Boardgaming in Glasgow

Hands up if you are a grumpy baws - or how to hand Smith his ass on a plate

Ok so nobody likes to lose but we play so many games its bound to happen occasionally right. Even disregarding skilful play -something I have very little of- the law somebody wrote to take account of luck will come into play occasionally. Even discounting this some poor hallion will get stepped on - not because their opponent doesn't like them but because the game requires it. How one handles this ass-reddening paddle spanking determines to a large extent the size and character of their sexy-bits. One of life's great lessons ... or something.

Ok so the fact that Brass shares many letters with a slang term for Mary-Joanna shouldn't mean you have to smoke the weed -no not a euphemism- to do well at it.

I've played this once before and been less than impressed. However Ian tentatively suggested it earlier in the week and I felt it was only fair to try again. While the outcome was pretty similar again I enjoyed it a lot more. However Brass seems to benefit from knowing pretty well how things flow and how the different elements of the game score. So basically I was sharked by players because they were more familiar with the game rather than because they were more skilful.

I tried to develop my harbours early in the game with the intention of laying them quickly and kind of cornering the market. I only played one level 1 building trying to invest in pieces that would stay on the board after canal scoring and earn me points twice. I realised this was a problematic strategy as other players stopped building cotton mills and exporting as soon as they spotted my plan. I then had to concentrate on building mills myself to flip my harbours and the whole thing got pretty messy. I couldn't invest too heavily in tracks and canals and I got royally humped in the final scoring. However just for the record :) I did not view this as either directly or indirectly Ian's fault. In fact I felt fairly positive about Ian at this point -though in a purely heterosexual fashion - just so we're clear-

It was about 10:10 pm and I was looking for something falling in the 45mins-ish category and was very happy when Smith whipped out Manhattan. Its a game I love and I play regularly with non-gaming family members. I have to explain that my family do enjoy games but only in a ruthless, chop your knob off type of way. Its fairly well accepted that in a 4-player game one person is bashed early on and then a three way race ensues where each player tries to lie JUST in third position until the final round when they streak out to claim a bloody but well deserved victory.

All of the above was unbeknownst to Ian as he splurted out a couple of buildings in the first round. I gently tapped him one in the eye building over one of his towers. When I did it again he raised an eyebrow. I think David may have joined in at this point. Robert bashed me a couple of times. We scored; Ian was last, I was third and everything was going according to plan.

I think it was after another few bashes that Ian began to question my strategy. This is nothing new as often I play in a seemingly random fashion just to lull other players into a false sense of security. However undeterred I pressed on with my game plan. I thought Ian looked a little grumpy and he did say something about getting the -clear leader- which was Robert at the time. I pushed on bashing subtly at David and then at Robert whilst at the same time knocking Ian so he'd retaliate and keep me slightly behind David and Robert. I think this was the point at which Ian's guilt-trip tactic caused David to lose control. I pointed out to Ian that his grumpiness had caused me to beat down on David rather than to play -where I wanted to go-. This was of course nonsense and a distraction tactic so that David would not retaliate and beat me to a small an squashy pulp. David however glazed over and explained in a fairly polite though angry way that he was also not beating down on Ian because he felt uncomfortable and I guess slightly guilty. He did not feel nearly as guilty as me though for causing this.

Anyway to cut this long story short so that I can slope off to bed, I managed to ekk out the win by a point, much to my relief. It was a tense yet still enjoyable game.

I think that fundamentally Ian and I have different ideas about how players should behave in games. I very much like to experiment and sometimes I do unusual things, I think he likes to reason what people should do to maximise their play in particular situations so that he has a better understanding of what they are likely to do. I'm not criticising this but I think it limits your options based upon where you can see the game going. Sometimes a play that seems less than optimal can lead to an advantage later in the game. That's my feeling anyway.

Own up or i'm tossing a coin!

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.

Mammoth Hunters
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!

I left my harp in Sam Spams disco

A fun evenings gaming with Kreta as the highlight.

