Match Report 21st June 2010

Our Bedroom - work in progress!
Well in the midst of chaos (to call Ian’s efforts decorating, given the that he is knocking down walls, boarding lofts, putting in loft ladders, covering our artex ceilings with plaster board, wallpapering and painting would be to significantly undersell his talents and the level of work he is putting in, more like house renovation - see inset photo of our bedroom) somehow we found time to play a few games and had a bumper turnout to boot, with many comings and goings but 8 yes that was 8 people at the high water mark of the evening.

Our team for the evening were our old favourites Pauline, Daniela, Natalie, joined once again by Ian and Helene joining us for her first evening, plus obviously myself. Malcolm sent his apologies being called away to a committee meeting. Again for the mathematically minded you will spot that makes only six. To find out who the remaining two were you will have to read till the end (ish).

Two stylish white buckets at the foot of our drive!
As an aside Daniela commented on her arrival on the reason for the two very large white containers at the foot of our drive. My initial answer of we wanted something different from the standard lions and griffins met with a very sceptical response. Thankfully this was asked outside the hearing of Gwen who has been asking me to move them for a few weeks now. So having a guest commenting on these eyesores would have vindicated her frustration at the slow rate of progress I am making on this particular element of the renovation project.

Bohnanza (Age 12+, 2-7 players, 45+ min playing time)
Our initial game of the evening was Bohnanza played at a very sedate pace and with a much more open trading system than normal (i.e. most of us had our hands face up so we could explain to Helene how the game worked and how we played the various options presented to us). This game was notable for my

The Lonely, Connected Society – A Paradox

In a world where we have more ways to communicate than ever before it seems paradoxical that a recent report from the Mental Health Foundation entitled The Lonely Society indicates that 48% of respondents believe that people are getting lonelier.

A person alone in a busy world
We have more people living on this island than ever before and cities hum as people rush about their business. Anybody living in towns or near a main road cannot be unaware of the incessant comings and goings. Yet increasingly in this maelstrom of activity we find an ever increasing number of people living alone. This is no longer simply the aged of society suffering the loss of a loved one it can include amongst others the following; break downs in relationships, single parent families, people living away from home in order to find work, people living at home because you can’t find work. Whilst to many, living alone may be a choice or at least a situation that they are very comfortable with, for others this can lead to a state of isolation that creates a unique and increasingly challenging set of health issues.

In a world were the youth are often referred to as the Connected Generation (or Generations Z and Y) , they are far from immune from this isolation, and in fact the report identified them as surprisingly more at risk.

London Board Games Group – 16/06/2010

CISI Reception at Drapers Hall
On Wednesday evening following a reception hosted by the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI) at the beautiful Drapers Hall I headed to the Red Herring Pub (also in the City) where the board game group, “London On Board” meet regularly.

In the cellar bar I found approximately 40+ people sitting mainly in threes and fours playing a host of different games, most of which I didn’t recognise. It seems that people bring along games they are interested in for the evening and  leave the spare ones in a central location thereby creating a sort of impromptu library of games available to anybody there for the evening. The people seemed as welcoming as being engrossed in their respective games allowed (I arrived well into the evening). Seeing that one table was about to finish I asked if I could join them for the next game. I think creating a little bit of a problem in that that took the group to five and there seemed less games available for that number. However they were gracious enough not to tell me to try another table.

Match Report 16th June 2010

Following unprecedented demand (well Alex indicated that he was around, up for a game and would be away for the next couple of games evenings) we held an impromptu Tuesday event with Alex and myself being joined by Malcolm and Ian.

It looked at one point that Joe might joins us as well however the allure of Brazil vs North Korea I suspect kept this footy mad chap away.

With an array of games before them to choose from Alex liked the sound of Patrician (one of the games picked up at the recent UK Games Expo).

Patrician midway through the game
Patrician comes with a slightly abstract board showing the major renaissance cities of Italy each with building sites for two towers. The towers can be of varying heights, the smaller cities allowing towers of no more than 5 levels in total, between the two sites, whilst other cities allow towers of up to 9 levels. With the simple rules and the opportunity to score points either from being the player with the most layers in a tower  or collecting sets of three portraits (found on some of the cards that allow you to build your towers  (see the attached photos) there are a number of ways of gaining the points necessary to win the game. These alternatives gave the Patrician sufficient interest that we would all want to play it again yet left it quick to play (about half an hour) and quick to learn - a useful addition to the growing collection.

