Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Lunacy is a serious business at IBG

Contributors: Paul D, Daniel, David

After we'd be suitably humbled by James' well put together but challenging picture quiz (apart from Tom II who would do well on mastermind if 'game fonts' were ever a subject), Dan got us Loony Questing, gallantly stepping aside to watch us draw lines on a clear film which supposedly mapped onto maps with good stuff (to collect) and bad stuff (to avoid). Lots of fun and very challenging. And the only game of the evening which Paul won. Infinite expansion possibilities beckon.

Two long ones and a flurry of fillers last night!
James, Phil, and Paul Moosie were mystified by terra all night long, whilst Dom, Tom, Raj, and James II raged about the blood for a similarly end-to-end event.

Meanwhile, I setttled down with John, David, and Mr. Dawsey for a round of Kakerlaken Poker while we waited for Alex to park his Ambulance and pop on over to the pub. John appeared to be mystified by the point of the game until he suddenly cracked into a series of irrepressible chuckles when the penny finally dropped. Poor David was stuffed twice with royal cards and brought the game to an end. We then started on Celestia which Alex jumped into halfway through - despite his late arrival he still did better than half the rest of the table. David's bluffing skills seemed to improve immensely, however his propensity to crash the flying ship by pushing it one cloud too far was ultimately his undoing and John romped to a convincing victory.

David, Alex, and John wanted to play a card game David had brought along set in the time of the Medici but I'll let him fill you in on that one. Paul and I wanted something a little shorter so we plumped for that old classic Carcassonne with traders, inns, and cathedrals mixed in. It was a predictably vicious affair with a couple of meeple blocked out on either side in the early game, and two massive cathedral cities that were blocked from being finished. Paul trumped me on the biggest meadow by sneaking in his mega-meeple but the end score ultimately went against him.

We finished up with a quick bash at Soccer 17. Paul, playing as Italy, went ahead early and kept the pressure up, but struggled to further his score in the first half despite another couple of good runs. France equalised in the opening minutes of the second half with a rebound into the net and had control of the ball for most of that half, but neither side could progress to a good shooting opportunity. 

The game went to a penalty shoutout where Paul 'did a Southgate' and punted over the bar. Triples all round for Les Blues!


After the warm up games John showed an interest in The Prince: The Struggle of House Borgia so myself and Alex joined in. A card game set in Renaissance Italy with a lot of bloody cut-throat backstabbing treachery. Each player chooses a family and then starts with five cards. The cards vary between play immediately and hold in hand with an imbalance on the play immediately cards. Players can play cities and then fill these with famous artists and other positions of power such as offices of state. The artists and offices of state then provide money and victory points if they can held for the round.
Each turn players auction off cards from a set pool for the round then play cards and attack other players. Mercenary armies provide the ability to seize cities as well as assassin cards to kill off other player's high value assets. It's a very tight game with little choice so when you do have a choice to make it's critical you get it right. Play the wrong card at the wrong time and it's hard to come back from. There are so few hold in hand cards it makes them even more valuable and critical for success. Throw in the ability to vote for a pope and distribution of offices and cardinals and it can feel as though there is a power imbalance.

John started as pope and swiftly built up a good hand of mercenary armies and spies whereas Alex and I set about building cities and hiring artists. This allowed John free reign to seize our land and kill our artists unimpeded. When it came to the second turn I made the mistake of voting for John to remain Pope whereas Alex had voted for me. John then set about continuing to seize more land from me as he and Alex had a marriage arrangement that prevented them from fighting each other. By the third and final round it was clear John had crushed us with Alex coming in a respectable second while I had to pick up the scraps in third.

This is a brutal game with no room for error and it's difficult to overturn a powerful opponent as there is often very little choice. Once someone has seized power by turn two it would require a concerted joint effort to roll that player over. I can imagine it would play slightly better with four of five but would also take a lot longer.

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