This has become a firm favourite among the gaming cognoscenti of Primordial Group. We Kretites feel a justifiable superiority over those plebeians who deny it's clever charm and wet, supple curves. True there's nothing particularly new in its mechanics but everything gels and provides for a very tense yet pleasurable experience.
In Kreta you're trying to score points by controlling areas of land. This is accomplished by choosing a worker card each round and performing the associated action. The action could allow ship movement/placement (Admiral card) for example or initiate scoring. I particularly enjoy how the game forces you to make tough decisions each turn: do you cut your losses in one area to invest in scoring heavily in another? Do you try to peg back the leader or leave that to another player?

In our game I tried to keep in contention while not gaining a clear lead. If it looked like I might become the leader I played pieces into strong board positions that were not showing yet as scoring in effect reducing my current scoring position for advantage later in the game. I'm not sure if anyone noticed lol. As the game came to a close I was identified as the clear leader and players joined together to peg me back. It was a very tense last few turns and I just managed to hold on to the lead by a point.

As we waited for the other table to finish Clans hit the table.
So I did pretty badly. I couldn't seem to get my coloured huts into effective scoring positions without another player giving me a shafting. While I lost I enjoyed the banter and would play again any time. However I prefer the more cut-throat nature of Heimlich and Co (Undercover) for this style of hidden information game.

Royal Turf (Winners Circle)
I was very excited to see this hit the table as its a firm favourite.
I was very successful in the first race but couldn't quite manage to keep up the momentum for two and three. I can't recall the final scores but it was great fun and not overly long.

Hey Andy, slap me with that wet fish again

The only thing worse than being beaten, is being beaten with your own fist.

I was organised enough today to bring my copy of Santiago to Ian's and Andy, Robert, Stuart and I tucked greedily into its forbidden pastry.
Andy "I'm a cock-knocker" Hynes grabbed a significant lead in the first few rounds exploiting the turn order and manipulating his gimp (Robert) perfectly. For some reason I bubbled up as the clear leader and no amount of discussion on the merits of kicking Andy in the giblets would convince the other players to give it a go. As the game progressed Stuart 'crazy-boy' Winchester seemed to be pursuing some strategy the gods alone could understand while Robert 'the gimp' Gilmour bent over and took several more for the Hynes team; even after I pointed out that he was doing so. Maybe I should have sucked up the pile of schuck Andy was funnelling my way and tried to slip a win under the radar at the last minute; but at least I can blame my second position on the poor gaming skills of my fellow players. Result!

It was 9:30pm and Ian 'timewarp' Smith suggested a 5-player game of Shogun. I was planning to be tucked up in bed by 11:00pm and suggested it might be a bit on the long side, however he assured me it would be comfortably over in an hour and a bit. Two and a half rather enjoyable hours later we were still playing and the next day my not inconsiderable good looks were negatively impacted by my lack of the old dreamy time.
The game began with Ian establishing a clear lead foolishly building a lot of early palaces and painting a big red target on his not insubstantial buttocks. After the first year scoring he had a 7 or 8 point lead and was the obvious target for some major beatdown. So I organised a tag team to try and claw him back however he did a good impression of a floppy shark: claiming unsportsmanly conduct on our part while grumpily planning the final bollock-rending victory. By the second year he was much reduced but a subtle and wise seed of the tower (not a euphemism) which he copied from the master (me) gained him enough momentum to cruise to a comfortable victory. I jogged home in joint second with Andy, while David "I've a strategy honest" Grier tailed us for a close fourth while Robert farted limply in a (very) distant (and embarrassing) fifth.

Gimplers of Catan and how a Scock* was born

So February sort of rocked here at Hanley towers. I won a few more games than I lost which was cool yet I felt a mystical energy pulsing off in the near distance; foretelling more winning to come.

Settlers of Catan
Robert, Christina and I whipped out 'Old Faithful' firmly anticipating a good drenching. I got off to a good start identifying Christina as the 'clear leader' while securing the longest road. Robert was eliminated as a serious threat (and embarrassingly turned into a buffer) a few turns later as I sealed him in between Christina and I adding to my impressively long road. To their credit my fellow players, now in second and third position, formed a kind of 'unofficial pairing' as I tottered for four rounds on 9 points with the dice bending me over for a good seeing to and tossing off a sequence of highly improbable numbers. Fortunately my well-oiled machinery eventually produced the desired climax leaving Christina in second with 8 points and Robert a distant and frankly disappointing third with 7.

