Thursday, 31 May 2012

Terra Nouveau

Starved of games for the past fortnight, I sent out the call for extra-curricular activities on Wednesday hoping enough people would feel sorry for me to make it a GNN night proper. Clearly I underplayed my "poor waif" hand though, as it was just myself and Andrew who convened, making it non-leaderboard. Did we care? Not a jot, as we broke out Terra Nova, my trade with a BGGeek in Venezuela, which took about ten weeks to get here.

I had hardly started in on the rules when Andrew noticed the uncanny similarities between the meeples and Wallace of Wallace and Gromit fame.

Is there no escape from their ubiquity? Anyway after the tickly rules and underwhelming gameplay of Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas (I couldn't even be bothered to blog my disappointment, even if I do like saying the name in the manner of a Gregorian monk in a particularly gloomy sulk) Terra Nova has an exceedingly simple and ingenious mechanic: After setting up (placing all our settlers on the board) you have three action points: The first must be spent moving a settler; as far as you like in any one direction. Then the second and third can be spent however you like between two options: moving a second (and possibly third) settler, and/or placing a fence adjacent to any settler you've moved.

That's it. The board is broken up into several terrains and scoring occurs when any section that contains three or less of them is fenced off. The most settlers within that area takes the points, or they are split if it's a tie. In this instance I rushed the endgame slightly, so I'll never know if I might have been able to eke a way past Andrew or not, but as it was he won in the tightest of finishes, 85 to 84.

I liked it. The early play is not as ingenious as the design, but it was an enjoyable battle of wits with an exponential ramping up of tension as the board closes itself out. And though it's to all intents and purposes an abstract I got the feeling we'd be more likely to play it again than Inka (which I liked but Andrew didn't) and the aforementioned Sator... which we both thought was crap. I could also see it coming out on a Tuesday once in a while.

After that we played 7 Wonders, and as with Terra Nova I made the early running only to find Andrew's long-game overhaul me, as he stared down my armies from his smorgasboard of blue buildings. *Mafiosi voice* I miss two weeks, suddenly I can't win a fockin' thing!

Here's Adam in those glasses:

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

There is nothing like a game!

Tonight the core four gamers convened for another night's Games Night. This was Sam's first attendance since going under the knife, after skirting perilously close to the dangerous waters of appendicitis.

So, with Sam, Joe, Adam and myself we began with a light introduction. Something without too much reaching across the table, in light of Sam's still-bandaged torso. Skulls and Roses. This game of guessing and counter-guessing is quick and easy to learn and even though it was Sam's first go, we did say it was leaderboard. Honest, Adam.

1. Sam
2. Andrew
3. Joe
4. Adam

After this, it was eight o'clock and time for the headline act. The lights! The curtain! The roar of the crowd and the smell of fresh greasepaint! Yes, it was Colosseum, the game of dazzling showbiz larks in ancient Rome.

It had been a while, so there was some referencing the rule book, but nothing to stop the unbridled joy of putting on a show for passing dignitaries. My tactic was almost as daring as the costume I wore on the opening night of my final production! I ignored the doge, preferring to rely on blind luck with a single die to get bums on seats.

Adam did the same, deciding to build up his arena in the first round. This allowed him to put on an impressive five shows during the game. Meanwhile, showbiz jealousy reared its ugly head as Sam and Joe both stocked up on lions. A moment’s of indecision from Joe in the buying and building round allowed Sam to swoop in and buy the rights to Lions! The Musical! (or as it’s also know: The Legendary Lion Hunters)

Adam’s big production was Cesar’s Triumphant March: that epic tale which has so often been the ruin of an ambitious young producer. Joe went for something about Safaris, and I put on the cheeky but tasteful Isis’ Revealed Secrets. I was lucky enough to get the Emperor in and I had three star performers in the cast, which propelled me to first place.

Andrew 87
Adam 84
Sam 79
Joe 79

By now it was still only ten o’clock, so we returned to the skill and bluffwork of Skulls and Roses. This time Joe put all thoughts of his middling form out of his head, and cruised to two victories, making him GNN’s own Hell’s Angel leader. If only he had somewhere to park his Harley.

