Tuesday, 25 August 2015

It's not so much a game - more like some cards get dealt and then someone's won

It was a warm but stormy night, and the intrepid Martin, Katie and Ian made it all the way to Hannah and Adam's (my) humble abode, where the smell of jealously-guarded apple crumble just about overpowered the Guinea Pigs.

Andy was due to join us, but before that we played Deep Sea Adventure. In round one everyone played very conservatively and got one or two treasures back to the submarine. Learning exactly the wrong lessons everyone but Ian was incapacitated and dropped their booty in round two. Then in round three things were touch and go for Hannah (who miscounted and picked up the treasure that killed her), Martin who got out by the skin of his teeth and Ian who needed to roll better than double one with the last set of dice to win handily on treasure collected. But snake eyes robbed him and Davy Jones kept the loot.

Adam 48
Martin 44
Ian 15
Hannah 8
Katy 7

With Andy due any minute we dealt him in to a game of 6Nimmt (the slightly prettier version - although Katie is in the market for an edition featuring attractive woodland animals). Some claim the game is entirely random, but Andy (puppeteer'd by Katy) proved that "going Dirk" for a whole game (playing a random card and picking up the smallest pile when you have to) is not the way to win.

In a closely fought finish the second last hand toppled Ian into second place, while the last plunged Martin from third to fifth.

Adam 22
Ian 24
Katy 27
Hannah 29
Martin 40
Andy/Dirk 82

Around this time we learned that Andy wasn't joining us after all, so the next game - the Knitzer-authored hex-based card-powered chariot-racer Circus Maximus - was a five player free-for-all. Martin and I played dirty from the start, blocking other players, slowing right down for the corners to cause pile ups and generally being obnoxious (although Martin did miss a great opportunity to screw me and when it was pointed out claimed that was just his generous nature). Meanwhile Katy stayed out of the melee and crept through for the win.

1st Katy
2nd Adam
3rd Martin
4th Hannah
5th Ian

With the time approaching ten Martin sprang Pairs on the rest of us. With its usual running commentary (oh, the pear - how nice! Onion!) it passed the time, but grabs the blog title with a pithy description from a bitter loser.

Martin 23
Adam 19
Ian & Hannah 12
Katy 5

Finally with the snacks depleted and eyelids beginning to droop, the second game of the night from the Reiner Knitzer compendium was broken out: Imperium! Playing like a more urgent version of El Grande we were done in fifteen minutes, with the honors going to the most patrician player.

Martin 24
Ian 17
Adam and Katy 15
Hannah 13

And with that the responsibility for the blog was decided and we all wend our ways to bed.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Head-to-head Divisions

Ah, Sunday mornings and a spreadsheet. What could be more civilised?

Recently I found myself looking at the Division and reflecting sadly on how some players only had a handful of games while others had several dozen. I asked myself what would a division look like if it were made up of games where the same players had played each other.

I decided to got back through the 2014 spreadsheets to find out. First, I took out all the non-Tuesday games because Tuesdays are when we all bring our A-game, right? Then I searched for those groups of us who’d played each other often enough to make a decent division. In this case, seven times was the most that the same players faced off against each other (not including the Bracknell Bunch). I included division with five and six games, too.

I think it’s made an interesting study of how we influence each other and how the balance of power in a group can be altered by newcomers. Or, possibly, I’m looking for patterns in an otherwise meaningless set of data. I prefer the former.

This will make more sense once we get going. Let’s start with myself, Adam and Martin. We’ve played each six times, and Adam is top on points and points ratio. In fact, he’s never come lower than second. I win on the medal table.

Pergamon: Andrew 29, Adam 27, Martin 21
No Thanks: Adam 19, Martin 42, Andrew 81
No Thanks: Martin 43, Adam 67, Andrew 74
No Thanks: Andrew 30, Adam 31, Martin 49
Five Tribes: Adam 191, Martin 160, Andrew 136
Love Letter: Andrew 3, Martin 2, Adam 2

This is all well and good but, I hear you cry, what if you take out Adam and put in Joe? How does that effect things? Well, suddenly my form evaporates and Martin starts acting like a silver-backed gorilla warding off any potential rivals. It’s a clean sweep of all three titles, and by a considerable margin, too.

