Friday, 28 December 2012

Gaming Tips

Some chess and general gaming tips for you, although I wouldn't recommend trying the game winning move down the pub.


Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Year End

Firstly, a word about Christmas.

The next two Tuesdays fall on Christmas day and New Years day and therefore there will be no NoBoG sessions for the next two weeks.

Gaming is slated to start up again on the 8th January.

Given that, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all the irregulars and blog lurkers.

 And now the session report.

A stupendous six turned up for last night's board game action, including new person Ewan.

Terra Mystica and Archipelago were placed on the table, Pete leading the way with Mystica challenging Tom and Nicky in a duel of settlement building. When I looked in on this halfway through the game seemed to be developing nicely, everyone had two separate settlements growing and things looked pretty tight.

Meanwhile myself, Bondy and Ewan sat down with Archipelago, and with Ewan taking the not exactly short list of rules in his stride, colonisation of the new world began.

At first the settlement of the islands seemed very straight forward - exploration was a breeze and numbers of excess workers was miniscule. However, things were not going to be so tranquil for long. Strange things were going on in the markets. Some resources were drained dry, whilst the wood and pineapple market had a glut. So much of a glut that it was producing excess workers. But still, the colony progressed. More exploration, more excess workers.

Excess workers were now causing a real problem - creating masses of rebellious citizens at the end of every turn. I had capped out my population, Bondy was close to capping out and Ewan didn't have a lot of spare either. So there was no way to get rid of all the excess workers ! Meanwhile the markets bloated still in two categories pushed more free workers onto the scene, creating a perfect storm.

All those layabouts had one result - rebellious citizens matched population. The colony teetered on the brink of revolt. A panic run of boat building and fishing occurred - everyone vying for boats and fish with the suspicion that something boaty or fishy was to be had in the victory points. With the population so close to collapse, minds were focused and a raft of activities begun to try and get things in control. But was it too late ? Even with a round of focused colony management, and the expenditure of all the explore tokens from all players to try and help out, the rebels were tipped for revolution.

A series of unbelievable crisis cards at the end of the round saw rebel numbers dip down briefly - just enough for the colony to survive another round, and possibly end the game !

But then calamity struck. With things so delicately balanced a stone crisis demanded attention - a resource that was painfully short, the markets bare, none in player stock, and exploration tiles already near exhaustion.

Goods were thrown into harbours, governor mansions stormed and the colony was lit with the fires of uprising. Everyone lost. Totting up theoretical points it seemed Bondy would have won with enough fish and cows to take second place in those categories, churches to take first place, and crucially a couple of VP earning cards to give him around 10VP. Ewan would have been second, getting first in both fish and cows to net 7VP and myself in third, earning a pitiful 5VP for coming last in cows and fish, and second in churches. My beautiful explore tokens were all burnt on trying vainly to keep a lid on the colony, which otherwise would have netted me another 3VP. In the end Bondys VP cards would have made the difference.

Another great game of Archipelago - different again, this time the imbalanced markets sunk us, our capability to deal with rebels and workers in very short supply.

Finally a game of Saboteur ended the evening, the industrious Tom hauling off the greatest cache of gold with 8, Pete coming in second with a sack stuffed with 7 gold.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Incoming Transmission

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[sync_a012+6]nfections spre%.+^# \a\a.zombi%_@[resync+7]survivors~#$
[sync_a012+8]+++gamers defen£+^z@t!|of Beef.[=<]Gaming+.as%$#usual
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--------+++--------


Alas I was not able to attend the Ribs this week just gone, so I cannot report on the shenanigans that unfolded therein. However, I can only assume in the face of Bondy's blog radio silence, the garbled message above, and the shambling pale faced flu infested undead wandering up and down my road, that some faithful NoBoGers are busy defending the Ribs from the Mayan end of the world, whilst simultaneously getting in a game of Saboteur.

Multi tasking the end of the world - just because its the apocalypse doesn't mean Pete has no time to beat you at Race for the Galaxy.

I'll have twelve shotgun shells and a packet of pork scratchings, thanks. And your last move is illegal.

Apparently there were 8 at the Ribs this week. With a new person - Fletch ( who I suspect only blundered into the gaming whilst running away from a horde of zombies that had taken over Norwich High Street ) and some games - La Citta, Mecante and Saboteur.

Gaming as scheduled for this week. Personally speaking, along with my Apocalypse Handy Survival Kit I shall be bringing Merchant of Venus and Archipelago.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Decembrrrr - The End is Nigh

December is upon us, and only a few weeks of gaming are left before the world ends in the fiery cataclysm of the 21st. At just after half past 2 in the afternoon. It will be a cold and rainy Friday that at first glance will seem unremarkable, but the combustion of the planet will if nothing else spare us another dreary manufactured Christmas Number One from Simon Cowell, America's Top Singing Model, UKs Biggest Loser in Chelsea Essex, X Factor, Krappy Karaoke Kraziness Get Me Out of Here Live or some such other televisual excellence. Always look on the positive side eh ?

Ten players arrived this Tuesday to have it out over beer, tables and games, and including nine of the Usual Suspects, we had a new person - Grace turn up to uhh, grace us with her presence. Apparently Langleys the toy shop in the Royal Arcade tipped her off about our existence and a twitter search did the rest. NoBoG fame spreads throughout Norwich ! As far as a couple of streets over from The Ribs at least. As for the rest of the denizens, Sam, Matt, Pete, Rich, Bondy, Stu, Tom, Dean and myself were present.

Terra Mystica
Pete brought along his new and shiny Terra Mystica, a fairly weighty piece which as Pete likes to point out is a perfect information game. Dean and Tom challenged him to a duel of who could amass the most points by building villages, competing for cult dominance and generally fulfilling special powers, but around half way through Dean was flagging and admitted his brain had melted.

The game begins with a selection of a unique 'race' each of which have subtly different building costs and one or two very different powers that can get triggered by doing various things. A couple of settlements are placed on the board per player keyed to whichever land type you call home. The board is split up into various land types with each race having an affinity for a single type upon which it can freely build, but you also have a personal chart indicating the cost to terraform other incompatible land types into your own, thus hopefully spreading your dominion ( and lessening others ).

On top of these segments of land you can construct a settlement which through a number of improvement options can be upgraded into buildings of more import which lead to various other powers being triggered. Cities - that is to say a contiguous group of buildings of a certain size - are one of the keys to the game, each city earns you a bonus, and there are bonus points at the end for the player with the largest city. Getting more than one city is a nice trick - preferably that by game end joins up into one giant city, thus netting you all manner of bonuses.

Given however that you can usually only spread influence to areas you neighbour, its not quite so simple as just leaping all over the board building up any number of power bases. There are also minor bonuses to be had for building next to someone else, so whilst on the one hand marking out your territory is good, rubbing shoulders with someone else gives you advantages.

It's quite a nice Euro game, it has some mechanics that have definitely been seen before, nothing amazingly innovative - although the different player races put a nice spin on quite what your sweet spot is - but for me I'm not sure there's quite enough there to make it stellar. In some ways it reminds me of a cross between Tzolkin and Small World. But definitely worthy of a blast.

