Saturday dawned cold (and a little damp) but Richard was going to drive us the short way to The King's Arms because 'of all our boxes'. First, of course, the most important meal of the day: bovril toast, yoghurt and a steaming cup of the excellent Tom's Blend coffee.
Expecting to have to set up some tables - it was just 09.30, you see, and I'd assumed everyone would still be abluting at their accommodations; no, indeed, the back room was thrumming with the happy noises of gamers mid-game (there was a Res (naturally) and something roll-and-writish)!
After further arrivals, much greetings, setting up the raffle prize trolley and the receiving of birthday gifts/the giving of the GoC3 Alubari attendees' promo, I settled in to the weekend's formal launch game:
Boffo, Allen (Van00uber), MrShep and myself tried out El Grande with dice and liked it so much that we played it again immediately.
In summary: the 11 regions are seeded with numbered (2-12) tiles. A player's turn is to roll three dice and select two to 'sum' and be the location in which to place a number of your cubes (1-2=1 cube, 3-4=2 cubes, 5-6=3 cubes). There is the option to skip a turn of rolling and one-time-use an action card (a tableau of X is set out at the start from a larger pool of Y). When all cubes are placed, it's area majority resolution for 1st and 2nd places with the winner also getting to use two cubes to reinforce in one or two adjacent regions. Ties are broken in favour of the tied player who got rid of their cubes first.
In what would be the first of many 'That was great now where can I buy myself a copy!' moments, several of our number were on to Amazon/the BGG marketplace. A corking little filler that has the feels of Knizia's Samurai without all the farting about.
At Allen's recommendation, out came a new hotness Wolfgang Warsch's Illusion - a relative-amount-of-space-used estimation filler with fit-inducing art:
In summary: each card has four colours in differing proportions (%-ages) and the active player must either a) place the top card of the deck in the correct smallest-to-largest line (one of the colours is 'live' for the round) OR call-out the previous player for putting it in the wrong position. The correct player when a call is made (ie. the callER or the callEE) gets the colour-for-the-round card as VP; the first to 3VP is the winner.
Harmless, retina-scorching fun that doesn't hang around long enough to become tedious; one of those 'good with non-game player' games.
Upping the complexity and changing partners, MrShep and Ben scarpered, leaving their seats warm for Mr Alan Paull and Mrs Charlie Paull. It's a rare occasion when the Ps and myself play a non-prototype game of anything, so it seemed appopriate to pit our wits in the Fox/Draper table-gorgeous, dexterity-testing MegaCity: Oceania:
Plenty has already been written/said about this fabulous real-timer and I will only add my assent to the good words: it's a doozie.
Next, on the other hand, was Nova Luna - the new Rosenberg - which had me wishing for a quick death:
Patchwork-y (last position takes a turn, pick a tile up to three from your current position) with spacial-set collection (sort-of), none of it makes any coherent thematic sense or - for that matter - much mechanical sense either. So mentally and visually-bland that I can't even bring myself to type out any more characters about it.
Slapping myself vigorously about the face with a nearby chair, it was going to take something truly special to lift my post-NL torpor; thankfully, Matt Green and Boffo Bateson were there-and-waiting with, perhaps, the highlight of the entire Gathering:
Senators: What's the Latin for 'Go fuck yourself!' again?
The goal is to have the most Senators at the end of the game (which is when the fourth 'War' event is drawn); players can gain senators by special bonuses or (mostly) spending hard-extorted cash to buy them. Resources are set-collected - a player takes an auction action that opens up four things to all players - and sold (cashed-in) in sets of colour or number. Alternatively, you can just offer to buy stuff off the others or make them pay to keep it if they refuse.
Joining us in the 'Et tu, Brute?!' carnage was MrShep and Dave 'Daffers' From Ledbury: a full and fruitsome, elbow-barging, faux-Latin collective noun of cursing Patricians! An early lead from myself led to a series of very profitable income Events and, as the game drew to its denouement, I cleared my decks of anything extortable and kept my Roman nose ahead to take the win come War Number 4. A riotous, mean and tactical gem!
