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The Ross-on-Wye Boardgamers

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

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Friday April 14th - Farm, Farm Away

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
Ross-on-Wye
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The approach of Good Friday always foretells a day-long gaming session for the Ross-on-Wyers. What with having a palatial new house and all, we saw no need to ask people to shut themselves in the pub all day, and open our front doors to all-comers.

All-comers in this case included Kat and Charlie, whom we are tempting away from the Hereford gamers towards Fridays in Ross (mwhahahaha). They were first to arrive and we opened with a quick game of Pickomino, in the safe knowledge that it would be finished and tidied away before Tony arrived to take the piss.

We didn't succeed and that and Becky had to take her win with deep sarcasm dripping around her.

Making the most of the springtime warmth, we trooped outside for a few rounds of Molkky. Our lawn has a plinth conveniently located in the middle which acts as a particularly devious obstacle, although we do allow a generous throwing-line to compensate. One possibility that only occurred too late is teeing-off with the skittles ON TOP of the plinth, which Becky and I tried to much hysteria on Easter Sunday.

Anyway, I was in pretty dismal form and we watched in muted 'admiration' as Tony took the first three chukkas. The third was a thriller though, with all of us getting to a finish, and the fourth was taken by Becky with a lethal 10-out shot that nearly destroyed the trellis.

Agricola is always guaranteed a mention when Tony and I get together, and we were pleased to instruct Charlie (one play) and Kat (none! How remiss...) in the fundamentals. We kept things simple with a straight-deal seven from the E and I decks, and Kat quickly put together an effective ranching combo, beating Charlie by some distance. I had lucked upon a must-play combo of the Hobby Farmer (get - and sow - a vegetable) and Gardener (harvest your vegetables from the general supply) and by Round 9 had three permanent veg fields providing all the food I ever wanted. I had nothing against Becky, though: an even better combination of the Charcoal Burner and Field Warden accelerating her above forty points. My only real consolation is that Tony was third.

We were already rapidly approach dinnertime and I got a cheeky email from John suggesting that he might arrive in time for some food. So Becky and I went out to the kitchen and whipped up some - at the risk of sounding immodest - some epic build-your-own fajitas (spice blend, pico de gallo, refried beans and guacamole all home-made: none of this tinned rubbish at the Batesons), while the others stole a crafty Isle Of Skye, John turning up just in time to pinch the fourth seat.

With chocolate cake on the serving table, and the last Skye tiles being sold away, Dan turned up (for the first time in ages) and gave rise to a lengthy debate about who wanted to play WHAT and with WHOM. Eventually, Becky The Professional Lancaster Hustler managed to talk Kat, Charlie and Dan into losing to her, while Tony, John and I set about learning Steam.

Or, rather, we set about learning Steam for all of 20 seconds until it transpired that no-one had prepared by reading the rulebook, so we played Terraforming Mars instead. With three players and all the corporate-era cards this felt much more smooth and enjoyable than our previous turgid affairs, although I still maintain there isn't very much decision space and a lot of your game is pre-written after your first hand of cards. I got stuck into a nice Jovian combo with the big 41-cost card that left me with tons of titanium, but couldn't quite catch up with John who had terraformed heavily and bought up all the milestones. Tony did a 'Flamme Rouge', whipping out to an early lead before foundering badly later on.

'Just ten more minutes' called Becky, and we should have worked out that this means 'actually, about half an hour including final scoring and packing away', so we set up Codenames and twiddled our thumbs for a while until the Lancastrians joined in (leaving the packing away for yours truly, when it finally got done on Bank Holiday Monday). Codenames, as ever, was a treat. Tony got drawn with both Batesons against the other four and chose to give much of his clues for the opening stanza in a fashion sufficiently cryptic to have baffled the setter of those large obtuse crosswords without any black squares. Unusually for him, John was giving prime clues and we lost this one without too much trouble.

