Saturday, 22 February 2014

Beta Site Protocol - Activated !

An important message first up this week.

Next Tuesday, that being 25th February 2014, the usual gaming at the Ribs is going to take a slightly different format. The pub is hosting a quiz night on the 25th and given our current numbers this is going to cause us a critical clash where there is simply not enough of the right kind of room to partake of the usual cube pushing delights.

It has therefore been proposed that whilst we meet at the Ribs as per usual, depending on numbers the group will then split into two - one group will remain downstairs in the Ribs, whilst the second group decamps to Site B - Take 5.

Take 5 is some 50 yards up the road from the Ribs and is a cafe pub type establishment that has potentially more room to accommodate us. Mr Bond has had a preliminary scope out and quick word with them, but nothing concrete has been agreed.

It could be in future that Take 5 may become a better venue for NoBoG, and thus next week may provide a good trial of what people think of the place, beer, welcoming atmosphere etc, but this also may depend on what they think of us, and whether they appreciate people coming in and drinking and eating. You wouldn't think so, but. . . .

If you are keen on seeing what Take 5 is like then make sure you get yourself into the B Group - and you probably want to hold off on buying your first beer at the Ribs.

If anyone has any opinions, solid suggestions or other commentary on the matter then speak forth, and also have a word with either myself - John, or Matt  ( Bondy ).

Back to this week. This week saw 24 attendees split over five tables and two floors. Luna got a blast of a play downstairs - a slightly bizarre but cool game about throwing religious novices into the sea. Although it's your usual worker placement Euro, it's wacky enough that it feels quite different to the usual meeple fest - and there is certainly plenty of scope for competition and screw overs, something that some Euros lack.

Mid downstairs table had an in depth outing of Kingsburg - another cool game where the worker placement mechanic is scrambled by a dice assignment - but whether it was the clash of mighty intellects or the four out of five new players at the table, they took most of the evening to get through it. It should play shorter than this, but there seemed to be enjoyment of the experience, so, that's all that matters. I believe they then had a mad half game of Cthulu Fluxx.

Lastly for downstairs Sam managed to get Level 7 Omega Protocol to table once again, challenging myself, Rich, Ewan and Fletch to meet the threat of his unspeakable aliens.

The Marines approach the final room with its objective...
Sam had a pretty torrid time of it playing the Aliens, as the Marines did a great job in eliminating alien scum and then pacing themselves to get to the mission objective in good time. 

Last ditch assault against the Marine position...
but it proves to be too little too late.
Sam struggled to even scratch the Marines, let alone cause them problems, and by the end the Good Guys stood amidst a pile of alien corpses with barely a mark on their shiny armour. Full props to Sam who took it all in his stride, and played a very good natured game right to the very end, even allowing the Marines to back a played turn order up to get a better flow of actions out. Sam - the nicest of unspeakable alien overlords that are trying to kill you.

In hindsight I think the alien placement in the rooms could have been handled a bit better - avoiding Marines rather than engaging them to slow them down and bring the crises points closer - and also the placement of vent spawn points, whilst at first glance reasonable, meant that Sam couldn't build his forces up out of sight to then overwhelm the Marines in a wave.

As it was the aliens engaged in piecemeal fashion, playing right into the strengths of the elite forces, and wittling away abominations for no gain.

Upstairs Bondy gave everyone a thorough lesson in Taj Mahal, teaching everyone that yes, Bondy likes this game, and yes is experienced enough to give you a drubbing. A bit like playing Pete at Race for the Galaxy.

Caverna might also have been played ? If I haven't got my wires crossed then this game saw Pete stumbling across a horrific scoring opportunity / broken game aspect. Which is not an uncommon thing for Pete to do. If you want to see if a game has a broken scoring mechanic, give it to Pete.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Betrayal at Waterdeep

Both Lords of Waterdeep and Betrayal at House on the Hill have seen repeated play at the Ribs in recent weeks. I always seem to be playing something else when they appear, so was pleased to get to try both in one session.

Betrayal at House on the Hill is a super thematic game where the players are exploring a spooky house. Tiles are laid out as new rooms are entered and players contend with all the usual sort of things you’d find in a haunted mansion – encountering strange events, collecting items and revealing ominous omens along the way. Finally, one of these omens will trigger the end game where one of the characters betrays the others. A scenario is randomly determined and the traitor goes off to another room to read his objectives (usually kill all the other players) while the rest of the players look up their part in the corresponding scenario - how to survive and/or defeat the traitor.

The game rattled along at a brisk pace even with six players. We played a particularly long game, with lucky haunting rolls (which determine the end game) prolonging the exploration part of the game. By the time we’d determined Richard as the Assassin – keen to murder us all and stop young Clive, the heir to the mansion, from claiming fabulous wealth – most of the mansion had been revealed. This played in our favour and we got Clive to the throne room with the requisite items and still in one piece. We did lose Nicky and Pete II along the way, but they were only ever assassin fodder in my eyes.

