Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Be careful what you wish for

A busy fourteen at the Ribs this week, Sam took Cyclades Kemet (thx Sam for the correction ! ) out for another jaunt with five before embarking on a more personal and less bloodthirsty missive with Love Letter, and Robin threw on the lights in Powergrid, introducing more people into the classic highly regarded Euro.

More than that, I can't really say. Richard got butchered in Powergrid, but loved it and is eager for a replay next week.

My attention you see, was taken by the dark and twisted tale of the survivors of a holocaust - The Quiet Year.

Bondy bounced into the Ribs clutching a newly printed PDF game in his eager grasp. It's all about telling a story about post apocalyptic survivors, he said enthusiastically. It'll be your kind of thing he told me. How could I refuse ?

The Quiet Year is self described as a map game, where you get to build things, and draw what's going on. In no uncertain terms however, the game is actually an indie cooperative roleplaying game, with the map forming the focus point of driving an almost completely invented narrative along.

The scenario sets up explaining that you are a small band of survivors some 60 to 80 strong, outlines a few rules to structure what you can do in 'your turn' and gets you to decide what environment your merry band will find themselves in and what resources are available - or more likely not available. A small town on a desert highway Tremors style with an abundance of fuel ? A hidden enclave in the mountains, Tripods style with an abundance of coal ?

After setup play is taken in turns, with each player resolving a random event card ( the event cards are fairly non specific and require a good amount of player input to fill in the blanks ) and then choosing a single thing to do - starting a new project, putting something up for discussion, or adding something new to the map.

In our case we had a forest community that was abundant on wood, but short on squirrels ( don't ask ). A bizarre set of decisions led the community to attempt to build a high rise apartment block from wood and to turn an abandoned and bone decorated railway station ( again, don't ask ) into a jail cell. An early discussion amongst our community as to who should be leader resulted in a mild consensus that the person with the strongest survival skills should be the alpha.

Cue from Bondy, a suspicious and timely emergence of "Karl Beaverson"  the wilderness and survival expert who had been watching the group for sometime and had now shown up. Just in time for those leadership questions. A quick vote for leader instigated by Ewan, and the newly emerged from the forest Karl Beaverson won with a 60 / 40 split of the vote.

But the 40% were not happy.

At all.

Myself and Luke were not happy at this newcomer getting himself voted as the supreme leader. And so the 40% of the community simmered.

Luke then introduced a new fact - Karl Beaverson was in fact a former Jackal. An evil do-er. A bad seed. Someone not to be trusted. Bastard. Uproar in the community. But Karl was still leader. Tensions started to rise as all thoughts of building a community in the post apocalypse were put aside for the greater questions of who to trust, who to burn, and that what we really needed was some authoritarian head bashing.

It was all getting very Battlestar Galatica. But without the robots.

With our newly completed jail with its bone and skull adornments, I launched an undertaking to round up Karl and his cronies and throw him in jail.

Duly completed, the 60% of the community took offence at Karl being deposed.

Goddamn weak liberals.

Weapons were forged, a militia was armed, faithless attempted escapees from our wondrous community were tracked down and forced into slavery - along with Karl and his cronies -, and a rescue attempt for Karl was put down in murderous fashion.

Giant frogs were found, Blimps circled overhead, and our communications expert was caught trying to escape into the wider world. For his sins, he was given over to the medical team for 'scientific education', where he was chopped up and experimented on 'for the greater good'.

That's alright then.

Our community had obviously taken a dark turn somewhere along the way. Murdering people. Cheerful advocates of Slavery. Jail cell adorned with a steadily increasing number of bones, skulls and cadavers. A no nonsense authoritarian and well armed militia.

Hmmmm. At this point the question was raised. Are We In Fact The Bad Guys ?


Putting aside such weak minded debates, we forged on, discovering prophecies and dark warnings that told us that to really get our community on its feet, human sacrifice was required. Death by boiling mud pit in fact.

Brutal murder and slavery aside, human sacrifice was perhaps a step too far.

So another town meeting was called about it.

And a winning scientific plan was hatched. The slaves would be used as the first sacrifices, and if after a week things had improved, clearly the sacrificing was working and we should embark upon it as a solid community agenda.

The slaves were sacrificed.

Things got better. Science had proven that human sacrifice really did work.

