Monday, 20 July 2015

Total Eclipse of the heart

For the third week in a row, this week at NoBoG saw a record turnout of gamers with 53 of them turning up at the Tuna to spread their wares over 13 tables. And what a splendiferous evening of gaming was on offer, even if poor Fletch had to squeeze onto one of the iffy tables.

Voyages of Marco Polo. Looks like a solid Euro.
I'll keep it short this week, as Pete and James have both posted a submission about their weeks experiences.

 Darren brought along the new and sexy Voyages of Marco Polo, a euro game with a mild point salad based around completing Marco Polo's journey and travelling from Venice to Beijing. Looks very pretty, and also looks like a pretty solid Euro game too !

One to get a play of I think.

XCOM. aka It's OK to be Xenophobic. Shoot to kill.
Rhea brought along the alien fighting earth defending X-COM - not its first visit to NoBoG, you can read that here - and the guys playing that managed to barely scrape a win in the most Hollywood of endings, coming down to the very last turn, make or break. Nice.

Caverna, Takenoko, Marvel Legendary and Dominions also made a return to the Ribs, and

Deviant animal antics - Animal upon Animal.
Fletch, Rowan and Andy also got into some weird if not downright deviant animal behaviour in the dexterity challenging Animal upon Animal.

I got to play the new and recently professionally produced Dark Moon, which had been doing the rounds before hand as the print and play game called BSG Express. As no surprise given its name, the game is based on a trimmed down Battlestar Galactica, the game of betrayal and pushing people out of the airlock ( if you have that expansion ). BSG Express cut all the extraneous fluff and fuzzy design elements ( it's an FFG game, of COURSE it's
bloated, if FFG produced Chess it would come with 652 pieces, 12 decks of cards, 10 dice, 100 money tokens and three boards and have rules that made you shuffle 3 random decks of cards between each move  ) out of the original to - hopefully - leave just the raw elements of keeping on top of problems in an atmosphere of justified paranoia.

Dark Moon, the game formerly known as BSG Express.
Long story short it works well, is brutally hard - although having played it since, it shouldn't be quite as brutal as we were playing it on Tuesday - and can indeed be finished off in an hour or so. In fact we played it twice. With room to spare for other games. Inconceivable !

If you want a dose of paranoid betrayal with a bit more structure than Resistance, and way less faffing than BSG, then Dark Moon could be for you.

Hal and Pete both got their prototypes played - Galaxy M101 and Unfeeling Creatures, and there was also room for some enjoyable and funny Avalon Resistancing, where we are still introducing a new wave of people into the basics of the game. ( There was a funny image post on our sister site IpBoG facebook page about Resistance... )

Onto Pete...

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Eclipse. No one seems keen on meeting anyone else.
We've all done it. Sometimes it's not or fault, we've just picked it up from somewhere or someone. We might have misread or misunderstood or just made an assumption. 
Rulebooks can be bloated and hard to follow and some of us are not suited to reading and understanding rules as written. Most of us learn a game by being taught in person by someone who knows it. Maybe they didn't know the game quite as well as they thought or maybe they didn't explain things that well.

Sometimes we get one or two rules a little bit wrong. That's ok. It can mean that you play a bit of a different game than how it was designed and it might consequently be a bit imbalanced but it's an honest mistake.

I've got a bit of a reputation for posting about rules errors in games. That's because, if we weren't sure about something, I like to read the rules and faqs to understand how to play correctly; and I like to share what I find out with the people I played the game with. I don't mean to shame anyone, but sometimes it can come across that way. Sorry.

I prefer not to learn a game from the rulebook by myself and I prefer not to teach a game to anyone else unless I'm really confident that I know the game really well. So, when I run a rules session, you can be fairly sure that I know the rules; with the obvious caveat that I might have fallen foul of one of the above issues and maybe I've got something a bit wrong ;-) .

Anyway. When I've done a rules session, you might think that I've got one or two things wrong and you might want to query them. A quick check of the rulebook can usually clear things up..., you might be fairly adamant that I am wrong about something and you might express that in a slightly strong way, perhaps saying something like "this is bulls#*t" or similar. However, that doesn't make for a pleasant gaming experience, and it might make you feel a bit awkward if, in fact, whadayaknow I was right after all..., it's the 10th time in the game that you've called me out on a glaring rules error, but it's the 10th time that it turns out that the rule wasn't entirely as you thought it was. Maybe you might consider that you don't quite know the rules as well as you thought. Maybe you might be a little more courteous when questioning what the correct rule is. We all make mistakes, but it's never nice to be called a dick.

Three of us sat down for a game of eclipse. I've played it quite a few times, one player had played it at least once before and, for another, it was their first game.

Eclipse is one of my favourite games: a streamlined economic/combat hybrid game with an extremely elegant system for tracking income and expenditure combined with a good old-fashioned dicefest. If you like sci-fi 4x games, this is the smoothest.

