6th Dec - The Starfarers of Catan

I couldn't make it this week due to the lurg, got this great write up from Matt:

We were at Richard's on Tuesday for a game of deep space world colonisation and management non-human resources. there were only three of us us Garry was affected by a foul respiratory and Ben was suffering from brain fatigue. Richard had decided to break the shrink wrap on his copy of Starfarers and expose me to the dazzling components as I'd never played before. Steve had and gave me a brief primer in the car, although in typical fashion talked at length about
the mechanics and differences from standard settlers without actually, you know, mentioning that.....


(to those unfamiliar with the game, all five of those exclamation marks are completely warranted. Four would be too few).

The rockets (mother ships) are, singularly, one of the best game components I have ever had the pleasure of playing a board game with. Frankly, even if I was the Escape from Atlantis spinner I would jealous. I would love to have been at the meeting where it was pitched:

Klaus Teuber: "My latest design must _necessarily_ come with 5" plastic rocket ships with clip-on components. The rocket ship must also be hollow and incorporate a decision-making mechanism where balls drop into a viewing window."
Publisher: "....well.... that sounds interesting. Certainly, very interesting....maybe cardboard markers and a chit pull mechanism though...? Players could have their own bags...? Velvet (effect) bags maybe...? That could be classy...."
Klaus Teuber: "I see. Well it's been nice talking to you. I've still got a couple of other publishers to talk to about publishing my new design: Starfarers. OF. CATAN. Thanks for your time, you've been very cordial."
Publisher: "Five inch plastic rockets."
Klaus Teuber: "With clip-on components"
Publisher: "With clip on components"
Klaus Teuber: "Throw in four optional 2" pre-painted miniature alien race markers and we have a deal"

Anyway. We ripped of the cellophane and set the game up as instructed whilst Steve read through the rules and called out salient bits. Richard was red, I was green, Steve blue and yellow was the dummy fourth player. It came to my attention that fuel was going to be a problem- I couldn't produce any. Still, the first planet dead ahead was a gas giant brimming with the stuff so it seemed like a plan to head that way. Richard gets some early booster rockets and sets off to investigate another planet in that cluster, but doesn't really like what he finds there. Equally, Steve bypasses his first cluster and heads to next. Working on the principle that any fuel is good fuel, I care not that the site doesn't meet Richard's approval and rocket up to the fuel brimmed gas giant-

-it's an ice planet.

Oh, this isn't a good turn of events at all. I change course and head to the mid-board cluster. Those planets produced on a 10 and a 3. Any chance of any resources was good by this point My next plan was to cobble together another colony ship and head for the abandoned cluster that Steve had passed by. However bad it was, it was still a chance at fuel. Still strapped of fuel, many colonists died of old age on that founding flight. Unfortunately the stingy wallet-clenched inhabitants of that cluster only gave their fuel and ore on a 2 and 3 respectively. Fantastic. I reticently founded New Scotland and hoped I'd get a couple of resources by game's end, whilst bitterly trading for fuel at increasingly favourable rates.

Meanwhile Richard was running away with it: having been gifted a free trade ship by a passing merchant he then investigated a worm hole that got him to the other end of the board and opening trade negotiations with the Scientists for alien booster rocket technology. Pretty soon Richard was open colonies like burger joints all over the galaxy. Nowhere producing anything was safe from his galactic reach. Steve, on the other hand, had arrived at the decision that cannons were the future. He had several before setting up a trade relationship with The Green Folk (no relation) to produce more carbon to feed his ordinance addiction. Having got all these guns, you'd have thought that he'd big the most most pirate-feared trader in the galaxy. Not so. In fact, after agonising with himself he let pirates run off with his resources or in one spectacular case gave them away willingly. Richard was equally falling foul of piracy in that he appeared to have his name on the wrong kind of mailing list. Word had had got around in the pirate community that if you dressed up as a merchant Richard would give you resources in exchange for only the fumes from your rocket boosters as you legged it with the goods. Other than mortally offending a passing traveller, I got off rather lightly.

