Friday, 19 December 2014

Black Markets

Matt, Andy, Ian and I (Sam) convened at my house the night before Stanley turns 7. He was up when they arrived, too excited to sleep, and watching a run-through of Black Fleet with me. After a short discussion - and Stanley now in bed, that was the game we started with.

Its a very simple game and one that is brimming with chance. Each player owns a merchant ship (for trading) and a pirate ship (for nicking stuff) and they move both on their turn - if a merchant reaches a suitable port, it delivers goods. If a pirate reaches an opponents merchant, it steals goods from it. And if that good happens to be the last one (merchant ships hold up to three goods at a time) then, by the unforgiving laws of the sea (that also apply to Serrinissima) that ship will sink.

Everyone also gets to move one of the navy ships on their turn, that scoot around eliminating pirates. And there's some extra cards that let you break the rules, too.

Big sea

All of this nautical larking about gets you doubloons - for delivering, for stealing, for sinking pirate ships. And the game progresses as you spend these doubloons to flip over some cards (I forget the name) in front of you. Once one player flips them all, that is the final round. So it's a race - but everybody gets a random set of cards and they each give a special power when flipped. Andy's worked together quite nicely, but the game twists and turns a great deal and we were all - at one point or another - the victim of lady luck, as our best-laid plans came unstuck and our ships were scuttled. I think we played it in the best way though - quickly. 

In the end Andy got the win by flipping all his cards first. The rest of us had flipped all but one, and the tie-breaker was on doubloons:

Andy: all cards flipped
Ian 7 doubloons
Matt 4 doubloons
Sam 3 doubloons

A fun, quick game that we all quite liked. 

Next up was Istanbul. The decision-making on game choice was inexplicably fast, although Andy had said that if you spend 15 minutes choosing a game, that's 15 minutes of game time lost. The type of guy who would rush through the wedding vows so he could break out Castles of Burgundy. I like that. 

not a governor to be seen

Istanbul was tight. We dealt the tiles randomly and all felt the pinch of having to make two moves where one would have felt more appropriate. I was one move from winning (at which point Andy would have bumped me into second) and Andy one move from winning (at which point Matt may have bumped me into third) at the moment Matt won. And as he was fourth player, nobody could make any last-minute minute moves to react. What's more, he could only afford the winning move as I'd paid him two lira to engineer myself one move from winning! ISTANBUL - the game Katy would describe as Gem C**t - if only she'd been here to do so.

Matt 5 gems
Sam 4 gems (2nd on money tie-breaker)
Andy 4 gems (3rd on money tie-breaker)
Ian 3 gems

It wasn't horrendously late so there was just time for everyone to hand me my ass in Love Letter. 
fucking useless

Andy 2 cubes
Matt 2 cubes
Sam 1 cube.

What more can you say about this game? It's nuts. 

Happy Christmas to everyone - most of you - who won't be around on Tuesday. Hopefully we can organise a last-games-of-the-season at some point before New Year's Eve too.

Martin 1 2 1 2 2 8
Andrew 2 1 4 1 1 9
Jon 2 2 2 2 1 9
Katy 2 1 3 2 2 10
Matt 2 1 3 4 1 11
Andy 2 3 1 3 2 11
Sam 3 2 4 1 1 11
Anja 2 2 1 1 5 11
Ian 1 4 2 4 1 12
Joe 3 2 1 3 3 12
Hannah 3 3 2 2 2 12
Chris 2 5 1 1 4 13
Adam 3 2 2 4 4 15
Steve 3 3 3 5 1 15
Stanley 3 2 4 1 5 15


  1. Thanks Hannah. He was up and at em today!

    I realised that although Black Fleet does have a big element of chance in it it's perhaps not 'brimming' with it. There's definitely a big degree of player input - you just have to be prepared to make a Plan B at short notice...

  2. Its one of those games where as long as you accept that people are going to trip you up and its fine to trip them up you can enjoy it. I thought it was fun.

  3. Happy Birthday Stanley! There's so nearly an anagram of Istanbul in there. Istanbul party pay-head - with an added 'u'.
    This all sounds like exceedingly good fun. I'm in London by next tuesday, so that's me done for the . . . year? Hopefully not, might get some in the week after next . . .

    Oh and I've retouched Sam's Love Letter pic . . . couldn't resist.

  4. Yes I agree Chris. Frustrating when you're one move from victory (actually may have been two) and a moment later find yourself last - but that tension is part of the fun. Very easy to play and with enough gung-ho carnage I reckon Martin might enjoy an outing.

  5. Joe how did you know my ass has a giant 5 emblazoned across it?

  6. I assumed that's why we call you five-cheeks . . .