Wednesday, 28 October 2015
Something untoward seems to have happened in the timestreams last week as the details of the evening of the 21st have been completely wiped from existence! Probably the work of some meddling kids or damned scientists... however, James has instead regaled us all with a picture book of Neil's Essen experiences and the various restraining orders he has collected as a result. Fortunately, whatever it was appears to have been only temporary as we are back with this week's exploits:
Contributors: Tom, David, Jon, Daniel
Between Two Cities kicked off the evening. I would play again but frankly would prefer to play Greed, Fairy Tale or 7 Wonders if want quick drafting fun and any number of other city builders. Perhaps 7 was just too many - think that 5 might be a sweet spot for this as have better idea of what everyone is doing. I had no clue what Paul and James were up to. Also, there was a distinct absence of "hate drafting" which this type of game really needs.
After some time spent staring at the plethora of games available, James stuck his oar in and suggested Baseball Highlights 2045. Dan and David took up the call. I've played before and love it but wasn't sure how the Hot Pepper game for 3 would work out. It was pretty good with three (not the greatest play count for a directly confrontational game) but with Dan pulling his sulky face, we quickly skipped out on the playoffs declaring the game a tie between me and David. A wonderful game nonetheless.
David then suggested the old classic, Family Business. A surprising amount of fun - lots of take that, swearing and self-destructive grudges (some carried over from BH - that'll teach to cancel my home run!). Again please. Dan won at a canter but at least I managed to bury David's Murder Inc before he wiped me out.
We were joined by Tonio and Magnus for a game of Dark Moon. First time with 5 at the club and it hasn't disappointed yet. This time, I was infected and quite frankly new boy Magnus was having a stormer as the commander, rolling positive results like a boss. In the meantime, Dan was constantly accusing me of being infected - the man could see into my very soul! Luckily, David was equally transparent as a fellow infected so, with the game moving more and more in favour of the uninfected, I chose to reveal my true colours and issue orders to David so that he could declare himself Infected and hit hard with an infected action. At which point, he oohed and aahed before taking dice! Had I misjudged the situation so badly? Nope - once the uninfected had canted to an easy win, David showed us that he was in face infected. Unfortunately, he was infected with plonker-itis which was not to my benefit
To finish off the evening, Good Cop Bad Cop. This really sang as a deduction game - especially due to the fact that if you declare yourself to be on one team then you draw the fire of everyone on the other team. As a result, you have to play your cards close to your chest when the game itself forces you to reveal those same cards if you want to take a meaningful action. Highlight: Dan shooting me despite my constant entreaties that I was on his side; I was but he didn't seem to care. The honest cops won both games - a triumph for good over evil all told.
EDIT: Another highlight was Magnus identifying David as "him with the glasses and hair". As opposed to Dan (no hair, no glasses), Tonio (no hair, glasses) and me (hair, no glasses). We were a veritable Guess Who.
Started with a seven player game of Between Two Cities. I rather enjoyed this although I can see it playing better with less people. I liked how you have to balance both cities and your neighbours have a vested interest in helping your city score well. It's also fast enough that you don't really notice the flaws. Would happily play again. (It also sounds like we dun goofed with the scoring)
After that myself, Dan and Tom moved onto Baseball Highlights: 2045. It took me a little while to grasp how runs were scored but once I figured that out I think I played a fairly decent game with enough screwing over the others whilst also scoring my own runs. Managed to catch Tom after his early breakaway although my pinch-hit luck helped. Would be something I would play again.
Then we moved onto Family Business. The version I have is bit ugly as it's long in the tooth now but it plays well and quickly. As Tom says there is lots of screwing people over and picking on the weakest as grudges are held and scores are settled. Plays well with more but was fun with three.
After that was Dark Moon with Tonio and Magnus joining us. It was my second game of it and I don't think I fared any better than the first. This time I was one of the infected and thought I would risk not revealing until the very end even though Tom set me up perfectly for it. It turned out to be a terrible decision although in my defence if two of my rolls had been negative the outcome could have been very different. Also Magnus rolling big positives and dominating as Commander didn't help the infected cause. Even with my poor decision making I had more fun with this than Battlestar Galactica last week. There are a lot more opportunities to screw things up and it's a lot faster.
