Thursday, 29 December 2011


29th December. What a boring day. Neither Christmas nor New Year, what are we to make of it? Shops make a half-hearted attempt at opening, and most coffee shops can’t be bothered. Samoa is about to change its time zone, meaning they hop over the international date line. Which date did they chose to skip over?

December 30th.

You see: December 29th is so boring that they didn’t even consider it.

But into this blustery, slightly rainy evening I went to Sam’s for a little light gaming. We tried Inka – a new game whose four-page rule book didn’t seem too daunting. In this, each player has to get to the centre of the board, collect three treasures, and then get to an exit. They do this by rotating or sliding trapezoidal floor pieces and by hopping nimbly over snakes.

I point slightly to the left of Sam's blocking counter for illustrative purposes

It’s a puzzle game where you can foil your opponent by blocking a tile, meaning it can’t be moved. There’s a lot of Analysis Paralysis, and I found it fairly frustrating. The rules are simple, but still not properly explained. It’s not clear when a piece can rotate, nor what the effect the blocking piece has. Sam enjoyed it, though. Mind you, he won both times. It might be more interesting with more than two players. It'll probably be a lot longer, too.

Then Sam suggested a quick game of Alhambra. Since it was a two-player affair, the imaginary player Dirk joined in and quickly proved himself to be an adept opponent. We had barely got started when the first scoring card was revealed. This gave Dirk, with his six tiles, a commanding lead since he won most categories. As the game progressed, I found the cards and tiles synchronised perfectly while Sam grimly watched one opportunity after another going begging. Dirk, meanwhile, remained in the lead with me in close contention.

As we approached the final scoring round, Sam managed to get a few more tiles on the board, but he was finding it frustrating and the five buildings in his reserve can’t have offered much comfort. I was having quite the opposite experience and was able to overhaul Dirk in the final reckoning. My score was 140 (just one off the high score) to Dirk’s 123 and Sam’s 61.

Finally we rounded of the evening with a game of Tsuro. I enjoy this game when it’s two-player, and we ducked and feinted around the board, playing cautiously, until my tiles forced me into a straight duel with Sam, which I promptly lost. Oh well.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Season's End

The final games night of the season arrived with mulled wine, mince pies and a selection of pizzas. Sadly, Joe wasn’t in attendance, but the numbers were swelled to eight Steve, Anja and Hannah, as well as two wise men from the East (cut-backs, you see: couldn’t afford the third) Paul and Chris.

We split into two groups of four. My half (me, Sam, Adam, Anja) decided on Stone Age since Anja hadn’t played it before. The other half of the table (Steve, Hannah, Chris, Paul) decided on Sam’s still-in-its-wrapper Ascending Empires. This involved a lot of stickers being stuck, and a certain amount of searching under tables as pieces were knocked onto the floor with alarming regularity. I commend Sam’s calmness, since he didn’t suddenly yell “What are you doing to my beautiful new game!!” at any point during this farrago. Which is what I would have done. Hopefully someone from that end of the table can update this post or add a comment describing their adventures in Fingernail-Powered Space Exploration.

On my end of the table, Adam was talking Anja through the rules of Stone Age. She took most of it in, but seemed a little worried when she learnt that this was the most-played game of recent games nights. And perhaps it was a little unfair of her to compete against Adam and Sam who’d both proven their worth on as hunter-gatherers many times in the past. Especially as certain rules were still being explained to her as the game went on.

Four player Stone Age is a very different beast to the versions with fewer players. I spent most of the game thinking I hadn’t really made any progress and looking nervously at Sam’s pile of cards. Anja made the newbie mistake of trying to get a bit of everything, although she was the axe queen by the end of the game. Meanwhile, Adam kept forgetting he needed food and Sam kept insisting his cards weren’t that good.

When it came to adding up the scores, Sam did well on the civilazation cards, but missed out on the multipliers. I got some useful field multipliers and was boosted by my usual reliance on huts. Anja couldn’t turn her axe monolpoly into many points, and so ended in fourth, but hats off to Adam who showed a bit of his old flair with a multiplier that got him forty points, sending him to an easy win.

Adam 147
Andrew 117
Sam 112
Anja 89

After we finished, we watched the closing stages of Ascending Empires. It was clearly between Paul and Hannah, with their two piles of victory points sitting in front of them. Soon the game came to a close, and points were totted. Hannah ran out a much more comfortable winner than you may have thought at first glance, which made Paul consider the chilling thought that next time he’d start on warfare even earlier.

Hannah 40
Paul 23
Steve 22
Chris 19

So it’s the end of the season. As season that, in many ways, belonged to one man. Quentin. His visits to the table were few, but comprehensive enough that he takes most categories in the old style leader board. In the new Form Table, Sam takes top spot, as he does in the Leader Board. But Quentin shows how he is Mr Consistency with firsts in Points ratio, Absolute points ratio and Weighted points ratio. Five wins out of six is not a record to be scoffed at, and it also put him third in the Olympic-style leader board.

Other performances of note: Hannah, in her one appearance, scored the most overwhelming victory, stastically speaking, scoring almost twice as much as her nearest rival. Steve took highest points ratio according to the length of the game: he only played three times, but each time the game went on for ages. We at GNN salute that kind of stamina. The leader board will now be put in cryogenic suspension until the New Year. In the meantime, Happy Christmas!!

Joe12144 12

The leaderboard...

PlayedPointsRatioAbsoluteAbs ratioWeightWt. ratioLengthLth. ratio

The Olympic leaderboard...


Note re scoring methods: Absolute points/ratio refers to the number of points scored in a game. This is obviously a very silly criteria, since your success depends on how generous the game is with giving out points. Weighted points: this is your points adjusted to how well you did last season, so people who did well are penalised and those who did badly get a boost. Weighted for length: your points are multiplied according to how long the game goes on for.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Lights! Canada! Action!

This morning a newly house-proud Joe sent out an email for gamers to gather at his kitchen where a brand new adjustable light-fitting hung above the table. He wanted to see how it performed in a board game setting, hence the invitation. As I’m the only one not busy/ill/asleep on a Thursday, I was the only one who could make it.

But it gave me the chance to try one of these two-player games that I’ve read about but never been able to play. I wanted to try A Few Acres Of Snow, so Joe talked me through the rules. It’s basically a card-management game along the lines of Dominion or Thunderstone but with far more options available and a map of the north east of America from a weird angle. I was the British and Joe was the French in our set up and we set about rewriting history at around 8.20pm.

