Boardgaming in Glasgow

In The Year of The Scholar

So everyone knows that after a promising start at "in the year of the dragon" some four years ago, I developed a case of the yips worse than David's famous Steam Yips of 2012. I spent all of 2010, 2011 and 2012 not registering a single win, my mid game collapse was legendary, renowned as being a fireworks whore, I was the player everyone wanted in a 5 player game, as it meant I was one less person to worry about.

Something changed in late 2012 and suddenly I was competing, I wasn't playing brilliantly by any manner or means but i was doing okay, I wasn't hemorrhaging workers and my houses had pretty reasonable foundations. Suddenly I actually started winning the odd game - a famous three player victory against my nemesis Hynes healed some of those old wounds, but still something was lacking. I hadn't yet played the perfect game .... well until Sunday that is!

Having warmed ourselves up with a thoroughly intense game of Steam - congratulations to Andy for his victory therein, I suggested we round off with a game of YotD. Adam had never played before but we gave him a good briefing and lubed his arse up proper. Mark and Andy were eyeing each other up, both sensing the presence of their biggest threat. Michael looked slightly bemused and unsure of himself but as this is Michael's stock guise, I hadn't guessed that it might all be a ploy.

Anyway - the random draw for starting player began and to my horror I was first. Now it was a strange looking board from March it went like this. Fireworks, Helmet, Tax, Helmet, Tax, Fireworks, Sickness, Rice, Sickness, Rice - thanks to Mark Hall for this glorious set up. I stuttered, the obvious Helmet, Fireworks was there but it didn't feel right, if i went budha helmet, i would open myself to a budha firework ass fucking, so did i do the obvious build, money - play from the back? After much debate, I plumped for the highly unlikely and improbably Money, Rice option - 7 on the initiative track and likely last place. Mark was next straight out with FW/Bud and Andy replied with H/B - so it was the die was cast, this pair were going to fight it out from the front. Adam played relatively safe and chose a reasonable FW/M and Michael threw the absolute curve ball of Scholar/Money.

The game started as you would expect, Mark and Andy fighting for build and fireworks, occassionally grabbing initiative, Adam strolled through the middle taking safe options for free, Michael and I stock piled cash and where possible I grabbed in advance those things I might need at game end - Rice and Healers.

By the end of the second recruiting round, Michael had already burnt his scholar and a wild recruiting more scholars, meaning that every time he was able to take that choice for action he would score 7-10 points. Tragically scholar kept arriving unpaired, meaning each round he could grab some points. 

By the half way stage, Andy and Mark were still fighting, Mark on 2 x 3 storey builds, Andy on 3 x 2, both 90% full, both scoring well, I was - as usual at the back but building up a head of steam, thanks to my 4 buildings, geisha and 2 point charm. Michael was a walking disaster, starving employees, collapsing buildings, no tax, no helmets, the surrounding territories looked like a warn zone, with the burning corpses of his failed enterprise for everyone to see. He may have been killing them left right and centre but its only fair to say the people able to survive inside his university - well christ they were getting a dmaned good education.

So we enter the closing stages, Michaels final Tax and Rice requirements, kill 4 employees, destroy 2 buildings and leave him with 1 single building and one highly educated super brain melon. Andy was looking okay - sitting about 10 points ahead of me and 4 or so ahead of Mark with 4 buildings and 7 employees, a small buddha - a nice tidy end game. Mark was slightly worse off but with a better buddha configuration meant that it would be tight between them, Adam had played very well for a virgin and was going to end the game on something like 85 points. 

However if I say so myself, my town was a thing of glory. Every building standing all but one employee recruited and still alive, 2 double buddhas - it really was perfection and so from last place I began my slow descent towards inevitable glory. First the employees, 13 employees thats 26 points, jumping me over Adam, then Mark, then one buddha, thats 6 points, bye Andy, another buddha thats another 6 points - hello 100 here I come and two final points for spare rice ..... I look up ready to accept the acclaim of my fellow players, having played as they say an utter blinder but wait, why was Michael smiling, why was he gleaning the handshakes and approval, hang on - is that Michael on 103 points? Mister - one building, no rice, no money, harbinger of doom, death to all who set foot in his town, mister never seen a firework in his life, doesnt need an army, bringer of famine and pestilence, did he honestly score over 75 points with his fucking scholars? yes he bloody well did.

I play the best game Ive ever played and science boy chooses to abandon everything but one action and claims victory over a table of 5 and people say Puerto Rico has an easy route to victory.

Well I guess its well done Michael, clearly education is the key to success!

Steam Pay UK!