Upon my visit as spymaster, I found luscious opener in the form of PALLADIUM:4 (LONDON + SHOW + CAST + MERCURY). This was astutely dissected by Becky's theatrical nous and a bit of half-remembered Chemistry from Tony, but they clung onto MERCURY to 'save for later'. What actually happened is they complete bloody forgot about it, and then wilfully tried to misinterpret my clue of MENSTRUAL:2 (CYCLE + WITCH), very nearly losing us the game in the process. Thankfully, Charlie was having a 'mare next to me, and although his team rallied with five-in-a-row, they were left with a complete guess for the final spy. One all.

Despite her protestations, Becky took up the spymaster's seat, and if we're being charitable we could blame the alcohol for the series of random association that followed. Interrupted only by the inevitable John-ism (it's not his fault; he doesn't get out much), we foundered in the face of some precise cluing from Kat, including a very well-educated EINAUDI:2.

With only one round left to spare our dignity, Tony suddenly found his cluing feet, and we motored to a four-in-a-row finish thanks to his perspicacious SURVEYOR:3. It felt best to leave the outstanding session as a tie, at least before we had to force Becky into having another go.

With Tony, Kat and Charlie bidding merry farewells, Dan raised his eyebrows when we suggested there was no fixed kicking-out time and there was plenty of time for one closing event. So, sure enough, down came Agricola off the 'Best With 3' shelf again, and this time we dealt a more catholic assortment from the WM and FR decks. Given that none of us were massively familiar with the cards, it was all a bit random, but I grew late in order to play out some oddball ocks which eventually comboed together to give me enough free stuff for a not-terribly-impressive win on 33 points. The fact that the WM-deck has no 4+ cards is very telling.

Two games of Agricola after such a long break? Quite the resurrection indeed.
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Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:54 pm
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Friday April 7th - Turd Time Lucky?

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
Ross-on-Wye
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It had been an awful long time, it seemed, since we had even managed to muster a decent-sized games table of four, so a turnout of fully six meant an almost party-like atmosphere in the Prince of Wales this week, especially since two of my favourite gaming companions - Gentleman Dave and Gentleman Phil - were in attendance. Eschewing the 'two tables of three' concept, we had plenty of games to service 6P, including Tony's long-neglected copy of Peloponnes.

I had played Peloponnes on one of our occasional all-dayers what seemed like donkeys' years ago, and could really only remember the faintest thing about it. But that was OK, because only Tony and Dave had any grasp of the rules going into Round 1 (to the extent where Tony turned up three blank disaster tiles before realising they were the spares). I was quickly producing luxury goods left and right, but a weak monetary situation meant I failed to pick up tiles in two rounds. This was almost certainly the difference between me and Tony in the final reckoning, but I was satisfied enough with runners-up spot. There is a lot to commend Peloponnes: the asymmetric starting positions, bounce-off auctions, 45-minute playing time, and a sort of tech-tree-without-the-tech-tree growth. We need to play it more often, although I'm not sure how efficient it is with less than six.

Tony paid a brief interlude to the gents at this point, and for reasons only known to him decided to vividly describe (and even create a - ahem - 'backstory' for) the contents of the lavatory on his return. Perhaps old age is kicking in quicker than any of us thought: he is nearly 50, bless him.

Chinatown is a house favourite, although previously unknown to Phil. The rules explanation is remarkably short and only hindered by my 'wrong-edition' player aids. Phil, being quite and thoughtful by nature, was quite overwhelmed by the pace of game and was flushed and panting after a couple of rounds of trading in traditional Ross-on-Wye backstabbing style. Becky and John seemed to be intent on building partnerships with everyone. I drew three adjacent cards in round one which virtually guaranteed no-one would trade anything with me, and John sold me a property in exchange for 20% of its income (which was, of course, nothing) for the rest of the game. It didn't hurt him, though, as he edged his partner-in-crime, Becky, to the win.

