Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Shape of gamers II

It’s been over two years since I churned out a load of spider charts to show everyone their strengths and weaknesses, so I thought I’d do some more. This time I used the data from last season, and I included players who’d played twenty games or more.

These graphs show, out of a player’s points, which category was most successful for them. There’s no comparison to other players.

Again, I took the game mechanics listed on BGG as my guide and, after grouping them together, came up with the following twelve categories (with clarifications for those that need them).

Area Control
Tile Placement
Stocks and Shares
Worker Placement
Card management
Luck, Dice Rolling, and Betting
Set Collection
Fairly obvious, but this also includes trick taking. Normally, I’d consider trick taking as a separate category, but we didn’t play that many last season.

Variable Player Powers
For those games where the players begin with different characters that have different strengths/weaknesses

Outside the Box
Includes games that need skills other than those number crunching and psychological skills you normally need in a Eurogame. Namely: dexterity, scholastic and artistic knowledge.

Point to Point
Races and deliveries.

Direct Combat
When you deliberately target one or more players, as opposed to your actions having a knock-on effect.

I took each game we played from January to March and gave them a "score" based on these categories. For example, Quantum is 0.33 area control, 0.33 dice rolling and 0.34 direct combat (I had to put that stray 0.01 somewhere).

So, Katy was the champion last season, so let’s begin with her.

She has a well-rounded graph, but her strongest category is Point to Point (Deep Sea Adventure, Midnight Party) while, surprisingly she did badly in dexterity games. Perhaps her reputation as Doctor Toppleblocks is undeserved.

Second was Ian.

His spiky graph shows that he excels in some games, and collapses dramatically in others. Another poor showing in Outside The Box (which goes to show, you don’t need to be deft to be a champion) and he’s had no luck at all. Strong in the more traditional Eurogaming skills, though.

I came third.

An odd-shaped graph. I have done best in those games that reward non-gaming skills. Is that good? I’m also pretty lucky.

In fourth was Martin.

A shocking amount of luck is the most prominent feature on this graph. Dice rolling, bluffing and pushing his luck have all done well for him last season. Interestingly, no weak category on this graph.

In fifth place came Andy.

No surprise to see that Andy does badly at dexterity games, but apart from that and Point to Point games, he does pretty well: scoring highly in Card management and, frighteningly, direct combat.

Sixth place was Joe.

Another well rounded graph, showing his ability at a wide range of games. But, just like two years ago, his skills are counter-balanced by a complete lack of luck.

In seventh place was Sam.

His graph shows that he can rely equally on a wide range of skills, especially tile placement. His only weakness being Outside the Box type games, as he struggled with Riff Raff and Timeline last season.

Eight place was take by Ben.

The newest member of the group doesn’t rely on any one category, although he’s another player who finds his luck deserts him at important moments.

Ninth, and last on this list, was Matt.

Matt’s Card management and Set Building skill are both very low. This is a shame, since they come up so often in Eurogames. However, he can bid and manipulate stocks with the best of them.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Dead Men Don't Bluff

Tuesday night is, as usual, games night. Arriving at Joes at 7.45, we broke up the gender politics discussion Katy, Joe and his family were having and set down to the serious business of balancing cards on a tripod.

There were five of us to start; me (Ian), Joe, Martin, Katy and Ben. Librium's second appearance at Games Night lasted slightly longer than the first play. We got through the entire deck, at which point we had to start removing cards from the structure. There was some discussion about the aesthetics of the game; I personally quite like it but I can't deny it does look like a corporate desk toy.

During Libirum Andy arrived, but he didn't have to wait around too long before the game wrapped up. I can't recall if we agreed this was leader board or not, but for posterity the results were:

1st. Ian
2nd. Joe
3rd. Katy
4th. Martin
5th. Ben

There was a brief discussion about whether we should split into two groups of three, but we decided to stick to one large group. Andy had boughtColt Express and several people seemed keen, so we assembled the cardboard train and cacti and, after Andy explained the rules to Joe, we were off.

As usual, it was a chaotic, delightful play. Andy went for an aggressive shooting strategy, seeming to not pick up any loot for much of the game. Joe and I raced to the front of the train to try and claim the suitcase after the guard had deserted his post.  Despite Ben having no loot and being stuck at the back of the train due to repeatedly being knocked back by a series of punches, the guard seemed to be making an inexorable bee-line for him.

