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You Utter Azuls! - Games for a Laugh 2nd Jan

Stuart Burnham
United Kingdom
Abingdon
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Back to work, and back to regular games night on the same day; every cloud and all that eh? I took along The Palaces of Carrara, which I haven't played for a fair few weeks and I'd imagined would be perfect for this crowd; relatively thinky yet simple to teach and pick up Euro game that plays in 60-90 minutes (including all your set up and rules explaining and whatnot).
Anna and John I were both keen and we spent an enjoyable time buying bricks and constructing buildings with them. As Anna correctly said during our play "for a game that only gives you one of three actions to choose from per turn there's an awful lot to think about!"

Also during that play there was one of those 'out of context comments' overheard from the next table;
"I'm only accepting people of the right colour on this mission with me"...surprise



John III had brought his wife along to GfaL and they were playing Cosmic Encounter with James and Laurence. I do like this game from time to time but, obviously, wasn't involved. Soon again I hope.
Above you can see my hilariously dull picture of what is (usually) such a raucous and colourful game.

Another game that is also dull in pictures, for a different reason, is Azul. As you're all making the same pattern every single photo looks basically the same and it's tricky, for such a pretty game, to make it photogenic.



I'm trying, see, to be a little creative with them...
I had plenty of opportunity to do so as the game was played (at least once) by every single one of the 10 gamers in attendance. If that's not (yet another) seal of approval for this excellent, excellent game then I don't know what is. Simply brilliant.
If only all the pictures didn't look the same though...



...well, maybe not all of them end up looking quite the same....



...as you might imagine there was a rather colourful turn of language that accompanied this particular situation (John III being the unlucky/ poorly planned recipient of this shafting)!
"It's called Azul because that's what you'll be calling your opponents!"


...4...
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Fri Jan 5, 2018 6:25 am
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I Think They Got My Number (Glorious) - Games for a Laugh 12th December

Stuart Burnham
United Kingdom
Abingdon
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A little bit of snow and ice left on the ground after Sunday's dumping of the white stuff decimated the numbers somewhat with many cryings off along the lines of "it's a bit slippery out" - honestly, what has become of this country?! For a while James and I sat in the bar (our normal room was being used for a party) wondering if we should find a cosy table by the fire for the two of us. After 15 minutes or so we were joined by Ian, John II & Richard and so headed up to the Poker Room where they'd cleared a space for us. Five can be the cruellest number when it comes to sorting out something to play but upon checking through our games we found we had plenty of good stuff to keep us going through the evening. And then Kostas wandered in. Ahh...



Re-jigging for two games for three players, lest we end up with social deduction and party fare for the entire evening, I quickly allied myself to the Glory to Rome option; after feeling somewhat disappointed with playing the merely ok Clans of Caledonia last week (since sold) instead of the joy of a 10/10 game on offer (Tichu) I was determined not to miss out on another "perfect" game (in my opinion) this time.

With my first buildings completed being the Bath (each time you Patron the client performs their action as they enter your clientele) and the Circus Maximus (each time you lead or follow your client(s) perform their action twice) it was a safe bet that I was going to patron the shit out of this game. The joy of the game is finding (sometimes inadvertently) a combo and then riding it for all you can and this one led to me competing a few buildings and then stuffing my clientele with all and sundry characters allowing me to piggyback pretty much any action that was played. It meant that I was able to consistently construct buildings with ease and ran out winning by quite a margin. In the late game Kostas had the Forum Romana out and was theatening an instant win but I was able to exhaust the foundations before he could get all the required clients.
A simply fantastic game that never ceases to surprise and entertain.

9 buildings constructed FTW!


We then got in the play of Voodoo Prince that I wrote about yesterday (in case you didn't catch, it's great), with another win for me!



Meanwhile Richard was guiding Ian and John through a first play of Race for the Galaxy, with the first 3 expansions thrown in for good measure; in at the deep end boys!



Trying to engineer a simultaneous climax to affairs we again picked out something short, with the drabbest edition of Coloretto in existence. A superb little game with plenty of scope for screwage - I always enjoy this and once again ran out winning. Er, until I realised that I'd double counted one of my scoring colours. Ooops. At least I fessed up and let James know that, with 3 multicoloured chameleons, he most assuredly had indeed done plenty to win!



