Six 'Aye's for a Friday night gaming session means a) lateral flow tests and b) a trip to Bateson HQ to use their big(ish) table: the usual crew in attendance, though a little too gloomy for Molkky. There was a possible forbearance for a two threes split but Dave was leaving early so it was thought best to stay as one big group; games for six are less common so, after the longest time, I had my chance to roll out (figuratively and actually) Tom Wham's daft Bingo-esque comedy fantasy Feudality:
I recall playing this in my London days - albeit the (first) German edition from Lookout Games - and enjoying it for it's straightforwardness: it's not a brain-burner or an engine builder or an exercise in planning - it's dumb-as-nuts die-rolling nonsense. For something so uncomplicated, the Ross-on-Wye gamers produced an Olympic standard display of failing to understand the basic rules: roll dice and collect stuff, process an event, draft some tiles and then - active player only - take two actions. Of course, twenty minutes in and the turns rolled around the table but it was evident that
a) Becky really wasn't enjoying it at all;
b) Ben was having more fun sniping about it than playing it*; and,
c) my eyesight has become so utterly piss-poor over the last 12 months that I needed Smudge's sewing lamp to help me read the text on the tiles!
Not a particularly auspicious start to the evening, then, so I waggled the deduction puzzle that is King Thief Minister under their noses and received the appropriate permissions to continue:
A less-fussy version of Faidutti's Maskerade, the players need to discover the identities AND track the positions of the six Character roles THEN exploit the special ability of the role in front of them to either
take the most cash from the Pot; or,
announce the positions of all the character cards correctly.
The cards are peeked at, rotate left, rotate right, swap opposites and are shuffled - secretly by a player - under the table; brows furrow; clues are revealed; lights switch on and, then, off again behind eyes in a delicious memory stretcher. In most of the games I've played of this, the Peasant's "Guess everyone correctly" ability usually led to the win but - tonight - Ian stole the last pennies from the Pot to emerge a Monetary Victor: huzzah! Impossible to get a copy anywhere, I have resolved to mockup a set using the six core members as the Characters...
There would, no doubt, be some essential Dobble to finish but - until then - just enough time for some Dixit or, as Jobbers so eloquently put it: "That game with the picture cards where you give clues!"**
Ian's "Grandmother" clue had a unanimous match from the rest of us - he was a little too on the Red Riding Hood nose - but Jobbers got a bonus point - when we had all finished howling with laughter - for his grandmother card: the dog.
It was as tight as tight can be going into the very final round: everyone on the same points (apart from Jobbers). Thankfully, someone picking my card in the wrap-up tucked my bunny ahead, by a single point, ahead of Ian for the win.
Dixit really is fabulous and, should we be six again soon, very much emphasised that we DESPERATELY need to get Balderdash back to the table; only then, I think, will it feel like our boardgaming world is coming back to some sense of normal again.
*He resorted to making nonsense noises over rules clarifications at one point - "Biglee boglee boo!" being a favourite - before he was chastised for his lack of seriousness and concentration
**This could, of course, have been Mysterium which is the better choice if Dave had been able to stay a bit longer
Life and Games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Dad, Husband and Independent UK Game Designer.
Archive for Session Report
Is a man to be restrained from making silly noises in his OWN HOME?! That's WOKE gone mad, I tell you!
31 Jul 2021
- [+] Dice rolls
I achieved this honour using a mono-white deck: a paradigm that I've always been comfortable with since my 'heyday'* on the UK Magic scene back in the late 90s/early 2000s. Back then, I was on the cusp of Y2K UK Nationals glory with a "Bear - Go!" deck: cheap creatures - lots of them, quickly - and land destruction; who knows what trivial-in-the-grand-scheme fortune would've met me had I not drawn a land over six consecutive turns instead of finding the one more creature I needed?! From a day 3-qualifying top 24 to 54th in one, horrible mana screw.
