Wednesday, 18 November 2015

A hundred kingdoms under the stairs

Martin offered to host games night this week, with the tantalising opportunity on offer to view his new games cupboard, under the stairs, barely six feet from the games table (or "dining table", as I suppose some people might call it).

We admired the perfect proportions and clean lines of the Ikea shelving used to house such a collection. Then we decided to use some of this collection.

But first, while we waited for Chris caught in traffic, the six of us (Martin, Sam, Ben, Andy, Ian and myself) played Celestia, a game of pushing your luck and hoping that your captain has the right cards to see off any dangers as your slightly over-designed airship sails towards ever more exciting rewards.

If you suspected the captain wasn’t up to the job, you could jump ship and take whatever rewards were there.

It was a fun game and hats off to Ian who had few cards in his hand, but usually seemed to have enough to see off any hazards, much to our disbelief. Oh, how we laughed as he sailed off without us on more than one occasion.

Andrew 53
Andy 50
Ian 48
Martin 47
Sam 47
Ben 43

Then Chris arrived and we split into two groups. Sam, Andy, Ben and Ian chose Broom Service. Chris mentioned that he’d like to try Impulse. Well, Martin and I needed no prompting and this tiny space epic was brought out.

Chris was given a quick run through of the rules, and we were off! I set off in an early lead after a move where I traded a red card and shot down one of Martin’s ships. This left me high up the score track, but low on cards. Chris, despite being a newbie, kept up well against the two experienced hands and Martin, perhaps slighted by my early success at his expense, spread out expansively across the board.

I was down to one ship at one point, and I could’ve been obliterated but Martin held back. A rare act of kindness, but he finished the game in the next round with a series of moves that got him eleven points, pushing him past the target score of twenty.

Martin 22
Chris 10
Andrew 10

Broom Service still had some way to got, so we began a game of Hanabi, using Martin’s deluxe set.

It was Chris’ first go on this one, too, although he’d often seen other people playing it at the Reading meet. Perhaps not in as much style as us, though, as the Mah Jong-esque tiles felt nice and weighty.

We did well, not picking up a single storm counter, and we were only stymied at the very end by Martin have the green four and five, meaning he couldn’t put both down. Still, with me correctly guessing at the end which of my tiles was a blue five, we were able to complete four of the five tracks for a creditable score of 24 out of 25.

By now Broom Service was over:

Sam 85
Andy 84
Ben 72
Ian 65

But since we were knee-deep in Hanabi, Andy suggested Koryo. Sam recoiled like Andy had just sprayed the room with Mace, and kindly declined the offer. Ben and Ian were up for it, though, and it ended in Ben’s first win of his GNN career!

Ben 17
Andy 14
Ian 7

Meanwhile, in the gap between Hana-bi ending and Koryo ending, Sam introduced the rest of us to Matcha, the very quick two-player bidding game for tea-making utensils (either one each of the five different items, or a set of four). The design was nice, and it kept the Japanese vibe going after Hanabi.

Chris and Sam played first, with Sam quickly winning with his four tea leaves. Then Sam and I played and, in a longer game where we cancelled each other out most of the time, we finished with a draw.

And now we were all together again, keen for a final game before we headed home. Pairs was chosen. Ben never got going, crashing out early one. Usually after the second card. In one round, Andy dealt out onions like they were going out of fashion. Then, next round, he was sent out by a pair of lowly cherries. But Martin kept his cool to claim the win.

Martin 22
Chris 20
Sam 15
Ian 11
Andrew 10
Andy 7
Ben 0

So that’s it, until the weekend gaming fest that is Novocon. And then next Tuesday again, of course.


  1. Thanks for coming all, it was fun.

    Appropriately, while Sam was teaching Chris and Andrew the tea-making game, I made tea.

  2. I was going to ask what happened to the host! :-)

  3. Good fun, thanks all. I totally broke the 2-snack rule and at one point had a headache from the sheer amount of junk I'd eaten. Fortunately some water and a game of Matcha fixed that - it's a nice little filler.

    Think I'm a bit over Broom Service after two plays though - the cards make it interesting, but the board makes it both fiddly and chaotic. I'd like to try the cards-only precursor, Witch's Brew...

    1. Yeah, that's how I felt about my first play of Broom Service. There's less going on in Witch's Brew so you can focus more on outguessing your opponents.

      Speaking of which, I was reading about Celestia's predecessor Cloud 9. It didn't include any of the special cards that we had to keep looking up in the rulebook and there was a fixed VP amount for each cloud.

    2. I did wonder if the power cards really added that much.

  4. We had a rule wrong in Broom Service - clouds in the middle of areas are considered to be a part of that area, and thus adjacent to the same areas as the area that contains them. Hope that makes sense.

    Not that I'd be rushing to play it again, sadly.

    Unlike Celestia, which I really enjoyed. I'd like a few more plays to determine whether the game would be better without the cards.

    As for Pairs, well maybe I shall just have to invent a different closing filler for us to play instead? I have a half-designed simple blind bidding game that might fit the bill...