$35.00
$22.00
$32.00
$25.00

The Ross-on-Wye Boardgamers

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

Archive for Ben Bateson

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [25]

Recommend
17 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Friday April 29th - Baffling the Bishop

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
Ross-on-Wye
flag msg tools
Oi! Hands off...
mbmbmbmbmb
Becky was away on 'works do' territory until some unknown hour tonight, so I cadged myself a lift from Tony on the basis of a free pint of PJ&L, and we nattered our way down to the White Lion sharing plans for game design and what-have-you (in a flash of inspiration, my plans for an Offa's Dyke-themed game have sprung to life again over midweek). Before too long, we were accompanied by JP, and Tony threw Bohemian Villages back onto the table for us to relive last week's dice-chucking opener.

My bishop-heavy gameplan was rather rudely interrupted by Tony, who was rolling 12s with impunity and earning quite the collection of manor houses. But I staggered my way to the prestigious 'four shops' bonus and pipped him by a couple of points. John was thoroughly nonplussed at the denouement, and to be honest I think two plays is going to be reasonably sufficient to see all this game has to offer. It will come out again from time to time, but is there any real replayability?

Our plan to negotiate our way through the elaborate Tempest series had reached Stage 2: Mercante. The rulebooks are not the friendliest things at the best of times, concealing some deceptively simple mechanics under florid prose and backstory, and I was aware I was slightly off top-form as far as teaching was concerned. However, I don't think I've ever seen a rules explanation go down as dichotomously with only two other people on the table. To my right, John was nodding away, punctuating my teaching with comments of: "Yes. Yes. Makes sense. I see", which is generally reassuring. Across from me, Tony had assumed the face that you might receive if you tried to teach a small squirrel the fundamentals of string theory. I was fearing that I would have to return to basics and teach him in terms of simple concepts (including those of 'game', 'table' and 'pork scratching'), when suddenly everything clicked on the fourth or fifth explanation and we dived headlong into what was actually a fairly low-stress game.

The short explanation of Mercante is that you auction off some goods (16 goods in four different categories) and then take a couple of WP actions with your cronies in order to sell them, buy VPs, expand your operations or other trifling pieces. VPs come from fulfilling 'contracts' by selling stuff on the contract card, can be bought at steadily increasing prices on a track that also acts as a game-timer, or can be closed-fist-auctioned from a small stockpile that gets a VP every time someone buys one. It was remarkably fuss-free once we got going, and was one of those games which is a damn sight shorter than everyone was expecting, meaning John was able to pressure us into ending the game (another thing I like in general: player-dictated end conditions) and secure a comfortable win. We closed with a discussion of how thematic games can be good as long as the theme is superficial nonsense and doesn't obliterate the game beneath.

Well, it was barely 9pm after two solid games, and we had time to spend on my long-overdue-for-playing Essen purchase of Clacks. Tony and John were reminded quickly of Dadaocheng, a game they had enjoyed but which had left me lukewarm, but I had to admit that there was far more control in Dadaocheng than in Clacks. Essentially, it's a geometric puzzle solver where the board is left utterly chaotic by other people's turns, meaning there can never be any planning ahead. This is by far the biggest obstacle, and I imagine it is even present in the (supposedly superior) co-operative version. It also makes a mystery of the designers' decision to supply a huge deck of objective cards, beyond making the whole thing drip with Discworld theme. Unfortunately, as all-but-one Discworld games have proved, draping a poor game in theme - no matter how geek-friendly - just doesn't work.

We moved on swiftly to much more solid ground in the form of Glass Road, and it began looking ominous as Tony managed to pre-empt two cards immediately from me. John, meanwhile, set out his stall for the village church, perhaps oblivious to the fact that he needed somewhat more than 8 points to win. Meanwhile, I played an early Builder in Round 2 to secure the prestigious Sediment Factory (one of the best tiles in the game without a doubt), and it had the double benefit of pre-empting John's Builder with him unable to afford anything substantial. Tony also seemed to grind to a halt on production, leaving me with a low-scoring victory on 18 points. Phew!

Becky, tired from the political machinations of having to talk to her colleagues all evening, had turned up by now and announced that she wanted to play something that didn't require too much thinking. Luckily, we had TWO somethings that didn't require too much thinking, and she proved to be very good at both. Firstly, she inflicted a critical pudding-penalty on Tony in Sushi Go to deprive him of a game-long lead, and then at the end of For Sale, she paused mid-addition to watch Tony celebrate his powerful 70 points, before deliberately finishing her count-up: "Seventy....Seventy-one, Seventy-two, Seventy-three". Never play Becky at a late-night filler.

Although we sometimes moan when only a handful of gamers turn out, it facilitates playing six games of an evening, a luxury apparently not afforded to some other bloggers...
Twitter Facebook
2 Comments
Mon May 2, 2016 4:44 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
29 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Friday April 22nd - Boroughing Like Bunnies

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
Ross-on-Wye
flag msg tools
Oi! Hands off...
mbmbmbmbmb
You know your stock's rising when you walk into the pub only to find the landlady having a diatribe at the people who refuse to forget the gamers' table. As it turns out, we needed tables-plural tonight, for there was fully seven of us, and no-one wanted to spend all evening playing Spyfall.

