The Ross-on-Wye Boardgamers

Beer and Boardgames at the White Lion. "It's not F-ing Monopoly, alright?!"

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Friday August 21st - Perfect Concord

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
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It was looking like it was to be seven players this week, and as we rolled to to the White Lion Becky commented "This is where Tony and Bill turn up and we have to change plans". Little did she know how prophetic she was: Tony and Bill did indeed arrive within the next few minutes and the fact we were now nine players gave us recourse to the back room, where we could stretch ourselves onto multiple tables.

But before we did, there was just time to try out JamSumo under Tony's watchful eye. Both John and Bill showed flashes of brilliance at this dappy dexterity, and indeed John even went some way towards recanting his dislike of flicking games. I attempted one legitimate jump shot, and then in the next round a thoroughly illegitimate one. Apparently, flicking down on a die does not pop it in the air and over any obstructing dice. What it ACTUALLY does it knock the board over and catapult dice all over the table, floor and into people's drinks, at which point Tony called 'time' on this merriment.

Verzauberte Eulen, Tony's latest hard-to-find acquisition, had caught the eye of both Becky and John and they set up some head-swapping nastiness with Suzanna, who had just arrived. Also recently strolling through the door was Dan, carrying his usual orange box of delights and - well - sometimes it feels just wrong to turn down a game of Agricola...

My game started pretty reasonably, getting out the precious Clay Roof and growing my family first. But I made a couple of dubious decisions around Round 8, which just slowed my game right down. Dan ambitiously played out the Constable early, and followed that up with the full five-member family growth, but his struggles to feed meant that he couldn't quite fulfil his 'no negative points'. He wouldn't have caught Tony anyway, who was largely eschewing cards and running a fairly orthodox 'bake and renovate' strategy. 33 points wasn't a massive score, but it was good enough.

The owl-bashing had been shelved upon Mike and Helen's appearance, and the table - now of six - opted for a sociable Colt Express rather than split into two threes. Even with Bill teaching, they seemed to be quickly underway and from what I overheard we had finally found a game to baffle Suzanna, who played the 'comic support' role of running around near no-one else and trying to punch invisible people. Helen won this one, and has definitely demonstrated more than a little aptitude for games thus far.

All of this drew to a conclusion at around the same time and there was some shuffling about, this time into the three tables of three that would close the night. Two of them opted for games of Cubist, Tony beating Mike and Bill on the 'boys' table, and Suzanna winning on the 'girls' table. The girls then reset for a couple of games of Las Vegas, being split between Helen and Becky. How democratic.

The 'serious' table of JP, Dan and I took on Concordia. Dan was pleased with another game at which he could play a drab colour, but less enamoured with the sideways-ness of the Italia board. But, given that he couldn't pick any bigger holes in the game, that qualified as something of a success. He built up a massive brick-based economy in the north of the country, but I had handfuls of Saturnus cards stashed away which gave a little bit more focus to the rather random building. The cards disappeared very slowly off the Senator line, and Dan triggered the game end, but not before I had had chance to snatch up a vital Vintner which gave me the 12 points I needed to overhaul him for the lead. John never really got up to speed and was well back.

A lively game of Braggart was in progress on the 'boys' table now, and we finished just in time to hear Mike's boast as the first forged-weapons home-delivery salesman (I forged weapons of elemental magic for...hairy raiders from distant lands...and then I sailed to distant lands and returned with treasure). It was impressive enough to give him a comfortable win too.
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Sun Aug 23, 2015 9:59 pm
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Friday August 14th - Two Weasels for a Horse

Ben Bateson
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It was everyone's favourite 'difficult gaming number' this week. But I'd come well-prepared with games-for-three if we failed to keep six people content around the same table all night.

While waiting for the masses to arrive, we dealt out Sushi Go, a 3P turning into a 4P into a 5P as Suz and Dan arrived. Swelling the numbers definitely didn't make for a better game, though: this felt a bit uncontrollable with the full complement and it's definitely better with fewer. Becky took this out from Suz's nose in the very final round, with John and Dan trailing in miles behind.

