There was a definite nip in the air as I made my way - Shanks' Pony-wise - to the Museum for Wednesday gaming; fortunately, as I would discover later, I was equipped with a chunky jumper and a thermally-insulated hat.
The Newent Knights numbered six thanks to the occasional appearance of old M:TG pal Martin who - as
threatenedpromised - trundled up from Swindon to partake; also in attendance were the usual suspects. Happily splitting into two tables, Martin and Tom and Dave plunged into the 'cult of the old' and Last Will while Gerv and Paul and myself went all Lara Croft/Indiana Jones* with Lost Ruins of Arnak:
LRoA is pleasant melange of deck-building, worker placement and ladder-climbing mechanisms glued into an appealing adventurous archaeology theme. The ancillary components - the assistants, 'guardians', resource types and card types/effects - revolve easily around these central tenets to make the whole thing very intuitive and - gasp - fun! Given that Paul has played this a few times already, it was no surprise that he won - mostly down to an extended final turn (after Gerv and I had passed) where he gathered, converted, climbed and cashed-in like a bastard; however, I think a second run would see Gerv and I presenting much more of a challenge, now that we've seen all the gears working.
Both tables finished at the same time, so a swap of delegates saw London with Tom, Gerv and Dave while Paul, Martin and I broke out Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea. Unfortunately, my Museum copy of 'Lubes is the French language edition and I didn't fancy spending ages (re)interpreting all the cards...so I plumped for Guilds of London instead (!)
(Please insert you own deciphering French vs deciphering GoL iconography joke here)
To be honest, it's been so long since I last played GoL that I needed to download the rulebook from the Geek (the shop copy was missing the rulebook) to check 'setup'; I also re-purposed a War of the Daleks Dalek as 'the Beadle' because that was, also, missing from this copy. The rules of GoL are not complicated but the card-utilization/hand management can be; both Martin and Paul suffered from the 'icons' but not as much as some folks have claimed in this Parish (tales of seizures, sudden severe weather phenomena etc) and, for my own part, I had to look up just the one card.
With everyone bidden farewell and departed, I performed the closing ritual; the car park was twinkling with a light frost as I secured the gates so I quick-marched through the Town and home, breath plume-ing in front of me. A warm Living Room, and the Great British Bake-Off semi-final, served to warm my frozen bones.
*actually, it was more "Time Team"
Life and Games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Father, Grandfather, Husband and Independent UK Game Designer.
Archive for Session Report
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Having complained vociferously - last week - about my own personal sandbox Hell in the form of Coloma (hi, Johnny!), I found myself launched into a similarly-sprawling but far more cooperative world of Mr Richard Breese's Keyper:
The overall philosophy of the Key universe is that it is conflict-free which doesn't mean that it can't be devilish in the same breath; however, Keyper - presenting more options than a Takeaway Menu that's mated with A Feast For Odin - is an eye-watering universe of animal types, resources, worker types and worker-placeable actions. It's fair to say that I find Keyper intimidating and even though Dale, Jack (the gurning buffoon, above) and myself had agreed to Jeric's urgent need to play, I wasn't at all comfortable about what lay ahead.
For context, my two prior outings were:
i) a howling drubbing by the Batesons at a Ross-on-Wye session (they'd been playing it at 2 for weeks prior) and
ii) play-testing Keyper at Sea when I did quite well but only by ignoring all of the expansion bits (LOTS of new animals, a weird Season-warping time dilation effect etc).
Having remembered that, in both of those games, using the Boats was rather important, I focused on boat-related buildings and just enough animal storage to keep livestock sheltered before I shipped them away for VPs:
By thunder, but it worked! Stacking up extra actions and bonus VPs every time one of my sailors exercised his rollocks, I missed a couple of Fair tile bonuses but kept ahead of Jeric by a single point to win: 84, 83, 78 and 78! It was a long game, though, as Jack's recent absence of several weeks - and his need to let us know what he'd been up to (denting newly-repaired cars in his local garage, fighting at his Fight Club* and the ongoing development of his MMA deckbuilder design) - served as a banter-tastic BUT very distracting, diversion.
