Thursday, 24 July 2014

Dextrous Delights

A flurry of dexterity games this week down the pub - mainly down to James bringing a bag full of such things. Villa Palleti, Hamsterrolle, Loopin' Louie, Animal upon Animal and Riff Raff were the fat fingered fumblers that got played, of which I have no idea who won what.

Riff Raff - Balance goods on a sea rocked ship
Villa Paletti - Remove your columns to build upper floors
Loopin' Louie was an unexpected visitor - it can be tricky to get your hands on - and is one of those kids games that has found favour with the board gaming cognoscenti. Or maybe it's all just an excuse to play with toys. Unfortunately they played it so quick I failed to get a shot of it - if you've never seen it, a guy in an aircraft buzzes around trying to steal your chickens. You can prevent this with a well timed flick that makes him jump your chickens and hopefully land on someone elses - or if you are James, back onto yourself to steal your last clucker. Childish and fun. If you are interested in it, and can't lay your hands on the original AND you are passing one of their shops, then there's a carbon copy of it being sold in Smyths.

Galaxy Trucker -The big III ships ply the space lanes
Betrayal at House on the Hill, Galaxy Trucker, Hegemonic and Hansa Teutonica were the non dexterity 'main' games being played in the evening, with Mr Bond taking a largely newbie or near newbie Hansa crowd upstairs to impress them with his cube shuffling skills. Punk Rich, the only seasoned vet tumbled to fourth position - not sure what was going on there - whilst Mr Bond crushed all before him to win the prize of being painted in period costume on the box of the next germanic historical Euro.

Galaxy Trucker had a fairly disastrous run, quite a few ships disappeared into the void never to return - fun fact, a rule that sometimes gets missed, a player can be a spoilsport and drop out of the race at any point to cut their losses... - but as ever the game went down well.

Hegemonic was a new visitor to the Ribs - a 4x space game, something of a more Euro-ified less sexy looking Eclipse. Pete reckons I did a poor job of selling the game with this description, but I think it's accurate.

Hegemonic - a space based 4x
Hegemonic is a 2-6 player game that sees each player exploring out into the galaxy to exploit political, industrial or military bases of power. The power bases present asymmetrical conflict possibilities, with each having different rules for where, how and what strength an attack will be. The game has no resources other than cash and very much comes down to what kind of power you can project or defend with, timing of actions and what technologies you have to help you along.

More than anything the game presents area control gameplay, the fairly large number of permutations between how each power overlaps with others giving a reasonable amount of depth to play.

Unlike Eclipse there are no dice in Hegemonic - conflicts are determined by strength of factors on the table and a single played card from your hand ( a la Game of Thrones et al ). So combat is far less open to RNG shenanigans. Also, tile exploration is performed from a pool of known tiles - another reduction in randomness from Eclipse - so gameplay is much tighter ( which might be as much a curse as it is a boon for those that like perfect information games ). Conflicts - particularly when player count rises can quickly become chaotic and are tricky to judge or time correctly. I have a fear that the game could devolve at points into single power base exploitation and popularity contests, but I haven't played it enough to see if that plays out.

Animals Animals aka, what I do with meeples when bored
waiting for someone to take their turn
There's not a lot of time to faff about with the game, the end game timer is pretty brutal, and a mis-step or two can easily cost you the end game. Nice game, interesting conflict dynamics - suffers a bit from inconsistent clunky rules in places ( not helped by subtle typos that change the meaning of sentences ), a lot of plays I fear might reduce the game to a fairly binary set of strategy choices.

Avalon Resistance finished off the evening for those not playing Hegemonic - a straight good guy win in the first round, with Luke as Merlin being just as quickly assassinated to turn it into a bad guy win, followed by a much more tricky five round game where the bad guys tipped for the win. Two wins for the bad guys.
Numbers - a very laid back 19 this week.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Panama Pub Crawl

Last week some games might have happened. With around 20 people. There might have been a game of Agricola where Punk Rich subjected a newbie to scoring less than zero points at final tally. And Chaos in the Old World had a play along with Francis Drake. I wasn't there. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a noise ? No. The answer is no it doesn't. So last week no games were played - anything you might have experienced last week was a figment of your imagination.