Have you ever found yourself short of 5 pounds for that important mountain build? Have you been 3 pounds short of winning that all important auction or worse still, have you needed just 1 pound to pay your bank debt at the end of your turn. Well never fear, help is at hand.
We at Steam Day UK can provide all the short term funding you need for that one round of play and we only charge 11353% APR. You wont find a more competitive Steam Gap Funder in the UK

Say goodbye to those Wallace Debt Spiral Blues and say hello to Crippling Interest rates and sleepless nights.

At Steam Day UK you can be sure that even the most undeserving and futile loans are considered.

1800 Reasons Why Nick is a Cock!

1800 Reasons Why Nick is a Cock!

We all know that Nick is a Cock but I have recently decided that one event stands out above all, as evidence of his Cock stature. To many of you, it would seem an innocuous incident, one hardly worth mentioning but I can assure you that one simple sentence, uttered in around October 2009, has generated more tension headaches than any other I have ever witnessed.
What was that sentence I hear you ask

I think it went something like this .... "Hey, do you think it'a about time we played an 18xx clone?"

Why did I say yes? Why did I encourage him? We were all relatively happy back then, we had our Puerto Ricos, our Steams, our Power Grids, did we really need a new obsession?

Well it all started to go down hill about a month later, Nick turned up at our Flat with his brand new 18FL - apparently one of the easier games to get your head around. A 4 player game set in Florida, it follows a fairly generic 18xx model but is less punishing in the operations round and less demanding in the dividends - "a fairly good place to start" they say!

Well in classic Primordial Group fashion, this 3 hour game took the best part of 5 hours to play. It was tight it was tense and it was mathematically exhausting - I won, which helped with the pain of being main calculator. It didn't immediately grab me as the greatest gaming concept - but it niggled at me for a few weeks, until we were able to play again. We played 3 more games in the ensuing 5 or 6 months, David and I claimed the Victories and along the way, many good natured arguments broke out as players argued about Share Manipulation and Operation Values, we experienced one classic disaster in our final game, when the bank, the winnings and the player cash got mixed up - We will never truly know whether Nick pipped Andy into second ... we think he did but don't tell Andy I said so.

18xx then took a bit of a back seat as we couldn't organise many weekend sessions with Nick and as he was the only member with the game, we all began to forget about the concept - that was until Essen 2010

On the Saturday at Essen five of us found ourselves playing Poseidon the new 18xx clone from the makes of the classic Australia and China versions. We were all sucked in very quickly and three copies of this were brought home, along with a copy of Baltimore and Ohio which had been requested by David.

Poseidon saw one outing shortly after Essen which passed without much comment, everyone seemed to like it but no-one was truly gushing.

Then at Christmas I was bought both a copy of Poseiden and a copy of B&O by my brother, he had seen by Geek Wishlist and acted accordingly.

A few weeks later B&O hit the table on a Saturday Night, We loved it david won it, so much so we played two more sessions on the following wednesday - David won another along with Stephen. The hook was starting to take hold.

A weekend Poseidon followed and then another ... Stephen bought 1860, I grabbed a Steam over Holland and then David reminded us all that he had previously bought 1853.

Last night - we roped Christina into our sad band with another brutal and brilliant B&O and to make matters worse ...

.... Tomorrow - David, Stephen, Bez and I will all be taking a day off work - a day in which we plan to spend 7 hours cultivating migraines and anger at each other, a day which will end with one player happy and three absolutely gutted and worst of all, a day which will end with at least three of us checking our diaries to establish when we can find the time to play 1860.

For those interested in becoming a part of the afflicted group, I suggest you have a look at Lonny Orgler's website wherein you can order the aforementioned Australia and China (7 player) versions for a mere ?39

A final word goes to Nick - You Cock, I was quite happy before you made me play 18FL and I now I have a problem and I'm not sure I'm managing it.

Anyone fancy trying 2038? It has asteroids you know!

Bez brings a whole new meaning to the Brass Canal Phase!

Anticipation was high, Tension was higher as David and I sat down to continue our epic and long standing Brass rivalry. We both realised before a card was played that it had been some time since we last played and we were thus feeling a little nervous about the opening exchanges.
Brian joined us for his first ever game and numbers were completed by Bez, David and I both silently pondered if one of us would benefit from the presence of a less experienced player - noone could have prepared us for the chaos that followed.