In recent years, 'mono white' has been about getting a couple of huge creatures courtesy of life-gain/stat boost effects (that deck I posted a year or so ago) and then beating your way through tiny defences. In the last few months, mono white has reverted to a 'go wide' approach: lots of creatures - too many to block with your own forces - combined with some simple-but-juicy everyone gets +1/+1 effects. In the simplest of terms, you put down an army that grows and grows until it swamps your opponent...usually within 3 or 4 turns before the other player gives up and concedes***
The deck has no surprises to the Magic-initiated but it does what it does remarkably well:
4 x Monk of the Open Hand (gets bigger if you cast lots of stuff in a turn)
4 x Usher of the Fallen (cheap 2/1 with a 'create another body' effect)
4 x Codespell Cleric (boosts something - often itself - when cast 'second' in a turn; great for keeping the team's power levels even across the board)
4 x Clarion Spirit (has a 'create a flying body' effect)
4 x Luminarch Aspirant (makes something 1 bigger every turn)
4 x Elite Spellbinder (beefy flyer that, when it comes into play, can kill a key card in your opponent's hand)
4 x Skyclave Apparition (neuters any reasonable permanent for enough time to implement the 'overrun')
1 x Grand Master of Flowers (because I only have the one; stops a powerful creature from attacking or blocking, fetches Monks and - eventually - turns into a 7/7 indestructible flyer)
2 x Portable Hole (DnD in-joke that removes early threats/blockers)
3 x Paladin Class (hyper powerful stat boosting enchantment that's quick to cast)
2 x Sparring Regimen (power-booster that lets an attacker stay untapped and be available for blocking, if needed - "vigilant")
3 x Faceless Haven (land that turns into a 4/3 creature if you pay 'snow')
21 x Snow-Covered Plains (snow-covered to power the Faceless Haven)
And because the 'Sparring Regimen' has a 'fetch something from your sideboard' effect, I also have a sideboard (utility kit of cards):
2 x Environmental Sciences (gain a bit of life and fetch some more land)
1 x Introduction to Prophecy (look at upcoming cards)
1 x Expanded Anatomy (make something even bigger)
2 x Reduce to Memory (replace an opponents powerful creature with a piece of earthbound cannon fodder)
1 x Mascot Exhibition (three monsters at a bargain, knock-down price)
Technique? Play creatures and attack: repeat.
In reality, that 88% grouping (see pic) means I'm amongst the top 5000 of Magic: The Gathering online players; hardly qualifying for the Olympics, then, but certainly a 'career personal best' and that'll do very nicely indeed.
*when I was ranked in the top 500 (!) Magic players in the country**.
**when there were about 900 people who actually gave a stuff and played in regular ranking tournaments etc
***in MTG Arena, this is accompanied by a shower of disintegrating lightning
- [+] Dice rolls
...and later, of course, with trains. Just three for the garden view Summer House in the leafy, Vicar of Dibley-esque backwater that is Much Marcle on this hot - but, thankfully, cooler than before - July evening: Jobbers, Dave and me.
While it is, indeed, true that the Ross-on-Wye board gamers are an eclectic and adventurous gamer mix, it is also true that some games - effectively veto-ed by one or another of us - just won't see the light unless there's a big (or focused) enough attendance to find the right audience - for example, John won't play Agricola, I won't play Airlines: Europe, Boffo won't play Grand Austria Hotel and Smudge shuns Suburbia. Consider, then, the items on offer when the three of us sat down yestere'en: Confucius, Last Will, Gentes, The Grand Trunk Journey, Brass: Birmingham, Airship City and Puerto Rico. A serious selection, for sure; and, of these, definitely one - possibly two - would be generally favoured...but the others? Not unless we had a multi-table split.
It took but a fraction of a second for Jobbers to pick the first (and, subsequently, only) game of the night: Brass: Birmingham - something he has been Jones-ing to play for the longest time. My own history of Brass goes far back as its release in 2008, when I experienced a couple of heavy drubbings by the Berkshire group and then consigned it to the attic of my memory: Brass scared me then and it scared me still.
In stark contrast to my earliest forays, my player board looks magnificently empty as I developed and built my Industrial Empire across the West Midlands!
Brass: Birmingham is a modern twist on the 'classic', of course, and introduces a new resource - Beer - produced by Breweries; Beer is essential for flipping ('selling') Cotton Mill, Warehouse (new) and Pottery (also new) tiles and, also, for 'big railway building'.
With an opening hand concentrated around Wolverhampton and Walsall, the Canal Era saw me developing through/building out almost all of my coal mines and iron works setting me up very nicely for mid-game scoring (with minimal loss of Level 1s) and plenty o' coal in place for the steam age. Jobbers was the first to splurge on a Pottery while Dave began ploughing his way through Mills and Breweries for what would be some decisive 'selling' in the second half.
