Friday, 30 October 2015

The Cursed Island

It’s Hallowe’en tomorrow and so to celebrate this macabre twin of St Valentine’s Day I thought I’d play the spookiest scenario on Robinson Crusoe: The Cursed Island.

Day One

I, the ship’s cook, am the only survivor from our expedition of exorcists to lift the curse on a distant island. A storm took our ship and smashed it to pieces. Thankfully, by the grace of God, I survived. But why God chose to save the cook, I cannot guess. My mission is to built five crosses on this island, which will surely drive the demons out.

On my first day I befriend a native (who I shall call Friday) and his dog. Lovely people. Clearly an exception since this is a cursed island, after all.

I explore some hills to the east and find an old map which, for some reason, cheers me up. I also find another native willing to help me build things. Two exceptions in one day! How fortunate!

Day Two

We all stayed in and built things. Friday and I built a pot which we then immediately broke. At least the shovel we also made stayed in one piece.

A simple day spent in the company of genuine, honest folk. I have to keep reminding myself that they are possessed and need saving.

Day Three

I took the dog exploring in some mountains and severely wounded myself when I found the Altar Of Death. They shouldn’t make the corners so sharp.

We succeeded in making a pot that lasts. Mysterious fog shrouded the rolling hills to the east. It had an air of foreboding...

Day Four

I could hear movement in the undergrowth, and had to prepare myself for a fight. I couldn’t tell what it was, but it sounded very loud. I get the feeling it will attack first thing tomorrow morning.

I made a knife. Let it do its worst.

Day Five

It was a wild tapir! I killed it easily.

Invigorated by my slaughter, I set out to build my first cross. I put it in the mountains. Ha! Take that, Altar Of Death!

I also found a sacrificial dagger. As a pagan artifact, I should throw it away, but it’ll come in handy for whittling, etc.

Day Six

Like yesterday, I explored and built. The weather took a turn for the worse and I was unprepared, unless you count an unwavering faith in the Lord as “prepared”.

In some foggy hills I found a cultist hideout. How disgraceful. Although one did offer to help me build something tomorrow. Nice chap.

I built another cross. Two down, three to go.

The weather tonight could not have been worse. I burnt all my wood just to keep warm during this unseasonable snowstorm.

Day Seven

Friday was looking very ill. He drew me a map of the island and it almost killed him! I wondered if he’ll last much longer. If he does die, though, this map is a lovely parting gesture.

I built a fire and fireplace with help from the natives. I kept asking them about the curse, but they didn’t seem to know what I was talking about.

Day Eight

I woke up despondant. There’s no way I could get both wood for another cross and enough food in one day. My plan was surely doomed.

Then I remembered I have a pipe and tobacco and a flask of rum and suddenly I felt much better about things. Still no actual food or wood, though.

I discovered wide open plains and another native who was willing to help me. What lovely people. You’d hardly guess they were all possessed by the devil.

Day Nine

Attacked by a wild fox! Killed it easily. Ha!

Friday went out alone looking for wood and, to my surprise, he came back alive! Judging by his ill health, I had expected to never see him again.

I attempted to build a cross, but fail. This surely spelt the end of my plan to lift the curse on this beautiful island full of generous people.

The weather tonight was driving rain and snow, and I finished the rest of my wood keeping a fire going. It wasn’t possible for me to complete my plan, so I have decided to close this diary here.

I am cursed to live among these helpful, humorous people who know nothing of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Except... this idyllic place seems awfully close to my idea of heaven...

Oh my. Perhaps I didn’t survive the shipwreck after all!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Clockwork. Orange.

Half-term in GNN-land is often a sparse affair and so it was this week, with five people gathered together for gaming fun. Martin was the host, joined by Ian, Andy, Katy and me.

We began the evening in festive mood, with Katy giving Martin an early birthday present: a game of Go, complete with slightly confusing 3M corporation branding. Not sure why the multinational giant was trying to say with this branding exercise but since Martin had always wanted a go set, he didn’t seem too bothered.

Our first game was Merchants of Amsterdam. This is a game of bidding and area control in three areas: a commodity track, areas of Amsterdam, and the world. Players take turns being the mayor and draw three cards and, in a Biblios-esque (Bilbiesque?) touch, assign them so that they (a) definitely get used by the mayor, (b) are discarded, and (c) are auctioned off amongst all players (including the mayor).

