Pizza was the order of the day, so while we were waiting for it to arrive, we played a quick game of Walk the Plank!. This is a very short game of kamikaze pirates that we’ve played a few times before and is great fun so long as everyone plays it in the right spirit. We started by shortening the plank, so everyone had no choice… Very quickly, most people had lost a pirate and the plank was only one square long. Red had all three of her pirates perched precariously on the end of the plank when the inevitable happened and in they all went and out went Red. Yellow quickly followed, then Green, leaving Orange and Blue to fight it out with their last remaining pirates (although the rules say the last two players share the victory, we play hard-core and stick it out to the end). Blue had the advantage of going first, but with both Pirates on the ship one remaining piece of plank between them and certain doom, it needed a bit of thought before she could finally secure victory.
By this time, pizza had arrived and so had more players, so we decided to play our “Feature Game”, Spanish Bohnanza which we could do while munching. We’ve played this a lot before and always enjoy it, even though it sounds really unpromising when you explain it. With two players new to the game, we played nicely and before long everyone was happily planting “Judías” and trading “Cafeterías” for “Hippies” and “Bills” for “Booms” – and we had all thought the names were funny in English! It was a very tight game with Blue finishing only one point ahead of Black and Red who were joint second. Whenever there are new players in a game, we usually let the experienced players go first as it takes the pressure off a little and means that they get to see how it is done. Unfortunately, this meant that the last two players, who were also new to the game got one fewer turn which could have made quite a large difference given how close it was and, on reflection, it was an effect that was exaggerated with so many players. So, if we remember, perhaps we’ll house rule it in future and turn over the draw pile one last time and make sure everyone gets the same number of turns.
An early start for work the next day meant a few players left early and the rest played Ivor the Engine. This is a clever little game that features the iconic art-work from the Ivor cartoons as drawn by Peter Firmin. We’d not played it before in the group, although several players had played it at the UK Games expo where it was first released and we talked about it a few of weeks ago. The idea is that players are travelling round Wales collecting sheep and the person with the most sheep at the end of the game is the winner. A single sheep can be collected whenever you start your turn on a town or village with sheep in it, however, more sheep can be collected if you are in a town or village with NO sheep and perform a task to “help Ivor”. Helping Ivor comes at a price, however, as in order to do this you have to play one of the dual-purpose cards from your hand, which means you cannot use it to help you in other ways. At the end of your turn you add one card to your hand from the face up displayed cards, however, when the chosen card is replaced from the draw-pile, the game has a sting in the tail: mixed in with the errand cards are event cards, and these can be nice, or nasty…
Once the game had been set up and sheep sprinkled liberally over the Welsh hillside, players carefully chose the starting points for their waggons. Within two turns however, the first event card came out and moved everyone to Tewyn. As almost nobody had any sheep, most of us had no choice, much to the chagrin of Green who had chosen to start in Tewyn and, by the time his turn came round, all the sheep had gone and everyone else’s waggons were in his way. Nevertheless, Green started well with a couple of very lucrative errands, followed by Black. Purple meanwhile, was the only player who had been able to avoid the enforced relocation to Tewyn, and was making good progress in the “Grumbly” area of the board. Blue was feeling more than a little hard-done-by, when she found herself stuck in Ivor’s shed by a nasty, vindictive move from Green, who helped himself to a couple of “lost sheep she’d been eyeing up at the same time. He couldn’t afford to stick about for long though, and eventually Blue managed to cash in three errands, finally getting going at last.
As the game progressed it became clear that the excellent start made by Green was gradually being eroded by Black who, with extra experience, was clearly the player to beat. Purple picked up a very lucrative event card giving her lots of extra sheep at the end of the game and Blue carried out a couple of errands and Mrs. Porty’s House, keeping them both in the game. Green meanwhile got in Black’s way and managed to prevent him from picking up his critical twenty-fifth sheep, thus prolonging the game for an extra round, giving everyone else a chance to play that last card. That last turn made the game very close, but Green and Blue failed to catch Black and who won on a tiebreak. Next time…
Learning Outcome: Spanish judías and German böhns are funnier than English beans.
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