Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Who calls Wallace at 1am?

Andrew, Chris, Ian and I gathered at my house last night for some bank holiday gaming. Little Joe joined us at the start of the evening for a couple of games of Insider, which has been the hit of our household these past few days. Joe isn't as into games as Stan is, but like Spyfall he enjoys this one.

For those who've not yet played it, in Insider one person is the Master, who knows what the secret word is. Everyone else is trying to guess it - except the Insider also knows what the word is. Nobody knows who the Insider is, but it's their job to make sure the word gets guessed inside 3 minutes, without giving away they know it already. Our first word didn't get guessed, and Chris was revealed as the Insider. In the second game, I was the Insider - and I thought I'd done a pretty good job of steering us toward the secret word (advertisement). But clearly I hadn't, as despite some healthy debate, everyone pointed at me!

It was now time for Joe to go to bed, so the rest of us went and perused the Alcove of Infamy. I proposed a system of everyone choosing two games as a shortlist, but that proved unnecessary when someone suggested Railways of the World. All debate evaporated and we set up.

Chris needed a quick refresher of the rules, which we did collectively. Then the fun began. It was a game of much standing up - heightened tension for some, or simply in order to see the other end of the board for others. Ian went a bond-heavy route early on, and swiftly regretted it. Andrew and he started laying track in the wide open plains of the mid-west, whilst Chris and I fought it out on the jumbly East Coast. I managed to deliver the first goods cube, and get the bonus for four different goods. Andrew delivered the first good over three links.

Chris busily built around the Tri-State area. I stayed involved but decided not to get into a fight over any longest routes, instead building further south with an eye on the Jacksonville service bounty. Andrew and Ian seemed to be fixated on Chicago, and Ian's bond-heavy start was now lingering in the air like Marley's ghost. As the rest of us chugged along the scoretrack and took delivery of cash, Ian was back near the start picking up the odd grand, paying the odd grand and once having to take a bond during income.

As the game continued my good early start waned as Chris made delivery after delivery and overhauled me, building a ten point lead, and then more. Andrew's strong mid-game dropped off and he and Ian became involved in what would be a fight for third place that was complicated by Andrew building not one, but two western links! Every time Andrew delivered cubes from them though, Ian seemed to benefit from the new goods cropping up in Chicago.

As Chris and I pushed ahead on the scoretrack though, our income was dropping, and this Knizian element led Andrew into a recurring motif about Reiner phoning Martin Wallace in the middle of the night to suggest tweaks to his game designs. Poor Wallace got into all kinds of trouble with his wife.

Meanwhile Chris' lead was building. He insisted I was going to catch him, but with the game only a round or two from finishing, I wasn't convinced that my shipping options would be enough. Instead I embarked on something that had been at the back of my mind for the last few rounds - a long-distance New York to Kansas link. Fate smiled on me in that the first couple of links I built gave me obvious shipping rewards, so it didn't look too suspicious. Then in the very last round I spent all three turns building a nine-hex link to complete the route, with the others unable to block me. The twenty point haul took me narrowly into the lead - I was pleased with this haul, especially as we'd only witness Adam achieve it before - and we all agreed that there was every possibility he is a robot.

But then Chris shipped again, finishing the game in front!

In a tense finale once bonds were counted up Chris was two points in front. However, as the only person to complete their Baron card, I won it at the death!

Sam 115
Chris 111
Andrew 72
Ian 58

It had been a beast in every sense, with the time fast approaching 11pm. But we were keen for a another game and I was drunk enough to pour Andrew some saki whilst he was in the loo to stop him going home. I was also drunk enough to refer to it as 'scampi' when he returned - but a game of Magic Maze soon sobered me up.

In this madcap mayhem all the players control all the pieces - adventurers trying to pull off a heist in a fantasy shopping mall. There are three catches - one is that each player can only move each adventurer in a certain direction (or do a certain special move). The second is that the game is against the clock - you only have three minutes on the timer, although certain spots on the board allow you to flip the timer over at opportune moments. The third is that the game is played in near-silence, so if someone is failing to spot a move, all you can do is tap/bang/wave the Do Something piece in front of them, as a prompt. There are no turns, so everyone is scrambling to move something when an objective is obvious - and alternatively staring in stumped confusion when it isn't.

We played twice, failing abysmally in the first attempt, but succeeding - albeit with a little cheating - in the second. It's a hard game not to cheat at!

Reaction was mixed, with Andrew and I big fans (Stan loves it too) but Ian finding it too "energetic". But maybe he was just jaded from his Railways experience. Chris isn't a fan of co-ops but seemed to like it okay.

And with the maze back in its box we called time on proceedings. Until tonight!


  1. Nice write up Sam. I didn't mind the Magic Maze. If I'm going to play a co-op I much prefer it if there is a timer. Also in this game you are always involved by doing your action and looking for others. The no speaking element stops the primary co-op issue of quarterbacking.

    I also did my Baron in railways but it was in game as I achieved the level 6 engine first. It was a nicely feigned move to Kansas though, didn't expect that. Plus that one rule confusion over urbanisation benefitted me a handful of extra points I shouldn't of had.... Enjoyable game!

    1. it's not a Sam write-up unless I forget something!

      yeah I love Railways. And Magic Maze was great too.

  2. Mmmm, nice Railways write-up Sam - makes me want to play!

    And when you eventually get a game design published, it must be called Certina. Whatever it is actually about.

    1. I think I was correcting typos as you posted Joe, so if anyone is confused it's how my fingers tend to type 'certain'

    2. Ah yes - I have several signature mis-spellings. Invocie, firends - particularly embarrassing when I'm invoicing friends...

  3. Cheers Sam and all. Railways got off to a bad start for me. The lure of the perfect engineering (or whatever it was called) card meant I over bid right at the start. And then having bought the card I felt obliged to build a 5-long link.

    Doing so racked me up a rather silly amount of bonds early on, which resulted in my first income round being negative. From that point on I was consistently $1 short, having to acquire more bonds.

    Andrew's great western link was, well, not exactly a life saver as I was to far gone, but at least it meant I caught up on the points track however briefly.

    Magic Maze was okay. In another, less tired, mood I can imagine I'd enjoy. Not so much the game being too energetic, rather me feeling too lethargic and sleepy

  4. Great to get RotW back on the table, even if my twin Western link tactic helped Ian more than it did me. Maybe I would've played better if I hadn't been distracted by images of midnight phone calls between Knizia and Wallace, and I was perhaps a little too pleased with my new slogan of "Go for history!" when trying to get Ian's spirits up.