The price is set according to a clockwork dial that slowly winds down, and as it does, it points to a steadily decreasing price range. Unfortunately, it couldn't be positioned in a central position, giving me, Ian and Martin a definite advantage in that we could see Katy’s and Andy’s reactions.

But it’s not all about the auctions. Choosing the right card is important too, and I didn’t buy too much although I did cause a few “oohs” of surprise when I bought a “x3 commoditiy” card for 190,000 gilders. This was later eclipsed by Katy, who spent 320,000 on a card.

I was known as Mr Second, since I managed to score second place in a number of areas without really doing a great deal. This set me off to a good start, but others began to pick up pace and soon it was difficult to guess who was winning.

Come the final scoring, Ian stared at his stack of money, bemused. He’d spent most of the game bemoaning his fate and perhaps he was surprised at the amount he’d amassed. After a little while we’d worked his score out, and the final standings were:

Martin 1,410,000
Andrew 1,250,000
Ian 1,060,000
Katy 990,000
Andy 690,000

Andy didn’t seem terribly impressed with the game, saying there were too many things going on. I thought it was okay. They should’ve designed the board with the clockwork counter in mind, though.

Next up was Why First? Since I’d been in second all through Merchants of Amsterdam, I was quite optimistic. But this simple race game rewards those who come in second, but in the end the “winner” is the one who was second best at coming in second. As we entered the last round, I was in a good position on 6 points. Ian was first with 11, but Martin and Andy were poised with 5 and 4 respectively.

They started round five by going backwards, leaving me in a good position but, alas, it wasn’t to be. My last card pushed me too far up the track, giving me six points for coming in second. I was too good at coming in second.

1. Ian 11
2. Andrew 12
3. Martin 5
4. Andy 4
5. Katy 0

Next we had a three round game of Raj. This simple game of bidding on point-scoring tiles has caused many an anguished wail of despair since tied bids cancel each other out, leaving the next in line to take the spoils.

Katy started badly, saying she wasn’t enjoying it, and decided to go Dirk for the last round. She assured us that Dirk (our random imaginary friend) would score more than she did in the last two rounds (-1 and 2).

And he did. He got seven points and did better than Ian or I. And after all the amazement at how well Dirk played, we totted up the scores and it couldn’t have been closer.

Andy 39
Martin 39
Ian 20
Andrew 20
Katy 8

But, bearing in mind Raj’s rule that ties cancel out, then in a sense Katy won this game since the rest of our scores were tied. Except, of course, she didn’t. She came last.

Finally, Martin really pushed his birthday goodwill by choosing Abluxxen, not one of Katy’s favourites. She complained during the first round that she really didn’y understand the strategy, so Martin gave her some advice. She thought for a second, and then proceeded to play like a demon, winning 17 points in the first round to take a commanding lead.

She didn’t do that well again but, who knows, perhaps she might actually quite like the game now? It was close after round two, but Martin was a clear winner since he was the only one to post positive a score in the last round.

Martin 31
Ian 19
Katy 12
Andrew 8
Andy 2

And so, we were done. Not a great evening for Katy, but a good one for Martin. And who could wish for a better birthday present than that?

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Thrashing Around Like Ewan McGregor

Sunday night loomed like a great big window of cube-pushing opportunity and Andrew, Ian and myself (Sam) swooped in to push them.

I speak almost metaphorically - cubes were involved in all our games but in the first we sailed them, then we mined them, and then we claimed them in a gamut of gaming.

Ian arrived first and with Andrew still en route we set up Black Fleet. We needed minimal rules refreshing when Andrew arrived before setting off for the high seas in a highly-imaginary Caribbean. For those unfamiliar, Black Fleet sees you move three ships on your turn - your Merchant wants to deliver goods, your Pirate wants to steal from other merchants, and the Naval ships sink pirates. Your goal is to earn enough doubloons to flip a tableau of cards in front of you; and as you flip them one by one they give you in-game benefits.

 ships in the night

In past experience this has been a tight game but the way the cards fell favoured me - I got off to a good start and never felt I was to be hauled in:

Sam: all cards flipped plus 17 doubloons
Andrew: all cards flipped plus 2 doubloons
Ian: 4 cards flipped