We were engaged in our trading by one of the landlord's many dogs: a Norfolk Terrier of sorts that enthusiastically pawed at my legs for attention and then disgraced himself by laying an unfeasibly large crap on the carpet behind us. Suddenly a lot less popular, I fear it will evermore now go by the moniker 'shit-dog'.

With Tony making gestures at his watch (yet again, on youth-chauffering business), we settled on Codenames as our next game, figuring he could up sticks after any number of rounds of his choosing. He faced-off against John initially, but the speed of deduction from his team-mates Becky and Dave was such that he feared we wouldn't even get time for one round, let alone a number of his choosing. Things weren't going swimmingly for Phil and I either: I am still puzzling over John's initial clue of PROFESSOR:3, and felt it unlikely that engaging Phil in a discussion of the merits of Professor Green would lead anywhere. But we scraped through for a win, even after John stalled for a worryingly long time over his final singleton clue.

Tony acquiesced for a second round, and we reminisced at length during the setup of our many Codenames highlights (the 4s and 5s to win the game, some improprietary behaviour towards a minor on my part, and the 'Threadneedle Incident'). John and Phil were to do their best to add to this with a torturous discussion after my clue of BALBOA:2 (= ROCK + KEY, yes?). 'Balboa' became 'Bilbao', and then - perhaps inevitably - triggered a discussion of Hobbits. If I may say so, I was admirably restrained during all of this. Somehow, we snuck victory out of this one, too.

With Tony and Phil departing, it was left for the four of us to get stuck into some light evening-ending nonsense. John's preferred fodder here is Buccaneer - an impossibly simple but clever creation from Stefan Dorra, the master of this genre. Normally John walks away with this, but tonight Becky managed to appropriate the most loot. I made a dumb mistake mid-game which resulted in a mutiny from John's pirates and a self-enforced last place.

Good Friday next week, and an anticipated opportunity for a Ross-on-Wye all-dayer. Look forward to a big blog!
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Sun Apr 9, 2017 11:41 am
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Friday March 31st - King of the Road

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
Ross-on-Wye
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This - finally - was to be Becky's last week of absence, which meant the show was finally underway. A side-effect was that I got dropped off at the pub fully half an hour before anyone else turned up. However, I had come prepared, and had snuck Glass Road into the bag for a crafty 1-player before John could turn his nose up at it. 18 points still isn't good enough, though - I struggle with the solo version.

Tony and I had earlier agreed on Hansa Teutonica as a suitable starting point for proceedings, and it was a relatively pain-free dispatching of the rules (until - just as we started - Tony noticed we were playing on the wrong side of the board). John beat me by a couple of points, but it was apparent we were all finding our way, and we resolved to get this one to the table more often: given that it only took about 45 minutes, this won't be a struggle. I'm a bit concerned that the 3P game was very open, but then perhaps I'm looking at it too much as a route-building game and not as a tech-tree (which is probably closer to the mark). Very interesting stuff, though - more reports undoubtedly to follow.

Tony proffered Round House as our second main event of the night. Of this I knew nothing, but it soon transpired to be a hyperactive rondel goods-conversion and cash-in-your-goals exercise: a bit like if Marco Polo had been designed by Mac Gerdts after a couple of suspicious blue pills. Tony kept up a suitably frantic patter of "Don't forget to take a blue cube. Don't forget to take your money. Don't forget your bonus." What this patter distinctly lacked was "Don't forget to claim your VPs", so when John and I got to the end we were scratching our heads over whether everything had - in fact - been scored. To be fair, rather than a flaw of Tony's, this is a distinct flaw of the game: there is no 'keeping track' mechanic, and there are 'gates' on the scoretrack which means a failure to clock points at the right time is potentially disastrous. But it's fun, reasonably quick, and given to accelerating combos (without being overly combolicious) and an outrageous move or two, so it will probably get another play or two.