It was Joe who claimed the suitcase, but it wasn't quite enough to earn second place. Andy's trigger-happy approach won him the game:

Colt Express
1st. Andy  $2200
2nd. Ian  $1800
3rd. Joe  $1750
4th. Martin  $1650
5th. Katy  $1250
6th. Ben  $250

Interesting to note that Colt Express was the first game this evening where Katy felt compelled to describe the turn of events as "a crock of shit". The second game to provoke this reaction was For Sale.

For Sale has seen a bit of action recently, Joe's new copy having been played for three weeks in a row now. There was a particularly interesting auction where the houses were split between three very lower cards (2, 3, 4) and three reasonably high cards (21, 23, 25). Who was going to crack first and take the lower cards?

Like last week we ended up playing two games of For Sale.

For Sale
1st. Martin  $50k
Joint 2nd. Ian and Joe  $45k
3rd. Katy  $43k
4th. Andy $42k
5th. Ben $34k

1st. Katy  $49k
2nd. Ian  $48k
3rd. Martin $46k
4th. Andy $37k
5th. Ben $38k
6th. Joe $36k

Dead Man's Chest was next. The hidden-dice rolling and bluffing game hasn't been seen since early March, and it's  absence has been a slight mystery as it proved to be highly entertaining.

After clarifying  the rules regarding a "Dead Man" (when the dice show a 21), Joe started proceedings by calling Dead Man on the very first roll of the game. Surely it was some kind of audacious bluff? Katy seemed to think so and called him out on it. It was indeed a Dead Man. 

Martin seemed to be constantly rolling doubles, at one point claiming the dice were showing 33. I called him out. They were showing  44, losing me a gem. There was a lot of bluffing and a lot of cracking up; icy-faced poker-bluffing this was not. Joe called Dead Man at least three more times. One by one we dropped out until it was down to Martin and Joe, both with a single gem left. The tension was palpable, akin to the Russian roulette scene in The Deer Hunter. Only with a tiny box of dice instead of guns.

This tense situation couldn't last long though, and Martin emerged victorious.

Dead Man's Chest
1st. Martin
2nd. Joe
3rd. Ben
4th. Katy
5th. Ian
6th. Andy

What better way to follow one bluffing game than with another? Kakerlakenpoker was dealt out, and we were off.

Martin seemed to go into an early death spiral, ending up with two cockroaches, two scorpions and a toad. But Martin held on admirbaly, correctly calling out other people's bluffs and playing a war of attrition as other people slowly collected cards of their own. Katy seemed to be entering a death spiral of her own, but ultimately Martin couldn't keep from collecting the third card of a set.

Martin loses

With time for one more game, Katy and Martin bought out their Push It sets and we prepared for some co-operative battles.

Katy and I took and early lead, being five points towards the winning seven. Unfortunately, I was on Katy's team and I knocked the Jack off the table, knocking us down to three points. The scores remained fairly even from that point; several of us seemed to veer between accurate and fluffed shots. Somehow Katy and I clawed our way back up to six points, closely followed by Joe and Martin on five and Andy and Ben on four. The Jack ended up coming to rest very near me, allowing me to slide my puck next to it for a safe win.

Push It
1st. Katy and Ian  7 points
2nd. Joe and Martin  5 points
3rd. Andy and Ben  4 points

And with that, it was time to flee into the night. Thanks to Joe for hosting and everyone else!

Friday, 22 April 2016

Hundred Club

Friday night, and Andrew arrived at my (Sam's) house for a spot of non-leaderboard gaming. The boys were keen to play and Stanley suggested Tokaido. Having just purchased the Crossroads expansion I was curious to try it out, so I was amenable. Andrew and Joe also agreed.

Tokaido is one of the gentlest games GNN has seen - it's a sedate journey where wherever you go, something nice happens. The theme is cultural enrichment, and the mechanic is get stuff. The expansion didn't change that much either; instead of doing a thing on a given location, you had a choice of things to do. But what it did bring to the party was more end-game scoring, which I totally forgot to do for myself - I should have added 8 points to my score for my collected coins.

Not that it would have changed my miserable placing. Stanley took us to the cleaners, breaking the scoreboard by surging past 99 and picking up all the bonus points for chatterbox, gourmand, bather and the other one.

