Games Played at Epsom Games Club 23/04/15
Gordon Watson
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey - United Kingdom
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ASL - other tactical wargames call it Sir.
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An extraordinary evening at The River Club....Jim turned up, and even ended up playing a game where you shoot at things and seemed to be enjoying it. As well as Jim there was 'Nearly Diceless' Nick, Paul, Hairy Martin, Nameless Steve, Roy, T101 James, Biblical James, Josh, Alex, Matt, Elisia, Simon, Gareth and Gordon.

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1. Board Game: Onward to Venus [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:1501]
Gordon Watson
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey - United Kingdom
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Played by: Gordon, Gareth, Matt and Simon

The usual knock-about high-jinks in an alternate steam-punky colonisation of the solar-system.

Matt's Russians ended up beating Gordon's Brits, Simon's French and Gareth's pathologically revengeful Americans. The first two rounds (of three) saw only one tension tile emerge which Gareth immediately blitzed with a card so there was no direct conflict, which was probably a good thing given Simon, Matt and Gareth were new to the game, although Gareth still managed to take offence at me playing a gunrunning card on Venus to beef up the crisis that was developing there.

VP's for planets at the end were pretty even between 25-30 I think, but Matt's exploits at big-game hunting carried him to victory. Gareth still had the powerful 'place a tension tile' card in his hand at the end of the game - I think had he moved his kick ass army to Earth rather than the Moon he possibly could have won - although he still might have run out of time to use it.

Matt - 36
Gordon 31
Simon 26 ?
Gareth 26 ?
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2. Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:38]
James Faulkner
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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James F
James S
Josh
Alex

A learning game for Alex who acquitted himself very well for the first play.
James S and Josh had only played once before.
Having played many times now, I was in the tricky position as the experienced player. I decided on an approach to try and score as much as possible whilst avoiding anything that directly screwed one of the other players.

James S maxed out his agriculture and sacrificed some skulls.
Josh followed me up the resource track.
Alex did a bit of everything.
Everyone managed to feed all their workers throughout the game.
Lots of sacrificing of skulls but noone advanced the religion track to boost this.

Scores were very bunched throughout the game and it was only in the last couple of turns I pulled away.

Alex scored a creditable 40 for a first play with Josh and James S slightly ahead of that.

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3. Board Game: No Thanks! [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:391]
James Faulkner
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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James F
James S
Josh
Alex

Quick 1 rounder.

Final scores:
James F 56
James S 58
Josh 59
Alex 92

I took some big cards early on including the 35. Didn't look as though it was going to pay off but the last couple of cards really kicked Alex and then James S who ran out of chips.
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4. Board Game: Pinguin-Party [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:2735]
James Faulkner
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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James F
James S
Josh
Alex

Simple, good fun. On the final round of 4, Alex was able to get all his penguins into the pyramid and the resulting removal of 2 penalty points thrust him to victory. James S's penguins didn't seem to want to come to the party.
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5. Board Game: Colt Express [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:303]
James Faulkner
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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James F (Cheyenne - punch and grab loot)
James S (Tuco - shoot up and down guy)
Josh (Ghost - first card secret)
Alex (Doc - 7 cards)

Bullets were flying in this game. Most of them seemed to be aimed in Alex's direction. In the end everyone's gun was empty except for Alex.

Cheyenne grabbed 2 jewels on the first turn. But this was as good as it got. After that she spent all her time on the roof of the train trading bullets with whoever dared to shoot at her. Whenever she decided to descend the sheriff happenned to be in the carriage below, shot her and sent her back to the roof. Spent all game searching for the punch action card - finally got a sole punch in on the last turn of the game.

The Doc needed his draw 7 cards ability as eventually most his cards were bullets. Made a few attempts at the $1,000 safebox(briefcase?) but failed each time - including once moving through the carriage it was in without picking it up because he assumed someone else had already done so!

Tuco spent the first 3 quarters of the game shooting and picked up no treasure. However, towards the end a punch on Cheyenne netted him a jewel and was closely followed by picking up a 2nd safebox to nearly give him the win.

Ghost picked up early treasure and then managed to stay out of the firing line a little better than the others. Fell foul of the sheriff a couple of times, but managed to sneak by and pick up the 1st safebox for teh win.
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6. Board Game: Kraftwagen [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:793]
Nick Case
England
Epsom
Surrey
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Played by JimS, Martin, Paul and Nick. JimS had played this on Saturday and was so impressed he struggled with the traffic to make a rare Thursday appearance to play again.

