Tag Archives: Tapestry: Plans and Ploys

Next Meeting, 17th May 2022

Our next meeting will be Tuesday 17th May 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 the Arts and Architecture expansion (rules, review & how-to-play video) to Tapestry (rules, review & how-to-play video).  We played Tapestry with the Plans and Ploys expansion a few weeks ago and it was enjoyed by everyone involved.

Tapestry
– Image by boardGOATS

And speaking of architects…

Jeff was working in a pub, as a barman, serving pints.  One day, an architect who was drinking at the bar had an idea. He issued a challenge to anyone in the pub to see who could design the best building in five minutes.

A cowboy accepted the challenge, so Jeff found some paper and pencils and handed them out.

Then, Jeff counted them down, saying “Three… Two… One… DRAW!”

And the cowboy shot the architect.

10th March 2022

Green and Lilac were first to arrive followed by Blue, Black, Purple and Pine with Pink late to arrive as he was enjoying the seemingly random deployment of variable speed limits along the M42 (30 mph, really?).  The others had finished their supper and Pink was still dealing with his Ham, Egg & Chips, by the time everyone else had arrived and the great “who’s playing what” debate began.  Several people were interested in playing the “Feature Game“, the first Tapestry expansion, Plans and Ploys, but it proved difficult to confirm a group.  Despite enjoying the game, Blue was not up for something too thinky after a long week at work, and Jade (putting in a welcome return six weeks after his first visit) fancied something different.  In the end, Green joined Ivory and Teal over the other side of the room.

Tapestry
– Image by boardGOATS

Playing explanations were relatively quick, and even set up did not take as long as some heavier weight games. It turned out everyone was a relative novice with Ivory having played it twice, Teal only once (and that was online at Board Game Arena), and Green not at all.  Functionally, the game is quite straight forward, indeed the rules consist of just four, well illustrated pages.  On their turn, players either advance along one of the advancement tracks, or begin an era by taking Income.  The clever part is that the game ends at different times for each player — each player ends their game when they finish their final, fifth Income turn.  Thus, prolonging their eras means more turns which means more time to generate points.

Tapestry
– Image by boardGOATS

Otherwise the game basically proceeds with players paying the fee for the space they move to and then doing whatever the space they move to dictates, sometimes with an optional bonus action.  Often the action involves getting resources, but the four different tracks also allow players to claim space on the central map, gain technology cards (which give end game points as well as in-game bonuses), and build fabulous resin buildings in their capital city.  Although this is quite simple in concept, the depth of the game is in the cards and the asymmetry in the special powers associated with the Civilisations that players get at the start of the game.

Tapestry
– Image by boardGOATS

The expansion mostly just adds more of the same with new Civilisations, Tapestry Cards and space tiles.  The biggest difference is the addition of Landmark Cards which are designed to give each player a personal short-term goal in the first part of the game, in the form of buildings that only they can claim.  The first few turns required a little help from Ivory, but very soon everyone had got the hang of it.  The game is deceptively simple with only a few choices on each turn.  As a result, turns were very quick and the group soon felt comfortable.

Tapestry: Plans and Ploys
– Image by boardGOATS

Teal started on the Exploration Track, just ahead of Green who also wanted to go down that route. Ivory started on Science, which also got him going on the Military Track.  Green had a plan and found Teal being one step ahead on the Exploration Track quite frustrating.  In no time players started taking their second Income turns. Teal snatched the first Exploration Building and concentrated on developing his island on the central board. Green was using the Explore options to build his little huts onto his Craftsmen Civilisation Card instead of on his capital city board, gaining benefits on the way.  Ivory was trying to get several different small buildings onto his city, and being the only one in Science he was unhindered in getting these to his board as well.

