Friday, 29 January 2016

Mint with a-hole

Friday. Owing to tragic confusion, Chris was not sitting at the table with us as Andrew and I (Sam) went through the rules to The Voyages of Marco Polo. I can précis them here though: if you've played Alien Frontier you'll be familiar with the idea of rolling and assigning dice to do stuff. And if you've played any number of headfucking Euro games you'll be familiar with the multiple routes to victory.

The board shows - I assume - some of the paths Marco Polo roamed, with links between cities. You have a bunch of dice and on your turn they can do a bunch of things - get you camels (great for travelling) or money (ditto) or silk, pepper and gold (great for fulfilling contracts). It's actually surprisingly straightforward and quick moving - Andrew and I got through two games which took less than an hour each - but there was that familiar Euro-y sensation of not being able to do everything you want to. If you travel about, you establish trading houses, which means you have an extra option to spend dice on. But if you forego travelling in order to concentrate on fulfilling contracts, as Andrew did in out first game, you may find staying at home is rather rewarding:

Andrew 52
Sam 37

Because there are bonus points to do so, I'd made my way across the map to Beijing, but in doing so had neglected the contracts which not only scored big for Andrew, they also gave him a 7 point reward for doing the most of them.

We set up again and I was all set to explore the contract angle myself, but something changed my mind. At the start of Marco Polo players are given a role that gives them a unique benefit. In the first game I had the seemingly huge advantage of choosing my dice numbers rather than rolling them - not as good as I thought, at least not in my hands. (Andrew had an extra die and some free contracts). But in the second game I had an extra traveller on the board and an endless supply of camels. So once again I went travelling. This time Andrew joined me, and we fought it out on both fronts. Andrew would have won again, but he had forgotten to travel to a particular destination. We'd both made it to Beijing through, and this time I nabbed the reward for most contracts:

Sam 53
Andrew 49

It was intrigued, it played fast (in a good way) and there's definitely a lot of replay value - there's just so much going on and the character cards you start with can really define how you play. There's also - we realised late in the day - a fair amount of screwage room, if you really wanted to be an asshole. But I didn't get the sense either of us were bowled over by it. We both agreed it might be better with more players and we should revisit one Tuesday reasonably soon.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

No peers for Peer

With some regulars and semi-regulars missing there were, at 7.30, five of us congregated around the my table: Ian, Ben, Martin, Chris, and myself (Sam). With Joe expected at 8, we had the perfect amount of time to try Martin's new trick-taking game, Filipino Fruit Market. If the name sounds weird, wait til you see the box art, which takes Castle Dice's throw-three-designers-in-a-room technique and replaces two of them with automated clip-artists.

The game itself was similarly odd, with hard-to-distinguish fruit suits haunted by a ghostly pineapple, and a donkey and cart meeple trundling around a central area changing the trump cards. If you lead, you can move the donkey. If you lead the first card, everyone must follow suit, if they can. Unless of course they fling a barrel on one of the central cards, which bring you points through majority-scoring when someone runs out of cards. I got rid of my cards quickly, but it wasn't the greatest strategy:

Ian/Chris 11
Martin 10
Sam/Ben 9

just like being there

We'd already agreed it was non-leaderboard as Joe walked in as we began the first (and only) round, but the rules do specify that in the event of a tie, the game designer wins. So well done Peer Sylvester, who - apart from Wir Sind Das Volk! - I don't think has been seen at GNN towers since the slightly-underwhelming appearance of Singapore, three years back. Surely there's a better photo of Peer than the one someone has seemingly photocopied into the rule book?

With Joe now chomping at the bit, we stuck to leaderboard-free fare with a quick game of Push It.

Sam/Chris 11
Ian/Martin 5
Ben/Joe 4

...before breaking into groups of three for the main event. Joe only had to mention Lords of Vegas for Ian and Ben to jump in; Martin and I roped Chris in for a game of Mexica. I'd traded for this some time ago after being very enamoured of it at Steve and Anja's place. But we all - Chris especially, seeing as he'd never played it - needed appraising of the rules before cracking into it. The game is about area control but in a more reactive way than the likes of El Grande - you're moving your Mexica around the board, building temples and basically being a sneaky shit. Martin rhapsodized about the potential for "being a dick" so much, in fact, that it became my default position.

