Thursday, 29 May 2014

Arthur baby is better than none

Just a brief note from tonight’s Roll For The Soul event. I didn’t take any photos and I came last three times, so there’s no need to linger on the details. Plus, there are several names that I’ve forgotten. Ah, well. I remember the most important bit: Adam and Hannah arrived, with little baby Arthur.

The first game was 6nimmt – a game that I remain baffled by, and I came crashing out in a distant last. Adam, on his return to the world of GNN scraped a win by one solitary point from Katie. Meanwhile, Katie’s husband sat in for one round and, although he didn’t understand the rules and was pretty much playing cards at random, he still did better than me.

We split into two groups: Martin, Andy, Katie and someone else whose name slips my memory, played Abluxxen. Meanwhile, Adam and Hannah were keen to try GNN favourite Port Royal, so we began a three-player game.

After I explained the rules we began playing a dummy round so Hannah and Adam could see how it worked. Then Mel arrived, and we dealt her in. So the dummy round continued for a little while longer and then we decided that, since Adam and Hannah (and Arthur, too) had to go soon, maybe this should be the actual game. Mel was given a card at random to even out the disadvantage of starting late, and we continued.

It all seemed to be going smoothly, with Arthur being passed from mother to father as and when necessary. I got a bad case of explainer’s curse, and came last wqith just 7 points. Mel had 9, Adam 11, but Hannah just stole it by nabbing her 12th point on the last turn.

As for Abluxxen, I don’t know who won, but I know Martin didn’t after he complained about a terrible last round. Katie didn’t like it, finding it too stressful, but the other players seemed to find it more enjoyable.

Finally, Adam and Hannah left because it was bed time (ostensibly their child’s, but possibly theirs too. I didn’t ask) so the six remaining gamers played a game of Fauna, the RFTS smash hit of guessing stuff about obscure animals, pronounced "Fa-oona" by Mel, which caused some confusion to Katie who wondered if she'd been pronouncing that word wrong her whole life.

I didn’t badly, thinking that because I’d never heard of a dogfish (except in comics when I was six) that it probably wasn’t that big. I also didn’t know anything about the Macaw. Martin won in the end, thanks to his knowledge of bandicoots. This species cropped up fairly recently, and it does occur to me that if you play the “easy” animals (on one side of the deck), then the “difficult” animals (on the other side of the deck), followed by the “easy” ones, then you’ll get the same ones cropping up again. Still, it was fun, and it took us neatly up to ten o’clock.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

I predict a riot

This week’s GNN goodness began without me, since I was running behind time. Martin, Joe and Ian began with 10 Days in Africa. I arrived halfway through, and the room was deep in silent thought. Joe was first to declare that he was one card away from winning. This was followed by Martin saying the same. Joe managed to get his journey itinerary in place first. Martin showed that he really was just one away from a win (he just needed Nigeria) while Ian’s journey started well but then degenerated into a crazy mess of missed connections and flights that made no sense. Like if Hunter S. Thompson played 10 Days In Africa.

1. Joe
2. Martin
3. Ian

After this, since there were four of us, we decided it was the perfect time to play San Quentin Kings. This game of absurd jargon and feeble art has been hovering at the edge of the table for several weeks now. But it’s never been played, since it would inevitably cause other gamers to be jealous as we fought over drugs, bribed people, went to the gym or hung out in the cafeteria before having a jolly old riot at the end of the game.

The game is a bit Puerto Rico-ish in that when someone chooses an action, everyone gets to do that action. You can fight,or work out in the gym or bribe people. It’s such an accurate reflection of prison life that I started calling people “Fletcher” and banging my tin mug on the bars of my cell (that I had to bring with me).

That was all I did, though. My final score was so low, that it was more or less what you’d get if you did nothing all game. Ian had a large gang, and looked good for some bonus points at the end. Martin looked very strong, but it was the dark horse, Joe, who became king of the cells with his cast iron grip on the drug supply. Those bonuses (mostly stolen from Martin) gave him an unlikely win.

