Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas

This is the time of year that so many of us join up with old friends and family, perhaps for a meal, a drink and maybe just maybe a game or two. Unfortunately there will be no games club this Tuesday as a result the next time we will meet will be in 15 days on Jan 1st. Most of us agreed that hangovers may have gone by that Tuesday night. This is two weeks from now so if anyone out there wants to meet up to play some games at any point through this festive period, who knows you may have time off work etc….or you may be sick of playing risk against your Gran and want to play a proper game, then please feel free to send me a text message or an e-mail and I will see what is out there and pair some of us up.

It is a shame that we can’t share mince pies or pull a cracker or two and I will just have to put in the cupboard all those Christmas cards I had bought for everyone and save them for next year. Unfortunately the chocolate and beer I had bought everyone will perish too soon for me to distribute itm, so I will have to eat it myself!!

This lack of Christmas cheer will no doubt please the philistines among us who would rather ‘baa humbug’ than ‘ho ho ho’ But I will miss you all these coming two weeks, miss the opportunity of spreading a bit of good will, peace on earth and a of course miss thrashing you at a boardgame and you will take little solace in the hollow victory of holding Australasia for the whole game against your Gran and wish you were instead losing at a real game against proper players.

See you in the new year.

Merry Christmas

Friday, 7 December 2007

A Song for Bondie

Three is a Matty number
Ya it is, its a Matty number
Somewhere in that ancient mystic trinity
You’ll get three
As a Matty number
The past, the present, the future,
Faith, and hope, and charity,
The heart, the brain, the body,
Will give you three,
Its a Matty number
It takes three legs to make a tripod or to make a table stand,
And it takes three wheels to make a vehicle called a tricycle
And every triangle has three corners,
Every triangle has three sides,
No more, no less,
You don’t have to guess
That its three
Cant you see?
Its a Matty number
A man and a woman had a little baby they called it Matt
Yeah they did
And there were three in the family
And that’s a Matty number

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Ich bin ein riesiges Luftschiff!

And here we are again, THE ELITE OF NORWICH BOARD GAMERS, attending, to play games of great import, complexity and design. We put our heavyweight brains through high calibre gaming action, training ourselves to react to the tiniest flaw in our opponent's plans, ready to inflict the fatal blow. For this week... we shall... BUILD AIRSHIPS BY USING JUST DICE AND CARDS!

The game was called Giganten der Lüfte, which kind of sounds like a Pixies song title or something. Jimmy, Tom, Matt and myself set about this task, by rolling dice. White dice, red dice and black dice. By doing this we collected cards that enabled us to roll more dice. Or add points to the dice we just rolled. Or build airships. This was the point of the game, score points by building airships. So the more dice we rolled, the more dice we collected, the more airships we built and the fewer points Matt scored. It seemed a ponderous start, rolling a mere two white dice with low numbers on, picking up an assortment of bonus cards that assisted our progress. At this point it is quite unpossible to discern who is the greatest airship builder in the land. Also we had no idea what nation Jimmy was (turned out it was an old German one). So cards were accrued, and we built up our ability to roll higher numbers. We moved on to collecting red dice, and building airships. When you built an airship, you got awarded the airship token, which was very nice, and a great incentive to building airships, because you could pick it up and make airship noises (note: I have no idea what airship noises are). It gave you a bonus too. Sweet. Myself, Jimmy and Tom all built some airships, Matt just rolled dice and got compensation for not being very successful at it (if you failed to build an airship or card, you got a token that you could use to add 1 to your dice roll or if you collected 3 you could garner a 2nd go in a row). Jimmy then became the hoarder of many dice and built many airships. I took the approach of going for the Hindenberg, for which there were 4 stages of building (any player could contribute to any stage), and a big bonus if all 4 were complete. The game possibly turned for 2 reasons. One: I was first to get 2 black dice, and a +2 black dice bonus. Two: the game can end if you run out of smaller airships. There were only two more remaining, but one of them required a high roll with just white dice. Jimmy didn't have enough white dice to pursue this. After Matt failed again, I secured stage 3 of the Hindenberg. Things were hotting up. Jimmy saw what was going on and pounced to secure two black dice. But I was going to get one more chance at stage 4 to end the game. Tom rolled inconsequentially, Matt failed, and now was my BIG CHANCE!! I rolled dice, I counted dice, IT'S GOOD!!! I had secured stage 4 of the unwittingly doomed airship. The points were counted, it was a landslide. 26 to me, 17 to Tom and Jimmy, and an impressive 3 for Matt. Well done Matt, you tried your best.

Ok, that was in the bag. Fresh from my victory I set about my half of Nog, fantastic. Over on the other table and assortment of long hairs, a punk and Luke were playing Caylus. Joy.

Next up was the dice off to decide game 2 for us. It turned out to be VOM DEM WIND! Or something like that. Initially I was scared, very scared. This game revolved around putting stock on boats, and shipping it. Sound familiar? FREAKING KOGGE. Luckily, this game was not much like Kogge, as it contained actual elements of fun! Basically you bought goods, you kept them in your hand, you then loaded them on a boat. Of course, that sounds pretty dull to you and me, but the game was good, despite taking twice as long as a game like this ought to. It also struck me as more advanced version of Medici vs Strozzi, kinda. Anyway, I got off to a quick start, with two ships departing early on, fully loaded with cheese and other junk. Jimmy though was playing a coolly calculated game which would lead to his inevitable victory. He had a lot of money, I had not much. A great element of this game was bidding on other people's cards, and they had to pay you to keep them or give them to you for your bid. I screwed myself a couple of times with this, bidding on cards in an attempt to get cash, but my opponents were wise to this, although not that wise as for most of the game I had about 2 money, so they could have bought my cards with consumate ease. Jimmy wrapped up victory somewhat inevitably with two straight plays of the card that lets you have opponents cards for a whole 1 "money". He shipped his final ship and there you have it, game under. Jimmy had 55, I had 33, Tom had 26 (I believe) and Matt had 3. No, wait, Matt had 20. Well played Matt, this was a hard game and I think you did well for someone playing it for the first time, I think if you played it again you would have a good chance to score 30!

