Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The Bristolian year in review


A slightly melancholy start to the year, as our seemingly endless rise in gaming excitement finally levelled out. We went to Stabcon and found it a slightly hollow experience. Surely, some of the blame was ours: a distinct lack of socialising, but equally we decided it made more sense to arrange gaming weekends around the needs of our friends and family rather than the needs of some geeks who know the rules to every game off by heart, but seem to have forgotten where they put the soap.

Hacienda made a brief two-player appearance, and Joe put together a detailed description of Commands and Colours, complete with arrows drawn on the photos.

Other notable events: Adam came last in Railways of the World! Adam got Norovirus at Stabcon! Not a great month for the creeping custard.


This month saw a rise in fortunes for the yellow smartie. I don’t mean Adam, but the sweet, which was used in a game of Downfall Of Pompeii due to a lack of meeples.

We also discovered the joys of Eclipse after Quentin gamely brought it one evening, despite it being shooed off the table last time he suggested it. If at first you don’t succeed... Also, Snowdonia became briefly fashionable while Libertalia had an unsure debut.

The highlight of the month was the weekend in the countryside with no telephone signal, but there was wifi. A strange sort of isolation. Nine of us squeezed into a small cottage, with table space at such a premium, that dinners were eaten off laps or sat on the floor.


This month saw Joe’s brave attempt at mixing babysitting and a games night. Some hardened gamers put their wits against Joe’s three daughters at a game of Long Shot. The game was fun, but a little overlong. The children were funnier.

As for other games, it was a month of newcomers! Kingdom Builder appeared on our radar, as did Call To Glory, Scripts and Scribes, and Canal Mania.


This month began with Tzolkin getting some cautiously positive vibes, but ended with it firmly in Joe’s bad books. I guess the mix of four players, multiple scoring methods and paths to get there plus a board that keeps moving wasn’t the right combination for him.

Meanwhile, I was not impressed by Spartacus. Samurai, though, was much more fun. Bora Bora made its first appearance. We taught Adam how to play Castles of Burgundy and then he taught us how to win Castles of Burgundy.


After Spartacus got the thumbs down, another Ameri-trash game turned up, giving it all that. Blood Bowl brought out the gleefully sadistic child in Jon but, as I recall, left Adam unmoved.

There was a rare excursion to Will’s house, but surely the high point of the month was Joe hitting the jackpot, picking up not one but two new dice arenas. The star of the show (simply because of the amount of space it takes up) must be Das Exclusive. Big enough to have it’s own pen holders, it’s a luxurious throwback to a time when smoking indoors was considered perfectly reasonable behaviour.


In this month, I finally scratched a gaming itch that had lasted for about thirty years. I had a fond memory of a chess-like game called Campaign played once in my childhood. Since Sam had a copy, we got it out at my request. Well, all I can say is: memories can be cruel.

A Castle For All Seasons made its debut. Another game that started well, but has found itself failing on a couple of aspects, so now it often gets passed over for other options despite it belonging to that rare group of deep-yet-short games.

And Sam scored zero in Biblios!


It was a crazy summer of love for one game: Cube Quest. It turned up like a holiday romance and we were all besotted. It still makes an appearance occasionally, even if the ardour has cooled.

Joe also dazzled the gaming world with his skills in fitting thirteen games into a shoebox, in readiness for a holiday of games, games, games! I’m sure his wife was overjoyed when she saw that.


This month saw the first ever Roll For The Soul evening. We played out in the open (or, at least, near some windows) for the first time, hoping to trap any passer-by who saw how happy and fulfilled we were, and asked what we were doing. It hasn’t usually worked out that way, but it’s still early days.

New for this month was the deceptively mean-spirited Metro. Very confrontational, even if you’re trying hard not to be.

Also, we finally got Space Alert! to the table, after months of putting it off. It’s similar to Galaxy Trucker in that there’s the same sense of fighting off danger at every turn. Joe was our captain and, like every good captain should, he went down with his ship.


Two new people arrived at GNN Towers this month! One recruited (or groomed) on Board Game Geek by Joe, and the other just happened to be passing Roll For The Soul when he saw us playing board games and he recognised some kindred spirits.

Martin introduced us to Palace of Carrara, a game that baffles and bemuses until Martin does the decent thing and ends it all by winning.