To end my evening was a game of Good Cop Bad Cop. Dan was forced to reveal himself as an honest cop early on and then looked at my Agent card through interrogation. So we knew that two of us were honest and it was just a matter of weeding out the bad apples from the other three. Unfortunately this lead to some collateral damage as Dan shot Tom and then we convinced Magnus to turn his gun on Tonio. In the end it turned out Tonio was the only bad cop and the good guys won the day.
We also played Between Two Cities, this time with 5 players (me, Tonio, Carolina, Paul M and Magnus). This is cute mash-up of a puzzle / drafting / semi co-op game, which plays quickly and is highly inoffensive. Other people have commented that there is no 'hate-drafting' (true - but do we always have to hate each other, Tom? Can't we sometimes just all get along nicely together in the happy, flower-filled fields of gaming paradise that we inhabit...? ) And also that it doesn't play well with 7 (probably true, especially as the only real interaction with other is in terms of the amount of industrial units that you own.)
All in all, plenty of fun, which Carolina won handsomely, and I came equal last (although I scored identically for both cities, making me the most balanced individual in IBG.
Oh - and Paul D had managed to get 2 out of the 6 scoring rules wrong in the previous game, which we corrected for our game. It's tough being a perfectionist.....
And we also played 'LXM' - a prototype designed by Paul M himself, set in the heady world of insurance (general consensus - including Paul - good effort, but probably needs to go back to the drawing board with this one...)
And finally, the ubiquitous Trains. Carolina was new to it (although had obviously played a shed load of Dominion before.) We used the Germany map (as Carolina's home country of Poland was on there - although she disputed the geographical location portrayed on the map.)
And given this 'home country advantage' she proceeded to wipe the floor with Paul M and myself, storming to a 12 point victory courtesy of some nicely used Temporary Timetables (draw 2 more train cards from the deck)and enough cash to buy several shiny new Stadia (6 points each). Next time we play the 'Norfolk' map......
Tabeltop Curling - I'm calling it now as the best game of Essen '15, even though it's actually six or seven years old which speaks volumes about the poor limping specimens brought back this year. Actually, Royal Goods is okay, but it's only a filler - surely we can do better than this chaps? It looks like the year of tat so far.
A tale of two Toms - It's tough to decide which of the two Toms I was sat between was the most preferential. On one side, I had a Tom who was completely under Tonio's mesmerising spell, and the one on the other side was clearly little more than Paul's lickspittle. Despite the uphill struggle I was facing I managed to crawl into not last place, which is always a fine ambition. As a final ranking of the two Toms I can only say that Tom is one man's Pepsi, whilst Tom is another man's Coke. I understand there was also some sort of game being played too, but crikey it was a bit bland and tiresome once you got past the gimmickry of fielding two semi-co-operative tableaus.
Batball Highlights 2015 - I still have absolutely no clue as to what was going on in this game. I played some cards and this made some pegs go round and round; sometimes they went an extra space, but not always, for reasons that are still unclear to me. Apparently I won some of the matchups but I don't know how, and Tom tried to physically strangle me twice which is always a good sign that I'm doing something right
Family Business - Tom and David were too busy taking out their frustrations on one another, and like all good peacemakers I encouraged their enmity, allowing them to grind each other down to almost nothing before stealing the advantage to stamp them both down whilst they were woefully vulnerable would play again.
Dark Moon - David wins the award for most hapless villain of the year, as well as a Golden Raspberry for his acting prowess; he was still naively, and hilariously, trying to convince us of his innocence well past the point of the rub, but completely unable to hide has disappointed sad face after roling only positives on his dice. Meanwhile, Tom was sat next to him performing histrionics of Shatnerian proportion, and all this on top of the infected managing to convince Commander Magnus to release David from quarantine even though we knew who the bad guys were from pretty much the first round.