Match Report 7th June 2010

Sorry no photos this week.

We had so many people turn up this time that we had standing room only. However this might be to slightly misrepresent the facts. The house is still like a tip as we move more and more out of the areas being decorated into the dinning room  and so with 6 players (and one in reserve, more on this later) we were snugly gathered around the table. This week saw the return of Daniela, plus Pauline, Natalie, Crispin and Malcolm.

We need to watch Malcolm, he is showing signs of competing with Daniela for being the bandit of the group, this was only his second evening with us and he showed a grasp of the game from the very beginning that would ensure he would finish well placed when the points were counted in this weeks game, in spite of the fact that he was the only person not to have played it before. Hmmm very worrying!

UK Games Expo - Day 2, Saturday 5th June 2010

Well after a good night’s rest (hmmm finally going to sleep at 1pm, woken up at 2pm by a friend currently in the US forgetting the time zone difference or was that getting his own back for my earlier text in the middle of the American night - so at best 4 hours) off to the show across the road with the aim of beating the rush. An idea obviously shared by a number of other keen punters as the queue went round the block. Thankfully the pre booked ticket collected the day before soon had Paul, Stewart and myself ushered through the throng.

Early purchases
After a quick look round (avoiding the Daleks and Imperial Storm Troopers) I bought the first game of the day. As Tim had indicated the night before Patrizier (the English game being Patrician) was being sold for a mere £8 (from JKLM) albeit with the rules in German (the English ones being on BoardGameGeek, I hoped!).

The participation games (in the Kniziathon & Mynd Games area) were yet to start so more browsing led me to a couple of fantasy artists (Ralph Horsley being one) and their stunning work albeit not necessarily something I would want on the wall at home. A second look at the bring-and-buy stand highlighted once again how far games had moved on since I started. At one point I suspected that my wife had arrived via the Tardis to sell off some of my older games, things like Azhantai High Lightning, Machiavelli and a number of others. Maybe when I get home I will I will box these up and archive them to some dark corner rather than waste good shelf space with games that whilst good are not the types of game either I or our group enjoy playing and whose boards and components look rudimentary and amateurish compared with today offerings.

Working with children
Children playing a variety of games at the show
One of the nice things about the show was the opportunity at every corner to play new games and meet new people. In particular the effort put in by Nigel Scarfe of Imagination Games to run an area devoted to children’s games I think is worthy of note. Not surprisingly there was a huge amount of energy and a great buzz through the morning with an awards ceremony in the afternoon. Meeting Nigel was one of the highlights of the weekend for me, hearing about the work he has been undertaking in taking games into schools, libraries, old people’s homes and more and the tremendous reaction he has been getting.

UK Games Expo - Day 1, Friday 4th June 2010

With the pre show starting on Friday (no traders) just lots of opportunities to play games I arrived in Birmingham and having checked into the hotel found myself with a selection of three games rooms to choose from and a bar. Faced with knowing nobody, where to start? I took the plunge in the largest of the three rooms and went up to a group of three guys who looked like they were just getting a game out of a box and had a spare chair and asked if I could join them. Thankfully they said yes and so my journey and indeed the games began.

1st Game - Seeland
The Seeland box artwork
The game they were setting up was a new game called Seeland from Ravensburg (the German equivalent, maybe, of Hasbro in the US) and involved the reclamation of the Dutch wetlands by the placement of windmills and the cultivation of tulips, cabbages and rapeseed. A beautiful looking game with high quality piece and graphics that uses a roundel (as part of the game mechanics) to determine what options are available concerning the acquisition of windmills and crops. It was somewhat strange to be the person who was quite obviously the least knowledgeable on a game (as running my own group and being the only buyer of games means I doubt if I have played any games in the last 20 years where I haven’t read the rules first) and frequently sought clarifications and benefited from the patience and kindness of my three fellow players (Paul, Steve and Brian). For a large part of the game Steve and Paul led the points through judicious placement of the resources they had available with me bringing up the rear, but somewhere around the half way mark things started to go better for me as I began to appreciate the nuance of the game and when it came to the final score I had somehow won - a surprise to both me and the others! For me at least I will definitely be looking to add Seeland to my collection at some point.
The Seeland Game in progress
Interspersed through the game the others were assailed by questions from me on all manner of things about the world of board games. It soon became clear that they inhabited another end of the hobby with I think Steve and Paul indicating that they typically played of the order of 60 games a month! I think my jaw hit the floor at this point and I felt a twinge in case my wife had heard that number.