Monday, 28 December 2015

2015 in review, part two

And here’s the round up of the year in numbers. All manner of statistics, some telling and pertinent, others a bit silly and meaningless.

In 2015 we changed to Tuesday-only Divisions which saved me a bit of time, and also left the non-Tuesday gatherings as a chance to let loose. Mostly with whiskey and Love Letter.

Let’s begin with the Division for the year:

Let’s hear it for Martin, this year’s powerhouse of gaming bonhomie! Steve, for the second year in a row, takes points ratio. Congratulations to both of you. Also, from next year you’ll have to have played five games in order to register a points ratio. Harsh but fair, that’s me.

Meanwhile, a quick recap of the winner's for this year:

Finally Sam gets the victory on Points ratio he's always wanted. And also, that's Adam's first title in two years. Could it be he's getting back to his old form?

Anyway. More stats...

Matches played

Different games played

Total points scored

Top point scorer
Andrew: 1,649,400

Total number of players
27 (although one was Dirk)

Biggest Victories and Heaviest Defeats

Who can forget Martin’s crushing 50-0-0 win against me and Matt in Red7. Equally unforgettable was his win at Sticheln where he got 35 points to Hannah’s 0 and Ian’s –2. In No Thanks, three players (Adam, Joe and Katy) got the mythical negative point score. But Katy did it in most style: Katy –8, Sam 47, Adam 51, Joe 80

Ian, of course, beat me at Biblios 18-0. Non-leaderboard, but worth a mention. Joe also clocked up a noteworthy score of 15-5-4-4-4-0 on Kobayakawa.

Those are all quite short games. Perhaps we’re all improving, but big wins on large games were rare. Andy stuffed Chris and me on Ra, 87-19-17 and Hannah’s win on Chinatown is statistically significant, according to the spreadsheet. She scored 1.2m while the other four hovered between 840-940,000. Meanwhile, I’ll boast of a resounding win of my own, beating Hannah and Adam at Railways of the World 71-49-41, albeit with the distractions of childcare working in my favour.

As for heaviest defeats (apart from those on the receiving end of a biggest victory), Anja said she was just glad she wasn’t lapped on the scoretrack during the year’s only game of El Grande (136-116-114-78). And what happened to the usually rock solid tactics of Andy in Ticket to Ride UK? He came a distant last 123-122-65-29. Paul fell foul of experienced hands at 7 Wonders when he lost 57-54-51-21.

I got a whipping at Carcassonne (108-104-96-52) and, although he’s new to the world of board games, Ben clocked up a poor score in his first game of Lords Of Vegas, coming last with the scores at 44-40-40-18. Even Martin suffered a collapse in form in a game of Last Spike 133-91-75-36.

Best run of form

This has to be Katy’s blaze of glory in which she clocked up ten first places in fourteen games. The games were (non-victories in brackets):

Verflixxt, (Can't Stop), Last Spike, 6nimmt, (Twilight), Ticket to Ride, Beasty Bar, (Twilight), In A Bind, (Pairs), Mord Im Arosa, Biblios, Biblios, 7 Wonders

And, you know, I wonder if Twilight should be on the list. It is a team game, after all. Codenames isn’t leaderboard so should Twilight be? If not, then raise a glass to Katy’s very own Perfect Five!

And finally, the Divisions for the most played games of the year (ie, more than five times). Not many large games were played repeatedly during the year, so it's mostly shorter games. Nevertheless, here are the results...

Let's start with Bandu. This goes to Katy without a doubt. Her steady hand and sharp eye for a spoiling tactic make her the Banduist to beat.

Next is No Thanks. Played six times, this old favourite is won by an old favourite. Adam reaps all the rewards.

(And if you’re wondering how Sam can be behind Matt, even though he’s doing better on the medal table, it’s because when Matt plays No Thanks, there are more players.)

This is followed by Deep Sea Adventure. Honours are shared here between Andy and Katy.

And Martin wins the right to call himself Best Potato Man!

Kobayakawa didn't last too long as a GNN regular, but it clocked up six plays while it did. Joe and I take the spoils.

The Division for Impulse just looks like Martin and I wait until an unsuspecting soul comes along who we can play against and then never see again. Which is kind of true. Martin wins everything here.