Bill had arrived by now. He and John had a hankering to crack open Lewis & Clark and Suz went along for the ride. This led to a great deal of that delightful half-heard games conversation from the table behind, especially for Dan and Becky who were unfamiliar with the game. Apparently it's two RESOURCES for a horse: who knew?

Caylus was the first object of focus for us on the dimly-lit corner table. The last time Dan had played this, it was a most peculiar game, with no-one building the Stonemason and the whole thing finishing in very short order and low scores. This time, it was a little more orthodox: both Dan and Becky hit the castle hard, and I tried playing silly buggers with the church, but couldn't really pull it off while the others were clocking up more royal favours than I could. I switched to a Gold strategy which brought me within ten points in the final reckoning, Dan pipping Becky by a single point on the final accounting of leftover cubes.

Lewis & Clark looked like it was settled in for the rest of the evening, so we moved onto St Petersburg. Dan took to this one like a natural, picking up a cherished Observatory on round 1. I was back-ended into taking some difficult hand cards and should have gone blue a lot earlier than I did - out of the running with at least two rounds to go. Dan looked to have tied this down, but Becky picked up an Academy on the very final round, and followed this up with a masterful piece of Noble deprivation that allowed her to catch up and overtake Dan at the very last gasp.

And we still had time for one more game: the delicious Vikings. I have never really tired of this one, and it works exceptionally well dividing the six rounds between three players. I thought I was cruising away with it at halfway, with an ample stock of boatsmen, and the majority of the warriors (black vikings being very scarce today). But somehow, Becky cobbled together the bonuses for the longest island AND the most completed islands and the result was our third successive tight finish where she skipped over me by a ocuple of points.

The other table were finally drawing to a close by the time we packed everything away. It had sounded for a long time as if Suzanna was walking away with things, but John managed to pull out an unexpected victory coming down the final stretch. Still, I couldn't help feel that we'd had more value out of our three games to their one.
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Sun Aug 23, 2015 9:36 pm
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Friday August 7th - God Rest Yunnan

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
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A bumper outing of gamers was guaranteed this week, as fellow blogger Stuart (vk1980) Burnham, and his own array of Burnhams, including young Billy, less-young Charlie, young-looking Karen, and decidedly middle-aged Dennis The Chocolate Lab, who - in true gundog fashion - embarrassed himself throughout. Add to that our own pair of children, in the form of Norm and Keith, fatherly John and elderly Tony, and it was a decidedly familial atmosphere in the back room of the White Lion this week.

Proceedings were only slightly demoralised by the recent funeral wake and the assortment of bouquets for 'dear Gran' that had left behind. Somewhere, there is a photo of a game of Yunnan and a bag of pork scratchings being proffered in her memory, because social norms and game geeks are an odd mix.

So, we were nine altogether, which hinted at a diverse 'three threes' to start. Stuart got the boys warmed up with a little Roll For The Galaxy (I've STILL not played), while Tony and I enthused about Cubist to Karen. Perhaps she was a little less enthused than we were, especially after we very rudely pinched three installations from under her nose. My main concern about Cubist reared its head - a quick start from Tony to pick up a 5-point installation was pretty much uncatchable and we spent too much time just waiting for the inevitable. But it is good, light fun, undeniably.

The third table retrieved their scratchings and got stuck into Yunnan. I don't really know much about how it went, but midway through John was heard to criticise that 'the richest people get far too much shelter and seclusion', which I thought was a bit rich from the man who made his fortune in the city before retiring to a big house in the Herefordshire countryside.

Tony, Karen and I finished first, and squeezed in a lightning game of The City with an awesome finish that saw Tony beat me 74-70 with Karen lagging some way behind. We then encouraged all the Burnhams to gather around for a no-holds-barred session of Spyfall. My own turn as the spy didn't finish well, although I thought I'd briefly deflected suspicion onto Stuart. At least I did better than Tony, who was admittedly thrown in at the deep end in his very first round only to be fingered just five minutes later. Karen came closest to winning as the spy, knowing full well we were in the supermarket (albeit with little help from Billy's obtuse questioning), but not quite speaking up in time.

Deep breaths, and we split up a bit, Karen to take Dennis for a frolic, Charlie in solitude with Shephy, but soon to join John, Norm and Keith when they hijacked Roll for its second outing of the night. I've STILL not played.

