Thursday, 24 March 2011

Warning: Crocker Crunching Cube Crusher

If you were in the Ribs of Beef on Tuesday evening and know how many nautical gallons there are in a bakers dozen or the time it would take Geoffrey Boycott to mow a meadow, then you probably took part in Emily’s Quiz and Fish night. If not then you were probably downstairs playing board games.

Kev, Christine, Crocker, Luke and Lovely Rich played Hansa Teutonica; a euro style game, which has planted it’s flag firmly in the euro game camp. I can tell this as it has victory points, action points, worker placement, network building, a load of coloured wooden cubes and even a bearded man on the cover of the box. It should also have little picture of Luke Crocker in the corner with the words “Warning: Crocker Crunching Cube Crusher” as this is just the type of game that he loves and excels at. I can’t tell you much about it, but it looked nice and apparently needed 40 minutes of analysis after Crocker won. After the debate finished they whipped out China, which Crocker also won.

I re-visited Settlers of America: Trails to Rails with Punk Rich, Stu and Tom. I was pleased to get a second chance to play this while it was still fresh in my mind from last week, especially against Tom and Rich, who had played it before and therefore (possibly) came to the table with strategies in mind. We played a close fought game, but despite winning it’s gone down in my estimation. It’s still a good game, but the strategies are more transparent than I imagined and I am, therefore, more sensitive to the slow pace of the game and the relatively long playing time.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Trails to Rails doesn't Fail

I decided not to make a pun about tossing last week (pancake day) and will refrain again this week. Ten turned up last night, but Crocker stayed at home again…

As promised I got a seat at the table where Kev had set up Settlers of America: Trails to Rails. I can now tell you my remark about it being a cross between Settlers and Ticket to Ride is a bit off the mark. It certainly has a lot of the elements you’d expect to find in Settlers and it’s true it does now have trains, but the necessity of timing the track laying with goods delivery takes it up a level from Ticket to Ride. This is certainly a meatier affair; more strategic and with a longer playing time. I enjoyed my time playing Trails to Rails and went home thinking about strategies, which is always a good sign. Kev won, beating Christine, Steve and myself.

We then got an opportunity to play Innovation by designer Carl Chudyk, who also designed Glory to Rome. Innovation is a civilization based card game where players race to develop their civilisation by developing technologies, ideas, and cultural advancements, all represented by cards. Each of these cards has a unique power which allows further advancement, point scoring, or even attacking other civilizations. I mentioned race, and it is a bit like Race for the Galaxy, not necessarily in gameplay, but because it needs a tight group to play the hell out of it before it starts to shine. If you know the cards and how it all works then I can see that it could be very good, but if not then it feels a bit of a random card draw with arbitrary results. Unfortunately, I can’t see me playing this enough for it make it past the first stage. Your mileage may vary (obviously!) and I can see Punk Rich reading this with a crazy, yet delighted, grin on his face. Perhaps on a boat.

The rest of the group, which comprised of Phil, Stu, Tom and the three Riches played Bohnanza, the crazy bean trading game, which Lovely Rich won and 7 Wonders, which Phil won. They rounded off the evening with a game of Clans, which once again ended with victory for Phil.

Beer: I tried a pint of Rudgate’s Spring Elixir. A golden coloured ale with a citrus flavour and a floral nose. It was ever so slightly vinegary so I can't recommend it.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

P-p-p-p-p-p-p-pancake day!

In the words of Barrington “ It’s Pancake day, yes it's pancake day, it's p-p-p-p-p-p-p-pancake day!”
Yes, it was Shrove Tuesday. But no-one gave one jot about using up the last of their flour, milk and eggs and decided to come down to the Ribs of Beef to play games instead.

As promised, Kev brought Settlers of America: Trails to Rails with him. Hailed as a cross between the Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride, it boasted a seemingly massive board presenting a hex-grid of the United States and a swathe of chiselled wooden pieces. Players collect and trade resources, in order to purchase, migrate and build settlements, forge railroads and acquire locomotives.There was a lot of interest in the game, but Sharon, Tom and Punk Rich managed to snag the choice seats at the table. I hope to play it next week and will be able to tell you more about it, but hose of you with a filthy mind will be pleased to know that the phrase “I’ve got wood” is still applicable; in fact, not only did Kev have wood all throughout the game and but he declared that he had numerous erections as well. Pfnar. I hear it was a close run thing, but Punk Rich rose above the smut to claim the win.

Rich was not be outdone and brought down more hot property in the form of Fantasy Flight’s new horror game – Mansions of Madness. In this story led, investigative style game, loosely based on H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, Rich took the role of the Keeper - a games master type guy that controls the monsters and other malicious powers within the story. The plucky investigators with the dubious task of exploring the seemingly abandoned buildings in Arkham were Christine, Dylan, Luke and Lovely Rich. I didn’t see how the game played, but I heard a lot of talk about an axe-wielding maniac, shrivelled limbs and pools of blood. Ultimately, the intrepid band failed to complete the story and defeat the looming menace within the mansion – two died and the other two were undoubtedly consumed by some indescribable horror. I was told that the story closed with Dylan hiding in the basement with a bottle of whisky, a bottle of sedatives and a shotgun. Rich described it as a cross between Arkham Horror (mainly for the theme) and a simplified Descent. I liked the look it , more so than the sprawling mess that Arkham Horror has become, but then again several expansions for Mansions of Madness can’t be far away.

I played none of these new shiny games. Instead, I gathered up Steve and Aaron and we played an enjoyable game of Ys, which I won, and a closely fought game of Small World, which Steve deservedly won.

Beer: Just good old Wherry for me, but it wasn't as brilliant as it's been on the last few occasions.