Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Gangs, Guns and Poo Barons


Yes. There was Cake at NoBoG this week. The generous spirited Ewan brought the bottom tier of his epic four tier birthday cake along to the Ribs for everyone to enjoy whilst playing board games and slurping their drinks. See what you are missing ? Birthday Cake !

The turnover of people at NoBoG can be quite something. Spend a year of Tuesdays down the pub playing games and you will see an amazing procession of people, some who turn into regulars, regulars that fade away, and those who turn up just the once. Blink, and you'll miss half of them.

So it is that for the time being we bid farewell to Ed#2 as he pursues a career in Other Places that are Not Norwich. Ed#2 has turned into something of a regular this last year, and it seems his lament of never winning a game at NoBoG is always going to be true.

His departure is especially a shame as this week saw Ed giving himself the deserved title of Poo Baron. Which surely has all the hallmarks of sticking as his official NoBoG name. Ed "Poo Baron" Lewis has a certain ring to it I think.

Early stages of Dungeon Petz
The Poo Baron, Owen, Ed#1 and Dean got to parade their motley collection of dungeon critters this week, feeding them, taming their rage tantrums, keeping them occupied and also trying to keep the inevitable pet poo from piling up.

Ed#1 for his part completely forgot to purchase any pets and instead seemed to go into the landscape gardening business - displaying a set of lovely show room enclosures and fields that had no animals in.

This is a pity, as Dungeon Petz is predominantly scored based on the actual animals you have.

Ed "The Poo Baron"glees over his poo in Dungeon Petz
Meanwhile the Poo Baron was doing what Poo Barons do best. Namely looking after mountainous volumes of Poo, which, much like landscape gardening, scores you no points in Dungeon Petz.

As for Owen, I couldn't see what he was doing. But he had a similar score to the Poo Baron and the Landscape gardener. So who knows. It would be hard to imagine coming up with a strategy to threaten the lacklustre capabilities of poo or empty enclosures, but Owen had it nailed.

All of which left Dean embarrassingly in front. So far in front in fact, that at one point had you combined the scores of the other three, they would still have been behind Dean. When I checked Dean was on the threshold of lapping the score track, whilst Owen, The Poo Baron and The Gardener were all dawdling in the low teens. Oh dear.

Meanwhile on other tables, Modern Art got a play, with Tim grabbing the win, before the group moved onto a spot of Kingdom Builder - a title that is surely in the spot of Most Played Game at NoBoG - with I think Tom and Paul vying for a win that went to a tie breaker.

Cash & Guns. Paul goes all gangsta with his gun
whilst Tom does his best "fuhgeddaboudit" pose.
Lastly they bust out the fun and foam gun filled Cash and Guns, always a treat, particularly if you've never experienced the stupidity of waving an orange fake gun in someones face.

Lords of Waterdeep - another popular NoBoG title - got played again, relative newcomer Andy beating all the veteran hands at the game.

Upstairs two tables had to fend with the Ribs of Beef Quiz Night. I'm not sure if the Ribs Quiz Night was some clever counter culture hipster event celebrating the absence of quizzing - so very last millennia - but whatever it was it had a turnout of precisely zero which meant undisturbed NoBoGing upstairs.

Infamy, Infamy, they've all got it....
Infamy got its first outing at the Ribs, myself, Pete, Rich and Sam vying to be the best futuristic gang in this simple but clever game of influence bidding and reputation building. The table talk was sharp and full on as Pete attempted to paint himself as ever in the guise of the plucky underdog that needs all your resources and Rich grumbled about everyone ganging up on him.

Rich ended up winning, with Pete blaming Sam of robbing him of the win.

On the other table upstairs a few people got to try out vanilla Galaxy Trucker, and in what seemed a very civilised outing to me, there were no mad scrambles for parts or mocking taunts as pieces of ship disintegrated into the ether. Having now learnt the base game, perhaps the intrepid explorers are ready for some advanced trucking another week, complete with ravenous aliens, implacable commandos and a whole fistful of crazy new components and threats.

JJ ponders his options in D-Day Dice
Skull and Roses, D Day Dice and Resistance finished off the evening in various places. The bad guys swept the floor in a hurried game of Resistance, and lawks alive, I won Skull and Roses ( I think so far I win more than I lose at Skull and Roses ).

D Day Dice looked interesting, I still want to give this a try, but alas Fletch is gone for another month - his duties take him in and out of NoBoG for weeks at a time.

Oh yes. And for those counting, there were 22 bold explorers this week.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Peter's Folly

A super 24 turned up last week for games. So what was played and who won?