Vengeful Flames, Muddy Dwarves and Frightened Shrooms...
Speaking of Small World, Stu brought Small World Underground along, and Rich, Bondy and myself settled down for a whizz at this. Small World Underground is a variant of Small World - a different board from regular Small World with underground type themed areas ( mines, volcanoes, errr...mud, mushrooms, mountains and crystals ) and a whole new set of crazy races and traits to choose from. In addition to the usual Small World stuff, a number of 'monsters' lurk on the board, which in practice are defended areas you need to overcome. When beaten a monster is removed and in its place you get either a relic or a special place - both of which lend you special capabilities. As might be expected relics can tend to be picked up and hauled about, whilst places stay where they are - making certain areas on the board suddenly strategically important. Making most use of these items and places lends another edge to this game and provides in my opinion a not unwelcome new importance on gaining a particular territory.

Personally I find Small World a cool and fun diversion, but it's over simple for me to play it more than irregularly. I love the crazy traits and races, but beyond that... uh... I find the placement and positioning of races just... wacky and somewhat obvious. Perhaps it's the wargamer in me - where are my borders, my fortifications, my reinforcements. Nevertheless I would rate Underground as an improvement on the original. And you can mix and match the races from the sets too. Cool !

Despite Rich playing like a brick for the first half of the game he came on strong at the end with rampant abuse of a double scoring revealed special place, and was only thwarted in victory by my meddling in his grand plans. The game scored fairly close for all, although I was 12 points off of the lead, despite, or perhaps because of a strong early start.

Pandemic. Sam glares at me whilst Grace gives the board the finger.
Grace, Sam and Matt played Pandemic, with all the colds, coughs and sniffles going round at the moment a highly topical game, but alas I failed to note how the sneezing and disease spreading went. Keeping up with the happy positive theme, the three then embarked on a game of Gloom. Nothing like a game of world ending diseases followed by competing to be the most miserable player of all to cheer you up on a cold Winter evening.

A quick game of Hey Thats My Fish was squeezed in post Terra Mystica on Pete's table, and Libertalia was brought forth cannons blazing after Small World for another round of piratical loot grabbing, which I am pleased to note included the cursed item ditching Monkey. It's not about whether you win or lose, it's about how much evil your monkey can get up to by dumping all your cursed relics on the player to the left. Rich in my case. Huzzah.

Finally, an epic ten handed game of Saboteur ended the evening, with Rich and Matt tying for lead. Ten players is bonkers - I suspect Saboteur 2 is actually better suited to 10 - as the tunnels can either very quickly develop or quickly fall apart if there is a line of one type of player or the other, but nevertheless it's still a blast to play.

The new rebooted Merchant of Venus also stuck its nose in, walked about the place, but left without being played - it having better things to do than associate with the oiks in the Wherry Room. Perhaps next week we can entice it to stay.


In other news, it may or may not have come to your attention, but we have a new spanky Joining In page next to the usual Home page for the blog. This page has the lowdown on Tuesday gaming and should hopefully provide a good resource for newcomers or lurkers to peruse. If someone you know is interested - point them at the Joining In page and all will be explained ! If you feel something is missing from that page, speak up, and we can add it in.

Lastly, one of our regulars - Dean - does a bit of contribution work over on the Ready Up gaming site. He has recently started reviewing board games over there and has kicked off with a report on the new City of Horror zombie game. You can head on over to his review to see what he made of it and also spy some pretty pictures of a game or two in progress. I would like to add that the Steve Jobs character in the game managed to stand out in the open in the most dangerous part of the city for the entire game - boring his companion - the old man - to death with his reports on just how good his iPad was. So potent was his presentation that no Zombie could get near the pair to bite them. Blessed be the Cult of Jobs, for lo all his corners are rounded and his prices be reassuringly expensive.

Beer. The Nog was favoured apparently. Malty. Dark ? For Pete it was too burnt. He prefers something more toffee like. Stu corrected him on his poor taste. Personally I have no idea what they were talking about, the coke was as ever far too sweet, with too much caffeine, but that's why we like it.

Bondy steals the camera and gets an awful shot of me...
... and a blurry drunken shot of Rich !

Thursday, 29 November 2012

More Archipela-gold!

Apologies for the title. John couldn't bear to tell the story of how I won Tuesday’s game of Archipelago, so he has encouraged me to recount my glorious exploits. Now I’m not one to brag, so I’ll gloss over the details…

Glossing begins. Despite being persecuted by Tom, having the fewest workers on the fewest tiles and wasting time on pointless migrations and explorations that yielded nothing but bitter disappointment, I still managed to pull off a bloody amazing win (OK, so I little bragging). A couple of good guesses on the secret victory conditions (fish, towns in woods, cards), luck with the one I didn't guess and the sole person to build a church (as no-one worked out my objective and preferred to horde valuable stone for the open objective) I did well despite a very lean game. Players with better board positions and resources should have beaten me (and would in most games), but an aspect that I love; the bluffing and misdirection allowed for a win from a desperate looking position. Some would argue that Archipelago isn't quite balanced and that the player that played the best game should usually win – but I suppose it also depends on how you measure “played the best game”.

It’s worth noting that this game was even less cooperative than last weeks and teetered on the brink of revolt a couple of times, before being pulled away from the precipice by adding a couple more workers to board, only to be brought to the edge again by taxation and scurrilous profiteering. No churches were built to keep unrest down (because of the valuable stone), and players demanded payments for sacrificing goods to avert the looming crises. No doubt the next game will be more cutthroat, perhaps with even more bribing and applying leverage to each other. I also think we may start to see more revolts. Will we then turn full-cycle and return to more gentile scenes of cooperation?

On the other table Pete, Sam, Moritz and Stu played Tzolk'in followed by some 6 Nimmt. Pete won Tzolk'in. Stu won 6 Nimmt; apparently with a terrible score, but everyone else had a much worse score.

Beer: I was drinking Titanic’s Iceberg. Light golden wheat beer. Slightly thin, but crisp and zesty with a hint of lemon tea.  Assertive hops and a nod of malt boost the brew and disguise the fact that this is a wheat beer. More suited to the summer months, but still worthy (7/10).

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Archipela-gold!

Archipelago has been something of a hit on a Tuesday night. Everyone else at the club had played it and I was feeling left out and sorry for myself. So after months of being left in port I finally embarked on a game of Archipelago. As I’m sure John has mentioned in previous posts, this is a game about European powers of yore competing in the exploration of a tropical archipelago. Players must build up and manage a colony in order to create wealth and prosperity for themselves and their respective nations, all the while balancing the impact on the islanders, who are ready to revolt and declare independence.

This was sold to me as a cooperative game with a winner. I would say it’s not. I would say it’s a highly competitive and ruthless game that everyone can lose. Everyone is out for themselves, but are always keeping an eye on the creeping unrest and trying to get others to shoulder the burden of placating the natives. All the while wondering whether there is a secret separatist actively trying to incite a revolt. 

So not as much cooperation as I expected, but there is so much more to this game than all ‘pitching in for the cause , while accusing everyone else of being a separatist’ (which was the impression I got as I looked on from afar in previous weeks).Worker-placement is the core of this game. A gaming mechanism, which I like, but feel has been over used since the worker-placement poster boy Agricola hit the shops in 2007. But Archipelago has more. So much more. It has area control. It has stock market manipulation. Modular tiles. Special actions. Exploration. It has cooperation, negotiation and back-stabbing. And all of this is tied together nicely in a very eye-pleasing manner. 

I also like the ambiguous nature of the victory and end game conditions (with hidden objective cards). It really adds to the tension. And from my point of view has the added benefit of reducing the need for heavy analysis or number-crunching. That’s not to say this isn't a good intellectual exercise, this is still a pretty heavy game with lots to consider, but you’re never entirely sure what the best move will be and so a good rounded plan will probably be better than a narrow one.

