 point.
Approx final scores: Paul II 46, Dan 45, Arturo 25
San Juan (thanks Arturo!)
Since we played 4 games and that might be too much work for Paul, I am going to help him with one of them: San Juan. In addition, it is the only one he played that night that he was not able to win, so I am glad to review it myself (now you might think I won it, but I am afraid not; see below).
San Juan is the cards game version of his big brother Puerto Rico (or the other way around, who knows). No board, no checkers, but plenty of cards with basically the same: production buildings that produce goods to sell, facilities to help and monuments to get extra VPs.
At the beginning we all had an eye on Dan, who was the only one that had played this game before. He built a carpentry, so Paul did the same. I was not that eager to be original, but with no more carpentries available I decided to concentrate myself on production buildings. Later on I got a card that allowed me to perform really nice prospecting, collecting a lot of cards.
But Paul and Dan were also building their stuff, so even if I decided to end the game by building my 12th facility, Dan scored far more points than us (mainly with a card that gives points based on the amount of production buildings). At the end experience is always a plus.
So it was a really funny game, easy to learn and containing far more strategy than I expected from a quick cards game.
See u next week there!
Sentinels of the Multiverse (thanks again Paul II)
Dan heroically then explained a third game in one night to Paul II and Arturo. Cooperative games are especially difficult to teach without coaching so special thanks to Dan for cutting us loose.
We were three superheroes fighting just one bad guy. After Dan had patiently explained each of the twenty available options we ignorantly picked the ones with the coolest name / picture!
Arturo had a big gun, Dan a box of tricks and Paul II good armour to soak up damage. So by pure chance a very good mix and the bad guy (and the multiple minions he summoned) were destroyed with ease.
Jury out to whether this game is excellent or not due to ease of win but I'd like to try facing off against another tougher baddie so definitely a fun game.
Libertalia (cheers again Noel)
Noel, Giant Tom and Normal Height Tom won the polite 'after you' negotiation about who was going to play Libertalia. (we should play Genoa or Chinatown again!)
Noel had played a number of times before but it was new to the two Toms. The first campaign was fairly close but memorable for Giant Tom's Brute knocking himself out. Noel pushed out into the lead in the 2nd campaign while Giant Tom was again unfortunate when he chose to swap his Spanish soldiers for booty tiles but drew some cursed booty instead.
Noel had a healthy lead in the 3rd and final campaign and Giant Tom helped him out by deciding to attack his namesake instead. (Noel smiled and reminisced about every 3 player game he plays with little brother Paul)
Final Scoring: Noel 63; Normal Height Tom 56 and Giant Tom 45