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.


  1. Lovely evening, and great photos too Andrew - you take a good pic. Matt looks like something from a Greek urn in one of them.
    Interesting that both those first games had long thin boards, perfect for 8 players on a round table. Is it a Japanese thing? I seem to remember Shogun has long thin board too...

  2. Yes it does! I like Tokaido, as Andrew says it's very gentle, easy to pick up and play and absolutely doesn't outstay it's welcome. (Minor point of procedure; you're travelling from Kyoto to Edo)

    Africana was a classic. Ian asserted from halfway through he was going to come last and came third - Katy asserted that I was wiping the floor with everyone so much that I believed it myself! Grrrrr... lovely night though.

  3. "you're travelling from Kyoto to Edo" Edo looks to be an interesting game that I really would like to get to the table soon!