I bobbed around a bit aimlessly for most of the game and didn't quite get a handle on it until the end – even having the ignominy of making the most pointless move in the game (everyone thinks I’m talking about the migration where I moved a solitary ship to open water, I was openly laughed at for that – but it was actually the buying of the Spy card, which I could never afford to use).  I came in fourth with a mere four points. However, I was saved the shame of last place by John with his three meager points. Tom won with his ruthless 14, and Rich and Pete somewhere in between. Anyway, it’s a great game and I hope to get in more games before something new and shiny replaces it in John’s bag of wonder.  

On the other table there was horror in the city as Dean, Matt, Alina, Nicky and Sam played City of Horror. Appropriately, for something in the zombie genre, this is a remake of the 2005 Mall of Horror game, which gathered a cult following after it became out of print. Described as a back-stabbing survival-horror game, players have to survive the onslaught of a shambling horde. Occasionally sacrificing one of their own in order to do so. It looked cool with stand-up cardboard figures and scenery; including a water tower dominating one end of the cityscape. It was declared to be good and Dean won.

Games of Gloom and Saboteur finished off the evening.

Beer:  I sampled Loose Cannon Bandwagon. A bitter with a rich mahogany colour. Nice and malty, a hint of winter fruit, but lacking sweetness and body. Decent. 6/10

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

All warfare is based on deception

A relatively quiet evening at the Ribs where seven and a half attendees made it to the Wherry Room to play some games.

Cautious exploration of the outer rim
Pete, Matt, Sam and Nicky clashed in a war amongst the stars, Eclipse hitting the table with its now familiar mix of exploration, expansion, exploitation and extermination.

Eclipse is a rather spiffy board game rendition of the so called 4x genre set in deep space, where players compete to lead their clan of nascent space farers into the unknown, developing star systems, building ships and taking dominance by might or perhaps diplomacy. There have been a number of games over the years to tackle the interesting topic - from the classic 1975 Stellar Conquest ( which arguably spawned the computer game series Master of Orion, the original rule book of which kept referring to 'dice rolls' ) through to 1997 Throne World and beyond into Space Empires:4x and of course Eclipse.

Eclipse is definitely a product of its time however - it has picked up more than a flavour of Euro centric games with its action selection optimisation, 'worker placement' resource gathering and other such teutonic mechanics, but it also has one foot in the past with its pure trash dice combat and fleet movement. This gives it a different feel to its siblings, part Euro, part trash, but managing to pull it all together in a very elegant way. It condenses what other games can take many hours to do into a much more reasonable time frame and has some clever mechanics that mean a runaway leader never really occurs.

The game unfortunately failed to finish on time, but with a quick tot up of points, Matt was revealed to be the leading would be galactic ruler.

Table 2 saw Archipelago once again thrown into the mix, Rich, Moritz and myself settling down to the problem of managing the colony.

Things were going spankingly well in our new colony, exploration was proving to be a breeze as everyone quickly expanded out, and yet total population and resources were well under control. All too soon however things took a  turn for the worse as a breakdown in community spirit saw a crisis hit the colony hard, jumping separatists numbers to a dangerous level. Rich at this point decided to stop any pretence of co-operation and had his workers go on a mass riot, refusing to placate his rebelling citizens. Forced into trying to keep a lid on things I spammed resources to smooth things over, but it was no good. The separatist Rich gained Dictatorship, letting the colonists feel the taste of his iron fist and to add insult to injury decided to tax them for good measure.

This was too much for the troubled islanders and the new colony collapsed in rebellion. Evil Rich walked away with the win - all too easy.

Given the game was so short, we reset the game and had another blast. This time the colony went in a completely different direction, exploration was much slower and more tricky, but separatist numbers were never a threat, and the colony grew and thrived until game end when 5 town had been built.

A review of points revealed I had secured top place in all VP conditions - a nice spate of building and some brutal pineapple mass sales helping me along.

Finally Libertalia had its first outing at the Ribs, the three of us donning pirate hats to squabble over the rights to the booty before us. Freed slaves and Daughters of Governors were put to the sword, treasure maps were secured, curses suffered but the most piratey of the pirates turned out to be me ! Arrrrr.

I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, which has nothing what so ever to do with the fact that I won everything. Apart from the aberration of the first game of Archipelago which clearly doesn't count. That was the practice lap.


Friday, 9 November 2012

JRR Tzolkin Calendar

While the folk over in the US of A were busy choosing sanity over insanity, 12 of us were holed up in the Wherry Room playing games.

See the mighty cogs of Tzolk'in. Oooh!
Both Dean and Jimmy brought hot, hot, hot games from Essen this week. Dean brought Tzolk’in: the Mayan Calendar which has whipped up a lot of interest, probably due to the super gimmick of having giant connected cogs in the centre of the board which rotate throughout the game. Behind this fascinating and rather fantastic looking idea is the now very familiar idea of worker placement. Tim, Sam and Pete made up the required four and all of them came away from the game with big smiles. Pete reckons it plays really well and reminds him of Agricola.  Sam won a closely fought victory, pleasing the Mayan gods more than the other players. Personally, I’ve seen enough worker placement games, but this one has piqued my interest and I’m looking forward to giving it a spin.

I got to play Il Vecchio with Matt, Tom and Jimmy. This is a game all about renaissance Italy with Florence, Tuscany, the Medici, families, nobles, knights, bishops, crests, power, money all in the mix. Families compete to move their chaps around the board doing and buying stuff  - sometimes dealing with middlemen - in order to do more stuff, buy more stuff, get more chaps, buy more stuff in order to place more stuff, move more chaps to do more stuff and then get some stuff in order to get some points and then win. It’s a solid design, but lacking in originality or verve. Meh. Double meh as Matt won.

On the final table, Rich, Phil, Moritz and John larked about - firstly with Nexus Ops and then with Fearsome Floors. They played two games of Fearsome Floors, aborting the first game early as nearly everyone had escaped within a few turns. This was because they were all using the handy teleporters to jump from one side of the board to the other. What should have happened was that as soon as a player moved his hapless person into a teleporter there would have been a blood curdling scream as the person suffered an excruciating death. Everyone knows that only monsters can survive the teleporting process. What do they think this is? Star Trek? In Fearsome Floors if you’re unsure whether something will kill you - it certainly will kill you - so it was surprising that in their second game only three of the 16 explorers died. Even more surprisingly, Phil won. And he won Nexus Ops as well. As I mentioned earlier, clearly larking about was rife.

Beer: Adnams Old Ale. It’s so old that it’s dark and murky. Tastes as if a sack of malt has been stored in a coal cellar and then roasted in treacle, sack and all. 8/10.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Arts

Are you into the arty side of board games, or are you just a crunch person ?

Artist Alex Aparin has posted the cover art of Merchant of Venus over on deviantart, and I think it's rather spiffy.

Click on the image to head over to the artist's deviantart post to get a much better look. ( Try also clicking on the image on the deviant art page for an even bigger clearer version ).

You can also check out some other game type art Alex has done in his gallery. Descent for one. He also did the cover for the Pathfinder RPG halfling supplement. Gosh.