It was Gary's birthday, which gave him free choice of games, and he opened with the hoary old jest of opening up a bag with Monopoly and Cluedo inside. He'd also included Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit just to make me feel inferior, because I quite LIKE those two!

Once we'd dutifully tittered our way through Gary's bag, he produced the real stuff, and immediately guaranteed that Becky would be joining his table by brandishing The Voyages Of Marco Polo (No, Stuart. It isn't. Trust me) and Concordia. Norm also leaped onto that bandwagon, leaving John hovering between tables. Eventually, John twigged that he may be forced to play Agricola if he stayed too long, and so opted for the Marco Polo table also.

Not that we're in the habit of forcing people to play Agricola. Normally. However, Tony had waltzed in this evening with a glint in his eye and a copy of the spanking new reprint in his hand. With Dan also present, there was little doubt that this one would need to be tried out.

But we started with lighter fare and another sneak preview, this time of Bohemian Villages. The game's biggest failing is that it is yet another in a long, long list of dice-placement fillers, combining elements of Waggledance, Las Vegas, Can't Stop, Machi Koro and all the rest. I enjoyed it, but then I enjoy all the other games that are pretty much like it as well. Dan won this after Tony's vindictive streak came to the fore and he kicked me off a space rather than kicking Dan.

And so the inevitable came to pass, and we cracked open 'new-Gric' for a first look. General initial impressions were disappointing: the silly jigsaw board, the limited deck of 48 cards, and the daft names for the action spaces made no sense. But a good fix for the 3P 'take one resource' space was evident (it is now 1R/1St + 1F), and the cards had clearly been selected as the best from not only the original base set but expansions too: the opening draft contained a couple of recognisables from our Netherlands-deck game a few weeks back. But, on the whole, there's nothing to be classed as essential for the experienced Agricolarian, although I might be taking the Sharpie to one of my 3P action space cards.

It was an unusual session which seemed very open and free-wheeling compared to our previous strangling 3P sessions. This could be in part due to Tony and I both opening up working Day Laborer combos (he had the Field Tiller and Clay Pit; I had the Seasonal Worker and an unfortunately-named Cottager), and Dan choosing to deliberately starve himself at one harvest in favour of taking the Well (not, I believe, the correct move in the circumstances). Little good it did him, Tony and I emerged with an equitable 37-point draw.

The opposite table were still deeply immersed in Marco Polo (net result, Becky wins by a single point and I don't really give a monkeys), so we moved on. Our second-main event was one that hadn't made the trip out for a long, long time: Martin Wallace's London. Its appearance brought approving nods from Dan and Tony both, even though we only had the vaguest recollection of the rules. Still, once we'd boned up (quiet, Tony), it all flowed very nicely, and I was pleased to find myself drawn back into the intricacies of collecting the right cards and timing loans and city activations. Dan managed to cripple himself with an over-large city, and Tony collected money but for little effect, so it was an hour later that I emerged a winner by some margin. But I'm sure we can set that down to ring-rustiness (quiet, Tony): we do need to play this a little more often than once a year.

With Tony taking one of his semi-regular early departures, and Gary's table moved onto Concordia with the Salsa expansion (it won't surprise blog regulars to hear that Becky won), Dan and I sought for a 2P closer in the form of Evolution. The rules were easily dispensed, and Dan very quickly adapted to what was required to play well, something I have never mastered in half a dozen plays, all winless. To my eternal shame, I resigned with still a third of the deck left - well, it was also getting late, the bar was closed and Becky was making pointed gestures towards her watch.

It wouldn't be going to far to suggest that six classics and club favourites were played tonight. These nights are what we live for.
Twitter Facebook
3 Comments
Sun Apr 24, 2016 10:46 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
19 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Friday April 15th - Courting Controversy

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
Ross-on-Wye
flag msg tools
Oi! Hands off...
mbmbmbmbmb
With Becky deciding she preferred a quiet night at home over the pub and gaming (no, I still don't understand why), it was the three 'old hands' of Tony, John and myself that made up the weekly ludographers. And, for once, I had packed for the right number of players! Tony set aside his offerings for once, and it was all for the better as we had a smashing and strategic evening.

We opened up with Suburbia and the first time any of us had played with the Suburbia Inc expansion. One of the public bonus tiles was 'most airports', and John managed to shuffle no fewer than SIX of the buggers into the stacks, eventually splitting them 3-3 with me. Other than that, John mostly went with big ugly industry, Tony on a mass of Civic Centres and I took a glut of money out of my Waterfront Realty. A late charge by John left him ahead come the final bonus scoring, but he was leaped over by Tony, who had engineered his city into terminal decline by the close in order to win the 'least cash' bonus (he didn't, as it happens). My private bonus was 'fewest greens', but rather obstinately John had refused to build a single residential region which meant I couldn't claim. Doing so would have taken me level with Tony and winning on the tie-break, but as it was I finished dead last - an impressively close game.

