Shefford Friday night games

This is a short description of the games we play at our Friday night game group.

Archive for Sharon Khan

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Friday 16th January 2015

Sharon Khan
United Kingdom
Shefford
Bedfordshire
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This week there were 11 of us. We started the evening with a filler while waiting for the last few to arrive - Midnight Party, although obviously it was nowhere near midnight! We only had time for one race.

After that we were looking for the first longer games of the evening. We split into three tables, with James suggesting Crude: The Oil Game for one, and the others splitting into Terra Mystica on one table, and Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar on the third table. I was in the Terra Mystica game (one of four over the weekend, so I can't now remember the details of the particular game). Sami drew Giants, and stomped all over us. Martin was the Swarmlings, again (he keeps drawing the same few races over and over again!). When we finished Colin had just declared in the McMulti game, so we played a quick game of Escape: The Curse of the Temple while we were waiting - which would have been improved had we given Simon a quick rules refresher before we started - it's not a game where it's easy to explain rules during it at the best of times, and even less so when you're muted, and the other two players who could have helped were at the other end of the temple and ignoring you! We didn't get close to victory - we found the treasure right away, but when we finally found the exit we still had 6 gems on the gem board - and most of us only had 4 dice!!

After that we merged and split. One table wanted to play Alchemists, so I volunteered to teach that, as one of the only two people who knew it. Everyone was keen to play, so we ended up rolling dice to see who wasn't in the game, and Simon and Lisa now have first priority on playing it next Friday! They went with Sami and learnt Modern Art instead. We then had the fun of getting the app going - with Sami's phone nearly out of charge, and my tablet with none at all! Colin couldn't get it on his phone, but James produced his tablet and so we had two versions of the app to use. Colin and I fought for an artifact on the first turn, and he got the one that allowed him to place cheap seals, and so then he went into a very seal heavy strategy, placing seals all over the place, sometimes with very little information - but getting lots of bonus points for doing so - from having the most, and getting the right collections to get the books. I went for more of a deduction game, but being always in last place, had a definite cash shortage as the student kept being poisoned by other people before he got to me, and none of the later people to sell to wanted the potions I could make them. Martin had distinct problems with James's Hudl - it had a tendency to suddenly go dark, and then not be able to recognise the cards. It does appear phones work better for this game than tablets do. At end-game when the big reveal happened, most of the bids were correct, so everyone gained quite a few points, and Colin's few wrong ones were definitely not a problem with how many he'd placed - he won fairly comfortably, with me in second place, and James and Martin tied in third.

The Tzolkin table (which had then played another game afterwards) finished at the same time as our final reveal, so we joined together for a final quick game of Apples to Apples, which Hannah won very easily!! Two people hadn't even got one green apple when she got her fourth, and no-one else had more than two!
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Mon Jan 19, 2015 6:08 pm
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Friday 9th January 2015

Sharon Khan
United Kingdom
Shefford
Bedfordshire
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This Friday we were 9, but only 8 at any one time (no matter how many times I counted and made it 9 when we were choosing games!).

When everyone first arrived they saw my two new games sitting on the table, and there was great excitement at Alchemists and Marion started punching it, but then I had problems loading the app on my phone, so four players decided instead to play a "beginners Agrioola", with Marion taking the three "beginners" downstairs to play and teach it. Meanwhile I gave up on my phone and loaded the app on our tablet instead, and continued setting up Alchemists, which has a huge number of cardboard bits, which Hannah and Ellie continued punching!!! We then read the first part of the rules and played the first round as the rules said, finding out various things about potions - mostly about potions with bad effects too, so we poisoned the student several times, and ourselves too! Then we read the rest of the rules and continued with the rest of the game, now understanding a bit more now points were scored. I went for heavy potion deduction, finding out lots about the potions in question, and in fact had deduced two ingredients' properties entirely, and several others as a 50/50, and had published information about several of these. Sami meanwhile was doing little alchemy, but instead was selling ingredients and potions for cash to buy lots of artifacts. It turned out both strategies were viable, with Sami just ahead of me at end-game, but Sami slightly ahead. The game was a bit slow given it was a first play, but I'm hopeful it will speed up in future plays - certainly the second half of the game took a lot less time than the first half!

