Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Bell Tolls for the Picture of Mad Dogs and Englishmen By Edgar Allan Oscar Coward

Players: Paul, Paul, Paul, Jon, John, John, along with Dan, James, Gareth, Sarah, Noel, and Andy, all of whom had the decency to turn up with their own individual names.

Subtitle: "A thoroughly confusing book. Or was it a play?"

Arboretum (thanks Jon)

I didn't play, but I watched Paul, Noel play with John B who was teaching the game. Seems like a nice hand-management / set collection card game with a spatial element (planting trees to make paths through the arboretum).

- nice art and novel theme
- Paul takes longer than Plato to think
- Noel only likes one type of tree
- John B won on a tiebreak

 Kingdom Builder (thanks Jon)

Paul A opined that using an expansion for KB was an 'aberration'. So we played with one anyway.
As always, a very cool game, which plays differently depending on which scoring cards and which special abilities are in play.
On this occasion, Paul D pipped Jon by a single point thanks to a profitable last move of the game, leaving Jon to moan about how few flowers and deserts he had seen all game.
Paul D 54; Jon 53; Paul A 45; John 43

In his defence, Paul A notes the following: "So why would you take a clean, elegant design like Kingdom Builder and screw it up with special "objectives" and "missions" and other twaddle? So Jon could like it? Anyways, I remain baffled as to how good I am at this on the tablet, but how poor I am at the physical tabletop version. Must be the company."

The Hipster game for Hipsters called "Don't spill the cards!" (thanks James)

Design Town is an interesting Taiwanese game, with a deck builder mechanic ivolving 2 sided cards which you could flip at a certain cost to access additional bonus's... Quite fiddly as it was important to always keep the cards the right way round... tricky when shuffling etc. Gareth romped home to victory (I think)... I do remember doing absymally though, I'd like to blame the game, but I suspect it was my (lack of) strategy... the juries out for me on the game... may need to play again to confirm my opinion
Paul A would like to add "as with many Asian hipster games, an initially confusing experience that started to make sense only as we ended the game. You might look at it as a mini Card City or Machi Koro, with a bit of push-your-luck to it. I'm not sure this has a huge amount of play to it, but it was fun enough and I'd certainly play again."


A three player game between Gareth II, Sarah, and Dan. Gareth built up some Influence very quickly  and dominated the first two ages in the early game, but then his engine stalled and Dan pulled ahead by stealing Influence cards and competing some of the secondary goals that brought in additional dominations. There was a tight tussle for many rounds with the players digging into the deck for the 10th age until the deadlock eventually broke in Gareths favour.

Firenze (thanks James)

Great game - Noel, John and myself played, and basically Noel wiped the floor with us, collecting ooodles of bonus's and shooting into an early lead that only seemed to get bigger... A rematch is required.

Baseball Highlights 2045 (thanks James)

Just a 2 player game this one as only John and me know the rules to baseball... had to make sure I wasn't the NY or Boston teams... luckily John had all the expasions already so I could play as SF. V simple game really with each game lasting the time it takes to play 6 cards which involved advancing your own base runners while blocking your opponents. The first 3 games were a warm up to determine home advantage in the World Series... the deck building element was nice as after each match you were able to 'hire' a new player to your squad... early on these didn't impact much but as the game progressed your whole team started to consist of the new signings rather than the starter cards.

So I managed to sneak home advantage in the WS, and then, somehow, walked away with a 4-1 win from the best of seven.

I really liked this... but I suspect given the theme it's going to next to impossible to get this played... Still would recommend this for anyone into sports games, it's worth a try.

Dixit (thanks Jon)

A welcome return!
Dan insisted that everyone gave clues that were longer than one word.
Jon mistook Edgar Allan Poe for John Donne in his clue, except that no-one noticed as they were all just as illiterate as Jon...
Noel sways between 'Mr Obvious' and 'Mr Obscure'....
Jon won by an urban mile.....  

Happy Birthday (thanks James)

A final couple of games before hometime, and this was a good variant on another game that John brought before 'Crappy Birthday'. Players select gifts (apples to apples style) for the 'selector' who then picks the best and worse gifts... first to 6 (?) wins. Simple game, but lots of fun trying to mind read others... Dan won both games, which is slightly disturbing if he knows us all that well.

Also played this evening: Ninc Kegylem (or No Thanks to the uninitiated), Two thirds of a game of Airships, Hanabi, and a two player game of Agricola

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: "I have a friend who loves Monopoly... I'm very keen to get them into a game of Agricola but I know this is too big a leap in one go. Create a boardgame path that takes my friend from Monopoly to Agricola in, say 5 games (or whatever works for you) and share this below."

Gary: "1. Machi Koro - you are still rolling dice and still acquiring buildings and it is still a bit of a luck fest, but it is much shorter, more engaging and there is Some strategy in the cards you take
2. Ticket to Ride - just to prove that not all board games need dice! You are also trying to second guess what your opponents may do.
3. Stone Age - OK this one does have dice! But it introduces the concept of worker placement and the idea that having more people (actions) comes with a cost - feeding them - and it does have those comforting dice!
4. Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small - bit of a cheat, I know, but it would introduce some of the fundamentals of Gric, without the feeding pain or family growth agonies.
5. Agricola - boom. Fact is nothing is going to prepare you really. If you want to be prepared for the feel of that first game, try staying up all night doing mental puzzles and see how you feel - that is how mentally exhausted you will feel after your first game of Agricola!
Alternatively, just tell them to go away and play 20 games on the iPad and then come back and play it. By that point, it will all finally make sense... " 

