Thursday, 28 February 2013

More Stats ?

Want to know what's been played down the pub the most in the last 8 months or so ? Look no further !

Games that have been played only once have not been included.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Dice Rule OK

A quiet six for the evening at the Ribs.

And two, count them, two dice games, to one non dice game. Take that finally balanced Euros !

Ewan having played and enjoyed Blood Bowl : Team Manager last week decided to go out and purchase it, and brought it along to the pub this week. This served as my excuse to finally get round to playing it, so myself Ewan and Sam got down to the business of a brawl with a ball.

Sam selected the punchy Dwarves, Ewan went for the equally smashy Chaos, and so feeling obliged to bring a little bit of finesse to the game I turned down Orcs and went for Wood Elves - not without a bit of trepidation, as anyone who knows Blood Bowl will know that the Wood Elves can be a tricky bunch of pansies skilled athletes to get the most out of.

I enjoyed the game a lot, despite my Wood Elves being fairly true to form and getting owned left, right and centre. It seems there is a bit of a technique with the Elves ( figures ) , where you probably want to get your hands on as many Star Players as quickly as possible. Struggling to win any matches and not particularly targeting Stars ( I got a single Star Player in the entire game ) , it was an uphill struggle.

Ewan and Sam were left to duke it out in a contest of no finesse and all violence. Ewans Chaos team loved a bit of violence however and were rewarded fans each time something nasty happened. Sam's Dwarves were formidable, but it has to be said some of the players seemed to lack enthusiasm for the game. One particular troll slayer managing to fail three dice rolls in succession. You're Fired !

Cheating went on aplenty from the two more cheaty teams, but alas, the refs were blind, and very few sendings off occurred - again to the detriment of the entirely above board Elves.

Final tally was close, only two points in it between Sam and Ewan, in the region of the mid fourties the Elves... eh... better not to mention them.

Cool game, really captures Blood Bowl nicely, it feels like there is a lot more you could do around this kind of Blood Bowl themed multiplayer game style. Which to me is always a good sign.

Sam stuck Small World on the table next for us as it was still fairly early. We didn't quite get to finish it but agreed on a finishing turn, and in the end my bunch of declining reprobates won. Can't say I have played Small World with three players before - it gets to be played on the small map, but I think personally speaking this is probably a reasonably decent sweet spot for the game. More players can suffer from as Pete says - a popularity contest. It's easy to get a thorough kicking in Small World.

Pete, Jerry and Stu elected to play Eclipse, although Stu didn't seem entirely up for Galactic conquest. However this turned out to be nothing more than a deft ruse, as Galactic Emperor Stu stormed to a mid game lead that frankly looked unbeatable. Stu with Teched up dreadnoughts sitting at Galactic centre, Pete with literally *nothing* in his empire and an average economy of a few planets, and Jerry tucked up in the corner nursing some cruisers, it all looked good for Stu. In fact it looked like there could be another Humiliation Event, with the possibility of undefended Pete being wiped out by the neutron bomb wielding might of Emperor Stu.

The game didn't go that way however, Stu entirely of his own volition managed to vacate Galactic Centre to send his forces on vacation somewhere, Pete escaped the fate of the meek by some pinning and building ( although I am not sure how he pulled this off as he was in a hole of limited resources and no ships ), and Jerry managed to almost max out his tech. Finally tally was closer than it looked, but Emperor Stu was still the victor, his late game vacationing not costing him the game - when you are that far into the lead, you can kick back a bit eh ?

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Bring the Pain

It matters not who won or lost, but how you caused the pain. The unofficial motto of Blood Bowl, for this week Andy put in a rare appearance to bring along Blood Bowl : Team Manager - a game I have heard good things about but haven't had chance to play.

Blood Bowl Manager... at a lull in the action
Ten people turned up this week, and it was left to Andy, Bondy, Ewan and newcomer Catherine to settle their differences over the brutal field of play.

Showing the boys how to do things, Catherine romped to an impressive win, her ecstatic 46 fans out-cheering and out-hooliganing everyone else, with Ewan managing second some 15 or so points behind.

Core worlds was played on table 2, Dean, Jerry and Matt taking on the deck building game to create the most impressive new space empire. I didn't take much notice of this - my bad. I can't even tell you who won !

