Saturday, 18 April 2015

The First Rule of NoBoG is...

This week the Ribs of Beef was full to the rafters as an epic 44 people turned up to partake of the NoBoG extravaganza. Personally I blame the inflated numbers on Mr Bond who advertised NoBoG Tuesday as #InternationalTableTopTuesdayEvening and offered free swag. On the other hand, if #InternationalTableTopTuesdayEvening isn't a thing, then it should be a thing.

Bondys promoted SWAG

The elevated numbers caused Pete to slightly panic* and give out the advice to newcomers that if they enjoyed themselves to remember not to tell their friends.

All very fight club if you ask me. The first rule of which is to not talk about it. If you haven't a clue what I am talking about, then your homework this week is to immediately go watch the 1999 film Fight Club.

Aside from Pete's comedy advice, it was great to see so many people down the pub playing games, and personally I had a great night, playing some new things, some old things, and introducing The Cow Game to those who had never heard of such a thing before - and were suitably delighted by it.

Chloe also pointed out that this week quite a number of gaming ladies turned up, by her count as many as ten of them, which marks another record for NoBoG. Back in the day, ten people would have been the whole of NoBoG, male or female.

Gah, a blurry shot of Mysterium and its screen.
Super low light level and a long exposure are to blame.
The G Man was in the house on Tuesday, and being the collector of the sometimes whimsical, he brought along a game called Mysterium, which after some wrangling, I ended up joining in to play. Mysterium - and I'm just going to go right ahead and assume you've never heard of it before - is a game best summed up as a cross between Dixit and Cluedo.

Funny vague artsy picture cards ? Check.

A murderer in Some Place with Some Murder Weapon ? Check.

Guessing who was where doing what to whom ? Check.

Unlike Cluedo however the game is a co-operative affair where everyone is trying to work together to solve the puzzles you are given - namely murder suspects. One player takes on the role of The Ghost, or, if you like, The Murdered, and it's their job to communicate to everyone else just who killed them and how.

Which would be lovely if the Ghost could just send you an SMS with the murderer's contact details.

Predictably things aren't so easy however, and instead the ghost must rely on sending dreams to the other players - who are allegedly psychics and sensitive to such things. Either that or they just have really vivid imaginations and a habit of eating cheese past midnight ( my mom always used to say eating cheese late at night would make you dream. Science ! ).

The dreams come in the form of cards with a lovingly artsy illustration, albeit random and often surreal. Spread on the table are another bunch of lovingly illustrated cards and it's up to the player(s) to make a guess as to what refers to what. Every player gets their own card to think about, with the end result being that the Ghost is going to tell you about X number of suspects, X number of murder scenes and X number of murder weapons, where X is the player number.

So you get into Dixit territory. A boy riding a bicycle through some woods ? Well clearly that
Mysterium ! It was.. the ghost boy with the candlestick !
indicates this magician chap over here. What ? The whole effort is further complicated by the Ghost only have a limited selection of cards to choose from each turn. So. The clues could be super vague.

The game is won if everyone manages to solve their person, location, murder weapon in a given number of nights, and after that, if everyone then manages to select the right person, location and weapon out of those that have been highlighted.

An interesting game. All about getting into the head of the person playing the ghost. And trying to find some connecting particular that links one series of pictures to another.

We failed for the record. The G Man kept apologising to me whilst handing me my clues. In the end a wolf was filling in for a unicorn, and most of the other clues were pointing at a small picture on the wall of one of the choices. As it was I actually did succeed in getting all my details right, but Pete and Sam failed. And so the ghost was not avenged.

Note to future murdered ghosts. Learn how to use email.

Small World, Chloe and David with some new NoBoGers
Meanwhile on the table over, a group of new NoBoGers learned to play Small World which came down to a very tight finish again, relying on a tie breaker to actually determine who had won. The game was given a thumbs up, and they liked the way that the races and traits made the game variable - they could see good replayability in it.

Behind them, an excited Jay Van Zee ( his newly annointed NoBoG street rap name, formerly known as JJ ) busted out a fresh from the kickstarter presses game of Shadow of the Elder Gods.

Given which name is a game that is contractually obliged to be about Cthulu type shenanigans.

Anytime you use Shadow and Elder God in some combination, you have to be talking about Lovecraftian Shnubbling, and Shoggotholling.

The Elder Gods of the Shadow Supermarket. See ? It's a game about a Cthulu infested supermarket. Easy.

