Friday, 30 September 2016

Feld of Dreams

Thursday rolled around with seven-day inevitability, like the next phase of the moon. And Andrew and I debated what to play... we both felt a bit Euro-y, so straight-up combat was out. I suggested La Granja, but Andrew didn't bite. Maybe that's too Euro-y... instead we went for our perennial two-player favourite, Macao.

Many Feld fans seem to think this is his dud, but I like the fact that - unlike Castles of Burgundy, say - the theme is tangible. I like the way it combines that dry engine-building stuff with the chance-based dice wheel - which admittedly isn't remotely thematic, but I suppose you could argue it represents fate - the best-laid plans, and all that...

In this instance I didn't really have a plan. As usual I played by the seat of my pants, especially at the start where Andrew was choosing his cards before me. I took cards that were easy to activate - specfically, cards that allowed me to trade in violet, green and grey cubes for gold. But the seat of my pants wore pretty thin as for the second half of the game I was picking up mostly blue and red cubes, meaning my activated cards did nothing except stand around and watch me flail.

thanks to As a Board Gamer

In contrast Andrew had built some kind of Heath-Robinson Macao machine, where cards triggered cards and he seemed awash in cubes and money. Despite my nabbing the first player spot and, at one point, building a 12 point lead, Andrew surged past me during the 11th round, and surged again in end-game scoring, courtesy of a long chain of ownership in the city. I didn't jot down the scores, but it was something like

Andrew 85
Sam 65

We didn't debate the next game for long - Take It Easy is another fave and, abandoning the recent meme of calling themes, we returned to the rhyming couplets of old. Andrew was far more creative in this regard, although I can't recall too many specific calls Bertie Mee was definitely involved. I found myself unable to break away from the fact that 'four' rhymes with 'door' so a third of my calls involved visitors knocking or pressing bells.

I began with a decent 167 and followed it up with 154 to give me a solid score, but Andrew's first round deficit was obliterated by his best round ever of 204 (I think) and he claimed the win:

Andrew 356
Sam 321

And as Finn was finally dislodged from Andrew's lap, we called it a night.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

That end of term feeling

Tonight was the final evening of the most sparsely populated GNN season for a long time. For some reason, it had a knockabout craziness to it, perhaps because we were not battling until the final seconds over a hard-fought title, but instead watching me stroll over the finish line thanks to attendance alone.

We (Sam, me, Joe, Ian and Katy) began with Sam’s boys, Joe and Stan, indulging in a couple of rounds of Codemasters with pictures. I didn’t note the scores, but I do remember Katy’s impudence in suggesting I’d made a mistake in giving my clue. Although the spymaster is supposed to stay silent, I couldn’t let this go unchallenged, and I reminded her to “never patronize the Spymaster.”

Then, while Sam put the boys to bed, we decided what the next game might be. Isle of Skye was almost our choice, but we decided it might be a bit much with five players and two newbies.

Instead we went for Fool’s Gold as a nice push-your-luck game that everyone knew. Before long, the sledging started, with Joe loudly questioning my tactics on my first move.

After the generous first round (except for me, who’d played quite badly as Joe had noted) the game got meaner and meaner. Gems were snatched from our hands by false alarm cards, and gold nuggets were replaced by card after card of silt.

It was close at the end, with Ian beating Joe beating Katy on a tie-breaker.

Ian 26
Joe 26
Katy 26
Andrew 23
Sam 21

After this, Sam introduced us to Om Nom Nom, the simple game of trying to eat things without being eaten yourself. A load of dice decide how much of the lower two links in the food chain are available to eat and then the players decide which cards they want to play in order to eat those things. The clever bit is that everyone has a card from the uppermost link in the food chain. So, if you think “ah, there’s lots of flies, I’ll play my frog” then there’s probably someone else around the table who had already thought of that, and will play their hedgehog to eat your frog.

Doing things that no one else is doing seems to be a good strategy. I got lucky in round one, scoring 16 points while my nearest rival had but three. It was too big a gap to bridge. Meanwhile, Joe, with one point after two rounds decided to go Dirk for the third and final round. Dirk did better than Joe did.