Feeling suitably exerted by all that working, 'joining' and 'laying down', we were joined by the Kingdom Dice table for Oink Games' Durian:
Think Hanabi, but backwards: each player has a card they cannot see and this, in combination with everyone elses' card, represent our 'Total Fruit Stock'. In turn, players draw a card and must add it to a growing line - choosing which half of the card (they're domino-like) forms the customer's "order". Using the info we can see, players hold out until someone thinks there is a larger line total than those held by players whereupon a tinkling bell is rung and the player of the last card out is challenged: if there are more orders than stock, the card player takes a penalty token otherwise the challenger must take the token instead; when someone has 7+ points of angry manager penalty token points, the player(s) with the fewest penalty points is/are declared the winner.
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There was a promise of The Princes of Florence this Wednesday but there was uncertainty about a possible sixth player (Martin) making the journey up from Swindon(!). For those of you outside of the UK and pretty-much unaware of the distance between Swindon (Wiltshire) and Newent (Forest of Dean), it's about 45 miles door-to-door; I know this because I worked for BT/Ministry of Defence at their Swindon office for four years and made the journey to-and-fro on motorbike and in hatchback. Now that may seem a long way to come for board gaming but I used to make the journey from Reading to Hemel Hempstead/Aldershot/Swindon (the same distance, pretty much) - when working away during the week - just to draft Magic: The Gathering: if you're Jonesing for games then you'll be happy make the trip!
As it turned out, Martin wasn't coming this week but, instead, we were joined by a rather nervous young lad called Angus and delayed PoF (which, of course, only stretches to five) in favour of one of my all-time favourites Peloponnes (no pic taken as we were too involved). Several mistakes were made by various players and we ended up missing the drawing of two disaster chits meaning we were two whole catastrophes un-resolved at the end BUT it didn't matter because everyone was suitably pleased with the game. Indeed, Gerv was fizzing with joy that he'd managed to score a non-zero final score having - in the Past - fallen victim to Total Population Collapse in the final feeding phase.
Angus, who acquitted himself well in 'Noppers, nipped out to get some supper - an enormous, sauce-dripping and deliciously-aromatic donner kebab; while he chowed down on this monumental meal - himself being a slim slip of a lad - we remaining five powered through The Princes of Florence:
Everyone picked up the processes very quickly and, for The Newent Knights*, we adhered to the rulebook's counting of both professions in-hand and on the table (NOT the Ross-on-Wye 'table only' count). As we rounded off our brisk Works, Gerv and I tied on 48 points and were slapping each-other heartily on the back in congratulation before I remembered - via a polite cough from young Tom - that some players had yet to include their Prestige Cards in the final tally...
From joint first to joint third in but a moment; shame-faced, we turned to congratulate Tom on a magnificent 59 points total (13 points from his cards)!
We closed the last 45 minutes - Angus having degreased his chilli-ed fingers in The Shambles' shopkeepers bathroom - with alternating runs at Dobble (hot potato mode) and Coloretto; again, much to the satisfaction of all present.
Before we all bimbled into the damp night, there was talk of getting something Scythe-like out for the group (again) - Angus included (as it might be just his sort of thing). That, and other big presence games like Eclipse, the Wallace railway oeuvre and/or Power Grid could very much suit those dark, cold evenings in the warmth of gaming pals.
*my freshly-coined name for the Club
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"You're supposed to put the animals in front of you, Shaun; not shove them up your arse!"
A small snippet, there, of the table bants at the Tuffley Community Centre last night (Tuesday) as I introduced four players - the only boardgamers for the evening, as it would transpire - to the joy that is A Wildlife Safari. This is a game that comes with a lot of (animal-hide) baggage and Tom, Dale, Shaun and Jeric were naturally trepidatious about taking on a true classic; indeed, that the levels of tension (from the very start) should induce glandular spasming is testament to the enduring power of this gaming behemoth: simple rules that take a moment to learn / stratagems that take a lifetime to master and so on. It should be of no surprise that the forthcoming Netflix mini-series "The African Queen's Gambit" is going to do for the popularity of A Wildlife Safari what 2020's "Tiger King" did for cat food!