Stanley 103
Andrew 74
Joe 62
Sam 47 (or 55 to be exact)

It's a sweet little game. Stanley went to bed happy and Joe - who not so long ago would insist on watching games - also seemed pleased with his pretty-much solo performance.

I told Andrew to set up whatever he fancied playing while I read stories upstairs, and when I returned to my delight Macao was on the table. Not quite the Euro of Euros (there's dice and luck involved) but still very little screwage.

However, I always find Macao a delight, and tonight was no different, even though Andrew surged off into an early lead... and kept it throughout, racking up a more than respectable 100+ score and breaking a scoreboard for the second time in the evening!

Andrew 112
Sam 93

For the next game we tried two-player Diamonsters. As suspected, it was a much more canny affair than the Dirk-like six player version on Tuesday. Even Finn was intrigued.

We established a house rule of choosing whether to refresh your hand each round or keep what you had - I needed the former with a hand of three 4's and two 2's hampering my bidding options. Official rules are first to five wins, but we played first to three:

Sam 3
Andrew 1

Andrew's turn to select and he went for 7 Wonders. Maybe Duel has had it's very brief day already, as we both went for the original ghost-player option. And in the early running Dirk was looking pretty good, but Andrew scored big for his wonders and guilds, overcoming a scrappy military and blue-buildings score. Before we added up the sciences - the last addition in scoring - I was on a measly 18 points! But my whopping 36points for green buildings took me just far enough to claim a win...

Sam 54
Andrew 53
Dirk 25

We wrapped up with Gobblet Gobblers, the game of flex-noughts and crosses. It looks so simple but you really do have to give each move serious thought, as your noughts/crosses (Gobblers) can be both placed or moved to any adjacent spot... and additionally big Gobblers can jump on small ones. It's possible to do the latter and find you've forgotten your opponent's Gobbler was hidden underneath, gifting them an easy win... that happened once or twice.

We played several games and won a few each, before wrapping up for the weekend...

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Dad on Arrival

This Tuesday we congregated at Sam’s. Apart from myself and the host, there were Ian, Andy, Joe and – making his first full appearance since becoming a father – Martin.

At the very beginning, Andy was still to arrive and Joe was too busy eating his roast chicken supper from a Tupperware container so the four of us were cajoled into the first game of the evening by an eager Martin.

It was Librium, a balancing game (which is why we had to play it before Andy got here) and it was apparently an impulse buy when Martin was in Cardiff earlier. It involves balancing interlocking credit cards on a tripod (“A tripod!” exclaimed Martin in awe). Winner is the last person who hasn’t caused a minor collapse.

1. Ian
2. Sam
3. Martin
4. Andrew

After this, with Andy present and Joe with both hands free, we played Diamonsters. It’s a very simple trick-taking game with two ways to win a round (and collect a jewel): Win cards that have a total of five or more diamonds on them, or win three of the same monster. We played until someone had two jewels.

The cards only number from 1 to 5, and since draws cancel out, there were plenty of occasions were people’s plans interfered with each other. It all seemed a bit random to me, but Ian appeared to have a better idea about what to do.

Ian 2 jewels
Sam 1 jewel
Andy, Joe, Martin, Andrew no jewels at all

As we were getting ready to play Diamonsters, Sam was occupied elsewhere when Sally came back. She popped in to say hello, saw Diamonsters and asked Joe if it was his new game. Joe was stumped for a reply. He didn’t know if Diamonsters was a surreptitious new purchase and if he said “No,” he might have landed Sam in hot water. But if it wasn’t and he said “Yes” then he would have been lying. And that’s not nice. In the end, he explained his hesitation and Sally laughed, impressed that Joe would consider taking a hit for the team.

Finally, before we split into two groups for the night’s main features, we all played Birds of a Feather. It’s become a favourite for a quick yet agonising game. And, for some reason, I keep forgetting to photograph it.

It was Sam’s and Martin’s first game, so Joe dealt out a dummy round to demonstrate. In this random example, Joe seemed to have played a terrible move, and Joe swiftly pointed that out in case anyone thought that he thought that playing the same card twice was a sensible thing to do.

Once we got going, the newbies seem to take to it fairly quickly. Andy, though, complained about his hand right at the start and his prediction was spot on.