Chris in charge 

I didn't know what to do at the start, but when Martin left a space for me to take advantage I didn't hesitate, and a serial swearathon began with most of the cursing coming from Martin's corner. The game is all about establishing areas (score points) and building temples there to control them (score points) which is all facilitated through your mexica, who trundles slowly across land but hurtles like a jet-skier through water. Despite Martin's intermittent apoplexy, he still finished second:

Sam 100
Martin 93
Chris 88

The others were just finishing up Lords of Vegas, which gave the three of us time to play FUSE, the  ten minute game of bomb defusal. We went for the standard setting, which was perhaps overly ambitious seeing how we regularly fail the training missions. Things started badly when Chris spotted the timer wasn't running, then we hit a mid-game patch of rolling several dice two of us couldn't use... we failed eventually, though not without a surge toward the end. On the other side of the table, Ian brought home a substantial victory in Lords of Vegas:

Ian 40
Ben 29
Joe 23

Las Vegas Das Eng

I'll leave the details to the comments, as all I heard was the occasional plaintive wail of a failed gamble. With the six of us back in a group we repeated our team Pairs game, with the individuals shuffling around to mix things up. Martin and I ran out reasonably convincing winners:

Martin/Sam 11
Chris/Joe 5
Ben/Ian 3

But kudos must go to Joe for his almost metronomic insistence on following every appalling shot with a brilliant one, and vice versa. It was almost eerie. Chris went for a kind of bludgeoning approach, scattering opponents - usually Martin - far and wide.

real good

We finished off our sextet with Pairs, as Ben had to exit pretty soon. Chris and I were both on 17 points (Joe was too, but he'd bust) and needed to win the round to win the game with everyone else bust already. We pushed and pushed, twisting like Chubby Checker, but someone had to eventually succumb to fate. It was me:

Chris 22
Sam /Joe 17
Martin 14
Ian 4

Ben headed off and we rounded off the evening with Timeline. There was a flurry of pretty bad guessing if I'm honest, with none worse than my own. Hardly anyone seemed to know anything. We were piling up the redundant cards far quicker than extending the timeline, but Martin quietly depleted his own cards until he had the appearance of homo sapiens to get rid of...

Martin 0
Ian 1 card left
Chris 2 cards left
Joe and Sam 3 cards left

human endeavour

Finally finally, as the regular GNNers left, Sally and our friend Katie returned from the pub, and we bashed out yet another game of Push It! Sally thought it should be leaderboard, but I'm not so sure. Besides, she said that before I won:

Sam 11
Sally 6
Katie 4

It was now midnight, and another stitch in the GNN tapestry was complete.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

All the way up to eleven

Today I was bothered by a slight cold but couldn’t bear to miss a second Tuesday in a row so I arrived at Joe’s, slightly croaky, ready for some gaming glory. I was last to arrive, since I’d forgotten all the short cuts I usually take to Joe’s, and I found we were six in total that night: me, Joe, Katy, Martin, Ian, and Sam.

They were discussing potential six-player games for the night but, instead of walking into the next room and looking at Joe’s collection, Joe was looking on his phone for six-player suggestions on his and Sam’s own website. I can’t tell if this is extremely lazy or the perfect use of the internet.

Martin suggested we try his new acquisition: Deadwood. It was an old Cheapass Games game, and he found it on a wall! He said it looked good and, if it wasn't, he can just leave it on another wall.

How odd, then, that we should begin with a five-player game: Fuse. This bomb-busting dice game was introduced by Sam and he acted as the compare: explaining the rules and dealing out cards as the game progressed.

We began slowly, all too polite to take the die we needed (“No, really. I’m happy with anything.”) but we got up to speed and were able to defuse the bombs with 49 seconds of the 10 minutes remaining. This gave us a high score of 74 points!