Snowdonia was always looking like a probability, given the crowd in question, and what more fitting - and tasteless - way to pay tribute to Gran than with the Necropolis Line? It was an uncomfortably swift game, Stuart unable to draw anything but white cubes, and my choice of heavy-excavation started looking worse and worse, especially when I missed a tempo by not paying attention to the stockyard. Tony sacrificed everything to get his Surveyor to the top, but he lost out comfortably to Stuart, who unchivalrously abandoned the coffin at the foot of the hill and started building stuff instead. It wasn't even close at the end...

We had time for the pleasingly ridiculous Cheating Moth for ten minutes. My personal favourite bit is less any of the Uno-with-wanton-losing-of-hand-cards mechanics than watching everyone crawl around under the table afterwards to find all the stuff that's been dropped. By this time, the other table were two or three rounds deep in Dobble and Karen had also returned, so we massed around a single small table for a record-breaking nine-handed session of Hot Potato. I don't think anyone won, but Charlie was pleasingly hopeless, and Stuart and I managed to outright tie one round by the simple expedient of throwing our cards at each other simultaneously and moving our hands out of the way quickly. I'm told it created quite the pleasing parabola effect.

Surely this must be the only games session this week that gets written up in THREE different blogs?
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Mon Aug 10, 2015 9:57 pm
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Friday July 31st - Mine all Mine!

Ben Bateson
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Mike had enigmatically hinted that he 'might bring along another' tonight, and it proved to be Helen, his other half and geek-in-training. She certainly got through a lot of training tonight, although the Sauvignon Blanc certainly helped.

With six for starters, we played a communal and all-embracing Chinatown to start. This was new to Suzanna, Mike and Helen and although the rules explanation took a while to stutter into life, the ladies weren't short of inspiration when it came to open-ended trading. Helen, in particular, kept her cards very close to her chest, and even though I managed to make her pay nearly $300,000 for a lucrative set of plots, she won with a tad over $1m in the end. John and I were left way behind, but not as far as Mike, who was perhaps too gentlemanly to drive hard bargains with the feminine half of the table.

Sensing we wouldn't quite get a full evening out of a table of 6, we split up into two halves. Becky took on John and Suzanna at Tinners Trail, and did rather well, given that John is hitherto unbeaten. As usual this Wallace 'hidden gem' got rave reviews from all and sundry - it is certainly a charming little thing.

Meanwhile, I inducted both Mike and Helen in Furstenfeld, a personal favourite and one that we hadn't had out for a while (although this is primarily to stop Dan winning at it). Both of them took to it exceptionally well, especially Helen with her relative lack of games experience, and she lost out to Mike by the narrowest of 1-coin margins in a thriller of a final round. I never really recovered from a disastrous opening hand (should've played those Laboratories...), and wasn't in the running with only four palace sections built in the final running.

With both 'main event' games finishing simultaneously, we reformed the table of six for Mascarade. As so often unfortunately is the case, it didn't quite 'take' because half the table weren't yet up to speed. I find that Mascarade seems to be constantly troubled by experience-problems such as this, and the only way to make a good fist of it seems to be to play repeatedly with a fixed group. But, then again, it's probably not quite engaging enough to do that. Shame.

But we perked everyone up nicely with our weekly energetic and rousting game of Dobble. Helen professed to have enjoyed the whole thing very much: the proof of the pudding will be in whether Mike persuades her to turn up again.
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Mon Aug 10, 2015 9:29 pm
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Friday July 24th - Blue Spy Thinking

Ben Bateson
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Becky and I returned from our summer break to find a real treat waiting for us: my much sought-after copies of Patchwork and Spyfall. The former could wait until the weekend's 'at home' session: the latter was most definitely a candidate for first on the table.

Luckily I had the company of three fine gentlemen in the shape of Dan, Bill and Dave to enjoy it with. And John, too. We played five rounds or so - Bill and Dave both opted for the 'very vague' approach, at least until Dave drew the Bank Manager - a role he was surely born to! Dan and John put the in the star performances: the former outing himself early with a correct guess, and the latter disguising himself so well in the following round that no-one (except me!) suspected him.