Ian 35 (three locations completed!)
Martin 30
Sam 30
Andrew 29
Joe 26
Andy 20

Now we split into two groups and two new games were set up. At the far end, Sam, Ian and Martin played Origin. Nearer me (obviously) the rest of us played Cyclades.

Cyclades was a proper old-fashioned eurogame, and as Joe explained the rules it occurred to me that this was the most rule-heavy game I’d learnt in a while. The main mechanic of the game is the bidding. In a three-player game, we can bid on three gods. If someone bids higher then you have to change your bid to another god. I’ve seen this game mechanic before (can’t remember where) and it does rely on someone else really wanting to bid on a God that you don’t want so if you get bumped off your first bid, you will be bumped off your second bid and allowed to go back to your first. The bidding ends when each god has a bid on it.

Then these bids are paid, the actions carried out on the map and that’s more or less it. Apart from the mythological creatures who you can buy and use their powers to aid you.

It’s quite confrontational. Andy quickly replaced one of Joe’s ships with one of his own thanks to the mythical Sirens. And then thanks to Chimera, was able to use a card from the discard pile which, at that time, only contained Sirens, so Andy used Chimera, and then Sirens and replaced one of my ships with one of his.

But Joe had the final say, using Pegasus to transport an army across the map to attack my island with a metropolis on it. He won the battle and therefore got a second metropolis, ensuring the win. We ended the game there and then but we should have continued to the end of the round to see if Joe could hold on to that second metropolis.

I wasn’t bothered, though. I liked it, but it seemed to lack a certain something. Andy said that the bidding didn’t really work and perhaps it would’ve made more sense to be able to bid further up the track you’re already on instead of having to move to a different god. A quick look on the Geek confirmed that it was considered best with 4-5 players.

1. Joe, two metropolises
2. Andy, lots of armies
3. Andrew, not much left on the board

On the other half of the table, they had long finished Origin:

Martin 75
Ian 64
Sam 42

... and started a game of Ra. In this game, Martin was given free reign on the bidding track at the end with two bidding tiles in hand. Despite lots of monuments in play, Sam and Ian couldn’t close the gap.

Martin 62
Sam 39
Ian 29

After this, we dashed off two games of For Sale. Joe picked up the 1 card for free, insisting it was a solid card since you know what you’re going to get.

Martin 55
Sam 47
Andy 45
Ian 45
Andrew 35
Joe 35

And then, in the second game Martin fell foul of some big bids in the second half of the game as he played high cards and got poor returns.

Andy 54
Sam 46
Andrew 44
Ian 43
Joe 42
Martin 38

Martin slightly ruefully said he shouldn’t have played that last game, since otherwise it was a sterling performance with no sign of the drop in form that effected Sam and Adam after their babies. He, Ian and Andy all set off together.

But me, Sam and Joe stayed for one last game: Kodama. This is a simple card game where you build a tree, getting points for chaining together certain features (stars, caterpillars, mushrooms, etc) and also for fulfilling certain criteria for bonus points.

It was a pleasant and calming way to end the evening. I sped into a late win with my last round bonus card getting me thirty points.

Andrew 135
Sam 120
Joe 113

And with that, the evening was finally done and the GNN whiskey bought by Katy on my birthday was also finally finished off. Thanks, Katy!

On the Division, Ian rises to the top in points while Ben and Katy hold on to points ratio and the medal table respectively.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Sir Arthur Coal and Oil

This Tuesday, despite my best efforts at dawdling and checking my phone, I arrived early at Joe’s. His family were still in the kitchen eating, so I was escorted to the lounge. A rare treat, with its soft furnishings and lovely view. Katy arrived soon after and she went straight to the window to pick out Bristol landmarks.

Before long, more of us had arrived and Joe decided there were enough of us to take over the kitchen.

The first game was Birds of a Feather, and there were seven of us: Joe, myself, Ben, Matt, Andy, Ian and Katy. Sam was making a last minute dash to the off-licence while we played.

It was a nice warm-up to the evening. Katy complained that she didn’t know what to do, but rejected any suggestion that she should go Dirk. I sailed to a comfortable win, having completed two sets of bird-spotting.