After this, another team game: Codenames. We played one round in which cryptic crossword experts Joe and Sam as spymasters. But having experts on one side is only good if you have experts on the other. As it was, Katy and I could only get two of Joe’s audacious “Camelot, 5” clue. Sam struggled, beginning his game with a clue for only one card, just so he could get it out of the way.

The game was remarkable in that out of all the many wrong answers, none benefited the other team.

Joe, Katy, Andrew 8 (all clues cleared)
Sam, Ian, Martin 8

Finally, we did the decent thing and split into two groups of three. Sam, Ian and I returned to the vineyards for another bash at Viticulture, while Joe, Katy and Martin chose Castle Crush.

In Castle Crush, as far as I can tell, each player builds a little town to protect two little meeples, which then are subjected to the whims of a toppling battering ram. Martin noted that the table held two of the most opposite games it could possibly host. Thinky Eurogamer worker-placement next to tactile physical bludgeoning.

Us wine-growers set up swiftly, and were off to a flier. Ian and I went for early cheap deliveries just to get some money coming in. I pretty much ignored cards, though, which Sam and Ian profited heavily from.

It was a close battle, with the three of us leap-frogging each other up the score track. Halfway through, Katy looked over from her half of the table and remarked to Sam how well he was doing. “But look at all the wine Ian’s got,” Sam replied, as he poured himself a real glass of the stuff for himself.

A close battle

Castle Crush ended soonest, with Martin coming out a clear winner.

Martin 85
Katy 69
Joe 64

And they followed this by the card game 99, which Martin also won.

Martin 77
Katy 76
Joe 51

By this time, Viticulture had ended and, once again, Ian took top spot.

Ian 25
Sam 22
Andrew 20

Next up was another team game, Push It. By combining Sam’s and Martin’s sets, we were able to have a three two-player team battle around Joe’s circular table: perfect for the game.

Ian & Katy got an early lead, but then became stuck on four points while the rest of us caught up. Then Sam & Martin put together some good moves while Joe & me sort of made up the numbers.

At first we thought we should just play until seven points, but we were enjoying it so much that it was extended to the usual eleven (hence the blog title). Sam & Martin crashed through the winning line with a neat two-pointer.

Sam & Martin 12
Ian & Katy 7
Joe & Andrew 5

And we finished the evening with Skull and Roses, the simple bluff game. It was quite a short game, since Joe’s ability to read the table was second to none. He was only wrong once, and that was when he tried to bluff, but no one followed and he had to reveal his own card: a skull. He made up for that immediately afterwards by guessing seven roses out of eight. Ian managed to also get a correct call in. After that, it was just a case of who had the most cards left.

1. Joe
2. Ian
3. Martin
4= Katy
4= Andrew
5. Sam

And with that, we were done. We set off with Martin saying he’d thoroughly enjoyed every game he’d played that evening.

A glimpse at the division will only increase that contentment.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Grapes of Wrath

Wine. It's one of those things that couldn't have had an immediately intuitive value upon its discovery. When the wheel was invented you can picture someone saying "I'm onto something here" The first woozy head, sick stomach and all-day hangover, less so. Nonetheless wine remains very popular and weirdly there are several boardgames about it. Having discovered a friend got 30% off at Forbidden Planet, I leapt in and bought Viticulture, the most highly-thought of one on BGG.

We - myself (Sam), Ian, Chris, Andrew - hadn't planned to play it, or anything come to that. After failing to win at FUSE, Andrew, Ian and I had a better three-player stab at Codenames, where we won 9-3. As Spymaster I was particularly proud, but when Chris arrived I undid all Ian's good spy mastering by inadvertently clueing the assassin, and Andrew and Chris obliterated our first-round lead as a result.  Sorry Ian!


We debated what to do next and with Chris keen and me amenable, there was enough goodwill in the room to break out the newbie - Viticulture it was. It felt very old-school to me: very Euro-y, very fire-fighting. Not as much as In The Year of the Dragon, say, but similar to something like Concordia where you have plenty of plans but never quite enough wiggle room to do them all. 

