Spiel : Boardgames in the UK

21 December 2013

It’s a Scandal!

Filed under: — Garry @ 11:14 am

Having declared Nige the 2013 Hall of Fame winner last night, on the back of some hasty calculations, it seems I either can’t read or I can’t use a calculator correctly. After writing up the reports and scores from the games played last night, the site has done the calculation correctly and declared that this year’s Hall of Fame has ended up a tie with both Nige and Guy ending up on 37.5%. I had entered Guy as having played 89 games for the year rather than 88.

Looking at the club rules on the tie-break procedure, I have found … we don’t have a tie-break procedure (probably because we don’t have any club rules). Therefore, I declare that for the first time in our history, we have joint winners of the Hall of Fame and congratulations should go to both Nige and Guy.

Right, let the howls of indignation begin ;-)

15 December 2013

Don’t forget your Six Picks for 2013

Filed under: — Garry @ 1:42 pm

It’s that time of year when we reflect on the best games of the year so, if anyone wants to let me have their Six Picks for 2013, I’ll start to publish these in the run up to - and over - Christmas.

10 December 2013

Shrewsbury Boardgames Club - Change of Venue

Filed under: — Garry @ 7:03 pm

This Friday’s session (13th December 2013), which was due to take place at Nige’s house, won’t because his boiler has packed up and it’s rather cool up the Stiperstones at this time of year without any heating.

Instead, Mark K is picking up the slack so those travelling out to Oswestry will, I’m sure be offered a feast of biscuits, cake, cheese and crackers etc.

The following week will, as planned, be at Garry’s house - but without the biscuits, cake……….

28 July 2011

Shrewsbury Boardgames 10th Anniversary on the web

Filed under: — Garry @ 8:53 pm



Now, the Shrewsbury Boardgames Club has been going a lot longer than ten years but this month marks the tenth anniversary of me moving back to Shrewsbury and diligently recording our escapades on the web. The earliest screen dump I could get from the Wayback Machine was from May 2003 but, if you look at our archive session reports, you’ll see the first was dated 20th July 2001 when Nige, Mark K, Ben Kipp, John Williams and I played Alan Moon’s Das Amulett and Capitol (actually, John watched Capitol as he needed to leave early).

So happy anniversary to us.

8 February 2011

Session Report: 4 February 2011 - Mousquetaires du Roy, Members Only

Filed under: — Garry @ 8:29 am

This week, there were five of us and I’d brought along Mousquetaires du Roy (The King’s Musketeers), which is a semi-cooperative game of one player, Milady, against the rest, the Musketeers. I decided to be Milady, as I more or less knew the rules and suspected that her role was likely to be less interesting than the others. And it certainly is, as Milady’s decisions are fairly limited in terms of working out which adversaries, traps and location to choose on each turn and then watch while the Musketeers do their thing. That said, Milady is still involved in the dice-rolling combat but she has no decisions to make. I made up for the lack of decisions by ensuring that my dice-rolling was on top form, making it very hard for the musketeers. Milady never really seemed troubled and easily defeated the Musketeers in La Rochelle with them still only part way through the second quest.

The general feeling was that the game was very unbalanced in favour of Milady, although this doesn’t seem to be borne out by other comments on Boardgamegeek. I suspect more emphasis needed to be put on solving the quests rather than what was going on elsewhere. A lot of effort was probably wasted at the Louvre, when this could have been left until the Queen’s dishonour level got to at least half way along the track. It also has to be said that Porthos (Nige) turned out to be a very poor Musketeer and seemed to spend most of the game losing duels left, right and centre.

As a result of the one-sided nature of the game, the ratings suffered but I’d like to try again now that everyone has a better idea of how to approach it.

We then shifted from Paris to London for a game of Reiner Knizia’s Members Only, which I appear not to have played since 2002. This is a great 45 minute game of finely judged betting and card play, which this time turned into 90 minutes of jockeying for position as nobody seemed to be able to score any points in the Cup o’ Tea category, while all of the others were close to getting maxed out by most players. Eventually, Mark K managed to get a score in Tea and that proved to be decisive as he edged victory by a single point from Steve. Good game but went on a bit too long on this occasion (even without Guy!)

