Tonight's gaming came straight out of the twilight zone mainly thanks to Robert and Andy. If weird things keep happening over the next few weeks I am tempted to buy some garlic and lock myself in the toilet.
Every time I say the word I expect a plump friar to step up behind me and whisper - bless you my son. -
Ok so first off, I've played Tichu maybe once before and enjoyed it however that was with a decent partner. I know you're probably thinking - oh here comes the old lame 'its my partner's fault I lost' excuse - but hear me out: it was really all Robert's fault.
You see, try as I might to communicate (via card play rather than by pulling ears etc) with my team mate, he insisted in playing randomly. Now normally I can deal with randomness however Robert scattered apparent logic and strategy throughout his play, lulling me into a false sense of security on the occasions that I took note and attempted to adjust my strategy. However plan as I might, he managed to scupper me. Eventually I worked out that he was playing away; batting for the other side, if you will. So my only option was to call a few minor and one major Tichu in an attempt to put us back in contention with Andy and John. This did not work and we ended up with huge minus points. It was all Robert's fault (have I said that already). On reflection I didn't enjoy this much, it was overly long and not as elegant nor as fun as Mu (nor as good as I remember).
Ruse & Bruise
As we waited for the other table to finish Royal Turf (Winners Circle) John whipped this out onto the table.
Maybe when I hadn't heard of this alarm bells should have started to ring. Or maybe I should have ran after John mentioned it was an impulse buy. However I must have been groggy from the Tichu game because even after the rules explanation I still played it. To say Ruse and Bruise is bad is like saying mass murder is bad: it doesn't even begin to describe the horror. The game is entirely devoid of strategy. You have nearly no control over when the round will end and thus you can get severely humped in the scoring. Add to this mainly hidden card play and a set of cards with so many lengthy rules, so little good card design (give me some icons to indicate if a card activates when flipped or only in the scoring phase please!) and a scoring phase where there is an eight or nine item order in which cards resolve before scoring and this out complicates most CCG's! On the positive side; most of the components will burn without releasing toxic gas.
I'm glad we got a chance to play this. I've tried it once before with the Northern Ireland group before I moved over to Scotland and while I enjoyed it, it didn't go down well with the other players. Tonight I got a chance to see how much of a game there really was in this nice brown box.
It turns out we got a rule or two wrong in the first turn but once spotted we corrected it and I don't think the game suffered. I enjoyed this again and I think the others had a similarly positive experience. I think the dark and light card mechanic is nice and I enjoy the tension as you balance helping your opponents with improving your own position. The game is pretty tactical but its nice that you can manipulate your hand a little by discarding a card before you redraw. I don't think there's too much luck and the fire tiles don't add that much hidden variation to the scoring regions. Plus the clubs help you insure against a disastrous removal during scoring; if such a thing is likely. Overall I think this was great fun and hope it comes out again soon.
Highlight of the night: Andy tried to determine whether to screw over me or Ian: he knew one of us had beat down on him in the previous turn (it was Ian by the way) so he threatened us with the classic line -ok so whowever it was better own up now or I'm tossing a coin to determine who I shaft - GENIUS!!
Edited by Andy to add:
"We got a rule or two wrong in the first turn" should be replaced with "we got the entire game wrong in favour of everyone except Andy who ended up coming last". To quote BGG rules translation:
"If there are more Hunters in an region than are permissible, some of the Hunters must be removed: The player with the fewest Hunters takes one Hunter from the region and places it back into his supply, followed by the player who has the next fewest Hunters, who likewise removes one Hunter, followed by the player who has the next fewest Hunters etc., continuing in the same sequence over several rounds, until the limit of the region or less is reached." (poor grammar as per original BGG article).
Unfortunately we performed the hunter removal incorrectly on every turn. Sore loser! Me? Actually it was a good game and I'd like to play again - with the correct rules.
On a side note we are starting to see the evolution of a new phenomenon: "off the ball speech-play" from Ian. Otherwise known as whining, sometimes followed by winning, always preceded by sitting in a clear-leader position. It featured heavily in Shogun the other week, and again in Mammoth Hunters this week. I only mention this as he has criticised me for such behaviour in the past.
Edited again by Ian to add
Now now Mr "It's okay when I do it" Hynes, tell it like it is, the "off the ball whining" you refer to in Shogun was in direct response to a 4 player agreement to "all target ian" and as for Mammoth Hunters, I was never in the lead at any point of that game.... so clearly your memory serves you badly there. If a player chooses to vocalise his desire to target one player, it is thus perfectly reasonable for the target to attempt to deflect the bullets. For the sake of clarity, I feel I must remind you that I sat in dead last for rounds 1 and 2 of Mammoth Hunters, jumped into 2nd at the end of round three and retained that position, with John jumping the previous clear leader Ivan to grab victory.
I will forgive you this oversight because clearly the facts don't matter when one is being duplicitous and trying to find excuses for coming last.
Edited by Ian to add:
Master Builder & Royal Turf
Despite Ivan and Roberts assertion that the former game is without merit, I have always felt that played in the right spirit, this can be a light weight laugh, this was undoubtedly the case on Wednesday, Christina began her howler of a night by ending the game with less money than she began, Stuarts impressive evening began with a well crafted 2nd place. In Royal Turf, Christina absolutely failed to grasp the closing straight and in one foul swoop gifted Stuart a winning haul of £1200 and Victory. Christina's terrible evening was compounded when she discovered that her friend had spent much of night camped at a Theatre Box office, awaiting her arrival, alas poor Christina had her dates wrong and managed to wreck more than a game outcome!