Core worlds - snooping at Jerry's cards
I have become somewhat wary of card building games and by default - fairly or not - I will probably choose something else to play. However in this case the Core Worlds theme is something I find interesting, a bit of clashing space empire goodness puts me in Starship Trooper and Stellar Conquest frame of mind. If it comes up again I will probably take a punt at it - although to be fair, this week, I think Blood Bowl Manager would probably have been my top choice.

Merchant of Venus hit table three. Sam, Pete and myself learning the trade routes of the sector. The sector shaped up into a tricky trading zone, there werent a great many optimised trade routes, but Pete managed to get off to a great start and ply the Western borders of space to great effect - setting up an impressive chain of Pete-Mart space stations.

Merchant of Venus, the forgetful yet highly
profitable Pete-Express at work
But not all was rosey in the business empire of Pete. Whoever he had employed as his deck manager was appalling - arriving at planets only to find cargo had forgotten to be sold at the previous planet, passengers picked up, dropped off, then cancelled and returned to their origin seemed to be the order of the day. The poor Diva passenger must have been offered passage with Pete-Express a dozen times, loaded, off-loaded, delayed, diverted, before eventually being taken to where she wanted to go. If she wasn't a bad tempered Diva before hand, after Pete-Express she probably was.

Nevertheless despite Sam hauling some impressively high cash loads towards the end of the game, Pete-Express stormed to a massive win with some 2,600 odd credits, myself and Sam not even making it past 2,000. I managed to be the most famous of the entrepeneurs, but in the end this did little to combat the vast retail empire that Pete had put in place.

Cool game, there is definitely a random number generator at work in Merchant of Venus that maybe some players would find board throwingly infuriating, but I find it's quite cool. It's an old school throwback, and the enjoyment comes from analysing the always different shipping routes, flying your ship around, choosing what to concentrate on, and watching the possible misfortune of your fellow players.

Friday, 15 February 2013

There was a man who went to Venus...

“Will you be pulling out your Merchant of Venus and slapping it on the table?” Dean enquired. That was all I was going to write this week, but John has been spilling the entire contents of his brain on to the blog over the past few months and a one line innuendo just won’t cut it today.
There were ten of us. No intrepid travellers from far off climes decided to visit this week, so we were left to endure the company of people we already knew.

John did indeed slap his Venus on the table. He’d been threatening to do it for a while and the encouragement from Dean was all he needed.  Rich was impressed and joined them for travelling through the galaxy buying and selling to alien worlds in hope of earning a buck.  This is the second edition of Merchant of Venus, the first being published by Avalon Hill back in 1988. The blurb on Board Game Geek says that this revision "remains true to its magnificently campy core while updating the map and game components and expanding game play in surprising ways that will cause even the most hardcore fan to celebrate." Campy hardcore! It also notes that in true Fantasy Flight tradition the player count has been lowered from six to four. No doubt so that a five player expansion can be released at a later date in order to delight (squeeze cash out of the) fans. As suspected, the intrepid three never finished the game, but they said it was good and could be played in the NoBoG timeslot with a bit more familiarity. John reckons he won.

Stu, Sam and Nicki raced through a few games of Kingdom Builder, which has seen some good table time lately. They then saved the human races in Pandemic. Before finishing the evening with some Coloretto. A victory for each of them and a combined victory to boot - this would have stood them in good stead if Crocker’s victory league table had survived the formative years of NoBoG. As it is, nobody really cares who wins.

Finally we come to Tzolk’in the fancy gear turning Mayan worker placement game. The tribes of Bond, Ewan, Pete and Tom competed for the prestigious prize of having the most victory points at the end of a complete rotation of the central cog. This was my first experience of Tzolk’in and it was one that I greatly enjoyed. On the face of it there is nothing new, other than the gears, which are an inspired way of speeding up the upkeep between rounds. The gears also allow the progression of time to become an easily trackable and usable factor and the actions of your workers get better as they age. I also like that having more workers isn’t an obviously good thing as it becomes prohibitively expensive to use the full complement. The rest of the game is decent, though familiar worker placement fare, with feeding workers, progressing along tracks and building engines to do actions more efficiently. One thing it did lack was the Mayans love of fiendish booby-traps (everyone knows ancient civilisations loved to foil tomb robbers and adventuring archaeologists with ingenious death-dealing devices?) I felt slightly disappointed that every time the gears were turned a random worker didn’t disappear to his doom through a hole in the board. Surely that should have been included? Anyway, I’ll certainly be back for more, but if you hate worker placements the novelty of the gears won’t distract you enough from the grind of optimisation.  Pete won with a building strategy – pipping my crystal skull and god track exploits by two points. I am enraged! Who said nobody cares who wins?