Gallery is here http://belibr.deviantart.com/gallery/ for those of a deviant art challenged nature.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

A Storm Brewing

Casting off the urge to lubricate themselves with copious amounts of warm beer, nine tee-total puritanical types favoured board games instead of the alcoholic delights of the 35th Norwich Beer Festival. However, we do have surveillance that indicates both Jimmy and James shunned us in favour of beer. It has been noted in the NoBoG Journal of Transgressions.

As promised Dean furnished us with new delights from the world’s biggest board game fair, which he attended in Essen a couple of weeks back. He brought the dubious Aristoocrazy, Samurai Sword, and two games from AEG’s new Tempest setting; Courtier and Dominare. It is the latter, meatier game, Dominare, that Dean favoured and so myself, Nicky and Rich sat down to see what the City-State of Tempest had to offer.

A conspiracy unfolds in the city-state of Tempest
In Dominare, the players are wrestling for control of a conspiracy which will ultimately overthrow the existing structure and ultimately seat them at the head of the city’s power structure. Agents are used to spread influence throughout the city as players vie for control of city blocks and organisations. This is ultimately an area control game with card (agent) drafting.

Each turn, players draft an agent card, adding one new agent to their part of the conspiracy. The higher placed an agent is in your conspiracy, the more powerful that agent is. The agents can add influence onto the board, provide revenue, increase your exposure (turn order mechanism) and have unique action/abilities which break, bend or add new rules. The game is played over seven rounds, victory points from controlling the 10 city blocks, bonus blocks and having a low exposure are totted up at the end to determine the winner.

Not sure what to make of this. The main thrust of the game is area control and feels like it’s come 10 years too late to the party – solid, but uninspiring on its own. The agents breathe life into the game – they’re well thought out and characterised. (I like that AEG are trying to make their own thematic world and story, which is always difficult as a known franchise is instantly more gratifying). The powers are nicely varied and the way they interact and change depending on their position within the conspiracy provides interesting avenues to explore. Good stuff. But, the way they interact with the board is frustratingly chaotic and creates huge swings with regard to board positioning. Add the arbitrary random events and the board is in a constant state of flux making planning extremely difficult.  Perhaps the characters should have been used in something else as they don’t shine in Dominare - ultimately they make the area control game slow and frustrating, when they should have made it a lot of fun. This was our first play and we got off to a tumultuous start by misunderstanding a couple rules – it also took a long time to play. A second play would probably give a fairer impression – so I'm not consigning it the land of Leonardo da Vinci just yet. Dean won convincingly.

On the other table, two games that have found a place in the hearts of the NoBoG regulars saw table time:  The instant hit, Archipelago, saw the players staving of revolt long enough for Matt to be declared the winner. And Peter rejoiced as he claimed victory in Hansa Teutonica. John, Phil and Tom didn't win a thing.

Beer: I obviously didn't have any beer as we don’t partake in such vices. And I was saving myself for the beer festival tonight.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

More Essen Immigrants

According to our secret sources, Dean who couldn't make it this Tuesday ( he was gamed out from being in Essen ), has also brought a haul of games back from Germany, and all things being well may show up next week with a selection of new interesting shiny things.

Shiny.

Shiny.

Things.

Definition of Co-operation

A mild and slightly misty night found nine NoBoGers gathering in the Ribs this Tuesday.

Jimmy was fresh back from Essen where he had bought 'a suitcase full of games', and turned up with one of the new shiny games in his hands - Aeroplanes.

I say old chap, are the engines supposed to sputter like that ?
Four players grabbed their tickets and boarded the antique aircraft,  Phil, Tim and Stu joining Jimmy in learning how to be a better commercial aviation pioneer.

The board looked rather minimalist and plain to me - surely a missed opportunity to do something nice art wise, perhaps it's trying to grab that art deco style. On the other hand the aircraft illustrations were rather spiffy and brought back memories to me of countless years (!) spent playing WW1 aerial wargames.

Everyone seemed to enjoy trying their hand at being the Easyjet of the 1920's, and a triumphant Phil romped to a dominating win, lapping the scoreboard and shaming all others present with his business nous.

Archipelago was revisited again on table 2, Tom, Pete, Ed, Matt and myself tackling the management of our new colony. Everyone but Pete had played before and there seemed to be a definite improvement in knowing what to do - and everyone pitched in with rules help too to get Pete up to speed quickly. Despite this, an hour had passed before even the first turn had elapsed - quite a bit of arguing, planning and cajoling going on in the opening phases.

There followed a wholly fantastic game that stretched out for the entire evening. Mean economics saw the rise of the completely theoretical 'half coin' to be paid every other transaction as a single coin, and Ed bankrupting himself rushed for the rebel inducing pyramid earning him the suspicion of all the other players. Towns were the face up victory condition this game, and this saw a spate of them being built to control the areas they were placed into. Pete in typical Pete fashion declared that the first person to build a town would obviously be the Separatist - and then went onto build the first town, with a raft of diplomatic language to avoid being hoisted on his own petard.

As time wore on, infamy started to work its way into the colony, and Tom having temporarily left his town to build a church found himself outbid by a crafty Pete, who then promptly marched into Tom's area and declared ownership of Tom's town for himself.

The uneasy co-operation of the would be powers was shattered as Tom decried such underhanded activity. Pete was adamant however that he had spent vital resources on securing the play, and perhaps could be bribed to undo his move, but otherwise was unconcerned at Tom's complaints. Tom vowed to send the colony down and ignite the islands in uprising if Pete stuck to his ways, and Pete thought better of his move - only to steal Tom's market instead.

With discord well and truly sown Ed - who then openly declared himself as the separatist, finished Pete's work for him and marched into Tom's town, sealing the deal.

Time ran out on us as the game had gone on for longer than it should have - probably due to the volume of discussions, and dodgy grudging deals going on, and so the game ended in something of a draw. An early calculation of victory points saw Ed - the separatist taking top slot with 11, Matt and Pete on 10, myself on a pitiful 4, and Tom declaring nothing but vengeance for wrongs done !

A thoroughly excellent game all in all, a shame we couldn't quite finish it before time ran out.

Beer. Pete drank Gunner's Daughter, which after downing a pint and a half in a matter of minutes declared it to be very good indeed.

"Gunner's Daughter hits the spot.". A thoughtful smacking of lips as to how to describe it.

"Gunner's Daughter hits the spot. And the beer is pretty good too !"

Always finish with a joke.


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Thievery Most Foul

Nine on the roll call for this week with new attendee Peter joining us for the evening's frivolities.

Hamburgum and Chaos in the Old World were first up, Peter given free choice between the two choosing economics over degenerate corruption. Matt, Stu, Peter and Nicky thus settled down to compete for economic power and prestige in 17th century Germany.
Is it me or do certain euro games have a penchant for historical economic mastery ?
I'm not sure who won this, I wasn't paying attention as I was busying winning the mid game of Chaos, just so that everyone would have a new person to beat up on. Have a picture of the Hamburg action instead.

This left Tom, Moritz, Pete, Phil and myself to clash in Games Workshops setting of the Old World. Chaos in the old world is something of a favourite with the NoBoGers, and it gets an outing every once in a while, more often that not with the expansion included, bringing the Skaven to the table increasing the players from four to five.

For those not familiar with it, the game is an area control game, with each player having subtly different capabilities and goals. Whilst the main thrust of the game is the domination of a region by placing an ever increasing amount of your faction's corruption - effectively control markers, there is also the not insignificant competition for faction powers - winning enough of your faction's advancements can win you the game regardless of region control and victory points.

