Die Erbraffer (4th)
Flying Carpet (11th)
Grand Prix (25th)
Hot Dog (4th)
Johnny Controletti (25th)
Knockout Whist (4th)
Liars' Dice (11th)
Ra (18th & 25th)
Rette Sich Wer Kann (25th)
Top Race (4th)
Und Tschüss (11th)
I missed this week I'm afraid, but got the following report from Garry:
Six turned up this week although Geoff missed the first game. I knew he was going to be late so we started with a short Amigo card game, Hot Dog. Players start with a hand of 10 hot dog cards, each of which show between 1 and 5 Hot Dogs, and three $1 cards. There are 3 tables to be served (which will buy 5,7 or 9 dogs when the table is full). Players select which table they will try to sell to and how many dogs to sell. All reveal their choice simultaneously and the hot dogs are allocated to the tables. Those attempting to sell fewest hot dogs get to place first and if more dogs are offered than the table will accept, those trying to sell higher numbers of dogs fail and the dogs are returned to the players' hands. Once a table is full, those with hot dogs at the table get paid out $1 per hot dog and the cards discarded. The table is then free to be filled up again and play continues until one player manages to get rid of all his hot dogs, at which point the one with the most money wins. Very lightweight but okay for the 20 minutes it takes to play.
With our full complement for the evening we then played Die Erbraffer, the inheritance game. The game board displays a 6 generation family tree and a timeline down the left side running from 1840 to 2000. Players are given 4 cards showing the family members in which they have an interest. On a player's turn, he plays an Action Card, which alters the wealth of members of the current generation and redistributes the family heirlooms. Every 30 years of game time, the current generation dies and their wealth is passed down to their children. The aim is to try and direct money and heirlooms down the best branches of the family tree to end up with the family members you have an interest in. Other players will be trying to redirect the wealth to their advantage. Once the game reaches the year 2000, players reveal the family members they are supporting and tot up the wealth they have accumulated. Most money wins. I did terribly at this game with most of my family dying off virtually penniless, but I did manage to stuff the person who I thought to be leading going into the final round ( just for the hell of it), having already resigned myself to coming last.
After a brief interlude to finish off the buffet that had been left by a party next door, we then had 2 rounds of Top Race (the most recent incarnation of Formel Eins / Daytona 500), which I'm pretty sure has been reported on before, and closed with a quick game of Knockout Whist.
Seven of us, and surprisingly we found enough games to play as a single group all night (although we had to add spare playing pieces to a couple of them).
We started with an old Ravensburger game called Flying Carpet. Each player has to move their playing piece from one end of the board to the other using cards that allow them to move up/down and forward/backward a number of spaces, negotiating obstacles and slowing down other players by landing on them. This last point is similar to the kind of pile on top of each other scramble that you get in Igel Ärgen - and the feel is somewhat similar. You also have star spaces that allow you to perform a special, random action from missing a go up to swapping places with the leader. The latter is what happened to me - after spending three out of the first five turns immobilised by other players' pieces. Mind you, someone else had swapped with me before I got a chance to win. A fun enough game, but something of a lottery. Result: DN, GL, TC, SO, SG+GC+MH.
Next we went on to Und Tschüss, an excellent little card game. The cards are all simply points values from 1 to 15 along with -5 and -10 cards. Each player is dealt a hand and a row of cards (one less than the number of players) is laid out and sorted into points order. Each players bids a card from their hand simultaneously, and the lowest bid takes the lowest card from the row, counting its point value towards his/her score. The remaining players add another card to their bid and the lowest total takes the next lowest card. This carries on until there are two players and one card left. This time it is the highest total bid that takes the card, leaving the player who came second with nothing. This leads to a very interesting game. Initially, you want to bid enough to avoid any really bad cards in the row. Then you want to assess whether to play low or even negative cards to avoid being in the last two, or to go for the big prize. The worst situation to be in is with three players left with similar total bids: you decide to bid low to get out of there, but one of the others has bid lower and takes the card leaving you and the third player who has bid high, leaving you with a gap you can't close - oops. I do enjoy this game despite my appalling result - mostly the result of having to pick up a -10 card on the first hand when I was dealt nothing higher than a 9! Result: DN+SG, GL, MH, SO+GC, TC.
