17 Dec - Snowdonia, Vegas & Love letter

We started with a game of Snowdonia which really whipped along with the white cubes doing a lot of building, we were finished before 9 o'clock - unheard of! I'd failed to get any sort of building done and misread my contract cards so I was glad that the pain was short lived - next time tho' ...

Paul 80, Steve 68, Garry 50

Next we had a go at Las Vegas, this is a light fun dice rolling game - perfect for xmas with the family. As I won this game I would describe it as a highly stategic area control game with lots of paths to victory, second only in its depth and complexity to the peerless Botswana.

Garry $650,000 Paul $540,000 Steve $460,000

Still with time in hand we had a crack at Love Letter. I was reading the rules just as Sally walked through from the front room "...you are one of these suitors, trying to get your love letter to the princess..." god knows what she was thinking under that snigger. It's a brilliant little filler tho', not much to do but great fun.

Steve 5, Garry 1, Paul 1

10th Dec - Keyflower

5 player Keyflower this week. I was wondering how well it would work with 5 but it was good, you just had to make sure you kept an eye on other peoples towns. Not many transport tiles in the draw so there was a lot of jumping on each others tiles. Good fun.

Matt 55, Paul 48, Garry 42, Steve 40, Ben 31

3rd Dec - Botswana (and Agricola)

A rather detailed session report from Matt:
Monday saw the final of the Horsham West December Open, always a popular event with the higher ranked West Sussex Botswana mind athletes. Three top ranked ludologists clashed in what is likely to be a strategic barometer for this weekend's Dubai Masters event. Clarke, Cox and Green faced off in an all English final table. By mutual consent the players played a game of Agricola with the Belgium deck to determine the start player in the first round with Cox edging Green out at the close in a move that later showed potent of Clarke deliberately leaving half his farm empty to lead off in the final round of the main event. Clarke remained tight-lipped as to whether this was a tactical move on his part.

Final scores: Steve 36, Matt 34, Garry 28

Botswana H(w)DO 12/2013
Round 1: Cox leading to Green then Clarke
(Standardised IBA notation follows)

1 Cox: 3Le - Le
2 Green: 0Li - Li
3 Clarke: 0R - R
4 Cox: 0Le - Le
5 Green: 1Li Li......

A classic two Lion opener from Green leaves the other players stranded with few options but consolidation from that point. Leading from the front can be risk in the post double leopard-bluff modern game but the shear power of the double lion just can't be underestimated if the opponents are out of position.

1st Exchange: Green 29/ Clarke 24/ Cox 27

The second exchange saw Cox marooned in Zebras whilst Clarke executed a delightful Rhino blitz play. The end game turning point of:

24 Cox 0Z - Z (?! - intending ....27 5Z)
25 Green 3R - E
26 Clarke 5R - Li *End*

which spelled disaster for Cox in play that would suffice at club level, ruthlessly punished in this company.

2nd Exchange: Clarke 30/ Green 26/ Cox 12

Defending a slim lead into the final exchange Green had control of the game with the capability to end on Leopards by being deep in the small cats with the 0,1,2,3 in hand. However he was foxed by a resurgent Cox opening gambit of:

2 Cox 4Le - R
3 Green 0Le - Le
4 Clarke 1E - E
5 Cox 5le - Li

leaving Green with 3 dead cards but wanting to run an increasingly obvious Leopard-based game plan. Forced into playing ...18 5E - E Green saw his lead slip away with Clarke finishing on a flourishing: 22 Clarke 5Li - Li for a perfect 35 point hand and the match win by a point.

3rd Exchange: Clarke 32/ Green 30/ Cox 27

Final scores:
Clarke 86
Green 85
Cox 66

Clarke achieving his 3rd Botswana GM Norm at this event, deservedly so. The competitors are likely to see action on the tables again in the East Horsham 2013 Invitational in January in what looks set to be a thrilling clash. 

26th Nov - Snowdonia

Another go building a railway up a mountain in Snowdonia, 4 players this time and as we'd played once before it made a bit more sense, and like today's weather it was mostly rain with a bit of fog.

Matt 75, Garry 64, Steve 63, Paul 55

Then we had time for Sheepdogs of Pendleton Hill another new game from Essen and another keeper. Lots of interaction and 'take that', 'no you take that' sort of thing and just staying on the right side of chaos.

