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The Ross-on-Wye Boardgamers

Beer and Boardgames at the White Lion. "It's not F-ing Monopoly, alright?!"

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Friday July 24th - Blue Spy Thinking

Ben Bateson
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Becky and I returned from our summer break to find a real treat waiting for us: my much sought-after copies of Patchwork and Spyfall. The former could wait until the weekend's 'at home' session: the latter was most definitely a candidate for first on the table.

Luckily I had the company of three fine gentlemen in the shape of Dan, Bill and Dave to enjoy it with. And John, too. We played five rounds or so - Bill and Dave both opted for the 'very vague' approach, at least until Dave drew the Bank Manager - a role he was surely born to! Dan and John put the in the star performances: the former outing himself early with a correct guess, and the latter disguising himself so well in the following round that no-one (except me!) suspected him.

Time was of the essence: Suz was expected at 9:30, so we had to play something in 45 minutes flat. Becky had recently discovered Cubist, and was keen to teach Dave, John and Bill. This left Dan and me with a 2-player Agricola: do you hear us complaining?

It wasn't a great game for Dan: nearly going short at the first harvest, and thereafter having his Wood Distributor somewhat nullified (it would be no exaggeration to say I got more benefit from the card than he did). I was meanwhile on a Clay Pit-driven roll, and when my Greengrocer solved all my food problems, it was pretty plain sailing. It was at least good that Dan played it out without complaining.

Suz had arrived with another gentleman friend, this one by the name of Evan, and they liked the look of Cubist so much that they sat down for a second game. In fact, Suz took to it so much that she pipped Dave into first place. They had plenty of time for a game of Las Vegas afterwards too. Becky reports that either Dave or Evan won this.

Bill, meanwhile, treated Dan John and I to his well-worn copy of Ark. The premise is simple. Actually, no it isn't, the premise is a nightmare. You have to put your animals on the Ark, NOT mixing their habitats, NOT putting big carnivores in with little animals and NOT overbalancing the ark by putting big cards on one side. Bill's rules explanation was enough to drive me to a double scotch, which made the whole nightmare of a concept make a little more sense. There are two redeeming features to the game: the cute and unique animal cards, and the opportunity to naysay pretty much everyone else's move on the basis that it breaks one of the many placement rules. But otherwise it was rather tedious. I think Dan won, but by that point we were all past caring.
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Tue Jul 28, 2015 8:27 pm
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Friday July 3rd - Rudeness from beyond the grave

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
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This was to be the last RoWBGers games night for Becky and me before two weeks' holiday, and indeed I have the luxury of writing the blog this week on my phone from a Penzance guest house.

Expecting (and, indeed, getting) six tonight, I was fully expecting us to split into two tables, but in thankful contrast to last week's shenanigans, we stayed resolutely unified all night.

Waiting for Dan and Suzanna, John dealt out a quick 4P Abluxxen, and despite Tony and Becky laying down some monstrous combos, I was pleased enough to find myself with a comfortable win. As I've said before: a perfectly pleasant game, but I don't ever think we'll find it outstanding enough to make it a club favourite.

Dan and Suz now having joined us, we moved onto the main event for the night, Mysterium. Rather bafflingly for someone who had spent the last six weeks harping on about it, Tony seemed to have no clue how to play, and proceeded to read the rules verbatim (the English ones, thankfully, not the Polish ones). Suggestions from me that he may have finally slipped below Bill in our league table of Games Teachers were not well received.

Anyway, Mysterium. Followers of the blog may recall that we don't take too well to cooperative games (our one episode of Hanabi nearly led to a punch-up and our efforts at Pandemic prompted John to storm out disgustedly of his own dining room). Indeed, the club dynamic being what it is, we developed pretty much our own rule set for the game:

Designer's intended rules for Mysterium: a cooperative game where a silent ghost prompts the other players, through use of Dixit-like card association, to identify a secret criminal.

Ross-on-Wye rules for Mysterium: an asymmetric competitive game where the objective for the ghost player is to stolidly grit their teeth through to the end of Round 7 without losing their patience and yelling out: "YOU'RE ALL A BUNCH OF FUCKING MORONS!" The objective of the detective players is naturally to encourage this and subsequently have a good laugh at the ghost's expense.

