Wednesday, 21 January 2015

22 IBG'ers - including an infiltrator who wasn't really an infiltrator.....

Players: Jon, Paul, Phil, Rachel, Emily, Dan, Alex, James, Tom II, Arturo, Mittens, Amanda, John H, Theresa, Paul, Jenny, Tonio, Alan, Philip + 3 others I can’t remember right now….sorry!

Well, this was the week that the IBG’ers kept on coming and coming and coming – until we had a record 22 games players in the Riverside Room at the London Apprentice! There was a great buzz in the room, with at least 5, if not 6 games going at any one time. 

This was also the week that we found out that our resident Spaniard, Arturo, is very good at hiding his evil identity in hidden identity games. Of course, it helps if he really does have an evil identity to hide in the first place…. 

Splendor (thanks Paul)
Paul, his friend Theresa and her daughter Jenny and newish IBGer Rachel sat down for some gem Splending at the start whilst the hoards continued to arrive around them.
Paul and Theresa has played a bit before, whilst Jenny and Rachel were completely new to the game. The initial table talk was that no one really knew the right strategy - is it better to specialise by collecting lots of a few colours or to diversify?
Paul had played a little bit more than Theresa and started to collect Emeralds and Sapphires, and a few comments were therefore made that specialising must be best, but actually everyone else had just as many jewels in front of them, just that they were distributed differently. And if an observer were to look closely, the key in this particular game was that Jenny's cards has scores on them too, which proved to be the key difference.
In fact Jenny romped home to victory some way ahead of everyone else as she wasn't dazzled by the volume or distribution of cards, but on the object of the game which was to score points. Would this work every game? Not sure, but it certainly did here!
Scores: Jenny 15, Rachel, Paul and Theresa somewhere behind on around 7, 8 or 9.
Played with the now compulsory Rising Sun expansion, this game was new to
Alex and Phil, with Tom II and Jon being old hands. It was played on the German map, and interestingly, rather than each player selecting their own corner of the board to start on, they paired up, which could have potentially resulted in a fair amount of competition (or co-operation!)
As it turned out, that didn’t really occur. Alex struck out along the northern edge of the board, attempting to complete a route bonus (but falling just short). Phil was finding his feet, being a newbie, and soon realised that waste can seriously clog one’s deck up. Jon had set up camp near some remote locations, which he quickly built into, and Tom obviously had the intention of muscling in there too. Unfortunately, by the time he had arrived, his deck had been diluted and he was finding it difficult to summon up the requisite cash.
All the players were starting to build victory point buildings, and the game ended when Jon (“who else?” I hear Paul saying…) built the last one to finish the 4th deck.
As always, the scoring was pretty close – had Alex succeeded in achieving his route bonus, it would have been closer still, but Jon’s experience proved to be decisive in achieving the victory by a slim margin.

Lords of Vegas with the Up expansion (thanks again Paul)
It was Theresa's first IBG evening and on looking through the games on offer it was Lords of Vegas that called to her, so that's what Jenny, Paul and her opted for. They were joined by Alan who'd enjoyed his Vegas casino building last week and Tonio who enthused about the theme of the game and wanted to try the 'Up' expansion.
Paul took advantage of two of his tiles being next to each other and on the strip by building those ASAP and as the strip came up her got into an early lead and reach the end of the single scoring section of the track in record time, whist everyone else were playing tortoises to his hare. Alan and Tonio started to pick up momentum and catch him whilst Theresa and Jenny were still to gain points.
However barrier of having to score at least two points, plus the fact that his colours had come up early so were less plentiful later proved a real stumbling block for Paul, and everyone else crept nearer and nearer and caught him up.
Tonio was first to build skywards.
Theresa spread her casino's over the spectrum of types and started to pick up single points on almost every go.
Both Alan and Jenny had some backwater casino's which started to appear and that gave him points.
Everyone followed Tonio's lead and added floors to their enterprises, meaning that a shortage of casino tiles in each colour didn;t occur as it had frequently in previous games.
Paul clearly thought he still had the game by the scruff of the neck as he decide to build a four tile casino by making the first sprawl move of the game on his brown casino. This proved to be his undoing, as Jenny, sitting to his left drew her next card and it was the exact tile that he'd gambled on, so she had one low numbered dice in his monster gambling den. She then got into the Vegas theme, opted to pay to reroll her one dice while Paul rerolled his three and it paid off handsomely for her by overturning the odds and she had gained control of a four tile casino that was also on the strip. By the time it'd gotten round to Paul's next go and he regained ownership, the casino had come up twice paying out whoppingly to Jenny and proved to be a pivotal round in the game as Jenny came from behind to take a commanding lead.
Meanwhile Paul, who was also acting as banker, got confused and mixed up his pile of $1s with the banks (okay he added the banks pile to his), and so rectified it to the best of his knowledge and the table were sporting enough to accept this.
Later in the game the green and purple casinos started to appear which evened things out a bit, and by this stage most people were up past the 'two point' scoring gap, and these tortoises had wisely overtaken the hares.Jenny used the same strategy that had undone Paul as she sprawled a two tile casino onto the strip just before the end, knowing it'd come up. When the final scoring round did come, it was a four way tie for the lead until Jenny's recently sprawled, strip touching casino paid out and it won her the game by three points.
It was a close result in a game where the lead changed dramatically a few times, but everyone agreed that they'd enjoyed their gambling trip to Nevada.
And Jenny was able to leave her first IBG evening having won everything she'd played!
Scores: Jenny 23, Theresa 20, Alan 20, Paul 20 and Tonio 14
Machi Koro (and once again – thanks to Paul)
This was chosen as a quickish end of evening game by Alan and Paul, and Tom
and Tonio (who needed to leave as he'd promised that he would head home early) was tempted to join in.
The newer '10 piles only' varient was played and it made for quite a long game as only a few low value cards were on offer and so expansion was slow.
Tom went for the red 'I get money whenever anyone else rolls my numbers' cards and combined this with some purple 'whenever I roll a six I get lots of money from other people', so he controlled most of the cash in the game.
Alan suffered from constantly rolled threes and fours, which only meant he'd pass most of his cash to Tom.
Tonio was first to roll two dice, but kept rolling very low numbers that were lower than six and negated his choice to do this.
Paul kept a fairly low profile, but got some forests and mines before a few furniture factories, teeing up a big combo when an eight rolled.
Tonio was tracked down by his wife who'd called the pub, so he came back from the phone looking horribly guilty and needed to leave mid game. John who was watching stepped into his place and we wished Tonio luck on his arrival home.
Alan's bad luck held and he wanted to leave but sportingly stayed until the end of the game. Tom kept nicking other people's money. Paul moved up to two dice and after several unsuccessful rolls, he managed to get two eights in a row, netting him 36 in cash each time and this allowed him to take the game.
Scores: Paul four cards, Alan, Tom, Tonio / Jon one or two cards 

