Saturday, 29 December 2012

Viva la revolution(s)!

Christmas is a time of cheer and, if last night was anything to go by, also a time of intrigue, subterfuge and conspiracy. Six of us arrived at Sam's festively decorated kitchen for a special games night, complete with mince pies and a quiz. A quiz!

As I arrived, Quentin was setting up Eclipse. I assumed that an executive decision had been made, and that this would be tonight's main event. But others began to have doubts about the amount of time you'd need for six newbies to play it through. Also, when would we get to do the quiz? In the end, it was put away in favour of two three-players games. Something simpler that we're all familiar with. That was the plan, at least.

We began with a six-player game of Coup, which Joe had been name-dropping since his arrival. This is a simple game of bluff, as each player had two hidden cards and can make moves according to those cards. But, of course, you can pretend you have a different card and do something else. Someone then has to challenge you, and that's where the fun begins!

I had two pretty useless cards, and then I lost the slightly less useless one, leaving me with the Contessa. I just sat there, hoping someone would assassinate me so I could change my card. But the other players were more concerned with each other. Sam tried to assassinate people, but they insisted they had the Contessa and his assassin backed out, apologising and saying he must have the wrong house.

In the end, it was me (with six coins) and Quentin (with less than six). Quentin had no choice but to assassinate me. Thank God I still had the Contessa.

1. Andrew
2. Quentin
3. Joe
4. Sam
5. Adam
6. Hannah

Then there was the quiz! Sam put together some questions to see if we'd been paying attention during the past year or so. It was Joe "The Knowledge" and Quentin versus me, Adam and Hannah. We couldn't match Joe for the "Match the designer to the game" section, but we snuck past in our knowledge of GNN related trivia.

Adam, Hannah, Andrew 26
Joe, Quentin 25

Then we split into two factions. Hannah, Quentin and Sam played Lords of Waterdeep and me, Adam and Joe played Pax Porfiriana. It's a game by Phil Eklund, the same man who brought us the joys of High Frontier, and by all accounts he'd brought the same level of obsessive detail we saw before to revolutionary Mexico.

It was a bit of a hard slog, and not terribly intuitive at first (or even second) glance. The cards are packed with text, some of which has nothing to do with the game. Plus, it's very combatitive. Almost every card effects an opponent, but that may give them an Outrage point and actually do them some good. There are four different ways to win, and I wasn't sure how to achieve any of them. I was especially baffled when Joe said it was okay to attack yourself. I looked jealously across the table at the other group placating statues and raiding undermountains, while we were dealing with Mormon Lumber and the Democratic Chinese Exclusion Bill.

While I was impressed with the depth and how much game there is in the small box, there's no clear route to success. The best way to win is to try to topple the regime and hope everyone is too tired to put up a fight, which is how Adam won.

1. Adam
2. Joe & Andrew

Sam, however, may have less rosy memories of his time in Waterdeep. As I glanced over jealously, I couldn't help but notice that the three score tokens seemed to be quite some distance apart, with Quentin apparently languishing with barely ten points to his name. However, I soon learnt that he'd already been round the score track once and it was Sam who hadn't really got started. Hannah made a late dash for victory, but not enough to take first.

Quentin 166
Hannah 154
Sam 98

But a wounded Sam is an angry Sam (or, at least, slightly peeved), and he brought out his gaming muse, Biblios to play while we three struggled with "U.S. surplusing", whatever that is. It didn't let him down and pride was restored.

Sam 7
Hannah 6
Quentin 4

We ended with a couple of games of The Resistance. However, having just spread intrigue in Italy and tried to overthrow the government in Mexico, I was in no mood to zip into the future and do the same all over again. To my dismay, I was a spy both times. My tactic was to try and stay awake and hope that somehow the others would incriminate themselves. No such luck.