Needless to say, the detectives 'won' both times that we played. I fear there may be balance issues.

Even after two games of swearing and ectoplasm, we still had plenty of time for a semi-main in the shape of the fine Libertalia. Restraining our worst piratical impressions for John's benefit (although even Suzanna managed an occasional 'yaaaargh'), we set sail on a relatively straightforward first round, a miserly second and a third filled with all sorts of Monkey business. Dan played with an outstanding blend of planning, bluff and a hint of cheesy luck, managing to beat Tony by half a dozen points or so. suz's first game was encouraging; a treasure map string and some off-kilter choices did her a very nice 70 points or so.

I had suggested a quick King Of Tokyo to finish, but it was getting late, so we settled for - what else? - Dobble. I took down the final round of Hot Potato (by far our preferred variant) to prove that beer is no barrier to victory in this one.
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Sun Jul 5, 2015 9:47 am
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Friday June 26th - Case for the Prosecution

Ben Bateson
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M'lud, I stand before you today to level charges against three dastardly criminals. The witnesses you see in the dock are John 'Primula' Plant, Norman 'The Tea Drinker' Palmer, and Tony 'Oh, Him' Boydell. I intend to make clear the charges that, on the evening of 26th June 2015, these three men did - with malice and aforethought - indulge in the pursuit of anti-social gaming. I therefore intend to present the indictment of an ASGO and I urge you to punish these three reprobates to the full extent of the law.

May I also encourage you, m'lud, to be creative in your sentencing: presenting Palmer with a prohibition order regarding games purchases, for example? Or forcing Boydell and Plant to cohabit in a single room with only a box of Dominion for company? Still, it is not my place to suggest sentencing, merely to present the evidence against these three rogues.

The accused are charge with committing themselves, at the neglect of fellow gamers, to playing a full evening's session of KanBan. In addition to this, they lacked the flexibility and social skills to form an inclusive table of five when player numbers changed at the last minute.

For my first piece of evidence, I have acquired this videotape. This dreary 35 minutes of footage proves, unequivocally, that the accused planned in advance to commit to anti-social gaming this night. 'Rahdo Runs Through...', is the nominal title. 'Runs Through'?! I'd say 'casually saunters through'. 35 minutes implies the sort of urgency hitherto associated with repeats of Last Of The Summer Wine and competitive haymaking. It was the assumption - yes, the assumption - of the defendants, that other players would have sat through more than half an hour of a Youtube video teaching them to play a game (which is definitively less interesting than an actual, breathing person teaching the game), because the owner 'couldn't be bothered'.

The second piece of evidence? When a tired, overheated Ben and Becky slogged in their overweight games bag from the car park, Plant and Palmer had meticulously set out the game board and ALL THE PIECES. Indeed, Palmer was in the process of reverently breathing on one of his little automobile miniatures and gently buffing it on his sleeve. This is clearly a case of moral blackmail, m'lud.

AND if moral blackmail were not enough, Boydell had the effrontery to engage in emotional blackmail as well. "Awwwwww" he whined. "I really, really REALLY wanted to play this. I want my Mummy". Rather than risk a full-blown tantrum (there was, after all, a well-behaved six year old girl watching these proceedings with signs of sympathy in her eyes), what else could Ben and Becky do but retreat to a separate 2-player table?

I have to compliment the game designer, though, m'lud. After a week of hard work spent sitting through pointless business meetings, mollifying the boss, and documenting the company's approvals matrix, who wouldn't blame Ben for shunning a game with an over-authoritative manager, dull business meetings and a certification structure? To this, the accused trio also integrated an 'arguing about the rules' phase, one which occurred regularly every twenty minutes or so; the raised voices and near-fisticuffs are supplementary evidence in my list of ASGO charges.

Now...I will call my first witness for the prosecution.

"Call Ben Bateson"

"Call Ben Bateson"

"Call Ben Bateson"

Hmm...he appears not to be available at present, your honour. I have received this message about 'epic game of Machi Koro'. He doesn't appear to be willing to leave while he's levering so much money off his tuna boat.

