Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Until the bitter end...

And so, time has caught up with us once again. Regular readers will have noticed the somewhat erratic schedule of posts over the past few months and it's sad to say that finding people with both the time and the will to maintain the blog is becoming more and more of a challenge. As of such, this will be the last update that I make here (boo!) however we shall continue even when the lights are switched off. Well, not continue gaming obviously as we won't be able to see the board or tell what colour all the pieces are in the dark, and lord help us if they start putting the chairs up on the tables. No, I mean that we shall carry on with our session reports in the form of weekly 'Geeklists' over on BoardGameGeek, and who knows there may well still be the occasional new post on here too so keep your subscription on.

Here is our club guild page

Here are the session reports from June 2017 onward

Here then are the final session reports that bridge the gap between April and June... (sniff)... it's been a pleasure!


Wednesday 17th May
Contributor: Jon

We started with 7-player Sushi Go. Really tight game, where Natasha showed that he was best at separating his Tofu from his Sashimi and Uramaki, and won by a few points. David stuffed his face with ice-cream all game, and Tonio just wished that he was at a real sushi bar.

Next up, was 3-player Flamme Rouge with Tonio and Neil, including the exquisitely-painted miniatures courtesy of Neil. Tonio's sprinter shot off on his own, but was hauled back on the second hill. Neil's pairing lagged behind for the first half, but eventually caught up with the peloton, and having not used any large cards (but collecting a fair bit of exhaustion on the way). After the last hill there was a bunch sprint for the line, with Jon just pipping Tonio and Neil to the line by one space. And for the benefit of James - no-one ran out of cards - AGAIN!!!!!
Tonio brought out Machi Koro (and all expansions) for a nice little run-out. Jon stuck with a one-die strategy, and despite Neil trying to tax his ass off (once a banker....) he managed to build his last building first (if you get what I mean...) and win. Tonio was too busy creating a McDonalds empire to notice...


Finally, Phil fancied some more Fabled Fruit - Jon has kept the game going and so we are now just over half-way through the deck. Although this doesn't get a lot of love, I think that it's great for a quick filler, and genuinely changes each game...


Wednesday 7th June
Contributors: Tom Juan, Jon

When I arrived, a game of Kingdomino was ongoing with David, Dan, Phil and James II.

Jon had arrived at the same time as me and agreed to a round of Okey Dokey. This is a new Hanabi style co-op, designed by Japanese designer extraordinaire, Hisashi Hayashi, with lovely animal artwork. The theme is entirely irrelevant but has something to do with animals putting together a concert – what it actually entails is a limited information exercise where you are trying to play suits in ascending order from 1 to 8; the twist is that all but one suit must be played in each column with the other being “reset”. Having played it once with two before, it was nice to give it another run out. I feel that 2 is both easier than solo and with higher player counts – with more, each player will only be able to play one card per turn which will require some difficult decisions.

Jon and I managed a comfortable win in the end but there were some hairy moments. I think he enjoyed it and will certainly bring again with a view to trying a higher player count. It offers a similar experience to Hanabi but with some significant changes whilst maintaining Hanabi’s low rules overhead. A good game.

After this was a seven player game of Magic Maze, another Spiel Des Jahres nominee. I think that I will leave the report to Dan as he will be able to do a better job than I. All I can say is let’s never let James II be in charge of the escalator again. A good laugh but would agree with others than don’t want to play it too often otherwise the novelty will wear off.
We then split up with me, Tom II and James II opting for my new 2nd hand copy of Sunrise City. This was a city planning game that I remember playing with Soren some years back when just getting into the hobby. I really enjoyed it at the time and have been looking for a copy ever since. Having played it again, it is somewhat lighter than I remember but enjoyably so. 

Tom and James managed to push me out a few times in placing buildings and the end of the 1st and 2nd round; this coupled with clever play by Tom and good use of roles by James (earning himself an extra building on rounds 2 and 3) saw me some way behind at the finish. Tom II just managed to pip James by one point.Mondrian: The Dice Game is a happy little hybrid of Tumbling Dice, Flowerfall and Dungeon Fighter: a dexterity game with area control and silly conditions on how you throw your dice. Played this twice and the second time around, it was obvious that although there was luck involved, there is also some scope for strategy (e.g. not going for black cards if others have picked up a decent majority already). 

It does also have the pleasant screw you of trying to knock people away from good cards which is the major high point of any good game of Tumbling Dice. I went from zero to hero, being trounced in the first game by Phil and James II to victory in the second. Considering that the second game was against known dicks, Dan, Tom II and Phil (The Flicker of Doom), I was rather chuffed with the outcome! Very pleased to have picked this up.