The community added Human Sacrifice to its growing list of community rules. The militia now with a new purpose set to the task of scouring the wilderness for survivors - survivors we could bring back in chains before plunging into the pit of boiling mud. We had reached our darkest, lowest point. In a vain attempt to get some perspective on the matter, the abandoned radar and communications tower was fired up, and a dialogue with the floating blimp people was attempted... but the end of our time was advancing fast upon us.

As the year came to an end and Winter gripped its icy fingers around the survivors, a revelation was discovered - strong evidence that we were in fact The Jackals, the bad guys taken to a bit of community building. Was it true ? Were all the punished bad guys, actually the good guys. Were we evil doers ? Were all those attempted escapees trying to tell us something about our community ? As a signal was finally received in the comms tower from the blimp, and a crackly voice came on the line, Who Are We ?. . . the game ended.

The identity of the survivors a mystery. The Quiet Year was anything but - full of murder and mayhem.

It has been suggested post game, that not every group turns so very dark. And perhaps the worst problem to hit other communities is that of a crop failure. Not that of ritual murder, live human medical experimentation, preying on the weak and slavery.

But as Nietzsche says, Beyond Good and Evil, there are no rights and wrongs, only survival of the fittest. And our militia was very fit indeed.


The game was a blast to play. But obviously, being a free format roleplay kind of game, it absolutely hinges on who is playing and what interactions are going on. I think this is a game that can spectacularly fall flat with the wrong crowd, or even the right crowd in the wrong mood. I am also not sure about some of the guidelines and constraints going on. The discussion action seems interesting, but it's made clear that you can't make any decisions in a discussion. It's literally just a discussion with comments made. If you want to actually make a decision, you probably have to raise a project. Which is a unilateral action - everyone else can take a hike. This makes discussions a bit weird - as in, you know they have no real outcome and they are a bit of a waste of time. Possibly. Perhaps the game is making a statement about the nature of chatty politics - it achieves nothing. Only Doers get things done. This also brings up another conflicting kind of mechanic - in game you're not supposed to talk about the community or decisions outside of your actions. So if you actually want to say something useful on what's going on, you raise the discussion action. However, it seems perfectly natural that people comment on what's going on as it happens. Oh that's good. That's bad. That looks stupid etc. Expecting a stony silence from the table would.... destroy any atmosphere I think and result in a much gloomier uninteresting experience full of suppressed thoughts.

The game actually has a mechanic for this - you can take a token if you really disagree with something. If you are outraged or otherwise. Perhaps all play should be silent then, and when someone does something you disagree with, all you can do is glare... and take a token. But this seems a highly peculiar and non interactive anti social kind of play experience to me. I can't believe this is entirely what's expected.

The game could also suffer from a lack of imagination. If you are stuck with what to do, things could become very hum drum. The events whilst in some places really do force a direction on the community, for the most part they are vague outlines, allowing you to tailor the events in the narrative of what's going on in front of you.

It's also not entirely clear what the right kind of balance between hardship and success is, and whether it really matters at all. Of course at its heart its a roleplaying experience, so those questions are moot to an extent, but the game has a bit more structure to it than a completely freeform story telling exercise, there is a question of survival and being ready in time, but there are no in game kicks to really bring this home. I think it would have been nice to have had some events that really prey upon deficiencies more, or give benefits to things that have been solved.

Interesting game. Some thrown together roleplay mechanics and guidelines to allow people that perhaps wouldn't otherwise try a bit of roleplaying to at least paddle somewhere in the waters.

This is almost the other end of the spectrum but on the same line as the Arabian Nights game. Where that is driven by ( effectively ) Wandering Monster Tables, and has as it's heart the random monster generation tables and snippets that have been part of D & D since year dot, A Quiet Year is instead all those random encounters removed and replaced with the random side plot hooks that adorn a well written scenario. A loose and freeform sandbox environment with no goals and no penalties.

Great fun. But, I suspect, flawed as a game. More of an interesting management team building exercise to be run by an experienced hand. Your Mileage May Vary. But in a way that's a good thing. You certainly can't roll your eyes at The Quiet Year and bemoan you've played it all before, and are sick of the sight of worker placement. It's edgy. And different. And has scope to succeed. And fail.