But maybe my personal experience of it was down to my own struggles. The others got going quicker than I did. The game is a race to 20 points and takes place over a number of years: spring is a bid for turn order, summer is worker placement to get your grape-growing shit together. Autumn is getting a card or two and winter is trying to turn your grape-growing shit into wine/points. Then there's some bobbins going on at the end of the year too.

I sold my field! Don't worry, I'm going to buy it back later

Player order - like Fresco - is important, but - like Tinner's Trail - you can pull some good moves going last too. Basically you're planting vines gathering grapes, then jumping up and down on them to turn them into wine, then (that's one too many thens I fear) completing orders for them.

early summer

Mixed into this chicanery is a load of visitors to your vineyard who do all kinds of nonsense. Chris  never managed to complete an order - in fact his whole approach was all about maximising his visitors, like a lazy-ass vintner who prefers showing people around to rolling his trouser sleeves up and jumping in the press. Ian, despite his fatigue, won convincingly before I could complete a big order.  Or even a small order. Like Chris, I did nothing in the wine market. Unlike Chris, I did nothing anywhere else either. I did have loads of lovely wine though - both in my cellar, and my tummy. Mmmmm.

Ian 22
Andrew 16
Chris 15
Sam 6

Andrew's vineyard

Despite my diabolical score I look forward to trying this again. The alleged 45-90 minutes felt like it had been play-tested by Roy Castle by the time we wound up, but it was a first attempt. Andrew and Ian headed home, but Chris and I stayed up to try a couple more attempts at FUSE. We failed miserably both times.

I awoke with a heavy head. Maybe it was the Viticulture. Or possibly, the viticulture.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Friday Night Bunfight

More Eclipse rules played wrong:

III tiles should be limited by number of players
Discovery tiles must be assigned immediately (i.e. not 'cashed in' later)
Plasma cannons missiles are one-use-only!!!
Hexes may be discarded if you don't like the look of them - though your Explore action is over. 

This latter one is, as Andrew and I noted, kind of weird - "I'll come back later, when that planet has gone".

These anomalies came to light after Chris trounced us at Eclipse last night. I was hoping we'd be playing The Voyages of Marco Polo, but it didn't arrive. Instead we sallied forth into the firmament, built ships and fired missiles. Not for the first time, I felt that the game ended too soon: we'd only just started interacting. But that's more about how we choose to play rather than the game itself. I'm thinking next time I might go aggressive earlier, just to see how that pans out. My worry with three is whoever isn't involved in the fighting will end up winning...

Anyway we all built some mighty fine ships, Chris' were the mighty finest and in resplendent yellow, they marched unstoppably to the central hex. Both Andrew and I offered token resistance, but as we all know, you don't get victory points for tokens in Eclipse. 

My dice-rolling was awful again - I did roll a double 6, but that was on behalf of The Ancients - and my dreadnoughts collapsed like papier mache umbrellas in a typhoon, their seeming impregnability undone by time. Andrew's nest of wasps strategy (lots of tiny spaceships) turned out to be sturdier, but not sturdy enough:

Chris 36
Andrew 25
Sam 25

With that beast out of the way, it was only just gone 10pm. On a Friday! I brought out a selection of short games, and we ended up playing all of them!

First up was Raj. I won the first round, Chris the second. At that point Andrew - courtesy of some brutal ties - was left in the dust score wise, lagging back on zero points with Chris and I at 41 v 45. But Andrew staged a comeback in round three with an impressive 31 points. I snagged the win, despite wasting my 15 bids twice:

Sam 57
Chris 44
Andrew 31 

Then we played FUSE. This is a co-operative dice game of defusing bombs, against the clock. You only have ten minutes and must quickly assign rolled dice to cards. Renegade Games supply a timer which clicks away in the background. There's an annoying voice you can thankfully switch off. We played two training missions (i.e. the easiest level) and lost the first one, but won the second with a minute to spare. It's fun; there's a definite sense of pressure. 