I started in a feisty mood, settling in Halifax, which changed hands several times during the game. As did Pemaquid: Both very desirable locations. Less desirable, but still fought over was Kennebec. A wide open space which helps you do nothing. Nevertheless, raiding/settling there did get rid of unwanted cards. I looked up Kennebec on Wikipedia and it’s just a river.

No victory points here. Move along, folks...

Joe expanded his empire south towards Detroit which scored points, but cluttered his hand with a lot of unwanted location cards. I kept trying to lay siege whenever I could, and by the end I had amassed a tidy pile of Joe’s cubes. I think my favourite bit was the option to keep cards in reserve, which you could then pay to use in an emergency (ie, battle). Those cards at first act as a deterrent to any warfare, but if you keep an eye on your opponent’s money then you can attack when he can’t afford to use them so they’re no longer a threat – in fact they’re as good as out of the game. Until he can get more money.

Finally, Joe ended the game by using the last of his settlement cubes and the points were totted up.

Joe 56
Andrew 49

An enjoyable game once it gets going, and isn’t so heavy that the two hours seem like a slog. I had a lot of fun and a lovely mince pie.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Adit, Caesar!

Sam was hosting tonight, and sounded the all-clear at just gone 7.15pm. I immediately hopped in the car, and got there first. In no time at all we were joined by Adam and Andrew.
We hemmed and hawed over what to play — thinking we would be five for the first time in ages, I'd brought Santiago and Cuba (not to be confused with Santiago De Cuba), but after a peek in Sam's fine games cupboard, Taj Mahal and TransAmerica were added to the mix. At this point, Steve texted to say he wouldn't be joining us, and so we were down once more to the core four; Adam suggested we kick off with a bit of Ave Caesar.

We played three races, everyone but Adam winning one, so we ended with a three way tie for first with 12 points each, Adam lagging fourth with 9.
A disturbing pattern had begun to emerge, with the starting player in each race winning.

So what next? I suggested Tinners' Trail, which is perfect for four players, and a real GNN favourite. I'm surprised there isn't more love for TT on the Geek, it's a fantastic game. Just enough economics to be interesting without being overwhelming, lots of interesting, tense decisions, and some very clever mechanics like the diminishing returns on the investment track, and the elegant turn-order mechanism. Add to that lots of lovely wooden bits and a playing time of about an hour.  And it is one of the best value games out there too; you can pick it up online for £25. What's to not to not not like?

Well, there is a fair amount of that, I guess.
I hadn't played in a while, and it took me a while to get back in to the swing of it — I bid £12 for a mine as my first action of the game, which left me struggling to scrape together enough money to mine it. But it was worth the effort, because the copper price in round one was a whopping £10, giving Sam and I the chance to make some bold investments. Adam made a single £15 one, and Andrew eschewed investing at all in the first round.
From then on, it was the usual battle of steam pumps vs adits, ships vs trains, and Cornish pasties vs fourth place on the turn-order track. Round two saw Adam mine vast quantities of tin and copper from a dry mine, and it looked as though Sam and I had some serious competition. But he'd missed the big bucks on copper, which never regained the dizzying heights of the early game, and tin, true to form, remained a relatively stable but lowly £5 for the rest of the game. Andrew made the big money in round three, but decided to keep much of it rather than investing.

Sam, quietly contemplating — pasties, mining? Mining then pasties, then more mining!
Sam had made a bold move in round one, augmenting a mine he didn't even own with miners and steam ships. And then promptly buying it! He paid for it, but it was a very canny trick.
If I had a strategy, it was to not bother looking too closely at what the others were doing. I like games like that, it's hard enough trying to work out what I need to do, without factoring in three other trains-of-thought. But as Andrew pointed out, once the mines are bought, you can't sabotage them, so you might as well get on with what you want to do.
Round four — everybody please stand.
In the end, I pipped Sam to the win by a mere four points — it's only now that I realise how lucky I was. The investments come in £5 increments. so making sure you have no loose change at the end is important. By chance rather than planning, I ended up with £55; had I had £54, I would only have been able to invest £50, and Sam would have won (that may not be true actually, because pounds are only equivalent to points in round one . . . still.)

The final scores were:
Joe 108
Sam 104
Adam 100
Andrew 70
Andrew gives himself that 'disappointed' look he hates.
So we finished the night with a final game of Ave Caesar, to break the three-way tie for first place.
The disturbing trend we'd noticed earlier continued, with Adam starting first and finishing first.
At least we all got a go doing that. The final scores were:

Sam 16
Adam and Joe 15
Andrew 14

Not a good final game for Andrew, who went from joint winner to fourth place in that last race, compounding his fourth place in Tinners' Trail. But a lovely evening all round — thanks Sam. JB

[Ersby here, reporting from Leaderboard Central]

My poor showing sees me drop like a dead cow from a helicopter from second down to fifth. Meanwhile, the new rule (called Sam’s Law of Increasing Points, or "SLIP") comes into play. It’s still experimental, but I suggest that once a player has completed six games, his or her (okay, let’s be honest: his) points will go up by one for every week they don’t attend, as shown by an asterisk. It may be only one point per week, but it does stop people “parking the bus” at the top of the table. However, if they return for another evening, these fictional points are wiped from the slate and their points return to normal.

Joe12144 12

Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Poison Palace

On Saturday night we had friends over for games, and I was feeling nervous. These friends - Mark and Katie - are gamers, but gamers in the sense of splashing about in the sunny, healthy shallows, while we lunatics are 100m down in the depths, comparing mechanics, writing blogs, dreaming of meeples etc. Only the other night we had a 5 minute conversation about Stabcon without actually mentioning it by name.

So the reason for my nervousness was that I had dangled, carrot-like, several gaming options to lure them away from the comparative safety of classics like Carcassone, Ticket to Ride or Trans-America. But having done so I'd had a fit of panic when they chose Poison and, specifically, Tinner's Trail.

"Tinner's Trail?" Joe's face fell. "Are you sure?!" - one of Joe's many large steps toward social pariah-dom was taken when he attempted to inflict this game on his family and friends. "It was a disaster" he related grimly. I was thrown. A disaster? Really? Auctions, time-tracks, copper, tin, water, adits, historical themes, a slightly complicated scoring system involving investments that recoup less over time... what's not to like?

