Sunday, 17 April 2016

Lights, Tables, Action !

This week there was something of a stir in the lands of NoBoGia.

Upstairs at t'Tun
Following on from last weeks burrito based bedlam, new upstairs space at the Tun had been cleared for use, and the cry had gone out for all NoBoGers to quest* in search of tables and chairs. NoBoGers responded in marvellous fashion, scouring classifieds for items, driving around Norfolk to secure bargains and putting in some time as amateur furniture movers. New Table Tuesday thus arrived with some tables and chairs already delivered, and a bunch more turning up on the evening, all of which got hauled upstairs into the labyrinthine depths of the Tun.  Perhaps I am biased, but I don't think you'll find a more friendly helpful community than that of the Norwich Board Gamers, from the regulars to the most scarce irregular. Awesome.

Light in the Dark, upstairs at the Mash Tun
In the end we managed to obtain five tables for this weeks use and some fourteen or so chairs. . . which wasn't enough chairs, we had to grab chairs from anywhere we could - including the Tun's staff only area "office" chair - whilst leaving the majority of the ( unused ) seating alone in the main area of the pub.

A fairly busy 51, 52, 53 turned up this week to see in the new tables, and every single usable table we had was put to good use ( only Hal's slightly wonky loose bolts table not being used ), oddly enough split five tables downstairs and five tables upstairs.

The space upstairs is ample for our forseeable needs, there's a need for more chairs - which we are halfway to resolving - and the lighting in places is very dubious. For those who had never been upstairs there was some surprise at the space available. Potentially we need more tables but only to cover Peak Gamer - which might be moot as we're moving to a two nights a week trial format.

What was played this week ?

The end of Time Stories. Figuring out the last puzzle.
I got to finish of Time Stories with Darren, Alfie and Hal where we finally put the first story to bed after a six week hiatus. During this session, without going into too many spoilers we learned that Hal will do anything to please a naked lady. Fortunately we ignored his happy trusting nature of naked ladies, took a different path and went on to win the game - with an epic score of zero. There was once again much discussion post game about the cost of the game versus its amount of play, whether the need to buy the base game was there once you'd cleared the first included story  ( the conclusion was you didn't need to buy the base game at all ), and the design aesthetics of the first story - dead ends and wasted time versus a need to not have players become complacent about never being able to fail. Despite the involved conversation about the game, everyone really enjoyed it, and I got the impression that the game if nothing else is a really unique and interesting experience for all involved - and for that reason alone is a must play for any half serious gamer.

We finished with a nice condensed euro filler of Oh My Goods! which to me is like a compressed Imperial Settlers without any dicking with other players. An interesting little resource management / synergy game, and I enjoyed it a lot, but whilst on the surface it has a lot of good nods towards euro goodness, player interaction is zero and ( a fixed limited ) card pull plays a very large part in whether you're going to be competitive or not. If you're being critical the game comes down to whether you pull the right two cards at the right time or not - and have some luck with resource pools available. This trend of super condensed euro fillers is really interesting, but I think is a difficult nut to crack without falling into just busy work hiding a big ole RNG engine. Still that being said, I'd really like to have a another go at this filler.

Pete enjoys vamping around Europe
Over in the corner of thematic gloom, Pete got the first play of the third edition of Fury of Dracula, the deduction based cat and mouse game of hunting Dracula across Europe. The third editions sees a number of shakeups, a changed day night cycle, a removal of dice and a bunch of minor tweaks. Without the vagaries of the much maligned dice melee thus becomes a good deal more predictable, and whilst in theory the removal of dice brings the game more into a modern Euro sensibility, it can mean the combat can seem on observation a little contrived as you can reasonably work out the outcome of any rock paper scissors type fight - great for Dracula if he's crunching his escape numbers. Pete for one likes the tweaks the third edition introduces and gave the game a big thumbs up.

Brew Crafters with a mad mix of Beers available
David busted out Brew Crafters for the third week straight - and Brew Crafters games seem to be popping up here and there in response to it showing up at NoBoG. David rather cruelly put newbies of Voitek, Monika and James through the paces of a bunch of advanced ( and pretty hideously tricky ) beers. Richard IV won this by sticking to a basic collaboration for points strategy and brewing nothing but one of the few non tricky beers repeatedly. Given the rest of the beers on offer this was almost certainly a sensible strategy.

