The Ross-on-Wye Boardgamers

Beer and Boardgames at The Plough Inn (formerly the Prince Of Wales, formerly the White Lion). "It's not F-ing Monopoly, alright?!"

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Friday 6th September - Now, That's Magic!

Ben Bateson
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We were back to normal this week, and as if nothing had happened, we gather around John's spunky table and watched Tony set up Sierra West. I had shown some interest in playing it, and Tony had wasted no time in sorting out little piles of wood and card, boning up on the rules and even dictating who would be playing (I suspect he just wanted to watch John and I in action). Apparently, while I were at the bar there were some strong-ish words had about 'setting up a game for half the room and just assuming that the rest would cope' (cf. the infamous Kanban session from a few years back), but Gerv neatly solved these problems by wandering in with his own newly-purchased Res Arcana and prepared to teach it. Gerv NEVER normally brings games, or teaches them, so it was no surprise to hear him proclaim this the latest 'best game I've ever played', from whence we assume it has dumped Wingspan off the top.

So, Sierra West, then. It proceeded stiltingly at first, as new games often will. I moved my wagon along, Tony acquired lots of apple-eaters, and John went for some sort of 'big gold' strategy. It was...well...all a bit unmemorable. The sequencing of workers and the off-turn actions just felt awkward, the deckbuilding facet was just odd, and it all felt like a typical Euro exercise in points-optimisation. It ran long, but that can partially be attributed to our newness. It certainly wasn't the most objectionable game I've played this year, but it just didn't have a USP for me.

With the other table starting to bed down into their second game of Res Arcana, it seemed time to find out what all the fuss was about and try it for ourselves. In pleasant contrast, the rules were easily summarised and digested and we leapt into back-to-back games, one without draft and one with. Tony won both, but not until I had given him a run for his money in game 2. On the whole, I marginally preferred the 'no draft' variant, although there wasn't much in it. I suspect a variant on Agricola's 10-discard-3 might be even better still.

So, what of the game itself? It was good, fast-paced, build-a-tableau-and-tap-it-to-do-things fun. It didn't strike me as particularly original, and it was easy to see how a heavily-abusable combo could be created. But, at a play length of a half-hour or so, that's not a problem. I could understand why people would want to play it back-to-back a few times, but think it might have some serious lack of legs if it were to get Nusfjord-like levels of play. John pronounced himself unimpressed. Becky was more receptive to it, and I suspect we'll be exploring the 2P depths if I don't have enough restraint to not buy a copy.

Time had swallowed up the room and we had only gotten two different games to the table all night. Was this becoming a trend for September?
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Sun Sep 15, 2019 2:02 pm
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Friday 30th August - Forty, Forty!

Ben Bateson
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Despite the notable omission of one invitee, my birthday celebration got off to a swinging start at The Plough on what was - ironically - actually Becky's birthday (she does the 'big number' next year, so we agreed to a mutual birthday sacrifice). I felt it only right and proper to be among the early arrivals, and it didn't take long at all for my numbers to be bolstered by Gerv, Tony, and the visiting by-now-almost-regular Matt Green. Matt threw Potato Man onto the table, promptly went and won it, and Tony disparaged all and sundry. Matt has quite a liking for these cute little card games, but I have to confess that Potato Man isn't my favourite either - either I haven't developed anything resembling a strategy or it is just as chaotic as Tony makes out.

By now, Richard and Jennie Munday had arrived, as had a loitering Bill and less-loitering Dave. It was calculated about this time that Matt had actually visited the club more times than Bill this year, despite living in the Home Counties. I proffered Ulm to the Mundays and Bill, while the rest scarpered off to the other table to play Res Arcana. Not just once, but twice, after they were caught in the act by John Shep (he came all the way from Newcastle, bless 'im) and set up another game just for him. Res Arcana definitely became the most-played game of the weekend; see next week for my overview.

