Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The one where things are back to business as usual

And so our trip down memory lane is complete, and the details of the past few weeks have been sketched in and plastered over with the usual modicum of misdirection, mistakes, and downright porky-pies. We are back to the present day, unless you are reading this in the future of course, in which case here is an old post about what happened many centuries ago when Apemen still believed they ruled the world...

Castles of Mad King Ludwig

What more is there to say about this game? It was new to Paul A, fun was had by all, my bonus card strategy failed to fire as I couldn't get the rooms I needed to really make it work. Paul A made tremendous use of sleep rooms in a way I've never seen before, effectively building his own little bed & Breakfast, and Andy scored an eye-watering number of bonus points on downstairs rooms after going for an unusual money-heavy strategy in the early game. Andy 120-odd, Paul A 90-something, Dan 80-and a bit

Paul A’s take on events: the first time for me on this one. I'd stopped by a demo table at Essen, watched it for a while and left unimpressed. Unfortunate, given that I really like Suburbia. But CoMKL is a bit less obvious than Suburbia, and I suspect that a lot of the strategy concerns good use of room-completion powers and careful pricing. Well, anyway, that's my explanation for losing so badly. Like this one a lot.”
7 Wonders
Once again the green cards showed their worth, but it was Paul A's powerful deployment of three guild cards that secured a very narrow victory. Andy went heavy on military in the early game but lost the advantage towards the endgame, and Dan exploited markets in the early game to very quickly complete his wonder before relying on free builds on green cards for most of the rest of the game. Paul A, Dan, Andy, scores were around 50 points each with only a point or two separating each of us.   
Paul A’s take on events: I may finally be getting the hang of this one. I think doing it with three players may lead to a slightly different sort of game, given that you'll see most cards twice.”

River Dragons
Sort of an extra-cute simpler version of robo-rally, the object here is to place stones on the board and then to place wooden boards on top so that your meeple can cross the pond in the centre of the board. The snag is that you have to pre-program blocks of five actions at a time and the interactions between the players frequently makes things go horribly wrong. Sometimes one of your naughty opponents makes a dragon rise up out of the water which cancels your turn. Or, your just as naughty other opponent steals one of your planks just as you are about to step onto it. Or, both of the little tikes do both of these things at the same time.
I'll admit that I am totally rubbish at these sorts of games and was predictably, and hilariously, awful in this one. I suffered the ignominy of failing to even take a single step off my starting island and inadvertantly handed the game to Andy through what can only be described as "a dick move" that prevented both myself and Phil from doing anything for a whole turn when either of us could have instead held Andy up and given ourselves a chance at winning.
If you want a fun programming game with pretty components and a charming theme then try this; if you want a ridiculously unpredictable game where everything goes completely tits up, then try this game with me :-)
Andy made it home safe and (relatively) dry, Phil was left stranded in the middle of the lagoon, and Dan wisely stayed at home far away from these madmen and their strange antics.

Port Royal
While we waited for the second showing of Castles to conclude, two of us passed the time with Port Royal. Phil took the honours in this best of three for this "always a pleasure, never a chore" game. I think it works better as a two player than with a bigger table, although each game reached a point where it was inevitable that one player was going to win on the next turn regardless of which cards came up.
Phil 2, Dan 1

Thanks to Paul A for the following report:
King of New York 
when I first played this King of Tokyo sequel, I was a little underwhelmed. There's nothing exactly wrong with it, but it seemed on first blush to have complicated the original game system for only minor gain. And when considering the powerups, it seemed that the original had consumed all the good ideas.
On this occasion however (which may have been my fourth game of it), I began to warm to it. I still think there's a bit too much fussy stuff, but the pace of the game has stepped up. There's more interaction between monsters (especially those outside the centre) and you can't leave anyone alone or they'll chip away at buildings, accumulating VPs. In any event, there's no point in just recapitulating the base game, so why not play with the formula?

Thanks to Noel for the following reports:  
As James stood at the pile of games auctioning for punters to roll up, roll up he could have been forgiven for wondering if anyone was coming to play boardgames at all tonight. Agricola was given a resounding cheer by two IBGers (no prizes for guessing), Noel was nearly roped in for that inaugural game but was more excited about Chinatown the negotiation classic and Luka, James and Rachel were all keen to get involved.
Noel helpfully warned Rachel and Luka that James was not to be trusted at negotiation games. Luka didn't need any encouragement to believe that as he knows James well from work... A bit of faffing around the 3 rules that exist in the game as the correct number of cards to hand out was decided and the frantic negotiations were off. James helpfully started a 5min buzzer alarm to limit each round which pushed things along really well. Luka had a 4 block site from his first successful negotiation with Rachel and Noel gave up 2 restaurants for some prime property and a complete set for him. Luka managed to get these 4 build but the remaining 2 restaurants would fortunately elude him for the rest of the game. Noel completed a Seafood resturant and Rachel opened a Tropical Fish emporium. All was well in Chinatown, except for James Sad Dim Sum place which was a bit tatty and small and always blocked when trying to expand. The master negotiator tried but every way he turned Luka and Rachel stymied his progress, particularly when rachel blocked in his Dim Sum 'Palace' to make sure it would never reach full size. Noel actually turned out to be James most willing partner and a few exchanges for equal benefit were performed.