Caylus finished up, surprise surprise Luke trounced everyone. Then they played Coloretto, and there was some discussion about Byker Grove, Grange Hill and paintballing (Don't shoot someone in the eyes at paintballing, you might get disqualified). There were some kids on that gaming table that hadn't even heard of Danny Kendall. I openly wept. I feel so old.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007


And so I convened at the gathering of fiends once again for more prime gameage action. It had been some weeks since I had sat at the table, fumbling through the Marvel Heroes rule book, and having endured a tough day at work I was ready to enjoy myself, if at all possible. There was a substantial number of folks present, and I wound up as I often do at the Euro table, with Matt, Jimmy, Luke and "the new kid" Olly, very pleasant to make your acquaintance sir. I am sure these stalwarts of Euro gaming wonder why I masochistically put myself through the torture of the Euro efficiency exercise on such a regular basis, but the answer is that I get my kicks from gaming from the social aspect. If the game sucks, it really doesn't matter that much to me so long as people talked a lot during the game and there are laughs. And beer. This weeks offerings of fine ales at the Beef meant that I was able to ask the lady behind the bar for a Piddle in the Snow. And very nice it was too.

Ok, onto the action. Jimmy had brought back approximately every game released at Essen, and was quite keen to play each one, in order, for all eternity. This led us to a new offering from a Czech designer, I don't think I have played any Czech games before, but to be honest this one could have been made in any country as it didn't really have any surprising differences to any of the other games from the vast pantheon of the EURO. League of Six has the rather depressing theme of collecting taxes for the King, but it quickly becomes apparent that the theme is largely irrelevant. Players are bidding guards (or Knights as we erroneously and consistently referred to them as) to collect taxes from 1 of 6 medieval cities in a distinctly Amun Re mode. Being an incompetent player of such efficiency exercises, I rarely got into any bidding wars and generally settled for whatever was cheapest. This was plainly a bad decision as whatever was cheapest was mostly cheap for a reason. For some reason as a tax collector you end up with goods, that you put on your cart and deliver somewhere. So I ended up with minimal goods that I continually used to score victory points. As the final round drew to an end a mere 2 hours after we started, I was nestling in second place. Luke was way out in front. Look at that, I had done quite well! No I hadn't. Of course I hadn't. This is a Euro, surely you have realised by now that there is a SECONDARY SCORING MECHANISM. Collect suits of cards to earn yourself 9, 6, 4 or 2 points depending on how many you have! And I had none! Of any suit at all! So whilst Matt, Jimmy, Olly and Luke collected their bonus points, I slowly slipped further and further behind. Olly and Luke battled it out for the win, Luke narrowly pipped him, Matt and Jimmy were next in some other order, and there was I, the most pathetic tax collector in Lusatia. Well. I believe I sort of enjoyed the game, I definitely got into it as it went along, but whilst it was very well received by Luke and Jimmy it just never was going to be the kind of game that I would run home to place an order for from "Ja, ich liebe Spiele!".

Following all that intense intelligence and fawning to the freaking King, I lowered the tone and disgusted my fellow serious gamers by imposing the bawdy Ca$h n Gun$ on everyone, bar Jimmy, who went off to the other table to beat everyone at Franks Zoo. Anyways, I was getting the skunk eye from Luke in particular as I bumbled through the rules in my usual fashion. "This game has 1 minute of rules?" I could tell he was thinking. I was not expecting things to go well. And so the pointing of the orange foam guns commenced with nervous laughter and a bit of trepidation. I attempted to spice things up a little, but the lack of booze was causing quite a lot of shyness, Matt pointed out we were being far too polite and Olly rightly decried my attempt at brash rudeness by mocking my Norfolk accent that slips out when I am happy and relaxed. Many guffaws were to be had as we worked up the confidence to behave like complete buffoons for 20 minutes. I can't remember who won, Matt I think, he had a ridiculous amount of cash. We then were joined by Simeon, who had played the game before and we kicked things up a notch by introducing the special cards. I think we were more relaxed now as the second game flowed, with much yelling, laughing and general amusement. Luke revealed early on that he was INSANE! (we all knew this already), but he had a FREAKING GRENADE! This meant that we were all too scared to shoot Luke. Wounds were racked up, Matt got shot up and died just before the end, Luke never got shot, and Olly was quietly racking up money. The final bullets spent, we cashed in. Luke smugly announced he had $115k. Olly counted up, he also had $115k. But he was also SUPER COWARD! He was awarded $5k for his single display of shamefulness, and won. The least likely thug of all time, gangsters simply don't wear scarves Olly! I think we all enjoyed it. I was relieved that it hadn't fallen flatter than a pancake, and went home pleased that we had managed to play something that was a little out of the ordinary. And next time we play this Olly, "oi arm gooing to shoot you roight goord".

Friday, 16 November 2007

Essen Report 2007

Ok. I should have posted this last month, so sorry for the delay.

For those that don't know, Essen Internationalen Spieltage (Spiel '07) is an annual game fair held over four days in October at a large exhibition hall in Essen, Germany. It is a essentially a trade show for boardgames, card games and CCGs, with designers and publishers demonstrating their latest releases. However, it is open to the public and and also has retailers selling games at discount, and a large contingent of second hand stalls with a wide range of new and used games.

I attended this board gaming Mecca on Thursday 18th and Friday 19th October - the quieter days before the weekend crush.

DAY 1 - Thursday.

Prior to the event I'd compiled a comprehensive list of games that I wanted to check out or buy. I lost that list. So with a rough list of games scrawled on the back of a prescription for my medication (which I also forgot) I entered the massive exhibition centre at Essen already feeling at a disadvantge. I was accompanied by my girlfriend Liz. After a bit of aimless wandering, looking at the sights and sounds, we managed to check out a number of games that we thought we'd like to play as a couple, however the two big name contenders Zooloretto (winner of the Spiel des Jahre 2007) and Ticket to Ride: Switzerland were both rejected after a few sample games. Zoorloretto, which we both enjoyed as a four player game, was awful with just two. And Ticket to Ride: Switzerland was terribly unbalanced and luck ridden with the emphasis on tunnels and the fact the the locomotive wild cards couldn't be used in normal routes. We had far more fun playing Bausack, where we were stacking irregular blocks to create fantasy castles on par with mad king Ludwig II's Neuschwanstein Castle, which we had visited down in Bavaria only days before.

After a pretty exhausting first day and a couple of large bags of games to show for our toil, we made our way to the exit when I noticed MoD Games and their chief designer Andreas Steding. Now his name might not mean much to the casual reader, but those who know Norwich Board Gamers' very own Andy Malcolm will realise that he is none other than the designer of the infamous Kogge and therefore Andy's arch nemesis (see Kogge, Kogge, Monkey Snogger for Andy's feeling on the game). I had rather jokingly told Andy that I'd get a picture of me slapping Mr Steading, but now coming face to face
with this man of banality I realised that I had to strike a much heavier blow.