The evening ended with a game of The Resistance Avalon. Percival, Mordred and the Lady of the Lake turned up this week to complicate affairs, and despite in theory the scales being slightly tipped in favour of the good guys, the minions of Mordred won yet again. Although they had to win three sudden death consecutive quests to achieve that. Great stuff. I learned something useful - getting the Merlin role AND explaining to newcomers what was what, AND narrating the series of commands to tell people to open eyes or not at the start of the game . . .  . makes your head hurt. I found it tricky enough just to cite the starting script without giving away the fact I was Merlin with a stupid mistake, let alone play the game.


Addendum : The Quiet Year also saw :
A mass outbreak of Gonorrhea.
A bird flu outbreak.
Discussion of cannibalism.
A tunnel leading to a room full of computers powered by a hydro plant.
A forge.
A windmill.
A derelict highway.
A disused railroad.
A sawmill.
A rail container full of seeds.
Which was then sabotaged.
By Karl.
Bastard.
Karl then dying whilst slaving in the fields. He has set himself on fire failing to achieve more arson.
Serves him right.
Bastard.
An impending invasion of giant car sized frogs.
A fishless lake but with edible weeds.
Sven Kowalski, master of the forge, father of charismatic daughter Sam - who thought the forge would be a great idea.
Joe Bell, telecommunications expert and prominent community member, until he was dismembered. And experimented on. Arguably still a useful community member.
Weapons being prioritised over tools.
Lots of weird prophecies and superstitions.

The horror doesn't look so bad from up here.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Resistance Quest / Mission Aids

Files are 300 dpi, you can print them out on a home printer, and they should fit in your game box ! Huzzah.

 Grab the full version here : The Resistance Aid



Grab the full version here : The Resistance Avalon Aid

Now, if I only had a headshot of everyone I could make a custom set of role cards. . . .

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Norris McWhirter says "Not a record."

This is not Fight Club.

This is not Pinhole Camera Club.

This is not Admire my Stripy Shirt Club.

This is Games Club. This is the Norwich Board Gamers. Hear the clatter of our dice (or the sliding of our cubes, if you prefer).

The Stripy Shirt Club engages in some games
I’m not sure whether people got confused and turned up on the wrong night expecting some other club, but we had 18 in attendance this week. This matches our record attendance of 18 back when we met in the St Andrews Tavern (now the Rumsey Wells). That time we had nine foreign students accidently turn up to double our numbers.  They were never seen again (by us - I’m not saying we killed them and buried them in the cellar), but this time all those attending were repeat attenders and despite my previous aspersions that they got confused, I think everyone actually attended on purpose. Well done everyone, but not quite a new record.

So what did we play? Well, I played Chaos in the Old World with Rich, Tom, Jen and Robin.  Dial clicks were hugely contested with no-one managing a double progression all game. And while Tom’s Khorne beat on the Robin the Ratman, the three other factions were able to lay out huge amounts of corruption and spoil five regions in no time at all. The game ended with a victory point win for my Tzeentch. Jen’s Slaanesh got a last minute boost into second as Rich’s Nurgle matching pace for much of the game fell short on the last turn. The Rats were fourth and the feeble Khorne last (Corn syrup for the Fake Blood God).

Cyclades
Sam hauled out Cyclades for Dean, Fletch and Nicky. A game set in ancient Greece, where players make sacrifices to the five Gods (Apollo, Ares, Athena, Poseidon and Zeus) in order to gain favours, to help them in the race to be the first to build two cities.

This is a bidding and area control game with a massive dose of direct conflict thrown in.

By the same guys that designed the popular Kemet, this has the same look and flavour with similar chunky monster miniatures which can be used to beat on your opponents.  Looked good. Dean won.

They followed this up with more ancient times gaming with a quick game of 7 Wonders. This was also won by Dean.

Kingdom Builder, Kai dominates, Alina lurks deceptively strong
I'm sketchy on who played what on the other tables. I know Pete played three-player Eclipse and won that by sucking on a Supernova. While those that we exiled upstairs played two games of Kingdom Builder – Kai and Alina winning the first game and Alina winning the second for good measure. They then played King of Tokyo.

