Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Solace in the solstice

Paul and Chris made the journey across the wild landscape of Southern England to be with us on this most holy of nights: the last day of a GNN season. Joe couldn’t make it but, despite all our ideas and planning, there didn’t seem to be any desire to call him up and make him play blind.

There were seven of us: Sam (host), Chris and Paul, myself, Martin, Gonz and Adam. When I arrived, Paul and Adam were engaged in a bloody and brutal game of Cube Quest. Every shot sent cubes of into the darkest corners of Sam’s kitchen. It ended with Adam’s king stranded on the halfway line after a misjudged attack. Paul dispatched his opponent with distain, flicking the king into Adam’s plate of chips.

Paul and Chris had come down especially to play Railways Of The World. Adam and I joined them. Luckily, Sam had already talked them through most of the rules, which saved us a bit of time as Adam just filled in the final gaps in the rules.

Sam, Martin and Gonz went to the other room to try and work out a game that suited all of their tastes. This took a while, so while they thought about what they wanted to play, they played Hanabi instead. That’s an odd compliment for a game: it’s what people play when they don’t know what to play, but it’s good to see Hanabi get some table-time recently. They scored 19. I don’t know what that means. 19 out of a billion? It’s not leaderboard, so who cares?

In our room, we began RotW on the Eastern US map, since Adam and I thought it would give each player some space to establish a little network and get a feel for the game. Little did we know that within a couple of turns, Paul and Chris had invaded our personal space and threatened our networks.

Adam began with three single track lines, going after bonuses. Chris, too, went for bonuses. I locked into the New York/Chicago area, and I think I exploited it pretty well, but even so I started to fall away mid-game as Chris threatened Adam’s lead. At least, he did until Adam put together a huge 20-point bonus link. Clearly, Adam had something to prove after his previous defeat.

In the other room, they’d started playing a game called The Agents. I know nothing about this, except the scores.

Martin 43
Sam 35
Gonz 35

After this, they played Sticheln.

Martin 30
Sam 12
Gonz 5

By now, when I heard these scores, I was starting to think that Martin only payed games that his opponents hadn’t played much of. But they ended their evening with Love Letter which reassured me that wasn’t the case (although I did notice Palaces of Carrara in his bag).

Gonz 3
Sam 2
Martin 0

By the time Love Letter ended, we were also just about finishing off. I’d made some foolish last minute choices, meaning a second place was out of the question. Adam, though, was off in the distance and couldn’t be caught. Although we did think about docking Adam some points after he miscounted his number of tracks, giving Paul a fleeting moment of satisfaction at having gained the bonus for most track tiles. In order for it to mean anything, we would’ve had to taken off more than twenty, though so we didn’t bother.

Adam 92
Chris 71
Andrew 59
Paul 43

If that wasn’t enough, we all kept going! Gonz had to go, since he was off to Spain for the next three weeks and he needed to pack. So we six played Kakerlakenpoker! The simple version, without the Royals. It seems our constant mocking of Adam’s tactic of always checking the card and passing it on finally paid off, and he even challenged a couple of people. At least, I think he did. I may be imagining things. He didn’t actually lose, though. That honour went to Chris first and then Sam.

After that, we finally drew the curtain on this season. Thanks to the calendar, there’ll be no more leaderboard shenanigans, but hopefully something will happen between now and the new year to keep us going.

In the meantime, Sam tops a very close leaderboard. Well done, everyone!

Sam2 2 2 2 1 9
Gonz1 3 3 1 3 11
Adam1 4 4 1 1 11
Chris2 1 1 3 4 11
Martin3 1 1 1 5 11
Andrew3 3 2 3 3 14
Joe2 4 2 3 3 14
Quentin4 1 1 5 3 14
Matt3 2 5 5 5 20
Steve3 2 55 5 20
Anja3 3 55 5 21
Hannah2 5 55 5 22
Paul4 5 55 5 24

And on the division, it’s all about a man called Adam. He takes the medal table, points and points ratio (Hannah's remarkable points ratio of 10.7 doesn't count since it was only one game, and I'm too lazy to do the table again). Let’s see if he can maintain that run of form when he has to look after a child! Ha!

