Friday, 10 February 2017

In YOUR endo, or, NoBoG shows its true colours (and they are puerile)

Hello, good evening and welcome! Welcome to another exciting instalment of the inimitable NoBloG! Tonight we have a delightful tale of success and failure, tears and laughter, life and, indeed, death. The Mash Tun was pretty full this Tuesday with a lot of games played. Unfortunately my choice of simultaneous-turn fun meant that I couldn't get around all of them, but I can at least relate some of what occurred in the games of Tokaido, Epic Spell Wars, Terra Mystica, Wrath of Asharglon, Small World and the games I played, Seven Wonders and The Bloody Inn.

So let me first take you on a peaceful and spiritually enriching journey through the world of Tokaido, Japan. I'd read about this on the Intertubes and thought that the principle sounded engaging, so I was intrigued to see how it played out in reality. When I arrived, James was in the lead - rather poor but nevertheless chilled out due to having taken a trip to the hot baths.
One thing that stands out about the game to anyone who's seen it is just how pretty it is. In fact it's not merely pretty but "prettyyy" according to the players, though we agreed it would be better with some Japanese music and sushi. As for the actual mechanics, I was given a quick run-down: you have to match up picture cards to make pleasant scenes, visit hot springs, give donations to temples and have encounters. The board itself tracks the players' progress forward. Jen had left a crap-ton of money at the temple and so was also feeling a little light of purse.
The Travellers of Tokaido on
their journey.
The players were having fun and, if I recall correctly, James won in spite of barely doing due diligence by the Gods. And it certainly presents a delightfully different theme than the majority of games we play - there's no conquest, war or death, just your travel and competition to have the best journey you can. I hope to get a play in soon!

Next I took a gander at another game of Epic Spell Wars. I didn't stay for long because the players appeared to be taking the game a little too much to heart - when I complained of poor light, they seemed to think their phones were magic wands and solemnly intoned, "Lumos," while turning the flashes on. I was edging away slowly as they complained about the massive fourteen damage that was flying around, at which point my shuffling turned into a run before I was targeted by the next spell.

I shuffled/charged full tilt right into a game of Terra Mystica. When I asked how everything was going, Gareth declared himself to be winning, but conceded that this was likely only briefly, whilst Jacob, who asked specifically to be described as "J-Dawg" (and definitely did not retract this request once he realised that his nom du jeu would be being broadcast to the World Wide Weblog...) described himself as "steaming ahead." I believe already by this point, Gareth was no longer in the lead.
Terra Mystica, nearly finished
The table, which I believe included new players, described it as fairly intuitive once you've played a few rounds, though some people do find being dicked over less fun. When pushed further it was revealed that J-Dawg was indeed one of those likely to be doing the dicking, which perhaps contributed to some animosity towards him, though he put this down to him simply being "too fun." "Oh, fuck you!" says Sinead as, presumably some of the "fun" heads her way.

Making my way onwards lest I also get fun aimed at me, I dropped in on the company battling against the Wrath of Asharglon. This is a board game based on D&D and designed to be played in a single evening. The rules are heavily D&D inspired, so you have abilities and spells you can use once per day, classes, races and so on all from that not-at-all-complicated ruleset. But from what I saw and what I guess, there's far less complexity to deal with in the board game.
Wrath of Asharglon
What it does have in abundance is lots of wonderful and threatening minifigures, replete with tentacles and weapons and limbs and goodness knows what else. When I rocked up the titular Asharglon had already been dispatched (I presume it made a noise like "AshaaRRGHHLGL-gone!") but some other unspeakable horror had already appeared, spawned from some portal into the plane of unspeakable horrors or whatever. In any case, the adventurers set out to try and destroy the portal, but ended up getting stunlocked by all the other beasties that had arrived. Two other monsters were off having a pleasant romp around the dungeon and, each time they explored a new room, found a new monster to join the party.
Kill the beastie!
The game is completely cooperative, with each monster being rolled for and "looked after" by the player on whose turn it spawned - with the exception of boss monsters, which get to have a turn on every adventurer's turn because they're so big and mean. "Who needs helping?" asks one player - in that cooperative spirit - "well, the dead person" comes the rather startling reply.