Played thirteen times, 6nimmt remains one of GNN's go-to games for a way to end the evening in squirming agony. Ian's reputation for losing quickly has evaporated in this last year. Not enough to beat Katy and Adam, though.

And what about Pairs, eh? Thirty-one times it's appeared on the leaderboard. Amazing. And well done to Ian and Chris for their wins. Chris' habit of coming second is usually a curse, but in a game with half a dozen or more players, is something of a miracle.

Which leaves us with the only large game to be played more than five times on the leaderboard: Lords Of Vegas. And if Ian was feeling smug about Pairs, then he can keep feeling smug as he takes a clean sweep of this game's division.

Phew. I think that's all. I know that in previous years, I've posted up a list of games and the number of times they've been played, but our choices were so diffuse this year that there's not much point. But here are all the games we played on Tuesdays.

6nimmt, 7 Wonders, Abluxxen, Acquire, Africa, Arboretum, Ascending Empires, Atlantis, Bandu, Basari, Baseball Highlights, Beasty Bar, Beowulf, Between Two Cities, Biblios, Blockers, Blue Moon, Botswana, Broom Service, Bruges, Bullfrog, Can't Stop, Carcassone, Castles of Burgundy, Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Caverna, Celestia, Chinatown, Chocolatl, Circus Maximus, Codenames, Colt Express, Darjeeling, Deep Sea, Desert, Discworld, Dobble, Dolmengotter, El Grande, Engine Empire, Fauna, Flowerfall, For Sale, G.Nome, Golden City, High Society, Hogger Logger, Hornochsen, Igloo Pop, I'm the boss, Imperium, Impulse, In A Bind, Incan Gold, Istanbul, K2, Keyflower, Kingdom Builder, Kobayakawa, Koryo, Last Spike, Lords of Waterdeep, Lords of Vegas, Love Letter, Las Vegas Boulevard, Magnates, Mamma Mia, Medici, Members Only, Merchants, Metropolys, Midnight Party, Mord Im Arosa, Municipium, Mystery at the Abbey, Njet, No Thanks, Oregon, Pairs, Panic on Wall St, Pax Pamir, Pergamon, Pickomino, Pompeii, Port Royal, Portobello, Potato Man, Qwix, Ra, Railways, Raj, Rattle, Rattlesnakes, Red7, Rialto , Roll For The Galaxy, Royal Palaces, Safranito, Samarkand, Scoville, Skull, Skull & Roses, Spice Merchant, Sticheln, Stone Age, Sumeria, Take it easy, takenoko, That's Life/Verflixxt, Ticket to Ride, Tigris, Timeline, Tinners Trail, Tower Babel, Trump Tricks, Twilight, Vegas , Vikings, Villa Paletti, Was Sticht, Welcome to the Dungeon, Why First, Winners Circle, Yspahan

What a list! And what a year. Here's hoping for another year of high drama and low humour in 2016.

2015 in Review, part one

As is usual, we round off another year with a look back over the previous twelve months. This post is all about the stories and characters of the year.


This month was notable for two castle building games. Castles of Mad King Ludwig had been a Christmas present for Sam and became a firm favourite in the early part of the year with its mix of bidding, bonuses and spatial awareness. Versailles, on the other hand, did not go down so well and lasted two games before being consigned to history.

We were also introduced to Pairs. As an end-of-evening filler, it's hard to beat and it was played an amazing thirty-one times this year on Tuesdays alone. It has caused many a heartbreak, but perhaps none more than in this month. Adam foolishly let slip that he'd just won his fourth game in a row at the end of an evening. Quickly a game of Pairs was arranged and poor old Adam finished in fourth.


Mad King Ludwig's reign continued into February, as other games came and went. Flowerfall, Members Only and Empire Engines made their debuts and haven't been seen since. More successful was Verflixxt which entertained us by using dice in a good way.

We also discovered Kobayakawa, the simple betting game which had a decent run of appearances at GNN, before dissatisfaction with its too-powerful final round meant it faded from view.


This month I met my evil nemesis in board game form: Quartmaster General. I disliked it so much I was in a bad mood for the rest of the next day. Coming so soon after Memoir 44, it was a very warlike start to the month. Also, Shadow of the Empire had been lurking on Sam's shelf for some time, but did not impress on its first play to warrant a second attempt.