1. Joe
2. Andrew
3. Adam
4. Sam

1. Joe
2. Andrew
3. Adam
4. Sam

(not a mistake – we finished in the same places twice in a row)

No change at the top of the form table, but Joe rises to third. Sam’s illness has clearly affected him, as he tumbles down to seventh.

Steve 1 1 2 2 1 7
Andrew 2 2 1 2 2 9
Joe1 1 3 3 4 12
Anja2 2 5 2 2 13
Adam 3 3 2 4 1 13
Hannah3 5 11313
Sam 4 4 3 1 3 15
Quentin 1 35 5519
Jonny 2 25 5519
Paul 3 15 5519
Sally 3 55 5 5 23

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Because no car goes like a cargo goes

This week Paul made the long trek up the M4 (and other roads too) in order to join us, with his own creation Cargo! In his hands.

Five of us began the evening- me, Paul, Sam, Joe and Adam. We ooohed and ahhed as we unboxed Paul’s game, marvelling at the containers, the cards and the credits. Then Paul talked us through the rules, and we were off on a non-leaderboard adventure with heavy goods vehicles! We quickly decided that having plenty of lorries was a good idea, but then we got stung by road tax! Oh no! Also, different value cards were good, if you wanted to avoid the fate of Adam, who had two routes needing similar scores and could complete neither of them.

Andrew 45
Paul 44
Sam 40
Joe 19
Adam 15

At this point Sam gave in to his persistent illness and so Paul and I took him home, leaving Adam and Joe to play the game of Fit The Game Back In The Box. Once Paul and I returned, we perused Joe’s games cupboard and decided on Skulls and Roses and then Santiago as being new for Paul, and also easy to teach.

Skulls and Roses is like a simple version of Perudo, without all the clattering. We bet on whether we have skulls or roses on the underside of our beer mats. It’s a game of bluffing, which I’m very bad at. Paul, though, with his steely glare and poker face did very well, winning the requisite two rounds. Joe and Adam managed to win one each, while I was played for a fool, and didn’t win any at all.

1. Paul
2= Joe
2= Adam
3. Andrew

Santiago got another outing, again without the presence of Sam. We will play it one day when he’s here, honest. I tried to be as mean as possible when I was the Canal Overseer, and Adam seemed to go through the whole game with almost no money at all. Until the last round when I bribed him a lot to save one of my fields and lose one of his.

I bemoaned my fate of twice taking potato tiles, only for them to lose its only man or go arid that same go: “These potatoes have been a curse to me. You could say they’ve been a blight.” Oh, I’m hilarious. In the end, Adam took first place comfortably.

Adam 77
Andrew 67
Paul 58
Joe 54

Not much movement on the form table, except Anja edging upwards and Paul taking his place among us.

Steve 1 1 2 2 1 7
Adam 1 2 3 2 4 12
Anja2 2 5 2 2 13
Sam 3 2 3 3 2 13
Hannah3 5 11313
Andrew 2 3 5 3 1 14
Joe4 2 4 1 5 16
Quentin 1 35 5519
Jonny 2 25 5519
Paul 3 15 5519
Sally 3 55 5 5 23

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Bracknell's new recruit

Bracknell's roving reporter reports...


Last week went by in a blur. So much so I didn't have hardly any time to do anything let alone write up the games played, which was a shame because Cargo! was tabled for a second time. With rules refined and money/credits now printed out via the colour printer I gave Paul the game is starting to take shape. Depots are reduced to just the players home areas and now it costs to place containers into your opponents spaces and to take containers out. After my defeat last time I decided to beef up on lorries to maximise my route potential. This tactic and a few fortuitous card draws brought off my first win!

