Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Winter Fireworks

Such was the breadth and depth of gaming this week that I am hard pressed to keep all of it in my head. It could be something to do with the fact that we had another record busting week of 24 attendees spread over five tables.

Takenoko and it's greedy panda once more saw the light of day, and once more was followed by Betrayal at House on the Hill - but with a completely different group to last week. Glass Road made a tasteful and much appreciated second visit - this really is a cool shorter euro game with some clever mechanics going on, and no less than two concurrent games of Skull and Roses were also being played - one upstairs and one downstairs enabling you to take your pick of seating.

Pete's prototype got another airing in the pub with some discussion afterwards - not sure what the feeling was about it. I suspect Pete being Pete, then managed to encourage everyone to jump into a fast game of Hansa Teutonica - they were still playing when I left and the barmaid hovered locking up.

Alhambra and Lords of Waterdeep rounded out the other initial plays.

New to me this week was Hanabi - a co-operative card game all about fireworks. Although what the game has to do with fireworks - apart from having pretty pictures - is beyond me. It could be a game about collecting sets of goats. Or teapots. Or goat teapots. Or just about anything. Fireworks are cool I guess. Cooler than goat teapots anyway. Unless you're really into esoteric teapots. Perhaps the artist for the game couldn't draw goat teapots but could draw firework blasts. Who knows.

If you haven't played Hanabi the game is all about trying to finish colour sets of fireworks. Five sets in the basic game, six in the advanced game. Sets are laid down in the middle of the table according to their colour and on a strict numerical basis from low to high. Card values start at one and end at five, with there being only *one* five value card for each set in the deck.

So far so good. Except. You can't see any of your cards. Because everyone in the game is holding their cards with the backs pointing at themselves and their faces pointing at everyone else. And you need to play one of these backwards cards you can't see. Or spend a token to give a "clue" to someone else about some of their cards. You can tell someone what colour a bunch of cards are, or what numerical value they have. Failing that, you can discard one of your own cards to get a clue token back for someone in the group to spend later.

The art in the game then is to communicate enough information between all players such that they - 1) don't discard a card that's really needed, 2) don't try to play a card that doesn't fit and thus lose a life, 3) build a set of each colour of firework.

Just why you would be tampering with fireworks blindly in the first place, with three failures making the entire firework factory / display / anarchist centre blow up is a mystery. Seems excessively risky to me.

In any case the game plays very nicely and is something of a breath of fresh air. I feel the game could probably become too simple with a few plays, as a group really begins to read between the lines of clues that are given and understand the mindset of individual players. It's not so much what you say - which is helpful - as to when you say it - and who is saying it to who. And of course making sure that everyone has a 'safe' known action to take. The advanced game probably helps with this, bringing in a very difficult multicolour set to make, but eh, as it's not technically a requirement to complete, those that don't desire utter perfection could just ignore it.

Depends on the players I suspect. With a wrong group, this game could be a tortuous exercise in frustration / comedy.

Resistance finished the evening. The bad guys won three straight missions in a row. Despicable. Even after I had spotted two of the three spies, and had a probable line on the third ( which Merlin already knew to be true ). We'll blame it on short time. And King 'Reliable' Phil picking a well known spy for his mission. But nevertheless, it marks a welcome return to victory for the bad guys. Luke got his first try at being a bad guy. And gave himself up turn one. And then squirmed with some dubious made up stories as to his innocence. Ha. Never mind. It can be tricky with your first attempts at outright in your face lies. Resistance. A game about teaching you how to be a better liar / sociopath. When everyone has mastered it - be afraid.


Weird said...

As Merlin, the traitor which you were consistantly quizzing was the one of three I didn't know was a traitor. Still, I need to get better at this.

It's a fair trek over to the Ribs, but you can consider me hooked. I'll be back. :D

Minitrue said...

Luke was the unknown traitor to you - but he gave himself away turn 1 :p Him and Ewan stuck out like sore thumbs !

Minitrue said...

Glad you enjoyed it, I look forward to your future Resistancing.