Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Heroes, Cats, and Agriculture, or "A too-too French French Bean"

The evening began with the usual game of Memoir, Jon substituting for Paul (who was unable to attend). Turning to Jon for the Session report:

Memoir ‘44
Jon had already set up the scenario by the time that James had arrived, and his first observation was – “I don’t much fancy the Germans’ chances” (they were outnumbered 9 units to 6 by the French resistance). James then managed to randomly select to play the Allies – so he was happy. The scenario is probably set up for the Germans to retreat into the nearby towns and set up a strong defensive position (the Axis player wins if the command deck is exhausted before anyone claims victory). However, Jon decided that attack was the best form of defence, and immediately struck out down the centre, wiping out one of the French units. James responded with a Barrage, which reduced one of the Axis units to 50%, but Jon continued his attacks, this time on the right flank. With the use of far superior tactics (and the odd fortuitous dice roll), Jon had soon picked up 3 of the 4 medals needed for victory. James was literally shell-shocked, and his only response was to insist that Jon used the Allies’ 3 dice for his final roll, as the Axis ones were obviously loaded. This resulted in 3 infantry being rolled – enough to wipe out another of James’ units and claim the victory. James’ iron-clad grip on this game is starting to loosen…..
Jon won; James was ground into the French dirt.

More players had now arrived so we started some short games. Scott and I paired off for Race for the Galaxy (see below) and the others turned to Botswana (thanks Jon)


The presence of animal miniatures in this game was enough to get Emma’s interest, so she joined in along with Jon, James, Keith (and for the second game) Shirief. All the animals scored highly in the first game, which resulted in Emma coming out ahead.
In the second game, James cleaned up on zebras, having the 0 and 5 in his hand, which enabled him to score big, although the other players were quite close in scores.
Emma 29; James 20; Jon 17; Keith 7
James 21; Keith 18; Emma 14; Jon 11; Shirief 11

Meanwhile, at about the same time on a table quite close…

Race for the Galaxy

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I don’t remember much about this game. Scott was Imperium Warlord, I was Epsilon Eradni, the Aliens goal was present as was first-to-discard, one-power-in-each-phase and most Developments and most Military.

We both Explore-Settled on the first turn. I put down abandoned Alien Uplift Camp, Scott put down virtually the same card but with Alien bonus instead of Genes bonus. The game continued with my going for early Prestige (Imperium Invasion Fleet, Alien Booby Trap) and Scott getting a firm cards lead by trading, soon leading to him picking up the discard goal. We tied for the Aliens goal as I put down Alien Rosetta Stone World and eventually Hidden fortress allowed me to get the military goal

No one called produce the whole game, so my Malevolent Lifeforms just sulked in a corner. Alien Tech Instituted helped me a little but by then Scott had Imperium Lords in play and was able to develop his 12th card, taking the Developments goal in the bargain

Scott 63, Philip 44

While most of the crowd gravitated to the Adventurers, me and Scott and Shirief played a filler, waiting for Gareth and Andy.

A colourful retheme of an earlier abstract, this card game sees players collecting plastic animals while manipulating how much the animals are worth. The game ends when 6 cards have been played on an animal. There are exactly 6 cards for each animal in the deck, ranging from 0 to 5 (and 5 different kinds of animals). However, for the three player game, three cards are removed, creating uncertainty.

I, with the 3,4 and 5 in Leopards, collected Leopards and (when the Leopards had run out) Zebras. Shirief collected Lions, Elephants and Rhinos and so did Scott though he favoured the Elephants against the Rhinos which worked out well for the final play of the game, a 0 on the Rhinos. I was glad not to be forced to play my last card (a 0 on the Zebras).

Philip 37 Scott 32 Shirief 21

Back on the Adventurers table (Thanks Keith)

Adventurers is a light dungeon game which has been played before in the London Apprentice. Each of the players controls one adventurer and tries to amass as much treasure as possible without being squashed by the stone ball, tipped into lava or falling into the chasm.

This time Keith decided to discard any notions of subtlety and sent his adventurer straight for the biggest treasure. After a quick look at the rune cards he was off across the lava pit. Quite a gamble given that he had only seen three of the cards, leaving a 36% chance that he would be dumped into the boiling lava. But, this time he was lucky and raced across the lava pit collecting treasure along the way.

While Keith fumbled several attempts at the main treasure James and Dan collected the four minor treasures and Emma cleaned up the remaining treasure in the lava pit. Jon dithered for a round, then decided that Keith's plan had some merit and joined him at the main treasure, only to see Keith snatch the treasure and rush off towards the exit.

While Keith ran for the exit, the others searched the river and found a multitude of small treasures. Unfortunately, Emma found her handbag full of gold bars a little too heavy and was forced to discard a few while clambering out of the river.