Descent. Help I'm being attacked by a dog. Save me!
The second delve into our Descent campaign saw the three Riches and their Advisor Pete clash against me (as the very misunderstood overlord. I’m not evil, you see...). This week we played the second half of the Cardinal’s Plight. In the first half the plucky adventurers had done an excellent job and toasted all my minions to a crisp - giving them a nice advantage going into the second half. An advantage which they threw away. All because they listened to Pete. Foolish Riches. Sage advice included: Don’t search for the Runestone. Save me from the dogs. Don’t kill the Zombies. Block the corridor. Move the altar to the middle of the room where it looks more aesthetically pleasing despite the fact it makes it harder for us to use. In the end, they were too slow and Cardinal Koth was feasted upon by my zombies - the very thing they needed to avoid in order to win. Serves them right for killing the two dragons visiting the Library to research their ancestry. Not evil Dragons, you see.

The Village. I'll punch you all in the face if you don't let me win.
On the end table there was the longest game of the Village, ever. This may have been due to the expansion, Village Inn, slowing things up with new delights. The new expansion adds two new buildings. The first is the Brewery where you can acquire beer. The second is the Inn where you can meet influential people (in the form of cards), and you can acquire these villager cards by spending beer/coins and time. Each villager card has a unique ability that can be used once per game, giving either points and advantages during the game or additional points at the end of the game for certain achievements. There were rumours of a third building - the Nightclub, where you could have sex in the toilets without being judged, but alas, this was just Ed II’s furtive imagination. And we judged him all the same. The Village Inn also allows for a fifth player to play, which is probably why it all took so long (often the way - eye those expansions with suspicion. No extra fun to be found within, only extra long games). I have no idea who won as I have waited too long to write this. We’ll assume Tom cheated and threatened his way to victory.

There was indeed betrayal in Betrayal on House on the Hill this week. Which was comforting, as a game of Betrayal on House on the Hill without a betrayal leaves you feeling rather betrayed. WeirdFTW won this (he has a real name, but I can only remember his Twitter name at time of writing). Well, maybe he didn't, but  I know he betrayed everyone, and he looked happy it about it as well. We’ll say he won.
The Betrayer and the Betrayees.

Upstairs, Lord of Vegas was given another spin of the wheel. This time Ed’s lucky number came up. But only just, beating John on the money tiebreaker, who must have learned from his dismal display last week. Again it was claimed to be great. And even greater as they were now playing with the correct rules.

Kingdom Builder was played and won by Stu. I’m almost certain it wasn’t won by Stu, but I am almost certain it was played.

And then there was some shuffling and Frank’s Zoo got an outing. After rounds of animal matching and trumping and confusion over whose partner was whose and whether they were big or little and, I hope, a badly translated German joke about mosquitoes, and the obligatory mention that a single lion has no pride, Nicky was the very best and won.

The Resistance: Avalon got started, but was aborted. Which was a shame, as I was doing an amazing job (in my mind) of fooling the good guys into thinking I was Merlin, when I was actually Morgana. Drat.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

It's all in the Seating...

A grand nineteen at the Ribs this week, and in what will be slightly upsetting news for those regulars who were last week pressing for Resistance and were notably missing this week, Resistance got played twice.

Skip a week of NoBoG and miss all the fun !

Lords of Vegas made its debut at NoBoG, with myself, Ed#1, Rich and Lewis sitting down to determine who was the greatest pit boss of Vegas. The Tabletop channel recently posted a playthrough of this, so rather than me explain what it's about - take it away Wil Wheaton....

Our game was closely fought at first, before my crappy positioning and an inability to roll much higher than a 3 left me trailing in the arid dust of Nevada. I satisfied myself with opening what I imagined to be a small hotdog stand next to the glittering lights of one of the palaces of gambling.

Lords of Vegas. Or in our case, Three Lords
and one hot dog seller of Vegas
Rich, Ed and Lewis however continued to compete closely, with a series of decent Casinos being built right on the strip with a few sneaky takeovers being attempted.

But all proved to be in vain as an excited Lewis ( clearly being a Pit Boss is something of a life goal for him - he was so excited at one point that his capability for counting money earned in a round left him in a confusion of enthusiasm and shaky hands ) managed to dominate the strip and haul in a good score to grab the grubby title of Lord of Vegas.

A cool game all in all, a fair bit different to your usual Euro Cube Shuffler, a dose of luck involved - of course it is Vegas after all... but nice. And some good interplay available between players. Taunting others to go large or go home is just a bonus.