Well, I supposed compared to say, Settlers, it might seem a little complex. I borrowed Alhambra from Joe as my Plan B. As it turned out, Mark seemed to take Plan B as an affront on his gaming prowess, and was determined to play Tinner's Trail, but after a curry and chips, several glasses of wine and three rounds of Poison it was simply too late to crack open anything Martin Wallace might have thought of, so Alhambra it was.

Poison scores first: We played each round as an individual game and I think I won the first two. Mark definitely won the last one with a big fat zero. I'd managed to Jefferies-curse Katie by suggesting via email she'd be good at this, so naturally she came off worst in every game.

But in Alhambra the Carcassone-Chiseller of old was cracking her knuckles (except for the one dodgy finger) and going for a healthy spread of second-and-first places in medium buildings plus a fancy wall to pull off a debut win:

Katie 110
Sam 103
Mark 95
Sally 93

Mark, who had been lagging behind after the first two scoring rounds, snuck past Sally despite having the most erratic wall-builder in all of Spain, and hit me with both barrels on the Towers, nabbing the last two in one turn to sneak into first and deprive me of a possible win. Sally was the victim of fatigue; having led after round one and two, her game went to pot as she - well, all of us, to be fair - got too preoccupied over whose turn it was to concentrate on tactics.

Nevertheless, both games went down very well. Mark threatened to buy Poison for Katie (instead of knickers) and Katie said she was tempted to come to Stabcon. Mainly to see how weird it is, it must be said, but in this church we'll take our members by stealth if we have to.

So no Tinner's Trail this time, but was it a missed opportunity, or a near-miss? I guess the only way to find out... is to play it next time.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Torres Redux

As ever, when Thursday arrives my early morning thoughts of hitting the sack 5 minutes after the kids do have dissipated by the time evening rolls around. The games cupboard calls my name, and like a sailor dashed on the rocks, lured by a siren's wail, I respond.

So does Andrew. I guess we're the ones with bugger all else to do.

So tonight we revisited Torres as a 2-player game, having discovered on Tuesday that one pertinent rule about knight placement had eluded us. We'd enjoyed it the first time; this time it was even better. We played the 'Master' version: Adam might like to know that this eliminates the chance element of Action Cards, as each player starts with their own set - and it also supplies you with the option of gaining a bonus from a 'Master' card drawn randomly at the start of the game - in this case the bonus available was 40 points if you had all your knights orthogonally adjacent at the third and final scoring round.

I started well, but just as with our first two-player game Andrew outscored me in round two, moving just a few points behind me on the score track. Come the third and final round I sacrificed scoring Andrew's castle to line up my knights and go for the bonus. But having made it I realised I would have scored more sticking with the castle and building upwards - Andrew picked up 54 points compared to my 40. I also lost out on the King's bonus, but did manage to put together 81 points for the biggest castle - 9 tiles high x 9 area. But it wasn't enough to win - Andrew's more nomadic knights brought home the scoring bacon in the tightest finish possible:

Andrew 268
Sam 267

We'd raced through Torres so fast it was a wonder any of the castles stayed upright, but having done so we had time for Citadels. Again I established an early lead; again Andrew's canny play won the day. I was nowhere contemplating the finish line when he suddenly - courtesy of the architect - built three buildings to end the game, and left my wayward assassin twiddling his butter-fingered thumbs:

Andrew 31
Sam 21

If Endersby can bring this form to Tuesday nights we may have a new aspirant to the ratio throne...

Digging up the Past.

"I would like to play something with a board." Paul answered when asked what he would like to play for the final game. Previously in the evening we had steamed across America in Ticket to Ride, but it was another outing of Citadels which prompted Paul's plea. On the journey to Bracknell station Paul reflected that he doesn't really get on with games that don't have a board to put all your stuff on.

I surveyed my modest stack of games and caught Stone Age coyly winking at me. As much as I love the old flirt (SA, not Paul) I thought maybe tonight was it was time for a change. Tikal had been lurking around in my attic for several years, unplayed, until I noticed some months back that it had 2 players written on the side. This game, it must be said, was always well received and it's surprising it never received more plays.

In Tikal you adopt the role of a director on an expedition intent on uncovering Mayan sites located in the dense Jungle. You take turns to reveal tiles which may have any one of a blank space, a temple, an artefact haul or a Volcano! (Quite how you would miss seeing a bloody great volcano is beyond me). The latter tile sparks off (pun intended) a scoring round, of which there are four in the game. The tiles can be laid in any adjoining space that allows a path back to the start and are revealed in a semi random fashion.

Each player gets 10 action points to spend on ...err actions. They can be dig for treasure, develop a level of temple, add expedition members, create a new base camp and so on. The essence of the game is to get yourself in positions of power around the temples so that you may gain the points during the scoring round.

Unfortunately it wasn't until the second Volcano had come and gone that I realised we hadn't been doing the scoring rounds correctly. Crucially, both players are allowed 10 action points before they score however we just played whoever it was that got the tile. Me. Although I was slightly ahead Paul graciously turned down my offer of equalising the scores.

The game played out as I expected it would, like a a mad trolly dash to grab the abundant goodies with little to prevent you doing it. The 3 and 4 player game (Like so many of this type) have a limiting effect on resources. The rules did not have amendments for 2 players which I felt it needed. In the end I ran out the winner due to my well excavated temples!

Final scores on the night went as follows
Chris 127
Paul 106

Chris 31
Paul 13

Chris 172
Paul 153

On Monday I met up with James again and we managed to squeeze in 3 games, two Citadels and one Carcassonne : Discovery.

It was a whitewash and he won all Three.

Dang! A trip to the games shop in January I feel to expand the collection..

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Of Castles and Saraglios

Tonight once again saw the four core members of GNN arrive for their weekly board game fix. We did wonder if it was some personal hygiene problem that was keeping other people away. I thought perhaps the blog posts describing complex battles over intricate games was putting off the casual gamers, and maybe something lighter was needed to bring in the punters. So I was ready to suggest a game of tag and bobbing for apples this evening, but by the time I’d arrived Torres had been chosen as the evening’s opening game.

The rules for this kind-of-3D-draughts (where you build up the board yourself) were described by Sam, and we began. Before long Adam was asking chillingly pertinent questions and I was convinced that he had instantly acquired a deep understanding of the rules. He found himself in an early tussle with Sam, which had the advantage of them giving each other points as they built up their shared castles.

