The Ross-on-Wye Boardgamers

Beer and Boardgames at The Plough Inn (formerly the Prince Of Wales, formerly the White Lion). "It's not F-ing Monopoly, alright?!"

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Friday April 15th - Bill's on the doormat

Ben Bateson
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Ben and Becky got settled in quickly in the corner of the pub, and rattled off a couple of games of Roma, which were (for a change) split 1-1. Goa came next: a game we've honed a bit too much at 2-player: when Becky missed her first colonisation, it was almost certainly game over.

We were just drawing to the end of a swift game of Finca - a game that Becky seems to terminally lose at, and debating whether anyone else was actually going to turn up, when Bill wandered through the door. He showed a great keenness in learning Goa, and almost took us to pieces in his first game. Luckily, Ben snaffled just enough bonus points from the board to put him ahead.

We finished off with a swift round of R-Eco, at which Bill showed a very miserly approach to throwing rubbish away, and proceeded to clean up (sorry) Ben and Becky.
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Sun May 1, 2011 5:15 pm
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Friday April 8th - Colonist To Love

Ben Bateson
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Bill, bless him, arrived with a mystery bag of games and said: "er...I don't really remember how to play any of these", in what is becoming a slightly bizarre Ross-on-Wye tradition (along with entertaining the dogs; saying 'harrow' in a possibly-probably-offensive Chinese accent; failure to play Serenissima; and unhealthy consumption of pork scratchings). So we pulled out Fiji instead. Jules arrived just in time for the rules explanation, although part of the beauty of Fiji is that you can explain it as you go along. It was the usual frenetic madness, and - again as usual - Becky whupped our collective hides, ending with a perfect nine shrunken heads.

Our big game for the night was a long-overdue play of Puerto Rico. Bill, as the expert (translation: only player that had played before), took on the rules explanations while Jules wolfed down a vegetarian curry (with prawns...). Make sure to call them Colonists, not Slaves, to be politically correct. Part of the beauty of Puerto Rico is how easy it is to pick up the concept, and soon we were well underway and planning individual strategies. Jules quickly snapped up the tobacco concession, while Bill's early investment in corn allowed him to build an Office and a Factory which ensured plenty of income for the rest of the game. I was quite pleased to snap up two large purple buildings in the close, which was precipitated by Bill maxing out his town. Unsurprisingly, the expert won, but I pipped Becky by a point for second, which is about the best I could hope for. Need to examine the seating order next time we play...

With Jules taking his leave, we hoicked out a 3-player Caribbean. This is a game of which I'm particularly fond, although perhaps the bluff and second-guess elements are a bit too random for their own good. With the treasure appearing in a rather asymmetric fashion, two or three of the ships spent half the game out of play, and I thought I'd exploited an un-noticed treasure in the corner to pick up the winning points. No good, though, for Becky crept in to equal my score at the very last. With no tie-break in Caribbean, an honorable tie seemed a suitable way to finish the evening.
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Sat Apr 9, 2011 9:27 am
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Friday April 1st - Boffo Gets Whitewashed

Ben Bateson
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Erp...late with updating t'blog, but anyone reading really should expect such things.

Anyway....Tony, Ben and Becky (or Boffo & Smudge, as the latter two appear to have been re-christened) enjoyed a typically agricultural evening of gaming. Boffo & Smudge even kicked off with the delightful P&P On The Farm in anticipation of the Agricolatery delights.

So, the Farming Game was duly produced, and Tony proceeded to abuse a bonus card for lots of early stone. I got all excited about some grain bonuses and proceeded to eat most of it raw while abusing an astronomer (amazing what turns people on, isn't it?) rather than actually do something sensible like build an oven. Becky's traditional 'sensible' farm was pipped to the post by Tony's inevitable renovation.

Onwards, boyo. Having promised to indulge Boydell with the latest of his 'train trilogy', I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying Ivor The Engine. It's a variant of TtR that actually works, encouraging early route-building and less obsessive silly card hoarding. The board needs a tweak, and there's room for more thematics (what job will Ivor be doing this week, Jones?), but there's definitely more promise here than Paperclip Railways. Tony's third train game, Mountain Railway, is also fun to play, but I do worry it's just a bit too similar to the glut of worker-placement games we've endured over the last few years. Has the Worker Placement revolution expired?