Ian was to have his revenge in a similarly watery game however, as Andrew suggested Tinner's Trail and we all jumped at the chance. Ian's opening round was unimpressive as he scored a paltry £16 and invested a fiver, whilst Andrew and I got a bit more involved in the investment track. But after that Ian got some kind of mining mojo going that Andrew and I could not compete with; regularly mining for free and despite out-investing him in the third and most rewarding round, I couldn't get close. Especially when having finally grabbed first-player I rolled the most shitty prices ever in the final round:

elemental mistake

Ian: 130
Sam: 112
Andrew: 94

There was just time for a little game of Love Letter to finish. I can't remember how this happened but we ended up playing the game in the style of George Lucas; stating the obvious in very unimaginative and expositional fashion. Andrew and I were 2-2-0 ahead of Ian but based on past experience, fully expecting a sting in the tail. However this time the force was against Ian, as he was hit with the double-baron and went out of the third round in the style of this post title. Meanwhile Andrew knew I had the Princess, but thanks to a timely Handmaid, could do nothing about it...

Sam: 3 cubes
Andrew: 2 cubes
Ian: 0 cubes

A fine way to end the weekend and a long-overdue win for me at Love Letter!

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Forbidden Dessert

After entertaining non-gaming (or semi-gaming) friends last night and enjoying K2 and Heck Meck, today Stanley and I sat down for a gaming digestif... of Forbidden Island.

The first thing I have to say about this game that I really dislike is that it comes in a tin. Come on guys. Cardboard is the thing. Cardboard sounds, feels, and smells nicer  - and can also be cut up with a bread knife as an option.

The second is that it might not see the light of day at GNN Tuesday sessions because it's A. a co-operative and B. a family game.

The third is that it's great. As adventurers Stanley - Archeologist - and I - Navigator - crash-landed in a desert, wrecking our helicopter. Like all good adventurers we set out without telling our mums where we were going, so we're kind of screwed. Our only choice: to find the remnants of an ancient flying machine, rebuild it and fly out before the desert empties our canteens and we expire.

There's a modular board of tiles and a heap of sand - cardboard sand! - that sits on top. On your turn you move around the desert either getting rid of sand (I'm not entirely clear on where it goes) or excavating: flipping a tile to find out what bounty lies beneath the desert's surface. This way you eventually discover the locations of the flying machine parts, grab them and rebuild them at a launch pad.

thanks to BGG user Emsdad

Other hidden gems are curiously-still-functioning jet packs and the like; stuff that helps you fend off both the heat, and the storm that is continuously moving around the desert, threatening you with a burial under an out of control sandpit.

We managed to win in a fraction under an hour but I think next time it'd be even less. You can set the difficulty level to different degrees, where more sand comes out earlier and your water supplies dwindle faster.

A really lovely game.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

I’m absolutely shipping myself

Tuesday’s GNN had a new face around the table this week, as well as another one returning from the mists of the past. Ben was the first-timer, a recruit from my work, and Anja turned up for the first time in months. So there were ten of us in total around Sam’s kitchen table: Sam, Ben, Anja and myself and also Ian, Joe, Andy, Martin, Chris and Katy.

The first game was a brief first-to-11 game of Pairs while the early arrivals waited for those caught up in the Bristol Rovers traffic. Ian arrived halfway through the first round, so he was instantly dealt in and instantly went bust. I don’t think he’d even sat down.

I won in three rounds. Katy was no doubt baffled by the new design on the cards and she and Joe kept saying what fruit each card would’ve been had they been playing the original version..

Andrew 13
Ben 10
Sam 9
Ian 6
Joe 5
Katy 0

Once the others had arrived, we split into three groups. Andy, Sam and Martin decamped into the front room to play Yspahan. I’ll leave it to them to describe it in the comments. The score was

Andy 99
Sam 79
Martin 70

Katy, Ian, Joe and Chris chose Roll For The Galaxy. They sat at the far end of the table from me, Anja and Ben as we played Stone Age.

I didn’t really follow Roll For The Galaxy, but it seems to involve making a choice behind a screen and then complaining that no one else made the choice that would help you achieve what you wanted to do, such as exploring or shipping (hence the rather tenuous blog title). Early on, Chris was upset at his lack of planets, like a trainee Darth Vader who hadn’t been given any real responsibility.

