Games played at Epsom Games Club 11.10.12
Gordon Watson
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey - United Kingdom
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ASL - other tactical wargames call it Sir.
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Beneath this mask there is an idea.....and ideas are bulletproof.
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12 people last night I think - I'm short of a few names though.

Gordon, Andy B2, Adam, Chris (Capt Nemo), Nick, James, Jeff, Andrew 007, Chris (Crispy116), + some of 007's mates.

 
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1. Board Game: Ancient Battles Deluxe [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:4804]
Gordon Watson
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey - United Kingdom
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ASL - other tactical wargames call it Sir.
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Chris and I had pre-arranged to play Ancient Battles this week - neither of us had played before.

It's a fairly straightforward system but it still took about half an hour to get going, however that was mainly due to piece finding and set up rather than rules reading.

We played the Granicus scenario (Alexander[me] v Memnon[Crhis]) which is one of the more complex scenarios included with the game. I rather liked the game system which is no more complex than C&C Ancients but still manages to capture more of the feel of ancient warfare than GMT's "block" behemoth. The command point system is particularly good presenting the players with a number of decisions to make around what to do and the timing of things.

I quite liked the combat resolution although I would play using 'average' dice (which the game suggests as an option) if I were to play again. Rolling one's is disastrous given the nature of the ratio based results table (I managed to roll five consecutively followed by two 2's and then another 1). Using average dice would smooth off this rough edge.

Based on this play I will probably pick up a couple of the expansion - this is essentially a kit system to allow you to play any battle from early history to early gunpowder era's.

The game actually ended in a draw although Chris would almost undoubtedly have forced a victory had the game end condition not been triggered - Alexander managed to extricate himself and limp off to lick his wounds.

Rating 7.5

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2. Board Game: Notre Dame [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:218]
Andrew Bond
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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007's mates are: Phil, Malcolm, Farro
Joining us for the evening was Nick

No-one (apart from myself) has played before, so a quick rules explanation and we were off. This is a game where it is important to get the multiplying benefits of placing many cubes in the same area. That si because the rewards go up with the number of cubes - first cube = 1 reward (e.g. money, cube, VP); 2nd cube = 2 x reward; 3 cubes = 3 x reward. So spreading yourself around too thinly is not a good strategy. Until, you get to activate the card that rewards players who have spread out, of course!

Nick, Farro, and I decided to pay the penalty for having > 9 rats (lose 2VPs and one cube) rather than activate the hospital or park. This is a tactic I had not used before and it seems to me to be a good one.

However, the game was won by very good play by Maclom in the penultinate round, when he placed in Notre Dame two turns in a row, paying maximum coinage for maximum VPs - to 'steal' a 12VP jump in score. With his later enhanced share of the end-game 12VPs for Notre Dame, it was enough to leave Nick and me trailing.

1. Malcolm* 49
2. Nick* 38
3. Andrew 37
4. Phil* 36
5. Farro* 33

No ratings taken. I would give this a 7.
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3. Board Game: Panic Station [Average Rating:6.05 Overall Rank:2784]
Andrew Bond
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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After savouring Nore Dame, we opted to explore the infected remains of a space ship in .... Panic Station.

This is very difficult game to teach new players. The rules are non-intuitive; the cards you get need to be understood without revealing to other players what you've got; and if someone fails to 'get' the infection mechanism, then the whole game falls apart.

And that is what happened to us, Farro was infected early on - and we all suspected it was him (although Malcolm was also a candidate - both having searched for 3 cards). But Farro's insistence of entering rooms with other players to force a trade meant we were all wary of him.

Phil then fell pray to a trade and so I decided to scan the station. And it revealed...

NOONE WAS INFECTED!

No-one? So Nick called for a re-scan and...

ONE PERSON WAS INFECTED

We went back to suspecting Farro.

A few more trades later and Malcolm accused Phil of trying to infect him. Nick and I said 'well you would say that, wouldn't you?' and decided the safest bet was for us two to work together without the other three. To be sure, I decided to scan the station again. And it revealed...