While Ian, Julia, Scock* and David played out the final turn of Tinners Trail Robert, Christina and I pulled out:**

For Sale
Although a game I enjoy, I am absolutely schuck at For Sale. I can't actually think back to a game I've won yet amazingly I tend to compulsively suggest it if I see a spare 10 mins floating around. Ian did helpfully suggest we play Geschenkt but none of us knew the rules. Anyway, to cut a long story short Robert won, Christina came a close second and I sucked ass. Since I didn't win there's no point in an indepth discussion of the finer points; the game is obviously broken.

With Christina and Julia out of the gaming scene we were a five.

Leonardo Da Vinci
David the cock knocker secured this from (the obviously barmy) Michael for the fine sum of ten English Pounds. While that makes him a bastard, I kind of forgave him last night because:

•he let me play it
•it was the origin of Scock*
•and he let me beat him

The game was interesting. As usual for a first play we (read David) got a rule or two wrong. Normally that would cause me great distress, however since Ian got a good shafting and because it was funny I think we can let this one slide. Its not like this is the first time Ian had taken one for the team - David was responsible for Ian's terrible shafting in his first ever game of Formula De. Anyway let's hope its not a sign of things to come - Coom-by-ya anyone?

* Scock is a contraction of 'Scott' and 'cock' used by me after severe provocation in Da Vinci in place of the phrase "Scott you are a cock." It seems to have stuck much to Scott's chagrin (or perhaps because of it!).

Traders Of Genoa

How to lose friends and infuence no-one

Ten things to think about doing to your opponents when you're shafted  (or how Christina ran me through in Traders of Genoa)

There are some movie moments that always stick in the mind, the shadow on the shower curtain in Psycho, the razor and the ear in Reservoir Dogs, the 'shampoo' on the earlobe in Something about Mary, but as Sinead O'Connor once almost said nothing compares to [the betrayal of a fellow merchant]; the careful folding up and wiping your ass with traders' honour. 

Traders of Genoa is after all a polite game; it's meant to be shared, to be played nobly, to be loved and treated with respect and reverence, like an old grandfather.  I clung to those principles from the start, unaware that under the polite facade of friendly banter lay a dark secret.  I probably should have listened when I first sensed that low thrum of dark intention; instead I ignored the signs, discarded my doubts and put my faith in human nature.

The merchant's art is not easily learned (or so a sage once told me)  but I played my hand openly.  I fell behind gradually after Nick and Andy developed a close 'partnership' early on in the game; there was lots of "I'll give you one if you give me one later." 
David, Christina and I struggled against this two-sided Andy-Nick triangle until we began to (unofficially) work together.  Furious trading promising and bluffing ensued as I tried to deposit more and more cash into my top pocket.  However with a market skewed early on by Nick and then by Andy, where single cubes where valued at 15, it was difficult to make a profit from a small order fulfilment where you  had to maybe pay 20 to get a schuck action earning a net of 5 on the  order's 40 payout.  In hindsight large orders were much more  profitable at a cost averaging 45 for the goods and maybe 25 for the  action to fulfil their 100 payout.  If I'd been any way good, I'd  have switched to large orders given the market conditions.  Instead I  fulfilled two large orders and 6 small orders gaining me the 'clear  leader' title even though I was actually in about third position - not a very good thing and something I try to do to other people.  So I was sucking my own lemon as we moved towards the final rounds and not enjoying the bitterness even slightly.  As we moved into the final round, negotiation had degenerated and Christina stepped in to secure my defeat with a deft and wholly ungentleman-like three-way  deal where I made a net loss of at least 75 on a large order.  In one  fell swoop I moved from a potential second place finish to fourth.

Now some (probably those who were there) would say this was  completely my own fault. However in my defence Christina made the  deal so totally complicated and then distracted me by waving her cubes.  In the end I gave her all my stuff and settled for being crapped upon from a great height when I should have been having a good go at winning.  Thanks C, I will not forget that this was all your fault.