Thursday, 25 June 2015

Hot Stuff

This week was all change for NoBoG as we gave up our usual venue of the Ribs of Beef and instead descended on the Friendly Local Gaming Store of Athena.

This marked the start of the NoBoG on tour season - where we get to trial a bunch of different venues until we find one we like, all in the hopes of finding somewhere with more space to accommodate the growing numbers and also welcome back some old friends that have given up attending due to the general crush.

If you're out of the loop on this, suffice to say, a whole lot of talking got done, places were visited and votes taken. If you fancy reading several hundred thread posts - go check out the NoBoG facebook page. But you probably had to be there.

So this week Athena got a trial. Athena is a local gaming store that have been in Norwich for a couple of years and very recently have moved to a new huge premises - a former social club with three floors of hall space. With plenty of table and chair space and catering to gamers, Athena offers a no brainer fit for NoBoG gaming. On the other hand, NoBoGians like a nice pub - for the beer or the atmosphere or the eclectic mix of benches, stools and chairs, or perhaps at the end of it all, just for the fun of it.

At the start of the evening, with only a few people in attendance, the place definitely lacked a bit of buzz. No landlord or landlady to talk to. No other patrons at the bar. A mostly empty room with some seriously concentrating Netrunner players sandwiched along the far wall.

NoBoG @ Athena
But as more people turned up and the noise built up, the familiar NoBoG buzz sprang into life and all was good. With so much space there was no real need to count numbers ( and work out how many tables to people and therefore what games could be played ) and game arranging was completed in record time. It turns out it makes a huge difference when everyone can fit in the same space as to how quickly things get sorted.

A handful of new people turned up to join in the evening - as per usual - and by my rough count I think we hit 34 - ironically the lowest turnout in 3 weeks.

Six player Lords of Waterdeep
Elliot had six at his table for Lords of Waterdeep, whilst further down an intrepid three took on Pete's Galaxy M101 - without Pete playing, and finally Rich IV had his lugging of several tonnes of complete Dominion back and forth for the last month pay off, as he got it to table and challenged Hazel and the ultra seasoned Pete and Punk Rich to a crazy card synergy off.

Pete has taken to removing himself as a player / teacher from his prototype Galaxy M101 game in a bid to test how well new people can learn the rules and pick up the game without the author sitting in. As he puts it, the alternative to not doing this would be to clone and miniaturise himself to be included in all published copies of the game. I got to chat with Ben after he played it and he gave the playthrough and rules learning a big thumbs up, whilst also saying that the game was good - reminded him of Race for the Galaxy... no surprises there - and would be a cracking game once it was published.

Lords of Vegas with 5 hit the tables and Nicky got Waggle dance out again for the second week running - not a game about gamers ( or indeed Nicky ) shaking their asses at each other, but a game about bees making honey. Of course !

Chris also had Red Dragon Inn playing, which seemed to be going down really well, a card game about drinking and keeping your gold - fantasy adventurer style. I couldn't be sure but I think they were playing with five... as Chris has two copies of the game, it should only play four.

Blurry NoBoG @ Athena.. just before Lewis waves at the camera
As for myself, I played Lifeboats with Jamie, Chloe and David, the social game about voting people out of sinking boats to die, and I managed to pip a win with my social engineering shenanigans - without this time actually turning everyone against me because of my social engineering shenanigans. We played guillotine afterwards - where I shared a three way tie having been unscrupulously picked on, and finished up with late arrival Jack joining us and a table hopping Pete to get Avalon Resistance back to play. Things it seems have started to go full circle, and again there are a number of people who haven't experienced Resistance a bazillion times and are keen to give it a go...

The evil Pete and Chloe won, with poor newcomer Jack bamboozled by his role of Merlin, and Chloe offering a complete stonewall of lack of tells. She's well trained or a sociopath. I am not sure which.

Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves at Athena, and the snacks seemed to go down well - Martin pulled up a chair next to me with a fistful of Milky bars fresh from the Athena till. Jamie - who owns Athena - was gracious enough to allow us to bring our own beer with us, and quite a few NoBoGians turned up with their often weird and wonderful beers. It makes me wonder that if we do further nights at Athena, whether we couldn't do one of those whole beer swap evening malarkeys, where people bring in their favourite beers and then swap them with others to get an impromptu beer sharing evening.