Joe 28
Martin 27
Ian 17
Andrew 12

Then we played Port Royal, the new card game that’s sweeping the nation. Joe, Martin and myself went for cutlasses (leaving Ian with none until the end of the game) and how useful they were! Joe, in particular, seemed to go on for ages, repelling ships, until his selection of cards covered most of the table!

Martin got past 12 points first, but I was hot on his heels, and in my last turn – the last turn of the game – I was able to buy two cards, which pushed me past Martin’s score. For the third time this evening, he’d had first place stolen from him at the last minute.

On the form table, despite being several thousand miles away, Sam rises to the top. Well played, that man!

Sam1 2 3 3 2 11
Martin 2 2 2 2 3 11
Andrew 1 4 1 3 3 12
Gonz 3 1 4 1 3 12
Ian 3 3 3 1 3 13
Joe 4 1 1 5 2 13
Matt4 2 2 5 2 15
Will2 4 23 5 16
Anja 2 5 5 5 5 22
Steve 4 5 5 5 5 24

And as we enter the last month of the season, the Division looks like this...

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Friday night's all right for fighting.

So last Wednesday's game was switched to Friday to allow for Paul's flying visit to ride on the wuppertal suspension monorail (Its a thing, look it up). James had been hoping all week that we could revisit our new game Smash Up such was it's impression on him. Paul was amenable but before that I lobbied for a quick game of Incan Gold. To sweeten the deal I reassured James that the rules were simple and that I had taught my kids to play. This seemed to give him some confidence as he strolled into an early lead staying in the first temple as Paul and I left with only our personal hauls. However after this he started to get cold feet and it was me who benefited from staying in. Then Paul and James got sucker punched by Zombie Ladies and the jewels were mine. ALL MINE HAHAHA.

Chris - 34
James - 31
Paul - 20

And so to Smash Up. Factions were chosen randomly this time with James getting Robots and Wizards, Paul taking Aliens and Tricksters whereas I received Dinosaurs and Pirates. The experience of our last game made this one a lot quicker and interactive. However, due to the nature of James's factions he was presented with an exercise in mental gymnastics each time he had a turn. After much shuffling we would then be presented with a string of moves that created some clever placements. The lead changed hands several times with each player making the most of their factions specialities, although my powerful dinosaur cards seemed uncharacteristically (Wow 20 letters!) shy. As with our first game James pulled the win out of the bag right from left field. Concentrating on a base which gave extra points for the amount of actual points you had attributed to it, he swooped in with an amazing microbot power up, stroke, magic extra minion playing move that saw him reap an impressive 6 or 7 points.

James - 15
Paul - 13
Chris - 12

For our final game we thought we could squeeze in a game of Kingdom Builder, but strictly non leaderboard as we had a bad habit of screwing up the rules each game. In fact it was me that nearly provided a game ending disaster when I let one of my orange settlements slip out of my hand to come crashing down on James and Paul's amassed pieces. After a little bit of detective work the original placings were worked out and the game restarted. The scoring cards for the game was Citizens, Hermits and Knights. Remembering how having a lot of individual settlements last time gained big points I stuck to this strategy and again it proved to be enough.

Chris - 57
Paul - 50
James - 39

Wednesday, 21 May 2014


My first thought when I learned who was coming tonight was "We can play I'm the Boss!". This is not Sam's favourite game, but he wasn't in attendance tonight and there were six of us - the perfect number! 
It was only once we were all assembled; Andrew, Ian, Matt, Gonz, Martin and I, and I went to dig out the game, that I  remembered I'd loaned it to Sam on Sunday for set-dressing on Box Fresh, the board game sitcom he's currently shooting. Bah!

So we played Igloo Pop to warm up. This was new to Gonz and Matt, and it seems one's ears need time to attune - Ian had no such issues, presumably having used a Tibetan ear candle before his arrival in preparation.  

Ian 23
Joe/Martin 13
Andrew 12
Gonz 11
Matt 9

We then split in to two groups of three, and performed the obligatory 15 minute discussion about what to play, eventually arriving at Lords of Vegas and Manila, by way of Vikings anda brief flirtation with Mars, Red Planet. 