We rounded off the evening in fine party trivia style by playing Wits & Wagers, where despite his constant complaining about the game using imperial units of measure as opposed to metric Kostas managed to win handsomely with an enormous score. We had a surreal moment when 2 players both guessed exactly the same for "number of weeks Michael Jackson's Thriller topped the Billboard Chart" and they had guessed exactly right...! We had another bang on guess as well, "speed of fastest Roller Coaster in the world" which we mocked Kostas for his outlier only for it to, again, be exactly right.
Wits & Wagers is another game that is always a joy to play and I think I'm going to use it as my family fare of choice over the festive period - it's so simple and never fails to bring laughter and incredulity to the table.



Four games, four glorious hits for me this week. This is how Games Nights are supposed to be!

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Fri Dec 15, 2017 6:25 am
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Groundhog Day - Games for a Laugh 5th December

Stuart Burnham
United Kingdom
Abingdon
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A low turnout this week with just 7 of us around for games meaning we had, comfortably, 4 games for every person present. I'd optimistically brought along Agricola (hell, I'd even brought Caverna as well in case anyone was interested but too scared to try "the hard stuff") but it was soon apparent that had no chance of hitting the table; still the heavy bag carrying around town must've worked my bi/tri/hi-ceps I suppose.
Gareth also had a big 'ole bag'o'games with him but immediately chose the smallest box in it and swiftly found 3 others to play Tichu. They would play their way through that and then a round of Codenames before calling it an early night.

Meanwhile Ian and Helen expressed a desire to try out Clans of Caledonia and so we set up with that. I'm feeling a bit less enthused about this game now, this was my fourth play of it but it felt a bit flat. Helen and Ian both were putting lots of bits out on the board whilst I was a little lacking in money. Mostly this was due to me being big in whisky production but there being very few order tiles requiring it coming up, therefore I kept buying goods from the market to fulfill them instead and putting out cows to slaughter (which didn't offer the greatest return on investment) for what I couldn't buy. Towards the end of the game I simply sold all of my whisky (end of fourth round) and then bought what I needed to catch up on contracts (start of final round) using all the rest of cash to drop pieces around the board and take the "linked settlements" bonus. This was quite pleasing to accomplish but didn't feel like I'd planned it all out and worked a strategy or made smart tactical choices, I simply bludgeoned the economics of the game.

Each play has seen "contracts" bonus and the "settlements" bonus be very closely grouped amongst players with minimal separation or divergence. The biggest factor in scoring has tended to be who's done well on imported goods which is one of the clever parts of the game but it's ultimately just a number on a tile, I haven't had to work (that) hard to get an engine going, I've just picked a tile that I though I could complete easily and then gone from there. I needed cheese, I have a couple of cheese dairies, ok, let's just look for contracts that need cheese in future. You can't really pivot mid game, all you can do is spread yourself across most of the goods production types or specialise and then flog it to get cash to buy what matters. I'm not finding much variety in game setup (clans, contracts) or in the way that players have to play. Everyone is playing pretty much the same type of game.

Maybe I'm just not getting it but, after really enjoying my first couple of plays, it's now just feeling "ok".
Ultimately, I wish I'd played Agricola instead that evening. Or Tichu. Both of those are straight up 10's for me, this, well, it's more of a 6. Probably.

You mean you've never tried the "sauce and condiments" expansion for Tichu? Massively changes the game. Makes a mess as well!
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Fri Dec 8, 2017 6:25 am
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Going All T' Plan? Oh.... Games for a Laugh 28th November

Stuart Burnham
United Kingdom
Abingdon
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Having missed the last two GfaL sessions I was very happy to back this week and there were plenty of games to choose from and gamers eager to play them. I was keen on a few but plumped for Altiplano. I really enjoy Orléans and was very keen to try this one out.

I'd heard the usual squeeing ("bestest most awesomest") on one side about it and the usual grumbling ("derivative, pointless rehash") on the other. But which way do I hang? (to the left, typically) - on this matter...
Obviously my truth lies somewhere between these extremes. I enjoyed it, it felt familiar (probably fairly obvious given my like of Orleans) and it was different enough to be "relevant". There were a couple of minor gripes; the purchasable extensions to your player board were too easily confused as to where they were "located" for my liking, and the whole thing went a little bit too long. The additional restrictions placed on the game as you have to move to locations to take actions adds some weight and strategy but felt a bit too fiddly and unnecessary for me. But overall I liked the game and had fun playing it.