Agricola finished at the same time as we did, so we were looking for two tables, of 4 again as Charlotte had arrived mid-game, and Ellie now went home. Charlotte chose Around the World in 80 Days for one table, while Simon suggested Lords of Waterdeep for the other table. I joined the Lords of Waterdeep game. It was a game with almost no black cubes in (no extra way of getting them until the last two rounds), and every quest that turned up from the top of the deck seemed to be a Skullduggery one, but no-one seemed desperate enough for quests to next them either! In fact we were overproducing orange cubes in such a big way that we actually ran out in the bank!!! I was sitting there for ages with a huge pile of cubes in front of me, but no black cubes for the completion of my quests. Eventually I played for first place in the turn order, and one double black enabled me to complete both quests, for about 40 points, and that sudden leap caught the rest by surprise, and they weren't able to keep up. I also made good use of Marion's "Take a quest and all the VPs on this tile" building - getting 9VPs off it twice (not sure why no-one else wanted to take that one!). At end-game it was incredibly close between the other three, with me ahead thanks to my large jump.

The other table had finished just before us and played Love Letter while we completed our last round, so we merged and split again, this time Charlotte suggesting "The Drawing Game" (otherwise known as Duplik - and one of my favourite games so I knew what I was playing, while Marion was desperate for Machi Koro on the other table so took the ones not so keen on drawing downstairs! We ended up playing twice. From the start of the first game Simon showed that his claim of no drawing ability didn't make him bad at the game! When it came to describing though, he had a terrible round, and no-one got many points from that round. We then played a second game, and this time Hannah was an absolute star at describing her second card, getting the maximum 10 points for describing, while Charlotte did really well on her round for herself, but no-one else did - we all missed different bits though!!! Scores in the second game were incredibly close, with Charlotte and I tying for the win. One of my favourite drawing games - it's just so much fun describing, and drawing, a picture at speed! The others finished just before our last round, so we let them join in (without scoring) for the last round - Howard scrunched up his picture in disgust halfway through, but Marion and John both produced quite respectable pictures!!
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Sat Jan 10, 2015 8:06 am
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Friday 2nd January 2015

Sharon Khan
United Kingdom
Shefford
Bedfordshire
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After a break for Christmas, gaming returned this Friday. We were 7, so split into two groups. Power Grid was suggested for one table but there was a bit of indecision on who would play that, and what the other game would be, so I looked at my list and the game on top was Vikings, so we chose that for the other table, with Simon and Howard joining me. It was a very bizarre game of it. There were almost no yellow tiles early on, which meant everyone's income was really low. There were also very few black men, and although I got a couple and so did Simon, Howard didn't get his first black man for ages, which gave him real problems fending off boats. They also arrived in quantity all of a sudden in one round! The other oddness was in the land tiles - the first two rounds there were lots of start tiles; then after that there were lots of ends and middles, but very few more starts - I ended up totally boxed in and discarded three tiles as I was unable to place them! Early game I'd had a good score from fending off two pirates and some early reds, but in the third round my score was terrible and Simon and Howard caught me up rather - Simon being tied with me until we did feeding, at which point he went back two spaces, while I fed exactly!

I then picked the next game off the top of my list - Code 777, a light deduction game I always enjoy. After that Simon asked to play Ticket to Ride: Europe, which he'd never played. It didn't look like it was going to go well for me at the start, when Simon's first placement was right in the middle of my two initial tickets! Luckily for me, and for Simon, we managed to build for our tickets without getting on top of each other too much, while Howard decided to build a tunnelling system in the Alps, but hit hard rock several times which delayed him a bit. Howard then built his track towards Denmark, a bit too obviously, so Simon blocked him by building the Copenhagen track, so we had to re-explain the station rule! Then Simon took tickets just before the end of the game, and was one turn short of building one, which cost him 24 points. He still had the longest track though, 10 longer than mine or Howard's! Howard and I both had 6 tickets completed, for a similar ticket score, but my track was worth rather more, as Howard's alpen train tracks were all much shorter.

