Wednesday, 3 December 2014

River cheap, Mountain high

The Tuesday after a big games weekend was bound to be a bit sparse. I was amazed at Ian’s stamina as he attended again so soon after his three-day marathon. We met up at Joe’s, with Ian, Martin and myself.

We chose Lost Valley to play because the last time it had been played, it was exactly us who’d played it. Even so, we needed to constantly refer to the rules throughout, and some misunderstandings over the rules almost came to blows.

Joe though his Haggler skill meant each could buy supplies from the general store for one gold nugget less, and had just filled up his cart when Martin told him that it entitled him to one nugget discount on the final total.

Then Martin realised he hadn’t moved his meeple to the right spot last time, and asked if he could start his turn from a different spot. Joe said no, since everyone else had had a turn and, besides, it would put him at immediate risk from Martin’s stealin’ ways.

Personally, I think that this only spurred Martin on to greater heights of mischief as he darted about the board, nabbing other people’s gold and building up a commanding lead. Ian set off into the wilderness on his horse, and discovered his own mine, far from anyone else. So far that not even Martin could be bothered to plunder it. This assured Ian of second place. I only managed joint third thanks to me shooting whatever animal I happened to finish my turn next to and getting a bonus point each time.

Martin 38
Ian 28
Joe 17
Andrew 17

It was nice to get this game back on the table. It’s main drawback is how long it took to set up and put away. There’ s a myriad of pieces, and even with them neatly separated in little plastic fishing tackle boxes, it took a while to get everything in the right place with the right amount.

Next we played a new game, Potato Man. This absurdly named game is absurdly simple. There are four suits that cover different ranges (1-13 yellow, 3-14 green, 4-16 blue and 5-18 red) but the three weakest cards (1-3 yellow) are called Super Potato Man! and they can beat the three strongest cards (16-18 red) called Evil Potatoes. Win a trick with a yellow cards, pick up a four-point card. Greens get you a three-point card, blues two and reds one. Score a trick with a colour where the point cards have been exhausted (there are three or four of each, I don't quite remember) and you can pick up a lovely five-point card!

An evil potato

Apart from that, the only other rule is that you cannot follow suit. So, in a four player game, every player had to play one each of the four colours. The moment a player cannot play a card, then that round is over. A game lasts four rounds.

Of course, this runs the risk of very short rounds if a player isn’t dealt a particular colour, and then is required to play it when it’s his turn. This is exactly what happened in the second round of our first game. Ian had no reds at all, and had to play a red. He couldn’t: end of round. The next two rounds weren’t much better, and the whole game ended quickly and low-scoringly.

Joe 9
Martin 8
Andrew 6
Ian 5

We decided to play again, and this time the rounds lasted a bit longer and some strategy could be used. At least, it could be used if you weren’t sitting to the left of Ian. He constantly used the same colour that I wanted to use and consequently I never got to carry out my cunning masterplan to rule the world. But that’s because Ian was too busy carrying out his own.

As we entered the last round, it looked like it was Martin versus Joe, so they tried their best to cancel each other out. But this meant Ian picked up lots of tricks and scored a massive 12 points that round to finish the clear winner.

Ian 22
Joe 19
Martin 19
Andrew 10

A great game. So simple, I’m amazed it hasn’t been invented before. However, if the next time we play it, if I’m left of Ian, I will insist on changing seats. It was telepathic disobediance of the highest order.

As for the form table, Katy rises to the top without even attending! Congratulations!

Katy 1 3 2 2 1 9
Martin 2 2 1 3 1 9
Jon 2 2 2 2 1 9
Andy 2 2 3 2 1 10
Sam 3 3 1 1 2 10
Matt 4 1 2 1 2 10
Ian 1 4 2 2 2 11
Andrew 3 3 3 1 1 11
Hannah 3 3 2 2 2 12
Joe 2 1 3 3 4 13
Chris 2 5 1 1 4 13
Anja 2 1 1 5 5 14
Adam 3 2 2 4 4 15
Steve 3 3 5 1 3 15
Stanley 3 2 4 1 5 15


  1. Great to play Lost Valley again - I wonder if there are ways to cut down the set-up time. It's all those shuffled piles of face-down markers. Everything could be left in the trays actually, barring the general store goods. A few piles of whisky, tools, food and timber for players to move on and off their boards.

    Martin won without building a damned thing, too. It felt like quite a different game to last time - I seem to recall us all wandering further downstream, with fewer visits to the general store. Those canoes are worth their weight in gold. Probably.

    Potato Man was great, I'd have happily played a third game. Just a little less of a headfuck than Sticheln, with many curious situations arising. I can see it being a regular end-of-evening game whenever we are four.

    Thanks chaps for an entertaining, mine-shafting, milkshake-drinking evening.

  2. Yeah, very different. I barely travelled more than one canoe ride from the start. I suspect you guys should have been a bit more cautious about building mines right next to the river. Ian had the right idea striking out on his horse :)

    Potato Man is awesome!