Even with their lengthy swim, all of the adventurers reached the exit well ahead of the boulder, giving the unusual result that no adventurers were puréed, none were immolated and nobody plummeted to their doom. Quite disappointing really.

Final scores: Keith 28, Dan 26, Emma 22, Jon 13, James 11.

Andy and Gareth had now arrived, as well as Johan. The six of us split into 2 groups of three, Andy, me and Shirief playing Agricola and the others Puerto Rico.


Shirief was briefly reminded of the rules as we set up the three player game with cards taken from all three decks, dealing 10 of each type and discarding down to 7 of each type. Rather than recite the game move-by-move (which I couldn’t remember anyway) I’ll describe broadly what happened in each area.

Food is always tight in the three player game and the sheep arriving in turn 4 didn’t help anyone. Andy’s Charcoal burner was the only major source of extra food, although my Boar breeding allowed me to survive the first harvest (with extra Clay from Resource Seller I could buy a Cooking Hearth for that crucial 1 extra food). Subsequent harvests continued to be tight, the worst moment being the third Harvest when Shirief, who had mistakenly thought fireplaces were made of wood, found he was 1 food short. Shortly after this point I invested in a Basket Maker’s Workshop, allowing me to eat Reeds, and Andy, who had a fireplace, also built a Clay Oven. Shirief played the Cooking Hearth minor improvement and no one went short of food thereafter.

Wood was not a problem. Andy had the Woodcutter as well as the Charcoal Burner, Shirief had the Forester (the only occupation he played) and I had the Wood Collector. We were all able to Fence quite a large area and expand our houses.

There was enough Clay (partly helped by my Resource Seller) for everyone to build a Cooking improvement or two and for me and Shirief to renovate. Andy had the Conservator but didn’t get round to playing it and stayed with a Wooden hut.

I had plenty of Reeds thanks to a combination of Thatcher and Reed Pond. I could easily afford a Lasso, which give me a vital tempo advantage in the last third of the game, and I was even able to eat my spare Reeds with the afore-mentioned Basket Maker’s Workshop. The other too fought for the remaining Reed and lacked enough to build the full five rooms.

I took the greater part of the Stone, building the Well on the penultimate turn. Family Growth appeared as late as possible and only I went up to 5 family members, Andy and Shirief reaching four. Andy had a fair Grain engine and plowed 5 fields, while Shirief and I only managed two or three. I had plenty of Vegetables and one cow and one sheep, Andy and Shirief had sheep but not cows and none of us had wild boar at the end despite the Boar Breeding card being in play.

Philip 40 Andy 26 Shirief 11.

The game of Puerto Rico on the other table hasn’t written a session report, but apparently Johan gave a lot of good advice to Tonio…

Tonio 47 Gareth 43 Scott 40 Johan 35.

Puerto Rico gave way, almost by anagram, to Perudo. (Thanks again Jon)


Tonio sat to the left of Jon. Big mistake. First off – Jon bluffed, and Tonio lost a die. Then, Jon actually did have four 4’s under his cup, and Tonio lost another die. Another bluff later and he was down to 2. 2 soon became 1 and then it was all over. Surprisingly, Scott was the next to go, and at this stage, Gareth had 4 dice, Johan 3 and Jon 2. When Jon went down to 1 die, it looked all over for him, but a couple of bad calls from Johan and a successful ‘exact’ call, left Jon in the final with Gareth. With Gareth ahead 3 to 1 in dice, it looked bad for Jon, but with a final double-bluff on the last die, he came out victorious (his first win ever in this game). Glorious.

Jon 1st; Gareth 2nd; Johan 3rd; Scott 4th; Tonio 5th

Meanwhile, to her outspoken horror, Emma had been dragooned into a card game about pussy cats (she was hoping for Apples to Apples). Thanks to Keith again for the report.

Felix is a lightweight game by Friedemann Freise about auctioning sets of cats.

Each player contributes one face-down card to the set being auctioned. The cards are mostly cats (good and bad) but there are also dogs and the occasional rabbit. Everyone knows one card in the set, and when bidders drop out more of the cards are revealed, so there is an incentive to stay in for a round or two. However, some of the players may have contributed bad cats, or even dogs. So there's an element of guesswork and bluff in deciding whether to stay in 'til the end or take a cash reward for dropping out.

Early in the game both Keith and Emma over extended themselves. Unfortunately, Emma was sitting next to Dan who knew exactly how to turn the screw and repeatedly bid just enough to force her out. This meant she took the smallest reward each time and remained unable to bid, while Keith made a slow recovery from his early mistake.
Their mistakes meant that the auctions in the middle of the game were between James and Dan, while Keith and Emma made every effort to drop nasty cats and unfriendly dogs into the pool. Towards the end Keith accumulated a reasonable pile of money and was able to snap up the final auction very profitably to sneak ahead of James and into the winners cat basket.

