Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Colt Express Beer Goggles

Twenty Nine last week at the ribs, numbers declining from the heady heights of the previous weeks 38, although given the pub was more busy than usual at game time, it felt - to me - just as busy as last week trying to get everyone sorted.

This week Lewis is guest writing for his own table experiences - without further ado...

Ticket to Ride
On our table we first played Ticket to Ride: Europe, teaching Sam how to play for the 1st time (still some learners!).

A close game throughout, but I pulled off the win having taken first with the longest route bonus.

I then drew out my two new additions to my collection.

Le Guillotine
First, Guillotine, which featured a short 2nd day due to Jamie (@JEndlessraining) playing a card that allowed him to end the day after his turn, picking up two nobles adding up to 6 points. He ultimately won, though I stole 2nd from Sam. Teehee.

We finished off with Pickomino, which had me controlling most of the titles throughout the game, but after a brief moment of confusion over the French rules over certain die results and a struggle to trigger the end of the game, James (@JamesHayward92) took the win by one more worm than me.

Three satisfying games, with Guillotine and Pickomino being described as "slightly frustrating" but great fun. What game isn't, at the very least, "slightly" frustrating?

Meanwhile upstairs...

XCOM. Tom II wonders where it all went wrong.
Despite there being no evidence for the presence of aliens on planet earth, apart from dodgy videos of some dude in a skin tight leotard prancing around like an idiot , the ribs played host to XCOM again last week, four intrepid commanders swearing to defend the pub from any ill looking alien. Which is very public spirited of them. And you would imagine involving standing at the pub door with a clipboard and a menacing look. Tom II, Richard IV, Davey and Ewan headed up this enterprise with an early game status report providing troubling news - the entire ground infantry / door bouncer force had been eliminated to a man, leaving only the tea boy and the caretaker left at XCOM HQ. Who was the commander in charge of this debacle ? Tom. Tom was in charge, so I blamed him for the mess.
The buck stops with the C in C.

By the end of the evening however the team had turned things around and seen off the aliens, Tom proving his quality leadership skills after all, albeit one presumes with a large marble plaque commemorating the lost Poor Bloody Infantry.

Imperial Settlers. With Deans thumbs and not his face.
Which is either a framing error, or sparing viewers a horrible sight.
On the next table over a nice game of Imperial Settlers was afoot - I say nice, but this was nice as in Mr Bond doubling down on his raiding capabilities and burning everyones stuff to the ground. Particularly Dean who was the Japanese. With those oh so burnable buildings made of wood and paper. Elite Ed ( the artist formerly known as Writer Ed ) confessed he didn't really know what was going on, and had only got to grips with the game about two thirds of the way through, his Romans bringing up a very poor rear score. Nevertheless by game end he had sorted himself out to bring himself within touching distance of the others, but the brutal barbarian Bond won the day, with his victory points for earning swords malarkey going on.

Nice game Imperial Settlers. If you haven't tried it, you should.

On our table we opened with Colt Express. With Luke relating to us the drinking game version of Colt Express that he apparently regularly plays. When anyone gets shot you take a shot. As it were. This ends up doubling the penalty of getting shot - not only do you get a duff card in your hand, your mental clarity also takes a hit. Colt Express Beer Goggles. Luke then told us how he often won such games, but this turned out to be not so much excellent tactics, but telling everyone else the wrong rules and filling everyone with bullets that never ran out. Sam won this. A reasonable haul of loot and a bonus for shooting everyone dead.

We then had a blast of Sheriff of Nottingham, which surprisingly seemed to revolve around 5 guys offering or demanding cocks. I'm not sure who started this cock filled innuendo, but when Martin started demanding that he wanted to hear Sam say he wanted his cock we had reached Peak Cock. Luke displayed some dubious tactics again, claiming that anyone taking 2 or less goods had to be searched - which he duly did and thus proved easy bait - and was endlessly goaded into searching goods and bankrupting himself. By the end he had lost most of his money and carted a sorry collection of items into the market. Martin won this with a policy largely consisting of honesty. And cock baiting. Um. Ok.