This week however was very much real. A grand total of 29 ( or possibly 30 ) people decided to turn up, a few dusty vets joined in to be bewildered by the numbers ( ... in my day all this was fields, and we were lucky to get 10 people ... ) and we quickly busted out some gaming fun.

Cosmic Encounter, Super Dungeon Explore, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Lords of Vegas, Takenoko and Eldritch Horror were first up with a busy Wherry room holding three packed tables.

Cosmic Encounter the hoary classic ( originally released in 1977... probably older than the majority of
Cosmic Encounter. Punk Rich checks the rules
- pretending there are actual rules in Cosmic Encounter
NoBoGers ) did its usual thing with a busy table, wandering through a couple of hours of randomness with the game finally decided by some shenanigans between Mr Bond and Geoff, who came to an amicable agreement to joint win.

Betrayal at house on the hill had a couple of play throughs the eerie abode, Luke becoming a crazed bomber in the first session, trying to blow everyone up with his crafted packs of boom. Unfortunately for his plans his bombs were quickly disarmed, insultingly his dynamite was also stolen and finally was subjected to a thorough beating. Oh dear.

The second game featured a snake. With multiple heads. That was also defeated by the derring doers. The House on the Hill. Not so scary after all.

Super Dungeon Explore - Von Drakk critters abound
A full six for Super Dungeon Explore on the table over saw Von Drakk  (expansion) take on the might of five heroes and in something of a blow to naysayers noting that the game is a foregone win for the Bad Guys, Von Drakk was defeated with time to spare to fit in some Avalon Resistancing afterwards.

Chris seemed to really enjoy the game, and it seems a fun session was had beating up the dungeon critters.

Upstairs four of us took on the responsibility of defeating Azathoth in the Cthulu based Eldritch Horror. Eldritch Horror has a lot of similarities to Arkham Horror, but manages to do it with a little less fiddle and a bit more of a streamlined process. A co-operative game, players move their investigators around the world, picking up clues, fighting unspeakable horrors and closing portals that spring up with whack-a-mole regularity. In my experience the game can run very long - a lot longer than the box would tell you, but in theory with quick turns, the game should move at a brisk pace.

Nicky playing some ex cultist lately turned good investigator had a cracking start to the game, going on an epic pub crawl in panama and getting drunk. Saving the world can wait. First. A round of drinks ! Or three. After what we can presume was a monstrous night of boozing, her character swore she had an insect in her head, "honeshtly offisher theresh a big... big... inshect... in here... my head... hic. I think... think.. ha ha... itsh
Eldritch Horror
effecting... my... hic... speesch.". Gaining the Amnesia condition, Nicky like so many other drinkers after a heavy session couldn't remember what had happened the night before. But whatever it was, it was enough for the police to pick her up - gaining the detained condition - but somewhat sobered up and able to talk her way out of it, she was let out of the cell with nothing more than a warning. A truly memorable Panamian Bender. It's a good night when you can't remember what happened and wake up in jail.

At this point Nicky was playing less of a Cthulu game, and more of her own booze filled mini roleplaying game.

Wandering around South America she kept going on about insects in peoples heads ( I think she was suffering from the DTs by this point and seeing pink elephants ) and even managed to get an operation performed on some poor unsuspecting soul, cracking their skull open to look for the hallucination inducing beasties.

Nicky probably to the relief and safety of the entire American continent, finally succumbed to madness and died mumbling about yet more insects.

We didn't get to finish the game - it ran long - and we gave up when the third investigator keeled over.

I like Eldritch Horror - I also like Arkham Horror - they are both games in the same ballpark and I find the mythos and over the top stilted language very soothing (!). If you like one, you will probably like the other. For those that dislike Arkham Horror, you might have a better time with Eldritch Horror, but I wouldn't bank on it.

