Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Red Hot Chilli Popper

Games was at Joe's tonight, and as well as the host there was Andy Bates, Andy Morgan, Katy, Ian, Martin and myself (Sam). As Andy M was arriving later than the rest of us we kicked off with Kakerlakenpoker, the game of insect bluff. Andy (B) professed not to like it, and as we serially made correct rejections, the insects piled up fast.

Joe was best at spotting bluffs, and two (or three?) in a row from Andy amounted to Kakerlakensuicide, as he apparently deliberately torpedoed himself in order to end his misery. Following this drama, Martin refused to let me tot up the scores going by remaining cards, insisting "There's only one loser!" and pushing all the remainders into a pile. Whilst Joe, Katy and I protested Andy B backed him up, reading from the rule book. When have we ever paid attention to the rules at GNN?

Breathless stuff, and the evening was only starting. Martin - in bullish mood, it seemed - scoffed at Joe's suggestion of playing Scoville, the game of chilli farming, pronouncing it as "Kickstarter crap". Joe went ahead anyway, with Ian and Katy abetting him, whilst Martin, Andy and I used a deck of 6Nimmt cards to play The Game, which was a co-operative effort to get all the cards out in a series of rows - two ascending and two descending. Very like Hanabi, in fact, except this time you can see your own cards and cannot share information. You can however ask people to leave a row alone for your next turn, and also play a card that takes a row ten spaces backward if it is ten places 'behind' the current number. Andy M walked in just in time to see us get a perfect score.

The four of us elected to play Basari. This was new to me, but I must admit I liked it a lot - getting distracted enough not to take a photo. I liked  it most of all when I sailed into what I naively thought was an impregnable lead, only to be pegged back by Andy M as my card choices in the last round were kakerlakencacken:

Andy M 62
Sam 60
Martin 59
Andy B 45

With the other three gamers poised over their embryonic chillies, we moved swiftly on to Abluxxen and I got some really shitty hands with loads of singles. I probably could have played them better but in the wide world of games, I was never anywhere near Martin, who sailed to victory (despite scoring negative points at one stage!) after trouncing us all in the opening round:

Martin 47
Andy B 39
Andy M 37
Sam 33

By now Scoville had finally come to an end, with Joe refusing to admit that it was Kickstarter crap, but we could see from the look on his face that he was lying. As Ian admitted later in the car "I nearly liked it". Katy went further and said she did like it, but she didn't seem that convincing, considering the scores:

Katy 93
Ian 70
Joe 65

There was a reference card in the game that reminded me of the indecipherable Developments and Wonders in Olympos, where most of the game was spent checking the rulebook to establish what they did.

We were now all in one group again, so although Andy M retired to his adjacent house, there was plenty of time for a game of 6Nimmt, which Katy insisted upon. I was sure I could remember her swearing at the game like a docker at an art student, but apparently she likes it. Who knew?

Well we'll remember next time, as she sailed serenely to a convincing win as the rest of us swore like a bunch of dockers at a cafeteria sit-in over bursaries. Ian's recent good form returned to it's disastrous early days, and Andy pretty much replicated it:

Katy 29
Sam 47
Joe 59
Martin 66
Andy B 80
Ian 81

A nice bunch of games - with the possible exception of Scoville; more in the comments I hope - and plenty of time to get lost in Easton on the way home. See you Friday!


  1. Scoville was okay, but not new or interesting enough to be a real keeper I feel. Disappointing, since all I've read seemed to suggest very positive things.

    The cross-breeding chart is not as daunting as it first looks; primary coloured peppers cross-breed to make secondary's; secondary's cross-breed with themselves to make white, and with each other to make black. Primaries cross-breed with secondaries to make brown, which don't crossbreed with anything except themselves. Obvious really.

    Maths trade catnip, to quote Martin. Thanks all for coming, and Sam for a very witty write-up, particularly given the late hour. Night folks.

  2. Scoville felt like a game that was meant to be played at relatively quick pace, but it gets slowed down by AP very easily. Despite being fairly simple in some ways, it seemed a bit fiddly to me. I wouldn't call it a bad game, but it needed to be a bit snappier. Oh well.

    Cheers folks, and thanks for hosting Joe!

  3. The spacial element reminded me of Five Tribes a bit, though not quite as AP-ish as that.

    You seed the board with peppers, then move three places on the board collecting peppers by moving between them. The catch is that you do the sowing in turn order, but the gathering in reverse turn order - which means you have to think quite hard about what you're making available to your opponents, and allows them to potentially block you out.

    Thus turn order is key, and is decided by a blind auction at the beginning of each round. In our 3 player game it often felt optimal to be the middle player, which is a hard thing to achieve in a blind bid. Then again there are more benefits to going first - the harvesting is the only thing that happens back to front.

    Actually a pretty simple game - no special powers or anything like that. But just not 100% brilliant. Wish we'd played Lost Valley again instead!

    That said I would like to play again - it takes a game to get your head around the cross-breeding, but once you do it is fairly straightforward, despite my 'amusing' explanation earlier.

  4. Still not sure what exactly the packaging reminded me of. Maybe it was just Skittles

  5. There's a lot of serene sailing in that report. Must get the thesaurus out...

  6. I should explain my aversion to scoring for placement in Kakerlakenpoker. It's not a rules lawyer thing; I'm perfectly happy to play sensible house rules. It's about the spirit of the game. Having the number of cards 'winners' have taken determine placement encourages miserly, conservative play - lots of passing cards on because nobody wants to take a risk. The game is much more fun (and shorter) with more calling.

    Also, the game does a neat thing where it hastens its own conclusion by encouraging the other players to team up on a weak player to finish them off. But if placement is important, the second-last player doesn't have much incentive to collaborate to end the game with the players who are beating her.

    Scoring systems are important - tamper at your peril!