Andrew 28
Ben 21
Matt 20
Joe 20
Katy 19
Andy 19
Ian 18

Then Sam returned and we split into two groups. The evening began as an all Japanese affair, with one half of the table hosting Takashi Ishida’s Magical Athlete, and the other half featuring the Japan-based Tokaido, by 7 Wonders designer Antoine Bauza. And if that weren’t Japanese enough for you, I was on the Sake this evening.

Tokaido features the players travelling from Kyoto to Tokyo, stopping off at inns along the way, and also visiting temples, painting panoramas, buying souvenirs. These all give you points, and at the end of the game, there are bonuses for those how did the most of a particular activity.

The four pieces plod along the road, with the furthest back always the next player to go. This means that simply shooting off into a big lead is pointless, as you simply won’t move again until you’re overtaken.

Katy, Ben, Joe and Andy played Magical Athlete. Ben asked to play this solely based on the picture on the box. He must’ve been disappointed by the under-designed dirt brown track that the races would take place on.

Ian, Sam, Matt and myself went for Tokaido and, apart from Matt getting confused over what colour he’d chosen, it was quite a serene occasion. I was so serene that I let myself fall back into a distant last. Sam went big on souvenirs and the eternally skint artist, Ian, picked up lots of bonus points for panoramas.

Sam 80
Matt 72
Ian 67
Andrew 64

Luckily, Magical Athlete ended at the same time as Tokaido.

Ben 11
Joe 9
Andy 8
Katy 4

So with the eight of us together again, we were able to reshuffle the groups. We split into two groups of four again. This time Katy, Ian, Sam and Matt chose Riff Raff while Joe, me, Andy and Ben played Isle of Trains.

Isle of Trains is a card game not dissimilar to Impulse in that the cards serve a number of functions: as parts of the train, as money to buy new parts and – if you rotate them – they become goods (timber, coal or oil) that you can load onto trains. And here’s the trick: loading goods onto other players’ trains gets you a bonus (more cards, an extra action etc). Once your train has enough, you can make a delivery, either to the discard pile (and then pick up more cards) or by picking up a card in the centre for points.

It’s all quite simple once you got going. Joe never upgraded his engine above the basic level, whereas I did, and I had a caboose to boost the pulling power. Ben upgraded to a level three engine pretty early on. Andy had trouble getting the cards he wanted, at one point having a hand containing only three level one engine cards.

Ben 49
Joe 46
Andy 45
Andrew 40

By the time we’d ended, Riff Raff had long since finished....

Katy 0
Matt 3
Ian 7
Sam 9

... and they’d begun on Africana. Obviously, this evening was going to be an epic. I was too distracted to really appreciate what went on in Africana, but I did notice a couple of moments where players got confused about which colour they were.

To entertain ourselves, we four had a game of For Sale using Joe’s newly bought copy from Italy. The cards were nice and big, and the illustrations clearer. But it’s the same old For Sale that we know and love.

Andrew 77
Andy 59
Ben 58
Joe 51

During this game, Ben found a packet of Skittles in his jacket pocket! Oh, how I wish I lead a life where things like that might happen to me. We all shared in a late-night sugar rush. They were all very welcome except that Katy said she didn't like the orange or purple ones. Insanity.

Then we discovered that Ben had missed his bus, so we played once more while Africana reached its closing stages.

Andrew 60
Ben 59
Joe 58
Andy 47

When Africana finished, it was another win for Katy.

Katy 47
Sam 46
Ian 33
Matt 32

And with the time creeping past 11.30, we were away. What a night! Thanks to Joe for hosting, and to his patient family for letting us turf them out of their kitchen.

The Division makes its first appearance of the season, and after two weeks Katy has the lead in Points and the medal table, while Ben leads on Points Ratio.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Bad Tibiria! Naughty Tibiria!

Saturday games at Sam’s. Ian and I arrived at 7 for a quick run through some games with Sam’s kids. Spyfall, Cardline and Riff Riff were squeezed into something like half an hour. Cardline is the only game that needs an introduction: it’s basically Timeline but with Marvel super heroes and instead of years, you have to place the cards on the table according to statistics: either intelligence, strength or something else.

I did badly, not recognising anyone on the cards and, for some reason, Joe didn't do well either. Ian won the game, showing just how much of his youth he spent immersed in the world of super heroes.

Stanley won Riff Riff thanks to his technique of calmly putting things on the boat without really thinking about it.