Perhaps I could call my second witness?

"Call Rebecca Bateson"

"Call Rebecca Bateson"

"Call Rebecca Bateson"


Um...this is rather embarrassing, m'lud. It would appear that Rebecca is far too engaged with an all-expansions game of Keyflower. Things are far too tense for her to leave the table right now: she's bought a critical summer boat rendering all Ben's green workers irrelevant.

Hmmm. Could we possibly take a short recess m'lud? My key witnesses now appear to be ears-deep in Snowdonia. Ben has just picked up promo-card Ivor and is making massive inroads into excavation taking advantage of all the fog.

**75 minutes later**

M'lud, in an effort to re-open the case for the prosecution, I have spoken with both my witnesses. During the lunch break, it would appear they've played a thrillingly close game of Libertalia, and then a rich, bluff-filled Citadels. It would regrettably appear that both prosecution witnesses actually had MORE fun without the inconvenience of having to push around toy cars, pretend to be at work, and argue with each other. They also played FIVE outstanding games in the time it took Kanban to reach the final scoring.

I therefore, regretfully, withdraw the case for the prosecution. Does anyone fancy a game of Dobble?
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Mon Jun 29, 2015 9:53 pm
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Friday June 19th - Character Assassination

Ben Bateson
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With the improved email list up and running well, I was in full anticipation of a 5-hander tonight. That was until Benedict and Peter hitched a lift with Tony, which threw well-tended plans for El Grande and Intrigue out of the window.

Norm's new copy of CV seemed like it might be to my taste: John and Keith didn't quite share the same level of excitement but acquiesced to play anyway. Meanwhile, Tony proudly taught the young'uns the rudiments of Roll For The Galaxy.

CV's appeal is not in its prosaic Yahtzee mechanic, but much more in the storytelling, fun, and the splendid card art. I won this by carefully becoming a manager with one child and a prodigious memory, a career which removed any friends I might once have had. But I had the last laugh as I went for a round-the-world cruise on my own yacht and amassed some 60 points. Meanwhile, John retired from professional athletics to form his own start-up company, Keith attempted out-and-out destitution, and Norm sold every bit of transport he owned to fund a terrible career choice of game design and Wikipedia authorship. The enjoyment factor was definitely greater than the skill factor.

When Tony has a 'hot' game, he won't stop until he's insisted everyone's played it, so he swapped Norm and JP for the boys, and I taught them Glen More. This proved to be satisfactory fare, and certainly held Benedict's attention for long enough that he pieced together a sizable win based almost entirely on cattle butchery. Keith and Peter didn't make any indents into the Whisky market, and my own bits-and-pieces clan probably lacked enough focus: leastways, we all came a good 7 points behind Benedict.

"We're just finishing too!" came the shout from the 'Roll' table, so we paused a little to wait for them to finish. John's win brought a satisfied sigh, and then - completely disparaging our table - somebody said "shall we play that again?" and off they launched!

Never mind, for we had the excellent Citadels to console ourselves with. This is a new one for Keith, but he made an inspired start, only to fall prey to a double assassination from Benedict which let me overtake. Benedict himself ran me close with his catholic assortment of purple buildings, but some off-target thief and assassination attempts from the boys (they WILL attempt to kill each other, rather than - say - whoever is leading) allowed me to ease away.

The Boydell crew were looking a bit weary by now, but Norm tempted one more round of games out of them by waving Dobble in their direction. Tony, aglow with his newfound love for the game, won the first round (one in which Norm amusingly threatened not to take any cards at all), and Benedict the second.

Well, I still haven't played Roll for the Galaxy. But it would seem that everyone else has. More than once in some cases.
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Sun Jun 21, 2015 10:15 pm
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Friday June 12th - Goa, Goa, Gone

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
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We arrived tonight to find pudding-lover Suzanna already tucking into a chunk of apple pie with custard - as good a way as any of supporting the White Lion, of course!