Russian Railroads: Martin 388, Joe 307, Andrew 299
Quantum: Martin 5 cubes, Joe and Andrew 4
Five tribes: Martin 188, Andrew 164, Joe 143
Wizard: Joe 200, Martin 180, Andrew 0
Greenland: Martin 27, Andrew 8, Joe 6

It’s a similar story in another Division: one with myself, Martin and Ian.

Port Royal: Ian 13, Martin 11, Andrew 8
Palaces of Carrara: Martin 80, Andrew 49, Ian 42
Abluxxen: Andrew 44, Martin 42, Ian 13
Impulse: Martin 10, Ian 3, Andrew 0
Red 7: Ian 36, Andrew 34, Martin 28
Love Letter: Martin 3, Andrew 1, Ian 0

It's a much closer affair in another three-player division: one which involves Martin, Joe and Andy. This time, Martin drops to last place with Joe and Andy share the honours.

Quantum: Andy 5 cubes, Joe 4 cubes, Martin 3
Splendor: Joe 16, Andy 10, Martin 5
Splendor: Andy 16, Martin 15, Joe 9
10 Days in Africa: Joe 1st, Andy 2nd, Martin 3rd
Port Royal: Martin 12, Joe 9, Andy 8

Into the only four-players division. Myself, Ian, Martin and Joe have played each other five times

Timeline: Andrew all cards down, Ian, Martin and Joe, one card left
Lost Valley: Andrew 18, Joe 10, Ian 8, Martin 5
Lost Valley: Martin 38, Ian 28, Joe 17, Andrew 17
Potato Man: Joe 9, Martin 8, Andrew
Potato Man: Ian 22, Joe 19, Martin 19, Andrew 10

So that’s the four player division done. What happens when we look at the tricky arena of the five player game?

Abluxxen: Andrew 30, Andy 21, Sam 16, Martin 16, Joe 8
Igloo Pop: Andy 29, Andrew 21, Joe 17, Martin 16, Sam 14
Port Royal: Andrew 13, Joe 11, Andy 9, Martin 9, Sam 4
Skull & Roses: Joe, Andrew, Martin, Sam, Andy
6nimmt: Joe 10, Sam 20, Andy 23, Andrew 23, Martin 59
Port Royal: Andy 12, Joe 10 (and cash), Martin 10, Andrew 7, Sam 5
Skull & Roses: Andy, Martin, Sam, Andrew, Joe

So, all of this means that if we want to do well:

Martin should avoid me and Adam or Andy and Joe
I should avoid Martin and Joe
Ian should avoid Martin and me
Joe should avoid Martin, Ian and me
and Sam should avoid Andy, me, Joe and Martin.

If we keep that in mind, we're bound to win all our games!

Friday, 21 August 2015

Quantums of Solace

On Thursday Andrew can usually be relied upon to make his way north for a game or three. But having played on Monday and Tuesday he was gamed out. Ian - spared Monday - was still tempted though, and - having played a couple of games of Age of War earlier with the boys (I won 9-8-7, then they thrashed me 17-8 playing as a team)- we assembled around a game of Quantum at half past eight.


The game began in exploratory fashion as Ian and I spread our cubes around the board, warily eying each other. Then like predatory bullfighters chucking dice around, we struck. A flurry of blows and the game ended with me beating Ian to the punch by a solitary cube - helped by Warlike, which meant if I destroyed one of Ian's ships I got an extra action... We'd enjoyed it so much - and finished so quickly - we played again, and this time it was to be something of an epic. Ian went on the offensive from the start, and pummelled me against the cosmic ropes until he'd established a 4-2 lead.

I came back into it courtesy of two things - I had a card that bumped my research up by two every turn, and having reached six research and placed a cube I picked up Warlike again and grabbed an Aggression card, allowing me to move my dominance up to six and place a second cube. It was beautiful, if somewhat fortunate.

Battle continued though with the tide of aggression swinging to and fro. And with us both down to one cube left I was again smiled upon by fate as with my dominance and research at four again, another Aggression card popped up. I increased my research to six, and grabbed the Aggression card to increase my dominance and finish the game (I appreciate if you've not played Quantum this is utter gibberish, sorry) (why haven't you played Quantum?!?) It was a slightly underwhelming end to an epic hour-long battle that's probably my favourite game of Quantum so far... basically whilst I had appalling luck with the dice rolls (almost constantly rolling sixes) the luck with the cards was the opposite. Great game.