The Steding had captured a couple of young teenagers and was now forcing them to try his new game Macht und Ohnmacht (which roughly translates to 'An Eternity of Boredom and Pain'). Like the young children at the bottom of my street who are lured in by the crumpled old man and his handful of Werther's Originals, these teenagers had been lured to the table by The Steding's promise of a "war game". However, there was nothing here resembling a war game, only pointless cube pushing, mind numbing boredom and the very real danger of a sweaty groping. I knew I had to stop the menace. Thrusting my games into Liz's arms I raced to the Kosmos display, grabbing a container of fat from the bratwurst stand and a lighter off a nearby smoker. The centrepiece of the Kosmos display was a life-size model of Iorek Byrnison, the armoured polar bear from Philip Pullman's book, film and now game, The Golden Compass. Kicking away the supports and dousing the hairy beast in the highly flammable grease, I set light to Iorek and sent the bear hurtling down the aisle. The giant flaming bear slammed into the Mod Games stand sending The Steading flying across the hall and instantly setting light to the thin and flimsy abominations that The Steading had been peddling: Macht und Ohnmacht, Kogge and the incomprehensibly evil Kogge: Bonholm, all went up in flames. The Steding, now back on his feet, tried desperately to stamp out the flames, but before he could reach them, the two teenagers, now free from the evil spell, pushed over a stack of the fearsomely heavily Tide of Iron, sending The Steding crashing back to the floor, where he was no doubt trapped for at least week.

As I fled to the exit, pursued by security, cheers and applause rang around Hall 12. And as I finally skipped out through the exit on to the waiting train I felt a warm glow knowing that I'd not only struck a blow for liberty, justice and exciting board games, but also burned a giant 8 foot polar bear, and in the end, isn't that what's really important?


The second day I attended the fair on my own as Liz had an overwhelming need to buy some shoes. I'd been minding my own business when I heard a "HEY!" and felt a hand grip my shoulder. In an instant I'd worked out the best escape route and was ready to flee the scene, overturning the low table on which a family were about to play Darjeeling and make my escape through the throng of smokers stood around the exit to Hall 11. However, a split second of hesitation saved the young family as I realised that Andreas Steading didn't have a Scottish accent. Ah, that'll be Jimmy, then. Jimmy had bought all the games that he could fit in his suitcase on day one and announced to me that he only had room for one more. "The box is so big and I only have room for one more." he said as he put back Sierra Madre's monster effort 'Origins of Man: How we became human'. "Only one more." Jimmy shouted over the noise as we hustled past the crowd checking out Alea's new big box game 'In the Year of the Dragon'. "Just one more" he wailed as he resigned himself to never owning C4/Creative Cell's secretly society game 'The Circle'. We ambled through the halls, trying out the nicely produced but rather average Cheng Chang and finally sat down to try out Valley Game's Container. It was at this point that Tom joined us. It was Tom's first day at Essen and having initially been awed by the size of the fair he was now itching to try some games. Helping us learn Container was the rather unlikely Miss Canada. She took an instant liking to Jimmy, but he soon managed to fight off her advances with some well timed remarks which questioned her ability at medium weight euros, her understanding of the rules and her choice of eye shadow. This played directly into Tom's hands as he'd been pawing at her for the last half hour and despite everyone's misgivings her advice to her new champion paid dividends and Tom was crowned the victor.

We all agreed that Container was a great game, but once again Jimmy lamented that he only had space for one more game and Container had a rather big box. It was at this moment that Tom changed from a that annoying jammy sod into Jimmy's saviour. Like an angel descending from heaven and with a ray of light illuminating him and he pronounced "I have a car and I haven't bought any games so I've got loads of space." Jimmy's prayers had been answered and after a quick mental calculation, a number of games with large boxes including Container and Origins of Man were thrust into Tom's arms.

After a trip to Tom's car and a slow game of Race for the Galaxy, which I then decided not to buy, Jimmy decided that with no more money or space for games he'd get back to his hotel in order to get a good spot at a gaming table (but not before he blagged a Euro off Tom so he could back to the hotel, having spent his last on that ONE last game). Tom and I wandered the halls for a while longer. We sifted through the second hand games stalls. I picked up the games I'd made a note of earlier. Tom tried to steal games from the green haired designer Freidman Friese. I eventually left Tom at a game stall deliberating whether he should buy the French edition of Robo Rally for Crocker. And with a couple of last minute impulse buys I left the fair in order to find Liz, a beer hall and a huge plate of mixed pork.


Jimmy's early departure paid off as that evening he got to play some cool games with the guys from Counter Magazine, Richard Breese (designer of Reef Encounter) and a few other notable designers whose names escape me.

Liz and Matt got to the beer hall in Dusseldorf where they gorged themselves on a large plate of pork products washed down with some excellent Altbier.

Despite Tom's proclamation that he wasn't buying many games, and had loads of space, he ended up buying 74 games. As a result his young son ended up wearing his entire wardrobe on the return flight and Tom pawned his wedding ring to pay for excess baggage.

What a bash with Wabash

Every time I come to write up a Tuesday night session I reflect on another week that has gone by where I have failed to take any pictures and I then have to improvise so yet again here we go…..

As I didn’t win this week I don’t know if I can be arsed to spend several hours of my life reliving the misery of losing to Matt or Jimmy. The only solace I can take is that both the games we played were new to 3 of us and Jimmy had not played el principe for a while.

Wabash Cannonball was agreed to be the more enjoyable of the two games played and despite the quality of production (which many gamers want to criticise) it did nothing to limit our group from getting the game on the table. Yes the experience may have been better if the production was higher but at the end of the day it is the playing of the game that ranks as the most important feature…and this game was on the first visit interesting, tense and enjoyable.

Wabash Cannonball has a train theme (derrr) and requires players to lay track, improve distribution (not delivery) and invest in shares. At the end of the game the player who has the most cash is the winner.

The share acquiring element of the game felt in some ways similar to acquire as investment was made often when value was unknown (players gamble with potential or try to corner the market) and it felt even more similar to Imperial for this same reason along with the concept of: ‘how much money you pay for shares becoming the pool of money available to buy improvements’. Then as a railway link / development game obvious comparisons can be drawn with other such popular fare. Though Jimmy would no doubt “Arwk Norwah” Wabash Cannonball is close to my favourite train game even after just one play. Yes Ticket to ride is good and enjoyable and ok, ok, ok I need to give ‘age of steam’ another chance but I really did enjoy this game. I know that after a few more plays my opinion may change but I would be happy to play this again very soon and what with the Essen 07 games piling up, playing a game for a second time so soon, is a big deal.