I won the toss on turn order and the usual first move AP kicked in, should i grab the £2 development option or guarantee turn order by taking an early loan. I decided to risk an opening which had a decent chance of paying off, I opted to build a Coal Mine in Wigan. Wigan is a strategically important slot in Brass as it links to two iron works for the second round and is a cheap opening move. In normal circumstances this -Kasparov - opening is usually countered by a similar build in Bury - The Fisher Reply - or the aforementioned Loan/Develop choice

David looked concerned as he had come fourth in random turn order selection, this could/should have resulted in having to take 2nd or 3rd in turn order for the next round. Unfortunately for me, David gleaned the early initiative as Brian's Coal Mine in Bolton, allowed Bez a first round Iron Works - unheard of in professional circles. David was thus granted two free developments and turn order, two more developments for free and two for £2 gave David the early initiative, at this stage i was uber-concerned that I wouldn't catch this early advantage. Brass really is this tight and the cash saved could prove to be crucial.

By three rounds in, I had formed a strategy - Coal, Canals and Cotton Mills would be my early attention and I'd look to cash in on the Iron, later when the demand diminished.

Brian had by now grasped the basic principle but was not seeing the bigger knock on effect of cooperation, Bez was having a slightly erratic and indecisive game, lots of take backs and rethinks.

Having already fallen behind David, I was fearful that any misplaced token could spell disaster and then .... it happened!

After a series of frantic card shuffles, tile placements and take backs, Bez lunged at the table and in classic Gilmour style toppled one pint of water all over my taken display. Panic ensued, I ran for Towels, Bez began drying off the Wooden money with his shirt, David and Brian quickly grabbed the board to prevent further destruction.

I returned from the kitchen, David and Brians quick thinking had saved the game but alas my tokens had now disintegrated into warped mush - my heart sank and with it my concentration.

Bez looked forlorn, I was less than understanding. We considered abandoning play but decided to continue.

The board was returned, I took apart my destroyed markers and air dried the remaining transfers. We began collecting our cash and cards. Suddenly I was faced with choosing one of three piles of cards, none had the right number present. Finally a set of 6 cards was passed to me and we moved on, it took a full two rounds for my early suspicion to be realised ... I was playing with the discard deck and not my own cards. Now not only was I using warped tokens, I had built a network to which I could now not connect. The Canal phase ended with me 11 points off the lead and a further 5 behind on tile placement.

Brian actually had the highest points total but as all his tiles were removed for the start of round two, his joy turned to dismay as he realised he had been well and truly wallaced!

By the second or third round my game was a mess, David was relentlessly charging towards victory, my only hope was to use the massive cash pile I had to build Shipyards and hope I could flip big cotton mills at the end.

Bez commented upon the enormous stack of wooden cash that both David and I had acquired, i explained that i was merely constructing pillars upon which I hoped to place the game board, in order to avoid future water logging, Bez didnt laugh!

I built Shipyard 1, David winced, I built shipyard two, David winced big time. I paid for my shipyard and watched as David made his next move.

Bez who by now had been christened Poseidon, was frantically playing with money to my right, it took me a few seconds to realise that he had 18FLed the money! 18FLing the money involves a player tampering with the bank and making change during play resulting in chaotic recalculation of payments and change.

This was the final blow, somewhere within the mass manipulation I - at worst - paid for my shipyard twice or at best - paid for a level 3 coal mine and Iron twice.

I was done for, wet board, the wrong cards and missing about £20.

David looked deeply disappointed, how could he relish the inevitable victory if his key opponent had been so systematically raped by "Bez has got talent"

My only hope was to claim a respectable 2nd and it looked possible, cash to build two more cotton mills and a couple of unflipped Harbours ready and waiting, I could conceivably score another 20 points or so and perhaps only lose by 10-15.

Then Brian stepped in on the fuckage, by selling cotton to all the unflipped mills, he left me no option but to try and sell to the distant market which was sitting at the last space available. I tried, I failed and with that my disasterous game ended.

David - who had played impeccably stormed to victory by around 40 points, Captain Nemo pipped me for second by a further 10 and Brian realised that Brass is not for beginners storiming in a distant (but dry and financially correct) 4th.

There is only 1 thing for it, I demand a rematch, I demand we waterproof the board and I insist that Bez plays in a different postcode!

Essen 2010: The Games

Essen 200 kicked off officially with Dakota, this much hyped game of area control and resource management was billed as the nastiest and toughest German game for years. In it you take the role of either a Native or a Settler and essentially fight the progress of the other players, with you out to prove that you are the best. Settlers and Natives are in direct competition, with success for one ultimately meaning failure for the other, the subtlety and "genius" of the game is meant to come from the internal battles within each camp. In our game, Nick and I were pitched against Julia and Andy, whilst on table 2 Michael found himself up against the combined efforts of John, Nick 2, Brian and Stephen.
The game has a nice shared area control/bidding mechanic for resources, frankly this was pretty much the only fun part of the game and after 5 or 6 rounds of this we discovered that it was only fun because we are automatically drawn towards conflict.