Archipelago. I think Med Ed is quietly signalling me to
sabotage the deep in thought Pete.
Downstairs Archipelago got another wheeze. This time Pete was not picked at the post by an evil Separatist and took a convincing win as the Pacifist, managing to pick up or even come first in almost everyone elses categories too. Very good. The other players looked a bit shell shocked over their beating.

Powergrid got a play with six I think. I like powergrid, although I find myself always shying away from playing it, but Powergrid with six is... heavy. Not sure how this worked out. There looked to be some confusion from the new players half way through. Which sounds about right.
Powergrid aka FUNKENSCHLAAAAG. Sounds better in German.

A very shortened game of Saboteur 2 took place. A single saboteur won the day. Mostly because every single other faction was busy kicking the crap out of each other. A shameful display.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015


This is what fighting aliens looks like. Sexy. Right ?
Start the youtube vid below. It's this weeks theme tune. Once it's playing you can read on !

Back in the early 70's, when space hoppers were the greatest orange coloured transport device ever invented, hair was big, collars bigger and flared trousers biggest of all, if you had thoughts about defending the Earth from nefarious alien ne'er-do-wells then you might have found yourself a member of S.H.A.D.O and your go to uniform choice might look something like this
Standard S.H.A.D.O uniform.
Clearly they never suffered chilly days in S.H.A.D.O central command.

UFO fighting fashion styles have moved on fortunately - or unfortunately depending on your level of depravity - and so this week when an alien defence headquarters was setup in the Ribs of Beef, none of the defenders were wearing string vests sparing us all a horrifying sight. That there are sacrifices to be made defending the Earth goes without saying - putting up with four gamer dudes hanging out in string vests however is arguably a sacrifice too far. You'd probably be better off welcoming your new alien overlords instead.

Owein brought along the new and sexy XCOM to NoBoG challenging three fellow compatriots to keep the earth safe, the humans from panicking over the prospect of string vest wearing whilst simultaneously swatting away alien invaders. If you haven't been living under a rock for the past 20 years computer gaming wise, you will know that XCOM is a highly successful video game franchise that splits into tactical man to alien combat and a strategic level logistics management mode where you get to train people, research new tech, and react to alien ship incursions. The whole singing dancing Xenophobia train has now been ported into board game form, and whilst the man to alien tactical combat element has been lost in translation, the nail biting logistics balancing space ship intercepting bit remains.
XCOM. Don't drop your pieces on the floor. The timer waits for no one.

Truly one of the new breed of board games, XCOM integrates technology into your usual pile of cardboard and bits with a free app for use on your digital toy of choice - like for instance an iPad. The app gets to co-ordinate the alien player, effectively forming a broad programmed AI against your wiles as well as injecting a real time element into the game where you have to make decisions in a short span of time ( unless you're playing in the lame Easy mode ).

The nature of the app also allows the game to play with the timing of various phases, meaning that you can never be quite sure that A follows B follows C thus forcing your into committing resources before they were ready or correctly in place.

Because of its triple A computer game heritage the production values of the app are absolutely first class, oozing theme and atmosphere - heavily borrowing a lot of resources from its sibling games.

Did you know ?

Ananda Gupta who designed the board game Twilight Struggle also designed the reboot of the XCOM video game and brought a lot of board game sensibilities into the design mix. In ever more crazy cross pollination that video game has now crossed the divide back into the board game world.
As a co-operative game it slightly side-steps the group think tendency that some of those games can have - where a particularly strong or pushy player just orders everyone else around resulting in a solo game with a number of observers - by giving players unique roles to play that have very clear responsibilities and available actions.

Explaining the actual machinations of the game is kind of tricky - its involved and has a lot of bleed through from the computer game ( which you'll feel right at home with if you have played it ) - but basically making decisions about missions, sending squaddies out on missions, balancing resources and doing everything in a timely fashion is the order of the day. You'll need to cater to random things popping up, keeping a lid on panic - which can lose you the game -, keep your base from being destroyed - another lose event - and finally surviving long enough to actually take a shot at the aliens and win the game outright - as opposed to just surviving.

If tense random thematic games are not your thing, then XCOM is going to not be something you want to look at ( unless you like facing the derision of the gaming community by playing it in Easy mode and not having to worry about the timer at all ). If you are into your stress time based games, and or you have an XCOM background, this is a game you will definitely want to give a try out of.