Steve 30, Matt29, Garry 28, Paul 28

Nov 19th - Keyflower

Another play of Keyflower. Really liking this one, you get to take actions during the bidding phase. A first play for Matt and Ben so it should be better the next time around. Very tight scoring at the end.

Ben 47, Steve 47, Garry 45, Matt 45

12th Nov - Keyflower

Keyflower, another new game from Essen. It was a bit confusing at first but once things got moving it all dropped into place.
It's a goodie, I've been really impressed by the games I've brought back this year, they've all been good so far.
Steve 65, Garry 58, Lance 54

5th Nov - 20th Century

This week we played 20th Century, hmm... not sure about this one, I liked bits of it. Definitely need to play it again.

Ben 129, Matt 122, Paul 113, Steve, 81, Garry 79

29th Oct - Snowdonia

There were 5 of us this week building a railway up the side on Mt. Snowdon. Snowdonia is not really a train game but it does have trains in it (which is close enough). It's a worker placement, collect resources, convert them and build things for VPs game. So nothing hugely innovative but it's very well done and definately a keeper. Next time we'll be playing with the Ivor the Engine promo card - how cool is that!

Steve 87, Matt 85, Ben 79, Paul 68, Garry 40 (woeful)

22nd Oct - Carson City

Carson City from 2009 with added Essen goodness in the form of this years expansion. Hmmm... well the expansion certainly changes the game a bit, not for necessarily for the better (or worse), it's still a great game. I'm getting more and more dubious about expansions there are very few that really make a game better.

Matt 39, Garry 38, Ben 29, Steve 28

Games from Essen

Here's the haul from Essen.

Click for biggness

Agricola All Creatures... expansion and Carson City expansion were punched and the boxes thrown away.

Also not pictured is Conflict of Heroes 2nd ed. which would have taken me over my baggage allowance on it's own. So that's making the journey home by road (thanks Lance) 

There were a few other games that I wanted to buy but getting it all in the case and on the plane would have been a struggle. So games that didn't make the cut, but I'll be looking out for are: Terra Mystica (sold out at the show), Il Vecchio, Kosmonouts just for starters.

19th Oct - Essen

Just here for 2 days this time. Lots of of nice new games.

The good:
I got a copy of Trains, in fact I bought 3 train games, all Japanese.
I didn't buy the new Fragor game, the box is enormous! Just ridiculously big.

The bad:
It's very busy.
I picked up Conflict of Heroes when I first got here without realising that it weighed the same as a small family car.
The Mundus Novus freebies were last year, sorry Matt.
Editing this blog on an iPad is a right pain.

8th Oct - Tournay

Tournay this week, I bought this at Essen last year and have only just round to playing it. I quite liked it but it'll need a few plays before we get a bit more comfortable with the tactics etc.

Garry 37, Matt 28, Steve 24

Then a quick game of 23, really nice little game, I'm still trying to work out the best way of playing it.

Garry 11, Matt 13, Steve 16
(low scores are best)

1st Oct - Agricola

Agricola, what more can I say. This time we played with the Netherlands deck which has some mad cards.

Steve 47, Matt 43, Garry 23 (pitiful)

With a bit of time left over we had a game of Botswana. I opened with the Lion gambit which can be very powerful against inexperienced players but it was quickly countered by Matt's Zebra and Rhino pincer movement. Not to be detered Steve powered through with the Elephants but, like Hannibal in the Alps fell, slightly short.

Matt 81, Garry 78, Steve 76

24th Sep - Key Market

Yes another go at Key Market. We really like this game. I didn't do quite so well this time.

Matt 171, Steve 133, Garry 103

17th Sep - Key Market

Another outing for Key Market, really starting to like this game a lot.

Garry 128, Steve 117, Matt 95

Then a game of 23 a cheap card game from Amigo that was billed as this years Geshenkt. It seems very simple but after we played it was obvious that there was a bit more going on that was worth investigating.

Matt 11, Garry 19, Steve 22 (low scores are good)

4th Sep - Caylus

On oldie but a goodie this week. Caylus is one of my favorite games.

Garry 66, Ben 64, Steve 61, Matt 50

27th Aug - Dominant Species

It's bank holiday weekend and although we couldn't arrange a full day of games playing we did start early so we could get a game of Dominant Species in.

