Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Saturday 3rd February 2007

At long last I made it to Beyond Monopoly; my first visit since the onset of my neurological problems. I had a good, if slightly nervous time. I had decided to explain briefly to people that I am having some difficulties; I thought this would spare embarrassment if I had to constantly ask the same rules-related question over and over (a good call as it turned out!).

I forgot to note down scores or the names of other my apologies to all concerned.

First up was a new game for me; Der Dieb von Bagdad (Thief of Baghdad). The aim of this one is to steal four treaure chests from a range of six palaces by bribing guards, placing your thieves, and placing your guards to confound the attempts of others. All actions depend on the cards you hold which allow you to perform an action in the palace matching the guards (similar to Ticket to Ride). You can collect three cards per turn and place a piece or move a piece on the board, or you can skip a go, get three cards and a Dancing Girl Card, which acts as a wild card. There is some merit in collecting cards for awhile I discovered. However, when a treasure chest is stolen from a palace, the next one in the palace requires more thieves, therefore its best not to wait too long.

The two people who had played it before came first and second (Mason), I came third and Colin came last. I sense that with more experience this would be a fairly simple game. However, in my current condition I found it quite hard, although quite quick! It is made by Queen Games and is up to their ususal high standards.

Jon then introduced five of us to Die Mauer; a bluffing game in which you work collectively to build a castle wall. Jon had a copy of this to sell and I was tempted (despite Lisa's ruling that I cannot buy any games until 2008). However, when I got home I created a bootleg version!

Again, this is a simple game requiring an ability to remember who has already placed what and then trying to outbluff your opponents. I really enjoyed this (hence the homemade effort!) and would happily play it again. In the end I came third.

I then played Hey! That's My Fish with Mason and Colin. I managed to win by slicing off a fair chunk of ice; I think they were concentrating more on the 3-fish floes and so didn't spot what I was trying to do.

The three of us then moved on to Diamant whilst others went off for lunch. I managed to win this as well (and realised that Lisa and I have been playing it slightly wrong.. although after discussion we decided we like our way more!).

Colin and Mason then introduced me to the auction game, Modern Art. In this you represent a gallery and have to buy and sell works of modern art at varying forms of auction. The more popular the work of one artist becomes, the more expensive their work is in later rounds. I really enjoyed this as I quite like the psychological aspect of auction games. I managed to win this although I don't understand how!

I then joined four others (including Mason and another Paul) to play Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers for the first time. I have been curious about this for sometime, particularly as several people say they prefer it to original Carcassonne.

It has some nice features. Hunters can be placed in meadows (like farmers). They score 2 points for each animal in the meadow, although they lose one deer for each tiger that is also there. Rivers (as opposed to roads) are terminated by lakes. A fisherman scores for the number of tiles between lakes and the number of fish in those lakes. This made rivers quite profitable as long as you could finish them (unfinished features score nothing at the end - another change). My favourite feature was the fishing huts. Each player has two of these. They can be placed on a river system and, at games end, score for the total number of fish in the whole system; this could 'net' a lot of points!

The mountains worked like cities, with mushrooms instead of shields. Some mountain tiles contained gold nuggets, which allow you to draw a special tile. These had less common landscape variants, such as a three-way river junction, and some tiles which change the rules a little, thus allowing for high scoring if placed well.

I ended up winning this, mainly due to two high scoring fishing huts and a better-stocked-than-I-realised meadow! I enjoyed this game and would love to own a copy! I slightly prefer original Carcassonne, but I suspect only because I played it first. My only slight complaint was that the colouration of the tiles did not offer much of a visual contrast, which I found made it slightly harder to work out where pieces could fit.

All in all, a great day. I had a chat with Jon and several other 'regulars'. I played 4 new games (I always said I wanted to play at least 1 new game each time I went) and I managed to win 3 games (my best victory score ever!). More importantly, I had been putting off returning to Beyond Monopoly as I felt my neurological problems would hamper my enjoyment, would make me feel embarrassed and might even put me off games. I'm pleased I waited until I felt truly ready to return. As it was, some things were hard, but the games and the people were great, and made it worth the effort.

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