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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Transitive Determination


When I turned up Cult was pretty empty. It looked like the freshers hadn't arrived yet. We had about fifteen people turn up, enough to hold our own. Sam had brought A Game of Thrones and started setting it up on his own before gathering players. I think it has a bit of a reputation of being a very long game and no one thought they could get through it before closing so it never got played. Instead I saw a game of Bang! and Love Letter being played on top of the laid out board.

This week Alex had brought along Shadow Hunters. No Libertalia for me this week! But I didn't mind because Shadow Hunters is another game I'd been wanting to play. It's a hidden role game with three teams; the shadows, the hunters and the neutrals. In a lot of ways it's a lot like Bang! which I've never been a huge fan of. I know a lot of people enjoy that game so maybe it's just me that doesn't get it but to me it's just too random and can really drag on, especially as there's player elimination. With Shadow Hunters there's still player elimination but there's one important difference. On your turn you draw a card and these will either buff your character or, if you draw a green card (and this is the game changer), it can reveal information to you about another player. This means you can figure out what team they are likely to be on and, by seeing how they interact with other players, which team the other players may be on. It's all about transitive determination. I was taken out of the game first due to no fault of my own. Okay, a little of my own fault because my character's power was the ability to lie about the green cards which I totally didn't realise. I then spent the rest of the game agonising (not whining) about why people weren't attacking Craig (he obviously had a hidden agenda) and why people weren't drawing enough green cards. That game is so all about the green cards! An interesting twist is that none of us knew any of the character powers or win conditions. I guess after a few games they'd all be learnt which would add an extra dimension to the game.

After Shadow Hunters I played Ghost Stories. This time I'm pretty sure we broke no rules. As usual we were playing on the easiest setting but the game beat us pretty hard. As Wu Feng came out of the deck three of our monks were down to their last tao token. It wasn't long before the three were dead and there was no way we could reclaim the board. The third tile was haunted and the game ended with only one monk left standing and a full board of ghosts.

While I was playing Ghost Stories others were playing Fluxx and Small World. Steve won Small World and we finished up with a couple of games of Coup with Dan winning one and someone else winning the other. Maybe Steve. Let's say Steve. There's rumors of Adventure Time Munchkin next week. Mathematical!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Ghost Ship


Alex was kind enough to bring a bunch of games he owned that he knew I was interested in playing. I jumped straight at Libertalia. We'd just set up a game when three new guys arrived. We could hardly leave them playing on their own and they expressed an interest in Ghost Stories so I dropped out to teach them that. Libertalia would have to wait for another day. I guess we got around 17 people this week so a pretty good turn out. Term time starts soon so there will probably be a bit of a drop as people leave for university.

It had been a while since I'd played Ghost Stories and I wasn't a hundred percent sure on all the iconography on the cards but apart from a couple of minor mistakes I think we got by without too much accidental cheating. As it was the other guys' first time playing we chose the easiest setting. A couple of rookie mistakes that I was as much a part of as anyone else meant we got a few haunted tiles pretty quickly but we managed to flip them back using the blue monk's double action ability. In the first third of the game the board was looking pretty overrun and I thought we were at the point of no return but with a few lucky dice roles we managed to clear most of the ghosts from the boards. One of the guys had to leave but the nice thing about a co-op like Ghost Stories is that we could just continue with a player down, democratically taking his moves for him. As Wu Feng appeared I took a hit for the team and my monk was killed. Wu Feng's incarnation required four reds to be destroyed. The plan was for the yellow monk to use his bottomless pockets power to grab a bunch of red tao tokens and head over to Wu Feng to take him out. We set Circle Of Prayer to red to make the exorcism easier but before the yellow monk made it over the blue monk made a perfect roll (well, a red and two wilds) and took out Wu Feng on his own, stealing the glory for himself. We did pretty well in the end and I think we would have probably beaten it on the normal difficulty rather than initiation.

I hear Libertalia went well. Dan said he enjoyed it but he won so he would have enjoyed it. It's a kind of pirate ship themed role selection game. I'm hoping Alex will bring it another week. After that they played Coup. Pandemic and Ticket To Ride was at other tables.

Mike turned up with Taluva, a game he'd been promising to bring for a while. He'd likened it to Kingdom Builder; an interesting, slightly abstract strategy. The game didn't disappoint. For a start it looks great and the tiles are so thick and chunky, the kind of components that beg to be touched. First I played it with four players and it was a quick, fun little game with a bunch of interesting choices. Towards the end it could have been anyone's game and everyone did their best to block the next player from getting the final move they needed to win but pretty soon there was nothing that could be done and Adam claimed victory. After this I played it two player, head to head with Mike. Maybe it was just because I had a feel for the game, but it really seemed to shine with two players. Instantly I could see how my decisions really impacted the game. After a strong start in the early game I made a couple of mistakes. I was sure Mike was going to win but before I knew it the last tile had been drawn and the game was over before Mike had managed to make a comeback.

