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.


Peter Chinkin said...

Yes, while not exactly 'broken' the 'guest-office' strategy (as I shall name it) does seem to provide the potential for scoring a vast amount of points.

It basically hinges around grabbing the guest room and the office room as early as possible and then taking as many double actions as possible (using the guest room to do both actions on an either/or space) and using the office room's power to overhang as many tiles as possible.

I focussed almost entirely on collecting stone and wood in the early game whilst laying tiles on both parts of my board and using the bonus food (and money from using the office room) from placing tiles as the only way to feed my workers. I used the wood and stone to furnish dwellings and grow my family on the wish for children space on 3 occasions, getting to four workers almost before doing anything else.

I forged a weapon early on and regularly sent one of my workers on expeditions. An opportunist grab of a big pile of ore and wood gave me the chance to tool up a second of my workers in the late game. I placed a couple of ore mines and was able to double place ruby mines twice (again using the guest room's powerful ability).

I used the expeditions to gather animals, build pastures and furnish a few points scoring caverns and spent the rest of my actions getting and sewing grain and vegetables.

I ended with a whopping 126 points, although I could see a few ways in which I could have potentially done even better - maybe by getting up to five family members as soon as possible rather than sticking with 4. You could argue that the strategy is broken, but there are a number of factors which really played into my hands: there were 5 players, but they did not all grow their families which meant there was less competition for actions. I made good use of the imitation action as this was almost always available when the action I really needed was taken. Not many people went for weapons so I was able to get good use of the expedition actions.

The problem is that I can't really see why I wouldn't try to do exactly the same thing every time I play the game. Sadly, the way this game works, all it would take is for someone to decide not to let me get that combo and it would not be possible. It remains to be seen how Caverna's replay value stacks up against Agricola given the static setup.

Mr Bond said...

Noooo, can't believe you've ruined the lovely Caverna, Pete! Your game board did look decidedly gamey with all those overhanging tiles.