Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The One where Paul got a free meal for being an imposter.....

Players: Dan, Jon, Arturo, Alan, Tonio, John B, Tom, James, Soren, Paul, Mitten, Andy, John H, Gareth II, Philip, Paul A, Tom II, Noel

Another fine turnout this week, with 19 eager IBG'ers thronging to the London Apprentice to enjoy the very best in modern board games. And a real cross-section of gaming there was too - hidden identities, deck-building, gem-dealing, space exploration, word making, cockroach squashing and even some good old-fashioned dice flicking...

And the evening even began with Paul setting himself up as the 'face of IBG' with the new pub landlord, Julio, and consequently being offered food on the house. This tells me that (a) Julio seems to be a real nice guy and (b) Paul will do almost anything for a free feed. (Not that I'm feeling jealous or ignored or under-appreciated or hungry or anything....)

Tumblin' Dice
At the request of James, Jon dusted down his homebrew version of this fantastic manual dexterity game, and a number of games were subsequently played during the evening.
In the first 2 games, Jon annihilated Paul (who didn't care as he had a nice bellyful of free food) and in the next game, Paul triumphed over Jon, Paul A and Tom W - probably as he was suitably invigorated by his bellyful of free food...
Jon 106; Paul 70
Jon 229; Paul 178 (double sets of dice)
Paul 95; Tom 85; Jon 70; Paul 69

Coup G54 (thanks Arturo)
This time we played with interesting cards such as: the communist, who gives
coins to the poorest player (and steals them from the richest), the church, which begs a coin from all players and the standard black ops (kind of Guerrilla card), United Fruit Company and Newspaper cards.
After the usual "remember who did that to you on previous games" crossed accusations, we had some communists cards played by Tom and Paul. Arturo thought that these were too many communists, so first aggression started against Paul, who actually had a communist, therefore Arturo was half way out. After that it was James`s turn, who kept a confident attitude during the whole game, having dinner and talking like a king when he was playing his cards (I could even imagine him throwing his leftovers to an imaginary slave; obviously it was a strategy, and a good one, as he finished second, with almost no-one daring to challenge him).
John and later Jon played some Newspaper cards, so no-one was sure of what they were holding in their hands. Arturo started a long term strategy of keeping a low profile and just asking for a coin every turn, even allowing Jon to steal easily coins with his church.
Then game went crazy with all players challenging each other, some coups, James`s paranormal UFC providing coins to too many people and a final round with James challenging Arturo with his black ops - and losing.

Xia: Legends Of A Drift System (thanks Soren)
Based on a true story...
Tom, Paul and Soren bravely ventured into the unknown exploring a remote galaxy in an unknown corner of the universe seeking fame and fortune. It turned out to be a backwater wasteland of asteroid fields, nebulae and just two outlaw planets - only towards the end of their adventures did they discover a handful of lawful planets - alas, too late to make an honest living as prosperous merchants.
Instead, they all scrambled around in their small, fragile space ships exploring for petty cash and not so much fame as slight acknowledgement.
Tom entered into the dangerous asteroid fields and nebulae in search of profitable, rare metals - with some success but leaving him with a smashed up space ship that could barely limp through space towards the nearest outlaw planet for urgent repairs.
Although Soren, who was nearby, had set himself up for a decent, profitable run smuggling a few goods and completing an important, very profitable research mission; Tom's wreck of a space ship full of valuable goods was too tempting. Although Soren did not have any weapons - just a little nudge to Tom's space ship would rip it apart, so Soren decided to ram Tom - just a little bit. Not very honourable, but the victor writes history, so surely this could be spun a heroic battle for some extra fame.
Alas, the little nudge, of course, went wrong, very wrong, and Soren ended up ramming Tom at full speed - destroying Tom as intended, but also leaving Soren in as bad as shape as Tom had been, unable to pick up Tom's goods and even having to jettison his own goods and abandon his research mission. Tom was soon back in a sparkling new space ship to pick up his own and Soren's goods and delivered them to the outlaw planet for big profits, while Soren limped through space for badly needed repairs.
In the meantime, Paul was messing around on his own in the other end of the galaxy exploring, drilling asteroids, trying out telegates, ferrying emissaries around between remote outposts and doing God knows what.
As we have to leave the story here, the exploits of these brave pioneers barely left a footnote in the annals of this newfound galaxy - most notably Tom as a somewhat successful trader, followed by Paul for honourable efforts, and trailed by Soren mostly noted for his failures.
Xia: Legends Of A Drift System is a game to be played not so much for skills and strategy but for a fun, trashy, space romp experience.

