Wednesday, 8 July 2015

It’s the hope that hurts the most

First Tuesday of the season, and seven hungry gamers were hunched around Joe’s kitchen table, keen for gaming sustenance. Apart from the host, Joe, it was an all-male affair with Martin, Andy, Sam, Ian, Matt and myself making up the numbers.

While waiting for Andy, we began with Go Stop (or Ghost Op, as some of us thought Martin said when he suggested it, perhaps expecting a Tom Clancy style strategy Black Ops game with a supernatural theme).

This card game resists any attempt at working out how to put it on the leaderboard. Adding up the scores doesn’t make any sense because this is a game where winning with a one (as Matt did) is far more impressive than winning with a high card. We will have to leave it as non-leaderboard.

Any way, we played three rounds, and we scored (winning scores in bold):

Sam 0, 0, 0
Ian 3,0, 0
Martin 9, 7, 0
Joe 0,0, 0
Matt 0, 5, 1
Andrew 5,0,0

Sam's tactic of going Dirk in rounds two and three badly went wrong as both times he shuffled his cards, played them without looking at them, only to discover his only scoring Stop card still in his hand when the bets had been placed.

Then Andy arrived and we split into a group of four (playing Africa) and a group of three (playing Darjeeling). Africa is a new game to GNN, and Joe explained the rules to me, Martin and Ian while Sam explained Darjeeling to Matt and Andy.

Africa is all about exploration. You might find animals, jewels, nomads or monuments. Each one can be used in a different way to score points either when you find them, or later in the game if you find yourself next to them and can move them to a more suitable place on the board. With all of Africa to explore, you’d imagine it would be quite a solitary game, but in fact we spent most of the game in a group, moving from one area of the board to another like herding animals. How apt.

As you’d expect from a Knizia, it’s a bit thinky and strategic, but it also seems a lot more luck based than usual. It got a rather guarded appraisal of “I’d play it again” from us. Maybe we were missing something.

Joe 69
Martin 65
Ian 56
Andrew 52

Over in India (confusingly, set up on the table to the east of Africa) I noticed that new boy Matt had a huge lead halfway through the game, and he did enough to hang on despite a late push up the score chart.

Matt 96
Sam 94

However, at this point we got stuck in a bit of rut of games that never seemed to end at the same time. Sam, Andy and Matt played Koryo, a card game. I know nothing about it.

Sam 15
Matt 14

We played Die Dolmengötter, a game with a singularly uninteresting board. I noticed that the borders had a bit of grass on it, showing that they had made an effort to make it look nice. Joe said it looked like pubic hair. I’ll let the reader decide.

First impressions were not helped by some very ordinary game pieces. But once we got going, it had a certain charm. Place your stones by moving your men around stone circles. If you have a majority, you can place a scoring tile of your choice (face down) on top of the stack. If you draw then you can put a tile at the bottom of the stack. The further up a tile is in the stack, the more its value is multiplied for points.

Four stages of indecision

Quite clever and cunning. Joe clocked up his second win of the evening.

Joe 70
Andrew 60
Martin 58
Ian 55

On the other half of the table, Sam was teaching Matt and Andy the joys of Bullfrogs. It ended:

Sam 57
Andy 52
Matt 46

While those frogs battled it out, we played a couple of games of Qwixx: a dice game which showed Das Exclusive off to its fullest potential. Finally, a game where its stadium-like dimensions are a bonus, not a hindrance.

We scored:

Martin 78
Andrew 69
Ian 56
Joe 49

And then...

Ian 64
Andrew 60
Martin 57
Joe 54

By now we had all ended at the same time, so we decided to finish with the closest thing to Ghost Op that we had: Midnight Party! Or Fuck Off, Hugo as Martin dubbed it after some bad luck with the die. It was a very close game. Clearly, we’re all getting the hang of it. Still, it gave us enough anguish as we Self-Hugoed our own pieces and Martin uttered the line (immortalised in this blog post) to describe the very special cruelty that this game demonstrates.

Sam -18
Andy -22
Ian -24
Joe -25
Martin -25
Andrew -28
Matt -28

And that was that. We set out into the warm summer rain, invigorated and alive.

The Division currently looks like this:


  1. "Apart from the host, Joe, it was an all-male affair" ? I don't know what to say :)

    Lovely evening chaps - I enjoyed Der Dolmengotter, despite it looking like a pile of wooden sick; or indeed, as Ian pointed out, like a ZX Spectrum game.

    I also enjoyed Africa, gentle though it was.

    And I enjoyed Qwixx; very few fehlwurfes, which almost made me think we were doing it wrong.

    And as for Fuck Off Hugo - I simply love it. An interesting nuance occurred in last nights game - playing safe in round one and hopping into the first room after the stairs left me very vulnerable in the next round - I might have been better off trying for the +3 room. Hugo was unstoppable.

    After you all left I went upstairs; Charlotte threatened to ban Midnight Party on account of the noise it produced. I felt sort of proud of Hugo.

    1. Hahaha, the same thing happened with Sarah last week!

    2. It's definitely our loudest game.

  2. Hey, there's nothing wrong with being a woman.

    Obviously in my tipsy state, I mixed up the sentences "Apart from the host, Joe, Martin, Andy, Sam, Ian, Matt and myself made up the numbers." and "It was an all-male affair with Joe, Martin, Andy, Sam, Ian, Matt and myself making up the numbers."

  3. And if anyone's sad that Go Stop is non-leaderboard, I had a quick look through the blog, and the current standings are (one point for a win):

    Martin 3
    Matt 3
    Adam 1
    Ian 1
    Joe 1
    Sarah 1
    Sam 1

  4. I hope nobody thought I was saying there's anything wrong with being a woman. I was just surprised.

    Darjeeling is an ok game but as we noted last night, there is zero tea theme involved really. Even the laying out of tiles to resemble countries seems a bit tenuous. I like the fact the lead is so swingy though - Matt was miles ahead but we did catch him up - if I'd been next to a city on my final turn I would have won! But I wasn't so I didn't.

    I can't remember much about Koryo except the game included an awful lot of shuffling and the kind of rule-referencing that doesn't really float my boat. Like others it seems, the highlight of the night for me was Hugo!