The game in experienced hands can tiptoe its way through a fairly tight contest as any faction gaining an advantage can be clawed back by the rest of the table. One arguable flaw with the game is that Khorne, having the most straight forward objectives of all the powers - kill things as often as possible - is perhaps somewhat overpowered and requires all the other factions to effectively team up and make sure first and foremost that Khorne is not provided with easy targets. Do not feed Khorne is the oft repeated mantra down the Ribs. This balance problem can be most noticeable with a new player or players who being unfamiliar with the consequences of their actions can hand even an inexperienced Khorne player a fairly straight forward win as the bloody god devours its way to victory.

Despite this the game plays out well, and with a few pointers to those new to it, or old hands that know what to avoid, the game can shine.

Tom managed to gain a victory with Tzeentch, with Pete as the Rats a single point behind, and me with Nurgle a point behind Pete. Just two points separated the top three players, but all players were fairly close, and Phil bringing up the rear with Khorne was very close to an advancement win.

With both games finishing at the same time the nine of us jammed together for another session of smack talk, jeering and underhanded shenanigans in Saboteur 2. Pete took the win with this with a total of 6 gold, myself Stu and Peter coming in second with 5 gold. However, it should be noted that I was robbed of a win - not once or twice, but three times. I had a total of 4 gold thieved away from my stash over several rounds which marred my otherwise efficient gold grabbing ways. The outrage of placing the perfect final card - a green door connecting to the gold - for a win, only for all my winnings to be thieved away. Shocking. It's enough to turn you into a Saboteur

Phil, of course, turned out to be a Saboteur, thus confirming the adage that Phil is always a shifty, untrustworthy Saboteur.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Earth Reborn - Pillage

For those unable to see the BGG forum...

Any interest in having a bash at Earth Reborn next week ?

Possibly Mission 5, Pillage. The NORAD forces must search the base and escape before the Evil Salemites can hunt them down.

Low Res or High Res mission details.


Gaming Galore

 T he dark and the cold have arrived in Norwich, and the weather minions at NoBoG HQ inform me that snow may be here by the end of October. However, I am dubious of the divinations of the weather lackeys on their crystal balls. We shall see.

Eleven souls sought comfort from the Autumn chill in the cosy confines of The Ribs of Beef, with more games on offer than a professional stick shaker could shake a stick at. Sheepland, Endeavour, Hansa Teutonica, Hey that's my fish, Archipelago and Saboteur 2 were played, in some instances more than once, for a total of ten plays, not including the multi rounds of Saboteur 2.

Pete's hair - a wondrous thing that is an almost honourary NoBoG member in its own right - was for the first time in quite a while not present. It seems that it had finally gained sentience after observing one too many games of Race for the Galaxy and had made a break for freedom and a new life in South America. Whether it was escaping Pete or Race for the Galaxy is hard to say. Pete on the other hand arrived somewhat diminished and sporting a new streamlined look, with a good deal less hair.

But on with the games !

Bondy brought Endeavour to the table, which in his own words is "a game about doing things". A surefire marketing tagline if ever I heard one. Stu, Matt and Moritz challenged Bondy in the battle of vying European powers, with Stu triumphing in building the most glorious Empire of them all. Next up on their table was Stu's Sheepland with which Bondy repaired his bruised Endeavour reputation by becoming the most sheep herding Shepherd.

Meanwhile myself, Ed, Tom and Alina tackled the deceptively tricky Archipelago which almost predictably saw the colony explode in rebellion during the first game causing everyone to lose. Vowing that everyone knew what was going on, the second game kicked off with suspiciously similar strategies in place. The ugly practice of Slavery quickly wormed its way into the colony which I snapped up to add to my capabilities - much to the disgust of everyone else. Enduring slurs about being an evil slaver during following negotiations it was somewhat ironic to then find both Ed and Alina indulging in the use of Slavery themselves.

 Hypocrisy of the highest order ! Unbeknownst to all however, I was the evil Separatist and was secretly happy people where employing the powerful slavery at the cost of increasing levels of rebellion.

Co-operation warred with blind self interest amongst the players, and given the number of times Ed disappeared under his hood with a pained expression, a certain amount of nail biting and worry was also involved. As time ran out on the evening levels of rebellion drew critically close to sending the whole colony down once more. The game finished with a probable win for the Separatist, but unfortunately we couldn't quite finish to find out.

Pete, Rich and Phil sat down with Hansa Teutonica - which once again is getting a hammering of plays - and interspersed the merchant shenanigans with brutal penguin fish gobbling.

 Rich and Pete took wins in Hansa, and as for the penguins. . . who knows. Hey That's my Fish seems to be slowly spreading its influence in the group as people get introduced to it or replay it.

Saboteur 2 finished the evening with a 7 handed set of rounds, the shifty Saboteurish Phil always a suspicious player.




Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Just Seventeen

Just Seventeen, often referred to as J-17, was a weekly magazine aimed at teenage girls, published by Emap from October 1983. The market leader until the launch of Sugar in 1994, after which sales began to fall. In 1997, the magazine was changed to a monthly format in response to the declining circulation, but finally closed in 2004. OK, so that has nothing to do with NoBoG and is just a circuitous way of mentioning that we had record attendance at the Ribs of Beef with SEVENTEEN turning up to play games. Is this the Golden Age of NoBoG? I’m certainly not declaring such a thing. I know full well that if I did we’d be down to just two of us next week -  forced to play Kogge, Vampire: Prince of the City or Medici with a man drinking cream.  So no, I dare not suggest such a thing.

Last night was great, if a little cramped in the Wherry Room. So I took a contingent consisting of Ed and three newcomers, Owen, Grant and Mark, upstairs to play Amun-Re. Nicky, Alina, Matt and Martin played Hansa Teutonica - and then played it again for good measure. Jimmy, Tom and Dean played Castles of Burgundy. And on the end table there was the only marr on the evening as Pete, Rich, Stu, Moritz and Sam inflicted Race for the Galaxy on themselves - twice - followed by Alhambra.

Winners for the evening were: myself (tie-breaker with Ed), Alina, Matt, Jimmy. And on the table of gruelling punishments: Rich swept the board with three victories.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Super Hansa Dungeon

Nine this week, Sam - fast turning into a regular, Stu, Rich, Phil, Pete, Moritz, Matt, Nicky and myself.

The special levelling device attended but had a night off, viewing the action from a nearby table.

Phil returned after a hiatus of a few weeks to bring Super Dungeon Explore to the table, explaining that the missing weeks were partly down to a malady that had most of the symptoms of being hung over. But honestly, it wasn't actually being hungover.

Pete took on the role of dungeon master, or whatever the funky new age equivalent is - Subterranean Minority Manager-  and in what has to be said as something of a typical outing of this game, managed to cook, eat and hug the poor adventurers to death with the aid of a late arriving dragon and ogre.

Victory for Evil Pete. On a roll, Hansa Peteonica followed but turned out to be a close contest in which, unusually, Pete did not win. Deciding to feed Phil victory points from his camping of the Action Points the scoring was relatively modest, with both Rich and Pete getting to the golden five actions, but in their greed for more things to do let the win slip away.

Phil declared it good to be back with a win.

Meanwhile, the brand spanking new game, Archipelago, had its first run with five of us. The game is branded as 'semi co-operative' in that whilst you are all competing, you are also trying to not upset the delicate balance of the islands which results in a loss for all players. Unless of course you are the evil Separatist, in which case you are quite happy to see the islands ignite in rebellion.