Medieval Academy
Newbies Dan, Alan and Arturo joined old hands Jon & Tom for the 3rd outing in
as many weeks for this superb drafting / racing super-filler.
Dan chose to neglect to provide a suitable education for his knight-to-be, but as he spent the majority of his time fighting dragons and serving the king (affectionately now known as 'brown-nosing'), his lack of knowledge was of no consequence as he achieved victory and became the most ignorant knight in the whole of olde-worlde-lande. The moral of the tale? Book-learning is over-rated...
Dan 35; Jon 33; Tom II 28; Alan 25; Arturo 13

Roll for the Galaxy (thanks James)
Tom, James and John all opted to roll some galaxies as John as usual came along armed with one of the latest hot games... not sure why I played as I never liked RftG, but rolling dice is always fun so worth a try.
Effectively in this game you build up a collection of dice with which you can buy and activate cards. Actions are decided by a hidden role/dice selection process. Different colour dice have different properties so the main goal of the game is to create an array of cards (worlds) that can quickly provide points/additional resources. After 12 worlds have been placed the game ends.

So the game... As usual, when I'm playing a game for the first time and you can gain additional resources that becomes my initial strategy... In this case if I wasn't going to win I was going to try and end up with the most dice... hoping
along the way that while I'm growing my dice empire that I'll start to make some sense of the supporting strategy... John was bagging lots of early points. Tom I'm not too sure about to be honest. I'm sure he had a plan though.  Still I had the most dice... so despite being behind on points, inside I was smiling :)
So midpoint and John looked like he was using his 'played at least 20 times already' knowledge to coast to victory... he may not have had as many planets as Tom and I was KILLING him on in the dice stakes, but had a stack of points that was looking ominous ... At this stage, despite my obvious pleasure at the dice emporium I had built I was getting worried that I still really had no idea what to do with them... other than roll and get more dice... Tom was doing something over in the corner of the table, but the game itself is more solo than multiplayer so I wasn't paying that much attention... and he didn't have many dice so there really wasn't much to see anyways.
Then John reminded me that I only needed 2 planets to trigger the end game... and with that knowledge I decided (after getting a few more dice first) to try and bring things to a close... mainly as the less thought I put into strategy the more likely I was to do well... (it's a tried and tested technique)... and the fewer rounds the game took the less likely we were to end up an embarassing total behind John. So, pausing only to delay one more turn as there was a nice shiny dice available that I had to have... I bought my last planet...
...Even then John announced I had delayed too much and he gained 10 more points due to me not finishing a round earlier (damn those shiny dice)...
So Tom and me were both now resigned to the inevitable embarassment of the final scores... I spent the time just looking at my dice as if to suggest that points didn't matter... and then... somehow... obviously with no relation to any strategic input... the scores were counted and I'd won!
John - 38, Tom - 42 and me - 44

Istanbul (thanks Noel)
Noel and Tom grabbed the fantastic Kennerspiel 2014, Istanbul, from the
remarkable pile o' games brought by tonight's IBGers. Noel and Tom remember the game fondly from a previous play with Neil. Paul and James joined them, but then Tom skipped to the bar and Noel realised in a blind panic that he then had to teach it.
One not particularly stream lined rules explanation later, with Paul gazing at the board hoping it would turn into Lords of Vegas, we jumped into the efficient path optimisation pleasure that is Rudiger Dorn's jaunt through the Mosques and Markets of Istanbul.
Fortunately for Paul, Noel started and headed to one of the warehouses, James went straight to the Wainwright to, with the help of a bonus card, increase his barrow capacity which is always a strong move. Tom started by sending his family criminal out on a few tasks including picking up the first red dice rerolling bonus tile from under Noel's nose. Noel responded to this wrinkle with much hmming and ahing but managed to get the other three tiles quickly and his first of the 5 rubies needed. Paul moved in and out of the post office and cursed Noel's garbled rules explanation. James filled out his wheelbarrow to pick up his 3rd ruby but Noel managed two early stops to each of the money ruby and the goods ruby locations to win the game. 60 minutes, including a longer than necessary rules run through. Top stuff and even Paul was keen to play again now with a learning game under his belt.
Noel (5), James (3), Tom (2), Paul (2)