Power Grid was nearing its end by now, so I suggested a quick game of Saturn while they finished. It was a slight change of pace, as the two of them tried to work out the moments and whether various balls would make the rings hit the table. I suddenly realised in the first game that if I didn't get my 3s down somewhere they would never get placed, so started placing in the inner ring, which up until then we'd been ignoring. Simon and Howard realised slightly too late what I was doing, and I was able to get all my balls down for the win - although only 3 points ahead. We then played a second game, now they had more idea of the rules, and this time it somehow worked even better for me!

After that Ellie left, and we merged and split differently. Agricola was suggested for one table, and Istanbul for the other, and I ended up on the Agricola table, which was new to Simon. He tried to go for a Grain/Clay Oven feeding strategy, but the timing was tricky on a first play, and a slight feeding problem mid-game delayed his first family growth. James meanwhile won the race for the first family growth, and he and I alternated family growths in the early game. Three rounds from the end and Istanbul finished, and Sami came up and commented how little we'd done to our farms by then!! Shortly after and all three of us had fenced areas with at least a couple of animals, and we all sowed our veg and grain for some points, but Simon still had quite an empty board. I managed a 5 size stone house, with bonus points, while James had an impressive number of points from the top area, although not enough to justify playing his occupation that got him bonus points for getting to the full 4 points at scoring.

We finished with a quick Jungle Speed, in which Marion got off to an amazing start, but then mid-game made a rather bad mistake, and picked up about 20-30 cards in one go as a result, which wasn't possible for her to recover from. James and I both flipped our last cards over and were waiting for the final grab to trigger game-end, but I was first when the all-in appeared.
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Sat Jan 3, 2015 8:31 am
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Satiurday 20th December 2014

Sharon Khan
United Kingdom
Shefford
Bedfordshire
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Friday night gaming moved to Saturday for this week, with mulled wine and mince pies (and brownies, flapjacks and rocky road!), and a couple of occasional visitors - Ray and Richard. We started with 5 of us, and about ten minutes before the rest were due to arrive, so played a couple of hands of Spot it!, followed by a game of Escape: The Curse of the Temple with the Illusions expansion, which we lost horribly due to the Illusion rooms splitting the temple in two after the second gong, leaving Richard and I with the treasure no way through to the rest of the group, and far too many gems on the board for anyone to escape even if we could have all got to the exit.

After that we split into two groups. Power Grid was suggested, and clearly had enough players, so after some discussion the other table played Agricola, which was new to Lisa, while upstairs we played Power Grid on the China map (with the mixed power plant deck too). Sami picked up the recycling plant for 23 on the first turn, which seemed very pricy, but it really was that valuable - especially as Sami still had enough cash to buy two houses on the first turn. After this he just romped away with it, picking up good power plants the next two turns, and just outpowering the rest of us every turn, and making good use of the extra income, and also from the way houses were bought having a nice area to the top of the board with relatively little competition. James was clearly second, the only one really competing with him, although a good house behind. At the point Sami moved to 7 houses Richard and I were both on 3, and not even powering 7, and Simon was still on 2! He said his plan was to come from behind, but none of us could recover from that far behind! At end-game Sami and James were both on 15 houses, with Richard and I managing to get 12 (me having to waste my penultimate turn power plant and replace it instantly thanks to a very sudden coal shortage!).

The other table were on the final turn, so we played a quick game of High Society. I picked up two cheap items early on, totally 5, but then had to take the -5, putting me back to square one. Similarly Richard picked up the 7 early on, then got the 1/2 tile, which meant he was fighting a losing battle to improve his score. Both Simon and Sami picked up doublers early on, but it was a long while before either bought anything to go with them. Sadly when they did they both went ahead of me, so on the last item I bid high, knowing that it was likely I'd be out of money, but if someone else had left them lower then I would win. It didn't work, but it wasn't much of a drop from what would have been 4th to 5th!!