After a rules session and a couple of turns, our initial colonisation attempts of the new archipelago ended in utter failure. Two turns in, and the islands were in revolt, no goods were in stock, the natives unhappy with their lot. Everyone loses. Except Stu, who turned out to be the separatist. The abrupt end of the game seemed to be quite a shock to all players, including Stu who had won.

Vowing that we now knew what we were doing, Game 2 kicked off with a whole different bunch of strategies. And once again in short order the islands were near revolting.

Tricky.

Turn 2 or 3 - and the game was all over, one of the random end game conditions triggering. A quick tot up of points and wily Moritz had won.

The game can be played as Short, Medium or Long - different cards for each game mean that the end game criteria change and so length of play is adjusted. The short game, advertised at anything between 30 minutes and 2 hours can be harshly short. Concentrate on what you are doing, time is shorter than you think !

The game has hidden VP scoring - each player gets a VP score card indicating what scores points for this game, which is then kept secret. At game end all players score from all cards, meaning what scores you points is largely unknown to a player.

A single face up VP score card is also placed on the table, giving everyone an obvious goal to hit, but with a five player game you are left with knowing only two of the possible 6 scoring cards that are in effect.

If that's not enough uncertainty just when the game ends is also secret, each player having a secret condition that will end the game.

Who's winning ? How long have I got ? Do I need to worry about an Evil Separatist making things more difficult ?

Tricky. A lot more tricky than it first looks. And it looks kinda tricky to start with. Cool stuff though and something different. There's definitely the usual Euro competitive who can manage resources, choose actions and place workers the best, but, crucially, that's not your biggest worry - keeping the islands ticking over is. Which can be tricky to get your head around, as keeping the islands running can mean making personal sacrifices that would otherwise help your own cause. It's easy to get caught up in your brilliant game winning empire expanding strategy only for the game to suddenly end because no one was keeping an eye on things.

Everyone agreed that a longer game should be played, so you can really sink your teeth into setting up your colony.

Finally after all the colony management we managed to get in a short game of Bonanza Dice, with Matt doing particularly well and scoring nothing at all. Huzzah.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Tokyo Wonders


Ed returned this week from a summer spent swanning around the picturesque spots of the Mediterranean and partaking of activities like diving off the coast of Egypt. Realising that such things could not be as fulfilling as a Tuesday evening down the pub playing board games, he returned to the fold and brought Lucy along too, just in time to sit down for a session of 7 Wonders.


Dean, Tim, Stu, Lucy and Ed clashed science geeks and military in their race to be most Wondrous with Dean yet again hauling in a win. Dean seems to be on something of a roll with 7 Wonders wins just lately. Pete - not even playing the game - denounced 7 Wonders to be nothing more than random card shuffling with few if any choices, thus ensuring any future board game diplomacy with Dean would start on Troubled. This does not bode well for any Risk Legacy shenanigans . . .

King of Tokyo was next up for the five, proving so popular that Tokyo had to endure the marauding violence twice in succession.

Sam, Pete, Bondy and myself engaged in post apocalyptic skirmishing with Earth Reborn, and despite Pete being dubious we could finish or even start the game, the evil Salemites managed to infiltrate the missile base and set off the nukes towards Norad City.

Sam scrambling to abort the launch managed to punch in the cancel codes in a very cinematic turn of events, only for the underhand Bondy to immediately engage the launch cycle once more and end the game.

The single surviving Salemite team member had survived and pulled off the mission.

I really like this game - the setup for the set scenarios is at best a pain, and at worst downright awful, but the game itself plays really nicely and hits a lot of gaming buttons I haven't had hit in a long while - it begs for expansions, and almost wants to be a target for an X-COM Enemy Unknown re-theme.


Thursday, 13 September 2012

[insert title here]

In a vague attempt to get posts on the blog more quickly (before John) I have devised a template to use. Yes, I know it’s Thursday already, but at least I’ve posted something. So here goes with the new template...

[intro]

[number of people]  Ten
[new people?] Two new people. Dan and Mike. Welcome chaps!

[mention current event/holiday] So, the new iphone, eh?

[insert joke about John being nasty/Tom being old/Pete having a silver-tongue]

Tom wasn’t at the club as he had a Korean War veterans’ reunion.

[games I played - did I win?  
no =  mention it briefly and say it’s a poor game that requires little or no strategy.
yes = go into detail about how it’s a great game which requires great strategy.]


It was Taj Mahal! Matt won. Er, it’s a poor game that requires... No, it’s great. I refuse to tell lies about this awesome game, despite not winning.

[games on other table  - pick one for each game played
Taj Mahal = this a great game
Race for the Galaxy / Le Havre = this is a terrible game
Other game =  vague description and mention who won]


Power Grid Baden-Wurttemberg hit the other table. This is the sixth and newest board expansion for Power Grid. Pete won, but only because Nicky and Jimmy conspired to make Rich lose - the fiends.

[insert thinly veiled insult about Phil losing/Tom cheating/Pete having a silver-tongue]

Phil didn’t come last in any games! But that’s only because he stayed at home.

[say what a great time we had]

We had a great time.

beer - [try to recall the name of the guest beer and pick 3 of the following to describe it, amber, golden, dark, citrusy, floral, fruity, nutty, bitter, light, grassy, caramel, burnt, malty, biscuity, hoppy, chocolatey, vinegary, fishy, penguiny, sweaty. Compare it to a random game]

Beer: I drank Everards Sunchaser. Citrusy, golden and penguiny. 6/10 it’s like Felix: The Cat in the Sack.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Saboteur Ascendant

Hello ?

*tap tap tap*

Is this thing on ?

*sounds of shifting around and papers moved*

Well, it seems as though NoBoG HQ is empty at the moment except for myself, so I shall bring the blog up to speed.

September, the final days of Summer here in Blighty - if you can call it Summer at all with the rain and the wacky weather - and twelve made it to the Ribs. Two new souls stumbled through the worn doors - Sam and Matt, bringing our total allotment of Matts for the evening to three. Rather unsportingly the three Matts did not sit at one table for an evening of Matt-tastic gaming, but instead split up onto one table each in order to spread the Matt love between Traders of Genoa, Small World and Feudality.

Pete, A Ubiquitous Matt, Tom and Stu sat down for a bash at Genoa at the far end, where Pete got to exercise his silver tongued skills beguiling, complaining and feigning innocence in quick order to navigate his way to the top of the pile. Half way through the game with Pete having nipped off, I quizzed the players as to who was winning.
"Pete. Although he says he isn't."
"He's doing his 'usual'."

The darkly muttered Pete 'usual'. No more explanation was needed. Everyone understood. I laughed and left them to it.

Table 2 had Sam, Another ubiquitous Matt ( the all new one ), Elena and Phil sitting down to play Small World. Dean and Phil had rather fancied getting Ascendancy to the table, but there seemed to be little appetite for it - a lot of NoBoGers having already played it, so with the new Sam and Matt declaring they would like to try Small World, the crazy mix and match fantasy trope game was wheeled out. A tired Elena put off sleep to join in with the guys, and with her flying humans - or was it flying elves - she managed to show the lads how it was done, and swept away to victory. Tired or not. Excusing herself after her win she left to get some sleep - or perhaps she left so she could quit whilst she was ahead and leave as a winner.

