Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Do you love Trains?

Players: Phil, Rachel, James, Paul A, Paul D, Theresa, Dan, Tom, Andy

Sushi Go! (thanks Paul D)

Sushi drafting by Andy, Theresa and Paul. Andy killed time waiting for Agricola by joining Paul and Theresa in some sushi set collecting. A lot of similar cards were played and somehow Andy ended up on top by being a touch more efficient, even when Paul tried passing multiple chop sticks in the last few turns. Theresa and Paul were left to draw for last place.

Ra (thanks Paul D)

New to Rachel and Theresa, but they both wiped the floor with Paul. Paul had the highest bidding tile in the first epoch but missed out on playing it by being greedy waiting for more tiles to come when those that came were Ras (the crux of the game). Theresa started off very well and in the second epoch came within one bid of collecting all of the monuments with the three that she had outstanding coming up in one go, but her highest Sun Tile was outbid by Rachel, who wanted one of them, and also didn't want Theresa to get them. Rachel quietly went about collecting everything and lots of it, and crucially picked up things for all of her tiles, even though in the second epoch she had low numbers. By the time the third epoch came around it was between Rachel and Theresa. Theresa waited for more tiles to get a clear run after Paul and Rachel had finished their bidding, like Rachel had successfully done previously, but was met by multiple Ras closing out the game in record time, while leaving Theresa with no floods to activate her stack of Niles and more short that was predicted in several other areas. This meant that Rachel won by many points, while Theresa was left to lament to succession of the dreaded red tile and Paul to smile weakly as he'd been beaten soundly by the two newbies.  

Isle of Trains 

A four way report for the long-awaited debut of this game (by James in any case, as it finally got played after the fifteenth straight week of him hopefully waving it in the air at everyone passing by, including the waitress, the landlords dog, and a table of elderly folk who wandered in to the Riverview Room one night to enjoy a quiet pint).

First up is James with a totally unbiased review of his newfound favourite game:
"Despite Dan's dislike of I heart Trains (and we know you do Dan... in an unhealthy way)... it was quite a neat little card game... one of those card games that really wants to be a grown up board game but isn't too sure of itself, so it packs a lot of gameplay into the same size as 6 nimmt...
The game is basically a card game, but cards provide multiple play options. There is also a *board* made of cards in the middle showing delivery options. Players build trains (yay), and load trucks, or more usually try to entice others to load your own trucks for you, and then look to complete deliveries... You use cards similar to San Juan to pay for train upgrades or new carriages.., All quite simple once you get the swing of it.
So Dan did terribly... came last... (hmmm, any clues here as to his opinion...)... which did provide a certain level of joviality with his x-rated outbursts each time he realised he'd screwed up his turn...
It felt to me like I was having trouble getting others to load goods into my carriages, while Tom and Paul both seemed to be reaping the rewards to lots of freebies. as a reuslt I was the last to pick up an initial delivery,
As the game progressed Paul and Tom seemed ahead, I felt like I was struggling and Dan was just making soft groans of desperation each time he realised that he was 1 card short of his plans... at one stage he even had the gall to accuse me of misreading the rules... the cheek !!
After the initial delivery you have to complete a secondary delivery to proceed which gives bonus points, and allows you to pick up a second delivery card. Tom and me both managed to get this done... no idea how I got there before Paul, I'm assuming because he wasn't watching... ??? !!!
Anyways, it made no difference as soon afterwards Tom and me picked up both remaining delivery cards and the game was scored.
Dan came last... i * think* tom won... although to be honest I can't remember the scores... Tom and Paul were 1/2 and myself 3rd... did I mention Dan came last yet ? Ho hum.
I liked it... the cards look great, and the game feels deeper than your average card game... I'm not sure how much repeatability there is without more cards as the options feel like they'll run out after a dozen or so games... but then again none of us tried to play any building cards, so there are lots of things for the next game...
Thumbs up from Tom, Paul and myself... for Dan, well it was probably good that the windows were closed given the proximity of the Thames.." 

Whereas Paul A is a little more terse yet still as enthusiastic:
"Isle of Trains finally got to the table. It was a little opaque at first and arguably would be best with a small player count, but it's a definitely a winner. Small grumble - the "cargo" icons are close to being just different shaped blobs. Still, good fun."