All of this had taken barely an hour, so there was plenty of time to kill and John had a rummage around for our second game. He opted for Courtier - the starting point for our much-pondered project to play our way through the Tempest games. It's certainly the simplest of the lot to explain - essentially area control with five-card hand management. Tony compared it to Guilds of London (well, he would), but to me it feels like somewhere in between El Grande and Ankh-Morpork. It doesn't feel hugely original, but the player interaction (this is primarily a game of reacting to and depriving your opponents rather than trying to execute a long-term plan) is very engaging, and worked especially well with three. I thought I had the game wrapped up for a long time, but somehow Tony sneaked through to pip me by three points.

Unusually for him with a new and unknown quantity, Boydell was quite effusive with praise for Courtier. It was only the slight randomness of the card draw that was off-putting, and it bodes well for us to try Mercante the next in the series, particularly as said title features some mild worker placement.

I had managed to lose out in both of the first two games by frustrating circumstances, but in the third I lost out through my own ineptitude. We played the delightful Castle for All Seasons to finish the evening. It had been so long that we all needed to be re-seeded the rules, and in doing so I uncovered a rule (buildings need three different goods) that we had been playing incorrectly before.

On of CfAS's big selling points is the remarkably swift playtime, and you pack a whole bunch of strategy and panic into fifteen rounds that take barely two minutes each. We all landed a man on the servants house when it became clear that a lot of castle was going to be left unbuilt, but it was my two workers on the Tavern that looked like they might sway things for a while. To get the second one on, I had to throw up a cheap building with my Bricklayer in the final round, and critically I picked sand rather than silver. Come the endgame scoring, there were only nine silvers on the forge, meaning I scored four points rather than the five I would have had if I'd spent a silver. This meant I tied for first with John and he beat me on the tiebreak. Dammit! Another potential to go down to the wire missed!

It was a remarkable illustration tonight of how games can turn on small decisions, but also of the pleasures of picking the right games for the right players.
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Sun Apr 17, 2016 10:31 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
15 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Friday April 8th - Ever Decreasing Cyclades

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
Ross-on-Wye
flag msg tools
Oi! Hands off...
mbmbmbmbmb
Benedict is a fine gamer in his own right these days, but he does have an unpredictable habit of turning up when my games bag is packed for (n-1). I should probably add him to the email list.

So, five players we were, a number which rather limits ones choices, particularly when you've left Princes Of Florence and El Grande at home. Tony had stated some enthusiasm for playing his way through the Tempest games, but declined my offer of Mercante (I suspect it is the weakest in the series, although am happy to be proved wrong) in favour of his occasional favourite, Cyclades.

After much finagling over the rulebook (the rules are disarmingly straightforward really), we got underway: myself building up a legion of priests, Bill colonising a first metropolis early, Benedict building up mountains of cash, John and Tony both going on the warpath. My momentum was rudely interrupted by Tony playing a Kraken on me for no apparent good reason, and Bill and I were pretty much out of the final reckoning. JP and Benedict fought out a last round spent largely searching for an all-important Pegasus card.

I had come at Cyclades with a pretty open mind, it having received good reviews from the rest of the club, but I found it rather disappointing on the whole. The dreaded dice combat, swingy creature cards, virtually player elimination, and farcical ending didn't really add up to any sort of game for me. And I can't really see future plays being any different. A shame, because I usually enjoy Cathala's games, but here the anarchy levels were just too high.

Glen More was my nomination for the next up, although I managed to get off to a shocking start by not building very much of worth at all. Bill and Tony brewed whisky, and Benedict slaughtered animals with barely-disguised glee. John decided to go all in on castles and other fancy buildings. The market was an utter delight in this (too long since I've played it with 5P, I suspect) with frequent buying and panic-selling (I had warned everyone well about the sudden game end). Tony threw an entertaining tantrum when it became clear that he wasn't going to win, utilising the somewhat ludicrous excuse that the turn order was biased against him. I invite anyone with even a vague knowledge of the central rondel mechanic to laugh at him along with me.

When it all washed up, it turned out Bill's quiet conniving in the corner had given him a sizeable victory, with a rather unfulfilling consolation for myself of beating JP/Benedict into second place on the back of a lately-acquired and much-abused super-market.

With precious little luck for the Boydells in either game, they took one of their semi-regular enforced early leaves, but rather fortuitously crossed paths with Becky, returning from her theatre duties. She opted for something familiar in the shape of Wizard, which didn't prove a hard sell to Bill or John, card-lovers both. Unusually for me, I sank like a stone in the opening rounds while John bounced out to a commanding lead. But he was pulled back in the closing rounds, and we finally called time on the game perfectly poised at 150 apiece to JP, Bill AND Becky. My own small consolation was being the only person to make his bid on the final round and eventually dragging my score above zero. Still, it was more fun than being eaten by a squid.
Twitter Facebook
7 Comments
Tue Apr 12, 2016 8:53 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
21 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Friday April 1st - Feeling an April Fool

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
Ross-on-Wye
flag msg tools
Oi! Hands off...
mbmbmbmbmb
Only on this very date could the Fates of coincidence and abandonment coincide. Yes, for the first time in a very long time, no-one turned up to play games!