None of the frustrations that haunted my recollections of 13 years ago manifested in this crunchy, delicious and serious two hours; the usual Ross-on-Wye bants/playful sniping was noticeably-absent as we planned, connected, juggled for turn order and - occasionally - gasped in awe at the sheer mechanical wonder of it all.
Dave's experience paid off with a magnificent 100 point building total at the end of the railway era, leaping him 25 points (two flipped tiles) ahead of my own deeply-rewarding 160 or so. Jobbers languished back in the 120s but - now that he's seen it resolve - I expect him to present a clear and present danger the next time we play.
*This is a tremendous pun, albeit a German one.
- [+] Dice rolls
For Arthur, school's out for Summer and he decided to celebrate his first non-school night (of 40 or so) with a trip to Tuesday night games! With pal Ian stuck coming home from work around key departure time (6PM), I offered to ferry Adam and Rory and Fred for DnD; the kitchen was filled with campaign chatter so loud that I could hear it at the bottom of the garden where I was tucked away with a hat, a chai tea and my copy of MADI). Arthur - long intrigued by the roleplaying escapades of his brothers and his brothers' pals - asked if he could join in too and they rolled him up a character:
The aircon in the Volvo is borked and not even all windows open mode couldn't put a dent in the stifling heat. The boys yakked all the way to Tuffley, barely pausing for breath.
Those of us in the boardgaming section were split into two tables: a full sixer for Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game and our table (Tom, Jack, Dale, Aaron and me) for Kemet; Tom is spending UKGE demo-ing Kemet in the Esdevium* 'play area' and wanted to refresh his memory/hone his teaching technique on us. Dale had prepared by watching a full, five-episode Watch It Played so already had a fair idea of what the 2nd edition was all about; the rest of us were blissfully unaware.
Kemet is a game about fighting; when you're not actually fighting, you're taking worker placement actions preparing to fight: recruit more soldiers, improve your ability to buy combat-related bonus tiles, buying combat-related bonus tiles (some coming with monster combat units or better combat cards) and, generally, staring at the board to work out who you're going to fight next.
Thus, did two hours pass by in the breezeless fug of the Community Centre. Arthur stopped in a couple of times to blag another fizzy drink and/or see how I was doing - dudes on a map interest him greatly - and then returned to his guard-pummelling escapades. It turned out that the 'Snooker Room', in which they normally play, had become so stuffy and inhospitable that they decamped to rolling dice in the dusky car park...until it got too dark for them to see what they were rolling!
Back in mystical, ancient Egypt: poor Tom's citadel seemed to be wracked by extreme, localised earthquakes resulting in his player board and pieces cascading to the floor in a shower of plastic and chits** - a more moderate version of flipping the table, to be sure. Also, for some reason, Jack had taken to calling me "Terry": "Don't you know who I am?!" etc.
The other table - humanity made extinct by the Cylons - had progressed to The Resistance: seemingly a deep-seated urge to experience paranoia, alienation, suspicion and isolation now that we've all been saved from the pandemic by the Tories.
Enjoyable though Kemet was, it's a bit too one track mind-ed for my taste. It also seemed to slow right down in the last 30 minutes when Jack - on the requisite nine winning VPs at the end of his turns - kept losing one before the start of his next turn, when the victory condition is checked: lots of 'stop him!' etc which kind-of took the momentum out of the proceedings. Dale snagged the win having secured 11 VPs prior to the start of the round where not even careful turn-order arrangement could prevent him.
On the way home, Fred and Rory and Arthur briefly recapped their evening's adventures before exploring the nature of DnD 'robots' in (much) more detail: the boys yakked all the way to Newent, barely pausing for breath.
*now, of course, Asmodee UK.
- [+] Dice rolls
The disciples asked: "Which commandment is the first of all?" Jesus answered, "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: Do NOT leave your NO SOUP card until the final round.'"
18 Jul 2021
The guy delivering the chip supper was excessively-tardy, leaving me no option but to trundle over to Jobbers' - for RoW gaming - with a rumbling, empty tum. The stifling heat meant I, at least, packed a bottle of fizzy cordial to see me through the evening.
Le jardin du Jobbers is a wondrous, fecund plot of land packed with vegetable beds, alliums and all sorts of other accoutrements: bird tables, solar-powered lights, outbuildings etc. We would sample the fresh from the vine delights of his tomatoes later in the evening - after Boffo made a Jerusalem turn action in the greenhouse - and very delicious they were too!