Tom's take is as follows:
"I won Isle of Trains - thanks to my handy bonus card.
I liked it quite a bit despite the downtime - James failed to mention that I was able to go away and teach Sushi Go to Paul, Andy and Theresa whilst the others were taking their turns.
For a game that uses only 54 cards, it's rather ingenious and I think that it will work rather nicely for two. Highly portable too. Will definitely be picking up a copy for myself when it makes its way over."

I myself can only reply that that my opinion was safely formed by the second turn rather than the end result many, many, many turns later (or maybe it just felt that way as there was a lot of downtime). To be fair I did spend much of my time after that giving people the cards they needed to complete their damn routes already and speed up the end game which would probably be deemed a little sub-optimal for anyone actually invested in the scores at the end. 
I agree that Isle of Trains probably works better with two players than with four. I can see how the thought process would be more interesting as you decide whether giving your opponent a good to snag a card/action bonus is worth the risk of putting them closer to completing a route, or whether you want to hand them opportunities for big bonuses just so that you can score a few more VP on a bigger/better train. With three I reckon there will be a king-maker problem, or one player being stomped on as the lame duck which is rubbish. Four was just messy, dull, and lacking in any interesting motivation to compete.

Orleans (thanks Paul A)

Finished the evening with Orléans, having wondered what it was like after seeing it feature in the Kennerspeil nominations. On first glance, it threatened to be the sort of game that I'd hate: the usual gloomy medieval dude theme, drawing things to get workers to draw things, special buildings, bonus tokens, a board of bonus positions, resources ... y'know, a game that's just so full of STUFF, you suspect the designers kept throwing mechanics in to disguise a lack of depth?

But I really enjoyed it. Paul Lister recently described another game to me as being fun for everyone because even if you lost, you felt there'd been a lot to do and that you'd managed to work with and build something. Orleans gives me that feeling and I look forward to another game, although I suspect three players may be the sweet spot.


We tried to give Andy some prep for the Expo tournament, and I think I succeeded in showing him how not to play with my unique 'four sheds' strategy. Tom reports that "Agricola was great fun and suprisingly tight in the end. Both Dan and I thought that Andy had trounced us but the gap between him and me was only 2 points with Dan close behind me. Probably the most sweary game of the Gric that Andy has ever taken part in. Stupid f&*^%*ing Glass Blower and his oven." 

Super Rhino! (thanks Tom)

Super Rhino! was a bit hit. The tete a tete between myself and Dan in the final game was quite something - as was the height of the tower. Shame that Rachel's pictures may not grace the blog as it was quite something! Will definitely be bringing it again next week.

Too Many Cinderellas

There may be too many Cinderellas, but there certainly weren't too many games of this played tonight. I think that pretty much everyone jumped in to a hand or four at some point and with at least a dozen rounds played there are a couple of session reports submitted for this one.

Paul A reports"The gossamer-light Too Many Cinderellas is child-like but not childish, a microgame where you convince Prince Charming to marry your candidate, by prodding his memory in the right direction. It takes mere minutes to play (although it arguably has to be done as a set of rounds) and is admirable for how much it packs into such a simple game."

Tom adds "Too Many Cinderellas was marvellous. Really enjoyed it. On the way back, was thinking that it could become quite strategic when you know the cards, especially monitoring whether or not the cat has (or will) make an appearance. But, even if you don't want to engage with it that deeply, you have the regular giggles at the old Granddad and Man in Drag. It also had the rather wonderful coup de grace in one game where a number of our prime candidates were foiled by the blind reveal at the end - a rather lovely gaming moment."

Personally, I love it - I think that it isn't quite as jam-packed with decision making as Council of Verona but is in a very similar vein of being a much bigger game than the dozen-and-a-half cards would imply.

Pairs (thanks Tom)

Pairs did a sterling job as per usual. Would maybe like to try one of the many variants one time - such as the more Push Your Luck focused Port.

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: "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 "

Tom Juan: "Hmmm, ferry fodder. When considering what qualifies, I'm happy to forgive a bad but well intentioned game, but less so one that didn't really need to exist in the first place:
1. Ivor the Engine - As a fan of Fzzzt, Coppertwaddle and Snowdonia, I was expecting so much and this just doesn't deliver on any level. It isn't helped either by the highly unintuitive board or the random take that gameplay. I will be still gravitating towards the Surprised Stare stall at the Expo to look at Guilds of London but will be a lot more cautious than I may have before!
2. Principato - So bland. There is simply no reason for this game to exist when there are games which do what it is trying to do so much better.
3. The Resistance - As I've said before, I don't want to spend my game nights shouting at someone else without any real information on why I'm doing it. Mayday! Mayday! is just superior in every way to TR.
4. Donburiko - An example that not everything that comes out of Japan is gold. Minimalism for minimalism's sake isn't something to be celebrated .
5. [I'm obviously too nice - I can't think of a fifth!! I'm sure that I'll think of something.] Seasons - Was excited to try it but it's just an overlong mess. " 

