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.


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...


[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.