Just the core four this evening, hence our return to the Much Marcle Summer House: J, Ben, Becky and me. We started with a time-limited, first exploration of Jerusalem (see yesterday's blog) just to see how the whole thing operated:
There was much amusement to be had from the game's in-built premise and flavour text 'wit' and, as expected, it was far from flowingly-perfect...BUT the central tenet is sound! Highlights included Jobbers turning Boffo's Cricket Pitch into a Public Toilet, Travellers moving in on Jobbers' Trig Point and Boffo setting up his Hermitage (must be put into play in a different room) in the aforementioned greenhouse. Unfortunately, I failed to get any of the others to say 'Commercial' instead of 'Spam' after building my Greasy Spoon Café.
Warming up our gaming muscles, we processed to something a little lighter - but actually published - in the shape of Fantastic Factories:
My electricity -> product engine helped me fly out of the starting blocks, consistently racking up at one each round until the end. A couple of bigger factories saw me to the 12 Product end-game trigger but Boffo managed to have more building prestige than me to see him to a two-point victory. Silly, simple and fun; I sort-of regret not KS-ing the FF expansion last year but the postage - even then - was an absolute bitch.
To the main event, then, and - after 18 months for me and John it was time to revisit the fertile ffjords and the sublime masterpiece that is Nusfjord:
Oh, how every single moment - every single worker placement and action resolution - sang in my heart: gods but I've missed playing this. Thankfully, the long lay-off had done nothing to dull my Nussy senses as I romped home with a 40 point tableau: a clear 10 points ahead of my nearest rival.
That would have been an excellent point to close the proceedings and yet, like the foolish bloody fool that I am, I had to go and pick Too Many Cooks to close. I'm not sure anyone has EVER grabbed the nettle of defeat so firmly from the rosy cusp of victory as I did. Of course, I ignored ALL of the sensible advice - freely and regularly given - and left my NO SOUP card until the final round: dear Christ, from 17 to minus 6 in 5 minutes.
- [+] Dice rolls
It's the anticipation that gets you and, for a sunny Tuesday evening, I was very much looking forward to playing Pax Pamir with the Tuffley folks. The problem is that I don't really know most of the attendees and, thus, have no idea what their thresholds are for complexity or depth; consequently, while teaching the rules of PP is relatively straightforward the 'playing out' can end up being a dog's breakfast.
In summary: take two actions (maybe three) per turn - a choice of 'standard' ones and those available in your 'Court' - with the aim of maneuvering your chosen Faction (and your associated Loyalty) into Dominance scoring. Obviously, there are wrinkles around this core but it's area control with tableau/money management thrown in.
Cue: Mark and Nick and Andy and Chris joining me for 90 minutes of head-scratching and a sudden failed dominance check but Chris going four points clear win. We had no hostage-taking, no battles and the only movement applied to Nick's brace of spies; indeed, while the game 'played out' correctly, none of the deeper elements - those bits that cause screwage and jeopardy and intrigue - made an appearance: consequently, it all fell a bit flat.
About an hour in, it seemed pretty clear that a couple of the players just wanted the overwhelming shenanigans to end: envious eyes cast to the other corner where lighter fayre was being enjoyed
Worried that I'd put them off entirely (and forever), I fretted that this anti-climax was the result of the rules teach OR is this, in fact, perfectly normal for a group who (apart from me) has never experienced a Cole Wehrle game before?
Hoping that "auctions" were going to be more digestible, I turned to the ever-dependable Peloponnes from Irongames:
Perhaps it was the Pamir fallout, but even this one seemed to befuddle and frustrate my fellows! Bad things happen all the time in Peloponnes and the entire bloody point of the game is to manage the damage it will do to you! Lovely, painful stuff but - again - had I misjudged my audience?!
Similarly, in the Warhammer 40K hall (visible in that second pic), pal Ian spent the session walking a new player through the intricacies of a particular faction - clutching fists full of dice and flipping through a 250+ page manual - so that the fellow could enjoy the whole thing more / speed up his integration with the group; both of us were treading the fine line between bringing them onboard and sending them, running, to the Hills.