Richard got off to a flying start at Ulm, winning the Chwazi random-player-chooser-app thing. At which he remained undefeated ALL WEEKEND. I mean, what? He leapt out to a lead in the real game, too, exploiting plenty of buildings for little-and-often points. I sunk back to the zero space in favour of building my hand of endgame-scoring cards, and a whopping 40 points at the end leapt me into a narrow second place. But Richard had just about done enough to trip over the 50-point mark.

And the invitees kept rolling in. Ian Gent was next, on special secondment on his way back from Silverstone (I never really asked...). He was only dropping in for the evening, so we endeavoured to get him playing ASAP with a 5P Isle of Skye. Despite being a full-house, it turned out to be a bit of a two-horse race, as Richard and I galloped away with things. This time, it was me that snuck a two-point victory after being in front for most of the game.

I had an event in mind to close matters, introducing Matt to Too Many Cooks. We were joined by Gerv and Ian while the remaining guests (Richard and Jennie had opted for an early night in advance of a weekend's gaming) pleasured themselves with Eggs of Ostrich. 'Pleasured' being the operative word in Bill's guess, as his snorts of amusement (I think) rang across the pub after encountering the 'sexy ostrich' cards.

Too Many Cooks was a quiet one by the sometimes hysterical standards. It brought approving nods, though, from Matt and Ian, who also favours a pub-friendly game. Everyone made it through their No Soup round without a major crisis and with two rounds to go I felt relatively comfortable. But Ian staged a great comeback to take me to another narrow victory.

Right at the death, in strolled our own Ian, even later than last time! It was so close to kicking-out time that we couldn't even scrape up anything to entertain him.
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Sat Sep 14, 2019 6:05 pm
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Friday 23rd August - Fruit'n'Veg

Ben Bateson
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This week's get-together started with - um - an incident over invites to the subsequent week's birthday get-together. Just to set matters at rest, let me make it clear that everyone is invited, including anyone who might be reading this blog, in whatever part of the world they might reside.. Kings Arms, Newent, from 10am on Saturday, right?

Incident aside, we proceeded with quite the edible set of 5P openers. First of all, a chance to inspect Tony's Plums. I find this a little too chaotic for a trick-taking game, but it's a decent enough opener, and I do have quite a decent record at it, which I merrily extended after pouncing on a couple of key cards and heartlessly stealing a big scorer out from under Tony's nose in the last round.

Too Many Cooks was next, ushering me ever closer to my H=40 target. It's a club favourite with good reason, proven by a climactic finish in which Tony and I went at each other point-for-point. Even the tense finish still couldn't trump the 3rd Round which saw Gary and Bill both spoil their No Soup menus impressively. Gary has quite the strategy these days of making low-level swears every time he has to take a trick (good OR bad), which makes it really hard to read what he is still holding.

Another club classic to follow in the form of the much-played Modern Art. We had forgotten about Bill's 'no auction, no valuation' policy, it seemed: perhaps he needs to turn up more often to remind us!

A short of explanation of 'it's the one about buying paintings' seemed to be enough for Gerv to remember all the rules, and a see-saw game saw a single 'good' round and two bad ones. I suspect a lopsided card distribution was to blame for the prices being well distributed: certainly I didn't hold a single Kaminski (the most common artist!) all game. When it all boiled down, Tony was clear by a fair old chunk of cash, although his winning score of 390 is by far the lowest I've ever logged.

There was veritable humming and hawing about what to play next. Gary said '7 Wonders' so often that I thought he was suffering from some for of game-related Tourettes for a while. So, in the name of treatment, we played 7 Wonders. As I was unloading the box, Gary suggested we throw in an expansion because it is one of the few games that we were all familiar with. This was an excellent idea, not least because it gave me further opportunities to cock up the setup, and I shuffled in the Cities cards with a little trepidation. Miraculously, all three Ages went around as expected (with the slight caveat that I had forgotten to remove the Leaders Guilds), and we played two excellent games: the first going to my vanilla Side B Giza, and the second to a big stack of blue cards in front of Tony.