Tapestry
– Image by boardGOATS

Then much to Green’s delight, Teal changed tack and started on Military expansion.  Now that his island had grown, Teal needed to expand if he wanted to it to grow any more. His collection of unused land tiles then enabled him to gain him his personal Landmark, making him the first to do this. By now his score was racing ahead of the others even though Ivory had started with a twenty point boost thanks to the civilisation adjustments.  Green continued to concentrate on the Explore track and gained the next building and then revealed that his Landmark for the game had been to get the launch pad (third building on the Explore Track) and make it in to space. That had been Ivory’s strategy for his very first game too… “To get Meeples into Space!”

Tapestry: Plans and Ploys
– Image by boardGOATS

Teal’s island empire was ever growing and he was the first to get to the central island.  He was further helped by his Islanders Civilsation that enabled him to conquer an extra tile each Income round.  He wanted to make sure he kept a buffer to everyone else’s islands though as he did not want any toppling.  Ivory was flying up the Science Track by this time, getting other bonuses on other Tracks too, and his capital city was beginning to look a little crowded as well.  Ivory had also got a couple of Technology Cards to Green’s one while Teal eschewed Technology entirely.

Tapestry
– Image by boardGOATS

As the game looked like it might be drawing to a close, Teal had raced well ahead on points, although Green was starting to catch him while Ivory was trailing well behind. Ivory completed the Science Track, then just into his final era, Green made his final trip into space reaching the top of the Explore Track. Teal, for his last action, played an extra Tapestry Card and declared an “Alliance of Peace” between Green and himself, which instigated much spluttering and muttering from Green who had just settled on growing his empire with a plan to topple Teal in the centre island for his final turns.  With his carefully worked out plan in tatters he scrambled around to maximise the last few points, but probably lost some on the way.

Tapestry
– Image by boardGOATS

It was about at this point, Teal and Green realised that Ivory had still to collect his fourth Income round.  So with Green and Teal finished, Ivory started his “attack run” and was left playing alone.  His fourth Income gave him more than fifty points and he shot past both Green and Teal; both knew that they were going to be well beaten. This of course turned out to be the case, as in final income scoring Ivory lapped both his opponents and kept going lapping them a second time.  Although it had been an extremely dominant victory by Ivory (winning by over a hundred points), everyone had thoroughly enjoyed the game.  Although the game play is good, the icing on the cake really is the fabulous 3D buildings that come with it; cardboard counters would have been cheaper, but nowhere near as pretty or as satisfying.

Tapestry: Plans and Ploys
– Image by boardGOATS

Meanwhile, after the game of PARKS last time, Lime had requested the chance to play it again, so Pink, Black and Jade joined him.  The game is reasonably simple, with players taking it in turns to choose one of their two hikers to move along the track, and then carry out the action dictated by the location.  The aim is to collect “memories” (or “resources” as most players think of them) to buy “trips to National Parks” (or Park Cards).  Lime and Pink ran through the rules as they had played it the previous week, discovering as they did so, a few deviations that had crept into the previous game.  These included the fact that the trail gets longer each round and a misinterpretation of one of the icons.  As last time, to keep it simple, the group decided not to include the personal bonuses, though they included the Parks Cards from the Nightfall expansion.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

This time, Pink (playing what he thought was pink this time, not what he thought was orange, like last time), was fortunate in acquiring the Sunscreen gear card. This replaces Mountain tokens with Sun tokens when buying in Parks Cards and along with the canteen that provided two Suns, gave him a formidable points generating engine.  There was much conversation about whether sunscreen could let you replace ALL the Mountains with Suns for a single Parks Card, or just one. Based on the use of the plural in the rules, the former seemed more likely. However, it was an important point, so a drinks break was instituted whilst Jade consulted the the rules forum on the Board Game Geek website.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

Results were inconclusive, so the decision stood (or to quote Pink who had been watching too much rugby, “On field decision is ‘Try’ — is there any reason why I cannot award the Try?”).  As last time, Lime went for a “reserve Parks Card and then work towards it strategy”, whilst Black, Jade and Pink only reserved cards occasionally.  This time, nobody seemed to want to take the camera: Pink got it at the start of the game, and despite him trying persuade people to take it, no one was having it, and he kept it until the end of the game, taking only the occasional photo (worth one point each at the end of the game).