On a happier note, Mysterium was a fun murder mystery using dixit-like game mechanics and bespoke card-holders.


A month of pleasant returns for GNN.

El Grande made its presence felt after years in the wilderness. It was a bit underwhelming as I sped off into an early lead and stayed there, while pensive Steve thought about every move in great detail.

And Eclipse reappeared, thanks to Sam buying a copy. This is an epic in both space and time, and our first go (with Ian, Sam and me) lasted three hours. Still, a worthwhile endevour, I think. Nice to see it back.

We also had debuts for Letters from Whitechapel, Witness, Tower of Babel and Welcome To The Dungeon.


While I holidayed in Japan, GNN hosted the Really Big Board Game Day. This was an opportunity to raise money for the NSPCC and perhaps gain a few new recruits for board games. It was, by all accounts, a success and I received emails from Bristol asking me to track down a couple of games of Deep Sea Adventure, a Japanese game that had gone down rather well. Was this the event that turned Tim into a fledgling GNNer?

Meanwhile, Caverna popped back on the GNN radar, and Scoville reinforced Martin's prejudices about “Kickstarter crap”.


Midnight Party arrived at GNN in almost magical circumstances. While discussing wat we wanted to lay, Joe mentioned an obscure game he'd heard of but couldn't find called Midnight Party. Andy reached into his bag and said “I just happen to have it here.” Amazingly, we ignored such a good omen and didn't play it there and then, but it went on to become a favourite. Perhaps too much, since it is currently banned in two venues due to the raucous nature of the game. Or of us.

Otherwise, GNN slip merrily into summer with Tigris and Euphrates, more King Ludwig and Caverna, and Lords of Vegas.


July saw Darjeeling come and go, and Sumeria and Africa, too, passed through GNN portals. In A Bind made more of an impact, if only for being absurd.

And I had to play Carcassone again.


August slid by in a haze of summer. The biggest new arrival was Riener Knizia's compendium of Rome-themed games, Neue Spiele im Alten Rom. This package serves up a range of games of different types for different numbers of players. Circus Maximus and Imperium have been the only two to feature on the GNN leaderboard, though.


This year has been notable for the large number of physical games that have appeared on the blog. In September, the epitome of this new trend arrived: Bandu. Mixing cruelty, fun and dexterity, this tower building game has swiftly risen in stature as a new favourite. As well as Bandu, Villa Paletti was first seen in September and it was fun if a little rule-heavy. And this has been followed by Hamsterrolle and Polarity and Push It in more recent months.

Add to this, the first sighting of Codenames, the cunning game of lateral thinking. Or, in our case, sadly obtuse thinking. And if that weren't enough, Mystery At The Abbey encouraged us to ask insightful questions about monks in a search for a killer.

But if this makes you think we'd barely touched a meeple all month, panic not: Caverna, Castles of Burgundy, Bruges and Macao all helped maintain our love of Eurogames.


Mystery At The Abbey continued to intrigue and Roll For The Galaxy and Giants both had their moments in the sun and may come back soon. Hard to tell. Luckily, Ben made his GNN debut and he did come back. Martin introduced us to the card games Beasty Bar and Njet.

Also GNN got to experience Tales of the Arabian Nights, the clever story-telling game where you use your skills (given to you at the start of the game) and your judgement (should have brought it with you) to weave a story of magic, money and derring-do.


Novocon II! Games! Beach! Toddlers! A bad Snowdonia variant! A seemingly endless game of Mystery At The Abbey! Everything electric was broken! What fun.

In the regular GNN world Celestia, Broom Service and Chocolatl made their debuts. And so did Martin's brand new walk-in games cupboard. Celestia became a hit and Chocolatl gained some fans (except not Katy who showed her contempt by going Dirk through most of her game) and Martin's cupboard was similarly well received. Samarkand didn't not fair as well, being a set building/selling game with a tricky way of getting from A to B. Sam didn't not approve.


It was all about trains as we sped towards the festive season. Colt Express rode into town again having not been seen in months. It's proved itself to be a very entertaining half-hour six-player game and we also cracked out Railways of the World and Ticket To Ride UK. And Oregon has train stations in it.