We were just glancing at the cards and trying to work out whether we had time for one more before closing time, when in strolled Ian! He did hint that he might have been late, but this is taking the concept to extremes. So we whipped out Cockroach Poker for a swift 6P closer. I wouldn't have bet on Gerv's poker-face to lose this, but lose he did, with the bare minimum of three cards in front of him.
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Mon Aug 26, 2019 6:16 pm
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Friday 9th August - Up to the Rigs, Down to the Jigs

Ben Bateson
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Visitor time!

This week we welcomed fellow blogger Nick 'nickster', and KT, to the fold. KT was later described as 'the poshest person who has ever visited the Ross gamers', which I think is accurate by a couple of orders of magnitude at least. But the rest of us are scumbags, really.

Tony threw them in the deep end with a playtest of his forthcoming 'Off The Rails' - a run-round-the-table-to-find-things party-ish game. It's pretty good as long as he doesn't insist on complicating things. I won with time to spare, a game that kicked off an unbeaten night for me. Not that we keep count or anything, oh no.

Upon learning that Nick was a musician, John proceeded to spin ten minutes of impressive Grade-A guff about why he didn't play a musical instrument. I concentrated on burying my nose in the setup instructions for London*, which had been seized upon keenly by KT, and slightly less so than Nick, who feared he was completely inept at the game. I tried to reassure him that we only played for fun at Ross and the result wasn't important. Despite this, he did manifest in being completely inept, and scored an unprecedented minus-50 or so points. I was feared of KT's engine for a while, but she seemed to grind to a halt in the midgame, allowing me to charge away with things somewhat. Certainly not as close as last time we played, which was quite the four-way thriller.

The other table were deeply involved in Alubari by this time, so we broke out QE for a christening. KT started things in extremis by bidding a couple of million for the first business, after which there was ongoing confusion over whether we were playing all bids x10^6 or not. The usual chaotic end-scenes ensued, and when the dust had settled, KT was revealed as the disqualified high bidder and my 6-point bonus was enough for the win.

Nick and KT had to turn in at this point (and, indeed, we all had half an eye on an early night for various reasons), so we closed matters with a six-handed Codenames. The random draw of experienced old hands Ben/Tony/John seemed a little unfair, but Ian/Gerv/Dave ran us close in every round. Ian certainly threatened to overcome Tony after we completely failed to fathom what he was on about, but we came through for a last-gasp victory. My closing round as the Spymaster followed a fairly standard pattern throughout:

Me: BeeGees, 2
Tony: Well, that'll be AUSTRALIA and ROBIN, then
John: Ooh, I'm not sure. It could be x or y or z
**ten minutes of varietal and tangential discussion**
Tony: *hits AUSTRALIA and ROBIN and scores two spies*

It wouldn't be Codenames without the personalities.




* We were playing 2nd edition London, but see last time I blogged about this game for my rationale.
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Mon Aug 26, 2019 5:57 pm
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Friday 2nd August - How do you Weigh a Whale?

Ben Bateson
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Molkky again to start this week, and - for the first time in a long time, and with no help whatsoever from three pints of lager and a vegetable curry dinner - I managed to land the first game with ease. Tony, having requested 'Molkky at 7pm', rolled up at about 7:20 in sufficient time to join in the second game, which resulted in a Gerv victory, for the second successive week. The uncharitable among us (which is, in fact, all of us) suggested he'd been practising.

Anyway, on to the real stuff. For the third successive week, John volunteered for teaching duties (bless 'im), and taught Finca to Ian and Gerv. It sounded like it went down OK, and the odd drifting comment about 'comparing our nuts' certainly kept all amused. Finca is certainly a treasure with three, and I must pop it on the table again soon.

The reason John had to teach is because Tony had brought Agricola and...well, one thing led to another. What they actually led to was me playing the whole game in a 2-room house and a gigantic wood surplus building up, due to the various cards on offer. Despite being domestically challenged and the Family Growth without Room space coming out in Round 13 in order for Tony to take it twice (quiz: how did I do it?), I finished with five family members and the only score over 40 points, although all three of us had decently functioning farms and it felt like a rich and glorious spread rather than the miserly food-grab that 3P games so often are.