Whilst our dubious efforts were squeezing money out of profligate rich and desperate poor alike, over on table two the venerable Puerto Rico was dusted off to three newbies and two seasoned hands.

Now, if you've ever played Puerto Rico, or heard about Puerto Rico, you might recall there's something about where you sit when there are newbies at the table. Sit to the left of the newbie, the wisdom goes, and you are in for an easy game. 

All three Puerto Rico beginners sat together. And Rich - noted Puerto Rico veteran - sat to the left of them. I observed out loud that he had picked the winning seat.

There are many who say that Puerto Rico is one of the finest Euro games to be had. I personally however am no fan of it, I find it to be an overhyped game that has long since shown its age. It has some cool mechanics, a bunch of 'flaws' that can make a game miserable for a player in the wrong seat, and a tendency to have a problem with seating bias overall. I'd play Agricola instead.

In any case, a fine evening of slave exploitation (!) and new world colony building was had...... and Rich won.

Bah ha ha.

 In a splendiferous evening of Riches, Richard the Fourth, or is that lovely Rich, I can't keep tabs on the Society of Riches, tromped forth to a stunning win in Lords of Waterdeep, piling on the points to humiliate all others at the table. This provides us with some rock solid 'take it to the bank' statistics that if your name is Richard, you have at least a 50% chance of winning the game you are playing.

Hmm. Did that sound Gambly ? I think Lords of Vegas has done something to me...

Meanwhile upstairs, Lost Legends was being played, a fantasy deck builder which sees your hero gearing up to defeat monsters and win Legen - wait for it - d Points. 
Ed does his best 1970's family game cover art pose,
gleeful of his upcoming win that never happened.

I managed to take a snap of an eager Ed looking forward to his "first NoBoG win" ever.

Everyone at the table fancied him to be in the lead and the probable winner by game end, which of course absolutely guaranteed that Ed would in fact not be the winner.

The wily Dean beat him to it.

Never count your Dwarven Hero Adventurers before they have hatched.

Finally, everyone jumbled up and joined in a game of Resistance and Libertalia. Much piratical thunking was going on over Libertalia and unfortunately we didn't come to a proper finish. Our short finish revealed me to be the Pirate King. It's rough, but I'll take it.

As for Resistance, it seems in the weeks of non appearance, the good guys have left their posts, stepped down from their watchful vigilance, and generally skulked off for a pint, as the Bad Guys put everyone to the sword ... twice.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Ananda Gupta Interview

NoBoGer Dean recently got an opportunity to interview Ananda Gupta and has posted the chat over on the Ready Up website.

Ananda Gupta is one of the guys behind Twilight Struggle, which if you've ever seen the boardgamegeek top game list, is always at the top of the list or around there.

Not only that he is also one of the shadowy hands behind the recent reboot of the X-COM video game franchise that sees you defending the Earth from evil abducting alien types.

See what they chatted about - board games, video games, and the ever approaching clash and meld between worlds - right here.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Splits, Venues and International Table Top Day

Greetings NoBoGers, the blog is back after a week away. Blame the disruption on unscrupulous invading powers trying to wrest NoBoG sovereignty away, or possibly government hackers spying on the webcam feeds.

International Table Top Day

It's been raised again whether the combined irregular chaotic membership of NoBoG are planning to do anything on International Table Top Day. If you're asking yourself "What the Hell is International Table Top Day ?" I'll save you typing it into Google - click here . Suffice to say it's a day... that's promoted...  to go forth and play table top games, and be inviting to unsuspecting members of the public. And this year it's on Saturday 5th April.

Potentially the day could be a good excuse to play some longer games that don't fit in of an evening, and also might interest new local players that have not yet heard of the delights of NoBoG, however the day falls on a Home match for Norwich City F.C. with all the traffic and difficulties that entails.

Any interest in this, then post a comment on the blog, twitter, or have a chat down the pub about it.

Last Week - Split Venue

Last week with a potential quiz night at the Ribs conflicting with our numbers, we split into two groups - one staying at the Ribs and one taking a short walk down the road to Take 5. Those who remained at the Ribs got to play Seasons, Kemet and Ticket to Ride Europe and King of Tokyo whilst those down the Road played a couple of games of Trains, and a couple of games of Mice and Mystics.

So given the potential of Take 5 to replace the Ribs as the default venue of NoBoG how did the place stack up ?