When I'd wiped my eyes clean and polished off my opening pint, I decided there was no point in feeling sorry for myself and set up a solo play of Glass Road. A couple of promo tiles on the opening board gave me hope that I could break the scoring, but I ran into something of a landscape gridlock and an inexplicable water shortage. Dammit - only 19.5 points! I seem to be missing a big trick at the 1-player variant; perhaps I'm just too good at the multiplayer version to cope with the randomness?

To the resounding sarcasm of the pub regulars ("Oh yes, who won?"), I lined up another pint and resolved to teach myself Infection Express. I had never gotten on with 'big' Pandemic, and doubtless I will be fairly lukewarm about 'bigger' Pandemic, but the print-and-play solo edition actually did a pretty good job of scratching that itch and simulating the mounting tension. My only complaint were some rather large gaps in the rules, which I filled in using common sense and the legacy of the big game. I won rather comfortably, due to a bit of early jet-setting, and I'm looking forward now to having a go at the EU map. Really nice stuff.

I was also very impressed with my first play of Friday. The deck-tuning was a terrific adaptation from Furstenfeld, and the only thing wanting was perhaps a greater variety of card art and names for the challenges. This is all cosmetic, though, and the game underneath held up very well. I was going great guns until being tripped up by a combination of an apparently innocuous hazard in the 'red' phase, allied with two ageing cards from which I couldn't escape. If the pub regulars had really had any interest, I'm sure they'd have been delighted that I lost.

Golly gosh - it was nearly 10pm already! Who needs fellow gamers to enjoy one's self? I broke out a reasonably quick closer in the shape of Micro Rome. The terrible art notwithstanding, I am particularly attracted to this one because I started developing an 18-card microgame with very similar mechanics a couple of years ago. Mine had pints of beer and was called 'My Round' (hey - even the same initials!), but the scoring always lacked something and it has to be said that Micro Rome's scoring (very reminiscent of Between Two Cities with multiple geometric ways of doing stuff) is spot on. I slightly cocked up the PnP aspect by not double-siding the cards, but this only adds to the playability: rather than drawing one card and deciding which side to play, you can draw two completely random 'sides' and choose which one to play. 25 points represented a mediocre performance: I have been known to break 40 in exceptional circumstances.

Well, that's what you get for missing out. And I never had time to try out Austerity or play long-term solo favourites such as Zombie In My Pocket, Cheese Chasers or Pocket Pro Golf, neither.
Twitter Facebook
4 Comments
Fri Apr 1, 2016 11:05 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
22 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Friday March 25th - Lent Goodman

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
Ross-on-Wye
flag msg tools
Oi! Hands off...
mbmbmbmbmb
Full days of gaming take meticulous planning. I was busy crafting our very best 'games for five' for the early afternoon start, when an email buzzed through from JP. "Expect me at 2pm" he chirruped, so I drew a hefty sigh and started repacking the bags for 6qty.

Luckily, Becky had the perfect opening activity for a fine day, and so we all trooped out onto Wilton riverside for a few rounds of Molkky. Action shots courtesy of Dave, who arrived in time for the third chukka.



After taking the first two games, I found myself embarrassingly subject to the 'wiffs' in the third, and it went down to a very tense finish with Becky, John and Gary all on closing shots. But it was Bill, with a customary rustic-games flair, who took out the 8-pin at distance to finish us off. Molkky, as ever, has failed to disappoint anyone, and I wouldn't be surprised if this becomes a regular summer fixture in one way or another.

Moving inside, we opted to remain as a table of six, and we eased in gently with a couple of rounds of Spyfall. I think it bemused Gary more than anything else, and the questioning was a little bit lacklustre, Becky and John too easily spotting the locations on their turns as spies. I suspect this is one which is at its best in the hands of the Burnhams - when are we having that get-together, Stuart?

OK, about time for a proper game. I recently picked up Augustus in a trade and probably mis-sold it by describing it as "gamers' bingo". But, once we got over that hurdle, there's a halfway-decent and fun game underneath, which uses - admittedly - a bingo mechanic to set up scoring combos and some devilish to-and-fro. Becky and Dave particularly enjoyed themselves, taking down a game apiece.

If I had one problem with Augustus, it was the difficulty in drawing together a long-term strategy. I think I'd want to see more objective cards available for selection or a similar long-term mechanic. There were also a couple of rules loopholes that were not satisfactorily explained. But it played swiftly and everyone saw something in it, so I imagine this is due another couple of outings at least.

Resolving to stay as a table of six, we broke out Bill's copy of the outrageously fun Colt Express, and were just about to get started when - completely unbidden - Tony turned up. Figuring that it would probably be quicker to just play the game than pack it all away, get something else out, run through rules teaching etc etc, we cracked on anyway. If you don't reply to my emails this is what happens, I'm afraid.