 Keith 71, James 70, Dan 56, Emma 12.

Apples to Apples was again rejected in favour of a game about Beans (thanks again Jon)

Andy had brought this along and was wanting to play, as he needed to learn the rules. Tonio was bullied into staying around, and Emma was of course attracted by the cute beans. This game was played in a very friendly spirit, especially by Emma, who lovingly provided Tonio with every bean that his little heart desired. Jon was the only player not to buy a third bean-field, and the final scores were incredibly close, with only one coin between the top three. Family-card-game-tastic!

Dan 16; Jon 15; Tonio 15; Andy 12; Emma 12  

The company then ended the evening with 7 Wonders. Only the scores have come back to us.

Dan 53 Keith 49 James 42 Jon 40 Emma 40

Footnote: "A Too Too French French Bean" is from Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Drier and More Complicated than it Looks

Welcome back to the regular weekly blog.This week we had three guests all the way from Minnesota: Ryan, Eric and Colleen, come to sample our strange English ways. They were warmly welcomed as Paul explained the concepts of “doing a Gareth”, “doing a Jon” and, wait-a-minute there’s no such thing as “doing a Jon”, at which point providing entertaining but dubious catch-phrases for the benefit of foreign guests entered the Isleworth Boardgamers lexicon as “doing a Paul”.

For Sale (Thanks Jon)

The evening began with For Sale. A few sharp comments about sub-prime mortgages were exchanged. Philip, Jon and Paul were the old hands, so Philip did the rules explanation and we were underway. Eric rather overbid on his opening property, but after that, the high value properties were being shared out quite evenly.
When the game was over and the cheques counted up, the scores turned out to be incredibly close, with 3 players tied for third. Jon’s ability to avoid the null cheques helped him to squeeze into first place.
Jon $48k; Paul $44k; Philip, Emma, Ryan $41k; Eric $34k

We were still waiting for the full complement to show up, so we turned to another light quick game, a bit more respectable than the property market…

Cash and Guns (thanks Paul)

Cash and Guns was tabled to make our American guests feel right at home, as quite obviously they were all packing firearms as Americans tend to, and they almost definitely have a habit of enacting a Mexican standoff when they get home at night. Well, really we got it out because it didn’t take long and six people could play, but hey, it *might* have made them feel more at home, who knows...

So six guns were pointed and the game began. Emma took a loud delight at almost everything that happened. Barrie shamefully ducked most things that came his way. Gareth was braver but was soon shot to death. Paul and Philip pointed their orange foam weapons at each other for most of the game, and every time they used the same card making almost all of their brandishing in vein. Ryan was a card short so had to pilfer the pack of poor, dead Gareth.

Gareth was the only dead man at the end of the game, which was almost certainly due to the poor aim of everyone else, not their kindness.

Emma: 110, Paul: 105, Barrie 85, Ryan: 70, Philip 30, Gareth: RIP

By now there were enough people to start organising serious games. Paul was eager to try Shipyard, as he had been the previous week. However this week there were two unsuspecting Americans willing to try it with him, so I agreed to make a fourth. One of the Americans picked up the box and looked at the rather crowded pictures of many components on the back. At this point Paul chimed in with “It’s drier and more complicated than it looks!”- raising a few eyebrows even after he had hastily explained that he had meant to say the opposite…

Shipyard (thanks again Paul)

Shipyard is an excellent flowing Eurogame. However it is a game with lots of bits. LOTS of bits. Consequently the rules explanation took slightly longer than it would for Cash and Guns. OK, it took quite a bit longer than for Cash and Guns. OK it was a long rules explanation, as players at the next table kept pointing out as they finished game after game while Paul was still explaining how the amidships sections with cabins were needed for crew, whilst cannons needed different fixings and cranes different again.

However once the game started it pushed on nicely, with never too much of a 'thinking break' at any turn. Eric launched the first ship somewhere near the end of the first round (of four), followed by Ryan and Philip, with Paul being last to test the waters, albeit with the maximum sized 9 piece vessel. Ryan and Eric both managed to get three ships onto the test canal by the game end, while Philip and Paul had two each.

Points are mainly derived from the test runs and fulfilling government contracts at the end of the game. Once Eric had launched his final ship he was in the lead with Paul in second place, so the main question was whether Eric could maintain the first place spot by fulfilling his contracts. As it turned out he did better than everyone else at meeting his contractual obligations, so in fact he extended his lead into a convincing win. Philip got more contract points than Paul so caught him on points and then beat him on the tie breaker as he had a guilder or two left whilst Paul was broke. Ryan was gallantly bringing up the rear.