After some decent early exploration into the level 3 hexes, uncovering a supernova and a few discovery tiles, I was able to do some tactical bankruptcy to take a few extra actions and get into some fights with the ancients. I had missed out on the improved hull tech and settled for some shields which I added to my dreadnought and intetceptor blueprints. I was able to build one of each and sent them, along with my start interceptor, into the level 1 hex. Who needs upgrades or dreadnoughts though when you can just roll a double 6 with the first dice roll? I could have won that fight with just two vanilla interceptors.

Next turn I bought another dreadnought and interceptor and went after another ancient and then, with the help of some computers and an ancient power source, the galactic centre on the following turn. I resisted the temptation to attack my undefended and inexperienced neighbour, instead opting for some diplomacy.

Unfortunately, I had blocked off the only pathway between my two opponents. It might be a bit socially questionable (I do have some narcissistic tendencies), but I successfully arranged to step out of the way to allow one neighbour to attack the other. Surely this is the best-case-scenario in a 3 player game? Sadly the attack came to nothing as the missiles were all absorbed by the hull laden tanks of dreadnoughts that lay waiting. 

After one or two rules clarifications and the sad demise of my supernova at the end of round 6 we moved into the endgame and the inevitable final conflict. I uesd the artifact key to top up my science and quietly acquired the wormhole generators before moving into the undefended backyard of my turtling neighbour. He had a rather populous home sector with an orbital and all the advanced spaces filled but, after brushing aside the hull-only dreadnought moved in as a reaction, the neutron bombs made light work of them.

Sadly, the attack proved too much and brought on an effective rage-quit which was slightly toned down to an instant pass and non-participation in the final round, save a couple of reactions late on. 

Prompted by some less than peaceful comments from my previously benign neighbour, I made a preemptive move into his territory to avoid having my ships pinned in my own sectors. It turns out that I do (occasionally) break an agreement. I was able to lay down 4 starbases and fill them with hulls to defend against the flood of missle-clad interceptors and ended up winning all the battles.

I had won. A hollow victory against a new player and another who didn't know the rules very well. It's a great game though and I'm sure revenge will be had.

Phew. And then James.

Martin was rather keen for me to bring Scotland yard along this week. So I dug it out of deep storage and bought it along.  At first it seemed like we were the only two up for playing it but a
James hides under his hat for Scotland Yard. He still lost.
new guy turned up just as everyone was sitting down.  Apologies that I can't remember your name new guy, it is not my forte.  Either way we sat and chatted about NoBoG for a little as Martin did a rule session on some other game before joining us.  Luckily the rules for SYard are very simple and quick so we got off (mostly) without a hitch.  For those that don't know SYard is essentially the original ‘letters from whitechapel’.  Its very basic and the detectives simply more around london using taxis, buses and the tube. Bad guy tries to evade them with the same tactic..

anyway the first few rounds went fine for Mr X (me) as the detectives utterly failed to be able to pin me down.  Until I checked the rules and noticed that there is a 3-player variant rather than it being a 3-6 player game.  when it’s 3 players the good guys both have TWO detectives each.  so with some additional pawns making their way onto the board Mr X got utterly thrashed, and I'm still not sure how it happened.

anyway, ive not played it for a while but its simplicity is the biggest factor of the game.. very simple rule set, very tactical gameplay.. all three of us seemed to enjoy it anyway.  Now i haven't played letters from W, but i hear it does smooth out some of the issues that SYard throws at you if you play it a few times.. but i think i still prefer SYard to Specter Ops (sic) which seems to overcomplicate things which also making it reasonably obvious where the bad guy is if you just watch his pencil movements when he marks the map..

Next we played Alien Frontiers which hasn't hit the table in yonks (not for me anyway). i dice roll based game where there are not really any bad rolls.  the results on your dice simply dictate what you can do on your turn, and if you like a certain tactic then you can easily get cards that help you ‘bend’ your dice results to that end.  whilst in theory it is an area control game, i find that in a 3 player game there isn't much needed for control until the end game.. and with three evenly matched players (which the dice seem to do for you) the scoring can end up very very close at the end.. a good entry level game though i think.. maybe something that should hit the table more when we get new guys..  the new guy won..

As a final point - and I'll post this up on Facebook as well for those who are into that kinda thing - I know it's not everyones Cup Of Tea - I doubled checked this weekend that the Mash Tun were ok with us storing tables and chairs at the pub, as we used every game capable table in the house this week. Charlie has kindly offered us the use of the store room next to the kitchen where there is some space up the back. I will probably drop off a table this Tuesday - if anyone else wants to donate some suitable gaming tables or chairs, then please do so, and we can squirrel them away in the storage room.

Pics this week are mine, Monika has shirked her photographic duties and gone on holiday. Pfft.

As ever, I shall leave you with the Gallery.

Hungry panda, hungry panda, hungry panda ooh ! Takenoko.
Dominion with Beer. The best Dominion expansion ?
Sam. Legendary. Am I referring to Sam, his pose, the t-shirt or the game ?
All of the above of course.
Classic gateway game, Ticket to Ride

Another classic gateway, this one pimped up Egypt style, Settlers of Catan

A neatly ordered Caverna.
Animal upon Animal gets epic.

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