The Sheriff of Nottingham made its first appearance and was notable for how carefully your had to open the bags of goods that you were trying to get past the Sheriff.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Thrice Upon A Time In America

The last Tuesday of the season and what a festive end to the season it was. Well, not really. Katy wore a red tracksuit top that had white fleece trimmings which she said made it Christmassy. At least she made the effort.

The rest of us (“us” meaning: Adam and Hannah (hosts), Ian, Ben, Andy, Katy, Joe, Martin, myself and then, later on, a friend of Adam/Hannah/Katy’s: yet another Andy aka AW) were dressed for games. We began with an eight (or nine)-player game of Panic On Wall Street. In this game, investors buy shares in four different products from the managers. The aim is to be the investor or manager with the most money. Effectively, it’s two games in one.

We played a couple of rounds before deciding that another three rounds might be a little too long, especially now AW had arrived and Arthur had been put to bed. Hannah had meant to join us in the game, but was called away by her son’s distant cries. To reward her efforts, I decided to keep her score as the amount of money she had when she’d started.

So, the final reckoning after three rounds was:


Adam $180,000
Andrew $160,000
Joe $160,000
Hannah $120,000
Martin BUST!

Yes, poor old Martin was cleaned out when he went big on reds, only to see them crash from highest to their lowest possible value thanks to a –7 roll on the red die. It was a galling defeat, as he had carefully calculated the odds and any other roll would have got him a win or second.

And as for the managers:

Andy $395,000
Ian $300,000
Ben $285,000
Katy $285,000

Ben went for a huge portfolio to try and bring in as much as possible. Ian, perhaps by choice or perhaps by Ben buying everything, had a very small portfolio. The eventual victory, Andy, had a medium sized range of shares but which, crucially, included those tempting reds.

Next we split into two groups. Joe mentioned casually that he’d brought Lords of Vegas with him, and Martin and Ian instantly volunteered themselves before volunteering Ben to make up the quartet. They set off for the front room to make their fortunes on Sunset Strip.

As for the rest of us, there was some idle talk about splitting into two groups of three but Andy had brought Colt Express with him so we decided to stay together for the third US-themed game of the evening.

This time Katy was Belle, whose beauty was so great it could stop a bullet. Or at least, divert it towards someone else. I was Ghost, the mysterious enigmatic bandit who always starts in a tunnel. Or something.

The game’s notable event was the Marshall’s sudden rampage along the train. During a tunnel round (when all cards are played face down) four people chose to move the Marshall, and so he stormed his way along the train, shooting anyone he saw, sending them scuttling up to the roof. Where there wasn’t any loot. Oh, how we laughed.

Katy played a perfect game, nabbing the suitcase and then an armful of gems while the rest of us shot and punched each other in the middle of the train. This game did not favour people whose name begins with ‘A’. Poor old Adam was today’s target of choice in most gunfights.

Katy $3,010
Hannah $2,550
Andy $1,550
Andrew $1,550
AW $1,200
Adam $800

Lords of Vegas was still nowhere near finishing, and Andy had another six-player game which caught our eye: Between Two Cities. This is a game where you built two cities: one with each of your neighbours. You get a number of tiles and, like 7 Wonders, you pass them on after each turn. Then there are the cunning double tiles before returning to drawing single tiles again.

At the end of three rounds, you should be sitting next to two 4x4 cities, complete with parks, factories, offices, houses, shops and pubs/hotels/venues. Each one has it’s own way of scoring points. The trick is: the lowest scoring city you’re next to is your score, with the other city acting as a tie-breaker.

It was all very civil, as we collaborated to make our little creations. Hannah and I built a green capital, with two three-tile parks (12 points each) while Adam and Katy created Smog City, stuffed full of factories (4 points per factory if you have the most).

It was almost too nice, and I wasn’t really paying attention to the other cities. Like Takenoko, it lulls you into a false sense of tranquillity before the end of the game looms and you have to make some decisions fast. Of course, the best decision is to sit between Andy and Katy, so well done to Adam!

Adam 56 (61)
Katy 56 (60)
Andy 54 (61)
Andrew 54 (60)
Hannah 53 (54)
AW 53 (54)

As we packed that game away, Lords of Vegas was coming to an end. All I’d heard from it was the occasional groan of disbelief and Martin’s loud assertion that “This is bullshit!” at one point. I watched the final round as Ian spent big to reorganise two casinos (one went to Joe, though) before the Strip finally paid out again. It was to prove a winning move as he leapfrogged Martin and Joe. Meanwhile, it was tight for second.