Each player starts with the same $30 and an auction takes place to purchase a single share, from one company at a time (4 starting companies). Then players take it in turn to do one of three actions. They can ‘capitalise’, nominating a company and releasing a single share to be auctioned, they can ‘develop’ a company which involves putting a purple cube on a hex (that contains a railroad) that boosts the share price of that company (or gives it $2) the benefit of this is based on which type of hex is developed. Or they can choose to ‘expand’ building some track paying the cost indicated on the hex (from the company NOT there own wealth) and placing one of the companies limited track cubes on that built hex (max 3 pieces of track per build). There are various rules about where you can or can’t build and how that influences cost, but these are relatively simple. There are potential bonuses for getting to industrial cities and a bonus dividend to any company who builds track to link to Chicago. Building on mines and connecting to cities boosts the share price making that company more appealing.

Not all company’s have the same number of shares available. So players are left not knowing which company to invest in. Do you choose red? 3 shares, so easier to control, but potentially less money to build track? Or Green? loads of shares, but does that mean cheap auctioned prices and still no money? A player can influence how valuable companies and therefore shares are but ultimately the market decides what shares are worth and you must predict and watch the trends in order to win.

There are three action lines and when a player chooses the appropriate action he progresses the cube along the line. When two of the three lines have cubes that have progressed to the end of their lines then the round is over. A dividend is paid based on the share value divided by the number of shares to each player, for each share they own (rounded up) and then a new round begins starting with the player who would have been next. There are several other minor maintenance things that happen to speed the game along such as the Detroit cube progressing one space at the end of a round, when it reaches 8 the game is over and a 5th company called Wabash is released for sale when track reaches near Chicago at the far end of the map. Thus facilitating the possible end game via lack of shares (If 3 companies have no shares remaining for sale this ends game).

The action lines for the three alternative actions are different lengths, this balances the more popular actions and makes for some interesting tactical choices. Players have to consider how there choices improve not just their own score but also others and whether or not to extend the round or end it now (more money than other players or a lack of it an important factor here). To win you will need too piggyback other players as the game moves on too quickly, with to few opportunities to influence things for a player to count on a solo victory (at least amongst competent players).

In our game there were two tiers, Jimmy won with 90 cash and I cam second with 88. We considered this incredibly tight given the nature of the game. There was little difference between 3rd and 4th place though they were some way off from the lead. Connecting to Chicago was the big payout as Jimmy had shares in the two companies that did this while I had ¾ of the shares in one company and sole ownership of a lemon (that did pay a reasonable dividend) and no shares in either of the Chicago companies. As a group we over valued most of our shares when it came to bidding and a second play may get a lot tighter and last longer.

Like I said before I enjoyed this game and it lingers in the memory which is significant when compared to so many games which lack individuality so fuse into each other. Please fight to get Wabash cannonball on the table and show those moaning production whores what wonderful games they are missing.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Antler island - A spring watch game from the BBC

What did you expect from a fragor game? This game delivers a lot of fun, a laugh or five and an enjoyable 45 minutes of light gaming.

Oliver won, his first NBG victory, congrats.

I liked the simultaneous action selection and the conversational interaction that came with such a light and fun themed game but Antler Island as a game has so many flaws you need an elevator to inspect them all. As long as you're prepared for this, you could enjoy the game. What else can be said for a game that, as part of the rules, requires everyone to mock and jeer your vanquished opponent. There are so few victory points available it is extremely possible for the game to result in a draw, last count back is decided by..........player height, that says it all really.

Amyitis - an ancient Babylonian disease Jimmy cant catch

Jimmy had played this before and admitted to coming last in the only game he had played. This did not fill me with any confidence as despite Jimmy's numerous faults (the sole subject of 8 or 9 other blogs and forums) failing to understanding how he can win, is not one of them. I very much expected Jimmy to grab a strategy and thrash us all. He didn't, Jimmy came dead last again. Luke won by long stretch and Harry got second place just ahead of Oliver in third.

The game is the latest in a long line of games recently that offer potential victory through investment in an infrastructure, an investment that Jimmy and Harry both made, but like so many of the games before it, Amyitis concludes before that expensive infrastructure truly pays out. There are several things I am unsure of, such as the benefits of building a level 3 garden when levels 1 and 2 have lower costs and only minor differences in rewards. The gardener (??) cards as a result of the building issue seemed incredibly underpowered. Though this may change with further plays. I loved the mechanism for choosing actions which had 4 sets of 3 cards randomly assigned from a slightly larger deck. Each time sets were different and there was an incremental cost in choosing a second action and third action from the same set, this was VERY elegant.

So far Ystari have had an amazing record in producing SUPERB games, Amyitis is no exception. How good it is, will as ever, only be decided by multiple plays so given the crop of new releases and the size of everyone's game cupboard, NBGers will probably only get a fair evaluation after another 3 years. Amyitis doesn't set the world alight but it is a solid game with good mechanics that will no doubt get on the NBG table regularly.

NBG gets Trained by Matty B

A classic we love that rarely gets out on the table at NBG, gatewayed us into easier fare after Cuba. Surprisingly Tom had never played this family euro and after a rules session from Jimmy we began. Matt won convincingly having made only a few tickets but his completed network consisted of long connections that took him to a score around 125. Jimmy placed second having taken every available red carriage, he made the long tunnel link at the top of the board and ended on a score around 110. Oliver and Luke both ended on the same score 95 and Tom was last but got a reasonable first play score considering he was left of Jimmy and never saw red cards all game. The scores may have been tighter if Matt hadn't have ended the game so quickly laying down 3 long train sets in four quick goes but the result would have remained the same. Bondy is the man to beat when it comes to T2R besides we need to let him win something occasionally.....

Che Guecrocker

2nd play for Jimmy and Luke 1st for Matt, Tom and newbie Oliver. The game was very close all the way through, with the lead changing hands often. That said Matt and Oliver where more often than not the players setting the pace. Oliver got his hands cigars and was combo-ing them for victory points, Matt was getting extra blue cubes and exchange any for victory points, Tom was raking in money, Luke had control of the electorate and was trying to emulate Oliver's cigars but with rum, Jimmy's buildings yielded straight victory points. When the game finished Oliver was 1 space ahead of Luke and Matt with Jimmy one further space behind, incredibly tight, Tom was 3 more spaces away but still could have won. Oliver was quietly pleased thoughts of a victory in his first ever time at the Norwich boardgamers......”but wait” someone squealed, we had forgotten to award the two Vps per building, this changed the landscape one final time, Oliver had one fewer building so Luke and Matt leapfrogged into first place. Money was the tie breaker and Crocker was victorious.