Flamme Rouge was brilliant as always. We played with a fan-made course based on one of the stages of the 2017 Tour de France. It had a mountain within one space of the start, and then another one which went up, down and then immediately up again. Cue many groans almost immediately, as the 'wrong' cards were drawn...

David's sprinter took an early lead, but also took a shed-load of exhaustion cards, which left him way off the pace at the end. Dan hit the front during the final climb, and had enough left in the tank to just pip Jon to the finish line. Nice.
Fields of Green - this one was off my radar and I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this is a nice tile-laying (well... card-laying) game which is reminiscent of Habitats, or to a lesser extent, Suburbia.

It's got a simple drafting mechanism, and once you get a hang of how the harvest phase works, it flows nice and quickly along. The only downside is that it is pretty much multi-player solitaire - you are quite focused on your own farm, and the cards are too difficult to read upside-down to be able to tell what your opponents are doing.

Dan got some impressive points from his purple buildings to score a comfortable victory, with David, Jon and Phil trailing behind in some sort of order. Opinion? Inoffensive, straightforward, and I wouldn't say no to playing it again! Although I would probably rather play Habitats.... (nudge, nudge, Paul...)


Wednesday 14th June
Contributors: Tom Juan, Jon

With six of us in the pub and David showing interest, I suggested a six player game of Santo Domingo. This is a new release by Pegasus with Port Royal art and streamlined Libertalia/Caste For All Seasons gameplay. It played a lot more smoothly than I had anticipated on a solo run-through, with the time at which you gather your cards back up being more important than I had first imagined. James 2, David and I were stuck with one card in hand when the board opened up with a juicy number of VPs and goods. This allowed Sarah and Gareth to exploit the opportunity with Sarah winning at a canter.

Jon introduced Zany Penguins which James 2, Dan and I all jumped in on. It looks highly unimpressive in its tin but the sign of Bombyx and Bruno Cathala was promising... and it lived up to the promise! What a lovely surprise this game was - keeping the innovative Arboretum scoring and ditching the ball ache spatial rules. Throw in a tiny bit of card drafting and take that powers, give it a stir, and voila. Le jeux juste. Would happily play this any time as a quick opening filler.

Flatline would have been better without Tom 2 doing his best James impersonation and the annoying rules issues with when special abilities can be triggered. Luckily Dan had warmed to it a bit by the end otherwise Tom 2 may have had to go for a doggy paddle in the Thames to fetch it.
For Magic Maze, we were joined by Tong and his lovely girlfriend whose name I did not catch. This was great fun, especially the first game which involved Tong's missus being in charge of the vortex tile. Someone went to take it off her (it being the hardest role to play) but was met with a "don't worry - it'll be more fun this way". Boy howdy were they right! I'm not sure what was more glorious: the part where we discussed our next strategy in detail, only for Mrs Tong to completely ignore her instructions when the action started; or the infamous vortex loop of doom that the poor dwarf was subjected to. Dwarf visits his shop, vortexs away, travels down escalator to shop. Rinse and repeat whilst entire table wets itself with laughter.

In terms of Sushi Go Party, my position remains as before. It's simply too complicated. The beauty of Sushi Go is its simplicity. If I wanted a drafting game of this weight, there are quite a few better alternatives: Medieval Academy, Greed, Fairy Tale etc. It also made me very hungry. Cheese & Onion Pom Bears are not a good substitute when craving a delicious piece of eel nigiri!

A very fun night all told. Same again next week if you please.


Flamme Rouge was, as usual, loads of fun. We played another one of the fan-made TDF 2017 tracks, with some brutal hills. Tomtoo made an early breakaway with his Rouleur (not sure if it was deliberate, or if everyone else just slowed up...), and despite picking up an enormous amount of exhaustion, he managed to drag himself across the line for the win.

I quite enjoyed the mechanisms of the co-op Flatline, but the theme just seemed non-existent (not helped by the graphic design, which was clear, but very generic). The manic real-time dice-placement is lots of fun, and the rules are incredibly simple (despite our best efforts to make them incredibly complicated... shake ) I'd play again, even if only to berate Tom for rolling such awful numbers on the dice... devil

And forget what Tom says about Sushi Go Party!. It's absolutely brilliant and the choice of different cards gives it huge replayability, which the original version (good as it was), was starting to lack. Agree that Medieval Academy should make a reappearance soon, though...