Author Archives: nannyGOAT

Next Meeting, 20th September 2022

Our next meeting will be Tuesday 20th September 2022.  As usual, we will start playing shorter games from 7.30pm as people arrive, until 8pm when we will start something a little longer.  Please note that the pub will not be serving food on Tuesdays for the foreseeable.

To mark the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the “Feature Game” will be Corgi Dash.  This is a retheme of Heimlich & Co., which was published as a “Jubilee Souvenir” earlier this year, by Tony Boydell.  Other games we’ll be playing will have a Queen, King, or otherwise royal-related theme, for example, Queen’s Necklace, Sleeping Queens, Kingdomino, Key to the City: London.

Corgi Dash
– Image by boardGOATS

 

6th September 2022

Plum and Pine were the first to arrive, shortly followed by Blue with Orange and Lemon.  With nobody eating, the group were in a position to start thinking about games straight away.  Plum had offered to lead Wingspan, with Lime in mind as he had recently acquired a copy of Wingspan and was keen to give it another go.  Pine commented that although he loves birds, he’d never really got on with the game-play of Wingspan so, sadly he’d prefer to play something else.  The “Feature Game” was to be Project L, a sort of Tetris-like, engine-building game and it sounded much more his thing.

Project L
– Image by boardGOATS

So, Plum took herself off to the other side of the pub to set up Wingspan with the European expansion.  The European expansion adds more cards including end of round cards, but doesn’t add any extra mechanisms (like the Oceania expansion), so it was felt that including it wouldn’t cause too much confusion.  As the others rolled up, there was much surprise as Teal and Ivory said they would rather give Project L a go.  Then Pine changed his mind and joined Wingspan (along with Purple and Lime), allowing Black to play the “Feature Game” as he had played Wingspan recently at Burgundy’s Birthday Event.  That left six to play Project L: Orange, Lemon, Blue, Ivory, Teal and Black.

Project L
– Image by boardGOATS

Project L is a very simple game:  players start with two small plastic pieces and use them to complete Puzzles winning more pieces enabling them to complete more complex Puzzles and thus build an engine.  On their turn the active player can do three actions from a list of five things:  upgrade a piece to a larger one, take a Puzzle from the display, recycle the Puzzle display, place a piece in a Puzzle they own, or place one piece in each of their Puzzles (or in as many different Puzzles as they can).  This last, “Master Action” can only be carried out once per turn, and is clearly very powerful once players can get it going, however, to make it work they need lots of Puzzles and lots of pieces.

Project L
– Image by boardGOATS

With six, to reduce the amount of down time there is the “Line Clear Variant” available.  In the normal game, there are two rows of four Puzzles, one of White backed Puzzles and one of slightly more advanced and therefore more rewarding, Black backed Puzzles.  In addition to winning pieces for completing Puzzles, players can also get  points—the player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.  The game end is triggered when the draw deck of Black backed Puzzles is exhausted at which point the round is then finished and one more, final, round is played.  In the Ticket to Ride: Switzerland, there are two rows of each colour, each containing three Puzzles.  One pair of Black and White Puzzle rows are marked with a dark stone and the other pair with a colourless stone.

Project L
– Image by boardGOATS

The idea of the Line Clear Variant is that two players play simultaneously with the active players marked by a dark and a colourless stone that are passed round.  When it is their turn, players can only recycle or take Puzzles from the rows that match the colour of their their stone.  Ivory was picked as the start player (he drew the player aid marked with the start player symbol) and he began with the dark stone, so Orange, sitting opposite, started with the light stone.  Everyone began a little tentatively, but before long players were filling their Puzzles with gay abandon.  The game end is slightly less clear with the Line Clear Variant.  Still triggered by exhausting the Black Puzzle Deck, the game continues until the first player has been passed both of the markers again, in any order).

Project L
– Image by boardGOATS

The Black Puzzles ran out quite quickly—Project L really is just a “Filler Game“, but players still had to finish things off.  The start player was Ivory, which meant that Orange was a little caught out.  Once the game has finished, everyone can place any pieces they have left, but at the cost of a point for each one.  Orange was unlucky, and unable to complete any of his remaining Puzzles, neither could could Lemon.  Teal had managed to finish off all his Puzzles in his last turn, but everyone else placed three of their pieces to finish things off.  It was quite close for a first game:  Blue finished with eighteen points, but Ivory and Black tied with fifteen apiece with Ivory sneaking second place on the tie breaker (the player with the most completed Puzzles).

Project L
– Image by boardGOATS

A lot of the comment was about how nicely produced the game is and it had been enjoyable to play too although not very memorable.  It was time to move on to something else though and with six, the obvious and usual choice would be Bohnanza, but Ivory had other ideas and suggested New York Slice.  This is a reimplementation of …aber bitte mit Sahne which we played recently, but with a pizza theme instead of a cake theme.  In both games, the idea is that one player makes the cake (or pizza) and divides it up into segments equal to the number of players, then players take it in turns to choose one of the segments.

New York Slice
– Image by boardGOATS

When a player takes a segment, they can either eat slices or store them for later.  Those they will eat are worth points at the end of the game with the number dependent on the number of blobs of cream (or pepperoni slices) on top.  The pieces players keep are scored depending on who has the most of each type at the end of the game.  Each piece of cake (or pizza) has a number on it which tells players the number of that type in the game and also what the player with the most will score at the end of the game.  There are a few things that are different about New York Slice, however, which make it a little more competitive and slightly more of a “Gamers’ Game”.

New York Slice
– Image by boardGOATS

Firstly, in the case of a tie for who has the most pieces of a type of pizza, in …aber bitte mit Sahne all players score points whereas in New York Slice nobody gets anything.  Secondly, some of the pizza slices have anchovies on them and any of these that are visible at the end of the game are worth minus one (because everyone hates anchovies on pizzas right?  Well, everyone except Teal it seems…).  Probably the biggest change though, is that in New York Slice, each pizza is served with a Special—a bonus tile with rule-breaking powers.  In most cases, these are added to one of the segments for players to choose. They can be enticing and helpful, or they can be unhelpful and make players’ lives more difficult.

New York Slice
– Image by boardGOATS

Ivory cut the first pizza, leaving Blue to be the first to choose.  The first Special was “Cut in Line”, which Blue took straight away and then promptly forgot about it until the final round.  Ivory went into battle for mushroom pizza, but lost out to Teal.  The front-runner looked to be Black who stored the most BBQ and veggie pizza slices, largely thanks to his “Supersize Combos” Special which meant his two half slices became two whole slices of each type.  That only gave him joint second however, with Lemon who turned out to be quite the carnivore and finished with the most beef and meat feast pizzas.

New York Slice
– Image by boardGOATS

The winner, however, and by a single point, was Blue who picked up a lot of anchovies along with her “You Like Anchovies” Special and coupled that with winning the most lucrative pizza (pepperoni).  Full of pizza, Teal and Ivory decided it was time, leaving Black and Blue with Orange and Lime and a decision to make as to what to play next.  With Wingspan something over half-way through, they were looking for something substantial to play, but not too long.  Blue’s suggestion was Wsiąść do Pociągu: Polska, the Poland map for Ticket to Ride.  This was one that nobody around the table had played before though it had been played in the group two and a half years ago, shortly after it was released at Essen.

Wsiąść do Pociągu: Polska
– Image by boardGOATS

The Poland map works in much the same way as all the Ticket to Ride games; players collect coloured train cards and spend them to place plastic train pieces on the central map scoring points for placing trains, but also completing the route “Ticket” cards that they chose at the start of the game and maybe later too.  In addition to the usual rules, the base game maps all have a little something extra.  As well as the usual city locations, the Poland map also has countries, but unlike the Swiss map, these are not simply locations to connect to.  Instead when a player connects two countries, they collect one Country Card corresponding to each.  These are worth points at the end of the game.