Andrew, Ian and Matt set up Manila, and Martin and I brought Gonz up to speed on Lords of Vegas. We had a custom dice-arena, poker chips and even proper Vegas-style dice for gambling; we were all set. 

Vegas as seen from the shores of Manila

Half an hour in, and I was absolutely dead in the Vegas dust. I often find with LoV, much like Settlers of Catan, one player is shut out early on, with no hope of catching up. Tonight this seemed to be my lot, as Gonz and Martin sped off up the scoreboard,and I languished at three points. It seemed to be a two-horse race, despite Martin's reassurance that the game has more swing than Sinatra at the Oasis. But two things happened that turned my game around. First Gonz reorganised a 6 point green casino on the strip, and after three re-rolls for conflicting bosses, I came out on top.

It was agony to watch, but the end-result was my first real showing on the board. And the second piece of luck was that my new shiny green casino paid out on the next three turns, or thereabouts. It was unbelievable, but I was suddenly back in the running. Coupled with this, Martin's game had stalled, after he painted several of his casinos a dodgy shade of pink, which resolutely failed to pay out. As soon as all the greens had come out, the game ended, which was frankly the perfect point of me, and after the strip paid out, we were tied for points, meaning money in hand was the tie-breaker. It was one of the highest scoring games I've played I think; and had I not wrestled control of that green casino, Gonz may have achieved the mythic insta-win of 70 points.

The amazing three-way tie.

Earlier in the game, when I had no chance of catching up, I'd counselled Gonz on the importance of holding onto some money at the end, as in my experience there was often a tie for points. That came back to bite me, as Gonz had a healthy stack of chips for the win, and I came second - I have never been happier to come second. It was an awesome, epic game, though had Lady Luck not shined on me in the second half it would have been an enervating 90 minutes that left me cursing the game. But that's Vegas, baby.

Meanwhile, Andrew had taught Ian and Matt Manila, and these were the scores - shaping up to be a good night for Ian:

Ian 122
Matt 97
Andrew 88

They moved on to TransEuropa, the sequel to TransFattyAcids, and these were the scores:

Andrew 2
Matt 7
Ian 8
The birth of the railways

Andrew, exhausted from his part in shooting Box Fresh, wandered off in to the night, and we remaining five had a quick game of Port Royal. Except we discovered that a five player game of Port Royal is not so quick. I think it took us about an hour. It was fun, as always, but my mind was still on Vegas; I was proudly standing in front of my huge 9 point emerald green casino, Danke Schoen by Wayne Newton ringing in my ears. When the music faded, Port Royal was over and Ian had his third comfortable win of the evening.

Ian 12
Martin 10
Gonz 9
Matt 8 (most money)
Joe 8

Everyone wandered off in to the night, and I settled down to consider a title for the blog. Yurt Cobain had come up in conversation last time we played Igloo Pop, in considering possible sequels to that game. It fits the bill particularly well I think, but if successful, the franchise could run and run: Tent Reznor? Marquee Mark? Caravan Morrison?

In the end I went for something a little more cryptic - there's a prize for the first person who can explain the relevance of word Aisha to the evening's proceedings.

Meanwhile, let's all raise a glass to a new name to top the form table: Ian's recent run of good form mean that he's the man of the moment right now.

Ian 1 3 1 2 1 8
Andrew 1 3 3 2 1 10
Martin 2 3 2 1 2 10
Sam1 2 3 3 2 11
Gonz 3 1 4 1 3 12
Joe 5 2 2 3 1 13
Matt4 2 2 5 2 15
Will2 4 23 5 16
Anja 2 5 5 5 5 22
Steve 4 5 5 5 5 24

Thursday, 15 May 2014

How to attract newbies with hexagons and houses

The fortnightly edition of Roll For The Soul games meetings carries on. This week there were four of us: me, Martin, Gonz and Johnny. Gonz made a return to the fold after having spent a few weeks entertaining friends visiting from Spain. Johnny was a new face to the crowd, and was a friend of Martin’s.