After this, the boys went to bed and we decided what to play. We knew Chris was en route and I mentioned he’d be keen to play Caverna. Sam wanted something a little shorter, so we considered others. But when Chris turned up, the ill-disguised excitement he displayed when Caverna was mentioned meant we couldn’t turn him down.

We unpacked as quickly as possible and got Cavernaing. I got off to a flier, being the first to get a new family member. But Sam soon overtook me in the baby business, eventually ending the game with a family of six. He also got some choice bonuses, as did I. Ian went ruby mining in a big way while Chris went down the vegetable route.

We all ran into trouble early on as one harvest followed another and we struggled to feed our families while trying to plan for the future.

The game was notable for me getting in people’s way. It seemed no matter what I did, I had ruined someone else’s plan. I apologised but secretly I was quite happy about it.

Chris complained about too many inefficient moves and Ian was last to expand his family. As such, despite some high scoring bonus rooms, they came third and fourth. And everyone completed their farms and caves, which I was impressed by. I didn’t note the scores, but it was something like:

Sam 80something
Andrew 70something
Ian 65
Chris 63

Then we packed it away. After Thursday’s debacle with leaving an essential part of Railways of the World unpacked, Sam was keen to double check. And, indeed, the lid came off and went back on again twice as we found stray parts of the game (including, shamefully, part of the playing board!). Finally, we got it all away, and Sam picked the box up to take it into the next room.

And in doing so, uncovered yet another counter from the game!

Well, with Caverna finally packed away, we moved on to lighter fare: Tsuro. And what a game it was. All four of us were still alive and fighting with only five spaces left on the board. Impressive. Then, like dominoes, we all died one by one as our last tile inevitably finished us off.


Finally, Sam dug out Sumeria, the game of meeple placement and movement that effects a city’s standing. Move into an area, that area shuffles up on the list, with only the top three cities scoring any rewards per round. It’s a short game. At least Sam thought it was. Then he saw that the rules suggested six rounds. We played three.

I think Sam won. Then Ian, then me. I know Chris came last, because he commented on his evening of fourth places as we packed up to leave. Than made it easy to remember, at least.

Friday, 8 April 2016


It was just myself (Sam) and Andrew at my place for our semi-regular Thursday gaming. I mooted some biggies - Caverna, Eclipse... but maybe still worn down from his cough, Andrew didn't bite. Instead we began with Battle Line, Reiner Knizia's classic and slightly poker-esque game of combat.

Eight pieces (flags) are laid in a row across the table, and players are dealt a hand of seven troop cards. These have a value of between 1 and 10 and come in six colours. On your turn you simply play a card in front of a flag of your choosing, then pick up a card. Once both sides have played three cards to a flag, armies are compared and the strongest claims the flag. The strength of the army is where the poker similarity comes in, with straight flushes beating three of a kind beating flushes beating straights beating card-high.

As soon as someone wins five flags (or three adjacent) they win the game instantly. And added to the troop cards are the tactics cards, which mix in some rule-breaking or bending. They can turn a flag in your favour, but obviously if you're picking up tactics cards that's one less troop card in your hand. Very clever, very Knizia-y. Andrew's first play too, and he liked it. I claimed two narrow wins.

Next we broke out Railways of the World, and set up Mexico. I decided to throw caution to the wind in terms of bonds and just plough ahead whenever I took a fancy to bid, build, or upgrade. As a result I surged into what looked to me an insurmountable lead - I was up in the twenties with Andrew back on four points. I had fifteen bonds, but Andrew had nine. Surely this was a done deal.

But back Andrew came, steadily shipping goods and picking up points from me courtesy of his two trade depots. Before I knew what was happening he was in the lead, and still had fewer bonds. At this point Andrew - he realized later - should have done everything to end the game, to complete a most unlikely comeback. But Mexico continued to see a lot of railroad activity, and as Andrew's shipping options ran out my more powerful train delivered goods across the western seaboard, shunting me back into the lead. We ended with me on 19 bonds and Andrew 18. We both completed our Barons (most track; most money) and the game ended with me safely ahead again. I didn't note the scores, I think it was 48-56 or something.