We also played 2 games of Roll Through the Ages and a quick game of Mummut all won be me but the real amazing moment of the week came today on my non game week. Driving back from Peppa Pig world with the family my wife Jacquie (confirmed board game disliker), announced that she quite fancied playing a board game this evening. After successfully not crashing into the central barrier I realised that this was probably one of those things people say on a whim like "I think I shall take up archery", and then as quickly as it popped in to their head it vanishes. However, after the bed time routine had come and gone and we had watched another episode of Breaking Bad, the question of a game came up again. I was concerned. This was an opportunity not to waste. Pick a game too nerdy and I could kiss any further requests goodbye. I chose Roll Through the ages as it is quick to learn and has a play time of around 30 minutes.

In a scene redolent of Blackadder teaching Baldrick advanced mathematics, statements such as "No look, it's quite simple" and "OK, don't worry about that" were aired numerous times and at one point the game was completely packed away, only to be unpacked again after brief discussion.

With Jacquie wearing a face like one reacting to the cat litter tray in the morning we proceeded. 20 minutes later Jacquie had proceeded to beat me by 15 points...I mean how does that even happen?

I got my revenge in the rematch but here's hoping to maybe another session one day...

Don't judge a game by (the donkey on) its cover

This week, Sam was too ill to host, and so five eager gamers arrived at Joe's abode for the evening's battle. Joe, Adam and I dabbled with a little non-leaderboard Rattle Snakes. This time Joe's magnet placement skills deserted him and Adam won both times. But that was just the warm up. With Steve and Anja yet to arrive, we chose Pickominos to start us off properly.

Joe began well and soon had a pile of tiles in front of him. I found my luck was a bit erratic and often had to put my tiles back with each unsuccessful round. Adam did okay for most of the time. But near the end, we found ourselves locked into a pattern of picking up a tile and then putting back a tile. The game looked to be never-ending and with Anja and Steve at the door, we called an end to it.

Joe 8
Adam 1
Andrew 0

The five of us discussed the options and went for Santiago, the game of field planting and then irrigation (rather than the other way round, which is what most sensible farmers would do). Steve wasn't convinced by it's incredibly dull board and the cheap tourist cocktail-style palm trees. However, we persevered, and after some rule explaining and trying to guess why Cybil the dog was whining, we began.

Don't be fooled by the shallow focus - this looks cheap

Bidding, negotiation, bribing. All in a day's work as a farmer in Santiago. I'm not very good at any of those things, so I soon felt I was lagging. But not doing so badly that I gave up hope. After all, I had most of the leeks/sweetcorn/whatever they were. Joe went into chillis, Adam invested in potatoes and Anja had gone bananas (a ha ha). But no one noticed the quiet farmer in the corner. The sensible one who never won bidding wars and who quietly ploughed his own field. Which just so happened to be next to other people's fields of the same kind.

Yes, I mean Steve. He won with a wide range of second places across the board, causing surprise to sweep across the table. A cunning victory and one that very much went under the radar.

Steve 113
Anja 109
Adam 96
Joe 82
Andrew 75

And we ended, tired but happy, and wondering how we managed to make a one-hour game last so long. Our thoughts returned to the design of the game as we were packing away, and we commended it for at least having a donkey on the front of the box.

Our resident expert Joe said that, talking about donkeys on the lids of board games, had we seen Roads & Boats? He'd first seen this game being played at Stabcon, and the artwork was of a style that he thought they were playing a home-made version.

I was especially tickled by the text design, where they'd obviously noticed that the two words in the title shared three of their five letters, and decided to really go for it. But we noted that meant it could equally be called Rods and Bats. Or Broads? Or Brad's Oats? Boas and Stoats?

We left Chez Joe, chuckling away at board game design but still not entirely sure why Cybil the dog had been whining. She calmed down after a while, so it can't have been important.

In terms of the form table, Steve takes his place at the top of the form table for the first time, I believe. And, despite being ill, Sam climbs to second. Anja also rises to a career-best fourth.