I think I need to post one more of these:
- [+] Dice rolls
Respecting the anxieties of some of our number, the Ross-on-Wye gamers agreed to take rapid lateral flow tests before embarking on another 'full house' session at the Bateson's:
Curiously, I've not had any prior reason to submit to this procedure - what with being a good, house-bound citizen for the duration - and it smarted a little. To think that young Arthur has to regularly submit to one of these - twice a week in fact - for school?! Indeed, for a Nation about to embark on a throw the doors wide open policy, this seems like it's going to be an increasing requirement day-to-day...
...though not, apparently, if you want to go to the UK Games Expo; they seem to be entirely content with acquiescing to the Government's advice that attendees 'be responsible' without any stipulation that masks we worn etc. And with one of the main organisers being a General Practitioner too?! Essen Spiele, on the other hand, are pushing a 'no vaccine, no entry' which - given the continuing persistence of things - seems like the better policy TBH.
Anyway, with nought but the Control line on view I trundled happily over to Whitchurch/Symonds Yat conveying Trade on the Tigris. Boffo and I attempted a short but unproductive suggestions-for-play thread until I mentioned that I had TotT (or 'Totters', as it shall be known henceforth) - at which point he digitally (!) bit my hand off!
Naturally, given the fine weather, we had to dally on the lawn for a traditional Molkky warm-up (my turn for glory) and, thence, to business:
a. collect abilities based on your political and religious advancement THEN
b. collect resources according to your profile of workers THEN
c. trade those resources and cash them in as sets for VPs and track progression effects THEN
d. check to see if you've been overrun by barbarians (bad) and/or have achieved a cultural Golden Age (good)
e. Repeat until five rounds have been completed, score your track progressions and end game bonuses: 'most VPs wins'.
Despite the rules mooting that much of the process can be conducted simultaneously, it was like herding cats keeping everyone in the same phase: some having to be reined in while others 'pinged' personally for their actions like it was proper turn-based.
Three (of five) rounds in, it seemed pretty clear that Dave was running away with things: a huge stack of VP chits and not even barbarian attacks denting his fortune. Both he and Ian were close to full-on Dictatorship which explains the tableau of evil 'take that' development nastiness that afflicted the rest of us during the Civic phase.
Everyone seemed content with their first go at another high count, negotiation-heavy affair - certainly a sweet category for the club - though John seemed less enthused: languishing, as both he and I were, at the bottom with scores that failed to top Dave's thumping fortune even when combined.
Mr Knizia is rather a good fit for the Club's gaming personality, so my proffering of Medici, from a lower Batesonian shelf, elicited mumbles of happy assent:
a. Bid - using your VPs - for packages of between one and three goods (drawn blind from a bag) to place on your ship;
b. Score points for highest value to lowest value of loaded ships;
c. Score points for being better at selling a good type (there are five) than the others; then,
d. Repeat this process until three 'rounds' have been played after which 'most VPs wins'.
It was a nail-biter 'at the top' going into the final round with Smudge and I jostling for the lead; in the end, Smudge leapt ahead of me for a comfortable win - despite having the least valued ship - though some credit to Ian for coming from the very back to an impressive third place.
We closed with Codenames:
Long absent and much-missed, Codders didn't disappoint: team BenJohnBecky's easy first game countered by the DaveTonyIan comeback and then all pivoting on the Becky and Ian's cluing in the decider. It was late - almost midnight - but we had to see it through to the bitter end: after all, what is there to rush home for nowadays? When you've been apart for so long, you just want to stay together for as long as possible!
- [+] Dice rolls
Tuesdays come around quick (with Friday sure to follow): it's time for games and gaming at the Tuffley Community Centre. An impromptu chat with Tom last week, while packing Scythe away, brought up Cyclades and how very fine we both thought it was: an area control Euro dressed up as dudes on a map "-trash". Tom duly lugged his copy over for the evening (we being on a promise) - and were joined by Ian and Nick:
Despite horns of plenty a-plenty to boost my roundly income, it was Ian who subsisted better - even bounced down to just the one island in the early game - with a collection of discounting Priests that would put the Catholic Church to shame. Tom was first up with a Metropolis followed by myself - too close to an envy-eyed Ian - while Nick quietly pottered about in the calmer waters of the Aegean avoiding my burbling Kraken. As curiously prophesied during the rules teach, the Pegasus monster card proved pivotal in letting Ian drop his army onto Tom's stone-throwing devil-protected City for the win despite our best efforts to get it shuffled out of the discard pile into the main deck and, thus, make it MUCH harder to retrieve.