It is, like its predecessor, a multiplayer solitaire Euro game and you either enjoy that or you don't. I do. Because there is more control it will appeal for to people who like to plan and optimise more than those who like to deal with an increased level of randomness, and a bit of knowledge about the game and the ways to score certainly show through. The other 3 players had all played at least once before and all were comfortably ahead of me in the final reckoning. I'd overvalued the order cards and spent too much time and effort completing them, when I could've scored much better by working my extra tiles to generate more scoring goods and then getting houses to bump their score. I'll know better next time.
There will be a next time although I don't think I need to own this and Orleans I would happily spend an evening playing it some more.



Elsewhere we had a long running game of Keyper that looked fun - I hope they did actually get it finished!
There were also plenty of games of a social (deduction) nature, with Saboteur, Coup, The Resistance: Avalon and One Night Ultimate Werewolf (but I didn't get any pictures of those).
And finally there was a very "proud gamer dad" moment as Billy admirably led a table in a game of Suburbia.
That most certainly is going to plan!





Boiler update: fixed!
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Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:25 am
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Painters and Decorators - Games for a Laugh 7th November

Stuart Burnham
United Kingdom
Abingdon
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The past couple of week's write ups about GfaL nights have seen me grumbling about Halloween and the decorations that the pub had draped all over. You might have thought me a grumpy old bugger, and you might well be right.
But this week I think I have unquestionably justified contempt for this travesty pictured below...



It was the 7th of November....!

As far as I recall there are 12 days of Christmas and not one of them is in fucking November! I can only presume (for this is not an entirely unique occurrence) that the general outlook in Britain at present is so downbeat that people are, somewhat manically, saying "yes, but, look; Christmas! It's Christmas soon. Everything's going to be alright; everyone loves Christmas, don't they? Don't you? What do you mean? You're ruining everything now, can't you just go along with it? It's Christmas! Ho ho, ha ha, ho ho, ha sob, sniffle, sob, ..., ..., oh God, it's all shit isn't it..."

Perhaps others had gotten word of this forced festivity for there were only five of us this week, by far our lowest count for absolutely ages. A quick scans of games offered only a few that weren't party or filler fare and we chose Modern Art. It was to be a leisurely and amusing play, with John seemingly under the impression that the idea of the game was to either a) collect the most artwork and/ or b) earn a prize for overpaying by the most exorbitant amount for a single painting. There was one moment late on when Kostas was nearly in tears; "but how can you pay 85 for that? It can only possibly be worth 70 at absolute maximum!" (obviously you can be trying to ensure an artist is highly valued in one round and then sell your 3 cards of that artist in a later round for big gains, but when you're in the final round....?!)

We were interrupted part way through by a travelling salesman (longtime missing GfaLer Paul and new Dad - those two things not entirely unconnected...) who'd correctly thought that offering up the games he no longer has time to play at a games meetup was probably the quickest and easiest way to shift them on. And with them all being priced *ahem* "competitively" at £10 each Mysterium, Small World, Memoir '44, Suburbia, Space Cadets: Dice Duel and Chinatown had all found new owners pretty damn quickly. Leaving a few lbs lighter and a few £s richer and with a promise that we'd sort out a weekend games session at the pub over the holidays so that parents of very young children can make it, he was on his way and we were back to the game.



Much mirth around the table was had with offering up a card for auction on the manner of Dixit with a silly titling of said painting (apologies to the very talented artists whose beautiful work blesses this edition)
Clockwise from top left;
Man with marmalade beard; A tile in my kitchen (detail); I like to keep them in boxes; Psycho girlfriend wants a cuddle.
Unsurprisingly John was nowhere near in the final money count, Gareth was pleased not to have come last and then Kostas, Helen and I were all close in the low 400's with Helen having bought quite a lot (and quite astutely) whereas I don't think I bought more than 3, maybe 4, paintings during the entire game - double auctions on valuable artists for the win! Or failing that, sell something to John!



I was pleased that with 5 of us present we wouldn't be able to play the 4 player game Magic Maze but unfortunately I was mistaken and the game can actually handle up to 8 players. Bugger. Despite my deep seated dislike of the game and Gareth taking a call from his wife and trying despairingly to get her to ask him to come and pick her up from wherever she was ("are you sure you don't want a lift, I can stop playing, it's no bother...oh, ok, are you really sure, it's getting late...oh...yeah, thanks, yes I am glad I can stay and play, thank you dear...") Kostas really wanted to pay his game and he's a nice guy and so we acquiesced.