After that we split into two groups again, with Richard keen to play RoboRally so that finding its way on to one table, while the other group decided to play "the counting game" (Outpost). We played on Exchange. Sami had a very good start, with one robot pointing in a straight line to the checkpoint, while the other had a conveyor going the right way. I however had two conveyors travelling towards me, and Colin and Richard both had walls to contend with. This gave Sami an easy run to the first checkpoint with his first robot, although his second met interference. A timely Move 3 by me caused the first robot casualty of Richard, and Colin followed him shortly after. My Twonky on the other hand seemed to be a target for both Colin and Sami and picked up 7 damage on the first two turns, powered down, came back with 4 damage, and had to power down again, took 7 in the two turns following and then calmly stepped into a pit that I couldn't avoid with the two cards I had to choose from! Richard got his revenge for earlier, doing a Move 3 behind Sami's robot that then did a Move 3 itself, taking both Sami and I off the board. This ended my game, but by now Sami's first robot, which had been quietly walking around the board tagging checkpoints, was a Move 2 away from the third and final checkpoint. He didn't actually manage it on the first turn under his own steam, but Colin's final Move 3 pushed him onto it to give him the win! At least Richard and I had touched the first checkpoint (and Richard very nearly managed the second - powering down on the final turn one step away from it!!).

Outpost had some way to go, so we then played Flash Point: Fire Rescue, on the submarine board, which was new to Richard. We had four roles that were all good at tackling fire, which given the set-up was a very good thing, as the explosions at the start were right next to the engine, and there were further explosions very rapidly, putting two cubes on the engine. Once we'd got the initial blaze under control though it stayed under control, with Sami fighting fire in one end of the submarine, me doing the middle area, and Richard doing the far end, while Colin wandered around collecting hazmats. We were very lucky with most of the point of interest locations, with quite a number of them being very close to sickbays, and Richard dragged the few from his end to his sickbay. Colin then changed into the dog, having run out of hazmats to collect, and rapidly saved the last few people while Richard fought the fire. We won the game with no losses, and no real danger of losing the game after the first turns, except for one moment where sickbay was briefly on fire at one end that worried us. Easiest game I've ever had on that board - four firefighting roles is obviously what it needed!

Outpost finished at the same time, so we finished the evening with a quick game of Apples to Apples, with Simon winning the game on the final card just as we were going to call the game for time reasons. Richard and I didn't even get one green apple!!
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Sun Dec 21, 2014 7:29 am
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Friday 12th December 2014

Sharon Khan
United Kingdom
Shefford
Bedfordshire
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We were 10 this week. At the start we had 8 players, so four players decided to play Eclipse, which Martin had asked Simon to bring, while we took 7 Wonders downstairs. It's just as well we took an expandable game as it happened, as by the time we sat down to play we were up to 6 players anyway! It was a slightly odd game of 7 Wonders in that no-on at all went into science, with me with my 10 points being the most anyone got from science at all! Also, everyone was very "friendly", with most players buying the same amount of military each round, so that mostly they were just in military stand-off, so military scores weren't particularly high for most people. The winner was Howard, with an absolutely huge score in blue buildings - 31!

After that we split into two tables, with me being on the RoboRally table, introducing it to Lisa. I had an amazing first turn - Twonky using the fast conveyor belt to get me most of the way to the first checkpoint. This got me off to a good start, and Marion and Lisa both touched it shortly after, while I was heading to the second, and touching it with my other robot. Lisa's other robot meanwhile seemed to have a fondness for stepping off the edge of the board, doing it almost every other turn, while her first robot quite happily meandered around safely touching checkpoints. I eventually powered down Twonky, next to a pit in the middle of the board, as he was being useless at getting to the second checkpoint. Marion spent ages planning her turn to push me into the pit, only for my other robot to rotate and Move 3, pushing my robot safely away from the pit before she got there! That robot then continued to checkpoint 2, and touched checkpoint 3 two turns later to end the game.

After that we played Dominion, using the Prosperity expansion which was new to Lisa - not that this seemed to stop her! While I was merrily using Monuments to gain huge amounts of VPs (usually playing them three times), she just built up a nice consistent cash deck, and started buying Colonies almost every turn! I picked up a few, but not enough to catch her on points. At that point the other table had finished, and Eclipse was on its last turn, so we joined together for an Incan Gold while we were waiting - and the game seemed determined to help me win, with disasters happening just after I left, or large gem piles turning up next when I was the only person left in!

