Friday, 18 November 2016

Where there's a will

As Ben, Ian and I discussed events of the day suddenly lightening flashed, thunder boomed. Then the doorbell rang: it was Joe, soon followed by Chris, and finally a slightly damp-looking Andrew, who didn't escape the downpour. The rest of us wrapped up our game of Pairs as it stood (Chris won) and went into the front room to discuss options.

I kept mentioning Lancaster, but nobody seemed that interested. However, as the discussion slowly broke down into a kind of collective diffidence, I realized people were weakening: I pushed for Lancaster again, and managed to rope in Joe and Ian. Ben also returned to the kitchen, allowing Chris and Andrew to make the choice for the other game: they went with Castles of Burgundy.

I talked Joe and Ian through the rules of Lancaster, and we were off. Because the heart of the game is worker-placement/bumping, the finesse of it comes in the voting for laws: at the end of each round certain laws reward certain players, so how you spend your votes (you potentially have many) can be crucial. Ian and I didn't manage to prevent Joe from ushering in a 9point swing in his favour, as he was rewarded for battling the French in three different places. In the early rounds I decided against screwy moves, and in the later rounds I failed to stop myself making stupid ones: twice I voted the wrong way on something - after the first do-over, there was no excuses.

Joe sped off into the lead and stayed there. Ian and I battled for second, and during the final round I realized that the strength of my knights meant I was looking at third place - so it ended. I didn't jot down the scores, but Joe was miles ahead on the scoretrack and Ian a solid 8 points or so ahead of me. Joe didn't rate the game though, only being able to raise a shrug of indifference. Maybe it was too easy. Conversely Ian and I liked it; the hidden voting gives it a flavour that Waterdeep doesn't have.

Castles of Burgundy was still ongoing, so Joe dealt out the cards for Money. This was new to me, but the rules are simple enough, as long as you're no fool. I was a fool, however, and had misunderstood the scoring to the point where I was literally throwing away points during the game, allowing Joe to pick them up. He won with a thousand points; Ian had 870 and I - thinking I was about to pull off a debut win - had a measly 520. I wouldn't mind trying this again, but it did feel a little like a mechanic more than a game.

Castles of Burgundy was finally over, and Andrew had pulled off a solid win:

Andrew 186
Chris 166
Ben 129

And while Andrew headed off into the night, the rest of us played Not Alone, Joe's new game of alien predation/human survival. Joe took the role of the alien, trying to second-guess our human destinations as we roamed the planet, holding on until the rescue ship arrived.

It was a close thing at the end: we were staring up at the sky, waving excitedly at the rescue ship, when Joe stole in and sucked the will out of Ben in a gruesome end to the evening.


  1. I've woken up this morning, in classic fashion, feeling warmer towards Lancaster. I did enjoy the voting parts particularly, but there felt like very little of the promised bumping happened. Perhaps we were being too gentle, or perhaps with three players the losses made by going after another player don't stack up against the gains made by pursuing your own ends. It's quite point-saladdy, isn't it? Perhaps quite Feld-like is a less controversial way of putting it.

    Yeah sorry for the confusion over the scoring for Money - I was surprised to find myself able to pick up two full sets, though I did manage to do that last time we played too I think. I like the fast pace and enormous cards - it somehow manages to feel to me quite thematic to me. I might do some reading to se if anyone ever uses the bluff cards strategically. I think Ian's point that they might be occasionally strategically left out of your hand is probably on the money. Wahey!

    Lovely evening as ever.

  2. I dunno if I'd say it was a points salad - there's only three point scoring categories at game end. But I suppose the laws getting you points give it a slightly salady feel at times? We didn't do much bumping either, but the tension of bumping/not bumping was there - for me, anyway. I decided against it in the final round, because I didn't want any of my less-established knights kicked out of courts elsewhere... I'm sure there is a value in playing quite aggressively though, potentially forcing opponents to expend squires to get what they want.

    I think you explained Money fine, I just misunderstood it; thinking each suit was added up and then minus 100pts (if you don't have the whole suit) off your total, rather than the individual suit score. So I was thinking you guys would have some cards that would be minus points, whereas they were actually moot. And I was throwing away money that I could have got points for!

    Quite enjoyed Not Alone once I began to follow what was going on.

  3. Castles of Burgundy was a lot of fun. I'm impressed by how quickly Ben picked up the rules. Impressed and relieved since the 7% cider I bought went to my head quicker than I was expecting. He even pointed out when I should've scored an area. My winning tactic was to go for animals. Cows, specifically. I had a five-tile field of all cows. And as any farmer will tell you, that's worth a lot of points. Chris cleaned up on bonuses for finishing entire areas. I think he got four. Impressive stuff.

    At one point Chris might have got the bonus for getting a silverling with two workers for discarding a dice AND getting four workers for discarding a dice (ie, getting four workers and a silverling). Since sliverlings and workers are worth points, I worked out what his score would be if he just spent the rest of the game discarding dice and doing nothing else: he would've ended with 101 points. I got a bit obsessed by this, declaring it to be the score to beat if we wanted to prove ourselves at CoB. But then I bought the other bonus tile, so it was all academic anyway.

    Nice game.