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

Jade picked up the compass Gear Card which came in very useful for collecting Parks Cards, while Black collected a store of emergency ketchup sachets.  Lime almost kept the start player marker from start to finish until Jade decided at the very end of the game, that he fancied that extra point and took it off him.  In the end, the Sunscreen strategy did it for Pink who won by a healthy margin of seven points, but otherwise it was really tight with just one point between everyone else and Lime and Jade tied for second place.

PARKS
– Image by boardGOATS

The third table were slow to get going with nobody being very decisive.  Eventually Blue suggested playing Sagrada and everyone else concurred.  We’ve played this quite a bit in the group since it was released five years ago, but it has been a little while and we were rusty on the rules and details of setup.  The idea of the game is very simple though:  In “Settlers Style”, players draft dice and add them to their player board.  Each die must be added according to the placement rules:  next to another die (orthogonally or diagonally) while not orthogonally adjacent to  a die of the same colour or number.  Additionally, at the start of the game, each player chooses a “window card” which dictates the numbers and colours of dice in some of the positions.

Sagrada
– Image by boardGOATS

The game is completed by Tool Cards which allow players to pay one of their limited number of tokens to briefly break the rules, and public and private objective cards.  Sagrada ends after ten rounds (twenty dice).  The group started with a lot of discussion about the private objective cards as some had snuck in from an expansion and confused everyone.  Once everyone was mostly happy with what they were trying to do, Pine started with the first draw.  Although he wasn’t aware of it at the time, his first placements turned out to be sub-optimal, as for the next few turns he had little or no choice in his placement and used up a lot of his most flexible spaces in the process.

Sagrada
– Image by boardGOATS

Purple and Blue tried to focus on the public objectives which were Shade Variety, Colour Variety and Row Colour Variety.  The latter pair fitted together very well since one gave points for each set of five different colours, while the other gave points for five different colours in the same row. Given that people were trying to go for sets of different colours and numbers, it was particularly amusing when the random nature of dice drawn from a bag and rolled gave a very limited selection, which only added to Pine’s woes.  The Tools cards weren’t terribly helpful either, especially as everyone was trying to save them for later.

Sagrada
– Image by boardGOATS

Lilac was the only one new to the game, but she got to grips with it quite quickly despite the fiddlyness of some of the rules.  When she realised she had got herself into a little bit of a tangle, she managed to extricate herself using the Tap Wheel tool which allowed her to move dice.  Lilac was very disappointed when she was unable to complete her window and had to leave a couple of spaces blank, but empty spaces only cost one point and the additional flexibility can often mean more points elsewhere.  Indeed, only Purple actually managed to complete her window.

Sagrada
– Image by boardGOATS

The dice just rolled right for Purple and Blue was able to use the Running Pliers to ensure she got what she needed in the penultimate round.  So, aside from poor Pine who had struggled throughout, everyone got what they wanted.  When Lilac took the only “red three” in the final round, however, it cost Pine twelve points .  With ten points for each complete row containing five different colours, it was clear it was between Blue and Purple.  Blue just had the edge though with more points from the Shade Variety and pushed Purple into second by nine points.  Pine took an early bath, but as the others were still playing, the remnants of the group looked for something else to play and grabbed the nearest quick game, which was Abandon all Artichokes.

Abandon All Artichokes
– Image by boardGOATS

Abandon all Artichokes is a very silly little deck-builder, which is somehow different to almost anything else.  Players start with a deck of ten artichoke cards from which they draw a hand of five.  The aim of the game is to shed all their artichoke cards so that when they draw their new hand of five at the end of their turn, there are no artichoke cards in it.  To do this, on their turn, the active player chooses one card from the face up market and, unlike most other deck builders, adds this to their hand (rather than their discard pile)  They then play as many cards as they can/want before discarding any leftover cards into their personal discard pile and drawing again.