On the table next to me there was a game of Space Cadets: Dice Dual and some more Coup. Next week is freshers' week so we'll have to wait and see if there's enough room for students and board gaming nerds, or if we've been shunned for the night by the cooler kids.

Friday, 12 September 2014

I Fought The Law and the Law Won


With the help of first timer Alex about twelve people showed up this week. Not a bad attendance but far from the dizzying heights of twenty that I dream of.

I started off playing Trains which has kinda become my modus operandi recently. This time we had the Tourist Train in play which awards an extra victory point every time it's played but is only worth a single unit of generic game currency. I bought a couple along with everyone else. I think Demetri bought most and ended up winning with his CopyCat Rails company. I stayed on for another game planning on going hard on a Tourist Train strategy to see how that worked out. However Tourist Trains cost 4 and I kept drawing 5 which meant I couldn't resist buying Holiday Timetables. I was soon cycling through my deck in two or three turns but this wasn't enough. Again I'd only bought a couple of Holiday Trains. Joni had bought a few more more and ended up beating me by a single point.

While I was playing Trains the others were playing Bang! They got in a couple of games with the law winning both times. I hear rumors all of the outlaws were killed without any of the law being taken out at all. After Bang! the group split into two with Dan playing Small World with this new expansion Be Not Afraid. The rest played an assortment of small games; Fluxx, Love Letter, Zombie Dice and Carcassonne.

After Small World was done I played a three way game of Star Realms with Dan and Steve with those who were left played Coup. Star Realms doesn't really thrive with three people as everyone just tends to attack the person with the most health. This means it doesn't really matter how good your strategy is, all players will end up with around the same health and it's just a matter of luck as to who stays in last. With Steve out first it came down to me and Dan and I took him out with only a handful of health left to my name.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Space Stations


I guess the rain might have driven people away today as only around eight people showed this week. At first there were only seven of us and Andy had bought 7 Wonders so it was the natural starting game. I rarely play with the full complement of seven people. It's quite a different game as you never get to see the cards from a single hand again. One advantage is at least you know which cards you definitely aren't going to get to play. I ended tying with someone (I forget who) for second place. Adam came first. He'd done well with military, beating the player on either side of him every time and then getting a guild card that gave him an extra victory point for every military victory.

Johnny arrived and we split into two groups. I played the first deck builder of the night, Trains. I didn't notice at the time but the random cards we drew included Garage, Wagon Factory and Control Room. These were the same three cards I used in my strategy from last week. Yeah, I guess I could have gone for a different approach but the rest of the cards kinda sucked and I don't really tend to go for the board in a big way, especially when I'm isolated from everyone else which I ended up being in this game. But anyway, I went for the same strategy and won by a hefty margin the same as last week.

The others played a couple of games of Skull & Roses. Craig claimed to be no good at bluffing but managed to win both games. After Trains it was our turn to play a few games of Skull & Roses. I think everyone playing manged to win at least a single game. After Skull the others played Small World. I hear Craig was doing a bit too well and some sort of alliance was set up against him but it was too little too late. Points wise he draw with Johnny but apparently in the case of a draw it comes down to who has the most area which put Craig in the lead.

Last week I'd asked Monkeys With Fire if they were getting Star Realms in any time soon and they said they were away at the moment but would have a single copy the next week (perhaps they were at GenCon?). They said they'd save it for me if I liked and I certainly did like. It arrived earlier this week. I'm pretty into deck builders so it's not that surprising that I'm pretty into this game. Recently I'd been playing the digital version pretty hard. It's mostly a two player game, especially with a single deck, but there are multiplier variations. We adjusted the starting hand and tried out a three player game. Andy started with a strong blob deck (I probably needed to shuffle the deck a little better) and so initially we aimed out attacks towards him, but Cory soon built up a decent federation deck, healing on most turns. My deck was a slow starter but ended up being lean and defensive with a lot of outposts. Towards the end it could have been anyone's game, we were all down to the low teens. Cory was taken out and it was down to the luck of the draw between me and Andy. I was down to about four health but drew a strong hand and managed to take out Andy. I'm sure if I hadn't manged to he would have destroyed me on his next turn.
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