Wsiąść do Pociągu: Polska
– Image by boardGOATS

When a third country is added to the “network”, the player again collects Country Cards, one for each country in the network. When Blue explained the rules, Black commented that that aspect was interesting and he was curious to see how it affected the game.  Blue started and was followed by Orange, Lemon and then Black.  Black started by collecting more Tickets—this was a tactic that was discussed briefly at Burgundy’s Birthday Memorial event.  Black had commented then that this was the way all the best players did it.  The idea is that by collecting Tickets early, players are best placed to make the most efficient use of their trains and know what coloured cards they might need.

Wsiąść do Pociągu: Polska
– Image by boardGOATS

However, it is a bit of a “Go Big or Go Home” strategy because if something critical goes wrong early, the player could get left with an armful of unfulfilled Tickets leaving them with lots of negative points.  And with the Poland map, this was far from impossible as it turned out to be quite a scrap for the centre of the board.  Lemon asked what she should do when someone had just taken a track she wanted, clearly meaning Orange who had just nabbed a critical route from Bydgoszcz to Płock.  “Kill them,” was the instant reply to much hilarity.  Lemon commented that she would get her revenge, though it was unclear whether that was planned for the game or sometime later…

Wsiąść do Pociągu: Polska
– Image by boardGOATS

Eventually, Blue claimed the first Country Cards, connecting Belarus to Germany.  When she added Russia and Lithuania, it was clear how these could add significant points to a player’s tally.  Further, the repeated nature of collecting Country Cards each time the network grew provided a good source of points of a similar magnitude to those gained from Tickets, but without the associated jeopardy.  The Country Cards are stacked in descending order of value so that the ones earnt early in the game are worth more, but although the value decreases, as more countries are added to  player’s network more tickets are picked up.  As a result, value of each additional card pick up (and therefore each country when added) remains fairly constant depending on how many players are fighting for Country Cards.

Wsiąść do Pociągu: Polska
– Image by boardGOATS

This time, Blue stole a bit of an early march on the Country Cards in the north, while Black acquired loads of Tickets and Orange got in everyone’s way.  While Blue’s primary route was in the north running east-west, Black and Orange focused on north-south and Lemon had two separate smaller networks which she unfortunately failed to connect together.  As everyone else saw how lucrative Country Cards could be, they joined in, connecting countries to the south.  Lemon pointed out the route they had taken from Ukraine through south Poland to Warsaw where they got a flight to the UK.  It was about then that the pub became an attraction in itself when one of the locals pointed out that the lease was for sale once more.

Wsiąść do Pociągu: Polska
– Image by boardGOATS

The game came to a slightly sudden end when Lemon ran out of trains—the Poland map is played with just thirty-five trains per player instead of the more usual forty-five.  Actual game play time isn’t much shorter than usual because, like the India map, there are fewer longer routes so players have to take more turns placing trains.  At the end of the game though, it was close with Lemon in the lead thanks largely to the fact she had concentrated on the lucrative long routes where possible.  Orange and Black had completed a lot of Tickets though, and when they were added on together with the Country Cards, they tied for second place with eighty-two points.  The winner was Blue, however, thanks to the huge pile of Country Cards.

Wsiąść do Pociągu: Polska
– Image by boardGOATS

Meanwhile, over the other side of the room, Plum, Pine, Lime and Purple were playing Wingspan with Blue’s pimped out set.  Wingspan is a beautiful bird-themed game where players are collecting birds in three different habitats.  On their turn, they can “plant” a bird card in one of these habitats, or activate one of the three habitats to collect food, lay eggs or collect more cards.  The clever part of the game is that when players activate a habitat, they also activate any birds within that habitat—in this way, the game is card driven. Played over four rounds, there are bonus points at the end of each round (dependent on tiles drawn at the start of the game).  Otherwise, players score for birds, eggs, tucked cards, and personal bonus cards at the end of the game.

Wingspan
– Image by boardGOATS

Players start with eight actions in the first round, but that decreases by one each round as the game progresses.  However, because players add birds to their habitats during the game, although they get fewer turns in later rounds, they are actually doing more things in each turn as they are activating more cards.  In Blue’s pimped out copy, she had replaced the wooden action cubes with little fluffy birds which are cute, but led to some initial confusion with the phrase “playing a bird” meaning variously take an action (playing a fluffy little bird) or play a bird card into a habitat.

Wingspan
– Image by boardGOATS

This time, everyone was slow to start—the start is almost always slow in Wingspan as players need cards to play and food so they can pay the cost, but this time it was especially true as players found their feet.  Lime began with a woodland bird that gave an extra food after re-setting the bird-feeder, which really helped him out throughout the game.  He also had a once-between-turns card which was triggered when another player tucked a card.   Since Purple had a bird with a tucking action, that looked like a good call.  Considerable merriment was derived from the tucking action:  who was tucking the most, watching out for people tucking etc..  Unfortunately however, Purple’s action required the tucked card to be taken from Purple’s hand so she often passed up the chance meaning she was not the most prolific tucker…

Wingspan
– Image by boardGOATS

Plum’s first two were wetland birds with one-off powers.  As her bonus card rewarded her for having cards left in hand at the end of the game, the fact these early birds increased her card drawing powers from the very start meant they could help towards that too.  Pine’s bonus card rewarded him for having birds with geographical names which he pretty much had in his starting hand. Lime’s bonus was for birds with tucked cards, but he only realised later that it meant multiple birds with tucked cards not the number of cards tucked.  He was able to pick up another bonus card later in the game, which worked slightly better for him though.

Wingspan
– Image by boardGOATS

Pine’s bird hunting for rodents largely went hungry in the early part of the game, though it did better in the later rounds.  Plum, instead of sharing her latest kitty pictures, mimicked her favourite kitty behaviour, and watched hawk-like for a successful hunt to trigger once-between-turns action.   She had a killer “three birds in one go move” set up ready to go—two birds both with a “play a second bird in the grasslands” action.  Although she was a little disappointed to have been unable to deploy it in time for the worms they ate to count towards the second round goal of most eaten worms.  This increased her egg laying power though and the final third bird allowed her to a sacrifice an egg for two new bird cards ensuring she achieved her bonus in the final round.

Wingspan
– Image by boardGOATS

With the game finally coming to an end, all that was left was the scores.  Plum and Lime took the most points for their birds while Purple and Pine had the most eggs.  While everything else was fairly close, Lime had his nose in front in most areas and this showed in the final scores which were moderately spread out.  Lime’s score of eighty-seven points was some ten points ahead of Plum in second, who was similarly ahead of Pine.  As always with Wingspan, it had been fun, though it had sadly confirmed to Pine that while he adores the theme, the game play just isn’t for him.  And on that sad note, with everyone else also finished, it was time for home.

Wingspan
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning Outcome:  Everyone loves Pizza.

Boardgames in the News: What are “Filler” Games?

To most people, games come in two types, board games and card games.  Modern board gamer, however, have many other classifications.  For example, board gamers make the distinction between Strategy Games and Family Games.  Strategy Games typically are more complex than Family Games, which is not to say that Family Games don’t involve strategy, simply that the strategies are more involved.  Typically, a “Light Family Game” will be relatively simple in concept and take around forty-five minutes to an hour to play, where “Heavy Strategy Games” tend to take at least a couple of hours and sometimes several or more.