The easy-to-follow player guide

At the other end of history, us cavemen were making fields and building huts out of gold, stone, clay, whatever was lying around, really. I went for fields early so food was never an issue. Anja began with an audacious one-meeple-on-gold move (it didn’t come off, though) and later went for card collecting. Ben built up his tribe.

Rather than give Anja and Ben enough time to pick up points with their cards/huge tribe I decided to burrow down through one of the piles of huts as quickly as possible and end the game, making sure my early good work was not undone.

Andrew 162
Anja 143
Ben 94

We finished at about the same time as the Rollers, and the noises coming from that end of the table were much more approving of the game’s qualities. Chris even managed to get his own planet, but a little too late.

Joe 40
Ian 38
Katy 31
Chris 29

A good win for Joe, although he did say that it helps a lot if you’ve played it before.

By this time, though, the guys in the front room had begun a game of Ra. Perhaps, after Andy’s recent record victory, Sam and Martin wanted to see Andy’s mastery of the game for themselves. Well, it wasn’t quite the whitewash as last time, but his run of form continues.

Andy 53
Sam 43
Martin 30

And while they played out that game, our groups joined forces (minus Ben and Anja, who both chose to bow out at this point) for a rousing game of Midnight Party. This game is a bit like Musical Chairs, except that you have to find a room, not a chair, and it isn’t the music that tells you when to run, it’s a ghost called Hugo.

The game consisted of the usual high jinks of stealing each others rooms and the inevitable self-Hugoing. Round two was especially brutal, with almost all the meeples being caught.

Chris –20
Ian –25
Andrew –34
Joe –44
Katy –48

Finally, we were all together. Just enough time for another game of Pairs. This time Martin’s fruit-themed copy, allowing us the chance to complain about being fucked by a blueberry.

Katy 22
Andy 15
Chris 14
Martin 12
Andrew 11
Ian 5
Sam 4
Joe 0

After that, I wended my home, but three hardy gamers weren’t done yet. Chris, Sam and Katy played two games of Bandu

1. Sam
2. Chris
3. Katy

The second game was a bit of an epic, with Sam apparently channelling the spirit of an alien architect.

1. Katy
2. Sam
3. Chris

As for the Division, at this early stage of the season, Katy is top in points, Matt has the best Points Ratio and Andy tops the medal table.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Easter eggs you on

Seeing as Chris missed Tuesday, he managed to engineer his way Bristolwards  this evening to join myself (Sam) and Andrew for a bit of Friday night fun.

Andrew arrived earlier and we bashed out a quick game of Polarity. This has been sitting in my cupboard for a while (on my gravestone it'll probably say Sitting in his Cupboard) or more accurately, being distributed around the house by feral children. Made of magnets and a cotton mat, the game consists of trying to balance - or position - circular magnets in such a way that the repelling effect holds the magnet in a gravity-defying position.

It's fairly nuts, and to me, tricky. I started well but after an initial couple of successes, morphed into a kind of gaming Mr Bean, the archetype of cack-handedness. The points were really swingy, but Andrew's steadier hand and brain-gauge saw him trot out a whitewash:

Andrew 43
Sam 3

Chris arrived in time to express disbelief that such a game could exist, and then we broke out Giants. This has been sitting... etc etc etc and it was nice to finally play it. I knew the basics so we ripped through the rules in about 15 minutes and embarked on an Easter Island odyssey, building Moai statues and placing pimp-style hats on them. The game is a mix of bidding for the statues, but then transporting them to their coastal destinations is an entirely different kettle of fish, often working co-operatively whether you like it or not.

Chris seemed increasingly resigned about his chances, but his statue scoring was the same as mine and his collection of Rongos (who knows?) scored him a whopping 18 points to claim the win.

Chris 93
Sam 77
Andrew 67

I thought I might have won, but I also thought if I hadn't Andrew would be the victor. Maybe Chris' tactic is all about maintaining a forlorn air - look out for it, guys.

It's a nice game actually, but my, that first play was fairly long - over wo hours.