In our game Julia pipped Nick, then I. The three way attack strategy adopted by Andy failed miserably. In the other game, Michael cruised to a win whilst the settlers all bickered over resources.

Looks - Pretty

Mechanics - Old Hat

Hynes Rating - Broken!.

Cleoptras Caboose
We actually went off in search of Poseidon when we cane across this ZMan train game. The box announces it as an 18 Ankh Ankh game, we decided after much time invested that "Ankh of Steam" would have been more appropriate.
We had the pleasure of being taught the game by Steve the designer, this charming American chap spent quite some time discussing the games origins, which essentially consisted of him trying to make a single game containing the most over used mechanics/themes in gaming ..... Egypt, Trains, Auctions, Set Collection and Area Control. One would think that this would create a chaotic, random and ultimately messy gaming experience, surprisingly it doesnt, what one experiences is a tight, well balanced and aggressive train game, part Age of Steam, part El Grande and part many other games you have loved.

Steve went to great lengths to explain how it had play tested, he encouraged caution and highlighted the importance of cash management, he just about fell off his seat when I opened the first auction for turn order with a bid of $5. He presumed this must have been a case of beginners naivety, how wrong he was as future rounds began with $6, $8 and on one occasion $13.

Steve seemed to be really happy that such a tough group of gamers were having such fun with his baby, we bumped into him on a number of occasions after this and were greeted each time with "Hey!. Hows my favourite Games Group?"

The game plays a lot like Age of Steam in the general round mechanic but the set collection and area control aspects take it off into another spectrum entirely.

We all Loved it, Stephen bought it!

Looks - Egyptian

Mechanics - All of them!

Hynes Rating: Genius!

20th Century
After lunch we pitched up at Rio Grande Games, we hadnt been too excited by the options at this stand and when we split in two it looked as though Nick, Andy and Stephen had won the watch with 20th Century, I still havent played it but this Polish game received high praise from all three. Andy bought it.
Looks: Eastern Block

Mechanic : Unknown

Hynes Rating: Genius

Glen More
Whilst the other chaps were investing in 20th Century, I convinced a reluctant group consisting of Brian, Julia and Michael to play this one, Alea's new mid box about Chieftains and Whisky. It all looked a bit fiddly at first, reminding me a little too much of Alhambra, Julia was less complimentary. Michael and Bryan seemed to be enjoying it and by round 3, I had started to warm to its inner charms, Julia remained unconvinced and despite winning the game labelled it a stinker.
Unperturbed I bought a copy, I had to, it's an Alea after all. We popped it open at Essen airport on the way home and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Looks: Scottish

Mechanic: Factory Building/Worker Placement

Hynes Rating: Genius

Julia and I decided to go for a wander to Treefrog and left Michael, Brian and Nick 2 to play the first of the Friedman Friesse Essen Releases, this stock market beer production game had been hyped prior to the event and we were eager to hear their views. They returned later with a copy which augured well. So Andy, Julia, Michael, Stephen and I settled in, we had been quite excited by the market engine when it had been explained to us earlier in the day, at the Power Grid stand. Things started well and Andy was quick to point out the "Genius" in the mechanic, I was less impressed finding the game a little tedious and solitairy. A few rounds passed and Andy dried a little, noticing that in over 45 minutes he hadnt once bothered to look at his opponents fields. We all raced to a finish adopting totally different strategies, I opted for low yield and quick build, completing five palaces promptly, however the card sorting mechanism, left me flipping through a few rounds of useless hands waiting for my 6th palace to become available, Julia opted to hoard cash ready for a final push, Andy and Stephen looked on hopelessly and all of us failed to notice Michael rush to a victory with a double last round build.
Looks - Predictable

Mechanic - Pointless

Hynes Rating - Genius ...... Err No Broken

Seven Wonders
This dominionesque card game was the buzz of the event, I didnt play but Nick had multiple games and seemed impressed, Andy played one game whilst borderline unconscious and drunk, thus it wouldnt be fair to apply the now patented rating system.
Looks - Space Age