Game one:
Win to the resistance! Sam, Joe, Quentin, Adam
Spies: Andrew, Hannah

Game two:
Win to the resistance! Sam, Hannah, Quentin, Adam
Spies: Andrew, Joe

But that's life! Sometimes the good guys win after all. But for me, the major event of the evening was the look of horror and joy on our faces when we realised it's just one week until Stabcon 2013!

Next stop Stockport!! Woo hoo!!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

And then we played Biblios!

December 22nd 2012. What better way to celebrate the reprieved apocalypse than to play a game?

So that's what Andrew and I did. Three games, actually, all of which featured in our games of the year. We started with Castles of Burgundy, that dry yet gripping contest of castle-ground development by Stefan Feld. Dice were rolled, hexagons were shuffled, calculus was engaged. In the mid-game I felt I had a strong position, only for Andrew to belatedly start completing various areas and scoring enormous points. Fortunately, it wasn't quite enough to catch me.

Andrew: Let me tell you, never play Burgundy against a seasoned player after you've been explaining the rules to a novice the same afternoon. I was very slow off the starting blocks, while Sam picked off single hex areas for fun. I put all my eggs in one basket with my eight-square city and thanks to me getting starting player and the right building coming up at the same time, I was able to complete and reduce my deficit drastically. With my multipliers, I did wonder if I had enough, but it wasn't to be.

Triumverate of shit photos starts here

Sam 206
Andrew 201

Next up was Macao, by the same designer. It's a teeny bit less cerebral, but that's no bad thing to my clouded eyes, and the game followed a similar pattern. I began reasonably and in mid-game was feeling confident. But wait - here comes Andrew with his multiple card-laying strategems and action cube multipliers. Again, though, I'd done just enough to hold him off:

Sam played an... interesting game, quite unlike his usual style. He picked up cards that were difficult to complete, but gave nice bonuses if you did. And then he didn't get the right cards to trigger the bonus. But even with this, I wasn't able to overtake him. I enjoy this game but my main worry about Macao is that there only seems to be one way to win: buy lots of goods, and sell them. The bonus cards almost seemed like a tie-breaker. But maybe it's possible, once you get a chain of cards that work together. Possible, but difficult.


Sam 70
Andrew 65

It was barely half-nine so we poured ourselves some whisky and cracked open perrenial fave Biblios. This is probably the one game I have some pedigree in, yet it can still flummox everyone - or both of us, in this case. I was feeling confident come the count-up, only for Andrew to beat me (alphabetically) to the green die, and clinch the victory on colours:

Yes, my plan was to pick up as many book cards as possible, and avoid money but that soon fell through. Then I focused on browns, unaware that Sam wasn't collecting them at all. Spent a fair amount on them. Interestingly, with little information about what the other was collecting, instead of putting the dice-manipulators in the pile for the second half, we kept offering them at the start to see if that gave us any clues. I also kept an eye on the letters of cards as they were played, which I don't usually do, and that helped in the end. But a win's a win, whether you know how it happened or not.

slighty more interesting

Andrew 8 (wins on brown books)
Sam 8

Nice way to see in the new long count...

Thursday, 20 December 2012

How not to play boardgames.

So I checked the blog and it was about a month ago that the Bracknell three last played Puerto Rico and seeing as we had all stated that we wanted to play it again soon before we forgot the rules that's what we did. However we did forget the rules and after about five turns we collectively began to scour the board looking for ways to generate money. It didn't make sense, it was impossible, something wasn't right. Yes, it turns out that if you don't put dubloons on the roles you don't use each turn, the game is pretty much unplayable.

So what to do. A few half bottomed suggestions later we were starting again. Only this time when we started didn't set the plantation stacks up right. Nor did we set aside 55 colonists. There was still about 40 left when Paul suddenly realised. A quick tot up showed that we had gone 8 over. We ended the game right then and totalled up the scores. Even starting again did little for my score...

James - 38
Paul - 36
Chris - 19

It left an unsatisfactory taste in the mouth, (Unlike the Finest mince pies I bought) so we played Trans Europa to make up for it. Twice.