Matt 211, Garry 203, Steve 159

20th Aug - Key Market

Well we enjoyed Key Market so much that we thought we'd have another go.

Steve 108, Matt 99, Garry 84

13th Aug - Key Market

Key Market goes for a lot of money 2nd hand, it's a good game a solid 7.5/10 but I wouldn't get bent out of shape if I couldn't get a copy. Bit of a hefty rule book but in reality it's no more complicated than most other Euros.

Matt 130, Steve 114, Garry 98

6th Aug - Dos Rios

Dos Rios this week, pretty good one this, we played with three and the amount of chaos was just about OK. I would imagine that with 4 it would be very hard to plan anything.

Garry - Built all his buildings, Matt - Built all except 2, Steve - Built all except 3

As the Olympics were on we played a game of Olympia 2000. Well it hardly captures the thrill of the Olympics, even from the comfort of your sofa. Still, not as bad as the closing ceremony.

Steve 36 (gold), Matt 24 (silver), Garry 9 (bronze)

30th July - Dominant Species Card Game

Much hype about Dominant Species the Card Game and it's actualy a good little game. I was impressed enough to buy myself a copy.

Garry 51, Matt 48, Steve 19
Garry 44, Steve 38, Matt 29

Then a game of King of Tokyo, good fun push your luck game. I died. Obviously pushed my luck a little too far.

Steve 20, Matt 15, Garry - Dead

16th July - Paris Connection

I wanted to play some of the quicker games and card games that I never seem to get around to. So we started off with 2 games of Paris Connection, which I really like.

Steve 93, Lance 83, Ben 81, Garry 78, Matt 65
Garry 111, Matt 105, Steve 102, Lance 98, Ben 87

Then a game of David and Goliath - hmmm this one was OKish

Matt 62, Garry 49, Lance 43, Steve 39, Ben 36

And Finishing off with Byzanz, which everyone agreed was very good.

Steve 26, Matt 25, Lance 22, Garry 20, Ben 16

10th July - Vanuatu

A new one this week, Vanuatu has been sitting on my shelf since Essen last year. It took a bit longer to play than it should as everyone was working out how the worker placement worked. Very good game (once you know what's going on). Hopefully next time it won't take so long.

Lance 60, Matt 58, Steve 47, Garry 37

3rd July - Arkadia & Santiago de Cuba

First up Arkadia, I think Matt wanted to play it to see if it was worth keeping or selling on, I think it's a keeper.

Matt 89, Steve 86, Garry 84

Then a game of the Excellent Santiago de Cuba

Garry 44, Steve 40, Matt 38

19th June - German Railways

My choice this week so chance to play a train game. German Railways has a fairly unique turn order mechanisim, turn order is determined by drawing coloured dobbers from a bag. It's possible, although very unlikely,  that you can play the game without even having a go and still manage to win.

Matt 328, Garry 322, Lance 287, Steve 185

12th June - Cyclades

A bit of mythical fantasy and plastic figures, no we haven't turned all Ameritrash, despite what it sounds like Cyclades is definitely a Euro. The idea is to build 2 big buildings (can't remember what they're called). I managed to build one and then used my army to steal Lance's building for the win.

Garry won, Lance didn't, Steve didn't, Matt didn't.

22nd May - Agricola

Another game of Agricola, you would have thought I would have got the hang of it by now. I don't know what I was thinking about but it was the worst I'd ever played, I'd have done better if I'd let Eddie Grundy run the farm.

Matt 37, Lance 30, Garry 15

Then time for a game of Vikings, whilst I did better I still came last - I was rubbish tonight.

Matt 71, Lance 62, Garry 60

May 15th - A Castle For All Seasons

Ben's choice this week so we played A Castle For All Seasons. The rules are horrible and it took nearly an hour to get started, thing is it's a fairly straight forward and easy to play game, why on earth the rules are such a mess is anyone's guess.

Ben 60, Garry 58, Matt 52, Steve 29

After that we had time for a game of Tongiaki it can get a bit chaotic with 4 but it was still good fun.