Mechanic - Card Management/Set Collection

Hynes Rating - Unknown

On Friday we rushed back to ZMan and grabbed five seats for this 18xx clone, things started badly as the rules explanation wasnt going well, our gold toothed German instructor was making no sense and with phrases like "2 ships shit" and "4 kills 2", my hangover kicked in and my frustrations reached breaking point when I instructed him to stop and give Nick the rules, he took the hint to stop explaining but this didnt stop him talking and with every question raised by Michael, my head pounded exponentially, eventually I buggered off and asked to be called for when we started.
I returned with fluids and after another 15 minutes or so we kicked off on what turned out to be the second most popular game at the event (with 3 copies purchased)

Midway through the game Andy arrived nursing a bigger hangover than me and watched as a standard Primordial Group 18xx end game ensued. Julia had gone for No control and loads of stocks, Nick and Stephen opted for big shares in a few top companies and I went for Majority shares in three, the system in poseiden where companies rarely devalue meant that there was very little difference in end game share values, this paid off for me handsomely providing my fourth victory in four 18xx outings. It was tighter than normal, my £2717, defeating Julias £2672, Stephen and Michael produced respectable scores of just over £2500, whilst Nick realised that no matter how much he loves this concept he simply cannot bag a success, coming in a distant last on $1750.

Later that day Andy, Julia and I nursing recovering hangovers played a game at the hotel and I claimed my fifth win this time nudging Andy by a mere £6.

Looks - Lovely

Mechanic - 18xx

Hynes Rating - Genius.

Truckers Version 1.5
Earlier in the day we had spent some time at the Japon Games stand and had all fallen in love with the quirky look of their games. I splurged on an untested set collection game, purely on the looks of the cards, we had a chat with the designer and he kindly signed my set.
After our three player Posiedon, we broke this open and began working out the rules, a couple of glitches and a few moments of madness in play had us thinking this was a cute but worthless game, however we battled on and warmed to its charms.

Later that night, Nick Julia, Stephen and I gave it another outing and all loved it.

Looks - Stunning

Mechanic - Set Collection/Race

Hynes Rating - Broken ..... Err No Genius

Magnum Sal
Both Nick and I had been drawn to this game about the second largest salt mine in the world, Andy was cynical to the point of dismissal, however we wandered over to the Polish games stand and met the enigmatic and embarrassingly young designers, they charmed us all and Stephen was first to pull out his wallet. They used key phrases like "Nasty", "Screwage" and "Evil". Even Andy was given an acceptable explanation as to why they had made a game about the second largest salt mine in the world and not the largest.
It was played twice by our group and once by the Edinburgh boys, Nick was so impressed he bought two more copies, one for him and one for Colin. Sadly I didnt get a chance to play nor did Andy, thus I cannot let you know if it was indeed Broken or Genius, you will have to find out for yourself.

Rio De La Plata
We had all been looking for this years Sushizock and Stephen was sure he and Nick had stumbled upon it that afternoon, we broke it open close to midnight in the crammed Ibis Bar.It consists of a box of eggs and two dice, you roll the dice, grab eggs and then have to show your dexterity by holding them in compromising positions. We drew many bemused and even more annoyed looks as we fell about laughing, fell over each other, knocked over drinks and fought for rolling Eggs. I havent laughed so much in years.
It gleaned another outing at 4am in the hotel reception, Andy came out the other end with a leg injury and the whole group earned the annoyance of the hotel staff, it didnt stop us playing it again!

Looks - Eggs

Mechanic - Stupidity

Hynes Rating - Genius.

Loch Ness
We always plan to settle in for a long session at one company site on a Saturday but having been underwhelmed by Rio Grande and unimpressed by Queens offering, we opted for Hutch games, we turned up to discover that all the tables had been prebooked, we panicked and looked for a quick alternative, I remembered Hans Im Gluck having a few tatsy offerings and we were lucky to grab a table. our attempt to hold two was foiled by the organisers, but we were able to get five of us accommodated at Loch Ness.
This strange race game, where half the players simultaneously move Nessy and everyone tries to predict her destination, seemed a little light but after a few rounds we noticed the internal beauty, the gloves came off and we all fought bluff with double bluff, sadly my opening rounds had been weak and I found myself out of sight of the leaders, Nick claimed a Victory but was closely chased by Julia, Stephen and Andy, we all suggested that one of us should buy a copy but sadly noone took the hint.