At this point we merged and split again, and I ended up on a table playing Vegas Showdown, trying to complete my 10x10 challenge. Sami won, just, and then suggested Phoenicia to finish the evening, a game I hadn't played in a while, and which was unfamiliar to Howard. I managed to get a huge income, mostly from Mining, which enabled me to buy two of the end game buildings, and also use the men I gained from one of them to buy some more mines. Sami got stuck mid-game from lack of income generators, but was able to recover enough to get to second place, thanks to ClothMaking FINALLY appearing (it did seem to be hiding!).
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Mon Dec 15, 2014 3:27 pm
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Friday 5th December 2014

Sharon Khan
United Kingdom
Shefford
Bedfordshire
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We started with a quick game of Chronology while waiting for people to arrive, with Howard joining in a turn or so in. I did manage to be victorious in the end, although I was worried by Martin in the mid-game, as he seemed to get quite a lot of cards early on.

Next we split into two tables, with Show Manager on my table. It was Simon's first game but he did well despite that, with high placements on two of the most valuable towns, and good placements everywhere else too, but this wasn't enough to beat Nigel, with top place in the highest scoring two towns.

Hannah had arrived by the time we'd finished, so we merged and split in a different way, with me teaching Carcassonne to Ellie and Howard, and having to explain the differences in rules to Hannah, as she has a later edition which has the different farmer scoring. This didn't seem to stop her getting the highest farmer scoring though. However, this didn't help her overall, thanks to her big city being stolen, first by Ellie, and then with me joining in on the other side, so that after all the work she'd put in on it, both Ellie and I scored nearly 50 points from it, while she got nothing! This was easily enough to make Ellie and I top two spots, and Ellie won.

We then played a couple of quick games while waiting for Sami to return - firstly Jungle Speed, which was new to Howard, and he struggled a bit at first seeing the differences in the cards. Ellie won that too! At that point I had to make a quick phone call, so the others played Love Letter, and I joined in after my phone call finished. When Sami returned we started a five player Cutthroat Caverns - a game I don't usually play with 5, and it did make for a slightly different experience. It was also different because so many players were knocked out, with just two of us left by the final encounter. This meant I ended up in seocnd place, despite hardly winning any encounters!!

At that point Ellie and Marion went home, and Nigel took his Omega Centauri downstairs to teach Howard and Simon, while the rest of us tried my new game, and Most Played Game on BGG last month, Machi Koro. Sami bought lots of the 4 buildings, and a few 4 rolls on his turns later on, gave him the win. He then chose Istanbul, and won that too - using his usual strategy of getting lots of early money, and getting a few gems from that, then buying the last one with gems. We finished with 15 minutes of Concept.
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Mon Dec 8, 2014 12:20 pm
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Friday 28th November 2014

Sharon Khan
United Kingdom
Shefford
Bedfordshire
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This Friday we were 12, briefly, in the middle of the evening! We started with 9, and so split into two. One table played Libertalia, while the other, with me on, played Vegas Showdown. Colin tried for his usual green strategy, and picked up the Theatre, but I got the Nightclub from the way the timings worked out. Marion started with a green strategy, apparently, but soon got distracted! It was surprising how balanced everyone's income was though - no-one really got an income ramp going.

After that we needed a short game while the others finished, as a late arrival had meant they had to restart. Marion chose Niagara, and then promptly lost both her boats at the bottom of Niagara Falls. In fact, when it rained heavily, we almost all lost a boat! It was very close, with various players looking in a good position to win at various points (before losing boats!), but in the end no-one was able to do the 5 different gems, and it was a 7 gem end.

We then had 10 people, and 15 minutes before two more players arrived from the train station, and someone suggested we choose a game we could all play. Well, it had to be The Werewolves of Miller's Hollow really, as no other game handles 10 so easily. It was new to almost everybody. I was the fortune teller, and found a werewolf - James - on my first turn. However, despite me trying to suggest him as a werewolf, on both the first and second days, all that happened was that James managed to turn the villagers against me and get me lynched!!! Win to the werewolves. For the second game I was the storyteller, and the werewolves were victorious again. Then Sami and Matt arrived, and we ran a third game, with Sami being storyteller. I drew a werewolf this time, but then got lynched on the very first day, and it turned out to be an easy win for the villagers.

