Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Building cities

This week's regular games night happened downstairs at Joe's place. Not a notorious speakeasy from the 1930s, but our good friend's kitchen, which was set up ready to welcome eight gamers around the table. Apart from host Joe, we were Ian, Sam, Katy, Martin, Andy, Adam and myself. We split into two groups: Joe, Katy, Sam and Ian went for Lords Of Vegas while the rest of us chose Blue Moon City, making its debut on GNN. Up against Martin, Andy and Adam, I was not confident of anything higher than last.

With space in short supply, Lords of Vegas was set up on a card table and they shared part of the main table with us four diligently trying to rebuild Blue Moon City. Martin, while explaining the rules to Adam and I, even dipped into the game’s extensive back story. Sam expressed surprise that Martin was playing a fantasy-themed board game, but Martin said that the amount of Knizia-ness outweighed the D&D stylings. And besides, he tries to not look at the illustrations.

Blue Moon City is quite Istanbullish in that you can only move up to two spaces, and once you’re there you can take an action: usually building. You can complete a building for a big reward, or just contribute a bit and get a small reward when someone else completes it. Additionally, completing a building next to another already completed building gets even more rewards (in the shape of crystals or cards). And if that weren’t enough, if you can get a dragon to be there when you build, he will reward you with dragon scales which may later be traded for crystals. These crystals are for the obelisk and the first to build four bits of the obelisk wins.

Adam clearly decided that going after dragons was the way to go. It seemed like every turn, he’d add “Oh, and I’ll just move this dragon.” I was the first to build a bit of the obelisk, but later on I couldn’t get that all important card which let you build twice at the obelisk. Martin had one, though, and he used it to finish the game. Quite galling for Andy, who was one move away from winning, but in fact, ended up in last place.

Martin 4
Andrew 3
Adam 3
Andy 2

While we’d finished building our city, the other four were still midway through constructing Sunset Strip. Sam was feeling slightly patronised since, although he was in last, everyone kept telling him what a strong position he was in.

We four went for the joys of Potato Man, starring Super Potato Man, Evil Potato Man and, as we noticed this evening, Sexy Potato Woman. I had an excellent first round (thanks to Super Potato Man!), scoring fourteen points.

Over the next few rounds, Martin whittled my lead away (also thanks to Super Potato Man!) but luckily for me, Andy could not play a card of the right colour in round four, and it ended in my favour.

Andrew 17
Martin 16
Adam 6
Andy 3

What a fun game, even if Andy didn’t like it: he said it just didn’t seem to click with him. Martin tried to explain that most of the fun is saying “Super Potato Man!” but I don’t think Andy will be trying this game again.

We then played That’s Life! An interesting dice-rolling game where you have to pick up the tile you’re on if you’re the only piece on it. As such, the board gets smaller the more the game progresses. Most tiles are negative, some are positive and some are able to turn a negative tile into a positive. It’s a lot of fun, and a good example of good dice: you have three pieces and, later in the game, access to some communal dummy pieces that everyone can move, so there’s a lot you can do with your roll.

Andy started out with a flurry of sixes while Martin seemed to prefer ones. Nevertheless, they did a lot better than me since I just about managed to make my negative and positive tiles cancel each other out perfectly. Adam took to this game like a duck to water, speeding round the track, picking up good tiles as he went.

Adam 14
Andy 13
Martin 9
Andrew 0

By now, though, Vegas had been built after what sounded like a lot of sprawling illegally into neighbouring lots. Everyone’s prognosis had been correct: Sam had been in a strong position as he went from last to first in the second half of the game.

Sam 40
Katy 36
Ian 32
Joe 20

And as if they hadn’t lived enough of the high life, they filled in the time while we finished That’s Life with For Sale.

Sam 62
Joe 57
Ian 49
Katy 42

Finally, since we were all together, we decided to play Pairs, the new craze that’s sweeping GNN. It’s a lot of fun but, let’s be honest, it’s all luck. Right? Right, guys? I (luckily) decided to stick on a single card and was vindicated when it later turned out to be one that would have killed me. Martin (unluckily) shares last place with me when the last blueberry made a pair and finished him off. And three of the blueberries were already showing. What are the odds, eh?