After that epic, Andrew was threatening to leave but we tempted him back to the table with a bit of Biblios, regaling Chris with the tale of Andrew being beaten 18-0 by Ian. We decided - or maybe I did - that the King Biblios title has to be a something-to-zero score, and I wondered if anyone would manage it tonight... not quite, though Andrew did notch up a second zero. I was pleased when the very last card in the auction stack was the blue I'd hoped for, and bid 16 gold. Is that a record?

Sam 8 (Mr Biblios)
Chris 5
Andrew 0

It as now well past 11pm, so we called it a night. Thanks guys.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Battleship Tempting

Joe's, Tuesday. Longstanding absentees from Easton were joined by Matt (working) and Andrew (tired). Chris, having joined us last week, found his work schedule a rather stymieing affair and was also ruled out. So Martin, Katy, Ian, Andy, myself (Sam) and Joe's friend Tim sat down at 8pm to play Codenames.

permanent, one

Joe and I were Spymasters. Joe's team consisted of Andy (who doesn't like Codenames) and Tim (who doesn't know Codenames). My team was Katy, Martin and Ian. Joe began with a doozy of a clue and suggested (pledged?) four words. Tim and Andy got three and passed. I went for three and the team got them. After that it got messy. Joe suggested refreshments which went wrong when one of our words were clued. I suggested crowd hoping that as well as match (which they got) my team might put together Mexico and Wave (Mexican wave, yeah?) Although Martin graciously approved of the clue after the fact, it was a bit ambitious.

Nonetheless we were still in a strong position, unless Tim and Andy could get three words in a single round... they did.

Joe, Tim and Andy: win
Sam, Martin, Katy and Ian: don't

We debated what to play with Lords of Vegas mooted. Despite several people agreeing to it though, it didn't get played for some reason. Katy was pushing for Ascending Empires, so myself, Tim and Ian joined her whilst the others played Joe's new purchase, Roll for the Galaxy.

I attempted to explain the rules to Tim and did a semi-reasonable job. At least, I didn't leave any vital rules out. But it's a lot to remember on a first play. My strategy - such as it was - was to get plenty of movement points by developing grey technology, then try and spread early and build fast. I managed that, and didn't really know what to do afterwards, so spent the second half of the game picking off easy targets.. usually Tim. Sorry Tim.

space-time continuum

Ian also spread handsomely around the table. Katy tried to develop all her technologies and our monopolisation of the grey planets got us labelled as "space c**ts", but she later took it all back... except for me. I remained a vacuum because after Katy built a battleship my starships kamikazed into every chance they got. It was pre-emptive stuff really, to stop her attacking my cities, but fairly brutal.  Tim meanwhile flicked himself into oblivion.

Sam 32
Katy 27
Ian 26
Tim 20

On the other table they were deep in their second game of Roll for the Galaxy after Andy had won the first. When I asked what it's like Joe paused, then said "fiddly" and Martin made an elongating grunting noise. Andy merely stared at the table, hypnotised.

space-time, continuing

I was still trying to shake off a cold so I left, while the rest of them played 6Nimmt. The Roll for the Galaxy scores were:

Andy  42
Martin  40
Joe   32

followed by

Martin  38
Andy  35
Joe  30

Martin then ran up another 6Nimmt win, as Tim was thrown in at another deep end... what happened to easy games for the newbies?

Martin 17
Ian 22
Katy 32
Joe 48
Andy 57
Tim 60

I'm sure Roll for the Galaxy will be discussed in the comments. Thanks all!

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Don’t take it Persiannaly

This Saturday marked, quite by chance, the fifth anniversary of the first post on GNN. Joe hosted Sam and I for a little light refreshments and tactical exercise. Except that tonight, we put aside our wooden cubes and dreams of end-of-game bonuses and instead went for the story-telling giant that is Tales of the Arabian Nights.

A map with no cubes or railways on it? How can this be?

Joe’s tale most involved meeting ‘efreets. He met five in total during his travels. An evil ‘efreet cursed him, a vengeful ‘efreet stole his money and left him in a dirty alley somewhere. On the plus side, another ‘efreet gave him a magic ring and when he saved a fourth one from a house fire, it gave him access to anywhere on the board. Finally, he charmed the fifth ‘efreet with his stories and was made Sultan in reward.

My tale was all about social climbing.I found the lair of horrible creatures and became Respected. I helped a Noble Wizard kill an elusive beast and got a Robe Of Honour and became rich. I got two treasures, a Celestial Planisphere and a magic bead. Finally, I prayed for a maiden to save her from a dark serpent. She was so grateful that she became my wife.

