Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Calling all Tom's, Paul's and James's.....

Players: James I, James II, Paul I, Paul II, Paul III, Tom I, Tom II, Tom III, Jon, Phil, Alan, Andy, Caroline, Sam, Emily, Phil II, Rachel

And so, another year begins, and after several weeks without an official IBG event, it was nice to get back into the old routine again. But with the new year came a plethora of new attendees, including Paul II's partner Caroline, and a couple of friends of Jon's, Phil and Rachel, who in turn brought 2 of their friends, Sam and Emily. Welcome one and all! They all seemed to be very keen (and pretty good gamers!) so I hope we'll see them all again soon.

However, as you can see from the list of gamers above, I think that there may be an embargo placed on any new members who wish to attend if their name is either James, Paul or Tom. Having 3 of each of these in attendance at any one time makes writing a blog a migraine-inducing experience...

Anyway, lots of good stuff played tonight - an old classic and plenty of new goodies. Jon was even espousing the joys of some Japanese games. Maybe he has turned over a new leaf for 2015...?!

Red7 (thanks James)

A short card game, new to everyone, but this one came with a truckload of anticipation being designed by Carl Chudyk previous responsible for Glory to Rome, Innovation and other quite complex card games.... sold out in 50 minutes at Essen, so it's taken a few months to reach the club... Dan, James, James and Paul all keen to find out if the hype was worth it.
So the deck is simple, 49 cards... 7 sets of cards  of a different colour, all numbered 1-7. Everyone dealt 10 cards and the winner is the last one with cards left. The snag... each colour indicates a different set of rules for the game, and only the rules for the current selected colour counts. Each turn a player has to play a card to their own 'palette' that places them as the current winner for the current rules, or they can choose to change the rules...  if you can't play a card that meets this rule, you're out. Last man standing wins.
So despite everyone feeling their way into the game it plays really easily. The starting rule is always highest card wins... which lasted a round before being tweaked to the one with the most different colours which then lasted a few rounds until it was changed to most even numbers ... At this point Tom drop out, I'm guessing as he couldn't play a legitimate move, rather than he saw it as an excuse to stop playing...
I lasted one more round, despite having the highest 2 cards in the game (Red and Orange 7)... which left Paul and other James to duke it out...
With a few cards left each we thought James had grasped victory by playing his last card to the table, but Paul was able to respond and as James had no cards left Paul claimed victory.
So a rare victory for Paul, and for me the first of what should be many games of this as it's a really clever little card game with I feel a lot of yet-to-be-discovered clever game play possible. Chances are I'll have this on my most weeks as it's such a tiny box... so if you fancy a game let me know.
Winner: Paul; Runner up: James #2; A worthy 3rd place: James #1; Making up the numbers: Tom

Coup: G54
Newbies Phil, Rachel, Emily & Sam had brought Coup with them, but Jon
persuaded them not to play this, but to upgrade to G54. Not wishing to argue, they relented. Paul A also joined in for a full-on 6-player game.
This game was characterised by few challenges (even though several regular IBG'ers came over to 'helpfully' point out that Jon's track-record of truth-telling wasn't exactly 100%...)
Paul threw his hat into the ring first, and was incorrect with his challenge and exited stage right. Phil was next to go, failing to claim the missionary to keep alive his slim chances of survival. Jon and Rach were next to perish, having dished out a couple of Coups each, so it was left to Sam to collect the requisite 7 coins and take out his partner Emily for the victory.
It turns out that the 4 newbies had been playing the base game wrong, by not revealing the character card when they lost a life, but it remains to be seen if this experience will be enough to persuade them to play it 'right' in the future!
Emily won; everyone else lost

El Grande (thanks Paul)

About two to three months after Essen is the time when the old classics start to make themselves known again through the sea of new games, many of which won't survive more than one or two Isleworth appearances. El Grande is an example of just such a game, with its status proven by luring 'cult of the new devotee' James from his shiny new mechanics and meeples for a good part of the evening.
James was joined in old Spain by Paul, Tom I, James II and Philip.
The first scoring round saw a lot of the 'scoring' cards in play, and so scores were maybe larger than normal at this stage, which Jame cantering off with his caballeros to 50 points, with the others spread out behind him.
The mobile score boards were first used to lower the points Paul took with his Grande in New Castile, but thankfully for Paul the opportunity to move it up to Galicia came soon and he took Grande points there for the rest of the game, whilst Tom suffered in the North West. Philip was throwing a lot into the tower as well as making Valencia his own. James started in New Castile but quickly changed tack under challenge from Philip. James II was taking Grenada and Aragon, whilst in addition to Galicia Tom took Seville.
James was maintaining a lead by the second scoring, but the pack were closing, so the final three rounds made for very interesting placements.
Twice Paul placed his tower people in exactly the same region as other people resulting in a tie, and Tom II forced several ties by way of moving caballeros to the regions where they proved the most worthless to their Grande.
At the end it was super tight but James had maintained his lead by a point from Tom with Philip another one back. Kris Akabusi tactics didn't pay off in this game.
Scores (approx as they are from memory): James 91, Tom 90, Philip 89, Paul 81, James II 78