Neil: "1. Galaxy Trucker - like doing a jigsaw with no idea what the picture's supposed to be.
2. Don Buriko - Tom is so right about this ridiculous excuse for a game. I'd even take John Bandettini with me on the ferry to do the chucking over.
3. Worker Placement - one excursion into the kickstarter world that was hideous, an absolute no game experience with a pathetic quality of cardboard.
4. Planet Steam - it's a big old box, full of crap! Drown you F*@+er
5. Quarriors - I wonder if dice float? "  

Noel: "Boo to Tom for The Resistanceshake, I suppose if you have a spy face what can you do... (I do like Mayday too but can drag on a bit..)
Here's my floating turkeys:
1. Are you the Traitor - complete nonsense.
2. Power Grid: First Sparks - takes the Power Grid economy, makes it more complex, less intuitive, adds some randomness and packages as Power Grid Lite (a title which only works if its Cockney Rhyming slang)
3. Quarriors. Not sure Neil, lets try again.
4. Space Cadets. 2hrs playing minigames that are interesting for 5 minutes (if you get a good one)
5. Peloponnes. 8 decisions, random hosing, not very good but really only on this list as Resistance Retaliation.
and all weighed down with a Super Dungeon Explore sized anchor.." 

John B: "Well I would dump pretty much every Japanese game I have played apart from Trains and Parade as they tend to range from mediocre to awful.
I would add to them all the bluffing ‘games’ that forget to actually be a game, like Coup and Skull.
Finally the game with one of the best mechanics ever that somehow manages to fail miserably in the game it’s included in, by feeling totally generic and not really changing the way the game plays in any meaningful way. I am of course talking about the snore fest that is Small World.
Well that was very satisfying, to get that all of my chest." 

Paul D: "Now being a die hard 'glass half full' person I thouht this would be tough, but no, only a few minutes thought and I got five. And most cross over with other people's lists so they must be bad, right?
- The Resistance - I echo exactly what Tom said and can see why people are drawn to it but it then falls flat. My favourite end of evening game at the moment is Spy Fall.
- Mysterium. Similar to the above I do get why people think it might be fun, as I did when I heard about it, but I think it's actually more random than a game of bingo
- Quarriors. Just blah. And after all the hype too. There must be loads of better bag building games out there by now and I'd like to try something else.
- Super Dungeon Explorer. Might not be bad if you like this kinda thing, but I don't and therefore it is painful.
- Santy Anno. The only game to ever give me a headache. I thought I might be good at it cos I do super well at psychometric tests, but I was last every time and I got really angry with everyone else for talking when they'd finished and I was hobbling home. This is my worstest game and I'll weigh it down with lead are swear like billy o when I hurl this off the Dover - Dieppe.
Yep, that was satisfying." 

Peter: "5 games...
Space Hulk Death Angel: coop and sci-fi. Enough said.
Robinson Crusoe: playing this whilst learning it in real time from THE most appalling rule book was a painful experience.
Tales of the Arabian Nights: our boat will be so much lighter with this overboard. And more of a story experience than game.
Concept: hard work.
Mysterium: I'm with Paul on this one. Overboard." 

Dan: "O' my cup runneth over. There is a danger of sea levels rising with the amount of garbage cardboard I could sacrifice to the triple threat of Poseidon, Neptune, and Arnakapfaaluk, but if I had to pick just five it would be the following:
5 Acquire, a game about squares with numbers in them. But that's not all! Oh no! Sometimes the squares have other numbers in them. Ha! Bet you never saw that coming, eh?
4 Quarriors because it is simply pants.
3 Fluxx, oh my god please don't ever make me sit through this again. I'm actually debating which version of Fluxxxx is the worst as I could simply have filled this top five list with five different versions of Fluxxxxxxx, which is coincidentally the sound I now make every time anyone suggests this game.
2 The Resistance - this is debatably even a game and just an exercise in finger pointing and yelling. Quite frankly, I get enough of that every time I leave the house. Absolutely the worst game I have ever played at IBG.
1 My number one seabed hugger would be Pictionary. If you've tired of the company of your friends then I can heartily recommend plying them with a few beers and cracking open a copy of this turd; it's guaranteed to stoke flames of hatred and bile that you never knew existed. I've never seen a game that didn't end with fuming resentment in a very bad way, but on the upside I've seen a reduction in my christmas card budget. " 

