Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Sails, Rails, and tall tales

Players: Paul A, Peter, Dan, James, Andy, Tash, Jon, Noel, and Bryan.

Ye Olde Undersea Sons of Bitches (thanks Peter)

 Deep Sea Adventure provided the usual thrills and spills. Despite having played many times I still rarely make it back to the sub but tonight I succeeded twice. Alas it was not sufficient to beat Paul who I believe made it back with a level three treasure. Quite something.
Paul A was the most selfish diver, pushing everyone else back down into the briny sea by stepping on heads in his rush to get back on the boat.  Peter was a close second with Andy and Dan barely making it back with some rusty old trinkets.

Love Letter

A rare outing at IBG for this popular micro game to fill a bit of time as we waited for No Thanks to finish up, new to Andy but still confusing to the rest of us as it was some strange Samurai variant with unfamiliar names on the cards. Like many games with broad appeal, the simplicity and direct play that make it so accessible also causes it to grate with many and I think we added Andy to those ranks as he didn't seem too impressed after his first ever experience of this. Still popular with the rest of the table though!
Dan won, with Paul A, Peter, and Andy managing to deliver one or two letters each.

Pax Porfiriana (thanks Peter)

It was good to get Pax Porfiriana back to the table again. I was well-rusty so my thanks go out to both Dan and Paul for their patience with explaining the rules to me. Dan impressively nearly won twice: once with Outrage (with defeat saved in the nick of time by Paul who Outraged my factions and saved us from Dan's majority), and then with Loyalty when I managed to buy the topple card moments before Dan was going to succeed in a Loyalty revolution. Meanwhile Paul & I were making the most of an abundance of income-generating ranches and mines. And with both of their troops maxed out in ability, thanks to some handy Partners, conflict was light and unrest minimal. With the last topple card gone Dan was completely broke and his mass of Loyalty was no good to him. So at that point the game was abandoned with me just marginally ahead on cash over Paul thanks to a benign set of income generating mines, mainly in the US. Thank for the game, it was most enjoyable. We must play it again soon...before I forget the rules again.  

 Ed - "As an addendum I feel obliged to point out how well both Paul and Peter closed me out of the game - right from the off I picked up two newspapers that would allow me a very quick and cheap move for either a Loyalty or an Outrage victory and strangled my economy to push for it, but they both kept the regime in a flux of anarchy and martial law while buying three of the four topples from the 16-spot as soon as they could. 
Paul looked like he might be in scope for a quick push to a Revolution victory in the early game, or at the very least to force me to flip my Hacendado in support of the revolutionaries which would have completely scuppered my chances for a Loyalty victory, and so I diverted some of my efforts into closing this avenue off. This slowed my game further as it meant that I missed the first topple which was a sterling opportunity for me to invite a US invasion and to take the game; when it dropped off the end of the exchange Paul played some orange cards onto Peter to block any further viable attempts on Outrage and so I switched focus to kissing Diaz's butt with a Loyalty-strong tableau. However, for at least eight rounds in a row I was either a couple of money or an action short of victory, or had the topple taken before it could come back to my turn. So frustrating, yet I loved every moment of it!
Both Peter and Paul were going for a cash heavy long game and I very nearly put us into a depression to wipe the tableaus clean but too many Bear cards followed into the exchange to make this a viable strategy as I would have damaged my own position more than theirs.
I would also note that Peter is being quite modest in his description of being 'slightly' ahead. With by far the biggest stack of money and a strong tableau of well guarded ranches and mines his cash victory was inevitable; as Paul put it, Peter could either accept our capitulation right then and there or take the win after 45 minutes of slow burning income-building card play later, and so we called the game in order to regroup with the other table that had just wrapped up at that point"

TTR: Marklin 

Bryan's first week at the club and so Noel had brought TTR:Marklin as a classic TTR gateway game with the additional twist of each player having 3 passengers that they can move along their network 3 times in the game(or an opponents with the right cards) and pick up ever decreasing bonus points from the cities that they move through. Jon joined Noel and Bryan and as the board was perused and the choke points visualised the tension had already begun to rise.

Jon placed his first train on the same 1 length route that Noel had eyed up so Noel secured the other route out of Koln a key city in two of his hand tickets. Bryan started in the SE away from trouble and fear of blocking. He did leave one or two opportunities for either Noel or Jon to block his connections but being the renowned as the Gentlemen of IBG this was not even considered.

The addition of the passengers adds a nice element of tension and decision making as the usual train card collection had to be balanced with getting routes on the board to claim the higher value bonuses. Noel built West to East into Berlin and was able to pick up a few of the high bonuses in Berlin and a 7 train route out. Jon had an extensive circular network that yielded some high bonus runs but despite connecting a number of cities he drew a blank with some late ticket draws. Bryan also timed the passenger routes well and picked up some high bonuses through the many cities in the South. However, not getting involved in the early route laying of Jon and Noel in the North West proved costly as he wasnt able to fulfil his long route.

In final scoring Noel ran out winner with 190 points, Jon 150 and Bryan 115.

As we left the pub after another enjoyable evening Bryan remarked, peering down at Noel and Jon from the top of the slippery slope, 'So where do you buy all these games then....'

The Beige Game (thanks Tash)

I'll have you know that the game with the beige board did not just have a beige board. Oh no. It also had beige cards. AND it had a set of components in GREY. AND the most terrifying of all possible cards in that game was the devildevildevildevil BELL TOWER devildevildevildevil

SO EVIL is this BELL TOWER that noobs are recommended to play without it!