The game went down very well on Tuesday, with Davey vowing to rush home and buy it as soon as he could so taken he was with its gameplay.

The intriguing looking Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Another recently release game was on offer this week - the Castles of Mad King Ludwig. This is a tile placing game that has you vying for victory points by collecting sets or synergistic placements and according to Sam who got to play it, is something of a riff on Suburbia.

Castles however is not a town builder but is a . . . castle builder. Where you get to build room by room a crazy patchwork castle ( hence the Mad King ) to try and maximise your VPs via whatever cunning strategy you cook up.

Lighter than Suburbia with less capability to synergise the game however ups complexity in a different direction with tiles that are different shapes and sizes - meaning that placement of those rooms is not quite as straight forward as Suburbias uniform hexes.

A fun looking game, Sam enjoyed it - managed to win, and noted Chloe had spent all game building a very evil looking castle with suspicious pits, mossy rooms and long spindly corridors that led nowhere.

Steam with 6. Banned by the UN as cruel and unusual punishment
Elsewhere Steam had a monster game with six players. Hal was playing mean. Apparently. And on the table over Pandemic was succumbed to with an abject failure for players, who could only end up planning their apocalypse party with 3 turns to go as it became apparent the infections were out of hand. They then finished with the less disease ridden Small World.

I believe Lauren and Andrews table played King of Tokyo - and some other lighter stuff. Not sure.

Pandemic. It's looking bad folks. Time to invest in a bunker.
Downstairs Lewis lead the ever redoubtable Lords of Waterdeep to table, complete with machine gun noises which he assured was not for once his fault. Ticket to Ride was on the table over, which left the last table with a riotous game of Archipelago.

On a crazy whim Pete decided the Archipelago should be seeded via the optional desert start, which proved to be in the end an absolute nightmare for exploration. Getting those tiles out with a land interior is much tougher going than starting with a sea tile. It certainly changed the pace of the game however, and with the expansion cards in play - and the Jail out from turn one, some of the typical dynamics of the game were subtly altered.

Dawn rises over the ill fated Archipelago.
Pete got off to a flying start whilst most of everyone else struggled to escape the hot sandy interior. Feelings of ill will circulated towards the obviously well performing Pete, and as an end game trigger threatened to activate, everyone suddenly got very jealous of their precious commodities. So much so that the colony leapt up in misery, jumping a full 21 unrest points in a single turn, whilst the singularly quiet Punk Rich who turned out to be the separatist secretly gloated that the colony would now go tits up.

An extremely funny game, much comedy with Rich IV offering Pete a pocket bird flip at one point in reply to his request for renumeration, and with Punk Rich playing a very quiet separatist, lulling everyone into being ever more selfish, the game sank in perfect Archipelago fashion. Amazing game.

The gateway game classic - Ticket to Ride
Roll for the Galaxy was squeezed into the end. We got two thirds in before calling it a day. Pete pipped me by three points. Everyone else was flailing on half scores.

Mr Bond was very excited this week. The prospect of having 40 NoBoG attendees sent him a twittering, only to have his hopes dashed when two of the would be players managed to claw their way to safety  left prematurely. It should be said this was with several of our regulars out. Breaching 40 seems like something we will be doing in 2015. Still. 38 is a record. Apparently. I've lost track. It certainly sounds a lot. The pub was pretty full with NoBoGians, and that was with a table of six and three tables of five. Heaven help us when everyone decides they just want to play four player games only. It will be woollen hats and thermal gloves all round to cope with playing games on the ice festooned river terrace.

Lastly, congratulations to Sam who is now the official Norwich Netrunner champion. This is apparently why we only see him every other week at NoBoG - he's netrunning down at Athena games in the other weeks. Personally I think he's a Norwich based mask wearing crime fighter who takes it to the streets every other Tuesday. I noticed he turned up in a spiderman themed jacket this week - clearly he got his crime fighting persona days mixed up. But yeah. If you want to believe his cover story, then he's the Norwich Netrunner champion.

Which is a card game. If you didn't know. Go look it up. Don't expect me to do everything for you ! Tsk.