Abandon All Artichokes
– Image by boardGOATS

Artichoke cards are basically hand blockers, with no practical use, but all the other cards (including the Rhubarb Promo cards) have an action that allow players to do things.  These include swapping cards with other players, discarding cards onto other players’ discard piles and placing artichokes onto the compost heap (a communal discard pile) which takes cards out of the game.  It took a while for everyone to get to grips with the rhythm of the game, but before long everyone was down to their last couple of artichokes.

Abandon All Artichokes
– Image by boardGOATS

You could hear the anticipation as people drew their five cards and disappointment when they found it still contained an artichoke.  PARKS had finished so, Pink and Black came over to see what was going on, and they were soon joined by Teal and Green who left Ivory to play with himself (the last era of Tapestry).  Eventually, after each player had had several hands where they’d hoped to finish and hadn’t, Purple finally put everyone out of their misery and ended the game.  Her obvious delight was in victory, rather than because of any dislike for the game, so although it is a strange little game, it will likely get another go soon.

Abandon All Artichokes
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning Outcome:  If you arrive late, you might not get the dinner of your choice.

20th July 2021 (Online)

Since last time, there had been quite a bit of debate about returning to the Horse and Jockey, but there was a little hesitancy and with the extremely hot weather, staying at home this week turned out to be the right choice all round.  As the decision had been just a little bit last-minute, we chose to keep the “Feature Game” simple and opted for the Skills Mini Expansion for Cartographers.  We have played Cartographers several times and everyone has really enjoyed it.  With the Spiel des Jahres winners announced this week, this was also the nearest we could get to playing a game to mark the occasion (it received a nomination for the Kennerspiel award last year).

Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale
– Image by boardGOATS

Cartographers is a “Roll and Write” type of game, but one with more of a “gamery” feel than most.  It is based on Tetris, with shapes revealed on the flip of a card in a similar way to other games we’ve played this year like Second Chance and Patchwork Doodle.  However, the thing that makes Cartographers more “gamery” than these is the addition of terrain and players usually have to make a choice, either of the shape or the terrain.  The terrains are tied in with goal cards, four of which are revealed at the start of the game.  Two goals are then scored at the end of each of the four seasons, in a similar way to another game we like, Isle of Skye.

Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale
– Image by boardGOATS

There are lots of other little aspects of the game that make it interesting—the presence of Ruins and Ambush Cards in the deck, for example, deliver a curved ball, just when players feel they are in control.  Players can also build their income by surrounding mountain ranges and choosing to play certain shapes; this gives more points at the end of each round.  The Skills expansion gives players a way to offset this income for special actions which potentially give players other ways of achieving their goals, further adding to the decision space.

Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale
– Image by boardGOATS

One of the most impressive things about Cartographers is the amount of variety that is built into the game, which means every play feels different and the game stays remarkably fresh.  So, there are two different player maps and four of each type of goal card.  This variety is carried through to the Skills expansion; there are eight cards of which three are chosen at random.  This time we chose the B side of the map (with empty “wasteland” spaces marked) and drew the Greenbough, Mages Valley, Wildholds and Borderlands goal cards together with the Search, Negotiate and Concentrate skills cards.  These skills cost anything from free (like Search) to three (like Concentrate), and each can be played multiple times per game although only one can be played each Season.

Cartographers: Skills Mini Expansion
– Image by boardGOATS

We quickly realised that the expensive skills like Concentrate are only likely to be played in the final round, as the cost is in “income” and that income is generated at the end of every round.  So, playing Concentrate at the start of the game will ultimately cost a player twelve points, while playing it in the final round will cost three just three points.  For this reason, the free Search skill was always likely to be used by almost everyone in almost every season (and so it proved).  Of course, the higher tariff reflects the increased power though:  Search allows players to increase the size of the shape they are drawing by a single square; Negotiate (which costs one) allows players to draw a two-by-two shape, and Concentrate allows players to draw the shape a second time.

Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale
– Image by boardGOATS

As well as the skills which we had not played with before, several of the goal cards were new to us as well, including Greenbough (which rewards gives players one point per row and column with at least one Forest square in it) and Mages Valley (which gave points for each space next to a Mountain—two points for each Lake and one point for each Arable).  We’d played with the Wildholds goal before though (which gives six points for each Village of six or more spaces) and, although Borderlands was new to us (which give points for each completed row or column), we’d played The Broken Road goal which is similar (giving points for completed diagonals).

Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale
– Image by boardGOATS

The game began much as usual, and Pink, who was watering the tomatoes in the “mini-market-garden”, commented that he could hear Burgundy muttering, sighing and generally sounding stressed from outside.  Although we had played with “Wastelands” before, we had all focussed on how the fact some of the spaces were already full would help.  We had all forgotten how much the Wastelands obstruct plans and generally make life considerably more difficult.  Blue made a bit of using the ruins spaces to give her more flexibility later, but had forgotten that it would reduce the number of spaces she would be able to fill later in the game.

Cartographers: Skills Mini Expansion
– Image by boardGOATS

It was clear after the first round that Ivory was going to be tough to beat, a feeling that was cemented after the second round.  Unusually, Burgundy was the first to post a score, with a total of one hundred and forty-one.  Although this was high enough to earn him second though, when Ivory’s score came through he was a massive twenty-five points ahead.  Once again, it had been a very enjoyable game, and as we tidied up there was a little bit of chit-chat about the skills and what they added to the game.  Since they are not compulsory, the consensus  was that we should add them every time, though it was clear that they had been widely used because of the presence of the free Search skill, which everyone had used, and some in every round.

Cartographers: Skills Mini Expansion
– Image by boardGOATS

With Cartographers over, we had a bit of a discussion about moving back to our much loved and greatly missed, Horse and Jockey.  We’d conducted some anonymous surveys over the preceding week to try to gauge opinion trying to ensure that nobody felt under pressure to do anything they weren’t comfortable with.  Some of the group had been back on occasional Thursdays, playing old favourites like The Settlers of Catan, Wingspan, and Roll for the Galaxy and new games like Red Rising, Mercado de Lisboa, Ticket to Ride: Amsterdam, Tapestry (with the Plans and Ploys expansion), Ginkgopolis, Everdell, and Draftosaurus (aka “Sushi Go with Dinosaurs”).  Others, however, had not been to the pub for nearly eighteen months.  After some discussion, we decided that we’d schedule a trial visit in ten days time, so that those who had not been out could see how they felt without committing, and those that went could report back to those that were feeling a little more reticent.

The Horse and Jockey
– Image by boardGOATS

After that, we moved onto Board Game Arena.  It was a quiet night without both Pine and Lime, and once Green and Ivory had left as well, we were down to five which gave us a lot of options.  Coloretto was one, but in the end we chose Niagara, a game we’ve all played quite a bit, but never online, and we were keen to see the new Board Game Arena implementation and whether losing the tactile moving river would leave the game lacking.  A strong element of the game is the element of simultaneous play, however, and this was a large part of the appeal this time.  Players simultaneously choose a Paddle Tile which dictates how far their canoe will move in the round.  Then, in turn order, players move their canoe up or down the river, paying two movement points to pick up a gem from the bank (or drop one off).

Niagara
– Image by BGG contributor El_Comandante
adapted by boardGOATS

The winner is the player to get four gems of the same colour, five gems of different colours, or any seven gems safely home and into the shallows.  On the face of it, this is relatively simple, but the really clever part of the game is the movement of the river.  In general, the river moves at the speed of the slowest boat—if the lowest numbered Paddle Tile is a two, then the river moves two spaces and all the boats move with it.  However, one of the Paddle Tiles is a weather tile which enables players to increase or decrease the rate to make life harder or easier.  Since everyone has to play all their Paddle Tiles before they can recycle them, the timing of their weather tile is critical: players who leave it to the end run the risk of the river running fast and losing boats over the cascade because they can’t do anything about it.

