Sunday morning was silent in the house but the Pub was already bubbling with activity: the smell of freshly-bleached floors, of roasting Sunday lunch meats and the clacking of wood upon cardboard in the back room despite the unsocial 0930 hour. Before my toast, I'd snuck a quick look at some of my pressies (though the GoC is not about getting pressies but keeping the annual jouer festivities going at a cheap and convenient time of the year):
I have to admit that the thought of a toilet brush spinning against my anus at 2700RPM brought a cold shudder rippling down my spine: that would sand your starfish to a raw, quivering sore! Fortunately, the 'box' is a highly-amusing jape from MrShep and contained a much more palatable trio of 'sea' theme beers with the homemade label "Attention All Sipping"!
By way of a thankyou, I drafted MrShep in to the first game of the day: Agricola (how could it be anything else?!):
Letting John, Matt and Boffo open the last of the Wizkids decks&minis sets while picking one of the decks I didn't use in August (at Ben's 40th), we set to it with typical grumbles, mumbles and sleepy barracking. As is so often at a multi-day Con, I find one's enthusiasm is recklessly spent on the first day (and late in to the night) leaving one subdued on the next; there is also the sobering fact of it being the 'going home day'. No matter: there were still six good hours to fill and my favourite board game in the world ever waiting, bright and colourful, for the playing:
After the laffs and the riotousness of Saturday, our farming was a more considered affair; the occasional joke - mainly Boffo repeating the word 'Hollow' as a faux-Chinese greeting (racist!) during restocking - but, mostly, chin-stroking working out. I managed a two-card leech-off-renovation combo and hogged the start player for the all-important rounds 12 and 13 to quickly fill my farm board; a Pottery stolen from MrShep, a Basketmaker's Workshop stolen from Boffo and other sundry improvements added to a pleasing 16 bonus points and a 3pt win over Matt. Boffo and John were somewhat elbowed out by M and me as we rode the timing 'just right'. Astounding, astonishing and flawless.
John could stomach our company no longer and - with Ben and Becky on a clock (they had to go and do the weekly supermarket shop: WTF?!) - this might be the only chance I'd get to try out Japon Brand's 2019 'big box'-er Orchard Ocean:
From the folks that brought us the visually-gorgeous and mentally-twisting Airship City, OO is a tile-laying pick-up-and-deliverer where the delivery is dependent on the 'range' of your harbours set in the islands of your production sites. A few rounds of 'building stuff' (drafting one each of a 'direction', island and turn order tile) are followed by a harvest: prod sites generate their fruits and the shipping ranges come in to play. Fruits are consumed by consumer sites for money (used as part of the building and recruitment processes) or victory points. At the end of the game, special 'level 3' tiles can score big based on your layout and you get extra points for variety of fruit production.
OO is stunning to look at (gotta love that colourful-yet-clinical aesthetic) and a fun little spacial puzzle but I'm not sure we're going to get many more plays: it lacks the excitement of Airship City's action tile shuffling, for example, or the bonkers chit-flipping, cube avalanche potential of a Dadaocheng.
Pal Paul - one of the North Wales contingent - had been keenly boning up on the rules for Import / Export which, ever since January's BASTION, he had been promising to teach me. As an uber-fan of Glory to Rome, the comparisons that I/E had with it were an instant reason for its purchase back in 2017 but - because of reasons - it's just never made it to the table:
Sadly, I fear starting my I/E journey with a five player count was a huge mistake: some of the actions seem counter-intuitive (not a problem in itself) and lumpen - the journey to achieve even a simple progression seemed tortuous. Of course, a game in this genre (multi-use cards, multiple zones) really only shines at the lower player counts (2 or 3); even my beloved GtR is clumsy with the full five - there's just 'not enough time to do anything meaningful', which is not the same as the eminently-desirable 'not enough time to do everything you want to'! Of course, my GtR story started in exactly the same way all those years ago but then I hadn't experienced anything like it; now that I have, I'm not seeing anything in I/E to make it playable over GtR in any situation. I shall give it another go at January 2020's BASTION to be completely fair (and only with three players).
Peeps starting drifting home once the enormous Sunday lunches had been consumed. Each time - after the hugs and back-slaps and air-kisses - I announced the departure to the room ("Alan and Charlie are going home now!") eliciting an enormous cheery farewell from the congregation in response ("GOODBYE, ALAN AND CHARLIE!"). It was lovely to send dear friends in to a damp, Autumnal Sunday on a wave of loud huzzahs.
One more game, then, and it would be time to call it a weekend:
DANY with the full eight!
Dixit meets Pictures with a sort-of hidden traitor; the voices in DANY's head vying for control while a tortured DANY attempts to silence them forever. Or something. The group managed to hit the magical six definition 'wins' in the down-to-the-wire, make-or-break round; if we'd failed, there would be a final 'Who IS DANY?' showdown which, TBH, would also have been a fittingly-riotous end to a superb Gathering.
I'm aching for the next one already and - as before - 'Chums 4' is open to any-and-all noble gamers who would like to come:
Friday 13th November, 2020 to Sunday 15th November, 2020*
at The King's Arms, Newent. GLOS. GL18 1BD.
*there are plenty of cheap, local B&Bs if needed
Life and Games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Dad, Husband and Independent UK Game Designer, Agricola fanboy and jealous admirer of Carl Chudyk.
- [+] Dice rolls