And there was the little thing about Adam and Hannah announcing the arrival of their new meeple.


Adam finally made history by being the first person to score five leaderboard wins in a row! How happy we were for him. And he completed it at his home venue, too.

In terms of games, Eclipse made a welcome return to the table, although I should’ve been more ruthless and sealed the win instead of looking for a fight in my last turn. Renaissance Man seemed to be a bit of a dud.


Games weekends are few and far between now that almost everyone connected to GNN Bristol has now got children to look after (who will be next? Me or Gonz? Place your bets.) But Steve and Anja kindly hosted two days of board game mayhem this month. The highlight of that must have been the long and agonising game of The Resistance as the two brave spies tried to save society under some impossible conditions.


In the last month of the year, Kingdom Builder reappeared on our tables, we played Africana next to a suitably hot real fire. And Sam’s son got his very first board game!

Also, the year ended pretty much as it began, with Railways of the World being the game of choice. Especially now that a game on the Mexico or UK maps barely fills ninety minutes.

All of which leads us to the division for the whole year! What larks! And it turned out to be very close. Sam just snuck the win on points thanks to the last game on the last day of the season! An amazing end to an event-packed twelve months. Adam takes the medal table, winning over a third of all the games he played. And there’s a new name on the GNN Hall Of Fame as Jon picks up points ratio with a very healthy lead over his nearest rival, Quentin. Welcome to the club, Jon. Your regulation tweed jacket and jodhpurs should be with you shortly.

Congratulations one and all! Merry Christmas and and Happy New Year!

And by request, here's a list of the games that counted towards the leaderboard, and the number of times each was played.

7 Wonders10
Coup 9
Railways of the World8
Kingdom Builder6
Lords of Waterdeep6
High Society5
Tinners’ Trail5
Castles of Burgundy4
Incan Gold4
Downfall of Pompeii3
Hey That’s My Fish3
Airlines Europe2
Hab & Gut2
Love Letter2
Metro 2
Nexus Ops2
No Thanks2
San Juan2
Stone Age2
Taj Mahal2
10 Days in Africa1
Blood Bowl1
Bora bora1
Castle Dice1
Las Vegas1
Lords of Vegas1
Modern Art1
Palaces of Carrara1
Princes of Florence1
Renaissance Man1
St Petersburg1
Scripts and Scribes1
Skull and Roses1
Smash Up1
Snow Tails1
The Agents1
Thurn and Taxis1
Wall Street1
Web Power1


  1. Andrew you spoil us - we should call you Mr Ambassador from now on.

    What a lovely look-back; it can't be long before you're hired by Radio Times to write about board games. Where are the quotes from?

  2. They're from old editions of the Times. It was a lot of fun trying to find something that matched.

  3. Lovely write-up Andrew. One question: is Miles (on the division) actually Matt?

  4. Oops. No, Miles is Miles. I've left Matt off. I'll just put that right now.

  5. Miles is my cousin who sat there with his wife Lizzie looking baffled back in the summer. And won.

    Nice review Andrew. Are you going to keep the same scoring system next year or do you have new plans? One hundred games in a year seems like a very good number. Is it possible to give us the breakdown of how many times each game got played?

    Merry Christmas!

  6. Of course - I remember. We played that stock-exchange game! Apologies to Miles.

    Merry Christmas everyone!

  7. Adam, I'll be sticking with the Division for the foreseeable future. We all played a total of 191 games this year, and that's not including the two-player games. I'll have a go at working out how often we played each game in a bit.

  8. Wow Andrew that's incredible. And surprising... only 2 plays for Stone Age. I guess it's been a while. Several games I thought would feature more I guess have been played as 2-player so wouldn't be here. And the likes of Palaces of Cararra I guess have mostly been at Roll for the Soul. More stats please!

  9. And Medici has 8!! That's crazy!

  10. Thanks Andrew! My first thought on looking at the list was "Awwww who played Tikal without me?" But a more considered thought is "what a flighty lot we are!" - so many games with only one or two plays, we're just spoilt for choice...

    I want to play stone age now. Just to be fair to it.

  11. I think Hab & Gut deserves more table-time than it currently gets. And I'd like another go at Village and Canal Mania, too.

  12. Oh, and Medici got played a fair amount in Bracknell.