We ended the evening, as is customary these past weeks, with The Resistance. Resistance Avalon this time.  As also seems to be customary, the game was won by the dastardly minions of Mordred (John, Tom and myself) who infiltrated the round table on the final turn. Merlin, played by Rich, had a tough time and although he was being covered by Jen, the bad guys had a pretty good idea of his identity – especially when he picked a mission with none of the villains in it. Fortunately, John quickly proclaimed that Rich was making strange decisions and the mission was cancelled. As john mentioned last week, Merlin is a tricky character to play and really can't reveal very much without being uncovered by the bad guys. One other thing came out during the game – there may be the need for a couple of playmats for card discards, as which is the 'good' pile and which the 'bad' pile caused confusion. At least one bad guy laid a success card when he shouldn't have and one good guy laid a failure card to make two failures when there was only one bad guy on the mission. A small thing that I’d think unnecessary if it came in the box, but would be surprisingly useful.

Beer:  I supped at Green Jack’s Summer Ale. T’was delicious. That is all.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards...

"But I fele by thy wordis that thou haste agreed to the deth of my persone: and therefore thou art a traytoure ..."
Le Morte D'Arthur


Another enjoyable night of gaming at the Ribs, eleven in attendance with newcomer Ed - who vowed to return in a few weeks schedule permitting, and friend of Fletch, irregular Sam, who had visited once before pushing our numbers over the ten mark.

3012, Yedo and Agricola hit the table for the main events of the night - I had a hankering for Agricola, but as the numbers had it, I decided to decline and ended up playing Yedo instead.


Dean brought along the new and shiny 3012, a deck building game set in the far apocalyptic future where humanity has devolved to violent totem worship. Nicky, Robin, Ed and Dean were the battling tribes in this, each player drafting new tribe members, powers and weapons to bolster the might of their groups.

As in most deck builders, the core of this game is about improving your starting deck, managing card cycling, and developing synergies to get the more out of your choices than anyone else at the table can manage. The point of building a better deck is for the accrual of victory points - and these come from defeating the weird and wonderful beasties that roam the post apocalyptic land. The twist here however is that you can't see what it is you have to take on until its too late to back out. Four decks of challenge cards are set in bands of difficulty, so you know the lower and upper limits of how tricky a challenge is to be, but not the specifics that might change the variables of the fight. Add to this a fairly light mechanic where the other players can play a minor influence in either helping you or stopping you ( and sharing in the rewards if you succeed or fail respectively ), and you have a deck builder with a half hidden goal and a mild element of player interaction.

It's quite a nice game, on the lighter end of deck builders and has some nice production values to it. Direct player interaction in battles is a welcome addition, but as the game goes on this becomes less and less frequent - the cards that give you a chance to do it are limited to a few you get in your starter deck. This means although in theory you can help or hinder other players, in practice after the first baby steps of the game it largely falls by the wayside and you are back to a somewhat more isolated deck building game where it's pretty much all about what you do, regardless of what everyone else is doing.

Robin stomped to the win after a few hours of play, with Ed coming in second.

Yedo got to table for a second week running, this time it was Ewan, Richard and myself vying for most influence in the Shogun capital. Ewan had a very slow start and was trailing badly in the early stages of the game, but this turned out to just be a strategy for the long game, as he assembled his weapons and disciples to pull off a difficult black rated mission, and very quickly started adding monster victory points and huge hauls of cash to his clan. Romping to a final win against a stalled me and a struggling Richard, Ewan's long term planning paid off in spades.

Table 3 was the site of lovely Agricola. Fletch, Sam - not to be confused with regular Sam - Jennifer and Rich chose to dig the soil and raise animals and see who was the better farm builder. Given that Fletch, FlySam and Jennifer had never played before, and that Rich is somewhat of a master, the outcome was probably never in doubt given that Agricola can be unforgiving to newbies. Arguably one of the best, if not the best Euro style game in town, Agricola is one of those games that you should play at least a couple of times - it has a great theme, a farm building and improving mechanic that really has you caring about your little plot of land ( Agricola for my money probably has the best buy in where you actually connect with the theme more than any other game ), and builds to a satisfying albeit at times stressful conclusion.

All three games ended at approximately the same time, and so with Ed leaving us, we had a bash at a crazy ten handed game of The Resistance : Avalon.

Eschewing the more complicated multi role rules, we elected to go with the simpler single extra role - that of Merlin. As in a normal game of resistance, the bad guys all know each other. The good guys know nothing. However, with merlin in the mix, merlin - a good guy - also knows who all the bad guys are, but the bad guys don't know who merlin is. So unlike a normal resistance game, Merlin is the only player with perfect information. The bad guys have almost perfect information. And the poor good guys have no information at all, other than knowing themselves.