Rather than split into two groups, we ended with four games of Liars' Dice. I had only played this once before, and four games on the run allowed me to really get into it. The idea is that everyone rolls five dice and keeps them hidden from everyone else. There then follows a round of bidding as to what the dice show - for example one player may say that there are at least ten fives showing on the dice. The next player must then either increase the bid (to ten sixes or eleven twos for example) or challenge the previous bid. If a challenge is made, everyone reveals their dice and the challenger or the challenged lose dice accordingly - making it harder for them to predict the result as the game proceeds. Eventually, players lose all their dice and drop out until just the winner is left. Great fun if you can keep a count of how many dice are left and can divide by three (to predict the results) - I left all this to Geoff to tell me each time. Result 1: GC, SG, TC, DN, MH, SO, GL. Result 2: GL, SO, SG, TC, MH, DN, GC. Result 3: SO, SG+GL+TC, GC, DN, MH. Result 4: GL, SO, GC, SG, MH, DN, TC.
We only had five attendees this week, even including Chris who, like Geoff, suddenly turned up again after a bit of an absence. I only just made it in time for the first game myself, having dozed off at home between getting home from work and going to the club - it's all go...
The Cheltenham Festival (horse racing) was happening this week, so we kicked off with a horse racing game - Turfmaster. Movement around the track alternates between using cards numbered from 3 to 12 and rolling dice. Each player has a pack of 32 cards, of which ten get dealt to him/her for each of three races, with the spare two as a reserve to be called on during any one of the races. The first three horses (including joint positions) have restrictions on the size of move they can make - although some of the cards are marked as jokers, allowing their use at any time. During the dice movement, one player (only) rolls two dice and decides whether one or both of the rolls are allowed to be used by all players - that player obviously trying to choose in such a way that his/her horse will gain the most advantage. As well as the limits on horses in the lead, there are also a number of fences to be jumped that take four movement points each and for one reason or another you often end up with a row of horses ready to jump the fence. Between bad mixes of cards in your deal and the fences, you are often holding a number of cards that you are totally unable to use - giving you very little choice of what to do on a lot of your turns. On the whole, I think I would prefer Formula Dé - and I don't say that lightly. Result: CD+MH, SO, TC, SG.
The second game of the evening was our first look at Ra, the new game from Reiner Knizia. We were lucky as five is the maximum number for this game. If you have played Medici, I think you will find that Ra has certain similarities. With a few extras, a players turn consists of either turning over a tile from the face-down pile and adding it to those already turned over, or (voluntarily or not) calling an auction of all those tiles already turned over. The tiles form various sets with different properties in terms of scoring (unlike Medici where one commodity is like any other) and some tiles are negative, 'souring the pot' somewhat for some or all of the players. Unlike Medici, you don't bid in the auctions using your victory points - instead each player has three 'suns' worth from 1 to 16 (all different). As well as buying the tiles at auction, you also get back the 'sun' that won the previous auction - leaving you with three at all times. It makes you think carefully before bidding your 16 for that row of tiles when you also know that you are going to pick up the 1 sun in exchange for the 16! There is a lot more detail in this game than in something like Medici, but curiously enough it plays at quite a pace and players don't think overlong about their moves - perhaps there was too much to take in at a first sitting and we just made the moves that felt right instead of pondering all the possibilities. Maybe it was just that we knew we were short of time - but that didn't help us finish El Caballero quickly when we played that! I wasn't sure after playing whether I felt it had lasting qualities or just too many details to pick up on the first go. After some time for reflection, though, I think I rather like it - this is irrespective of my good result, which came as something of a surprise to me when we totted up at the end. Result: TC, CD, SO, SG, MH.
By the way, did I just make up the phrase 'souring the pot'? Or am I misquoting? Or what? Special mention goes to anyone with all the answers.
We began the night with a game of Fluxx, the easy-going card game where the rules and victory conditions change as you play. It actually fits very well as an opener because you can start with any number and let others join in as they turn up - there's little more annoying than just getting started at a more meaty game to have someone else turn up making the numbers all wrong. It also gets the game-playing mood going. By the time we finished, we had eight players! Result: Geoff won and everyone else didn't!