And, well, my assessment of it is still that I really don't like it and find it an annoying and frustrating time. Banging your big red angry dobber on the table and (silently) demanding someone do something about it isn't usually the way to a pleasurable time in my experience.
And nor is playing this.
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Thu Nov 9, 2017 6:20 am
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Glittery Table Farts - Games for a Laugh 31st October

Stuart Burnham
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Abingdon
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With hoodlums in fright masks successfully dodged Billy and I arrived safely at the Kings Head for games night to find that the pub had been quite literally covered in cobwebs and other Halloween associated litter. What a bloody mess, and it's all stuff that will be binned or burned in a few days. I bloody hate Halloween. Bah humbug pumpkin.
Mercifully the King Charles room upstairs was devoid of detritus and so we could get down to some undistracted gaming.



Anna and James had managed a couple of days in Essen and were in attendance with half a dozen or so of the games they'd picked up there. Goody, goody!
First up was some Meeple Circus. I swear that everyone who plays this will kick themselves for not coming up with the idea of making a game out of what people do when fiddling with wooden components whilst waiting for their turn. And honestly, that's about all there is to it.
I was genuinely looking forward to this one and was on my list of 'try before you buy' but I had come close to putting in an order sight unseen.
But it's nothing; it's candy floss gaming.

My biggest issue is that you can't make anything impressive. The pieces are all exactly what you'd find in other games that you own (albeit with a couple of stickers applied to some so you've got a Tarzan or a ringmaster for example) and as such are very small. Coupled to that is the problem that if you are actually 'playing the 'game' then the point rewards are much better for just matching the little cards and creating a ring of small stacks to get the points. Never mind that you can get a few extra depending on how high up a red meeple is (as an aside, the 'height checker' will be used by gaming blokes the world over to see if their 'erection' is a 'seven pointer') you're much better off just making two of them carry a bar with another on top and get four points (plus a couple of extras if the right coloured ones are on/ off the ground). Oh, and do it whilst a circus music MP3 file plays because that makes it officially 'fun'. And in the final round honk your nose (or some other bullshit) every time you place a meeple because some parlour game silliness needs to be added to flesh out a very sparse game.

It is actually fun for a few minutes. But it's not impressive. Building a big tower in Rhino Hero draws gasps. The components in games like Junk Art and Bausack make for impressive constructions because there is a sense of 'how the fudge did you get that to balance?' to what is on the table. This game just has meeples, discs, octagonal cylinders, sticks and a few custom ones for horses and elephants. A big shame, I was seduced by the concept and disappointed by the execution of it.

I posted a flippant comment in a Facebook group about it and there were mentions of "but haven't you seen the Shut Up & Sit Down / No Pun Included / Actualol group play video on You Tube? - they're having an amazing time and it looks really exciting!" Yeah, well, colour me shocked that a group of people who try and make entertaining videos so that people will give them money made a game look entertaining!
The picture below will more accurately sum up your actual gaming experience; this is at the climax of the final round. You are watching a man for 2 minutes carefully fiddling with tiny wooden pieces. And then the next player. And the next...
Grrreeeaattt.....

Tip all your wooden gaming bits from 2 boardgames onto the table. Try and build something with them, get your friends to give you challenges worth 3/4/5/6/7 points for particular combinations. If you've not gotten bored after 30 minutes then maybe this game might be for you.



Elsewhere there was a variety of other gaming going on, with quite a good turn out meaning 4 tables were up and running. There was Indian Summer (seasonally appropriate and very pretty). It seems we've not reached 'peak polyominoes' just yet!
John was happy to get merrily murdering in Whitehall Mystery and Billy positively bouncing at bumping off zombies in Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game.
There were probably other games played (certainly Anna's table played Meeple Circus as well, didn't catch their thoughts) but we had moved onto something else new from Germany.



I love the game Suburbia. I like the game Castles of Mad King Ludwig. So I was intruiged to try the latest iteration of this gaming system, The Palace of Mad King Ludwig. This one does away with the price setting of Castles and returns the conveyor belt of Surburbia (in a simpler format) for selecting tiles. There are bonuses for completing rooms, as in all doors leading to other doors, like Castles. There are four public goals (we were playing 4 player, might be different with fewer) and you start with one hidden goal (so far so Suburbia) and can then gain up to five more hidden goals (so more Castles then). There are lots and lots of ways to score points including set collection on the tiny colourful Swan tokens, which are gained by matching the colours on the doors of the rooms and are used as currency to buy tiles fresher on the conveyor belt, and they might feature as end game scoring bonuses.
Like I say, there's a lot to keep track of.