The game plays as per normal resistance - first to 3 mission / quest wins for either good team or bad team, but if the good team wins, the bad team get a final ditch effort to win - by assassinating merlin... assuming they can figure out which one of the good guys was merlin.

Tricky stuff. Great fun as ever. The addition of Merlin really does add a new and troublesome dynamic into the fray, although actually being Merlin ( in our case this was poor Jennifer ) is I imagine a high stress job. How to impart your perfect information without the bad guys figuring out who you are. It also should have knock on effects for the other good guy players. Case in point - first round, everyone votes for it to succeed - but in secret there are two bad guys on the mission. The bad guys know this and vote OK. The good guys don't know this, but with no information, why not vote OK ? This leaves poor Merlin. Who *does* know its a bad deal, but can't reject it, as they are in danger of being the only person at the table who rejects it, thus giving the bad guys a really good tell that hey, I am Merlin. By definition, the good guys should probably *always* lay down at least one reject vote - just to cover Merlin's ass a bit.

Tricky.

Bad guys won. Despite half the bad guys not realising I was on their team and not helping me out. On the plus side it really looked like I was a good guy because of it.

Fletch was a great fall guy again. Every quest he went on failed. With a single fail. Which really pointed at him being the bad guy,  despite him actually being a good guy. Suspicious Fletch.Very suspicious. Ha ha.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Feedback Required

Feedback is required here - all you lurkers and not quite lurkers get your act together, dust off your communication skills and offer your opinion.

Do you think some form of suggestion box for what games to play / bring along for the next week of NoBoG would be beneficial / work ?

The point has been raised before. On paper its a good idea. I am not sure in practice whether it does anything for you given a certain threshold of procrastination. I don't know though, that's just my hunch. NoBoG is nothing if not laid back and relaxed. Actually pre-planning something beyond - There will be Beer, and There Will be Games is practically heresy.

If anyone has anything to say about such a game play suggestion box type thing - Yes, No, I would Like To Offer A Brilliant Plan for alternatives / Or A Plan On how you could go about doing that, then leave a comment !

If you have nothing to say about it... leave a comment.

The Technical Ideas Implementation Staff at NoBoG Towers await with baited breath and twitchy fingers. We've let them out of their usual dark subterranean office for the day....

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Your Mission, If You Choose To Accept It...

Thirteen this week, some old hands, some not so old hands, and some still lemon scented daisy fresh new hands on hand to lend a hand. Too many hands ?

Tom blustered in late complaining about 20,000 football fans trafficking up Norwich, and carefully deposited a large black box in the corner of the room. I saw it. Mysterious. Then ignored it.

Dean, Tom and myself then sat down to a late start of Yedo, a worker placement game I had just picked up, set in feudal Japan in Tokyo. Or Edo. Or Yedo. The game is a pretty standard example of its genre, you get to place a limited number of disciples onto the board at certain spots, each spot having a choice of actions related to it.

Manipulate your actions and your resources to gain other resources, complete missions, and ultimately earn victory points. Throw in a bidding mechanism at the start of the round to see who gets to buy what, mix with some player interaction that allows you to trade, block others, outright spoil turns with unhappy cards and you can see you have a fairly typical Euro going on.

Some randomness is injected in the form of decks of cards - from events that can alter the game board or give advantages or disadvantages, to missions, actions, weapons and bonuses - just about all of which can be snooped on and rearranged *before* you get to pick a card.

The bulk scoring method of the game is in the completion of missions Missions are graded from the easy, to the ridiculously tough and their rewards follow expectations. Representing a powerful clan with all the usual Samurai shenanigans, you might expect these missions to be particularly Samurai-y and of derring do. Tom's first mission however was to 'find out what was on the menu at the local restaurant'. Really. Less Samurai. More Chinese Takeout Delivery Person.

Not wanting to be outdone, Dean then quickly followed up with a mission of his own - 'find out where the market stalls were in the market'.

Hmmm.

Not standing for such ridiculous stuff of these lesser clans, my first mission was to kill the Tailor's son - the Tailor had not been paying his protection money, and so, therefore, quite reasonably, it was time to bump off his one and only child.
Yedo, surprisingly Euro for a Japanese City

Dean admiring my underhand handiwork then went to pray at the local Christian church, only to knock the clergyman over the head and run off with the collection box to complete another mission. Shocking behaviour.

