Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Ural-y got a hold on me

Today’s regular Tuesday meet attracted eight gamers to Sam’s abode: Sam, Joe, Adam, Steve, Anja, Gonz, Martin and myself. With eight people around Sam’s fully extended kitchen table, two four-player games seemed like a logical choice, but there was a desire to keep rule explaining to a minimum. With that in mind, we split into three. Adam and Martin took Race For The Galaxy into the front room. Anja, Steve and Gonz played Seasons. Finally, Sam, Joe and I played Russian Railroads.

Joe had been keen to get Russian Railroads to the table, but he’d always been slightly scuppered by the self-effacing way in which he suggests new games: he described RR as “a spreadsheet”. But tonight, perhaps fresh from our RotW escapades, Sam and I were amenable to a new train game. And so, with a range of quality alcohol in front of us, we all began.

Joe explained the rules: despite the theme, there is no track building. Instead you move your pieces along four scoring tracks, accord ing to where you placed your meeple on the main board. The mass of options is quite overwhelming. Sam asked Joe if it was better to specialise or diversify. Joe said to specialise, which is exactly what Sam did.

While I played I tried to block out conversations drifting over from the other side about “The Icon Of Familiars” whatever that is, and the difference between a crystal and an energy token. Seasons looked interesting, but also baffling. There were four sets of big dice (bigger than a meeple!) which had mysterious symbols on them. It all seemed very runic.

Halfway through, Martin and Adam popped in to see how things were going with us and to report the scores from the first game:

Martin 30
Adam 17

Then, after satisfying their curiosity about our new games, they went back to their room for another Race For The Galaxy.

Back in Serbia, I went for a bit of everything, but mostly going for a “score 20 points per round” bonus halfway up one of the tracks. I enjoyed this game, and it seems to offer a lot of flexibility. I shot off into an early lead and I managed to hold onto it. Sam’s incredible 100+ scoring Trans-Siberian railway wasn’t enough to get him past the King of Engineers, Joe. It was very close, though.

Andrew 293
Joe 288
Sam 279

Martin and Adam had also finished there second bout of Race, with the surprising news that new-boy Adam had just beaten Martin on a tie-breaker.

Adam 32 (plus seven cards)
Martin 32 (four cards)

Seasons still had a little time to go, so Martin and Adam played a tie-breaker, and after we’d packed away, Joe, Sam and I went for a little game of Rocket Game, for ages 4-7. It’s basically all luck, but I’d had a whole bottle of wine by now, and confident after my win, I said this should be leaderboard. I forgot the old saying: lucky on trains, unlucky in spaceships.

Joe 11
Sam 10
Andrew 1

By now Seasons had ended, with scores at

Steve 195
Gonz 164
Anja 98

And the third game of Race For The Galaxy had ended, too. I don't know the scores but apparently it was a comfortable win for Adam.

After this, Steve and Anja had to go back home. A majority vote saw everyone keen for a game of Take It Easy. Everyone except one. Gonz couldn’t get over his previous last place, and he bowed out of the evening at this point.

The five of us played three rounds, doing our best to come up with bingo-style calls for the numbers. I can’t remember any, but I have a feeling that a lot of them were quite similar.

It was another close game, and Martin can feel relieved that his only leaderboard game of the evening ended with a win:

Martin 391
Andrew 390
Adam 387
Sam 384
Joe 246

Adam also got the GNN record for most points in one round: 202.

I went home, drunk but happy, only to find my computer no longer recognised me as a user. By two o’clock I’d sorted it out and then went straight to bed, hence the delay in the write-up. I usually prefer to still be drunk while writing these reports. If I wait until the next day when I’m sober, it all seems a bit... silly, somehow.

Martin1 1 2 1 3 8
Andrew2 3 1 23 11
Sam4 2 3 11 11
Steve1 3 31 5 13
Adam3 2 3 3 2 13
Joe5 1 2 3 2 13
Gonz2 6 12 516
Anja3 2 45 519
Hannah5 23 5520
Will3 2 5 5520


  1. I both began and ended Russian Railroads somewhat underwhelmed - at the end because I limped in third despite being under the impression that I was playing it really well. Even Andrew said I'd be "out of sight" come final scoring, but despite my big-scoring railway I had nothing else, and the others' smorgasbord of bonuses mounted up impressively. I don't think I played the last round particularly well though.

    And at the start I was slightly bewildered by the sheer amount of available options - Agricola on steroids, one might say.

    But I really liked the game and can see it getting a lot of play. I don't know about playing it with 4 - I found it tense enough with three as your available moves closed off before your eyes - but for three it was really good.

    Take it Easy feels like it needs a new name, as none of us were able to. Great game.

    Sorry I barely saw Anja and Steve at all! Hope you guys had a good time and I look forward to hearing more about Seasons.

  2. I think the 3rd RFTG was 57-49. Adam's hundreds of plays of San Juan on his phone seemed to help him pick this up impressively quickly.

  3. sorry to do the dad thing again, but I'm so very proud of (little) Joe getting 167 in Take it Easy, when I only helped him place 2 tiles.

  4. You should be proud - I didn't manage to score in three figures in any of my games last night.

    What a lovely evening - three games going at once!

    So pleased to have got RR to the table, and for it to be enjoyed - and it didn't last as long as Seasons, even with a fairly lengthy rules explain.

    Interesting that our game was so close - it did look as though you were going to overtake us both Sam, but it must have been annoying to be told you were winning and then come last. The 40/20 bonus for most engineers is not to be sniffed at - I think the engineers have to be part of your strategy; no bad thing since they also offer personal action spaces for you.

    Can't believe my poor showing in Take it Easy - I think I was distracted by a) whisky b) trying to come up with silly calls and c) Martin saying he hadn't played with the beaver expansion.

  5. A whole bottle of wine! God I feel old.

  6. Yeah, I asked Andrew to pick me up a "decent" bottle of wine and he arrived with a 14% alcohol canister of rocket fuel. Tasted lovely though.

  7. It must have been fairly potent - Andrew forgot where he lived and set off in the wrong direction!

  8. Weird that the winning score in this week's Take it Easy would only have been enough to come 6th out of 7 in last week's game. A bad combination of tiles or were we all just pissed?