Paul - 1
James - 6
Chris - 13

Chris - 1
Paul - 8
James - 12

It wasn't until everybody left that I realised we had been doing the scoring the wrong way round. Not that it makes a difference really but still, not a good night for the rules!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Let it snow, let it snow, let it Snowdonia

Due to the vagaries of the Gregorian calendar, this year the final day of the season came round fully two weeks before the end of the month. With Christmas and New Year falling on a Tuesday, family and friends and festivities have curtailed the gaming for 2012. At least until our non-leaderboard Christmas special on the 28th.

We were expecting six on the final evening, but Adam texted saying he was ill, and as me, Sam and Joe were playing Biblios as a warm up we received a late cancellation from Steve and Anja. A real shame, especially as it meant we couldn't dislodge Steve from his perch atop the form table without some kind of miracle occurring.

Meanwhile, Biblios remains as intractable as ever, with Sam convinced throughout the game that he'd played it all wrong. Of course, he won.

1. Sam 7
2. Andrew 5 + brown cards
3. Joe 5

Then, since we were three, we decided to play a new game. Snowdonia is the game that Joe received in return for a trade with City of Horror. If nothing else, we were looking at a net gain, right?

Well, yes. This is a game very much in the style of Tinners' Trail or Village: worker placement to collect goods/do deeds/win end-game bonuses and finally build a railway all the way up to the peak of Mount Snowdon.

Near the start of the game. Most meeples still in the pub.

It was our first game and I wonder how much we understood. I was frustrated by Joe consistently playing a move that gave Sam a chance to grab starting player. Meanwhile, Sam hoarded goods for much of the start of the game, and I picked up bonuses and tried to make sure I completed them.

In the end, my doubts over Joe's strategy were unfounded as he won. Not by a little, but by a comfortable margin thanks to his 60+ bonuses, which neither Sam nor I saw coming at all. And for all our sound and fury, we rattled into the sidings at the top of Snowdon as empty vessels, joint second.

1. Joe 113
2= Sam 95
2= Andrew 95

Cubes on cards... Joe's favourite thing in the world

It was still relatively early, so we decided to break out the whiskey and end on Las Vegas, the gambley dice game that isn't Lords Of Vegas. In this, you roll a number of dice and then chose a value to place into a casino, hoping that at the end, you have the most dice in that casino so you can claim the money that was dealt out to it at the start at the game.

It's a cruel game, with ties cancelling each other out, and every player is given two dice which will act against them, so be careful which value you choose. I never got started, and soon found that I was being picked on by the two wheeler-dealers who mostly split the winnings amongst themselves.

1. Sam $540,000
2. Joe $470,000
3. Andrew $250,000

And so it ends! No more games for 2012, and we now receive the final judgement on our efforts to appease the gods of board games. On the form table, Steve stays in first place with Sam just falling short in second. Who knows, if his request for one last game this evening had been granted, he may have won.

Steve2 1 1 1 2 7
Sam1 2 1 2 2 8
Anja1 2 3 3 1 10
Joe2 1 3 3 1 10
Andrew3 2 2 1 3 11
Adam3 4 1 2 3 13
Hannah1 1 5 5517
Paul1 3 5 5519
Jon35 5 5523
Chris6 2 5 5523

As for the Q system, a late flurry of games means that Sam pushes himself into first place, ahead of Adam. And then me and Joe also barge past Adam too, just for good measure. Paul win on points ratio.

On the Olympic style leaderboard, the story is very similar. Adam, who lead for much of the season, is overhauled by his closest rivals packing in as many games as possible at the last minute. Sam nabs top spot here.

But before Adam loses all hope, allow me to introduce next season's scoring system. I'm afraid we'll be saying goodbye to the Q-system in favour of something that allows for the three main aspects of a win: number of players, length of time and size of win. As such, this new system uses Adam's method of transforming any score to a scale between zero (loser) and one (winner), and then multiplying that by the number of players, and then multiplying again by length of time in hours (according to boardgamegeek). This is, I think, the most accurate reflection of a gamer's worth and I say that despite coming last in points ratio. And congratulations to Adam and Hannah for winning this new scoring system.