Packing Railways away, we both noted how easily everything seemed to fit in the box. "We're so experienced now" Andrew remarked. Being a regular discoverer of random games elements on Wednesday mornings, I looked around the kitchen nervously. "Have we missed anything?" I said, but it appeared we hadn't. Our putting away of the game was almost as successful as our playing of it. More so, in a way.

It was just gone 10pm now so we wanted something short and sweet to wrap things up. I brought out the hit of the Highlands holiday (Stan and Joe both love it) Gobblet Gobblers. This is a twist on noughts and crosses that looks like plastic tat but is actually a rather strategic challenge. Your goal is to get three of your 'Gobblers' in a row, but any Gobbler that has been placed on the 'board' can also move to adjacent squares. And because they come in three sizes, larger ones can jump onto smaller ones and effectively take their place.

As well as placing and movement, there's also a memory element of remembering what's underneath bigger Gobblers, as once you lift one up you have to move it. In one game that's no challenge, but in several, played after a few glasses of wine... it is.

We won a few games each and then called time. Andrew headed off and I inserted Railways back into the cupboard, stopping once again to sigh contentedly at the collection. Maybe I've reached some kind of inner peace, having foregone the current maths trade and elected not to buy anything from the games shop in Glasgow, after an extended period of obsessing over finding and playing new games.

Back in the kitchen, I spotted the bag of cubes from Railways on the table.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The lesser spotted Martin

With the usual bloggers unable to make the regular Tuesday games it seemed to fall to me (Ian) to write something and keep track of scores. So here it is; if this entry seems a bit more shambolic than usual, that is why,

Katy, Andy and I arrived at Hannah and Adam's at 7.30, and after the usual discussion about what we to play we decided to start with Celestia. Adam said he hadn't played it before, so Andy explained the simple rules and we prepared to sail off into the sky.
But then there was a knocking at the door, and it was Martin! With a tiny human strapped to his chest, making this baby Effie's first appearance at gamesnight. Martin remarked that somebody had given her first boardgame already.
It was a fairly standard game of Celestia; including a few rounds where our intrepid Captain was defeated by a single chicken. The scores ended up thus:

Adam 61
Ian 55
Katy + Marting 48
Andy 35
Hannah 32

Whilst Martin pondered if he could stay for another game, Effie started to awake, effectively making the decision for him. After bidding her and Martin adieu, we settled on a game of Fauna. Katy remarked that Hannah always wins Fauna, and after a couple of rounds this seemed a likely outcome.
With that in mind, the general strategy seemed to be "see where Hannah plays, then try and go adjacent". One round featured the yellow-spotted rock hyrax, which saw people expend cubes making estimated guesses at it's location; the Rocky Mountains, The Tibetan Plateau and Australia were all chosen, the later possibly because the yellow-spotted rock hyrax's Latin name is the Heterohyrax brucei.

Only when we had depleted our cubes did Hannah start placing her location cubes in the otherwise untouched Eastern Africa locations. She was correct, of course, and as predicted, Hannah won easily:

Hannah 116
Katy 76
Adam and Andy 57
Ian 40

Looking for some quicker games, we settled on Why First? I do enjoy this game, but it's rather silly. Adam took an early lead with 6 points, and Andy and I followed with 1 point each. As you have to come second to win, that meant that Andy and I were winning. But then Katy scored 3 points, putting her in the winning second position going into the final round.
The final score was this:

Ian and Adam 6 points
Katy 3 points
Andy 1 point
Hannah 0 points

But as the points in Why First? don't equate to winning, the final result comes out as this:

1st. Katy 
2nd. Andy  (closest to the winning score)
Joint 3rd. Ian, Adam + Hannah (all equally far away from the winning score)

Still having time for another game, we turned to No Thanks. I have to admit I can't remember much about the game; it was enjoyable as ever but specific details elude me. Coincidentally, I accepted Katy's offer of gin around this time.

I did note down the scores, however:

Katy 31
Andy 41
Hannah 46
Adam 43
Ian 48

After  No Thanks, Katy departed to get the last train home and Hannah retired to bed, leaving me, Adam and Andy to play a quick game of Raj. As with No Thanks, I'm afraid I can't remember the finer details, other than me and Andy picking the same card three  times in a row.
The end result came out as:

Andy 49
Adam 41
Ian 36

Thanks to Adam and Hannah for hosting and thanks to everyone else. I hope this report wasn't too painful to read; hopefully service will be back to normal next week!