We began with an assortment of wraps and once those were eaten, we went for a very cramped game of Kingdom Builder. Our space was so limited that when we chose the scoring criteria, we had to discard any that scored during the game, because there wasn’t space for the score track on the table.

Johnny was given an overview of the rules, but of course, he couldn’t easily grasp the nuances of Kingdom Builder’s many strategies. The main strategy being get as many tokens as possible as soon as possible. In our first game, Gonz managed to pick up five of them, and consequently strode to a comfortable win.

Gonz 71
Andrew 48
Martin 39
Johnny 37

I was very pleased with my second place, but I did wonder if it was a fluke caused by Gonz picking up all the tokens that Martin wanted, and also by me ending the game just as Martin was about to play a card that would have got him 15 points. So when a second game was suggested, I didn’t put up any argument.

During this second game (with enough space for the score track), a customer walked up to our table and asked if our game was anything to do with Settlers. Usually I am appalled with lazy comparisons to popular board games, but this time he did have a point: the houses were the same, the territories were similar and there were a lot of hexagons. Martin said it was like Settlers.

The man looked impressed said he didn’t know that there were other games like Settlers. Martin said there were loads, and I got the feeling that he was suppressing the desire to push this guy onto the nearest chair and describe in detail some of his favourites.

We invited him, but he said he was going to watch the football, leaving us bemused that he’d chose watching sport over playing a board game. Especially since it was Rotherham versus Preston.

As for the game itself, it was much closer and I was delighted by my performance, sneaking up from third to joint first by a storming performance on a particular bonus. I think this is my first win since the first time we played it and we didn’t quite understand the rules.

1= Andrew 65
1= Martin 65
2. Gonz 62
3. Johnny 44

After this Johnny had to go, and we decided on a new game, Masques. By now, the ales had been slipping down easier than usual so, while I listened to the rules, I decided that I wouldn’t make much of a mental effort to win. It’s a sort of bidding game, where the rewards (cards with tokens on them) are laid out in a square on the table. To bid for them, you lay a card of your colour between the cards. This means you’ve placed a bid on both adjacent cards.

Masques tries hard to make you think it's a game for grown-ups

It’s easier to understand once you’ve seen the layout of the game. It’s also easier if you actually know what your colour is. For whatever reason, I was told I was red when, in fact, all the red cards had been removed. I was supposed to be purple.

Ignoring that, it’s an interesting game. I was reminded of Spyrium and Bruxelles 1893 when I was playing it, but it’s much shorter and simpler. There are also special cards you can buy and use to help you on your way to victory. It’s an interesting game. It certainly has depths which aren’t apparent at first.

Gonz won on the slightly odd first-in-clockwise-position rule. Martin was second, I was a distant last.

After this, we began Port Royal. I went to the bar for another drink, and while I was there the guy serving me asked about Kingdom Builder. He seemed to think it looked pretty interesting. I made encouraging noises and, who knows, maybe there will be two extra people around our tables in two week’s time, demanding Kingdom Builder. I doubt it, but you never know.

As for Port Royal, well, I never got started. I’m a cutlass guy, and Martin kept buying them before me. I had ship bonuses which were okay, but nothing really worked for me. Gonz seemed to like it a lot. Certainly, he got the hang of the game mechanics with lightning speed.

Gonz 15
Martin 14
Andrew 9

And that was it. By now, we were the only people left in the cafe, listening to Nick Cave’s Stagger Lee on the shop stereo. What a remarkable lyricist he is.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014


Six fine gentlemen of stout heart and mind and (increasingly) belly congregated in Joe’s kitchen for their weekly dose of awesome gamingness. The only certainty tonight was that the Game Of The Month would be on the table, while anything else would be decided on a whim.

We were six in number, so we began with a 6-player 6nimmt. And what a cruel, bruising game it proved to be. In the first round, three of the rows became unusable due to the close proximity of the numbers. In the end, it was the guy with the highest numbers who got hit hardest, which turned out to be me: 44 points in one round.

But I battled back, and managed to avoid last. Ian played a serene game, calmly watching as other people were stung by unlucky cards.