We were likely to be two tables, which drew a relieved sigh from Dave the Landlord, as he only had two tables to spare! And so we wound up in the deepest recesses of the 'back room', sharing with a dignified and elderly dinner party who didn't deserve to be exposed to John's peculiar outbursts or Tony's poo jokes (and poo they were, in every sense).

Tony ushered Bill and I into a game of Mottainai. I didn't see what JP and Becky had chosen for Suzanna as I was too intent on following Tony's garbled rules explanation and - of course - interjecting with frequent 'so...NOTHING like Glory To Rome, then?' rules queries. When I looked up, I had two surprises: firstly that Mike had arrived so silently that we hadn't noticed, and secondly Becky earnestly setting up Eurorails. A 4P crayon-rail game, I was sure, would last them all night, and so it proved.

I had happened upon a 'keep your hands to yourself' in Mottainai, and although Tony tried to run the deck out in an effort to beat me, I managed to offload just enough sales for a 1-point victory. Despite some scepticism, I can see why the designer, and some uber-fans, would want to refine Glory To Rome into this version, and I do think it's perhaps a tiny bit better. But, on the other hand, I find it hard to get very excited about GtR - or Chudyk games generally - so this just seems like another exercise in recycling material.

Espying Goa on top of my games bag, Tony let out some worrying hyperventilating noises in the name of keenness, and we spent most of the rules explanation (hopefully a bit more logical in my hands) saying 'this doesn't happen in the new edition. The new edition is wrong'. It's frankly a good job that I do know the rules very well, because it turned out that my manual was still in the hands of Jules, who borrowed it approximately four years ago.

Bill was playing only his second game, but was suitably competitive in the auction, and despite thinking himself into a hole a couple of times, emerged with a full set of colonies, and 28 points. While Tony was frittering away his action bonuses, I had been sifting the Expedition cards (2 shuffles? Can't pretend that happens every week), using one or two a cheeky one on tech advances, and cashing in on Tony's frivolous final-round spending. Between Expedition and money bonuses, I clocked up 12 points, enough for a comfortable win.

With Eurorails sort-of staggering to a close (I'm not sure whether they 'officially' finished, but all agreed that John had won), we whipped out the unofficial club 'mascot' game of Braggart. Tony won by a long chalk, but at least I saved him from the ignominy of seeing Simon The Lonely Ogre succumb to a grisly fate: using a Liar card gratuitously to up-score his 'boast' by one point.
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Sun Jun 14, 2015 6:47 pm
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Friday June 5th - Flight of the Concordias

Ben Bateson
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For all the response I got to my weekly email shot, I assumed we were only going to be three tonight, so I packed a bag with John and Becky's favourites, and we trundled down to the White Lion via a selection of Ross-on-Wye's cash machines, none of which were dispensing actual money as usual on Friday nights.

Tinner's Trail is one of those 'Oooh, I DO want to play that again' games for all of us, and I ploughed through the rules explanation as Becky and John got over-enthusiastic and filled every space on the board, before soberly removing half the cubes again. Just then, Tony turned up out of the blue, muttering something about inconsiderate caravan drivers (he's right, you know). I coerced John into giving him the red pieces and restarted the rules explanation. And THEN Suzanna walked in, we were 5P and the whole plan fell apart.

So, we started tonight's session a little later than usual, about 8:15, with Concordia. This is a game I have had no reason to have doubts about, and so it proved, despite Tony managing to cram a 5-player game onto (as we found out later) the 2-4 player Italia board. As start player, I fancied the Colonist + Prefect combo on the cheap end of the line, and supplemented these adequately with a Diplomat (which, entertainingly, was almost entirely used to scab off John's actions) and the rest of the Colonists over the course of the rest of the game. Logic dictates that if each card scores points, I want a lot of them, right?

Well, my strategy must have been quite transparent, because I came back from the bar after Round 1, to find Tony showing everyone my cards and explaining what I was going to do next. But I went ahead and did it, abusing the hell out of Catania for the wheat/tools that I needed to put all my men and ships on the board, and clocked up a satisfying 36 point bonus from the Mars cards, spending much of the final two rounds with a completely empty player board. I suspect the rest weren't as focussed in their strategy (except Suz, who was going resolutely 'big money'), which helped me win, but the whole experience was very satisfactory indeed, certainly sufficiently so for me to come home and place a midnight order with Shire Games.

