Games played at Epsom Games Club 09.05.15 (Games Day #55)
Jim Sutherland
United Kingdom
(just) West of London
Middlesex
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A reasonable turnout, some regulars, a welcome return for Russell after a few months absence, and a new gamer.

Russell, JimS, James, no name Steve, Roy, AndrewB2, Andy, former MP candidate Gareth, Gordon, Adam, Daniel, JamesM (first visit), JamesF (on a rare full day pass), MarkB.


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1. Board Game: Quartermaster General [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:690]
Gordon Watson
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey - United Kingdom
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Played by: Gareth, Russell and Adam (the Axis 'baddies') against Gordon, James and Mark (the Allies 'goodies').

The sneaky Axis powers suggested that we play using the tournament variant which declares a winner if one side gets 30 points ahead at any point and which favours the Axis, but were hoisted with their own leotard by the rampant Allied forces.

Gareth's Nazis were particularly wimpish barely managing to take France, never threatening Russia and spending most of their time trying to reoccupy Berlin - and even then they needed Italian help. Indeed, apart from the Japanese slightly inconveniencing Australia, it was only the Italians that showed any 'spunk' on the Axis side. As well as propping up the Germans they also took and held N.Africa, probed the Ukraine and briefly occupied India - the prospect of Chicken Korma Lasagne prompted an immediate US response which saw Uncle Sam appear in Szechuan and then India. This proved decisive as the US were occupying 4 '*' supply locations and thus scoring 8 VP a turn and the Allies had soon reached the 30 VP victory margin.

A fun outing - WWII in an hour - what's not to like.

Allies Winnners
Gordon (USA)
James (UK)
Mark (USSR)

Axis losers
Gareth (Germany)
Russell (Japan)
Adam (Italy)


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2. Board Game: Terra Mystica: Fire & Ice [Average Rating:8.51 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.51 Unranked]
'Biblical' James
United Kingdom
Ashtead
Surrey
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Played by Josh, James and Daniel

First play for Josh, 2nd play in a week for me and one of many (I'm guessing) for Daniel

Happy to crack this out so I could try the fire factions out, I suggested halflings for Josh as a first race and Chaos blokeys for Daniel.

The Dragon lords were interesting to play as you take power out of your pots to do a terraforming action on any hex (2 power if it's the terrain of one of your opponents). I decided against picking up my fortress early which turned out to be a mistake as it was a way for me to pick up extra power points.

The early game saw me getting a foothold in the centre of the board while Josh was upgrading his terraforming skill and Daniel was concentrating on upgrading his single building to get his two favour tiles.

The mid game saw me sprawling out and creating two towns, one of which consisted of 7 dwellings, which I've not seen before. Daniel was building up his town and Josh was starting to spread out too.

In the last turn Daniel picked up a billion resources allowing him to sprawl into a second town and picking up a tie for biggest town with me and advancing to the top of the cult tracks. Josh managed to keep him in check on the tracks but I didn't really have a way of going against him as I was going after trading posts to double up on VPs due to favour and turn bonus.

In the end Daniel ran away with it and Josh came in slightly behind me.

Daniel - 110ish
James - 95ish
Josh 80ish
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3. Board Game: Kraftwagen [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:799]
Jim Sutherland
United Kingdom
(just) West of London
Middlesex
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My third play and after James explained the game to noobie Andrew, with me adding bits and pieces to the explanation and some idea of strategies that might be pursued, we were off.

I tried a "jump ahead and get the engines" strategy but a) failed to get to 7 (for the bonuses) b) let James in on the engines too and c) did not make full use of my engines dominance early on.

I also completely cocked up on the last turn thinking I was stuffing James but in fact, because of the way the market altered, actually stole a victory away from Andrew and handed it to James (a massive 30 point swing). (Sorry Andrew)

Moral - check and re-check the market.

Really enjoyed the game and I think it was shown that dominance in one area (Andrew had gone down the car body route) does not necessarily guarantee a win (but does it no harm!) and that the market is VERY important.

Not sure some of my big leaps ahead did me any good, but have not dismissed it as a strategy yet.

I want to play again - really like the game and have a new strategy I want to try....

JamesF 98
JimS 63
AndrewB2 62
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4. Board Game: Merchants & Marauders [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:201]
Gordon Watson
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey - United Kingdom
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Played by: Adam, Gordon, Gareth and James
Played using a couple of the modules and variants from the brand spanking new expansion


A little while since I played this but the recently arrived expansion got it back on the table. Nothing radical added from the expansion just some more captains, rumours and missions plus some 'fixed' galleons and a new mid-sized ship the brig. Several more modules are available from the expansion but they can wait for another day.

I just never got any traction - I probably needed to raid more merchants but got becalmed trying to get some early money to upgrade my ship before I started on the piracy and never really did.

James squirrelled away money whilst Adam was soon swanning around in his own Galleon. Gareth survived (barely) an early encounter with a NPC pirate and had also upgraded.

With Adam raiding merchants willy-nilly the end was in sight so Gareth decided to have a go - and was sunk.

