I couldn’t get to the Newcastle Gamers meeting this week, as we had a house full of guests. Fortunately, some of those guests are quite happy to have their arm twisted into playing the odd board game or two. Or three. Or four. Or…
So, in lieu of a Newcastle Gamers report, I thought I’d present an entry in a new, occasional series: Corbridge Gamers.
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Games played this time…
Pandemic (On the Brink: Mutation Challenge)
Pandemic has always been popular with these particular guests. We haven’t had a proper boardgaming sesh together since I got the “On The Brink” expansion earlier this year, so this seemed like the ideal opportunity to give it an airing. We had a 5-player game, using the Mutant disease variation (this adds a 5th disease to the game, which appears and spreads in a slightly different way to the 4 conventional diseases)… but — alas — we lost by a whisker (the yellow disease remained stubbornly un-cured when we ran out of time). Good fun had by all though! 🙂
I picked up a dirt-cheap German import of Zooloretto a few weeks ago, specifically because it seemed like a good way to flesh out my collection of family/kid-friendly games. Since we had (a) Family, and (b) at least one “kid” (my 12-year-old nephew) present, this seemed like the ideal opportunity to break it out.
Zooloretto is a simple set-collection game — heavily based on the gameplay mechanics of the card game “Coloretto” — but re-themed into a board game which involves loading animals onto delivery trucks, and then claiming the contents of a truck to add to your own zoo. The strategy lies in loading trucks in a way that makes them unattractive to your opponents, but useful for your own zoo-expansion purposes. When the supply of animals and attractions eventually runs out, the best zoo wins.
While fairly light, it’s a *slightly* deeper game than I expected, and the adults seemed to enjoy it as much as the aforementioned 12-year old did. It’s not something I’d want to play over and over again, but it seems like a really nice “occasional” game, and was perfect for the situation… so, on initial impressions, I’m glad to have it in my collection. (The fact that it cost me less than a tenner courtesy of amazon.de is a pretty good bonus…)
Pandemic (On the Brink: Virulent Strain)
After a break for tea, we were back onto Pandemic – this time playing the Virulent Strain version. I think this is my favourite of the “On the Brink” variations… it’s close to the regular version of Pandemic, with the exception that once the first epidemic card is drawn, the most widespread disease is declared the “Virulent Strain”, and from that point forward a bunch of random events happen which apply specifically to the Virulent Strain and make it harder to cure.
This time we managed to beat the game… but only by the skin of our teeth. We were pretty convinced we were set to lose by just a single move, when an airlift card came out of the deck and gave us the tiny bit of wriggle-room required to secure victory. Crushing despair instantly gave way to triumphant jubilation, resulting in a really good ending for the game. Fun experience – probably the best game of the weekend.
Zooloretto (with Polar Bear Expansion)
People enjoyed the first game of Zooloretto enough to want to play it again… so that one got a second outing too. This time I threw in the Polar Bear mini-expansion, which I’d picked up in May’s “worldwide promos and expansions math trade” on BoardGameGeek. (Yes, as predicted, I’m now addicted to Math Trades!)
The Polar Bear introduces a fairly minor rules tweak; Whoever manages to fill the highest-scoring enclosure in their zoo first gets to claim the (solitary) polar bear enclosure, which gives them a slight scoring tweak at the end of the game. On paper it doesn’t seem like a particularly game-changing expansion… but it did — surprisingly — make the beginning of the game play out very differently to the standard version of Zooloretto, as most players raced to claim the polar bear. Interesting variation… I might have to try chasing down the other mini-promos now.
We rounded off the evening with a game of Eketorp… again, not a particularly complex game, but I was trying to keep things light for this particular audience, and this game plays pretty briskly even with 6 players. I’ve written about Eketorp previously, so won’t go into much detail here… it went down really well though, and — pleasingly — final victory went to my 12-year-old nephew (I don’t think anybody had been giving him a particularly easy ride either, so it was an entirely justified win!).
The next morning, a few people were up early, and there was a small window of opportunity to fit in another game. Folks fancied something a bit deeper than the night before, but we only had around an hour of time, so I suggested Mykerinos (another game that I’ve mentioned previously), which seemed to fulfil requirements. It’s a shame that all my favourite “deeper” games take at least 90+ minutes to play – I would’ve loved to be able to break out something like Agricola, Le Havre, Troyes… but, sadly, Sunday lunch was looming, after which our guests were heading off for a long drive down the country 🙁
However, Mykerinos finished *slightly* earlier than anticipated, so we had a quick hand of..
…Just using the base set as we were in a rush, and 10 cards generated via the randomiser deck. I hardly ever use the randomiser deck, but — this time at least — it gave us a really good mix: regular standbys like the Cellar, Smithy and Festival alongside cards that I don’t remember using for quite a long time, like the Council Room and Spy. Good game, with a very tight finish (equal amounts of province cards all-round, with the winner determined by a solitary duchy)… I only wish I’d had more time to enjoy it, but unfortunately the Sunday Roast was reaching a critical stage, and I was chief chef for the day… so my mind was elsewhere towards the end.
And so the gaming came to an end. A most excellent weekend though! 🙂
CREDITS: Amazingly, I managed to take some of my own pictures this time, with the exception of: Zooloretto (stolen from Board Game Geek / Nathan Rutz), Mykerinos (from a Newcastle Gamers session – that *is* my copy of the game though!), and the obvious manufacturer package shots. Corbridge Gamers meets whenever I manage to dupe enough friends/relatives into playing “those strange foreign board games of yours” with me. Your first visit is free. Actually, all your other visits are free too. And we don’t have a web site.