Sam’s tale is about strength through adversity. He began the game lost in Pan Pan. Then a Mad Captain chased him, thinking he’d slept with one of his family, finally catching him and cutting his throat. Sam survived but was now Lost and Crippled and so unable to move. His social skills were lacking, as he tried to honour a beautiful princess who rebuffed him, and he spoke to an imprisoned prince but just made him angry. He also had to endure a week-long haircut.

In the end, Sam won. Despite his lowly beginnings, he completed his quest and then gained access to the Underwater Kingdom where he became friends with the king who let Sam sit in for him as king while he went on holiday. Sam returned to Baghdad as a Sultan and fabulously wealthy. He met a love sick maid and tried to woo her but, still in mourning for her loved one, she rebuffed him. Oh well.

Then Sam went home (I mean he really went home. This isn’t still part of the Arabian Nights) so Joe and I played a game of Manoeuvre, the war game of almost infinite possibilities. And an excellent chance to use Joe's hand-made dice tower.

Joe was the British and I was the French. It was pretty even at first, and then Joe found two of his units isolated far from the main skirmish so although he had more units on the board, mine were better placed.

But then my plan to attack the Dutch Belgians went awry. They survived, re-grouped and my Guard Cavalry found itself surrounded. After that, the battle was lost. Joe was able to march into my half of the board and pick up points.

Joe 7
Andrew 1

My final hand. Hmm, I suppose I'd better attack with the 8th Light Regiment.

And so, with the clock nearing midnight, we called it an evening, and I set off into the night. I saw no disguised beggars or enchantresses on my way home, but quite a lot of parked cars with the headlights and hazards lights on. Oh, Bristol.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Thunderbirds are Gone

Friday. Andrew and Andy made it to my house (Sam) for some non-leaderboard games. Andrew missed the email about starting later, but that meant he got to watch some TV while I put the boys to bed.

When they were settled Andrew and I had some time before Andy arrived, so we played a quick game of Mr Jack Pocket, the simpler version of Mr Jack. The principle is the same; the detective tries to unmask Jack whilst Jack stays unmasked - but there are no special moves for the characters, and no escaping. Jack wins either by being in the dark 6 times or staying undetected til the end of the eight round. I managed the latter.

Whitechapel never looked so sinister

With Andy imminent we set up K2. We did have a look at the expansions but in the end it was pure laziness that made us go for the base game. Andy arrived with my beer - thanks Andy! - and after a brief refresher we set off from base camp. With Andrew's slowly-steady victory in the last game fresh in my mind, I hesitated slightly, but my innate sense of adventure and restless spirit took over me, and I surged ahead up the mountain, making it to just off the peak and setting up camp.

Andrew, yet to die

Unfortunately I then succumbed to the cold and expired. With Andy and Andrew now on the upper slopes it was looking like my expedition was ending in ignominy - thankfully for me one of Andrew's climbers bit the dust too, as Andy survived by the skin of his teeth. This is why it's much safer not to go climbing at all.

Andy 11
Sam 7
Andrew 5 (did make the summit at least, so died happy)

Andy had brought Thunderbirds with him, the co-operative game of trying to defeat the evil deeds of the Hood, a bad guy I can't help but picture in a hoodie. The quiz-show-ghost of Martin stepped forward: was it gold, or Kickstarter crap? Let's find out!

look at the size of that Thunderbird

The board is a map of the world and, similar to Pandemic, the players each have a role (one of the Tracys, or Lady Penelope) and they/we dash around trying to foil the Hood. Also like Pandemic, there is a deck of cards flipped over at the end of the round that is usually making a bad situation worse. We managed to see off quite a few disasters before The indefatigable Hood eventually won out, by sheer persistence really. You have to take your pointy-shaped hat off to him.



Verdict: it wasn't the ideal time for me to judge - I was flaking slightly and from my angle everything was upside down. I'm also not steeped in Thunderbirds history or theme, having only caught the show once or twice as a kid. To me it basically felt like a retheme of Pandemic, though - solid, but not particularly different. But it was fun to play whilst listening to the Thunderbirds theme tune...

Crablogger. What an embarrassing apocalypse.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Floody Hell!