Ian 44
Martin 40 (plus $47m)
Joe 40 (plus $45m)
Ben 18

It must have been tough for Ben playing against such seasoned professionals, but he said he enjoyed it on the journey home.

Finally, there was time for a quick two-round game of 6nimmt – Adam’s zombie version. I know some poo-poo this design, but I think 6nimmt’s relentless onslaught of a mindless enemy and a desperate sense that you can’t possibly escape quite fits the zombie motif.

At the start of the second round, we decided that Adam's dealing was too slow, so AW helped deal from the other half of the deck! Two dealers for one game. It was madness, I tell you! My phone didn't know what to focus on.

AW 9
Adam 12
Katy 13
Joe 15
Martin 17
Ben 26
Andrew 26
Ian 33
Hannah 42
Andy 65

And with that we were away. Four of us packed into my tiny car. As we went down Devon Road (the somewhat seedy back street made up of garage doors and graffiti) Katy missed a call from Hannah. Thinking we must have forgotten something she asked me to stop so I did, engine running and lights on, while she called back.

This must’ve been disconcerting for the lone cyclist who was coming the other way. Especially when Katy discovered that Joe had left his glasses behind, and I pulled away again just as the cyclist had gone past us. Whatever must he have thought?

But to more pressing matters: the Division. Alas, there were no last minute twists of fate: Katy and Adam take the plaudits as we thought they probably would. But how remarkable to see a dead heat (in points) between two of the newcomers. Well done Tim and AW.

See you in the New Year for the next exciting instalment etc etc...

Saturday, 19 December 2015

The Jewel in the Piles

On Thursday Ian and I (Sam) got together to bash out a few games; the main event being Quantum. We set up the board with the Void tacked on to one side and set at it.

The narrative in Quantum is pretty well established; race to place as many cubes as you can before the fighting starts. We were neck and neck for a while and then came to a kind of Mexican stand-off: Ian was Dangerous, which meant he could choose to blow both himself and his attacker up when attacked. He also had the ability to construct Quantum cubes from non-orbital positions, so I had a fight on my hands. But having got my dominance up to five with only one cube to place, I found Ian's dangerousness to the fore: I kept attacking as he kept threatening to place a cube; he kept blowing us both up. Something had to give: Ian took a calculated risk on a fight and it worked out in my favour:

Sam: all cubes down
Ian: one cube left

After that we bashed our way through Ra (Ian surged into a healthy lead but his luck gave out in the third age, giving me a 28-26 win) Biblios (I'm Mr Biblios) Love Letter (Ian always wins Love Letter) and Iglu Pop. I can't remember who won that one now.

THEN: Friday Andrew arrived and while Chris made his way down the M4 we played a couple of games of Push It; which is basically tabletop boule: you flick rather than throw. Andrew proved master at it:

Andrew 11
Sam 10


Andrew 11
Sam 4

With Chris now safely ensconced at the table we set up a recent addition to the cupboard: Queen's Necklace. The theme of the game is that you're jewellers crafting trinkets for the court. The mechanics are intriguing: each turn you have ten money to spend on a tableau of cards (emeralds, rubies, diamonds and amber) and as cards are passed over they become cheaper. Three times in the game the Merchant pops up and there's a sale (or scoring round). Players choose which gems to sell to the court, but: you only sell a gem successfully if you have a majority in it, and values can vary wildly due to both the fashions of the court and the rarity of the gems themselves.

Worthless rubies!

Mixed in with the gems are some character cards too; these are bought in the same manner and do a variety of things, like make stuff cheaper, give selling bonuses or steal cards from each other et cetera. I liked the game as a whole, but my phobia of text on cards meant I felt there was maybe too many of these. Unless you play the game really frequently it leads to constant rule-referencing.

