Stuart Burnham(vk1980)United Kingdom
In a rare allignment of calendars, the four of us are at the start of a week off school and work. What better way to begin then, than a leisurely 3 mile stroll through the fields and along the river, pausing to partake of some traditional refreshments.
To try and wrench this post around to something gaming related then, and what with being in a pub for the afternoon and all, is there an optimum amount of "happy juice" to imbibe to have a positive effect on gaming performance?
Through extensive self funded research, (the authorities kept turning my grant applications down for some reason), I can say that my experience for traditional pub games (eg; darts, pool, aunt sally- see below, it's a "local game for local people") is that the sweet spot is somewhere between 1 and 2 pints.
But what would help deliver peak performance in Boardgaming?
(My suspicion is that it might be more about how much the competition have had than yourself.....)
A daily blog about games, family and occasionally random other things. Well, it gives me something to do, and you something to read doesn't it!?
24 May 2015
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23 May 2015
In our game group we have one current "games guru" from Oxford's magnificent board game cafe Thirsty Meeples (www.thirstymeeples.co.uk) - if you're visiting Oxford you really must go there - and one ex guru.
This week we also had a colleague of theirs attend;
chimpsgames teachers for one games group, that's just greedy!)
Anyway, I'd just like to paraphrase a conversation from that night for you:
GG1 "man, I had a tough day today; I had to punch and bag Roads & Boats"
GG2 "yeah, but that's not as bad as when I had to punch and bag (XYZ game)" *sorry, can't recall*
ME "um, guys, can I just check; when you had to do this were you indoors?"
ME "sat down?"
ME "drinking coffee...?"
ME "and getting paid...?"
I mean, for some of you deviants out there, this would be the response;
"Punching cardboard are you Sir?"
"Bagging chits are you Sir?"
"Ooohhh, Suits You Sir!"
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22 May 2015
Determined to get his game played after being passed over at the previous evenings games night, Gareth arrived on my doorstep with Brew Crafters.
(To be fair, he did text, and I did invite him.)
Now, Gareth is not a fan of Agricola, and this game is clearly a
blatant rip offloving homage to it; so I was interested to see why it has enamoured him so.
Gareth went for a traditional
play an occupationhire a specialist opening and I took the 3 woodmalt. I announced I was "taking the reed" (yeast) with my next go, but he wasn't going to bite at my provocation....
The first season quickly ended and it was time to
bakebrew and build some improvementsbrewing equipment. Family Growthhiring shift workers is key, although it is then difficult to feed your familypay your upkeep.
After faffing about (from me) for most of the first (of the 3) years Gareth offered some advice and info on the tech-tree and equipment upgrades.
Inadvertently he threw down a gauntlet when saying "I've not seen anyone hire the third shift worker yet, it just gets very expensive".
Well sir, Challenge accepted!
From that point I went foot to the floor,
farmingbrewing like a madman, building everything and growing my familyworkforce to an irresponsible degree.
Ultimately it just worked as I moved past Gareth's consistent point generating engine in the penultimate season, and went on to a 65-55 win.
And I could just about afford the winter bills due....phew!
It does do something different but it has blatantly taken the meat of the Agricola engine and added a new skin to it. Still, if you're going to wholesale plagiarise, it might as well be from a brilliant game as opposed to a so-so one.
Overall my opinion is that it's a decent, solid and well balanced game (well, duh!) that will stand up to repeat play and differing strategies.
It's certainly tight, but not as punishing as Agricola.
(And that, I think, is why he likes this but loathes that.)
I like it a lot, and will happily play it more.
One final tease;
the artwork for the specialists isn't to my taste, but, it's fine;
the Beers though.....
.....it looks like an offering from the losing team on "The Apprentice"
(yes, I am trolling)
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With our regular pub (Kings Head and Bell, Abingdon) still out of action for renovations we once again met at the church lounge for our weekly games night. In a room normally used for coffee and kids mornings we made ourselves very homely with hot drinks and a selection of snacks including a marvellous stand of homemade cup cupcakes. How very civilised.
Despite several regulars not being able to make it we still managed an impressive sixteen, what with a trio of new attendees being welcomed.
