Match Report 19th September 2011

A very unusual evening, 2 games with dice!

Monday saw the welcome return of both Natalie and our pilot friend Alex (so often in other parts of the world and rarely able to be with us these days). To these two were added our regulars Crispin, Daniella, Gwen (with pins sticking out of her feet!) and Ben. Alex and Ben were a little late so we began with a couple of hands of Straw.

Once all seven expected players had all arrived we split into two groups, the oldies and the youngsters. Although I think my presence in the latter and Alex's in the forma my undermine this naming!
Pirate Cove & Stone Age - The players

At one end of the table Alex, Gwen Crispin and Daniella decided to play Stone Age, a game Alex had never played and Crispin and Daniella had each played only oncebefore. It is one of Gwen’s favourites and she regularly beats me when we play the 2-player version, so I duly warned the other players to watch Gwen very carefully.

Pirate Cove - The board and player mat (ship)
At the other end of the table 3 of us tried Pirate Cove. This is a Days of Wonder game with delightful components and a good reputation on boardgamegeek as a fun game. With the game board laid out before us Ben, Natalie and myself set sail in search of fame and fortune. Early in the game Ben and Natalie's ships arrived at the same island and as you would expect with rival pirates
started firing broadsides at each other. In spite of Ben’s proven sailing ability in the real world Natalie seized the advantage of the wind and with her faster vessel opened up with a salvo inflicting significant but not terminal damage on Ben’s gun deck. Ben, declining the opportunity to skulk away and flee with the associated risk of mutiny, launched a somewhat feeble broadside of his own. Natalie’s next broadside saw Ben’s cannons destroyed at which point he was forced to withdraw with his crippled vessel – honour if not his ship intact. This unfortunate early encounter set the tone for the rest of this amusing game in which Ben and I were always playing catch up with the fearless Captain Natalie!

My previous plays of this game have left me somewhat unimpressed and mystified as to why some of my fellow gamers on boardgamegeek enjoy this game so much. Monday night’s game changed my opinion and got a definite thumbs up from my fellow gamers as well.

At the other end of the table Crispin looked to be doing well in the game of Stone Age. His strategy was to tool up and play the role of property magnate; at game end he had very few civilisation cards and having only made one visit to what we have termed “the love-shack” he had only 6 people. It caused much amusement when on his one visit he had to be reminded that he needed to place TWO of his people in the hut in order to multiply! He did try to retrieve face with a comment about IVF but had no response when he was reminded that the game was called Stone Age!
The players early in the evening

Alex followed a similar strategy to Crispin whilst Daniella followed a more balanced strategy. I kept warning the three of them that Gwen was a regular winner of this game and to watch her closely but she kept saying it was going to be between Crispin and Daniella. In part because she was throwing lousy dice and in part because she resisted (or overlooked) the opportunity to block Crispin's property building and was therefore undone by the game ending before they were half way through the civilisation cards.

Final result was even closer than Gwen predicted with Crispin and Daniella drawn in first place and Alex proving to be a real dark horse - only very narrowly beaten by the two of them; Gwen meanwhile managed only marginally more than half of the winning score. An unexpected result, but then she is recovering from an operation.

Although there were some initial concerns that Stone Age seemed a little complex, these were quickly laid to rest and at game end everybody said how much they had enjoyed it planning to give it another run out when we next meet.
Natalie's Delicious Chocolate Munchies

Pirate Cove finished before Stone Age meaning that coffee making duties fell to me (although Crispin’s concern on this front meant that Gwen did come and supervise). We broke out the munchies (kindly provided by Natalie, Daniella and Ben) and Gwen found a birthday candle followed by an impromptu rendition of Happy Birthday for Natalie.
Munchies - A birthday cake for Natalie!

Bucket Brigade - The board and fireman and the beginning of the game
With munchies over the game of Stone Age resumed leaving Ben, Natalie and I to have a go at one of Reiner Knizia’s games, Bucket Brigade. This was a game picked up cheaply on ebay but one we had yet to play. After a walk through the rules Ben and I felt it had some similarities to Abandon Ship as none of the players owned one of the fire brigade figures on the board. Any player could move one of the figures by discarding appropriately coloured firemen cards, scoring points at the end of the game based on multiples of the cards left in our hands and the finishing position of the four coloured firemen. As with so many games the imagery looks childlike but the combination of the game play and in our view the size of the cards means that any young children would likely struggle with this game. We felt it was an intriguing filler and one that we all look forward to having another go at soon.
Bucket Brigade - The board and cards
More photos from the evening can be seen here.

If you would like to try some of the games mentioned in this post or indeed any of the others on this blog then why not come along to our next Social Evening with Game at the Blue Anchor on 2nd October at 7pm. More details can be seen on our Facebook page ‘Social Gamers – Crowborough’.

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