Overall though much fun, and a complete pasting for myself and Andrew from Chris:

Chris 19
Andrew 13
Sam 9

We moved swiftly on to a three-player Push-It. More fun than a two-player and notable this time for Andrew getting both his discs closest to the jack and picking up a valuable two points. It couldn't have ended tighter:

Andrew 11
Chris 10
Sam 10

So far I was serially last, but that was about to change with a brutal game of Hamsterolle, played - I can't remember how this started - in the style of mafiosi at a poker night. I do love the idea of gangsters game of choice being a wooden hamster wheel with bits in.

Sam - all out
Chris - 3 pieces left
Andrew - 3 pieces left

We followed quick game of Sheriff of Nottingham; the game of bluff, double-bluff and triple-bluff. Everyone takes turns being the sheriff, and the others try and sneak contraband past him - or give the impression they are, when they actually aren't. If he opens your pouch and you're telling the truth, he pays the penalty. If you were fibbing, you do.

Thanks to my mostly-honest play and circumspect sheriffing, I pipped Andrew to the post. Chris had loads of apples, but it wasn't enough:

Sam 154
Andrew 147
Chris 101

With all of us now merry with weekend joie de vivre, we forsook Celestia in favour of Bandu, the game of No Thanks with added Jenga. As ever, the seemingly-a-filler turned into a tense game of screw-you, as we passed each other geometrically-damning pieces and flied in the face of cantilevering. Chris seemed to be in a strong position, but just as Martin was hit by subsidence on Tuesday, everything suddenly gave way as Chris tried to add a piece on top. I managed to outlast Andrew to nab the win.

My city in the sky

Andrew's lair in the suburbs

Finally with midnight not so far away, we played Biblios! I was handed a strategy by fate when I picked up blues and browns early, and attempted to add reds but decided against this when Chris changed from picking them up to passing in the auction phase. Handily, I knew the very last card of the game would be a church card, and I had enough gold to nab it for my two dice:

Sam 7 (Mr Biblios)
Andrew 5 (wins on tie-breaker)
Chris 5

And with that a very jolly Friday came to a close. Cheers guys! Maybe see some of you on January 2nd at my place for Saturday gaming?


By the way today is Stanley's birthday. Chris gave us the best possible present by cleaning up Finn's sick while we were opening gifts upstairs. Thanks mate.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Colt Calling

Christmas is time of cheer for many but, for boardgamers, trying to arrange a weekly event is fraught with difficulties. This week it looked like there would be hardly any attendees but in the end we were eight in total: Martin (the host), Katy, Hannah (a surprise late entrant), Andy, Ian, Sam (feeling ill but trying Ian’s “beer cure”), Ben and myself.

We split into two groups of four. At one end of the table Discworld: Ankh Morpock. This caught Ben’s eye as a fan of Terry Pratchett’s work and Martin was keen to get it to the table. Ian and Katy were recruited to complete the quartet.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the table we considered what to play. Nothing seemed to appeal to everyone, as various options were mooted and objected. We chose Oregon.

I’ve played Discworld once before, a long time ago, as a two-player game with Sam. It didn’t really grab me, but judging by the whoops of surprise (Katy) and melodramatic reading of various cards’ powers (Martin) they seemed to be having a rare old time of it.

Oregon, however, was proving to be a sterner task for our brain cells. Sam was a newcomer and had to learn a new set of rules at less than 100%. The other newcomer, Hannah, seemed to have no such issues and focused on mining, building up a large pile of gold and coal.

This proved to be pivotal as these meant she was able to overtake Andy in the final round of scoring. I got into third by going where Sam was about to go, thus ruining his chance of a 12-point move.

Hannah 69
Andy 68
Andrew 61
Sam 60

Over in Discworld, there was last-minute hilarity as a series of unexpected events ruined Martin’s strategy. “All my buildings fell down” he complained once the scores had been added up. No one seemed very sympathetic, though.

Ian 70
Katy 65
Ben 58
Martin 30

Happily, the two games ended at around the same time, so before Sam and Hannah called it a night, Martin went for the old faithful, Pairs, to tempt them into one more game.

The game had it’s usual round of coincidence-defying defeats. Katy and Andy went out in the same round with pairs of grapes, despite their being only four in the pack. And in one round, a desperate Ian (on 16 points) dealt a card to Sam (on 17 points) yelling “Lemon” as he did. And so it was, sending Sam crashing out of the round.

Three pumpkins in a row!