I like the choices in this game, you need to be careful that you get value from any buildings constructed as the game only lasts six rounds and you need to save resources in order to afford build costs. There are many routes to victory points and several still untested approaches, with no obvious game wining strategy Cuba allows more personal approaches and opportunities. At the same time having too much choice leaves you confused over what your best approach will be. I enjoyed Cuba and its high rank is deserved but having played it twice with each game being so tight, the question on everyone's lips is – Is the game amazingly balanced, allowing so many routes to possible victory OR pointless broken so that whatever you do your in with a shout of winning???

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

The Fantastic 4 CAN NOT LOSE!

The Fantastic 4 CAN NOT LOSE! Was the rallying cry of Matt "Lederhosen" Bond, away over at the serious gamers table. Myself, Dan, Luke and Ben (Ben? is that your name? I am really sorry if it isn't) had convened to play the prime Ameritrash offering (designed by Italians of course), Marvel Heroes. Being a half-wit, I am always up for any game that involves dice and fighting, and our buddies to our right thoroughly blitzed through Race for the Galaxy, Space Dealer and some other game that looked a bit dull and didn't earn a glowing review from Matt "Bratwurst" Bond. We, on the other hand, took a mere 45 minutes to even go through the rules. Most of which we forgot, quite quickly. If there is one thing Marvel Heroes does not lack, it is rules, lots of tiny, seemingly insignificant rules. None of them are. Insignificant that is. They are all CRUCIAL. Imperative! We butchered many rules throughout our play session, but the game remained uproariously playable. If you screwed up the rules whilst playing most games at the Ribs O' Beef, the bits would probably end up swimming in the Wensum, but when it comes to Marvel Heroes, you simply do not care. You play the games for the scraps, the brawls, the dice rolls. Several times I stood, punching the air in triumph, mostly when my evil henchman (Kingpin) utterly humiliated Dan's heroes in combat (generally due to a crucial rule failing to be applied). For example the time that Kingpin was duelling with Spidey and had his hits reduced to a mere one. Spidey was ready to counter that with his single defence dice. But what is this? Kingpin is playing a card that reduces Spidey's defence dice to a nice round ZERO. Spidey has no defence! Why were his Spidey senses not tingling? Spidey is going home in disgrace. Kingpin has earned another card. Kingpin is playing it on the cowering Spidey. Spidey now requires more plot points to be activated. Dan is glum. And so on. Of course, Dan had his revenge many times, as my "unbeatable" Fantastic 4 suffered terrible dice rolls and crushing beatdowns of their own, as Dan wheeled out the Sandman and other "Most Wanteds" to thwart me at every turn. Meanwhile Luke was racking up victory points at an alarming rate. It was around this time that two well dressed lads stumbled into the games room and enquired as to our activity. They seemed perplexed as we explained we played games for fun. They went out onto the balcony, squeezing past our gaming in the process. Moments later a girl appeared, and Matt "Beckenbauer" Bond told her, falsely, that the balcony was locked. The girl looked positively devastated as she pointed through the window and said "But that's my boyfriend out there". Matt "Berlin Wall" Bond was forced to admit defeat, and let her out, but not before she eyed the game he was playing and observed that she was not familiar with it. Matt "Autobahn" Bond himself was not even familiar with it, so I am not sure what chance she had. Anyways. Time was pushing on and we had played what appeared to be about 25% of our entire game. But we were betting without Luke. For Matt "Herr" Bond had previously observed that "The Fantastic 4 CAN NOT LOSE!". He had made a mistake. Luke had played the Fantastic 4 in all previous games. The refrain should have been "The Fantastic Luke Crocker CAN NOT LOSE!". For Luke did not lose. He beat us all, with ease. But who cared? We had all loved every minute of Marvel Heroes, except those minutes where we all forgot the rules and I spent ages delving into the rulebook attempting to figure out what happens next. Marvel Heroes is a heck of a game, but do not play it with anyone that does not have the patience of a Saint. Or Luke.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Rich wins first Arcadia outing

And so it begins. One point separated 1st from 2nd in last nights ‘Die Baumeister Von Arkadia’ A first play for Rachel, Rich and Kat. Luke did the rules session and the game flowed fairly well. The game is incredibly simple, has a certain degree of depth and plays relatively quickly (provided you play with the right crowd). We zoomed through our game with Rich edging out Luke by the smallest of margins. The way scoring is calculated you would expect a variety of scores but it was tight between 1st and 2nd and tight between 3rd and forth with Kat getting the bronze medal and Rachel being left with the wooden spoon.

The game involves building a town around a central castle. Players have two choices either play a card which places a building on the board or play workers from behind your screen around a building already on the board. When a building is completed (completely surrounded by workers and or other buildings), that building is scored, all owned workers adjacent score a medal with a bonus medal going to the player who instigated the completion. When any building is completed you add a tower to the central castle. Twenty towers can be added before the end game is triggered. Each tower has a colour of a medal on its top and all medals are worth the value of visible tower tops. You have four opportunities (+final scoring at the very end) to cash in the medals you have collected taking this opportunity at the end of any of your turns. Thus the game takes on a second and interesting element of choosing the correct tower from the available store and placing it in such a way as to maximise you imminent cash-in or minimise somebody elses.

I would like to play this ‘two player’ as the biggest problem I have with the game is not being able to set yourself up with a good play. You have to rely on others leaving you opportunities as any manoeuvring you make for future gain is soon utilised by one of your opponents. I enjoyed yesterdays outing immensely because everybody (including myself) played openly. We each left loose ends and each had loose ends available come out turn. The only other time this game was played (Tom, Andy, Matt and me) we also played openly first time (good game) but then in an immediate second play we all tried to be far more tactical. This slowed the game right down from 45 minutes to double that of nearly ninety minutes. The game became much less fun as a lot more analysis and calculations took place.

I am becoming a bigger a bigger fan of Rüdiger Dorn, who along with this designed Jambo, Traders of Genoa, Goa and Louis XIV. He has developed games of different weights and complexities but all his creations I have played I have bought and intend on keeping. A few more plays of Arcadia are needed by me before I decide how great this game is, but it is definitely a keeper, if not only for the fact that in 3 plays Crocker has only won once.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Luke is the Champion at Drawing Red Tiles From a Bag

What a games night. Ten players, three tables, a civilization born, Jimmy inventing fire, Matt singing Iron Maiden, Dan and James turning up….it had everything. Andy has already described the role play esq extravaganza that was heavy metal lyrists dream and I haven’t a clue where Tom, Jimmy, Harry and Stephen got to in their history of the world, though as soon as someone had discovered the art of metallurgy I am sure a hari-kari or two may have ensued.