Eric: 78, Philip: 70 (+ 3 coins), Paul: 70 (0 coins), Ryan: 57

Shipyard took that particular crew of gamers to the end of the evening. Meanwhile other games had been played: here's a report on Acquire from Jon.


4 IBG’ers were looking for a game to play - the battle lines were drawn – Scott and Jon on one side, Dan and Emma on the other. Graciously, the latter two agreed to join in with Acquire – and then Andy arrived and turned it into a happy band of 5.

Jon (1 play) was the only person apart from Scott who had played before, so Scott explained the rules to the other 3. Emma decided that she couldn’t cope with a game about buying shares in companies, so Scott skilfully turned the game into buying lizards from pet-shops(?!) Weird – but at least it kept Emma happy.

The details of the game have mostly been lost to the ravages of time, but basically: Dan bought enough red shares in one go to monopolise them – unfortunately, they only paid out once. Emma maxed out in purple – but then ran out of cash so spent a fair few goes simply placing tiles. Jon had learned from his first game and tried to predict which company would grow the biggest and buy up all their shares. Unfortunately, this turned out to be purple, so he lost out to Emma… Andy did a bit of everything. And Scott did a lot of everything, and consequently cleaned up.

Considering how old this game is, it feels remarkably modern, and certainly has a very simple rule-set for its weight. Definitely one to bring out a few more times.4

Scott $52,900; Jon $39,600; Andy $32,800; Emma $26,800; Dan $25,200

Dixit (Thanks Dan)

The rather pleasant nap I was enjoying during Acquire was disturbed by Emma yelling "Is it time for Dixit?" or something similar in my ear. Jon, Andy and an initially reluctant Barrie (It’s not that I don’t like the game it’s just that I always win really easily) joined us. It was Andy’s first ever game of Dixit and it showed with giving a rather too obvious clue on his first turn. He quickly got into the swing of things and after a bit of mid game tussling on the VP track stormed as much as a Rabbit can into the lead only for Jon to hop past everyone else to secure a comfortable win. All I can say about Barrie (I always win really easily) is "Not Last"

Jon - won, Andy, Emma, Barrie, Daniel - stuck in the meadow nibbling Dandelions.

As if one light guessing game wasn’t enough, the crowd moved on to:

Wits & Wagers (Thanks Dan)

Who would have thought such a simple game would be the cause of so much rules debate? Yes, that can only mean one thing - Gareth was playing. We learnt some very interesting things during this game, namely that giraffes are slightly less than four hundred feet tall, Darwin wrote the Theory of Evolution sometime before the second world war, and the Eiffel Tower stands on more than three legs. Who says games can’t be educational and fun at the same time? Daniel won with a last round all or nothing gamble. Emma, Andy, Jon, Barrie, Gareth and Colleen need to brush up on their obscure trivia.

And now for something completely different!

Sister Club starting from Monday 26th September

he bad news is that Gareth is leaving us. The good news is that he’s setting up a new club on Monday nights!

In his own words…

"I am looking to start a new Monday night club in Richmond and Kew. If you are interested in playing games such as Puerto Rico, Agricola, Ra, Stone Age etc, then please come along. All games will be explained and new-comers are welcome. The venue is the Triple Crown Inn on Kew Foot Road, Richmond (next to the Rugby ground) and I have booked the meeting room upstairs for the evening.

The hire of the room is free on the understanding that we buy a couple of drinks each. Sorry no food apart from bar snacks, but the landlord is happy for us to order in food. The venue is a 5 minute walk from Richmond mainline station (20 minutes to Waterloo) and the District Line tube station. There are also plenty of buses and free parking at the Old Deer Park car park after 6.30 pm which is adjacent.”

Friday, 16 September 2011

The Lost Weeks

Jon has passed responsibility for writing the blog over to me, Philip. You'll find my name often enough in previous blog entries. I studied history at university, so its perhaps appropriate that my first task is to piece together the scraps of evidence that have survived from the period 10th August 2011 until 7th September 2011, when the blog was in limbo.

10th August 2011: A Pirate's life for me

Games played: Memoir 44 (Probably between Paul and James with James' Germans trouncing Paul's Americans); Puerto Rico; Last Calll (a game about mixing drinks and avoiding ice cubes); Mines of Zavandor; Pirate's Cove (on which see below); Perudo, 7 Wonders, Haggis and Tumblin' Dice.

Pirate's Cove pitted five pirate captains against each other. Each turn we secretly chose to sail to one of 6 islands. If more than one captain selected the same island, there would be a fight. Players could either run away (risking Mutiny) or fight until crippled in one area (hull, cannons, crew, or sails). Crippled ships got very basic repairs, meaning they were likely to lose their next fight too. Indeed one of the players (I think it was Dan) was on the losing end of a fight most rounds.