And that was one of two big issues for me with the game. There is so much colour on the board, with the room backgrounds, the individual player tokens marking them and the Swan symbols on the doors. And then you need to look at the player boards of all your opponents which have a similar 'place several player tokens on the tracks and move up as you build that room type' - this is very important to be able to see as all (that I saw anyway) end game bonuses are "have the most x rooms/ tokens" or "have the least x rooms / tokens". Trying to see all of that around the table was a little too much for me, and you need to do it on every turn, if you're trying to play to compete.
The whole visual effect is like someone took a glitter suppository* and then stood on the table, dropped their trousers and let rip a particularly violent wet fart.



But it has "interaction" people say, with you all elbowing one another for a shared board space rather than doing your own tableau. Well, yes, that is different (It's also the same reason many say they don't like Carcassonne). I would argue that the interaction is completely arbitrary, and to the detriment of the game. In theory being able to target other players by blocking their rooms (through placement of other rooms meaning you have wall to door) or by the creeping moat (that also acts as game timer) means that you can peg back the leader(s).

Except you have no bloody idea who is winning.

There is no score track in this game you see, unlike the previous two, all the scoring is at game end, on a scorepad. You might think you know, but there is a huge amount of hidden scoring and so it is impossible. You can see the Swan tokens (10 points per set of 5 different, 7 per set of 4 different, etc) and you can see achievements and score unlocks on the player boards; you can see who's got what on the board and total up what their bonuses for eating rooms might be or rooms linked to stairs, but; and it's a bloody great but; how do you do that when you have a choice to block off a juicy room for player A or player B? You'd be pretty unwelcome if you mathed it all out each time, and even then they might have 2,3,4 or more hidden end game scoring tiles and could be 60+ points to the good there as well. And so it becomes a case of "ah, sod it, I'll mess up your room this time" - totally arbitrary and most certainly not a case of players being able to balance the game scoring. People like Castles because of all the hidden goals, but at least those give you points per room type/size etc giving you a steer - Palace is just most or least, giving you little to go on and very much at the mercy of what others do - if you draw a goal that says "most yellow swans" later in the game it's a total crapshoot as to whether you could score it, and is quite difficult to control even if you get it early on.

This game was nothing like as enjoyable as the previous 2 in the family for me. I think Suburbia is a masterpiece and each subsequent game an incrementally inferior iteration. I think I also took a dislike because it was so wilfully fiddly, and there is no way at all that Mrs B could play it with her hands and fingers - she loves Castles and I know would be attracted to this but it would be torture for her.
I was genuinely surprised when Bart (famously pithy after a first play of something) declared that he really quite liked it. In case it wasn't clear, I did not like this at all, and would not want to play it again.
But many will, precisely because of all that I perceive to be faults; many more love having "all the bits" and "all the scoring".
Give me some good old blue, green, yellow and grey hexes any day.

Essen lessons learned!



*yes they are a thing.
And further reading here; http://www.mommyish.com/passion-dust-vagina-glitter/




(Sorry to diss your new games Anna / James. Keyper is bound to be better....!)
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Thu Nov 2, 2017 6:25 am
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Getting into Crippling Debt, with Aaron Rodgers and Celine Dion - Games for a Laugh 24th October

Stuart Burnham
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Abingdon
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GfaL this week began with me bumping into Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, broken collar bone and all, in the bar of the Kings Head and Bell. Either he'd travelled all the way across the Atlantic for a couple of games during his recovery time, or JC had wandered in wearing a Packers jersey. Once my tired eyes ascertained that it was indeed a slightly shorter, older, lumpier and considerably more Irish man before me I offered him a choice of game of the cardboard rather than gridiron variety, after a brief natter on the sad state of affairs for Cheeseheads (American readers may be surprised to know that there is a large, and growing, knowledgeable NFL fan base over here. Some of us have been watching, reading and listening for over 30 years now!)