Joe, meanwhile, concentrated on the more affordable end of the castle market, with some dainty little castles that no one bothered to challenge him on. Instead, he got his points from the King’s Bonus (hur hur, he said "boners") which a knight would receive if the King stayed in his castle.

I played a middle road, mostly sneaking some points off Sam and Adam by joining in with their castles. But Sam played the board like a master. Or at least like someone who’d played before and paid attention. He got points from the big castles and for also receiving the King’s Bonus. Final impressions of the game were that Joe thought it was too abstract, and Adam thought it wasn’t abstract enough. We counted up the scores, with Joe’s dog adding sighs of approval/disappointment as we did. The final scores favoured those who’d played before, but only just:

Sam 204
Andrew 177
Adam 175
Joe 168

Next we chose Alhambra since it was still early. Although it’s not often that we begin a game of Alhambra when we’re already tipsy, and thus the game took longer than usual. Sam went for his usual tactic of a long, snaking wall. Adam had a very neat and symmetrical set of tiles, and I sort of bumbled through the game without really paying much attention. I did get lucky with a couple of tiles which helped me connect my wall and score me points, though, so that was nice.

Sam’s concentration was almost ruined by me referencing a Genesis song during one of our many witty exchanges. Since Joe and Adam were keen to hear more about this "worst song ever written", Adam found it on the internet and we had the displeasure of sitting through a live version while we played the game. (You can hear the album version here, but you may hate me afterwards if you do.)

The final scores were added up, and for once Sam’s long wall didn’t get him first place, but only by the slimmest of margins. It was Joe’s balanced play that won the evening. Meanwhile Adam cursed me and Sam for picking up the wrong kind of tiles in the last round, costing him dearly in points. Oh well.

Joe 101
Sam 100
Andrew 87
Adam 85

Not a great night for Adam in the controversial new leaderboard. Perhaps new rules will be brought in for the new year. In the meantime I think my position on the Form Table is as good as it’s going to get, unless I can return to winning ways. Adam drops to a very uncharacteristic fifth.

(JB butts in)
At the end of the evening, Sam and Andrew were so busy discussing the intricacies of the latest form table, they failed to notice Joe using his cardboard-mage skills.

The Form Table...

Joe14423 14

Friday, 2 December 2011

What Frodo Did Next.

Last night the call came to Bag End - it was time to set out on a long and dangerous journey; four brave hobbits would be needed to take the one ring to Mordor and chuck it in the volcano.

However we had to make do with two in the end as Merry and Pippin were apparently busy - IKEA in the latter's case. Perhaps Gandalf shouldn't have disguised the dire warning of evil dominions afoot as a 'game of Torres' - as that turned out to be spectacularly untrue.

Instead Andrew and I, still smarting from defeat to Sauron last week, took the little bastard on again. Andrew was Frodo and I was... Sam. If anyone hasn't played this, the game takes place over four boards, and during each one you have to negotiate your way nearer and nearer to Mordor, while the forces of darkness infiltrate the 'event' tiles and try and stop you. All the time Sauron is trying to drag the Hobbits toward the dark, and move himself to the light. Should the two moral opposites (represented by colourful Hobbit pieces and a one-eyed, kitten-esque Sauron) meet on the influence track, it's game over.

How this all works is through card-management, so it's kind of a fire-fighting game in the the vein of Year of the Dragon, except of course it's co-operative.

So how did we fare? Last week, we had managed to get ourselves to Mordor with nary a frayed nerve, but were left with a hollow feeling as a succession of event tiles at the start of the last board saw Sauron march to the final event, where he simply took the ring from us and laughed in our faces like a spoilt brat.

So this time, having taken a few hits stocking up on cards at Helm's Deep, we arrived at Sauron's house and decided the best bet was speed. We would expedite the destruction of the ring, post-haste! Ignoring the threat of Orcs, Gollum, and a sprained ankle, we hurried along the main track and within 5 minutes I was hurling the ring into Mount Doom. Hooray! Middle-Earth is saved.

Fuck you, Sauron.

But saved for what end? Just as with our previous defeat, the victory left us a little hollow. It's so abrupt; one moment you're trying to save the world, the next you're looking at the time and thinking should I have another beer, or would the sensible option be tea?

For me, this is LotR's downfall. During play it's quite fun, and the cooperative element feels novel - at least for our little group. Knizier manages to ramp up the pressure as the game progresses, but when it's over, it's - over. Like a shallow sexual experience for two people who don't really like each other, your relationship with the game feels not entirely worth the effort. It would be great if this final show-down had more oomph to it - it's own little board, perhaps, a game within a game, where suddenly there could be a competitive element between the Hobbits. Maybe I'll drop Reiner a line and suggest it.

So what did the hobbits do next? We played Trans-America, and Sam kicked Frodo's ass!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Vegas, Baby!

Tonight, the four core GNN regulars arrived at Sam’s with Joe bringing along Lords of Vegas as the evening’s special treat as Joe desperately tries to get everyone to play his freshly-bought board games to convince himself he hasn't wasted his money. Before we began, he ruefully admitted that he wouldn’t buy any more games until Christmas. But he did have lots of board games on his new iPhone. At least if he puts them there, they won’t take up valuable shelf-space in the house.

Lords of Vegas is all about gaining control of areas which will then hopefully score points and earn money. It’s all about gambling, since a random selection of areas never get played at all, allowing neighbouring players to take them over for a fee. Of course, this then leaves them worrying that this area may be revealed later in the game, meaning they lose the property they spent so much money on building. It’s all about risk and reward, and playing the odds.

Since it was everyone’s first game, I threw caution to the wind and I bought up vacant lots whenever possible, hoping that the casino would pay out. And, to my delight, it often did. Joe, who’d played this game before, was behind in the early part of the game but finished strongly. Gamblin’ Sam had mixed luck with the dice while Cautious Adam had some luck, but never reaped the full rewards since he often shared any financial risk with the bank. Less in losses, but less in wins too.

It’s a very gamble-y game, with choices made according to what you think the most likely card will be next. I enjoyed it, and there’s a certain excitement when somebody decides to reorganise a casino, meaning everyone’s dice get rolled and a new boss is chosen. I think we underplayed the trading section, but I don't think the game suffered too much.