Ian 16
Martin 22
Sam 25
Joe 55
Andrew 77
Matt 78

Then we split into two. Martin said he’d be happy to play Pergamon if he wasn’t keen on the other choice. Then Ian said he’d be interested in trying it, so that was us three sorted. Then the other three decided on Quantum, especially with Martin absent, it meant someone else had a chance of winning. So we had one half of the table dreaming about the stars, while the other dug into the dirt.

Although Martin was a little put out that he wasn’t playing Quantum, we soon got stuck into Pergamon. We explained the rules to Ian, and got right to work, applying for funding. Digging up artefacts, sticking them together and putting on a exhibition. What larks!

We all got stung by the mean old German authorities when they refused to had out funding to those last in line, but I got hit twice. I thought that was the end for me, but I could take some comfort in my old bracelet and amphora which got me big bonus points in the last round. My win was as welcome as it was comfortable.

Andrew 38
Martin 33
Ian 23

Quantum was apparently in its last stages, so the three of us watched what we thought were the final moves of the game. But it was not to be. Sam, Joe and Matt cancelled each other out, and the game continued. Rather than watch, we decided to start another three player game and hopefully end at the same time so we copuld all join up for a six-player game of Igloo Pop.

Martin suggested Port Royal and, since the three of us all knew it, it was accepted. I went for cutlasses again, and it seemed to work. I repelled shitty little money ships, and was able to get more money. Martin built an impressive set of cards: money bonus for 5+ cards, two chances to buy per turn and a discount fraulein. The only trouble was, he got it all in place a little too late. I got my twelfth point and had to watch in agony as Ian turned over card after card, trying to get a two-buy bonus to boost his points. Luckily for me, he went bust, robbing Martin of the chance of beating my score.

Andrew 12
Martin 11
Ian 7

But during this game, Quantum finally finished, with Joe using a method that Martin had mentioned while we were watching it. Joe remarked that it didn’t feel like a proper win, but everyone knew about it and no one tried to stop him, so a win is a win.

1. Joe
2= Matt (1 cube left)
2= Sam (1 cube left)

Since we were playing Port Royal, they began Mammut, a game which briefly saw favour in Bristol GNN about two years ago before being traded away. Well, Joe regretted that decision and now it was back. I paid less attention to this game than I did for Quantum. There was a lack of caveman noises for a start. In the end, Joe found himself having to gamble on some tiles and hope to sneak first or go for the safe option and guarantee second. He went for the safe option which, in the end, didn’t turn out to be that safe.

Sam 76
Matt 51
Joe 50

In the meantime, Martin Ian and I dug out Vegas and were having a fine time, rolling those bones, casino-style. Unfortunately Das Exclusive was too large to fit on the table, so we used the smaller more practical circular dice arena (Das Inclusive?) instead.

After round one, it was close. Then round two ended with a glut of tied casinos. Almost no money got paid out. Amazingly, the same happened again. At the very end, I had a chance to score big, if only I didn’t roll a two, which would leave me tied in every casino. I rolled a two.

Martin $300,000
Andrew $250,000
Ian $190,000

Martin 1 2 2 2 1 8
Gonz 1 3 1 1 3 10*
Sam1 2 3 3 2 11
Ian 3 3 3 1 2 12
Andrew 2 1 1 5 4 13
Matt2 2 6 2 2 14
Joe 3 1 4 5 2 15
Will2 4 23 5 16
Anja 2 5 5 5 5 22
Steve 4 5 5 5 5 24

Gonz has been away so long that the barely-remembered decay rule comes into play: three weeks without attendance and, if you don’t have any red fives, your score goes up by one a week.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Do have a macao

On Friday I tempted Andrew over for a game. If that sounds like the candles and incense were lit it's not that far off - I promised him a lift home.

As we were starting quite late courtesy of some boisterous boys, and Andrew had said he didn't mind what we played, I took the liberty of setting up Macao.

