The Games We Play

The Games We Play

A repository of reports on the Wednesday night sessions of the club and anything else related to the club or boardgaming in general, which may be of interest to anyone who may be passing by.

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Session Summary - 30 May 2007

Just the three of us tonight. In the absence of Mike & Steve, I thought it might be like this so I dug out a game that I thought Ben might enjoy and I think he did.

Cosmic Encounter 45 mins
Dave C1
Dave D2=
Cosmic Encounter 25 mins
Dave C1
Dave D2=
Cosmic Encounter 35 mins
Dave C1
Dave D2=

Three games and Dave won all three. We played a fairly basic version including all non-lucre powers and the kickers, but no flares, moons, lucre, special star systems and what have you.

First Game Dave C - Miser, Ben - Vacuum, Dave D - Delegator
Second Game Dave C - Dictator, Ben - Zombie, Dave D - Pacifist
Third Game Dave C - Terrorist, Ben - Healer, Dave D - Trader.

Not a lot to say about the games, which were fun but more players would have been better. I did think that maybe this was a game of a more innocent time, I can't really see that the Terrorist power would have been included if the game were published today.

That's all really except to say I've updated the stats pages for May and the full details for 2004 are now there. Also to mention Games Expo at the weekend. I shall be there at least Saturday and Sunday as well if Saturday is OK. Mike is planning to be there all weekend having entered loads of tournaments. Dave and Ben are planning to be there on Saturday as Ben is hoping to enter the Memoir '44 tournament. I expect to see others as well. Maybe people will post some reports of what they got up to.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Session Summary - 23 May 2007

5 this week including Ben and welcoming back Richard for the first time in a while. The games:

Power Grid 75 mins
Steve H117
Dave D215
Richard B314

This played on the Benelux board, with the 3 central regions containing all the cheap connection costs. Steve got the first in the turn order and bought the number 3 oil plant, I think we let him have it for 6 which seems a good deal, since on this board it is Oil rather than Coal that is initially cheaper and it is the lowest numbered plant allowing him to be first to build. I got the number 4 coal while Richard took the number 5 hybrid. Steve started his network in the middle of the board, while I took the north part with the really low connection costs and Richard took the west.

In this version of the game, the lowest power plant is removed every turn and I would have expected this to impact on the mid game stall, may be eliminating it, this did not seem to be the case, however, as the market seemed to fill with nuclear plants, which considering the maximum refresh rate for uranium is only 1 for 3 players, did not seem very good deals, the gaps seemed to be filled with a few trash (which also has a low early refresh) and wind plants, it was as if some one had decided that oil and coal were bad right from the start. So we built up capacity slowly and the wait for step 2 allowed us to build up money.

Step 2 coincided with the arrival of a couple of decent coal plants (20 & 25), but only lasted one round before step 3 hit before 20 was bid on. As a result of this 20 never got bought as other better plants became available. The game finished quickly now and Steve's central board position was an advantage as he could go in either direction to find available 15 spaces, while Richard and I only had the initial choice of Steve's original area, also Steve, at this point, had the cheap northern connections available and he ended up a comfortable winner.

For some reason I always end up reflecting on what I should have done differently when I play this game (even when I win).

As expected the choice of board gave us a shorter than normal game of Power Grid so there was time for

Industrial Waste 50 mins
Richard B156
Dave D255
Steve H332

Steve is almost always an advocate of a green strategy and whenever he departs from this, things seem to go horribly wrong. In this case he went for reducing the workforce early on and allowed his waste produced to go up into the yellow section and even once into the red. Of course he got hit by 2 accidents resulting in his needing to take a loan to cover the costs and when he repaid the first loan he was soon required to take another.

I tend to reduce my raw material requirement early with the idea to control waste by using cards, but there seemed to be a bit of a shortage of such cards this game (they tended to turn as duplicates and get discarded) and I had to change strategy part way through to reduce waste production, I had to take a loan at this point to pay for the innovation necessary as the order I was about to produce would otherwise take me into the yellow zone when an accident was certain the following turn as the card deck was almost exhausted. I was able to recover from this later repaying the loan.

