With great eagerness, Tuffley games club welcomed us in for another Tuesday session and - like good boys and girl - we wore our masks and behaved in an appropriately distant manner.
I'd been promised a game of Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game and we were hoping to get a goodly number:
Indeed, at one point - thanks to a pair of late-arriving Christophers - we were set for seven in the escaping outer space until the club organiser reminded us of the 'bubbles of six' Governmental rule and we threw a couple of players on to the other table (with a third) for Arboretum.
Progress was steady and cautious: all of the first phase of skill checks went through with no more than one (occasionally two) off-colour cards. Ben was cheerily trying to out everyone else as a Cylon which would normally have raised suspicion amongst the rest; however, no obstacles found themselves strewn in our path and we tootled through FTL jumps with a happy efficiency.
Then we had the second-card deal.
As it turned out, the messing about with the secret identity deck for six then seven then back to five meant we'd accidentally left a Cylon Sympathiser IN (not allowed with 5 players) and had four left-over cards after the second deal. Um, it looked horrifying like we had no Cylons in the game at all.
Indeed it was thus: with a frankly-ridiculous earnestness, we over-compensated on the Crisis cards and kept careful stock of colours played - and available - and even threw in a couple of Investigations to see what cards we were all throwing in: all with no indication of metal chicanery! I did suggest we call it early for a Human win but the others insisted on plugging away: it was at this point I realised that there probably was NO Cylon threat to the twelve planets and that were simply sent in to space so the system could be rid of us: telephone sanitisers, hairdressers and marketing executives all!
There was still time for a quick bath and a run at the excellent Cryptid:
A clever - but notoriously fragile - deduction affair, Cryppers progressed intriguingly (as per) until Ben ran out of 'No' cubes - and no-one seemed to know what to do next. Simultaneously, the call for closing time (approaching 10PM, you see) had us throwing up our hands and giving in.
Two fun games that both ended in ignominy: remind me, again, why we go to games club? Oh yes, because it was enormous fun nonetheless! Tom has promised Scythe in a fortnight: count me in!
Life and Games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Dad, Husband and Independent UK Game Designer, Agricola fanboy and jealous admirer of Carl Chudyk.
Archive for Session Report
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The latest Magic set - Zendikar Rising - is all about adventuring and as any fule kno, you need a proper variety of adventurers in your party. Many of the creatures and effects trigger more efficiently, the wider the variety: this Tony deck is about picking the best of each adventuring type and trying to find synergy.
4 x Nimble Trapfinder - handy little bugger who a) contributes to the (Rogue) body of the Party and b) lets you draw extra cards when the group is complete.
4 x Archpriest of Iona - turn 1 Cleric drop that gets out of control very quickly as she grows in confidence (and damage-dealing) when attendance picks up: she's a real Party animal!
4 x Luminarch Aspirant - another cleric that likes to get a-pumpin' on the Party dancefloor (as in [i]giving out free +1/+1 counters)
4 x Emeria Captain - Flyer who loves a good Party
1 x Thieving Skydiver - just the one (because that's all I've managed to collect so far) BUT she pinches artifacts.
2 x Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate - legendary owl/swan/wizard creature that flies and can protect everyone from board-sweeping disaster
4 x Watcher of the Spheres - cheap flyer with a Wizard tag
3 x Seasoned Hallowblade - (very) hard to kill Warrior damage-dealer that really gets on your opponent's tits. He just won't LEAVE the party!
2 x Brazen Borrower - ubiquitous blue creature that everyone uses because it's stupendous. And a rogue for the Party mix.
3 x Opt - card-drawing to dig for the Party crew
2 x Spoils of Adventure - life gain but is often a ridiculously-cheap three-card draw!
4 x Kabira Takedown - it's a Land or a kill spell: essential!
1 x Glasspool Mimic - copies any creature in play on your side: preferrable the Party-inflated OR card-drawing ones
1 x Temple of Enlightenment - only got the one in my collection
10 x Island
11 x Plains
Given I don't read up on the latest stratagems, this Blue/White Party build might be close to something everyone is banging on about BUT I took a card I seemed to keep picking up as a Free Booster Rare (Nimble Trapfinder) and decided to build a deck around it. Blue and White seem to be my favoured colours at the moment - an old man's patient mix of Control and Aggro rather than the heady days of phat creatures and burn of Yore.