And a look at a graph (mmm... graphs...) of the season shows that Adam lead from the very start. I was in sixth at one point and pulled myself up into third and so was Sam and he ended in second! Gonz is the first player outside the core four to finish above fifth! Aren't we all marvellous?


  1. What a lot of games in one night... its odd to play railways without Joe, but well done Paul and Chris for picking it up so quickly.

    Merry Seasons Greetings everyone!

  2. Cheers Adam. I really enjoyed railways. I think my early success was simply down to where I was sitting. With all of those routes right under my nose I was able to study them and formulate a couple of speculative choices. If I had been where Paul was sitting I might have picked differently.

    Merry Christmas meeples.

  3. Hey, I'd never played the Agents before! Admittedly, neither had anyone else.

    It turns out Gonz's 'no auctions' rule combined with my 'no worker placement' makes it quite difficult to find a game we both want to play...

    The Agents wasn't bad. One of those I wouldn't turn down if it was suggested, but won't be in a hurry to request either.

    Happy Christmas everyone, thanks to Sam for having us, and I hope to make more regular appearances in 2014 - that stupid red 5 killed my chances ;)

  4. In defense of Martin it was mostly Gonz vetoing games. Palaces of Carrera? "I don't like that game" Portobello Market? "Too short! We need a meal!" But Railways was a meal "laced with poison". Tinner's Trail didn't even merit a reply - he pulled his 'You disgusting Euro-gamers!' face. In mitigation, however, Martin and I had both rejected (one each) Gonz' initial suggestions of Agricola or Stone Age. So that's how we ended up playing Hanabi.

    The maximum score is 25 Andrew, and you calculate it by adding up the highest displayed cards when the deck runs out. 19 isn't great, but we were stymied by both the white 'one's coming out very late.

    Agents was intriguing - between each two players there's an expanding set of cards called a faction, and the cards can either score you victory points or give you a special power depending on how you display them. But whichever side you choose, your opponent gets the benefit of the other side of the card. Next to the factions you can place missions which may or may not be successful (in every turn) depending on the make-up of the factions. It's a bit of a head-scratcher but a nice mechanic.

    And Sticheln is always good. I like that game.

    Real shame Joe, Anja, Steve and Quent could not be there, but great to see Paul and Chris again. Glad you liked Railways. Come and join us Gonz! The meeples are warm.

  5. Andrew, am I sixth on the chart? It looks like second to me. But you know me and charts...

    1. oops, my mistake. That should've been 'second'. I'll fix it later.

  6. If you thought it weird playing Railways without me, it was fairly weird playing 3 player Steam on my own, which is what I did, in between text updates on progress from Talgarth Central.

    Steam is a slightly more streamlined Railways - not a replacement, heaven forbid, but a wee bit more strategic. Really interesting, and a more structured turn order, so potentially does away with the 'sitting to the right of a heavy bidder' issue. Oh and no auctions, so no excuses Gonz.

  7. Hey!I feel in the need of defending my honour!
    We vetoed the same number of games! I suggested Waterdeep, Agricola,Stone Age, Mascarade, Resistance, Sylla, 7 Wonders, London, that game about the mayan calendar... And I was ok with playing Portobello!!! I just wanted something more fulfilling for my last day with you guys this year...(violin music)
    Too bad we didn't do something with joe, I was looking forward to see a computer with Joe's face in the screen and a robotic arm moving the meeples...
    Anyway, I couldn't think of a better way of spending my last day in Bristol ;-)

  8. This is true, Gonz. I guess it seemed otherwise as Martin and I seemed to be going toward the same choices. And in fairness Resistance and Mascarade would have required the other guys, who were occupied playing RotW. Martin didn't want London and I did my "Oh god, not expansions' face at the idea of 7 Wonders. But, don't you know, misrepresentation is all part of GNN! You know you've been accepted when we start shredding you in the comments (see= everything Adam ever does)

  9. Three is a tricky number too, but I think we ended up with a nice tapas in the end :)

  10. We just need Martin Wallace to devise a game about the game selection process and the universe will fold in on itself.... It's a long way from the days of "which of our four games do you want to play, Settlers, El Grande, Robo Rally or Diplomacy?"

  11. Back then, 4 games seemed obscenely nerdy.

  12. Mmmm, Stone Age. I love Stone Age.