Tuesday, 12 February 2008

I'm not going down there...

Amidst personal turmoil I found myself turning up at NoBoG, waiting to see what kind of games they would throw at me. It had been some weeks since I ventured downstairs at the Ribs, to prostrate myself at the feet of the God of Euros (Luke Crocker, for it is he) and get mercilessly destroyed at board games. I have been on a roll of late personally, barring a pair of defeats in Tide of Iron I have been handing out smackdowns in other such war games as Eisenbach Gap, and who could forget my epic 13 hour WWII: Barbarossa to Berlin struggle with Matt just two weeks ago - the game to end all games. The game which may have changed my approach to games forever. So here I was, ready to do battle in the field of the "impress the vicar" scoring tracks, with wooden cubes and convoluted mechanics. And here was Luke, being very generous and suggesting we play Fury of Dracula! Normally I would have jumped at such a chance, but Matt had brought Container, the final works of the much under-rated games designer, Franz Benno Delonge. I am a huge fan of two previous Delonge efforts, those being Manila and Big City, so I was eager to give the tediously themed Container a go, as I had no doubts that the late Delonge would have left us with one final enjoyable game. Luke was clearly shocked that I would opt to play a Euro where the object of the game was to buy cuboids and ship them to an anonymous island. But thems the breaks. Luke, Olly and Adam played Puerto Rico. Matt, myself, Rachel and Chris would push cuboids around on pretty boats for two hours.

Container is a cracking game, actually better than I was expecting. Manila and Big City are two excellent Euro-ish games, but they seem to be mercifully divulged from the slightly more serious Euro scene that has produced such behemoths as Caylus. A scene which fails to inspire much excitement in myself. Yet Container leans more towards the serious end of the spectrum. You have to have your wits about you - you are basically manufacturing and purchasing goods, then shipping them to the central island where you aim to sell them to other people, or keep them yourself if you judge them to be worth more than your offers, all in the name of making more money. The only scoring system in the game is money, which is fantastic. You always have a pretty fair idea of how you are doing, just not how your opponents are doing, as for each player each container is worth a slightly different, secret amount. There were several strategies employed. Chris went for a production strategy, generating large numbers of containers but never purchasing them when they were delivered to their destination. I indulged in some wild, reckless capitalism, buying in huge numbers everyone elses products and selling them at tiny profits. I adopted the "Tescos Strategy". I then using my tiny profits and generous bank loans to secure product upon delivery to the island. Matt produced nothing, and stocked nothing, but his boats for often full of goods that he flogged to us or coughed up the readies to keep. Using this devious plan he saved up, took out two loans at an opportune moment and bought huge amounts of delivered product just as the game seemed out of reach. Rachel was a very tidy player, very frugal and efficient, producing and stocking where necessary, and selling me tonnes of product at bargain basement prices. Rachel and I were mutually assisting each other with sales and purchases throughout the game without really intending or declaring it and this caused Chris a lot of problems, but it never really paid off in chasing down Matt. For Matt's bold strategy won out. He purchased a lot of delivered goods for knock down prices, I was in a position to deny him his final delivery purchase but had over-stretched myself. Just 2 or 3 more in cash would have perhaps tipped the scales in my favour but it wasn't to be. Matt romped home with 96, I had 76, Rachel had 70, and Chris had 59, tripped up by being the only real producer of goods, and then having to sell them at cheap prices. The game provides a curiously fascinating insight into capitalism and market forces, and I believe that the player created economy and balance should mean that Container is highly replayable and offer a variety of options each time out. Very impressive stuff!

Over on the other table, Luke had destroyed everyone at Puerto Rico, and then they played some game called "LE SCORPION!" or something, which seemed to involve Olly talking in a terrible French accent, with sounded more Rommel-esque to my untrained ears. This game was clearly nonsense, it had a striking resemblance to a game I played in my extreme youth, possibly snap. There was no winner, only a loser. Basically you played a card, declared what was on it (in Franglais) and the other player had to guess if you were lying or not. If they were wrong, they took your card. Your card seemed to have a picture of a spider, or a scorpion or some other creature on it. IF you got 4 cards of one type, you were out. The person who was out first was the loser, everyone else won. Genius! Luke lost, I am pretty sure on purpose as he appeared to detest this ridiculous "game". LE SCORPION!

We finished up with a vibrant round of Saboteur, almost ruined by the lad who came downstairs and said very loudly "I AM NOT GOING IN THERE, IT SOUNDS F**KING AWFUL" before retreating to the safety of the upstairs bar. Saboteur was a new one on me, it is quite fun, very chaotic but you don't get much chance to influence the game. A fine end of night game nonetheless. I was the saboteur twice, and I was quite happy to let everyone know about it. Unfortunately I was unable to make serious inroads into sabotaging everyone, which was quite disappointing. We had three rounds and Adam ran out a worthy winner, though I have no idea how the scoring system worked at all. Saboteur is fun enough that the issue of winner and loser is quite irrelevant to be honest.

And that was that. Things were packed away, and we all faded away into the foggy night, a successful evening of fine gaming. GAME ON.


Mr Bond said...

I never realised my elbows were so pointy.

King Crocker said...

Another excellent session report Andy. Thanx