Looks - Scottish Again

Mechanic - Card Play

Hynes Rating - Broken/Genius

From the stable that brought you Traders of Genoa, this ship/train game, set collection, resource management game might have been my favourite of the whole trip. We played twice and all involved loved the simplicity and competition. It throws up massive challenges as everyone shares communal networks and buildingsl, you simply score for what you added and when. It was a lovely brain burner which played in 45 minutes, sadly we couldnt find where it could be purchased until the very last minute by which time we had all filled out bags to bursting.
Looks - Disappointingly Obvious

Mechanic - Link Building, Resource Management

Hynes Rating - Genius

Rio De La Plata
After much table hovering we finally managed to grab a post lunch table at Rio Grande, we considered the new Friedman Friesse Stock market game but had heard poor reviews, we were talked into considering a 5 player Three Musketeers game, however within 2 lines of rules reading, my Coop fear kicked in and then it all went blank, we binned it in favour of an apparently 90 minute city building war game. We waited for a rules explanation and all collapsed in fear at the suggestion of 5 hours to complete, we decided to give it a blast and all quickly started to hate the tedious mechanism, so much so we quickly engineered a war and raced to see it through. It merits no further explanation, think simply of a very detailed Carcassone with a Junta/Struggle of Empires war round and then take away every appealing image this throws up - simply awful!
Looks - Couldnt Care To Remember

Mechanic - Hideous

Hynes Rating - Demand Your Money Back!

Busstop and String Railways
Another trip to Japon produced two more games in multiple purchases, the first busstop, a simple race set collection game in the mould of Truckers 1.5 again seemed disappointing at first glance but once we ironed out the rules, it proved to be quick, charming and once again beautiful. The second String Railways was an absolute joy to behold, it does exactly what it says on the tin ... String Railways.
You set a perimeter with String, build a mountain with String, provide a river with String and then build networks with your own coloured string, scoring points for the stations you connect to and losing points for the strings you have to cross getting there. We loved it, we played twice, we will no doubt be inflicting this on you all for years to come!

Looks - String

Mechanic - String

Hynes Rating - String Genius

Incan Empires
Our brilliant plan to get in early with passes blew up in our faces as Hutch had again prebooked all tables, leading to cries of "Abort Abort" as we tried to synchronise our efforts from totally different areas of the halls. I ran for ZMan (the last thing I heard Nick say before being cut off) Nick lost everyone and made his way to the last spoken location, Andy lost Julia and Stephen, they spotted the lost Hynes and began falling him as he wandered in Circles looking for them, oblivious to the fact that they were actually following him.
I fought off four Italians and claimed a table at Incan Empires, Nick rushed in to bolster my claim and slowly the group reconvened.

We were taught the game and instructed to play a short demo, which we did. I took an immediate dislike to the mechanic and found it to be an overblown and less enjoyable Titania, Nick was much more enthusiastic, Stephen began to agree with Nick just in time for the game to end. We squabbled about its merits, Nick considered a purchase but was perhaps talked out of it after both John and Nick 2, who had played it at another stall had come away equally uninspired.

Looks - Aztecy

Mechanic - Link/City Building

Hynes Rating - Probably Broken

That pretty much put an and to our Essen. Roll on 2011

I'm The Boss .... No I Think You'll Find That I'm The Boss!

It was like playing games around at Stanley Kubriks house on Wednesday and everybody was Tony Curtis! That's a Spartacus reference for any idiot's in the group!
I'm the Boss finally made it to the table after years of whispered threats and reminiscences of it's brilliance .... all I can say is I'm glad it finally made it out, what an absolute stonker of a game. A brilliantly cunning market manipulation game - and a fabulous gateway game for beginners and those less experienced in the ways of screwage.

As usual we managed to trawl the games twisted hidden depths until by the second game, it was starting to play more like Junta, players were being rewarded just for not being dicks, deals were being withdrawn by frustrated bosses, I even withdrew a deal simply because someone spoke to me whilst I was proposing the split of cash.

As far as game play goes, theres nothing to it ... move around the board and on your turn, either supplement your hand with cards that will help you screw with other players and defend your own position or try and make a deal.

With the former, you can pull further shareholder cards, either minor ones from other families or additional ones from your own family, you can also obtain Holiday Cards, Stop Cards or Boss Cards.

If you opt for the latter (A Deal) expect a rabble of counter offers and negotiation as your opponents try and wreck your deal or under cut each other to buy a piece of the action. If you are particularly unlucky, you might find yourself having the deal stolen from under your feet by another player claiming "I'm the Boss". This happened to John rather amusingly after he had spent a good ten minutes negotiating a tough deal, he sat back proclaimed the deal was done and waited for the requisite few seconds to pass ..... "You know what" said David ... "I think I'm the Boss" - We all pissed ourselves.

Other highlights of the games being when Owen saddled with a pile of Holiday Cards attempted to send my "Boss" on holiday - it went something like this.