The main course this week was to be a spot of (re)building old London town for JC, a keen (for now) James, Helen and myself. I've only tried this as a two player affair previously and it was quite different indeed with four. In particular money seemed to be quite a bit tighter and yellow/ brown cards much more highly prized. All the boys took a loan and the dawning realisation that we were going to struggle to pay it off at the end hit us all, at slightly different times maybe, but we all shifted into the same damage limitation mode, looking for point generating opportunities in the end game to offset; those Borough cards started looking even more tempting but, alas, required more funds, as did the juicy point giving structures in hand; why not run the city then and make a few bob? Weeeelll, we'd all taken just a little bit too much poverty already and Helen was the clear leader (lowest poverty count) in that area and we were all being cagey and hoping she'd run her city again, a couple of times perhaps, so that something approaching parity could be reached. She didn't...
I was stuck with not one, not two, but three(!) sewer cards in hand, each one would've washed away three poverty but I could only afford to build one. Sigh...
So three of us took a 7 point penalty for an unpaid loan and had to give up 12+ penalty points for left over poverty. And poor old James managed to entirely wipe out his score. Still, what's a Martin Wallace game without the opportunity for you to completely shoot yourself in the foot by ballsing up the in game economy eh?



"Near, far, wherever you are..."
Elsewhere Michael was teaching Near and Far to his table, only getting mildly annoyed/ amused by my Celine Dion interruptions (it is the official soundtrack to the game, no? You'll be singing it whenever you see it now...) I'm not generally interested in playing Ryan Lauket games (something about the art, I know, it's just me) but I did find Above and Below to be quite good fun on the one occasion that I tried it. I also very much enjoyed the daftness of Tales of the Arabian Nights, so maybe it's worth a play as well. We'll have to see.
"I believe that the heart does go on..."



I can't remember who was playing Kostas' copy of Deus but the three of them managed to make it last all evening! It's a game I do enjoy (but no longer own) but it'd be testing my patience if it went that long...surprise



JC disappeared after London, although that was lasting a lot longer than Gareth who pulled a odd "hello everyone" then five minutes later "right, I'm off, I don't feel like playing anything tonight" - the selection of games not that bad, surely?

Helen, James and I then bumbled about with Oh My Goods! until the landlady started conspicuously collecting glasses at the very early hour of 10 o'clock. I was struggling to find any synergy in my cards and so went for the building rush tactic, which is a bit neutered with the revised rules and even nabbing a couple of assistants didn't get me over the line, James' superior chains getting the all important points to pip me 24-23. I have no idea what Helen was up to, but building structures didn't appear to be a big part of the 'plan'...

All those brickworks when all I wanted was a sawmill...


Next week, hopefully, we'll be free of the bloody awful Hallowe'en decorations that festooned the King Charles room and we can all get some more quality gaming in. James was heading off to meet Anna in Essen and perhaps they'll be back next week with something weird or wonderful to offer up. I'm hopeful that the promised (KS backed; I know!) Clans of Caledonia might've arrived on my doorstep by then as well.

I enjoyed this evening's gaming, a good job as it might have to sustain me until the same time next week as there are parents to have round for dinner, a round trip to Manchester to look at a University to squeeze and all the other bits and pieces that drain my free time away. I think I need to arrange an all day /weekend session to get some longer titles in soon!

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Thu Oct 26, 2017 6:20 am
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Gamer's Phallusy - Games for a Laugh 3rd October

Stuart Burnham
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Abingdon
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Anticipating the usual dribble of gamers staggered over about 15 minutes and the resultant chatter as people who haven't seen each other for a little while catch up, this week I popped a "have an absent minded fiddle with this whilst everyone natters" offering of PitchCar Mini onto the table. And then made the mistake of asking Billy to build a track whilst I sorted something else out.
Ooops.

"you need to flick carefully around the balls and can then be a bit more forceful on the shaft"
(as well as racing advice this was also the most requested sexual favour at this week's Conservative Party conference*)

I'd mooted bringing RftG in one of its forms along with me and had gotten interest from John III, who rolled up about 2 minutes after all seats for Roll for the Galaxy had been claimed. Kostas has played before and was very keen but the long lost Sarah and Owen (making a first appearance since the spring having had trivial things to do like "getting married" and "buying a house" stopping them from coming along) and Ian were new and (and non Race players) so some teaching and hand holding through a few rounds were required.

settle a six-pointer to finish the game, nice!

When you've spent an hour teaching and walking through a first game it seems a perfectly good idea to immediately play another so as to reinforce the learning and hopefully get a bit quicker. Which duly happened, with much vigorous dice shaking (surprisingly not drawing a "keep it down" from Gareth on the next table) and "is everybody ready yet?" and even a bit of working out who would be looking to activate which action from the learners as the second game whizzed by in half the time. Kostas made it a win apiece for me and him with a monstrous 6 point tech and 6 point world build in the final round which was fitting payback after his misfortune to roll 6 development icons earlier whilst having nothing awaiting building, no goods to ship and no produce action selected! Brilliant game, a bit loose at 5 player as you can count on most actions being selected, and enjoyed by all. Might even get a repeat outing next week as John really wants a game of it...