We needed something lighter after that so bashed out a quick game of Hey That's My Fish, which Ian had never played before. It was a close finish:

Sam 47
Ian 43

Then we moved onto Take It Easy, supposedly to end the night. Ian's calling was Discworld novels - impressively sustained throughout - and I kept up the literary theme with Moomin characters. We both pulled great scores in round one and decent ones in round two, but my decent form in Take It Easy stayed intact:

Sam 389
Ian 248

We still had a little beer left though, so we ended with a game of Love Letter. I came back from 2-1 down to force a decider! But you know Ian - he's like the Darth Vader of the Love Letter world:

Ian - 3 cubes
Sam - 2 cubes

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Seven Lords a-leaping

This week’s Tuesday happened at Sam’s house. Of course, it happened in lots of other places, too, but the most important bit happened at Sam’s

We began as a quintet: the host, Sam and then Martin, Katy, Andy and myself. While we waited for the final two of the group to arrive, we played Abluxxen. Katy said she’d hated the game the last time she played it, but she decided now that her work-life balance was better than it was back then, she was willing to give it another go.

Katy did enjoy it more this time, but that could be because (a) we only played one round, and (b) she came second. I couldn’t get my five threes down on the table without them being abluxxed back into my hand, and Sam started the game with seven out of his initial thirteen cards as singles.

Martin 12
Katy 9
Sam 8
Andrew 7
Andy 2

Then Sam’s family came back from wherever they’d been and Ian arrived. Stanley wanted to play a game, and so Midnight Party was brought to the table. Andy had to make a call, so the five of us circled around this oh-so-familiar corridor before dashing into doors in a sort of tabletop version of Musical Chairs. Notable events were four Hugos in a row, wiping out half the board and also Katy’s full lap that she had to do with Hugo chasing her after she carelessly wandered past the final empty room. And she did all this without swearing.

Ian 17
Andrew 28
Martin 38
Stanley 40
Katy 53

After this, we split into two. Joe was now in attendance with his usual touting of Lords Of Vegas. Sam suggested Lords of Waterdeep as an alternative, and when Andy said he hadn’t played either, he was recruited to Waterdeep, complete with the Skullport expansion. The left the almost impossible task of Martin and Katy playing a quiet game of Lords of Vegas together, with Ian and Joe making up the quartet.

In the front room, rules were explained and before long we were off, recruiting and questing and picking up skulls (minus points) for choosing the most powerful actions. Or, as Sam put it, “going dirty”.

Despite it being Andy’s first go, he took to it very quickly, and we all stuck together pretty close as we went around the scoretrack. Andy, however, cursed his indecision when he didn’t pick up a quest in the seventh round, thinking he couldn’t complete it, only to realise that he could’ve done after all.

My best move was probably taking a 40-point quest, with no intention of completing it, just so the others couldn’t get it. Sam collected and then returned skulls. He was disappointed that he had the plot quests that involved owning buildings, but he never built any buildings. “The complete opposite of building an engine” he said, and we all chuckled, fluent in gaming terminology.

Andy 158
Andrew 140
Sam 138

Meanwhile, in Vegas the big winner was Ian who must have done something good in a previous life as two mega-casinos dropped into his lap when another player rolled a bunch of dice to gain ownership of them. Add to this that each time Joe sprawled into a vacant lot, its real owner turned up later to claim it, and it must have been a typically cruel game.

Ian 44
Katy 23 (plus cash)
Joe 23
Martin 16

Then, while we were finishing off Lords of Waterdeep, they squeezed in a quick game of Imperium, one of the games from the Knizia compendium. I didn’t really get it, but Joe understood it well enough to win the final two big-scoring rounds and end the game in a comfortable first.

Joe 26
Martin 20
Katy 16
Ian 15

At this point Katy and I bowed out, leaving the remaining five to bang out a couple of games of Pairs.

Ian 22
Sam 21
Joe 10
Andy 8
Martin 4

Andy 24
Joe 20
Ian 18
Martin 11
Sam 7

On the Division, Martin ends my bafflingly long stay at the top, and Sam loses his points ratio lead to Adam.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

7 Wonders, 7 Hours, 7 Games

Thursday's non-curricular gaming began in slightly unpromising fashion. Ian joined me (Sam) before the working day was even done (4pm!) to try and crack Gingkopolis, which has been sitting on my shelf unplayed for a good six months. But despite watching a guide on BGG and following the instructions, we were still none the wiser, and abandoned it after half an hour of fruitless cryptography.