With all this played out, it was nearly 10pm, so we really only had time for one more 'serious' game. Wizard was Tony's choice, somewhat surprisingly given that he is known to turn his nose up at card games. A little elementary trick-taking training for Suz and a couple of misdeals was all we needed to stretch this game out until closing time. In a thriller of an ending, Tony and Becky entered the final round all-square, but Tony underbid and Becky ended up winning quite comfortably. Even third-placed John managed a decent score tonight, putting the ghosts of some big negative scores behind him. I always enjoy Wizard, even when getting dealt unbiddable hands (what would YOU bid with: Y13 R13 G- B11,10,9,7,2,1 N?).

I went home and repaired my error by adding Suzanna to the email list. Now hopefully I will be able to tell WHO and WHEN a bit more reliably than tonight.
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Sun Jun 7, 2015 11:45 am
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Friday May 29th - Lots to fit in!

Ben Bateson
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I anticipated being a bit bereft of players this week, due to the Expo, but ever-reliable John signalled his intent to turn up, and I was also in possession of a Facebook message arrived from Suzanna, hinting that she may indeed be coming too, and might even arrive with an accomplice.

John, Becky and I started with FITS, the Tetris-on-a-board game that I had picked up in exchange for a charitable donation at the excellent Hereford NSPCC day a few weeks before. Despite it being horribly derivative, there are plenty of interesting decisions to be made as you progress through the boards, and I have to confess that I'm really enjoying playing it, despite not having been anywhere near winning - or, indeed, scores higher than zero - thus far. John's imminent victory also drew the attention of some passing patrons, who looked keen enough to go out and buy a copy: good luck to them I say.

We'd almost come to the conclusion that Suzanna wasn't going to arrive by the time we reached 8pm, when Suzanna did in fact arrive with a young man in tow. The man in question turned out to be the very charming and modest Mike. He had played a few bits and pieces before, and it certainly didn't take him long to get to grips with Airlines Europe, playing out a pitch-perfect opening few rounds and launching an early attack on the Abacus shares. His strategy seemed sound to me, and I was almost as disappointed as he was to see him limp home in last place. Becky has some sort of supernatural affinity for this game and won YET AGAIN, beating JP into second and Suzanna into third.

The City is a game I enjoyed sufficiently back in February to go and purchase a cheap second-hand copy. It comes in German, for remarkably there is STILL no English edition, which Suzanna a bit of a leg-up, because she is at least semi-fluent in Deutsches-Sprech. The rest of us made do with the player aids and my dinky little individual score markers (gold paperclips FTW!). It's a RftG-super-lite which can be played in ten minutes flat, and we all were enjoying ourselves enough to go around again. I think John won the first game, and I had high hopes for the second before Suz pinched it from under my nose with a string of villas.

Our closing choice was club-favourite Too Many Cooks. In my sagely wisdom and with nearly 30 games under my belt, I dropped a few hints into the rules teaching for the benefit of Suz and Mike:

1) You don't need to score a lot of points to win. Winning scores are usually no higher than 20.
2) Don't leave your No Soup card until the last round.
3) Don't be concerned if you get left behind on your first play.

Well, I might as well have said 'don't stick your nose into a crocodile' for all the attention we paid that guidance. I gambled on leaving my No Soup until last (although I did score the maximum 5 points off it), and Suzanna won her first game with a massive 23 points, with Mike and Becky only a couple back.

So much for strategy advice...
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Sun Jun 7, 2015 11:23 am
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Friday May 22nd - Any Old Lion?

Ben Bateson
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Anyone publicly claiming a birthday always has the right to pick games at the White Lion, and this week was Norm's. It's always good to see him as he undergoes a modicum of domestic turmoil, and he had also pledged to keep his more extreme worker-placement tendencies at bay.

Having paid a goodly sum for a rare copy of Colosseum, Norm was dead keen to open with that one, and we dealt out the bits and pieces while Tony overcame a shed load of photcopier paper on the A40. It was still there at 11pm - looks like the Ross-on-Wye police station's stationery spend will be unexpectedly low this year.

