Hornochsen (19th & 26th)
Igel Ärgen (12th & 19th)
Liar's Dice (5th)
Samarkand (12th & 19th)
Zoff in Buffalo (26th)
Bit of a reduced turnout this week, probably due to the combined effects of Bonfire Night and the occurrence of MidCon at the weekend. Mind you, three of the four of us who turned up are going at the weekend anyway, so perhaps it was all down to Bonfire Night.
Our first try at Keydom. We were all learning the strategy possibilities as we went along, so we all made some moves that we might think about more carefully in the future. My fortunes were particularly ... er ... fortunate. Well into the game, the other players decided I might be threat and decided to give me a pasting. This weakened my position, but had the advantage that no-one considered me a serious threat afterwards. Then, on the last round, I saw a slim possibility that I could win if everything went right. Luckily, Geoff was going for the win on the same round and I managed to disguise my intentions in the combined efforts to scupper him. Everything else fell into place and it wasn't until we resolved the final location that the others realised what I was up to. Yessssss! Sorry to crow, but it is always good to successfully turn around your position from last to first after you've been holding your breath for the last ten minutes. All of us agreed that it was an enjoyable game - although, in common with other players' findings it did take us a lot longer than suggested on the box - certainly over two hours, without anyone taking unduly long over their turns. Result: TC, GC+GL+SO.
We didn't have much time left so we finished off with Perudo (Liar's Dice). Despite it being an old standby, I had never played before. But the rules are simple enough - each player rolls five dice secretly and then the first player makes a guess (a bid) of how many of a particular number there are. The next player has to make a bigger bid or challenge the previous player. The loser(s) in any challenge lose dice from their initial five until their is only one player left. I started off really well, losing perhaps one die by the time the first two players were out. I thought that this must be my night. There was just Steve and me left, and he seemed to win every challenge from then on and soon had me beat. It gets very hard when there are only two left and your opponent has more dice than you do. Drat! Result: SO, TC, GC, GL.
I'll see you all when I get back from MidCon - or I may see some of you there - be sure to say hello. I'll try and write a short report on it when I get back. Although you'll have to forgive if I spend more time describing the games I do well in...
After a few weeks of seven at a time, this was the second week on the trot with four. Three of us had just come back from MidCon - if you'd like to read a bit of a personal report, click here.
We kicked off with Igel Ärgen, surprisingly the first time at this excellent game for two of them. Consequently, we just did the basic game and I didn't get a chance to try out any of my own variations. It finished, as is often the case, satisfyingly close, with all of us thinking we could have won if things had turned out just a little differently. Went down well with the new players. Result: GL, TC, SO, JT.
We then got onto Samarkand, the new version of Bazaar by Sid Sackson. This seemed to be one of the hits of MidCon. You travel around the board visiting nomads and oases, collecting sets of commodity cards which you then take to the market to sell, reducing the price for anyone following you. I had previously played this at home (with only three players), won quite easily and figured there wasn't much to it. This time I did terribly, and probably as a result, found it more interesting. Maybe the extra player makes the difference as it was a lot more difficult to get large enough sets of a commodity that hadn't just been sold - forcing down the price. Or perhaps I was just unlucky - or not good enough. I'll have to try again. Result: SO, GL, JT, TC.
We ended up with Honeybears, which I described a couple of weeks ago. I continued the thread from Samarkand with another enormous loss, only scoring three points in one of the four races. I wanted to use the excuse that it was because I only got a single pair of walk cards in each hand, but Jake could say the same thing - and he won. A good game, though. Result: JT, SO, GL, TC.
Back to seven again this week, although with a maximum of six at any one time due to an early departure and a late arrival. Picked up a copy of Mitternachtsparty from Karl before he left, but I've yet to try it out. I'd also brought along my brother John for the first time, to show him what went on and, as it turned out, to demonstrate how to do badly.
