The Jaded Gamer

Opinions, not always positive, on the gaming world.
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LOBstercon Nov 2012 Blog Post 5 of 5

Alec Chapman
United Kingdom
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Anyway, how's your sex life?
"She said the same thing about waffles."
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Day 4: Journey after journey

It's always a shame to realise that a fun experience is about to come to an end, but important to make the most of things as you do.

Also, I have been working off my Played Games list and the dates associated all through writing these posts - only to realise now, at the end, that I was date accurate - that is to say that some of the plays took place at midnight to 2am on the relevant days, before bed, rather than in the exact order I have described them.

For example, the enormous 7 player game of Cosmic Encounter played on Saturday night - Sunday Morning is logged on Sunday.

As a result, perhaps, of the epic game with the Filth Flare, Poison and the Pygmy I was a little nervy about playing with so many players - finally remembering the four planet variant and all agreed to this lower score target. I drew the Warpish and we had some interesting powers around the table such as Parasite (Ian)and Hate (Martin!) - the latter of who everybody was terrified of but actually got totally nerfed by a cosmic zap and running out of cards to use his power with as a result. This game was probably most notable for Martin's flare that gave him a colony for everyone who lost their power. Since most of the players (including him) were locked together on 3 colonies and needed just one point to win this being a four planet game he could have used this and won when in the final fight Ian used his Parasite ability to jump in with Jon and attempt a cheap victory, losing his power immediately afterwards with only one planet (and, incidentally one ship) remaining.

I know what you're thinking. Easy victory for Martin, right?
Ian slipped his ship onto the cone quietly and without drawing attention to the action - this was in the hope that Jon would not notice and backstab his proposed negotiation partner, Kester, handing Ian a zero effort joint victory. As a result, this quiet action meant that Martin did not spot the move and did not play his card. Only realising his error when Kester and Jon overcame every instinct of the weekend and shook hands on a win. His reaction was... shall we say... not positive (but only in terms of being annoyed with himself!).

I think from now on, with more than five players I will always use the four planets variant. It was just a lot more fun and the stakes rose at a better rate in my opinion.

OK, last thing Saturday night and since this was also the day of Die Macher and Dungeon Lords, I was feeling a bit brain fried. Enter the change of pace and Mah Jong. We used Zung Jung rules, and a seven pair hand made the difference as I came out the winner in a two player, two dummy game (with Martin joining for one hand) with Chris. I can't remember much else about it since I was to all intents and purposes already asleep.


After a lie in (I spoiled myself by missing breakfast and spending an extra half hour in bed) we went back over to the venue - we planned to leave mid afternoon, or when Chris thought he wouldn't be able to drive back any later without falling asleep at the wheel, whichever came sooner.

For the second time in two days, my day included a game of Tichu. Despite using a random assignment of partnerships, I ended up paired with Scott again - I can only imagine his disappointment! Chris was once again playing to my right and his partner was Amanda.
This game was very different from Saturday's. Scott and I roared out of the gates with a couple of successful Tichu calls and before long had an enormous (700 point?) lead. In this game I felt I managed to track the points a bit better - up til now I had always just concentrated on my hand and helping my partner rather than the actual points content of the trick. Of course, going out first and/or second is crucially important but I started to get the sense that the destination of the points cards is something you can control. On one occasion I gave up a potential trick win with the dragon to force Chris to take the -25 points associated with the Phoenix (obviously leading him to believe the Dragon was with his partner), only to quickly grab the lead with the dragon shortly after - sending it the other way and concentrating on slowing Amanda down (so we would get the 25 points and leave them with the -25).

Also, I started to play harder on the ones where there were points available and take fewer leading risks with these cards in my hand.
Of course, these are only basic strategies I am sure, but this is one of the aims in my concentration on the 10 games in my list - to improve my understanding of games beyond the veneer of, for example, "just go out as quick as you can". While I am far from adept at manipulating the eventual direction of the tricks' point scoring cards I can see how this could build into one of the more satisfying aspects of the game.

Eventually, despite a quite cracking Grand Tichu call from Amanda in the games latter stages and not because of Chris' failed Grand Tichu on the very next hand (which was only bid because Scott and I were on 965 points) we managed to come out comfortable winners.

Tichu is probably a fantastic example of the frustrations I have had at LoB. With all the new games with shiny components and nested mechanics, it's easy for a superb card game like this to be ignored by many and not taken up by new players or played enough for people to see its true value. Of course, if London On Deck kicks off I may get to play this more and certainly would look to do so.

Once Tichu was done with I was looking about for something to play with this guy -
Lloyd B
United Kingdom
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It's about the friends we made along the way.
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Which is easier said than done because while we get on really well, he hates almost every game I love.

Luckily, we found a copy of Tales Of The Arabian Nights, a pseudo-game that includes putting on character voices and a sex change spring. Definitely about the point at which our venndiagrams overlap!

So along with Chris and two others we set about explaining the rules to this mutual pastime (I hesitate to call it a game) to the new players and as is traditional everyone knew the full turn procedure in about five minutes.

If you don't know Tales of The Arabian Nights I will endeavour to explain both the game and why I like it. The game (and I will call it a game from now on as it is a recreational pastime with a competitive element) consists of a lot of cardboard and a great big book known as "The Book Of Tales" that contains everything that can and will happen to your little cardboard stand up figure throughout the play.

Your turn consists of moving to a space on the board and having an "encounter" there determined by a combination of a Card (saying you meet, for example, a Wizard) and matrices in the book of tales, rolling dice to establish an adjective (i.e. rolling will determine whether you meet a "great wizard" or an "evil wizard").

You then use what are almost certainly the best player aids ever designed (ironic given the non-gamey nature of this) to determine your response. Each type of matrix or encounter has a letter assigned to it, which is in turn associated with a set of responses. So, with the Wizard described above you could have options as disparate as "Aid", "Grovel" or "Rob" each leading to a different paragraph in the book of tales.

These paragraphs (and there are many, many of them) describe the outcome of your action. Of course, there is a little bit of translation required to read them out in an engaging way - most of them describe "the other" and you have to translate to "The Evil Wizard", and while you may have chosen to "drink" in response to the Great Storm, rest assured you are more likely to catch some rainwater on your tongue or drink a magic potion than do the literal drinking of an entire storm you may have intended.

Also, doing funny voices for the other characters is mandatory, but seems to have been left out of the rules. whistle

And since the outcomes of the paragraphs depend on things you may or may not possess, on skills you may or may not have learnt etc etc it is an extremely random game - not one for long nights with Wallace auction lovers or strategic minded people. The scoring and win conditions are so absurdly un-gameable as to be beyond any form of strategy.

Just play and have a good time - this is why I like it so much. It doesn't pretend to be more than it is or to deliver a classic gaming experience. It is just plain silly fun and sometimes that's exactly what you need.

My subsequent insistence on playing what I can best describe as a spectacularly incompetent game of Bunny Bunny Moose Moose was probably what signalled the need for us to go home - though I did play a couple of hands of R, which bridged a small gap between deciding to go home and a group finishing with my copy of Bausack.

So as we hit the road, what were my thoughts on the event itself? Obviously the gaming was great. The LoB crowd are a bunch of legends, but with the addition of the massive gaming area available to us at the hotel and the availability of the town of Eastbourne to get away from things (and the beach being just over the road) I think this stands as a truly superb way to spend a long weekend. I heartily recommend it and to any games groups who have never done something of the kind - look into it! I guarantee it will be great fun.

If any of you have managed to get through all of my blog posts, I hope you enjoyed them. Thanks to everyone I gamed with all weekend and to everyone i didn't, I'll be happy to lose to you next time!
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