Due to another early departure for Mr Boydell, we were already into filler territory, so we played Council of Verona and Pickomino. John curled his lip at the former, and Tony roundly mocked the latter, so I can't claim it to be a great evening for the small-box collection. It seems that every 'little' game I enjoy at the minute runs it to some sort of criticism: perhaps I might need to have a sell-up.
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Sun Apr 2, 2017 5:20 pm
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Friday March 24th - Monaster Lizards

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
Ross-on-Wye
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With the prospect of another poor turnout, I spent a bit of Friday cajoling Tony, via the medium of labyrinthine picture puns on Facebook Messenger, but when Becky dropped me off in the Prince Of Wales car park, I still wasn't sure whether he'd be turning up or not. Accordingly, I had packed the bag with a mishmash of 'games that are OK for two or three' - not an easy task in itself - and I was tentatively poking around the contents of the Monastery box when John turned up. Once he saw the ludicrous monk-meeples (in suspicious 'raised-cassock' pose allowing them to be set in a kneeling-to-pray position) he was won over, and I'd barely finished the opening setup when Tony rolled up too.

As with a lot of Ragnar manuals, the Monastery rules were a little fragmented and not exactly conducive to teaching, so I found myself launching into that most wearisome of tasks: trying to teach directly from the book. But Tony and John were remarkably patient and picked up plenty enough to ask pertinent questions and get started. Despite getting a quite significant rule incorrect, the rounds whizzed by, and Tony won on a tiebreak after tying on 'Prayer Letters' with John.

On reflection, the game is a lot simpler than the rules make it appear: it's an interesting twist on Carcassonne-type mechanics with a cute theme, and I'd definitely want to explore it further with a full complement of 4P and all the correct rules.

As John nipped off to the bar, Tony plonked the latest iteration of his fluffy playtest, based in name and theme on Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. How this most British of films will fare in Continental Europe is anyone's guess. It's a pleasing, unchallenging mixture of deck-drafting and icon matching, with a special ability or two thrown in. It was OK, but it still feels like there's a dimension missing.

With time trotting on, Tony reached for my copy of Roll for the Galaxy, and it quickly became apparent that the others had not yet had any experience with the expansion (god bless that black die: it's saved my skin a few times. I latched onto a development combo early on that rewarded me for harvesting lots of blue dice, and John had a 6-planet built indecently quickly. That left Tony's best option as trying to rush the end of the game, of which it has to be said he did an admirable job, running out a 41-39-32 winner. Question - is 32 the lowest score anyone's ever seen that includes a 6-planet?

We'd hit an awkward juncture of the evening where we didn't have anything in a suitable timeframe before Tony's departure, so we lounged around and nattered about obscurities until Becky turned up and Tony departed. THEN it turned out we didn't have anything in a suitable time-frame for Becky either. However, after a stressful evening running the lighting rig, she was happy to sit and read while John and I reprised our Mr Jack in New York rivalry. It was an impressively tense one, culminating in a third round which very definitely broke down the middle: the first four cards allowing John to eliminate two suspects, and the next four allowing me to shepherd the two remaining ones out of the lamplight into invisibility. Thankfully, hand seven dealt me my character, and I hopped on a boat to escape for a rare victory.
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Sun Apr 2, 2017 5:04 pm
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Friday March 17th - You Gotta Roll With It

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
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All indications pointed towards a four-player attendance this week, and I finally spied the opportunity to get my copy of CVlizations, patiently being toted in the bag in search of a 4P chunky-filler slot, onto the table. Accordingly, it was unpacked and ready to go when Bill hustled his way into the pub at nearly 7:45. The 'one-up, one-down' cardplay proved to be a little less bluff and second-guessy than I'd anticipated, but it was well-received anyway: a pleasant diversion with some brilliantly executed art. I can't really see it being anywhere near as effective with any other player count, though. Bill came out victorious in an aesthetic 18-17-16-15 scoreline.