Ben 23, Garry 22, Matt 15, Steve 15

8th May - The Speicherstadt

I'd recently got the expansion to The Speicherstadt and decided to give it a try. It makes the game much better, however I do think that 5 players is probably 1 too many despite recomendations on the 'geek. It's a very good auction type game but it does suffer a bit from being a typical theme light, cube pushing, euro. But it does have Firemen in it which seemed to keep Ben happy.

Matt 24, Ben 22, Steve 21, Garry 20, Lance 8

1st May - Mundus Novus, Botswana, Cronberg

I couldn't make it this evening so Matt has sent his normal high quality record of events:

Three players this evening. Lance got to Steve's early in order to decide what to play and set up. Instead Lance and Steve discussed the merits of a number of games and decided on nothing. Steve has suggested I bring Mundus Novus and Lance seemed happy to give it go.

I explained the rules whilst Steve got the coffee on. I took the precaution of explaining the trade matrix twice and we got through the rules with no real problems, Lance asked a couple of questions about the trade matrix, then Steve ran through the trade matrix again, and we were good to play. Lance had a flying start and despite stumbling through the trade matrix (he had in under control by turn 5) soon had a good number of development cards in front of him. I, on the other hand, couldn't find three matching cards until about turn 4 by which time Lance and Steve both had impressive fleets of ships. I tried to stuff them over by perpetually burning their warehouses to the ground and setting pirates on Steve, but Lance romped it.

Lance 82
Matt 43
Steve 37

Botswana was next up, another of mine. Lance looked rather perplexed by the plastic animals and the opening rules summary. I mentioned mid-way through it was a Knizia design and the penny dropped: this might look like a fluffy game but it's in fact a fiendish stealth-gateway mind-screw game with plastic animals. I plotted an initial pro-zebra plan but I was unaware that Steve had concocted a lion-based strategy that I think it essentially broken. Steve took lions, crashed the rhino market and cackled mercilessly whilst his stock in large carnivores continued to increase. Lance started off not wanting to play any of his cards, a situation that led to a catastrophic collapse in elephant futures around turn 7.

Steve's 19 point lion lead into round 2 was looking unassailable but I was resolved to peg him back. Unfortunately a planned united front against him between myself and Lance broke down when Lance let him have a second lion. victory in that round, in which elephants were roundly ignored and treated with suspicion, followed shortly afterwards.

The final round saw me taking an early lion and grabbing two more. Steve hedged his bets whilst Lance's high-risk 'all-elephant-all-the-time' gambit saw him pull back some points. Final scores:

Steve: 82
Lance: 71
Matt: 67

Lions are simply ridiculous in this game. I'm going to switch them out for kangeroos the next time we play for reasons of balance.

Thread about this on the geek

Then Steve brought out Cronberg. Cronberg is a very 'Steve' game. Players place either a rhombus with positive or negative scores on it, or a wooden dobber at the intersection of rhombus spaces, which scores a number of points equal to the points on the corners of the rhomboids at that intersection. Which sounds fine, if it were not for the fact that the game was made by by deranged eastern Europeans who revel in futility and depression. Half of the rhomboids have negative values and some of the spaces, if left uncovered, double the positive or negative score of the remaining points of the intersection.

The score track goes backwards to -15.

Knowing that you have a guy trapped that will score -18 you at the end of the game is a dispiriting experience. A one stage, with whole swathes of the board rendered barren wastelands of negative scoring, the best use of a positive tile was deemed to be block out potentially playable spaces. Playing a dobber to score +1 was seen as a generally good move.

Steve: 30
Matt: 17
Lance: 14

24th April - Kremlin

This week we played Kremlin, an old game from 1986, still had to punch it before we started tho. Very definately of it's time, but still fun. A few things were a bit confusing but it came together in the end.

Lance 3 waves, Ben 2, Matt 1, Steve 1, Garry 0

10th April - Leader 1: Hell of the North

As it was the Paris-Roubaix bike race on Sunday it seemed fitting to play Leader 1: Hell of the North. Paris - Roubaix is a 260km slog through northern France a lot of which is over cobbled farm tracks.

After a quick rules read through we were off. For some reason my squad of Tom Boonan, Fabian Cancellara and Alberto Contador (admittedly not at his best on cobbles) were beaten into 3rd place by Matt's team of George III, Barak Obama and Pippa Middleton. And exactly where Steve managed to get a team consisting of Spooky, Cranky and Tubby from I don't know, probably a circus. Anyway I think drug tests are called for.

