Boardgaming in Glasgow

Maharaja: The Game of Palace Building in India

For the final night of 'themed' June I decided to stick with the winning combination of Kramer and Kiesling ... but it was difficult. Difficult because Last train to Wensleydale was one of the games nominated, and i love a big slice Wensleydale .
I particularly like it when its served with a side of Smith and Kelly (and it was)

So we split into 3 groups. Nick's group played Municipium, Stephens group played Wensleydale and I tabled Maharaja.

The aim of Maharaja is to build palaces. If you can build all your palaces before anyone else then you win the game. If two or more people build them all on the same round then money is the tie breaker.

Each round the Maharajah visits on of the Cites on the board and scoring will take place. Then its a simple majority exercise with the winning player getting 12 coins, 2nd getting 9, 3rd getting 5 and 4th place getting 3.
Palaces are expensive to build (12 coins each) so you have to ensure you get enough income from city scoring to allow you to build more palaces.

To aid you can take special character cards which give you special bonuses (e.g. an extra coin every turn, palaces cost 9 gold etc..)

The heart of the game is the clever action selection mechanic. Each turn starts with everyone secretly selecting 2 actions then in turn order revealing those actions and performing them. As usual 2 actions is never enough and you spend a lot of time agonising over what you think your opponents will do, what you want to do, what you need to do and how your going to get the money to pay for it all.

Early game scoring.. Julia is mysteriously absent while Kyle (Blue) and David (Yellow) vie for majority. Calum (red) watches on with amusement.

The game ended with Kyle and myself both building out 7th palace on the same round, fortunately I had a few coins more then him and squeaked the win. Calum was close behind and Julia was off somewhere muttering that she hated the stupid game.

As is always the case when you haven't played a game for a few years we got a couple of rules wrong, but nothing too serious. It also reminded me of what an excellent game it is, and I really must make more of an effort to get it to the table more often (unfortunately it joins a long and illustrious list of games I want to play more often) 

So theme month is over - back to normal games selection again.

A few members have never had the pleasure in trying out our 'namesake' board game, Primordial Soup, so hopefully we'll get a chance to rectify that (I've even made some fimo amoeba specially!)

Go Stop. No really - please stop!

The second of our 'theme' nights in June kicked off with a Feld (Aquasphere), a Wallace (Brass) and a Kramer Kiesling (Java)

Where i learned that no matter how much you love a game, and no matter how good you think you are at it, sometime you just can't get it together. 

Michael, Andy, Mark and myself all settled down to a nice relaxing game of Java and i was pretty excited about it. I love almost all Kramer Kiesling games but Java's the one i want to love the most.  
I just love the way it looks, i love the action point system, i love the area/control dominance aspect of the game and i love the games ability to let you pull off some really creative moves.

It was Marks first game so we had a quick rules explanation before we began (and a much needed refresher for the other 3!), first player was chosen and it was me.


So - what do i want to do here again i asked my brain. It blinked silently at me and said nothing.

The game progressed with the others competing heavily and building ever larger cities, while I pottered about elsewhere enjoying the scenery or something. Festivals were had and I was quite literally always late to the party.

Michael has a mid game melt down as he tries to work out if he can irrigate 6 tiles, expand the city, build a palace, stomp on Andy, and gain dominance with his 6 action points [spoiler: he can't!]

Andy stormed into an early lead and looked untouchable for most of the game, with Mark keeping him honest. Michael quietly expanded into a good position and by the time Andy initiated end game scoring had control of most of the board.

Michael won with Andy a close second. Mark finished a respectable 3rd not too far away from the leaders. I was last seen  in the supermarket trying to buy drinks and nibbles for the first festival.

As always it was an enjoyable game, making sure you are present in as many cities as possible with good access to sneak dominance during final scoring is key!

Elsewhere Brass was being played, or 'tolerated' in the case of Nick. Rob popped is brass cherry in an experience he described as intense, which pretty much sums it up.
Stephen took a comfortable win but hats off must go to Mr Smith who had the biggest pile of cash I've ever seen at the end game! 

We rounded off the evening with 3 quick card games.

The excellent Abluxxen is a game i've had for a while but only recently got a chance to play. The rules are very simple - so simple in fact that you wonder where the game is when you hear them.

...und Tschuss is a Martin Wallace games that doesn't involve trains, loans, industry or cheese but is still rather enjoyable.

The crowning glory / utter horror show of the evening was the final game of GO STOP. This Japon game was purchased in bulk by us at our first Essen in 2008. The rules are atrocious, the game play is silly but we laughed we cried and a good time was had by all.

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!

BSG - how Doug was Andys toy

First of all, I have to say that trying to table Battlestar Gallactica on a Wednesday night was probably not the brightest idea. The game ended up around 1am, after we rushed through the last 40 min or so.

The game design is quite clever. There are various different roles to take on board Galactica, all inspired by the characters from the tv-series. Then one person needs to be the president and one Admiral, both giving extra powers. Then all charachters draw a role - in the pack there are 10 humans and 2 cylons. These are redrawn halfway through the game, with the exception that cylons overrule humans (so if you get one of each you are a cylon). So in the first half of the game there are 0-2 cylons, in the second half 1-2 (if one person should draw 2 cylon cards).

I think the humans might be able to win this game if there are 0 cylons in the first half. We had 2.

Attending this game was Andy, Nick, Brian, Doug, Mads T and myself.

In the first round of playing, I had a read on Nick, and so I played a card allowing me to see his role - he was a Cylon (as expected) and I immediately announced this to the group, and obviously Nick vehemently denied this. We then went through several rounds of combat making it ever more unlikely that we should ever make it to earth without some sort of miracle.
Then Mads T decided to also play the "view role" card, looked at Nicks card, and announced him to be a Cylon as well.

Now, this should be pretty clear cut now, Nick is obviously a Cylon.

But now we are exactly half-way through the game, and veryone draws roles again. This could mean that while Nick was definitely still a cylon, now anyone else could also be.
Still, at this point its by any standards wise to put Nick in the brig, and be sure one of the cylons is put away.
But for some unknown reason, Doug, who was now both president and admiral, and Brian, decided to believe Nicks very far fetched stories, and Andys even worse "logical" deductions, and both Mads T and I ended up in the brig, while Nick and Andy could create havoc on our beloved battleship. (yes, the lack of logic Andys arguments showed me very clearly that he was a cylon - what I didn't know at this point was that he had been all along).

As expected, the Cylons managed to win this game quite comfortably, in what was a very funny and intriguing game night, and the latest Wednesday finish for me so far.
The only discussion point that remained afterwards, was how Mads T and I ended up in the brig, when clearly we could never both be Cylons.

Well played by our cylon twins Andy and Nick, but something clearly went wrong in the way we humans managed the game.

Thank you all for a great night of talking, and a game that was way more fun than it looked like originally.

Note to self: If Andy doesn't want to be a clear cylon in the brig, take a look at his role card(s)

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!

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!

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

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.