As ever, it was a great session once everyone got up to speed, with Dave yet again prone to 'aimless punching', and Gary spent a fair amount of time on the rooftop shooting at nothing in particular. John shot me no fewer than four times, and then added insult to injury by claiming that he 'didn't mean to'. I mean, getting shot once by accident I could understand - but four times?! Bill won this eventually, by making a run on the coveted thousand-dollar briefcase.

Time for a slight change of personnel: it was time for Dave and Bill to depart, but we could belatedly welcome Tony into the fold with our pre-dinner filler. For this I had chosen St Malo, a canny little dice-roller which somehow baffled everyone else during the rules explanation. Really, it's not that hard. The general principle is to roll dice - King of Tokyo-esque - to produce goods, buildings and citizenry, all of which you can add to your board with dry-wipe markers, and either gain direct VPs or protect yourself against pirates. It was the latter to which I succumbed, leaving Becky to a substantial win.

Although it drew lukewarm sighs from the others, I think there's real potential to St Malo. Not necessarily from the in-box mechanics, but the possibility of house-ruling is very open. I'd really like to put together a rule-set for complex dice combos or extra house-rules (one that readily springs to mind involves my Architect constructing a watchtower for extra Defence AND Points at a higher lumber cost). Also, you can draw little penises on your board if the mood takes you. Watch this space (for the house-rules, not the penises).

Three burgers, one steak and a ham-egg-n-chips later, we polished off the last few turns of St Malo before Becky departed for her theatrical duties. The four of us rapidly settled on Keyflower, a game which had rightly caught Gary's eye, and I believe he went away intent on ordering a copy. Our very occasional acquaintance - Phil from Aberystwyth - joined us from about summer onwards and made knowledgeable insights into the game's progress, having read up in advance that this might indeed be the sort of game we would be playing.

It was an odd sort of game: no significant resource generation at all on the summer boat, and I found myself wondering where on earth any of my victory points were going to come from. I decided to go 'Big Meeple' as a waiting strategy while everyone else wastefully went green. Rather bizarrely, no-one saw fit to compete for my chosen winter tiles (Craftsmans Guild and Beekeper), and I also picked up two turn-order tiles (Tony apparently being unaware of the rule that this is possible) at the denouement, for an unprecedented THREE surround-scoring bonuses. Rather gratifyingly, this shattered the 60 point mark through sheer weight of meeple-power and left Tony's careful resource engines struggling. Tony claimed that the endgame (pass-pass-pass-Ben does something-pass-pass-pass-Ben does something else etc) was reminiscent of St Petersburg, which may explain why he doesn't win at that very often.

Gary had to leave, so he swapped out for Phil, and I chose one of my long-term shelf-sitters in the shape of Himalaya. Barely was the box open when Tony was straight into 'I've decided I'm not going to like this IN ADVANCE' mode and low-grade carping about such fripperies as the flimsy player screens and lack of player aids accompanied my rules teaching.

Much as I hate myself for doing it, on reflection of the subsequent 90 minutes I am going to have to agree with Tony. The game was four rounds too long, one player - Phil - was virtually out of contention at halfway, and the pre-programming lacked all the excitement and fun of Colt Express. I would possibly try it again playing 8 rounds rather than the prescribed 12, but the whole thing just felt unengaging. Dammit.

People were drifting out on a regular basis, and Tony only had time for a quick Pi mal Pflaumen before departing. My perfect track record deserted me this time: John losing out to Tony by a single point in the final reckoning. Pie'n'Plums remains, for me at least, a blend of nice art with somewhat unworkable mechanics: the disadvantage of going first is very heavy and the card-theft stuff is probably not great. But I've played worse.

Down to three now, John bravely proposed Innovation, which drew a heavy intake of cautious breath from Phil. He had heard it 'wasn't great for new players', but after we'd reassured him that we were far from experts, he acquiesced and seemed to rather enjoy it, especially given that his group have no real background with card games.

Unfortunately, my 'not an expert' status looked a bit laughable, as I tore through the first five achievements without much resistance, and even took the piss by picking up the (un-needed) sixth with my spare action. All this, and I finished with only five cards on my board...



Perhaps not Phil's greatest introduction; neither him nor JP were able to work up a defence to Medicine, but I did finish by regaling him with the old maxim: "Every game of Innovation, you find the card that is broken. Oddly, it's never the same card twice".

My hopes for a quick solo game of Glass Road were scuppered by Becky's return (she declined the 2P, much to my disappointment), and thus endeth another bumper day of gaming. A slightly off-the-wall selection, a couple of disappointments, but also great gameplay where we least expected it (including on the riverside!).
Twitter Facebook
8 Comments
Sat Mar 26, 2016 1:10 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
16 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Friday March 18th - Mister Pfister went to Bicester

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
Ross-on-Wye
flag msg tools
Oi! Hands off...
mbmbmbmbmb
This blog title might prove a salutary lesson to non-Brits in how to pronounce some of our more sod-minded towns. Not that there's anything wrong with Bicester, mind - my uncle-in-law lives there...

Waffle aside, this week was once again the meeting of the facial-hair enthusiasts. Bill's Stalinist 'tache might be a little more Mansell-esque since last we met, and Tony's homeless-stubble has developed into a goatee which delightfully resembles that of his cockerpoo, Ziggy. Dan and I completed the quartet.