Medieval Academy
A second outing in as many weeks for this super-filler, this time being tried out with the maximum 5 players. This changes the dynamics slightly, as there is less control with the drafting, and more competition on the tracks, with almost the same amount of points being divided between less players.
This is such a good quick game, with plenty of decisions to make, but very little downtime. On this occasion, it was Jon that got his nose in front with his lack of negative scoring tokens helping him to edge the victory.

Council of Verona (thanks Dan)
Our first game of Verona was four player, new to two and vaguely remembered
by a third. We managed to complete all four rounds (hooray!), everybody scored well but my utter despicable meanness in the final round ensured a comprehensive victory by some margin. The second time around was with five, another two newbies, only two rounds played. Again, we all scored but this time without a clear winner. I would estimate that at least 50% of the newbies enjoyed this game…

And some more of Dan’s memories: 

Nanuk was fun as always, I think we had eight people playing and new to at least half the table. My memory is hazy but I think that Tomtoo and Alex tied with 15 points each? In any case, there was the usual divide between rich and poor in the final scoring.

Forbidden Desert was an unusually easy romp to victory - we owned that bitch last week.

No idea what happened in Innovation as I had to abandon Mittens and Arturo to a two player game. They finished very quickly and looked a bit disgruntled with it all so my guess is they probably screwed some rules up somewhere… (see Arturo’s version below) 

“I remember I played Innovation with Mittens, but as we were just 2 players I took the lead at the beginning and keep playing a couple of aggression cards, so he decided to surrender.”

Mayday! Mayday!
Tom had been bemoaning the fact that Jon hadn’t brought this game along for ages, so he finally did – on a week when Tom wasn’t around. But never mind – there were still 6 willing players to have a go at this ‘Much better than the Resistance’ game.
As always, the accusations started flying around the table from the off, and the tension gradually ratcheted up, but when it came down to it, Phil appeared to be a good guy and was voted into the cockpit. It was at this point that Phil (with a big smirk on his face) revealed his cards to show that he was in fact an infiltrator. And high-fiving Alex next to him indicated who the second and last infiltrator was.
Except – hang on – it was now revealed that Arturo had previously looked at one of Phil’s ‘infiltrator’ cards, and had declared him ‘good’, resulting in Phil making it all the way into the cockpit. But there couldn’t be 3 infiltrators in this game, so…. Doh! Our resident Spaniard played the ‘I’m a foreigner – what do you expect?’ card, and fortunately, everyone else round the table found this inadvertent mistake to be hilarious.
This is such a good social deduction game – even when one of the good guys decides to be an unofficial infiltrator…..!
(Edit: Arturo’s response – “Man responsible: Dan and his Dan’s guilty face - plus my minor mistake. And that’s how I see it...!) 

And another of Arturo’s hazy recollections:
Then we played Splendor, it was a cruel fight; I think I won, but it was a pretty close game. 

Also played tonight was Imperial Settlers (newbie Rach was taken in by the cartoonish box art, and was then hijacked by a full-on Euro….) and a few rounds of Zombie Dice. 

Wow! A great start to 2015, with lots of new faces. Here’s to many more IBG’ers and many more boardgames played for the rest of the year…

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