Richard had quietly gone along adopting a combined waste/raw materials plan as well as regularly advancing his factory, so it was that he was the one to trigger the end of the game. No one was affected by the end game accident and although I was slightly ahead on innovation I lagged behind on factory growth and this together with a slight advantage in money gave Richard the win in a close game. Steve had been forced to take a second loan and lagged some way behind.

Dave and Ben meanwhile were playing

Blackbeard 145 mins
Dave C20

This is a game that I remember spending many an hour on on Saturdays in the old days, the pirates battling it out this evening were:

John Taylor (Ben) - Sunk.
Edward Teach (Ben) - 15 points.
Francis L'olonais (Dave) - Marooned following a mutiny
Emmanuel Wynne (Dave) - Retired penniless
Henry Avery (Dave) - Sunk

Until next week.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Session Summary - 16 May 2007

We had 8 people, including Ben this week, more than we've had for ages, we actually made a profit. This is much more like it.

We spread across 3 tables and played games.

Notre Dame - 100 Mins.
2Dave D47

This is a game I picked up when in Burton at the weekend. The game has had a lot of Buzz and I was eager to give it a try, unfortunately despite having read the rules and there aren't exactly a lot of them, I forgot about one very important one and this impacted Matt very heavily (I only realised what I'd done while lying in bed later).

In the game you control one of the boroughs adjacent to Notre Dame Cathedral in the 14th century and compete to gain the most prestige, while at the same time controlling the rats which will cause the plague and do you serious damage if allowed to go unchecked too often. There are reckoned to be multiple paths to victory and we each tried a different method in the first period, I went for some early influence in the Park which would give a constant prestige bonus throughout the game, Gordon went with moving his carriage to pick up messages and picked up gold, while Matt put 2 influence into Notre Dame and made big donations to get prestige that way, I also put a block into Notre Dame to share the influence with Matt.

It was at this point that the problem arose. Both Matt & I had managed to use all the influence blocks from supply and also run out of gold, so going into the 2nd period could not put any influence onto the board to get more blocks into supply and/or earn more gold. I was fortunate enough to draw my Trusted friend card in the first round and therefore get influence by moving him to the Cloister school to get things moving again, Matt was not so lucky, not drawing his friend until the last of the 3 rounds (and I didn't pass him one) meaning he could do nothing for 2 rounds during which time the rats were uncontrolled and not only did he gain no prestige he also could not get more influence on the board. Essentially his game was lost at that point. After the event I remembered the rule that says that if you have no influence in your supply you can move blocks from one sector on the board to another and activate the sectors that way. If this had been known then Matt could have got some more influence and/or gold and stayed in the game.

In the final part of the game, Gordon & I raced ahead and it was a close finish, he was forever on the edge with the rat track while I kept mine well under control, may be too well as if I had spent influence elsewhere I may be could have picked up a bit more prestige. After the game all said that they would play again and I think it will take a few plays to work out what we're doing. Matt was understandably a bit scathing about the situation of a simple early mistake essentially putting you so badly out of the game, but this should not happen again. Probably, neither Gordon nor Matt will be aware of the bad mistake in explaining the rules until they read this.

After Notre Dame there was time for

San Juan - 35 Mins.
3Dave D23

This is the clubs most played game in terms of games played and we are all well versed in the rules. In this 3 player game I don't think the Producer or Trader were used until about half was through as all went for the violet buildings. I was most disappointed by the fact that the gold mine I built on the first builder phase produced no return whatsoever, especially when the one that Gordon built late on did. The game was a low scoring game going to Gordon, I just missed being able to get a Guild Hall down which would have given me 2nd.

