Wednesday, 14 December 2016

And whose fault is it you're here?

This week's official GNNing took place at Joe's - joining the host were Ben, Katy, Ian, Martin and myself (Sam). Martin was running a little late, so we began a game of Heckmeck/Pickonimo with the Extravurm expansion, where you can pick up extra (brat)worms and hire specialists to help you out. We were only ten minutes in when Martin rocked up, and he charitably joined us.

After Katy had mastered the art of rolling dice, the game moved reasonably quickly. But not quick enough. I don't think Extravurm was responsible because I recall this happening with the basic game - it can go on a bit. Luckily Martin was there to harass anyone who was applying any thought to their game. Ben and I were fighting it out for first for a while, before Joe and Martin swooped in on my bratworms, leaving me to share second with Ian:

Ben 9
Sam/Ian 7
Martin 4
Katy 2
Joe 1

Martin asserted that if he'd been there from the start, he would have won. But I think we'll stick with the final positions as they are.

Debate now broke out about what to play, with Joe keen on Jorvik and Katy getting excited over the chance to try out World's Fair 1893, the game of putting on exhibitions a century ago. Martin was pretty sure he would hate both of them, but I was surprised he went with the Feld game. While he, Joe and Ben began the intriguing bids (bid earlier: first choice, but progressively more expensive depending on how many others bid after you) myself Ian and Katy set up World's Fair 1893.

all the fun

This was reasonably accurately described by Martin as "a family friendly euro" and it's very neat and simple. The various exhibitions surround the ferris wheel, and on your turn you add a 'supporter' to any one area, and take the cards next to it. The game is then replenished with cards and the turns move on.

There are only three types of cards: Midway tickets to the ferris wheel (worth a coin, plus +2 coins if you have the most at the end of the round), Character cards (must be played on your next turn, giving you additional supporters) and Exhibition cards, which you can turn into points as long as they are accepted into the exhibition. And they get accepted through the strength of your supporters in the various areas; at the end of every round majorities here get both points and the option to submit their ideas (cards) into the exhibition.

Ian bemoaned his game for the first round, before completely obliterating us in the next two. Katy's strong start faded slightly, as I managed to sneak past her via my strong showing on tickets. But Ian's prestige at the show was by far the best; picking up heaps of points for his exhibition:

Ian 87
Sam 71
Katy 60

meanwhile, in Jorvik...

They were still playing Jorvik, so Katy convinced Ian and I to play Land Unter. It was now Katy's turn to complain about the game and subsequently win it, as we passed around what I think could reasonably be described as a great hand, a so-so hand, and a diabolical one. After two rounds I was leading, but I didn't play the so-so hand very well in the third, and drowned:

Katy 8
Sam 6
Ian 3

I'm not really sure how I feel about Land Unter. It's like 6Nimmt, but somehow 6Nimmt just feels more fun to me.

Jorvik was still playing and Martin was scratching his head a lot.

Martin, sans trick-taking

So we played Las Vegas. I announced I was going to complain about losing in order to win, but unfortunately this strategy failed me.


After taking the most cash in the first round, I picked up absolutely bugger all in the next two in a game of many many ties - in round two I think we threw practically all the money away.

Ian $320k
Katy $180k
Sam $170k

Jorvik had finally ended!

Martin 53
Joe 52
Ben 36

Martin announced that he liked the bidding, but everything else was shit. Joe liked the game. Ben was diplomatically silent.

With all six players now available and hearing no protests, I dealt out the cards for Deception: Murder in Hong Kong. Normally I'm suspicious of games that utilise a colon in their name - as if the name itself isn't enough, they need a sub-header - but I'd heard good things about this fast-playing cross between Mysterium and Spyfall.

dancing bottle opener not included

All players have a secret role - one is the murderer, one is the forensic scientist, everyone else are the investigators. Apart from the forensic scientist, everybody is dealt 8 face-up cards in front of them: four possible murder weapons and four possible clues. Everyone closes their eyes and the murderer surreptitiously identifies to the forensic scientist which weapon they used, and which clue they left behind.

Katy's weapons and clues

Then the forensic scientist deals out some cards showing the location and circumstance of the murder. The scientist can't officially talk, but instead places a series of bullets on the cards that they hope will lead the investigators to identify the correct weapon/clue. The catch is, the cards can actually be misleading: in our game, Joe was the murderer and chose to kill using radiation poisoning and a syringe. But my cards asked me to identify how the murderer victim was dressed and what the location was: I chose 'elegant' and 'forest'  - but of course, if you're being poisoned, it doesn't have to be in a forest.

