Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Mystery of the Mysteriumless Evening

This is almost the only Wednesday in the year when I’m guaranteed not to attend the London Apprentice and play games, as Big Tree Night in Shepperton calls for some local participation, so along for some carol singing and street food I went leaving the fun of board games to everyone else.

Of course it gives the games players that did turn up the chance to write their own reports, but when they don’t exercise this right I’m left with no option but to create fiction.

I’ll include all the facts I’ve been given and employ my piecing together skills, finely honed from last week’s Mysterium, to fill in the blanks. Forgive me if I’m a little off the mark. Make up your own minds what was made up.

Players: Neil, Tom, Tom II, Jim, Gareth, Arturo, Philip, Jon, Andy, James and Natasha


In preparation for building stately gardens of King Ludwig later, people were tending their own garden patch with Tom’s floral filler. As everyone gathered for the evening, flowers fell out of the sky with the players attempting to use them to their advantage. Tom used the discard pile to assemble a colourful garland which he presented to the eventual winner (name withheld) who wore them proudly for the rest of the evening, only for Tom to have to wrestle them from him at the end of the night so that he could re-box them to take home.

St Petersburg

Tom managed to get his two games to the table in quick succession, with the new edition of St Petersburg hitting the green baize twice. A big hit in the early days of designer games, it’s been dusted down, expanded to take five people and includes a new phase. Once the original rules had been explained to those that hadn’t played previously and the new rules to everyone, two games ensued.

The first was a battle between Philips seemingly random strategy and Tom’s ‘It’s my new game’ keenness, with Philip proving not to be so random and taking the honours with lots of orange cards.

The second was played with a little more known about the new phase, and so Natasha battled with Andy for victory. It ended up being a dead heat, a wholly unsatisfactory result for Natasha who ‘did a Jon’ and delved into the rule book to unearth a rule that simply wash;t there in the first time of reading, but that no one could argue against and therefore he took the game, if not the award for good grace.

Takamatsu (thank you Neil)

With no Paul to set up Tom II, Jim or myself I took the glory on of king making. Takamatsu with three isn't quite as chaotic as it is with five. In fact we had two clusters of samurai dragging each other around the board with seven or eight room movements becoming usual.

As tutor I let the boys see how the game works by taking a couple of early home runs and quickly reached a score 10, half way to victory! Jim cottoned on pretty quickly despite me stuffing him with a -2 card and was hot on my heels.

As frequently happens when you're nearing old age you start working no end of plans out based on your usual colour of preference, purple. Except that Tom II was playing that, except that I forgot that too and thought I was stymieing Jim who I believed was scoring well by now. Oh dear!

As it was the boys picked up all five 'blind' scoring cards between them and so I knew that I had to push on. Unfortunately, by this time the samurai were getting too well connected and being able to move them where you wish became very tricky. I did manage to get another -2 score card into the arms of Tom II, once I'd realised that he was playing purple although we then realised he was already on 15 points and had won the game the round earlier. Well played sir!

Castles of Mad King Ludwig (thanks Jon)

Jon was late arriving due to attending his daughter's Christmas play, but managed to reach the London Apprentice just in time to take a place at this recently popular game. It was new to him and Tom II, but Neil's patient and methodical rules explanation helped them get started. Despite the game appearing to be quite complicated with lots of moving parts, once you get going it's really quite straightforward.

The details of the game are lost to the mists of time, but the highlights were:
- Jim putting together some very impressive combos of rooms, allowing him to build several in a turn
- Tom building a highly compact castle, that was probably very efficient to live in
- Neil moaning that Jon was constantly taking the rooms that he wanted
- Jon having the ugliest castle ever constructed, and failing to pay attention to any of the scoring bonuses on offer

Once the final scoring had begun, Jim swept into an impressive lead, having scored heavily with the 'downstairs rooms' bonuses. However, to everyone's surprise (including his own) Jon's focus on his personal bonus cards had paid off, scoring a large amount for square rooms, large square rooms, and sleeping rooms, which allowed him to pip Tom by a few points for the victory.
The game finished in 90 minutes, and was a really enjoyable experience. This could well see a few more plays at IBG in the future....

Scores: Jon 108, Jim 100, Tom 96, Neil 78

Zhanguo (thank you James)

Here’s a photo. Surely enough for you Mysterium fans to gets everything you need. Well, it’d better be - it came to me in my sleep and it’s all I’ve got. What you can’t see from the electronic version is the greasy sweet potato fry finger prints that came on the original, leaving me to suspect that James has already doctored the evidence, but I’ve lost my password to the master police database so I just can’t prove it.

Macho Koro

Gareth, Jim, Tom II and Jon decided that Machi Koro was just about the right size to take them to 11 o’clock. Jon explained the new ’10 card’ rules which everyone thoroughly approved of, as the new players did the game - how can you not. Jon attempted to win using a one dice strategy, but Tom II and his cheese factories won the day.