At that point Ellie departed, and the rest of us split into three tables - one table playing Terra Mystica, and the others trying two new games - Nauticus and Castles of Mad King Ludwig, which is the table I played on. It is definitely very derivative of Suburbia, but the major difference, and unfortunately the part of the game I strongly disliked, was the "Master Builder" mechanic, where one player rearranges the tiles in the market, setting the prices for the other players. There are two options - do it quickly and give someone a gift, or spend ages trying to work out the exact value of all 7 tiles to all three other players, and going into brainmelt. Neither option really appealed to me. I did like the way the strange-shaped and sized rooms tesselated though, and the goals and bonuses for completing rooms.

After that we needed another game to take us to midnight, and Igel Ärgern was suggested - a light game of hedgehog racing (with doping rules, but no other variants). It's always fairly short, and reasonably fun, but not exactly deep strategy!! Then Terra Mystica was still dragging on, so those who could leave did, while those who had to wait for other people in that game played a hand of Linko!, by which time Terra Mystica had finally finished and we were able to go to bed - rather later than usual though!
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Mon Dec 1, 2014 7:13 pm
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Friday 21st November 2014

Sharon Khan
United Kingdom
Shefford
Bedfordshire
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I missed the first part of the session this week, as I was watching my children in their school's music concert. When I returned the other five players were just finishing up a game of Outpost, with Sami well ahead - apparently he'd had some surprising cost-price purchases earlier in the game that had helped him to victory. It was very close between the rest - all in the 60s, with one on 61, and two on 62!

We then split into two groups of 3. I read off the games at the top of my list, and James chose Ascension: Deckbuilding Game from it, and Simon joined us. It was new to him, but he was familiar with Dominion, so was up and running fairly quickly. He went for a mixed, but military slant deck; James was lucky enough to have a six card hand all game, from his first purchase and no monsters to take them out. I went for a fairly standard cash-high deck, with lots of deck thinning taking out all my original cards, but wasn't able to catch James with his extra card a turn - especially on the turn when both the large monsters turned up, and James used one to beat up the other!

After that Simon and I had a chat about Panamax while James went to pick a game, so it was quite amusing when he came down and asked if we wanted to try it again! I'd played it twice before, but it was only the second time for the other two, and it seemed my extra experience helped. We all started fairly well, getting our dice out of the warehouse and down the river, but when we checked the cash tiebreak for the best company after the first round I had 20 cash, and the other two were on about ten - a good indication that I was going to find the second round easier, and indeed this was the case - my costs were slightly lower anyway, but I think it was the extra cash buffer than enabled me to pay dividends while they both failed. On the third round I was able to buy my large ship and push it through the river - just - with some help from the fact that it was the only ship at one end of the river (which is why I bought it!), and all the contracts were from that place, so the others had to help me load it! This gave me an extra card for VPs at the end of the game, as well as being the only company to pay out dividends again, and gave me a comfortable win, with a score of 101!

We then played a quick game of The Bucket King to finish - although we ended up running over midnight, as the other game finished shortly after us, so we waited for Marion to join us. Simon was out very quickly, with Marion targeting his pyramid and rapidly finding his weak suit! I then had a sudden pyramid collapse when they tried the same trick on me. The others then had a duel, but it was clear that James had the advantage, as his hand was nearly twice the size of Marion's - she'd had to play multiple cards a few times to protect her pyramid from collapse, plus we suspect that she may have forgotten to draw cards a few times after I went out and stopped reminding her!
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Sat Nov 22, 2014 8:36 am
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Friday 14th November 2014

Sharon Khan
United Kingdom
Shefford
Bedfordshire
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We started the evening with 3 hands of Boggle, adding one extra person in each round. Next time we must make sure that the players know the rules before they start - although Simon did get an impressive number of words that were allowed before his first illegal one, given that he didn't actually know how the rules!! Playing with the proper rules definitely helped him!