Good Cop, Bad Cop - "It's nothing like The Resistance, honest" says Tom, and he was right this is absolutely llight years better than any of the turgid old shouty finger pointing games of the past. More of this again please!
Wednesday, 14 October 2015
Contributors: Daniel, Peter
The boys are back from their trip to the industrial heartland of Northern Germany, and it's no surprise to find that they came back with several new games to tempt us all. So we expected an Essen themed evening and the boys did not fail to disappoint!
On my arrival there were some goats that were climbing a mountain of dice, quite the spectator sport it appears too. I have no idea which game this was but it involved lots of dice rolling and some kind of take-that interplay with jockeying Goateeples into positions on a race track up the side of a mountain. We then split into two tables, one with Mobeigea and t'other with CVlizations. Can't speak much for the former (I'm sure one of the lads will pop in soon to tell us how it is already game of the year, for this week at least), but CVlizations is nothing like CV other than sharing similar art direction (fortunately so in my opinion).
Jon and Raj turned up so we split again into a pair of threes and ended up with The Bloody Inn on both tables. After playing the rather flighty and straightforward combo based CVlizations, The Bloody Inn felt like Bloody Hard Work. Not sure what to make of this one, I thought it was okay but a real grind and we weren't even playing with the full rules either! The art and graphic design is great, the setting is oddball yet interesting, but the game itself I'm just not sure about; it didn't seem to deliver enough enjoyment to pay back the effort that went in to playing, with no real sense of satisfaction in achieving anything other than managing to survive 'not enough actions to do what I want to do' (which in this game felt particularly cruel, as in there weren't enough actions to even get started on anything let alone finish).
Neil, Raj and I finished burying the bodies with enough time to squeeze in a tilt at Royal Goods, a spiritual sequal to Port Royal, which is a nice little filler from 'man on fire' Alexander Pfister about buiding a simple production chain. The decision points are pretty straight forward, do you specialise or diversify your engine and then you play the odds with what resources will be available in the marketplace (which can potentially stall your engine for that round). Plays quickly and easily, I think this will do the rounds for a while.
Ah yes, Mombasa...Game of the year, for this week at least...
Wednesday, 7 October 2015
Almost an awkward night last night as the first four people through the door neglected to bring any games with them Fortunately, both Gareth and I arrived with bulging bags.
We kicked off with a round of No Thanks before splitting into two tables. Gareth, Sarah, Anne, and John went all-night on BSG, they scarpered from the room pretty quickly at the end of the night so no idea who was the Toaster, or even which side won.
Meanwhile, Phil, Phil, Dan, and Dan built some castles in club favourite Castles of Mad King Ludwig. Phil played a calm game before stomping us all with massive scores on his bonus cards. Even so, it was a tight finish with just a few points separating us all.
Philippe, Dan, and I then played Mag-Blast, in which we broke the manufacturers recommended play time due to a fair amount of misplaced strategic consideration. All good take-that fun with plenty of Pew-Pew laser sounds involved, but really benefits from being played at a breakneck pace.
We weren't able to fit Stone Age in as intended so instead went off to save the Multiverse again, with Dan in full 'robot from the future' mode as he totally got into the character of Omnitro-X. Apparently this is Dan's favourite new game, who would have thought a Co-Op would delight him so much?
Time and memory is mixing up the two games of this that we played in successive weeks, but I think that the one last week was against Citizen Dawn in Insula Primalis (in other words Magneto in Jurassic Park) where Haka became MVP by using the dark side of his powers to consume a great deal of her army of super-powered Citizens into savage Mana. This prevented Dawn from flipping her character card, which makes her invulnerable to damage until she has had an opportunity to rebuild her army, and allowed the heroes to grind her down in short order.
This week's game was a showdown against Voss, an intergalactic warlord and emporer of a thousand suns, at the Wagner Mars Base. Depsite bringing out one of his big ships and flooding us with a Forced Deployment of several of his minions we held him in check relatively easily and sent him packing back to Dok'Thorath.