Tony approached Colosseum with maximum pessimism, although it seemed inoffensive fare to the rest of us. He grumbled his way through the opening round and remained gloomy until the second negotiating phase when my jaunty Chas'n'Dave impression (see blog title), replete with full cockney rasping 'Badadada DAH DAH' coda, wrung a smile from his unwilling lips. Once we'd all got stuck in, it was far from clear who was going to win - my prediction of John/Tony being utterly wrong as Becky swept the game from under their noses. My only noteworthy feat was putting on five different shows, but it wasn't enough to get me out of dead last.

Tense finishes aside, I tend to agree with all the criticisms of Colosseum - ie. it's not Princes of Florence, and I'm actually a little baffled as to how Kramer let two such similar games get to market. It's not all terrible: I like the scoring system, and negotiation games always scratch an itch, but it's nowhere the equal of PoF.

I thought I had Norm's second choice pegged, but he forewent Libertalia for a full-on 5P Snowdonia. We played base-game with the added spice of several promo engines, and the game started with several sunny rounds - the board was bereft of rubble before the end of the fifth!

Norm had his eye on big Surveyor points, which probably wasn't the way to go given the weather, and Tony played for the 'big bonus' track-laying cards but pulled up short when Becky competed. I happened across plenty of stone early, built a lot of valuable station spaces and made full use of both '2 iron ore -> steel bar' contract cards, forgoing the wasteful foundry. Combined with my early purchase of 9-point Snowdonia and filling nearly the entire summit station with my cubes, and it made for over 100 points and a fairly easy win. I'm on a bit of a roll at Ross with Snod now; I think I've won three of the last four games, and thrown the other one away with a last-round brainfart.

There had been much joshing earlier in the evening about a closing game of Dobble - simultaneously Norm's favourite game and Tony's least favourite - but Boydell took it in his stride and nobly acquiesced to some closing rounds of Spot It. Wonder of wonders, he won the first game, and a smile permeated his beard for the second time that night (well, third, after Norm suggested playing Snowdonia, but that was more of a smirk). Two rounds of Hot Potato later, and I'll be blowed if Tony wasn't actually enjoying himself! No doubt he'll deny any recollection of this at a later date.

Most of the closing rounds of Hot Potato were three-way ties, but - especially so in this case - it proved to be the playing that was overridingly important.
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Mon May 25, 2015 8:55 pm
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Friday May 15th - So Sushi Me

Ben Bateson
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We welcomed a new gamer to the club this week in the shape of Suzanna. She's played a few games, and judging by her Facebook page is a Cube Quest fan, so this can only be a promising start!

Tony had pulled out Sushi Go to start: a neat little drafting game, which was only marginally threatened by Tony burying his nose in the rulebook when it would have been quicker just to look at the scoring system on the bottom of the cards. It was swift and enjoyable, a good gateway for Suz, and John won. Tony tends to mimic the effects of a mild coronary every time I profess to like crowdfunded games these days, but I think the last few months have proved an important point: you are more likely to find a slimline, small-box card game of excellent standard on Kickstarter (cf. Harbour, Elevenses, Eggs & Empires as well as Sushi Go) than some overblown, under-tested big-box nonsense.

With a typically awkward six-player contingent once Bill arrived, we devolved ourselves in two direction. Suzanna got her introduction to Guilds Of London - lucky girl, a sneak preview of this year's big Essen hit - and did well to beat Becky to second place (behind Tony, natch) while John and Bill joined me in trying out Amyitis.

Amyitis is one of those games that I have had on the shelf for way too long. Like all Ystari games, it has a uniquely bad and illogical rule-book which puts me off teaching, and it was a bit of a slog as I had to mirror Tony in pulling apart lumps of prose. The childish comment about 'camel tokens' from across the room didn't help either, but we eventually got underway.