30 January 2011

Session report: 28 January 2011 - Jamaica, The Resistance (x2)

Filed under: — Garry @ 4:12 pm

This week, there were six of us and I was keen to try out my Secret Santa gift, Jamaica. This is a sort-of race game with treasure and piracy thrown in, where your score is determined by how close to the finish line you are when somebody crosses the finish line, how many doubloons you have in your hold, and the value of treasure and curses you have amassed.

Now Mark W seemed to have great difficulty leaving port. As soon as he left, he kept finding he didn’t have the food to pay to stay at his destination so kept moving back. Once he did get going, I started to try moving backwards to keep out of the way of the others as my hold had been filled to the brim with doubloons. Plus I had some supposedly secret treasure - well it would have been if Mark K hadn’t faked a slip of the tongue and warned everyone of its value so they didn’t cross the line too early. Mark G ended up across the line first and had just enough in treasure and doubloons to overtake my total.

This was a pretty fun game and the combat kept things interesting, although my lagging back and others trying to wait for me added a bit to the game length. However, it was still a good game that would play well with the family.

Our next game was my Game of the Month for December but it was the first time we had played it at the club. The Resistance is a social deduction game where, with six players, the four resistance operatives are trying to successfully complete three out of five missions while two spies are trying to sabotage those missions. Each mission starts with someone proposing who should be on the mission team and then everyone voting whether or not to agree to that team. If the team gets voted down, the next person gets to propose a team until a majority of players votes in favour of a particular team. Once the team has been established, each team member secretly plays a card for the mission to succeed or fail, with a single fail card meaning the mission is unsuccessful. Once three missions have succeeded or three failed, the game ends with a win for either all resistance players or for all spies.Our next game was my Game of the Month for December but it was the first time we had played it at the club. The Resistance is a social deduction game where, with six players, the four resistance operatives are trying to successfully complete three out of five missions while two spies are trying to sabotage those missions. Each mission starts with someone proposing who should be on the mission team and then everyone voting whether or not to agree to that team. If the team gets voted down, the next person gets to propose a team until a majority of players votes in favour of a particular team. Once the team has been established, each team member secretly plays a card for the mission to succeed or fail, with a single fail card meaning the mission is unsuccessful. Once three missions have succeeded or three failed, the game ends with a win for either all resistance players or for all spies.

The game came down to the very last mission and after a couple of mission teams had been proposed and declined, it was down to me to choose a team. Now, it has to be said that Mark W had appeared to be somewhat confused all the way through the game and had voted against the successful mission team in the fourth round. So when I proposed a dream team of myself and the three Marks, Nige was quick to point this out to me. However, after careful reflection, I explained that a strong team not only needed brains, quick wits and brawn but also the token bone-head and continued with my original proposal - mainly because I was confident of having worked out that Nige was a spy on the third round. And so it was that the mission was successful and the resistance triumphed.

I really like this game and Nige seemed equally impressed. It plays with between five and ten players and I’m sure the game will work differently with different numbers of players. However, it won’t suit everyone and Guy rated it quite low as it wasn’t his kind of game.

With about half an hour left, we decided to finish off with another game of The Resistance - unusual for us to play a game twice in a row. However, this time, it didn’t turn out quite as well for the good guys. The first mission team of Mark W and Mark G came through with flying colours, although Mark G had been rather too hesitant in picking his Succeed/Fail card and suspicion immediately fell on him. After the spies had managed to sabotage both missions two and three, it suddenly became very tense. Again a couple of mission teams got voted down and I was again the proposer. Now, I was pretty sure that the spies were Mark G and Nige but I wasn’t discounting Guy so even though I put forward Mark K, Mark W, Guy and myself, I did have a slight doubt. The mission team got approved and off they went….and it failed! Disaster but even moreso as Mark W turned out to be the second spy. Mark K and I had assumed it was Nige and Nige had assumed it was me. It was very well played by the spies especially with proposing themselves on the first mission and both voting it to succeed. So, Mark W turned out not to be such a bone-head second time around. Excellent stuff.