Haven't played Macao? This is a bit like the black sheep of the Stefan Feld family, the dud he allegedly churned out whilst gearing up to the highly-rated Luna and Castles of Burgundy. Except that 1. anyone who thinks this is Feld's black sheep hasn't played Rum and Pirates, and 2. it's rather good when the planets align. By that I mean I've played a game where we never really got going, and I've played a game that took about six hours to complete, which is too long. But I've also had several - usually 2 player, but one or two with 3 people - where it really hit the spot.

Friday was one of those times. Andrew strode in, took off his coat and picked up his first card - we were off. Haven't played Macao? Well there's a bit of grabbing and delivering goods, a bit of generating gold and a bit of chaining cards. And best of all there's the wheel; a wheel that spins between rounds to a new segment that you have previously populated with a number of cubes. Plan well and with a bit of luck you have the right combo of cubes to activate your cards. Don't plan well and you'll be saying "What the hell shall I do with this green cube? Oh God. I'll move my boat"

And so on. Your activated cards get you goodies, but there's a balance to be struck between easy-to-activate cards that don't do much and harder-to-activate cards that do. I erred toward the former, but having got a great presence in the city quarters with an end-game-multiplier that scored city quarters, thought I was in like Flynn.

But I was in like Edward G Robinson - Andrew had worked wonders with his better cards and got enough endgame bonuses to catapult him 10 points ahead of me in the final reckoning:

Andrew 88
Sam 78

Great game - and over in 80 minutes.

Andrew still had some beer to drink and I was up for another game, so I didn't blanche when proposed Biblios. Everytime this game is played in GNN World the Mr Biblios title (or Mrs/Miss/Ms) is up for grabs. And again I thought I'd done it when I had a pocketful of gold with several cards to come in the auction. If just one of them was an orange, I was in like Flynn...

Andrew 7 (wins on colours)
Edward G Robinson 7 (loses on colours)

And so another wonderful GNN appendage comes to a close. Til tomorrow...

all pics courtesy of lovely BGG folk

Friday, 9 May 2014

Super, Smashing, Great

Once in a blue moon, something fleeting comes into your life that has you giggling with pure glee. Something too good to be true. Too beautiful. Too perfect. Maybe that ‘well fit’ girl that settled for you when you arrived on that holiday camp way back then. You couldn’t believe your luck. But that same Saturday, come the evening, she disappeared. Off home, before you’d even unpacked. Gone, but never forgotten. Oh, what could have been. If only you’d had more time together...

Well, I wanted more time with my King Rex card. When it arrived into my hand from my deck, I was dribbling with excitement. What stomping it would do for me! Look out pirates. Take this, zombies. But then (like the girl at the camp) King Rex was gone. Just like that. Chris had played his alien ‘Probe’ action, which gave him the chance to look at my hand and discard any card he chose. It was obvious what he’d pick. My joy was fleeting.

But I got over it. Because every turn brought some new attack. Some dastardly gremlin. A stubborn gnome. A cheeky pirate. A surge of undead. Even though players have to study their hands and ponder their moves, I never once felt bored. Maybe because I had my dinosaurs and tricksters all fanned out while feverishly planning my own onslaught.

Players fight over four themed bases. They jostle for position in a sort of ever-changing two-dimensional king-of-the-hill scenario. If hills were flat.  Minions budge the score around each base’s track, though played action cards scupper, augment and blow asunder the cards played. No player, nor his minions can rest easy. There are blocking manoeuvres. But these can be undone, albeit with some small sacrifice. Then when a base’s score passes its required figure, the players represented there are scored accordingly. That base  is removed, and another is drawn and fought over. Until the game ends in glorious, if wonderfully ridiculous victory. With dinosaurs crushing robots. And the like.

I loved the game. In ours, (and my first) Paul picked pirates and robots. Chris chose zombies and aliens. With no prior experience, I snatched up tricksters and dinosaurs on a whim. The dinosaurs oozed might and ferocity. Good hard troops. My tricksters were a bit of a nuisance here and there but useful once I knew what I was doing. Chris’ zombies seemed relentless. He kept bringing cards back, just when you thought you were rid of them. Paul’s pirates got about a bit, but somehow just ended up all over the show. And his robots didn’t quite pour out as he hoped they would.

