Jobby recounts this week’s adventures with the Bury St Edmunds Board Games Group…
The nights are properly drawing in now. It’s cold and, to be honest, I’ve been wimping out on riding the motorbike and cadging lifts from Sarah. What better way to warm the cockles than to head out into the wilds and join our favourite board games group at the Bennet Arms?
We arrived to find plenty of the regular faces there (some had bodies, too!). Damien and Jenny ordered food but were happy for the rest of us to play. Simon (the second one) fancied some Splendor so I quickly hopped in there; it’s always good to start with a game you know. Sarah toddled off to play Honshu with Tom and a couple of others.
James and Nick joined us at the Splendor table. Neither had played before so Simon ran through the rules and we began. Many of the nobles had green on them so I tried to work a getting green cards. It quickly became one of those games where I just couldn’t get the cards I wanted. I either had to contend with Simon deliberately reserving a card that he guessed I was after or James was buying them, seemingly oblivious to the distress he was causing me!
I was looking forward to being in a chance at winning this (what with Sarah playing something else!) but it wasn’t to be. Somehow the new guys had completely worked out this game. Nick very quickly saved up enough to buy a 5 point card(!) and James was just solidly buy points card after points card. It fast became apparent that Simon and I weren’t even in the running. In the end it was between James and Nick with Nick winning on tie-breaker!
It’s official – I suck at Splendor!
City of Fours
We had a bit of a mix-up of players after that game and I joined Sarah and Tom with James following me over. Everyone was happy to play Quadropolis which Sarah has been bringing the past few times we’ve come to Rougham. Tom had only played once and James had never played so I did a quick rules explanation. We also kept to the Classic version of the game to keep things a bit simpler.
Despite some initial confusion over what the urbanist pawn blocked, everybody seemed to get into the flow of the game pretty quickly. I immediately went heavy into building tower blocks. By the end of round 1 I had a tower block that was three storeys high! Somehow, Sarah managed to fill her number 4 column and her number 4 row really quickly which, of course, would end up biting her in the bum later.
James was dotting buildings all over his board, he didn’t look like there was a plan going on but sometimes it takes a couple of rounds for things to knit together. Tom seemed to keep picking up the wrong things and then cursing because he’d forgotten where he wanted to put them!
Alas, in all the excitement I forgot to take a photograph! However, by the end of the game there was the usual gnashing of teeth as everyone’s boards had filled up and the things they wanted simply weren’t available. My tower block empire worked out well in the end leading me to victory with 48 points. James was close behind with some factory/shop/harbour placing giving him a respectable 44 points. Tom and Sarah trailed at 31 and 29 points respectively despite Tom having a complete line of harbours and Sarah getting civic buildings in each area of her city.
It’s Not Constantinople!
No, it’s not, but it was Istanbul that we played next with the same players. Again, Tom had played once or twice before but James was completely new to this. The rules explanation to this was a little longer winded but nothing no-one couldn’t handle. We started with the ‘short game’ set up recommended by the rules for starting players. This does put certain complementary tiles near each other which I think is designed to help new players spot those combos.
Ride out of the starting blocks I immediately got some red goods and bought myself the red mosque tile which lets a player fiddle with the dice. I then proceeded to abuse this repeatedly at the Tea Room (oo-er!) where the player can bet a number and try to roll equal to or more to get that much money. With the red mosque tile it’s pretty easy to consistantly get 8 Lira and then hop down to the Gemstone Dealer to buy a ruby.
Tom and Sarah seemed to concentrate on building up goods to trade for rubies at the Sultan’s Palace. James was happily upgrading his wheelbarrow to Porsche level in record time.
Due to a slip of the tongue I accidentally coined a new euphemism as I sent someone’s family member ‘home’, which is really back to the Police Station. That soon gained traction along with some mirth about where the blue goods (jewellery) came from. We surmised the family members had stolen them and that was why they were in the nick!
Istanbul is a race as to who can get those rubies first and this play was a tight race. Tom correctly saw that I was going to be able to buy my last ruby and trigger the end round. I was first player so everyone would get one more go so Tom went to the Tea House. There he made a safe bet that would give him just a little money in hopes he would break the tie with me. He forgot that I would already be at the Gemstone Dealer so he would need to pay me 2 Lira in order to buy his last ruby! Much cursing later and Sarah finished the last turn of the game with me as winner.
It is worth noting that Sarah was one red good away from getting her last ruby and would have won the game! It really was that tight!
Tired and happy we said our goodbyes and headed home. The title of the post? It seems our games group now has a crown for the winner of Skull (the Skull King) but nobody brought Skull so there could be no Skull King!