Abluxxen (thanks Paul A for these 3 reports) After a crushing defeat in Coup Guatemala (knowing where two of the army cards where didn't save me from a bad guess at where the third one wasn't), we drifted on to some lighter games. I introduced Paul, Caroline and Tom to the delights of Abluxxen, which Tom picked up far too easily. After he scuttled off to play hardier fair, we moved on to...

Sneaks and Snitches
...which is a basically a streamlined Hoity Toity / Lords & Larceny / Adelverplicht). After a teaching game, we proved far too good at getting in each others heads, expertly secondly guessing where everyone was going to play, resulting in some dismally low scores and a victory for Caroline.

Splendor Finally, we moved onto Spiel des Jahres nominee Splendor where again Caroline romped into an easy victory by picking up all the cards I needed just before I was going to pick them up.

Machi Koro
 Emily and Rachel had grabbed the box, rather taken by the artwork and intrigued by the title. Therefore Jon agreed to teach his new purchase to them, along with other newcomer Sam. (OK - I know it's technically a Japanese game, but I'm prepared to admit that not everything that comes out of Japan is worthy of deferrystration...)
This appeared to be a big hit, with Rachel keen to play again immediately after the first game.
Emily appeared to take an early lead, taking full advantage of her caf├ęs, whilst Sam appeared to have made a mistake by investing in his '2 dice' building in the first couple of turns. However, he soon recovered, and set up a nice engine which raked in the cash on 8's and 9's, winning him his second game of the evening. Definitely someone to keep an eye on if he returns...!
Sam won; Jon 3 buildings; Emily & Rachel 2 buildings

A 3 player game this time, played on the US board. All players had their discrete

starting positions, but Tom soon made it clear that he was making a beeline for Jon's territory (actually, he was doing it to complete a route bonus, but it got Jon worried all the same!)
Andy collected a scarily money-heavy deck, and built very little on the board, but as there were no 'big point' buildings in the game, he got a little clogged from the waste collected in building the smaller buildings.
Jon focused on the remote locations, and then spread out to try to reach Tom's cities, but didn't quite get there. Jon chose to buy the last card of the 4th deck to end the game, but with little idea of who had scored most highly.
Tom had most points on the board, Andy had the most in his deck and Jon had a bit of both. It looked like Jon had won until everyone remembered Tom's route bonus, which was just enough to pull him up into joint first place for a tie. Andy was only 3 or 4 points back himself, so yet again, Trains proves to be a game that provides a very tight finish.
Tom & Jon - 32 (approx); Andy 29


Several IBG'ers had expressed an interest in playing this one, and James had found a convenient app to dispense with the need for any cards, so 7 players assembled for some end of evening fun.
The premise of the game is that all the players except one are secret agents, dispatched to a known 'secret' location, chosen from a list of about 25 locations. The spy has infiltrated the group and must discover the identity of the location, or remain hidden for the game. The game starts with one player asking a question of one other player - eg "What's the food like here?" The response that he receives must be vague enough to not give away the exact location to the spy, but clear enough that it indicates that he does know the location, and is therefore not a spy. The spy hopes to be able to ask and answer questions in such a manner that doesn't give away his identity too easily. At any point, the spy can reveal himself and attempt to identify the location, and also, anyone can accuse anyone else of being the spy - but only a unanimous vote will enable the spy to be actually accused and forced to reveal their identity. If the spy has not been caught after 8 minutes, then there is one last chance to accuse him or her, otherwise the spy wins.
This is not an easy game. Thinking of appropriate questions can be tricky, and any hesitations in asking or answering are immediately jumped upon as suspicious. Throw in the odd random element such as Philip (enough said), and you have a fascinating game with the potential for many quizzical looks and burrowed brows.
James was the only spy that managed to outwit the agents (although he didn't identify the location), and Paul was outed at least twice (failing to acknowledge that he might become "cross" in a Crusader Army, on one occasion).
Any game that gets played 7 or 8 times in a row must have something going for it, and so I suspect that this might see the light of day (or the screen of an iPad) again sometime soon.

Also played was another game of Splendor, another of Machi Koro (Rachel got her wish...) and a round of For Sale - but no reports mean that we'll never know what exactly occurred.

Hopefully we'll see another bumper crowd next week...


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