Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Return to Persia

This Tuesday heralded the coming together of seven like-minded individuals for an evening of board games.

Our first game was Pairs. I was dealt in as I was still taking off my coat, such is the tight schedule that GNN runs to these days. For the first two rounds, it was Sam and Martin making the running. Then Joe and Ian put some good form together. Before long we had a situation where all four of these players could potentially win next round. It was Ian what won it as Sam, Joe and Martin all went bust in the last round.

Ian 22
Martin 20
Joe 15
Sam 13
Andrew 10
Katy 8
Andy 7

Then we split into two groups. Martin, Joe, Sam and I chose Tigris and Euphrates. Technically speaking, we had all played it before but only Martin and Joe (who had it on his iPad) had any real familiarity with it. Sam and I, having not played it in almost twenty years, needed a quick run through the rules. It was one of the first games of the pre-history of GNN. I could barely remember anything about it, apart from the monuments.

Meanwhile, Ian, Katy and Andy played Vikings, a game I have not seen before. During the evening, as I glanced over at their game, I felt that I knew how it felt to be a total newcomer to games. I couldn't make out the rules at all. A big circular thing was rotated, and bits of islands were take from it. Then some meeples were added. To what end, I had no idea. That game ended:

Andy 67
Katy 59
Ian 52

Meanwhile, on Tigris and Euphrates, Sam was having a bit of a meltdown. He admitted he couldn't get his head round it at all, and often asked for a rule clarification or two. He began in aggressive style, but lost in his first two battles. He then kept trying to catch up by starting more battles, but with similar results. My plan was to hide in the corners and slowly build up points, which I don't think is how the game is meant to be played.

Joe built monuments, giving him points of each colour at the end of each round, and since your final score is your lowest scoring colour, this was a strong tactic. In fact Joe seemed calmness personified, a mirror image of the increasingly despairing Sam across the table from him. The only time his coolness broke was when he picked up the bag to draw new tiles. He accidentally picked up the almost identical bag of meeples from Vikings and he quickly withdrew his hand, shuddering, as he expressed disgust at touching something unexpected.

Martin tried to ruin Joe's plan by pitting him and Sam against each other in a position of great advantage to Sam. But Joe still won the battle, much to Martin's surprise and dismay.

The game ended with Joe saying "The iPad has taught me well."

Joe 11
Martin 9
Andrew 5
Sam 3

After this, we rearranged ourselves. Katy, Martin, Andy and Joe played Texas 42, or The National Game Of Texas, as Martin insisted on calling it even after Sam pointed out that Texas isn't a nation. Ian, Sam and I teamed up to play Vegas. Nice and simple, no white dice to act as spoilers. Noteworthy for the return of Das Exclusive to the table. But since Das is too big too pass around easily, it spent all of the game in front of me.

Sam $550,000
Andrew $390,000
Ian $330,000

The National Game Of Texas was still midway through, so then we played Biblios. And what a remarkable game it was. There aren't many other games that can cause a man to cry out "I've just eaten my own shit!" He got a series of four or five one-gold cards in a row (one-gold = shit in Extreme Biblios). That's enough to make anyone think that they must have done something bad in a former life.

Where were all the three-gold cards? Well, they were in the auction pile, coming out one after the other! I was in a bit of a fix during the auction phase, having spent all of my money and not daring to use any cards to get more money. I was going after the three “lesser” dice, hoping that Ian and Sam would cancel each other out going for the higher valued brown and blue dice. As such, I had my hand already finished early on, and I was just hoping that anything left in the auction pile wouldn't change that. And it didn't! My plan worked perfectly.

Andrew 8
Ian 5
Sam 4

As for The National Game of Texas, it ended around the same time with the score at

Andy & Martin 4
Joe & Katy 1

Since they were playing in pairs (which brought the evening to an end with a nice reference to the first game we played) it's not leaderboard. As for the Division, alas, nobody changed places this week. Here it is anyway.


  1. A very enjoyable night, it's always good to get the brilliant T&E to the table. I hope you're all up for playing again soon - it gets so much better once you're over the initial rules hurdle.

    I really liked 42 too. It felt amazingly modern for a game designed by a couple of Texan teenagers in 1885 (their church forbid them from playing cards so they used dominoes). The clever twist is that each domino can be played two ways: a 6/2 is either the 2 of sixes or the 6 of twos.

  2. Yes I must apologise for my public disintegration on the Tigris game. I combined bad moves with poor understanding and, I think I can add, not a lot of luck. I did struggle with it but I can say why people like it.

  3. It takes a few games to be able to visualise how the conflicts will unfold. But it's so worth it.

  4. Whilst the Biblios players were encouraging each other to "eat shit", we in Texas suggested "have a wank" as we offered up a crap domino to the trick winner. I think both deserve to make it onto the variants forum on BGG.

    I really enjoyed T&E - my favourite bit was when Martin tried to pit Sam's leader against mine and I produced three black tiles. "But . . . that would mean you win!", he said, aghast.

    The iOS version is a great way to get to grips with the rules - it took probably 10 games to cement the rules; hard to imagine doing that in actual games, but that may just be me. That said the game is far more fun in physical form - very dry and mechanical on the screen. I'll happily play again soon.

    I liked Texas 42 too - always fun to play a new trick-taking game, and to get those nice dominoes out. I feel I need a sturdier card table though.

  5. I'm really trying not to start down the games-on-phone path but maybe I'll make an exception.

    Biblios was crazy. I ate shit seven times, twice serving myself!

  6. I too was quite conflicted about the whole boardgames on a smart phone thing. I wondered if it would dull my enthusiasm to play them live if requested at a games night or even give me an unfair advantage since I've practiced. Well if my experiences playing LoW are anything to go by the latter point hasn't been true. The electronic versions, in my opinion, still can't replicate the hobby in its purest cardboard form.

    Where I do find its benefit is if I'm waiting around somewhere for the kids or in a hotel for the night it serves to kill time very nicely. I have real trouble beating the T&E app and would no doubt be still shit if I played my physical copy.

    I remember Sam, Andy, Paul and myself playing it at the millennium. Now that was a way to see the new century in :)

  7. I thought it was longer ago than that!