Wednesday, 9 March 2016

No Jam, plenty of Jerusalem

Contributors: Daniel, David

A cosy night where we welcomed new member Ken to his first night, here's hoping he enjoyed the games he played!

To kick things off we played Villainef, Vilainex, Villaine%, or whatever the heck the weird Klingon letter at the end was. In summary: don't feel bad David, it only cost you a fiver whistle

Then Codenames had a whirl, we decided it would be a little unfair to have English speakers on one side and non-natives on the other so Ken and Sandra were guessing at David's clues and Magnus and I teamed up with James II. An early boo-boo on David's team meant that we coasted to a comfortable win, which was fortunate as it was difficult to connect more than two words at a time.
Jerusalem was set up on one table with David, Ken, Lucas, and Sandra, and followed up with 'that game with the cats' There were plenty of cheers and groans going on so there must have been some thrills and spills in the one-upmanship of the area-majority Jerusalem; either that or they just all really love cartoon drawings of cats.Meanwhile, James v.1.0 joined myself, Magnus, and 'nice' James for Asteroyds. 

Magnus looked like he was going to race to a quick and comfortable victory until he fell foul of forgetting which way his ship was pointing and inadvertantly took in the scenic route. Given that the rest of us managed to explode our ships once or twice each during the game he technically won by default, but in order to stop the game from being not-fun we limited damage to one hit per turn so that we could all stay in to the end. 

James v.1.0 was sadly disqualified at the end, and downgraded to James v.0.9 as a result, due to 'subversive interference' in other player's programming boards. This left me as the first ship home, but far from victorious given the reckless abandon with which I slammed into obstacles along the way. 'Fairplay' James seemed content to fly into a corner and perform loops to the delight of the crowd, before remembering there was a race on and speeding off toward the nearest gate, unfortunately flying smack into a rock after a slight miscalculation. 

With Jon replacing Magnus we moved onto that hoary old classic Thurn Und Taxis - "Great game, shame about the themzzzzz" 

James v.0.9 went all in for the grey bonus for the mainland. I've always felt that doing that in the early game is a bit like trying to conquer Asia in risk; it looks impressive when you pull it off but requires you to sink so much time and resource that the pay-off is questionable. After chomping down the big fella he then set out to collect an 'all regions' bonus but was torn between short routes to get his carriage size up and long routes for better efficiency and bonus scores. 

I focused on the smaller bonuses available on the right hand side of the board instead, laying a nice route along the bottom of the map that gave me three colours right on the second turn, then using the wheelwright action with another short route to quickly claim my second carriage upgrade. This left me free to tilt at building long routes for the rest of the game. I worked on completing the 'Beer' connections through Budweis and Pilsen so that I could grab the first red/orange bonus, and building out a long route from Lodz through the middle of the map which gave me the 'all regions' bonus very early on. Beyond that point I was just trying to shift my remaining post offices to finish up the game, collecting as many other bonus tokens on the way as possible (including the third mainland one after Jon pipped me to the second).

Speaking of Jon, he spent most of the early game on the opposite side of the board to me and collected bonuses for both purple and green routes, before switching focus to the mainland. It was a slow but purposeful game for him and despite an apparently slow start he started to come into contention for a good score as things progressed.

Meanwhile, 'not-James' James seemed to run aground with this game; I'm sorry to say that I've never seen someone skirt with a negative score before, but he did manage to bring things together enough to land a single digit in the positive. So, what went wrong? I personally blame a Ticket-to-Ride influence as he tried to hold his routes for too long without keeping a safety card in hand. The two games have a similar feel but with TTR your route is protected while you collect cards, and Thurn Und Taxis is unforgiving in it's urgency.

Having to scrap a route is often a warning sign that you ar going to struggle and he had to trash three of them, which suggests that he was focusing on the current turn rather than thinking ahead to the next one. He also used the option of flushing the market an awful lot; although you usually have to do this a couple of times in a game, it's wasteful when you consider that your opponents are meanwhile drawing and playing additional cards and getting ahead of you as a result. I think he would have been more competitive if he had claimed a couple of shorter routes and more often gone with the flow of what was available than trying to build an ideal route.

The end scores were a comprehensive victory for my momentum-building approach, with James v.0.9 and Jon trailing almost as far behind as 'Lost in the Post' James was behind them. Funnily enough, nobody placed a single post office in Basel so those poor folk had to walk all the way to Zurich to collect their giros.

With almost everybody scarpering to an early exit, Jon, James v.0.9 and I settled down to a couple of quick games of No thanks! (James won so he should be happy now) and Wyatt Earp (I won without realising due to miscounting my stack of cash, although there was a lot of confusion surronding the hybrid mix of rulesets that we were using so Jon would probably have been in with a better shout).

See ya next week!


Started the evening with a game of Villannex with James B, Dan, Magnus and myself. As Dan eluded to this game has a number of issues. I'm sure there is a perfectly serviceable game in there somewhere but the Engrish and confusing rules don't help. A micro-game which is more about the end game scoring and should take no more than a minute or two turns into a guessing game about what badly translated rules mean.

An example laugh

After Sandra and Ken turned up we moved onto a game of Codenames and then split into two tables. On our table Sandra, Ken, Lucas and myself played a game of Jerusalem. An area control game set during the crusades where players bid for offices which dictate player order. Players then vie for control of different areas of Jerusalem such as the King's Palace, Market Place and Nobility whilst trying to build the largest tower in the city. It was a fairly close game with early fights over the Kings Palace and Market Place between Ken, Lucas and myself whilst Sandra controlled the Nobility and used it to strip prestige points from me. 

A couple of nasty events threw Ken and I out of the Kings Palace and Market Place but allowed us to wrestle control from a few of Lucas' and Sandra's locations. Towards the end it was obvious that Sandra had managed to cling onto enough power to hold the Nobility and parts of the Kings Palace that then allowed her to build the sixth and winning level of her tower. Ken came second by building his fifth level whilst Lucas and I were tied having only managed to build four levels. It's a good game and one that slipped under the radar a few years back.

After that was a quick game of Exploding Kittens. The box makes a meowing sound and the game

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