And thanks to this new system, we're able to recognise the best performance of the season, which was Adam's victory over four of us in Game of Thrones, where none of us managed even half of his score. A remarkable acheivement that ranks alongside any overhead kick from the edge of the box into the corner of the net in the last minute of a World Cup game.

A bit.

Anyway, congrats to all our winners (namely Sam, Adam, Hannah and Paul, but we're all winners if we play board games, right?) and I hope to see you on the 28th!

Friday, 14 December 2012

Games of the Year 2012!

As another season ends, so does the calendar year, and what better a time could there be to revisit our favourite games and make loads of lists?

In mitigation, I was actually going to have a nap having finished a job, but an email communique is looking like extending through til tea-time, so I'll keep myself awake thinking about meeples...

Here are my top ten of 2012. They're not necessarily published this year, I've just played them for the first time, and enjoyed them.

10: Castles of Burgundy

I'm sure Joe will be taken aback that Castles of Burgundy only makes number ten (beating out Airlines Europe and Ys) but let's be clear, we have played A LOT of new games this year. Castles has got a delightful rolling mechanic and it's a joy to play - it's just a little long, and a little dry. I'm sure when I play it again I'll really enjoy it, it just doesn't have that pick-it-up factor.

9: The Resistance

(Edit) I did have Taj Mahal in here, but subsequently realised it didn't meet the 'first played in 2012' criteria. Instead in its place is The Resistance, the best fun you can have being totally confused, sneakily clandestine or just carelessly transparent.

8. Arkadia

It's not everyone's cup of tea, to be sure, but I have a real soft spot for this one. As well as managing resources you're also trying to read an ever-evolving puzzle on the board - spotting your own best moves, and hopefully hampering everyone else's. A gem.

7. Hab and Gut

This is a quirky little number, and despite it's very straightforward gameplay it makes the list because of the speed of play, the opportunity for manipulation and the canny mechanic of the 'shared knowledge' - each player knowing only so much about where the market is going, and having to anticipate/guess the rest.

6. Wallenstein/Shogun

Essentially the same game, so I've listed them together. It's a bit of a love-hate relationship with these two - they dominate an evening, and, if you get in a bad position at the start (with 5 players at least) that's three plus hours you spend on the back foot, as Adam found to his cost this week. But the mechanics are great, the tower adds some randomness, and every now and then it's nice to go full-on combat!

5. Africana

Mmmm, only played it twice, and latterly last night, so perhaps the fresh memory does the other games a disservice. But it's a very fast moving, lovely looking game, with various strands of strategy to follow or mix up together. With no score track it's nigh-on impossible to tell who's won until the count-up at the end, and I like that.

4. Downfall of Pompeii

What is this rarely-seen curio doing at number 4? Well, it's great for the following reasons: it's two games in one, there's planning but also luck (a lot of luck), it looks great and there's a big plastic volcano you can throw your opponents into.

3. Lords of Waterdeep

Into the top three and it was very hard to choose the order. What I love about Waterdeep, apart from the artwork and the colours and the mechanics - is the silly missions (Massage the Orb of the Thunderelves etc) and the fact it scales so well - great with anything from 2 to 5 players.

2. Biblios

What can one say about Biblios that hasn't been said? Nothing.

1. Macao

Okay, there are more interesting games out there - even on this post - from almost every gaming perspective you can think of. Aside from Macao's dice-rolling aspect - which is great - there's nothing to mark it out from heaps of other games in terms of theme or its other mechanics. But for me it blends those different things together really well, and whenever I open the doors of the games cupboard the spine of this box seems to shine brighter than the rest... to me, the replayability of a game is its real distinguishing mark, and (like Tinner's Trail) I'm always happy to play this.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

From Cornwall to Cape Town

Tonight was a chance for Joe to catch up after his non-attendance at Tuesday's meet. Me and he met at Sam's for a little extra-time games night. After a minimal amount of discussion, we found ourselves in a mood for Tinners' Trail. Speaking for myself, after City Of Horror and Wallenstein, I was keen for a game which I knew and which didn't require any bargaining with your opponents at all.