Andrew 24
Ian 18
Sam 10
Katy 9
Joe 3

It was still early, and Joe had come to the realisation that you can keep drinking Budweiser and never get drunk. The games continued with Magician’s Night, the glow-in-the-dark game of pushing things towards other things.

Charging up our magicians

Since it’s only a four player, Joe decided to sit out the first game. There then followed a, shall we say, full and frank discussion about what Joe might be doing in the dark while we play. Sam claimed that there was a bit mid-game where the lights suddenly come on, in case Joe got any ideas.

As for the game, once we’d remembered how to set it up, Sam won.

After this, Joe played and Sam sat it out, with a win for Katy.

Since there are no placings, it can’t be leaderboard, but it was a lot of fun.

Next up, much to Katy’s despair, was Skull. She insisted that she didn’t like it and we insisted that she did. Or would, once she got the hang of it.

During the game, people kept coming up a cropper on Ian’s skull. However, he himself won no actual hands of his own, leaving him in last place.

1. Andrew, 1 flip, 3 tiles left
2= Katy, 1 flip
2= Sam, 1 flip
2= Joe, 1 flip
3. Ian, no flips

Finally, the played Pairs, as whiskey and Jaegermeister were brought down from the high shelf. Pairs was as Pairs is: blueberries killed off Ian and Sam. Joe didn’t score at all after round two. There was controversy near the end of the game when Katy, in first place, twisted for the match and Sam accidentally drew two cards. The card he initially showed was okay for Katy, but he took it back and played it again with the right card showing, which bust her. She complained, have briefly thought she’d won, but Sam was firm on the rules.

However, she only had to play safe in the next round and wait for enough people to go bust to win.

Katy 22
Andrew 18
Ian 16
Sam 12
Joe 8

Which ends the season! Congrats to me for my win in Points, and to Katy for the Medal Table, and to Adam for Points Ratio.

Friday, 23 September 2016

And that's how you play Viticulture

Thursday evening at my house is a pretty regular thing, and normally it's just myself, Andrew and Ian. We stopped bothering everyone else as they all appear to have other things going on. But as Adam had recently contacted me about his gaming yearnings, I let him know it was on, just in case - and he turned up! How we warmly embraced him upon arrival! How we wished he'd stayed home just an hour or so later!

Adam hadn't seen the games cupboard/wall in a good while and was suitably impressed/unnerved. There were many games there he hadn't played, but with Andrew and I hankering mildly for Viticulture (Ian was absent), Adam was more than amenable.

And he was all yellow

"Nothing happens for the first hour" I pontificated sagely. "And then it all speeds up at the end"

Forty-five minutes later, Adam had established a ten point lead, and was surging toward the finish line. Andrew and I were having Cheltenham Road flashbacks, to the time when GNN was nearly renamed Adam Wins News, so regularly did he trounce us at everything we played. The two of us had started in a kind of knuckle-cracking, couple-of-press-ups fashion as we shook off the cobwebs of the day: not so much putting our ducks in a row, as noticing that we had ducks and going "Ooooh! ducks!". We'd forgotten that Adam is not a man to stand around idly admiring poultry, and by the end of the first year he had planted grapes, harvested them, and was eyeing up a growing stack of orders in his hand. I'd sown a single field, sold another, and Andrew was preparing to show round a bunch of visitors.


I would like to add here for the record that we did help Adam in the early stages: suggesting what cards to begin with, to take that extra worker, and so on. We were marking out our own graves! The creeping custard had slid into the house at half eight - by the time we'd warmly embraced, opened our brews, explained Viticulture, played Viticulture and packed Viticulture away in a stunned daze, it was a night-is-young ten past ten.

How does he do it?

"How do you do it?" Andrew asked him. Adam said he tried to only ever take an option on the board if he got the bonus with it. Can it really be that simple? I hope not. I'd be disappointed in both the game, and Adam. 

Adam 21
Andrew  15
Sam 12

So we played Cosmic Run. This is mine and Andrew's new favorite filler: a race for points as meteors barrel their way past you and you befriend and exploit mathematically-minded aliens. Andrew went the card route; regularly picking up little helpers. I ignored them until the end, trying to force the pace by racing up the planet tracks. Adam did a little of both... it was tight in the end, so tight that Andrew realized if he'd played his last turn differently he would have won by at least 4 points. But he didn't!