Top of the Podium: Matt

1st Loser: Steve
2nd Loser: Garry

2nd April - Carolus Magnus & Taluva

Three of us again this week, Steve started us off with Carolus Magnus.

Steve 8, Matt 5, Garry 3

Then time for a game of Taluva

Steve Won, Matt 2nd, Garry 3rd

20th March - 1655, Ingenious, Mundus Novus

Matts choice so he chose 1655 Habemus Papam which is a game about selecting and voting for the pope. There are loads of games with this theme but this one rises to the top.

Garry 16, Steve 15, Matt 11

Then a game of Ingenious.

Matt 12, Garry 8+, Steve 8

After these 2 games we still had time for more so we had a game of Mundus Novus.

Matt 86, Garry 71, Steve 64

13th March - String Railway: Transport & Santiago de Cuba

It was my choice this week so it was an ideal opportunity to play a train game, not enough time to play 1830 so we tried String Railway: Transport a Japanese train game where the tracks are pieces of string. I thought it would be a light fun family type game but it turned out it's a 'proper' game about route planning and goods delivery. Excellent game, can't wait to play again.

Garry 31, Steve 19 (2nd on tie break), Matt 19

String Railway plays nice and quick so we had time for Santiago de Cuba which nicely distills Cuba down to an hour or so.

Matt 37, Steve 30, Garry 27

6th March - Assriya

Another bargain from the works for £7.99, and I can kind of see why. Assyria isn't a bad game but it just feels as if they tried to jam in one mechanisim too many. Each part of the game worked quite well on it's own but together it became a bit messy.

Ben 128, Matt 123, Steve 115, Garry 111

28th Feb - Mundus Novus & Samurai

Just 3 of us this week. We started with Mundus Novus a nice meaty card game, once you get past the poorly written rules it flows quite nicely.

Steve won, Garry 74, Matt 69

The time for an oldie, Samurai, I'd forgotton what a brain burner it can be.

Steve 1st, Garry 2nd, Matt 3rd

21st Feb - Navegador

First up was Navegador, a 'rondel' game that I bought at Essen in 2010. Really good game, lots of ways to win and very little down time. Richard won by colonising anything that stood still long enough.

Richard 106, Garry 92, Steve 82

We had some time left so decided to play the brain burning trick taking card game Flaschentufel (or Bottle Imp in English). I only manage to get the hang of this game by the time we finish playing, but at least I managed a joint win (yay!).

Garry 66, Steve 66, Richard 22

It was a shame that Matt wasn't here this week as I'm sure he would have really enjoyed himself.

15th Feb - Santiago de Cuba

A few weeks of no games due to people being away skiing/sick/laying on beaches etc. 3 of us managed to get together a played a couple of games of Santiago de Cuba. Great game it dosen't take too long so not outstaying it's welcome. Managed to get 2 games in.

Ben 45, Garry 39, Steve 36
Steve 48, Garry 38, Ben 36

17th Jan - Power Grid: The First Sparks

Been a while since I updated this blog, sorry about that. Anyway we played this new variation of Power Grid set in pre-historic times. In theory it looks like a good game however there is one major flaw, It's possible to get youself stuck in a loop where you can just about to feed your people but not buy any more cards, and there's nothing you can do, this is as good as player elimination. A poor design in my mind. This one's going on the trade list.

To make up for the pain of First Sparks we played Hol's der Geier which was great fun.

I lost the slip of paper with the scores on.

Jan 10th - Takenoko & Mundus Novus

2 games in one night, that dosn't happen very often. We started with Takenoko, a game about growing bamboo and feed it to a panda, a bit light but good fun.

Garry 29, Ben 28, Steve 28, Matt 22

Then we played Mundus Novus a card based trading game, talk about meaty, a lot of game in a small box, definately want to play that again.

Steve winning combo, Ben 62, Garry 59, Matt 46

3rd Jan - Dominant Species

Got this as a Christmas pressie, fantastic game (and makes up for the fact that I only got to play Trivial Pursuit and Masterpiece over the Xmas holiday).

Steve 191, Matt 148, Garry 145

13th Dec -Olympos

Just noticed that I hadn't added this game that we played before Xmas. I didn't make a note of the scores but I do remember coming last. If anyone else can remember the results I'll update this entry.