On the other table:

Pillars of the Earth, The - 110 Mins.
1Steve H53
3Steve P46

We seem to have been into Cathedrals this evening, this one is about the building of one in the fictional town of Kingsbridge. This is another game that has a lot of good press despite being licenced from a Ken Follet novel. Steve H has said he will report on play.

Formula Motor Racing - 15 Mins.
2Steve H5
3Steve P3

This is a game that I own but don't particularly like, being somewhat of a motor racing fan (maybe not as much as I once was) I find this simple card game just does not do the subject justice being a prime example of a mediocre Knizia with pasted on theme.

Meanwhile on the third table Ben was beating his Dad at

Memoir '44 - 25 Mins.
1Ben C6
2Dave C0

This was Omaha, Ben was the Axis, Dave the allies

Memoir '44 - 30 Mins.
1Ben C8
2Dave C3

This was Suomassalini (is that right?), Ben was the Russians, Dave the Finns

Memoir '44 - 45 Mins.
1Ben C5
2Dave C2

This was Knightsbridge. My knowledge of WWII, particularly on land is somewhat lacking, but this gives me visions of the Battle of Harrods. Ben was the Axis, Dave the British (apparently we were supposed to win this one) .

Dave has said he will fill in more details.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Beer & Pretzels (Burton 12 May 2007)

Mike & I met up at New Street station for this annual day out (actually 2 days, but we only went on day 1) and while sitting on the train waiting to pull away we were joined by Richard (Biddle).

On arriving at the town hall we met up with Nick Kinzet in whose company we were to spend most of the day. Of all the conventions that happen during the year, I regard this one in particular as a chance to play different games, to try something new and therefore I may play things which I might otherwise shy away from (I don't carry this too far though, Antike for example is still a no-no), so it was that we started out with The World Cup game with the designer, Shaun, and some others.

I have been told on several occasions that you don't need to like Football to like the game, but I think it would help, I found it OK but lasting too long. If I had been a Football fan, I may have been able to get into the spirit of it more and ended up liking it.

In the game each player has a selection of teams and the matches of the competition are then resolved by playing cards (it actually reminded me a bit of Wembley, which I played a bit many years ago, but that was based on the F.A. Cup and used dice instead of cards).

I had Brazil & U.S.A amongst my teams and concentrated on them in the group stage getting them through to the knock outs (my other teams France, Saudi Arabia and South Africa didn't really turn up). In the last 16 I concentrated on Brazil and they got to the semi-finals, while U.S.A. lost to Mexico.

In the quarter final, I was able to beat Uruguay, but in so doing I was forced to use up my best cards and lost to Costa Rica in the semis and then to Mexico in the 3rd Place play off, so it was that in this strange World Cup, South Korea emerged victorious, beating Costa Rica in the final.

The closing stages were as follows:

Quarter Finals
Uruguay 1 Brazil 3
Paraguay 2 Mexico 2 (Mexico won 4-3 on penalties)
Republic of Ireland 2 South Korea 4
Denmark 0 Costa Rica 0 (Costa Rica won 4-2 on penalties)

Semi Finals
Brazil 1 Costa Rica 3
South Korea 6 Mexico 4

3rd. Place Play Off
Brazil 1 Mexico 3

Costa Rica 1 South Korea 2

After that had finished, we split into 2 groups and each played Ark, a strange game where you are responsible for saving various species of animal by accommodating them on the Ark before the flood comes. Our group consisted of Nick, who taught the game, Mike, Richard and I. There are various rules about how you accommodate the different species. Carnivores cannot go with animals the same size or smaller because they would eat them, herbivores can't go with food, because they would eat it, shy animals can't go with or next to any carnivore and omnivores are just a pain because they have the problems of both herbivores and carnivores. Add this to the fact that you need to spread the weight about equally on either side of the ark so it doesn't keel over and you can have great difficulty finding a way to place you animals.