Missions were completed, VPs were assembled, I had a nice lead all game only for Tom to romp to a victory with some lovely bonus cards that left me in the dust. Poor Dean had a tough time of it, consistently cursed himself for his own stupidity, the woes of fate, and revealed at the end of the game that he had been trying to kill the Shogun since turn 7, but someone was always getting in his way - the red light district closure, the market closure and so on. If he had been able to kill the top guy, the game would have ended prematurely and in all probability Dean would have taken the win.

Not a bad game. Dean compared it to Lords of Waterdeep but much more complicated. I didn't particularly find it complicated, but then I haven't played Waterdeep to compare it.

Meanwhile elsewhere, Archipelago got a run out - it's been a while since the islands have been up for contest, and this time it was Richard, Fletch, Rich and Pete that shook out their governors and tried to make the best profit out of the colonies.

A peculiar game ensued where there were zero - ZERO - rebels present despite there being a filthy separatist hidden in the ranks. I queried whether they had even been playing the game right, but apparently a nice mix of churches, pretty much all the rebel reducing crises appearing, and some rebel reducing characters in play conspired to keep the colony a place of happy sublime servitude.

Not sure who won, but Fletch as the separatist managed second place by going for the normal win as opposed to trying to destroy the islands. Interesting stuff.

The last table had an epic round of Arabian Tales - six players, Matt, Alina, Robin, Sam, Ewan and Nicky competed to have the most wardrobes, colourful fish or angry slaves in their adventures, with Nicky finally managing to outdo all others and be crowned the master of the Tales. Sam spent most of his time in prison apparently. And Alina wandered around Very Lost for quite a bit. It happens. If someone isn't Terribly Lost at some point in a game of Arabian Tales, then you're probably doing it wrong. Cool game, having played it myself at the weekend I am not entirely sure there is enough meat there for the time it takes, but definitely an experience. And worthy of a play, just for the insane story telling going on. Ewan enjoyed it, but noted that six players was probably pushing it a little with downtime. I can see what he means. I think the game's sweet spot might be three or four.

As ever of late, the evening finished with those damn subversives trying to undermine the government again. The Resistance made it to table, and this time, the rebels managed a flukey final round win - not because they had intelligently figured out who was who, but just by chance the spies needed a double fail at the end, and only spymaster Sam was included on the mission.

Cool stuff. I have recently picked up Resistance Avalon, with its expanded roles. Although my heart belongs firmly in the near future theme of the original Resistance, it might be nice to see what the expanded roles do in Avalon. Still, I'd much rather be some sci fi futuristic freedom fighter or corporate spymaster than a Knight of the round table.

So. Tom's  mysterious box. What was it ? As it turned out Tom had brought a Bond like piece of kit with him - no, not some homebrew setup from Bondy's dungeon, but rather a large box to take long exposure shots of... stuff. In this case, a long exposure shot of the games in play. Who knows if the picture came out very well, but Tom is working on it, and if it comes out half decent, we can post it up for all to enjoy the surreal blurry Ribs antics.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Subversives never learn

Nothing too Euro Strenuous ( or indeed Euro at all ) afoot at the Ribs this week, with Elder Sign, King of Tokyo, Saboteur, Arabian Nights and The Resistance getting play time.

A fresh set of newcomers for the week - a hearty welcome to Caroline, Jarryd and Jennifer - taking us to what must be a new monthly record of nine fresh victims new players.

Elder Sign was first up for five of us, Jarryd, Caroline, Ewan, Robin and myself taking on intrepid / hapless investigators trying to prevent in this instance Nyarlathotep going about his evil doings. As seems to be the pattern with Elder Sign the investigators do a reasonably fine job all except for one person. Who tends to fail. A lot.
Elder Sign. Secret Cultist Joe Diamond skulks on the left.

Last time it was Dean's pretend magician who got stuck in a cupboard moping about his failures and then died having achieved precisely nothing. This time round it was Robin's PI Joe Diamond, who seemed to lurch from encounter to encounter doing little more than spawning monsters and putting doom on the track. A subversive cultist if ever I saw one.

Despite Joe's  best efforts to aid his lord and master Nyarlathotep, the rest of our derring band managed to slam the lid shut on the squirming tentacles of the outer god, and we all skipped back home in one piece for a nice cup of tea and a scone.

