Ben Bateson(ousgg)United Kingdom
Ross-on-WyeOi! Hands off...
After a week's hiatus due to the UK Expo, we had some company on our return, as a band of rowdy canoeists helped themselves to the pub copy of Trivial Pursuit and made an impromptu second table. Well, it's a start...
In fairness to them, they showed a bit of polite interest in what we were playing. Despite being only a threesome this week, Ben, JP and Becky got stuck into several good meaty and short-playing games for a rich evening's worth. While waiting for Tony (who never appeared due to injured offspring), we broke out Ablaze, and slowly integrated ourselves into the 'proper' rules. Becky belied her previous incompetence at hex games to win two out of three rounds. I really do recommend this game: it's produced on the cheap, but the simple mechanics work ever so well, and there are two whole games in the box which we've not even touched yet. Excellent stuff...
After realising that Tony probably wasn't showing, we moved on to Pillars Of The Earth, a rare purchase for Becky at the Expo (£27 with a dinged box seems very reasonable, I have to say, and it increases her game collection to four!). I find this game very rinse-and-repeat, but was quietly confident of my chances after building an early metal stash. Becky pipped me at the end of things by a mere few points, after sterling work with the organ builder (quiet at the back, there!). I'm tempted to play more of this, given the reasonably short game length, although I'm not convinced that the Master Builder draw is well-balanced.
Yspahan was next, a subtle little dice-thrower which we all enjoy, despite having a patent inability to move the turn marker forward. John abused the caravan well, but was a little fortunate with some highly-imbalanced dice rolls as well. Becky's camel hordes shooed her in for second, and as for me: Played 2, Resounding Lasts 2. In fact, I didn't really come close to winning anything this evening.
Nowhere was my incompetence better proved than with our closing game, Wasabi. I'm crazy about the presentation and theme here, but it has to be admitted that the game underneath it all isn't all that great. Plus, as I realised about halfway through, if you balls-up the strategy early, then you've no chance whatsoever of making a comeback. John raced out to an early lead in this one, and won with room to spare. I'm not convinced this one will make a regular appearance in our half-hour evening-closer slot, although I'd like to give it more chance.
Next week, I'd really like to get my new acquisition, Opera, onto the table - it looks like a good Puerto Rico clone, without the problems of fixed turn order. Any recommendations or advice as regards this one would be much appreciated. And, of course, we have the mysterious Graenaland to tackle again at some point with the grown-up scoring rules.
It's also worth mentioning that I picked up a copy of Hive in Country Collection this morning. Nice to see someone in Ross dipping their toe into 'real' board games.