Wednesday, 6 November 2013

All the world’s a gauge

This Tuesday evening started a little earlier than usual. With a pre-arranged game of Railways Of The World: Great Britain on the agenda, we were keen to get started. Sam picked me up at 7, and we set off for Joe’s, texting him that we were on our way.

He wasn’t standing outside, so we parped the car horn. After few seconds he appeared, still chewing a mouthful of food, clearly still having his supper. We pulled over and waited for him. We felt a little guilty while we sat in the car. I mean, even though we’d arranged it, perhaps being this early was testing the patience of Joe’s family too much.

But then Joe got into the car, all doubts were banished and we were off again! We arrived at Adam’s house and as walked up his garden path the signs weren't good: The lights were all out and, as we discovered, when we knocked there was no reply. We stood around, trying to not look like feckless layabouts, and hoped that he hadn’t gone to my place. Maybe we had arrived too early after all.

But after a few minutes, a light from inside turned on. Hope! We knocked again, and there he was! Adam, with a bushy-beard and sparkling eyes, looking more like a Beatrix Potter character with every passing day.

We set up the game, and then Hannah arrived, so she decided to play too! Everything was falling into place. Thank goodness we set off early.

Adam got into an early lead with some choice bonuses, and Hannah, too, made good use of the London hotel, to add extra value to her south-east network. I went for Scotland at first, but found myself cut off, so I started again in South Wales. I was the first to deliver to Bristol, and I was disappointed that there was no bonus for being the first to deliver to the home city.

Sam turned his back on his past strategy of piling on the bonds, and instead played like a puritan. He tussled with Adam around Liverpool, and lorded it up in the Midlands.

Joe spent a lot of the game in last, rubbing his face in anguish, and complaining whenever it was his go. But he came good towards the end. Not enough to trouble the leading pack, but enough to save his blushes.

In the end, it was right down to the wire, with Hannah’s baron netting her a bonus, while Adam’s didn’t, but in the end Hannah cursed her five bonds to Adam’s two, dragging her back into second.

Adam 71
Hannah 70
Sam 59
Joe 50
Andrew 42

After this, we decided to try the new face on the GNN scene, Castle Dice. Previously, this was a light and pleasant way to spend forty-five minutes. But tonight, with four players who were used to the thoughtful ponderings of two hours of RotW:GB, it stretched out to double that.

Joe and Adam both reserved judgement on the game once we’d finished, but they seemed to enjoy it. A bit. They sort of tip-toed through the rules. The game had quite a different feel to it than before with  some long pauses before turns were taken. A couple of times, I wondered what they were thinking about, and maybe I was missing something. Obviously so, since I came last again.

Sam 13
Joe 11
Adam 10
Andrew 7

With two lengthy games, we made sure that even if we arrive early, we sure as hell don’t leave early!

Sam1 3 1 2 1 8
Adam 3 1 2 3 2 11
Joe 2 4 2 3 2 13
Gonz5 2 3 2 1 13
Chris1 1 3 4 5 14
Andrew4 5 3 4 3 19
Hannah2 5 55 5 22
Steve2 5 55 5 22
Anja3 5 55 5 23
Quentin3 5 55 5 23


  1. Thanks all for a lovely evening. A terrible showing for me at Railways; I had spotted that little yellow/purple cluster in the midlands and thought it would do as a cheap alternative start to the huge points cards on offer, but I had neglected to look beyond at the wasteland of Gloucestershire.

    Bidding (from me) should have been fiercer for first place in that initial round, so that the income boost was properly offset by at least 3 bonds, and it was all downhill from there really. Adam had some terrific luck in the last round with that Nottingham (?) bounty card coming out - that would have swung the game for Hannah, no? But even so, there was lots of canny play in all 3 top places, and I have only myself to blame.

    Castle Dice made me realise how important a good solid pasted-on euro-theme is to me. Without some superficial tie-in to real medieval castle building, I couldn't get beyond the cartoony graphics and miss-mash of styles - less a criticism of the game than of my own cardboard snobbery perhaps.

    Because of the cartoony drawings, and probably coming straight after Railways (a poster-child for thematic gaming for me), it felt like quite silly stuff to be doing for quite so long, even though the mechanics of it were decent and very euro in nature.

    I found myself this morning reimagining it with Roll Through the Ages wooden dice and St Petersburg pretty cards and I liked it more - let's get the publisher to kickstart a deluxe edition!

    The bit that I thought was really interesting was the way taking a particular resource - stone, say - often caused a run on that resource, every one else taking stone in a slightly panicked way. That felt like a glimpse of something special, and an interesting example of emergent gaming - I wonder if it could be developed into an interesting game in its own right.

  2. I would agree on Castle Dice from an aesthetic point of view Joe - feels designed by committee - a committee that couldn't agree. It didn't feel like a hit last night, but I was very conscious that I'd recommended it and also we were playing it very slowly - as you (and Andrew, last night) said coming from straight from Railways isn't ideal, as you're in a very think-y state. I do think it's worth a re-visit, played at more of a zip.

    Railways is great.

  3. Nice doorway pic btw Andrew - looks almost iconic. Which is not how I really see us to be fair, but hey

  4. Yeah we look like we're an underground group of agent provocateurs! But then if you blur your eyes it looks like a giant knob ...