One of the fundamental game selection rules is: a) work out who won't be there, b) play something they don't like. Accordingly, with Tony out-of-town this week, I had packed Furstenfeld, a very sweet economical deckbuilder against which Boydell had inexplicably taken a turn. It was a great strategy showcase: Becky used the Scavenger to shrink her deck; John went for big cash; I tried specialisation, and Bill complained a lot about his opening hand before - inevitably - going on to win with a profitable Tour Bus. John - always the hardest to impress - pronounced the whole thing thoroughly enjoyable, and I have to say I agree. The combination of simple ruleset, supply-driven economy, and deckbuilding is an unexpected one, but it's always been a winner with us.

We're not usually associated with dice games, but there are a few excellent examples of the genre in my collection, and we finished the evening two of them. Airships was first: a tech-tree sort of affair which has never had as much recognition as it deserves, given the designer's pedigree. One aspect that has never sat comfortably with me is the game-end conditions, so we tried the variant rule (one Airship remaining) which takes it too far the other way. Perhaps TWO Airships remaining is the correct place...

Unusually for her, Becky had stormed away with this one. John and Bill were stranded on altogether less than impressive scores of 4 and 3, so it came as a surprise when John proffered Pickomino for another set of dice-based chaos to finish. Still, I'm not to complain: this is my second favourite Knizia dice game (after the peculiarly brilliant Risk Express), and I stormed off to an early lead before losing a job-lot of worms later on. Bill pinched the final point to complete yet another victory.

A diverse evening, to be sure, but I thoroughly enjoyed all the available offerings this week.
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Sun Mar 19, 2017 6:10 pm
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Friday March 10th - Hellmans and Heinz?

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
Ross-on-Wye
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Pretty much everyone cried off this week, which left just myself, John and a bag of 2P games. I had prudently selected a batch that Becky dislikes for us to explore, which in practice meant a hotch-potch of conflict, sci-fi and deduction games.

The highly-regarded 2 de Mayo was our starting point, and - despite the fact I couldn't recall a thing about it - the rules were a breeze. It's a highly asymmetric war game, with the French trying to use brute force to clean out the rebels from the city of Madrid, while the handful of Spanish protesters attempt to dodge out of trouble and pick off a handful of Frenchies. John and I engaged with it immediately, and the old-school 'write down your orders' mechanic had a Diplomacy-like flavour without the protracted negotiation. We played 'once each way', and John won both. It was to be a familiar theme for the evening.

Star Wars: Empire v Rebellion is a curious surely-it-shouldn't-work sort of design. It's a remake of Cold War: CIA v KGB, and on the whole the original design feels a lot closer in theme. For whatever reason, Becky has taken a vicious turn against it, despite the fact that it's only a fancied-up version of Blackjack. After getting the tutorial wrong a couple of times and then getting inexplicably lost during the first two real rounds, John also declared his distaste, and I fear I will never get the chance to play this properly. Which is a shame, because I think it's got loads of potential.

We were playing at a leisurely pace, and Becky's return from the theatre was awkwardly timed, so we really only had time for one more: a double-header of Mr Jack In New York. There is masses to love about this, and both games were properly tense. However, I seem to be a rank incompetent any time any sort of Mr Jack game gets rolled out, and only salvaged a draw due to an egregious error from John.

Some fine 2P action tonight, although I'd rather see fuller tables!
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Sun Mar 19, 2017 1:38 pm
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Friday March 3rd - Terribly Boring Mars

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
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A chunky 5-hander tonight meant a full-on session of Terraforming Mars always looked likely, and indeed Tony was already dishing out cubes and cards before I even returned from the bar with my first drink. Gary and John were full of assurances that they remembered how to play, but as it turned out they didn't, and I was somehow assigned the responsibility of mopping up the rules queries.

My opening corporations offered me a straight choice between the 'city-builders' and the 'steelmakers' (I forget their real names), and the decision was obviously swayed by my opening hand of 10 (two city cards, including Noctis, and some miscellaneous energy). My mind was made up a good fifteen minutes before my opening moves (one of which was pre-determined by my corporation) thanks to the assorted dithering and rulebook consultations.