Shadow of the Elder Gods. Aka Pocket Arkham Horror aka
James Mapp's Punch Yourself In the Face !
So what's the game all about... A co-operative game, players take the role of investigators, or just plain schmucks, who are wandering about the city of Arkham in a game of tentacle whack a mole.

Along the way you get to pick up things to help you fight off the nasties that keep cropping up, and hopefully by the end you will have enough experience to see off the Elder nasty himself. If this sounds remarkably like Arkham Horror, then you'd be right, it sort of is.

But it's condensed down into something that doesn't take between 3 and 6 hours to crank out and has wayyyy less of a footprint in terms of endless decks of crap. I like Arkham Horror, but it does suffer from early FFG designs of "Lets just make another deck of cards / pile of tokens / endless crap for that mechanic, and then we can big it up on the box how much crap is in here, and how much crap your money is buying - bargain !" which typically end up with you playing the Setup The Crap game for longer than you actually play the game.

I'm not sure how the game went down, it sounds pretty cool, albeit James who did play it spotted some dubious flaws he was less than happy with. A key component of the game is the Ring of Shadows, an item which allows you to tackle the unseen enemies that lurk beneath the seen ones and is the key to winning the game. The price of using this item however is a hit in sanity ( of course, no self respecting Cthulu game leaves out a Sanity mechanic ), and here's the issue. Certain random cards in the game will deal 5 sanity damage to the wielder of the Ring of Shadows. Which is enough for insta death. So. Draw a card. Die. Game Over ?

Are there mitigations to this ? No idea. But James was not a fan and stated that at least the game was short, and therefore wasn't too much of a pain to put up with before inevitably dying from the RNG insta death. On thinking about it more deeply he related the experience to be like punching yourself in the face. "Draw a Card, Punch yourself in the face that many times". I dunno. Sounds like a winning party game to me. COPYRIGHT !
Alhambra - vanilla style. Circa 2003

Away from the Cthulian Horror, Stu guided some people through the ways of Kingdom Builder, whilst the table over enjoyed a blast of classic Alhambra which I think was just the pure vanilla version - no expansions ( I tend to always play with the treasures and markets and yada these days... )

Downstairs Martin took some newcomers through the halls of Betrayal at House on the Hill, Hal gave a group a zip around Powerboats - which to my eye looked really cool ( I think its all those lovely hexes lighting the wargaming gene in me ) - and apparently played really nicely - a game all about managing your speed dice and trying not to ram into things from going too fast.

Power boats. Race around the islands and manage your speed.
Lastly, Darren got the new and sexy Xenoshyft Onslaught to table, yet another co-operative type game ( there were three and a half co-ops played this week - I am counting Betrayal as a half co-op ) which is a deck builder horror survival malarkey that sees your group of swaggering future troops defending your base from the evil alien Hive.

Marines versus Aliens you say ?

Yes. In co-operative deck builder format.

The very nice looking Xenoshyft Onslaught.
Which sounds in theory like a cool idea. What's not to like about the familiar Marines versus Aliens trope ( although I have to say, a bit like the whole zombie malarkey, it's probably getting a bit too done at this point ) ? No idea how this panned out. Tim noted it was very difficult to win. The game certainly looked gorgeous on the table - and surprisingly for a Cool Mini or Not game did not come with a bazillion miniatures.

After all that gaming a horde of smaller fillier games descended.

I got to try out Artificium on my table - a highly rated light euro resource manager filler, all about turning one thing into another for points. Sam languished in last for the first half of the game before showing off outrageously to overtake everyone and fall off the edge of the scoring because he was just scoring so damn well with an army of wizards.

We declared him loser for running off the edge of the score board and therefore having no score.

After this we changed tables up and busted out The Cow Game to some newcomers - where there were some interesting aberrant plays going on.

Sechs Nimmt. Well. The next move is certainly tricky...
Firstly, one of the newcomers managed to score an enormous 50 points in his single first round. 50. That has to be a record of some sort. It makes Tim's previous week Cow collecting extravaganza look positively amateurish in comparison. Also. We had a full board situation occur. Which I can't remember ever seeing.

Too many fillers to mention. Pickomino, flaschenteufel, yet more Cows, werewolf. Gosh.

Thanks to those who submitted something, David, Chloe, James, short or long !

*our veteran members can be a fragile bunch that are sometimes to be heard muttering about how it was all different in their day, when there was just chess, counting the leaves that floated down the River Wensum, picking peanuts off the floor and flicking them at Crocker and Settlers of Catan.

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