Instead we played Letters From Whitechapel, the game of hiding and deduction. Except Ian's Jack The Ripper flew close to the wind and was caught in the second move of the first round. But as Joe had just texted to say he was on his way, this proved serendipitous for us as well as the wretched pawns of Victorian London. We just had time to squeeze in a couple of games of Elk Fest (winning one each) before Joe arrived, and introduced us to the pleasures of Ninety-Nine.

Dry Moose

Ninety-Nine is a trick-taking game using a standard deck of cards but removing the low values of 2-5. Each player is dealt 9 cards and then, like Contract Whist, they predict how many tricks they'll take. But there's a twist - you have to make your bid using the cards from your hand: each player discards three cards to predict how many tricks they'll win, with diamonds = 0, spades = 1, hearts = 2 and clubs =3. So if you think you can win all nine tricks you discard 3 clubs.

These bids are made face-down but players have an option to declare, which means they turn their bid face-up for everyone to see. They can also (having declared) choose to play a completely open hand. This strategy is obviously rather risky but a if a declared hand wins the predicted tricks there's a 30 point bonus. An open hand is 30 points on top of that - and as a game where the winner reaches 100 points first that's quite an incentive - one that Joe went for and pulled off! He was leading by several points when Andrew arrived and we abandoned the game in favour of chips and, following that, Beowulf.

Bidding for Victory

We all needed a refresher of the rules (in fact it was Andrew's first play) but having done so, the game was away and over the hills - rather like Beowulf himself I expect. It's neatly devised so the second half of the game speeds by - having done quite well in the first I continually felt short of cards as the game (of almost entirely bidding) closed out, with Joe looking in a strong position. But having ignored the opportunity to rid himself of a wound, he picked up another wound and was hit by a brutal -15 points, careering from what would have been second to last.

Sam 28
Andrew 20
Ian 19
Joe 15

Adam - who had texted just as we took on the Hag - arrived with perfect timing, as the last card went back in the box. After a short debate we broke out 7 Wonders, which - we realised - has really only been played with 2 or 3 players for some time now. With 5 it's a very different beast. My collection of guilds saw off Adam's impressive array of sciences:

Sam 68
Adam 58
Andrew 53
Ian 52
Joe 36

Joe's disastrous form at 7 Wonders returns!

Despite feeling like we'd been playing for hours - probably because we had - it was still early, so we went for another Knizia - Colossal Arena.

Nothing like a bum

This has been played enough recently that the bum jokes are starting to feel tired. In fact they barely featured. What did feature was some brutal screwage as various folk found their backed beasties killed off in the scrum. I think three of us bet secretly on the Magus, who was out first round!

Sam 13
Ian 10
Joe 9
Adam 6
Andrew 6

Then we played Hugo, which I certainly didn't realise Adam hadn't played yet! He picked it up well enough, though like almost everyone he also self-Hugoed. I managed another win, beginning to wonder why I can't pull this kind of form off on a regular GNN night...

Sam 21
Adam 43
Andrew 48
Ian 51
Joe 56

Jolly, yet homicidal

Joe headed off home as the rest of us went for a gaming aperitif. I was now (I realise writing this up) on 4 wins in a row, one away from a non-curricular Perfect Five. If only I'd realised at the time, maybe I wouldn't have been quite so gung-ho in picking up several high-scoring cards early on in No Thanks, hoping to chain them together and also force my opponents to pick up shitty cards. It wasn't a solid strategy:

Andrew 10
Adam 23
Ian 34
Sam 36

There was just time for me to tread on a slug before the night ended.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

The Gin Genie

A new venue, a new era. Tonight saw the inaugural GNN meet held at Katy’s. We were five in total: our new host, Martin, Andy (who both supplied the games, otherwise it would have been Deep Sea Adventure all night), Ian and me.

After a brief spell of chat while Martin went to Sainsbury’s to get beer, we began with Why First? The racing game of coming in second. It was pretty difficult to describe, since Katy had difficulty with the fact that winning didn’t mean being in first. The game was played over five rounds, with only the person placed in second getting any points. At the end of five rounds, the person who came in second overall is the winner. So it doesn’t even reward who was best at coming in second!

The game is simple, hand cards ranging from -5 to +5 to other players or yourself to push meeples up and down the track. Whoever’s in second gets the points according to the space they were on at the time. I got picked on for no reason, allowing Andy to deftly get himself into a joint second place. By which I mean joint first place. Other places were decided according to how far away they were from second place (or first place, if you prefer).