After our successful introduction to Oh My Goods last week, I was keen to see if I could win again, but things looked a bit bleak when Tony churned out a decent working combo over the first couple of rounds. But combos are expensive to feed, and Bill - who had done a delightful guppy impression during rules teaching - and I tied on 22 apiece. I was hoping that leftover money would be the tiebreak, as I had the maximum 4, and indeed it was so. Undefeated thus far...

Tony and Bill had yet again played this delicious little filler as if it was a Splotter Spellen or Martin Wallace game, so I was a little wary of accepting Tony's suggestion of Caylus, fearing it may well take us until midnight. Tony has this odd habit of getting enthused about a game and then trying to make EVERYONE play it over the succeeding few weeks, so I had brought it along to humour him. However, a better alternative presented itself in the shape of Suburbia, and Tony engaged in another session of Bill-baffling.

Somehow, my city never really got kickstarted, and I wound up with a miserable industrial landscape, awaiting the restaurants that never came. Dan went all house-crazy, springing off to a lead which gradually withered, and Bill seemed to mostly go in for building-denial, this tactic resulting in some entertaining but salty language. Tony rather romped away with things, fuelling three different bonuses for the win. This a game which definitely doesn't see the number of plays it deserves.

With Becky possibly expected for some closing activities, we downshifted into filler territory again. Codenames is always a good bet with four, and despite Dan's protestations, he and Bill scored one win out of two again Tony and I. One notable moment was when Tony clued me with "Seminary:2", and I had nasty flashbacks to the infamous 'tearjerker' moment last Christmas. This was eventually subsumed by the problem that I wasn't 100% sure what 'seminary' actually meant. However, knowing Tony as a Catholic (in every sense of the word) person, my Methodist mind plumped for a face-saving 'Mass', but the other half eluded me which is what lost us the round.

The reverse-pairs also went one-apiece, and I was particularly proud of my clueing round, when I managed to squeeze out esoterica for Bill such as 'debris:3', 'Steinway:2', 'Conquistador:2' and ultimately 'M Hulot's Holiday:3', the latter of course using the preferred house-ruling of proper nouns. You have to know your partner well in this game: I doubt this approach would have been so successful with John (or, god forbid, Benedict).

Becky had indeed arrived in time to take part in a closing card game, and we road-trialled Tony's meandering prototype of Danse Macabre one more time. He seems to have stripped out some of the 'take that' elements, but I fear this will make the game too solitaire. We discussed better interactivity elements at the end; this is clearly a game that will live or die on its card balance, so it's important to get it 100% spot on. It works well with the game-group dynamic and timeslots (you can get through it comfortably in 20 minutes), though, so I suspect it will be a winner.
Twitter Facebook
6 Comments
Sat Mar 19, 2016 6:39 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
22 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Friday March 11th - Mott a Lot (but you'll like it...)

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
Ross-on-Wye
flag msg tools
Oi! Hands off...
mbmbmbmbmb
A renewed call to arms after last week's disappointment brought six gamers this week, all turning up largely on time moreover. Six being a tricky number, it was 'bit-and-pieces for 3' for most of the night, with everyone shoving together for the best 6P finale we could muster.

By dint of being first to arrive, Tony and I started our first looks at Oh My Goods, and by the time JP rocked up we were already dealing the cards out for our first attempt. We almost dealt Bill in, but Suz and Harry were marching in with admirable (and unprecedented!) punctuality, so Bill set to a somewhat easier Hey That's My Fish with them instead. I believe they played twice and Harry won both.

Oh My Goods proved every bit as engaging as I'd been led to believe - its number-one proponent seems to be Stuart 'the other blogger' Burnham, and despite an irrational fondness for Marco Polo and Grand Austria Hotel, he generally seems to be on-the-mark as regards games I might like. It's basically Pfister's take on RftG/San Juan/The City, with a Le Havre-worthy range of goods and ways to turn them into other goods, and a surprising - but not unwelcome - push-your-luck element right at the heart of it. Tony played it like it was Caylus or Age Of Steam, despite the fact that the rulebook is but six pages long and printed in child-friendly 16-point text. But we both pronounced it very enjoyable, even if I had run away with the win on the back of some early market cards.

I had a hankering to play my new copy of Evolution, to which Suz happily acquiesced, having considerably more experience than I. John also announced that it looked fun, and Tony shuffled his way to the far end of the table to teach Harbour to Harry. The evidence (key to the Harbour photo, see Every Man Needs a Shed) suggests that Harry won this one too.

Evolution proved to be curiously stable, especially after my early foray into carnivorousness was snuffed out all too early, and no-one went in for meat-eating for the rest of the game out of some sort of residual fear. Suzanne steadily built two enormous and identical animals (or 'fat, long-necked foraging bastards' as they rapidly became known) and couldn't be caught. This is perhaps my one fear with the game at the minute, that a runaway leader cannot be caught. I expect the inevitable riposte to that is that it is almost certainly possible to play in such a way that a runaway leader never even materialised. More investigation may be required. And perhaps the expansion.