Back with me and my clockwork rocket ships: I sent a trade ship into deep space on a mission to forge links with the diplomats at the far edge of the galaxy that, perversely, promised a chance at obtaining a catch up mechanism. The children of those I sent did well and I found myself with two victory points. I had been buying whatever I had the resources for when I had the chance (with the exception of cannons), and so I suddenly found myself with as many victory points as Steve and only one behind Richard. I was a little shocked by this having been languishing in last place since the start. I had initially planned on stealing cards from the other players as I was behind, but had a last-minute crisis of new-found confidence that winning was perhaps not out of the question. I decided to take the Galactic Relief Fund as I was not producing on a 4, 5, 11 or 12 and they seemed to have been rolled a bit so far.

Ahh, probability: you fickle mistress.

Having taken it, obviously my luck started to change dramatically with 3 re-asserting itself as the magic number. On the down side, no relief fund, on the other hand I was suddenly coining it in. I invested heavily in freight rings and hatched a daring scheme to win the game:

1. Crush the ice planet.
2. Establish a colony and space station there.
3. Fill up the trade slots at the merchants.
4. Win.

Operation SlushPuppy swung into effect immediately: I got a colony ship out to the ice planet with a trade ship going the other way round the cluster to get a food trade agreement set up. The ice planet was thawed and found to produce fuel on a 4, which with the carbon world next to it producing on a 5 made my decision to take the relief fund even more useless than it first appeared. Poised to set up a second and pivotal trade post with the merchants Richard rolled outstandingly well. So well in fact that he didn't need to use his second free trade ship that he'd recently acquired, instead he built and piloted a trade ship into the third merchant trade slot with the freight ring he's also bought this turn.

In a parallel universe there's a Matt Green that got the second trader into the third merchant slot then epically won on Steve's turn when he encountered two Wear and Tear/Galactic Trade Federation cards in a row and got a winning VP with two fame rings for have the most freight rings on his mother ship. He's probably still celebrating now.

Alas, I in this universe now that Richard had dumped all his copious hand in building stuff we rolled four 7's in six rolls and I didn't have a ship to move. I was one trade good short of a trade ship but didn't increase the number of cards in my hand over two turns. The fickle finger of fate wasn't finished with Richard's yet though, and gave him one last poke: Steve had cleared out a pirate base ready for colonisation and an epic three-vp-in-one-turn win on his next turn (7's permitting). Knowing it was now clear, Richard launched a colony ship and jetted off at top speed. Along the way he traded his last trade good to a Traveller who gave him the fame ring he need for the win. It was smoothly done in the nick of time- any of us could have won one the last round had the rolls turned out even slightly differently.

Final scores:

Richard: 15, Matt: 13, Steve: 12

What a great game.

29th Nov - Power Grid, Central Europe

Not played Power Grid for ages, great game.

Steve 17 (tie break), Garry 17, Ben 15, Matt 14

22nd Nov - Age of Empires III

I'm not a huge fan of this but it's growing on me.

Richard 92, Steve 91, Garry 75, Matt 66

15th Nov - German Railways

I'd been dying to play German Railways, it was due for Essen 2010 but ended up being delayed until Essen 2011. A lot of people have been saying that it's like Chicago Express, but it's not. Yes it has trains/shares/cubes for tracks but other than that it's a different game. Still to early to say if it's as good as Chicago Express but I really liked the first game we played despite losing by miles.

Matt 365, Steve 353, Richard 288, Garry 191

Then time for a quick game of Botswana. Can't beat playing with loads of plastic animals.

Steve 68, Garry 65, Matt 64, Richard 64

9th Nov - Amyitis

Steve and I both bought a copy of this in the Works for £7.99. This is a dreadful game, even the name sounds like an embarrasing complaint that you need to get some cream from the doctor for. I wish I'd spent the money on some new attachments for my Dremel instead. I've harvested the wooden bits for my spares drawer and the rest has gone in the recycle bin. From shrink wrap to dustbin in less that 2 weeks, must be some sort of record.

Matt 58, Steve 55, Ben 50, Garry 38

1st Nov - Agricola

We've not played Agricola for a while, it's a brilliant game, I'm still not very good at it though.

Steve 40, Richard 38, Garry 31, Ben 28, Matt 25

26 Oct - Notre Dame

Matt had been to The Works and picked up a copy of Notre Dame for £7.99 and was keen to play. It's a good game and at that price a real bargain.

Garry 51, Matt 49, Steve 39

Afterwards we had a quick game of Nottingham.

Matt 111, Garry 103, Steve 86

24th Oct - Back from Essen

Bit knackered after my trip, here's my pile of purchases. If you look carefully you can see 3 train games and a new map for Steam. Bet Matt can't wait, I know I can't.

