Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Some Kind of Wonderful

This week’s GNN saw a return to Easton, as Chez Adam was our venue for tonight. There were five of us:

First was a new game, the poorly-spelt Mascarade. It’s a Coup-esque game of bluff, except while Coup has two cards and you can look at them, Mascarade has one card, which you can’t look at it. Well, you can, but that’s your go for that turn.

The game begins with everyone being dealt a card that is then placed face up in front of them. Then they’re turned face down, and the general gist is that you can swap (or pretend to swap) your card with another player, look at your card, or perform your card’s special action. However, if another player (or players) think that they have the same card face down in front of them, then they can challenge. If there’s a challenge, then the players involved turn their cards face up and whoever is the real card-owner gets the benefit of the action, and the liar has to pay one coin to the court. First to 13 coins wins.

It’s a test of memory, really, as to who has what card or, more precisely, who you think has what card. Joe said afterwards that he went through the whole game mistaken about what his card actually was. And he came second. There was an air of cautious praise once we'd finished. I think this is one of those games that you can’t be sure if you like it until you’ve played it a few times.

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

After this we debated our next game. Railways of the World Great Britain almost made it to the table, but Gonz is allergic to train games, so it went back in the box. Instead we chose 7 Wonders, but this time with the Cities and Leaders expansion packs. Gonz explained them, and there were rule book in both Spanish and English, so we set off into battle, fully briefed and prepared for anything!

I have to admit, though, I did not have fun. Maybe it was my choice of leaders at the beginning, but my distaste of game expansions remains undiminished. It felt like we were playing all the bits that had been removed while they were play-testing the original. I found it fiddly and tedious. Others seemed to enjoy it more, though. Gonz went for sciences again, but found himself beaten by pacifist Adam who diversified, winning on only two categories, but coming second in three.

Adam 72
Gonz 67
Joe 66
Sam 63
Andrew 43

After this we went for Ra. It was new to Gonz and we decided to share rule-explainer’s curse by all of us taking turns in telling him how to play the game. Then off we set! However, I soon found myself falling behind and, not knowing what anything was worth, Gonz was also struggling. The other three, though, were having a titanic struggle. Sam hoarded gold, Joe used Gods, and Adam gave the proceedings a Vegas sort of feel, when Hannah came and sat on his knee like a gangster’s moll. To complete the effect, because he couldn’t lean over any more, he had to throw his tiles onto the board like a bored millionaire putting a cool grand on red 34.

But the game was slow going. There were plenty of toilet breaks, and Anja and Steve also arrived midway through to talk about babies or something. At one point, the games table looked like a lonely place to be. Poor show, chaps....

In the end, it could hardly have been closer. Adam, Joe and Sam took their places as New, Middle and Late Kingdoms (yes, I looked up “Ancient Egypt” on Wikipedia) while Gonz and I had to made do with pretending to be the shitty Old Kingdom and the Early Dynastic Period.

Adam 42
Joe 41
Sam 40
Andrew 22
Gonz 11

A bad evening for me, and not so great for Sam either.

Sam, distraught
Adam, meanwhile, is one away from the perfect five! Who can stop this gaming juggernaut?

Adam 1 1 1 1 2 6
Joe 2 3 2 1 2 10
Gonz5 2 3 2 1 13
Sam3 4 4 3 3 17
Andrew4 5 5 2 2 18
Quentin3 5 55 5 23


  1. I think I'm somewhere between your 7 Wonders purism and Gonz's expansion love, Andrew. I would agree that the game doesn't "need" them, but I thought they were quite fun and can imagine, once you were familiar with the iconography, playing it more intuitively than we did last night. I suffered from not the rule explainers curse but the shoot-myself-in-the-foot curse, paying 6 coins to Gonz and 2 to you for resources I either already had (on my yellow card) or didn't need (I meant to build my guild for free courtesy of my leader, but forgot). Which would have been 3 more points to me and a couple off Gonz. But unfortunately remembering the rules is a part of the game...

    I think I liked Mascerade. Not as simple as Coup but I like the hidden card bluff/confusion elements and, as we noted last night, nobody gets knocked out. One to try again.

    And Ra is always great. Thanks guys - lovely to see Steve, Anja and Hannah too.

  2. Yes Ra is an all time favourite - pure game, no fiddliness.

    I liked the expansions for 7W, but I'm not at the stage with the base game where I feel I know it to the extent that it's boring, so I could take them or leave them really. That said I share Andrew's suspicion of expansions in general, particularly where Spiel des Jahre winners are concerned . . .

    Coup is pure bluff, Mascarade adds huge levels of uncertainty, so it feels very chaotic, but fun nonetheless - I'd like to play again. The designer reckons the sweet spot is 10 players; It felt fairly hard trying to keep track of 6 special abilities, I'd be wary of trying it with all the extra cards and a large group of people who don't know what they're doing - sounds like a recipe for disaster.

    Lovely to catch a glimpse of Steve and Anja, sorry it was so fleeting!

  3. The roulette number and colour checks out too :)

  4. Sorry about my no trains policy guys, maybe with time I'll get to appreciate those dry,dry euros....don't give up hope!
    About RA, I'll have to give it another go before deciding if I like it or not, yesterday I felt quite lost playing it.
    And Mascarade felt very chaotic and fun, and has the!
    I think if you play a couple of games of 7 wonders with the expansion, you won't look back! It takes a little to get used to the new symbols...
    Anyway, had great fun shouting RA! and UGH!, and thanks again for the rides

  5. I wasn't totally sold on the extra buildings in the 7 wonders expansion - they don't change the game much, just give you more options to think about - but the Leaders definitely added to the strategy in a way I liked (even if Gon did get more than his fair share!)

    In Ra I had such a good first round that I almost coasted through the rest of the game and was very lucky not to be pipped by Joe at the end. I think you'll get the hang of it next time Gon.

    Oh and in the spirit of booking in future train games can I request Railways of the world as our first game next week? Pretty please?

  6. I've brought Mascarade along every time I've seen you guys so far, but no one seemed interested! I love it. It's really fun (and even more chaotic) with a big group.

    Ra is one of my top ten and I'll play it any time.

    Railways of the World is great too (and not dry Gonz!)

  7. Yep Railways is very thematic - it's one of the least abstracted games I've ever played.

  8. sorry Martin I'm pretty sure I hadn't seen it! Otherwise I might not have bought it. But happy to play again for sure!

  9. Ah yeah, I didn't bring any games to Joe's actually - just the Roll for the Soul gatherings. Happy to play any time!

  10. ey!¡ a game can be thematic and very dry at the same time (see power grid) And really, joe? you have not played anything more thematic than that?? I think I should stop complaining about the game, If i try it and like it I will never hear the end of it, won´t I?
    Anyway, considering the love for this game I will have to a) try it next week or b) see you in the roll for the soul meeting and play something else (Castles of burgund,maybe?)