Feudality was on the last table, a somewhat random wacky kingdom building game, a recent output from the old war horse Tom Wham - he of Kings and Things. The game plays pretty well, its light weight without much in the way of thinking too hard, or maybe at all, it tickles the requirement to build your own nice little enclave of stuff, a la agricola or ora and labora or sim city, and it has a dose of humour and player interaction. Rich, Yet Another Ubiquitous Matt, Dean and myself played this, Rich getting off to a great start with a strong military and some nice early victory points.

Dean flush with cash from his Alchemists, Traders et al was doing his best to sabotage Rich's lead, and after some spectacular failures managed to assassinate poor Wolf the elephant and knock down Rich's tower, leaving the game much more open.

Wizards, wars and much healing was going on towards the end, the game winnable by anyone in the last round - everyone just a few victory points away from the win. Dean and myself breeched the victory point end of game marker, and after calculating tie breakers it seemed that I had the victory with a better military force than the sabotaging underhanded Dean.


The latter half of the evening saw Ascendancy finally hit the table, Dean, Phil, Sam and Matt marshalling their resources to recruit the best into their ranks - not sure what happened to this one, as on the other table all hell broke loose with a seven handed game of Saboteur 2.

Gone was the simplicity of Are you a Saboteur or Not from Saboteur 1, to be replaced by, are you a green team, blue team, boss, lazy, geologist or saboteur ? The threats from saboteurs faded into the distance as the miners began infighting, pitting the factions against each other, and even team mate against team mate, in greedy grabs to be the sole gold earner. An early victory for a combined miners team found Stu jump into the lead as he took his share of the prize - and stole one of Tom's hard earned pieces of loot. Realising however that Tom was giving him a lift home, he evinced a cool piece of diplomatic back pedalling and let Tom off to steal someone elses.

After two more rounds, underhanded Stu once again had a fistful of stealing cards enabling him to loot by hook or crook, and push himself 1 point in front of me. Matt however refusing to let anyone win decided to steal one of Stu's gold, leaving the final tally a draw - 7 gold for Stu and myself.

Great game. I think however the identity cards could do with some labels telling you exactly who you are. Saboteur 1 has two choices. Either the card says Saboteur or it doesn't. This is easy to tell who you are. When you add blue team, green team, boss, lazy, geologist into the mix, and only the saboteur has printed on it what it is, it means identifying who you are can be a little tricky if you are not familiar with what you are looking at. Not a problem once you have played a few hands, or are particularly paying attention to the cute art at the start, but I think a handy printed word could have avoided the problem altogether. A few people grabbed the rules at the start of hands to check just Who The Hell They Were.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Join In

If you are around the Norwich area, or can make it to Norwich and are free on Tuesday evenings, then why not come down to the Ribs of Beef, play some games, drink some drinks and meet a varied bunch of people with a good sense of humour and an interest in pushing wooden bits around a table.

New people are always welcome to come play and the NoBoGers are a very friendly laid back bunch that are not into rules lawyering or overly stressing about the evenings random entertainment. Although Jimmy has a rule that there is to be no extraneous talking whilst playing Saboteur. Gnome mining is a serious business. I on the other hand like the Saboteur smack talk.

Unlike most other clubs there's no membership fee, no complex list of rules that need signing in your blood, no pouting or hurt feelings if you can't make it or even just turn up once every year, and there's not even a need to own or bring a single game. So really, there's nothing stopping you from turning up at 7.20pm on a Tuesday and getting roundly beaten by Pete at Hansa Teutonica.

So if you've been lurking, or sitting on the fence, or have come in the past but have lapsed into some gaming void, come and join in and see what it's all about. Marvel at the NoBoG special levelling device. Purr in appreciation at the luxurious game-table covers. Partake of the pre main event table placement game - a tricky endeavour involving too many chairs, odd sized tables and a number of bystanders with only one space to manouevre in and out of.


Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Ninja Penguins

With the excesses of the long bank holiday weekend past, Tuesday once more rolled around to find a group of travellers stumbling hastily into The Ribs. Given an asylum choice between the Ecuadorian embassy and a pub with games, six of us chose beer and entertainment. No word on what the Ecuadorian Embassy was offering other than a long boring conversation with Julian Assange, who after some 80 odd days couped up in the building must be by now going slightly cabin crazy - and without so much as a copy of Settlers to pass the time.

Unlike the embassy, our group busied themselves Ninja-ing, designing space ships, plying galactic trade routes, fishing in the ice and building wonders of the ancient world. Which is a rather surprising and unexpected range of activities to find going on at your local pub. Usually its just drinking - which we also managed to do.

Another veteran NoBoGer turned up for the evening - Dylan - there must be something in the water, or the weather is driving them out from their usual hiding places as this last month or so has seen a rash of vets turn up to put in a celebrity appearance.

Dylan, Mr Bond and myself settled down to Galaxy Trucker, with Bondy struggling to get his ships completed on time, Dylan consistently confusing his cabins for cargo holds, whilst I serenely cruised  to a good lead come the end of Round 2.

In a suspiciously Hustle type move, Bondy suddenly turned things around in the last round, completed a spanking ship in record time and swept pirates, smugglers and slavers before him to rack up a huge amount of bounty and haul home an enormous cargo to boot. Dylan and myself could only trail in his exhaust picking up the odd scrap - and the huge armament of my ship mostly unused.

Meanwhile on table 1, Matt, Dean and Tim strapped on their Ninja Tabi and proceeded to stealth around the grounds stealing items and wooing courtesans for their clan. Actually I am not sure what wooing courtesans has to do with it, but those involved assure me its a necessary 'sacrifice'.

Tim was obviously going for the Best Dressed Gamer of the evening award, as can be half seen in the picture to the right. But despite his obvious evening wear flair he only managed to place last with Matt and Dean beating him in the contest of who has the blackest pyjamas. Dean who has described this game as his favourite most played game clinched the victory peppering his foes with wooden shuriken and fancy cards.

Back on table 2, Hey, Thats My Fish was setup for a couple of quick rounds of penguin mayhem. The dancing birds shuffled around the ice floe to visit horrible isolation death on their penguin foes, their cute features belying their brutal machiavellian manouevering. The savvy and noble red penguins lead by myself secured a nicely sized island of fish and forged ahead to a comfortable win in round 1.
Round 2 saw Dylans shifty and underhanded blue penguins become far too greedy, trying to hive off a large portion of the ice floe for their own selfish bellies. Not standing for that kind of fish piracy my noble penguins and Bondys hapless birds assaulted his position, and stopped his greed from getting out of hand.
Somehow whilst this was happening, my red penguins also managed to win a nice sized island chunk and contest a third group of ice floe, leading my forces to another comfortable victory.
Bondy once again disgusted with his performance, derisively slurred his score as Rubbish.

Finally, all six of us grouped up for a game of Seven Wonders, both heavily militaristic players - Dean and Matt, scoring well, with Dean romping ahead with a perfect military score and a large number of points for science to boot. Matt managed to secure half the gold reserves of the old world - a sum of 30 odd coins to hand, making up for an otherwise rather bare play area.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Embattled Bin Men of Bob

Nine this week, Rich, Moritz and Matt playing the well travelled Hansa Teutonica with Crocker suitably enticed to stay and join in before making a hasty departure.

Matt ended up as the most savvy of traders securing a civilised Hansa win, whilst on the other table, a noisy uncivilised game of Risk Legacy trash talked its way across the world - and heavily distracted me from observing the goings on of Hansa.

Game 11-ish in the Risk saga opened with some major nuclear polluting of the Americas - Pete's enthusiastic bin men turning up in the troubled continent for a few days of trash collection - the more polluted the better. Bring Out Yer Dead.