After that, and serving the sticky toffee pudding, everyone had arrived, and we were 8, so looking for two tables. Simon mentioned that he'd recently tried Race for the Galaxy and would like to try it multiplayer, so that went on one table, while John suggested Power Grid for the other table. We played the UK map. It was a very odd game of Power Grid powerplant wise (I seem to say that a lot recently!) - I think we must have had every garbage plant in the game practically, and most of the coal ones (certainly the inefficient ones!), while in the whole game we only saw one uranium plant, right near the end, and very few recycling ones. This did mean that towards the end game very few people were powering to their maximum - especially as in Phase 3 the amount of goods coming in is incredibly low, and didn't even come close to providing the number of goods we were using - especially as we were all using really inefficient "3 X for 5" type plants. Marion's powering costs the last couple of turns were 1 - to power 15!! Two recycling plants (both costing her over 100 to buy!), and one uranium plant - the rest of us were having to spend something over 30 a turn to power - and often then not powering anyway (I didn't power for my max on any of the last few turns). Sami was clearly in the lead from the mid-game, thanks to having the most money at the point the nice oil plant came out, which got him out of the garbage/coal hole the rest of us were in. He rapidly ended up a couple of houses ahead, and when he was on 13, I assumed it would be the final turn - he'd bought goods a turn in advance, and had powered for over 100 cash, and the cheapest 4 houses available to him if I didn't buy (in second place) were about 90 cash - the only odd thing was that he'd bought 3 oil as if he thought it would go another turn. This made it awkward for me though - as if he did end it, I'd be last if I didn't buy houses, but if I bought houses I'd be in second place, and couldn't power any of plants this turn, or I wouldn't be able to power the following one! I went for buying the houses, which meant the Sami, who hadn't realised he was even close to being able to finish the game, was exactly 2 cash short of ending it. This pushed me into third the next round, as Marion was able to buy and power the same number of houses as me (and John), and with her ridiculously cheap powering costs easily had more cash than either of us!

After that we played Seasons, a game we haven't pulled out in a while. It was new to John, which meant he wasn't quite sure how various things played out, but he still managed a respectable score at the end. I annoyed Marion in particular with my "Must pay a crystal to get out a power card" familiar, as she didn't have any crystals to pay me. I was really struggling with my summoning gauge all game, not helped by Marion reducing it by one, but the card she gave me while doing it was a nice one, and turned out to win me the game! My grand plan of paying 4 energy to buy cards off the deck didn't quite pan out, as I was forced to sacrifice it, but it seemed the rest of the gameplan worked ok!

The other table had just finished Outpost as we finished, so we switched tables around, and Marion went home, leaving us with a 3 and a 4. The 4 took Lords of Waterdeep downstairs, while Colin and I introduced John to RoboRally. The infinite lives for a first-time player turned out to useful on the first turn, as he played a rotate left instead of a rotate right and stepped off the board, but his other robot did much better, touching the first checkpoint only shortly after Colin and I. Colin's second robot was determined to step over the first checkpoint - first time thanks to an invisible pusher, the second time as he was too eager to kill John's robot to stop on the checkpoint on the way past! My two robots then headed for checkpoint 2 simultaneously, and then when Colin came to intercept me on my way to checkpoint 3, I was able to push his robot out of the way with one robot, while leaving the path clear for my other robot to touch the third checkpoint for the win.

With just a short time left before the end of the evening I suggested Escape: Illusions to finish with, as I hadn't played my new purchase yet. It was another game new to John, so we explained the rules and then got going. We successfully explored one area and returned back to the central room in time for the first gong, then carried on exploring, eventually finding the treasure, but then all getting locked up with black dice. We used the "emergency gem" rule to get us out of trouble, and then tried to find the exit - which turned out to be the bottom tile of the deck! Colin picked up the treasure and ran for the exit, leaving John and I both nearly locked behind him. With my one dice I was eventually able to unlock us both, and we got to the final room just as the gong sounded and rocks began to fall - John rolling frantically to get his third key just as the rockfall noise happened. We counted it as a win, but it was certainly rather close!!!
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Sat Nov 15, 2014 1:07 pm
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Friday 7th November 2014