It's a bit bitty in early trials - it's winning more than it's losing - and it's rather a hoot to play.
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Boffo and I were recently spanked to within an inch of our lives:
Thrashed, I tell you; until our farming botties were red-raw!
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Your dog just took his last dump on my lawn! I find one more - just one - I'm going to catch him and staple his ass shut!
14 Oct 2020
It was my shout for the Tuffley club drive so I rocked up at the Warner's in plenty of time to accommodate a KFC stop-off (for myself, a vegan mexicana pastie and packet of ready salted crisps served as sufficient repast). I'm settled in to a two-weekly attendance as 'going out' in these times - albeit abiding by the covering/closing rules - feels weird; I'm wondering whether we'll be obliged to order chips with our diet colas soon. The official Covid-19 messaging is, now, so confused that I'm not sure I'm even allowed to be in a room alone with myself anymore.
Unless I'm a key worker. And put a mask on my food after 10PM. Or something.
Quite how such a (formerly) major, respected player on the International Field has fallen prey - so catastrophically and so completely - to this nuclear grade laziness, ignorance, corruption and contempt in such a short period of time (4 years) is breathtaking; it feels like we've been invaded. Yesterday, I also finally caved and cancelled November's Gathering Of Chums - four weeks to go and it's only going to get worse from hereon. Gods help us. Anyway: mask up I did and we tickled the entry bell at the Tuffley Community Centre in time to half-inch the better sets of tables.
While waiting for Siona, Marc and Dave and I pretended to Zen our way through Tsuro which, not having played it in a LONG while, turned out to be more rubbish than I'd remembered:
The first half plays out in a flurry of stay away from everyone else (if you draw the right tiles) followed by a denouement of hoping you draw the right tiles to fuck up a close-by opponent or two. I recall be rather pleased with this 'back in the day' but, then, I was putting the finishing touches to Scandaroon, so WTAF did I know?!
Siona was still delayed, so I grabbed someone else's copy of Suburbia, set it up and got ready for the teach; we proxied one turn on Siona's behalf before she arrived and then - after a refresher - were off-and-running proper:
Stupid phone takes screen shot of selfie camera app rather than the camera app taking the selfie: twat Apple.
A number of the different $2 per tiles came out (two for Green, one for Blue and one for Yellow), which gave some of us a helpful early money boost. Dave quickly found himself with Fewest Greens for a guaranteed $20 goal; I left the Lake-rs to it (despite my Waterfront Realty) and concentrated on Trump-ing up my City borders. In the final Act, I was reputation-ed up in the teens, so leapt ahead of Dave's goal buffer to ensure the win.
Siona had wanted to play this in a long while, apparently, so it was good to get it to the table and give a really good picture of how this splendid diversion plays out: money droughts and floods, opportunistic goal-grabs, paying VERY close attention to who wants what and so on.
Approaching 9PM, there was time enough to have a go at a prototype (and so it begins): Iron Almanac from myself and the ubiquitous Matthew Dunstan:
Our action selection, resource juggling, route-building dice drafter has been through a Summer of rigorous Tabletopia testing but has rarely seen the physical light of day. It's a bit clumsy to explain - I've yet to fully develop the Demo Patois - and the scoring is still a little un-generous given the amount of heavy thinking one has to do.
IA is deceptively lightweight but can get very, VERY thinky indeed once the cross-card and train bonuses kick in; this is exactly to my taste but it still feels a little 'disconnected' - which is iron-ic for a railway-themed game.
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I was closing down the afternoon's rather busy activities in readiness for a quiet evening when a message popped up from pal Ian reminding me it was a Tuesday and would I like to go along to Tuffley for games? I didn't go last week on account of - well, you'd have read about that - so after a fortnight of emotional turmoil, I rather fancied a pint of guinness and some dobbershovin'.
Most English City Community centres look like this: neglected relics of the optimistic 1970s fallen into disrepair.
Ian and Adam like to supper 'on the hoof' before games, so we passed by a Dominoes pizzeria* - I'd already nabbed a sandwich before pickup - and we sat discussing the merits of early Metallica in a savoury Magueritta/Mighty Meaty cloud.
I packed a variety of entertainments - many smaller boxes - with Auztralia for the sitch where some W40K-ers might be taking an evening off. As it turned out, our group would be making full use of card games for the duration; not a big box affair in sight.