Joe focused most of his resources on two mines, while Sam fretted over having one less mine than the rest of us. I went for the Adam-esque tactic of not scoring in a round in order to build up my reserves for a big push next round. Unfortunately the push wasn't big enough, as all of us were stymied by a stubbornly low price on copper, and a lack of tin in our somewhat soggy mines.

But the high point was when Joe had to roll for tin and copper prices. He casually leaned over to his bag and pulled out his esteemed dice arena. He used it to roll the three dice and then put it back, and we never saw it again. A cameo to rank amongst the best, I think

The Dice Arena in action

Joe 100
Sam 96
Andrew 93

After this was a new game! Coup. This may be a French word, but the game is set in Italy. Except it's not really, since it's a simple game of bluff and has no real sense of anything Italian. Each player has two cards and is allowed to take actions according to whatever cards they have. But those cards are hidden, allowing a player to take an action of a particular card that they don't have. If someone suspects them, they can challenge them. The loser of the challenge loses one of their two cards. The winner is last man with a card.

We played three games, and somehow managed to share the honours evenly.

1. Sam, Andrew, Joe
2. Andrew, Joe, Sam
3. Joe, Sam, Andrew

The night was still young (before 10) and Sam was eyeing the whiskey on the shelf. Another game was brought to the table along with the shot glasses: Africana.

Imagine The Cannonball Run set across the great continent of Africa except instead of racing from A to B, it's more like doing laps as we sped north then south then back in our search for adventures and new discoveries. I started badly, finding my adventures completed by other people before I got to the end, so I got an extra joker, and a bunch of discoveries and that really helped. Sam's early good form petered out towards then end, so by the end I really had no idea who had won.

A shadow falls across Africa...

When it came to counting up, it was very close with me and Sam tying for first, except that I thought we'd counted one category twice. I demanded a recount, and with good reason, as I squeaked into first with my last minute dash to Casablanca to get a necklace to go with my bongos giving me a set of discoveries that scored enough points to give me the win.

Andrew 40
Sam 39
Joe 37

We managed to squeeze five leaderboard games into one crazy evening. And, amazingly, we all came away with the same score on the form table. I scramble into third on the "best most recent score" rule, but it's tight at the top. Now, if we could just convince Steve to play five games in an evening...

Steve2 1 1 1 2 7
Anja1 2 3 3 1 10
Andrew1 3 1 2 3 10
Sam2 2 3 1 2 10
Joe3 1 2 3 1 10
Adam3 4 1 2 3 13
Hannah1 1 5 5517
Paul1 3 5 5519
Jon35 5 5523
Chris6 2 5 5523

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Cannon Fodder

Due to one thing and another games night this week was pushed back to Tuesday and so it was that James appeared on my frosty doorstep* at the allotted time of 7.30.

We decided to revisit Nexus Ops seeing as we hadn't for a while. We set it up as a standard game but with the alternate resources thrown in for variance. After three turns the board took on a very lop sided appearance. James had benefited from discovering three free warrior units, whereas I had an abundance of mines and nobody to protect them. Also the mines were all squashed down the left side of the board making for a horrendous bottleneck. As in most games of Nexus that I've experienced a strong front and build up of arms ensues until one side feel they are mighty enough to force the issue and so it was here with trenches being drawn up across the middle. 

In previous rounds James had laid a double whammy of energise cards which allowed him to accrue a whopping 20 Rubrium (Currency) on top of his already mined store.  This meant I was facing an advancing hoard of Rubrium Dragons....the games strongest pieces. 

