Jobby and Sarah hosted a gathering for International Tabletop Day this year. Here’s a run down of how they got on…
Play More Games!
International Tabletop Day was created a few years ago by Wil Wheaton who hosts the Tabletop show on YouTube. The idea is to get lots of people playing tabletop games, an aim of which I approve whole heartedly!
To celebrate we invited a few friends over and attempted to play games until our brains turned to mush. I think we succeeded and here’s a round up of what we played.
Mugging People in the Streets
After a quick 5Km Park Run early in the morning, and collecting the motorbike from its servicing, Sarah and I were tidying up the house to get ready when the first visitors arrived. Brian and Darren, two guys I’ve known for years and play Magic with, were at the front door. Darren had brought a few games with him and suggested we start with a game of Dark Deeds.
This was new to Sarah and me so Darren read the introductory paragraph from the rules to give us an idea of what was happening. Basically cards are laid out representing people walking in the street. On their turn, a player can choose a person to mug by rolling a die and trying to get over that card’s number. Successfully mugging a person enables a player to lay out a matching card which gives a bonus to future muggings. For example, mugging a priest might give the player priests’ robes which give a bonus to mugging other people; after all, who expects to get mugged by a priest?
There are city guards in the game who can be crept past or killed. There are ‘Nemeses’ who must be killed. These cards can end up ‘chasing’ players, i.e. being laid in front of them. They then complicate that player’s future turns. When the deck runs out the game ends.
It was certainly an ok game though I’m not rushing out to buy it. Weirdly it felt like Morels/Fungi for more than two players what with the constant stream of moving cards. The let down for me was the fact that a die roll is the main mechanic – your success in the game is going to rely on how well the die rolls for you. If you roll well you’ll get a bonus card which will improve future rolls and thus it snowballs a bit. Hmm…
Anyway, towards the end of this game, Rob and Kelly who are our neighbours turned up. So we found a game that played six players…
The Six Wonders of the World
We knew Rob and Kelly were interested in playing 7 Wonders, which is a favourite of ours, so we got that out. We played with just the base set and after a quick rules explanation we got on with the game.
Rob got the game straight away – he comes from a miniatures wargaming background so is used to complicated games. He’s also used to lots of conflict in games which might have led him to go overboard with military in this game. Kelly was much less sure about the rules and it definitely took a few rounds for her to ‘get it’. She did say at the end that she enjoyed it so we look forward to playing it with her again.
In the end, all of our collective scientific achievements, monuments and guilds were no match for Rob’s armies and he won by a comfortable margin.
Zooming Round Monaco
Up next was a game of Formula D, a game of selecting a gear, rolling a die and moving your tiny car around the giant board. We played the default Monaco track and each rolled the d20 to determine starting position. Rob took pole position followed by Brian and me. Darren and the girls took up the last three positions.
Formula D did what it always does and what I always love about it: it was quite unpredictable! As much as the game is roll and move, it can’t be denied that careful choice of gear and when to zoom through those corners makes for the winner. I also love have the cars always bunch up in the corners and spread out through the straights.
Despite moans of “How are we going to win? We started all the way at the back!” the positions soon changed. The contenders for first and second place changed several times. I didn’t get out of Loews corner as well as I would have liked and floundered as most of the field shot past me. Sarah shredded her tyres through one corner trying to catch up which necessitated her being careful for the rest of the race. Darren, the only player without a driver’s licence, was the winner of the race! His lack of driver’s licence being his main gloat.
Complete carnage ensued as we took to fleeing Atlantis in Survive! Escape from Atlantis. We added the expansion that allows for six players and set up our little guys on the island. After explaining the rules I nodded to Kelly and told her that she’d enjoy this one – she likes ‘take that’ games. Everybody seemed to doubt me when I said this game will bring out the worst in people. Little did they know…
It didn’t take long for someone to hop in another person’s boat, or someone to take a tile that another player’s piece was on, or something. Then started the little moves in retaliation that, as usual, build up to a whole load of chaos! And that’s what I love about this game.
Anyway, Brian took the victory for this game having got a couple of guys off the island pretty early and then helping to make sure other people didn’t get off the island! Poor Darren didn’t rescue a single person. 🙁
Shipping Goods From French Harbours
Rob and Kelly had to leave at this point which left Brian, Darren, Sarah and me. I asked the guys what they would like and Brian said that he really enjoys resource management games like Agricola. I started listing the ones we own and he stopped me at Le Havre. “Let’s play that!”, he said.
It had been a while since my last game so I quickly refreshed myself on the rules, being surprised at how simple they are. I brought everyone else up to speed and made sure to emphasise how important ships are. We begun.
I can only say it was a bit of a weird game. I was concentrating on trying to get buildings built and ended up taking about four loans during the game. However, by the end of the game I was doing OK. Sarah kept saying that she wasn’t getting much done but actually seemed in a more solid position than me. Brian was having a whale of a time – no issues with feeding his folks and he was getting a lovely surplus of goods ready for shipping later in the game.
Darren, however, was truly struggling. He was so fixated on trying to get enough food for the end of the round that he completely blanked doing anything else. By then end of the game he had only built two buildings and no ships. His was a truly hand to mouth existence and he finished the game far behind everybody else. I kept trying to suggest that he took a hit on loans and just got a ship built but he was so far behind that he couldn’t seem to do that.
The end of the game came after three hours (!) and the necessary building hadn’t even come out to produce steel! Nor had the cokery. Points-wise it felt a poor game but to give him his due, Brian won the game by a fair margin.
Sarah was now very tired and called it a night. Darren asked if Brian and me wanted to play one of his other games: Kill Doctor Lucky or Foe Hunters. I’d recently played Kill Doctor Lucky so didn’t fancy that so Darren set about setting up Foe Hunters.
I was told that this was a co-operative deck building game where the players would be facing off against a single enemy who had a deck of its own. “Fine,” I thought. “This should be like Legendary Encounters: Alien.” I was rather happy at the prospect.
To be honest, I wasn’t impressed with the game I did get to play. Whilst similar to Legendary (though much simpler) it felt much, much slower. Deck-building felt like a complete misnomer. I think I went through my deck only once in the entire game: players don’t discard their hand in this like many other deck-builders. It didn’t matter what was in my deck, I was only going to see it once during the game.
Each of the characters did play very differently, which was interesting. My Elementalist seemed to enjoy pinging lots of small attacks at the enemy. Brian’s Berserker wanted to get a big hand of cards which it could discard to do massive amounts of damage (how we won in the end). Finally, Darren was playing something which gave other players boosts (I can’t even remember the name of the character).
Also, the game lasted over 1.5 hours! This was far too long and I could feel my will to live slipping away. All in all, I wasn’t overly impressed with this last game. Still, it is good to try different things!
So, with 12 hours of gaming behind us, the lads said goodnight and I went to bed feeling happy and slightly gamed out!