Me and Chris won a few bases and while Paul threatened to jump aboard and pinch our victory points, he never quite made the leap. It was between me and Chris. But with a pair of war raptors and an ‘armor stego’ on a base protected by a trickster hideout card, I only had to augment them to take the base and win the game. Chris reckoned he’d have had the win a turn later. Heh. I’m looking forward to another game. Who knows? I might even be reunited with King Rex.

James 15, Chris 12, Paul 8.

Then out came Kingdom Builder. We’re enjoying this right now. We love to act like terra-forming gods creating the world as we, erm, pick four boards from eight and lay them out randomly. Colour-challenged Chris gets his bright orange day-glo houses, as per usual, and off we go, jauntily playing this game with its easy-to-understand handful of rules. Until...

...We realise we’ve got something wrong again. Why, oh why we can’t get through this game properly, I’m not sure. If it’s not all of us doing something wrong, it’s certainly one of us. This time Chris got his location tiles mixed up and played his barns as farm’s for half the game. Paul misunderstood the requirements for scoring the knight. And I was probably doing something wrong too. But we fumble through. We enjoy it. One day, we’ll properly complete a game in strict adherence to those few ‘simple’ rules. D’oh.

This time, I was confident I’d won. I was in contact with all five cities. Fifteen points right there and a winning strategy in previous games once added to the three other scores. But I’d under-estimated Chris’ spread of hermits. He won by one point.

Chris 60, James 59, Paul 53.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Attack of the Killer Threes

Tonight Sam hosted a fluctuating number of gamers for this week’s games night. At first, it was four (Sam, Joe, Martin and Ian) for a quick first-to-two game of Love Letter. Sam won, getting two points before anyone could win anything.

1. Sam 2
2= Martin 0
2= Ian 0
2= Joe 0

I arrived at the end of this game and while we waited for Steve and Anja to arrive, we all squeezed in a couple of jolly rounds of 6 Nimmt. This was Ian’s first go at the game, so he can be forgiven a few tactical errors. Joe, meanwhile, marvelled at his first ever clear round that lead to a win. A win that almost went to Martin, but for an unlucky turn of the final card.

Joe 10
Sam 20
Martin 23
Andrew 23
Ian 59

Then Steve and Anja arrived, and we split into two groups. Steve said he felt like some shootin’, so he was all in favour of Quantum when it was suggested. Anja wanted something a little more cerebral, so chose to join Joe and I in a game of Pergamon: the new Game Of The Month.

Joe and I explained the rules to Pergamon, while Steve got an introduction to the combatitive world of Quantum. And what an intoduction it was. Martin started with three threes, and proceeded to warp around the board, attacking any ship weaker than a three. And it worked. I looked over at their game, halfway through our game and saw Martin still had three three-dice. Were they the same ones he started with? I asked. They surely were.

On Pergamon, we had to juggle funding and digging. The three of us were quite cagey about how many exhibitions we put on. I think we all only put on three, apparently with no detriment to the final score. In fact, Joe got a new high score with his result.

Joe 37
Anja 28 plus oldest artefact
Andrew 28

Afterwards we remarked on how cash rich it seemed, but with fewer exhibitions, there was less buffing involved. Meanwhile, at about the same time, Quantum had finished.

1. Martin
2. Sam, 1 cube left
3. Ian, 3 cubes left
4. Steve, 4 cubes left

As they packed away, Sam mentioned that Martin had never lost a game of Quantum, and Steve asked why Sam hadn’t mentioned that before they started the game.

After this, Steve decided they had to go home because he had a tough day tomorrow, going to Centre Parcs. Oh, how exhausting that will be. Anyway, he and Anja left after their games ended. If only they’d known: there were another three games in store for the evening!

First was Port Royal. We’ve played it so often recently, it could almost be game of the month. Sam wasn’t keen but he graciously didn’t veto the suggestion. We all chose our methods for victory. Me and Ian went for cutlasses. Joe went for doubling up on green ship bonuses and Martin got an early discount fraulein to lower his prices. I’m not sure what Sam’s strategy was.