Time was of the essence: Suz was expected at 9:30, so we had to play something in 45 minutes flat. Becky had recently discovered Cubist, and was keen to teach Dave, John and Bill. This left Dan and me with a 2-player Agricola: do you hear us complaining?

It wasn't a great game for Dan: nearly going short at the first harvest, and thereafter having his Wood Distributor somewhat nullified (it would be no exaggeration to say I got more benefit from the card than he did). I was meanwhile on a Clay Pit-driven roll, and when my Greengrocer solved all my food problems, it was pretty plain sailing. It was at least good that Dan played it out without complaining.

Suz had arrived with another gentleman friend, this one by the name of Evan, and they liked the look of Cubist so much that they sat down for a second game. In fact, Suz took to it so much that she pipped Dave into first place. They had plenty of time for a game of Las Vegas afterwards too. Becky reports that either Dave or Evan won this.

Bill, meanwhile, treated Dan John and I to his well-worn copy of Ark. The premise is simple. Actually, no it isn't, the premise is a nightmare. You have to put your animals on the Ark, NOT mixing their habitats, NOT putting big carnivores in with little animals and NOT overbalancing the ark by putting big cards on one side. Bill's rules explanation was enough to drive me to a double scotch, which made the whole nightmare of a concept make a little more sense. There are two redeeming features to the game: the cute and unique animal cards, and the opportunity to naysay pretty much everyone else's move on the basis that it breaks one of the many placement rules. But otherwise it was rather tedious. I think Dan won, but by that point we were all past caring.
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Tue Jul 28, 2015 8:27 pm
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Friday July 3rd - Rudeness from beyond the grave

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
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This was to be the last RoWBGers games night for Becky and me before two weeks' holiday, and indeed I have the luxury of writing the blog this week on my phone from a Penzance guest house.

Expecting (and, indeed, getting) six tonight, I was fully expecting us to split into two tables, but in thankful contrast to last week's shenanigans, we stayed resolutely unified all night.

Waiting for Dan and Suzanna, John dealt out a quick 4P Abluxxen, and despite Tony and Becky laying down some monstrous combos, I was pleased enough to find myself with a comfortable win. As I've said before: a perfectly pleasant game, but I don't ever think we'll find it outstanding enough to make it a club favourite.

Dan and Suz now having joined us, we moved onto the main event for the night, Mysterium. Rather bafflingly for someone who had spent the last six weeks harping on about it, Tony seemed to have no clue how to play, and proceeded to read the rules verbatim (the English ones, thankfully, not the Polish ones). Suggestions from me that he may have finally slipped below Bill in our league table of Games Teachers were not well received.

Anyway, Mysterium. Followers of the blog may recall that we don't take too well to cooperative games (our one episode of Hanabi nearly led to a punch-up and our efforts at Pandemic prompted John to storm out disgustedly of his own dining room). Indeed, the club dynamic being what it is, we developed pretty much our own rule set for the game:

Designer's intended rules for Mysterium: a cooperative game where a silent ghost prompts the other players, through use of Dixit-like card association, to identify a secret criminal.

Ross-on-Wye rules for Mysterium: an asymmetric competitive game where the objective for the ghost player is to stolidly grit their teeth through to the end of Round 7 without losing their patience and yelling out: "YOU'RE ALL A BUNCH OF FUCKING MORONS!" The objective of the detective players is naturally to encourage this and subsequently have a good laugh at the ghost's expense.

Needless to say, the detectives 'won' both times that we played. I fear there may be balance issues.

Even after two games of swearing and ectoplasm, we still had plenty of time for a semi-main in the shape of the fine Libertalia. Restraining our worst piratical impressions for John's benefit (although even Suzanna managed an occasional 'yaaaargh'), we set sail on a relatively straightforward first round, a miserly second and a third filled with all sorts of Monkey business. Dan played with an outstanding blend of planning, bluff and a hint of cheesy luck, managing to beat Tony by half a dozen points or so. suz's first game was encouraging; a treasure map string and some off-kilter choices did her a very nice 70 points or so.

