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.

My companions for the evening were regular attendees, John, Alex and a husband and wife couple Michal and Fransje. During lulls in play Fransje revealed that back in the Netherlands she had been brought up playing a variety of board games from Role Play, to Bridge and board games from an early age with both family and friends and had been surprised that in the UK these activities often centred on a pub!

Trans America
Trans America as John wins a round
One of the games we played was Trans America, a railroad building board game across, not surprisingly given the name, North America. The game was quick to explain with simple rules, played over a series of rounds till one player reached the highest point on the loosing scale – different - the winner obviously being the person at the other end of the scale!  Each round players sought to lay railroad (wooden blocks akin to those in Settlers of Catan) connecting 5 cities in 5 different areas across America. A slight edge to the game was provided in the ability to play a ‘vexation’ railroad. This had the effect of denying that stretch of railroad to the other players and so causes you to have to waste time bypassing the blocked stretch. Other than this it was largely a race to see who could link their cities by the most efficient route, profiting from other peoples track and avoiding the aforementioned ’vexations’.

Trans America would seem a good candidate for anyone looking for an introductory game and with a rail road theme an alternative to the oft mentioned Ticket to Ride. With good quality components and a starting age of 8 rather than 10 and at approx £10 cheaper than Ticket to Ride it has much to commend it as an introductory game.

An interesting evening at “London on Board” and well worth a visit should anybody find themselves in the area.

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