In between Shaun's complaints about pelvic muscle stress, each took to the challenge in their own way: Dale imitating someone who knew what the Hell they were doing, Jeric employing his Poker skills to great hand-deducing effect, Shaun shifting uncomfortably in his chair and Tom - all "elephants" - cursing my disruptive drafting. For my part, I opted for Green*'s 2019 strategy of 'No Leopard Shall Go Unpunished' which kept me a single point ahead of Jeric after the fifth round's savannah dust had settled:
Taking pause to adjust the seating after my win, the others press-ganged me into teaching them Snowdonia: Deluxe Master Set which I had just happened to bring out of the back of Ian's car:
In the best tradition of teaching, I outlined the Snod processes fully-and-completely then proceeded to wipe the floor with all of them: utterly, totally, entirely and comprehensively. I fear that the physical stresses of our opening game had bled - like Shaun's back passage? - into this gentle tale of Welsh Mountains and Railways. However, despite Tom's utter disbelief at my unchallenged hoovering up of resources and points, he pulled in a very creditable second place. Jeric, seemily haunted by his loss of train to the maintenance event exactly one round after a) I suggested he NOT build it and wait for the event to pass first and b) he bought it anyway - half-suggested they play it again BUT WITHOUT ME. Dale remained silent while Shaun, a pained expression on his face, seemed happy to have scored over 50, regardless.
Tom would inflict cold-hearted and swift revenge upon my Botswana-/ Snowdonia-n hustling - and end the evening with the last laugh - by introducing me to the point salad horrors of Coloma: a Wild West-themed gumbo of everything and the kitchen horse-trough:
In true Feldian style (but it's not a Feld), an 'unusual' action selection mechanism (secret, simultaneous setting of a dial) was surrounded by 101 different things to do: all giving stuff and points and figurative paths to victory. If you love this sort of thing - and I don't, really - then I'm sure that navigating its rich world of wagon moving, gunfighting, building/bridge construction, river fording, card drawing, tent erecting, dude and horse recruiting, cash-earning and avoiding being in the same action as someone else will give you an enormous rush of endorphins. I found it confusing and directionless and, just like Shaun three hours earlier, bemoaning that I might as well shove the whole thing up my backside for all the good it would do me.
A fabulous evening, however; and an excellent pre-cursor to the Gathering of Chums, which commences on Thursday!
*Mattwell Sesamestreet Green (1971- ) European Champion (3 times), Polish Champion (once, he got on the wrong train in Koln) and World's 2021 Top 16 ("Double Lion, rampant").
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The clocks went back an hour last weekend and - as if the weather were coming out in sympathy - there was a definite frosty nip in the damp air as I clacked on The Shambles' cobbles in my big boots. Pitch black at 6pm, the Museum's generous lighting flooded the courtyard with a white glow and exposed the water vapour clouding out of central heating vents/the breath of arriving yoga delegates. The meagre heater did its level best to warm Paul, Dave, Gerv and myself but it was a losing battle - especially since the Landlord still needs to sort out a hole in one of the window sills. Psychologically, the industrial palette and sweaty, laborious theme of Brass: Birmingham helped distract us from the cloak of cold that wrapped itself around us BUT only for a bit; by the time we'd moved on to the filler/closer, the be-jumpered quartet were teeth-chattering like a Looney Tunes cartoon!
Dave had to run through the rules for the benefit of Gerv and Paul though, to be frank, I'd completely forgotten some of the finer points (eg. where you're allowed to build canals, how many 'sells' can you do in one action) and, certainly, the "What am I trying to do?!" slithered through my brain's figurative hands like a greased-up eel. We got there in the end, though, and up went the canal networks and the mills and mines and the foundries...
For myself, I normally favour getting my Coal and Iron tiles on the board though the raison d'etre of this variant - the breweries - took a front seat this evening; I even popped a Pottery out!
The last time we played Brass - in Jobbers' Summer house while it was still light at 10PM - I'd noted how effectively Dave flipped his factories hence, I think, my brewing fetish this time around: piggy-backing my own tile flips off of his. This increased barrel consumption led to a dearth of sale opportunities and led to frantic track-laying (for those juicy between Town VPs) in the final rounds. In a curious mirror of my Tuesday evening Le Havre experience, I was entirely unencumbered by the usual loan-taking: just a couple in the first third of the game then supported by a rising, lucrative income for the rest of it (at the end, my income was 24). I was certain, prior to the final factory totalling - having secured an enormous pile from railway links - that I'd finally beaten Dave into second place but - boooo! - he snuck passed me by a single, Manufactured Goods margin!
