Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The Stockholm Syndrome

Tonight saw ten (TEN!) players crammed into Steve and Anja’s front room. Me, Martin, Sam, Matt, Ian, Andy (from Roll For The Soul, but making his first leaderboard appearance), Adam, Katy and, of course, Steve and Anja.

We split into three groups. Sam, Ian and Matt went on the coffee table for a game of Quantum. Martin was keen to try Istanbul again, and so myself, Andy and Katy joined him on one half (closer to two thirds, actually) of the dining table. The rest of the dining table was home to a game of Thurn and Taxis, chosen only because it would fit.

Steve, Anja and Adam played out a much interrupted game of T&T, with their baby Luther waking up frequently and needing attention. Sam, Ian and Matt had no such problems, and they steamed through their games at breakneck speed. First, as I mentioned before, was Quantum. This was brought to a swift halt by Matt taking two crystals in one turn, ending the game before it had hardly got going.

Matt 5
Sam 3
Ian 2

After this, they went for a rip roaring game of Raj, with a most unlikely scoreline.

Sam 110
Matt 44
Ian –15

Hopefully, they’ll explain what happened in the comments.

After this, they played Take It Easy and the scores were.

Matt 428
Sam 394
Ian 220

After this Sam set off home. Well, he was probably exhausted.

As for us slow-coaches on the dining table, were were still knee deep in our alternative worlds. Istanbul was played with a different layout (cards laid out 1-16) and I can’t say I really enjoyed it. Like this, all the warehouses are together, likewise the markets and mosques, which looks very convenient but is quite frustrating when you want to get from one to the other.

Katy played a masterful game, building her wheelbarrow early, and using bonus cards to full effect to get to four jewels with enough money to saunter over the the gemstone dealer, while the rest of us were stuck on three gems each. In fact, she would have won earlier if she had ignored our advice that she didn’t need the “gemstone dealer twice” card so early on in the game, so she should discard it. If she’d had it, should could have finished all the sooner.

Andy had in interesting tactic of just hanging around the police station and using his family member. Now we know that another player has to send him back, it’s a much more effective strategy. Martin tried a different tactic from the one he won with last time, and he regretted it. He found himself without any options, since he had no assistants left.

“I’ve run out of juice!” he cried. “What kind of juice?” Katy asked, “Money?” No, he’d run out of man juice. And the idea of Martin running out of man juice halfway through a board game isn’t something that should be shared, not even on the internet. But, we’re all friends, right?

I’m rather proud that I didn’t go to the fountain once during the game. Still didn’t win, though.

Katy 5 gems
Andrew 3 gems + 37 lira
Martin 3 + 21
Andy 3 + 19

Another interesting game. I think Istanbul has lots of potential. I look forward to the time when we’re all proficient enough to play on random boards.

Then we played Indigo, Reiner Knizia's Tsuro-esque game where instead of avoiding death, you're transporting gems along paths back to your side of the board. At least, that's what you're supposed to do. Instead whenever we noticed that a gem was about to get anywhere near the edge of the board, we'd join up its path with another gem, and they'd destroy each other. This made for quite a low scoring game. And, frankly, not a very satisfying one.

Martin 2
Katy 2
Andrew 1
Andy 1

As we ended, there was still no sign of Thurn and Taxis so the six remaining gamers set off on a game of Trans Europa, a game that Andy helpfully described as being like Trans Amercia, but in Europe.

I got hugely lucky with my cards in the first round, with Riga and Helsinki (neighbours) and Marseilles and Barcelona (also neighbours) in my hand. And I got fairly lucky with the second hand too. I didn’t win, but only suffered three points damage.

Martin, on the other hand, had a nightmare second round, starting deep in the south-east, he was miles from anyone else's network, and had only just linked up to the main railway routes when Katy announced she’d won. He went crashing out, and the two Andrews shared a win. As we packed away he cursed his tactics, and especially his inability at getting anywhere near Stockholm. "I've never been there," he seethed, "and now I never will."

Andy 10
Andrew 10
Katy 9
Ian 6
Matt 5
Martin 0

And during this, Thurn and Taxis finally ended.