Sam 59
Andrew 58
Adam 48

Adam still had half a glass of wine, so I suggested the ten-minute game of predation: Om Nom Nom. But by the time I'd explained the rules - which took about 30 seconds - I realized I was too tired to play. We called it a night. Great to have the slinking tapioca back at the table!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

You know where you are with a one

Tuesday’s at Sam’s brought a collection of gamers in from the balmy September evening. We were eventually seven, but while we waited for Hollie, six of us bashed out a game of For Sale.

During the opening round I only got a bunch of middling cards to use in round two, so I can’t complain about my middling position. Even the iconic 1 card in my hand didn’t help. Ian had the 30 card, and used it immediately to nab $15,000. He wondered if he might have overpaid for it, as everyone else went low that round.

Andy $55,000
Matt $49,000
Joe $42,000
Andrew $41,000
Sam $37,000
Ian $33,000

By the end of this, Hollie had arrived and while she and Sam talked about animation, everyone else decided what they wanted to play. As it was, Joe, Andy, Ian and Matt chose Isle of Skye, while I joined up with Hollie and Sam.

We looked at the games cupboard, although games section-of-wall might be more appropriate now. When asked, Hollie said she felt like something sci-fi-ish, which left our choices a bit limited. If only she’d said “engine-building with a vague medieval European theme pasted over the top” we’d have had no end of possibilities.

In the end I pushed for Quantum as being shorter than Eclipse or Ascending Empires, and longer than Cosmic Run and less silly that Galaxy Truckers. However, I’d forgotten how complicated it can seem on its first play. Hollie was more or less guided through her first two moves by Sam. He even suggested that she attack him if he thought it was the right move.

But there’s no denying Sam mastery at the game as he suddenly won the game by putting down one cube, getting a card that increased dominance enough that he was able to put a second (and his last cube) down.

Sam 5
Hollie 3
Andrew 3

Isle of Skye remains a mystery to me, and I was aware of people complaining about tiles and money, but little else. The game ended:

Ian 78
Joe 74
Matt 73
Andy 72

At our end of the table, we began a game of Cosmic Run. More dice, but less confrontation, with fate being the meanest opponent. It was all about avoiding the minus points at the bottom of the planet tracks, mostly. Other than that, Hollie and I used the previously untried crystal method. It works pretty well.

Andrew 72
Sam 66
Hollie 66

While we played Cosmic Run, the other four played Money, the cunning Knizia game. Was Andy distracted by his overwhelming sense of deja-vu? He kept mentioning a niggling memory that he’d played it before. The scores were fascinating. Ian was pleased with his 500 points (more than twice his previous score) but was in for a rude awakening.

Joe 810
Matt 530
Andy 520
Ian 500

All except Joe had a full set of a currency, while Joe had most of one, and some scoring sets from others. Last time we played, there were five players. I suppose with one less, there’s more opportunity to diversify.

Now, we were all together for a rousing game of 6nimmt. Andy set off home and Hollie preferred to watch. The remaining five suffered through a tough first round, followed by a second round in which Joe manfully took all the hits for the rest of us. In the third and final round, Matt picked up a cornucopia of cows, while Ian’s clear round almost saw him steal the win.

Sam 30
Ian 33
Andrew 35
Matt 53
Joe 76

And as we head toward the last week of this sparsely populated season, I top the table in points, Adam has points ratio and Katy still has the medal table, even though she’s not been here in weeks.

Oh, and the title’s a bit tenuous, but I did notice that in tonight’s games, several had an important (if sometimes illusory) role for the one: For Sale, Quantum, Cosmic Run and (sort of) 6nimmt. One: it’s a number you can trust.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Imperial Mint

On Saturday, Ian, Andrew and I found ourselves at Chris' house. Whilst the children played Minecraft we opted for a more combative affair - Chris's recent purchase: Imperial Settlers.