Steve 1 1 2 2 1 7
Sam2 3 3 2 2 12
Adam3 2 4 2 1 12
Anja2 2 5 2 2 13
Hannah3 5 11313
Andrew 5 3 1 1 3 13
Joe4 1 5 4 2 16
Quentin 1 35 5519
Jonny 2 25 5519
Sally 3 55 5 5 23

Photos taken with unashamed abandon from Board Game Geek.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Gamers on the freeway, destination unknown

Tonight, a last minute call for an evening's entertainment went out, but where? Sam couldn't host, so maybe Joe could. Then Joe said he might not be able to but equally he might, so Adam stepped forward. But then Adam couldn't get hold of Hannah to clear it with her, so the ball was back in Joe's park. In the end, me and Sam were driving down the legendary Ashley Down Road, and we still weren't sure where we were headed. "We don't know where we're going, we only know where we've been" as the song goes.

We soon learnt that we were going to Joe's. Stopping at the off licence beforehand, of course.

So five of us: myself, Sam, Hannah, Adam and Joe convened around Joe's kitchen table. We chose a new game: Manila. Well, it sort of chose itself. First, I got the board out to see how it looked. Then Joe explained the rules so after all that we thought we may as well play it.

It's a neat game of betting on a number of events in the game. How many (of the three) ships will successfully come into harbour; which of the ships will make it; which won't; will any land on space thirteen (and get plundered by pirates) and so on. On top of all this, there's money to be made on successfully transported goods, and on holding shares in frequently transported goods.

It's very simple, but it did need quite a lot of reference to the rules which weren't always as clear as we wanted. But we came up with a couple of impromptu house rules, and the game carried on without a hitch. And also, if a player runs out of money, they can bring in some cash by choosing to encumber a share. Not a wise move, tactically, but it's a lot of fun to say "encumber".

I found it very interesting. Perhaps not at its best with five players, since by the end of the round the choices available were pretty limited. However, this was balanced by the chance to bid money to be The Harbour Master, which gave you the chance to buy shares and – most importantly – place your pieces first.

It is a clever game with plenty going on. I was the only player to successfully grab a ship using pirates, and I think that was the vital factor in my win.

Andrew 139
Adam 109
Sam 98
Joe 82
Hannah 52

After this Hannah decided she had to go. However while Joe, Sam and I decided what game we could play to finish the evening, she must have been swayed by the cornucopia of delights we were considering since she then decided that perhaps she could stay for one more. We chose Incan Gold, our new favourite game of stealing precious artefacts from dead civilizations.

It also demonstrated Sam's new-found psychokinetic abilities. In the first round of the game, he was able to call forth zombie ladies at will. Unfortunately he did so well, that he ended the round too soon and everyone lost their treasure.

It was a low scoring game, with bad things usually coming in pairs. As it was Sam and I were quickest on our feet in the face of any potential danger, and it went down to a tie-breaker (number of artefacts) to decide the winner.

Andrew 17 (+ 1 artefact)
Sam 17
Hannah 13
Adam 12
Joe 8

Although I should thank Adam for pointing out that I had 17 points, not 12 as I had stated. I think I was a bit drunker than I thought. I suspicion I later confirmed to myself when I got home and tried to swat a moth on the ceiling, almost falling off my bed in the process. But drunk or not, I rise back to the top of the Form Table.

Andrew1 1 313 9
Adam4 2 1 2 1 10
Steve 1 2 2 1 5 11
Sam2 3 3 2 2 12
Hannah3 5 11313
Anja2 5 2 2 415
Joe5 4 2 3 2 16
Quentin 1 35 5519
Jonny 2 25 5519
Sally 3 55 5 5 23

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

And can we have the scores from Germany, please

Tonight finally saw the Teutonic double bill that had been promised several weeks ago. Wallenstein taking pride of place on Joe's big round kitchen table, and Maria squeezed onto a collapsible card table. And so began our adventures into 18th century central Europe!

Sam, Adam, Joe and me began the evening with a quick game of Dixit. This clever game of bluffing relies on the sly imagination of the player to describe (in one sentence) a picture they hold in their hand of cards. Then other people have to find a card in their hand that could, at a pinch, also relate to that sentence. The cards are all mixed up and displayed for people to vote on. Points are allocated for popularity. In the end, Anja and Steve arrived having dealt with a bicycle puncture, so we finished the game early with three of us on the same number of points, and Adam in last (ie, second).