Niagara
– Image by boardGOATS

Examples of Family Games include Niagara, Downforce and Escape: The Curse of the Temple, while Altiplano, Keyflower and Concordia might be described as Strategy Games.  There is a third category which, can be harder to describe, Filler Games.  These are typically shorter games that often also fit the Family Game criteria, but have sufficient challenge that players of heavier Strategy Games enjoy playing them between other games.  “Shorter” is obviously in the eye of the beholder—to people who often play games that last several hours, any game that lasts less than an hour and a half might be a “Filler game”.

– Image by boardGOATS

However, if a games night lasts around three hours, a Filler Game might be one that lasts no more than around thirty minutes or so.  More importantly, and in order to save time, they have minimal setup time and are usually well known amongst gamers or at least are very quick to teach.  Popular Filler Games include card games like No Thanks! and Love Letter, but also tile laying games like NMBR9 and board games like Tsuro and Draftosaurus.  All these fit the basic criteria, but additionally are good fun and are great for warming up or down at the start or end of an evening, as well as for playing between games and while waiting for other games to finish.

No Thanks!
– Image by boardGOATS

Next Meeting, 6th September 2022

Our next meeting will be Tuesday 6th September 2022.  As usual, we will start playing shorter games from 7.30pm as people arrive, until 8pm when we will start something a little longer.  Please note that the pub will not be serving food on Tuesdays for the foreseeable.

This week the “Feature Game” will be Project L (rules, review & rules run through video).  Project L is a sort of Tetris-like, engine-building game, where players start with two pieces and use them to complete more puzzles and win more pieces enabling them to complete more complex puzzles and so on.

– Image by BGG contributor SynapticAcid

And speaking of Tetris…

Jeff was writing a novel based on Tetris, but was really struggling to make progress.  He explained to his wife, Jane, that he felt he really wasn’t getting anywhere and was finding it very depressing.

Jane asked what the problem was and why he was struggling.

Jeff replied, “I don’t know, but every time I complete a line it disappears…”

Remembering Burgundy on his Birthday

Burgundy (also known as Mike Parker) was an Oxfordshire gamer who sadly passed away at the end of December 2021 and is much missed.  He would have been sixty-four on Saturday 27th August and a small group decided that we couldn’t let his birthday pass unmarked.  So, at the South Oxford Crematorium, in Garford (where his ashes had been scattered), six people met to remember him and set light to a 6 Nimmt! card in his honour. The idea was a nice one, however, it turned out that a lighter would have been better than matches in the slight breeze, and 6 Nimmt! cards are not as flammable as we thought:  Burgundy would have been highly amused watching or perhaps he was teasing us by blowing out the flames.

6 Nimmt!
– Image by boardGOATS

Eventually though, card number sixty-four was successfully burned, or rather charred (or at least most of it was), without doing too much damage to anybody’s fingers or setting fire to the tinder-dry countryside.  From there, the group went to The Fox in Steventon to honour Burgundy’s memory by playing some of his favourite games.  With six, the choices were limited without splitting into two groups, but one of Burgundy’s favourites was Ticket to Ride and the Team Asia expansion allowed everyone to play together.  It was a much tighter game than it had been earlier in the week and everyone played in the “Spirit of Burgundy” with lots of moaning when they picked up a card they didn’t want.  Team Purply-Black ran out the winners, just three points ahead of Team Pinky-Blue (who would have won had Pink let Blue take a chance and draw tickets on her last turn).

Ticket to Ride - Team Asia
– Image by Lilac

The group were going to squeeze in a quick game of 6 Nimmt! while waiting for food, but the cards (now one short of course) had barely been shuffled when food arrived.  Black, who missed out on on Ham, Egg & Chips at Burgundy’s wake, made up for it this time and then the group had to decide what to play next.  Bohnanza and 6 Nimmt! were options of course, but Green and Black were keen to play something heavier, though that would have meant splitting into two groups which somehow just didn’t seem right.  Concordia was another of Burgundy’s favourites and might have been an option with the Venus expansion, but that was moot as we didn’t have it.

Wingspan
– Image by boardGOATS

In the end, the group settled on Wingspan with the European expansion.  Although this only plays five, with two copies the group was able to make it work with an extra player.  This overpowers the “once per turn” (pink) cards, and leads to a lot of down time, but it felt the right thing to do for the occasion.  As a result of the slight unbalancing of the game, Blue got a lot of wheat, Green got an awful lot of worms, Pink and Purple Tucked a lot of cards, and Lilac was left at a bit of a disadvantage as she didn’t get a pink card at all.  Green was the eventual winner by some fifteen points, though it was very close for second with Blue just pipping Purple by a single point.  With the bar closing it was time to go home, but everyone felt that Burgundy would have approved, and would have enjoyed the evening too.

Mike Parker
– Image by Pushpendra Rishi

23rd August 2022

The evening started badly when Purple, Black, Plum and Pine all turned up hungry to a pub that wasn’t serving food and Blue was delayed taking her last opportunity to play with her hosepipe.  Eventually, Blue arrived and suggested getting food from Darren at “The Happy Plaice“, who delivers chips around the area and is in Stanford-in-the-Vale Village Hall car park on a Tuesday.  Blue and Plum nipped off to place an order and returned five minutes later with a collection time of 8pm, which left just enough time for a game of Azul.

Azul
– Image by boardGOATS

Azul is a simple, largely abstract game that we’ve had a lot of fun with since it came out at Essen five years ago.  The idea is that there is a market place where are a number of Factories are selling tiles.  Players can take all the tiles of one colour from one of these Factories and sweep the rest into the Remainders Bin in the centre of the table, or take all the tiles of one colour from the Remainders Bin.  These tiles are added to their one row in their display, but the catch is that they must be added to the same row and match any tiles already there with any left-overs scoring negative points.

Azul
– Image by boardGOATS

At the end of the round, any completed rows are scored:  one tile is moved across to the Mosaic taking its place in the row it was collected in and scoring points for any rows and columns they become part of.  The game ends when one player fulfills one entire row in their Mosaic, and since the mosaic is a five by five square, that means after a minimum of five rounds.  With bonuses added for completed rows, completed columns and sets of five of the same colour, the player with the most points is the winner.

Azul
– Image by boardGOATS

Pine started taking tiles from the bag and started debate about what colour the patterned pale blue tiles were.  He referred to them as “green”, when clearly they were blue.  However, when he pointed out that the blue tiles were blue, it made a bit more sense, though really, they were not green.  Plum opined that they might be cyan and Blue suggested turquoise, but pretty much everyone agreed that they weren’t green.  Pine continued to call them green though, probably partly to slightly annoy and confuse everyone else, but also because to him it was just easier and less confusing.

Another kitty picture of Plum's
– Image by Plum

Plum did unexpectedly well, unexpected because she was distracted when someone mentioned kittens, and for a while she took her turns very quickly so she could return to finding more kitty snaps to pass round.  Perhaps others found them equally distracting or maybe the kittens just gave Plum a bit of extra good luck.  Certainly luck played its part, when for example, she had the first player token and one of the factory tile had three of the cyan/turquoise/green tiles that she had fallen into collecting.  We don’t generally “play nasty” and in general, nobody really engages in hate drafting and the same was true this time, so luck played its part a few times.  Plum finished some way ahead of all the others scoring eighty-two, over twenty more than Pine in second place.