Andrew 36, wins tiebreaker on money
Joe 36
Sam 26, wins tiebreaker on money
Adam 26

After such opulent gaming, with properties being developed for millions of dollars, why not continue the high-rolling atmosphere with For Sale! In this card game we bid for properties in the same care-free manner as other people feed bread to ducks. I felt confident in this game, too, after a round of betting between Joe, Sam, and Adam over the highest valued property left them all relatively cash-poor.

In the second half of the game, where we play out Property cards like trumps in order to earn money, we kept expecting Joe to play his lowly 1 card, but he didn’t. It was a bluffer’s paradise, with people tempted to play low cards, thinking that surely THIS time Joe would play his 1 card. But he didn’t... Until the last round of the game, where it didn’t help him much. After a recount, Adam was declared winner of For Sale.

Adam 68
Andrew 62
Sam 53
Joe 49

So after two games based around the crazy high life of property development, we stumbled back into the damp November air, still giddy with talk of tens of millions of dollars. For everyone except me, it was a middling performance, but my first and second pushes me up the new leaderboard. Now all we have to do is convince Quentin to turn up again. And then somehow make him lose.

The Form Table...
Sam33223 13

Thursday, 24 November 2011

A few acres of tiles

With Ashton (recovering from a chest infection) and Ava (Normal bedtime) happily tucked up in bed and dinner out the way by 18.50, an inviting 4 hours of gaming was available. Paul suggested that this week we might try to play as many quick games as possible after last sessions time eating monster A Few Acres Of Snow. Seizing my opportunity I quickly plopped Citadels, a new game to us, on the table. Although there would be a rule learning session and the obligatory "Open Hand" I thought we would probably get a game in under the hour benchmark stated on the box.

The rules didn't seem overly complex but the powers that the characters held required constant referral. For two Citadels newbies the interaction between the characters and what was a "Good" move remained elusive until near the end. Realising that I had built a whole bunch city cards and was near to closing out the game I began to choose my characters a lot more carefully. It would seem that some cards like the Bishop, Warlord and Assassin become a lot more sought after as the game progresses. It's then that you see how neatly balanced this game really is. I managed to negotiate my way through to an eighth city card and that was that. I really liked it but I could see Paul was left a little cold by it and so we hurriedly moved on to our next game....

Chris 30
Paul 16

Which was Stone Age! Oh no everybody groans..... Well I won so there, and I did so without my new tactic of throwing Paul's workers under the washing machine panning out as I had planned.

Chris 243
Paul 200

The time was 21:45, the night was still young! So we unboxed Carcassonne the Discovery. Paul hadn't played it in at least 10 years but hadn't lost any of his skill as a tile laying magician. In fact if anybody needs their bathroom doing then Paul's your man. Although you will have to be happy with a perfectly tessellated satellite picture of a fictional medieval country as thats all he does apparently. We were neck and neck all the way through but this was all balanced by whether one of Paul's early mountain dwelling meeples would be lucky enough to find the piece of land which had two corners mountain opposite two corners grassland. Twice I picked the ideal tile and quickly placed far far away. Fortunately for Paul his meeple got the map turned the right way and found the perfect tile, scoring 18 points (A lot in this game) and taking any chance of a comeback away.

Paul 117
Chris 103

We had managed to get all three in by 22:45 and not have to break any traffic laws getting Paul to his train on time. Hoorah.

Name Played Won
Chris 18 12
James 7 3
Paul 11 3
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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

A Gentleman's Guide on How To Score

You know, much as we all love the leaderboard and we think the Q-system of scoring is a great idea, I can’t help but notice that the gap between first and sixth is 84 points. That’s quite a gap to bridge. And even between me and Joe, there’s 31 points.

I was wondering about another leaderboard that doesn’t have these huge gaps, nor does it rely on the Points Ratio to even things up. Basically, it’s just a form table of the five most recent games each player has played with 1 point for first, 2 for second etc, This means that a poor showing one evening doesn’t effect you all season and you can work it off over time.

For those who haven’t played five games, the gaps are filled in with 5th positions, just to get them on the board, and also to tease them with the tantalizing offer of a sudden leap in places should they do well.

At first glance, I like this, just because it keeps everyone close together. Any thoughts?

The Form Table...
Adam3 3 21110

Have it, Caesar!

Tuesday night games saw 5 of us clustered around the table - Adam, Andrew, Joe, Quentin and myself (Sam), cracking our knuckles in anticipation as Joe walked in with a bag of new games - one of which, Lords of Vegas, did not play five, so we broke open the other, Ave Caesar. In this game players race chariots around the dusty tracks of ancient Rome, pausing only to throw a Denari in Caesar's lap - or, if you prefer, you can ignore Caesar for tactic's sake and sacrifice your laurels (or victory points) instead. If one had a big lead that might be a viable option, but as it was we were too in thrall of the Emperor (or fear of losing) and stuck to our task. The chariots are propelled by card play so there's an element of card management and an element of blocking competitors off where the track narrows or veers around corners.

The game suggests 4 races but as it was fairly lightweight we did 2 instead and found it an enjoyable filler, for some reason encouraging a lot of smutty humour. Quentin began another successful night by coming in first again, with Joe and Adam tied for second and Andrew and I placed third:

Quentin 8
Joe/Adam 7
Sam/Andrew 5

With the night reasonably young there was time for a semi-serious game, but we found it so tricky deciding in the end a Decider was chosen at random, and that turned out to be me. I plumped for Ra, hoping we'd have time for Poison afterwards. There had been talk of Torres but if it makes Adam feel any better I realised later that it only plays 2-4.

Ra's not a strong game of mine but rather than hedge my bets and try and scoop up tiles at the end of the round, a strategy that's burnt my fingers before, I opted for grabbing things early to cover the bases and avoid penalties, a system that would have paid off had it not been for the presence of the new Ratio King at the table - yes, Quentin did it again, shrugging off the odd penalty to grab first place. Adam's comprehensive collection of monuments saw him score big but he was also hampered by his Pharoah and Civilisation shortcomings. Joe suffered the Ra equivalent of darts-elbow; having collected the three highest sun tiles for round three he was reticent to spend them.