It’s a pretty simple game. Easy to drop new players into. It really shines if players get into their roles and treat the other players to a bit of theatrics when reading the omens and descriptions on the cards. If you’re not into that sort of thing it can still be fun, but you’re really just waiting for the end game to trigger so you have an objective, rather than wandering the halls tooling up your character. Plus coming in at 90 minutes it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome.

This meant we had time for Lords of Waterdeep. A game based on the Forgotten Relams D&D franchise, this sounds like it should be a thematic romp with high adventure in the port city of Waterdeep. It's not. Those with cold and calculating eyes (and even those with just plain old seeing eyes) will look past the stock D&D pictures and see a game about buying and spending cubes to accrue victory points. If you need to get into a role and pretend to be a mighty Lord of Waterdeep and crave nothing but adventure, walk away now. This will disappoint. It's not bad, it's just that Accountants of the Lords of Waterdeep is probably more of an accurate title. So if you like euro/efficiency style games and aren't sniffy about the theme then there is an enjoyable game to be had.  And coming in at between and hour and 90 minutes, it doesn't linger in your hallway boring you with tales of its arthritic feet.

Thanks to Richard IV for bringing along and explaining both games to me. I had a lot of fun with both.

The rest of the pub was crammed with NoBoGers  playing all manner of games.  I think there were five tables in all, with 23 gamers. Four intrepid gamers drowned as they failed to beat Forbidden Desert. Twice. There was a five-player game of Blood Bowl Manager with the Sudden Death expansion. Suburbia got a look in. As did Grimoire, Kingdom Builder, Race for the Galaxy, Libertalia, and Skull and Roses.  And Pete got his rather nice looking Space Game prototype out for some more playtesting. Once again the playtesters let it be known that they still disliked the “If your name is Pete re-roll the dice” rule. We shall see if their concerns make it into the next rules re-write.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Rise of the Gamers

A crazy amount of gaming this week at the Ribs. An epic 28 people turned up to partake, giving us six tables of gaming goodness spread over most of the pub.

A smattering of new people ( four ) were also in attendance, with Ra, Small World, Mall of Horror, Manhattan Project, Village and Glass Road being first up on their respective tables.

I played Glass Road with Clive and Pete, and despite Clive consistently building whatever I had my eye on a single turn before I did ( apparently I did the same to him in Caverna a few weeks back ), I managed to grab the win for the Glassiest Brickiest Glass Roader of them all. Which maybe means my default strategy ideas for Glass Road are rubbish. In a slightly bizarre itinerary I then played Glass Road again, this time with a recent returned Mr Bond, Nicky and Robin. Robin got some nice points from an improved Sand works, and beat my resplendent baths by three points to secure the win. Pfah. Everyone likes a nice bath. The same cannot be said of an improved Sand works.

Having also previously beaten everyone off in a noisy Ra session, Robin went home with a double victory to his name. Greedy.

Meanwhile downstairs, the Eds dominated the Village, with the ever cunning but disarmingly friendly Med-Ed piling his villagers into their graves for the win. Never trust a friendly Med-Ed... he's probably winning.

Hanabi got another play again this week - cool game, everyone that hasn't given it a whirl probably should, just for the wacky experience of holding your cards backwards.

Uluru, Love Letter and Betrayal at House on the Hill rounded out the other second wave of games played, with Rich managing to convince/misdirect/fool two of the newcomers to learn this cool game called Race for the Galaxy.... To his credit Rich wasn't giving them a thorough drubbing, and things looked to be surprisingly equal when I looked over.

Betrayal played out with no one turning out to be the traitor... but all the survivors slowly succumbing to the hypnotising tune of the dark fiddler. In a rather spiteful end game play, Lewis lost his sanity and turned to the darkside on the very turn that the survivors won. Eh. It's always when you think it's over that something jumps out to eat you. Those dead zombies just lying there waiting for you to poke them... never dead. Don't do it. Don't do... oh well.

No Resistancing this week, which no doubt some people were relieved about, whilst others get to go home slightly sad. I think Resistance is turning into one of those Marmite type games, you love it or you hate it.

There has been a request to play King of Tokyo, so I'll stick that in my bag for next week. Also Smash Up has been requested. Although the idea of actually having some sort of plan for the following week is practically blasphemous for the unplanned anarchy that is NoBoG.

It probably goes without saying, but there are likely to be a couple of new people turn up again next week. Turn up early, get your votes in - or laid back apathy - as to what you want to play, and if you see someone new wondering what the hell all this board game madness is, invite them in. Then teach them the rules slightly wrong so you can win a glorious victory. Huzzah.

Over on Steam, a group of NoBoGers Who Also Might Play Computer Games slowly assembles. It's been suggested we have a bit of a Blood Bowl tournament over there. Which sounds like a kick ass plan to me. Now, whether to play comedy goblins or something a bit more competitive...