Through some desperate troop deployment and incredibly lucky dice rolling I was able to dent the attack so severely that it looked as though the tide of the battle was swinging in my favour. Then James revealed his new tactic! Stocking up on the cheapest unit, humans, and then using them as a rolling mass of cannon fodder interspersed with crack units, like infantry following a tank. His blue swathe of an army swarmed over my positions and on to victory 13 - 9.

The game took most of the night and we certainly played it differently than before: a lot more tactically. My strategy of sending out small skirmishers to bother his back line was only partly successful and not sustainable as my supply lines became stretched. It looks as though James' policy of might makes right will be the go to tactic going forward.

*Due to the cold, not because my house portal harbours a resentment to visitors.

No Sachsen please, we're Bm Luttich

The freezing fog whirled around the streets as we convened in Easton for the weekly battle of wits. Joe was away at a showbiz party in London or something, so it was me, Adam, Sam and our hosts Anja and Steve.

We decided on Wallenstein for this evening's entertainment, if you can call it that. This cross between El Grande, Risk and Diplomacy is popular but still not fully understood by many of us GNNers. Especially since the first few times you pay it, you usually get the rules wrong.

Anja and Steve, however, are much more up to speed regarding tactics. We began by drawing territories at semi-random. I stayed in the north, Sam in the west, Steve in the east, Anja in the south and Adam set up camp bang in the middle. This, as it turns out, was a mistake.

I still haven't got the hang of Wallenstein: when to consolidate and when to expand. There's an awful lot of sledging going on as almost every move is accompanied by Adam asking why would you want to do that, and I couldn't help but tut at Steve's tactic of shuffling his armies from one region and then back again. Meanwhile, Anja grew in strength and numbers while her neighbours, Adam and Steve, pretended to be more concerned about the threat of me and Sam. Steve even went so far as to try and convince everyone that Sam was in joint first at one point. Nice try, buster.

The game is a bit of a beast, and as the end of the game rolled into view, it was almost midnight. In the end, Anja won. In fact, she got as many points in the second round as me or Adam got in the whole game. Let's never play again.

Anja 47
Steve 38
Sam 31
Adam 27
Andrew 25

Meanwhile, on the form table, Steve manages to extend his lead as we head into what is probably the last week of the season. I manage to fall a place, despite being already pretty low. By the way, I've only just noticed Joe's perfect "countdown" combo on the form table, as his recent results go from 5 to 1 in order.

Steve2 1 1 1 2 7
Anja1 2 3 3 1 10
Sam3 2 4 1 1 11
Adam3 4 1 2 3 13
Joe5 4 3 2 1 15
Hannah1 1 5 5517
Paul1 3 5 5519
Andrew5 3 5 4 3 20
Jon35 5 5523
Chris6 2 5 5523

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Fascinating logarithms

Let's all put thoughts of zombies from our minds (apart from the lovely zombie lady in Incan Gold) as settle down with some numbers. There are only a few weeks left until the end of the season, especially since this year Games Night has been double booked with Christmas Day, since both fall on a Tuesday. And if that wasn't bad enough, New Year's Day also falls on a Tuesday! What are the chances of that?

As for the Q-system, I made a mistake in last season's spreadsheet. It didn't change the order, but it did squash everyone together in terms of points ratio. This season, the Q-System is back to its cruel best. Adam has a considerable lead in terms of points and Paul's performance in coming first and third in two six-player games puts him in first on Points Ratio.

Then I typed out the Olympic-style medal chart and it was all quite nice, but something was missing. It looked tired, old... uninteresting. And it had, after all, been over a year since I'd messed around with the scoring system so I decided to create a football-style division with three points for gold, two for silver, one for bronze and nothing for anything less.

But it needed Goals For and Against. The explanation for how I invented this new system is a bit long and tedious (see below if you must know), but for now let us admire the new creation and salute Hannah and Adam on their glorious victories (so far).

About the goals...

I put my thinking cap on and dug out Adam's old binary system (which converts everyone's scores onto a scale between 1 (winner) and 0 (last place). I then mucked about with multipliers and eventually stumbled on quite a nice system using logarithms. I like this because if someone wins by a large margin, it greatly rewards them, while giving those in the other places almost nothing.