Azul
– Image by boardGOATS

Blue disappeared about half way through to collect the chip order and, on her return, Azul was over and almost everyone else had arrived.  So while the now very hungry folk tucked in, Green and Lilac started the “Feature Game” which was Scotland Yard.  The food was worth the wait though, because as Black commented, it was some of the best fish he’d had for a long time.  Orange, Lemon, Teal and Lime joined in setting up Scotland Yard, which is a semi-cooperative social and logical deduction game where one side is a team of detectives are trying to catch one player who is Mr. X and is on the run.  Mr. X moves around London taking taxis, buses or subways while the detectives, who nearly always know his mode of transport, work together to try to locate and then catch him.

Scotland Yard
– Image by boardGOATS

At the start of the game, the detectives are given a set number of tickets allowing them to travel by taxi, bus and on the underground.  In addition to taxi, bus and Tube tickets, Mr. X (in this case Green, as he was most familiar with the game) also gets two “Double move” tickets and five “Black tickets” which can be used on any service, but can also be used to travel along the Thames by River Boat.  Players can only move between locations if they are connected by a line with the colour dictating the transport type.  Only one player at a time can be at any station so Detectives must work together to not block each other off.

Scotland Yard
– Image by boardGOATS

Detectives can never share tickets with each other, and cannot hide their remaining tickets from Mr. X.  Once a Detective runs out of a certain type of ticket, they cannot use that service again.  Mr. X always moves first followed by the Detectives, and he writes down the destination of his next move in the next free space in the log book, then covers it with the ticket he used.  Mr. X must surface after his third, eighth, thirteenth, eighteenth and twenty-fourth (final) move, by making his move as normal and then placing his pawn where he is for that round. The Detectives win if they are on the same location at any time as Mr. X, whereas Mr. X wins if he evades the detectives until they run out of tickets.

Scotland Yard
– Image by boardGOATS

Since it wasn’t until the third round that Mr. X first appears, not a lot happened in the first couple of rounds and everyone just milled around their starting positions, edging towards the interchange stations.  When Mr. X duly appeared in round three, it was at Bank station, but Green decided not to hang around and played his double turn with a black ticket to disappear again, leaving everyone uncertain as to where he had travelled to.  There was much discussion and Lime was certain he had taken the Tube line to Kings Cross. Not everyone was in much position to travel far, so Lime took himself in that direction since he was already in the area, Lilac was closest to Mr X’s last known location and headed by taxi that way.

Scotland Yard
– Image by boardGOATS

Everyone else tried their best to head towards East London, some north of the river and some south.  Although Lime’s suggestion was a good one, and later Green admitted that he had missed that as an escape route, he had in fact taken a taxi towards the bridge in the hope of out-foxing everyone by staying somewhat close to his last known position.  For the next few turns, only Green knew that Lilac was actually tracking Mr. X only one space behind for most of the next several turns, until Lemon had arrived and then was also only one space behind.  In the second appearance, Green again did a double turn with a black ticket, but this time he only had a taxi or a bus as an option.

Scotland Yard
– Image by boardGOATS

Lime felt somewhat out of the game as he had chased a wild goose on his own towards Regents Park, but everyone else was closing in and it was looking extremely tight for Mr. X.  This time Mr. X used the bus, but the consensus amongst the detectives was that he had used another taxi and was close by.  As a result Green slipped past them and crossed the river.  There then followed a cat and mouse game in the south east corner. Green was unable to (secretly of course) get to another bus station as the detectives were too close, and he was left relying on taxis to shuffle around the streets.  Amazingly, he managed to keep just out of reach of the detectives, but when he had to reveal his location again, everyone knew what they had to do.

Scotland Yard
– Image by boardGOATS

By this time, Lime had managed to double back and was able to rejoin the action.  The detectives debated where Mr. X could possibly be with much discussion and gesticulation of locations on the board. As the end of the game neared and time was running out, the game seemed to swing away from the Detectives’ grasp. They started tripping over each other and then realised they had used far too many Taxis and ran out. Left with only buses and tubes, it became difficult to close the net and Mr. X was able to just flit around doubling back regularly to stay just out of reach and win the game.

Scotland Yard
– Image by boardGOATS

Everyone had enjoyed that game and nobody wanted to go home just yet, so as the other games were still ongoing, the group settled on a quick game of 6 Nimmt! as a short one for six players.   The game is very simple and everyone knows how to play:  simultaneously choose a card to play which is added to one of the four rows on the table.  They are added to the rows starting with the card with the lowest face value; each card is added to the row ending in the highest number card that is lower than the value of the card played.  If the card is the sixth card, instead the player picks up the five old cards.  The player with the fewest “nimmts” (bulls’ heads) is the winner.

6 Nimmt!
– Image by boardGOATS

6 Nimmt! did not fail to deliver it’s usual mix of lucky escapes and unfortunate catches to the amusement of all.  No-one escaped cards in the first round, but both Orange and Teal succeeded in being “nimmt free” in the second.  As a result it was these two who finished with the lowest score taking first and second place respectively.  Lilac and Lemon were less fortunate, and top-scored with the most nimmts overall.  That was enough for Lime and Teal who decided to head home. Green and Lilac considered leaving too, but eventually decided on a quick four player with Lemon and Orange, and Tsuro was the choice.

Tsuro
– Image by boardGOATS

Quite quickly, Orange, Lemon and Lilac moved quite close to each other, leaving Green to wind his own path on the other side of the board. A couple suitable tiles later, Orange and Lemon avoided a collision and headed off in different directions and away from Lilac. Everyone was able to meander their own way for a few more turns until Lilac realised she was headed to a dead end and in two tiles turn was guaranteed to run off the board.  Orange and lemon managed to survive for only one turn more, when Lemon was forced to play a tile that sent them both off the board. This was a lucky escape for Green as he would also have had to head off the board on his next tile.

Tsuro
– Image by boardGOATS

Meanwhile, as the five chip-eaters finished their supper (and made the rest of the pub clientele jealous with the smell),  Ivory and Blue tried to come up with something to play—either a game that played six or two smaller games.  Usually, the group would go down the route of two small games, but this time, Blue found the Asia expansion map for Ticket to Ride in Ivory’s bag, and as the Team Asia variant plays six and everyone loves Ticket to Ride, it wasn’t long before the decision was made.  This version of the game has only a few small rules tweaks, but the feel is completely different to every other version as players are working in pairs and teamwork is essential.

Ticket to Ride - Team Asia
– Image by boardGOATS

The basic rules are still the same:  players take it in turns to either take Train cards, or use the Train cards to pay to place Trains on the map with the number and colour of the cards matching that of the route claimed.  As usual, players are trying connect the locations marked on their Tickets for which they get extra points for completing and lose points if they fail.  The difference in the Team Asia variant is that players work in teams, and unusually for a game played in pairs, players sit next to their partners.  This is very clever and really makes the game work as it means one player can set up their partner.

Ticket to Ride - Team Asia
– Image by boardGOATS

The other rules tweaks are centered round cards that the players in a team share and cards players keep private.  At the start of the game, players place one of their Ticket cards into the shared area, so that both players can see them, other cards are kept private (though players can choose to take a turn to reveal two of their hidden cards to their partner).  When a player draws Train cards, one of these must be placed in the shared area with the other placed in their private hand—a decision players have to make when before they draw their second card.  Similarly, should a player draw more Ticket cards, only one can be shared while the others are kept private.

Ticket to Ride Demo
– Image by boardGOATS

Players also have separate pools of Train pieces (albeit with teams having the same colour), which is critical, because if one player runs out of pieces, they are significantly restricted in what they can do.  The game ends when one Team has only four Train pieces left (or fewer), at which point every player gets one more turn.  The game starts with everyone getting four Train cards and five Tickets from which they must choose at least three, a difficult choice, and one to share, another difficult choice.  The looks on everyone’s faces as their partner’s chosen Ticket was revealed told the tale for each pair.  While Blue and Ivory were reasonably satisfied, Pine and Plum were decidedly unimpressed and Black and Purple just shrugged.