Owen "Sorry Ian, You're on Holiday"

Ian "That's Okay, His Sister will take over"

Owen (Playing Holiday card 2" "She's on Holiday Too"

Ian "I have his Cousin"

Owen "Holiday"

Ian "Half Brother"

Owen "Holiday"

Ian "Second Cousin"

Owen "Holiday"

Ian "Third Cousin Twice Removed"

Owen "Shit"

He didnt really swear but he would have had his Dad not ben sitting next to him!

A Brilliant Game and one that needs much much more table time!

An Open Letter to Martin Wallace From Mark Hall

Dear Mr Wallace

I would first and foremost like to start by stating that you are a cock for producing some of the most brain melting victory point driven board games I have ever played. When you were designing games did you set out to make the end scoring as difficult to understand as possible so noobs always get fucked in the ass and feel like their brains are bleeding? Yes?

Last night however I played Last Train to Wensleydale, your game about cheese and stone, another one of your excellent integrated themes might I add. Fortunately I have learnt from getting pissed on in tinners trail (again congratulations on the theme) and quashed in Liberte - the secret of your auction mechanics and influence paths. The secret is not to go with what you think is best or to devise a complicated long term plan but to go with what is more historically accurate. I being a cheese connoisseur and related to a stone mason am well aware of the importance of cheese to Skipton and the south and given the NERs significance in pre-war transportation heading up the west side of the board was a no brainer. Armed with these historical facts I, for the first time, won your game by a comfortable margin. 

I am already researching Lancashires historical cotton industry and iron works for my upcoming victory in brass.


If you make your wife playtest all your games she must fucking hate you so Id sleep with one eye open


I am also currently writing a similar letter to another cock, probably a bigger cock than you, Stefan Feld. Do you have his address? 

 Many thanks

Mark Hall

10 things I hate about you...

Okay so over the last week Mr Hynes and I have engaged in a 7 day , 2 player, 7 game fest of Year of the Dragon. Before I start with my review, I have to admit that Andy won 7-0, well actually it's the fact that Andy won 7-0 that has prompted this post.

I am no slouch at Board Games I think you will all agree. 2nd overall in 2008/2009 and 1st overall in 2009/2010 suggests that I can certainly hold my own in our chosen field of pastime pursuits. There is no doubt that Andy is the best YotD player that we have, in the same way that it is beyond doubt that Nick is the king of Age of Steam (I am happy to concede David's current Brass superiority (by a cotton nose), Julia excels at Thief of Baghdad, Ivan is the best at (something I'm sure) I'll take A Struggle of Empires 100% record (over my Ticket to Ride 100% record) and without wishing to piss anyone off by omitting their talent, the point I am trying to make is that everyone has one, two or maybe even three games that they must always fancy their chances of winning. The interesting thing about YotD is not that Andy is fantastic at it, the really interesting thing is that I am absolutely awful at it. I have won only one game in my life and as it is the most played on-line game we have, its also the one game I have played more than any other.

I have played YotD now over 25 times and I've come last about 20 of those 25 times. That suggests to me that there is something sinister in the mechanic of YotD, something dangerous and probably illegal.

Everybody knows that I don't like to over analyse things, if I had a bit more of the Nick about me, I wouldn't have lost Steam on Wednesday night by totally forgetting that I had 5 gold to pay my loco's and thus chose to take income of 4 rather than VP's of 4, which would have garnered me a 2 point win, as opposed to a 1 point loss.

Of course, if there was more of the Nick about me, I'd be more of a Cock, I'd play slowly and I would deprive you all of my post game rants caused by realising that my own relaxed approach had cost me another win. All that said, a lack of analysis doesn't always mean one is destined to lose.

I love to speculate about hidden info, I love to gamble on outcomes. Anyone who watched me open Tinner's Trail so recklessly on Wednesday night would attest to that. That doesn't mean that I cannot battle with pure information and make solid strategic plans. I can certainly hold my own in the Torres' construction site of pure mathematical information or the brain melting industrial yard of Wensleydale or Automobile .... so what is it about YotD that messes me up so much.

I have wrestled with this for 7 days, only 35 minutes ago it looked like I might finally crush Hynes in the field of battle only for me to suffer two of the most noxious brain farts in history and end up losing by 7 points. Why does YotD do this to me, why can't I work out the simple problem. It's all there in front of me and yet it eludes me at every juncture.

This is not a subtle game, as my previous blog review suggested (just after my first and only win in a game which saw Robert end with less people and buildings than he started with) it is akin to having your balls booted relentlessly for 55 minutes and then just as you think the punishment is over the game decides to tell you that it thinks you are a wank! Andy described our last game as being reminiscent of the somme. This game tells you at round 1, exactly what you need to do by round 12 to not get the shit kicked out of you. It provides you with an inch perfect map on how to escape with your gonads intact and yet I always manage to come out clutching my balls and crying for my mummy.