(There's not always free cake on offer you know!)
Unusually I had been contacted in advance by two members asking me to bring "that book game" from Saturday again. I think they might be onto something with Bring Your Own Book you know; as several others also arrived clutching paper rather than cardboard.
Seven went off to book corner with Spike Milligan, Thomas the Tank Engine and The Highway Code amongst the source material.
Three joined the salty old dog Terry and went fishing with Fleet.
The remaining five of us sat down with Samurai Spirit.
I sort of drifted during the rules explanation as I was trying to think of what the game reminded me of.
Eventually I proudly pronounced "it's like Ghost Stories" - to which the others looked pityingly at me and said, " well, it is Antoine Bauza...."
Oops. I was only holding the box and looking at the cover (with the prominent name and all).
Mr Observant, that's me!
All that mental exertion clearly affected me as I was a little slow and dim in my play and it took a few turns until I stopped asking " so what can I do now.." (Sorry gents).
At least I stuck it out though - one samurai departed almost immediately; Gareth (disappointed that he couldn't get a game of Brew Crafters going), decided that this game wasn't for him after just one turn and went off to join the book club.
Samurai Spirit is the sort of co-op game that progresses thus:
"This will be tough"
"We're doing alright"
"We could actually do this"
"Oh ****, we're in trouble"
"We're totally screwed"
"If we just got this, then did that, we could pull off a miracle"
"We lost, oh well...."
It's a perfectly fine game, but I wouldn't choose it over Ghost Stories, or indeed several other co-ops.
Story time was over at about the same time the trawler fleet returned to port and our village went up in flames.
A few departees meant we were down to 3 four player games, with one lot off to Welcome to the Dungeon, another group ambitiously going for Galaxy Trucker (what with the small, low, coffee tables we were playing on).
The remainder of us went for the "Pro Rules" version of 6 nimmt!, (it's 6Nimmt BGG, can't we have a little Deutsch?) with 44 cards for the four players so perfect information......
(Gareth didn't fancy any of these either, so went for the interesting solo game "washing up", which he completed admirably - I think he's played it before.....)
I haven't played 6 nimmt! (6Nimmt!)for ages and this was a really intense way to play (first to rack up 66 penalty points triggers the game end, lowest cumulative total wins at that point). After a clear first round my penalties went, rather alarmingly, 3,8,11,22. One more round and I might have set a new record!
Really enjoyed this classic.
So next week we should be back to the pub, with beers, bigger tables, and maybe, just maybe a game of Brew Crafters....
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20 May 2015
Separated by many miles (with my wife away with a conference) how should we "connect" late at night?
Was it the lovey dovey phone call? - "you hang up"; "no, you hang up"....
No; been married too long.
Was it saucy FaceTime shenanigans?
No; been married too long.
Was it a text (from her) saying "fancy going farming"?
The wonders of modern technology!
Agricola on iOS is absolutely bloody brilliant, and is a joy to play. It's so smooth and all the additional art is really in keeping with the cardboard copy, plus the animations for all the incidental things in "the village" are just great.
Karen had been making interested noises about it for some time, so a couple of weeks ago I installed it on her iPad as well.
She's now addicted!
And look, she didn't even rage quit - she's a keeper!
(An unfortunate mistake concerning turns before harvest cost her the 2 begging cards, and she was tired after a very busy day, usually the score would've been a lot closer. I suppose I could've been more gallant, but subsistence farming isn't a game after all; is it?)
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As my wife is away with work (and there is no division of the household chores), I've just got time to share a picture of a road I frequently drive past.
I wonder if any gamers live here....?
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18 May 2015
On a Sunday there is a decent car boot sale just 5 minutes walk from my house, in one of the fields at the local farm.
(This "Agricola" is not the ranching type, except for the Turkeys at Christmas time, growing only PYO fruit & veg; which means you don't have to dodge cow pats whilst perusing people's old junk, thankfully!)
Anyway, I usually stroll over, sometimes with the idiot dog in tow, and have a look for games and bits I can shift on via EBay. This way I can make a bit of cash to spend on proper games without my wife complaining too much.