Revenge would (sort-of) be mine as we closed with Plums:
Dave just couldn't get his head around the bid-for-order/set collecting vibe and languished in last place when the delicious fruits were totalled; once again, I was certain that my impressive tally (49, which is well-good for 'Plums') would be more than enough to gift me the lap of honour but - again - I was pipped to the tape; this time by Gerv who, with 52, well deserved the congratulations.
There was a palpable glee as everyone bade their farewells and cosied into the warming blast of car heaters; the Museum definitely needs more bodies OR better radiators, lest we be discovered - in the Spring - frozen into an enormous cartoon block of ice whilst halfway through Terraforming Mars or somesuch!
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There was some confusion around pick-up for this week's journey to the Gloucester environs which meant Fred and I had to scoot off under our own steam, 15 minutes later than scheduled, for games in Tuffley. Our 'ride' turned up literally a minute after we'd already disappeared around the corner and joined the long line of cars heading into Town. Indeed, it was busy every-which-way you turned as we entered the metropolis: closure of a nearby motorway section was routing anyone and everyone into a wholly inadequate ring road/bypass system. We landed awfully close to the 7PM start to find the place empty apart from the Bar Staff - it seems we'd all gotten delayed in the new, Greenwich Mean Time darkness.
Three tables-worth, again, with the club's recently-acquired Nemesis (Tom, Dale and Nick), something X of the North Y for (other) Nick, Miguel and Shaun leaving Le Havre for Marc, Sarah and myself:
The last time I endured the exquisite pain of this genius work was - like many of the best games I enjoy, it seems - at Bastion 2020, when I made a complete bugger's muddle of it: ill-advised loan after clumsily-encumbered loan. This time, I sailed through the first, trepidatious rounds with just enough food so avoid debt and - from then on - remained entirely loan-free for the duration! I think this might be the ONLY time I've ever managed to steer such a path!
Anyway, there was much quiet and effective accumulation going on for all of us: Mark building up an impressive Piscine-based economy, Sarah shipbuilding and me snagging personal favourites Colliery, Wharf, Shipping Line and Brickworks (amongst many) for a steady injection of Fees and export-powering Energy.
A last round purchase of Bridge Over The Seine let me get Francs for goods that would otherwise have gone uncounted; combined with a beefy Luxury Liner and shipping as the Final Action, this took me to a (rare) 216-199-178 victory. This was the first time that Mark had played the 'long' version and I think he enjoyed it; Sarah certainly seemed to and acquitted herself very well indeed (199 francs) for a debut.
Synchronizing our finish with the X of table, Shaun and Miguel joined us for the gloriously-tetchy Senators:
Despite an horrific over-bidding for a reward Senator during the first Event - War - Shaun managed to stay ahead with me for the short duration of the game; with four War cards in the first nine Events, there was no time to really see the game's wickedness shine - I feel some preparatory Event deck-stacking coming on for the future.
- [+] Dice rolls
28 Oct 2021
Being the half-term holiday meant that the Wednesday gamers were the only folks milling around The Shambles Retail Village on a blustery, cold October evening: no rumbling 4x4s across the potholed car park, no pleas to unlock the gates and/or curious heads popping around the now-shut-to-keep-the-warmth-in door. No, indeed; just four gamers playing at railways and we wouldn't have had it any other way:
Railways of the World gloriously hogged the whole of the table and the simple rules had us stood up (apart from Dave) for much of the evening: chin-stroking, hex counting, link building, cash exchanging, share issuing, goal fulfilling, card reviewing and cube delivering to within an inch of our Tycoon lives!
There is much that is familiar in RT:TBG - it's core mechanisms will be familiar across a large family of pick-up-and-deliver gamer:
An auction determines Start player for the round, then
Players take three actions, one at a time around the table, then
Income is earned and dividends paid for fund-raising shares issued.