11th Oct - Inca Empire

I bought Inca Empire last year at Essen, finally got round to playing it. It's really good, should have played it sooner.

Steve 185, Richard 177, Matt 163, Garry 161

4th Oct - Troyes

Another game of Troyes. This was Richards first play of it and the only time the rest of us had played with 4 players, made it quite a different game.

Matt 37, Steve 32, Richard 25, Garry 22

27th Sep - Chicago Express

6 player Chicago Express, blimey, bit of a squeeze but great fun.

Richard 68, Ben 59, Matt 59, Garry 50, Jo 48, Steve 37

Then time for several hands of Poison, only 5 players this time.

Richard 12, Matt 21, Garry 29, Ben 35, Steve 37

20th Sep - Endeavor

A 5 player game of Endeavor this week. A bit crowded with 5, I think 4 would be best.

Ben 59, Steve 53, Matt 47, Richard 38, Garry 30

After Steve went home Matt suggested a game of Botswana which is a rethemed version of Loco/Flinke Pinke. Rather than just coloured disks we were playing for a menagerie of plastic animals, great laugh.

Ben 83, Richard 82, Matt 77, Garry 74

13th Sep - Troyes

Another game of the ever excellent Troyes. I've since discovered that there is a version 2 of the rules on the 'geek, I shall have to print them off and check if we played it right.

Garry 41, Steve 40, Matt 35

Then a quick game of R-Oko

Matt 15, Steve 6, Garry 3

6th Sep - Taj Mahal

I wasn't around this week, Matt sent this report:

First up: Taj Mahal. A new one for Ben and the table's opinion was that he should certainly play it at least once because it is a fine game. Ben took it well initially playing like a veteran for the first few provinces. Steve' advice that "Elephant tiles were very powerful and definitely game winning as a strategy" may have coloured some of the decisions in the mid game as Steve ploughed the Elephant furrow whilst Richard and I more or less ignored them and made lots of connections without getting in each others way too much. Richard played particularly well in that he scooped up all the Grand Mogul symbols that showed themselves to ensure he had a large number of floating palaces. Ben lost a hand for no gain and found out how painful that is, Richard and I jockeyed for position whilst Steve lined himself up to streak to victory with the elephant tile from the twelfth province. I beat Steve to that last tile by spending deep in my longest suit meaning that he bowed out with nothing leaving it between myself and Ben, who decided to mount a last ditch comeback effort and leave me with a single palace and the elephant tile taking the other three palaces and the four bonus point tile.

When the dust settled Richard had two more cards in his longest suit than I did leaving it:

Richard 59, Matt 57, Steve 53, Ben 46

Steve had to be in Southampton early the following morning and the night was still a bit young so we decided to play Carcassonne with The River, Traders and Builders and Inns and Cathedrals. Ben, apparently stung by the last game, unleashed the raw gaming power of his newly minted fiancée. We were not adequately prepared:

Asia 171, Matt 121, Ben 118, Richard 111

Proving that 'statistics can be weird sometimes' the last four tiles were: Cathedral, road section, 4 sided city section, Cathedral. Asia and I had set up a city to give a monster score if we pulled a finishing cathedral that we knew they were still in there as the bag got lighter and lighter..and lighter- it was a real nail biter! Richard got the first one and put somewhere else, I got the road section then Asia drew the 4 sided city and had to play it into the city (as Ben wasn't likely to finish it for us) then drew a second tile with her builder- which we all knew was a cathedral- and had to place it somewhere else! A fabulously bizarre ending to a good game.

Aug 30th - 7 Wonders

Jo joined us this week, he'd brought his copy of 7 Wonders along so we gave that a go. I liked it but I'm failing to see why there is so much love for this of the 'geek, it also seems to be winning every award going at the moment. Maybe I need to play it more.

Jo 52, Steve 46, Ben 45, Garry 25
Jo 44, Ben 43, Steve 39, Garry 39

Aug 23rd - Caylus

No Richard this week so we broke out Caylus. It was a really tight game with Matt and I tieing for first place.

Garry 90, Matt 90, Steve 78

Aug 16th - Tinner's Trail

I wasn't around this week so Richard wrote this report

The Bottle Imp

Whilst waiting for Jo we had a quick game of the Bottle Imp

Sadly Steve got caught with the Imp twice in three rounds - the significant time being when I managed to discard my '2' under his '3' - I think we were both sweating a little!!