It's all very simply, make money, feed workers, cure sick people, have a battle, learn some skills and go to a firework display or two - it isn't rocket science, so why is it that every time I know I need to cure three people I decide to invite them all over for a bonfire, why is it when my workers are hungry, I decide to take them on an educational tour of the local university - in short - why can't i get my head around the simplest of problems?

I'll tell you why .... it's evil. It emits a small radioactive particle which blocks certain transmitters in your brain, it affects your normal balance and this is why Andy is so good. Andy has only one functioning ear, Andy's balance is fucked already - I have come to the conclusion that Andy doesn't feel normal at any other time in his life - Year of the wanking Dragon is the one thing which restores his equilibrium and thus not only is the game Evil but Hynes is a freak. I think this is something upon which we can all agree!

Anyway - I'll be back to you in 7 days, when the score is 14-0.

Fuck Hynes, Fuck Feld, Fuck Fireworks

Woohoo - Finally!

It's only taken eight attempts!
Tonight at 10.50pm - I finally did it.

Ian - 453

David - 320

Naoki - 306

Julia - 221

Florent - 179

It was a hard fought contest, but 5 election wins on the night won out, on David's own best haul of 3 election wins and Naoki's 2. I know that makes 10 but there is that little thing called Coalition!

There were the usual moments of despair and frustration, Election wins with no media control, David rolling 3 0's when he opted to cash his £50,000 donation for membership combined with much Public Opinion Abuse resulted in the usual level of head scratching, head shaking and head thumping activity.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to such an enjoyable experience, I now feel complete ... well in a gaming sense at least!

Two Weeks of High Pressure Steam Cleaning.

So Martin Wallace's much anticipated AoS remake has now made it to the table twice in two weeks, 10 of the group have now had the opportunity to play the game and if you take a look at our Games list, you will see that it has been propelled into the top 10 of our favourite games, some 20 odd places above its forefather.
Last Week, Gregor and Callum guided a table of relative newbs through its inner workings, Gregor came out on top whilst poor Helen was subjected to a spectacular Wallace debt spiral, ending the game on 0 points and -10 income.

This week, Steven joined the relatively experienced AoS quartet of David, Andy, Robert and I. Within a couple of rounds Andy had already decided that his copy of Railroad Tycoon was going on the ebay heap in favour of this compact little beauty.

By round 3 or 4 Steven had fallen into the debt spiral and was having to take loans just to finance his previous loans. We showed the kind of sympathy that our group is renowned for by grabbing any routes nearby and essentially forcing him into an identical end to that which Helen was subjected at Ivan's the previous week.

As has been the case in all previous games of Steam, all players concentrated on income until we hit a level of 8 or 9 and then the dash for VP's was made.

In our game it took until round 5 of 7 for the VP's to be broken but when they were, it was clear we were in for a very tight finish - we just had no idea how tight that would be.

As the game concluded, Andy was in possession of 5 locomotives with a chance of shipping 6, I was in clear control of 2 x 5 point ships, but only if I could win the bidding and claim the locomotive. David was similarly placed but unable to ship as extensively and he also coveted the locomotive upgrade. As we ended the penultimate round, I found myself with 6 gold and turn order and thus was the first to secure capital. I chose to dump 4 income points for 20 cash, David dumped 3 for 15 giving himself an identical 26 gold. Andy, being third to act, chose 10 gold and 2 income drop to glean a total of 27 gold.

A totally futile bidding convened with both David and I hopeful our 26 gold might secure that elusive loco. As it was Andy won out and claimed the engine he thought he needed. We all wondered how that Loco ownership was pay off .... the answer is it paid off very well indeed. Andy ended the game tied with David on VP's and Income and won out on the third tiebreak - namely role selection, his choice of Locomotive (6th Choice) being one lower than David's choice of Urbanise (7th Choice) so not only did the Loco pay off in terms off points it paid off in deciding the outcome of the tie break. Funnily enough, had David won the loco, he would have claimed victory by 1 point from me, had I managed to win the Loco for less than 4 Capital purchases, I would have won out by 1 point from them both.

That is the sign of a great game, one where the very last move could decide the game in any one of three ways.

Now all we need is for Nick to play and admit that its actually better than his beloved ..... and as they say ... Monkeys might fly outta my butt.

Elsewhere in the last couple of weeks, we enjoyed more Automobile antics, Played some China and tried to teach Bez the finer points of High Society, to say we failed in that regard would be a massive understatement