Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Stuck in the Shire (at least that's what my spellcheck keeps telling me)


Contributors: Daniel, Paul A

An extended edition of IBG last night with the meet starting at the earlier time of 5pm, and although we spent a lot of the extra time simply hanging out and chatting we managed to get more than the usual amount of gaming packed into the evening.

We started the evening with a bash at the exceedingly obtuse collection of crossword clues that is the Shire Games quiz. Neil was stuck on the last two questions but despite our efforts to confound him even further Paul A managed to suss out one of the answers for him. Nineteen down, and one to go!

Royal Goods made a return with guest member Richard picking the game up quickly despite Tomtoo's best attempts at being disruptive. Oh, the little scamp that he is.

We then delved into a five player game of CVlizations. I'm still not sure what to make of this one; the passive thief mechanic remains one of my least favourite ways to shoehorn 'interaction' into a game and it didn't help that I got pummeled heavily with this in the first couple of rounds. This put me in an awkward spot of having to buy whatever I could afford from the available idea cards regardless of whether or not they worked with the rest of my tableau. Despite being unable to create any synergy with my card purchases I still managed to romp to a convincing victory. So I managed to win pretty much by accident rather than design, even though I didn't feel like I was in with any sort of chance for most of the game. So I dunno, I like playing it but is it one of those over-balanced anyone-can-win-regardless games?

Codenames made the table once again, with Tom Juan and myself as the cluemasters. Given his opening clue, Tom clearly had a bit of confusion over which colour he was playing. For some reason I managed to be in an upward lucid cycle with my own clues which makes a change from the garbled nonsense that I usually spout when playing this. 

We were miles ahead with a single card left to go when Tom's word-hunters amusingly handed us our inevitable victory by selecting the card that I had already given an incredibly blatant clue belonged to us.

We also enjoyed a cracking game of Dark Moon, with some stellar moments. The highlight was everybody passing in turn on a difficulty 10 task we knew we could never make, which encouraged the infected to also both drop out, and then Tonio, last in turn order, decides to go ahead with it anyway and manages to one-shot it on his first roll.

We clocked who the bad guys were fairly early on despite Noel's very best "poker face" and Paul's rigid impression of a shop mannekin every time his motives were questioned. Despite riding very close to the wire at one point with a dodgy shields situation, the uninfected had a strong run for our first ever victory for the good guys.

What else? Machi Koro was in play for quite a while, that old Knizia classic Samurai made an appearance, we saved the world in Thunderbirds, plenty of Tabletop Curling action despite the wonky table messing up many shots, and some more stuff surely going on that I've missed.


* Table curling: a ridiculous, absurd game that is also a lot of fun. I am particularly enamoured of how they actually put little handles on the balls (stones?) and how they curve their way down the field.

* Dark moon: and us aliens nearly had you.

* Codenames: fun as ever. Not that the other team put up much of a fight.

* Warhammer Quest: interesting, although I still don't have much of a feel for it yet. It seems better than Pathfinder, which is increasingly colourless to me, with more choices. Like to get back to this.

* Thunderbirds: The Hood was defeated. This was my second outing with this game and improving in my eyes. I expect to find a copy in the hands of every 40-year man in the UK.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Short and Unpronouncable, there's a joke in there somewhere

Contributors: John B (well, sort of), Daniel (even less so I'm afraid), David (a bit more like it)

IBG once again relocated to the Town Wharf for the evening, but little is known of the proceedings with an unfortunately spartan set of reports. As we only know of two games that were played I will try to fill you in as best I can. 

I was surprised to discover that the exotically titled "Pi Mal Pflaumen" is not German for "pick my plums" but something more along the lines of "the rule of thumb". I can only guess that they are referring to Tom Thumb, who is the only Thumb that I know of apart from Mr. Leftie and Ms. RIghtie, and I'm still struggling with what his rules are and what they have to do with plums in the first place. I guess that Peter Piper once stuck his own thumb in a pickled plum, and therefore there is a sound link that suggests this is a game all about tongue twisters based on various fruits with the winner being the person left with the smallest fruit at the end. No, I don't have a clue what this is really about, but as John forgot to tell us all my rambling is the best you're gonna get for now.