Matt 38, Steve 17, Richard 94

Tinners Trail

In the first Turn Jo manage to mine siginificantly more copper than the rest of us - and with the high copper price giving him loads of cash it was very difficult for the rest of us to close the gap ....

Jo 98, Steve 76, Matt 77, Richard 85

San Juan

Once Steve and Matt and departed Jo & myself finished with a quick game of San Juan

My Guild Hall/Palace combo won out over Jo's Guld Hall/Chapel

Richard 42, Jo 38

2nd August - The Spiecherstadt

Bought this at Essen last year and this is the first time I've played it. Really nice little game.

Ben 33, Garry 32, Steve 18

We has some time left over so Played a few games of Paris Connection

Garry 89, Ben 86, Steve 78
Steve 181, Ben 167, Garry 136
Garry 156, Steve 139, Ben 125

26th July - Age of Empires III

I'm quite liking Age of Empires III despite it looking like an Ameritash game with all the plastic figures.

Matt 103, Richard 90, Steve 89, Garry 78

19th July - Masters of Venice

We abandoned Masters of Venice after about 2hrs of painfull play.

That's the nicest thing I can say about it.

No scores

12th July - Age of Industry

I'm not a big fan of some of Martin Wallace's game, Age of Industry is alright but I'm still not convinced.

Garry 43 (tie-break), Richard 43, Steve 31

5th July - Havana and San Juan

I was away so Matt has written a really good report:

You were in the Orkney Islands and Ben was directing planes so Steve, Richard and myself ate all the biscuits. First up:


First play for me and I sneaked in and got loads of points in a single turn, despite a concerted attempt to stop me. It wasn't what I expected at all and it certainly doesn't owe much to Cuba. I was a bit unsure if I liked it or not, so I suggested a rematch:

Matt 23, Richard 12, Steve 7

Closer this time. In an unprecedented move, Steve found himself in what he thought was a knigmaking position in that he could remove a building from play that either Richard or myself could build to win. Steve um'd and ah'd for a while (only a while? - Garry) and decided that he'd enabled Richard to win because I'd won the last game. then Richard sportingly pointed out that he thought that Steve wasn't in a kingmaking position as he could remove the building the Richard has his eye on and the other building that I could build scored only enough points to bring Richard to 19 rather than twenty. The upshot was that Richard talked Steve into removing the building that would have won him the game, then Richard built the building I was going to build and win with then it was my turn.

Richard's build action revealed another building that I had the resources to build- so I built that instead and won. I debated pointing this out to them whilst the ruminating was going on, but the brutal irony of Richard talking Steve out of helping him win was too funny to miss. I don't think I like Havana, there seems to be too much dog-piling the leader and AP about who will do this, so you should do that.

Matt 23, Richard 19, Steve 10

Then we played:

San Juan

I thought this would be closer than it was. Steve had a Harbour/Customs Office combo rolling and both he and Richard had Silver Smelters cooking from about turn 3. Fortunately for me, Steve built a Triumphal Arch without any other monuments which scored me points for Cathedral and didn't do much else. Result!

Matt 43, Richard 32, Steve 26

28th June - Paris Connection

Paris Connection, a trains and shares game bolied down to the minimum, plays in about 30 mins (in fact one game must have lasted around 10mins) So far I really like this, very easy to learn and play, but not easy to win.

1st Game
Richard 174, Steve 148, Garry 146, Matt 138

2nd Game
Richard 142, Steve 139, Matt 128, Garry 120

3rd Game
Garry 71, Matt 68, Steve 71, Richard 27

4th Game
Garry 150, Richard 114, Steve 97, Matt 92

Then a quick card game (that actualy took longer to play than Paris Connection) R-Eco

Richard 6, Matt 3, Garry 2, Steve 1

21st June - K2 and Carson City

We were a Ben's this week and we started off with a game of K2, try to climb the mountain without dying, easy? No. I thought I'd managed it but my lead climber died at the top.

Matt 16 (tie-break), Richard 16, Garry 7 (tie-break), Ben 7

As it was only 9.30 we squeezed in a game of Carson City. I really like this game, I just wish I could remember what I did that gave me the win.