Demonstrating our extraordinary mathematical skills, we noted that eight players would make two excellently sized groups of four, and promptly split as such - it always pays to have an accountant in the group for help with these flashes of inspiration.
Our group started with Tycoon - two of them for the first time. I have to say that I haven't yet introduced this game to anyone who didn't like it - and I continue to be impressed myself by the depth of the gameplay. This time, rather than try to rely on things that had worked in previous games, I played rather differently and tried to be more responsive to what was actually happening on the board - with some success. Chris also pointed out a couple of places where I had the rules wrong (thanks Chris....mutter, mutter...). Result: TC, MH, GC, CD.
Most of the time had gone by now so we finished up with Grand Prix (the Knizia card game). The idea is that you draw cards or exchange them with discard piles in order to get the four card types necessary to build a car. At the beginning, four points cards (with four players) are turned over and sorted into order to show how many points (from 1 to 20) that first, second, etc will get in the next 'race'. Four rounds of card draws take place and each player lays down four cards for their car. The car parts all have a score from 1 to 7 and, with same-numbered sets getting a bonus, the highest total wins the race. This repeats until all the points cards are used up (five races with four players) and then the highest total points won wins the game. There was a bit of a misunderstanding in the rules at first that meant I threw in a race winning car and got left without the four necessary parts for the first race and so got off to a very bad start. Nonetheless, like most Knizia games, there's certainly enough here to keep anyone interested -although it does take a little longer to play than you expect when you first see it. Result: GC, MH, CD, TC.
Meantime, for news of the other group, I'll hand over the reins to Garry:
After a great game of Ra ( it had to be good because I won) we played Rette Sich Wer Kann - the leaky lifeboat game. The objective is to get as many of your bosuns and sailors safely to shore while trying to hamper the progress of other players. It is a game of part negotiation, part bluff and part vindictiveness. I found this to my cost when after just 3 game turns, the other players had the gall to gang up on me 3 (count them) times to drown my poor sailors rather than anybody else. Do I hold any grudge? Well, yes but it didn't do me any good.
At the beginning of the game, players distribute their bosuns and sailors among the available lifeboats. It is a good idea not to concentrate all your pieces in 1 boat as it is bound to become a soft target for the other players, particularly if they don't have sailors in that boat. Each turn of the game is then split into 3 phases. First, players vote to determine which boat springs a leak that turn (the more leaks a boat has the more likely it is to sink and a sunk boat leads to all its passengers drowning - not good). This can lead to a sailor needing to be thrown overboard, the unlucky soul also being the subject of a vote. Secondly, there is a vote to decide which boat should move one of the 4 spaces towards land and safety. Finally, players, in turn, remove 1 bosun or sailor from a boat and attempt to replace him in a different boat (not always possible and the piece drowns if he can't get back in a boat). Play continues in this way until all boats have either reached shore or sunk. Surviving crewmen then score points (bosuns counting double) and the player with the most points wins. Not too brain taxing and good fun except when you get picked on. Me, a sore loser?
We then played Johnny Controletti, a card game of pure bluff and counter bluff. Each player starts with 13000 of currency and is trying to turn that into 25000. The cards represent the currency which comes in various denominations including Zero. On a player's turn he rolls a coloured die to determine which player (colour) he wishes to receive a donation from. The donating player decides how many cards he wishes to offer and places them face down. The receiving player has to decide whether to accept the offer or challenge it. If he thinks the player has offered a paltry sum he can roll a D6 die and challenge. If the donation is less than the D6 (multiplied by 1000) the donating player has to add a further card to his offer and the receiving player again has the same choice. If the donation matches the die roll, the money changes hands normally. If the donation is higher than the die roll, the donating player takes his donation back and receives the same amount in compensation from the doubting player. Ouch!
Lots of fun with the fortunes ebbing and flowing between players. One criticism is that it is quite difficult to tell some of the currency denominations apart and, at one stage, I declared that I had the necessary 25000 only to find that I was 1000 short, having traded away the previous turn a 2000 card which I had mistaken for a 1000. Guess who became a target for the next several turns.
Results: Ra: GL, SO, DN, SG. Rette Sich Wer Kann: SG, GL+DN+SO. Johnny Controletti: SG, GL+DN+SO.