To cleanse the palette in anticipation of the other table nearly having finished the monstrous eye-vomit that is Hadrian's Wall (a 'flip and write', apparently; call it, casually, a 'roll and write' and wait one microsecond for the entire table to 'correct' you in chorus!), I waggled the literal dice chucker that is Mondrian: The Dice Game under my fellows' noses. Tom rather ran away with this - despite having to ditch three cards in final scoring 'levelling'; to be honest, I'd have had more chance at getting a die to land on a useful card if I'd walked into the Warhammer 40000 hall and just lobbed polyhedra over my shoulder, blind.
Coincident to the ending of my artistic travails, the 60 minute 'roll and write' had come to an end after two hours freeing up Mark to join is for the gloriously unfriendly Senators.
I fear that Mark may well have preferred to remain with his scribbling buddies because he had the most miserable, 'no cash'/'everyone is picking on me' Senators experience ie. a perfectly normal Senators experience! After some nipping and tucking, the fourth War found Ian ahead by the one with Tom and I chewing at his be-sandled heels: what a bloody triumph this game is...and everyone at the table agreed.
And talking of triumphs - our closing Deep Sea Adventure netted me my first scoring tile ever:
Departure coincided with news of Italy's penalty win against Spain so the perfect end to a perfect evening of gaming.
- [+] Dice rolls
The garden strimmer broke last Summer so it's a bit of pain getting right into the nooks and crannies of the garden; thus, I turn to the plight of the Bees to save me from unnecessary horticultural labours ie. you've got to let those flowering weeds succeed for the sake of our Anthophilian pals!
I admit that letting a few old pallets - and a wingback armchair - weather away gives a rather poetic "Nature reclaims" vibe to that edge of the garden - shielded, as it is now, from the irate complaints of our curmedgeonly neighbours: think Roald Dahl's The Twits and that's the kind of elderly couple we're dealing with!
Talking of 'twits', Friday marked the first chance for the liquid metal core of the Ross-on-Wye boardgamers to gather again in one place thanks to
a) the very nice weather;
b) it was a Governmentally-compliant 'six'; and,
b) whole armfuls of appropriate vaccinations had been received.
Sixteen months have been kind to the curtilage of the Batesons' home as it's kept them close and very busy taming the landscape; we opened proceedings with a couple of rounds of Molkky on the custom-mown pitch (see above). The rolling curves of this devious arena played havoc with the bounce of the 'Molkky' and, at times (because Dave is a throwing beast) the safety of Becky's nearby Greenhouse. However, it would be style that won over brute force: Becky wiping the overgrown path with the rest of us.
Inside, then, for a series of suitable with 6: why would you split things up so soon after they'd come together?! There could not have been anything else more appropriate than one of the Club's 5Gs 4D in the now-thematically-tricky Chinatown; by the manscaped nether regions of John the Baptist, but it was a triumphant exercise in cheek, compromise, blustering intransigence and (Covid-ly awkward) belly laughs. A close examination of the final 'city' shows a charming propensity for 'joint ventures' rather than belligerent isolationism and the final scores ranged for a respectable 650 thousand through to Jobbers' magnificent 1.05 million.
With the scent of a Summer's evening burnt tire stinging our nostrils - there is a speedy road not very far from Chez Bateson - two rounds of 7 Wonders were followed by a third (with the 7 Blunders rules): Ian scoring almost double his score from the second in the last.
"You should've played your normal game." japed Boffo but, TBH, we were all thinking it.
Two teams coagulated for the party closer: Wavelength. Fun though this is, it's no Codenames (which was my proposal for an ending); as if to reinforce the minor anti-climax, most of the ratchetting 'spins' ended up as 'mostly to the right': no subtle clues worked. Perhaps the only controversial moment was Becky - faced with a third/two-thirds split toward the left picking "Donald Trump" as our team's clue for "Worst Human Being"...by her reckoning, there are two billion people on the planet worse than him: really, Smudge - REALLY?!?!
These, truly, are the moments we live for.
- [+] Dice rolls
I always get the timings wrong when picking up Adam and Fred for Tuesday night games in Glos; it stems from first forays (last year) that needed to factor in 30 mins to fetch - and consume - a takeaway supper of some stripe. Given I'm trying to remain on a healthy eating kick*, scoffing before I - and they - leave the house is to be encouraged. Anyhoo: justly fed, we still rocked up at the Community Centre - a squat, Brutalist-on-a-budget 1970s construction afterthought - with 45 mins to spare(!). Fortunately, the exciting footballs were on to pass the time away until the real gaming could begin.