Garry 40, Matt 39, Ben 35, Richard 34

14th June - Vinci

This week an oldie. Vinci is the game that became Small World.

Garry 123, Richard 122, Steve 117, Ben 116

Then time for a few rounds of Hol's der Geier.

Garry 74, Steve 40, Ben 39, Richard 7

7th June - Leonardo

We've not played Leonardo for a while and I can see why. It's a game where you have to invent things, shame you can't un-invent things, like this game for example.

Matt 62, Steve 56, Richard 33, Garry 29

31 May - Cuba + expansion

5 Player Cuba with the expansion, great game.

Garry 88, Ben 84 (tie break), Richard 84, Matt 83, Steve 74

24 May - Hansa Teutonica & China

One of my favorites Hansa Teutonica.

Matt 60, Richard 45, Garry 35, Steve 30

Then just enough time for a game of China.

Steve 47, Richard 35, Garry 31, Matt 30

22 May - Medina & 1655 Habmus Papum

This week we played on a Sunday - wh hooo!

First up was Medina, a game about building a medina.

Steve 48, Richard 45, Garry 32, Matt 25

Then: Rock 'n' Roll!!! A game about voting for the Pope in the 17th century, I've been waiting for a game with this theme for ages. Actualy 1655 Habmus Papum is quite good and got a lot of attention at last years Essen fair.

Matt 16, Garry 15, Richard 14, Steve 10

May 12th - Key Market

None of us could make Tuesday this week so we played on Thursday instead, that's just the kind of whacky thing we get up to round here!

Anyway, we played Key Market this week

Richard 130, Garry 107, Ben 104, Steve 103

May 5th - London

Three of us met at Richard's who had decided that we were to build the city of London. It initially seemed daunting, but Richard had coffee and caramel shortbread so it seemed rude not to try. I had never played before and Steve only a handful of times so after Steve and Richard read through the salient points and cobbled together a explanation we got off to a shaky start as I tried to grasp what I could and couldn't do. One thing I couldn't do was draw any cards as good as Richard's in the first few turns, but I stabilised on two loans having mistaken how the prison worked.

We all had quite big cities and ended up with 6 or 7 districts. There were some interesting card combinations- Steve had Hospital and Westminster working quite usefully.

Matt: 71, Richard: 61, Steve: 52

I won by getting the underground to work for me. I had 6 connected districts when a north river railway station funded 3 underground cards to generate 24 vps which was more than enough to counteract the poverty I was generating. It's a funny sort of 'detached' game where you never really feel involved in the play. I felt I was playing the game rather than the other players for most of it, there wasn't a great deal of interaction. I was idly ruminating on the style of game compared with Wallace's others and whether it had been play tested sufficiently as some of the cards were simply better than others for no real balance reasons. Steve remarked that Wallace's play testers were pretty experienced and had to find the holes in the game, but I wonder if he was using the right people? Wallace's other games are 'true' boardgames and the mindset required to perform well at Brass and Tinner's Trail is quite similar. I think London is different. You don't really need the board for a start, district tiles would easily suffice, and what you are left with is a combinable card game and that starts to stray into different territory where the CCGs lie. The 'geek is full of references comparing London to Race for the Galaxy and I don't think they are looking far enough. GOSU, Magic, Jambo and to some extent Agricola (although I think that may have been under-tested) have the sort of interactions that you see in London and getting people with ability at those games to test London might have resulted in better card balance that would lead to people having tougher decisions about what to discard rather than pitching away the obvious dross and hanging onto the more powerful cards. It's not a bad game, but not Wallace's best in my opinion and a lot lies in the execution rather than the idea, which seems sound.


Oh dear, merciful, bugger. Bottle Imp. Three players were better than 4. Less chaos. More understanding on my part and significantly less rage than last time. I still managed to stuff up the final round and end with the tricky little blighter though. Steve and I succeeded in stuffing Richard royally in the first couple of rounds so the scores ended:

Richard: 26, Matt: 32, Steve: 85

April 26th - Tigris and Euphrates

Only 3 people this week, Tigris and Euphrates was the game of choice.

Richard 11 11 15 17, Steve 11 11 11 12, Matt 5 6 6 6

Then they went all fluffy and played O Zoo Le Mio

Crocodile Matt 127; Wild Boar Richard 126; Carcharadon Steve 116

April 19th - Caylus

I've not updated this blog for a while as I've been really busy, work, decorating etc. I have loads of scraps of paper with scores on so I'll try and get everything online over the next few days.