The winners of the fighting (or those lucky enough to have picked an island without competition) could pick up treasure, coins, VPs or equipment cards, including the powerful Parrots...James benefited from a parrot giving him maximum sails (allowing him to fire first in combat), while I had a couple of parrots which boosted gun power (in succession, you can't keep more than one parrot in play).

There was one other pirate ship in the vicinity, the notorious Captain Hook, who sailed to a schedule, always visting the islands in strict order. This meant he could be, and was, avoided, until the final round when three of us decided to challenge him in order to bury our treasure (and turn it into points). Captain Hook was defeated, but there was one more fight to come: between me and James, who had tied for points. The tie breaker battle was won by me, helped by the sacrifice of my parrot...

17th August: Mars or Bust

Puerto Rico, Penguin Party and Felix the Cat were played, and probably several other games, but we only have a session report (from James?) for a mysterious landing on Mars.

Mission Red Planet

It was Paul P's first game at the IBG and he joined James, Jon and Noel for Mission: Red Planet. On a previous outing it was felt that the official method of allocation of Bonus/Discovery cards at the start and through the game was somewhat unbalanced (more keenly felt by everyone other than James who had stormed to victory). It was therefore decided to use a variant based on BGG information and some creativity from Jon. Each player was initially allocated 3 bonus cards. They could then choose one to discard after each scoring round and were therefore left with one bonus card at the end of the game. The remainder of the bonus cards were discarded and the a discovery card was placed underneath each of the outer planets. The role of the Scientist enabled players to look at 2 of these discovery cards. A further overview of the short ruleset for new players Noel and Paul P and the Mission was off.

In the first round Paul P, Noel and Jon all chose the Secret Agent enabling them to allocate 2 astronauts and launch a ship. James mistakenly thought that at the start of the game there may be plenty of space aboard for a squadron of his astronauts but unfortunately, as he was last to go in the first round, there wasn't and his astronauts stayed at base. This early setback encouraged James in the early game to verbally attempt to deflect any potential attacks on his 'poor team of depleted astronauts'. During the first scoring phase, despite some initial brotherly conflict (Paul P and Noel), Jon astronauts were the most targeted, killed and left eternally spinning through space. Whether this was due to James verbals, Jon's position within the outer zones making him more vulnerable, Jon's good start or just because it was Jon, who can say, but all probably had a contribution. At the end of the first scoring round Jon and Paul were both in the early lead. However, Noel had managed to secure good control in the northern territory which delivered the maximum 3VP resource and had got a look at the hidden card for that area which told him that it would score highly in the end game with an extra 6VP.

During the second scoring phase, Noel played his Recruiter card immediately allowing him to regain all of his previously used characters. This helped him in the next round to secure a spaceship to take only his astronauts to one of the previously unscored territories. Paul P did have an opportunity to redirect this ship but chose instead to level the playing field in a territory in which he was involved. Noel lost a couple of astronauts as James secured control of the southern territory and Paul P gained control of two of the central areas. In the final round, Noel reinforced his two high scoring territories and managed to redistribute to pick up another central area in addition. James benefited from Paul P reinforcing his lead in an area in which the hidden event card gave the VP's to the player with the second highest number of astronauts in the area. This also meant James secured the 9 point bonus for the greatest amount of Ice (1VP) resource. Jon tried but was just unable to redistribute his astronauts to complete his personal bonus card.
. A interactive, interesting and decision filled game in around 1 hour and a thumbs up for this variant.

Noel 50, James 36, Jon 28, Paul P 27

24th August 2011: Tokyo, Vegas and Manhattan

Again probably more were played than the records show, but at least we have five session reports (four due to Dan).

First, some giant monsters battling over a famous city.
King of Tokyo

After an initial official 'practice' game in which we let James demonstrate how to win, with only woody providing some resistance by means of a super defence card, we started Kings of Tokyo. Dan, not having seen the quick demise of anyone previously trying to tough it out in tokyo from the start, took on all comers for 2 rounds before blazing out in a trail of suicidal glory for the sake of a couple more points. James was next to go with Gareth and scott forming a formidable combination in the middle with scott cowering behind the aid of Gareth's special attack and defence card. And when Gareth bailed from Tokyo taking his card with him scott followed him straight out. With Noel and scott both around 5 points off the win, Noel managed to pick up a 4 point card and there was little anyone could do on the final round before the inevitable victorious march into Tokyo.

Noel 24, Scott 16, Gareth and Woody 12ish, James and Dan dead.

Next some casino owners doing much the same except with money rather than claws.