A player's action can be to lay track (costed accorded to terrain), upgrade your train to give it better delivery range, take one of the special bonus cards, 'urbanize' a colourless city so that cubes can be delivered to it, deliver a goods cube OR complete a 'Western Link' (expensive, mid-game action of which there can be only two instances).
Round and round you go, briskly and with a definite air of tension and excitement, watching the trains and lines stretch across the landscape: classic network-building fayre that had Dave and Gerv and Paul purring with delight for much of the two-and-a-half hours playing time. Dave was left to the North-East (something the rulebook warns specifically against and I mentioned during the 'teach') but couldn't quite shake the Tony/Gerv team - in the middle - shipping in and out of Chicago like bastards (Gerv also leapt forward courtesy of a Kansas City Western Link) and boosting eachothers income accordingly while Paul spread across the South with a highly-efficient two issued shares only portfolio. In the end, as we all clustered near the top of the score track, it was my access to bigger trains ahead of the others that kept me in the running (big deliveries = big leaps to catch up with Dave) and my Tycoon gave me the two points to sneak ahead of Dave at the last!
Of course, when were all done and the scores finalised, there was an essential pause for us all to take pictures of the final layout; the whole, magnificent experience needed to be captured for posterity (and for boring friends and partners with later):
Not quite ready to set off into the wild night, I'd packed Salvage again with the hope we could close with its trick-taking horrors:
Paul was having a bit of a 'Tony Evening' (see last Wednesday and the Wednesday before it) and came a massive, flaming cropper in the first Hand to send him right down the score track. A judiciously-timed, deliberate detonation from myself (drafting the last of the barrels to penalise everyone and reset the round) kept me the necessary few points ahead until we could offload all of the pain onto Paul...again!
We should be at least five next week so, in the true spirit of a good board games club (modelled after the high watermark that is The Ross-on-Wye Board Gamers), we've mooted The Princes of Florence: something previously unknown to Paul and his son, Tom:
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A lo-ong afternoon curating items on both JIRA and Azure Devops backlogs saw me (finally) shutting the lid on the laptop at 1730HRS; this left me barely 15 mins to get some supper together and choose games to take to the Tuffley meetup. Flakes of delicious pastry scattered the library room carpet as I multi-tasked: into the bag went Terraforming Mars, Obsession, Island Racing and Salvage.
Barely a week since our own (Museum-based) alternative 1920s History-on-the-tabletop, Tom and a few others were on a promise of Scythe while - on the second table - three occasional attendees had walked in, sat down, unpacked and started playing Call to Adventure without reference to anyone else in the room. That left Cheltenham regulars Jerick and Nick, as well as a Twilight Struggle-wielding Mark, to join me for the last table and whatever I could convince them to play:
After an extended discussion about 3D printing - during which Mark proudly showed off his wonky Dice Tower ("It's supposed to look like that!"*) - I was able to explain the Obsession rules; thankfully, I was unencumbered by red top cider/a distracted brain and managed to get through it all relatively unscathed. We started playing...
Nick was immediately horrified that - in the base game - there would only be 16 rounds, so I flipped the board to the 'Long' side and we got stuck in. There was much complaining during the first third - mainly because
a) the others kept having their 'Rep' stolen by my early-acquisition Service room, and
b) money was a little tight until a few more Gentry found their way to our Stately Piles.
Despite an early attempt to instill a little role-playing to the Downtown Abbey/Gosford Park shenanigans - basically, correcting Nick's use of 'Dollars' instead of 'Pinds' and tutting at Mark's sniggering whenever I mentioned 'Providing Service' - we were a table of heads-down Euro gamers: for shame, as I would've hoped for a little more repressed emotion, snobbery, gout and casual racism TBH. Still, the momentum was quickly "picked up" and there seemed to be a profusion of sporting events in particular: rather too much Tennis to be healthy - "Looks like we're playing Tennis AGAIN!!!" being the plaintive cry. I was rather running away with it, though, with my massive hand of benevolence-spewing Prestige Guests and a quickly-ascended-maximum-reputation (mainly from a couple of monuments and my leeching Butlers). Revenge, in a small form - though not enough to change the end result - came from Jerick, who stole my Underbutler in the penultimate round thus preventing me putting on the Mother of all English Garden receptions...
