Thursday, 4 December 2014

Sucker Punch

The month of Christmas rolls on, Black Fridays have been and gone with blood and limbs cleared from shop floors, Cyber Mondays too have passed us by which left us with the most important day of the week, NoBoG Tuesday.

If you were NoBoGing upstairs, you might have seen that the Ribs was busy this week. Full of business attired people drinking, which I am going to assume was some sort of Christmas Work Do shenanigans. A ritual that has you going out and sharing drinks, food and then more drinks with people you half know, don't know, sort of know, but in any case have never felt even the slightest urge to socialise with, but winds up with you inexplicably copping off with the girl from the mail room, or worse, avoiding the advances of some inebriated colleague, and finally ends with you avoiding all of them socially for another year. Or is that just me ? Just me ? Ok. There's probably a gem of a board game idea in there anyway. No need to thank me. You're welcome !

Onto the games - this week more new and shiny appeared in the form of the Sheriff of Nottingham, a bluffing and bribing kind of card game which sees you trying to make as much money as possible by shipping goods into Nottingham in preparation for a Kingly visit. Despite the title of the game and the theme, there is no Robin Hood ambushing shenanigans going on - it's just literally about getting goods to market under the watchful eye of the Sheriff.

Which is weird if you ask me.

The main shtick for the game is the premise of the goods bag - you secretly place two to five goods in a sealed 'bag' and then hand it over to the sheriff - a role which rotates amongst all players. You then get to declare to the sheriff what the bag holds - but here's the catch, you can only declare it to contain one good, and they must all be legal goods. If you are caught shipping more than one type of good, or illegal goods, the sheriff can confiscate them. Shipping five goods is great for your score - but you strain credibility asking the sheriff to believe there are five of the same type of good contained. There then follows some gamesmanship where the sheriff may not believe you and threaten to inspect your bag, or possibly be open to a bribe, or you may try all these things in the hope the sheriff does inspect the bag and find nothing amiss. If the bag contains what you said it contains - the sheriff pays you. If it doesn't then the goods that don't match are confiscated. Goods that got through are placed on your marketstall.

At the end of the game the person with the most value in goods - and there are some set collection rewards to pick up - wins.

I utterly failed to get a picture of this in play, or ask how it went down as I was wrapped up upstairs. Seems like a solid game though, and one open to a bit of social engineering. These are not the apples you're looking for. Move along.

Elsewise Elliot brought one of his regular items along - Settlers of America, the elongated slightly deviant version of regular settlers - and as he wasn't ranting at game end, we can safely conclude that he won. That and the fact he cheered himself as the winner as he left the pub.

Cash and Guns, Tsuro, Werewolf and Fluxx all got a mix up at the final table downstairs - but Fluxx ended up exhausting them and they called a halt to its chaos at 11pm. That's what you get for playing Fluxx.

Odd Village
Upstairs hidden in a corner of the pub, a group took on Speicherstadt, a game I have never heard of, but is apparenly one of Mr Felds efforts - this one a card game. No idea how this played or who won, I can tell you however that it had fantastic glittery cardboard coins which resembled nothing so much as the old gold foil wrapped chocolate money. Conspicuous at this time of the year - and possibly lucky that someone didn't try to eat any of them.

They followed this up with the cool looking Odd Village. No idea what that's about.

In the other corner of the room Pete managed to cajole a group into Lord of the Ice Garden - its welcome seems to be running out at the Ribs if the enthusiasm of who wants to play is anything to go by - then again if you took the enthusiasm of who wanted to play what at NoBoG as a judge of anything, then you would conclude that NoBoG wasn't a board gaming group at all, but was in fact a secret society of performance artists that liked to turn up and stand around in a crowded room for 10 minutes displaying epic levels of choice apathy. Like a flash mob. But without anything exciting or enthusiastic going on. Which rather describes any kind of rush hour public transport.

Bondy won the Ice Garden as the black dudes as the red dudes - Pete was even more loudly muttering about Black possibly being unbalanced, over powered, yada, possibly covering his multi game experienced ass getting wooped by a newbie, but regardless Mr Bond declared the game to be great as he had won. On asking Hal, he paused, hesitated, then said it was good. I'm not sure if that actually means it was good or was just being polite. Perhaps he had just zoned out.

Myself I got to play Aquasphere again - with a few rules corrected, and a clear idea of what was going on in my head, I taught it to Tom II and Sam II. And utterly failed. I am not entirely sure what went on - there were points where, much like my first game, I was horribly brutalised, but I was doing ok until the middle of the game, and then everything fell apart. Consistently shafted for area control. Out of time. Out of place. Wrestling with idiot squids. It all went downhill. Sam won this and declared he liked it better than Glass Road - which I thought was rather surprising given that Aquasphere is a fair bit less welcoming than Glass Road. Sam said it was about knowing what to do - Glass Road he struggled to get an idea of where he was going.

Colt Express - a better picture of it this time, the
passengers have just got fed up of being robbed and started
shooting, causing all the desperados to flee to the roof...
Afterwards we got to play the excellent Colt Express. And it really is excellent. Such a fantastic little game, Luke joined us for this and seemed to be the target of a fair few punches. Everytime he clambered on top of the train he seemed to get sucker punched for his trouble. Hilarious for everyone but Luke, who ended up with no loot at all due to all the punches. Desperados jumped back and forth, shots were exchanged, and right at the end Sam managed to pip the win by picking up the strong box and its $1,000 prize. Pfah. If it hadn't been for that I would have been in a comfy loot stuffed lead. Luke made a great comeback, won the $1,000 reward for being the shootiest of desperados and beat Tom into last.

Whilst the mechanics for the game are extremely easy, move, punch, shoot or loot, the joy and coolness comes from the way the orders are placed - everyone piles their orders one by one onto a communal pile - somtimes facedown, sometimes face up, depending on if the train is in a tunnel or not, and then at the end, the orders are flipped over and played out. Something of a Robo Rally or Room 25 program your turns dealio. This can lead to stupid, funny and cool moments as someone does something unexpected in a tunnel, you end up punching thin air, getting shot or captured and so on. Fab little filler with just one downside - it's a little too small for fat fingers. Fiddly is the word that springs to mind. It needs a deluxe version twice the size... but that really doesn't hamper the game. If you haven't tried it, you need to. It's great.


Peter Chinkin said...

Bondy was red. It's a cool game.

Minitrue said...

Edited ! I thought I heard you bemoaning the powers of black...