The box cover has a slightly Super-Mario-esque character on it that suggests a friendly family-type game, but the contents told a different story. Each player begins with a small, book-mark shaped board that is divided into three: production, feature, and action. Over the five rounds of the game, you'll pick up production at the start of the round, and use it to build cards: more production is more production, feature is a whenever you do X, get Y element, and action is a kind of cashing in: either on the card, or potentially other people.

Because for all that Imperial Settlers is a very Euro-y engine-builder, it has high screwage potential. Everyone starts each round with a raze token, and that can be used to either raze a card from your hand, or (if you have two raze tokens) a card somebody else has built! You get a reward for doing so, but razes aren't the only combative element. Ian's saboteur card let him steal resources form opponent, something he did with alarming regularity to Chris (alarming at least until we discovered we only get to use our cards once per round - after we discovered that, he just stole from Chris once per round)

Also, there are two types of cards: your bespoke deck (I was Egyptian, Ian Barbarian, Chris and Andrew Roman and... something else?) which once built is impervious to raiding, and the common deck, which can be targeted but are much cheaper to build.

My ongoing aversion to text on cards meant I was never going to fall in love with it, but it's a clever design and if you like a bit of engine-building mixed with some roughhouse tactics, it would scratch an itch.

Sam wins

Didn't write down the scores, but I think that's correct...

We followed this with the new palette-cleanser of choice: Cosmic Run! Roll dice, get your ships up to the planets as fast as you can (before they explode!), but don't forget those Alien Cards. I can't remember who won. Andrew? Me? Great game, though.

Finally we bashed out a quick game of Push It. I don't remember who won that either (Chris?) but I do know it wasn't me: I was stuck on zero points for quite a while, then one point, and I think I finished on a baggy, saggy, draggy three points! A new low?

Andrew and Ian made their way back to Bristol and Chris and I settled down to watch Match of the Day. What a night! Thanks chaps!

Friday, 16 September 2016

Cosmic Man

Tonight's blog title is named for Andrew, who so nearly pulled off a hat-trick off impressive wins.

We began with Cosmic Run, designed by Biblios Man Steve Finn. Unlike the GNN favourite filler, there's no hidden knowledge here, and - as yet- no shit-eating. But there's a fair bit of luck-pushing, as everyone tries to push their ships up 5 planet tracks before the planets themselves get blown apart by meteors.

Mix in some tech and alien abilities and it might sound like it's getting complicated, but it was actually super-simple. It was also fast, furious, and fun, and Andrew claimed his first victory of the evening, managing to twice get himself up the track on the hard-to-please number 5 planet by rolling five of a kind:

Andrew 61
Sam 60
Ian 38

There was some crazy talk of playing Railways before we settled on the equally-crazy Viticulture, the crazy game of high-tension booze production. Everyone sold a field! We began playing to the manner born, but although Ian's winery attracted many visitors, they pissed on the presses and puked in the cellar. No engine-building for you, as the boardgame nazi might say.

Whilst I built a small but diligently productive winery, Andrew concentrated on filling some big orders. In the end, they took him to a superlative victory as he obliterated the scoreboard on a high-drama final round:

Andrew 26
Sam 25
Ian 6

We finished with Push It. Could Andrew make it a clean sweep? It was a close game, with the scores at 9-9-8 at one stage - but ultimately, no:

Sam 11
Ian 10
Andrew 8

That was that!

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Money, money, money

Tuesday evening, and as the clouds slid across the full moon in a school-exercise-book-blue sky, six eager gamers congregated at Joe’s place for their weekly fix. Tonight’s leaderboard games all had a strong money theme to them, hence the blog title.

But first, we were all suitably impressed by Joe’s very own bespoke GNN money, for use in games that can only manage cheap plastic tokens. Very nice they are too.

Apart from Joe, we included Ben, Ian, Martin, Adam, and myself. But at the start, Adam was absent and not expected for another half an hour. We banged out a game of Reiner Knizia’s Money: a set collecting game of foreign currency. This is a typically clever game of balancing risk and reward.

It’s hard to describe quickly, but for the most part, players are bidding for one group out of two sets of four cards/money in the middle of the table. They bid with cards/money in their hands, and the person who put down the highest value of money/cards shown gets first pick. But (and this is the clever bit) they might chose another set of cards used as a bid by another player, if those cards make a set in his hand.