Speaking of 'riotous', it would've been rude to split up such a wonderfully mean-spirited table so soon; thus, the much anticipated Wildlife Safari bunfight was commenced:
With the looming reputation of National and European Hall-of-Famer Matt Green casting a long-and-intimidating shadow over the opening hand, a jittery starter MrShep was duped in to a double-elephant to Boffo's Spotted Rhino. Matt maintained a dignified silence - offering neither criticism nor advice - and let the round play out to its inevitable conclusion: no aggressive breakaway for him - powder being kept dry etc - but happy to be tailed by a neat one-point-apart (and already shirts-unbuttoned) Peloton. Boffo and myself began to push flanking Rhinos / Lions which left me open to a windy violation in all the excitement (for which I received an official warning); Dave was struggling to pull off his leopards, Mr Shep calmed himself with a cool 'two-pair' and Matt just kept the steady pressure on. Rounds three and four were all about consolidation (as you would expect with such a mixed pool of experience): no-one straying very far from the Feline. Fortunately, I narrowly escaped a second warning - and an automatic DQ - after clumsily domino-ing the zebras during a 'Take': VAR showed it to be a 'Let' call and I lived to fight a final, triumphant round! Tanking both "leather-skins" and hauling my own Pride over the line to beat Matt by three points! My (wholly-justified) celebrations were loud and enthusiastic: I euthanized the starting Hyena, ran around the Bar twice and punched an old lady's Pug in it's already-flat face! Matt was gracious in defeat but, I fear, he will feel the heavy loss of ranking points in the morning; Boffo has lodged an official complaint about the VAR decision and, wisely, both MrShep and Daffers wandered off nonplussed by all of the showboating.
A calming salve - and perhaps a pause from my glugging of the tasty 'Tribute' Pale Ale - was required and there's no better plaice (!) to go than the excellent Zen Piscinery of the Norwegian fjords:
Nusfjord: like coming home...if I lived in Norway.
Grabbing shares and gold pushed me along pleasingly and, by round five, I was calculating a late 30s finish; this, in a five player game using a Bas(S)e deck should be more than enough to take the spoils BUT Boffo rushed a last round 'Fill Plates' to pip me by that all-important singleton!
The next picture is mid-Mr. Face (the game, not Boffo) - an entirely daft and forgettable Dixit variant from Oink!:
- talking of which, MrShep tried to salvage the Oink! reputation with ForgotTheName:
Er...play out ladder-climbing numbers on a tile that is (one of) their factor and empty your hand. Sweet Jesu but I was wistful for the days of Nova Luna. So far, only the delicious Startups is an Oink! hit with me; everything else has been a very small poo in a very small box.
All games paused for the collection and consumption of an enormous takeout curry: 30+ people choffing heartily in the Boydell kitchen - standing (and belly-busting) room only! The walk back to the King's Arms for alcoholic top-ups and play resumption was somewhat slower thanks to the surfeit of vittals; everyone made it back, though, so it seemed the perfect time to break out A Study in Emerald:
It was a cautious episode with precious few attempts to out-control cards/cities except from Matt and myself who - by dint of trying to do ANYTHING immediately ID-ed ourselves as loathsome Restorationists! Colin's 'Shhhh! don't say anything' ready-to-cash-in control of a quivering Shoggoth caught me with my plus-fours down in Paris and I was horribly murdered, taking the last vestiges of human resistance with me! Matt would spend the rest of the weekend blaming himself for this appalling failure (and rightly so!) but my departed spirit - if it hasn't been consumed by a foul, inter-dimensional Star-Squid - eagerly awaits reincarnation to take the fight up once more!
Life and Games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Dad, Husband and Independent UK Game Designer.
19 Nov 2019
- [+] Dice rolls