Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Martin Scores Hazy

Ha ha! The title sounds a bit like “Martin Scorsese”! Either I’m a genius, or I can’t think of a proper title for this week’s GNN because, frankly, Martin didn’t score that hazily if I’m being honest. Hey, it’s almost one o’clock in the morning. Cut me some slack.

This week’s GNN meeting took place under Joe’s roof. There were seven of us: Joe, Sam, me, Adam, Martin, Gonz and not-quite newcomer Matt.

At the start of the evening, five of us were waiting for the final arrivals, and we decided that instead of watching Adam eat chips, we could be playing a game. We decided on a quick fix of Take It Easy: just one round until the final two players get here.

Take It Easy is still a giddy mess of opportunities offered in a way that is more about regrets and hoping that fate will smile upon your absurdly ambitious dreams. A little microcosm of life, in other words. This time Joe was the big winner, and I am getting tired of finishing one point behind Martin in this game.

Joe 200
Martin 178
Andrew 177
Adam 163
Sam 134

Then, once Gonz and Matt had arrived, we split into two groups. One suggestion was a game of Sentinels of the Multiverse: a co-operative game, which meant Adam immediately counted himself out. Instead, he, Martin and me looked over Joe’s collection to see what we could play instead.

Martin suggested Chicago Express, saying it barely took an hour to play. Adam and I both turned it down, knowing that it would last a lot longer in our hands. I mentioned Pergamon, and happily both Adam and Martin were happy to play.

So we set up our little archaeological expedition, and started tapping away at the ancient soil. I was the first to put up an exhibition and, against Martin and Adam, I was worried that I’d peaked too soon. Luckily (for me and Adam, that is) Martin found himself screwed by a lack of money. Twice he put himself at the far end of the queue for funding, hoping that he’d pick up a large surplus. But both times, the cards showed barely enough money that round to cover mine and Adam’s expenses, leaving him out of pocket.

I got a nice big exhibition on the board fairly early, and I scored a few bonuses for older artifact too. Included one that Martin thought he had sown up. I played well, even if I do say so myself.

Andrew 29
Adam 27
Martin 21

During this game, we were distracted by a variety of absurd sentences as Joe, Sam, Gonz and Matt tried to defeat the evil Omnitron. Sounds like a type of vacuum cleaner, but apparently it was threatening the world. In between discussing whether or not they should punch a veloceraptor, or if it was safe ofr Gonz to levitate, they did finally wear Omnitron down and the world was saved. It seemed to wear Sam down, too since he left after that game, looking quite exhausted.

Meanwhile, as we waited for them to finish their game, the three of us rattled off a round of No Thanks. Since I’d just seen this played out on Korean TV, I was in the mood to play it again. Isn’t it funny how wrong moods can be. My whole game was plagued by me thinking “I’ll just wait one more round before picking this up” and then Adam or Martin would pick it up.

Adam played a masterful (if lucky) game, as he chained the thirties together.

Adam 19
Martin 42
Andrew 81

By now Omnitron was defeated, so we (minus Sam) were all together. What game could we all play? Gonz kept mentioning 7 Wonders, as if it were fun with more than five players which we all know it isn’t. Instead we went for a Riener Knizia game, Winner’s Circle. The fun game of betting on a horse race and then watching the horse race.

It was kind of amusing, trying to influence the horses so that your favoured bet does well, while trying to make sure others failed. But ultimately, there was too much dice rolling and passive watching. We only played two rounds out of the officially recommended three, and as we walked from Joe’s house, Martin did say that the game isn’t supposed to last as long as we played it. Even so, I can see myself voting this one down the next time it gets mentioned. Long Shot (the other horse betting game) is longer, but there’s more interaction and opportunity to bet. This is too much like real horse racing, and I just don’t care for horse racing.

Gonz £1,100
Martin £1,000
Adam £700
Andrew £550
Matt £450
Joe £100

And so finally we stumbled into the night air, leaving behind a stack of empty bottles and a skittish dog who’d seen something in the garden and couldn’t get settled all evening. A good evening. Omnitron lay dead, and a bunch of other stuff happened too. Not bad for a Tuesday.

On the form table, Martin holds on to top spot despite not having a great evening. Gonz climbs to second and Steve rises to third without even turning up!

Martin2 2 32 1 10
Gonz1 2 6 12 12
Steve1 3 31 5 13
Adam3 1 2 4 3 13
Andrew4 3 1 3 2 13
Sam5 4 2 3 1 15
Joe6 1 5 1 2 15
Anja3 2 45 519
Hannah5 23 5520
Will3 2 5 5520
Matt5 5 5 5525

As far as The Division goes, it’s close but I lead the pack in terms of Points, Martin just edges ahead on the Medal Table, while Steve has a comfortable lead on Points Ratio.


  1. I liked Winners Circle, a typically clever bit of Knizia design, despite losing my shirt. Even though I hadn't played before, I got the sense that it shouldn't take as long as it did.

    But perhaps going to the races is not the best way to relax after putting on a great exhibition of ancient artifacts - it certainly helped me unwind after defeating the evil Omnitron and his robotic minions.

    Okay I know Sentinels isn't for everyone, and I'm hugely grateful to Sam for giving it a try, as I could probably have hazarded a guess that it wouldn't be his cup of tea before we started. I do like it though. As Matt and Gonz both pointed out, it would be a nightmare without the iPad app. Martin, from over in No Thanks-land, pointed out that this was not a good thing. He was probably right.

    If I'm completely honest, I can see myself hating Sentinels if someone else had brought it and I'd played it for the first time - there's definitely some sort of index of good will towards ones own purchases;

    Thanks all for a lively evening though.

  2. Winner's Circle is very photogenic, I'll give it that. Thanks to Martin's wife painting the jockeys, I expect.

  3. Yeah, I think Winner's Circle is ideally twice as fast and twice as loud :) It's not a deep game of strategy but there is more to the choices than it may look like at first, both the betting and the moving.

    Great to get my second play of Pergamon in. I really like it and want to play again soon so I can do better :)

  4. I didn't hate Sentinels. My experience was coloured by the fact I was fighting a cold and checking the Everton score with an increasing sense of despair (sorry guys - every superhero story needs a sub-plot).

    That said, I never want to play it again. For me both the theme and the gameplay - work out how all the cards interact, repeat - were kinda dull. I know Gonz will argue that these are the things that make the game good but that's why the world is a rich tapestry - some of us like Sentinels of the Multiverse, and some don't.

  5. I missed one rule in Pergamon - you get 1 victory point for each exhibition you put on. I don't think it would have made any difference though as we all did about the same number.

  6. Fair enough, Sam, to each their own :-) I just enjoyed the silliness, the banter and the looking for combos to exploit. Too bad you weren't feeling that well, hope you are better now. The game is Ok, a little fiddly, but entertaining (me liking superheroes and coop games probably gives me a bias)
    How can Winner circle be faster? We didn't take much time thinking, did we? I enjoyed it, but we needed a soundtrack with horses noises,clearly!