Martin 12
Joe 10 (+ 5 money)
Ian 10
Andrew 7
Sam 6

Then we played Timeline. It began with a load of historical events, all clustered togethwer, making a pretty tough game.

Ian came first since I didn’t know the aeroplane was invented before the Model T Ford. I mean, how does that make sense?

1. Ian
2. Joe, Andrew, Sam, Martin

During Timeline, Sam made cups of tea for people, so we felt we had to have one more game before we left. We chose Skull and Roses, the game of pure bluff. It was another tough game, and it took a while before anyone won a round. By the end, Martin won two rounds to take the game, and Ian won a round to come second. Sam played it cagey: I’m not sure if he ever had to act on any of his predictions for the whole game.

1. Martin
2. Ian
3. Sam
4. Andrew
5. Joe

And with that, the evening was over. Games were packed away, and we set off into the evening air.

Martin1 2 1 1 3 8
Gonz 1 3 1 1 3 9
Joe 5 2 2 1 1 11
Ian2 1 3 3 4 13
Sam3 2 5 2 214
Matt2 21 55 15
Andrew4 2 4 3 3 16
Will2 4 23 5 16
Anja 2 5 5 5 5 22
Steve 4 5 5 5 5 24

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Shipping Cubes and Cuboid Ships

It was supposed to be games night at Roll for the Soul, but when Martin informed me (Sam) that the numbers were looking low and it might be just himself and Andrew, I said if that was the case they should pop up to the house, as I'd be on my tod and up for a game.

And that's what transpired. They stayed long enough at RftS to play a game or two (I'll let them inform you in the comments) and then jumped on a time-travelling bus bound for Ashley Down.

Unfortunately the bus' time-travelling abilities allowed it to take about an hour to get through post-rush-hour north Bristol, but no matter. After a couple of texts I had the go-ahead to set up Railways of the World (Mexico, in this case) which meant upon their arrival they could pretty much walk in, sit down and immediately start playing; much in the way that normal people start talking (I imagine).

It was a harsh board. And harsher for Andrew, who won the bidding and set up the most productive opening link only to have me jump alongside him courtesy of a Trading Depot card, like a parasitical slug. Powered by steam.

Martin initially got confused over the representations of the colour purple but went with the book in the end.

Ha ha! That's a joke. I've had a bit of wine. Anyway... So we let him retake his go and he began building across southern Mexico. Andrew built more in the south, and I depoted up, inviting the wrath of Martin who felt I should really be building track in a railroad game. I picked up a couple of engine upgrades.

At this stage I was feeling optimistic as both the other players were going, if not Bond-crazy, then slightly liberal with the spending. I kept things frugal and picked up the most money throughout the game.

But of course money means nothing if you don't have the points, so I began to build down the west as Andrew built up the east. Martin always seemed to have trading options, and they surged off ahead of me on the score track until I was rescued by a Service Bounty giving me a little boost. Come the final count up my lack of bonuses and Baron (first to level six engine) catapulted me into the lead, only to have Andrew surge past again courtesy of his own Baron - most links. It was very, very close:

Andrew 77
Sam 74
Martin 72

It was only half past nine so we had plenty of time for another game. I really wanted to try Darjeeling but I realised I wasn't in a state to comprehend new rules, so when Martin proposed Quantum Andrew and I agreed. We went for a curious board that was rectangular-shaped but with a hollow centre, so it looked a bit like a racetrack. And early on it seemed like a mistake, as there was almost zero interaction. We just plodded around, placing cubes.

But come the endgame things suddenly tightened up, and we had to fight not only over territory but to make sure Martin didn't place his last cube courtesy of the Dominance rule - but we failed:

1 Martin
2 Andrew/Sam (1 cube remaining)

Martin and I were still up for one more game, but such an industry and combat-heavy night had worn Andrew out, so we called it a night.

Andrew2 1 2 1 2 8
Gonz 1 3 1 1 3 9
Joe 1 2 3 4 2 12
Martin1 3 5 3 1 13
Matt2 21 55 15
Ian3 3 4 3 3 16
Will2 4 23 5 16
Sam2 2 4 4 517