While the boardgamers congregated - we're starting and finishing early because the Government has told us to - Mark suggested his recently acquired Yardmaster; it was either that our push Cthhulu-shaped dildae around a black sheet for 90 mins:
YM is a simple draw/collect/cash-in with the thinnest of thematic skins and a rather ploddy progression; there's no player interaction to speak of and when someone - Dave - finally won, we all just got up and wandered off.
Gerv (a RoW-er who lives in Gloucester) arrived mid-YM and Siona (spelled correctly this time) arrived just before the end so we stole a W40K-er's left-unattended table; time for the two of them to get their heads around my Plums:
It's been a while so it was lovely to ogle those Country Diary of an English Lady-esque fruit pictures and psych eachother out with Pi-inflated bids! Oh, my plums, how I have mourned for thee! It was still plenty early, so my internal monologue determined that the big boxes would stay in the bag and we should continue with the card game theme. To that end, it would've been rude to NOT introduce Siona to the mentalism wonders of Divinare:
Divinare really is a superstar in a small box; accessible to newbies, mean enough for veterans and just the right amount of challenge.
Next? A bona fide classic:
Despite my VERY clear warning of the 'most profligate is eliminated' rule, both Siona and Gerv were Brewster's Millions-ing their way through the big numbers. As we approached the revelation of the fourth, terminating, 'special card' I was able to pick up some VERY cheap points to overtake Gerv's haul and Siona was unceremoniously banished to financial ignominy.
With an hour remaining before the 10PM curfew, we gave my Plums another go - a much quicker pace now that all were up to speed. My prior experience meant I had Plums licked without too much interference from the others.
To close, then, after an evening of deceptively straightforward, new-to-Siona fayre, I dropped her right in the deep end with Innovation:
Have no fear for Siona is no gaming lightweight; after I'd explained the rules and glossary in First Edition terms, I had to do it all again with the update IELLO lexicon - Archive = Tuck, Recycle = Return and so on. Anyway, we were all off-and-combining in short order - achievements (er, I mean "Dominations") claimed here and there until, in the middle of Age 10 I tried to set off the nukes. Twice. It was 21:58 and that would've been a poetic note upon which to end a fantastic session had Gerv and Siona not kept failing to draw a Red 10!
Home earlier than usual: not enough time for another episode of The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 but just enough for a yoghurt nightcap. Good times!
*this Italianate label summons images of large, jolly patriarchs juggling doughy discs to a soundtrack of Pavarotti and the fresh slicing of garlic cloves; in reality, it's a brushed steel industrial estate box of miserable, dead-eyed teenage button pushers on zero-hour contracts and cheap skunk baking to sterile, pre-packaged recipes under the fallacious impression their serving up a tasty treat.
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Pal Ian - whom you may remember visited last weekend - picked me up at 6PM. His boy, Adam, was reclined in the back with an armful of RPG tomes (he's a regular - and rather talented - Referee) and a panting expectation of a Kentucky Fried Chicken supper. Adam has sampled both the US 'chlorinated' KFC and the UK 'not poisoned' KFC and has become unnaturally-addicted to the latter; I, myself, have great sympathy as my last 6 months with the Welsh Government (Jan-June, 2018) involved a LOT of trips away and associated 'Mighty Bucket for One's: as my burgeoning belly attested!
The Tuffley games club - located on the South(-ish) end of Gloucester, have been cautiously returning to gaming duties but are very much adhering to the dictates of Mr Alexander de Pferde-apfel Johnson: masks ON when ordering drinks from the perspex-shielded bar, sensibly-spaced tables and no cross-fertilization between tables for the duration: once you're in your bubble, you're in.
A couple of the club's board game regulars - Mark and Tom - are tangentially-aware of this blog's blitherings and we elbow-bumped by way of greetings. The main hall was adorned with fantastical/dystopian dioramae, thousands of miniatures and the cries of Goblin Hordes/whatever; those of us interested in wood and cardboard were tucked away to one side.
Joining Ian, Mark and myself was Shona and our first foray was a pre-promised Snowdonia: Deluxe Master Set. There followed 15 minutes of me wrestling with the unpacking; fresh from shrink, I'd forgotten that the basic (SD) scenario - and core bits - was split across two decks...I found one of them, then struggled to find the second.