In efforts to compact my games collection, much of it has been downsized into crystal-cases, which have the positive side-effect of being able to bring lots of small card games to games night. It has the other side-effect of sometimes being unable to avoid bringing Fzzzt, Coppertwaddle or - *gulp* - Scandaroon, however, and Tony leaped on the former like it was a grail game that he'd never seen before. Odd. Anyway, Bill and Harry yielded to the overwhelming optimism and consented to a game.

Meanwhile, I had taken the plunge of teaching Suzanna and John Mottainai. It seemed a bit of an odd endeavour in John's case, as I was sure he played before, but I quickly realised from the pair of glazed-over looks that I was indeed teaching the game correctly. For the uninitiated, it is the most ridiculous, counter-intuitive, downright MAD game - and that's just the teaching demonstration. But we finally staggered our way into things amid something of a Potter shortage, which meant the first few works really struggled their way out. Suzanna built up a massive array of helpers, but realised the hard way that having lots of Monk helpers wasn't exactly a great idea. John covered more sales than the rest, including a crucial Clay work, and came through for a win, which seemed only just and fair given the previous results up his end of the table.

We finished with about the only 6P game we had on hand, Bill's hoary old copy of Transamerica. Despite being tempered somewhat by Tony leaving halfway through (and Becky not quite arriving quickly enough to take over his red train), we got through fully four rounds before John careered into the buffers, leaving Harry as a surprise winner - surprising because he had used up all his Vexation rails in the very first round. It's been an age since we played TransEuropa, and I've got the hankering to give that one another go now.
Twitter Facebook
6 Comments
Wed Mar 16, 2016 10:22 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
23 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Friday March 4th (and Thursday 3rd) - Evening all...oh...

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
Ross-on-Wye
flag msg tools
Oi! Hands off...
mbmbmbmbmb
After last week's excesses of 11 gamers, there was more of a muted response to my email call-to-arms this week, and I packed the bag for a quiet three-gamer table of just myself Becky and John. Just as I was hauling it into the front hallway, my phone 'binged', and an email came through: "Sorry, can't rely on me" from JP.

Oh, bugger. It's a long time since we've been reduced to two. I think the last time was about four years ago when Tony and I celebrated my 32nd birthday with an uncomfortable assortment of worker placement and card games. Additionally, Becky has an odd aversion to 'just sitting in pubs' which is particularly irking as it is probably my favourite pastime.

Anyway, we went to the pub and played Keyflower with the Farmers expansion (I won with a huge and varied village over Becky's Greenmeeple and cattle engine) followed by a couple of games of Glass Road (I won both, the first with a massive 29 points and the second with some five fewer buildings than Becky) before she persuaded me to call it an early night. We went home, poured a couple of beers, and played Castles of Burgundy in an effort to let Becky win something. It was not to be. I used my Bronze Wedding Anniversary gift dice which were clearly enchanted in my favour, and - shunning boats - placed nearly everything else on my board without having to take workers once.

And that's about it for Friday. However, I have a bonus session report this week, in the shape of Thursday-evening games in the home of Adam and Elaine. I want to say our fourth player was called Yann or some variant thereof, but given Adam's predilection for addressing people with oddball nicknames, he could easily have been Ian, James, Euan or something else of a similar construct.

Dogs of War was the first game to hit the table. This is one of which I knew absolutely nothing, and I was a little bit wary as a general shunner of games involving dice combat and/or miniatures. I was not to worry, though: there isn't a die in sight and the miniatures are just overproduced meeples in a very Euro-y game of tug-of-war and stockholding.

The general principle is that there are six neutral 'families', who participate in three randomly-drawn battles each round, and it is our overproduced-meeples and purchased soldiers that contribute the battle strength in each situation. Each family has a limited set of shares which can be acquired throughout and winning battles increases the share value. It's actually a pretty simple mechanic which has been elaborately brought to life, and I really enjoyed it, finishing in second place to Elaine by shadowing Ad's choice of colours and collecting a bunch of bonus cards (if not used, 1VP each at game's end). I went home and plonked it on my wishlist - apparently cheap copies are not hard to come by.

Elaine: Do you want a drink? Beer?
Ben: Beer would be great
Elaine: We've got...um...Fosters, Peroni, or cider
Ben: Ooh, a cider would be nice please
Elaine: Mixed berry cider or cherry-and-orange cider?
Ben: Fosters please.

This sort of thing should be banned in Hereford of all places.

We had started early (6pm alongside chips'n'chilli sauce), and so it was barely gone 8pm when we started a game that I had been dying to try, that of Evolution. In contrast to the previous game, this is a card game with BARKING MAD mechanics which has been implemented simply and elegantly (and, yes, I do think I'm justified in using the e-word in this instance). It's a pretty simple objective - grow 2+ animals to a sufficient population size to accumulate lots of food (food eaten = VPs), but with the nasty twist that you can evolve into a carnivore and start chowing down on the opposition! If anything, and you won't hear me say this too often, Evolution is perhaps TOO nasty: directed attacks can lead to this sort of thing. Still, it's got to be worth a go at Ross-on-Wye, right. Fortuitously, a trade offer came through this weekend, so hopefully there can be some further session reports emanating from this blog soon. Yann/James/Ian/Euan won this one by a single point from an ultra-defensive Adam, but my long-necked, burrowing, warning-call animal won all the oddity prizes.