Ticket to Ride - Team Asia
– Image by boardGOATS

After several attempts to drop just one Train piece in a random selection sort of way, Team Piney-Plum went first. Pine placed the first Train and everyone else groaned as they seemed to hit the ground running.  Everyone started placing trains in the south east corner of the map, with the teams moving out in different directions.  When Pine was clearly unimpressed with the Train cards available in the Market and shrugged taking anything, Ivory delightedly pointed out that he should have taken the one off the top of the pile when it turned out to be a Locomotive (wild) card.  Pine equally delightedly pointed out the same to Ivory when he did the repeated the feat couple of turns later.  From then on, it seemed that almost every time someone had the same decision, the same thing happened and, as a result, “Should have taken the one from the pile” became a frequent chorus.

Ticket to Ride - Team Asia
– Image by boardGOATS

Team Piney-Plum took the lucrative red line into Cawnpaw giving them fifteen points and an early lead which they never really reliquished during play.  In contrast, Team Bluey-Ivory got stuck with lots of single Train lines and lagged at the rear.  After some grunting, muttering and non-specific pointing, Ivory commented that they’d “take the coastal route”.  When Pine pointed out everyone who was listening knew where they were going, Blue pointed out all the possible coastal routes, but nobody was really fooled.  There were two things that stopped anyone from interfering: firstly, the group rarely plays “nasty”, but mainly, everyone was too worried their own issues to give anyone else more problems.  Indeed, when Ivory pointed out the singleton white route between Chunking and Nanning threatening to take it to block Team Purpley-Black, nobody really thought he was serious.

Ticket to Ride - Team Asia
– Image by boardGOATS

That didn’t stop people messing up each other’s plans however.  For example, when Blue spotted Pine had picked up two orange cards, she nipped in quickly and nabbed the line from Cawnpaw to Bombay with a pawful of Locomotive (wild) cards—this wasn’t out of spite though, it was simply critical to Team Bluey-Ivory’s plans and without it, they would have been very stuck.  Team Piney-Plum also had a bit of a tussle with Team Purpley-Black in the south east quadrant of the map, and then got in a bit more of a tangle with Team Bluey-Ivory around the Punjab.  However, with only two teams getting in each other’s way each case, everyone was mostly able to work round it and get to where they wanted to be.

Ticket to Ride - Team Asia
– Image by boardGOATS

Black was the first to take more Tickets (four, choose at least one, with won in the shared area) and then Ivory did the same.  And then Ivory had another go too, keeping a Ticket that made Blue squawk, but Ivory was right when he said he thought it could be done.  So much so that a couple of rounds later, Blue took a punt on Tickets too, and although she got unlucky, she did at least get a nice short route they could bin with little loss.  In contrast, Team Piney-Plum eschewed the option of taking Tickets as they were to busy struggling to complete their starting set and were focused on building a ridiculously roundabout route that covered almost all four corners of the map.

Ticket to Ride - Team Asia
– Image by boardGOATS

Towards the end of the game, Team Purpley-Black made a late dash to the north west, including a brave, and ultimately successful effort to build a Tunnel into Rawalpindi.  They were the only ones with the courage to try digging with all the Tunnel routes being high risk, low reward.  Indeed, Blue’s Ticket attempt gave her Team an opportunity for eighteen points, but she decided discretion was the better part of valour because even though it only needed one Train piece, it was a Tunnel section potentially needing up to seven cards.  As the game drew to a close, there was the usual scrabbling to get points at the end; Pine ran out of trains, but Plum still had a handful so didn’t trigger the end of the game until the next round.

Ticket to Ride - Team Asia
– Image by boardGOATS

At this point, Team Piney-Plum had a huge lead, and after the obligatory recount they increased their lead by taking the Asian Express bonus for the longest continuous route (with forty-five Train pieces).  Tickets were then added, starting with Team Purpley-Black.  They had lots of Tickets and quickly took the lead.  Team Bluey-Ivory were next—they also had a lot of completed Tickets, on average of a slightly higher value and one more than Team Purpley-Black as it turned out, which meant they just took the Asian Globetrotter Bonus and with it, the lead.  That left Team Piney-Plum, and although they completed all their tickets, they didn’t have as many and, were unable to overhaul Team Bluey-Ivory’s lead taking a valiant second.

Ticket to Ride - Team Asia
– Image by boardGOATS

The differences in strategies was interesting though.  Team Piney-Plum’s starting Tickets didn’t match at all so they went the round-about route almost everywhere, they mostly stuck to longer track sections and had a lot of cards in hand.  Team Bluey-Ivory built loads of short track sections to connect the end stations for their starting Tickets together and had a permanent shortage of Train Cards with just enough to complete their short term goal.  Team Purpley-Black prioritised getting tickets built a branched track to ensure they were all completed.  The one thing everyone agreed on though was how different the Team experience was to the usual game—not one to be played too often, but it made a nice change.

Ticket to Ride: Europe
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning Outcome:  You should always take the cards from the top of the pile…

Next Meeting, 23rd August 2022

Our next meeting will be Tuesday 23rd August 2022.  As usual, we will start playing shorter games from 7.30pm as people arrive, until 8pm when we will start something a little longer (table is booked from 6.30pm for those who would like to eat first).

This week the “Feature Game” will be Scotland Yard (rules, review & rules run through video), a semi-cooperative game where a team of detectives are trying to catch Mr. X who is on the run.  Mr. X moves around London taking taxis, buses or subways while the detectives, who nearly always know his mode of transport working together to trap him.

– Image by BGG contributor Gialmere

And speaking detectives…

Jeff was doing a stint in CID when his Sergeant asked him to take details of a non-dwelling burglary from the owner of the premises.

So, with his notebook at the ready, Jeff asked, “What is the nature of the business, sir?”

The man answered, “We deal in plant hire.”

Jeff looking a little confused, responded, “Don’t people buy plants?”

9th August 2022

Pink, Blue, Orange and Lemon were the first to arrive, very soon followed by Plum and Jade.  While they were waiting for food, the group decided to play a couple of quick games.  First up was Moneybags, a game we played for the first time a few months ago.  This is a very quick social deduction game with a similar premise to Ca$h ‘n Guns:  players are a gang of thieves distributing their loot.  In Moneybags, the “Godfather” first distributes the loot and players then take it in turns to either steal from another player, pass, or close their money bag and recuse themselves from the rest of the game.

Moneybags
– Image by boardGOATS

If a player is robbed, the victim can challenge if they think the thief was too greedy.  If the victim has less than the robber, they win their challenge and take all the money for themselves, otherwise the thief wins and they take all the loot.  After two rounds, the players that have not been eliminated compare the height of their piles of cash, and the one with the tallest stack is the winner.  Pink started sharing out the cash while Blue explained the game.  Blue then started, robbing Pink to demonstrate how it is done.  It wasn’t long before the first player, Plum was eliminated, and everyone really understood how things worked.

Moneybags
– Image by boardGOATS

When she was robbed, Lemon was unlucky to lose her challenge to Orange on a tie leaving only Blue, Pink and Orange left at the end of the round.  It was then a matter of comparing the three stacks to find that Orange was once again involved in a tie, but this time he lost to Pink on the tie-breaker (the winner being the player earliest in the turn-order).  Pink relinquished his right to being the Godfather though and gave it to Orange who filled the money bags for a second round.  Unfortunately, Orange failed to put any coins at all in Plum’s bag and put most of it in Lemon’s and Pink’s.  This made Lemon the first target and Pink the second.

