Wednesday, 19 August 2015

From Russia with confusion


Contributors:  Tom One, Dan, David

We kicked off the evening with a six player version of Mascarade. Mike, David and I had played before and the others picked it up quickly so it ran along at a nice pace. Gareth won out at the end due to a solid 50/50 call on whether he was the King or Bishop. Once you know what you're in for and let yourself go in terms of not being able to properly track who you are (I was genuinely surprised at one point when David was outed as the Witch), there's a lot to like here. The fact that it's so flexible on player count makes it a great opener too.
After the planned game of Viceroy was aborted as it would have left Dan and Andy out to dry, Fauna was chosen as it would accommodate five. The large game of Codenames finished up soon after however and Gareth abandoned ship to play Shadowrift, "a co-operative Dominion". **shudder** This left me, Dan, Andy and John to restart Fauna as a foursome with the decision made that finding out the weights of chimpanzees was no fun - we wanted the harder stuff. Bring on the Pumpkin Toadlet and the Aardwolf! This game was a total blast. Lots of jokes about measuring with hands, aardwolfs camouflaging themselves as zebras, gigantic hog-nosed bats, Liam Neeson and the prevalence of all species in Indochina. I won in the end thanks to a mega round based on my knowledge of the Mountain Tapir's residency in the Andes with Dan (a far more worthy winner) behind me by one point.

Next up was Viceroy, a game that I was excited to try out. Holy moses, this is a lot more complicated in reality than it seemed on paper. Four seems like too many as if you don't engage in multi-player solitaire, you have to spend a lot of time keeping track of what others are doing and trying to prevent them from that strategy, e.g. stopping Dan from acquiring a ludicrous amount of scrolls, straight victory points, swords, and pretty much everything else. He won, of course. Looks like ideal for two but, jesus christ, I would fear explaining it. I think that I'll stick with Splendor for now which does something similar but in a far more streamlined fashion. Or if I want card combo goodness, Elysium or Innovation.
Nefarious was next with Andy departing to be replaced by Sarah and Raj. Sorry, John, but this was just shit. The key part of the game is the twists which changes how the game will work out from play to play. However, the first play was so tortuous that I just couldn't stomach another go at it. Maybe we were just unlucky with the twist cards causing too much accounting but I doubt it.

No Thanks next (after Sarah had departed). Good fun - enhanced by Dan wickedly putting all of the cards in their correct order. He blamed his kids but we all saw through his ruse.
To finish up, Codenames as four player with Raj and me on one team and John B and Dan on the other. Team Awesome won both rounds due to Raj being on he same wavelength as me. Raj seems like such a nice normal bloke doesn't he? How on earth could he hide his true nature so well?
Despite playing a couple of stinkers (sorry John), and Dan being a grumpy pants (which he admitted!), it was a fun evening all told. Looking forward to my next pub quiz - have that question about the tail length of a Taking in the bag.


I wouldn't call Viceroy a stinker by the low bar of a Kickstarter game poorly translated from Russian into English. But, yes, it was a pretty poor game overall. Which is a shame as I thought, and still do, that the whole pyramid tableau thing was quite nifty.

Your comments on multiplayer solitaire are spot on I think, as that's pretty much how I played - just focussing on which of the cards I liked the most (firstly by the corner colours then on what kind of bonus I would get from sticking it in the matching place on the pyramid). It seemed to work alright with some crazy ass score at the end, there wasn't really any coherent strategy beyond trying to get tokens on the cards as that seemed like a good idea. Case in point, if I had paid closer attention to what I was doing I would have placed that 'law' card that doubled card tokens later in the game in a place that would have then added an extra thirty odd points to the score I got for my scrolls. Blimey.
I'm not saying that this is the one clear viable strategy or anything, but I really didn't give a fig about what anyone else was doing and I think my score would have suffered quite a bit if I had.

Nefarious was just terrible, sorry. Collect money tokens to convert into VPs, rinse and repeat. Can't afford the VP cards you drew? Tough, it's just going to take you an additional couple of rounds to be the winner and someone else might now get there before you. That was it really. I think there was a touch of hyperbole in describing it as fast and fun as it wasn't really either. Another Kickstarter game too I note.

Thank god I brought No Thanks along so we could play a properly finished and fully working game 


I really enjoyed Mascarade the two times I've played it. It's a great starter and really shines with more people as you lose track of who everyone is that much faster. Can't say I'm any good at it though.

After that was Codenames, first time as a caller and really felt the pressure. It's hard to come up with a clue for Queen, Copper and Bill when your team needs to guess the last three on their turn to stand a chance to win. Thankfully with a bit of luck we did. Really need people to be on the same wavelength or it can go badly wrong.

After that was my first game of Lifeboats, I decided to pick on Raj just because it was easy, unfortunately after all his men drowned he wanted revenge from beyond the grave which made getting any of my men ashore that much harder. It ended with Sarah winning, Mike second and then James and I tied for 3rd. I've now learnt that if you shaft someone it's best to do it towards the end so they don't have time to react.

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