Occasionally I have turned up some great finds, once buying Dixit: Odyssey, Power Grid and Mystery Express from someone for £1 each! (I'd missed out on Ticket to Ride: Europe by about 5 minutes as well he told me!). Apparently his brother sent them a game every year as a present and they never played them....
This week I had a reasonable haul for an outlay of about £10 -£12.
Hopefully it will turn into funds to get something good from the upcoming UK Games Expo!
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17 May 2015
On the first and third Saturday of each month we have an open games group at a brilliant cafe in our hometown of Abingdon (just outside of Oxford, England - for you international BGG'ers)
There are generally a dozen or so attendees of regulars and semi regulars and we frequently entice other cafe goers in for a game; quite often this starts with their kids and then sometimes the adults join in too, others take advantage of the peace afforded them to enjoy a coffee and a chat without bored kids tapping their phones at the table with them; everyone is happy!
This week (fortnight) I arrived with my two lads in tow (my wife being on a day school with the Open University).
Eschewing the usual umming and aahhing over what we should play first I promptly plonked a bag of books on the table and began unpacking to quizzical looks.
Having heard a little about this game via a podcast in the week, I decided to print and play the demo version from the Bring Your Own Book website.
Quite simply the game challenges you to find a suitable word, part sentence, line etc from your text of choice to satisfy the request on the card.
(Two choices on a card, lead / judge player chooses which one the others have to seek).
Once a player has found a suitable selection they announce "I've got one" (or suchlike) and the rest have 60 seconds until all will have to read their choice.
The judge player then chooses who to award the card / point to.
Judge responsibility then moves clockwise around and off you go again.
First to four points wins.
We started with five of us and added another two as they drifted in. I had taken along a selection of books from home, trying to cover several bases.
"Animal Farm", "Aesop's Fables", The New Scientists "Why Are Orangutans Orange?", "Johnny Ball's Ball of Confusion" were quickly grabbed and I plumped for "Moby Dick".
(Latecomer number one bravely went for "The Road" and latecomer number two stuck with a copy of todays newspaper "The Independent" from the cafe's rack!)
With minimal explanation needed we dived in to try and find "A line from Dr Seuss".
You would think that this would prove challenging but it is really surprising how many rhyming couplets can be found in such a variety of texts.
Obviously the "Aesop's Fables" reader declared a find first and then the rest had one minute to finish. We all had a chuckle and/ or a nod of approval at the offerings.
Further rounds offered "Things Arnold Schwarzenegger Might Say", "A Sentence in a Fortune Cookie" and "A Pick Up Line" amongst many others.
An interesting wrinkle in the game meant that as soon as any player reached 3 points all books were passed to the left, neatly stopping someone mining the same book for easy points.
It took around 40 minutes total and all of us were smiling and had enjoyed ourselves. Several other cafe customers were slightly confused by our pronouncements (especially when accents were employed - eg "Arnie") but several more enquired with interest as to what on earth we were doing!
Having picked up one or two other players we then went for a large game of BANG! The Dice Game
We were all pretty familiar with the rules, except it transpires me, as after 5 minutes I pronounced "you can reveal your roles in this game", when what I meant was "Can you reveal..." Son no.2 instantly turned over his role card as everyone else pointed out my game altering error...!
A quick re-deal then.....
What ensued was a pretty swift bloodbath as the Sheriff bumped off one of his Deputies and nearly accounted for another before realising his folly. One Outlaw went down swiftly followed by the friendly fire afflicted Deputy.
With the Sheriff now standing alone against 2 Renegades and 2 Outlaws all that remained was to see which "team" could jostle for the requisite win condition.
My (foolish) Renegade gambit was to shoot the Sheriff first to make like an Outlaw. Well that didn't quite work out as the next player (Outlaw) finished him off with 4 bullets.
It's always a good group game at the cafe, even though we draw some questioning looks as we play.
Charlie (eldest son) was enticed away by the Orky / Dwarfy fightiness of Summoner Wars: Alliances Master Set (being a keen Warhammer player for a few years he always is drawn to head to head battles), so the remaining four of us (we'd shed a couple to "other things") broke out Port Royal.