Moneybags
– Image by boardGOATS

Ill-advised challenges left both Lemon and Blue eliminated in the first round and Orange by the end of the second.  Another three way comparison quickly pushed Pink into third leaving a close finish between Plum and Jade with Jade just sneaking in front.  Two games were enough, and Jade suggested the group move on to something new: MANTIS, a game from the same people as Exploding Kittens.  This is a simple set collecting game where, on their turn, players can choose to “Steal” or “Score”.  Players declare their plan (and their victim if they are stealing) before they turn over the top card of the deck.  When Stealing, if the colour matches cards belonging to their victim, then they take the cards and add them, face up to their array.

MANTIS
– Image by boardGOATS

When Scoring, if the colour matches any of their own cards, they turn over the cards and these become points—the first player to ten points is the winner.  While this sounds like pure chance, there is one thing that makes the game less random: the backs of the cards show three colours, one of which is the card colour while the others are red herrings (or herrings of another colour).  So whilst the game isn’t challenging, it rocks along nice and quickly.  Blue took points on her first turn to take an early lead, but everyone else soon caught up and overtook her.

MANTIS
– Image by boardGOATS

Food started to arrive, and everyone tried (and failed) to finish before eating; it took a couple more rounds before Pink scored his tenth point.  It was very close for second with almost everyone else on six or seven, but Orange just nicked it with eight.  While everyone tucked in to their food, the rest of the group arrived.  There was some debate as to who would play the “Feature Game” which was to be Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea, but in the end, Green and Ivory took themselves and the game to the other side of the room to set up a four player game where they were eventually joined by Black and Purple.

Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea
– Image by boardGOATS

Alubari is a re-implementation of the popular worker-placement game, Snowdonia.  It had been a while since any of the group had played Snowdonia, so they needed a quick refresher of the rules and to learn the new aspects of Alubari. The underlying mechanisms are essentially the same, but it has a slightly smoother feel, and of course, the setting is Darjeeling (in the Indian state of West Bengal).  In this version of the game, players harvest Tea Estates and assist in the building of the Darjeeling and Himalayan Railway, from Siliguri Town to the summit at Ghum.  In addition, players use Chai (made from from harvested tea leaves) which increases the power of their actions.  Like the original game, players take it in turns to place their two workers on the action spaces available on the board.

Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea
– Image by boardGOATS

Once the workers have been placed, players carry out the actions in action order, that is to say, anyone who has a worker in Action A goes first, with the spaces within each Action numbered and activated in order.  The Actions are:  take Resources from the Stockyard; dig Rubble from the Tea Plantations; convert resources (Iron Ore into Iron Bars, Rubble into Stone or Stone into Rubble); lay Track; build Stations or buy Equipment; take Contract Cards, and finally, harvest Tea leaves or make Chai. Chai is very powerful because players can use it to to get an additional worker for the duration of one round.

Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea
– Image by boardGOATS

Chai can also be used to enhance actions.  For example, players can normally take three Resources from the Stockyard including one Chai; paying a Chai increases the number of Resources they can take to five with a maximum of two Chai. Some of this mirrors Coal in the original Snowdonia game, but initially, there was a little confusion amongst players over the differences between Tea and Chai.  There is a distinction here between Tea and Chai, with Tea being the raw leaf product (represented in the art by a leaf) and Chai being the refined product (represented by a teapot).  Tea Harvests are shown by a leaf with an arrow which mean players collect Tea leaves equal to the number of tea estates owned by player multiplied by the current value of the Tea Harvest Track.

Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea
– Image by boardGOATS

The Tea Harvest Track works the same way as the Excavation Work (aka Dig) Rate and the Track Work Rate:  they depend on the Weather.  The back of the contract cards show the weather; at the start of each round the current Weather disk is removed, the other Weather disks shuffled forwards and the empty space filled with a disk that matches the back of the top card in the Contract deck.  Thus, players can see what the weather will do for the next few rounds and use that to plan when to take actions.  In general, the Excavation and Track Work Rates are increased by sun, decreased by rain and Work stops altogether when it is foggy;  in contrast, the Tea Harvest Rate increases with rain, decreases with fog and is unaffected by sun.

Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea
– Image by boardGOATS

At the start of each round, the Stockyard is refilled with Resources which are drawn blind from a bag.  As well as Iron Ore and Stone, the bag also contains a small amount of Chai and five Event Cubes.  When one of these is drawn, from the bag, the game plays itself according to a Rondel.  This design feature is intended to prevent players from hoarding Resources and thus slowing the game—the fewer Resources there are in the bag, the more likely it is that a white Event Cube will be drawn out.  The Events include Excavate, produce Tea, build Stations and lay Track.  This last is particularly important because the game ends at the end of the round when the final Track space, on the approach to Darjeeling is completed—this could be by a player or an Event.

Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea
– Image by boardGOATS

Once the rules had been run through, the game got underway.  Right from the outset Black pointed out that it was through Contracts that the big scores were really made. The Contract Cards come in two parts:  a Special Action part and an end game bonus.   The Action can be used in any round, but its use must be declared before any Actions are resolved.  Whether the Action is used or not, players can claim the bonus at the end of the game, and it was these to which Black was referring.  Ivory took note of Black’s advice and very early on went for a hefty contract which would give him forty points if he could get five rail tracks.

Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea
– Image by boardGOATS

Considering that there are only fifteen tracks in the game, with four players and the game itself sometimes building track through the Events, the Contract for five rail segments looked like a tall order.  However, as nobody was really paying attention to Ivory’s plans, with the help of a Chai super-boost, it proved easier than it should have been.  Aside from that, Ivory, along with Black and Purple began with a fairly typical Snowdonia game approach, collecting building supplies.  Green on the other hand, decided to experiment with the new Tea/Chai mechanisms and started clearing the Tea Estates.  Although Green did get the first Tea Estate, everyone else also got one soon after.

Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea
– Image by boardGOATS

Green was able to continue this approach though, and by the first Tea Harvest, he had more estates than any one else.  Green was also the first to gain Equipment, going for a simple one, the Chai Boiler, from the Promo Pack, and gained two Chai with it. He was able to use those Chai to boost his later actions.  By halfway through the game he had built up quite a pile of Rubble, and only then realised that he could use this to build Stations.  This wasn’t the only game blunder made with Stations. It was only towards the end of the game that Black suddenly remembered the first town on the map, where players could use Tea leaves to pay to build the Station. The first space only cost three leaves, but gave a whopping twelve points and Purple make use of that as soon as it was pointed out.

Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea
– Image by boardGOATS

Green took advantage of the Tea/Chai conversion after a very good Harvest, pushing himself to the top of the Chai track. He was then able to get a third worker and boost many of his actions the following round.  Through most of the game Ivory held the start player token, with Green and Black only taking it a couple of times with Ivory taking it back straight away.  The game was building nicely when suddenly, almost out of nowhere, it was over.  There were eight Tracks built when everyone except Purple chose to lay Tracks in the next round.  Green went first.  He needed to build two Tracks for his contract—he had the Steel but the Track Work Rate was one and he had run out of Chai so couldn’t increase it.

Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea
– Image by boardGOATS

Next was Ivory who did have Chai, which allowed him to build two extra Track sections and he had the Steel to do it enabling him to build three in one go.  Black also had Chai, but only two steel. Seeing that he may not get another chance, he used the Chai, but still needed to lay one more track for his Contract.  So the game had gone from eight Track sections to fourteen in a single turn.  Green was primed to get his second Track section to complete his Contract, but unfortunately for him, the game had other ideas. With three white Event Cubes, the second event was Lay Track triggering the end of the game, but no Track left to be built. From there, it was just the usual calculations with players maximising points with the last workers and Chai.

Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea
– Image by boardGOATS

Adding up the points, it turned out to be an incredibly close game. Purple and Green were within a whisker of Black who was the runner-up with sixty-nine and a half points (yes, this game does indeed give half points!).  It was Ivory who was the clear winner, however, with his five track Contract that shot his score to the dizzying heights of ninety-six.  In the post game discussion, the group agreed that some of the Chai boosts seemed more powerful than others, and the track laying bonus in particular seemed overly powerful. There also did not seem to be as many Tea Harvests as players expected (only three in the whole game including one from a Contract Card).  This was only one game though and it is highly likely that others will play out quite differently.

Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea
– Image by boardGOATS

Meanwhile, on the other side of the room, after a bit of discussion, Blue swapped seats with Lime and he and Pink introduced Orange and Lemon to one of our favourite games:  Ticket to Ride.  We play this quite a bit in lots of different guises, so the plan was to start by playing a short game, the Demo edition, and then play a full sized version.  The game is very straight-forward and the basic play is the same across all editions:  on their turn, players can take train cards, build track by paying train cards, or take tickets which give end-game points.  While the basic mechanisms remain though, the map, the number of train pieces change and some editions add extra little rules.

Ticket to Ride Demo
– Image by boardGOATS

In the first, Demo game (played on the Europe map), Lemon managed to get lots of matching tickets which meant she gave everyone else a bit of a spanking.  Not being a native English speaker, Lemon queried the vernacular at which point Pink tried to explain that it was a sporting term, but everyone else including those on the next table insisted that he should explain it properly with all the meanings.  Lemon and Orange opted to spare his blushes by looking it up, only to blush themselves when they found it.  Much hilarity ensued and was shared with the neighbouring table.

Ticket to Ride Demo
– Image by boardGOATS

After the introductory game, Pink and “the Citruses” moved onto a “full version”, but in an effort to avoid “special rules” the group played a house ruled version of Ticket to Ride: Germany.  This version of the game has its heritage in the Märklin limited edition that was the third game in the series and was published about fifteen years ago. Märklin make model railways, a bit like Hornby, but with German trains.  The Märklin version of Ticket to Ride had special art work with a different Märklin train depicted on each individual card in the deck.  More importantly, however, it introduced a passenger mechanism which made the game considerably more complex than the original.

Ticket to Ride: Märklin
– Image by boardGOATS

With the Märklin edition sold out, about ten years ago, Days of Wonder (presumably reluctant to renew the license for the Märklin branding) re-released the game for the German and Austrian market as Zug um Zug: Deutschland.  This was a simpler version that used the same map, but without the passengers, although the 1902 expansion was released a a couple of years later to reintroduce them with a new, simpler mechanism.  A few years after that, about five years ago, the German game was released for the worldwide market including both the Deutschland base game and the 1902 expansion—the only difference was the omission of two tickets.

Ticket to Ride: Germany
– Image by boardGOATS

It was this newest Germany version of the game that the group played.  However, although the variant includes the passenger mechanism and there is no official variant in the rules “as written” to remove them, in order to keep things simple, the group omitted that part of the game, effectively playing Zug um Zug: Deutschland.  The game had just begun, when three rounds in, Pine arrived.  The others offered to include him, but he declined and, as a result, he didn’t play anything at all, all evening.  He did manage to recount the infamous game when he and Pink gave Blue and Burgundy a spanking over the Heart of Africa map as they got stuck in the middle blocking each other.

Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 3 – The Heart of Africa
– Image by boardGOATS

The German version has two types of ticket:  long tickets (brown backed) and short tickets (blue backed).  At the start of the game, players choose four in any combination of the two types, but must first announce what combination of Tickets they are drawing.  Pink went for an almost exclusively long (brown) ticket strategy which he achieved with varied success, while the others went for a mixed ticket approach.  There was a little difficulty reading the tickets as the game uses a slightly gothic font which can be a little difficult to read, especially for those who’d forgotten their glasses.

Ticket to Ride: Germany
– Image by boardGOATS

Both Lemon and Lime claimed the long train line from Berlin to Hamburg which give them eighteen points, the equivalent of a long ticket.  And tickets were very important this time.  Pink began completing routes from Kiel to Switzerland and France (via Bremen and Köln) before taking more tickets.  To fulfill these, he extended his network to Hamburg in the north, but failed to get to Karlsruhe in the south which cost him eighteen points in failed tickets.  The game can be played in a relatively friendly way, or aggressively with players trying to shut each other out.  We play in the more self-focused, less confrontational way, so failed tickets are normally relatively unusual, as such, this game was remarkable in that it was a bit of a tale of missed tickets.

Ticket to Ride: Germany
– Image by boardGOATS

In addition to Pink, Orange was particularly unfortunate this time, failing to complete any tickets as he was unintentionally badly blocked.  The game was ended somewhat unexpectedly by Lime, partly because he picked up the long route (suddenly depleting his supply of trains), but mostly because people weren’t paying attention to the number of trains he had left.  He was more fortunate in his ticket draws as well and that contributed to his hundred and fifty-four points and him giving everyone else a serious trouncing (another word for Orange and Lemon to look up).  Lemon was the best of the rest finishing with ninety, over sixty points behind Lime.

Ticket to Ride: Germany
– Image by boardGOATS

While everyone else was playing with trains, on the next table, Jade introduced Lilac and Blue to his new acquisition that he picked up from UK Games Expo back in June, Old London Bridge.  This is a fairly typical Queen Games game, with lots of pieces, but not too challenging—just what everyone wanted on a warm night.  The game is set in 1136 after the great wooden bridge across the Thames was been consumed by fire.  Players are architects, each responsible for designing and building one section of the new bridge.  On their turn, players add one of the available buildings to their bridge section.  Each building has three attributes:  Location, Colour and Number.

Old London Bridge
– Image by boardGOATS

There are six different types of building, each with a special “power”.  Thus, Haberdashers allow players to take money, the Purple Chapel buildings allow players to move along the associated track etc..  The colour is important because if that colour matches other buildings already on their bridge, they get a boost—for example, if a player takes a blue Haberdasher building, and already has two other blue buildings, they get to do that action effectively three times, taking three times as much money.  Finally, buildings must be built in descending Number order—to reset, players have to build a park, which has no additional “power”.

Old London Bridge
– Image by boardGOATS

There are six building spaces on a central Rondel, each associated with a different pile of buildings and each with a money bonus that changes as the Rondel rotates at the start of each round.  Each Rondel space can only hold one player’s marker, thus each building type can only be built once per round.  One space is always deactivated (which one also changes as the Rondel moves), but the seventh space, the centre of the of the Rondel costs money, but allows players to take any building, including one that is currently unavailable (either because it has already been taken or was deactivated at the start of the round).

Old London Bridge
– Image by boardGOATS

Each round, players bid with Character Cards to see who gets to choose a building first.  Character Cards which have a numerical value, zero to four.  Where there is a tie, it is broken by players’ respective positions on the Purple Chapel track. Players start with a hand of Character Cards, but can add to these by building a Hostelry building—the higher the power, the more powerful the cards they can take.  At the end of the game, the players get bonus points depending on the value of the Characters they have left over.  In addition to the Haberdasher, the Hostelry and the Parks there are also two types of buildings in the Bridge Gate:  Purple Chapel Buildings and Red Gatehouse Buildings.

