Monday, 21 March 2016

Port out!

With Tuesdays ruled out for me for the next few weeks, I managed to entice Andrew and Ian over for a bit of Monday night action.

We began with Riff Raff. This is like the offspring of Hamsterrolle and King Neptune. The game is constructed from the box itself plus several pieces, making up a wooden boat that sails upon a stormy ocean. The central 'mast' is weighted at the bottom, so whenever a piece is added to the yardarms the boat lists over to that side.

Like Hamsterrolle, first player to get rid of their (eight) pieces wins. Unlike Hamsterrolle, there's an extra element of card play that decides where on the ship you place your piece, and potentially has the (risky) option of placing two pieces.

My first play was disastrous, as pretty much everything fell off the ship twice while Andrew picked up the win. In the second I was more circumspect and nabbed a win just ahead of Ian.

It was fun. A shame it only plays four as I can imagine it being a popular filler at GNN.

After the jolly fare of Riff Raff it was time for something more somber, so we bashed through - if one can 'bash through' a game as dry as this - Viticulture, the game of competitive vineyarding. We wanted to play it while it was "still fresh" although you wouldn't have guessed as much as we spent several minutes simply blinking at the board and checking the rules.

Basically though it's a worker-placement game that's broken into seasons, spring being fighting over turn order for summer and winter (which provide thematically appropriate actions on the board) and autumn is merely a bit of spice. As you plant vines, harvest grapes, crush them into wine, and deliver orders (for points) you can also shenaniganise with the visitor cards, that can be played in summer or winter...

I got off to a good start, but Andrew invoked the witches curse of saying I was winning: over and over, so successfully that my game simply dragged to a halt as the others surged past me.

Viticulture, for all its arid mechanics, does hold some surprises - and I had one up my sleeve that was going to get me four points in one fell swoop! Ha ha! If I could just get some orders that matched my wine... I picked up four orders and none did: they all demanded very expensive red or rose, or champagne, none of which I had in my admittedly limited cellar. Meanwhile Ian ended the game by completing three orders in the last round (I managed two the whole game!) and Andrew made a valiant effort to catch him, but it wasn't quite enough:

Ian 24 (I think)
Andrew 23 (I think)
Sam 16 or something

For a game about wine it does feel rather sober, but it was good to play again. I need to study Ian and Andrew's tactics, as that's not the first time I've ended miles behind. But for me the hit of the night was Riff Raff!

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