Points are scored like an area majority game, with the person who saves the most animal of one of the 5 types (Useful, Shy, Heavy, Slow and Food) getting 10 points with 6 for second and 2 for any one else who saves at least one of a type). I quite enjoyed the game, it was maybe a bit long but I'm sure this would drop with repeated playing. Mike who had a terrible time with his placements wasn't so sure.

Dave 34, Nick 27, Richard 27, Mike 25

It was now time for a break and I went out to grab something to eat and also for a trip to Spirit Games where I picked up Notre Dame, which I'll be bringing next Wednesday. When I returned, Richard, Mike & Nick had started a game of On the Underground. It sometimes seems that this game always hits the table when I'm not looking, which is a shame. I didn't record scores for this and don't recall who won despite watching the end, maybe Mike or Richard could fill us in.

I went to the bar and then joined Shaun and Andy for a game of Carcasonne, which I have not played for years. I know this isn't a long game, but it still seems too long for what it is and I remain amazed at the whole new industry that seems to have developed around it. Anyway I didn't come last, scores were:

Shaun 104, Dave 75, Andy 62

When we finished, the Underground game was also near an end and I rejoined the other group to play Flying Carpet, an interesting game involving navigating the eponymous carpet in a race to take off from one roof and fly over a number of building before landing on another roof at the other end of the board. Movement is in a horizontal and vertical direction and controlled by the play of cards, at higher levels you can also be blown 1 or 2 spaces by the wind. If you land on someone you can either cause them to miss their next turn or cause them to plummet to the ground or roof below. An element of absolute chaos is introduced by carpets landing on starred squares meaning a die is thrown with various effects. Apparently the advanced game takes this element out, which would certainly allow for more tactical play, but the game is quite light and fun as it stands and it may be that this would disappear with the stars taken out.

I finished first in a close race ahead of Nick, Richard, Mike and Steve (in no particular order).

Next was Oasis, a game I own but had only played once, getting absolutely thrashed. I said I would give it another try, but had not done so until now. I was not so soundly thrashed this time, although I was still last, and I have to say that I did not enjoy the game that much. The problem to me is that you are not allowed to look at the cards you use to make offers introducing a random element I don't like. I wonder if the game would be improved by allowing you to look at your cards to choose your offer, although the opposite view is that this would cause Analysis Paralysis and this may well be correct. In line with my usual attitude that it is usually better not to try to fix games I don't like but just not to play, I don't expect to be playing this again soon.


Steve 98, Mike 90, Nick 68, Richard 64, Dave 58

Finally it was Space Beans, which I also own and has been played at the club in the distant past (before records began), I didn't realise Mike enjoyed this, but will start putting it in the pocket of my bag as it is a good little filler. No more details but the scores were

Steve 35, Nick 26, Dave 24, Richard 24, Mike 20.

After this Mike and I left to catch a train, Richard remained. Thanks to all we played with, it was a good day.

Session Summary - 9 May 2007

Knowing that Mike and Steve would be absent, I got in touch with Dave before hand and he brought Ben along, with the intention of playing Runebound.

As it turned out this was a very one sided game. An event turned up right at the beginning putting cards face down in 3 of the towns. Whoever first visited the town would be able to take the cards free. I managed to visit the centre town first and then as the others had headed north I quickly went south to the town there. The result was that I picked up 2 value 10 items for nothing and was set up from then on, one item was a nice sword, which would usually allow me to take out most of the low level encounters and many higher ones before combat was begun and the other was a staff allowing me to heal all wounds and fatigue at the beginning of the turn so I never need to spend gold on healing. When the other town was visited, the free card was a cheap one.

This all set the tone for the game and I was able to win easily while the other laboured trying to deal with the lesser encounters. We did run into a few puzzles over effect timing later on due to the things introduced in the games FAQ on subject that I would not have thought to ask a question, but the questions were asked and the answers were different to what I would have thought. This maybe delayed my victory by a short while.