James: "A glaring omission from paul would be Kings of Mithril, a game that already survived a trip on the ferry back from Essen, but in retrospect should have been jettisoned to perhaps speed up the trip by a second...
Next up Ghooost!, by the same designer of king of Tokyo...picked it up on a flyer, played it once and somehow managed to sell it to the person I played with despite the game having all the subtlety of jeremy clarkson ordering coffee from a sub editor... Rubbish... And overboard.
Ok, with apologies to some of the locals but I have to add Greenland... Games can be random, or long... But rarely both. This manages to be both and seems to take some kind of delight in this. Greenland may not be underwater yet, but when the pole caps melt it's the first to go.
Ok, time for kickstarter... Kremlin... I picked up and original of this several years back at a car boot, and sold it for a song without playing... So jumped at the chance of having the ability to play the new soupped up kickstarter edition. Disappointing... An interesting concept, but just no game... I can't see what all the fuss was about, and why this game was considered sought after for the years it was oop... I'm guessing it was more the theme than that anyone had actually played it.
Lastly... Hmm... There were a lot of candidates of games I never actually played, but to keep this on personal experience I'll finish with The Red Dragon Inn.. A game I thought I'd like... A game I made a conscious effort to track down... A game I played once and sold. Given all the expansions this could cause some kind of tidal wave if they were all ditched in the channel at the same time... But the wiping out of a few coastal towns would be a worthwhile price if this game never again darkened the tables at Isleworth...
Cool. So Why is it that creating negative lists feels like more fun than positive ones

Paul A: "I've held back on my list, because there's not many games I consider a waste of cardboard. Certainly there are games I wouldn't play again, but I got something out of them, even if it was just company. So what would I throw overboard?
* Talisman (Revised 4th Edition): random, over-wrought, over-extended bullshit that just never ends. For a fast game, roll a d6. Whoever gets the highest number wins.
* Fluxx wins a position due to having the kernel of an interesting idea (a game of ever-changing rules, as implemented in the far superior Nomic), but then using this to make a totally random game that also just goes forever.
* Panic Station wins a position for the most severe theme-mechanic mismatch ever seen in a boardgame. So there's aliens hiding amongst the crew, and you are periodically forced to trade your equipment with others, which might infect you, unless you have gasoline. And you're simultaneously a robot and a human. Don't like the game? It's because "you're not playing it right".
* I should be more tolerant of Munchkin but it's the favoured filler of some friends of mine. Thus I've played too many games of what should be a quick and fun filler, but instead turns into a 3 hour session of bash-the-leader. The relentless "zany" humour palls after the first hour.
* My final entry is just a global vote for the endless number of soulless Eurogames that have a truckload of systems (produce this, build this, auction this, add on stock speculation), trying to produce game depth with rules width. You know who you are. " 

Tash: "Since this question is a transparent attempt to get me to rant about some games I don't like, I am going to dodge it and try to save some games from deferrystration.
I see that Kremlin and Acquire are getting some grief. This is surely unfair. They are not bad games at all - they are just old, and time has passed them by. Would you throw your grandfather off a ferry, because he is boring now? NO! You would put him in a comfortable nursing home and ignore him while he and his pals reminisce about the days when they were fun. Surely that is a better fate.
Meanwhile Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island, Mysterium and Tales of the Arabian Nights are in danger of getting wet, simply because they are "not games", but rather just "story telling experiences". But nobody is suggesting they throw their James Bond DVD collection, collected works of Bernard Cornwell or Game of Thrones box set off a ferry, because they are "story telling". Nor is anyone throwing deckchairs and Mars Bars off the ferry because they are "not games". Unfair, I say.
OK I will chuck a game off the ferry. Tulipmania 1637. Quite simply the single worst game ever made in human history. For those who haven't played (hopefully everyone) this is meant to be a mediumweight combo-building economic euro, lasting 90-120 minutes. Unfortunately the play testers forgot to notice that, with the right opening (which seems obvious to me), there is a 1/12 chance of winning the game on your first turn. This is not easily houseruled away. Off the ferry with you!" 

This weeks question: "After the condemnation of Pictionary last week, what's your favourite party game... ?            

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