Friday, 31 March 2017

Mad as a March Wossname...

Wednesday 1st March

Contributor: Jon

Codenames Pictures
It was boys against girls. (Actually, it was Sarah, Sandra and Gareth vs Jon, John and Phil, but make what you want of that....)
Sandra and Sarah were both throwing quizzical looks at Gareth's clue of "Stocks - two." They missed the fairly obvious 'Bond', but I'm still not sure how they were supposed to guess 'Canada' from that clue...
Result - a win for the boys.

Power Grid: The Card Game
4 players - Jon, Noel, John and James. John was the dark horse this time, seeming to be in trouble at the beginning, but buying a big $10 plant in the last round, to pip the other three players by a single point. Jon had the most Elektros left so claimed second place, but it could have swung in any direction at the end.
Yet again, the real Power Grid feel of tricky auction decisions, but in less time (and much less table space). Opinions are divided, though. Jon feels that it completely replaces PG, whilst Noel opines that it makes him want to play PG even more. Any other opinions anyone.....?
Airlines Europe
3 players and an hour to go, so Airlines Europe made a return to the IBG tables. As always, Noel proved to be king of the skies, and king of the stock market, to cruise to victory. At the end, it was quite close between him and John, and had John decided to lay his Air Abacus shares a turn earlier, it may have swung the result the other way. Regardless - Jon was floundering about in last place...
I'm not sure what it is about this game, but each time I play it, I come away feeling a bit dissatisfied. Maybe because it was a 3-player game, I felt that whatever I did would benefit everyone else just as much as me, because the marginal gains for investing in each airline are so small. Therefore, the pre-set dividends for Air Abacus make this the only course of action that guarantees a bigger return for yourself and less for other players - hence the fight for them towards the middle / end of the game. By the second scoring round (of 3), I felt that it was effectively game over. It's a shame, as I really feel that I should like this game more.
Ho hum. Anyway, it shows how apathetic I was, that I can barely even bring myself to mention the Air Abacus rule that we played wrong (and as I had the rule book in front of me, I'll take some of the blame for that...!)

However, it did make me think about 'stock' games that I do really enjoy, which include: Stockpile and TTR: Pennsylvania. I must dust off Chicago Express sometime too....


Wednesday 8th March
Contributor: David

Battleship Express: James B, myself and Alex all played another Reiner Knizia dice chucker only this one isn't as good as Risk Express. Each player chooses to attack an opponents fleet and rolls some dice, match the symbols to destroy the ship. It's as bland as it sounds yet rolling dice is still fun. There's really no depth to this at all, even with the submarines. Alex won this one by using his Aircraft carrier well and destroying both James' and mine.

Codenames: Paul, myself and Alex on one team with James B, Gareth and Phil (who was eating on a different table) on the other. I can't remember much other than we beat them quite comfortably and that it lead to a game of..

Codenames: Pictures: The same teams only this time with pictures. We also managed to win this one as we didn't get a single clue wrong.

Colosseum: the new edition was next up. No one had played before so it was a fairly close game. I built up my Colosseum whilst putting on the worst shows each round in the hope I could put on a truly grand event in the last round and snatch victory. James B and Alex meanwhile went back and forth each round as the leader which meant I was stealing valuable tokens from them each round. TomToo meanwhile was gradually building his Colosseum up and preparing for something spectacular. When it came to the last and only important round I managed to put on a big show but it wasn't enough to catch Tom who had the bonus of visiting senators. Tom won with 92 points with myself in second on 79 and Alex in third on 71 and James B last on 62 something. The new edition is beautiful, different style artwork but it works. It also has metal coins which everyone enjoyed clinking about too much. I like how you are able to bide your time in last place before making the big push on the last round. I came close but badly misjudged the senators on the track and they were all too far away on the last turn to help me win.


Wednesday 15th March
Contributor: David

PitchCar Mini: James B and I arrived early so set about flicking cars around for the first 30 minutes or so. We both managed to flick our cars around the room more than around the track but thankfully nothing went down the hole of doom.

Carcassonne: The Castle: We still had time to fit in some two player Carcassonne. Even though regular Carcassonne works well with two players, even more so with Carcassonne: The Tower expansion, I find I enjoy this more as you're constricted to building within the castle walls as well as gathering up the bonus tiles which is similar to the Carcassonne: The Messengers mini expansion. I won this one even though James had built the largest house, I managed to limit his bonus space scoring to 4 points and grabbed most of the bonus tiles around the castle walls as well as building a huge tower.

Batavia: was next with myself, John and James B. It's a strange hodge-podge of mechanisms but it manages to work. Perhaps not the best theme in the world but I like how the auctions work with the set collection and eventual culling of the largest fleet. John managed to win by pushing his luck collecting the 5 different country tiles and selling them off for maximum profit. 

I meanwhile was selling at a lower price but more often so wasn't far behind whilst James was stuck collecting Dutch and English tokens. John won by a few points ahead of me with James B some way behind.
Tammany Hall: To end the evening myself, John, James B and Phil went for a game of direct conflict and some nastiness. The first half of the game, the first 8 years, went by incredibly quickly as we didn't have a Mayor for years 5-8 as it was a tie with neither party able to break the tie. 

By the 9th year we were ready to hand out the new offices of power and the game slowed a little. I made the mistake of becoming Mayor for the last term which made a big target for everyone to attack. The fact I was leading by quite a few points might have had an impact as well. James B managed to hold onto Tammany Hall for all 4 terms which was quite an accomplishment, even Phil locked down the ward for 4 years helping him keep it. 

The end game scoring was incredibly close. James B managed to steal the win from me by 1 point with John then a point behind me. Phil was a little further back having being forced out of a few of his wards in the last two terms. It's a great area Control game and something I would want to play again soon. If only to revenge my loss.


Wednesday 22nd March
Contributor: Jon

Felix the Cat in the Sack
This brought back some very pleasant memories, as there was a time in the dim and distant when we used to play this all the time. And for good reason - it's loads of fun!

Especially when, as in this game, Paul bid 2 coins when only a '-5' was showing. Everyone else then immediately dropped out in turn (there were no coins to collect), gradually revealing that everyone (including Paul!) had placed a '-5' card. So he paid 2 coins for the privilege of -25 points. Priceless....

Despite Gareth sweeping up a mammoth haul in the last round, he had no coins left, and so first place narrowly went to 'bank of Jon'.

This was TomToo's game, which Gareth, Jon and Paul also joined in with. Tom did a great job of explaining the rules (which aren't brilliantly written, and he hadn't played it for 6 months) and the game commenced.

It's your usual worker placement fare, but in this case, you are buying buildings, employing workers, creating resources, exporting resources etc etc, but it's actually more fun than it sounds. There's a strange mechanism whereby each round, you need to collectively have reached the 'economic goal', otherwise your collective economy starts to fall. Fall too far and the game ends prematurely. I think this is supposed to encourage players to convert resources into points on a regular basis rather than building a big engine and doing a huge move at the end, but I'm not sure that it works too well, as it seemed to have little or no effect to anything in our game.

In fact, Jon was pretty far behind on 40 points at the end of round 5, but scored a mammoth 65 points in the last 2 rounds, and only lost to Gareth by one point due to having to pay 2 points penalty for having outstanding loans.

As with a lot of worker placement games, it suffers a bit from AP, if the 3 other players pick the options that you were going for, causing you to rethink your strategy completely. And with Paul & Jon in the game, it was never going to be a quick one... 

Everything does hang together quite nicely and thematically in the game, and although we did play a couple of rules wrong (which would definitely improve the game experience), it was fun session. Would definitely give it another run-out, now that we know how everything works...