1. Martin 6
1. Andy 6
2. Katy 5
2. Ian 7
3. Andrew 0

After this, Martin introduced us to his compendium of Riener Knizia games Neue Spiele im Alten Rom. This is a compilation of 14 admittedly abstract games which have all been given an Ancient Rome theme. It comes complete with a huge rule book and a flattering picture of Reiner Knizia as the Roman’s might have drawn him. Sort of.

We played Circus Maximus, the chariot racing game. Each player has cards from 1 to 5 to share amongst their three chariots, but you have to take care: you can’t barge into other chariots, meaning that it’s possible to get stuck in a position where you can’t move and a card is wasted.

We did our best to get in each others’ way, but it was Katy who won the day, deftly guiding all three chariots back to salute Ceaser. The rest of us got two back, with Andy getting his second in before us, giving him second place.


It’s a great addition to the collection, and perfect for when we want a quick Kniz Fix.

Katy now offered her selection of flavoured gins, which we all indulged in. Very nice they were too.

Then we played Deep Sea Adventure. Martin and Andy seemed doubtful that it would be much fun with five players, but I don’t know what they meant. I had a great time. Not many people drowned (to Martin’s disappointment) but Katy did get two zero treasures.

Andrew 43
Andy 36
Martin 32
Katy 31
Ian 15

Next we played Mamma Mia. This swift memory game of card-counting and pizza making is a rare sight, but always welcome. Katy had bad luck again in this game, going through the final two rounds without picking up a single olive which was especially unfortunate since she was the player that needed olives in their pizzas.

Martin 6
Andy 5
Ian 5
Andrew 3
Katy 2

Finally, to finish off the evening, we went for Raj, the fun yet painful game of bluff. Katy came out top this time, thanks to the rest of us drawing a couple of important hands in round two, allowing her to pick up some cheap points. Most notable when Ian and Martin tied 15-15 and Andy and I tied 3-3 allowing her a big tile for just her 1 tile.

Katy 39
Ian 32
Martin 24
Andrew 20
Andy 11

And after an evening of short, sharp and silly games, it was time to head out, leaving Katy to explain to husband and housemate about her strange new friends.

On the leaderboard, I appear to still be top. Not sure how.

Friday, 7 August 2015

The Unassailable Doubt

Friday! Night of bursting free of the chains of the week, into the liberty of the weekend. Some folk take drugs. Others head for the hills. We buy Pringles.

Andrew arrived at my house just after 7pm and me and the boys already had Lift Off! Get Me Off This Planet set up. I'll be honest, we'd had a quick run-through the day before and Martin's portentous description of Scoville ("Kickstarter crap") had echoed in my head. But inevitably we'd played it slightly incorrectly, and tonight that was remedied.

Lift off!

The game sees you trying to get as many of your aliens off the planet before it explodes. On your turn you can move one or two of them and play as many cards as you want to: cards both get you onto the various launchpads and cause it to launch. They can also do a couple of other things too but basically it's a race, and how effective your cards are depends quite often on the position of the moon, which orbits an eighth of the planet after everyone's turn, and every full revolution is a new day - and the planet is closer to exploding.

Trampolining to safety is an option

I was just thinking "It's good for the kids, but it's a bit long" when Joe terraformed the surface, building the Stargate, which causes a die to be rolled at the start of every new day. This may have a good effect (ideally all the aliens at the Stargate are saved) but equally it may have a bad one. That's Stargates I guess. Anyway it was an interesting twist that gave the game an added zing.

The final end of the final day resulted in a tornado and my distant chances of claiming a debut win were shattered:

Stanley: 7 aliens saved
Joe: 6 aliens saved
Sam: 6 aliens saved
Andrew 5 aliens saved

- Andrew in mitigation had moved more aliens to the surface of the planet than anyone else. But that's no safer than the core.

Two bricks, three cloth

The boys retired to bed and Andrew suggested Concordia. This hasn't been out of the box for a while and I was certainly rusty. Twice I played the Mercator and didn't use him in the way I'd planned; and the second time was particularly galling. I spent the rest of the game bemoaning my idiocy, only to find I'd won. Games, eh?

Sam 123
Andrew 121

It really was a surprise to both of us. I didn't realise how good my endgame bonuses would be, and Andrew could have played the last round differently and denied me a few points. We had bamboozled ourselves, leading to Andrew's description of the game as the post title.