Thirdly, Finca's rondel was brought out for some fig-and-ass based chaos (quiet at the back, please). The windmill blades were very paired-up, which made diversification difficult, and the opening round was a bit too random given that we'd forgotten to dole out the Finca tiles. Oops. Anyway, it all boiled down to a squeaker: Tony looked to have stocked up just enough to overhaul Ben at the last, but had critically omitted his donkey. Ben made a hasty drop-off of a few olives, and it was enough to cull a win.

We finished off with a pet favourite of all three of us. The glorious silliness of Familienbande hides a surprisingly strategic game. I was dealt the 'Lips' tile and a handful of lips-rich cards, which I chose to hide for the endgame. As I continued to pick up the red cards, I revelled in being able to lay out 40 or 50 points in a swoop at the very last, with neither of the other two suspecting what card I held. But disaster struck! Tony and Becky closed out the family tree to a single strain of specky, ginger toffs, and I was unable to catch up. I finished a miserable seventy points(!!) behind, unable to do anything profitable for my last three turns. Boffo, it would seem, had indeed been whitewashed. And on April Fools' Day too...
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Sat Apr 9, 2011 8:59 am
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Friday March 25th - All Tied Up!

Ben Bateson
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One highlight of last week that I forgot to mention was Bailey, the huge friendly Golden Retriever in residence at the White Lion, getting his dinner stolen by Daniel: his best friend the darts-loving collie. It was no surprise to see Bailey tucking in early this week as we rolled up with two crates of games.

After a short banter on the merits of ancient wargames and IT jobs, Tony arrived and pulled out Caylus Magna Carta to kick us off. John N was unlucky to record fourth place after a rather unfulfilling three-way tie between Ben, Becky and Boydell. Still, it plays in approximately a third of the time of 'proper' Caylus, so the likelihood is that it will probably hit the table again some time.

Dixit was our filler of choice, and Ben's whimsical puns left him stranded in comedy last place for far too long. I'm disappointed that no-one understands the "statue" joke, though: I blame an upbringing on Count Duckula...

We finished with a rousing Small World session - a game that remains a firm favourite. Fresh from his win at Dixit, Bill made the classic play of having such a god-awful first turn that everyone else decided he wasn't a threat and let him win by a country mile: 116 points is a VERY respectable 4-player score, but then he has been brought up on Vinci.
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Sat Mar 26, 2011 2:11 pm
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Friday March 18th - Speedy San Juan

Ben Bateson
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I've made the decision to port the blog of Ross-on-Wye's fledgling group of gamers in from this rather pathetic effort at a website. Mostly for the purposes of trying to get the webbots to pick up the fact that I exist and probably also to receive some standing abuse from Mr Boydell.

So, what were we up to last week? Myself, darling-wife Becky, and John hit the table with San Juan, and none of us were hanging about. When Bill came in, his eyes spun round in circles for a bit before he uttered a dazed: "That's the fastest game of San Juan I've ever seen".

Tony joined us for what is frequently the highlight of a Ross-on-Wye night and his crate of Agricola accessories was quickly dished out. I was delighted to be dealt the Astronomer occupation (one I'd had my eye on since receiving the Gamers' Deck) and spent much of the game trying to abuse it. John's farm went horribly wrong at some point and he indulged in pinching Tony's fences instead. I was rather fortuitous to beat Becky (a point she forcibly put to me during a weekend re-match by beating me 43-22!) as I got my last three Bonus points from a card Tony had played in Round One (I want to say the House Steward...) and I had totally forgotten about.

We finished with a game of Gargon - a lovely little card game from one of my favourite designers, but unfortunately a game about which I remember absolutely nothing, not even who won. My gaming log tells me we played TransEuropa as well! Hmmm...perhaps a bit less beer next week.
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Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:52 pm
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