There were another nine gamers at other tables playing, variously, Yokohama (becoming a GfaL staple that), Celestia (John making amusingly inappropriate comments throughout according to Billy) and another GfaL fave Watson & Holmes and finally a spot of One Night Ultimate Werewolf. All in all it was a great crowd in this week and everyone seemed to be in good spirits.

the 'board' does look crazy busy, but is actually very simple once you know the iconography


With about 45 minutes left after PenisPitchCar and two rounds of RollftG, and all other gamers in the middle of other things I suggested a "full fat filler" with the good doctor's Medici. Owen eagerly agreed being "really good at auctions" and he duly raced out to a big lead after round one. And then promptly moved about five points further forward the rest of the game, his magic touch vanishing whilst simultaneously acquiring a knack for over valuing lots. Sarah picked up a fair few lots for a measly single coin, but this bargain basement approach led to scattered placements for majorities and, consequently, few points. Ian went big into furs and scored heavily, but was forced to pay for them by the table, whilst Kostas and I were a little more evenly spread and focused on two goods and getting decent boat scores. As I was the only player who'd any experience of the game you'd expect me to win, and I did; just, narrowly pipping Kostas.
It was a good game and I enjoyed it but it didn't generate any 'spark' with the others in comparison to Roll for the Galaxy.
Oh Balls...



*although being bound by a man wearing a Jacob Rees-Mogg mask and given a "hard brexiting" whilst a recording of Boris Johnson speaking Latin plays was a close second.
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Thu Oct 5, 2017 6:25 am
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"What is This Roll a die Sh*t?" - Games for a Laugh 26th Sept

Stuart Burnham
United Kingdom
Abingdon
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Ah, how we enjoy Bart's subtle interjections during a game! Never a man to hold back in saying exactly what he thinks about something cardboard related (hailing from Poland he, refreshingly, doesn't have the inate embarrassed politeness that has us Brits so hamstrung when confronted by something we're not enjoying) and that bubbled to the surface in the manner of a stick of Mentos being dropped into a 2 litre bottle of Diet Coke when confronted with Discworld: Ankh-Morpork this Tuesday!

I thought these 2 cards went together quite well


As it was John(II)'s Birthday we let him choose what we'd be playing, although I'd already expressed an interest in trying out some Pratchett based silliness that new member J.C. had brought along. With Bart seemingly "mis-sold" the game based on Martin Wallace's name being on the box we had four to fool around in the back alleys of the Discworld's most notorious finest city. With the rest of us being at least fairly well versed in the books we could all chuckle at the jokes and the random chaos that ensued. Bart though was almost apoplectic when he played a card that triggered an event (Dragon!) and uttered the immortal "what do you mean 'roll a die and destroy everything in that numbered district'? What is this bullshit?" Naturally it was one of his buildings that was torched to ashes. Ooops.

He is right, it is a mostly chaotic affair in which you have limited control over your destiny, although I quite liked this lighter hearted take on games like Kemet, Inis, etc where it becomes obvious that someone could win on their next turn so it's time to pile on the leader and knock them down.
In this play it looked like the deck would be run out and so the Vimes character would be best placed to win...
A good job I'd peeked a look at some of the unused role cards (via a card played, I'm not a cheat!) and seen that it was in there. And a very good job that I held a card that let me swap my role with one from the unused...
I allowed John(II) to draw for me, so as to remove any possibility of me fixing it and lo and behold he drew exactly the card that I'd seen and would let me win on my next turn.
Except it was Lord Vettinari, I'd been confused by the V's and stood no chance. Oh bollocks! But funny, and in total keeping with the game. It was actually John who had held that card all along and he got a Birthday win.

I don't think Bart will be looking to play this again, but I can't be certain...



The rest of the attendees were playing "Suburbia with trains" (Whistle Stop) which did look lovely and seemed to be enjoyed by all five players, including John(III) who'd cast a very wary eye at Michael suggesting it after last week's Tiny Epic Quest experience; to quote John "I'd rather repeatedly slam the garage door closed on my John Thomas than play that again" but he was more effusive after this with some faint praise "I'd play it again happily but not one for me to buy, I've got several games that are more than a bit like this, it's good but...you know..." - an improvement on last week at least.
I think Bezier should use a "better than slamming a garage door on your cock" on the box for their next print run!
Methinks his Kemet/ Cyclades/ Inis bag will be back with him next week!