I had suggested a quick King Of Tokyo to finish, but it was getting late, so we settled for - what else? - Dobble. I took down the final round of Hot Potato (by far our preferred variant) to prove that beer is no barrier to victory in this one.
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Sun Jul 5, 2015 9:47 am
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Friday June 26th - Case for the Prosecution

Ben Bateson
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M'lud, I stand before you today to level charges against three dastardly criminals. The witnesses you see in the dock are John 'Primula' Plant, Norman 'The Tea Drinker' Palmer, and Tony 'Oh, Him' Boydell. I intend to make clear the charges that, on the evening of 26th June 2015, these three men did - with malice and aforethought - indulge in the pursuit of anti-social gaming. I therefore intend to present the indictment of an ASGO and I urge you to punish these three reprobates to the full extent of the law.

May I also encourage you, m'lud, to be creative in your sentencing: presenting Palmer with a prohibition order regarding games purchases, for example? Or forcing Boydell and Plant to cohabit in a single room with only a box of Dominion for company? Still, it is not my place to suggest sentencing, merely to present the evidence against these three rogues.

The accused are charge with committing themselves, at the neglect of fellow gamers, to playing a full evening's session of KanBan. In addition to this, they lacked the flexibility and social skills to form an inclusive table of five when player numbers changed at the last minute.

For my first piece of evidence, I have acquired this videotape. This dreary 35 minutes of footage proves, unequivocally, that the accused planned in advance to commit to anti-social gaming this night. 'Rahdo Runs Through...', is the nominal title. 'Runs Through'?! I'd say 'casually saunters through'. 35 minutes implies the sort of urgency hitherto associated with repeats of Last Of The Summer Wine and competitive haymaking. It was the assumption - yes, the assumption - of the defendants, that other players would have sat through more than half an hour of a Youtube video teaching them to play a game (which is definitively less interesting than an actual, breathing person teaching the game), because the owner 'couldn't be bothered'.

The second piece of evidence? When a tired, overheated Ben and Becky slogged in their overweight games bag from the car park, Plant and Palmer had meticulously set out the game board and ALL THE PIECES. Indeed, Palmer was in the process of reverently breathing on one of his little automobile miniatures and gently buffing it on his sleeve. This is clearly a case of moral blackmail, m'lud.

AND if moral blackmail were not enough, Boydell had the effrontery to engage in emotional blackmail as well. "Awwwwww" he whined. "I really, really REALLY wanted to play this. I want my Mummy". Rather than risk a full-blown tantrum (there was, after all, a well-behaved six year old girl watching these proceedings with signs of sympathy in her eyes), what else could Ben and Becky do but retreat to a separate 2-player table?

I have to compliment the game designer, though, m'lud. After a week of hard work spent sitting through pointless business meetings, mollifying the boss, and documenting the company's approvals matrix, who wouldn't blame Ben for shunning a game with an over-authoritative manager, dull business meetings and a certification structure? To this, the accused trio also integrated an 'arguing about the rules' phase, one which occurred regularly every twenty minutes or so; the raised voices and near-fisticuffs are supplementary evidence in my list of ASGO charges.

Now...I will call my first witness for the prosecution.

"Call Ben Bateson"

"Call Ben Bateson"

"Call Ben Bateson"

Hmm...he appears not to be available at present, your honour. I have received this message about 'epic game of Machi Koro'. He doesn't appear to be willing to leave while he's levering so much money off his tuna boat.

Perhaps I could call my second witness?

"Call Rebecca Bateson"

"Call Rebecca Bateson"

"Call Rebecca Bateson"


Um...this is rather embarrassing, m'lud. It would appear that Rebecca is far too engaged with an all-expansions game of Keyflower. Things are far too tense for her to leave the table right now: she's bought a critical summer boat rendering all Ben's green workers irrelevant.

Hmmm. Could we possibly take a short recess m'lud? My key witnesses now appear to be ears-deep in Snowdonia. Ben has just picked up promo-card Ivor and is making massive inroads into excavation taking advantage of all the fog.