After that we had a couple of games of Push It. By this time Andrew's saki was doing its work and I'd broken the whisky out. Chris had a coffee, but it didn't do him any favours:

Sam 11
Chris 9
Andrew 8

The next game was even tenser, with Andrew and I paired on ten points as Chris attempted to surge back from four points behind us:

Sam 11
Andrew 10
Chris 9 

Finally we played Take It Easy, this time all three of us choosing the same call: boardgames! Very meta. It was interesting how we interpreted our experiences of game-playing into a narrative of three numbers: 9-4-2 starts well, fades away. 1-7-6: never ask to play it, enjoy when we do. Andrew's 1-2-3 was Quartermaster General.

Andrew 541
Sam 525
Chris 432

So the evening ended with the Bristolians exacting some small measure of revenge on Chris, sailing in here with his dastardly Chippenham ways. See you on Tuesday guys. 

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The Lure of Arseholery

Tonight's gathering was at my house (Sam's). With Andrew a late withdrawal, citing medical reasons, we were a mere seven - Katy, Martin, Ian, Andy, Matt, Joe, and myself.

With Joe coming a little later the six of us played Pairs. At that point I hadn't seen the text from Andrew and we dealt him in, making decisions on his behalf. It was interesting to note how often we said "Andrew would stick now" whilst others twisted. It got him second place - or would have, had he turned up. As it was Ian's attempt to shoot the moon came undone:

close, but no onion

1st Katy 24
2nd Sam 18
2nd Martin 18
3rd Ian 6
4th Andy 0
4th Matt 0

Joe had arrived in time for the finale and we discussed options. Joe had brought several dice games, and Lords of Vegas was appendaged by Joe's bespoke dice arena, built to fit exactly on Sunset Las Vegas Boulevard!

What happens in Vegas

Despite impressed gasps (and the inevitable gamer critique) Lords didn't actually get played though.

Katy was keen on Castles of Mad King Ludwig and reasonably forceful about it. She managed to reel in Ian and Matt. Then she reeled in Andy too, and Ian defected to the game Joe, Martin and I were setting up: Quantum. We went for a reasonably big board with 6 cubes to place, and ejected the '10' tile at the start to make way for The Void, a Quantum expansion that bumps up your research.


I got off to a good start, but this backfired in a reasonably regular way as I was then targeted for the next half hour or so. Martin, and then Joe, both went for an aggressive route. Joe because winning battles boosted his dominance by two, Martin simply because he is Martin and cannot resist "the lure of arseholery" (his words) which, if nothing else, might get this post a couple of extra hits. With my peaceful extra move and ability to move my ships an extra space, I kept devising sneaky ways to get a cube down, only for some bastard to blow me up. It was rather frustrating.

In fact we all - bar Ian, who was doing as badly as I was - got a bit frustrated at the amount of time Quantum was taking to finish. It had become a war of attrition, and whilst we blasted each other like ancient boxers unable to land the killer blow, Castles finished:

Andy 93
Matt 89 (2nd on tie-breaker!)
Katy 89

And they began playing Beasty Bar. "It's good" said Martin, who was increasingly less enamoured of Quantum. Both he and Joe had been a die-roll from finishing it, only to be scuppered by Ian, who was fighting a dogged rearguard thanks to his ability to destroy attackers and boost his dominance in doing so. I was still unable to make my killer move, but had at least got my penultimate cube down thanks to an aggressive turn, having finally rolled a bunch of low ship numbers. Not long after that, relieved sighs and frustrated groans were heard all around as I pulled off an unlikely win. With a 2, 1, and 1 around a 9 planet, I needed to reconfigure my final ship into a 5. I rolled a 4, turned it into a 5 with a free action, moved it with my free peaceful move action and placed my last cube. An epic 2-hour Quantum (that's the same as 3-player Eclipse!) finally came to and end:

Sam - all cubes down
Martin/Joe - 1 cube remaining
Ian - 2 cubes remaining

Beasty Bar finished around the same time:

Andy 5
Katy 4
Matt 3

Debate broke out about what to play, with Spyfall and Codenames both falling foul of some pronounced indifference. Instead Katy, emboldened by her success with Ludwig perhaps, insisted we all play Between Two Cities. We acquiesced, and embarked on a 20-minute city-building spree: each player chooses tiles to share between the cities of the player to their left, and the player to their right.