But despite getting so close, neither Ian nor Sam finished the game that round. There were two more rounds after that: enough for Martin to overtake and claim the win.

Martin 25
Ian 23
Hannah 22
Andrew 19
Sam 17
Katy 15
Andy 14
Ben 8

We should note Ben’s interesting tactic of never sticking, unless he’s in first. This man is goal-oriented. All of his eight points came from just one round.

Then Hannah and Sam left, so the remaining six of us played Colt Express. This 3D Robo Rally-ish game without the grim tedium and with a dash of Loony Tunes slapstick seemed like the perfect way to finish an evening.

Martin was a little put out that he wasn’t green for a change, but he was comforted by the fact that he was Belle: the character that is never shot if there is another legitimate target available. As he noted, he would always be chosen to be shot, if at all possible.

I was Doc, allowed a hand of seven cards instead of the usual six, and my coup de grace was to nip past the Marshall and grab the briefcase for $1000. For the rest of the game, Doc must have looked a bit odd as he ducked from roof to carriage, swinging punches at random in a desperate attempt at hanging onto his swag.

Everyone took turns shooting each other, with Andy mostly on the receiving end. The Marshall was also instrumental in shooting people up through the roof, thus spoiling the rest of their plans and they usually took out their frustration by shooting anyone within range.

Ian was the mysterious Ghost, whose first move is always a mystery. And his enigmatic ways worked best as he scooped up gem after gem, sack after sack of money. Ben’s ability to punch and steal at the same time didn’t do him much good, though.

Ian $2950
Andrew $2000
Katy $1800
Martin $1250
Andy $1250
Ben $750

And with that, we were on our way. Another evening done.

I noticed a couple of mistakes in my spreadsheet from last week, so this is definitely the proper standings at the moment. Not much has changed, though. And with one week of the season left, there’s not much left to play for.

Apart from fun, of course!

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Łódź you believe it?

Sam was host today for seven gamers (including himself). After a couple of late cancellations, we were Sam, Martin, Joe, Ian, Katy, Chris and myself.

Some arrived early, allowing Sam’s boys Stanley and Joe a couple of games before bedtime. We began with In A Bind or, as Martin described it, Twister in a chair.

Each player (me, Katy, Stanley, Martin, Ian and Sam) is given a card and has to adopt a pose that satisfies the instructions on that card. As the cards mount up, so the physical contortions get ever more absurd.

Helpful Sam

Sam was out first, and this allowed him to help the rest of us who were now unable to pick up the cards ourselves, thus prolonging the game until Katy complained about it hurting, yet refusing to give up. She was appalled, having come a very undignified first, when it was suggested that this game wasn’t leaderboard. So appalled, indeed, that I relented and wrote the standings down on the back of a bus ticket.

Martin struggles while Ian is more sedate

1. Katy
2. Ian
3. Stanley
4. Martin
5. Andrew
6. Sam

Next up was a quick game of pairs to 21. Perhaps because he had half an eye on the clock and a keen sense of parental duties, Sam scored in all four rounds, winning three of them, for a swift win.

Sam 25
Ian 17
Andrew 12
Martin 12
Katy 10
Stanley 6
Joe 3

So while Sam put the boys to bed, we decided on a quick game to play until he was back and Joe and Chris arrived. We chose Mord Im Arosa, the game of hearing accuracy. Was it possible for Katy and Martin to be quiet long enough to hear the cubes tumbling down the tower?

They almost didn’t need to as the moment the first victim was found, with four of my clues right next to it, I knew my game was up. All I could do was try to clear my name as best I could. I managed to last long enough that Joe turned up and got to watch a decent amount of the game. He seemed intrigued. But it was a hopeless task.

Katy 3
Martin 12
Ian 18
Andrew 25

Katy was distraught when she was told it was difficult to get hold of, since she seemed to have her heart set on a copy of her own. Martin amazed everyone by telling us it this would be his 700th game rated on Board Game Geek (and by an amazing coincidence, this is the 700th post on GNN).

After this, Chris arrived saying the traffic was shocking, and we sat down to some serious gaming. Joe had brought Magnates, the fun game based around the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth of the 17th century.