**75 minutes later**

M'lud, in an effort to re-open the case for the prosecution, I have spoken with both my witnesses. During the lunch break, it would appear they've played a thrillingly close game of Libertalia, and then a rich, bluff-filled Citadels. It would regrettably appear that both prosecution witnesses actually had MORE fun without the inconvenience of having to push around toy cars, pretend to be at work, and argue with each other. They also played FIVE outstanding games in the time it took Kanban to reach the final scoring.

I therefore, regretfully, withdraw the case for the prosecution. Does anyone fancy a game of Dobble?
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Mon Jun 29, 2015 9:53 pm
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Friday June 19th - Character Assassination

Ben Bateson
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With the improved email list up and running well, I was in full anticipation of a 5-hander tonight. That was until Benedict and Peter hitched a lift with Tony, which threw well-tended plans for El Grande and Intrigue out of the window.

Norm's new copy of CV seemed like it might be to my taste: John and Keith didn't quite share the same level of excitement but acquiesced to play anyway. Meanwhile, Tony proudly taught the young'uns the rudiments of Roll For The Galaxy.

CV's appeal is not in its prosaic Yahtzee mechanic, but much more in the storytelling, fun, and the splendid card art. I won this by carefully becoming a manager with one child and a prodigious memory, a career which removed any friends I might once have had. But I had the last laugh as I went for a round-the-world cruise on my own yacht and amassed some 60 points. Meanwhile, John retired from professional athletics to form his own start-up company, Keith attempted out-and-out destitution, and Norm sold every bit of transport he owned to fund a terrible career choice of game design and Wikipedia authorship. The enjoyment factor was definitely greater than the skill factor.

When Tony has a 'hot' game, he won't stop until he's insisted everyone's played it, so he swapped Norm and JP for the boys, and I taught them Glen More. This proved to be satisfactory fare, and certainly held Benedict's attention for long enough that he pieced together a sizable win based almost entirely on cattle butchery. Keith and Peter didn't make any indents into the Whisky market, and my own bits-and-pieces clan probably lacked enough focus: leastways, we all came a good 7 points behind Benedict.

"We're just finishing too!" came the shout from the 'Roll' table, so we paused a little to wait for them to finish. John's win brought a satisfied sigh, and then - completely disparaging our table - somebody said "shall we play that again?" and off they launched!

Never mind, for we had the excellent Citadels to console ourselves with. This is a new one for Keith, but he made an inspired start, only to fall prey to a double assassination from Benedict which let me overtake. Benedict himself ran me close with his catholic assortment of purple buildings, but some off-target thief and assassination attempts from the boys (they WILL attempt to kill each other, rather than - say - whoever is leading) allowed me to ease away.

The Boydell crew were looking a bit weary by now, but Norm tempted one more round of games out of them by waving Dobble in their direction. Tony, aglow with his newfound love for the game, won the first round (one in which Norm amusingly threatened not to take any cards at all), and Benedict the second.

Well, I still haven't played Roll for the Galaxy. But it would seem that everyone else has. More than once in some cases.
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Sun Jun 21, 2015 10:15 pm
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Friday June 12th - Goa, Goa, Gone

Ben Bateson
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We arrived tonight to find pudding-lover Suzanna already tucking into a chunk of apple pie with custard - as good a way as any of supporting the White Lion, of course!

We were likely to be two tables, which drew a relieved sigh from Dave the Landlord, as he only had two tables to spare! And so we wound up in the deepest recesses of the 'back room', sharing with a dignified and elderly dinner party who didn't deserve to be exposed to John's peculiar outbursts or Tony's poo jokes (and poo they were, in every sense).

Tony ushered Bill and I into a game of Mottainai. I didn't see what JP and Becky had chosen for Suzanna as I was too intent on following Tony's garbled rules explanation and - of course - interjecting with frequent 'so...NOTHING like Glory To Rome, then?' rules queries. When I looked up, I had two surprises: firstly that Mike had arrived so silently that we hadn't noticed, and secondly Becky earnestly setting up Eurorails. A 4P crayon-rail game, I was sure, would last them all night, and so it proved.

I had happened upon a 'keep your hands to yourself' in Mottainai, and although Tony tried to run the deck out in an effort to beat me, I managed to offload just enough sales for a 1-point victory. Despite some scepticism, I can see why the designer, and some uber-fans, would want to refine Glory To Rome into this version, and I do think it's perhaps a tiny bit better. But, on the other hand, I find it hard to get very excited about GtR - or Chudyk games generally - so this just seems like another exercise in recycling material.

