Friday, 26 June 2015

Night of the Long Axes

Friday. I thought I'd be up to the the gills in family, but Sally was out and her folks retired early, so Andrew made his way to Ashley Down to join me. We weren't sure what to play at first, but a glimpse of Letters From Whitechapel stirred our latent homicidal/righteous detective tendencies and we were away.

This had a flurry of plays on arrival at GNN but because - despite it's claims to the contrary - it really functions best as a two-player, it hasn't seen the table much since. Which is a shame because it has genuine tension and mystery to dispel it's somewhat bleak theme.

Andrew was Jack The Ripper first and I the detectives on his tail. Andrew played a high-risk game of sauntering through my detectives and allowing me to know his potential location. Twice I attempted arrests and failed - but the third time proved lucky, and Jack was caught before he could wreck further havoc upon London.

We quickly swapped over and my hitherto morally sound compass went awol as I played as Jack, making it successfully through the first and second nights by employing a doubling-back strategy that Andrew cottoned onto but couldn't quite negate. However on the third night I made two elementary mistakes - firstly I gave away my position early on (on the third night Jack has two possible starting positions) and then I didn't realise how close I was to one of Andrew's detectives - who made an arrest on a hunch and ended up the toast of the department:

Andrew - wins as detectives
Sam - wins as detectives

After that nail-biting bloodiness I thought it'd be nice to go for something light, so we tried my recent purchase of Bullfrogs. Would it be a little gem, or Kickstarter Crap (©Martin)?

We think the former. Whilst not a two-player classic in the vein of, say, Manouevre or Battle Line, Bullfrogs had a pleasing amount of tactical depth. On the table the Lily cards build a playing area, and having added a card, on your turn you can either add frogs (in columns or rows adjacent to the card you've just played) or sabotage: by moving an opponent's frog - also following the same columns-or-rows rule. Lily cards only have space for so many frogs, and as soon as they are full they 'sink' and the player with the most frogs on the card nabs that lily card for themselves - along with the victory points.

They also 'empty' the card of frogs by moving them (up to four, anyway - staring with the losers' frogs) to adjacent cards, and potentially sinking further cards. Mix into this each player having a couple of feisty axe-wielding bullfrogs (worth two normal frogs), extra points for claiming your own lily cards (as opposed to your opponents) and a central card - the log - that cannot be sunk, and you have a little bit to think about.

thanks to nad24, who couldn't have known I would lose my iPhone lead

It's quite neat, and though I can imagine it would be trickier with three - and simply chaotic with four - for two players I rate it. Having said that, I did win though:

Sam 58
Andrew 52

There was just time for one more game, and Andrew chose Extreme Biblios. And all the shit he made me eat in the gift phase came back to haunt him, as I had just enough of it to outbid him for the crucial brown card that ended up as the decider:

Sam 10
Andrew 5

...I am Mr Biblios!

Cinderella was still at the ball and we were yet to see in 11 o'clock, but it was the end of a long week, so we called it a night.


  1. Shame our free nights didn't sync up but Andy and I had a nice night of 2p games yesterday. I taught him Agricola: All Creatures Big & Small and Patchwork (and won both) and then he taught me Limes and Odin's Ravens (and won both). I liked Odin's Ravens a lot, and it's by the same designer as No Thanks and Aton. Good work Thorsten Gimmler!

  2. Aha! I wasn't sure about Patchwork, bit of a mind-meld! But only played it once to be fair. Would like to try again. Bullfrogs was a pleasant surprise.

  3. former, not latter... jesus. I've had a bit of wine

  4. Patchwork is brilliant! Never heard of Bullfrogs, I'll check it out.

  5. A nice evening. I almost got away with my audacious tactic on Whitechapel, having sent three policemen the wrong way completely. If only Sam had looked for evidence instead of arresting me, it would've worked, too.

    Bullfrog was interesting. It was very much a game of trying things out. Chaining together cards was pretty satisfying, as was keeping my x2 frog on the board instead of watching him sink the moment he scored me some points.

    And as for Biblios. Well, a winning strategy remains as tantalisingly out of reach as it ever was. Damn that brown dice!

  6. Yeah there were a couple of lovely moments in Bullfrogs where you won a card and started one or two more card-winning events. Andrew peeled off three cards at one point if I recall correctly.

    I watched a Tom Vasel review and he said it was terrible with 3 or 4, great with two. I can definitely see why he thought that, but wouldn't mmd trying it with three.

  7. And yes, def appreciated Patchwork Martin, just wasn't sure if my brain was up to it.

  8. I have Cities, which is by the same designer as Limes. It's a neat little solitaire puzzle a la Take It Easy, but with a hint of Carcassonne. And 15mins to play. Only plays four but could play double that if anyone else has a copy. Andy?

  9. Limes basically is Cities. I think the scoring rules were slightly tweaked, and they're not compatible with each other. Frankly, I can't think of any situation when I wouldn't rather play either Take it Easy or Carcassonne instead!

  10. It has its own charm - and is shorter than either. It's not similar to carc really, only superficially so; it's got that nice TiE thing of everybody working with the exact same tools but coming up with a different result.
    It's quite neat.