Until next week.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Session Summary - 2 May 2007

Back to 3 this week, with Mike and Steve and no Dave C.

The games played.

Canal Mania 120 mins
Dave D185
Steve H277

This was one of my favourite games of last year and I wanted to give it another try in it's first edition form before I get the 2nd. edition upgrade, due next month. I have been trying for some time but this was the first opportunity of the year. Mike had played before and this was Steve's first play.
I started having drawn engineer 2 (Smeaton), but in defiance of a rule that I only noticed after it was pointed out by someone else, I declined to play red. I chose the Worcester and Birmingham, while Mike went with the Macclesfield Canal. Steve took the quick option of the River Severn Navigation. Having done this Mike and I realised the small difficulty that there were no cards available for difficult terrain and no surveyors (it turned out that the way the deck was stacked, no tunnel cards turned up until we got to about the last quarter of the deck), so in our following turns we picked up The Coventry Canal and The Bridgewater Canal respectively allowing us to start building and get some goods moving while Steve built his initial contract.

The following turn the pattern of the game was set, when I discarded the available build cards and drew 3 surveyors, which with Smeaton allowed the completion of the Worcester and Birmingham giving me a 4 point link in advance of the others, this and the fact that goods were plentiful early on gave me a good lead in the early play which I never lost. Mike was able to make a 5 point link at the end with the Llangollen Canal, but was only able to transport one good, which I'd dumped in Llangollen at the beginning. No contracts (such as the Shropshire Union) came up to link the Northern & Southern canal networks.

When I passed the 60 point game end trigger it was a case of finishing off what could be finished and also Mike made a token start on the Leeds and Liverpool getting an extra point for the one lock from Leeds. Final Goods deliveries were fairly even and second place was decided between Steve and Mike (who had been running neck and neck for most of the game) when they tied for the most prolific constructor and Steve won the contract value tie break.

After the game Mike professed himself still not convinced, I see why that is, but to me this is still a great game and I look forward to the 2nd. edition, which looks as if it will be better still.

The record of Canals completed (not necessarily in chronological order):

Dave D
  • The Worcester & Birmingham Canal (Worcester to Birmingham (via Coventry and Stratford))
  • The Coventry Canal (Coventry to Burton (via Leicester))
  • The Bridgewater & Taunton Canal
  • The Grand Union Canal (Birmingham to Northampton (via Coventry))
  • The Kennet & Avon Canal (Bristol to Reading via Bath)
  • The Huddersfield Narrow Canal (Manchester to Huddersfield)

  • The Bridgewater Canal (Manchester to Liverpool (via Chester))
  • The Macclesfield Canal (Manchester to Stoke)
  • The Thames & Severn Canal (Oxford to Gloucester)
  • The Ripon Canal (Ripon to York)
  • The Avon & Gloucester Navigation (Stratford to Gloucester (via Worcester))
  • The Wey & Arun Canal (Weybridge to Arundel via Guildford)
  • The Llangollen Canal (Llangollen to Stoke)

  • The River Severn Navigation (Worcester to Gloucester)
  • The Grand Union Canal (Nottingham to Northampton via Leicester)
  • The Medway Navigation (Tonbridge to Maidstone)
  • The Thames Navigation (Oxford to London via Reading (also via Weybridge))
  • The Fossdyke Navigation (Lincoln to Boston)
  • The Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation (Sheffield to Goole)
  • The Lancaster Canal (Lancaster to Preston)

Final Position below.

Following that there was just time for

San Juan 35 mins
Steve H229+
Dave D329

This was a low scoring game, Mike won using a fairly straight production strategy with the Guild Hall and a few violets with City Hall, Steve essentially did the same, but ended up with fewer buildings. I searched in vain for City Hall with the Councillor but had to settle for a set of monuments and Triumphal Arch. With perfect hindsight , It would have been better to forego the Councillor some times and done something else. Perhaps I might have been able to get the Palace out that way.

Until next week.