Thursday, 11 July 2013

Catastrophic Catamarans

It’s a cold, crisp morning. The first rays of sunshine sparkle on the Bodensee. On the merchant ship Purrfect Storm, Whiskers McGee is checking the manifest: 'One chest of precision watches. One chest of rare books. 12 bottles of fine wine. And the case of refined glassware, which First Mate Tiddles is stowing in the hold. All seems to be in order.' Standing at the prow of the ship Whiskers admires his reflection. ‘I really am a very fine specimen’, he thinks as he adjusts his hat to a jaunty angle. A hard task when you have cat-ears. Smoothing down his fur he is jolted out of his musings by the sound of smashing glass and swearing.

“Be careful with that glassware.” calls Whiskers. “It’s expensive.”
“It’s this damn tail!” replies Tiddles angrily. “It’s bloody impossible not to trip over it on this cramped boat.”
“Don't you like pretending to be a 16th century feline merchant?”
“Not really. The cat outfit is itchy. The people over there are giving us weird looks. And neither of us can sail.”
“Oh.” mutters Michael Schacht, dejectedly taking off his Whiskers McGee mask.
“If you design a board game about cats sailing merchant ships then I'll happily play it, though.”

Tom grinning like the Cheshire
 Cat. Look at that awful cover!
And that’s what Michael Schacht did. Rather than live out a perverse fantasy life as a strange anthropomorphic merchant cat he designed Felina. Either that, or during a raucous night in a German beer hall the publisher lost a drunken bet and poor Michael, winner of the prestigious Spiel des Jahres, had this terrible theme foisted on to his game. And that is why Felinia is being sold off cheaply in the Works discount book store. And that is why Tom brought it down to the Ribs and insisting we play it. Because Tom is cheap.

If you look on Michael Schacht’s Wikipedia entry you will find a list of his games. He  designed at least one per year between 1999 and 2011, but there is an ominous gap in 2010. This is where Felinia should sit. He's ashamed, I tell you! But he shouldn't be. If you look past the dodgy cats and artwork, Felinia is a tidy little game with traditional Euro design roots. There is a nice acquisition portion of the game where players bid for the right to buy or exchange limited goods. Players can then cash in combinations of goods in order to load their cat-merchants on to the rather nifty 3D cardboard ships, which then set sail across the sea to the land of Felinia. Once on Felinia you can claim locations and grab tokens for points or special in game bonuses. It’s all rather familiar, perhaps a bit too familiar, but still makes for a fun time and the is some good jostling for position. Our biggest gripe wasn't with the gameplay, but that we found it hard to distinguish between the different goods. Three shades of brown is not the best choice of colours and we often ended up collecting the wrong goods. It would have been catastrophic if any of us were colour blind. Still not bad for a tenner.
See the lovely ships of Felinia. See the terribly hard to
distinguish goods. See not as much cat related stuff
as first envisaged. Sadly not even the meeples are cat-shaped.

Tom won by a good margin, taking time to align his merchants in nice rows to get placement bonuses. Nicky came second with a hefty stack of tokens. I came in third with my ramshackle strategy, and Stu was in last place; his food for points strategy not quite working as well as we'd all feared early on.

Not to be outdone on the ridiculed theme stakes, Sam pulled Ground Floor out for its second airing at NoBoG. You can read about its first reception here. New guy Robin, Matt, Alina and Alina’s friend (whose name I forget) sat down to pretend to be at work. They didn't finish, but it was better received this time. Alina especially enjoyed it - perhaps because she is self-employed and longs for the rigid structure and tedium that can only be found in a corporate office. And because she claimed to have African children working in the basement of her non-profit organisation. Hmmm.

Farming fun in the final round of Agricola.
Pete, Rich and new guy Oliver decided to toil in the mud and play the popular farming game Agricola, which Pete won. Then, insisting that Pete should win another game, they decided to play Hansa Teutonica.

Ousted from the comforts of the Wherry Room, Fletch, Dean and John were sent upstair to fend for themselves. There they found a lovely big table with comfy seats and played Core Worlds. This was an incredibly close game with Dean winning on a tiebreaker with John and Fletch only one point behind.

Beer: Ah, this is the bit you've missed! I had pints of Eugene’s Lair from the excellent Oakham. Named after a level on the 1980’s classic computer game Manic Miner. This is a hazy golden beer - well measured hops and tropical fruits with a hint of biscuity malt and a long dry, bitter finish. Nicely done. 8/10 Kemet in beer form.


Minitrue said...

Ha ha very good, Whiskers Mcgee indeed.

I believe they are called Fursonas, and more people than you think are into it.

Minitrue said...

Furdom is not my bag, but, I always thought this was pretty good : Lackadaisy Cats

Alfonso said...

I guess this was drawn in the design stage:

Minitrue said...

Heheh. They should put things like that on the back of the boxes alongside the play time.

Robin said...

Thanks for the great welcome everyone, I think you'll be able to rely on me becoming a regular; weakly board games in a real ale pub, what could be better.

If anyone's got any requests for anything I can bring I'm 'Trajanus' on BGG.

Mr Bond said...

Great news, Robin. I'll hopefully get to have a game with you soon.

I had a quick look at your BGG profile. I see you like expansions :)