Portsmouth On Board - 8 January 2014 - Newbies, Dominions and Indian Trains

Phew! After a long break over Xmas, suddenly I return and there's 2 major games sessions in the first week! Not that I'm complaining it's just an observation. But I highly enjoy the Portsmouth sessions.
My New Year's Resolution for gaming is to (a) keep developing my blog, get in touch with networks/publishers and get myself on YouTube and (b) play/buy a lot more games! For some it seems that (b) was a shared opinion as this session had probably the biggest in-rush of new members at once with at least 6-7 new players. Always a good thing to see whether you're a veteran gamer or someone broadening your palette. We also saw the return of some new members from December which we're pleased to see and even Nigel from GamesQuest came by for a visit.

 "Dominion"

After introducing myself and the club to the new members we were strapped for choice on games to play with over 5 games going on at once. Sadly the hotness for me which was Robinson Crusoe didn't get to the table. . . . "I'll get you next time Gadget. . . . next time!" However all was not lost for me as one of the new members had brought along Dominion which is another hot game I've been meaning to play for ages ever since I first heard of it and saw the hype surrounding it so I jumped right in.

"Article 27 - looks quite pretty this"

On one table Auction Art was being introduced to other new members, which didn't look too appealing to me, but after taking ages to remember the title of the game I was shocked to find that it's highly ranked on BoardGameGeek so that's intrigued me. Article 27 populated another table, which I know very little about, but boy does it look colourful so it's certainly caught my perception as well. But my second choice for what I would have played fell to Carcassonne Winter Edition. I love Carcassonne, it's one of my favourite light Euro games both on tiles and on Ipad, but I already own the original plus the main two expansions. There's no reason for me to acquire the Winter version but I recommend it for new entrants who don't care about expanding it as it looks beautiful. Carcassonne already is a nice looking game when it gets going but the white snow tiles with open cities and Xmas tress everywhere, it gets a thumbs up from me.

"Carcassonne Winter Edition - I think it's easier to look at than the original, what do you think?

The Dominion game carried on smoothly and quickly as we all spent our coins to acquire setups for our kingdom such as Moats, Workshops, Mines and Militia, the latter of which is guaranteed to make others hate you. I was surprised at just how much variety you get in the base game and we were barely using half the box contents in our game. I look forward to giving this my first impressions in Episode 11 of the podcast so subscribe to me on ITunes to find out what I think.

"Modern Art. . . . or is it Modern Connect 4?"

Across the other tables Ed started introducing Carson City to a large group of new members so kudos for getting them involved! I know little on this game after only seeing a brief review of it on The Dice Tower - might have to look this one up. I quite liked someone's description where he looked at the board and called it Agricola for Cowboys, not sure how accurate that is.

"Carson City - early stages - go get 'em Bridget!"

In Dominion each player had their own strategy with me focusing on multiple actions and card drawing to cycle through the deck quickly. It worked well to score me a victory, but I did have some money issues at times and players didn't appreciate constantly getting Militia cards played! My friend Jim took an approach which allowed him second chances if he drew badly which was pretty neat and two other players went for a balance. My favourite though was one player who went out and out for income generation. He was easily the richest player in the game, but he waited so long before he started buying anything and had little to no way to increase his actions for the turn that it backfired on him! Perhaps he thought we were playing Monopoly? <shrugs>

"Pandemic"

With several games ending and a quick break to catch up with other members we began a string of games to fill the second half of the night. The Article 27 lads whipped out the co-op classic Pandemic (check out my review coming soon) and a small group brought out Race for the Galaxy. Now I like Race, it's a cool game, but boy does it have a big learning curve. There's a fair amount of stuff to learn and it's hard to tell what the optimal strategy is so anyone who owns the game will own your soul as well, but if you like the theme of the game, it's worth investing the time.

"Race For The Galaxy - lord knows if I can tell what's going on"

Saboteur was proposed for the remaining 8 of us, but I prefer it with slightly less players and the Southampton group has kind of burned me out on the game. A consensus was reached to split into two groups of four and I took one group to try out one of my many new maps for Ticket To Ride. With four of us I went for India as the game is only designed for a maximum of 4 players and I heard it was fairly cutthroat. Well that is certainly true - even though I gather that Africa is the most cut-throat of the range, this one must surely take the second spot. There are many one-train connections, some of which are fundamental to getting up the country and everyone wants a piece of them.

The special winning condition of completing a circular route on the map using your tickets also alerts players to step in and ruin your day if they're paying attention to your route. We gave Graham a hard time on that front for that very reason. I stuck to trying to complete the biggest routes on the board for mass points, which worked to an extent, but I over-estimated how large a circle I could make and realised a bit late that I wouldn't have enough trains to do so . . .  whoops! Can I connect them up with an Indian replacement bus service?

"Ticket To Ride: India - and yes that Madras Eight Train route is mine!"

Never the less though, I scraped a victory here as well. Feedback was that the map was ok, but it's nothing special. I quite like the layout of the map and that's my appeal to it, but granted it doesn't add much new to the game like for example the new Netherlands map which I've yet to try. The Carson City game also wrapped up with a new player to modern games Bridget claiming the victory with a last minute move to "out" the other players. Well done on that - just goes to show you should never underestimate a new player.
This was one of the better nights I've had so far in this group since joining and as a start to 2014, it was great to see so many new players showing interest and some returning new members. I hope the group continues to grow in this fashion with more and more players getting into the hobby. But you'll keep seeing me at each session and as part of my resolution I'm going to start hosting some sessions at my place. Check out the group on Meetup.com and get in touch with me. I'm off to scout on Ikea for a new storage solution for my games! :-)

"Saboteur"

 Games Played

Carson City
Modern Art
Dominion
Carcassonne Winter Edition
Article 27
Pandemic
Race For The Galaxy
Ticket To Ride: India
Saboteur


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