On the plus side, Take 5 had a nice atmosphere and friendly staff - some nice large tables on the ground floor, and a whole heap of space upstairs - twice as large as the Wherry Room at the Ribs, meaning that everyone could get into one room.
Bondy gives his best Royal Wave upstairs at Take 5

The kitchen was open, serving food, and also a range of cakes and other things were on offer, providing a bit more of a rounded experience than an evening at the Ribs. Rich managed to eat his body weight in cakes as he seemed determine to try one of everything before the evening finished.

 On the negative side, tables were in short supply -

Even though only 7 of us ended up at Take 5, we managed to take up every bit of table space available upstairs. Lots of room. Bugger all tables.

And it was expensive.

And closed early. Half past ten early.

On the whole the opinion seemed to be somewhat negative for Take 5 - nice place, good space, but the lack of tables is a killer, and the higher prices didn't help. Personally I rather liked the place and wonder whether there might be an opportunity to talk with the landlord about getting some extra tables - even fold up tables. When we went in there the place was empty - 3 or so people, and by the time we left, there was but a single person. I would think the prospect of having 20 or so people in the pub on a Tuesday would be Good For Business, and that maybe providing a few tables would be inconsequential if it got you steady business. But I wouldn't know and as no one else seemed that taken by it, perhaps not even worth pursuing.

As it stands at the moment Take 5 is fine for an overflow destination when it needs to be, but as a replacement venue it just doesn't have the table space.

This Week

An interesting range of games were on offer this week, some shiny new things, old things that were new for NoBoG and some old things that had hardly been seen at NoBoG at all.

Bondy brought Descent 2 along - it's been a year since he last brought it down, and that was quickly subscribed ( and over subscribed ) to by all the Richards plus Pete. According to Mr Bond The Riches have been identified as Punk Rich, Lovely Rich and Richard the IV. As to which one is which... I'm also sure there is a Dick/Table joke in there somewhere too.

Bondy played the Overlord for Descent, and managed to squeeze in a couple of scenarios against the Alliance of Riches Plus Pete. However, despite Pete putting some dubious magical skills into play - in somewhat of a repeat of last week when it was speculated his wizard was no such thing and was actually just a mental patient running around shouting Blazaam at things to no real effect - Bondy failed to hurt the intrepid adventurers, succumbing to a blast of Pete Magic that actually worked, and some Beserker brutality by one of the Richards.

As Bondy comforted his wounded pride at game end, he positively reflected on the fact that Pete was hurt and diseased, and surely would be an easy target for the next scenario to be played on another day...

New and shiny dexterity game Rampage ( named as a homage to the very cool, old 80s arcade game of the same name ? ) got taken upstairs, where Dean whipped his unrealising workers into assembling the Movie Monster City Trashing game before proceeding to balance, throw and breathe/spit all over the components. This was not however some drunken or rage fuelled Euro game gone wrong, but part of the unique charms of the game that sees you balancing things, flicking things and even using 'breath weapons'. The game is a visual feast of 3D pretty things and funny gameplay and definitely one to watch. However, its suitability for the worlds most cramped table space in a subdued darkened pub where bits can and do jump off the table is open to debate. Also not a great game to play if someone has the flu - where using your breath weapon and breathing over the components brings a whole new long term infectious strategy to the game play. Those of a squeamish nature or weak immune system may like to walk away, or don a Japanese style germ mask.

On a nearby not quite so cramped table, Castles of Burgundy played out to a nail biting finish, with Stu and Nicky ending up in a tie breaker situation, beating out also rans, Paul and Tom.

For more new and shiny, Sam turned up with his new recently shipped Kickstarter affair Galaxy Defenders. A simple area based co-operative tactical combat game, players get to fight through a number of scenarios versus a programmed alien AI. Everyone seemed to enjoy this, and it will be good to see this again for another bash.

Five player Caverna played out on the last table - with two complete beginners ( no experience of Agricola either ), two that had played it once, and myself, veteran of many a game.

Not surprisingly I managed to romp to a strong win, with Clive putting in a good show with a heavy weapon strategy, and the beginners just struggling to understand how everything slotted together. Enjoyable game, but the static setup is beginning to bother me more and more.

Mascarade got a quick outing at the end of the evening - beating out a suggestion of Resistance play, however, there are rumblings about Resistance not having been played in *weeks* ( the outrage ! ) and that perhaps next week and entire evening could be devoted to it. Madness surely, but it seems Resistance is missed.

People. 19 last week - and the Ribs managed to attract no one to their quiz night, meaning our shuffling shenanigans weren't actually required. 21 this week.