Contributors: Daniel, David
The evening was humid and dark
The twilight was met with the heat of the day
The night was damp and not very light
Ahh, whatever, opening lines are always a bitch. It was bloody hot in the Riverview Room last night but ten of us struggled through all the same.
We welcomed two new members last night, Steve and Clive, who joined myself and Andy for Castles of Ludwig followed by Plus and Minus, then Andy and I finished off the evening with a combination of The Networks and some text message finger wagging as we went a bit over time.
Both Steve and Clive are adamant that they've never seen Castles before but managed to do the rest of us up like a bunch of smoky Herring breakfast treats. Clive seeminly took an unusual strategy of buying whatever the cheapest room was each round, but it turned out that he was just the Alan Titchmarsh of renaissance Germany and was going after all the cheap gardens for an endgame bonus score. We gave Steve a little reminder here and there about placing in order to score room connections effectively and he stormed into a strong early lead after completing some purple rooms that were returning double digits.
Andy got in first on the downstairs rooms and the swine manipulated the market to capitalise on my low cash flow to ensure I couldn't quite grab the tiles we were competing on. In return I swiped a couple of bedrooms that I knew he was after as well as pinching a paticular yellow food room that would have fitted pefectly into a gap in his layout providing two extra actions while also completing a blue room - no way I was going to let that one stay in the market for him! He had a very neat and attractive looking castle by the end but the good looks were marred by an ugly score. Having to go one better as always, I made sure my score was even more of a bete than a belle, struggling with a castle full of dead ends and a handful of bonus cards that were scoring me nothing as those annoying buggers I was playing with kept taking the tiles I needed - one in particular would have scored me twenty-odd points in various bonuses but Andy put it into the cheapest slot and so, of course, Clive bloody well bought it instead.
So a somewhat lacklustre showing for the old hands with me on eighty-something and Andy about ten points ahead of me, Steve was well up over a hundred points but Clive streaked ahead in the endgame scoring to a convincing win.
Plus and Minus delighted again, a reversal in fortunes from Castles mainly due to the small but significant learning curve that you bump into regarding managing the number range that you aim to keep your pawns in.
Two player Networks, light and fun and still not showing any wear. Having played this quite a bit now the score ended up pretty lop-sided, however Andy got into the rhythm pretty quickly with some big scores in the later rounds and a good finish.
James B, myself and Sarah settled down for a couple of games whilst Raj hosted an all night game of Scythe for Gareth and Philip. On our table we started with Stockpile, James and I played this last week and we were keen to have another go. It's great fun. just the right amount of hidden information, push your luck and screwing people over. A couple of turns in James made a great move of selling six American Automotive shares at 9k each. This was pretty much the winning move with Sarah and I then playing catch up. I tried my best to screw James over and we both ended up screwing each other on one round with 6k trading fees in two of the three stockpiles. My laughing was short lived when I realised he had screwed me in exactly the same way. When it came to final scoring I did well on the end game bonuses which pushed me close but not close enough. James won with 124k, myself on 114k and Sarah on 70K, Sarah missing out on the bonuses and some bad luck with share prices rising after selling. The market can be a cruel mistress.
After that we played Kingsburg, both James and Sarah had played before but it was my first game. A dice allocation game where players influence members of the King's Council who provided you with resources you can use to build buildings. It was a surprisingly simple game, roll your dice, place them in the most optimal position (usually the one with the most resources) and make sure you have the least/most buildings when the bonuses seasons come. There's a small element of whoever rolls highest has better rewards which allow them to build more buildings. There are thankfully though a few mechanisms to help those who are lagging behind a little, such as an extra die for having the least buildings at the start of the year. I went for building up two rows of high scoring religious buildings which were great for victory points and defensive structures that allowed me to combat the invading armies at the end of this year. This constant scoring of victory points allowed me to build up a small but important lead. James pushed me close whilst Sarah was scoring well on the small victory point bonuses. The game ended with myself winning on 34 points, James one point behind and Sarah on 28 points. Sarah needed a few more turns for the bonuses to pay out more. I rather enjoyed this one and would play again with the expansions which I gather improve the base game a lot.
At the start of the evening there was also a round of Mamma Mia! and then a game of Good Cop Bad Cop with the Good Cop Bad Cop: Undercover expansion. The first time I played the expansion the cover mechanism didn't really make sense, it protects an identity card and in my first game of it a few weeks ago it didn't move. It turns out that the cover card moves to a new card every time you are investigated which then opens the game up a lot more. The expansion played a lot better this time because of it. I started as the Kingpin but Gareth swapped my Kingpin for Raj's Honest cop turning me into an Honest Cop. That just left Gareth, an exposed Philip and myself as honest cops in a sea of corruption. It wasn't long before Phil and I shot dead and all guns were turned on Gareth.