Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Murder, deceit, and men in tights

Contributors: Daniel, David, Paul D

 Murder! Trains! Superheroes! And bland themeless cardgames! Yes, the full gamut of gaming was on show last night.

Deep Sea Adventure was on the go so I set up Wyatt Earp with Sandra and Raj. We thought we'd bought into something that was going to end up being a bit more than a filler but had nothing to worry about as Sandra wiped the floor with us in a comfortable second round victory.

Ticket to Ride: UK was leapt apon like itchy trigger fingers at a buzz-in game show, so the rest of us milled around a bit before settling on games of Loop Inc. and San Juan, the latter being a rematch for Sandra, David, and I, in which I answered the question that nobody was asking: what do you get when you cross a Market and a Library with a Harbour and a Bank? A: a landslide victory. 

We were then persuaded to try out the card game version of Alhambra. A deep and rich historical game with emergent storytelling about the craftsmen of oh god I can't do this. It's one of the blandest set collecting games I've ever seen, a dry activity wrapped up in a veneer of faux gameplay. Splendor does similar stuff much better than this I'm afraid. Some points were scored, I think Sandra won this one.

We had a bash at Sushi Go! wherein people demonstrated their confusion between left and right, and also the difficulty they face in counting up to two. Several rounds of GotY (tm) Tabletop Curling, and a decidedly one-sided debut for superhero smackdown Sentinel Tactics. 

Jury's out on this one - it's fun to play but crikey both games were so one sided I felt sorry for the losing teams, particularly in that second game where Raj and Lucas were completely brutalised and barely had time to stand up before being flattened again. For some reason, being an evil mastermind seems to suit Phil. 
Thinking there must have been something wrong I checked out the rules later on and, sure enough, we had messed up a bunch of stuff that would have made it a bit easier for the team that were on the ropes.


Arrived to find Neil, Philip and Paul A starting a game of 11 Nimmt! so I jumped in. A fun filler where you have to discard your hand with just the right mix of luck and timing which Paul A showed us as he successfully discarded his entire hand to claim victory.Jon and Paul D then turned up so we set up a six player game of Deep Sea Adventure. I decided to play it safe this time by grabbing as much early loot as possible and turning back after my first pick up. This seemed to work well as I made it back each round with just enough loot to propel me to a close victory. There was an awful lot of double ones rolled by those who delved too deep as I watched from the safety of the submarine. It's a tiny box filled with a great game.

As Wyatt Earp was still in progress on the other table we decided on Deception: Murder in Hong Kong. This is the third time in a row I was given the murderer role but thankfully I had a good selection of random items in front of me. I selected the Light Bulb and Injection as my 'Murder Clue' and 'Means of Murder'. I think the others were on to me fairly early on by correctly guessing that Injection was the Means of the Murder but they were fixated on my Leaf that allowed me to bluff a little and encourage some incorrect guessing. I just about survived this one as all the clues were used up on on incorrect calls. 

After that Sandra, Dan and I decided on San Juan (Second Edition). I decided on a different strategy this time, one that didn't involve a Chapel, at least to start with. Deciding on the production route with a Harbour. This didn't really work as I only saw a couple of production buildings and the Harbour wasn't paying out as well as I thought it would so I flipped to the chapel strategy half way through in desperation. Dan meanwhile was not only stacking up lots of points under his Harbour but also stuck ten points in the bank leaving Sandra and I to fight for second place. In the end Dan won comfortably with Sandra second whilst I trailed in last place. I think I'll go back to the short draw Chapel strategy next time laugh  
After that I suggested Alhambra: The Card Game. A simple set collection game that requires you to buy buildings with just the right amount of money. There's pretty much no depth here as you're reliant on a lot of luck and timing. It could also be themed as anything so it's not surprising to see it re themed as the New York Card Game and The Nederland Card Game. Having said that there's something I really like about it. Its set collection and its simplicity and it's also quite fast (or supposed to be). Although I don't think I'll try and convince Dan to play again laugh

To end my evening was a game of Sushi Go!. A card-drafting game with fantastic artwork. It's fast and fun and so fast that at times Raj and I were about two turns ahead of everyone else laugh. I really like this one and should probably pick myself up a copy considering how cheap it is.