Niagara on Board Game Arena
– Image by boardGOATS
from boardgamearena.com

And it wasn’t long before that’s exactly what happened, when both Blue and Black got their timing wrong and lost boats over the falls, so had to pay hard earned gems to get new ones.  Then, to add insult to injury, Pink sneakily crept up on Blue and stole another gem from her.  Players can only steal if they land on the same space as another boat while travelling upstream, and even then it is a choice.  There was much ill feeling especially from Blue, but she wasn’t the only one.  And with that, the gloves came off and everyone tried to redress the balance and ensure that such bad behaviour would not go unpunished.

Niagara on Board Game Arena
– Image by boardGOATS from boardgamearena.com

Pink was abreast of that though and had a plan.  Knowing his bad behaviour would make him a target he collected gems in one boat letting others take them while he stole the gems he wanted and got them to shore quickly.  Much to everyone’s disgust, he soon had five different gems and there was nothing anyone could do to stop him getting them home.  Burgundy actually had more gems giving him a nominally higher score, but his set of six did not include five different colours and Blue’s set of five included three nuggets of amber.  The victims of Pink’s grand larceny were unimpressed with his terrible behaviour, and as it was getting late, we decided to call it a night.

Niagara on Board Game Arena
– Image by boardGOATS
from boardgamearena.com

Learning Outcome:  Theft is totally unforgivable.

13th October 2020 (Online)

The evening began slowly, with people signing in and confirming they had their parcels and had not yet opened them.  There was a bit of chatter about isolating, and about Green and Lilac’s new house (which had very similar decor to the previous one).  Pink had acquired yet another Panda and proudly had it on display.

A Panda not crossing, with details of a Panda Crossing
– Image by boardGOATS

From there the conversation took a bizarre turn on to the subject of Panda Crossings, which really did exist (along with the other “Animal Crossings”), in the 1960s.  It was no surprise they were phased out after just five years, though, given how complicated they were, and the fact that safe operation relied on the difference between a “Pulsating” Amber and a “Flashing” Amber…

Elizabeth
– Image from cronkshawfoldfarm.co.uk

At 8pm, the Special Guest arrived; Elizabeth and some of her buddies from Cronkshaw Fold Farm in Lancashire joined the meeting.  Elizabeth is very talented and has a particular penchant for yoga.  So much so, in fact that she and her friends have been the subject of a half hour documentary filmed last summer.  As Elizabeth and friends galloped about and showed us their delightful home, everyone sang “Happy Birthday” and then opened their boxes.

2020 Birthday Box
– Image by boardGOATS

The boxes were part of the celebration of our eighth birthday.  As is now traditional, the “Feature Game” was Crappy Birthday, a silly little filler/party game that is great fun when played very occasionally (and about once a year is perfect).  The idea is that each player takes it in turns to receive gifts from everyone else and then they choose the best and the worst; the players who gifted the selected presents get a point.  So in this game players are aiming for extremes making it almost the opposite of games like Dixit or Just One where players are aiming for the centre-ground.

Crappy Birthday
– Image by boardGOATS

With the current challenge of “remote gaming” we had to play Crappy Birthday a little differently this year.  So, everyone “wrapped their parcels” last time we met and this time everyone took it in turns to unwrap them.  While people ate their treats, names were drawn out of the Crappy Birthday box lid and everyone took it in turns to “open their gifts”, while everyone else ate their cake, biscuits and chocolate.

2020 Birthday Biscuits
– Image by boardGOATS

Blue went first to show those that hadn’t experienced a GOATS birthday party how to play.  As always, it was a learning experience all round.  This time, we learnt that Blue would quite like a trip to the middle east (complete with riding camels), but that Monopoly toilet paper might block her drain and everyone else was concerned about the possibility of paper cuts.  Green and Lilac both dislike smoking and have been to a Star Wars wedding and Lilac would like a ferret.  Black quite fancied unicycle lessons and Purple thought a giant fake bear rug would really add to the ambience in their living room.  Although Black likes fish, a hundred pounds is a lot especially when raw, but as he could put it in the freezer, he decided that the persistence of his own Mariachi band would be worse.