Espying Goa on top of my games bag, Tony let out some worrying hyperventilating noises in the name of keenness, and we spent most of the rules explanation (hopefully a bit more logical in my hands) saying 'this doesn't happen in the new edition. The new edition is wrong'. It's frankly a good job that I do know the rules very well, because it turned out that my manual was still in the hands of Jules, who borrowed it approximately four years ago.

Bill was playing only his second game, but was suitably competitive in the auction, and despite thinking himself into a hole a couple of times, emerged with a full set of colonies, and 28 points. While Tony was frittering away his action bonuses, I had been sifting the Expedition cards (2 shuffles? Can't pretend that happens every week), using one or two a cheeky one on tech advances, and cashing in on Tony's frivolous final-round spending. Between Expedition and money bonuses, I clocked up 12 points, enough for a comfortable win.

With Eurorails sort-of staggering to a close (I'm not sure whether they 'officially' finished, but all agreed that John had won), we whipped out the unofficial club 'mascot' game of Braggart. Tony won by a long chalk, but at least I saved him from the ignominy of seeing Simon The Lonely Ogre succumb to a grisly fate: using a Liar card gratuitously to up-score his 'boast' by one point.
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Sun Jun 14, 2015 6:47 pm
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Friday June 5th - Flight of the Concordias

Ben Bateson
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For all the response I got to my weekly email shot, I assumed we were only going to be three tonight, so I packed a bag with John and Becky's favourites, and we trundled down to the White Lion via a selection of Ross-on-Wye's cash machines, none of which were dispensing actual money as usual on Friday nights.

Tinner's Trail is one of those 'Oooh, I DO want to play that again' games for all of us, and I ploughed through the rules explanation as Becky and John got over-enthusiastic and filled every space on the board, before soberly removing half the cubes again. Just then, Tony turned up out of the blue, muttering something about inconsiderate caravan drivers (he's right, you know). I coerced John into giving him the red pieces and restarted the rules explanation. And THEN Suzanna walked in, we were 5P and the whole plan fell apart.

So, we started tonight's session a little later than usual, about 8:15, with Concordia. This is a game I have had no reason to have doubts about, and so it proved, despite Tony managing to cram a 5-player game onto (as we found out later) the 2-4 player Italia board. As start player, I fancied the Colonist + Prefect combo on the cheap end of the line, and supplemented these adequately with a Diplomat (which, entertainingly, was almost entirely used to scab off John's actions) and the rest of the Colonists over the course of the rest of the game. Logic dictates that if each card scores points, I want a lot of them, right?

Well, my strategy must have been quite transparent, because I came back from the bar after Round 1, to find Tony showing everyone my cards and explaining what I was going to do next. But I went ahead and did it, abusing the hell out of Catania for the wheat/tools that I needed to put all my men and ships on the board, and clocked up a satisfying 36 point bonus from the Mars cards, spending much of the final two rounds with a completely empty player board. I suspect the rest weren't as focussed in their strategy (except Suz, who was going resolutely 'big money'), which helped me win, but the whole experience was very satisfactory indeed, certainly sufficiently so for me to come home and place a midnight order with Shire Games.

With all this played out, it was nearly 10pm, so we really only had time for one more 'serious' game. Wizard was Tony's choice, somewhat surprisingly given that he is known to turn his nose up at card games. A little elementary trick-taking training for Suz and a couple of misdeals was all we needed to stretch this game out until closing time. In a thriller of an ending, Tony and Becky entered the final round all-square, but Tony underbid and Becky ended up winning quite comfortably. Even third-placed John managed a decent score tonight, putting the ghosts of some big negative scores behind him. I always enjoy Wizard, even when getting dealt unbiddable hands (what would YOU bid with: Y13 R13 G- B11,10,9,7,2,1 N?).

I went home and repaired my error by adding Suzanna to the email list. Now hopefully I will be able to tell WHO and WHEN a bit more reliably than tonight.
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Sun Jun 7, 2015 11:45 am
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