Game Of Thrlicks

After that fairly heavy beast we fancied something light, and broke out Cube Quest. One of my grunts made a series of spectacular raids in Andrew's territory, but my supposedly superior Fighter panicked at the sight of Andrew's Grunt near my King, and flicked his own leader into oblivion:

Andrew: wins
Sam: doesn't

We moved swiftly on to Take It Easy, although our calling was fairly erratic. Andrew claimed he could name 27 women from his college days he was attracted to, but clearly this was not the case, as he started repeating himself and claimed any 1 tiles "didn't count". I tried calling authors that I had knowing or unknowingly mimicked in my fledgling writing days, but this literary bent soon lapsed into Everton Footballers From The 90's. I held that up pretty well, and also won the two-round game:

Sam 321
Andrew 231

We finished off with Biblios, or bi lips as my phone likes to auto-correct it. Surely there's a game in that title? Andrew went big on blues and browns, but not quite big enough: despite him picking up the greens I reclaimed Mr Bi Lips - for now, at least.

Sam 8
Andrew 3

I tried to tempt Andrew with a game of Pairs (a big hit with the boys and Sally) but we'd finished the Pringles and he sensibly headed off home.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Going Underground

This week's extra session was going to be at Martin's house but a last-minute change of plans meant he and Ian made their way to mine (Sam's). I warmed up by introducing Stanley and Joe to Pairs. Joe took to it reasonably well:

Joe 10
Sam 2
Stanley 1

We started with one of our favourites - Quantum, and went for a fairly tight board. I have a reasonable pedigree in this game so I felt confident. However it was hard to concentrate with Stanley and Joe flagrantly disregarding bedtime etiquette and roaming around the house. What I should have done was let them stay downstairs for a bit, but in the moment I was trying to keep to established boundaries. They clambered all over them, and I did not have a clue in Quantum - Martin and Ian shot off ahead and Martin wrapped up the game inside half an hour:

Martin - all cubes down
Ian - one cube remaining
Sam - two cubes remaining

After a last round of corralling, bottom-wiping and duvet-wrapping (of the boys upstairs, not downstairs) I could finally concentrate on the game. And the game in this instance was On The Underground, a slightly Ticket To Ride-esque game of building routes under London. Each player in a three player game starts with three colours - lines - that once they have started have to continue with, like a linear Trans Europa - unless you manage to get two 'branch' tokens, in which case you can go off in one or more other directions as well. There's bonuses for linking certain areas together, but the main thing you're hoping to do is get the Passenger (we called him Hugo) to use your routes to get to his next destination, as he meanders haphazardly around town.


I decided to establish a circular-line type presence, hoping to pick up regular points from Hugo. But quite often he was out in the sticks, and - somewhat infuriatingly - I regularly began a turn with Hugo certain of using Martin's North London line. My "shitty black line" (© Martin) did pick up a few points though, and as the final round was triggered I saw a way to get myself joint first. Ian blocked that, but I could still get joint second... Martin blocked that. The final scores say it all:

Ian  59
Martin 58
Sam 57

A really good game, though my one criticism is it felt a little long. But it was a first play for myself and Ian.

We - by now reasonably well-oiled - moved on to Biblios. And what a firecracker it was. I was picking up so much blue that having put some in the auction for later, I started giving them away. Then I panicked, and having put up the Blue die value, started lowering it again. I had Reds sewn up but just couldn't get any traction on another colour. Martin meanwhile went head to head with Ian on browns and came out worst:

Ian 9 (Mr Biblios)
Sam 5
Martin 3

Your browns are not fine

By now Sally had returned and we thought about packing up, but she insisted we keep playing so we broke out Love Letter and Andrew's Japanese whisky. The latter was to prove an unlikely saviour for Ian later... in the first game (first to 2 cubes!) though I pulled off a win:

Sam 2
Ian 1
Martin 0

Then in the second game I was correctly guessed in quick succession and lagging behind as Ian and Martin won a cube each. In the third round Ian and Martin swapped cards; Ian handing the Priest to Martin. Martin used the priest and Ian - by now somewhat drunk - missed this fact and played a guard guessing Martin was the priest. And because he had another priest, Ian guessed correctly and won!