Between seven cities

It's an interesting idea but felt a bit like coloured maths to me: at no point did I look around and see what anyone else was doing, and if I had it probably wouldn't have helped anyway.

Mine and Joe's shared city

Joe won, but I'm still none the wiser as to what exactly the appeal is:

Joe 56 (wins on tie-breaker)
Sam 56
Martin 53
Ian 52 (4th on tie-breaker)
Katy 52
Matt 51 (6th on tie-breaker)
Andy 51

Martin was even less impressed than me, saying "I'd rather have had a chat". There is no worse insult for a game than that. I would be interested to try it with three though; that might feel a little more tactical. But also more head-scratchy too.

We then had a quick game of Continuous Pairs which Andy lost:

Andy: lost

Then I managed to cajole Sally into joining us so we had the eight players we needed for individual-team Push It. This is basically boule on a table-top. Officially it plays up to 4, but 8 is divisible by four so we were near as dammit. I paired up with Matt, Sally with Katy, Martin with Ian and Joe with Andy. Martin and Ian sailed off into an early lead (they were sitting closest to the jack, mind!) and despite our best efforts, and a burst of randomness with everyone flicking at the same time for four rounds, they held on:

Martin & Ian 11
Matt & Sam 6
Joe & Andy 6
Sally & Katy 4

Closest to the jack (beige) wins

Not sure how that's Leaderboard, but lots of fun all the same. Nice to get Sally involved, even if in a tragic case of life imitating art I had to pay her to come.


Friday, 8 January 2016

Dead, in each others arms

Tonight's eerie blog post title comes from Andrew's fatalistic commentary in Eclipse, which he, myself (Sam) and Ian played tonight.

The first thing to say about Eclipse is we realised we've been playing a rule wrong. I won't go into it here but I really look forward to the day I discover I'm playing a game correctly.


It wasn't a rule that favoured anyone though, and as with previous space encounters we started gearing up our ships for the inevitable bunfight at the end of the game. Andrew advanced his ships' tech earliest, but whenever he explored he didn't encounter any aliens to exploit. Conversely, my crappy interceptor had no upgrades and I seemed to encounter the ancients everywhere I went. Ian seemed to be in a happy middle ground - at first.

As the game progressed I built a Dreadnought and sallied forth to take control of a rewarding hex. The ancients blew me up. Andrew meanwhile was expanding like nobody's business, and for the first few rounds of the game it looked like a fight between myself and Ian for second. And both of us were on the receiving end of Andrew's sudden ability to roll double sixes - he did three of these in a row.

 die abolical

I reconsidered my strategy - as my expanding would involve much fighting, maybe I shouldn't go attacking anybody else but consolidate and build Monoliths - these score you points at game end if you still control the hex they sit in.

Andrew seemed minted though, and although I felt a bit more competitive, I wasn't confident of overhauling him. Ian seemed in a state of despair; feeling like he was going nowhere. It might have been Eclipse, or the early onslaught of middle-age. Either way he was right, but he gambled on attacking the central hex and pulled it off with aplomb. Suddenly it seemed the endgame was upon us - the others figured out the monoliths had put me in the lead, but for Andrew Ian was easier to attack. Last time, he said, he hadn't gone for it and had regretted it ever since. The post title came at some point during the grimly ominous conclusion of his soliloquy.


Andrew attacked Ian. Ian attacked me. Ian won both battles - being off Andrew in his home hex, and obliterating me in mine. Fortunately he had no influence left to nab the hex for himself, and it ended

Sam 35
Andrew 33
Ian 27

Andrew announced that whenever he played Eclipse he felt like he'd achieved something. "Fuck Beasty Bar" he added.
"I quite like Beasty Bar" said Ian.
"Oh, is it good?" Andrew replied.