Dan, James and Luke played Torres which had not seen the light of day for over a year having last been played at the complete Angler. Dan had played before and could vaguely recall some of the actions, Luke read the rules and James soaked it all in comparing it as ever to ‘thief of Bagdad’. The game flowed reasonably well and with the wrong players can suffer from the dreaded ‘Analysis Paralysis’ but this wasn’t the case. James and Luke battled over the largest region and Dan stayed clear which ultimately cost him contention as when the final scores were calculated Dan’s lack of points in this one huge region made all the difference. Luke ended up wining though James ran him close and the unfair advantage Luke had in having played before albeit a while ago obviously made the telling difference.

The second game on our relatively small table was Dan’s ‘Tigris and Euphrates’ a Kineza game that was first and last played one the club was a fledgling group at St Andrews tavern. This game is ranked number 3 in the all time board game geek lists and despite enjoying many aspects of it I have to say it is sensationally over rated. The game has brilliant conflicts, abstract (if you like that sort of thing) strategies and tactical depth but falls down time and time again on luck. If you don’t have the right tiles at the right time you lose. Its all well and good to say that Luck should even itself out but it seldom does. James drew 2 possibly 3 red tiles throughout the game and Dan drew only a few more. Luke repeatedly drew red tiles and as a result constantly won internal conflicts. If Luke ever lost external conflicts which rarely happened, he then proceeded to gain control again the following turn with an internal fight. With several monuments coming out relatively early the flow of cubes to the annoying Crocker was insatiable. Wanting as ever to prolong the agony Luke contemplated earning more cubes till he finally realised he might win if he ended the game. Second place was tight and went down to the third colour. I believe it was Dan who won but I was too busy doing my victory dance to notice.

That makes it Puerto Rico 9 games ago that Luke was beaten……whatever happened to ‘In your face Crocker’?

III Ages of Empires needed to write this review

Andy seems to have the knack of writing these reports. I however enjoyed posting when I was not at work but find it virtual impossible to get the time needed to update this Blog regularly. Never fear – due to the almost permanent holidays us teachers get I will posting more rapidly very soon.

Age of Empires III was christened on the first Tuesday this month and was new to all players. A six player marathon ensued and the game just finished in time for debate and exit. Published by tropical (the new Eagle games) it is a big box with loads of plastic pieces however no huge board just a regular big board which was nice and playable. Jimmy did the rules and it seemed like there were various routes to success. Most players developed a personal strategy through the game and there was plenty of conflict to keep the game interactive. Each player had a turn store of workers/settlers who they placed on the board in a designated area of there choice, one at a time. Each area gave a privilege sometimes to the first worker, sometimes to every worker and sometimes to the player with the most. These privileges varied from moving that worker to a colony overseas, being able to buy a power up, changing your turn order, receiving trade goods, starting a single battle, exploring to form a colony, wining a boat (helpful for set collection, money and possibly victory points) and gaining specialised workers.

There was a good euro game vibe from the selection process and initially various ideas and routes offered themselves for testing. A few snags developed along the way with the somewhat risky exploring function that crucified Jimmy at one stage and some of the conflicts could be so bloody as to set back any player involved a long time. Rewards were sometimes gained cheap and other times at great expense and folding early saved some players from absurd loses. Much debate was had over possible fixes to the explore problem but Sim very wisely encouraged us to play the game through before tweaking it. The game was scored in three stages each stage slightly shorter than the last and because of territory wrangling and victory points being on offer in various ways it was tough to truly predict the result till the very end.

Harry had strong goods and supplies with a stock of ships, Sim had a heavy colony presence and a huge fleet along with cash on the hip, Matt had been battered but had even handed resources. Stephen had a very strong militia in the colonies and the power to heavily influence regions, Jimmy had virtual no income and had a euro strong colony expedition and Luke had slightly fewer resources than Harry but had a stronger colony position though he lacked ships.

There were many factors throughout the game that shaped the outcome and it would be very difficult to pinpoint one as a turning point. However the decisions made in the final two or so rounds were noticeably going to effect final victory point status so these decisions were paramount. The final standings saw Stephen capture third Jimmy second and Luke win. I naturally loved the game and have started on the tweaks for our next session.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Rock Steady Eddie

Having only just gotten over my fear of board gaming (see previous entry), I returned to the Ribs o' Beef, afflicted with cholera, determined to infect all and sundry. And so I brought along Return of the Heroes (a.k.a. 'the anti-Kogge'), not expecting anyone to really be up for a game of fantasy adventure in the land of dice rolls, experience cubes and becoming a virtual, non-striking postie, delivering successful quests all over the map in return for gold and glory. I was wrong, as Matt "I'll Try Anything Once, Yes, Even That!" Bond and the poor, unsuspecting newcomer Ben volunteered for action. I concluded a brief "explanation" of the rules, citing random points about the game in no particular order by taking 15 minutes to set the bugger up, losing a token in the process. And so it began, the very understanding Matt (playing Leandra Stormblade) and Ben (Sybil Spellsinger) indulged me (elf guy) and learned as they went along. Ben took to things like a duck to water, utilising his RPG background to figure out that the winner just needed to do lots of things, and do lots of things more than his opponents. And quicker. Ben strolled around the map, performing deeds of derring-do, and completing BOTH of his main quests (you only need to complete one, Ben was just showing off) before striding out East to dispose of the big nasty baddie whilst losing a mere single hit point. Matt wasn't far off, probably only a turn away from victory himself, whilst I languished, having buffed up nicely but some distance from finishing my quest. Ben seemed to thoroughly enjoy himself, but Matt wasn't convinced, mostly due to the lack of player interaction / confrontation, which to be honest, this game has virtually none of, and RPG-lite really needs this kind of thing. We endured much mocking from the "serious" gamers over on the next table, people who were in the process of stacking bits of plastic to form towers or something, who knows what that was all about, any way, every time we read out the frankly dubious descriptions of quests, it became required to sing your quest name in the style of Bruce Dickinson in his pomp. The game was truly an Iron Maiden album made in board game form, and Ben earned his place in board gaming history as the, uh, 7th daughter of a seventh son or something.

After that, Matt, Ben and myself plunged in a pair of games of Sir Knizia's Ivanhoe, a veritably enjoyable card game affair that attempted to bring the pageantry of the Joust to our board game table. I blasted through the rules, for there are about 5 of them, and in we went, wielding weaponry, with a squire to attend to our every need, and fair Maidens to swoon at the sight of our impressive lances. Matt stormed into a lead in game one before we discovered that the game has a particularly neat inbuilt method of reigning in the leader. Ben and I made our comebacks but Matt deftly rolled to victory. In game two the action cards came to the fore, one particular classic round saw Ben destroy Matt's hand of jousters, and spy a win, only for Matt to unhorse Ben and force him to win a colour that he already had. DOES THIS SOUND LIKE FUN TO YOU? To be honest it was a lot of fun to play, but I am inadequate at describing it. Despite going all in for victory early on only to be cleverly manipulated into temporary defeat, I was able to race back and claim victory in a fairly lame fashion, with Matt submitting to give me the win. To enjoy Ivanhoe to the fullest, please read your action cards in a knightly voice. We all enjoyed this one.