It’s territory control, as you bid for two types of cards to help you score points, gain advantages, and place estates on the map, and finally do battle against encroaching armies with whatever cards you have left. I enjoyed it, finding it similar to Chocolatl, but it didn’t find favour with Sam and towards the end, he decided to go Dirk (“Dirking his responsibilities,” perhaps?) rather than face reading more text on another selection of cards.

Joe 34
Andrew 28
Sam 24
Ian 22

At the other end of the table it was Katy’s day to be introduced to two GNN favourites: Biblios and 7 Wonders. We were disappointed, however, to discover that it was not Extreme Biblios. Despite Martin’s use of the “Eat Shit” rule whenever offering up a One Gold card, they shuffled the auction pack (robbing the game of any skill) and then used money as a tie-breaker! How unoriginal!

Katy still seemed to like it, though.

Katy 9
Chris 7
Martin 4

And then...

Katy 7
Martin 5
Chris 4

Then she was introduced to 7 Wonders. Katy had already played 7 Wonders Duel at Novocon, so she wasn’t completely new to the concepts. It seemed at one point, though, that the game would end in a fight as Katy picked up two minus points in round three while Chris and Martin picked up five each for military. She did not seem happy about it.

The game ended in her favour, though, thanks to beating Martin on a money tie-breaker (see, Martin? Money tie-breaker’s are rubbish.) Katy scored well across all categories and was the only one to build her wonder. Chris went for blue buildings and, interestingly, yellow buildings. And Martin went for science and guilds, leaving his wonder completely unbuilt.

Katy 47 + cash
Martin 47
Chris 41

Then we were all as one once more. We chose Codenames as our night’s finale. First it was Sam, Katy and Joe against Martin, Chris, Ian and me. Sam and Martin were the spymasters. Our team got lucky as Joe and Katy were often quite convinced by their different interpretations of Sam’s clues. The clue “rich” made Joe think of “Boom” and Katy think of “chocolate”.

Our team had a smoother path, although Martin risked ire with “mouse-click”. It helped us win the game, although Katy checked the rules and say that hyphenated words aren’t allowed.

Another game was tried, this time with Joe as spymaster to Katy, Sam and Ian and on the other team Chris as spymaster to Martin and I. We shot into a 5-1 lead, only for them to pull it back to 6-6. It was tense, but slow and Martin found time to play Wir Sind Das Wolk! on his phone during the downtime. But on our last turn, Martin and I were pretty sure of two of the three we had to get and Chris set us up with a simple clue for the other one. We were done, bang, bang, bang.

On the division, Katy’s run of form (eight wins in the last ten games) means she surely has the medal table sown up, and the Points title is probably hers, too. Adam holds onto Points Ratio.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

From the Void to Mexico

Sunday, and Ian and I (Sam) snuck in a couple of games to draw the curtains on a wintry weekend. After its residency at work, Quantum had returned to my house and I knew Ian wouldn't object to me setting it up prior to his arrival. So I did, taking a standard 2-player set-up and adding the Quantum expansion of The Void, an empty tile of space. All it does is give you one research point for each ship you have in the void at the start of your turn, so it's kind of an interesting incentive rather than a whopping game-changer.

space bounty

I put down a quantum cube with my first move, but any danger of smugness evaporated quickly as Ian took me to the celestial cleaners, forcing me to go on the attack as he deftly put down cube after cube and shrugged off my aggression. My crappy early combat rolls certainly didn't help, but make no mistake, it was a pasting.

Ian - all cubes down
Sam - 2 cubes remaining

We fleetingly flirted with the idea of Eclipse before the setting-up time detoured us to the similarly loved Railways of the World. I haven't played this for a while but I got off to a pretty decent start, if I do say so myself. I managed to ship the first cube, get the first four cubes, and deliver the first three-link cube. At one stage I was in gravy, some 20 points or so ahead of Ian and with cash to burn.

service bounty

However the back-patting carries an inherent danger of hubris and Ian, pondering each move with a shrewd eye, got himself back into contention, clawing back the deficit to a paltry three points at one stage. Whilst I built and built (claiming all four route bonuses) Ian upgraded his train and shipped, shipped, shipped. Come the endgame, my larger network gave me plenty of options to score points, and also prevented Ian from completing his baron bonus- though it was still very close, considering:

Sam 117
Ian 107

And with that, Ian vanished into the night, never to be seen until Tuesday...