Our per-player times had gone up again, to 40 minutes. I mooted a little game of Push It to finish the evening but Ian and Andrew were keen on Love Letter. The highlight of which was Ian and I protecting ourselves with Handmaids and Andrew being forced to play his Prince on himself. He discarded his other card, which was the Princess. It was a beautiful moment.

Dusty Bin plays Love Letter

However other beautiful moments seemed to go Andrew's way and he ended with a win:

Andrew 3
Ian 2
Sam 1

And with that they staggered off into the night, enriched with experience. Older, wiser. Drunker.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

House rules rule!

The first Tuesday of a new season, and nine of us converged at Sam’s house for an evening of white hot battle (with drinks and nibbles and a newly fixed light overhead). Attendees were Sam, Joe, Matt, Martin, Ian, Katy, Ben, Andy and myself. Since the front room was in use, we were limited to the kitchen and, even with Sam’s kitchen table at full stretch, it would be snug fit.

We began with a nice friendly game of Continuous Pairs: the version were there’s only one loser. Which was me.

We split into three groups of three. Martin and I were unable to find a third for Impulse, so instead Ben, Matt and Andy took up the middle of the table with Beasty Bar. Martin, Katy and Ian perched at the end nearest the wall, playing Vikings. Finally, Joe, Sam and myself occupied the other end with Manila.

With so many games happening at once, it was hard to keep track of anything. The middle group quickly sped off two games of Beasty Bar:

Ben 6
Andy 3 (and 23)
Matt 3 (and 25)

Followed by

Ben 4
Matt 3
Andy 1 (“a charitable one,” as he described it)

And after that they began a game of Port Royal. At this point, Martin looked up from his board and surveyed the table covered by three games with seas and boats and said “It’s all gone very nautical in here.” A nice thematic moment to the evening.

The next game to end was Vikings:

Martin 74
Katy 43
Ian 38

They began a game of Biblios to fill the time until other games had ended.

In Manila, we placed our bets on the three boats pulling into harbour and our share of the cargo/landing fees. We needed a rule refresher and found the similarity in names of two roles: the pirate and the pilot, rather confusing. But we got going eventually. Joe went big on nutmeg, Sam on blue silk while I was impressed enough by lucky ginseng that I tried a late attempt at buying some.

During the first few rounds Sam or Joe had always put ginseng in the third lane at zero. But it managed to come in once when I was the only one on board and then I landed on it as a pirate, so it seemed especially charmed for me.

Not charmed enough to overcome Sam’s and Joe’s more sensible spread-betting, though.

Joe 112
Sam 97
Andrew 87

By now Port Royal was over and Ben had clocked up another win while Andy blamed Explainer’s Curse.

Ben 13
Matt 8
Andy 7

Since Biblios was still ongoing, the six of us decided on a quick dash through Dragon Run. Even though it’s a five-player game, we thought it could accommodate one more, surely. At first we stuck to previous definitions of Treasure Card mean card with actual treasure on them, but a reading of the rule book indicated that a Treasure Card was any card from the Treasure Deck. Another rule to be challenged was that “You may take another turn” allowed a player to stop without having to hide in the shadows or cry like a girl.

I think the discussion about took up most of the game. It ended with another win for Joe:

Joe 16
Andrew 14
Sam 12
Ben 8
Matt 7
Andy 6

I suppose Andy could blame Explainer’s Curse again, since he was the one explaining the real rules to us while we played.

During Dragon Run, Biblios ended with all five dice on three. Katy just won on the dice-colour tie-breaker (and, technically speaking, the money tie-breaker).

Katy 6 (plus blue die)
Martin 6
Ian 3

And they also managed to squeeze in a game of Port Royal

Katy 12 (plus 9)
Ian 12 (plus 2)
Martin 7

Before we all joined together for a rousing game of 6nimmt. Agony was shared around evenly this time, in this high scoring round. Ben (already in last with 62) had to go before the final round, so Dirk took his final go for him. And for a while it looked like Dirk might do quite well. Only for a while, that is. Martin sealed the win with two clear rounds in a row.

