Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Men just can’t help acting on...

Impulse! Martin’s new game he picked up while on holiday in the United States.

Adam and Hannah were hosting again, and myself, Sam, Martin came in one car, Matt arrived on his bike while Ian sauntered over from his house just five minutes away.

While Hannah put baby Arthur to bed, the six of us decided on a stirring game of 6nimmt. Adam has The Walking Dead-themed version, and I commented during the game that most of what we were saying could easily work in the setting of a zombie apocalypse. “This is brutal,” “I hope this works,” and “I think I need two people to die if I’m going to survive.”

A terrible second round put Ian on the brink of extinction, and with just thirteen points between the rest of us, it was a tense third round. But Martin cleared it with just one bullet.

Martin 17
Andrew 22
Adam 38
Sam 48
Matt 50
Ian 69

Then we split into two groups. Me, Martin and Matt decided to brave the final frontier with Impulse, while Ian, Adam, Hannah and Sam were debating between Tinners’ Trail and Macao. In the end, TT won the vote because Ian didn’t want to learn any new rules tonight.

Meanwhile, in outer space, Martin walked us through the rules. And there were plenty of them. Cards have actions, colours and strengths on them, and these can be used in a variety of ways. Cards can be activated by moving your spaceship onto them, by going through the communal group of four cards, by actioning one of two cards you have tucked away in your player area, plus a number of cards you’ve managed to stash away as part of a plan. On one move, Matt managed to put all of these together to produce a leviathan of a move that went on for card after card.

But it was Martin who won by picking up points for shooting other ships out of the skies, and suddenly ending Matt’s reign of power as hit reached 20 points and suddenly ended the game. My good showing was solely due to me picking up a load of points after a round or two, and then being attacked by Martin and then not doing much else until the game ended.

Martin 20
Andrew 9
Matt 7

I’m unconvinced. I have a mistrust of games with cards that have rules on them. It seems like a very easy way to build up a complicated game. It certainly wasn’t what you’d call elegant, but it might have its attractions if we played it a few more times.

During this, Tinners’ Trail ended with newcomer Ian picking up a very respectable win against some tough opposition. Hopefully he’ll tell us his secrets in the comments section.

Ian 108 (wins on money tiebreaker)
Hannah 108
Adam 107
Sam 93

Since our games weren’t syncing up properly, they’d already begun on Port Royal by the time we’d finished Impulse, with Ian reminding Sam and Adam of the rules. So Martin introduced us (matt and me) to another new game, also by the same designer as Impulse (although he didn’t mention that until we’d started playing and we’d said how much fun it was).

This game, Red, is a sort of game of trumps, but the rules for winning hand can change each time someone puts a card down. During a turn, a player can either add a card to his showing hand, or put a card on top of the current “rule card” in the middle of the table OR do both. A pile of cards builds up in the middle and the topmost card’s rule is the won that everyone has to obey. For now. Happily, each card has it's new rule (one for each colour) written on it.

The trick is that you have to play cards such that you are winning at the end of your turn. If you cannot, then you are out. It seems amazing that such a simple game came from the same designer as Impulse (Carl Chudyk), but it’s true.

I enjoyed it a lot. Perhaps because I won. By a lot.

Andrew 32
Matt 7
Martin 0

We finished when we did because Port Royal was over, and it was time we were heading off, despite the relatively early hour (not even eleven). Port Royal ended:

Adam 13
Ian 10
Sam 9

With Sam declaring that, after three attempts, Port Royal would remain in his bad books as far as games were concerned. On the Form Table, I remain top in what is looking like my best season ever! Still a long way to go, though.

Andrew1 2 2 1 2 8
Adam 1 3 3 2 2 11
Martin 3 1 1 4 2 11
Chris 1 2 13 5 12
Joe 2 2 2 3 3 12
Ian 2 1 6 2 3 14
Sam 3 4 4 2 1 14
Matt 2 3 5 3 4 17
Hannah 2 2 5 5 5 19
Paul 2 2 5 5 5 19
Steve 1 5 5 5 5 21


  1. Red was really good. Very simple but a lot of fun. I always ended up taking my time in my final go though as I made sure there was not an an obvious move that I was missing. There never was. That was an impressive haul of points Andrew, I was pleased with my 7 but that was short lived.

    I think I liked Impulse, more so in retrospect. There was a lot I liked about it, not least the little rocket ships, but I think it needs another play to work out how much I like it. It seems like a game that will improve a lot once you are familiar with all the actions. We didn't manage any battles and I neglected to focus on points, I was having too much fun exploring and planning.

  2. Wow - during Impulse, a Tinners Trail ended! I know you were learning it but isn't it supposed to be a 30 min game? Could it be if you had the rules down?

    Red sounds ace.

  3. The first game was always going to be slow. It probably took half an hour to teach and an hour to play. The next game would definitely be faster. I found it really interesting but it's structure of a few long turns rather than lots of short ones feels quite old-fashioned. I think it will make an amazing asynch online game.

    Red is superb.

  4. Grr, autocorrect apostrophe fail :)

    Andrew - isn't an easy way to make a complex game a good thing?

  5. Well in the other room I was having my ass handed to me both royally and tinners-traillily. I've lost my mojo on the latter - on the former (Port Royal) I was willing to give it another go, but, as summarized in the car on the way home last night, I don't really click with games where cards are used to buy cards - I was similarly uninclined toward Lewis and Clark, though we should probably give that another go.

    6 Nimmt was great. Tinner's Trail is always great! But well done Ian. I thought his continual buying of mines might see him with too much to do, too late. But he played like a pro.

  6. I did enjoy Tinner's Trail.

    I don't think I bought that many mines, but I bought three early. and an extra one later as I'd exhausted the others. My strategy, such as it was, was to get some well stocked mines early on, and then to spend time maximising the amount I could get out whilst minimising the cost. I tried to avoid mining less than three cubes at a time, and tried to avoid paying than two per cube. I also tried to pass my round before anybody else did to ensure I could get steam pumps and boats.

    I wasn't entirely sure how my buy-mines-early strategy was going to work out. If the ore prices had dropped it might have scuppered my plans, but they remained stable. I was surprised I won, I thought my game was going well, but Hannah and Adam both seemed to have large cube hauls, so I was hoping for 2nd or 3rd.

    Red looked quite interesting. I would like to give Impulse a go too, but having been afflicted with a migrainy-headache thing earlier in the day I felt a little too dazed to learn new rules, especially as Martin mentioned it would take a bit of explaining,