A ruthless game of King of Tokyo then ensued, the brawling with five was ceaseless, and both Jarryd and Caroline achieved a win by beating everyone else bloody. Victory points be damned.

Finally Saboteur made it out, and with it Pete appeared from his hiding place to join in. Pete managed some epic silver tongue shenanigans by getting one Saboteur - Jarryd - to sabotage the other saboteur - me. A sad day for the saboteurs. Robin and Ewan managed to scarper from the mines with the most gold stuffed in their pockets, despite them both losing the final round. I call it greedy.

Meanwhile on the other table situated by the verandah over the river, the summer sun twinkled from the water to play over the miraculous and at times dubious shenanigans of the Tales of the Arabian Nights. Jennifer, Bondy, Sam, Rich and Fletch took this story telling game out for a spin, each taking it in turn to read out loud from a hefty book of pick your own story style paragraphs and lay down the path of fate for one of their compatriots. The game is somewhere in between a board game and a roleplaying game, with the main thrust of the game based around story telling, making the odd decision and developing a character that obtains or has thrust upon them certain character traits. Fail to charm the princess and see her stalk off to her life of luxury ? Gain the trait Envy.
Tales about to start. Bondy hasn't got his fish yet.

Perhaps my ears are attuned to such things, but everytime I stopped to listen to the tales going on, there seemed to be an inordinate amount of dubious women prostituting themselves, being enslaved, and or taken by the players. Fletch encountered an imprisoned prostitute and 'took her for himself'. Apparently this meant he had married her. Personally I had visions of a subterranean dungeon.

Bondy on the other hand following a similar fate, managed to get his hands on a fish during his quest. Not just any fish. A multi coloured fish.

Hmm.

I guess entertainment is light in the lands of Arabia. No TV I bet. Or board games.

What have you got there ?

A fish !

Uh huh.

No, no, not just any fish. Look. Its a multi coloured fish.

Uh huh.

If it were me I'd feel hard done by, going on a quest, delving beneath the ocean, and coming back with a lousy fish. Then again if your adventures take you beneath the waves, a fish reward is probably quite likely.

No chips.

After a time, when the wow factor of the multi coloured fish wore off ( it got not so colourful and began to stink ), Bondy attempted to cook the piscine, only for it to turn into a woman.

Which I don't know about you, but happens to me all the time. A common kitchen problem. Deceased fish turning into women.

I lost track of what happened to his fishy pan woman and whether he had burnt her ass on the stove, but at some point he got a gift of 100 wardrobes ( more a curse than a gift I would have thought - imagine man handling 100 wardrobes into your living room ), opened them all, got greedy and was set upon by an Efreet. That's a fire djinn. ( I know far farrr too much about Djinn after spending 3.5 years roleplaying a Djinn pathfinder campaign ).

The morale of the story is... I don't know. Never accept 100 wardrobes as a gift ? A cheque will suffice. Or better yet cash. Cash good. Gold even. What's wrong with your good old clich├ęd chest of gold trope. Gold Great. 100 wardrobes. Not so much. Anyone offers you 100 wardrobes as a reward, start backing away is my advice.

The game occupied most of the night for the group, it seemed like fun, I think this very much depends on who you have playing, and how open to roleplay you are. Those with a phobia of roleplaying and a desire for crunchy euro mechanics need not apply.

Finally the evening finished off with an epic 10 handed game of the Resistance. Fabulously noisy, argumentative, hurtful and deceitful, the government spies once again brought the Resistance crashing down. I was evilly chuffed at my own spy shenanigans that managed to sow discord amongst the good guys - Fletch to Rich and Pete "you're going to be so sorry when this game ends and I am not a spy" - and got enough trust and plausibility that the good guys supported me.

Kudos to the other spies, Ewan did a fair number of honestly self implicating himself as a spy to seem to gain the trust of everyone else. And Jarryd fenced verbally back and forth across the table sowing confusion amongst the logic, and finally Caroline did a good number being relatively quiet and non suspicious, backing me up as "not a spy" when put upon ( despite the split second pause and blink when quizzed what *colour* was the card..... uhh... Blue ! she lied... ), and tanking the final mission when required. Muah ha ha ha ha.

High fives for the government. Blind folds and a firing squad for the Resistance.

Will you never learn subversives ? You can't fight The Man.