The other game that was played was Dice Town, which I can reliably inform you, according to James at least, is not the same game as Dice City, which is the much larger conurbation situated further upstream and the alledged source of all the brown river water that we're not supposed to drink. Of course, I remember when all of this was just Dice Fields, as far as the eye could see, back when Dice Village was merely four pips and a tavern on the crossroads.

That's about it (apparently) so enjoy so plum-based art for now and see you next week!

Update: David has chipped in with some additional revelations on the night that (almost) never was.

With San Juan: Second Edition and Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game in full swing John B, Sarah and I settled down for a game of Dice City. A charming game of dice-crafting with multiple paths to victory. Each of us took a slightly different strategy with John B going for a combination of both military and trade routes whereas I had decided to build an engine to grab the high victory point trade ships, the only question was would I have time to implement my strategy. Sarah meanwhile had opted for something in between. After a while it reached the critical moment where John B could have ended the game but thankfully for me let the game continue a few more turns which allowed me to grab the much needed trade ships which propelled me to a close victory. I enjoyed it more than something like Machi Koro although it can feel like a bit of a solitaire experience with limited player interaction. There is also the element of luck with the dice rolls however there is always something to do and you never feel as though a poor roll screws your turn too badly with plenty of chances to mitigate these by spreading building placement. Even though I'm not a fan of the artwork and theme I enjoyed it enough to happily play it again as it's fast and fun with a lot of options.

Once we had finished we headed over to see that TomToo, Raj, Gareth and James B were struggling to overcome the dungeon in Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game (not to be confused with the far superior Warhammer Quest *ahem* wow) whereas the other table had finished up San Juan: Second Edition and rolled out El Grande only to be told they had to move downstairs as the upstairs was closing as they had just set up. Cue the mass migration of Spain.

I was feeling under the weather a bit but decided to watch TomToo et al fall at the final hurdle in Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game. It looked as though they came close with Gareth the last man standing before his eventual demise. After that I called it a night (and the year).

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Wombling Free with Mr. John B

Contributor: Daniel

A bijou nonet last night with some Essen stragglers and kickstarter fare making an appearance alongside some golden oldies.

Codenames, in which increasingly bizarre logic was applied to the cluemaster's inane ramblings, resulting in the usual catastrophes all round.

Forge Wars (?) or something or other. Busy KS business, Sarah looked like she wanted to be anywhere else but sat at that table, but James by all accounts managed to catch up on some shut eye, so there's a silver lining.

El Cabellero, which is basically Carcassonne with a points cost and a delayed scoring mechanism. Phillipe put all his effort into protecting one massive tract of land which gave me the freedom to extend my line of conquistador bastards into multiple scoring opportunities, a tactic which worked massively in my favour. Poor David was boxed into a corner as a result of us flanking him on both sides and struggled to break out.

Robinson Crusoe, new to both David and Phillipe, great to get this corker out again. We were repeatedly kicked in the balls for much of the game with snake bites, broken arms, and vicious attacks from dive-bombing Finches. In fairness, we did eat all their baby-eggs.

Exploration and scavenging were a real struggle, particularly as we kept drawing events that exhausted our supply of driftwood and food, but the upside was building up a nice fat stack of wild animal cards along the way. We kept morale up as high as possible so that, as the Soldier, I could afford to go hunting as soon as possible, and Chef David could keep us from starving. Philpetto the carpenter (yes, he's a real boy) was able to get our shelter up with roof and all just in time for the bad weather, which led to only minor starvation and hypothermia. Despite going right to the wire (and when does this game ever finish easily?) we managed to complete the scenario with a victory - hurrah for us!

Underground, Overground, some sort of Womble game anyway, where John B, Tom Lee Travis, and Raj built happy little villages only to subsequently send all the cheery inhabitants to meet their terrible fate in a dungeon of doom. Seems to be one of those games that is on the zeitgeist of putting paragraphs of flavour text into Eurogames, leaping forward into game design circa 1987. What will those crazy guys get up to next, day-glo nylon socks and hugging strangers in a remote Hampshire field?