Leaving the dead person to have either a funeral or resurrection party, I continued to the diminutive Small World. I apologise for the next joke, and request that children avert their eyes. In this game of Smallworld, Rod was "coming up your rear end." I swear Rod is the name of a player, though it sounds like the kind of name you might adopt if you wanted to star in an adult movie. I just hope I don't meet Rod on my way home up St Gregory's Back Alley.
Small world. No rear ends pictured.
Children may resume reading now. This was actually the first time the players had played Small World, and though they all had lots of details to learn they reckoned they'd got the rules down in about twenty minutes. From then on it's an area control and conquest-fest, where each race and area has different bonuses or, as it was described to me, "because it's a thingy I can travel from tunnel to tunnel." I'd write a joke right now, but I just don't think anything I write can do justice to the source material.

Well, one cold shower later and I'm ready to describe my two games of the evening, the first being Seven Wonders which is, appropriately, a wonderful game. Things got off to a peaceful start, with John a) swearing he'd never won agame of Seven Wonders before and b) that he was going to peacefully pursue scientific discovery and eschew the militaristic ambitions of his neighbours.
Age 2 is underway in Seven Wonders.
We don't yet realise John's treachery.
Of course veteran Seven Wonders players know how that goes, and John ended up building (what we veterans know as) "a shit-ton" of military. His policy of building walls followed by fortifications on top of the walls was remarkably current for a game set a few millenia ago, but thankfully there is no mechanic in Seven Wonders by which you can force your neighbour to pay for your projects, so it never got too topical. Colin, who was new to the game ended up with a very respectable score in a closely fought game of tableau tribulations which saw the sneaky John come in and sweep away with victory. I suspect John's policy of buying drinks for his fellow players is a cunning ploy to addle our abilities that on this occasion worked out perfectly.
Seven Wonders nears its conclusion
A fat stack of points
Time to add up the points!

Our gang's second game, after John left drunk on victory, was a stay at The Bloody Inn. This is a delightfully bloodthirsty game which has put me off French taverns for life, as the premise sees you and your partners in crime compete to see who can murder the most and richest guests at your inn. You get cash by successfully murdering and then burying travellers, but if you fail to get them safely inhumed when the police are staying you'll find yourself short a significant chunk of change as you have to get the town gravedigger to do a rush job on the sly.
The peasants at the Bloody Inn
look a bit constipated.
Tension is provided as you are all trying to murder the same pool of people and, when the fuzz are in, perhaps relying on them to help remove (murder) the heat. Come to think of it, it's a good thing John the copper didn't stick around as we were all taking a rather cavalier attitude to the law, to say nothing of our downright dangerous interactions with its officers, which saw piles of them interred in various buildings. The travellers range from the dour baron to the stuffy Representative, looking a little like a portrait of Francis Bacon, to the waifish News boy. "I'd love to have a news boy," said Colin, much to our consternation, after David snapped him up.
The "annexes" where I can bury
bodies, of which you can see three.
Each traveller has a cost which must be paid by discarding travellers you've already bribed: this cost is the same whether you're bribing, killing, burying or using their special ability, so you also have to enlist the help of peasants and other people who are free to hire to work your way up to the bigger and better targets. If you bribe someone you are, having already invested hard earned cash in them, not allowed to off them, but aside from using them to help commit your cursed crimes you can get them to build you something which will provide a place to house the recently-deceased (should such an unfortunate need arise) as well as an ongoing bonus. The winner is whoever has earnt the most money at the end of the game.
Unfortunately I built too much and killed too little, and ended up in last place. Nevertheless it was only by a whisker, with Colin and David edging ahead on the back of the fat stacks of francs they had stashed away. It was a fun if funereal game with lovely, whimsical artwork.

And that's everything! Well, everything which entered my consciousness (which is everything that matters to me) so sorry if I didn't get round to your table to cover your convivialities. Unfortunately the task-master of simultaneous decision making, as well as John's military aggression, kept me tied to the table.