I didn't hear a bad word said about gaming at Athena - people appreciated the good light levels, the tables, and Jamie got a lot of thanks from people for hosting us and putting up with our last minute arrangements. It was on the whole a great experience.

Personally speaking, despite grabbing my fair share of snacks and coke, I felt that if Athena had the facilities to offer more, I would definitely buy into it, and it seemed like a bit of a missed opportunity. Of course Athena and Jamie have a huge task ahead of them with refurbishing and plans for a cafe and all sorts - so I am sure in time things will change.

That was this week. Last week we were at the Ribs - and even without the darts it was a squeeze as 39 turned up.

Scoville - Hot Stuff
I got to play Scoville, a kickstarter that Ewan has brought along in the past which sees everyone competing to get the most victory points out of chilli farming. Ewan already wrote up an explanation of the game back here.

The game is solid and plays really nicely, and I think on reflection is probably the most solid kickstarter game I have played to date. Of course this has nothing to do with the fact that I won - which was quite surprising, I figured I had got scalped on making funky recipes with my chillis but as it turned out I did pretty well AND had just about all the bonuses from planting. Ewan came a super close second.... everyone else... well.. their chillis were just not up to snuff.

I'd highly recommend giving scoville a go if you are into light to medium Euros.

Nicky also brought along Waggle dance for the first time last week - this is a game by the same indie stable that released Cornish Smuggler ( Grublin Games ). I like their first title Cornish Smuggler - but the game does have some critical issues, you can break it relatively easily by some early super efficient moves, and all in all the game is something of a flawed gem.

Waggle Dance however seems to be a better designed affair - their second game - and Elliott gave it a thumbs up after also being aware of Cornish Smuggler and its flaws.

Sky Traders
Talking of possibly flawed games we also saw the first visit to NoBoG of Sky Traders a game published by FFG which sees players piloting their airships around for trade and nefarious doings. Owein who wasn't playing the game noted a possible fatal flaw that he had exploited - crippling another players ship without actually finishing them off leaves them out of the game. I don't think the session at NoBoG stumbled onto this tactical evil, and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Elsewise a bunch of people new to Agricola tried their hand at the unforgiving farming classic - and I'm guessing got their assed kicked and Smash up and a bunch of other things got a whizz through.

Many thanks to Jamie for giving us the opportunity to try out Athena as a venue, and many thanks to Monika for the photos, as well as Elliott for Athena photos.

The Gallery
More Sky Traders


Sam brings along Sons of Anarchy

Smash Up !


James Mapp said...

Skytraders was ok to play; but myself and luke agreed that there were some serious flaws throughout.

crippled ships is one big flaw; not being able to trade (the crux of the game) combined with (in lukes case) the inability to move much (due to a fuel drain) means gameover for you, and you spend the rest of your turns refueling, just for it to mostly drain away. all others then have to do is make sure they are further away from you than the fuel you have left and you cant attack them.. so next turn your options are? yup, move and refuel.. unable to trade, unable to make money, unable to repair your ship, unable to get a new one. your only hope is that someone attacks you and kills you.. luckily luke had two bounties on his head which made it worth my while.

another big flaw is the dumping of garbage in the volcano.. it takes your whole turn and nets you between (at random) 1 and 6 per garbage. that means from a start position (being able to carry 10 garbage) dumping it can earn you 10 or 60 gold. considering the most powerful crewmember in the game costs 50 (and seemed to be a game winner if you had it and noone else did) thats a hideous random roll.. oh, and if a certain card comes up for you before you dump your 10 garbage? well, you are crippled (see above)

then there are of course all the cards that essentially say 'miss a turn, or two turns if you dont have enough fuel to get you to otherwise utterly useless space'

James Mapp said...

oh, and the beer-swapping schtick is already taken by 'Norwich Ale-a-board'

Elliot Symonds said...

Well said Bork. As always. Appreciate the work and the effort gone into all the arrangements.