Port Royal is an excellent little tableau building game in the vein of San Juan or Race / Roll for the Galaxy. Being on somewhat of a roll this morning I managed to forget a couple of rules in this game also - which Billy (youngest son) pointed out soon enough with a shake of the head.
The game proceeded much better after this point, without too much harm done!
The way in which your harbour of cards gets more powerful at trading / hiring / fighting accelerates the game nicely towards its conclusion.
The final trigger of someone reaching 12(+) points and THEN going around again gives the others a chance to leapfrog the leader, that is providing you have the funds to buy some extra cards for VP's, which I was sorely lacking in. Captain Will held his lead comfortably for the win.
Whilst we were finishing up a couple of new cafe arrivals introduced themselves and asked to join in; we plumped for a good old game of Saboteur. This had been sat on the shelf, unloved, for at least a year, until the last All Aboard at the start of May. We had great fun rediscovering this little gem and it had found it's way into the bag again this time.
Six players meant a role card draw from 5 Gold Diggers and 2 Saboteurs.
In the first round one of the Saboteurs made a bold early move and gave themselves away (first time player of the game - the Saboteur role can be tricky, with the timing of when to sabotage a delicate one).
The second one tipped his hand shortly after by freeing the first from his broken cart trouble; and then the game took an interesting turn as Billy blocked off the route we had made towards the gold card (or what we were pretty sure was the gold card). This caused a quick check of the remaining role cards to ensure that we hadn't included a third Saboteur by accident. We hadn't, so were we wrong as to who was who.....?
Well, no, you see Billy is a devious little sh**, and he was ensuring that he muscled out his fellow Gold Diggers to get to the gold first and thus get first pick of the loot, and, as it turns out, a 2nd dip as you have the same number of treasure cards (in denominations of 3,2,1) as player count.
Our new attendees were rather wide-eyed at the under hand nature of Billy's play.
Now fore-armed with knowledge of his hard-nosed playing style they dived into round 2 with the rest of us, trying to engineer a situation where he wouldn't get first dibs again. Which, of course, he did.
Round 3 went pretty much the same way, and despite me being on the side of "good" every time, I ended up with a pitiful 3 gold.
Billy had 12, easily winning.
Time for one more quick one before some lunch then, Sushi Go!.
Another great little filler, that flies by as you pick and pass.
Billy, of course, ran out winner again.....
I do, putting aside my fatherly instincts, positively encourage all other players to take him out in games.
New players think I'm joking.
And then they learn the hard way....!
Off we went then, another enjoyable morning at the Cafe had been had.
(I think a game of Welcome to the Dungeon was about to begin - and if you don't read that game title with an Axl Rose wail then what is wrong with you?)
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16 May 2015
This mostly happy family comprises of;
Stuart - recovering depressive and keen gamer.
(had always been a video gamer but have being going cardboard since sometime around 2012 / 2013)
Karen - brilliant wife and cardboard convert
(usually keen to play anything and recent convert to Agricola via iOS)
Charlie - too cool for comfort teenage (proper) guitar hero
(ex Warhammer, but still prefers games with miniatures or MTG styling)
Billy - cherub faced pre-teen with a remarkable capacity to learn mechanics
(viscious, devious player of absolutely anything at all)
When we moved to this house we very much wanted to have separate rooms, with doors that close and keep out the sound; what with 2 lads approaching teenage years and all.
Having a grown ups living room, but still keeping space for boys (including this overgrown one) to play and entertain friends was a major thing for us.
What, in most people's houses, would be a dining room has become, in ours, a Games room.
Karen still insists on calling it the "Front Room" though...!
It's the home of Minecraft, Call of Duty, World of Tanks et al.
And this is where our board games live...
Oh, and our (daft) Labrador, Dennis.
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16 May 2015
Here we go; I'm going to try to keep a record of "things" and "stuff", a bit like a diary, but mostly about the games I've played and the friends I've made through the hobby / medium of games.
I hope it'll do me some good, and if anyone else gets something of interest at any point then even better!
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