Both Nick and Marc maxed out their Rep too but Jerick took the 'Fair Play' award for the night by being the only player not to have taken a 'backsie' in a turn: stout fellow - a good sort, I say, from good stock etc.
We closed with a run of the new La Mame Games release - Salvage - which I had pleadingly-acquired from Rikki Tahta prior to him taking them all to Essen Spiel (and, naturally, selling out in a very short time when he got there):
This is a classic poison trick-taker in the flavour of Hearts with a delicious pre-hand round of oil barrel drafting; oil barrels can be claimed (in any number on your turn in the draft) to provide mitigation for any poison (flame) cards obtained during actual play BUT if players get too greedy - or deliberately dry up the supply in the drafting round - the barrels 'explode' and players lose points. The aim, having started with 20 points, is to the player with the most points when one (or more) players 'go negative': a devious twist on a classic - something we are getting used to, and very much enjoying, with La Mame's products.
*I can imagine Mrs Mark looking at the "intentionally-deformed" plastic glob and exclaiming "You paid £500 for a machine that made this? It looks like the output of a Primary School pottery class!"
- [+] Dice rolls
Four large boxes, a thin raincoat and my eldest son accompanied me to the Tuffley Community Centre for Tuesday evening distractions. Fred was off a-roleplayin' while I, not the designated driver, decided to get tipsy and play board games: it's been a pig of a week so far, you see.
There was a little Dance of the Tables before everyone settled into their bubbles: Fridge Raiders of the North-Eastern Paladin Seas, Coloma and - for me, Ben, Rudolph and Mark - a bit of dice-placement nobility:
Not even halfway through the first bottle of Weston's 'red top' cider, I was making a laboured fist of the rules explanation; for some reason, everything I wanted to explain was in my head but none of it was coming out in the right order! It all made absolute sense within about three picoseconds of actual play, though. Ben got a little side-tracked with some of the interference abilities on the Alien Tech cards and was constantly disappointed that "displaced" ships only went to the Maintenance Bay rather than being atomized; he also rather over-enjoyed crashing his own ships into the planet to become colony bases...a wanton disregard for space-faring vehicles that would make him entirely suited to a session of Eclipse sometime, methinks. AF is a brisk, all knees and elbows affair that saw both Warhammer-poachee Rudolph and Mark snapping at my heels for the six base placement; in the end, Mark won out after Rudolph was sideswiped by a Ben colony swoop.
With not really enough time to teach and play either Cuba or Obsession, I spotted Sheriff of Nottingham in Ben's bag and held it aloft. I'd seen some noisy plays of this resolve themselves back in the mid-teens when the Ross-on-Wye club was still at The White Lion (ahh, those were the days: peace and quiet by the River) and thought it might be fun...especially as
a) Mark rolled his eyes in a 'God! Please, no!' manner and
b) I was fair motoring through the ciders and wanted to get silly for a bit.
Cue much barracking, heckling, trouble-stirring and liberal sous entendu about Ben's Cheesy Sack (cheese) /a pair of Excitable Cocks (chickens) - mainly from me, it has to be said. With the pleasing glow of alcohol having removed any caution, I blagged my way through honest and dishonest 'market days' and, as Sheriff, accepted a ridiculous series of hefty bribes - to amass 149 money. I'm sure we were playing it wrong, though: that figure on the bottom-right of the card means something for caught smugglers, doesn't it? I couldn't work out how because the rulebook wasn't very clear and my eyes had stopped working properly.
Jack joined us for the excellent Cryptid - which I did a much better job of explaining:
Sometimes, you can just get a lucky hit with this one; this time, I nominated a spot that got three out of five 'Yes' markers which was all the information Rudolph needed to have a punt on his turn and win: he had several likely candidates and the first one he chose was the 'lair'.