Martin 30
Katy 39
Ian 49
Matt 64
Andy 65
Joe 66
Sam 68
Andrew 69
Ben 94

And that was that. Off back home to bed to dream of Joe’s “largest D20 in the world” (approx).

As for the Division, a bit weird (as early divisions usually are) with Ben's lead on Points Ratio entirely due to the fact that only three players have played enough games to have a points ratio. His lead on the Medal Table is more deserved, and Martin leads on Points.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Spies like us

The first games night of 2016 arrived this evening at my house (Sam's). I'd managed to get Stanley to play Macao on the first of January, mainly by repeatedly saying "Macao" in the style of a deranged parrot, but despite winning (80-79) Stan was not taken with it. After a Christmas of Codenames, Spyfall, King of Tokyo and Dragon Run, the Feldian mechanics probably seemed rather dry.

Chris arrived early and we played Spyfall with himself, myself, Sally, Stanley and Joe all in the mix. I don't remember everything at this point, but I do recall being the spy a couple of times and figuring out where we were. Joe pulled off being the spy and voting out other people. Then whilst Joe and Sally danced upstairs the three of us played King of Tokyo, the game of fighting beasts. Stanley's dice rolls let him down and Chris led for a while, only for me to pip him to the post:

Sam 20
Chris 18
Stanley 12

As we finished Andrew, Katy and Ian arrived en masse and we embarked on a game of Dragon Run. This game is similar to Incan Gold in the push-your-luck sense; as the players represent adventurers trying to escape the dragon's fiery breath, having stolen his gold. On your turn you have three choices - charge recklessly ahead, hide in the shadows, or cry like a baby. Charging is high risk, hiding is a calculated risk, and crying is no-risk but no reward. Chris played the Psychic and despite his psychic powers letting him down, he did enough to claim the win:

Chris 16
Sam 11
Katy 10
Andrew 8
Ian 7

As we ended Joe arrived! I had missed his texts and assumed he was out of the picture, but he was merely fashionably late. We broke into two parties of three, with Joe and Chris teaching Katy Alhambra and Ian, Andrew and I playing Railways of Mexico. I have to say I was pleased with my first round - not only did I deliver the first cube, I also (thanks to the Railroad Executive) completed one of the long-distance routes!

However, it was a bond-heavy strategy that ultimately would count against me. First Andrew the Ian overhauled me and Andrew, thanks to his leeching off Ian's delivery route, surged into the lead whilst Ian and I fought over second. It remained competitive throughout, but to win I needed Andrew to have failed his Baron - he hadn't:

Andrew 62
Sam 58
Ian 55

I didn't witness much of Alhambra, but that girl Katy did it again:

Katy 144
Chris 136
Joe 123

Joe unfortunately was not feeling great and now retired, despite the early hour. Hope you're better Joe. The rest of us played several rounds of Spyfall, much of which has now faded from view in my memory. I think Chris and I were the spy quite a lot though.

Sticking with the clandestine mood we broke out a long-forgotten favourite: The Resistance! Chris and Ian were the spies in the first game and we, the resistance, foiled them. Then Andrew and Ian were the spies and we foiled them too! I was bamboozled by Chris and Andrew in the second game: Chris seemed so set on me being the spy I thought he must be one himself, but I'd forgotten about my drunken proclamation of the resistance cards being green, inadvertently implicating myself.

Finally we played Yardmaster, my new game of train-loading. In a yard. I have to say, having played it with Stan and now a bunch of GNNers, I don't massively rate it. With five players especially you're often just waiting for your turn in order to pick up Cargo cards so later you can (hopefully) buy Railcar cards which need to be a certain colour or a certain number to add to your engine. But Katy and Chris liked it, and Andrew won, so he might look at it favourably too:

Andrew 16
Katy 14
Chris 12
Sam 12
Ian 9

I will concede the game does look lovely though.

So! The first games night of 2016 came to an end.  Let's hope for many more that don't have the headache the following day like I'm going to have tomorrow. Best wishes for the new year all!