All in all another good evening.


Ticket to Ride: UK

Paul D, Paul A, Neil and Jon took no time at all in deciding that they’d like to try the excellent new TTR double map, the only question was whether they’d try the stock options with Pennsylvania or technology upgrades with the UK (although surely it should be ‘British Isles’ - I’ve no doubt that our Irish friends would object). Jon, Paul D and Neil had played them both, Paul A neither, and the previous plays of both sides had all been positive so it was a random choice to play UK.

The key thing in the UK is the locomotive cards because you need them to buy technology. Everyone starts with at least one, but Paul D got lucky as he had two extra ones, allowing him to snap up one of only two cards to draw three from the top of the deck, instead of the normal two. Jon got the other one very soon after, while Neil was bemoaning the lack of locos is his sweaty mit.

All players started their railway empires in the South East (it’s the UK - they’re railroads here), with Paul A and Neil hitting France quite soon. Paul got another technology that gave him an extra point for all routes he laid and set about laying lots of little ones in the home counties, the midlands and East Anglia. 

Jon ventured up to Scotland for some longer routes making the most of his three card pickups. Paul A eventually spread to most countries. Neil eventually collected enough to build the unique Southampton New York routes which catapulted him into the lead by some margin with a 40 point haul. That scuppered Paul D’s plans as he was quietly getting the cards together to do the same thing. However a thought occurred to him which was that he would buy the technology that allowed him to double up on routes for a whopping four locos. Jon was laying like crazy and Paul was glad that he noticed the diminishing number of trains after he’d picked up two new routes. He’d just got enough trains to get the extra technology plus the Southampton > NY route but was hoping to use that as his last go and surpass everyone else, but he knew he could’t wait else Jon’d beat him to it, so executed his master stroke to make sure it actually happened, and then a couple of turns later got shot of his last trains to bring the game to an end just before Jon.

Neil missed a couple of big routes. Paul A finished just above him. Jon got lots of routes but Paul D was sufficiently in the lead to not be bothered as he had secured the victory.

Result: 1st Paul D, 2nd Jon, 3rd Paul A, 4th Neil

Machi Koro with all the expansions.

The TTR players wanted a relatively short game to occupy the time for their fellow players to finish another game and settled on Machi Koro with ALL of the expansions. Plus a few rules variants which did indeed keep the game flowing where previously is may not have, namely that 10 stacks of cards are available at all times, and also that at least three of these cards must be under 6 (for the single die rollers, which everyone is at the start).

The deck was a monster and after an hour it was still a fairly tall stack.

Neil decided to ditch his red card strategy, which got him victory many years ago but has failed him despite his loyalty to it ever since. He went for a two dice and invested in many high value cards for big points, but alas they were never rolled (well they were 11s and 12s), rolled only by himself.
Paul A picked up Neil’s strategy of red cards, and had a few French Restaurants but as building was slow and these cards rely on other players building being in place, he took a while to see any return on them.

Jon got lots of wheat fields and carefully scraped together enough cash for his 22 coin building early on, which set alarm bells ringing, but that was probably the pinnacle of the game for him. He had lots of wheat fields and at the start rolled a lot of 1s, but this petered out as the game went on.

Paul D had a spreads of cards, but stayed on 1 dice for the whole game, although he did have a few higher blue and red cards to benefit from other people’s higher rolls. He rolled a lot of 4s. He had a lot of cards to give him money for 4s. So he bought the airport at 30 coins for his first scoring build, and then he was able to get 10 coins on each of his non building turns. That and income from 4s allowed him to amass enough to buy scoring buildings from the highest value down to the lowest, which was the first time he’d ever done that but was enough to give him victory.

And at the end there were still stacks of cards left.

Scores: Winner Paul D, Not winners Jon, Neil and Paul A.

And before anyone comments, “yes I did really win - 2 games, however unusual that is”, “yes I enjoyed it”, “yes I’m only writing them up to preserve it forever and that's why I'm not writing anything about the diving game, table curling or the one that's 100 times better than mysterium”.

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