Sharon Khan
United Kingdom
Shefford
Bedfordshire
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Games, games and more games!
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This Friday we were 9, and I also had a games delivery arrive in the afternoon, so was keen to try out my new Essen game - Panamax. Marion, Simon and James decided to join me, while the others tried my other new acquisition - the Escape Illusions expansion. Wow, the rules for Panamax are AWFUL. We got it out, finally worked through set up, then I started reading the rules. Normally I'm fairly good at working out a rulebook cold, but this one was impossible. I eventually abandoned a couple of paragraphs that were totally incomprehensible, and we worked through the rest of the rulebook, and things gradually made sense. We then started, after over an hour of rules reading, but had forgotten some of the setup in the rules mess, so had to stop and restart two turns in. There were still rules that various players hadn't remembered, and various "Oh, I understand now" moments, as we saw the point of doing various actions, and working out some plays. However, in general it was a game of wading through trying to work out what was going on. Everyone but Marion managed to load lots of goods in the first round, which meant some high warehouse fees for her (she'd forgotten about them!), but some of us weren't much better with our goods stuck in boats in expensive locks! Then the second round, and by now Marion had a backlog of goods, and couldn't load and ship them quick enough. In fact, with the smaller contracts coming up, we were all struggling this way, and I suddenly realised that a cruise ships we had loaded earlier had somehow sailed the full Panama Canal and exited, but not given us a passenger token - and no-one could remember who exactly had been loaded on that boat - oops! That would certainly have helped me, as I would have got at least one of the passenger tokens, and could have used the bonus it gave me! On the second round I took advantage of only having to pay half fees, but still couldn't pay dividends, and Marion's fees were so huge that even paying half-rate couldn't save her from needing a loan! Simon was the only one to pay dividends, and his company was now way higher than anyone else on the share value track! Last round, and Marion ended up with a second loan. By now we'd manage to spot, and use, the rule about moving dice for free if you had one of each token and realised how helpful this would have been earlier - maybe something to focus on earlier in future! Then we revealed our end-game scoring cards - Marion and I both had ones that were worth zero - hers as no company paid out, mine as my company had no money left in it to become mine! Simon however had a card worth money for each disk he had, and he had tons, and both James and I had ones for particular types of contract. Simon won, unsurprisingly, between his bonuses for best company, scoring cards, and general cash, but James was surprisingly close to him, with two scoring cards and a good amount of cash on hand. I was at least in profit, but a long way behind; Marion was on a grand total of -3! At least I can explain it more easily now, although I still have to look up a rules query that came to mind while telling Sami about the game this morning!

After that we were in the mood for something rather more familiar and chose Catan, which everyone knew. It was a very close game with everyone in contention; James, Simon and I on the same number of points throughout most of the game, with Marion just one point behind us, but challenging Simon strongly for his longest road. It was a game very low in both brick and stone, with both only having something like a 2,3,6 production number distribution for both. It meant ports in the other resources, or 3/1 ports, were very useful, and Simon's discovery of the 4/1 trading rule came in useful to him a couple of times (not knowing that rule, his 5 brick for a grain trade sounded very amusing!). James went soldier heavy, taking largest army early on, while Simon had longest road, but my points came from the board, which meant my production was higher. Marion was just one road short of joining her two settlements and taking longest road from Simon (and he had no way of lengthening his further), but couldn't quite get the resources. James rolled me the three stone I needed for one of my final two cities - only to play monopoly on it straight after - grrr!! Simon meanwhile was lagging on points in view, but hoarding two cards that looked suspiciously like they were going to be VP cards. After a good round of income, and sitting on 9 points I had about 16 cards in hand, easily enough to buy a city - but then on my turn rolled a robber, and was one resource short after discarding - I moved the robber hoping to steal something useful, but it wasn't to be! When it got round to Simon he produced the last city he needed, and flipped both cards to show his 10 points for the win.

Meanwhile the other table had played quite a selection of games - Power Grid, Taj Mahal, Incan Gold (we heard the shouts of DEEEPER downstairs!) and Alchemist (the old version, not the new Essen release). We finished with an amusing Apples to Apples, both tables playing together.
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Sat Nov 8, 2014 2:25 pm
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