16 January 2011

Session Report: 14 January 2011 - 20th Century

Filed under: — Garry @ 3:13 pm

This week we were all lined up for a four player game of Opera when Mark G arrived to give us five players. Once Opera waspacked away again, we opted for 20th Century, the new game from Shipyard designer, Vladimir Suchy. This was an interesting game of trying to balance coin and science production (the two currencies for the two types of auction in the game) with garbage disposal and victory point production. Not knowing the land tile distribution (or more specifically the recycling plant distribution) for our first game, most of us started off pretty conservatively, except for Mark K who bought four land tiles on the first turn with the asociated 10 garbage tokens. For a while, it wasn’t looking too promising for him but he did eventually manage to acquire the necessary recycling plants to get rid of his waste, although we were very kind to him in allowing him to acquire the right tiles without overpaying - I think we were all too concerned with our own garbage and pollution. Nige and I were pretty starved of science points so we were resigned to taking the worst catastrophes while Mark G steadily built up an impressive ‘green’ economy and scored loads in the final bonuses. However, Mark K ended up in a different league as he cleared all his garbage and also scored lots of points at the end to add to an already sizeable lead built up during the rest of the game.

We all enjoyed this and will probably have a better idea of how adventurous to be, now knowing that recycling becomes more common as the game progresses. Good stuff and a good win for Mark K.

Scores and ratings are up on my Trickylight site.

14 September 2010

Trickylight archive sessions

Filed under: — Garry @ 11:11 pm

I’ve done a bit of house-keeping with the archive session reports to split them by year (the complete list since July 2001 was getting a bit long). Hopefully, everything still works ok but, if you spot any errors, please let me know.

And as a challenge, can you identify the pictures for each year on the main archive sessions page?

13 February 2010

Power Grid: Factory Manager

Filed under: — Garry @ 12:27 pm

This week, I had expected there to be six of us so was planning to split into two groups. However, when we learned Mark W was stuck on Ludlow station, we opted to try Friedemann Friese’s latest game - Power Grid: Factory Manager - a game which has nothing to do with Power Grid but is still a tense, economic optimisation game.

The game is played over five rounds and each round is identical: Firstly, you bid for turn order tiles, which also determine how much discount you receive on your purchases each round. Then each player selects which factory components will be available for purchase, with the cheapest of each component having to be selected for possible sale before the more juicy stuff. Each player then buys what they want or can afford and places them in their factory. You are trying to obtain components that increase your production and storage or decrease your manpower requirements, while keeping control on your energy costs. Each time you add / replace something in your factory, you adjust these four factors and then receive income based on the lower of your production / storage capacity, after paying your energy costs (the price of which increases during the game. Income in the final round is doubled and then whoever has the most money wins.

We all thought this was an excellent design although, with five players, more stuff comes into the market and the length of the game increases accordingly. It took us around 2.5 hours to play, which is a bit long particularly as there is a big chunk of downtime while others take their turns. Nige and I almost decided to play a game of Macao while we were waiting at one stage. In the first round of our game, only one storage tile came up so the first player (me) snapped it up and gained an early income advantage on the others, although I had to tie up more workers for the next round. Mechanisation seemed a good option as it releases more workers to buy stuff with so by the third round some of us had factories completely populated by robots. I think Nige and I were the only ones to take seasonal workers in one round but Nige soon saw the error of his ways as he didn’t actually employ them in the next round so had basically wasted 14 Elektros. The fourth round saw me last in player order but with nothing decent to buy. I needed storage but there was none so I had to have a frugal round, spending just a little on upgrading a couple of machines. However, it meant I needed to be first in player order for the final round and it cost me two workers to secure that. However, I could still afford it in my robot-run factory. Guy on the other hand had all bar one of his workers in the canteen, although he was ahead on the income scale the previous round, so we experienced the quickest Guy turn ever in the history of the club. He had placed his worker for turn order so could add nothing to the market and had nothing to buy. We knew the scores were going to be close but didn’t realise it ws that close as just 6 Elektros separated first and third. My “bad” penultimate turn, where I virtually spent nothing was just enough to give me the win - phew! As I said, very tense. Ratings were pretty good although Nige and I knocked it down a notch due to the game length. Interested to see how it plays with 3 or 4 players.