All done and dusted in 15 mins, the RPG-ers had joined us in the waiting for the driver shuffle; this led to a couple of games of Selfish: Space Edition:
I watched while the others played: a sort-of slow sprint across the Great Void - think Deep Sea Adventure crossed with Munchkin and you've got the flavour of it. Talking of flavours, I was struck by a bad bout of the munchies during this astronautical nonsense and had to gather emergency pork scratching/chilled chocolate supplies from the Bar. Scoffing heartily, I watched the intrepid spacefarers dobbing each other over until they'd all died cold and lonely deaths in the vacuum: just another glorious day in Corps.
- [+] Dice rolls
After waiting patiently for a further week, following last session's Cosmic Encounter overload, Paul finally got to give Viticulture Essential Edition a five player run out. Everyone had played before - some, like both Paul and Dave, have spent a goodly lockdown hour pushing through the solo scenarios - so it was a quick and easy start.
For me, slightly inexplicably, Viticulture presents a mental problem that I just can't seem to address: the timing. As well as having not enough workers to do everything you want, 'Vitz' spreads those workers out over four seasons. I am, it seems, utterly blind to the solution; while the others were setting up and then running their engines, I bimbled about trying to get fields planted and maybe draw a card or two that didn't involve the discounted building of buildings. Thus, for me, the clever and alluring timing puzzle is further confounded by my inability to draw cards seemingly as useful as the cards the other players draw. This aspect has always bugged me in what I otherwise regard as a very fine game: I'm sure the spread of good and bad draws evens out over the long game/term but, for someone who only plays this every 18 months or so, it's a persistent frustration.
Dave launched away, early doors, with more workers than the rest of us BUT Paul and Tom and Gerv made a great fist of clawing him back; indeed, as I remarked during the putting away ritual, those three seemed to be doing a LOT of nicely-thematic action sequences in a rich recreation of the hard vineyard life...while Dave seemed able to do everything he wanted, at the time he wanted, without even breaking a sweat. My own slow progression quickened (eventually); set up, as I was, for THREE order fulfilments in one Year (16VPs), Dave ended the game with the default Winter 'sell a wine for 1 point' action, taking him to 25 points. That'll be the Winter before my Year of Fulfilment could take place, then? I can't even remember where I gained my solitary VP but I do keep getting a flush of embarrassment when I think back to the game: two hours, a lot of fannying about and not even the chance to finish what I'd found so painful to pull together. I just don't get this game at all and I feel mortified that I demonstrated this wanton ineptitude in public: not so much a brain fart as a full-on, mental prolapse. I'm shuddering as I type this.
There was talk of continuing our appreciation of Stonemaier Games with a 'big' Scythe session next week: something I'm very much in favour of as a) I love the game immensely and b) am passably proficient at it. That's a date in the calendar marked right there, then!
To ease the mental strain a little - and after some lovely words from Paul and Dave about recent family plays - we played the Museum's demo copy of Ivor the Engine:
Oddly, and sweetly, my quick overview for Gerv's benefit was assisted by the occasional prompt from Paul; sometimes I forget the fringe details because it's been such a long time since I last played myself. There were no timing issues for me this time, however, as I blasted my way to some lucrative Town-based jobs in Llanmad and Tewyn (chuffing down the right-hand side of the board). The mean streak that the card play can elicit was in evidence - both Gerv and I hit by 'Runaway Sheep' tokens. Paul had a monopoly on Tan-y-Gwlch jobs and missed out on the linked bonus card at the last moment; Tom gathered plenty o' gold courtesy of helping Mr Dinwiddy at his Gold Mine (no stuffed wombat, though) and both Dave and Gerv mixed up their sheep-acquisition with a little more travelling and collecting. It was a pleasingly-tense finish with three of us all very much in contention right up until the last card was flipped: 32 sheep for me, 30 for Dave and mid-to-late 20s for everyone else. I can't 'do' Wine but, evidently, I can 'do' Sheep!
Tom had a long-ish drive back leaving us four to have a go at Island Racing, tweaked again since Tuesday's outing with events now on the Wind Direction cards; the Events certainly added spice and Dave didn't quite have it all his own way...but he still won again. Almost there; indeed, it should be "ready" for The Gathering of Chums where I hope to a) have a 'giant' copy for competition play and b) produce PnP packs as a delegate gift.
Jesus Christ: that Viticulture game just flashed back into my mind again - I feel a little bit sick.
- [+] Dice rolls