Guillame brought Shakespeare along - Sam muttered it was surprisingly good, very Euro. I don't think he was amazingly thrilled with its Euro-ness. And James table, probably the hardcore player table of the evening with Nate, Tom, and Nicky played Istanbul, and something else I forget.

Busy downstairs, four tables in shot, 26 people !?
Downstairs was a huge filler night as two big tables of party / social games were the order of the night, Mafia de Cuba, Secret Hitler, Resistance and something new to me antidote, which at a quick glance seemed like a nicely themed up simple deduction game.

Ben had a third large table of players, hosting an epic 8 player game of Robo Rally which to me sounds utterly mental. Everyone really enjoyed their experience however and they even managed two games of it, the first game a bit of a training run through on one board and the second one a more proper run over 3 boards. Crazy.

Lords of Vegas, Quadropolis and a finishing game of Thunderbirds were also going on downstairs, and Tim has some pictures and something to say about Quadropolis.

Being the yearly ‘New Game’ from Days of Wonder, I came to Quadropolis with Ticket to Ride front and centre in my thoughts. Having enjoyed many games of of the ten-years-plus old classic, with a wide variety of people, my hopes were set high. Being reminded that DoW also produced Smallworld did nothing to lessen that. I should perhaps have instead focussed on DoW’s Five Tribes, a game at the heavier end of the ‘Brain Crunch Spectrum’(TM). I have never played Five Tribes, but the reviews I have seen indicate that it is nowhere near as simple as Smallworld, let alone Ticket to Ride. After one play, I would put Quadropolis somewhere between Smallworld and Five Tribes.

The game consists of four round, with four player turns in each. A player has four numbered Architect tokens and plays one per turn to select which building from the central stock they will construct. The different building types score in different ways based on how they are placed in a players city, so careful thought is needed about every action.

I definitely enjoyed playing this with Ewan, Simon and Matt. The art style (and probably thoughts of Ticket to Ride) made me think I would get away with using my brain a little less than was the case. I certainly won’t say no to another play in the next few weeks, and if it stands up to repeats I may get my own copy.

Jarryd showed off his progress with the NoBoG app this week. It's coming along nicely, events are displayed where you can check out what games are available to play as well as adding your own games into a list, all of which hooks back to the BGG API to automatically include box art, number of players and other details about your games.

Next week we are going to trial Monday NoBoG or as Joe has christened it, Ultimately Inferior Night, as well as the regular Tuesday night. Moving to a two nights a week setup has been something kicked around for quite some time and is the single most requested NoBoG thing as some people just want to game more, and others can't make Tuesdays. Thursdays would I feel have been a better day, but from a pub night point of view Monday is a no brainer as if pubs are mostly dead on weekdays, then they are doubly dead on Mondays.

It remains to be seen what will happen to player numbers - will Tuesday numbers reduce ? Will Mondays be super quiet ? Will both days end up busy ? Who knows.

Diceni - one of the many gaming type conventions going on in Norwich this year - is also rapidly approaching, and we're going to go there and play some games with any passers by that are interested - or just amongst ourselves if the crowd is more of a watching type of vibe rather than a participating one.

As ever I leave you with the gallery.

Lords of Vegas

Robo Rally 8 player


Beer + Secret Hitler - NoBoG style


One of the strange half rooms in the Tun. This is the bar outside the upstairs larger room.


The final fight of Fury of Dracula requires everyone to stand. It's in the rules.

Some of the labyrinthine stairs and corridors upstairs at the Tun. It's like Hogwarts without any of the class snobbery and more 1970's decor.

Seriously, possibly the best ever thematic lighting for a game of Fury of Dracula ever. Pete doing his best Translyvanian count bit. If Translyanian counts started wearing hoodies.

David (left) wrestling with the choices of Brew Crafters. Richard IV ( right ) hoping no one will notice his single beer collaboration strategy.

* Elliot's words. He was questing with his son Bilbo and fellow NoBoG regular Sam in something of a very Lord of the Rings vibe. But for tables, not evil rings. Elliot should probably change his name to Frodo. Or possibly Aragorn. Or maybe the crazy dude covered in bird poo - Radagast.

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