Sunday, 29 June 2014


Two weeks blog for the price of one this week, you lucky lucky people.

Summer has truly arrived in Norwich - you can tell because for the last week or two it has pretty much rained every day. I feel nature is weighing heavily in on my side about the ongoing tosh of East Anglia being reputedly the driest place in the UK. Tell that to the fens !

Two weeks ago we had thirty people turn up, and first quickly subscribed to was the fancied Nations game making its first appearance at t'pub. Nations is an abstract civilization game where each player gets to lead their nation through the ages and attempt to score more victory points than everyone else. The game is pretty much entirely card based, with each player building their own area up by buying in new cards to give them certain capabilities - resource production, military strength etc.

Nations - Another Civ the computer game brought to table.
Unlike say Sid Meier's Civilization The Board Game, there is no map here, the topography and army mechanics are abstracted away into waging wars that require a certain level of military, and taking a limited amount of areas as colonial territories. In fact there is just a tiny pinch of Seven Wonders here, with the values of your military cards indicating how strong you are, and your resource production cards telling you just how much you can produce.

Overall the game is a pretty slick civ game without getting bogged down in map logistics, and instead focusing on building and planning efficiency. Like many civ games, it leans heavily on the Civilization computer games for inspiration, and there's even a cute difficulty factor ( Chieftain, Prince, King and Emperor - just to really hammer home the Civ game link ) that acts as a handicap level for each individual player.

If you like civ type games you need to check this out. Punk Rich was so impressed with this that he went out and bought it right after - always a good sign for a game.

Over on the next table Terra Mystica got a blast, and Tom managed to get his experienced hand into this amongst all the first timers.
Terra Mystica, Pip points at something, Phil glares at me.
Of course he romped to a win in this, being a fairly mean hand at the game and knowing just what to do when. Tom is keen on the game and has played it a fair few times, whilst I think it plays out pretty much the same way every time, Tom thinks its always different. For me, after a few games it's just a bit meh, a bit dry, a bit samey. It's a solid euro, and the asymmetrical races are nice ( although arguably unbalanced in some cases ), but eh, I don't feel it quite has enough going on to be a classic.

Elsewhere Lewis lead another long game of Kingsburg, rolled crap dice all evening, and began to see the flaws of a game that relies singularly on dice to power your decisions.

Kingsburg. Lewis has a sad & laments his inability to roll dice.
Of course, you win some, lose some when the Random Number Generator enters the fray, but I think by and large the odds in Kingsburg even out, and it's unusual to be completely hosed by the hand of fate. I personally quite like Kingsburg, it seems to work quite well, and I like it as a medium length game - not sure about playing with all the expansions and turning it into a 3 hour grind ( particularly if your dice are being crap... )

This might be another case of a fairly solid game becoming slightly fat and wobbly when expansions are added to it - it's not unknown in my experience for expansions to take the streamlined sublime and add clunk.

Upstairs Mr Bond lead a mad full table of Fearsome Floors - the game of running your guys away from terrible logical rule following monsters. Fearsome floors is a fun game, but six people is utter bonkers !

Fearsome Floors. With six players aka
London Tube Rush Hour Simulator. Here a remarkably
accurate looking 3D Ticket Inspector stalks fare dodgers.
There was some shouting and at one point screams of being murdered or somesuch, so, it was emotional if nothing else - but after the game I think everyone exited the pub/table quickly and Mr Bond was left on his own.

Smash up and a bunch of others were played on the table over - I think Got Bit got played again, and finally on my own table, people were keen on playing Mission Red Planet which ending half way through the evening was then followed by Istanbul.

Neither of which I won. In fact I think Sam won both games, with Istanbul coming down to a real close finish of a turn or so difference. I was hopeless at Mission Red Planet, my guys failed to get a good purchase anywhere, I was bumped off early, and I failed to score much of anything. Still fun tho. I really like Mission Red Planet - a game that Tom Vasel in one of his recent top 10 lists has controversially noted has "murdered" Citadels.
Mission Rrreeeddd Planetttttt ! An epic 4 ships blast off.
IE, Mission Red Planet supersedes Citadels to such an extent there's no need to play Citadels ever again. I can see what he means, but Citadels is still cool, for me, I love the victorian Martian steam punk theme in MRP, the lovely card artwork and it just plays so nicely with a lot of player interaction to be had.

