Saturday, 18 February 2017

Double Ore / Nothing

Last night we broke out the game that "started it all" - Settlers of Catan. Back in the mists of time this was, at one point, the only game I ever played - having been introduced to it by Chris. I introduced it to Joe many years later, and the rest of Joe's downstairs alcove is history.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The evening began much earlier, with just Andrew and myself facing off over herb gardens in Herbaceous, the game that crosses Biblios with Cottage Garden. The rules are very simple - on your turn, you may pot (moving herbs from gardens into pots) and then you must plant: flipping over two herb cards, putting one in your private garden and one in the community garden.

Everyone has four pots they are trying to fill (all the same/all different/pairs/three of any type, including the special herbs) and when you pot, you can take the cards from your own and/or the community garden - so there's a bit of push your luck: hoping nobody will grab what you'd like for yourself, and hoping you don't pot a herb only to flip over cards that would have helped you. Also, if you pot special herbs 1, 2 and 3, you get a biscuit.

No, I don't know either - but it's worth five points.

Sam 61
Andrew 54

And with Ben and Ian still en route, we played again:

Andrew 56
Sam 54

Then Ben arrived, and we played as a three. He took to it pretty well:

Ben 55
Sam 49
Andrew 37

Ian also turned up during the game, so it was time to think about what to play as a four. Panamax had been floated (by me) but also vetoed (by me) as I wasn't sure I was familiar enough with the game to facilitate a four-hander. After some rumination, we settled on Black Orchestra, the game of co-operative assassination attempts. Ben and Ian took on Wehrmacht roles, I was part of the Abwehr, and Andrew was a civilian.


The game began with a air of mild menace, but nothing too dramatic had happened when everything suddenly went terribly wrong. With three of us at Extreme Suspicion (- if the Gestapo raid, you are arrested) Andrew took efforts to lower his own suspicion score to medium. Then Ian, on the subsequent turn, decided to conspire: it went badly wrong, and Andrew (in the same location) saw his suspicion go back to Extreme in an instant. It was the equivalent of handing Andrew a fizzing cartoon bomb, and then running out the door.

Then the Gestapo turned up! All of us but Ben were arrested, and when Ben came to spring us from jail, he was arrested too. Game over, and Ian couldn't apologise enough.


Or not enough for Andrew, anyway, who kept mentioning his error during our next game: Quantum.

Ben was new to this as well, so Andrew and Ian talked him through the rules while I had a call with the absent family. When I returned, we were ready to go, and as it often the case in Quantum, we all got a cube down within our first two turns. After that, it turned dark. Ian and Ben both homed in on my ships and I was blown off the board. Whilst that melee was taking place, Andrew was making hay elsewhere, establishing a cube lead and getting four ships on the board, clustered together.

Dick moves began in earnest. Ian somehow ended up with 3 value three ships, which for whatever reason he decided not to change, but instead embark on a galaxy-wide marathon relay of moving and warping, to get one ship miles from the others. Ben pulled off the move of the game with a two-cube-placement, getting one down via his ships then another through dominance.

I played a sneaky game which was sort of dictated to me by the cards - I could construct from corners, deploy anywhere on the board, and best of all, I was Resourceful: if I removed a ship from the board, I got an additional action. This meant it was hard for the others to predict what I would do, and I nabbed the win:

Sam 0 cubes
Andrew/Ben 2 cubes left
Ian 3 cubes left

We returned Quantum to its box, and as it was only just gone nine, decided to introduce Ian to Settlers! The rules explanation took about 90 seconds, and we were off.

It was nice to revisit from a nostalgic point of view, but I must say we felt the age of the game now. So many turns were an exercise in rolling dice, not getting anything, then passing them on (the blog post title comes from what Andrew / and I picked up every time a six was rolled.)

Gotta love Ian's optimism!

I spent much of the early part of the game either cursing the dice for not rolling 8's, or cursing the others for putting the robber on my 8. As with Quantum, Andrew's blue pieces looked to be in a strong position: as Ben grabbed the largest army and Ian and I fought over the longest road, he spread himself over the island and picked up the odd development card - at one point he was on nine points and just needed a Chapel or University to win. But he got a soldier instead, and I - to my literal surprise, as I thought I'd reached nine points myself - snuck the win from under him:

Sam 10
Andrew 9
Ben 7
Ian 4

Ben called it a night, and - unable to find Push It in the cupboard (despite the recent purge!) - we finished off with Love Letter. It was a slightly chaotic Love Letter, with all of us making basic errors. But Andrew saw off belated challenges from Ian and I to claim the win:

Andrew 3
Ian 2
Sam 1

Herbs, Nazis, Spaceships and Renaissance Romance. A lovely way to start the weekend.


  1. Settlers!

    I'll bring Circus Train on Tuesday. It sounds a bit like a cross between Colosseum and Railroad Tycoon. With dice.

    1. There are dice in Circus Train?

    2. Ah, cool. Just checking that it was the right game that I was looking at. Sounds intriguing, so I'd definitely be up for that.

    3. Cool. It may be a little random for you, but no complaining ;)

    4. I don't mind a bit of random... though it does tend to induce swearing, of course.

  2. Herbacious was nice and gentle with two. A bit more panicky with three. Black Orchestra was a farce. Funny, but cruel.

    Settlers was interesting to revisit. Ben was amazed at the old style of the game: I didn't even know it had been repackaged. I was entertained by Ian's attempt at monopolizing the 2 tile (I added a pic) and I was only slightly frustrated by falling short at the last minute. So, yeah. Not bad.