7 February 2010

The World Cup Card Game 2010: Cameroon champions?

Filed under: — Garry @ 1:34 pm

This week, I’d just got a copy of The World Cup Card Game 2010 which, unsurprisingly, is a card game version of the board game The World Cup Game, centred on the 2010 tournament. Designed by Shaun Derrick and published by Games for the World, it is simply a deck of cards and a two page rule sheet.

The game is split into two phases: The group stage involves the 32 teams in 8 groups playing in a round robin league format. Each team receives 7 or 8 cards and the team manager will choose between 1 and 4 of the cards to allocate to each of their three matches. The cards vary between goal cards (1-3 goals depending on the strength of the team); attack cards, a pair of which counts as a goal and a singleton giving a chance at a goal based on the draw of a further card; penalty cards which are similar to singleton attacks but with a greater chance of scoring; defence cards which cancel attack cards; and foul/offside cards which cancel goals or attacks. Games are quickly resolved but choosing how many cards to allocate can be tricky as you need to determine which games you need to winn or can afford to lose. Still, if you’ve drawn rubbish cards to start with, you aren’t going to create many scoring chances however hard you try to perm them.

Once all 24 matches have been resolved, the top 2 teams in each group progress to the second phase, the knockout stage. Game play is different here and more closely follows that of the board game. All the teams in a round are available for players to play cards against up to a maximum of four cards for each team. However, goal and attack cards can be covered by foul/offside/defence cards to negate their advantage. Once all cards have been played, each match is resolved and the winners move on to the next round. At this stage, players who no longer have a team left in the tournament cease taking part in the card play and are just left to cheer / heckle the remaining managers. Drawn games in the knockout are resolved by penalty shoot out, which means that England will inevitably lose by these means at some stage in the tournament. Eventually, the final is resolved and the winning team/manager is crowned champion.

TWCCG is a fun game to play and has some interesting tactics but is to a great extent dependent on the cards you draw. I found the group stages more interesting than the knockout as allocating cards between three games involved more planning and guessing what the other team managers would be doing; the knockout was in the main just an exercise of placing good cards on your team and bad cards on your direct opponent so really  came down to who had drawn the better cards. Still, the game is easy to play, gives lots of opportunity to cheer your own good fortune or laugh at others’ misfortune, and is one that is easily played anywhere as it is simply a deck of cards. You do, however, need to download the score sheet to keep track of the tournament. We all enjoyed our first game although it took us just a bit longer than the 75 minutes advertised on the box. However, this is another good addition to the collection and will definitely see more play as we get closer to the real tournament.

In our game, we slightly varied the initial allocation of teams: The rules say teams are dealt out at random but I decided to split the top eight seeds so that all six of us got at least one decent team. Thankfully, everyone got a team through the group stages, although I was down to my last team, Argentina, having only drawn five teams (rather than some others receiving six) and my others being the mighty North Korea, South Korea, Chile and Japan.

In the round of 16, we saw two penalty shoot-outs with Ivory Coast defeating Switzerland 4-3 and my own Argentina scraping through 7-6 against Mark G’s France. However, my luck came to an end in the Quarters and both Mark K and I were relegated to spectators for the rest of the game. England (Guy) lost in the semi-finals and inevitably lost to Uruguay (Mark G) on penalties in the third place play-off. The final ended up being a goal-fest with Cameroon (Nige) eventually overcoming The Netherlands (Steve) 6-4, although Nige’s top decking skills in the final had to be seen to be believed. Great fun.

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