Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Bumped out of Bedford

This Tuesday was the first of the winter cold enough to require a hat, and as I walked Sam's under a starry sky, I wondered if there would be eight of us and would Joe bring Captain Sonar. There weren't eight of us and Joe did bring Captain Sonar. We suggested playing it with seven but Joe wouldn't be swayed. It was eight or nothing.

On my arrival (and Katy's arrival too), Sam and Martin were looking at Super Vampire, a physical game where the active player wears a slightly dubious black plastic prosthetic finger, using it to nudge a counter around a cardboard maze type thing held above the table by four towers. The fingered player is trying to get garlic and bring it back safely to their tower. But they have a time limit: the amount of time it takes the other players to roll six dice, one at a time, so they're all showing suns. It's all crazy knockabout fun , but we only had enough for a brief demonstration from Sam before Joe and Ben arrived.

The six of us split into two groups of three for some short gamage until Ian was due in half an hour or so. We chose two new games, the first was Jamaica (prompting banter like "My wife and I played a board game the other day." "Jamaica?"...) which is a game that involves pirates racing around an island for money and treasure. This was the option for Joe, Sam and Katy. Me and Ben were cajoled into playing another of Martin's recent acquisitions, Fresh Fish.

Put as simply as possible, Fresh Fish involves building businesses with as short a road as you can. Except you're not allowed to place the roads. These spring into existence according to a confusing rule set that insists that every area is accessible by road. Thus, when an area gets a bit crowded, they start popping up, often in plots of land already reserved by other players for future development.

Far from being about fresh fish, it's mostly about town planning. Martin seemed very happy with how different it was, and I grant it that much: I can't think of another game that ticks this box, trying to act as shepherds, pushing the road into areas that will inconvenience your opponents. It requires a lot of forward planning which was impossible given our lack of experience.

Halfway through the game, we realized we'd made a mistake in road placement, which had a domino effect across an area of the board. Very disheartening. Martin didn't seem to bothered, though, clocking up a negative score for a clear win.

Martin -5
Ben 19
Andrew 21

An interesting game, but I can't say I actually enjoyed it.

Jamaica began with Katy running away with it, while later on Sam started running away with it until, at game end, Katy asked me to note down that Sam had stolen all her money.

Sam 32
Joe 14
Katy 12

Since we were still Fresh Fishing, they played a game of Super Vampire. I was too wrapped up in my game to pay it much mind, but it did get a noise warning from non-gamers in the Sam household so it must've been quite exciting.

Sam 5
Joe 2
Katy 0

Reactions were mixed. Sam loved it, while Joe said he might like it if he'd designed it.
At this point, Ian arrived from work, with perfect timing. I'm not sure I greeted him properly when he arrived, so I'll do it now: Hello, Ian.

We split again into a three and a four. Martin, Joe and I played Isle of Skye (Martin's first go), while Sam, Ben, Ian and Katy played Lancaster. However, Katy made a last minute request to switch to join us in IoS, but Joe was unsure of the logistics, so she stayed in Feudal England.

It was around this time that talk somehow turned to "What is the average in a score of one to ten?" Katy said it was seven, since if people see 7/10, they assume it must be only alright. I follow the example set by Edge magazine, and say that five is an average score. Martin showed his statistical background by saying his average was six, and the scores are normally distributed.

Isle of Skye was fun, with slot of plans apparently ruined by other players buying their tiles. I ended up with a lot of money again, but it was more beneficial this time, pushing me into second. Nothing could stop Joe and his collection of scroll tiles.

Joe 70
Andrew 62
Martin 53

Joe's winning island

Martin was unconvinced by how much you needed to be aware of to play the game, and Joe insisted that he hardly took any notice of what the other players were doing, unless a particular time was priced highly and only then would he check.

Lancaster was still in full swing, with players threatening to bump each other out of Bedford and Sam telling Katy to stop moaning because she was in the lead, so we had a bit of a rematch with Ra.

I was quite happy at the end if the first epoch, as I had two pairs of monuments. I spent the rest of the game expectantly waiting for the rest of to come out, netting me lots of points. It was a futile wait.

My barely-scoring monuments

Martin was last in the epoch twice, and both times got hit by the last Ra tile before he could profit. Joe, meanwhile, serenely glided to the win. It was never in doubt.

Joe 58
Martin 29
Andrew 27

Lancaster ended around this time, with the scores at:

Ben 72
Katy 56
Sam 53
Ian 52

At this point, the majority of us set off for home. Ian and Sam weren't quite done yet, and they squeezed out a game of Biblios.

Sam 10
Ian 6

As for the division, little has changed. Joe has taken a healthy chunk out of Katy's lead, but she still looks pretty safe.


  1. Fresh Fish was the most interesting game I've tried in a while but I can certainly see that it's not for everyone. Conversely, I can see why Isle of Skye is popular but it's not my thing. Ra is just brilliant though and everyone should love it!

  2. I think it was Joe who stole Katy's doubloons, but it was me telling her to be quiet in Lancaster- sorry Katy, very rude of me!

    It was a funny night as all the games I introduced people to seemed to go down rather badly, so I ended up with a blend of disappointment and guilt. Kind of how a murderer feels in jail, I imagine. Except more drunk.

  3. It certainly wasn't your fault Sam, I for one was feeling rather odd and so any new games were bound to be challenge! There's always next week...

  4. Very lovely night Sam - no need to feel concerned on my behalf. I'm not sure I'm crazy about race games... or pirates, is all.
    Isle of Skye and Ra are both brilliant, though.