Rules are concise but there were some grey areas that Jim was able to straighten out. Thanks Jim.

In summary the game is about developing the early motor cars in Germany from a clockwork pram up to .....a bigger car with bigger engine. The central mechanic is taken from Glen More where you leapfrog from the back of a circular track onto action tiles that you need. Go too far forward and you will wait around whilst other players sweep up the unused actions behind you. These actions allow you to develop and build bodywork and engines for cars as well as a race car that competes with other players.

The pivotal action is research where you pick from one of two cards and these develop your engines and bodywork as well as introducing powerful engineers and other lesser benefits. Add bonus awards for reaching milestones first and a clever buyers market where buyers are selected who want specific attributes from a car. The option to undercut and maneuver here is a new mechanic and one I really liked (even if I utterly failed in my attempts to use it).

Just to break form I'll post the scores now (please add your ratings and I'll add those in).

1st Paul: 61
2nd Martin 60
3rd Jim 57
4th Nick 37

Its fair to say the tussle at the top was tight and the other three really enjoyed it (I'm guessing 8's as ratings) however as you can see from my dreadful score I had a problem in the game and it centered on the research cards.

You need engine and bodywork research points to raise the power and quality of your cars and the research cards that do this have three formats;

1/ A single point uplift
2/ a double point uplift
3/ a single point and the award of an engine/ body.

Arguably #2 above is the best being twice as good as #1. Paul capitalised on this managing to draw a fist full of doubles for bodywork that had him building level 5 (out of 7) cars in phase 1. I thought I couldn't compete with this and so opted for engine development, but whenever I was able to take the research card option, the cards available were only singles. By game end I had only managed to obtain single developments, not because I had ignored the opportunities when they arose, but because a double had never been available when it was my turn. Jim and Martin, soon overtook my brief engine lead and I could do very little throughout the game, even failing to win a single race, despite this being my only real option for all three phases. The gulf of difference in these cards is huge especially when you factor in that a single or a double both only need one worker to action the card. Surely a double should require two workers to offer some balance?

I'm sure people will say that this was an exceptionally unlucky turn of events and multiple plays will iron the odds out. I'm sure that is the case but this scenario is similar to the tile draw in Tigris and Euphrates where a bad tile draw will mean that you cannot possibly win a game. Either you are OK with this arrangement or you aren't.

Predictably I can't reconcile games where you can be stymied in this fashion and must roll with random blind punches. For me a potentially very clever game was ham-strung by a crucial mechanism that offers double rewards through no effort or skill just the turn of a card.

Let me know if you'd like to take this off my hands.
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7. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:73]
Gareth H
United Kingdom
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Time once more to imagine the Earth is doomed and there are only 5 people who are actually going to do anything about it, which is probably accurate were it not for the presence of the blue disease which only seems to affects white people. So mobilise the Earth, it's time to save humanity.

So who do we have?

Matt - Operations Expert (Builds Research Stations)
Elysia - Containment Specialist (Minor Deity, not quite the Jesus card)
Gareth - Troubleshooter (Great ability, wasted)
Gordon - Quarantine Specialist ("What do we say to the God of Death?")
Simon - Local Liaison (It's all about administration at the end of the day)

The game starts, there are blue cubes everywhere! People in the first world are dying! Alert everything! Apparently some crap is going down in Delhi also.

The diseases are kept under control by Elysia who heals the some of the sick wherever she goes, and Gordon who just stands in Europe preventing the whole continent from drowning in pus. Matt covers the globe with small wooden houses, even getting the card to add one additional small wooden house. Simon liases in fine fashion, getting those essential cards to those that need cures. And me; I get to look at the upcoming cards at the beginning of my turn and draw 3 of the 5 epidemic cards meaning my ability is worthless...

Blue is cured early, because rich people, followed by yellow because Bono told us that Africa was important and we needed to give him our money to fix it. Red fell to it's vaccination despite only ever really affecting Korea and in the final turn of the game, tactical gordon placement, excellent foresight in Research Centre building by Matt and skillfull liasing by Simon, and one lucky card gave Elysia the key to the black cure as the outbreak counter sat one below death.

I phoned in my congratulations to the CDC from Osaka where I was hanging out at the time but they didn't answer as they were all partying hard.

World Saved. Even the poor people.

Simon
Gordon
Gareth
Elysia
Matt
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