It's always fun to see someones astronauts end up being re-routed time and time again, and ending up in some martian armpit of a landing zone. In fact this week, Mission Red Planet got played again, and this time Lewis found that just about all his mustachioed victorian explorers kept landing in the dubiously titled "Utopia" for which he had spiked with a discovery card. In something of a sneaky double buff however, Lewis had actually planted a high scoring card and whilst bemoaning his continual landing in one spot, actually successfully bagged extra points at game end.

So this week, Mission Red Planet was indeed played again - and this time I won, huzzah - and before this we had another go of Kingsburg - but without any of the expansions. With new players and a rule session to fit in, we still managed to buzz through the game in under two hours - which I think is just about right. I won that too in an embarassingly strong kick ass womping ( just about double the points of poor trailing Lewis ), which I feel gives a lie to the statement that Kingsburg is just about who rolls the highest dice ( by and large we all rolled pretty similar ). Whereas we finished with just about the same number of buildings each, I garnered a stomping 33 points in bonuses, and everyone else struggled to get out of the teens.

Snowdonia, battling fog and rain to do something useful.
That'll be a typical Welsh day then.
 Robin brought along Snowdonia, a game about building a railway up a Welsh mountain ( I say mountain with all due respect to actual proper mountains in other places of the world that are impressively massive, rocky and take specialist equipment and possibly days of traversing in appalling conditions - mountains in the UK amount to modest swellings of earth that possibly make you break out in a sweat by the time you reach the summit somewhere around afternoon tea, and my goodness if it gets foggy we might get lost a bit ).

This is the second time Snowdonia has been at NoBoG - it first showed up brand spanking new from Essen in its release year, one of Jimmy's ( long lost NoBoG vet ) many Essen delights. Despite its dubious sounding theme, the game is pretty cool, and if you are an age to remember such things, contains Ivor the Engine ( cue Ivor the Engine impression... chhh chi kuff chi chi kuff... )

Francis Drake was also played - another quickly subscribed game, I have no idea what this is about - something Francis Drakey I presume - sailing ships, taking Spanish treasure and defeating invading armadas. Actually I believe it's the first two and not the latter - you get to explore the Americas and the Caribbean a bit and do some lovely pirating.
Francis Drake Hero of the English. Filthy Pirate to the Spanish.

Making another return to favour, Betrayal at House on the Hill was played ( and no less than two copies turned up at once ), and the usual fun and shenanigans was had there. I wouldn't mind betting that Betrayal is now possibly one of the more well owned games amongst NoBoGers - not Agricola, not Seven Wonders, but instead Betrayal. Uh huh.

Ground Floor also returned - the game of hardcore corporate speak, vying for better storage closets, better advertising campaigns and in general being more of a corporate douchebag than everyone else. Owein won this with a strategy of producing nothing, but being wildly popular and having a very successful tv advertising campaign. As ever I fear this game is way too close to the mark of reality for comfort.

Ground Floor. I see your storage closet and raise you a
meeting room. Pfah, just wait til my internship program starts!
Oh dear.
Sam continues to extoll the virtues of the game, but its theme gives me the willies. I am too corp scarred perhaps. I do however really like its graphical design, and one day, I might even sit down with it and try to build myself one of them there storage closets. Surely the only board game in existence where you get to build a storage closet.

After all the excitement of that gaming nonsense was dealt with, I believe one or two fillers might have been played, in particular Ultimate One Night Werewolf, where a thoroughly cheesed off Luke being continually lumbered as a boring villager began to have delusions of grandeur and started acting out at random. A flaw to the game perhaps ? Villagers are boring ?

Until next week bat fans, same bat time, same bat channel.

Oh. And 25 people this week. I didn't actually have to raise my voice in the initial game organising to be heard for once.
Betrayal at house on the Hill

Smash Up

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