Mark and Shona picked things up pretty quickly - as they're used to this kind of Euro fayre - while Ian struggled to connect the disparate elements of his navvy plans. In the end, however, the scores were a LOT closer than a casual observance might have indicated: Mark and Ian tied on mid-60s, Shona on 81 and me on 90. Indeed, Shona exploited a rather wet mid-game to build up the stations with steel and stone, leaving myself and Mark to fight over our track-laying contracts. A fortunate 'go first' to hoover up the last two rubble pieces brought my stock to 12...and just enough points to make the win: I was lucky, so lucky!
Mark and I both know Stone Age very well, so it seemed the best thing to ease away the tensions of working in a stormy North Wales:
After the teach, everything proceeded with relatively little fuss: the stacks of cards and buildings emptied at a pleasingly brisk pace and everyone was scoring healthily. In the end, experience paid off with myself and Mark staying ahead courtesy of the artifact-square scoring; Ian overtook Shona with his final bonus card and we were done! Two suitably meaty games, much banter and smiles all round as we 'masked up' and departed. Tuesdays don't conflict with Fridays so, if the lock-ish-down and the WFH continues in to 2021, I could be up to >1 IRL session a week! I wonder if I might tempt the Batesons out for a semi-regular appearance; Gerv too (as he's in Glos) and who knows who else?!
Both Brass and Furstenfeld have been mooted for next week; I may be needing a Season Pass from Mrs B for my indulgence!Spoiler (click to reveal)I lied, yesterday; those were NOT the code names for early SSG products.
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Pal Ian stopped by for a quick visit and, given he was waiting for 'a call' to pick up members of the fam, we socially-distanced him to the corner of the kitchen table, cracked him a strawberry lager ("Er...I can taste the lager but NOT the strawberry, to be honest") and roped him in to a couple of board games.
Arthur had been banished from 'all screens' for the day and, given our non-relenting even unto the Evening, reluctantly swiped a couple of games from the shelf...first was a long-time-not-played Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice:
Mrs B - my Tag Team partner - fiercely held on in the ring to beat seven shades of shit into the Ian/Arthur partnership!
Pausing to pick up the poor Ref-eeple when he was knocked out of the ring by an enthusiastic dice-rolling, all four of us watched our Life counters ratcheting down: Mrs B and Arthur both rather talented at rolling 'The Chair!' and/or 'The Table!' to my rather feeble 'Chop's. Despite my rather pathetic attacks - and tendency to 'Luchador!' (grandstand) instead of pressing my opponents - Mrs B seemed to have our Team well-sorted...until, that is, Arthur pressed me and I failed to wriggle out in time for the 1-2-3-OUT! count.
Brushing ourselves down, we returned to the more sedate pastime of Llama/Goat/Alpaca/Ram farming with Llamas Unleashed: Arthur started and immediately locked my field against further Llamas and Alpacas. Fifty or so random card draws later he laid the 7th animal and (thankfully) won. At this point, Ian had received a rather furious 'call' after a series of ignored ("My phone was on silent!") text messages, so scarpered in to the good night.
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(I haven't done one of these for 19 years; I used to write a weekly article for Star City Games - usually an irreverent take on M:TG - and got paid in 'store credit')
M:TG Arena was made available/workable for/with Mac OS a couple of months back and, to be honest, I've had a real blast reacquainting myself with a former addiction.
When you first enrol, you're presented with a series of preconstructed decks (five, one each in the five Magic colours) to walk through a lengthy tutorial. When you're done, the decks remain in your 'collection' and can be played for fun - or ranking points - against 'real people' OR you can start composing your own decks.
'Life Counters' is founded on the tutorial Mono-White deck "Angelic Army" and seeks to exploit life gain and creatures that gain +1/+1 counters when life is gained. Should you get a good draw, you can quickly have very large creatures on the 'battlefield' by turns 3 and 4.
Naturally, I felt that I needed to modify this generic setup and swapped out some rather 'meh' fillers for some more atuned killers; here's the deck:Quote:Life CountersThe problem with the 'growers' is that once their dead, all that effort to pump them up is lost...unless you introduce something like the Luminous Broodmoth, that is. While in play, any non-flying (non-token) creatures that die are reincarnated as their original selves BUT ARE NOW FLYERS! Aaaaaand they're ready to start growing all over again - especially if you've got some 'gain life when a creature comes into play' shenanigans (I have 5)! Adding a triple-white 'gain a life for each attacking creature' (Linden) is pretty mean too: big growers keep growing on their way to the fight!
