Sunday, 8 March 2015

That which shall not be named

Buenas noches a monos espaciales. Como estas ? ( Good evening space monkeys. How are you ? )

This week we had an Iberian flavour at the Ribs as after months of Pete trying to get his obscure spanish 15 Dias game to table, it finally got a play last week with a fairly eager six willing to take on the dubious English rules translation.

Set in the 17th century, 15 Dias is a card game about competing families and characters vying for the attention of the freshly installed young and naive Spanish King Phillip IV. Play cards, compare influence, gain affection. Pretend you know what the rules are saying. Does that sound your kind of thing ?

Players compete on two levels - the first is for your family, which sees the players split into two teams set against each other, and the second is individually - against everyone at the table. Family allegiance is determined at the start of the game, ensuring an equal number of players are on each team - which probably explains why the game has a requirement that there are only an even number of players ( surely a bit of a missed chance here to allow any number but introduce a handicap to one team or the other to offset the extra help ).

Players then get to compete in one of the three power categories, Government, Clerical and Society, which is determined at the start of a round by dishing out a card for each of the two families ( think a super simplified Top Trumps mechanism ). Players secretly play characters into the mix to compete for family favour with the winning family pulling the all important affection.

Once that happy team based round is complete, players then vie individually for affection with the remaining cards in hand.

Presentation of the game is spiffy, in a historical kind of illustration kind of way, but from reported moans of those playing the game, whilst the art is nice, the iconography is atrocious, making it tricky to work out exactly what each card is doing with subtle differences in icon revealing its capabilities.

It has to be said that no one at the table had good things to say about this game in the post play comments. When flamenco dancing and silly hats broke out half way through the game*, it was questioned whether all the rules were actually correct, or had survived translation as some of the mechanics just didn't seem to work that well.

* may be a total fabrication

The best comment was that it was "bizarre" ( said with accompanying wince ) and the worst comment was that Blockade Runner from a few weeks ago, and hailed as abysmal by Hal was a "much better game".

I dunno, the game seems ok to me, its main gimmick being the whole how much do you love your team versus how much do you love yourself kind of strategy malarkey. Although at 20 minutes per player - and thus a 2 hour experience minimum for six, perhaps it's somewhat long for what it's achieving. I wonder just how much rules mangling was going on and how well Pete explained it. 

Given the games drubbing however it's probably unlikely to show up again at the Ribs anytime soon.

Upstairs I managed to rouse out some players to join Stu in a collection of things, from Notre Dame to Wurfhel Bohnanza ( Bondy had been left in charge of game organisation and managed to have Stu on a table on his own upstairs, tsk ), whilst on my table I got Lewis and Clark out again and oversaw Guillame playing a super tight super efficient euro win beating myself and Sam. Sam struggled a bit to get his gear in order in this game, although to be fair he was also struggling with eating some pub supplied Biltong, which at times was challenging him for evolutionary supremacy. I think this was the true challenge at the table - overcoming the nuclear kiln dried beef that was masquerading as a bar snack. Sam kindly offered me a sample of the Biltong, the eating of which was an experience that on reflection was a bit like eating a leather belt. That had chilli seasoning. Or possibly a shoe that had had a decent sprinkle of pepper. I can't say I've actually eaten a shoe. But I imagine that it's pretty much the same as eating Biltong.

Afterwards we got some Port Royal and Sechs Nimmt in, of which I won nothing. Pfft.

That which shall not be named - Munch*in
The table over from us had a fairly bonkers six player game of dominion, which whilst technically is a four player game, can actually be played with as many players as you like until you get bored with the downtime. After that they played that which shall not be named. I don't think Bondy noticed, and thus they escaped any punitive sanctions. Fletch demanded to know what was so bad about Munch*in anyway. Shortly after this comment a group of black balaclava dressed men stuffed a hood over his head and bundled him from the pub into a blacked out van. You can't say he wasn't warned.

Meanwhile back downstairs, Duncan had shown up with a board gaming relic - Dream Factory, which I think Jeff got a look in with, and at the other end of the room they engaged in some Sheriffing of Nottinghaming, where Luke managed to rein in his compulsion to check every bag under a certain size ( and pulled a second placing ), and they then followed up with some Werewolfing, where a rather spanky Tanner managed the win by getting his suicidal self killed. Not bad ! It was noted by the Sheriff group how strong an honest strategy was - something that has been echoed by other groups playing it, which does make one wonder if Sheriff can break down a little with someone that's brutally honest and has a reasonable card pull.

26, 29, 28 for attendance of the last three weeks.

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