Adam 23
Anja 21
Steve 19

The monthly Division does take game length into account when calculating its scores, however that is the game length according to Board Game Geek, and doesn’t take into account stoppages for babies. Pity, because Adam would’ve scored a load of points.

After that, all was left was for me take Martin home via the scenic route and the night was done.

Andrew 1 2 2 1 1 7
Katy 2 1 1 1 5 10
Matt 4 1 2 1 2 10
Sam 2 1 2 4 2 11
Martin 5 1 3 3 2 14
Anja 2 1 1 5 5 14
Joe 3 2 3 3 1 14*
Adam 1 4 4 3 3 15
Chris 4 2 4 4 1 15
Ian 3 3 3 3 4 16
Hannah 2 2 2 5 5 16
Andy 1 2 4 5 5 17
Stanley 4 1 5 5 5 20
Steve 3 3 5 5 5 21


  1. Nice write-up Andrew - I SHALL return to the fold; can't keep missing out on the fun.
    It sounds like a great night!
    Martin what do you think of Istanbul?

  2. Quantum was pretty brutal. Matt and I started well; Ian showed a bit of ring-rustiness by not using his ship's special powers. I forewent doing anything on the board in order to pick up a card - in fact I had generated a pretty neat fighting engine where my dominance wouldn't go down even if I lost - then Matt suddenly ended the game.

    But I realized this morning we need a rematch, as the game ended with an illegal move. Matt and Ian can correct me if I misremember this, but Matt got his fourth quantum cube down and immediately took a 2-action point bonus card. He used this to move his ships to a new planet, and then placed a fifth cube courtesy of his card that gave him some leeway on ship value (one higher or lower than the planet number was acceptable). But then on the same turn he placed a quantum cube to end the game - so the bonus 2-actions was actually a bonus 4-actions! I'm not sure why neither me or Ian realized this (or Matt, as I'm certain it was an innocent mistake). We were all so bamboozled by the move maybe.

    Matt got off to a good start in Raj but a series of ties between he and Ian in round two gave me a ridiculous 60+ score. Then in round three I played safe using high cards for middling tiles, but getting some high tiles anyway courtesy of yet more ties... ludicrous.

    Our themes for Take it Easy were Al Pacino movies (me, though I switched to De Niro after about four films) David Bowie songs (Ian) and the triumphant Lesser Known Baldwins from Matt, who - in fairness to my mid-game confusion - did prefix them with the promise that he wasn't making them up. He was. LIAR!

    Ian managed an all-time low in the final round when the iconic 9-8-7 tile didn't come out and he lost out on 105 points, scoring a measly 23. Yow. My scores started high but dipped lower each round, whereas Matt's started higher, dipped lower but then surged up again, giving him a convincing win.

    Have to replay Quantum though!

  3. (by the way Andrew it's Katy not Katie.)

  4. if I could edit comments I'd make that first one slightly less mangled...

  5. Thanks. I did ask once, but then I forgot.

  6. That Quantum error is correct Sam. I realised the same thing as I was drifting of to sleep last night, going over the evenings victories and losses in my mind. My sleep was not sound after that.

    Not sure how I missed it either. I guess I was so focussed on my new ability to place quantum cubes on planets 1 above or below my total that it completely slipped my mind that I still needed 2 actions to do so. So yes, we must run a Quantum error correction in the form of a rematch!

  7. It was a good move anyway Matt. Ian and I would have been chasing you at that point!

  8. also - sorry to saturate with comments - Andy doesn't appear on the form table?

  9. If I say I enjoyed Istanbul less than my first game, which I won, it'll sound like sour grapes. But I do find that I enjoy this kind of efficiency Euro much more when I'm winning than losing, whereas I find games that are more aligned to my tastes enjoyable whatever the outcome.

    Indigo went rather strangely, but I think some of that was groupthink. I thought the shared goals aspect made it more interesting than Tsuro.

    Also, I guessed correctly what Andrew was going to title this post. Fucking Stockholm!!

  10. A shame Katy missed out on a joint win in TransEuropa by a single point - she'd have been one off a perfect five!