Crappy Birthday
– Image by boardGOATS

Ivory disliked the sound of “Organ Holiday by Ethel Smith”, and would not be swayed even by Pine’s hurt protest that it had pride of place in his collection.  Then he saw the hideous living room tapestry, and although he loves the game (and had really enjoyed playing it with the Plans and Ploys Expansion and Pink and Blue recently), he said it was also not for him.  Since the LP would be for just a year and the tapestry was permanent, the wall covering was therefore rejected as his least favourite.

Crappy Birthday
– Image by boardGOATS

A lot of people seemed to think that Burgundy would really appreciate physical extreme sports but the one he rejected was bungee jumping.  Unlike everyone else who seemed to reject any long term, life-changing experiences, his Burgundy’s preferred gift was a an eagle as a life-long companion, though Blue was concerned it might interfere with Games Night.

Crappy Birthday
– Image by boardGOATS

Mulberry calling in from California fancied a fighter jet ride and rejected a bus ride to Florida, and not only because it was such a long way away.  Meanwhile, animal gifts were quite popular and although Pine would have loved the opportunity to be licked by a giraffe or go on an African safari, those gifts were received by Violet, calling in from Aberystwyth.  She accepted the safari, but, not being a child of the 70s, was unimpressed by the fluffy dice.

Crappy Birthday
– Image by boardGOATS

Pine’s wildlife gifts were in the form of hairless cat, a weekend with some monkeys in a hot spring and the chance to hunt and and clean his own Thanksgiving turkey.  Having had a landlady with a cat with galloping alopecia, Pine spurned the unfortunate moggy.  Then, despite the fact the turkey was the vegetarian’s obvious least favourite, that was Pine’s preferred choice as there was nothing to say he couldn’t give it it’s freedom once it’d had a wash.

Crappy Birthday
– Image by boardGOATS

After some rude comments about his taste in clothing, Pink explained that being on the reality show “Can America Disco” was his idea of a nightmare and that he quite fancied an Easter Island moʻai statue for his front garden.  And then, the last player, Lime, also rejected publicity in the form of his own personal paparazzi posting hourly updates on his doings.  Like Pink, he also chose the garden ornament, as Lime wanted a new patio and thought a giant chess board would be just the job.

Crappy Birthday
– Image by boardGOATS

And with that, all that was left was the scores.  This time, we found that Team Greeny-Lilac and Pink were particularly good at this game, but it was Lime who seemed to take a point every time, taking seven out of a possible eleven points.  That said, it was remarkable how many people gave gifts they thought people would like that ended up winning a point for being the most disliked.  That’s half the fun though.  With the birthday celebration dealt with, we then moved on to playing other games.  We are getting better at this, though our repertoire is still quite limited.  There had been a few requests to play Railroad Ink again, however, so we started with that.

Railroad Ink: Deep Blue Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

Railroad Ink is a very simple “Roll and Write” route planning game.  The idea is that four dice are rolled and everybody adds all four to their map.  Three of the dice show straight and curved sections and T-junctions for road and rail.  The other, the fourth die shows stations connecting road to rail, and a fly-over (crossing, but not connecting).  The game is played over seven rounds, after which players score points for their longest road segments, their longest rail segments, the number of locations on the edge of the board have been connected, and the number of spaced in the central grid that have been filled.

Railroad Ink: Deep Blue Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

Having played it before, it didn’t take too long to get going and there was a sort of focussed silence as everyone concentrated, punctuated by occasional moans when the dice didn’t give people what they wanted.  Sadly, these games are very much “multiplayer solitaire”, and we really only found out how people did when adding up the scores.  This time, it was really close with just five points separating the top six players.  Initially it looked like it was a tie between Blue and Pink, but a recount pushed Blue into second just ahead of Green and then Pine.

Railroad Ink: Deep Blue Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

Ivory and Lime followed Mulberry taking their leave, and everyone else settled down to something quick and light in the form of Second Chance.  This is a very simple Tetris-style game where two cards are revealed and players chose one of the two shapes to add to their tableau.  Players can add shapes anywhere and in any orientation.  If they can’t use either of the shapes they get a second chance—another card is revealed, but if they can’t add that shape either, then they are eliminated.

