Thursday, 30 July 2015

Thursday Night of the Living Dead

We really need some kind of moniker for the Thursday night gang - usually myself (Sam), Ian and Andrew. But with Stanley and Little Joe now joining us regularly, maybe Thursday Night News or something equally TNN-y? Or maybe it's just enough to play games with no attendant lingo. Certainly that was the case tonight - though Andrew couldn't make it, Ian and I bashed out five games in the four hours we had.

the boys keep a vigil for Ian

We began at 7pm with Hugo. There was some debate before Ian arrived, with Trans America being mooted, but we elected to get the tubby ghost on his skates again, this time with three guests each to try and get to safety.

two farmers

Joe - perhaps emboldened by a smaller crowd than Tuesday - elected to join us as a player this time. The game commenced with Hugo pretty much snoozing down in the cellar as we strolled around with a permanent sense of early-party-anxiety. But with a rush of blood - or ectoplasm - there he was, suddenly up and about! Ian started well, hit for only five points while the rest of us took between 8 and 15 of them. On the next round though, it was all change, as Joe went from last place into first, a position he held onto until the end of the game:


I don't have the points recorded but Stan was a distant fourth and rather less enamoured of the game than on Tuesday. However if he can curb his desire to sail so close to the wind Hugo-wise, I think he'll be back again.

While I took the kids to bed Ian chose the next game, plumping for Reiner Knizia's obese backside Colossal Arena. This has only been played once before but Ian was keen - in his own inimitable fashion - to try it again. And as I was not moved to veto, we dove in. It's a game of trying to back your own monster to win, so having placed your bets you're egging it on from the sidelines, occasionally throwing on a ref or a berserk spectator.


We both felt, however, that the theme didn't really emerge on this occasion - probably it's better with more players. We spent a lot of time realising we had forgotten to replenish our cards, and looking at the rules and sometimes forgetting them... if we were recording ourselves as a podcast, it would have scored minimal thumbs on BGG.

As it was, I eliminated Ian's backed creatures and ran out a winner:

Sam 10
Ian 0

We moved on to Ian's other choice, Bullfrogs. This was last seen as a chaotic multi-player but it's really best for two, as you can plan ahead to an extent as the ever-changing board is changing at a far slower rate. My previous experience told as I got off to a decent start and established a crowd of frogs on the Log card, getting me my second win of the night.

Sam 65
Ian 48

We moved on to Old Faithful - 7 Wonders. I chose the B side of Halicarnassus, which allowed me - assuming I built all three parts of my wonder - to build up to three free cards per round. This meant in the early part of the game I was kind of farting about, adding cards to a wonder that scored pretty much zip and building cards for free that also didn't do a great deal. By the time the third round came, however, the world was my oyster and I built both palace and pantheon whilst chaining sciences from round two. It was kind of beautiful.


It was also kind of crap, as my non-scoring opening round and middling second round undermined this fantastical progress. Ian cleaned up with military and blue buildings:

Ian 54
Sam 43
Dirk 39

We still had some beer in our glasses, so I introduced Ian to the Viking Game. This is a genuinely ancient tafl-style game (there are several variants) supposedly played over 1500 years ago. On a reindeer pelt (or cotton, in my copy) there is a grid with two opposing armies on it. One begins on the four sides, and the other army - which has a King to defend - in the centre. The army with the King needs to get the King to one of the four corners in order to win. The other army has to surround the King on four sides.  All pieces move the same way - like a rook in chess - and non-king pieces are taken by being sandwiched - having an opponent on both sides of it - though you can legally move into this position and not be taken.

as battles go, it's kind of passive-aggressive

Our short online investigation told us that the King's side has a slight - possibly not-so-slight - built-in advantage that can be negated - or balanced - by bidding on the part of both players - how many turns you think you can win in, with the lowest bidder getting the King.

We didn't do the bidding, but we played twice and both times the player with the King won. It's a neat game, but quite a heavy one to end the night on... nonetheless. Good enough for the Vikings, good enough for TNN.


  1. I'd never presume to try to fill Reiner Knizia's Gaping Chasm with only two players.

  2. Points for trying though eh.

    Some people are happy drunks, some are angry. I hyphenate.

  3. Does Halicarnassus B really allow you to build up to three free cards per era once completed? I never realised that...... Sounds powerful....or was it too much of a set back?

  4. That's how I interpreted it (I have got the odd rule wrong before). But in that game at least I found I wasted a lot of time building it and the rewards didn't make up for the outlay.