Then Anja, Steve and Sam set forth once more into the tumbling world of Wallenstein, while Adam, Joe and I sat down for the new experience of deciding the succession to the Austrian throne by playing a version of trumps. With a map. We went through the rules which seemed complicated at first, but once you start, they make more sense.

Sam, Anja and Steve seemed to have a jolly old time with Wallenstein. I'll leave it to them to fill in the details in the comments, but hearing Sam say the phrase "Despotism brings out your feminine side" mid-game made me wonder if they were playing a variant. Anyway, the scores were

Steve 57
Anja 57
Sam 54

With Steve and Anja tied on points and then on number of palaces, so it went to number of churches which Steve just won by. A very close game.

Meanwhile, back in Austria, I was frustrated because we were playing the introductory game, which meant I couldn't attack Adam (who was, historically speaking, an ally) even though we'd agreed an aggression pact before the game.

This meant I couldn't stop his slow spread of blue (for a change) cardboard chits across the map. Joe tried his best to fight on two fronts and I made a fatal mistake of going for a poorly defended town miles from anywhere, while there were more towns to conquer in the middle of the board.

It was okay. I'd like to play the full version, with all three against each other, rather than two against one. Plus it was quite long. In the end, Adam fulfilled his winning criteria just after midnight, long after the Wallenstein crew had packed up and re-inflated their flat tyres. Regarding second place, strictly speaking there isn't one in this game but I decided that Joe should take it since he was two-thirds of the way to reaching his target, while I was barely past halfway.
The final state of the board. Is that . . . blue custard?

Adam: best player!
Joe: noble effort
Andrew: clueless

This is now the third or fourth game based in Germany/Austria that has lots of fiddly rules and that Adam is good at. It pushes him to the top of the Form Table.

Adam1 2 1 1 3 8
Sam3 2 2 2 1 10
Steve 1 2 2 1 5 11
Andrew3 1332 12
Joe2 3 2 5 3 15
Anja2 5 2 2 415
Quentin 1 35 5519
Jonny 2 25 5519
Sally 3 55 5 5 23

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Galaxy Truckers and Galaxy Caramel

Tonight, four of the GNN regulars had arranged to meet up (with Joe fuming enviously, unable to attend). As it turned out, Hannah was a late cancellation so three of us were sat around the table this chilly May evening: Adam, Sam and me.

With Adam supplying plentiful chips, we had to eat them up quickly and wash our hands since we had decided on Galaxy Truckers as our first challenge. This game of ad hoc spaceship construction is more tactile than most games with all players scrambling to uncover the best tiles, so greasy fingers are a definite faux pas.

We decided on a variant of Adam's own choosing: start on round two and then play both round threes. An interesting new twist to the game, it avoids the relative safety of round one and throws you straight into a field of big meteors, pirates and epidemics right from the start.

Galaxy Truckers is a great game and quite different to anything else we play. The randomness is offset by the opportunity to look at the cards beforehand, and our own haste and stupidity are as much our enemies as the pack of cards we have to navigate through, since bits often fell off our spaceships before each round had begun... to great hilarity from the other players.

I played a safe game. I finished my ship last, but always solidly made, and I was rarely in first when it came to facing down pirates or nabbing goods from abandoned ships. Sam took most of the these events, cleverly dropping back just in time to let someone else take a few meteorites in his face or laser blasts from behind. And it was usually Adam who faced the worst of these incidents, not helped at all by his evil nemesis: dice.

In the end, Sam's space-age handiwork won the day, with me coming in a comfortable second. I suppose we should've felt bad for Adam coming in last when he'd also supplied such brand-appropriate chocolate (the Galaxy Caramel in the title)... but we didn't.