This means that one the one hand, you’re trying to gauge how much to bid on a particular hand, but you also don’t want to give away certain cards and then again might be keen to get rid of other cards. It’s all very clever.

At the end, you score points for collecting over 100 of any denomination, or points for collecting all three 30s or 20s in a particular denomination. Ben and Joe managed to collect ALL cards of a certain currency. Well done them.

Joe 550
Ben 530
Martin 400
Andrew 370
Ian 200

Then Adam arrived, exactly when he said he would, and with six players and no Sam we got out I’m The Boss. This game of wheeler-dealering and annoying interruptions from the other players is a rarity on GNN, but always a noteworthy event when it happens. Joe kindly brought out his shuffling machine to help with recycling the discard pile, and very convenient it was, too. Mostly.

This time, amongst all the fraught negotiations, the most notable event was the infinite Wadsworths: where Adam played a card representing the Wadsworth family and no matter how many “Wadsworth on holiday” cards Ian played, Adam always seemed to have one more Wadsworth card left.

Also noteworthy is how long the random end of the game lasts. Usually, it is decided by the roll of a die once a game reaches a certain point, but for some reason the die didn’t want to play ball and the game kept going for several rounds longer than expected. Martin was appalled as he saw his strong position weakened as deals were made when he could barely participate. It helped me, though, as I was able to take advantage of the general lack of cards and wrap up a couple of last minute deals to push me out of what I suspect was a miserable last place. None of this could distract from genial Joe’s negotiation skills.

Joe $54m
Adam $49m
Ben $36m
Andrew $35m
Martin $29m
Ian $26m

Then we broke out a bit of Team Play, the only non-leaderboard game of the evening. No one swapped seats, so it was Ben and Ian versus Martin and Andrew versus Joe and Adam. Martin and I got off to a slow start thanks to my frustration over trying to get a full house. Before we knew it we were 7-7-5 mission cards behind. But then, thanks to a bit of luck (or because of some great TEAM PLAY!) Martin was able to clear two mission cards in one go and before we knew it, he triggered the end of the game.

Andrew & Martin 29
Joe & Adam 27
Ben & Ian 26

Then it was back to the leaderboard for a final game of For Sale. This canny game of bid then re-bid is always welcome at GNN, and the more (up to six) the merrier.

The bidding for houses was monopolized early on by Adam until he ran out of money. I saved money by ducking out of a bun-fight for middling cards by picking up a one card for nothing. And, as Joe says, you know where you are with a one, so it’s not such a bad deal.

In the end I won, although I must sort of apologise to Martin: it took me so long to count up my winnings that he thought he’d won.

Andrew 55,000
Martin 50,000
Ian 49,000
Ben 39,000
Adam 32,000
Joe 30,000

A satisfying end to an evening. It was still semi-early, but an offer of another game was turned down by three players with babies/buses to deal with. And so it ended there. Another glowing chapter in GNN history comes to a close.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Glass Houses

Last night Ian, Andrew and I (Sam) sat down around the table reading through the rules of Glass Road, an (allegedly) light game compared to the designers' previous form with the likes of Agricola, Caverna, etc. And in truth it is lighter - or briefer, at least - but whereas in the other games mentioned you get a sense of process - I'm digging a field, to plant my vegetables in - Glass Road felt altogether more overtly an abstract engine-builder with a pasted-on theme. At least, it did to me. But more of that in a moment...

my board. Will probably chop those trees down. 

Each player begins with their own player board representing the area they want to develop. We are ostensibly glass-blowers in Bavaria, but we also like to make bricks, eat food, and dig ponds. Or fill them in. It depends.

The game progresses through card play that reminded me slightly of Broom Service - in that game, if anyone else has played the same card you have, you get nothing if you've tried to be brave (play cowardly for a minimal reward either way). Here, you get two actions if no-one else has a matching card in their hand, but only one if they do (opponents who have the same card get one action as well).

pay a water, get two food, or one food per lake. Or both.