By the time we'd packed away, John already had a Codenames tableau laid out, even though it was barely 9pm and perhaps just a tad early to be starting on the late-night games. Not that that stopped us enjoying Codenames to its fullest extent. Whether it's the delights of abstruse cluing (I opened the game with Mengele:2 [ANGEL + DEATH, natch], which sort of set the tone) or the general dicking around while a poor cluemaster tried to dredge up some semblance of meanings (Ian was particularly victimised in this respect, but he's a regular now and will have to get used to it), we always extract the very most from this brilliant game. Team Bateson-Boydell-Morley lost the opener, but recovered magnificently to win the second two games with the opponents down to 1 remaining spy in each case.

It was only 10pm or so, but we didn't have time to crank out anything of significant size, so we blustered our way through Incan Gold (Tony winning by quite some margin) followed by a marvellous Braggart, at which even John made a token effort to get into the spirit. Devotees of my 40-H project will have noted that Braggart's charm is distinctly fading after so many plays, but with a full complement of six, it is still fun and quick and doesn't outstay its welcome. So, I'm sure we will get it to 40 plays, one way or another.
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Sun Aug 4, 2019 1:24 pm
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Friday 26th July - Tales from the Cryptid

Ben Bateson
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A full 7P this week! We were missing Dave to a vacation, but Tony was back and - for the first time in, like, forever - Bill made an appearance, on special secondment from MI5, or whatever it is that he gets up to during the week.

Being bang in the middle of a heatwave, it seemed only right that we should brave the dessicated dog-droppings in the garden for a bit of Molkky. Indeed, doggy-doos were surprisingly thin on the ground (metaphorically speaking, that it), and it took us little time to identify a suitable pitch and bicker about how the throwing line was supposed to work. Becky won the first game relatively quickly, but the second was a morass of 'sticky' pins, and - remarkably given current form - concluded with the words "Gerv - you need six to win". Sure enough, the 6-pin was dispatched to roars of approval all around, and we trooped in for some proper tabletop action before it got too late.

Tony was (surprisingly modestly) brandishing a Snowdonia Deluxe Master Edition, so it was more or less inevitable that Becky and Gerv would succumb to the goodies inside. They played a swift and guinea-pig-filled Daffodil line to christen the set, while I taught Cryptid to Bill, John and Ian.

I think it would be fair to say that Cryptid is VERY Marmitey, but I presumed to have three suitably analytical brains around me, and was pretty sure it would be exactly the sort of thing that John liked. Indeed, he went into such raptures of deep thought that I wondered whether he'd drifted off from time to time, and I was forced to pluck the winning space from under his nose, by dint solely of sitting on his right. As usual, there was one particularly aggravating clue to overcome: this time it was Bill holding the difficult one, and his pre-game dithering and changing of plans (this is a pretty standard tactic) made the attendant deductions all the more tricky.

Somehow, the 75-minute game and the 45-minute filler both finished simultaneously. Tony and I had a mutual yearning to play some Glass Road, a move which encouraged Gerv and John to run in the opposite direction for the sanctuary of the Stone Age table. We were joined by Bill, who has demonstrated uncanny aptitude for this game in the past, albeit by picking the most ludicrous and illogical cards imaginable.

Stone Age was, by all accounts, taught immaculately by Becky and John, and picked up with credible aptitude by Ian, who was by now firmly on board after his Chinatown initiation. John won, using the sound and proven precautionary principle of explaining clearly: "don't let Becky buy all the cards". Meanwhile, Bill was up to his old tricks again, conniving us out of various actions that should have been a Glass Road formality. Tony, fairly predictably, failed to break 20, I scored only an exact 20 flat (stretching the 'convert goods at any time' rule to extend past final scoring), but Bill somehow clocked up 21.5 for a win that had looked improbable throughout. We sought revenge and thrashed him at Citadels instead, although that might have something to do with his wayward assassination attempts also.