Old London Bridge
– Image by boardGOATS

Each of the Bridge Gate buildings have a track associated with them.  During the game, passing milestones on these tracks give money and break ties (Chapel Track) or give special tokens that allow players to bend the rules (Gatehouse Track).  Additionally, players get bonus points at the end of the game depending on their final position on these tracks.  The final building type is the Guild House.  These have no action associated with them, but are “Colour wild”, featuring all four colours, and as such, they boost every other building type.  At the end of the game, players add their residual money to bonus points for their finishing position on the Bridge Gate tracks, for unused Characters, and for having the fullest bridge (if a player can’t obey the Number rules, they may have been unable to build a building).

Old London Bridge
– Image by boardGOATS

Jade had only just started explaining the rules, when Plum announced that she had a “new religion”—Kittens, and shared photos.  From this point forward, every pause in the game became a “Kitty Paws” and was punctuated by more increasing levels of cuteness—definitely an improvement on the stuffed Pandas from last time.  Despite the undeniable distractions, everyone was still able to focus on the game and proceedings weren’t slowed at all.  Plum seemed to amass a vast amount of money in no time at all and after making a mess of her first turn, Blue got lots of orange buildings and lots of cards but was very slow to make any progress on the Purple Chapel track and lost every tie-breaker she was involved in as a result.

Plum's Kitty
– Image by Plum

Lilac was the first to run out of Character Cards and therefore ended up relying on her position on the Chapel track to ensure she didn’t get left with Hobson’s Choice every time.  In this she was helped by Jade who also ran out of cards.  Although Blue’s forest of Orange buildings meant she could get a lot each turn, her choice was often to do something she wanted but not get much of it, or take yet another orange building and to do something she didn’t really want and rely on probability to even things out in the end.  Things didn’t really even out, and as a result, Blue ended up with a lot of Character Cards.  Everyone else went for a much more balanced strategy focusing on one or two or maybe three Colours.  And Plum’s pile of loot grew ever larger.

Old London Bridge
– Image by boardGOATS

Towards the end of the game, Jade put on a massive spurt along the Red Gatehouse track and collected some Character Cards, while Blue finally made a move along the Purple Chapel track.  As a result, Jade who had led the Purple Chapel track for most of the game was pipped by Blue, and Blue who’d held a massive lead on the Red Gatehouse track was edged out by Jade.  Plum finished with the most cash with thirty, but in the end was only slightly ahead of Lilac and Jade.  Lilac who had just quietly got on with her game was the only player to fill all the spaces on her Bridge, despite running out of cards. In the ranking for players with the most buildings, there was a tie for second place.

Old London Bridge
– Image by boardGOATS

Initially, the tie was resolved as a friendly tie with both Plum and Jade getting three points for their second place and Blue taking one.  On reading the rules later, it turned out that end-game ties are also broken by position on the Purple Chapel track, giving Jade three points and Plum one.  In general, bonus points are actually much less significant than money.  This is because money is absolute and turned directly into points, but the bonuses only reflect placings (not how successful someone is);  the bonuses therefore have a maximum of five points in each case whereas players can finish with as much money as they can.

Old London Bridge
– Image by boardGOATS

In this case, however, it was very close for second place and the tie break for that bonus turned out to be critical:  Plum beat Jade on the friendly ties, but positions were reversed with the tie breaker from the rules as written.  Old London Bridge also includes alternate bonus conditions and had even one of these been in use, then the scores could have been quite different. There was no question about the winner though:  throughout, Lilac had just quietly got on with her own game doing everything well.  She was the only one to finish with all twelve buildings, finished with almost as much money as Plum, and had made good progress on both the Bridge Gate tracks.  With a final score of thirty-eight points, she was four points clear of whoever took second.  With time for just a few more “kitty pictures”, people started heading home.

Plum's Other Kitty
– Image by Plum

Learning Outcome:  Everyone Likes Train Games, and Kittens.

Boardgames in the News: Changes to Game Selling on BoardGameGeek

Many gamers have lots of older, unloved games that take up space that could be used for new or more exciting games.  There are lots of solutions to this problem, but one is to sell, but the question is, “Where?”  Historically, there have been two main solutions to this:  ebay and the BoardGameGeek Marketplace.  The advantages of ebay are the size of the market and the tools that are available, however, for many, the BoardGameGeek Marketplace has been the venue of choice for several reasons.  These include the feedback from names recognised on the forums, and the fact that sellers/buyers are dealing with gamers who talk the same language and typically care about similar things or at least understand their concerns (e.g. how well it is wrapped, marks on the back of cards, wear to the pieces etc.).

ebay Logo
– Image from wikimedia.org

As mentioned recently, in March, BoardGameGeek announced a new Marketplace to replace the old one.  This was to be a more professional offering produced in partnership with Marketbase and was rumoured to be required by the US Internal Revenue Service.  However, a week ago, it was announced that this new market place (which was still in the beta-testing phase and had not been released world-wide), was to be closed on 1st September with no new listings from 15th August.  The explanation given was that the “marketplace software and service provider was unable to replicate the same success across other communities and is now forced to close their marketplace offering.”  It is perhaps worth noting that although Marketbase claim there was a “150% month-to-month growth” any increase in sales was probably strongly influenced by a free shipping offer.

BGG Corner Logo 2022
– Image from boardgamegeek.com

The new Marketplace had been quite divisive and many people were pleased to see its demise, however, that was short-lived as yesterday, BoardGameGeek announced that the “Classic Marketplace” would also close on 1st September.  In its place, there will be new, commission-free “flea market” forum pages on each game page.  At this time, it is not clear how much of the subscription service, feedback and other features (like price tracking) will be retained and how, but it is clear that the current plan is to completely remove the old market place and with it, all the historic data.  This loss of information is a great shame as it means there is no evidence to support expectations of how much games are worth and as a result, reduces BoardGameGeek to the “Wild West” that is the FaceBook Marketplace and the myriad of FaceBook selling groups.

FaceBook Logo
– Image from cnm.edu

Next Meeting, 9th August 2022

Our next meeting will be Tuesday 9th August 2022.  As usual, we will start playing shorter games from 7.30pm as people arrive, until 8pm when we will start something a little longer (table is booked from 6.30pm for those who would like to eat first).

This week the “Feature Game” will be Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea.  This is a re-implementation of the popular worker-placement game, Snowdonia.  The underlying mechanisms are essentially the same, but it has a smoother feel and of course, the setting is Darjeeling (in the Indian state of West Bengal) and it has addition of Chai, which players get from harvested tea leaves and adds to their actions.

Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea
– Image by BGG contributor LordBalder

And speaking of a nice cup of tea…

One day, Jeff phoned his girlfriend, Jemima, and said, “Can you come round please? I have a killer jigsaw puzzle, and I can’t work out how to get started.”

Jemima asked, “What is it supposed to be when it’s finished?”

Jeff replied, “According to the picture on the box, it’s a rooster.”

So that afternoon, Jemima went round to Jeff’s flat and Jeff showed her where he had the puzzle spread all over the kitchen table. His girlfriend studied the pieces for a moment then looked at the box.

She turned to Jeff and said, “First of all, no matter what we do, we’re not going to be able to assemble these pieces into anything resembling a rooster.”

Then Jemima gently took his hand, “Secondly, I want you to relax. Let’s have a nice cup of tea, and then…” she said with a deep sigh, “We can put all these Corn Flakes back in the box.”