Lords of Vegas

Dan joined Noel and Tanya for lords of Vegas despite his best instincts telling him not to play negotiation games with couples. Tanya reassured him that she would take most opportunities to attack Noel if at all possible. Fortunately for Noel the random site selections pitched Tanya and Dan against each other on one side of the board in a huge battle for control of a 7 point casino. Numerous paint jobs and take over attempts ensued with control frequently changing hands. However when Noel picked up a site in the middle of the casino which Dan had sprawled into, Noel was able to trade with Tanya strengthening her control of the casino and in turn, developng his own position on the other side of the board. Dan quickly traded out his remaining tiles and attempted to build up another casino site. Noel had relatively little opposition in his areas and had 2 five tile casinos. He had his eyes on massive expansion and 'negotiated' a cash sale of one of one of Tanya undeveloped sites on the Strip. Many millions lighter he then realised the miscalculation and lack of enough dice to expand this greater than a small 2 site casino. It did however provide some security to his overall position by ensuring that area could not be developed. There was now only 1 remaining casino in dispute, between Noel and Dan. Noel was able to repaint his casino to use up the grey tiles and keep him safe from takeover and at game end 1 turn later, Noel, King of Tokyo, had enough to add the title of Lord of Vegas.

Noel 50, Tanya 32, Dan 32.

The same players now turned to a light card game.

This was new to dan and he quickly developed substantial sets in most colours. His diversification looked to be his downfall but the cautious game played by Noel and Tanya, keeping a close eye on each other, meant that dan was able to win with a couple of full set colours negating the negative points from his other sets.
Dan 38, Noel 32, Tanya 28.

They then rounded off the evening with a return to the high money theme...

High Society

Finally a game of High Society, which was new for Tanya. However, unsurprisingly she quickly grasped the game which requires accurate valuation and shopping for desirable, expensive items. It was also no surprise that she proved skilled at getting Noel to spend most of his cash as he finished with the least amount. Tanya had steadily accumulated enough points to take her first win at IBG and everyone had one win each to finish the evening.
Tanya 17, Dan 10, Noel lost.

Now our only report for this evening which doesn't feature Dan (credit to Paul for the report). Another urban area, although it isn't entirely clear what is going on there, except that it involves stacking highrises...


Played by Paul, Barrie, Hannah (Barrie's daughter down from Manchester) and Gary - Hannah's boyfriend.

Barrie was the only one that had played before, but the game features very simple rules with a subtle strategy and lots of opportunities for doing a dirty on the opponents. Gary and Hannah dutifully started off by getting at each other, but unfortunately realised that it was not serving them best to just do that and soon both got down to some very profitable stacking some highrises for worthwhile points. Hannah ended up winning with Gary and Paul joint second and Barrie one point behind both of us.

31st August 2011: The Lord of Pleasure

I'm not entirely confident that these games were played tonight, but they were definitely played at some point in the Lost Weeks and this is the emptiest spot!

Chaos in the Old World

Ian has been wanting to play this for ages, and I'd expressed an interest the week before, so with Dan willing as ever and Paul interested we were setting up a four player game when Paul had to make up the numbers elsewhere.

The game can be played with three. The players represented depraved and malicious deities from the Warhammer universe. I was Slaanesh, Lord of Pleasure, Dan was Khorne the Blood God and Ian was Tzeeentch, the Changer of Ways. We're all trying to corrupt the Old World while hindering each other as much as possible. A key mechanic is the dials. If you get enough "ticks" during your turn, you an advance your dial one or two "clicks", getting bonuses and eventually winning the game. Its also possible to winn on points but a dial victory has priority. Slaanesh gets ticks from corrupting areas with nobles and heroes in them. Tzeentch from corrupting areas with magic and warpstone in them, and Khorne gets ticks from killing other player's cultists.

The first turn saw me occupying Tilea, Ian Estalia and Dan the Empire. Dial clicks for me and Ian followed. Dan then summoned his Greater Demon into Tilea but amazingly rolled four misses on four dice (4+ to hit) for two turns running, leaving me quite happy in Tilea. I picked up extra ticks in the Empire (casting a spell to prevent combat with Dan) and also in Kislev, an area full of heroes (who killed my cultists, but only after they'd earned their ticks).

Soon I'd acquirred both the Power of Pain and the Power of Pleasure, allowing me extra points to spend on spells and summoning minoins, and had got a bonus 2 extra nobles, which I placed in isolated low value areas. Ian however was scoring more points as various areas became Ruined.

Ian summoned his Greater Demon to attack my cultists, I summoned my Greater Demon in response and cut him down. As we went into the final turn I needed two dial clicks to win a dial victory, which I managed thanks to the "tougher cultists" upgrade protecting my vulnerable minions. Ian won on points at the same time.

A close and fun game which would have been even more fun with four players!
Meanwhile on the other table the exploitation was economic rather than diabolic.. thanks to Paul for the report.

Puerto Rico

The classic has been making several appearances in the games pile in recent weeks, suggesting it ain't lost any of that old magic. There was a full complement of five who were keen enough to dust it off this week, most of which hadn't played it for a while with one new player - James III (or is it IV?)

