Saturday, 21 January 2012

Three Cheers for the New Year

Happy New Year, dear friends! It's still January so I feel I am well within my rights to say the aforementioned phrase. Unless I take my Chinese heritage seriously, in which case I am a couple of days early.

We are back in full swing at the Ribs of Beef, with three sessions completed since the festive break...

There is always a bit of a hangover in January, so it was no surprise that the first session of the year was a bit quiet. This suited Tom as he was allowed drag out his home-made variant of Small World. It's made from hacked up bits of kitchen floor tiles and the finished result is like a crazed Settlers of Catan map, with large hex tiles. The idea is that the custom game provides random set-ups, but also accommodates six players rather than the maximum of five in the published edition. I couldn't say who won as I wasn't there, but I imagine it was Tom as he probably built in some sort of filthy hidden cheating mechanism.

Last week we were back up to two tables of games. The majority were entertained by the old stalwarts Cuba and Hansa Teutonica, while Jimmy, Nicky, Tom and myself played a new offering (though it's actually a year old) called Luna. It's all about a moon goddess cult on some remote island. Players have to hurl their priestesses into the lake in order to gain privileges. The soaked ladies would then go and read books whilst they dried off in the chapel. Luna is from the furtive mind of Stefan Feld, whose reputation as designer of quality euros has been growing steadily in recent years. This is another success and those that crave puzzle style/efficiency games will love this despite the unfathomable theme (though when has a theme got in the way of a good euro? Especially from Feld).  This was a close run game with Jimmy taking the dubious honour of nearly drowning his priestesses in the most efficient manner.

This Tuesday we had the privilege of welcoming newcomer Dean. He is an upstanding young man of the highest calibre. He joined us halfway through the evening for our second game of Hansa Teutonica. He made noises which indicated that he'd enjoyed Hansa Teutonica (clearly, it's fun to watch a true master at work, as I won both games), but also mentioned he would like to play Taj Mahal...this marks him as a fellow of impeccable taste. A thousand welcomes, good sir!

On the other table Pete was wrangling with his newest cardboard-love, Eclipse. No not the game inspired by the supernatural romance of Twilight, but a full-on space epic. This comes in a suitably vast box packed with miniatures, numbered hex space tiles and the neat stuff you'd expect in a 4X game. For those of you scratching your heads at the term 4X - it stands for explore, expand, exploit and exterminate. Players explore the map, expand into the discovered territories, exploit the resources found and then ultimately exterminate the other players in order to achieve further expansion. This was mostly a learning game for all involved (it reminded me of Twilight Imperium - once again nothing to do with vampire abstaining from sexy times) but I could tell that love was blossoming and I'm sure Eclipse will be Pete's 'plus one' at the Ribs for the next few months.

Beer: I guzzled a few pints of Woodeforde's Norfolk Nog.  Malty and rich with sweet flavours of caramel, chocolate and dates. Like Blokus 3D - a bit different, but it would go down well at Christmas.

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