No Richard so we played Caylus, I could have won if I'd pushed the bailiff forward but decided not to and ended up last - arse!

Steve 104, Matt 93, Garry 91

12th April - Agricola

Another game of Agricola, 5 player family game.

Steve 35, Matt 30, Garry 29, Richard 26, Ben 22

Followed by a game of Geschenkt.

Richard 76, Matt 86, Steve 110, Garry 149, Benn 177

5th April - Agricola

I'm still off sick and Matt was away and Ben was working, so only Steve and Richard, here's Richards report:

I decided we should play 2 player Agriocola using the Interactive deck.

It's been a while since I played 2 player Agricola - and I think it was the first time Steve had played it.

2 Player plays very well - as it allows you to pay more attention to your opponent and predict what he will do - Which at times is nigh well impossible with higher player numbers!!

Anyway I came out on top - mainly due to my Lasso which allowed me to take two actions in a row if one of the actions involves taking animals - the killer action being when I took build fireplace and immediately took 4 sheep and cooked them - something that Steve thought I wouldn't do as I had nowhere to store the sheep.

Final score was as follows.

Richard 37, Steve 29

29th March - H20lland

I couldn't make it this week, here's a write up from Steve:

After playing a lot of familiar games recently, to introduce them to Ben, I fancied trying something new and chose H2Olland as being the biggest 'big box' game in my collection that had a chance of finishing in an evening. I was a lttle concerned that it might not work well with 3, as the player starting in the 'middle' has no adjacent areas that only he can reach quickly, but the rules about where new farms can be started fix that, as long as the middle player is also the start player, as by chance he (Richard) was.

The biggest problem with the game was that the resource production rates and the building costs do not mesh together very well. Everyone starts with the same selection of 'seeds' and no reason not to plant them all, so everyone then gets the same 'income' during the harvest, and pretty much has to buy the same stuff with it to avoid being left with unusable resources - as Matt pointed out, this is a 'rich get richer' game, so stockpiling isn't a strategy. Later in the game, everyone found that they were producing a lot more resources than they could spend, but were prevented from saving them because of the limit of 5 items that can be carried over. By the end everyone had placed all of their farms and windmills, and all of their workers were employed, so there was no potential for strategy decisions there, and the winner was simply the one who had fortuitously placed his windmills to give him a monopoly over the most valuable tulip fields.

Perhaps if you had to maintain your buildings each year by paying, say, one resource of the type needed to build them for each one, and if you had to feed or pay your workers, then there would be more decisions to make. The issue of 'shared fields' also needs to be addressed, perhaps by requiring players to move workers to them before they can claim the resources, a la Keythedral.

Anyway, the final scores, for which the players can claim neither credit nor blame, were:

Steve 71, Matt 68, Richard 50

22nd March - Amun Re

Amun Re this week, Lance joined us and beat us all.

Lance 43, Steve 37, Ben 35, Garry 34, Matt 31

Then we finished up with a game of Escalation.

Lance 14, Matt 31, Steve 34, Ben 39, Garry 46

15th March - Steam

We thought it was time to introduce Ben to Steam, Lance had only played Age of Steam once and that was years ago. We played the basic game which makes the finanaces a bit easier to control.

Matt 44 (tiebreak), Garry 44, Ben 42, Steve 20, Lance 19

8th March - El Grande

An oldie this week (no, not me, the game), I've not played El Grande for years, didn't seem as nasty as I remember.

Matt 110, Garry 91, Steve 83, Ben 79

Then time for a few rounds of Hols der Geier

Steve 44, Matt 32, Garry 24, Ben 20

1st March - Caylus

I was away last week but Matt sent me the results of the Caylus 'they shoot horses don't they' endurance fest.

Steve 114, Ben 93 Matt 83
what! what! what! Matt beaten by a newbie?

22nd Feb - Ingenious

Matt was going to be a bit late so Steve and I started with a couple of games of Jaipur.

Garry 2 Steve 0

Once Matt arrived we played Samurai, I've had this for years but not played it much recently.

Matt won on the number of tokens captured.

We still had plenty of time so we played a couple of games of Ingenious.

Garry 9, Steve 8, Matt 7
Matt 9, Steve 8, Garry 7

15th Feb - Java

Haven't played Java for years, great game although the end can drag a bit.

