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.

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