Sam 26
Katy 20
Andy 16
Joe 13
Adam 13
Martin 9
Andrew 9

On the Form Table, Sam stands on the brink of his first “official” Perfect Five, and has a comfortable seven point lead over Ian in second. Ian, meanwhile, is going for his own Perfect Fifteen.

Sam 1 1 1 1 2 6
Ian 3 3 3 3 1 13
Katy 2 4 2 2 4 14
Andy 3 2 4 3 2 14
Adam 4 1 3 2 4 14
Hannah 1 1 3 4 5 14
Martin 5 3 2 1 5 16
Joe 4 2 4 3 5 18
Steve 3 3 3 4 5 18
Andrew 5 4 1 2 7 19
Matt 6 2 2 6 6 20
Anja 6 5 3 4 5 23
Dirk 5 5 5 5 5 25

Hey, I forgot! It's the last games night of the month, so it's time to look at the Division. And what an interesting one it is. Sam's games binge has seen him shoot to the top in points, but his record on the medal table is already mightily impressive. Out of 34 games this month, he came first or second in 27!

Meanwhile, the Points Ratio column has a story all of its own. Adam has come back from the dead, and is leading the pack having won almost two-thirds of the games he's played. Hannah and Katy are in hot pursuit.

And a big hello to a newcomer to the Division, our imaginary friend Dirk! And he's not even in last.


  1. I enjoyed the second half of Lords of Vegas almost as much as I failed to enjoy the first half... Basically my dice rolling serially failed me and the minimal strategy I had was of the All eggs: One Basket variety. I don't think I deserved the win but I'll take it.

    For Sale and Pairs were both fun!

  2. Andrew, do our games of No Thanks count for the table? I'd like to beat Dirk at least :)

  3. I actually didn't use a double-build card to end the game; I already had three crystals. Not that it matters :)

    Sam and Adam both have mighty impressive records so far. I think we need to play lots more Pairs ;)

  4. Oh yes, you used it to put down your 2nd and 3rd bits of the obelisk, leaving you poised for the win. It felt like the game was over.

  5. My fortunes in LoV were the opposite of yours Sam; my mega-casinos were all 'stolen' away from me and by the end I had nothing but a two-tile silver to my name. I didn't score at all on the final scoring!

    I'm not sure it was simply bad luck on my part - I did a bit of sprawling mid-game and that may have (can't remember) put me in contact with rivals who were able to remodel for a swift takeover. Ian effected this twice in one go, and Katie the same, I think. I blame only myself.

    I don't need to say it again, but I love that game. Its close to perfection for me. It's definitely in the category of games you can enjoy thoroughly on your first play, even if there are things you might subsequently feel you did wrong.

  6. Is it too late to suggest the blog title should be "we built these cities on good dice rolls"?

    So does the old tradition of letting the aspiring perfect-fiver choose the fifth game still stand or is forcing them to play pairs the new fashion?

  7. I love Lords of Vegas too, with the minor quibble that it sometimes runs a couple of rounds longer than I'd like. Easily solved by stacking the deck a bit.

    The expansion sounds great too. It's nice and simple - just adds a 5th player and the ability to build upwards as well as in 2D.

  8. Yeah Up! looks good but is currently unavailable (tho easy to make).

    The game is long, but then again I'm usually praying for a couple more rounds to catch up, so I'm not sure stacking the deck would work for me. I usually count off ten cards, which is a quarter of the deck, rather than dividing the deck visually into four.

  9. Ooh the division! I like the look of it right now. Although I think out of the 35 games I played about 30 of them were three-player.

  10. Thanks for a great night's gaming. It really was a nearly night for me. Quite apart from nearly winning Blue Moon City but actually coming last, I nearly won That's Life, but a roll of one at the end cost me the game.

    And of course I nearly liked Potato Man.

    OK, not completely a nearly night then!