As you may have noted in recent posts, I am un-enamored of the England footballing experience: a tendency toward sluggishness, lack of imagination and low self-esteem. Watching ten minutes of Chuckle brothers' "to me, to you" while nursing a pint of warm cola wasn't doing anything to change my opinion until England scored a goal: simultaneously, I was delighted that they produced a fabulous little set piece from the boredom but also utterly-horrified at the ridiculous cacophony coming from the CommCentre bar. It sounded rather like there was a throat-shredding contest going on: who could howl their oesophagus onto the circular table - and into their 'jug of ale' - the quickest. When the second goal went in (Kane, emerging from his goalless state of fluffery-buffery) and the TV camera cut to a weeping, German child in the crowd, the guttural gymnastics changed to jeering laughter: evidently, it's not the England team that I despise, it's their bloody "supporters"! Football is not War but, sadly, this pathetic little tin-pot nation still likes to wank onto its figurative Ration book. Hairless heir to the throne Prince William was also on hand to punch the sky and applaud magnanimously - thank the good Christ - lending the whole affair that much needed Empire vibe. Anyway...despite a far-reduced gamer turnout after the busy weekend, we managed to spin up two tables for some solid dobbershovin'.
Be-stubbled Tom had promised big-bearded Andy a teach of Scythe and, thus, was it to be for myself and beardless Mark too:
A curious affair that panned out in quite the not-previously-seen manner; I found myself quickly assailed by an aggressive Tom (rightly so: I was sat there with a couple of resources and an Encounter token) and his charismatic Mechs (meaning he can attack me and send my workers home without losing Popularity). It also didn't help that I'd Lake-walked my way to the Factory for first dibs on an extra Action card.
While Mark pushed quietly - but insistently - forward (and Andy got to grips with timing top and bottom actions), Tom kept my workers huddled on their Home space unable to get out into the fields and actually produce stuff; should they dare to emerge, blinking, into the misty morning a Mech would rattle off a few rounds and send them scurrying back! Mercifully, I'd manufactured all of my own steel leviathans, so I had some means of titting about in the landscape.
Of all the weirdness that transpired, however, it was - perhaps - Andy's approach to combat that confused and entertained in equal measure: replete with combat cards, the most Power and the ability to rob a combat card prior to engaging, his actual bidding was the behaviour of a lunatic: winning his first battle with a power bid of ZERO and a '2' card (!), winning his second with harsh language and a fistful of air. Not in all my games have I seen such military skinflint-ery be so successful. Add, to this cautious-but-victorious strategy, Andy's barefaced brainmental negotiating skills:
Andy: "Tony! I'd like to attack Tom - thus gaining myself both a Star and an extra Hex - so will you pay me those (he points) resources?"
Andy: "Pay me those resources to attack Tom..."
Tony: "But those are the ONLY resources I've got...what with my population currently sharing bodily-warmth and home-brewed vodka - thanks to Tom - in a Gulag somewhere?!"
Andy: "Is it a deal?"
Tony: (speechless with indignation)
Andy: "That's a 'No' then, yeah?"
Thus died any possibility of an hairy alliance. TBH, it all got a bit ugly after that: cheeky, tunnel-popping incursions, opportunistic raids on Tom's rear, a brace of punch-ups at the factory and so on. When the dust had settled, my pond-dwelling robots and six stars carried me comfortably to a score of 58 and Victory! Encounters - and the 'Trade' action - providing just the right amount of materials when my workers had been so despicably-hounded into non-utility!
There was still some Star Trek Panic occurring, so a long-promised demo of my Tickets Please! prototype ensued (at Tom's insistence):
We closed with a number-based card game filler - the name of which I forget - that reminded me a bit of The Game and 6 nimmt!:
Cards are played out, simultaneously, to see who's closest to the current scoring card and can retain it for final 'chilli' scoring. If you play a value in a 'safe range' (which changes round-to-round), you're ok but - if not - you must draw more cards. Round ends for scoring acquired chillis when someone's hand is empty or the deck has run out. It was okay but I think I'd rather play 6 nimmt!.
Tuesday night's alright for fightin', it seems!
*gods damn you to Hell, delicious cheese!
- [+] Dice rolls