Newcastle Gamers – 25th February

This was my first visit to Newcastle Gamers for almost a month (I couldn’t make the early-February sesh due to other commitments – boo!). Played a really good mix of games this time; enjoyed it a lot.

Ora & Labora

First up was a 4-player session of Ora & Labora, a fairly complex game of medieval monastery building. This was one of my Xmas pressies, and it was good to finally get a game of it at the club, since I’d had it in my bag on a couple of previous occasions, but for one reason or another (wrong number of people… time constraints… not enough table space…) it hasn’t had a previous outing there. It was a bit of a slow game, since I was the only person at the table who had played previously (and there’s a lot to take in on your first game)… nevertheless, Les (one of the first-time-players) won, with a thoroughly impressive settlement layout and a decent collection of goods… and I think the other players found the game interesting, despite the slow pace.

Next: 7 wonders. Still not sure how much I like 7W; maybe the problem is that I leave it *just* a touch too long between games to really get a feel for the strategies and remember what all the iconography means… but I’m going a bit cold on it now. It does, however, fit very nicely into 20 minute gaps when you’re waiting for other games/gamers to free up to play something else… so I expect I’ll get roped into a few more games on future trips.

Another card game came out next: Race for the Galaxy.

I was keen to play RFTG; it’s one of the top-ranked games in the boardgamegeek charts, and I see it mentioned a lot on forums etc, but I’d never had a “real” game of it. By “real”, I mean one involving actual humans and pieces of cardboard… as I’d previously taught myself the basics of the game via the (free of charge) “AI” version that you can download from Quite an enjoyable game… though the mechanics feel an awful lot more clunky when you don’t have a computer looking after all the minutia / bookkeeping for you!

(Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any pics of the previous 2 games in progress… we must’ve played them too fast for Gareth to notice!)

Finally, the big surprise of the night: Bang!

This one was new to me. Well… I say “new”… I have vague recollections of downloading a freebie iOS version some time ago, finding it extremely dull/soul-less, and deleting it in pretty short order. However… with flesh-and-blood opponents the game is far, far more impressive…

Bang! is a light/humorous “hidden role” card-driven combat game. One player is the Sheriff, some players are the Sheriff’s deputies, and other players are outlaws/renegades. At the start of the game, only the Sheriff’s role is public information; you have to figure out what role everybody else is playing by – basically – playing various cards to take potshots at them and see how they react. No, it doesn’t make an awful lot of thematic sense… why wouldn’t a Sheriff know who his deputies are? …but nevertheless, it’s a really fun game. The game ran longer than I thought it would (about an hour) and ended in a pretty tense 3-way stand-off, in which I pulled out a gatling gun card that I’d been holding in my hand since the very start of the game, and slaughtered the other 2 players (gatling guns are somewhat indiscriminate in their target-selectivity). Admittedly, by this point I was pretty sure that one of the players was actually on my side (the outlaws), but the 3rd player was the sheriff, and I figured a little collateral damage was allowable in the interests of a swift victory. Sorry fellow outlaw… but… you did still (technically) share the ‘Team Outlaw’ victory. Albeit posthumously 😉

Fun game… not a genre that I’m usually drawn to (party games), and quite expensive for what it is (20 quid for a single deck of cards?!!), but I’d be quite willing to play that one again in the future 🙂

So, another enjoyable night, over far too soon. Next game night: 10th March.

CREDITS: Session pics gratuitously stolen from the Newcastle Gamers web site. Newcastle Gamers meets on the second and last Saturday of the month… usual cost is £3, but your first visit is free. More details here.

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