Sam 132
Andrew 80
Adam 67

Next we chose Seven Wonders, a game undergoing a bit of a revival at GNN Towers recently. I had the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, which had the tempting option of building a discarded card for free whenever you build part of your wonder. I thought (and still do) this this was a very powerful option, and I made sure to discard good cards knowing I could build them easily later on. But I put all my building into the last round, and didn't have enough time to do everything I wanted to. Plus I should've discarded a guild that gave Adam about fifteen points, but I didn't notice it until it was too late. As it was, my lack of foresight left me in third while the warmongering Adam wrestled first from Sam by the narrowest of margins.

Adam 59
Sam 58
Andrew 45

It was still early and I still had half a can of beer beside me, so another game was suggested. Tsuro – that classic game of tense duelling with dragons on rails – was chosen. In the first game I graciously allowed Sam one extra go when I could have annihilated us both, but he couldn't make the advantage count, and Adam took first place again.

1. Adam
2. Sam
3. Andrew

Finally, Sally arrived from swimming. Or not swimming. Either way, she joined us on our last game of the evening: one last round of Tsuro. This time I sent Sally into the corner of doom, while Adam and Sam leapt off the board like synchronised lemmings, leaving me with a last-minute win for the evening.

1. Andrew
2= Sam
2= Adam
3. Sally

Meanwhile, all this mucking about with three-player games has left the three of us at the top of the Form Table. What a coincidence! Plus tonight saw the first use of the high-tech scoreboard to track tonight's progress for all to see.

Sam 2 2 2 1 1 8
Adam 2 1 1 3 3 10
Andrew1332 2 11
Steve 2 2 1 5 212
Joe3 2 5 3 4 17
Anja5 2 2 4 4 17
Quentin 1 35 5519
Jonny 2 25 5519
Sally 3 55 5 5 23

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Between a rock and a big space

It was with welcome arms we celebrated the return of Quentin last night: The Strategist, as he is hardly ever known (but should be) had been away for too long. Also away, but not of his own accord, was Andrew, who spent the first half-hour of the evening trapped in his flat waiting for a locksmith. This raises the bar as to what one goes through to attend games night - I rarely have to leave the house, but I do have to contend with a lifetime of cocked eyebrows. Who is going to be dropped off by ambulance, with their clothes caked in arterial blood? If it's Adam, I hope he brings chips.

Anyway with five us present pre-Andrew, we indulged in a spot of tomb-raiding with the in-vogue Incan Gold. This is very much a game of luck, with some very minimal strategising based on the liklihood of what card is coming next - something you more often than not get wrong anyway. I was resolved to change my habit of dashing out first, hoping the others would perish, and after a hesitant first round I pushed my luck so much in the second one - successfully - that I could play a fairly laid-back final three rounds. The highlight though was Steve's evil cackling anytime somebody crashed and burned - usually Joe. A new side to the apparently sanguine charity worker...

Sam  51
Steve 37
Quentin  27
Adam  18
Joe 7

Andrew arrived toward the end of the game and now six-handed, we debated how to proceed. Joe got as far as laying Maria out on the table, but only Adam really bit (Andrew and Quentin were tempted, but put off by the relatively late hour) so it was folded away again. Following some 'after you' style negotiation - we really need someone bossy at these moments - we finally split into two groups of three. Steve, Adam and Quentin played Ascending Empires and Joe, Andrew and myself began building our Alhambra's.

My luck continued at the start of the game and lasted throughout - it's a less random game than Incan Gold, but you are often at the mercy of the non-negotiable correlation between cards and tiles, and things just seem to offer themselves up to me: I swiftly created a long wall and found myself in the lead on Towers. When the first scoring round arrived Joe had only placed two tiles, and his position didn't look that healthy. But he pulled it back to nab second from Andrew, courtesy of his maze of Arcades and Chambers.

Sam  157
Joe   103
Andrew 94

Over in deep space the others were in deep thought, and the description of Ascending Empires as 'a bit of fun' looked to have taken on a majestically dark hue, as Quentin played a game of combat and Adam fought to keep him in check. Steve meanwhile was lurking around the edges, picking up scraps like a good adaptive lifeform should. But they were a long way from finished, so we broke out Mammut, inspired by Chris' recent game in the Bracknell branch.