Quentin 39
Sam 37
Adam/Andrew 17
Joe 16

It was ten o'clock and while Andrew cracked opened the whisky Joe and Quentin decided to retire, making the last game a three-hander. As such, Poison was out, and after a little dalliance with the idea of Trans-America, we settled on 7 Wonders. I like this game for three, with a little foresight and guesswork you can think a move ahead rather than just in the here and now. Andrew had professed to being a little jaded by 7 Wonders recently, but you wouldn't have known it as he wiped the floor with us, going big on Military and Blue Buildings to finish just one point off Adam's record score:

Andrew 62
Sam 46
Adam 44

Nice to get three games into an evening, and just look at Quent's ratio! He did volunteer that ratio should only come into it after ten games (which we agreed to) but it's worryingly impressive all the same.

The leaderboard...


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Not Another Stone Age Review!


Not being one to pass up an opportunity to play Stone Age meant that I found myself, once again, at James' house for what is becoming a bi-weekly session of games (spread over two days!). My previous high score had since been confined to the history books thanks to Sam's recent massive total and James was of a mind to reduce the gap, thus hindering any chance of a repeat performance. In the two player version the fight for resources is not as tight as it is with 3 or 4; therefore simply avoiding your opponents strategy is easier.

Hence, James collection of fields and workers was matched by my axes and huts leaving us to fight over the culture cards. Although my lead - courtesy of a little row of huts - looked quite impressive, James managed chomp away big chunks of that lead by building huts with pure GOLD! Inspired play! In the end it came down to a couple of culture cards that appeared to complete my set and the two fields left unplayed.

Chris 265.
James 199.

Our second game, Ticket to Ride, was probably as close as a game could get. Come the final tot-up I was ten points in the lead, however James had pipped me for the longest route. This brought the scores to 105 each and with four 4 tickets completed it all came down to the longest route. Which James had.

James 105
Chris 105

Bracknell Leaderboard:
(October - November)

Name Played Won
Chris 15 10
James 7 3
Paul 8 2

Which makes me look like a flat track bully....

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Cold War Classic

Whilst Sam and Andrew struggled cooperatively for control of Middle Earth (see below), Steve and I, down the road in Montpelier, went head to head with a struggle of a more modern kind.
Before Steve arrived, I had piled up a few choices, including Cuba, which we'd both played for the first time recently, and La Citta (another of The Works £7.99 wonders, one I haven't managed to play yet). I'd also included a couple of two-player games; Martin Wallace's A Few Acres of Snow, and BGG darling Twilight Struggle.
Having assessed the options we agreed that it would be wrong not to play a dedicated two-player game, given the circumstances, and I left it to Steve to make the choice. Acres would be a long rules learn, but a shorter game. Twilight Struggle (slightly) easier to grasp, much longer to play. Steve opted for Twilight Struggle.

The rules are a bit of a bear; it's not hugely complicated, but the direct conflict, zero-sum nature of the game means that you really need to be up to speed before going in. We started in on the rules description at 7.45, and an hour later we were setting up the first turn. I was USSR, Steve the free world.

The first turn took 45 mins, and was a fairly tentative affair -  there were no scoring cards - and we were just finding our feet. Turn two was very different, as I held the Middle East scoring, and Steve the Asia scoring; unfortunately for Steve, I had made some in-roads into Asia in turn one, so was able to concentrate on shoring up the Middle East to maximise my score there, and in the end, Asia was a dead heat, though I scored a few points for controlling battleground countries.

Turn two had taken a bit longer, and as we went in to turn three, the early war deck had to be re-shuffled, giving the potential for a repeat scoring of Middle East and/or Asia, along with the inevitable battle for Europe.
The whole of round three was a tug-of-war for Europe, and we were beginning to get a good feel for the game. It's daunting, of course, trying to take in the situation in every region at once. But what you realise through playing is that different regions become the focus of a round if someone holds a scorecard, which makes for a more managable cognitive load.

Steve managed to keep Europe out of my grasp, but hadn't managed to do the same in the Middle East, both of which scored in the final round of turn three. My Middle East victory pulled the VP marker all the way to my 20 VP goal, and the game was up. We were both glad in some ways, because it meant we'd completed a game rather than left it hanging (Steve confided he was going to call it a night at the end of the turn); but I was more glad than Steve.

I could really get into this game, if it got played more often - if time/tiredness were not factors, I think we would have both gone in again with a much more focussed, aggressive stance. It's well-deserving of its classic status; grown-up without being dry, competitive, but with enough luck from the cards to not feel too mean. The theme is perfectly in tune with the gameplay - I like the way the influence builds up in certain hot-spots; the more influence your opponent has, the more you need to have to try and wrest control, leading to mini-skyscrapers of chits in certain places.  All this, and the ever-present threat of nuclear armageddon - what more could you ask of a tuesday evening in november? JB

Lords of the Stone Age

Today’s plan for the same game to be played in two venues at once, with messages flying back and forth was slightly scuppered when it was revealed that Joe had lent out his copy of Ascending Empires. And also there isn’t really enough down-time during a two-player game to muck about with instant messaging or texts.

In the end the two factions went their separate ways. I believe that Joe and Steve went for A Few Acres Of Snow – a two player game that Joe has been itching to get people to play. Since two-player games aren’t leaderboard (at least, not usually), Sam felt in a co-operative mood and we chose Reiner Knizia’s re imagining of The Lord Of The Rings for our opening game.

I’d played it fairly recently, so I refreshed Sam’s memory of the rules, and we got stuck in. For most of the game, it was plain sailing, with Sauron barely twitching until Helm’s Deep, at which point he dragged himself a couple of spaces in our direction. Heading into Mordor, we had plenty of shields and I was confident of a successful campaign against the rabbit-eared monolith.

However, Sauron didn’t gain his reputation for evil for no reason, and in the last round, we went from comfort and confidence to panicky fear after a string of event tiles were turned over. Mordor is very deceptive: it’s events are bad, but they’re quite easy to avoid, and so you aren’t too bothered when the next event is uncovered. But this is a false sense of security. Each event takes you closer to Sauron’s victory, and we soon found ourselves standing one space away from defeat and two spaces away from absolute victory. It all depended on the turn of one tile.

An event tile... Sauron won. And he barely moved all game.

While the game was exciting while it lasted, and we couldn’t believe our luck with dice rolls, the end is a bit of a damp squib. Still, it was nice to team up with a fellow GNN regular and battle a common foe. I mean, one who isn’t Adam, that is.

For our next game we chose Stone Age as a nice two-player. Although I never win at this game any more, I still enjoy it. It feels very Roulette-ish, with the placement of the pieces and the element of luck. And I have to admit I had quite a bit of luck. By my standards, I played a very good game – getting my highest score by far. But Sam is not a man to be taken lightly at this game. Any confidence I had at my score was obliterated at Sam racked up the highest two-player score so far (sorry, Chris. I just couldn’t stop him).