ONCE you have got started, it's a remarkably straightforward game of timing and some baffling area control, the bafflement mostly being cause by the speed at which the temples turn over. John took to the role of gardening well (unsurprisingly for a Plant), I did much irrigation for 2 points a pop, and Bill - lacking a banker for income - devoted plenty of attention to palace upgrades. The fact that he pipped me for the Level 5 palace indicated I was probably trying to spread my wares too thinly, but I did snaffle up the 10-point Gardens tile for a spirited comeback. As it turned out, I might have done better by waiting for a turn, because Bill won by a solitary point, with John dossing around some way back. We all had positive impressions of the game in a 'not too often, though' sort of way, which is fair enough.

A quick filler of Tsuro notwithstanding (Suzanna-Tony calamitous draw), we had 7 Wonders all set up to finish for our 6P end-of-night treat. Or so I thought. Tony and Becky between them had made a godawful hash of something as simple as 'dealing cards', so I left them to reboot the whole game while I bought another beer. Second time around, they got it right, but it didn't stop me from making a bit of a bollix of playing Babylon side A, ignoring Science cards that I really should have and optimistically trying to compete with Suzanna to my right on battle cards. Tony and John tied this game out with 58 points apiece, and - as is only right and proper - we re-dealt (under MY supervision this time) for a second go.

This time, I had the Colossus (not my favourite Wonder), and although I acquitted myself a bit better - Lighthouse plus full-house battle points plus a cheeky 13 science points - it was nothing compared to Suzanna, who deservedly won her first game at the club with a massive 60-something points; everyone else trailing way back in the 40s.

Well done, Suz, and I hope we see you again!
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Sun May 17, 2015 2:10 pm
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Friday May 8th - Stichy Stichs

Ben Bateson
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Tonight we welcomed Surya and Miryam on one of their occasional club visits, and much merriment was had of GOTWs number 497, 498 and 499 all sharing the same table. With a seven players expected, Surya had prudently brought along Sticheln in all its mind-melty convention-twisty goodness. Bill and Becky both learned the hard way with big negative scores early on, and Becky methodically redirected her strategy towards 'beating' Dave's club-record low score, a target which she achieved with some ease over three tortuous rounds. Myself, I flirted with negative scores, but was pleased enough to scrape enough for third place behind Surya and Miryam.

Six-player fare was unlikely to sustain us for the whole evening, so we split into a three and a four: Bill, Becky and I for a diverse trio of games, where JP and Tony got stuck into Roll for the Galaxy with our visitors. I don't have any details on who won 'Roll', but it was clearly good enough that they played three games.

First up on 'Table 2' was perennial favourite, St Petersburg. The first round treated me miserably, giving Bill the best two 'Start Player' tokens, dealing me a miserable 6+7 craftsmen (we always play the very first craftsmen round 'switchback' style to negate luck, but it didn't work in this case), and giving Becky an opportune Observatory. Things were looking bleak. But I levelled-up big time with aristocrats, and managed to delay the final round by leaving just one card on the green and blue spaces in order to maximise the cashing in. But Becky was gaining fast and with a massive cash advantage she nearly swept the board on the last two rounds. The final score? A near-miraculous 132-point tie! Bill was some way behind, just breaking into three figures, but it was one of the most intense St P sessions any of us could remember.

We moved to Biblios next. My opening hands were worryingly short on scoring cards, but I chose to go 'Big Money' and tough out the auction phase. No joy! I got outbid by Bill for a couple of key cards, overspent on the church cards (in retrospect, I should have ignored them altogether) and between us we ceded a remarkable four out of five categories to Becky. You're NOT SUPPOSED to be able to win four out of five categories at this game, and I'm still trying to work out what sort of trickery she employed. I will have to eat my words after sneering at John for scoring zero points, for I managed exactly the same.

To finish, a lively game of Braggart which drew alternate envious glances and puzzled stares from the 'Roll' table. The undoubted highlight was Bill being caught in the Queen's bedchamber, by the King no less, but still managing to gain employment in the Royal Court nevertheless. But he couldn't cope with some vanilla-type cardplay from me. Eschewing Liar and Ploy cards, I managed to clock up a sizable victory.

The Rollers were still carrying on with their third game as we left. I can only assume it is quite addictive.
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Sun May 17, 2015 1:37 pm
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