After a lively 15 minutes discussion on the differences of VAT and import duties between Britain, Ireland, Poland and the USA (no, really) J.C. took his leave and the three of us left continued the daft literary spirit of the evening by playing Parade which I always enjoy.
Again, this is quite tactical and there is a large amount of chaos, but Bart could tolerate it because it was short.
I know what he means generally but I was quite happy with the general silliness of games this evening, but it's not always what you're in the mood for. We'll play something "better" next time!

With that it was time to beat an early retreat from the Broken Mended Drum Kings Head and go home to say hi to Mrs B, who'd returned from a couple of days in London with work just after I left for Games Night.
Priorities!
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Thu Sep 28, 2017 6:20 am
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Do Annas Dream of Wooden Sheep? - Games for a Laugh 19th Sept

Stuart Burnham
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After missing last week's GfaL night (had to take Charlie out, this might be an increasingly common occurrence - the band seem to being "going places") I was very happy to be back and ensconced in the warm (not really, 'twas a bit draughty in the King Charles Room) gaming environs of The King's Head.
I was even more happy when my last minute addition of Keyflower to the game bag was immediately seized upon by Helen and quickly thereafter, Anna; with (new to the game) Ian tentatively throwing his hat into the same ring we were off with one of my favourite games at my favourite player count!
Hurrah!



One of the great things about the game is that it makes sense when you teach it, and for those learning it that helps a first play to go swimmingly rather than just writing it off as "a learning game". This particular play was utterly bereft of movement tiles (I checked the box, they were there, we just didn't draw a single one of 'em!) making for a very alternate affair, tile flipping would be at a premium it seemed. I had unwittingly ended up with an Alehouse which proved very useful in building quite the army of meeples for a winter push. Everyone else seemed to be busy making a specialist village and mine was a bit "jack of all trades."
Winter was quite a wild affair as everyone gleefully chucked in a couple of hexes; well, "hello!" says the man will the huge pile of meeples behind his screen - "ooh, a Keythedral for 12 points?, don't mind if I do..."
In the end it was only good enough to tie with Helen's Lumberjack paradise and a quick check of the rulebook informed us that we should play again to determine a winner (which is fair enough, how can you possibly apply arbitrary tiebreakers to such a varied game?)

Speaking of Keyflower being such a varied, wonderful, involved game this play has made me re-assess my ratings (and my neglect in not playing it more often). The game works wonderfully, it offers a challenge every time, it is very tactical, very interactive (drop 3 meeples as a first move onto someone's movement tile and watch the shit go off!) and therefore, yes, that's right, you guessed it- I'm moving it up: it's a 10/10 game!

Oh, and all that - including teaching - is over and done with in 90ish minutes...



...which is more than can be said for Tiny Epic Quest (see earlier blog post) which Michael had brought along and had snagged a couple of players for, with the late arriving John III being obliged to take the fourth seat in as we (and those playing Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game) had already started. John seemed to be wearing the expression of a condemned man as we packed up ("you've finished a proper Euro and we're still on turn 3?!") and might've been scheming how to slowly kill Michael with those tiny weapons...
I will never forget the gritted teeth maniacal smile he was wearing...!



Having spied Sheep & Thief (the new edition) in Helen's bag I twisted her arm into teaching us all how to play. It was during this time that the imortal line (and blogpost title inspiration) was uttered by Anna - "I'm sorry Helen, could you go over that again, I'd drifted off thinking about the sheep meeples..."
This game is a fun little affair, with a drafting mechanism allied to plenty of screwage opportunity and that put me very much in mind of The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet and I enjoyed it quite a bit, even with me messing up my own board due to some spectacular incompetence at distinguishing where the roads were going...
Ian won with a huge river score and, whilst clearly a family level game, I'd happily play it again in the same company (again, much like Little Prince) due to the high amount of opportunity to mess with other players by moving the fox around, hate drafting, etc.



With the time now ticking towards 10 o'clock and the Dead of Winterites finished and looking for some social deduction fun I decided it was time for an early night and headed off home.


(The Tiny Epic Questers had reached their final turn, I think they made it out before closing... - don't say you haven't been warned on this blog people!)

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Fri Sep 22, 2017 6:25 am
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