First steps were taken by Woody who quickly built up some Indigo capacity for production, whilst Paul, Keith and Alex concentrated on violet buildings giving them benefits of more money during the trading phase, more plantations when they came out and so forth (although as it was the start of the game, these were cheap so the benefits were limited).

James III delved into a bit of Indigo and a bit of Sugar. Paul went for corn, needing no production facility. Keith had eyes on the bigger picture grabbing a coffee roaster. Woody supplemented his Indigo with some quarries to allow himself to build buildings efficiently. Alex spread his moves across a variety of strategies.

Colonists were scarce throughout this game, as there were not so many empty spaces to attract them into play.

Paul was the first casualty of the shipping phase, being caught without a warehouse and having to dump a fist full of his hard earned corn, but this soon caught up with most people on the board. Woody in particular was certainly a bit aggrieved to have been talked into placing his Indigo on one boat, which ended up coming back to haunt him. Lessons learnt, by the end of the game people had acquired good storage facilities. James III and Paul had also invested in Wharves which helped them ship whatever they wanted without cause for concern.

Keith suffered from being to the left of Paul, who had also started to produce coffee, meaning that Keith was always at Paul's mercy when it came to cashing in the java, so he spread his portfolio to tobacco to give him more options.

Woody was the first to start the process of buying the large 'big point' buildings, and managed to get his hands on two by the end of the game.

The game ended when the victory point chip supply was zero, which occurred half way through a shipping phase. Initially it was thought that this would mean that Paul missed out on his shipment points, due to being last in that turn, but Keith then found a section in the rule book which said that those points are written down and still counted (phew - thanks Keith).

All agreed that the scores were fairly unpredictable as the game had been well balanced. Paul suspected that Woody would take it with his double haul of big buildings, but as it turns out his initial victory point chips were a little short to give him victory, and Keith's delving into the rule book made all the difference.
Paul 52 Woody 49, Keith 44, James III 40, Alex 38

Jon's newly crafted masterpiece was on display all evening, but was only put to use once the board games started to finish.

Tumblin Dice

Dexterity games seem to create a split in the boardgamers - some had been eyeing up the board all evening, with half a thought that they'd rather have been flicking and nudging, whilst some seemed to be much more at home with the planning, calculating, analysing and the nimbleness of fingers kept to distributing cubes according to strategy as opposed to the laws of physics.

The first game was Scott, Philip, Paul and Alex, although Alex departed after the first round so Woody took his place. As Alex had scored a mere 9 points, it was thought that Woody had been unfairly disadvantaged, but as his next score was 6, feelings of pity rapidly vanished. Scott's suggestion that dice still count if they land on chairs wasn't taken up, although it would be an interesting variant.
Paul 142, Philip 82, Scott 80, Woody/Alex 66.

After this game, Scott and Philip went back to thinking games, and as seven wonders wasn't finished it was left to Paul and Woody to take 2 sets of dice each for just 2 rounds.

Paul 153, Woody 91

Seven Wonders then finished and both members of the IBG Tumblin-Dice owners club were extremely keen for some of the action. In the first game James took an early lead and never looked back. By the time the last round came along, a combination of the gulf in scores between James and everyone else, plus a good dose of gloating and goading from the leader, caused the three trailing players to care far more about pegging James back than winning themselves. However against all probability (actually, probably not against any probability whatsoever) the reds, greens and blues consistently missed James' blacks time after time after time, instead causing havoc amongst themselves, or just rolling off the board after a failed sabotage attempt. James therefore increased his lead after this last turn to come to an easy victory.
James 132, Jon 74, Woody 52, Paul 52

The time had gone 11, but too much Tumblin-Fun was being had, so the four dice flickers decided to enjoy one last game. Of course the chance to stop James from leaving as the runaway winner was a bigger motivation for Jon, Woody and Paul and the fact that James was relying on a lift meant that he was forced to put his title on the table - not that took much coaxing.

This time round dice were flicked more carefully, the game being in the balance right up until the final tumble, with the spread being close enough for anyone to have won. In fact the only reason Woody was a few points behind was that he scored zero on his last dice, otherwise the result may have been significantly different.
Jon 99, Paul 97, James 96, Woody 85

September 7th: An Allied Victory at last

The sources are rather better for this final "lost week" than they are for earlier weeks.
Ian, Scott, Phil, Gareth, Andy, Johan, Paul, Emma, James, Jon, Tonio

Games played:
Settlers of Catan
Tumblin' Dice x 3
Stone Age
Pillars of the Earth
Cleopatra and the Society of Architects
Memoir '44

Memoir'44 (thanks Paul)