Over on the other tables, the guys stacking towers moved on to pushing bits of wood around. Luke seemed to trounce his unwitting opponents, before claiming he had only ever played the game once ever. A likely story. On table three, a hardy foursome were indulging in the History of the World. Literally. This game appeared to take place in realtime. I am pretty sure they are still there, because as I left into the cold night air, Jimmy has just invented the wheel, and everyone else is still mucking about with fire.

Monday, 1 October 2007

25th September Report

This is just a quick post to help remember the games played on Tuesday night.

St Petersburg - 4 players. One experienced burger in Luke, whilst Steve & Harry had played before but only in a two player game. All in all VERY even amongst the players who were new to the 4 player version, with only a few points separating 2 from 4. It feels like an obvious statement but St Petersburg is really only competitive amongst players of equal recent experience. Obviously a good gamer will get to a level of competence faster than a bad player. But because the mechanisms are relatively simple in St P its really a measure of when to go for what and the real value of anything is and that knowledge is experience. Jimmy and I played a 3 player version a few weeks ago and despite solid player Jimmy was off the pace in the end because whilst an excellent 4 person player, he was not as experienced at playing with 3. In this game after all others scores had been finalised Luke was 3 points behind the leader having not scored his 16 different oranges.

After 5 Victories in a row for Luke it was time to play a game he wouldn't win.......because there wasn't enough time to finish it. We attempted a 6 player game of VINCI. It got a lot of positive feedback from the table and scores and leads changed quick. Jimmy ran the rules session to 5 newbies and like always we were none the wiser. In truth most of the game is incredibly simple and with some English player aids, some of the questions asked would have been redundant. Luke started, chose his spot and Steve followed and crushed him early, a very admirable tactic all most have appreciated. Steve then proceeded to take an early lead with the game being abandoned while Jimmy's empire was in the ascendancy. The game has natural dips and peaks in players scoring so it would have been hard to predict the eventual winner however I felt despite an improved mid game showing from Tom that Richard was in the best position to ultimately win the game. I can see the case for playing with 6, crowding the map, however this lead to very unpredictable choices in races/abilities. With experienced players I feel 4 may be a better number, we will see, as VINCI will no doubt be out on the table again soon.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Kogge, Kogge, Monkey Snogger

Kogge. I am at a loss. I am trying to come to terms with the fact that Kogge not only classifies as a game, but that a certain subsection of society (who really ought to be spending their free time under strict supervision) actually get some enjoyment out of playing it. Bewildering. I was left floundering during my two hour experience, two hours of fumbling around, blindly attempting to decipher what I was supposed to be doing. Two hours of utter grim despair, wondering how to associate the theme with the concepts of gameplay. The theme, oh the theme. It is not so much pasted on as affixed with a dab of spittle and a healthy dosage of prayer. I could relate nothing to anything, as events developed and oh wait, after 20 minutes of twiddling my thumbs it was my turn again. An attempt to make a move that would advance my position would be forthcoming but rarely was I aware of the impact. Did I mention this game was dry by the way? Dryer than the hair of someone who has stood directly in the path of a jet engine for a thousand jahre. And the clock ticked on. And my will to live was sapped. I understand that in the business this kind of game is referred to as a 'brain burner'. It was not so much my brain that was on fire by 11pm, rather my fevered imagination, picturing every copy of Trade on Jerky Seas going up in smoke, thus denying the unsuspecting board gamer the prospect of accidentally taking part in a game, ever again. There was a time that when I wanted to bemuse non-gamers with the utter ridiculousness of board gaming, I would mention that the other week I spent a good portion of my Tuesday evening playing Canal Mania. CANAL MANIA EVERYBODY! Because who doesn't get manic at the merest mention of a canal? Well, Canal Mania has been usurped in the order of games that I have played which I could never hope to explain to my mother the concept of someone voluntarily committing valuable hours of their life to. Kogge. Truly unfathomable.

The other gaming event of the evening was Zooloretto. This was a simple, fun, family game that couldn't be further removed from Kogge if it tried. Nobody was blown away, but I suspect that if I had an inkling as to what was to come then I would have appreciated it more, and been grateful for small mercies. Also, after two beers I think I got on everyones nerves by repeatedly making "jokes" about the animal mating, uh, mechanism. Anyways, Matt won with 35 I believe, I got 25 playing very conservatively, Mike and Jimmy got a bit less. I am not completely sure because my Dad phoned up during scoring and asked where he could get 5 meters of network cable.

Who is the biggest Jerk?

For many weeks Jimmy has been bringing down Kogge - Trade on jerky seas. He had only played the game once and fancied another voyage. The game got a mixed reception. Kogge is one of those games that has complex and mesmerising rules, until you play, then they all break down to being fairly routine and connected.

Andy fell off the pace half way through the game having lost interest and finding Kogge to dry and boring. Matt played well but was the personal victim of a raid at a critical time which set him back a few turns which he did not have time to make up. Luke won the game gaining the advantage from Matt and manipulating the situation to maintain 1st turn ahead of Jimmy. This enabled Luke to fulfill the victory conditions ahead of Jimmy and pip him to victory. Thus making Luke the biggest Jerk.

I enjoyed the game and while some of the game play and powers are not perfect or balanced there is enough scope to play this trading game every now and again.

Player Profile No.3 Adam

Adam joined the group having move up from London. He packed all his belongings in the boot and Rachel followed close behind in an arctic full of games. Adam is less of a board gamer than his partner preferring role play, but he still enjoys a competitive session. Adam wants to win and he is cut throat in assessing the competition and maximising his chances.

Most of the time at the club Adam plays medium to light games but he has been known to stray into more heavy fare. His biggest handicap is his issues with colour. A massive racist Adam will curse and tell the rudest of jokes offensive to just about everyone except Himler. Ooops no, Adam in fact can not define differences between certain colours, resulting in some moments of despair and hilarity as he misreads the card, board or position of characters and influence. This is hindered even more by the ‘romantic’ lighting of the ribs and all the other players deliberately manipulating the surroundings in order to take advantage.

When Adam is evenly matched in a game and he doesn’t have to contend with indistinct colours he is a solid strategist and frequently identifies the ideal strategy.

