Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Coppers and clowns

After last week's romantic interlude for many of our regulars, we were back to a full complement this Tuesday. Sam was hosting and Ian, Martin, Joe, Katy, Andy and myself were guesting.

When I arrived, there was a game of Fuji Flush already underway. It was a family affair, since Sam, his sons and his wife were among the competitors along with GNN regulars Ian, Martin and Katy. Even with the language toned down it was still plenty fierce. Katy won it, with her final card linking to a bunch of fives. With everyone else on one card, except Sally and the Sam & Joe team. There was also the matter of an early game of Herbacious in which Sam lost to both his sons, 49-49-47.

And now, with the young ones in bed, and other GNNers arriving, it was time for the juicy part: the games. Martin caused some surprise when he brought a game that lasted longer than 30 minutes. It was called Circus Train, and he'd mentioned it recently on the blog getting some interest so he brought it along.

The other game had also been written up for the blog, Copper Country. This was one of Sam's oft-considered-but-never-chosen games that he's working his way through.

We split into two: Martin, Andy, Joe and Katy played Circus Train while Ian, Sam and I chose Copper Country.

Since Copper Country has already been described in detail on GNN, I won't go over it again. I will say that I found it a very pedestrian affair. Very little spark and, apart from a small episode between Ian and Sam, not a great deal of interaction. I found myself repeating the same actions over and over with little joy to show for it.

At first I jealously looked over at Circus Train, with its Colosseum type theatricals and the many songs the players had come up with to accompany various aspects of the game.

But as our game headed towards a conclusion, they were still scrabbling together enough horses, human cannonballs and freaks to put on a show.

Copper Country came to a halt just as I was starting to see the point, and I was enjoying our grimly blasé attitude to dead miners. I thought Sam, with his early flurry of mining, had won it, but it turned out otherwise.

Ian 39
Andrew 37 (wins tie breaker)
Sam 37

The tie breaker was a new one: remove all your copper cards where miners died, and then calculate your score again. I didn't get it at first, but then I realised that penalising the player with the highest mortality rate probably made sense.

Since Circus Train was a long way from finishing, we got out Quantum. With three of us, we set up a tight nine-tile play area with lots of eights and nines to be won. Sam did not do well, spending the first three rounds with a resolutely low-value fleet of ships.

I got very lucky, rolling two fours for my starting fleet. Since they have the ability to change to three or five for free, I was able to put a cube down on a nine, then an eight, early on. I also got two good cards to aid me. The most important of which was one that allowed me to adjust one die up or down by one. In this game of small margins, that was pivotal.

As I became a clear leader, Ian found himself in a dilemma. Attack me, and prolong the game, possibly to Sam's benefit. Or attack Sam, effectively giving me the win but claiming second place for himself. He did the decent thing and went after me, although I snuck a win anyway with a nice move (deploy, free warp, then place cube) which I didn't see til the last moment.

Andrew 0 cubes left
Ian 2
Sam 2

Circus Train still hadn't ended, so we broke out Push It. First to seven.

Ian's propensity for scoring doubles continued at the start of this game. Meanwhile my recent poor form remained as well. In attempt at making things difficult for Ian, Sam tried knocking the jack towards Circus Train, but this just made the other players nervous, fearing that one of the many tiny game pieces might be dislodged.

In the end, it was not a successful ploy anyway.

Ian 7
Sam 4
Andrew 2

And by now, Circus Train had finally rolled into the terminus. As they counted up the scores, there was a dawning sense of amazement as to how close the scores were.

Andy 49
Joe 48 (wins tie breaker)
Martin 48
Katy 47

Katy was not a happy bunny. To end the game in last, after all that time and effort... As they packed away (a marathon effort in itself) she vowed to never play the game again.

Finally we were all back together so we decided to end on 6nimmt. As one of Katy's favourites, we were amazed that she complained. She said she was too exhausted for a game as stressful as 6nimmt. Her complaints fell on deaf ears, and we dealt her in.

After an early mix up when she picked up when she felt sure she was safe ("I can't even count to six!") she decided to go Dirk. And say what you like about our lovable imaginary friend, he doesn't usually play a winning game. Ian did, though. And Martin took great pride in being the only player to play a clear round.

Ian 13
Andy 28
Martin 32
Andrew 35
Sam 39
Joe 46
Katy 83

And so we were done. Good night all. Thanks for hosting Sam, and happy birthday. In the meantime, the Division is back to normal this week. Ian continues his march up the table.


  1. I hadn't realised that you were playing Copper Country, probably because I arrived after you had set the game up. I (surprise, surprise) have an unplayed copy of this (still in shrink) but sadly it doesn't sound like it will be getting played at a GNN session.

  2. I enjoyed Circus Train, but would prefer it to be a bit shorter. Though, as Martin pointed out, if wasn't much over two hours and that included rules explanation.

  3. Thanks Andrew. I definitely deserved to loose Circus Train, I'd done really badly during the first three quarters, but I did think that pulling off two two-week shows was pretty impressive, but alas... I felt it was too long and pieces too small, and as for us finishing within three points of each other after more than two hours.
    Ian's form appears to be going from strength to strength this season, mine not so much. Happy Birthday Sam and I'll practice my counting for next time.

  4. Yeah, it could do with being a bit shorter, and probably would be with a little practice. I thought it was good fun anyway.

  5. I think we were all a little underwhelmed by Copper Country. It could probably be played with more interaction once you're familiar with it, but it didn't really offer enough for that replay to happen, I imagine. Shame as there are some good things to it - I like the poor rock track and how that functions as a kind of chronology.

    Always enjoy Quantum, even when I roll diabolical numbers like that. Stan and I played it today and he pulled off a mega-turn where his research boosted three times (by being Brilliant) and he got a cube down twice by taking a Momentum card, then took another Momentum card... I watched in horror. Such a classic game.

  6. Circus Train was solid and I enjoyed my play of it, but I'm dubious about the very close scoring at the end. I think there's a lot more room for screwage than the way we played, which is probably how we should have played but we were being a bit polite - that I guess would have opened up the final scores. But it might have made it less fun.
    I liked the recycling cards.

    Happy birthday Sam! (For yesterday :-/)

    1. Thanks Joe. Nobody got me a game, so I bought one myself 😬

  7. Replies
    1. Holmes and Watson. Got Stan intrigued already and I know Andrew and Katy enjoy mystery games. It's like Sherlock Holmes, but not cooperative.

    2. If it's anything like Mystery in the Abbey, I'm game!

    3. There is deduction and note-taking. Might even be the odd monk - the game comes with 12 'stories', each one equating a game. But you only get one stab at cracking the mystery (three elements) if you get even one element wrong, you're out of the (relatively short!) game - although you are still involved as a source of info to the other players.