Plus there was also Automatica (or something), wherein the Wombles switched to car production in what appeared to be an insanely busy yet seemingly intuitive game about production chains and making vroom-vroom noises.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Isleworth Boardgamers get lost in time, space, and mumble mumble mumble

Contributors: Daniel, David

To get the evening started, an IBGer who shall remain nameless persuaded us to try out his latest purchase Die Fiesen 7 which I think is German for "surely you can all count up to seven right? I mean, there's only three rules in this game, it isn't difficult or anything." The activity here is to basically count up to seven and then back down to one again, except sometimes you don't say a number, and at other times you have to mumble into your hand. It is a total load of crap and comes to an end when somebody becomes so bored by proceedings that they can no longer be bothered to keep track of where the count is currently at. I mean really, you only have to count to seven and back, and that is the extent of the entertainment. Off the poop rail with ye!

Next up, I joined Tom Juan and Original Flavour James in a bash at the much-hyped TIME Stories. It's difficult to provide a session report for this that doesn't give the game away, so I'll focus on the overall impression that the game made on me. I like the concept but found that the gameplay was very linear with the game leading us all the way through. Maybe we were just a bunch of idiot savants when it came to this game but our first play concluded with an 'Heroic' success within just a couple of hours. Everything just seemed to be so obvious, inclusing the rather silly moment involving a sink plunger that we knew wasn't going to end well but decided to follow through anyway. The game uses a system of tokens that look like very simple QA codes, and they could have exploited this system very easily to implement branching pathways. However, they haven't got anywhere past changing the text slightly to discern which way you came into a room, or whether or not you've been there before, which is a complete waste of potential. Ultimately, it ends up being a very straightforward story that slavishly repeats all the Lovecarftian cliches you hope they would avoid. Even so, it was kind of interesting to play despite being quite a shallow pool to paddle in, however I can't say that I have been left with much desire to play any of the other 'adventures' that are being released for this system.


We started the evening with Coup: Guatemala 1954. I play a lot of regular Coup and Coup: Reformation so have wanted to try this out for a while and I wasn't disappointed. It mixes things up by removing the fixed roles of Coup and adds a large number of different variants, I can imagine no two games being the same. Myself, Jon, Noel, Peter and Magnus started with the Radio Operator, Banker, Secret Police, Missionary and US Consulate as the characters. After a round where four people claimed the banker we soon reached the stage where myself and Jon were targeted by Coups. I used the Secret Police on Magnus but then unwisely called his bluff when he claimed to have the Telegraph Network and was knocked out quite early. After Jon and then Peter were eliminated it came down to Noel who had the last Secret Police but waited until he had 7 Coins to use Coup to finish off Magnus. After playing this I'm not sure I would want to play regular Coup that much now and is something I would love to pick up.

After Dan, Tom and James settled down for an evening of T.I.M.E Stories the rest of us split into two tables. TomTom, Raj and Magnus went for the new Fury of Dracula (Third Edition) whilst myself, Jon, Peter and Noel decided on San Juan (Second Edition). I believe I was the only one who hadn't played it before but I had played Puerto Rico so it wasn't that big a leap and was easy to pick up. I really enjoyed this one and is exactly the sort of game I enjoy, I started with the rather unspectacular Tower as my opening few hands were limited to expensive buildings meaning I had to play a bit of catch up. Although I managed to turn it around towards the end by utilising a Quarry and Carpenter Combo along with the Library. This allowed me to catch up but ultimately not enough. It ended with Jon on 30, Noel on 27 and myself and Peter on 25. Not sure how this game slipped past me all these years but I thought it was great and is another game I would want to play again.

As both T.I.M.E Stories and Fury of Dracula (Third Edition) were still going on we ended the evening with a game Pictomania. My drawing/scribbling hasn't improved although hats off to Noel for guessing Horseradish Sauce from my misshapen attempt at a horse and bulbous radish.

After that I headed home whilst the games continued.