Ian 2
Martin 1
Sam 0

Oh, Love Letter. You are silly.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Hillmann’s Imps

Due to a lack of potential attendees on Tuesday, this week’s official GNN meet was brought forward to Monday, with Adam and Hannah offering their humble abode as the venue. There were nine of us: the two hosts plus Sam, Martin, Katy, Ian, Matt, myself and Martin’s friend Tamsin.

We started while we waited for Tamsin and Matt with a hilarious game of In A Bind, the meanest Twister since Sharknado (see what I did there? Twister: Tornado: Sharknado: Comedy) except that everyone’s sitting at a table. Matt arrived mid-game and was promptly invited to join. His first card was “Top teeth always showing” which he failed to maintain the moment he took a sip of his beer.

In the end, it was the two rivals Katy and Martin, who cared enough about winning and little about how they looked, that ended first and second.

Martin 11 cards
Katy 10
Sam, Andrew, Adam 5
Ian 4
Hannah 3
Matt 1

Tamsin arrived after we’d finished (thank goodness) and was present for the game discussion. Since we were nine in number, it made sense to split into three groups of three. Katy, Hannah and Matt went for Takenoko. Ian, Adam and Sam chose Caverna. Normally, I’d be keen on either of those games but I was tempted by a return of Kingdom Builder. It was quite the regular when Gonz was a GNN member, but little has been seen of it since.

Plus, we decided to play the game outside, in the balmy rays of the evening sun. It was delightful. It was also Tamsin’s first game in a long time, and she needed a rule refresher. Perhaps the worse that can be said of KB is that it doesn’t lend itself to excitable commentaries. The main aspect of the game was that Tamsin kept to the third of the board nearest to her, while Martin and I focused on half the board furthest from us.

Andrew 53
Martin 46
Tamsin 28

Since Takenoko was still mid-game (and Caverna just about in its early stages) we chose Red 7 as a nice filler until we could join up with them as a group of six (and also go inside, since the balmy rays of sun had long since sunk under the rooftops by now).

However, there’s no such thing as a “nice filler” in Martin’s gaming vocabulary, and he cruelly took us to the cleaners, hitting the target of 35 points after just three rounds.

Martin 39
Tamsin 6
Andrew 0

During Red 7, Katy came out to tell us about her triumph at Takenoko:

Katy 38
Hannah 37
Matt 27

So now we were a group of six, and the three of us “outsiders” (literally) decamped to the front room, passing the kitchen table groaning under the weight of Caverna’s tiles and meeples.

In the front room, we decided to play A Fake Artist in New York, to give it a proper airing after last time. I took a note of the scores, but to be honest, it doesn’t lend itself to serious strategies, as each drawing brings forth new waves of hilarity. During the six rounds, all of us were the fake artist at least once except Martin. Katy crashed out worst in her turn as fake artist, trying to represent Pictionary (Category: games) by drawing a hill underneath a stick-man that someone else had drawn. Despite this, she was able to guess the subject and, technically, mark up a win. Not that I really understand the scoring system.

Then we played Pairs, the game that rewards facing down cruel fate with a steely-eyed glare. Matt and Katy didn’t score until the final two rounds, but even so they matched my slow-but-steady approach. The trouble was that no one got out. Twist followed twist followed twist, as Hannah, Martin and Tamsin collected impressive collections of fruit. After four round, those three were tied on 17 points each, effectively making round five the last round.

And it was Martin what won it, as Tamsin and Hannah both went bust before him. Once I went bust too, he just had to stick and collect his four points for the win.

Martin 21
Tamsin 17
Hannah 17
Katy 10
Andrew 9
Matt 8

After this Tamsin and Martin decided to end their participation. But Caverna was still half an hour from completion, so the remaining four played Deep Sea Adventure. This was, I believe, Katy’s first attempt at explaining the rules to a game (to Hannah), and it mostly involved explaining the basics while remembering other rules and then finally saying that we should just play it.

Don’t knock it, though. It worked. While Matt constantly drowned inches from the boat, Hannah proved herself adept at diving for treasure and getting it back. It was a low scoring game, with everyone drowning on the fourth round. Matt was especially disappointed that his last round haul would’ve won him the game.

Hannah 20
Katy 16
Andrew 10
Matt 0

Finally, we went into the kitchen to find the Cavernites counting up their final scores. After a little confusion about which shields to count and when, Adam was a clear winner with a new high score for the game.

Adam 92
Sam 76
Ian 51