The actions generate resources for you, which in turn allow you to buy buildings. Buildings come in three types: process (usable for the rest of the game at any time) instant reward buildings for a one-off injection of something (like a brick, maybe) and end-game buildings for point-scoring.

cost to build on the left, reward in the middle, end-game points top-right

Two things make the game more interesting than it sounds above - one is the cardplay, where you can try and second-guess opponents in order to minimize the impact of their cards - and in turn, generate a bonus action for yourself. The other are the productionwheels that measure your resources: you'll see in the picture a needle (two needles, actually, fixed together in that position) that will turn whenever the two spaces ahead of them are empty. When this happens, you'll lose some of your generic resources (wood, food, charcoal, etc) but generate the precious glass and brick, which are needed to build buildings with.

when I get some charcoal, I'll make a brick

The overall experience for me didn't have anything like the more-ish flavour I get from Caverna, and I was very aware of the mechanics of Glass Road throughout. But the wheel aspect is clever and the card-play I found screwy, but less shitty than Broom Service. It's a very quick game too; even allowing for do-overs (me) and pregnant pauses (Ian) and cats getting in the way of certain players (Andrew) we zipped through the four building rounds pretty fast.

Andrew's generous decision to let me re-choose a card I'd fundamentally misunderstood (doing himself out of a free action in the process) was a game-saver, and not one I'd expect him to repeat. We also let Ian score one of his buildings incorrectly as he hadn't followed the rule when he built it. So despite the scores, the moral victory is Andrews!

Sam 20
Ian 19 and a half
Andrew 15 and a half

I do like a game that scores half-points.

With Glass Road packed away there was a mixture of slight deflation and curiosity piqued. I'd like to try it again, for sure.

Nobody was in the mood for more rules so we finished with an old favourite - Take it Easy. We debated what themes to call and nearly didn't bother at all. But it felt wrong to abandon tradition so casually, so we went for generic calls: I did musical instruments, Andrew 80's video games, and Ian animals. There was mention of a domesticated Narwal at one stage, but on the whole it was remarkably unsilly.

I pulled off what I think *might* be a record as well, scoring 224 in the final round.

Sam 500
Ian 380
Andrew 337

my 224 in progress...

And with that, another Thursday night's gaming concluded.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

I love sky

This week’s GNN was a peculiar affair, with people promising their attendance at staggered stages throughout the evening.

And so it was that three of us began with Age of War, pleased in our choice because it can be abandoned halfway if any arrives without any real loss. This game of dice-rolling is as cruel as it is generous. Since the game involves rolling sets of archers/daimoes/swords/cavalry to collect sets of cards, we were all a little preoccupied with the card that was basically a set of one (and so couldn’t be stolen) but eventually, we saw sense and tried to get other, easier cards.

Sam 11
Ian 9
Andrew 5

Then Matt arrived!

With a returneee, Hollie, expected soon, we embarked on a short co-operative game to fill the time. We chose Outfoxed as a clever means of testing our sleuthing skills. Sam explained most of the rules, insisting that by the time the game got round to him, he’d know what was going on. This did not take into account Sam and I’s poor luck with the dice. All Matt got to see was Ian successfully getting a clue that the culprit didn’t have an umbrella.

After some more poor throws, we got a sort of groove on and picked up more clues and eliminated more suspects. But in the end, we had to chose someone we could see as our suspect. We chose Daisy, but it turned out to be Gertrude! That evil wench!

Then, with Hollie still absent, we chose 7 Wonders as a nice deep-but-short game. Usually there are only three of us playing so the game just falls out of the box with all the cards arranged for a three-player game. But today there were four, which mean a certain amount of confused card-shuffling as we searched for the four-player cards to include in the game.

Mostly, this went smoothly until the third round when, after two deals, the cards didn’tdeal out evenly. So we tried once more and it still didn’t. But then everyone announced how many guilds they had, and we had one too many, so Ian (who had eight cards) had to discard his guild. Harsh but fair, that’s us.

However, the game ran swiftly, so that Hollie (who arrived mid-game, in time to see our round 3 debacle) didn’t have to wait long.