Tokaido (thanks again Noel)
After several vetos of Camel Up and Chinatown, 5 of us sat down to Tom's Tokaido for a wander along a Japanese byway eaching of us picking up 2 or 3 points with every action. John B's character allowed him a special bonus for picking hidden bonus cards. Unfortunately for him, Noel quite liked that stack and kept taking the spot, although John did trundle around at the back of the chain picking up extra spots. Noel's character given him an extra point at the temple and he did have the chance to use this several times to lead this category. James went for the shopping cards but some poor draws left him with a couple of small sets rather than maxing out any set which meant a loss of lots of potential points. Tom and Hames had bonus's around the meal stations which ensured they always picked up the 6 bonus points that this delivered. In fact everyone did, except Noel who ran out of money for the last meal station. He did however use the last of his money well and jumped ahead to pick a final pink character card which gave him the lead in this category too. Fortunately for him he also picked two consecutive Ice landscape cards, the last of which also gave him the bonus points for completing the ice landscape, much to Hames's disappointment, as this also meant the win for Noel.
A very pleasant game, although the close scoring perhaps suggests that although every points space allows you to do different things, the points accrued from each is very similar, meaning the difference between the scores is more about who drew the card that was worth a few points more rather than any well constructed move. Nevertheless, a relaxing game with beautiful art and interestingly the creative ambience saw both Noel and Tom simultaneously refer to IBG's Car Boot Hero as Hames - a moniker much needed as we decide what to do with all these James and Toms around.
Noel 80; Hames 78; John B 76; Tom 74; James 72

Castles of Mad King Ludwig
John H 150; Philip 133; Andy 103; Gareth 98

James had brought his brand new copy of this game along, but as he was too busy rolling dice around the galaxy (can you roll a dice in space???) Dan took it upon himself to tear it out of its shrink, trying not to bend too many of the cards in the process.
This is a deck-building game crossed with a word game (yes really) which actually works surprisingly well. Players have to use the letters that they draw from their hands to form words, which are then used to buy more cards, including victory points. Some cards also have special actions that can increase the value of words, or hinder your opponents.
Arturo can be forgiven for not winning this game, as English is not his first language (although it's probably better than some of the IBG'ers - mentioning no names...), but Alan cannot be forgiven for his appalling showing, especially as he was most recently a school-pupil.
But it was Jon's Christmases spent playing Boggle that finally paid off, helping him to a relatively comfortable win.
Jon 51; Dan 41; Tonio 35; Arturo 29; Alan 13

Mayday! Mayday!
No Arturo this week, so we were trusting that there wouldn't be any 'unofficial'
infiltrators lurking somewhere on the plane. However, Noel and Tom were playing, as well as Jon, so the likelihood of much subterfuge was almost guaranteed.
Surprisingly, Jon was the only player who wasn't really suspected, and quickly went from 'benefit of the doubt' to 'reliable' to 'in the cockpit'. However, he still had to select another 'good guy' to join him. And that was where the problem lay. Logic had shown fairly clearly that the infiltrators was one of the pairs of either Tom and Soren, or Noel and Tomtoo. Obviously Jon did not want to pick Noel, because if he ended up being an infiltrator, Jon would never hear the last of it. To a lesser extent, but still a consideration, was the problem of picking Tom. So Jon chose the least restrictive option - choose the level-headed, cheerful and generally reliable Soren. BIG mistake! Soren and Tom turned out to be the infiltrators, and if the last week or so is anything to go by, Noel is never going to let Jon forget that he screwed up by not picking him.
Sometimes you just can't win....

Also played tonight was an early-starting Mice & Mystics (they killed some cockroaches and ate some cheese). Have a great week everyone - and see you next time for more of the same...

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