Richard 90, Garry 81, Matt 78, Steve 64

8th Feb - Hansa Teutonica

Hansa Teutonica tonight, I really like this game and normally do quite well but I really had an off night tonight

Richard 54, Matt 44, Steve 34, Garry 20

Then time for a quick game of Don (once we'd sorted out the German rules)

Matt 18, Garry 13, Steve 9, Richard 6

1st Feb - Galaxy Trucker

Detailed Report from Matt:

We were at Richard’s on Tuesday for a game of deep space vehicular rapid prototyping and intergalactic logistics management. I hadn’t played before and Richard hadn’t played in a long time citing the last occasion as ‘a couple of months BM (before Matt)’. Richard read through the rules and for the first 15 minutes we chuckled at the crazy Czech humour. After that we came to the opinion that the rules needed a thorough Germanising to remove excess humour and ambiguity. We played the advanced game and had particular trouble working out how many cards there should be in the second and third rounds which caused some scratching of heads. We resolved to play the first round and see if the situation became clearer following a bit of play.

We shuffled up the tiles, ran through exactly what would happen during the building phase and Richard, being the boldest player, said: ‘Go!’

The doorbell rang. It was Joe.

We restarted the Building phase whilst Joe searched though the rules with characteristic Extreme Calmness to find out how many cards we would face in rounds 2 and 3. Steve reached for the cards in the early build phase which was my cue to turn the timer over. I had 4 lasers and a weird purple dude who upped that total to 6 and 5 engines, Richard build a flying wall of power-hungry laser cannons whilst Steve had a structurally robust ship with a little of everything. We all had skeleton crews. After a minor hitch involving Richard leaving a non-essential part of his craft in the dock we were away….straight into the nefarious clutches of Space slavers! I powered my cannons to 6 and they ignored me, Richard did the same and they ignored him to- they really liked the look of Steve’s ship though and made off with most of his crew leaving him with a human and funny-looking brown dude who tinkered with engines.

After dealing with that first card the rest of the expedition was tame by comparison. Richard and I picked up a few blocks and we all ignored a succession of empty ships and stations before blasting through open space.

Round two saw me drawing pink storage tiles that fitted together well and Steve looking at the cards again. I flipped the timer with a lightly armed vessel that was virtually hollow with storage containers and powered by 7 engines. Richard had corralled all available crew members, human or otherwise, into his ship until it resembled the coach class carriage of a Bombay freight train whilst Steve once again had a well rounded ship that was meticulously designed, although suffered somewhat from a critical build issue when the engineers forgot to incorporate shield technology that had been set aside for them. Commodore Minson populated a flotilla of abandoned ships shortly before a space plague decimated the ships of Steve and myself. I pulled out a lead in open space and picked up all manner of hazardous goods on planets we came across. A meteor shower at the end of the round and a trip through a combat zone saw Steve’s ship become more streamlined as the peripheral outriggers were ruthlessly downsized by planet-sized rocks.

A truly enormous ship design beckoned in round three as Joe mused that Steve would fair better if the tiles were 100% known information. Steve suggested a tile auction replace timed blind picking which led to the proposal of a truly horrific ‘Age of Galaxy Trucker’ variant.

Sticking with a plan that was working, I resolved to run the clock down ASAP in the final building phase. After a couple of tile draws I realised the multi-connector tiles would be at a premium in this round given the size of the ships, so I started looking for and keeping all I could find. That seemed to work and my ship was soon bristling with lasers and engines although I ended with a hole in the middle and the outer surface resembled a cross-section of sewer- there were that many exposed pipes. Richard created a flying warehouse whilst Steve’s lightly crewed bijou freighter was both moderately armed and sporting shields this time.

After a slight altercation between Richard’s ground crew and one of his engines, we set off. Two cards into the deck and our convoy was hit by an epidemic which wiped out Steve’s already sparely populated ship including his resident alien. Richard had designed this out from the beginning and was able to capitalise on another empty floating hulk. If things were looking bad for Steve at that point they only got worse when we entered the combat zone—he ran out of crew and was left drifting, leaving Richard to face the remainder of their wrath. Richard’s finely crafted storage vessel was rendered a sprawling hulk by an onslaught of explosions and meteor strikes, but he made it to dock. I suffered a setback when, as a result of an installation error, meteors hit my exposed and unshielded right hand flank but was otherwise unscathed.