At the end of the developing and negotiating Noel had cracked the Million pound celing and won by 70k from Luka with Rachel 50k further back and James eating a soggy Dim Sum all alone.
Noel 1010k; Luka 940k; Rachel 890k; James 860k

Castle of Mad King Ludwig II 
This was started at about 945 and although expertly taught by James it did run on a bit as it was everyone else's first play. Noel had beautiful Gardens and a completed living room bonus multiplier which scored really well. Rachel had a well placed network of activity rooms and utility rooms. James, an underground dungeon and Luka multiple small food rooms. At the end of the normal scoring Noel was a good bit in front, but as the bonus cards were turned Luka pulled in 33 points and pushed into a clear lead. Everyone enjoyed it and all keen for another play!
Final Scores: Luka 1st; Noel 2nd James 3rd Rachel 4th.


On our Boardgamegeek guild page James has initiated an open Q&A session with a new question each week. Feel free to play along at home, and even if you are not a regular IBG attendee you are more than welcome to join in with your own answers!

Last weeks question: “Is there any game (or games) that you're itching to play... either it's too hard to find, takes too long, to complex etc... What's the game that you've had on your bucket list for ages but you've never actually had a chance to play?”

Dan: "Huh. Between last weeks question and this weeks, I'm starting to wonder if I'm in the right hobby. I guess the closest I can get to an answer this week is that I would have liked to have played BSG a bit more than I have. But I only like it five players with just the base game so fat chance. Still, I feel like I got enough out of it not to be champing at the bit for another game. "

Noel: "3 months ago your question would have had an easy answer - War of the Ring (second edition), sitting on my shelf unplayed.... But since then I've had two brilliant (if maybe a little long (5-6hr shake)) games with little bro, 2 Free Peoples victories and even some paints have been ordered surprisesurprise! Straight in with a 10/10- great game. So now its maybe Space Hulk or Twilight Struggle again.."
James: "I have several 'bucket list' games at the moment, for different reasons but most tend to be longer games that I never get to fit in on a Wed... Die Macher - The **first** game in the BGG database, generally considered one of the games that started it all... No idea if I'll like it but I feel almost obliged to try it once. Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island - Need to play this and see what all the fuss is about... waiting for Jon to set this up on a Wed again whistle Descent: Journeys in the Dark - Another big box, sitting on the shelf un-played... want to keep this as I'm sure my boy will love it when he's a little older... but then also not sure if Mice and Mystics might not provide the same experience for less than half the real estate... on this topic I'd also love to try other FFL big boxes such as Starcraft, Twilight Imperium III... but the amount of time required feels daunting... Risk Legacy - Not just 1 game but feels like it needs to be arranged over several months... Been sitting on my shelf for 2-3 years now... taunting me about not getting played... ....anyone ? "
Paul D: "The game that I've been wanting to play forever is 1989. Well for a year or two at least. I also fancy Primordial Soup. Like the theme of both, although both hugely different. "

This weeks question: Let's find out a few back stories here, so time for a one of the big did you get into gaming... ? What was the trigger to bring you into the gaming hobby ? Who do you blame for losing years of your life to moving cubes across a piece of cardboard..?”

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The one with the incredibly recursive game

It’s not often that you get to see a long form card version of a dice based filler, but that’s what those ker-ayzee kids at Game Factory have served us up this week. Thankfully Paul has been hitting the Aloe Vera juice so his recollection is good of a quiet two-table night in the Riverview Room. No idea what the other mob were up to at the time but I think it was an all-night bash at Agricola if I remember right.

Thanks to Paul A for the following reports:

Qwixx, der Kartenspiel
 Poor Qwixx had to be nominated for the Spiel des Jahres the same year as Hanabi. This slight variation (cards instead of dice, the lazy mans re-design) may be a little neater than the base game. Simple and fast without being trivial.

Cryptozoic have an amazing hit-rate with their media tie-ins, and this is another winner. An intriguing development is the presence of a "semi-traitor", a loyal player who is however out for themselves. A nice twist and we failed to keep the free world safe from bombings, militia and terrorist plots. Fun.

Council of Verona
When you can make someone think you've protected your guy by playing an antidote, but actually it's a poison and they swap it out and place it on one of their characters - that's a good day.

On our Boardgamegeek guild page James has initiated an open Q&A session with a new question each week. Feel free to play along at home, and even if you are not a regular IBG attendee you are more than welcome to join in with your own answers!
Last weeks question: “What is your most prized gaming possession ? What one thing do you own of a game nature that you value above all else?”

Dan: "Prized gaming stuff? These are just toys, right? Anything I pick up of any real monetary value usually gets sold pretty quickly, everything else is there to be played rather than admired. I guess I'm not particularly sentimental about stuff like this!"

Paul A:
"There's a few favourite games from years ago that I'm sure glad I have a copy of (Source of the Nile, Space Hulk). And even though I've hardly ever played it, I'm glad to have Earth Reborn, a phenomenal game that the world just passed by. "

John B: "It's my collection of very old Avalon Hill titles. Of which if I had to pick one it's Dispatcher, not really a great game but one I had a lot of trouble getting hold of.
Outside the gaming world, my most prised possession is Justice League of America #1 from 1961 "

James: "My favourite gaming related item is probably one that's had little use to date, but the table I picked up last year at a charity shop. the top flips from a poker table to a nice wooden table, and this hides a hexagonal pool table underneath... If I had the space this would be the centre-piece of the lounge.
In terms of games, probably my favourite is the Alea version of Chinatown. Nothing particularly that rare, but one of my favourite games and I love the Alea design."

Paul M: "My favourite gaming related item are the little ships in Navegador as they catch my imagination and make me feel like an explorer on the verge of discovery!"

This weeks question: “Is there any game (or games) that you're itching to play... either it's too hard to find, takes too long, to complex etc... What's the game that you've had on your bucket list for ages but you've never actually had a chance to play?”