Ben Bateson(ousgg)United Kingdom
Ross-on-WyeOi! Hands off...
It appears I've been tardy on the blog front again, so set yourselves for a rapid-fire double update as I while away the Bank Holiday late-afternoon blues.
It would have been last month now when Ross-on-Wye's most dedicated quartet made the back room of the White Lion their home, Dave the landlord thankfully evicting his grand-daughter well in advance.
Boydell's unusually swift arrival rescued us from the rules explanation of Genji (a shame, because I thought it looked a reasonable card game with an admirable - if highly sexist - theme), and we instead set to the forthcoming masterwork of Snowdonia. Mock horror greeted my decision to actually build rails for the first time in four games (I believe there is a photo of this rare event), but it did me no good, as I got scuppered out of my planned excavations by a rampant game engine. Becky pinched my 'climb up the mountain' stock strategy, but we were all undone by the games designer (clearly still smarting from all those Totemo losses), putting together an unnecessarily advanced combo for we beginners to cope with.
Game 2 1/2, after some late-playtest humming and hawing (I'm still pushing for increased surveyor points), became Santiago de Cuba. I had played this enjoyable game with 3P, and was delighted to see it not lose any of its charm with four. Indeed, it's hard to recall any valid criticisms of this game (other than the poorly-designed player screens), and its stock continues to rise in my eyes, not even if I was pipped out of a tight game by John.
With Tony taking his customary premature leave, we tucked into a new treat which he had kindly left behind (and, in fact, I still have - must remember to give that back!). Pizza Theory had caught my eye some weeks before, and Boydell had happily saved me spending £20 on it. And, to be fair, I'm reasonably glad he did in retrospect.
The basics behind Pizza Theory are of area control and geometry, which is enough to put some people off straight away. I am made of sterner stuff, and it looked like good brain-burning stuff at first, but unfortunately it proved to be very difficult to balance, with a leader becoming apparent very early. The leader in this case being Becky, who ended up swathing the communal pizza in tasty green toppings. But I don't think I'll be needing to play this again.
To finish off, another game which continues on the ascendant in my eyes, and one which I'm pleased is starting to find a niche audience here on the site, where previously there was only bafflement and coolness. I refer to Artus, also frequently referred to as 'the one with the pig on the table'. It's a game that really shines with two or three people who know the deck well, and to that end will never really be as good during the first half-dozen plays.
Despite some initial grumbling, Becky took to this very well, and it could have been touch-and-go at the end, if only we'd paid more attention to how many times everyone had been around the board! When people are scoring 20-40 points on a 50-point score-track, things do get very confusing...
I think we agreed on a honourable draw.