Sam 337
Andrew 249

I'll leave it for Joe to explain his adventures in the snow with Steve in another post.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The place where Bracknell and Bristol meet

Tonight was an evening of glamour for the games night regulars as we hobbed and nobbed with Bristol’s literati to celebrate the release of Joe’s book of comic strips from the Guardian. Me (Andrew), Sam, Adam, Hannah, Steve and Anja all congregated to congratulate Joe (and his collaborator Pascal) on his success and to drink the free wine and eat the complementary nibbles (which included UK-caught Tuna among its ingredients, which is something of a rarity apparently). It was nice to all meet without a table covered in meeples between us.

But Sam and I sped back early to relieve visiting gamer Chris of his duties because he was kindly babysitting for Sam. Once there, we agreed to play a couple of light games to round off the evening. Chris was eager to try something new, but Sam was already a little too drunk to explain any rules and it was getting late so the familiar old box of Seven Wonders was brought out.

After being over-played and falling out of fashion, Seven Wonders has re-established itself as a quick game, perfect for rounding off an evening with three or four players. Not too taxing, but not too lightweight either. The first game was a exciting affair. Sam was perhaps distracted by having to cook pasta at the same time as playing, while maybe Chris had on eye on the England-Sweden game?

Chris went for the jugular and bullied his way to military might,. He insisted that he had no choice those were just the cards he got, but I’m not convinced. I quickly built up all the resources I needed in the first round, and before long I was the Mr Rockefeller of the table as people bought what they needed from me. This came in useful in round three, as I was able to spend this money and pick the choicest bluest cards. It ended:

Andrew 61
Chris 52
Sam 50

Curses! Just two points short of the highest ever score, I thought.

Sam suggested another go, since the game was already out. Even though I never win a game twice in a row, I agreed.

Once again Chris reached for his guns and fought his way into an early military lead. I went for sciences and managed to chain 5 symbols together for a healthy twenty-five points, while Sam scored highly in all categories. It was a very close game, and when my and Chris’ scores came up equal, we did wonder if it would be a three-way tie. In the end, though, Sam’s calculated play edged him home.

Sam 59
Chris 57
Andrew 57

But this week’s “official” games night will be an interesting affair. Postponed to Thursday, it consists of with two simultaneous games going on in two different venues, with carrier pigeons and semaphore to be used as means of communication throughout the night. And maybe our phones, too. I suggested that we all play one game and amalgamate the scores into one big five (or six) player game, and I think Seven Wonders may be the best choice: the top score doesn’t seem to be effected by the number of players. And it’s a lovely way to end an evening.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The GNN High Score Tables

Hey, remember when videogame magazines had pages dedicated to high scores where people could send in their high scores, and then everyone else could look at their high scores? Well, I thought we could do something similar. I only listed games that’ve been played three times or more, and sometimes I’ve included scores for different number of players.

Sam 46

Sam 141 (three players)
Sam 113 (four players)

Ascending Empires
Sam 39

Joe 191 (online version. GNN record is also Joe with 177 points)

Sam 96

For Sale
Andrew 68

Adam 120

No Thanks
This may be pre-blog, but I do remember Joe getting negative points once.

Chris 6 (three players)
Hannah 6 (four players)

Sam 54 (three players)
Hannah 40 (four players)

Seven Wonders
Adam 63

Stone Age
Chris 318 (two players)
Sam 265 (three players)
Adam 183 (four players)

Ticket to Ride
Adam 131

Tinners’ Trail
Sam 150 (three players)
Sam 115 (four players)

Trans America
Adam 0

Trans Europa
Sam 1 (three player)
Paul 3 (four player)

Torres: Worth it?

My copy of Torres arrived today - all the way from Greece, it came, in exchange for Popular Front - and Andrew was good enough to pop around and give it a trial run.

The game is fairly abstract but the tacked-on theme involves building castles for the king - the bigger your castle, and the higher your knight placed in it, the more points you get in the three scoring rounds, when the size-obsessed King comes to visit. There's four turns in each round (in the two player version) where you build castles, place knights, and get to ignore the basic rules via the implementation of 'action' cards.

Andrew tried to ignore the pumpkin...

On an aesthetic level it's quite pretty if you ignore the castles, which are the colour of a 1970's bathroom suite and overtly plastic. On a strategic one it's quite a thinker; though both Andrew and I ended up with nothing to do with our action points on a given turn - that may be a slight downside to the 2-player version or possibly we haven't fully comprehended the rules yet.

But aside from that it was relatively straightforward in the rules department but with depth to the possibilities - always a good ratio, I feel. And in terms of the mechanic it's very different to anything we have on GNN; certainly anything I can recall. Tikal lets you build (or 'discover') upwards, but not with this amount of flux and manipulation. You start with a nearly-flat board and as the game progresses it builds upwards as players construct their own castles and pop around to each others to claim credit for them as well.

We ended the game intrigued by it and enthused about playing with more people. I claimed a narrow victory (251 to 241) having played the first sneaky move on round two and shot ahead - though Andrew outscored me over the next two rounds, I just held on.

Definitely one to get to the table for 3 or 4 players in the near future.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Game Time in the Smith's

Joe's prescient comment on GNN applied all too well for Bracknell's split games nights. On the Monday I introduced James to the wonders of Stone Age. Two weeks ago Paul and I had whizzed through a game and still had time for 3 rounds of Aton. This week, with rule intake aside, we found ourselves checking that the side of the box did in fact say 60-90 minutes. Your first game of Stone Age can be a daunting experience especially against someone with a few games under their belt. As with my first game when Sam stressed the importance of culture cards and it wasn't until it was too late that I started collecting them, James found the variety of choices too enticing and embarked upon a balanced approach. Unknown to him, within the first 6 or 7 rounds, I had snaffled all of the people multipliers and was visiting the love hut with insatiable regularity. The game ended when we had exhausted the supply of civ cards which probably had something to do with the length of the game. With all of the civ cards split between us the hut, axe, field and people multipliers went nuts with scores coming up thus.

Chris 318
James 186

James revealed this was his favourite game so far. The rematch in a couple of weeks probably won't be so one sided!