As best I can tell, that was the last significant decision I made for the next two and a half hours.

Draw four cards, keep the cities, hate-draft the remainder (I mean, why were we drafting? We went through the deck TWICE!), play your premeditated two actions and sit around waiting for the others to fanny around reading their cards and shuffling cubes around. Rinse, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat again. Four double-gin-and-tonics later and it's 10pm and I've won a game that I was pretty sure was mine an hour ago. I have rarely been so underwhelmed by victory. I might give TM another go with no more than three opponents and no drafting, but I think I'm pretty much done with this one.

Gary was emotionally drained by the whole experience, so he watched the first rotation of Santiago de Cuba before departing. By the time he closed his car door I had already made more important strategy decisions (all of which, admittedly, were completely incorrect) than in the whole of Terraforming Mars. C'est la vie.
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Wed Mar 8, 2017 8:30 pm
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Friday 24th February - Colonists Irrigation

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
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Due to the general lack of email replies, I was contemplating there only being two gamers this evening. Luckily, I had enough foresight to pack plenty of '...also good with 2P', so when John turned up unbidden (hardly surprising, really), then we still had plenty of good stuff to hand.

Just in case anyone else was planning on making a surprise appearance, Tony proffered Innovation as a warm-up exercise. This met with John's approval, and he profited with a very strong Agriculture tableau (although DID he take the final achievement without the required card of that level? I think he might have...) while my scorecard foundered under repeated attacks from Tony. While I enjoy it (in small doses) with 3P, I'm definitely coming around to the mindset that Innovation is best with two. I'm also a bit disconcerted about how strong Agriculture can be sometimes. I KNOW all the 'every game there's one broken card...' stuff, but it does seem that Ag gets abused a lot more than any other.

I had quite fancied another play of Viceroy, which we had christened a couple of weeks ago, but a mildly disgusted look on both Tony and John's faces was enough to make me reach for one of the big guns: Goa. This is a game that can generally relied upon to reduce ('reduce'?) Tony to a blithe state of gibbering contentment, although why this resulted in him trying to play most of the game without any money in hand doesn't quite follow. I think he SHOULD have beaten me easily, but instead the other two conspired to do nothing in the first round AND let me pick up four free actions during the Round 6 auction. Although I had misjudged one thing too many, this was still enough to allow me to waltz to a 43-40-38 victory. Conversely to Innovation, Goa is absolutely at its best with 3P, and this was a terrific session.

John turned his nose up at our suggested closer of Glass Road, but we called him an ignoramus and twisted his arm anyway, whereupon he capitulated to the old 'no food to pay my Builder' trap. Despite my having done something similar with my Fish Farmer in Round 2 AND running out of enough wood to build my Forester's Lodge, I managed a respectable 21 points. Tony was all celebrations with 23 until I pointed out that he couldn't score all eight adjacent spaces to his Village Church and he descended to a less-jubilant 19. John asked that his score wasn't recorded - I fear that he will never enjoy this gem, which is a real shame. Tony accused me of playing too much, and he might be right: I'm averaging three games a month since buying it, and it's definitely cemented its place as my second-favourite Rosenberg.

John was sufficiently disorientated to go and buy another drink five minutes before closing time while the rest of us were heading out the door: I fear he may have been somewhat preoccupied tonight.
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Mon Feb 27, 2017 9:23 pm
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Friday 17th February - The Tracks of Our Years

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
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Thanks to a very generous prize from fellow 'Packing For Holiday' enthusiast
Andi Woods
United States
Cedar Falls
Iowa
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"A future is something that you make yourself. You have to believe in it."
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, I had a brand new copy of Automobiles which I wasn't even THINKING about declining bringing out for its first road-test this evening. The rulebook looked like a breeze - a Dominion-esque bag-builder with multi-use cubes and a good old Indy Car Race at the middle of it.