After an utter trouncing during the first 4 outings of this WWII 'simple' battle simulation, Paul, playing the allies, wasn't feeling confident. Sorry allies, but the truth must be told, even if it is at a cost of... well, the survival of the free world in this case. The pattern soon continued, the tactic of playing his best card first failing, as four dice rolled against James' best position all failed. Paul did manage to strike first, winning one medal, but James then absorbed the tank attack and picked them off one by one, to lead 3 - 1. As other IBGers started to arrive, there were familar 'how manay is he beating you by this week, Paul?' questions as people shuffled off to food and Perudo. However those uber-keen Germans were getting a little careless and came chasing out in the open from their snug clifftop hideaways and the tables started slowly to turn. The allies learnt the value of staying put and managed to eke out medal after medal until, much to everyone's surprise, not least Paul's, the allies matched history and came away victorious.

Paul (Allies): 5, James (Germans): 3

One dice game deserves another...

Tumblin'Dice (thanks Paul)

Jon bought the board that he'd sacrificed a quality wardrobe, a week's holiday, some saw blades, a couple of letrasets to produce. James forgot the dice. Emma had bought a copy of Perudo for £1 at a charity shop, so 4 sets were quickly snaffled for some tumblin' action. They were a little smaller than the 'proper' set, lighter and had round corners. Well, let's just say that they were different enough to void all of the scores below.
James 155, Paul 92
James 118, Jon 93, Emma 75, Paul 75
Jon 104, James 99, Tonio 78

Another dice game now came into view, an old classic this time (thanks again to Paul).

Settlers of Catan

Emma had never played before, so was told that she simply couldn't be a paid up IBGer without having played the game that got most of us started with 'proper' board games. No one had played for a while, so it took a while to get going.

Andy and Johan snaked away duelling for the longest road on either side of the board. Emma got herself somewhat penned in, meaning that she couldn't expand by way of road, so would need to use the strategy of cities and development cards. Paul was attempting to build up vast supplies of wood, while trading them at the wood harbour. Part way through the game Emma realised that she was late for another appointment (just how long did she think a eurogame would take, anyway?) and proceeding to work out that Johan was in the lead, and that she'd be able to escape to her other friends sooner if she helped him win. Actually this was quite late in the game, and Johan, albeit that he bemoaned bad die rolls all the way through the game, was quite a way in the lead and would almost definitely have won anyway. Paul and Andy did their best to stop him, with Andy taking the longest road back, but all in vain, as win he did, with a little help from Miss 'but I've broken a promise to my other friends' Bardo.
Johan 10, Paul 8, Emma 6, Andy 5

Meanwhile a medieval cathedral-building game had appeared, but this own has only a limited dice element.

Pillars of the Earth

Gareth has been muttering about making this Game of the Month for a while. The game features a Bausackesque six wooden piece structure which turns out to be completely superfluous to game play (one piece is placed each round and when all six are placed its game over). The game is worker placement, with plebeian workers going into quarries and forests to get sand and wood and stone and rather posher workers getting the opportunity to influence events, earn VPs and pick up helpful allies. The posher workers are drawn out of a bag at random to determine turn order, with the first few drawn out having to pay for the privilege or go to the back of the queue. Mine always seemed to be left in the bag.
There's quite a lot to the game but much of turns around craftsmen turning resources into VPs. In addition to the sand and wood and stone mentioned earlier the fourth resource is metal which is hard to obtain and gets lots of VPs especially at the end of the game when the best craftsmen are available. Gareth went for a wood strategy, helped by getting Alice at the start of the game (+1 Wood a turn). I used a mixed metal/sand strategy, while Scott concentrated on getting VPs directly. The end result was quite close, except that Scott was maybe half dozen points ahead of the pack. I thought the game was ok, but Gareth seemed to have lost interest...
We now went back in time a few thousand years to...

Stone Age
I was sitting to Gareth's left. Scott, on Gareth's right started, I think Ian was playing on my left. Anyway I unwisely went for extra people right at the start three times in a row. The first time the hut was the only option left from the three in the middle, but the second and third times I could have had a field...
While I floundered trying to feed extra mouths Gareth's usual tools strategy seemed to be fairly sucessful. However, the tools cards just didn't come out in time and Scott was able to motor his way to victory using a full set of picture cards.
Meanwhile, having finished settlers the other table moved on to (thanks Paul):

Felix the Cat in the Sack.

This is what we wrapped up the evening with. Can't remember the exact scores for this game, apart from that I'd accumulated enough mice that in the last hand of the game I could afford to outbid everyone, and there were quite a few high scoring cards still out there, netting me 40 odd points in that hand, which was easily the game winner. There was a real satisfying moment as Andy played the last card, so he knew it was a biggun, but he also knew that I had the cash to take it, so was powerless to do anything.

That is the end of the reports from the Lost Weeks, hopefully soon a full report will be forthcoming for 14th September.