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Rise and Fall of Fortune

An epic four tables of goodness this Tuesday, with a veritable smorgasbord of games on offer.

Hawaii followed by Tichu was the order of the day for Jimmy, Nicky, Dean and Matt, whilst elsewhere a quick game of Kingdom Builder was belted out in the same time that it took Pete to setup and do a rules session for Terra Mystica.

Tez and Jerry newcomers all the way from Alaska turned up just as Kingdom Builder was finishing and with a bit of a reshuffle, Rich joined Jerry for some Twilight Struggle action, and Tez waded into a repeat of Kingdom Builder.
Pete and his Degenerate Halflings in Terra Mystica

Sam learned the finer points of Terra Mystica with myself and Pete, and despite me for once hitting just about everything and having decent optimisation, Pete romped to a win with a "degenerate strategy" he had picked up from board game geek. Earning a huge haul of points in the last round - 39 from digging - tested a theory posited on the geek that the digging victory points and the halflings digging points bonus caused the game to break. To put things into perspective, the differential of points between first and last place in a 3 player game for end of game VPs is 36. So, in theory you could ignore the end game scoring entirely - and just dig - the most basic action available.

I am not sure about breaking the game, but it certainly makes everything else far less meaningful - after all if you can get more points just by doing a basic action, rather than a much more complex series of actions, then, why bother ? Sure everyone can benefit from it, but a race keyed to digging - such as the halflings, will see monster benefits from it.

The designer of the game has noted that in the reprint a new rule will be added that prevents the VP for digging appearing in the final stages of the game - and thus somewhat avoiding the issue.

As for the halflings - their digging VP bonus is pretty tough to match, and its probably one of the easiest things to score from. Broken ? I would have to play it more. But it's certainly challenging playing against it.

More shuffling of players and 6 Nimmt, Hey Thats My Fish and Hansa Teutonica rounded out the evening.
A room full of gaming... and drinking.

Pete, Tom, Sam and Moritz clashed in Hansa - and when I looked at the board the setup seemed rather off. This might be explained however by the presence of - new to me - VP cards - each player having secret objectives to control a set of cities and gain a VP end score for doing so. The board had a massive number of cities occupied - the most I have ever seen in a game, with some pretty hefty city and web scores at the end - the privileges had been quite hit up ( probably to get access to all those city spots ) and everything else was less frequented.

Pete struggling to get his third action nevertheless had an early lead with a clear bag and book.

Interesting. If you read last week you will remember that Pete was of the opinion that actions, bag and book were all much of a muchness. With a clear bag and a clear book, but only 3 actions, surely here was a time to prove the theory.

Unfortunately things were disastrous for Pete, who limped into a shocking unheard of last place, with Sam taking a well scored lead - despite having maxed out blocks and getting hit with a few horrible route swaps that left him unable to really take advantage of them. Tom, the only player with five actions came in a close third. Wrapping up the action point track to milk it for points ( pretty much what I did two weeks ago and kicked ass with ) this time failed to pay off as the other players refused to bite, and left Tom not gaining much out of his action point control.

I watched the end game - it seemed strange to me. I didn't play, but I am not sure I like the influence the VP Cards seemed to have. Part of the 'charm' of Hansa for me is the fact that it's like a piece of clockwork - (almost) perfect information, with an enormous level of player interaction. The fact that the VP cards are hidden and prioritise random cities seems, eh, to 1) Lessen direct confrontation and 2) Inject imperfect information into what is an otherwise perfect information game.

Matt won Hawaii, pipping Dean who had lead for most of the game to the win, Rich barely lost the Twilight Struggle - the commies put in their place by a resurgent US but perhaps most importantly I won the two games of Hey Thats My Fish. Cross paths with my penguins at your peril.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013


For around six months of the past sessions. 

Average number of attendees is 9.83, and there are most likely to be 9 people turn up in a given week. ( 9.83 mean, 9 median and mode ).

Lowest turnout was 5 ( in the snow ), highest turnout was 17.