Fore example, in the recent trouncing of us by Adam in Game Of Thrones,

1. Adam, 7 buildings
2. Andrew, 3 buildings, 3 supplies, 1 power token
3. Anja, 3 buildings, 3 supplies, 0 power tokens, highest influence
4. Steve, 3 buildings, 3 supplies, 0 power tokens, not as much influence
5. Sam, 3 buildings, 2 supplies

By this system Adam scored 6 goals, me and Anja scored two, Steve got one and Sam scored no goals at all.

I'll be honest, I'm not sure how it works, really. I was just trying things at random when I found one that looked right.

You can download the spreadsheet here.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

City of Horrid

Tonight saw the heavens align and Bristol and Bracknell came into conjunction in the house of Joe. Yes, Chris and Paul made the journey down the M5 for one glorious evening of cross-country gaming.

We began with recent favourite, The Resistance. Sam was a late arrival so we set off on our quest to topple the evil government with five in the team: me, Chris, Paul, Joe and Adam. We began with a successful two-man mission (me and Joe) and from then on, it was easy street. Stumbling onto two genuine revolutionaries in the first go is a real boon, since it makes the spy's turn much harder (and there'll be a 66% chance the next will be a spy) since they have to fail the second mission or risk having to fail three in a row in order to win a game. In the end, Adam and Chris were thwarted and the revolutionaries won! Victory went to the Free!

Sam arrived and we played again. This time it was a tense affair, made all the more tricky when a four-man mission went off without a hitch with the other two insisting that they weren't spies, honest. It was enough of a smokescreen for the two spies to get selected for the final two missions and scupper them both. Chris and I were well rewarded by our glorious leader for our devilish subterfuge. With Pringles.

Then Joe wanted to try out a new game, City of Horror, which is apparently good with six players. We set it up and early signs were good. The board fits together like a jigsaw, allowing a bit of randomness and it's nicely designed with evocative scenes of post zombie-holocaust streets.

Then Joe read out the rules. They seemed straightforward, but I wasn't sure how I was going to win. Then we started playing and any thoughts of winning were replaced by wanting the game to be over as soon as possible.

They key to success is all about bargaining, and forming alliances. But if you've nothing to bargain with, then there's nothing you can do. It seems to rely heavily on two strokes of luck: getting good cards at the beginning, and having a chance to be starting player. The only bits I liked where when the game focused on a building where I had no characters.

Playing this game is like being at a party where there's an attractive woman who you'd really like to speak to but instead you are cornered by a fat sweaty geek who's determined to explain to you in minute detail where George Romero went wrong. In the end, I came last, which was fine since I don't want to be good at a game that's this bad. Other people weren't as dismissive as me, but their comments seemed to be along the lines of "Well, it wasn't a complete waste of time."

Adam 9
Chris 8
Paul 6
Sam 5
Joe 5
Andrew 2

In the end Joe suggested a final game as a palette cleanser. We chose Incan Gold, the game of luck-defying scavenging. For a while it looked like Sam would win with a decent haul when he was deep in a temple all by himself, but then in the last round Chris, Adam and Joe all left at the same time, leaving Paul in the temple with an artefact and a 15 jewel card all to himself.

Paul 38
Sam 34
Andrew 25
Adam 23
Joe 11
Chris 7

An interesting evening. Nice to see Paul and Chris again, and they got to see Joe's electronic shuffler in action which, by itself, is worth a journey across England. My biggest regret is because we played six-player games, we didn't have the excitement of using Joe's secondary back-up games room. Maybe next time.

Steve1 1 1 2 4 9
Anja2 3 3 1 1 10
Sam2 4 1 1 2 10
Adam4 1 2 3 1 11
Joe5 4 3 2 1 15
Hannah1 1 5 5517
Andrew3 5 4 3 3 18
Paul1 3 5 5519
Jon35 5 5523
Chris6 2 5 5523