Phil's mecha and Dean's bears could not have followed refuse protocol correctly however - bins not at the kerbside, the wrong kind of trash in the wrong bin - as Pete's army of Refuse Technicians could not quite finish the job and pulled over somewhere on a deserted American highway for a tea break. Cue sad Pete.

With radioactive trash piling up, and both bears and mecha dying, the only sensible solution to the problem was more pointless war, ravenous bears wandering around America in search of picnic baskets and uncollected bins and Bondy's mercenary Europeans taking an American bear hunting vacation.

A ridiculous defence of the City of Bob by its embattled bin men saw the African hordes decimated - but not before they limped on into the American cauldron to wipe out the hibernating bears.  A struggling Phil broke free of the poisoned jungles of Petia to let his mecha stomp forwards and secure Phil's first win, the City of Bob changing hands once more to end the game.

Seas boiled, the land heaved and the end of days was brought forth, the mark of the unlikely win of Phil. America - now known finally, justly as Philtopia would see dark days ahead as the sun waned and a chill wind began to blow. . . . such is the cost of a Phil win. Woe be unto you all !

To finish off the evening, an eight handed game of Saboteur commenced, Phil was deemed to be a saboteur every game regardless of evidence and saw his tools broken before he could even play a card. Harsh some might say. But Phil has the definite look of a Saboteur.

Some particularly inspired and pre-emptive Saboteuring saw the player deck tampered with so that four saboteurs could be pitted against four miners and properly bring any excavations to a crashing halt.

A lot of smack talk and laughs later and Pete squeaked the win with 9 gold, Moritz and myself on 8, Bondy on 7.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Citius, Altius, Fortius


The London 2012 Olympics are over. Nine of us, inspired by the sporting values we've witnessed over the past two weeks, gathered to play games.  But for some reason we chose particularly vicious and cut-throat games. Yes, there was no respect, friendship or excellence on display on this hot and humid evening. Only games that inspired players to lie, cheat and connive were brought to the table.


Cosmic Encounter saw Jimmy, Rich, Pete and Phil threaten and cajole each other into carving up the galaxy. In fact rather than let planets fall into the hands of their enemies they were joyfully letting entire worlds be consumed. The death toll was horrendous, yet the greatest loss was their  morals and pride. Both were set aside as game drew to a close with a win for Rich, but only because Jimmy couldn't stand to see Pete win and with the skill of a Chinese badminton player threw the game.


On the other table I was enjoying the mid 90's classic El Grande with John, Moritz, Nicky and Tom. It all started off nicely with everyone adding their colourful cubes to the map. But it soon descended into a game of vicious reprisals as everyone chose not to improve their own board position, but to ruin everyone else’s. Rather than striving for excellence there was the battle to keep everyone pegged back and let mediocrity reign. Nicky just managed get ahead and finished as the least mediocre of the mediocre.


We then moved on to most depraved and nasty game of the evening - the dreaded Lifeboats. This is about surviving a shipwreck. But rather than helping each other in a time of peril,  the game pits the players against each other and urges them to commit despicable acts of wickedness and cowardliness. As the boats spring leaks and gradually sink, the players vote on which boats should move and when there is no room in the boat, who should be thrown overboard to the sharks. John managed to get a couple of his hapless sailors to safety, therefore, painting a huge target on his remaining sailors who suddenly found themselves in less-than-seaworthy boats. Promises were broken, lies were told and then there was the wretched begging and pleading, which mostly fell on deaf ears. Half the boats made it to shore, while the others were consigned to the deep along with the poor sailors. The survivors were totted up and it came as no surprise that the scoundrel Tom had won; his history of blackmail, low cunning and blood doping obviously giving him the edge.


Sir Chris Hoy would have wept.


Beer. I had some of Wolf Brewery's Lazy Dog.  A chestnut coloured bitter that couldn't be more chestnutty if it had be violated by a squirrel. Pete proclaimed it to be bang on, but I found it to be a little on the sour side. Nuts, tobacco and a dash of malt vinegar. 5/10.



Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Death Race 2012



Too long. Far too long. Since I was welcomed within the hallowed walls of the Beefy Ribs for several hours of foolery. Tonight I had in tow a colleague of mine, new guy Paul. New guy Paul had professed (confessed?) a desire to entertain himself via the way of the boardgame, having taken possession of a few such games himself and struggled to trick, sorry, persuade, anyone to join him in this trivial pursuit. I rocked up at about 7.30pm and Paul not long after. Introductions were made and I led new guy Paul downstairs to his untimely demise, sorry, evening of entertainment.

It so happened that there was 100 people who turned up to play games at the Bibs of Reef this evening, a new record according to games master, Matthew Bond. We had to split up into 3 tables. On one table they played Ascension, a card game developed by people who devoted their entire life to playing Magic the Gathering, or some such. On the middle table they foolishly attempted a game of Ages of Empire 3. Ages of Empires, do you see? I think they completed the first turn.

Whilst us 6, of which there were several people, did a game of Road Kill Rally. Road Kill Rally mostly consists of driving a car, very fast, and shooting, and maiming a.k.a killing. The rules were delivered by game owner John, and we rolled dice to see who went first. It was new guy Paul! What an introduction! New guy Paul was determined to get started with a bang, and accelerated his plastic vehicle to here before unseen speeds. I hope this is not how new guy Paul actually drives a car, or his insurance premiums will be bonkers. The thing with RKR is that when you start the game, you only see a tiny fraction of the board, so new guy Paul's frankly mental plan was a little wild. He went careening into a corner and I am pretty sure got blown up by someone else in very short order. And thus we proceeded to race, and blow up. Simon appeared to have the game down to an art form as he skilfully maneouvered his vehicle around the track at pace, rarely crashing, rarely getting shot, and generally using his super awesome super power to mitigate against any damage he ended up taking. He drove through pedestrian after pedestrian whilst the rest of us wailed and gnashed our teeth. John followed Simon round very professionally, rarely troubling the citizens who had strayed onto the highways and keeping his car in a generally acceptable position. So it was left to the rest of us, them being Alina, Tim, new guy Paul, and me, to obliterate each other into utter oblivion. Not a soul was spared, as a no holds barred blowings up was utterly indulged upon. Alina gleefully fired off death rays and Paul loaded up his car with an array of missiles and missile improvements. I was endowed with a flame thrower that I rather failed to use to it's full potential, and on the odd occasion that I did, it tended to wind up in a hail of blank dice and a depleted hand of cards, which left me entirely vulnerable to the following players joyful emissions of weaponary that tended to write off my vehicle in double quick time. By the end of the game, my poorly automobile had been reduced to twisted metal and burned driver on no less than four occasions. Nevertheless, it says much for my persistence that I tumbled across the line 3rd, some way behind the slightly bored looking Simon, and the highway code abiding John. The game was concluded at this point and we totted up. Simon was streets ahead, followed by Alina and then I think Paul, Tim, John, and me bringing up the rear.

And so it was. An entertaining little game but it felt like it could move at a quicker pace, given the violence involved. Still, not a bad way to spend your evening. Also of note was the glorious time when Paul went to the bar to bring me first a pint of Jackal, then a pint of Wherry, and then a pint of Jackal, not because I was drinking at an insane rate, but the first two being cloudy barrel bottomers that simply would not do. Super credit to the Ribs for putting up with my pickiness.