Ian went for military and blue buildings in a big way. I went for my lovely 20-point Pyramids of Giza and a bit of everything else. Matt got most out of guilds and, like Sam, dabbled in sciences. Sam scored most for money. Ian won: War plus ostentatious public buildings equals win in any era of history.

Ian 60
Andrew 52
Matt 49
Sam 39

So now there were five of us, with the promise of a sixth (Joe) in the offing. So we played No Thanks, which we thought was about the right time for Joe to get from his house to Sam’s.

Before the game, I was mocked for my strategy of picking up low cards, but this time I avoided it to good result. Although I didn’t have much choice: there weren’t many low cards at all. Instead I played it slow and steady, with only two card piles in front of me by the end of the game and so I came away a winner.

Andrew 18
Matt 24
Ian 25
Hollie 28
Sam 40

After this, Joe arrived and we split into two groups of three. At one end of the table, Joe, Sam and Matt played Isle of Skye, and at the other end me, Ian and Hollie chose Raj.

It was an even game, with only a few of those hilarious occasions of two people cancelling each other out. Hollie won the final round by some distance, going from last to first as she did.

Hollie 51
Andrew 44
Ian 43

Isle of Skye was still unfinished, so we broke out Pickomino (making sure that Hollie was told it was by Reiner Knizia – a name she'll come to recognise if she becomes a regular). We all began well but then the early glut of worms dried up. At least, it did for me.

Hollie 11
Ian 9
Andrew 4

Finally, Isle of Skye ended. Joe said it was “neat”. I'm not sure what it's like, but I took notes of some dialogue from the game: “Ah, bollocks, really?” “Fuck you!” and “Oh God, that's so annoying.” Sounds like fun, certainly.

Joe 83
Matt 71
Sam 63

Then we were all together as a six. Hollie fought off sleep for a game of Dead Man's Chest. Matt was Chief Executioner here, as he had a hand in knocking out Sam, then Joe, then Hollie and finally me. But Ian was made of sterner stuff as he successfully challenged Matt's bid, giving him the win.

1. Ian
2. Matt
3. Andrew
4. Hollie
5. Joe
6. Sam

And with that, we were done. Another week of history fulfilled.

Friday, 2 September 2016

This one goes up to twelve

Thursday night, and Andrew and I surveyed the cupboard with both of us looking to play something reasonably hefty. When Andrew pointed out that we are - pretty much - the only people at GNN who are enthusiastic about Macao, our minds were made up. And fortunately, for the somewhat thinly-stretched meme of numbering the blog posts right now, it plays over twelve rounds.

once, it was oh so different

So we began! Claiming city quarters, grabbing goods and (eventually) shipping them to distant climes. For those hazy on the workings of Macao, you're collecting cubes to spend in future rounds, and the cubes can be spent in a variety of ways. Taking controlling of a city quarter (and picking up goods in the process), moving your ship (to deliver said goods) or moving along the wall (starting player/tie-breaker). Most crucially though, you're spending cubes to get cards off your tableau: cards on your tableau do nothing except cost you points at the game end, but once they're off they suddenly become useful. Finally if you generate gold you can pay 'tribute' and alchemically turn it into points...

How we approached the game was vastly different. Andrew took a number of easy-to-action office cards in order to get gold and claim points from the tribute track on a regular basis. He also had a card that allowed him to buy prestige twice per round (once is the norm)  but unfortunately he couldn't get it actioned until late in the game.

I went for some slightly harder-to-action cards that once out of my tableau bought me some good rewards, and stockpiled cubes to turn my ship into a kind of cargo-delivering speedboat on the final round. My strategy worked:

Sam 96
Andrew 47

With that old favourite tucked back in the cupboard we went for a two-player Codenames. Andrew began as spymaster and I - not for the first time - made a pretty miserable spy. Andrew's clue of "cupboard" should have alerted me to the word "game" at least, if not "centre", but having seen the word "amazon" out there, I couldn't shake famous children's novels from my mind and was convinced the clue related to Narnia in some way. We failed.

Swapping over was more successful. There were still a few bungled clues and/or guesses, but we defeated the insentient opposition by a comfortable three answers. There was just time for a bit of old-school PS4 (No Man's Sky!) before we called it a reasonably early night.