On Tuesday Paul popped over again and it was decided to give new game A Few Acres Of Snow an airing. As mentioned before on the blog it is a 2 player game representing the war between Britain and France over the North East Americas. We started at about 7.30 and optimistically thought we would probably get a quick game of citadels in at the end before Paul's train at 11. Didn't really work out like that. The rules........ I had spent an hour going through them in the day to make the process a little easier when it got to game time. Unfortunately It didn't help. The game plays out like a version of Dominion and London stuck together and as with those two there is a lot of card referencing to be done. It's a game worth persevering with as once you get over the hump of your first 5 moves it starts to flow. However, to the newbie, the extended AP and constant checking of what a card does and what goes with it as well slowed play right down. By 10pm we were hitting our stride and starting to make headway toward each other after a lot of time building up our respective decks. Me, playing the French, had by 10.30 performed a successful siege and chased Paul out of Halifax after he had rudely settled in between my two villages...... then just as we were really in the swing of it it was 10.50 and time for Paul to catch his train.... We decided to score the board anyway as neither of us were anywhere near the game ending conditions.

Chris - 55
Paul - 37

Another one that is going to be played next time for sure.

Just one note on anybody thinking of buying this and wanting to do some research on the Geek. There are many threads saying that the game is "broken" and that there is an unstoppable tactic by one of the sides that works every time. Interested though I was I avoided reading them because it would ruin the game. I will probably never stumble across this tactic either so I don't need to know about it......

Tuesday, 8 November 2011


Tonight saw a plethora of gamers gathered at Joe's house - as well as the 'Cheltenham Four' (myself (Sam), Adam, Andrew and Joe) Steve and Quentin made it along too, and we decided to split into two groups of three, playing different games.

However the mood was briefly tense when Quentin ventured to suggest Joe had too many games. If Joe employed a pianist on these nights to keep the mood light, he would have stopped playing at this point. But thankfully the tension passed with Joe breaking out Hamburgum for himself, Adam and Steve and making his 'cheeseburgum' joke. The rest of us opted for Alhambra.

We'd all played it before but for Quentin there had been a number of years in the interim. But he shrugged the woolly cloak of time aside and began building Moorish temples like there was no tomorrow. Fortunately for me, I'd built a ludicrously long wall, enough to see off Quentin's gardens and late charge into Chambers:

Sam 141
Quentin 130
Andrew 82

Seven Wonders was a tighter affair, with all of us scoring big in certain colours and covering the bases - mostly - on others. But Quent's avenue of blue buildings squeezed him into top spot by the skin of his teeth:

Quentin 60
Sam 59
Andrew 50

I'm not sure what happened in Hamburgum because despite a game length on the box claiming '1 hour' they were still building churches after Andrew, Quentin and I had finished a game of Alhambra and a game of Seven Wonders. I'm sure the comments will be abuzz - but the last we heard was Joe saying "I'm in the lead, but Adam's winning". A familiar sensation to most of us I'd hazard. Eventually Hamburg must have been churched up to the gills, however, as Joe texted me the final scores:

Adam 106
Joe 86
Steve 77

Another night of high drama and starchy foods comes to an end then (one assumes) and take heed; next week will be at Joe's house on Thursday. See you then...

The leaderboard...


Sunday, 6 November 2011

Is this a game, or is it my science homework?

Tonight was a special night for the GNN regulars. Tonight we were to attempt the board game High Frontier. This leviathan of a game (about exploring the Solar System) with its many rules is a sort of north face of the Eiger for semi-casual gamers such as us.

We began at seven o’clock on Saturday. I had taken precautions and read through the rules online, taking notes as I did. Joe also had read through them, and Adam too had some knowledge of the rules. Sam, however, had no idea of what the game entailed. As it turned out, this was like turning up to base camp in Bermuda shorts and flip-flops.

I am delighted at the clarity and thoroughness of my notes

After the rules were explained, the game got under way at around eight. We slowly built up our technologies and water tanks, when I decided to break free of Low Earth Orbit and set off to a new planet. Or moon. I landed on Deimos at 9.20 – the first of our group to successfully touch down on alien land! I was so excited, I wanted to text someone to boast about my achievement. Unfortunately, the only people I knew who’d be interested were with me in the room at the time.

Soon after that, Adam colonised the Moon, and Joe set off towards Jupiter or something. It’s hard to say, because he then looked at his cards, said “oh, fuck” and before long his ship had disintegrated. Sam, meanwhile, was getting frustrated. He had two thrusters to build his rocket with, but both were rubbish. They were solar sails, and one barely used any fuel until you needed to perform a “burn” at which point it became very inefficient. The other barely got you anywhere at all.

I successfully identify the playing area on the table

Adam and I continued to build up our extra-terrestrial concerns, while Joe tried again at the outer Solar System. But at 10.45 Sam discovered he couldn’t land on Mars with the ship he had, and so he resigned from the game rather than go all the way back to Earth and build a new one.

After Sam left, Adam and Joe began to prospect in the Asteroid Belt and they discovered just how mean a die can be, as one asteroid after another came up blank. Meanwhile (twelve minutes past eleven), I got some Glory points for taking a human crew to an asteroid (Phaethon) and safely back. The ticker-tape parade and extensive media coverage had to remain in my imagination, though, as Joe and Adam were too busy trying to find anywhere worth claiming as their own to acknowledge my epoch-defining achievement.

Joe and I discuss the rules. Adam can barely hide his excitement.

The game struggled on. I headed back out to Phaethon, hoping to refuel and tackle the outer Solar System, but by the time I got there, it was midnight and I was exhausted. By now Adam had succeeded in finding another asteroid worth prospecting and Joe finally got a bit of luck with a dice roll and landed and prospected on his first extra-terrestrial lump of rock. It was ten past twelve. We had been playing for four hours.

I called an end to proceedings with barely any argument from Joe and Adam, and I counted up the scores. To be honest I thought I had won, but I forgot about the scores for different types of factories. My “D” factories scored nothing at all, but Adam and Joe had other types of factories, giving them eight points each. In the end, it was:

Adam 12
Joe 10
Andrew 8

It was a game that promised a lot of geek-driven joy, but in the end did not deliver. Even I, who did quite well at the start thanks to some lucky rolls, found it quite a grind towards the end.

We ended the evening by ruefully admitting that we'll probably never play this game again, but I'm not sure. If I see someone setting this up at Stabcon, I may be tempted to join in. Assuming it's still early afternoon, that is.