I like Mammut, but it can melt your brain. It's a game of juggling possibilities, where one advantage negates another, and you can never get everything you really need. But the mechanic of choosing your hand through negotiation is really nice, and no matter how far you are behind if someone has a bad round and you have a good one, the game can be turned on it's head. That said, Joe's early lead disintegrated in the face of his reluctance to ever get a decent fire going. Allied to always being last on the mammoth track, it meant he fell too far behind to stand a chance of catching us on the final round, and was faced with the choice of either maximising his own points or shunting Andrew in front of me. Honourably, he chose the former, giving me a somewhat fortuitous 1-1-1 spread for the night.

Sam  96
Andrew 83
Joe   62

Andrew and Joe left and I turned my attention back to Ascending Empires. I remarked how it looked an even spread of planet occupation across the board, but Adam noted fatalistically that that was about to change. And all it took was the time for me to wash up some beer bottles for the whole political make-up of the galaxy to swing to McPhee green, as Quentin went on the rampage, destroying Adam's civilizations with merciless abandon. Steve's elusive approach got him a very healthy second:

Quentin 40
Steve     35
Adam    20

A fine evening, thank you gentlemen.

Sam 1 1 1 1 3 7
Steve 2 2 1 5 212
Adam 3 4 2 1 2 12
Andrew2 3 4 4 3 16
Joe3 2 5 3 4 17
Anja5 2 2 4 4 17
Quentin 1 35 5519
Jonny 2 25 5519

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Last week in rainy Bracknell

Mammut was tabled this week after our inability to work out the rules last time. I had spent a few moments the day before playing myself and found that actually, it was quite simple and fast moving. For those that can't remember the premise from its last GNN entry, it is a stone-age themed game of the policy used in many households where one child cuts the cake and the other chooses which piece they want. Instead of cake though it is the spoils of a hunt which, somewhat incongruously, includes axes and fire. Each player makes a grab for a share of the haul and the other can either take whats left or snatch an opponents pickings. The grabbing can go on for some time until either equilibrium or apathy takes hold.

The game's scoring has a neat device that hauls back players in some categories so even though I gained an early lead on turn 4 I saw Paul's purple elephant barreling past me like it had seen a packet of peanuts on square 50. Then when it got there it proceeded to race away as if chased by an imaginary mouse, (Thats the elephant stereotypical imagery done away with then) as Paul made a connection with the ? tiles being an effective winning tool.

Paul - 107
Chris - 80

Then on to Thurn and Taxis, where I recorded a win based on getting the big two scoring positions first. These being Bayern province and all the exterior provinces. In a game of narrow margins it was a surprise to see the final totals thus:

Chris - 38
Paul - 27

We still had enough time for one more game and seeing as it was Paul's choices this week (apart from Mammut) Ticket to Ride got another airing. It seemed like we made an un-said pact before the game, as we both decided to take as many tickets as possible. As always Paul was the most adventurous but this became his downfall. In the final tot up his uncompleted tickets dragged him back to make the scores,

Chris - 93
Paul - 90

Also last week I took my games round to James' house and persuaded him to have a go at Mammut. Although James won, with me again racing ahead only to be pegged back, he didn't enjoy the experience. It raised an interesting preference on his part where he doesn't enjoy games that involve being mean to your opponent. Most Eurogames avoid this and the only interaction you get is by restricting your opponents options. Mummut has a slight confrontational element to it and goes against that Eurogame grain. For myself, I like games that create a bit of interaction, otherwise they become more like a game of solitaire with someone across the board from you doing the same. I made a note to leave such games at home in future.

We finished off with a game of Stone Age. James' massive field bonus won the day here and my final round choice of going for another hut multiplier instead of taking culture cards he needed proving decisive. Charlotte, James' wife and fellow Scrabbler, often pokes her head round the door to see what bonkers game we are playing each week made this observation of Stone Age. That is was another one of those games where you don't know the score until the end. "Whats the point in that?" she said, "How do you compete not knowing how much you have to get to win? (Paraphrasing here).

Good point!