Paul M: "The answer to the question is a question: what kind of person loves monopoly? I'm not sure I've ever known a game of monopoly to finish before everyone gets bored. Almost as bad as mouse trap which holds the children's attention for less time than it takes to set up!!! " 
Tasha: "Paul has hit on the question that unlocks a way to answer James's enigma.
Gary has gone with the dice-rolling element of Monopoly as a jump-off, but there are other elements to explore - cash management, trading, acquisition.
1. First earn their trust. For Sale In the early game, you buy assets with a limited pool of cash. There is some luck which makes the choice not-so-hard. In the late game, you torture your opponents with your assets. There is some luck. OMG it's the best of Monopoly, delivered in a delicious short burst.
2. Next, introduce balance and knock out some luck. Catan This time, you start with some assets and skip straight to the part where you roll dice to see whether those assets pay off. There is some luck. Then you use those assets to trade with other people to make sets. Make enough sets and you win. OMG it's the best of Monopoly, plus, you actually get to play with other people.
3. Next, let's learn about workers: aka moveable assets. Stone Age We learned about how dice rolls make your assets create resources in Catan. Stone Age is the same - but your assets are not fixed on the board, but moveable by you: workers. Each turn you decide, afresh, what they make. But, ah, the scarcity! The ruined plans! More workers are better, but, I need to feed them! Gah! We also learned about how sets of resources buy VPs in Catan, at fixed exchange rates. Now let's vary those exchange rates, via cards, buildings and multiplier rewards.
4. Let's kill the dice and get some multiple currencies going. Puerto Rico Time to step things up and get rid of the crutches. Puerto Rico is a step back, in that the workers have temporarily disappeared. But your job choice is similar, except it forces you to think about how your choices directly affect everyone. PR also teaches the tableau concept, and other techniques you need for Agricola: You need money to survive; and barrels/colonists/buildings to do things; but focus too much on those - and you'll end the game with no VPs. Oops!
5. Remember: games are fun. King of Tokyo: Power Up! We are nearly ready to play Agricola. But there are three reasons to play this first. (a) It teaches about how cards can appear and be amazing, or dreadful, and definitely make a game asymmetrical (and sometimes feel unfair because of that). This is v important to know if you are going to enjoy Agricola. (b) It also reminds you that games are fun and not just like going to work or school. (c) This game should now feel "a bit silly" to your player, because the randomness of the dice plays such a big part, and their choices not so much. This will hopefully stop them feeling nostalgia for simpler games of luck when the Agricola train hits them in 3.... 2.... 1...."  

Dan: "Step 1: Play Monopoly with them. It's their favourite game after all and there's no room to be a dick about it. You like to spend time with your friend so does it have to be about you? Start off by showing them the correct rules as it's likely an absolute certainty that they don't play it correctly.
Step 2: Show them your games collection and ask them to choose something, anything, they like the look of, and then play it with them. This notion that gaming is a dark art that people have to be led into gradually is complete BS. If they don't have it in them to enjoy complex games then playing Ticket To Ride first isn't going to make them any more likely to love Agriocola later.
Step 3: If they don't choose Agricola then stop being a whining pussy about it, you've always got Wednesday nights to get in a game.
Step 4: If they decide that they like tabletop gaming then invite them along to IBG!

Paul M: "(Tongue in cheek mode activated)
We need to take a step back here.
How long has this person been a friend? Monopoly is a game which divides the world into two: mostly people don't enjoy it while a small proportion do but complain that no-one else wants to play it with them. Is it the case that this monopoly-phile has recently wangled a friendship with you just so they can get a game of monopoly going? Are they the type of friend who'll be there when you need them? I think not.
Secondly, as Dan explained, Monopoly is a game which no-one plays properly. Should we be encouraging play of a game where the rules are ignored or even deliberately misread? Should we encourage play of a game which defines why some people call it bored-gaming? I think not.
I say - save yourself the cost of two postage stamps a year (that's right they won't invite you to their birthday party as that's for their real friends so you'll have to post that card along with the Xmas one) and simultaneously improve the quality of your friendship group.
(Tongue in cheek mode off) " 

James: "No meta-answer from me... being non-meta is the new meta.
So the first game is simple... Chinatown... not only as it's one of my favorites but it fits the theme of Monopoly and also improves on the negotiation tenfold... very beginner friendly as well. Easy win.
From Chinatown we move to El Gaucho... time to show that dice are not just for moving... but can be far more flexible in games... not a lot of overlap with Agricola on the mechanics, but there are lots of cows
Let's now mix a few of these thing together and also introduce some gaming history and bring out CATAN 3D Collector's Edition... ok, I don't have this fancy version, but what a way to impress a newbie... yeah Monopoly has a little silver boot... so what, I have 3d sculpted mountains ! Here we bring back negotiation, add some dice, some spacial planning on the board, card management... there's a lot going on in Catan.
From here we're almost there... Time to zone in on the core mechanics of Agricola and introduce some worker placement... time for Lords of Waterdeep... Dan's favourite game as I recall... good job Dan's not playing though as we don't want to put anyone off. This gives us all the remaining tools for Agricola... worker placement... resource management... in a very beginner friendly package... just hope they're not put off by the D&D branding on the box... I should really put some tape over that.
...and here we are at Agricola although as I still don't know the rules chances are I'll ot actually get around to playing this with my friend... so would plump for a game of Twilight Struggle instead as it's better

This 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 ?

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