Unusually for a first-teaching, Tony picked up the rules in an instant, and John was left on the (metaphorical) starting line still arguing about the interpretation of rules. Bill, in his own inimical fashion, harummphed and haarrrhhhed his way through proceedings, at one point making a set of noises that positively and thematically resembled an Audi Quattro idling in first.

After two steady laps, Tony and I revved up our engines and positively roared away amid various infantile jokes about 'collecting browns' and 'fumbling in ones bag to activate the purple'. Tony crossed the line first, but had to allow me an extra cube or two to do it, which I used to power past him for the win. I very much enjoyed myself and will definitely put this one back on the table, although I have slight concerns about whether there's enough variety in the card (cube) powers.

Tony and I are generally in the habit of having a pre-gaming Facebook preamble on Fridays now, in order to establish optimum player counts and ensure that we turn up with at least ONE game that will be acceptable to all concerned. During this week's meanderings, I dropped the suggestion of 'Key Harvest?', which met with a positively orgasmic reception, and seemed like it would suit the table of 4 well. Indeed it did, and its mix of tile-biddery, price-fixery and event-avoidery was soon causing some good heavy tactical thought. It did not go un-noted that the central mechanic was a direct inspiration of Isle Of Skye. Despite winning the race to a 4-worker, my own crop holdings were thin throughout, and Bill took what turned out to be rather comfortable victory, despite Tony's attempts to win all five crops categories simultaneously (he didn't).

Tony and Bill were both away early tonight, but fortuitously Becky returned from the theatre at just this moment and it didn't take long for JP to suggest a game of Wizard. I have been having forum conversations about the scores in this game, and I can only assume that the other correspondents are playing too nice if they are scoring 400 with regularity - the winning score in this game was only 240! Surprisingly, given my recent form at this game, this winner was me, although all of us spent some time on less than zero points, and any of us had a chance going into that last two rounds.

The perfect mix of the old and new this week - starting with new fodder and progressing to old favourites is definitely a good model.
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Mon Feb 27, 2017 9:04 pm
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Friday 10th February - Fishing for Compliments

Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
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With Becky away on duties with the theatre tonight, I was suspecting another slim turn-out, so during our pre-ludological Facebook 'poke', I suggested that Tony might want to bring the 2P playtest that is occupying much of our thinking hours. Ironically, it seems the biggest source of argument might well be over the title.

I had yet to watch this from the third seat, so I nobly charged John and Tony with playing a session, while I watched with a couple of pints. 'A couple' turned into 'a few' as the game slowed right down and took over an hour. This is fine, though - we are aiming at the 'thinky' end of 2P Worker Placement. John was most enthused, and Tony went away with a selection of scribbled notes. I am not a big fan of playtesting on games nights, but I think we were all winners here.

One of the key game-selection tools on any given night is: a) work out who won't be there, b) pick something they don't like playing. So, out came Suburbia, a game Becky inexplicably dislikes but which is adored by the rest of us. John discovered something about the long-term mechanics by throwing up a Nuclear Dumping Ground (border from Suburbia Inc) on turn 1, and then spending the endgame scrabbling around in the waste-heap for loose change. Tony tried to burn up his income and reputation scales (and did, in fact, max them both out), but forgot about the bonus tiles. That's usually my role, so I was pleased to score three out of four and nick a win by five points. I don't win at Suburbia very often, if indeed ever.

We rounded off the evening with 'Race For The Fish', aka Fleet. This also doesn't get any table-time at Ross, but it's not for lack of love. It came down to a straight battle between Tony's Processing license, fuelling a literal fleet of cheap boats, and John's more discerning vessels, headed up by a fine Crab bonus. Somehow, I hadn't got very far - probably due to shelling out too early on my own crustaceans (pun fully intended).

For once, we weren't the last ones out the pub, thanks to a tequila-swigging table of students nearby. But I'd have stayed for more if they were of similar high quality.
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Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:22 pm
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