Most likely to say: Rachel has that game
Least likely to say: Is anyone going to the bar? I fancy another pint.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Re Of Sunshine

It was great to open Amun Re again and get down to some Kineza style gaming. Jimmy ran the rules for Andy and Rich who had never played while Luke and Matt planned their campaigns. Everybody put in a good show with the new comers obviously being disadvantaged. Matt took an early lead gaining control of farmer rich land and filling it earlier. Because of the draw most players invested in farmers and the sacrifices were fairly higher in the first half. This played into Luke’s hands as he had control of the majority of temples. Despite some low key hints from Jimmy, the sacrifice in third round gave Luke a half time score double that of anybody else’s. Jimmy played a balanced game with thoughtful bidding and as always pyramid building and set making dominated everyone’s strategies. Some heavy bidding in the second half saw various prime real-estate go for what could only be termed ‘over inflated’ prices. And despite good play by all the damage had been done and Luke had to merely ‘play safe’ in order to win. That said in the final count Jimmy was only a few points away from first, having played a superb second half. Andy impressed finishing third, no mean task considering the cut throat nature of the game, especially as he edged out Matt an experienced Amun re-er. Rich who had a strong second half was the victim of his first half and first play standing.

This game pulls nice mechanisms together and has only a few minor faults. It is fun to play and despite it being awhile I remembered virtually all the rules. Scoring a 7.6 on the geek. It is difficult to think of a better Kineza game. This is Jimmy’s favourite, Matt prefers Taj Mahal, I need to play Samurai more, I like T&E and I love Ra, but this game is definitely up there its just a shame all the area zones sound like Arsenal player names.

Christmas Come Early

There was a palpable level of trepidation when Sarah, a new face walked through the door bearing a formidable gift….a prototype game….for a family environment arrraggggg. And to make matters more scary your movement was decided by….wait for it….a dice…arrragggg. Never the less we sat down and gave it a chance. We were glad we did as despite the game not being our usual fare, everyone had fun and played the game in the spirit it was written. Given the target audience and the fact children were to play it as well as adults it seemed to fit the market it was aimed at very well.

A lot of care and time had been taken in the production of the prototype, a glossy box, glossy board and 100’s of cast presents all individually produced. There were three decks of cards, each card containing 6 events one for each player (like 6 monopoly chance cards combined) and each deck was used in a different phase of the game. Each card moved Santa a certain number of spaces round the board. When Santa completed a lap you moved onto the next deck of cards and once 3 laps where completed, that was the end of the game. Players rolled a dice and chose to move from their current space either clockwise or anti-clockwise and took the benefit (if any) associated with the square they landed on. A very simple mechanism despite its flaws, very well suited for the target audience.

The game itself initially seemed overpowered in certain places, however this was counted to a certain extent by the fact that all players got to choose where to go and that certain squares pulled everyone back.

There was much hilarity in the fact that Matt got dumped on for ‘letters’ completely neutralising his score. And everyone loved the postal element. The game was won by Luke in an impressive and inspirational landslide, that will go down in the annuls of gaming history. It is sad that in reality he has never received more than 3 presents for Christmas let alone the huge pile he amassed last night.

We debated the merits of slightly tweaking the scoring mechanics, of the reward distribution of presents and the ideal number of players. Most conjecture was on the null spaces and making them more interactive. Jimmy liked the idea of every player having a home space and combining this with a trading element (a similar rule had been removed from this edition). Luke would like to have seen positive aspects to null spaces that were ignored when forced to go to that destination by Santa cards. Rich liked the game basically how it was and pre-ordered 12 copies for him and his family.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Player Profile No.2 Matt A

The A is not a reference to a grade or Rank but to his last name Adcock. One of two Matt's at the club, Matt A is a formidable opponent who assess games clinically and rapidly. He frequently wins and boasts one of the highest wins to games ratio at the club.

Matt is terrible when he loses and even worse when he wins. Recently he has chickened out of attending, knowing full well that anyone and everyone would kick his ass at just about anything that was played, except perhaps Mykerinos.

Most likely to say: "In your face Crocker"
Least likely to say: "Congratulations on a deserved win, I wish I had your skill and genius"

Friday, 7 September 2007

Player Profile No.1 TOM

Tom joined our group relatively recently and already he has established himself as a regular top tier player. Despite the occasional jolly jaunts abroad Tom is a frequent attender who demonstrates a key understanding of the primary goal of Tuesday night gaming...."when in doubt screw Luke".

Tom frequently reads games well and is nearly always in a position close to the winner when the final numbers are crunched. He has very much been thrown in at the deep end and is nearly always subjected to a new game every week. When he has the opportunity to repeat a game his record of wins is superb.

Tom is not new to gaming, on the contrary he can rattle off titles with fond recollection that only Jimmy, Richard or Duncan have played. He posses a splash of German and a ticket to Essen sealing his growing euro-game reputation.

Most likely to say: "Why does the person to my left always win"
Least likely to say: "I've played this before haven't I"

Crocker Crushed

Its everyones moto but last Tuesday Luke was crushed. Not since the eventful 'Pitchcar incident' has Crocker taken such a beating. A four player game of Goldland was the weapon of choice and both Matt and Luke had played equal amounts of 2 player games but this was everyones first 4 player outing. Tom started strong and was knocked back mid game by some unlucky explorations. Matt edged out everyone for what was in the end a tighter game than he might have expected. But Crocker was so far off the pace it left everyone saying 'can we play you at this every week'.

Is Jimmy the Puerto Rico Master???

That was the question we attempted to answer. Jimmy claimed an unbeaten Puerto Rico record at the club which was hotly disputed by the self proclaimed 'Puerto Rico master' Matt. Sim started the trash talk and raised the challenge bar. Sim an experienced online player "had not seen the game played at the club". Luke seized the higher ground by sitting to Matt's right much to the amusement of Jimmy who proceeded to sit to Luke's right. Seating order usually plays a pivotal part to Puerto Rico success and may have had an influence in the overall result, though this is would have been difficult to calculate in this game.

All players were on the whole fairly matched. Luke the more novice of the group having only played the game a handful of times. Matt a very experienced Puerto Rico player had notched up numerous 2 player games but had limited experience of 4 way play, especially as the expansion set was kicked out. Sim a strong online player was probably the favourite, based experience and number of games played. Sims overall play was strong hampered by the absence of some critical buildings.

Jimmy came out on top, 4 points ahead of Luke. Sim sat in third with Matt languishing in fourth despite starting as Governor. 'A truer test needs to be multiple games' was the cry of the losers but Jimmy was proud of a winning 'build and deliver' strategy. With so many great games to play its hard to say when Jimmy will be challenged again.

September - It Begins

This is the first post of what I hope will be many reviewing and critiquing the games played at the Norwich board gamers club on Tuesday night.