By this time, the Stone Age table had all packed away and moved onto the intellectual pursuits of Dobble, a game into which Tony and I found it easy to barge unceremoniously. Bill has no time for such shenanigans and left us all to a bit of Hot Potato, cheering unsympathetically whenever Becky was dumped with a handful of cards.
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Sun Aug 4, 2019 12:53 pm
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Friday 19th July - Forget it, Jake

Ben Bateson
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Right, I'm three weeks in arrears with the blog. This is strictly unacceptable. Stay tuned while I try to get us up to date.

Tony was away on the Boydell summer vacation this week, so we were eyeing up a variety of exciting 5P games (it's still my favourite player count), only to become undone by...

***NEW MEMBER ALARM***

Ian, who lives just over the road from the pub (wise choice), had dabbled a little in Kickstarter (unwise choice) and wanted to see what we get up to (most excellent choice). Luckily, I had just enough stuff with me to support a 6P evening, and we decided to throw Ian in at the deep end with Chinatown. He was quiet, VERY quiet, at first and I feared that "this is where we lose Ian for good - on the first game of the night", but he gradually came good and didn't quite finish dead last. I suspect much of his quietness may have been mild dumbfoundedness at the goings-on at the other end of the table, where Gerv was making out like the Wolf Of Wall Street, and conning Dave into handing his life savings in many dodgy business ventures. John tried a hoarding game, with reasonable success, and finished a close second to Becky, who at least had the common-sense to cherry-pick the best of Gerv's outrageous wheeler-dealing.

Our middle game was two groups of three - John took on the teaching mantle (and kudos to him for once, for it's not his favourite thing), and taught the most excellent Isle Of Skye to Dave and Ian, who thankfully hadn't run away screaming. Gerv, Becky and I got wrapped up in Small World. Given how well this scales, and the inevitable tension of not knowing QUITE who has won until the very end, I'm surprised this doesn't hit the table more often. I'm sure not many people would peg Small World as an excellent 3P game, but we had an outstanding session with a classic finish as there were no good blitz races on the table at the end, so we each had to gently eke out points in the last two rounds. I was pretty sure Becky's mid-game Sorcerors were enough to win the game for her, and so it proved. In fact she scored a whopping 120 points and it wasn't even close. But it FELT like it...

We reformed the table of six for what proved to be our closing game. Citadels isn't always quick with six, but this time it was torturously slow, mostly due to the fact that we had ALL been dealt a hand full of expensive cards. It's a rare game when Magician is the least-appreciated card in the deck. After 50 minutes, we staggered to an end with a John victory, but it didn't feel like a classic at that point.
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Sun Aug 4, 2019 12:03 pm
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Friday 12th July - Her Majesty's Ships

Ben Bateson
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With Gary making the trek over to Ross from the mysterious 'other side of Hereford', we chose a 7pm start and a few games of Molkky to commence proceedings tonight. Unfortunately for five of us, this combination caught Tony in rampaging mood, and he quickly took down three straight games, only held up ever so slightly by the pub dog commiting a copious urination on his 'out' pin. The pins got a thorough run-out under the hosepipe once we got home!

After we had all trooped inside and washed our hands, there was time for a quick playtest of Tony's party-esque game Off The Rails, newly adapted for the London Underground. This one is very welcome on a games night full table, at least as long as Tony resists the urge to shovel in lots of trifling little rules and keeps the whole thing simple. I always enjoy the silly 'one hand on top of your head at all times' silly twists on games, so this one is evolving nicely.

Gary had expressed a desire - highly apt for our usual six-count - to try out Le Havre, so even though we threw open the doors to everyone, I was quietly confident that it would be he, Tony and Becky playing with the Rosenberg ship-fest. With the prospect of the three of them being out of commission for the rest of the evening, Gerv, John and I had time for three full - and fully enjoyable - games.

