Wednesday, 11 November 2015

A Rinky Dink time at IBG

Contributors: Daniel, Paul D, David

 Another balmy November evening, we'll be turning up in short sleeves and flip flops one of these nights, and another big crowd with four tables on the go at one point.

I kicked off the night with a few rounds of the future game of the year (tm); Soren played a much better game of it than I did but left the door open for my final rock to cruelly bump him out of his winning position. Still loving this one.

Then a great deal of dithering was had over which games would be played, eventually settling for Inhabit the Earth, Burgle Bros. and Caylus. Some last minute stragglers came through the door but I have no idea what they got up to.
Burgle Bros was intense with thoroughly deserved italics. There is a multi-level dungeon tower block in which your adventurers spies are trying to steal three precious items whilst avoiding the traps alarms and roaming monsters security guards. As you progress the guards begin to speed up, and triggering alarms sends them on a bee-line to your current location (which you sometimes want to happen to prevent them going to a place you want them to avoid). The tiles that make up each level start off both random and blind with the risk that entering a tile without first of all peeking at it can sometimes cause catastrophic reactions, which Tom's nose-dive off a balcony can attest to. You have three evasion tokens which are effectively 'lives'; you lose one each time you are 'caught' by a guard and everyone loses the game if someone is caught without any tokens left.

You also have to explore most of each level in order to be able to collect the treasure so there is a tense game of cat-and-mouse as you try to keep everyone out of the guards path while gradually opening up as much of the map as is needed.

I get the impression that higher player counts make the game harder as there is more chance of being caught by the roaming guards with four movements between each of your turns, and we spent the last few rounds trying to avoid losing rather than productively chasing victory. Eventually we failed on the final floor a good few turns short of being able to collect the last of the treasures and make our escape from the rooftop.

It also turned out to be quite a long game when I think it might be more suited to filler or short game length; it was enjoyable though and I'll play it again.

Royal Goods did it's thing again; Dom picked up the game very easily and put in a good show, but Tom took the win leaving me frustrated at being a single assistant short of matching his score (darn lack of yellow cards, grumble grumble).

We then had a couple of rounds of Fake Artist played the proper way - a single shared picture and not allowed to remove your pen from the paper. Highlights were the world's weirdest looking Duck, James' "no, no, you go first" moment as the fake artist, and the fact that neither Sandra or her sister appear to have been in a pub before despite beer pretty much being invented in Germany and, erm, them sitting in one at the time. 


Tom, Alex, James III and I also played a game of codewords at the start. Love this game and the challenge of coming up with words to tie two or more other words together (not ever wanting to settle for the easy way out with just one answer). 'Lemon' and 'Egypt' were two that I struggled with on Wednesday, and 'sharp' almost did it... but not quite (James wasn't visualising the top of a pyramid in the same moment as me).
I joined the Burgle Bros game with a bit of trepidation as I have seriously fallen out of love with cooperative games in recent times (as my snooze during Robinson Crusoe and badly hidden Scowl in Sentinels of the Multiverse show). I find that it's very difficult to either avoid the alpha gamer scenario or avoid a scenario where one person isn't holding the others back and they try not to be the alpha gamer, but you can tell that they want to get on with things in 'their way', or even just let one player do things because they really want to even if it isn't best for the game. But I liked the artwork and the 'heist' theme so took the tentative step. (BTW - I felt that the theme was great and came through naturally, and I'm not sure that a dungeon is the appropriate 'default' theme for games of this genre - or at least I hope not).

AND I REALLY LIKED IT. Maybe because it was the first play for us all, it seemed to be very balanced in terms of player input, but I think that it was actually a very well thought through, well themed game, in which I felt like I was creeping around a building trying to avoid guards and look out for my buddies and escape with the goodies. And yes I also felt the intensity that Dan mentioned. There were many times when we thought we'd had it cracked and were just about to get away with it, but then someone took an unnecessary risk, fell through the floor, or triggered an alarm that we didn't expect so the guard came rushing in. I liked the combination of puzzle, coop and theme so much that I'd even play it again. Thumbs up from me.


After a bit of umming and erring myself, Jon, James III and Alex decided on a game of Caylus. Even though it's been around for some time now I've never had the opportunity to play it until now. A great worker placement game with resource management and some player interaction. Jon had great timing utilising and maximising the King's Favour to take a sizeable lead whilst Alex played a longer game by concentrating on buildings and attempting to control what was being built. Whereas James and I went for a mixed strategy that didn't really pay off. In the end Jon won comfortably, James pipped me to second place and Alex ended last, although a couple more turns would have seen Alex's strategy pay off but unfortunately he ran out of time.

The high point of the game was convincing Alex that I wouldn't move to Provost and encouraging him to move it up to prevent James from activating the Gold Mine only for me to then stab him in the back and move it up further to prevent him from activating a big resource producing building. Thankfully there was a table between us laugh

It's a wonderful game and something I would happily play again.

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