A new season began with erstwhile Bracknell regular Chris making his first appearance as a regular in the Bristol branch of GNN. He was joined by Sam (the host), Matt, Ian, Katy, Joe, Martin, Andy, and myself.

At first there were five of us, so we indulged in a little non-leaderboard Pairs until everyone turned up. It was during this game that Sam got a score of 37 in one round, which got us thinking about what our record score for this game was. Sam also came joint first with Joe, Chris was second, I was third and Matt fourth.

Then, once most of us had arrived (with Katy still twenty minutes away), we decided to play a proper game of Pairs. In theory, a card-counter would have an advantage in this game, but in practise it’s fairly common to go out to impossible-to-predict low cards. Those blueberries are deadly.

Andrew 24
Matt 23
Andy 17
Joe 16
Chris 15
Ian 12
Sam 11
Martin 0

Since we’d been talking about record scores, it’s interesting to note that in the final round Joe’s cards added up to 38 points.

Then we split up into groups of five and four having ignored Joe’s repeated offer of a two-player game of Tides of Time. The four group (Joe, Martin, Chris and Andy) played Njet, a card game that looked very complicated. Meanwhile, the five group (Katy, Ian, Sam, Matt and me) played Mystery At The Abbey, the new flavour of the month at GNN Towers.

With five players, trying to keep things a secret proved tricky. Sam would often leave the table completely to contemplate his findings elsewhere.

Since everyone began with less information than they do in a three-player game, I thought it would be longer but just as Sam told the Njet players that they’d be another half hour, Katy sped to the Capitulum to accuse Brother Malachi, and she was right! We hadn’t even reached the end of the second round.

Katy 4
Sam 2
Matt 2
Ian 0
Andrew 0

You know, Brother Malachi was the killer last time, too.

Njet had finished by now

Andy 23
Joe 19
Martin 13
Chris 9

And they’d begun on another card game called Beast Bar and that ended

Martin 4
Chris 3 (wins tie-breaker)
Andy 3
Joe 3

While we five played an epic game of Bandu. Sam, Ian and Katy just kept building and building until they ran out of blocks and had to use the ruins of Matt and my fallen towers. It was a tense affair, with the whole room gripped by the unfolding drama. In the end, the collapse of Sam’s set off Ian’s downfall and Katy won.

1. Katy
2. Ian
3. Sam
4. Matt
5. Andrew

And it was still early. We split into groups again. Sam finally gave in and played Joe at Tides of Times, with Joe winning by 86 to 58. Katy, Matt, Martin and Ian gave Beasty Bar another outing.

Katy 4
Matt 4
Martin 4
Ian 2

But the real excitement was kept for the far end of the table, where Chris, Andy and I played Ra. Andy twice got into a position of having the chance to pull out tiles from the bag with two bidding tiles left. And did he take out any disasters or a sudden run of Ra tiles? Nope. It was a consummate victory, with Chris not even bothering to watch the final stages, his attention caught by a non-leaderboard game of Go Stop at the other end of the table (which Martin won).

Andy 87
Chris 19
Andrew 17

After Pairs, Bandu and now Ra, it was an evening of astonishing performances. Well done, everyone.

Katy sits atop the fledgling division.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Five Years of Puns and Funs

Hey, guess what GNN! This month marks the fifth anniversary of the day we decided not to keep emailing each other like luddites and step into the twenty-first century with our own blog.

Well, hasn't time flown? We've had people come and go, empires rise and fall (usually in one evening) and babies galore in this semi-decade. To mark this event I didn't fancy another spreadsheet and instead I decided on a little puzzle for us.

Below are fifteen of the best, most apt puns that we've had describing certain games. Take a look and see if you can identify them. Of course, you could use a search engine to do the work for you, but where's the fun in that? Best of luck, and be warned: one game appears twice.

Inglorious Pasties

A flicker of interest

How do you solve a problem like Moria

Grape Expectations

Pillage Idiots

Keen as mustered

We need to talk about Kiev-ing

Do not pass ghost

Techs as Instruments

No Sachsen please, we’re Bm Luttich

Holmes Alone

Under Prussia

It's a shame about Reille

I pity the Thule

Jack, your body

SPOILER WARNING: answers are in the comments below, so if you want to play along, don't scroll down any more.