Final scores then, were:

Matt: 70, Richard: 64, Steve: 12

Galaxy Trucker is an odd game that used bits of your brain that don’t usually get a workout on a games night. I feel I got a bit lucky with the volume of red blocks available in round 2 that made the bulk of my points, but it was certainly fun.

25th Jan - Caylus

Haven't played Caylus for Years and had forgotten what a great game it is.

Richard 74, Steve 70, Garry 66, Matt 63

18th Jan - Troyes

Another game of Troyes, great stuff. We still managed to make a mistake with the rules, it's not a difficult game at all, honest.

Steve 45, Garry 33, Matt 30

Followed it up with a quick game of Mogul, which is a cross between No Thanks and a train & shares game (no really)

Garry 30, Matt 25, Steve 23

11th Jan - Troyes

Another game of Troyes. The rules are a little tricky to learn and it's easy to miss things, we got a couple of things wrong this time but next time we'll get it right.

Matt 46, Steve 41, Garry 34

4th Jan - Steam Sahara map

I couldn't make it this week due to a dose of the Man-Flu. Matt has sent me this great write up.

Game 1: Steam (Sahara Map)
-In which Steve's eye is turned by water and Matt builds too much track in the desert.

Despite the session being at my house, in was Richard's turn to host so he brought Steam round with one of the newer maps. The Sahara is on the reverse of the Amazon map we played a few weeks back and features lots of sand. Building on sand costs an extra dollar which is irritating, but the real show-stopping board rule was that completing a shipment costs you a water cube. Blue water cubes are found, singly, in oases or by taking the water supply role for the turn you can ignore the rule and ship as normal. I bid 2 to go first with my eye on the water, thinking it would be worthwhile and angling to get a good first build spot. As it transpired, and as Richard had worked out, the water is a tax on shipping, and not really a damaging one. Getting a train to 6 and taking the hit for the water is a long way preferable to launching into the desert to chase down blue cubes.

So whilst Steve and I ventured into the northern sands, Richard skirted around the southern edges like a cheapskate and made a long chain of cities well away from where Steve and myself could ship his blocks. By the time Steve and I got our games into gear stabilised the cash flow and got the tracks through the desert sorted out Richard had got to 10 cash, a 6 train and a load of cheap connections on the edge of the desert. We couldn't quite catch him despite trying to ship his blocks, but there were just too many shipping options for all of use in a 3 player game on that map (which can take up to 6 players).

The verdict was that it was better than a Amazonian map as the outcome was less predictable and there were more building options to think about. the water is a nice mechanic as it can generate a +2/-2 swing in the last turns that could be relevant if everyone was paying attention from the start. One of those boards where you need to get a 6 train as early as possible or else you are stuffed though.

Richard: 73 Matt: 63 Steve: 50

Game 2: San Juan (with expansion)
-Wherein Richard is perplexed by the new cards and Steve steadfastly refuses to take the Councillor to his advantage.

Garry's not here- quick break out San Juan! Steve starts with a Charity Shop which gets him a card after building as long as he has the least buildings. Richard frowns darkly and vows to lead a rural existence in order to thwart him. I get an export office and Richard builds a Tobacco Store. Rather than let Richard get all the production to himself, I build a Smithy on the following round then build three Tobacco Stores in a row. The idea was to find a Guildhall and win at a fast pace. It nearly worked but whilst I was noodling around Richard and Steve both built Prefectures, we all built Customs Offices and Richard slipped a library into play to make his Councillor phases truly epic. Whilst usually very good, the Library gets a little worse, I think, with the new cards in the game as it quite expensive compared with some of the effects generated on the new cards. Steve's Councillor phase was looking pretty good too, but he never took it, deciding instead to smelt silver and sell it until he could buy a Cathedral. This despicable turn of events coupled with Richard's Residence and my Guildhall netted Steve too many points for me to overhaul with cheap cards. Had the game gone on longer Richard would have completed more set of cards whilst all I could do was put the odd card under a Chapel and wait to draw Silver smelters, which I couldn't draw to save my life. A close game, really good fun.

Steve: 33 Matt: 32 Richard: 27

29th Dec - Troyes

Just Steve and I this week so I thought we'd give Troyes a go. Took a while to get through the rules but once we got going it all made sense.

Steve 38, Garry 37