Second Chance
– Image by boardGOATS

The winner is the player with the fewest unused spaces, so the winner is not necessarily the player that stays in the longest.  This and the fact that the game is not over-long means that player elimination is not a huge problem.  This time, all the large and awkward shapes came out first which meant there was sudden and catastrophic collapse as almost everyone crashed out together.  As a result, the scores were really close.  Lilac’s beautiful colouring earned her a worthy second place and she was unfortunate to be beaten by the very jammy Pink, who sailed through with several second chances and finished with just three unfilled spaces.

Second Chance
– Image by boardGOATS

By this time, it was starting to get late and people drifted off leaving just five for our, now regular, game of 6 Nimmt! on Board Game Arena.  It is very simple:  simultaneously, players choose a card, then starting with the lowest value, these are added to one of the four rows.  The player who adds the sixth card takes the other five and the player with the most “nimmts” at the end loses.  It is very random, but somehow gives the illusion of control, right until the wheels drop off…

6 Nimmt!
– Image by boardGOATS

We play this so much because it is light and great fun, with no downtime.  And with the “Professional Variant” that we now use where cards are added to both ends of the rows, the game has had a new lease of life for us.  It works really well with fewer players too.  This time, Black was first and second to pick up, and it didn’t get much better as the game wore on and it wasn’t a surprise when he triggered the end of the game leaving Burgundy to taste victory, just ahead of Green.

6 Nimmt! on Board Game Arena
– Image by boardGOATS from boardgamearena.com

Then, Green said good night leaving just four.  Having enjoyed several games of Sushi Go! last time, we decided to give it another try, this time with the Soy Sauce mini expansion.  This is one of the simplest of the card drafting games—players have hand of cards, keep one and pass the rest on.  With Sushi Go!, players are collecting sets with a sushi theme and trying to collect the most points over three rounds.

Sushi Go!
– Image by boardGOATS

This was another close game.  Burgundy and Blue tied the first round, one devoid of puddings, but Black and Purple weren’t far behind.  The second round was much less even though and was taken by Blue with a massive eighteen points.  She wasn’t able to keep it up for the final round which Black took with sixteen points.  It wasn’t quite enough, to overtake Blue though and she finished with a total of forty-three, just two ahead of Black, in a game where there just wasn’t enough dessert to go round.

Sushi Go! on Board Game Arena
– Image by boardGOATS from boardgamearena.com

There was just time for one more game, so after a brief discussion, the group opted for another set collecting game, Coloretto.  This is another very simple game where players have the simple choice:  Take a card and add it to a truck, or take a truck and add the cards to their collection.  Players score positive points for their three top scoring sets, and negative points for all the others.  Normally, the scoring is according to the Triangular Number Series, where more cards score increasingly more points (one, three, six, ten, fifteen and twenty-one).

Coloretto
– Image by boardGOATS

This time we decided to play with the alternative, “Difficult” scoring, where small sets score the most and their value peaks at eight points for three cards, falling gradually for larger sets.  This changes the game significantly, as taking a fourth or fifth card has the same impact on a player’s score as starting another set.  And everyone has fewer points to play with…  It took a couple of rounds for people to realise the implications of this change to scoring.  Then players started taking trucks when they were almost empty and when a “+2” card came up it was taken straight away.

Coloretto on Board Game Arena
– Image by boardGOATS from boardgamearena.com

As a result, there were more rounds and the game became one of avoiding things going wrong.  And for most people, once it started going wrong, things generally went from bad to worse.  First was Purple, then Black, then just before the end, Blue was landed with pile of cards she didn’t want.  So, it wasn’t a huge surprise that Burgundy, who had managed to avoid falling off the precipice, finished with the most points.  Purple was by far the best of the rest though having been most successful at stemming the flood of unwanted cards.  Then it was time for the last of the birthday boys and girls to go to bed.

Coloretto on Board Game Arena
– Image by boardGOATS from boardgamearena.com

Learning Outcome: A gift’s worth is in the eye of the recipient.