ONLY ONE PERSON WAS INFECTED!

Only one? Couldn't be so... Phil and Farro were dead certs.

So, we played on and next turn Phil went into the hive and played four gas canisters to kill the host - i.e. himself and .... Farro. Only Farro thought he had passed the infection onto Phil and was therefore no longer infected.

Despite this failing as a game, it was still great fun - so all was not lost.

I doubt Phil or Farro will play this again, though!

Uninfected: Malcolm*/Nick*/Andrew
Infected and knew it: Phil*
Infected and thought he had been cured: Farro*
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4. Board Game: Archipelago [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:285]
 
Jeff Clark
United Kingdom
London
London
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In the run-up to Essen, I've been making a list of games I was going to get at the fair. Unfortunately, the excitement got the better of me, and when I found out one could buy the game directly from the manufacturer and get it shipped directly to your house instead of picking it up at Essen, I couldn't resist...

So a game that's allegedly an "Essen Release" got played a week before Essen at Epsom...

Players were myself, Jim F, Adam, Chris (who was new to the club) and Andrew... as it was new to everyone but me, (and I'd only played once before), the rules explanation took about 30 minutes, and we missed a few (thanks for pointing them out Chris), but were up and running fairly successfully by 8:00...

Archipelago is a game that has both exploration and worker placement elements to it, with a fairly traditional euro-type market for resources which one uses to build buildings. The interesting twists to this game are:

-When you explore, you find natives keen to work for you, but who can also become unhappy with your presence. If you can provide them work, they'll not become restless, but if there's too many of them, or if they get laid off because you have too many unsold/unused resources sitting around in the market, everyone will lose the game. Except if someone has a traitor card as his game-winning condition.

For in this game, everyone has a card which gives him one possible game-end condition, and only he knows it. So in a 5-player, there are 5 ways to trigger the end of the game. There are also 5 ways that points will be scored, and you won't know these either - only your own...

So, I drew the traitor card. Figures... At the outset of the game, I think I might have been in a position to immediately cause the to end because people were just gearing up to understanding the rules, so I decided to take it easy on the group - I wanted them to enjoy the game after all... and only decided to really try to win via this particular route after about an hour. However, I think I did too good of job of trying to put people off the scent by warning them of ways the traitor could win, because everyone took it on board and made it almost impossible for me to win this way. (It turns out that one of the rules we missed would have made this easier....)

On our initial explorations, we settled different parts of the world - with Jeff & Adam competing for some fruit-rich plantations, whilst Chris and James were on their own, on entirely separate islands. James quickly realised that he was hitting a dead-end, but seemed to have some trouble with three-dimensional rotations, as the tile he needed to break out was in front of him for about 2 or 3 turns, and he was sure it wasn't the one he needed... He however made up for this by some clever bidding for first-player, pipping me to this quite-valuable prize on several occasions...

Andrew, left quietly on his own, built some buildings which made his economic engine more efficient, whilst Adam employed tons of natives but couldn't quite manage to enact his strategy of getting ahead of me on the turn order, which would have allowed him to "steal" my ability of double-producing on the fruit which was quite a lucrative strategy...

Adam instead focussed on one of the ways to win points - that of being the "benefactor" who helps out the colony by chipping in his own resources when there was a shortage - in this particular game, this earned victory points...

However, the game rather abruptly ended when Adam announced that the population had hit the magic number required to satisfy his end-of-game condition and then we saw what we needed to have done to earn points...

It turns out that being the traitor means you have no other way of earning points, so I ended up being last. Or maybe I came in last because I was explaning the rules and didn't spend much time thinking about my own moves. Or maybe I'm just rubbish. (It's probably the last one!) In any case, Andrew ended up benefiting from his "slow and steady" approach and pipped us all to the post...

Final scores:

Andrew: 10
Adam: 9
James: 6
Chris A: 5
Jeff 5

(Chris one the tiebreak by having more cash).

Jeff & Andrew rated it a 7.5, and everyone else a 7... with everyone wanting to try it again, but possibly not with 5 players in future...
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