Something small to start with. That club favourite Guillotine. I wonder why I take this one with me, as I always seem to end up last or nearly last when we play it at the club. It's just fun I guess. Anyway, Garry had reason to be pleased as his ranking went up from 5th to 2nd for this game. Result: GL, MH, KB+JC, TC, SO.
I'd brought along Samarkand again, still trying to form a definite opinion as to whether I liked it. I came fourth again, as last week. But this time there were five players. Hurrah! Perhaps we should play with six next time.... Oh, the game is for a maximum of five.... Drat! My brother John seemed to have totally misunderstood all the tips I gave him, because he won, putting him straight in at second place in the stats. Still, the game is growing on me somewhat - even though I still do miss the opportunities for player interaction. Result: JC, SO, GL, TC, MH.
On to Hornochsen, another game due to become a regular filler. Despite introducing Jake to it for the first time, he had the lack of decorum to win - by a lot. John seemed to have picked up the idea at last, though. Result: JT, SO, GL, TC, MH, JC.
And then we rounded off with a six player game of Igel Ärgen, two of the players again playing for the first time. It surprises me how little known this game is at the club. Anyway, the game was the usual close run thing with five of the six players having two hedgehogs home and a large gathering collecting on the preceding column. We were all in with a chance right until the end, where the result meant that I went from 2nd to 5th in the stats while Steve went from 3rd to 1st. In fact, it was Steve's night on the whole, gaining or reinforcing the lead in three of the four games we played. Result : SO, JT, MH, GL, TC, JC.
Five this week, and we had a little bit of an impromptu cow theme. Even down to Karl's tie having pictures of cows on it.
What other game to start with then, than Zoff in Buffalo. In this game there are a number of different sized pastures that can hold varying numbers of cows and the idea is to have as many of your cows as possible altogether. However, in any particular pasture, it is better to have second or third most. Each round, players simultaneously make bids to add cows to two pastures and, where there is a conflict, one player gets to place his/her cows first. This can leave other players with fewer options. While reading the rules, Karl noted that much emphasis was placed on the sentence "NEVER CAN THERE BE, IN ONE PASTURE, TWO HERDS OF THE SAME SIZE". When you play the game, you realise that this is the key, as you may make a bid to add five blue cows to a pasture, but by the time you get to do so, you find that there are already five red, four green, three yellow and two orange cows there. This means that you get to add only one cow, because "NEVER CAN THERE BE..." - yes we did spend a lot of the game quoting this at each other. None of us had played the game before, but I think we all enjoyed it, probably even Garry, who seemed to be accumulating all the bad luck in the game. It ended with two points sepearating first from third place, so seems fairly well balanced. Result: MH, TC, SO, KB, GL.
Next we gave Sternenhimmel a go. Again, none of us had played this before, and again, I think we enjoyed it. It's another placement game, rather abstract, but moves pretty quickly as players add their stars to one of five boards before them showing constellations of the zodiac (as many boards as players and replenished from a stock of twelve). Stars have different values and players try to get the most points on each board. What adds difficulty is that some of the stars are played with their value showing and some with it hidden, and there are special stars that affect the value of neighbouring stars. I think the balance is quite good - enough thinking and enough bluff/chance. For some reason the other players kept leaving boards with one space left when it got to my turn, this meant I could add the last star, safe in the knowledge that no-one could change it any further and that I would get the stars I had played straight back again. This probably played no small part in the fact that I won. Result: TC, SO, MH, GL, KB.
I said last week that Hornochsen was due to be a regular filler, and sure enough out it came again (the cow theme if you remember). We played two hands, and I did ok in the first before getting badly hit in the second. Drat those cow card games! Garry recovered from his earlier losses to do well in both hands. Combined result: GL, MH, KB, SO, TC.
I also got a copy of Durch die Wüste from Karl, but only to give as a present (!) along with another copy of Hornochsen. So there you have it, a night of cow games. ...What do you mean "What about Sternenhimmel"? ... Taurus is a cow isn't it?