3 Impassioned Orator (RNA) - gains life to pump the 7 'growers'
3 Fencing Ace (M20) - double strike to fend off 1/1 Deathtouch
3 Angel of Vitality (M20) - Flying 4/4 (usually)
3 Hallowed Priest (ANB) - 'Grower'
4 Ajani's Pridemate (WAR) - 'Really good grower'
2 Leonin Warleader (ANB) - Fierce but creates two triggers for life gainers AND 'growers'
4 Healer's Hawk (GRN) - Starts the 'growing' process rather well
2 Daxos, Blessed by the Sun (THB) - gains life to pump the 7 'growers' / a big blocker
2 Linden, the Steadfast Queen (ELD) - gains life to pump the 7 'growers' (and power an Ajani exile-fest)
1 Ajani, Strength of the Pride (M20) - insane powerhouse
3 Luminous Broodmoth (IKO) - the 'trick'; turns the 'growers' in to flying growers*
3 Banishing Light (THB) - hides those pesky 'comes in to play' triggerers
2 Disenchant (M20) - a brace 'just in case'
2 Moment of Heroism (M20) - creature removal
3 Tranquil Cove (M20) - powers the 'growers' for free!
20 Plains (M20)
*always funny to see them trigger the first time and the 'your opponent is reading the card' halo appear on screen.
1: 4 (4)
2: 19 (15)
3: 8 (5)
4: 6 (5)
Life Gain: 19
Benefits from Life Gain: 10
In an environment where there are some horrible non-white things that trigger nastiness when other creatures join it (Terror of the Peaks, anyone?!), it seemed logical to swap out the pre-con Pacifisms (cheap at two mana) for three mana Banishing Lights - there ain't no triggers in Exile, mate.
When it gets a reasonable start, it's a furious escalation of life total AND creature stats; it works pretty well against blue and stupid combo decks but fares less well against fiery red and big Dragons. However, going second is a joy because if the opening draw is lacklustre, the mulligan usually presents a usable 'curve'.
What a hoot this all is: from Bronze Level 4 to (currently) Gold Level 4 (and the computer does ALL of the maths for you); the old Magic is returning to this gamer's life...
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Despite the much-reduced travelling of late, I was disheartened - and not a little pissed off - when I started the (infrequently-used) car and the dashboard lit up with a series of indicators and messages: "Anti-Skid Service required", ""DSPC Off", a "1 Message" alert I couldn't dismiss, a couple of orange-glowing icons and a phosphorously-burning 'i' dead-center. I hate it when this happens: driving becomes an anxious, paranoid affair. Fortunately, I only had 15 miles to travel: down the M50 to Ross-on-Wye and then the A449 to Whitchurch/Symonds Yat and the bijou abode of Mr Boffo and Mrs Smudge Bateson.
This weekend marks a major birthday anniversary for Smudge and, while she adores board games, her ambitions for the celebration thereof involved paddle-boarding on the River Wye and hanging out with her very best-est chums. The lockdown has precluded a more elaborate gaming session but we Ross-on-Wye gamers were all extended a gracious invitation to come and play. As it turned out, the Jobbersian radio silence continues and the others were either working or on their hols, so it was me and Dave representin' The Plough Inn crowd, our hosts and the aforementioned pals: Kiri (a vet) and Lucy (a midwife).
Kiri and Lucy aren't 'gamers' though both have dabbled - courtesy of the Batesons - a little in the Past. To ease the session - after an astonishingly-delicious spread of chilli chicken tortilla - we led with Mysterium:
I'm used to Tajemnicze Domostwo, so there are a few wrinkles in this progression. We ignored the weird scoring thing and a Wedding's worth of chit confetti to concentrate on the Who, Where and With What: and we nearly did it too, if it hadn't have been for the meddling ghost!
There was more than a hint of Jobbers' "Threadneedle" Codenames clueing (remember that? where LONDON and BANK were innocent bystanders?!) from the doom-laden, glowering spirit of Boffo: a steam ship shaped like an 'iron' NOT being 'the iron' (weapon), a Knight wielding a sword NOT being the cutthroat razor and a circular artists' palette with slodges of paint on NOT being the circular frying pan with splodges in it...and so on.