We kicked off with my new Second Edition London. But, wait, did you notice something there? When you clicked on 'Second Edition London', didn't it take you through to the wrong game? NO, IT DID NOT! THIS IS A PROTEST AT BGG'S IDIOTIC POLICY OF CREATING A NEW GAME PAGE EVERY TIME A DESIGNER TWEAKS THE RULES OF THEIR GAME AND RE-RELEASES IT! It makes me very cross because I have no idea how I can coherently log plays and maintain my play statistics under such a policy. Do I care if I played my copy of Agricola or Tony's 'revised edition'? Like hell do I. I logged this play under First Edition London because that's where all my other plays are logged.

**breathes deeply**

Anyway, whatever my prejudices, it has to be said that the 'new' London has been smartened up very nicely. There is more emphasis on managing poverty, and less on obsessively buying boroughs. The whole thing feels more streamlined and less fiddly. We all enjoyed it massively, not least John who sneaked a narrow win after some exciting back-and-forth.

We moved on to Majesty: for the Realm, a game that had a successful debut the week after. John's enthusiasm for it didn't quite extend to his performance, but Gerv leapt onto a nice balance of Knights and Innkeepers and it looked like his game from about two-thirds of the way in. Indeed it was, but my carefully handled variety and two majority bonuses at least pushed him close. This is a smart filler that doesn't outstay its welcome and we shall have to take a look at the B-sides of the cards.

Thirdly, we had time for Tiny Towns. This is still a game that could go either way: I thought it would have massive variety in the setup, but there is proving less game-to-game variety than I had hoped, and there is maybe one building too many to really manage a truly optimum strategy, in the same way that you would do in a DXV game. It doesn't help that nearly everyone I've played against has been pretty hopeless too. But the interaction is very sweet ("Wood? Wood?! Why are you picking wood AGAIN?") and the sheer screwage potential is warming us to it for now.

It was one game apiece for us by the time they finally finished Le Havre, then. We were going to close matters with some Codenames after our rousing success a few weeks ago, but Gary had to bid an apologetic farewell (not that apologetic: I suspect he really HATES Codenames), so we changed plans and went for some Dixit instead. This is too good to be relegated to party-night and New Years' Eve fare (although, don't get me wrong, it does improve with conspicuous alcohol consumption), and we had a blast: the scores were close, too, with Becky squeaking a win and no-one getting truly behind.
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Sun Jul 14, 2019 4:00 pm
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Friday 5th July - In Which John has a Paddy (but, ironically, not a tantrum)

Ben Bateson
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Tony was away this week on his 'Snowdonia Deluxe Edition Gold-level Pledge Get a Holiday in Snowdonia With Tony' holiday, and after duck-outs from Becky and Gerv, it was just the three of us that congregated in the back room of The Plough. It's unusual, these days, for us to only get a turn-out of three, but given our usual number is six now, we have plenty of experience in the 'best with three' market.

First up, a game that I've been trying to put on the table for a very long time now, Spirits of the Rice Paddy. This is a sort of Chinese Viticulture, with a fun level of interactivity as you flow the rainwater down from terrace to terrace. It's not always terribly intuitive and I suspect it may become very linear after a dozen plays, but we enjoyed it well enough. We would have enjoyed it significantly more if I had gotten the water rules right, but it wasn't a complete dud and the simultaneous actions kept the game length pleasingly compact. The winning scores - due to my rules errors - were largely irrelevant, but the verdict was a pleasing, mildly sandboxy game. I played it again shortly afterwards with the correct rules and it was excellent.

We moved on to another rarely-spoken-of game in the form of Majesty: For The Realm. This is a game purely of taking cards and scoring VPs (chunky, clay VPs, which makes the game an easier sell) for them: it sounds like it should be simple, but there is a surprising amount to consider beyond just optimising your immediate turn. Dave surprised us both by going seriously all-out attack, but you need to be a bit more multi-dimensional to win at this, as it turned out: the ingame scoring might look attractive to monopolising a building, but the endgame scoring rewards variety. This short game was surprisingly positively received by both John and Dave, and I expect we'll be seeing it again.