Scores and ratings -

Adam arrrh 10 -
Gareth 7 -
James 6
Gordon shake 1 -

I like the game although it runs perhaps a little bit too long and there is some downtime - this would reduce with some more familiarity but 3 -player may be the optimum. It manages to cram in most of what you would wish for a in a pirate game without being too complicated and the combat mechanics are pretty entertaining and allow for some tactical decision making. I do feel the buying and selling could be a little more streamlined - buying in particular. The expansion does a good job of correcting a few blots on the original game and adding more features without overloading it.
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5. Board Game: 1775: Rebellion [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:250]
Russell D
United Kingdom
Ewell
Surrey
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My second play, and this time I was the plucky Americans with Mark, on his first play, taking the British imperialists.

I made slow and inexpert progress in trying to clear the southern colonies of British infestation, despite early help from the French. Meanwhile, Mark consolidated his hold on the north and made me waste most of my time throwing the British (and, rather unthematically, the Native Americans they brought in their warships) repeatedly out of Rhode Island. I was hanging on by the skin of my teeth, but a double-move to end the game by Mark consolidated his position for a 6-5 colony victory on turn 6.

Enjoyed this a lot, and was glad to get a slightly longer game this time. There's a surprising amount of strategic decision, tactics, theme, and excitement for a pretty simple and quick wargame. In both games I've played I will admit to being outplayed, but nevertheless the endgame has felt gamey and overpowered. I certainly want to play more and will hope this is not always the case. Still 7.5/10 from me.
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6. Board Game: Ora et Labora [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:90]
Jim Sutherland
United Kingdom
(just) West of London
Middlesex
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I didn't play this but saw it being played. Any one want to give us a write up?
 
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7. Board Game: Power Grid: Québec/Baden-Württemberg [Average Rating:7.84 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.84 Unranked]
Jim Sutherland
United Kingdom
(just) West of London
Middlesex
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Jim 17
Daniel 16 ($127)
James 16 ($120)
 
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8. Board Game: Onward to Venus [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:1500]
Gordon Watson
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey - United Kingdom
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Played by: Gareth, Adam, Mark and Gordon.

New to Mark and Adam but a fairly easy game to explain and pick up - as you aim to build/claim factories and mines across the solar system while averting crises, hunting big game and sneak-attack v otehr players mines/factories to establish majorities on planets for VPs.

I headed for Venus and Mercury with Mark going in the opposite direction of Mars, Ganymede and Titan. Having failed to conquer 'Epsom & Ewell' Gareth went for the easier target of the Moon with Adam milling around on Earth and Mars. Gareth seemed to be running away with things dominating the moon and having a big economy and army. I threw some awful numbers and drew some underpowered cards and generally felt I was languishing in second to last place - possibly worse when I noticed how many 'big game' points Adam had picked up. However I got lucky with a lack of tension tiles and factories/mines turning up on Venus/Mercury and I had spread out to sneak a few second and third places elsewhere. Gareth's late attack on the Kuiper Belt reined Mark in but cost him the remaining time and his military.

When the cosmic dust settled the score and ratings were -

Gordon 41
Gareth 36 (after a recount - the irony)
Adam 31 -
Mark 29 -

This is the second or third time I have played this where the final scores have caught me by surprise - on one occasion I though I was winning by miles only to find when counting the VP that Jo had won and on this play I felt I was back in third until the count.

I wonder how it would play if a running count were kept during play - I suspect it might lead to more AP but it might be interesting.




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9. Board Game: Taj Mahal [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:313]
Russell D
United Kingdom
Ewell
Surrey
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Daniel had played this game before, long long ago, with the (allegedly superior) wooden pieces. It was new to Jim, so even though I'd only played once before I taught.

I was off to an early lead and quite please with how things were going, but about halfway through I suddenly was out of cards, Daniel had all the special cards, Jim was building up sets, and I was trailing in points. In fact, I didn't score much at all in the second half of the game. I completely panicked and kept in throwing the one or two cards I had each turn with no hope of winning anything, instead of trying to consolidate for a turn or two and then returning to the fray. Daniel and Jim both played a storming endgame to zoom off into the distance on the VP track, but Jim palace network and set collections gave him first place at final scoring.

Final Scores
Russell - not much
Daniel - lots
Jim - even more

A fun euro, which I enjoyed despite my poor showing.
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10. Board Game: Blockers! [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1385]
Jim Sutherland
United Kingdom
(just) West of London
Middlesex
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Just time for one of the few games with a little "take that" that I will play.

Gamed explained to noobies and we played to new rules ($ available from start and block scoring)

I went all out for a single group strategy but when I tried to link my groups not only were my end pieces eaten away by others but if I retaliated (and I will admit I started taking bits off first) I lost those pieces too. Curses!

Still, a fun filler for 5, and OK for the 4 we had, especially if played without any AP.

Andy 1 grouo
Andrew B2 2 Groups + 2 tiles
James 2 Groups +2 +1 tuiles
JimS 2 Groups +4 tiles

No ratings taken, but a solid 7 from me. Simple but enjoyable game that does not outstay its welcome (if no one with AP plays).
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11. Board Game: Battle Line [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:184]
Russell D
United Kingdom
Ewell
Surrey
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With no-one else finishing their games any time soon, Mark and I played a couple of games of Battle Line. I think Mark had played it before, but needed a rules refresh. This is a fairly abstract representation of an ancient battle line, where each player tries to build up winning "formations" (akin to Poker hands).

Both games were pretty tense and close, and we each won one.
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