The surly spectre faded into the mists of Limbo, unavenged.
With the mood cosy and jocular (and the first glasses of wine drained), Smudge suggested Libertalia - utterly and completely PERFECT at the full six:
Lucy - new to it and concerned that she wasn't going to 'get' it - kicked off week one with 39 doubloons, mid-20s in the second and another 30+ in the third! Dave managed to slipstream his way to a treasure-map finale but was still pipped by Lucy to the win...but ONLY JUST. Boffo's second week 'zero' crippled his chances of contention but certainly fuelled much ribbing during the remaining card-play (and a beautifully co-ordinated line of mask-passing monkeys gifted Smudge -15 (!): happy birthday, indeed!
Glasses refreshed, we Just One-ed catastrophically-badly and resorted to a puerile thirteenth word play directed at Boffo:
Oh. How. We. Laughed.
It was dark outside but things were lightening up even more with the ridiculous brain-and-tongue-tying Cockroach Salad. Dave collecting more cards than the rest of us combined, Kiri took the win after 30 mins of Cauliflower! Pepper! Tomato! Lettuce! We closed, of course, with Dobble.
We were raucous, we were rude, we were silly, we were thinky, we were laughing and we were together again for the first time in six months: it was like we'd never been apart.
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Back in the late 1980s - when Mrs B and I were courtin' - it wasn't unusual for my future in-Laws to partake of a little Trivial Pursuit: Genus Edition after a large meal and Pa-in-Law would be more than happy to join in. Over the years, the prospect of him being part of any game session (Xmas, Easter, significant Birthday etc) has sent him scurrying to his Study ESPECIALLY if it's one of those things his Son-in-Law has brought along!
Ma-in-Law has been more adventurous - a toe-dip in to Codenames here or a tentative Rhino Hero there - but both, TBH, are happy enough to leave us to it.
This weekend a few of us bimbled over to their Forest of Dean home for a just because Moroccan-spiced Leg of Lamb and rice. After Arthur's Uncles and I had exhausted our catch-up of 'excellent books and films', the cleared dining table made room for Ma 'n Pa's home-made Uckers board:
Uckers is, basically, Ludo BUT there are a couple of variations that make it uniquely it's own beast; in addition, Pa being a Naval man, his rules are different to an Army man's rules are different to an RAF man's rules.
Uckers is a team game: four being the perfect (full) attendance. Players roll two dice to move their pieces from 'Home' (the corner of the board for their colour) to the centre reserve (the correspondingly-coloured triangles) - however, there's a little bit more to it than that:
Your pieces only start on their journey on the throw of a six (a double-six sets ALL remaining 'home' pieces on to the main track);
rolling a six gets you another turn (roll);
you can split the dice to move two pieces or combine to accelerate one;
if you end your whole movement on someone else's piece, you send them back home; if you end your whole movement on your own - or your partner's piece - you create a 'blocking' Blob (former) or a 'mixed' Blob (all pieces vulnerable to being 'sorry'-ed homeward).
There's also a little side bit about how to get passed a Blob if you're a singleton piece (you need to 'challenge' and roll 6s in succession).
Obviously, if you don't roll many sixes (as Arthur didn't), it makes it very hard to get moving BUT there is certainly a measure of strategy in blobbing, hanging behind an opponents' pieces to increase the chance of a capture and - of course - the requisite trash talking!
Despite Ma and Karen getting a rather abusive flyer, we had a nail-biter of a finish which very nearly saw Arthur and I hare-ing by in the denouement. But it was not to be and, not unsurprisingly, Ma's long life experience of this daft treat saw her fully-safe well before the rest of us.
Pa regaled us with tales of Royal Navy ship leagues, play EVERY day, and using a giant version of it on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier (dustbins as dice-shakers, the WHOLE crew watching and cheering). This game - and Whist variants like Nomination - provided the necessary fun in a serious, stressful environment.
So, the next time we venture to sneer at this 'random' oeuvre, we would do well to remember that games have - and still do - serve a higher purpose than just providing you with the opportunity to be 'cleverer than everyone else at the table': sometimes, they might actually play a part in saving the World.
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