Saturday, 14 February 2015

What a klunker!

In a comment recently, Adam compared the new non-Tuesday games division to the Champions' League. However, given that the big hitters are usually absent, a more apt analogy would be to the Johnson's Paint Trophy: something for the lesser gamers to aim for.

The evening began early with Sam, Stanley and Ian fighting it out over That's Life, and it's only right that the player with the most life ahead of him should end the winner.

Stanley 12
Sam 11
Ian -4

After that, it was Stanley's bed time. Meanwhile, three more gamers arrived in the shape of Martin, Andy and myself. We pondered on what to play, before agreeing on Klunker, a new game that Martin brought with him. In this card game (has to be a card game if Martin bought a copy) you have to collect sets of four of a type of jewellery. Once you have four they instantly turn into money. But if you receive less money if you have any unfinished sets. You collect cards by being dealt them or by buying from other players. Martin noted that it was basically a card management game with three hands of cards.

It's not very intuitive. You'd be hard pushed to come up with a winning strategy on a first play. I think it needs a few plays before it's secrets come out. I can't say I had much fun, though, spending the last two rounds with a hand that contains one of everything isn't a good way to build sets. Sam got off to a flier, being dealt a set of four at the start. Any hope Ian had of winning was doomed when Andy bought some jewellery just to stop Ian from picking it up and scoring seven points.

Sam 16
Martin 11
Andy 9
Ian 7
Andrew 6

Next we considered more five player options. Ra, Colossal Arena and Taj Mahal were all brought to the table, but Condottiere was choice de soir. I was glad that this tiny game was getting some proper attention, and not stuck on the end of an evening in the mistaken belief that small box equals quick game.

Andy said he thought he hadn't played it before, and Ian needed a refresher, so Martin went through the rules for them, helpfully pointing out the differences between this version and the original version.

During the game, Andy realised he had played it before, and the fact he'd forgotten about it tells you all you need to know about how much he enjoyed playing it again.

Condottiere is a tough game to play when dealt a shitty hand. The best you can hope for is that the other players cancel each other out and maybe you'll pick up some cheap territories. Luckily for me, I got a hand in the third round with a key card (that allows me to end a battle when I chose) and two adjacent territories on the board. When my chance came I took it, using my key to finish a battle with me in the lead. I got my third adjacent regions, ending the game in my favour.

But what about the rest of the placings? Martin was convinced that he was joint second, and he greeted the news that he was third (because he had no adjacent territories) with a hearty bout of well-chosen expletives. But a rule is a rule, even if it hasn't been used since its invention, over three years ago.

Andrew 3 adjacent cubes
Sam 3 cubes, two adjacent
Ian 3 cubes, two adjacent
Martin 3 cubes
Andy 2 cubes

Finally we chose Abluxxen as our fun way to end the evening. Our third card game of the evening! Are we indulging Martin too much? He needs to play more worker placement games – something a bit more point-salady. Do we still have Ora et Labora? Anyway, I have a pretty decent record on this Roll For The Soul favourite, and I maintained that tonight. I lead from the start and took the win. Sam was second up until the last round, when a hefty negative score knocked him back two places. Harsh, and not terribly fair: that's Abluxxen.

Andrew 41
Martin 37
Andy 25
Sam 23
Ian 20

Finally, here's a Division. Since the number of games played is so lop-sided, it's a bit silly. Nevertheless, Sam is top on everything except points ratio, which goes to Adam.


  1. I think a better tiebreaker for Condottiere would be number of territories you could possibly win with. But it's a bit silly counting up minor placings in this game anyway :)

  2. And that said, you don't seem to have even recorded my disputed bronze placing in the medal table!

  3. That's the spreadsheet's fault. It thinks you were fourth.

  4. I've only played 33 non-Tuesday games? Must try harder...

  5. I've added Martin's missing bronze manually, though I'll probably forget to do that from now on. And I put Stanley in, too.

  6. Does that mean the medal table never factors in tied rankings, but the form table does? How confusing :)

  7. Reading Andrew's comment about Klunker reminds me that I had a conversation about this game with Ian in the car that continued the one that I started with Martin at the gaming table. I suggested that you actually wanted just the sort of hand that Andrew had been dealt. (Unless you were going to be spawny, like Sam, and get dealt four of a kind!) I think the way to play Klunker is to put lots of rainbow cards into your shop window, which only you'll want, so you don't have to pay for them. You can then pass early to ensure that you get them with the aim of finishing several sets in the same turn and scoring lots of points on a regular basis.

    Of course, if everyone does that then it will be chaos. Or boring. Or both!

    I think I've determined that I'm not a fan of games where you can do stuff and then have others negate it, or change the effect, which might be why I didn't like my first game of Lords Of Scotland, which I have also given a rating of three on the Geek. Of course, I went and bought a copy of LoS so I guess I'll have to give it another whirl to see if I'm right.