Our First Visit to the Bury St Edmunds Board Games Group

Jobby and Sarah headed into the wilds of Suffolk one dark night to meet with strangers. Here’s how things went…

Wrong Turn?

“Do you fancy going to a board game night in a pub?” Sarah asked me. Board games… pub… what could go wrong?

“Sounds like a great idea!” I said.

We later found ourselves driving down dark country roads with nothing but fields around for miles. Sarah’s enthusiasm had dipped after we’d left the busy comfort of the A14. There’s always warnings about meeting up with someone you’ve only ever communicated with via the internet. I’d lost sight of any sign of civilisation. There were just the dark silhouettes of trees, and the occasional glimmer of an animal’s eyes. This was feeling like the start of a horror film.

“We’re going to die!” said Sarah, beautifully captioning the ambience of the drive.

“You have reached your destination,” sang out the car’s satnav in that weird accent it has. Sure enough, in front of us was The Bennet Arms pub. That, at least, was real.

We parked up and pulled out our bag of games from the boot of the car. Someone was waving a stick around in a threatening manner in the beer garden. At least they were smiling. Trepidly we entered the pub…

Jobby’s Worst Fish Course Ever

… And were immediately greeted by an old gent at the bar who clocked our bag of games, smiled and pointed to the seating area around the corner. Here we found a couple playing The Fox in the Forest and another guy looking on.

The onlooker introduced himself as Tom and was the guy Sarah had contacted on Facebook. The couple were John and Jenny. Much smalltalk ensued around topics such as how long the group had been meeting and how many members there were. As this went on more people arrived and soon we had a good gathering of players. More introductions were made and it was decided to get things rolling with an eight player game of Sushi Go Party!

This game is the same as Sushi Go! wherein players choose a card from their hand and pass the rest on, reveal their card and then repeat with the new hand of cards they were just handed. At the end of each round players score for certain combinations of cards. The ‘Party’ bit with this game is that it is designed to cater to more players with some different cards available (and it looked like there are different sets of cards that can be swapped around for different games).

There’s a lovely little scoretrack that sat in the middle of the table. The problem? My black playing piece was right at the back and stayed there all game. Sad Jobby!

The scoreboard at the end of some Sushi Go Party! See that black marker right at the back? That’s Jobby’s!

The Main Event

After getting suitably warmed up the decision was to break into smaller tables and play some bigger games. The question was who wanted to play which games? Everyone emptied their bags of games onto the centre table and then John piped up “We should let the new guys choose a game!” All eyes turned to us. Err.. err…

Sarah spotted Ginkgopolis sat on a table. A game I have been searching for, quite literally, for years! She duly suggested we should play that. John and Jenny (who it belonged to) agreed and we found a table to set up on whilst others got on with Elder Sign and Clank! In Space!

Ginkgopolis is based on the idea of players building up a city of building tiles in the centre of the table. At the end of the game points are scored for having majority in areas of tiles of the same colour. There are quite a number of interlocking elements which makes this quite a thinky game.

Each player has resources (which look like octagonal barrels) which they must move from the front of their screen to behind their screen. Once behind the screen, the resources can then be used to place a tile on the city. Where to place a tile is indicated by the playing of a card which will either indicate an existing tile in the city or a lettered area outside the city so the city can expand.

Tiles become more expensive to pay for as the stack gets higher. However, a player’s resources stay on that tile and it is those that are counted for the majority at the end of the game. Building high can give a player control and reap many rewards at game end.

Beware! Areas of colour can be broken up as players can pay a bit extra to stack a tile of a different colour and possibly mess up their opponents’ plans in the process.

And those cards that are played to lay the tiles? The players keep them and they grant more bonuses for in game actions. This means that as the game goes on players’ turns become more and more powerful.

There’s a lot of layers to Ginkgopolis: ultimately each player is going for an area control majority in each area but each player can also affect the size of those areas and break them up! Very interesting game!

Needless to say, I really enjoyed my first play of Ginkgopolis and can’t wait to play again. It really helped that I won by a fair margin! I think there is a place in my collection for it but there is the problem that there simply aren’t any copies around to be found.

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