Time to introduce the crew to a couple of games I had brought along: Isle of Skye and Between Two Cities have both become favourites for us in a short space of time, and were ideal to accelerate Adam's belated voyage into proper Euros. Indeed, he enjoyed BTC rather too much, although this might have been down to the cherry-and-orange cider. Skye was comfortably won by probably-Yann, and Adam pulled himself out of bleariness to win BTC. Elaine was rather stymied by the former due to a minor case of OCD that incited to place tiles 'right-way-up' if possible and build a non-scoring roundabout, and all nearly came right in the latter: at least I was sharing a city in order to mute her pattern-making tendencies.

Adam is very keen on a unified Hereford Guild of board gamers - it isn't a heavily populated county, after all. I think it's a good idea in principle although the practice may be somewhat harder: I already have visitors to the Ross-on-Wye group from as far apart as Hereford, Ledbury and Malvern. Well, when they turn up, anyway.
Twitter Facebook
4 Comments
Sun Mar 6, 2016 12:32 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
21 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Friday February 26th - Yak Yak Bunny Tiger Rabbit

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
Ross-on-Wye
flag msg tools
Oi! Hands off...
mbmbmbmbmb
Well, that's a title that will confuse quite a few people.

It was an awkward start at the White Lion this week, as no fewer than 11 people turned up (not all on time, either), leaving us uncomfortably crowding our regular table for six for a while until we managed to intimidate the local yoof at the table next door and they scarpered. Perhaps Tony asked them to playtest something, I'm not sure.

Tony had indeed whipped out his latest Snowdonia showpiece, one I've still not played regrettably, and Becky, Norm and Gary got stuck into it with him. I heard barely a peep from the table for 90 minutes until Norm dramatically celebrated beating Becky (first time ever) by pulling his T-shirt over his head and doing a celebratory lap of the pub. Well, he didn't quite go that far, but I wouldn't have put it past him.

Expecting Suz and Harry at some future indeterminate time, I popped The Boss on the table for a 5P warm-up, involving not only myself, but JP, Bill, Benedict and Dan. I have a hard time finding people who dislike this excellent little deduction/area-control game (irritatingly, Becky is the only person of the group who actively hates it), and everyone warmed to their theme - certainly too much to acknowledge Harry and Suzanna when they came in during round 2. I tossed them a copy of Biblios and they ordered desserts, which seemed to be quite acceptable.

Despite shouting assorted Biblios rules at Harry, I had opened up a sizable lead by the end of the second round. Benedict struggled with the concept of 'not getting killed' at first (surely the prospect of 'getting killed' should ring alarm bells in even the most dull gamer's head?), but came through strongly in the last few rounds, leaving Bill to flounder at the bottom reach of the scoretrack. I was pressed strongly by JP at the end, but played a very safe game. Amusingly, Dan managed a complete tactical cock-up in the last round by plonking most of his inventory on 'The Boss' without considering the cards in play, and wound up with a measly one point for his efforts.

We finished at more or less the same time as Harry and Suz; John and Dan were both keen to hone their skills at Inhabit The Earth and we roped in Harry while Benedict introduced Bill and Suz to Sheepdogs of Pendleton Hill. I don't really have a clue who won the latter, although from the frustrated squeaks emanating from our most diminuitive member, I'm guessing Suzanna's run of 'first play wins' has come to an end (she won at Biblios, I believe).

Inhabit was a treat as always; Harry, unusually for him, didn't quite get up to speed quick enough and was reduced to a couple of uneconomical card draws. I struggled to get bonus tokens, and it was looking for a long time like Dan's game, until a hitherto dormant John suddenly sprinted for the end. I was a turn short to keep pace and finished with a pretty miserable 27 points, but the finale was a nailbiter, John scoring 41 to Dan's 42!

Meanwhile, Table 2 had moved on to perennial midweight favourite, Isle of Skye. Becky reports it was won by either Gary or Norm, so at least we've broken Tony's winning streak.

Table 3 had embarked on Machi Koro, but a reshuffling at about 10:30 meant they rebooted and started again with the addition of Becky. Bill won this one rather comfortably, I gather.

To close out a varied evening, I treated the Inhabit foursome to the joys of Divinare. This is a game which absolutely never disappoints, and the assorted furrowed brows marked all four rounds, even though I had a winning lead by the end of round three. John, entertainingly, finished with precisely one point in a display of psychic ineptness to rival the infamous 'cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances' notice.

My evening closed out by getting the latest gen from Landlord Dave on the pending sale of the White Lion. No-one has nibbled yet, but I hope the new owner won't evict us! Not after six years...
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Sun Mar 6, 2016 12:02 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [25]

Subscribe

Categories

Contributors

Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.