The investigators have 30 seconds each in each of the three rounds to solve the case: something Ian made Pinter-esque use of in round two, when all he managed to say was "hmmm". Certainly they had their suspicions of Joe, and accused him twice successfully identifying the weapon, but not the clue, and he made his escape!

Joe - wins.
Everyone else - doesn't.

Joe and I wanted to try it again but Martin had already played a Feld and he put his foot down. However, he was shortly to regret not keeping his veto dry... I popped to the loo as everyone agreed to play For Sale - but when I returned Ben was leaving, and For Sale had been replaced by Joe's game of - well, I'm not sure what it's a game of. It's called Catbox and is played by adding a card to a growing grid of cats in boxes. If the card you use has an empty box, you can cover a half of any card. If it doesn't you can only cover a quarter. Everyone has a secret identity of a particular coloured cat, and you're trying to create groups of matching cats.

cats in boxes

Unless you're the chiwawa, in which case you want to create groups of empty boxes.

It's a very weird game. It became obvious which identity everyone had (with the exception of Joe, who bluffed so well he was the chiwawa that he played himself into last place) and despite the fact that the rules are minimal, we kept getting them wrong.

Martin/Sam 27
Katy 25
Ian 24
Joe 22

I think I'm right in saying in everyone thought it was naff, although it was a more pleasurable experience than the actual catbox I have to manage at home. Even Joe, who desperately wanted to like it, seemed underwhelmed. So not a high spot of game design to end the night on, but an interesting experience all the same. Andrew - I hope - will add the leaderboard, but casting an eye over the results I'm sure Katy and Martin will be looking unassailable in their respective points/medals/ratio categories.

Oh, and the blog title relates to a discussion we had about the GNN family tree, which culminated with Martin asking who was responsible for Katy's presence. It was Adam.

Meanwhile, here's the Division with only one week left. Martin has surely sealed up the Points Ratio since he can't attend next week, and I doubt Katy's going to be caught either.


  1. Sorry, it was my turn to be grumpy.

    Heckmeck is a great game, but not for 6 players.

    I acceded to Jorvik because its predecessor Speicherstadt was an acceptable 45 minutes with a nice central mechanism. Didn't realise the additions in Jorvik would double the playtime (and not the fun).

    The whole hidden traitor/social deduction just seems to be Not My Thing. This felt like playing Codenames but with a rigid predefined vocabulary sucking out the creativity.

    And Cat Box was just bollocks ;)

  2. Ah I liked Deception. Not as good as Codenames, but for me preferable to Spyfall in that there's a set time limit. Looks great too.

    I enjoyed all the games last night but Catbox more for the collective disbelief than the game itself.

  3. Well, congratulations go to Adam from all at GNN for inviting me into the fold... if nothing else to make you all look "cool" by having a female in your regular ranks!

  4. I'm not sure us looking cool is actually possible.

  5. Thanks for the write-up Sam. Yeah, jeez, CatBox. I now think I may have confused it with Doggy Go, but I'm not going to risk that. It's not like any of the cards felt significantly different to one another, there didn't even seem to be any with two of the same cat on. Oh well.

    I liked Jorvik a lot, despite the griping of Brunhilda to my left :)
    Imagine a Feld game in length and saladdyness, but instead of having to learn any complex mechanics there's just an interesting and somewhat beastly auction each round. There were some subtleties that only began to reveal themselves towards the end of that game. I wanna play again!
    I thought Deception was ok, but not as fun as Spyfall - it seemed a bit more 'straight' - and had I known how it worked, I as the murderer would have picked a less specific method.

    Worlds Fair looked pretty - I'm a big fan of non-standard meeple colours.

    1. Yes, your method of death being slightly obvious was my fault Joe. I was trying to streamline the game with a kind of learn-as-you-play but obviously I should have explained that aspect first!

      That said I think we should try Deception again now we know it. It only takes 20 minutes and it has some things Spyfall doesn't - the time pressure on the investigators, and the challenge for the scientist to make some kind of sense out of their cards.

  6. Points-wise a bit of a disaster for me. Luckily I don't care for such things :) (mainly cos I don't understand them entirely). Katy, you need to lose lots of games at Adam and Hannah's next week, please.