Lords of Vegas

Elsewhere Lewis was very pleased about stealing a last minute Takenoko win - his winning excited face was something to behold according to Lauren. They had a go of Smash Up afterwards.

Hamsterrolle. Place all your pieces to win.
James hosted Lords of Vegas, Ewan securing the win there, and afterwards they played the wonderfully unique hamsterrolle which is always a great spectacle of a filler. A dexterity game, players have a number of wooden pieces to place in the hamster wheel. The first to use all their pieces wins the game - but any pieces that fall out as you place you get to take back into your 'hand'.

As ever a smattering of fillers did what they are best at, and filled in the gaps, Get Bit, One Night Werewolf, Resistance and others. The Resistancers managed to pull of a win for the good guys, Punk Rich as Merlin distracting Assassin Bondy with his quiet unassuming demeanour into missing his target.

Bondy declared Punk Rich to be filth on his reveal of Merlin. Suckered.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The Case of the Missing Gamers

A grand total of 26 27 29 27 attendees this week, the ever helpful Ewan has got a new clicker app for his phone so he can count everyone in. That's right. You're now facing the ignominy of being counted like cattle. There was even talk on the river balcony of branding people as they enter.

We had a bit of trouble fitting some latecomers in this week - arriving just after 8, games had started, and the couple of spare slots available had already been filled by late, but not quite too late comers. Tricky. It's always good to have a table or two with some spare seats for those latecomers, but where you already have newcomers engaged it can be unfair to just up sticks and start something else. Despite being reassured there were some quick games being played if they wanted to stick around, after a quick look around they disappeared. I had a valiant attempt at tracking them down, but alas, they were missing.

This week we had Dungeon Petz, Nations, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Small World, Tzolkin and Mission Red Planet first up for play. Nations played in better time this week - although still took up the whole evening, and we got to find out that the game is kind of punishing. Poor Tim managed to fare badly in the first age, and then proceeded to always fall short in the following ages. It seems that a bit like Agricola, the game can punish you for not getting your ducks in a row and then you flail around at the rear of the scoring without a lot of hope of coming back.
A room full of gamers downstairs - 10 minutes from closing !

A flaw ? There is debate about whether games that have a harsh competitive penalty / elimination / elimination in all but name in them are "good design" or not. Good or bad depends on the mindset of the players. But whatever your mindset, it's understandable playing a 3 hour game without much hope of winning after the first 30 minutes is probably not great.

For all of that, everyone seemed to enjoy the Nation-ing, and Richard the IV secured a win - by I think a single point.

Betrayal at House on the Hill was the noisy table. They then played I can only imagine an equally noisy game of King of Tokyo, followed by an even more noisy Dobble.

Bohnanza - I'll trade you Stink for Wax ! Ok.
And what about the beans ? Ah ha ha... ehhh.
On the relatively subdued table over from the noise, Small World was given a whirl with a final tally of incredibly close scores, everyone being within a single point or two of everyone else. Tom won. Again. He's making a habit of it - remember, if you see Tom at your table, and you haven't played the game you are playing before - gang up on him. It's only fair. Small world was finished with a dessert of Bohnanza, which Tom valiantly tried to win again, but Ewan managed to tie him for it. Good job Ewan.

No idea who won Dungeon Petz upstairs. No obvious Zoo Poo Barons. Shame. I think Ed should come back from the wilds of Not Norwich and show them what the game is truly about. Poo.

Sam blasted to a win in Tzolkin. His first win at Tzolkin. But don't let that fool you, Sam has played a fair few games of the cog turner. Tzolkin definitely rewards experience. They finished this main course with some Skull and Roses and Love Letter.

As for my table, a repeat of other weeks, a fine win for Sam III at Mission Red Planet, a ruby filled win for me at Istanbul, and finally a Biker Gang victory for Sam III at Skull and Roses.

Alex who was new to NoBoG had a bit of a trial by fire, his first turn at Mission Red Planet found his astronauts completely shut out as all ships took off, and his turn was wasted - followed in the next turn by his only ship being blown up by saboteurs. Rough. Needless to say he came last. Oh dear.