There was a little dithering over our final selection, but eventually John pulled Macao from the bag, and despite my misgivings (I seem to have quite the knack for this game and didn't want to stir the pot any more than necessary after winning the first two) badgered me into teaching it. This is one of those games for which I have a finely-honed teaching script, so we rattled through the rules and got going. I latched upon an assorted Office card combo, which the other two facilitated by ignoring the Wall and leaving me as Start Player until about halfway. When I finally switched to buying some goods, then my boat was already chugging around the south half of the map. Becky showed up for the last couple of rounds and raised her eyebrows as she could foresee the inevitable endgame which saw me a dozen or so points clear of John. Looking at my stats I am now 8-1-0 at Macao since I started logging scores. And to think the group refuse to play Hansa Teutonica with me!
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Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:44 pm
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Friday 28th June - Gardening Angel

Ben Bateson
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On a baking hot Friday, I fancied something a little more chilled than my usual just-below-room-temperature real ale, so I moseyed up to the bar and ordered a pint of 'Carling Black Label'. This caused landlady to Kate to double up in laughter, and inform me that "no-one's called it Carling Black Label since about 1989". Really? Well I've learned something this week.

My new-found lager knowledge was much welcomed, for we were in for an evening of good old favourites, much of which was done in order to keep my '40 list' ticking along. This all looked so easy a year ago, but I am starting to wonder where the time will come from to play another four games of Small World before September...

Tony was already unpacking Alien Frontiers when I transported my ice-cold beverage into the back room. This game is the very definition of 'mediocre', so I was happy to pass in favour of something else. Becky suggested Goa, and I - and Gerv - were more than happy to acquiesce. Gerv spent most of the first three rounds drawing money, which struck me as a bit odd, but it gave him a decent ride through the remaining auctions, so it might not have been all bad. Becky went heavily into colonisation, although I craftily used a cheap Espionage tile to get to Calicut first. My last two actions were supremely inefficient, though, and Becky's fistful of bonus cards let her creep up on me for what I thought was a win. But, no! A thrilling 35-point tie was the outcome. Given that my rulebook is long gone (possession of one Mr Jules Freeman at last count), I couldn't even look up the tie-break.

There was no sign of proceedings even being close to a finish at the other end of the table, so we broke out Thurn & Taxis, content in the knowledge that we all knew how to play this, and could get on with it quickly and without rules explanation. And quick it proved to be: my cards proved unerringly adept for a rush game, and I barged my way to the 7-length carriage with two uses of the Carriage Dude. Becky, on her bonus turn, drew some outrageously lucky cards off the deck, closed a route that gave her eight points, and beat me 22-15. Dammit. Gerv outdid himself with a record VP total of six.

We had time to squeeze in a quick For Sale (84-78-77 to me) while the final turgid squeezings of dice-placement were still going on. And then we all joined together for some Codenames.

Despite its end-of-the-evening reputation, Codenames is far too good to relegate to being a mere filler, although Gerv played it as if it were some abstruse round of Only Connect rather than a game where you're supposed to make obvious connections (witness his blurting out of the blog title and later cluing of FORK with 'NEWCASTLE' because Tyne=tine, meanwhile demonstrating he knew nothing about Aussie-rules Football given that JET was the assassin). Despite this, the team of he, John and Becky made it one-all going into the final round, after Dave delightfully fingered HORN on Tony's clue of CONDOM:2. With Dave against Gerv in the hotseat, anything could have happened, but the good guys pulled through on the back of some sound cluing from Dave.

And we still had time for more! Two rousing games of 7 Wonders to finish. The first went Gerv's way - a just reward after some diligent toiling all evening, and the second went to a rare tie between John and Tony, who seem to have a knack for mirroring each other's scores. Dave and I finished 6th and 5th respectively in both, but in my case I put it down to the Carling Black Label.
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Sun Jun 30, 2019 12:50 pm
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