(I will let James explain the actual game of Firenze which was really quite fascinating actually, thank you very much, so there.)  

King Up
It's been a really long time since we last saw this game at the club so it was great to have this candidate for 'game most begging for a Game of Thrones retheme' back on the table. There is a castle full of backstabbing hooligans who are all desperate to sit on the iron throne and every so often some fool will make a play for it and be thrown out of a nearby window. All the players have a card with a list of wannabes that they can score points on and some voting cards that give them only two shots at vetoing a candidate for kingship. Hijinks ensue as everybody jostles for the best scoring positions while the bodies pile up in the castle moat, unless everybody hilariously mistimes their bluff by voting 'Yes' in the first round which we managed to do in the second game. We played three games and it was fun, but I couldn't for the life of me tell you what the scores were.

Also played this evening: No Thanks, Red 7

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: "2 games are generally considered to have done more than any others to push the gaming hobby we all love...

Carcassonne... and... Settlers of Catan

Which side are you on ?

Paul A: "I slightly prefer Settlers to Carcassonne, but it's a tough battle:
* Carcassonne is by far the more elegant and clever design. Pick up a tile, put down a tile.
* But in terms of "the hobby", Settlers is the clear winner. It boosted the eurogame into the public eye, restarted the genre and has sold 18 million copies. No contest. " 

James: "For me I think I prefer Carc... just because I find myself playing it far more than Settlers that needs 3 and takes 3 times as long. My 8 year old loves Carcassonne, and my parents even have a copy of their own... I did try to introduce on of the variants (Carcassonne: Gold Rush) at Christmas though and it was resounding failure... serves me right for trying to be clever...
On the iPad I've probably played both more than any other game... the implementations are flawless... but over a table Carcassonne wins.
Also the small modular expansions are much easier to bring in for Carc while the expansions for Settlers are chunkier and generally change the games quite dramatically.
So +1 for Carcassonne " 

John B: "I loved Settlers back in the day (The 90’s), but I have never been that keen on Carcassonne preferring Alhambra as a tile laying game.
Nowadays I would rather not play either of them." 

Dan: "Out of the two I would go for Carcassonne, it's dead simple and the abstract design allows people to play their own game. I find that Settlers can be a bit flaky as it largely depends on people playing the game as they are supposed to, i.e. trading and bashing the leader. As soon as someone paddles against the stream it can go a bit wrong as the trading helps to mitigate the uneven resource spread in the early game. Regardless of personal tastes, Carc always delivers whereas Settlers can be a bad experience simply because of the starting setup or the way the game is played." 

Noel: "Team Settlers for me. Not really that keen for a game at the club but has been the perfect 4 player gateway for us and lots of friends. Though I have an unplayed Catan Histories: Merchants of Europe if anyone interested in a game (that might be a good one for Wednesday)" 

Jon: "Definitely Carcassonne for me. Easy to teach and learn. Some interaction without being too aggressive (unless you want to be! arrrh ) Traders & Builders / Inns & Cathedrals are all you need of the expansions.
Settlers is still ok (and we've just started playing with the kids) but I always get taken unawares by how long the game can go on for - too long for a gateway in my opinion. TTR:Europe has taken over from Settlers as our alternative to Carcassonne...) " 

Tash: "I don't know anything about gateways for children. I can only speak to the teenage and adult hobby.
Settlers for me is the better game and the better gateway.
Not sure about the love for Carcasonne. Imo, it's just another tile-laying snoozefest which relies (like so many tile games) on you pulling the better tiles at the better times - or, more to the point, not pulling the worse tiles. There's no strategic element, there's no battle of wits, there's no moments of sudden excitement/tension and there's no direct interaction between players. I am not sure what other kind of game it is a "gateway" to.
Settlers has its flaws (for instance, every expansion ever made for it) and frustrations (those damned dice, and needing 3 other people) but it does have meaningful choices and strategy and interaction and moments of terror and market economics and probability. The best part about it is that after a while you can "master" it, and that encourages you and gives you confidence to go out and find a deeper game. And it is a gateway to any number of games because of its variety." 

Paul D: "I enjoy carc and settlers. I like settlers more as a game to spend my time playing and I'm always willing to overlook its flaws as I have enjoyed it so much over the years. But I think carc is a better gateway as settlers is okay if you've got The right set of players but it's still too complex for some. And Ticket to Ride is better as a gateway than both of them - that is the ultimate gateway game. " 

Peter: "I am also in the TTR camp as a gateway. Tense and exciting and very easy to teach.
Of the the other two, Settlers drives more tension and I find gateway gamers get quite a buzz from this if they are on the verge of their ten points and it becomes a race for the final point or two. That adrenalin is very addictive and will often sway them into asking for another game. Carcassonne lacks that dimension. " 

This weeks question: "We have a concept for games felt to be a waste of cardboard..."ferry fodder". This dates back to a trip to Essen when traveling back on the cross channel ferry Jon decided that most of the games I'd picked up from Japon Brand should be ditched overboard rather than completing the journey... *

So as we all like lists... what 5 games would not survive a crossing of the channel if you had a chance to dispose of them en-route... devil

* Obviously this was before Jon discovered Machi Koro and Trains and realized that he actually loved Japanese games... how times change

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