Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Friday night is panda night

Another Friday, another games night. This time - Takenoko. Our host had picked this up for about £30, from (i think) The Works, and he felt that it was a bargain. I had seen this played on Tabletop, though it was quite a while back, so i was familiar with the concept.

The idea is to build up the game "board" by drawing tiles, and take cards which give you outcomes that you need to achieve. The panda character eats bamboo, and the gardener can grow bamboo.

Here you can see that I have to get the Panda to eat two yellow bamboo for 4 points, and for 7 points there needs to be three sticks of yellow bamboo, three pieces high.

This is the board in action with plenty of tiles down and some bamboo growing, and some irrigation going on!  The parts of the game are very nice quality, with wooden bamboo and water and some well printed tile pieces. It is a pretty quick game to play, we played for no more than an hour, but one that still has elements of strategy and yet would be appealing to non, or new gamers. Who doesn't love a panda, right?

I didn't win, in fact I came last, but it was good fun and I'm sure we'll be playing this again!

Then, in a change from our normal games, the host suggested poker. I've played exactly once, but who am i to turn down a game when there is a proper poker set to use?

Those chips had a nice weight about them!

The only time I played poker before was at a charity event at a previous job. I think we all put in a small amount of money (maybe a fiver) and played. I lost and was out fairly early on. This time round, even though I couldn't really remember how to play, I did managed to bluff my way and won a round! However, there were some much better players around the table, and I was second to leave the table.

I'm not really one for gambling games. I know I have an addictive personality, and something like this would be very easy for me to go down a slippery slope. I'm more than happy to bet a pound or play for pennies, something where if (when?) i lose, it doesn't really matter. I enjoyed the game itself, but there was talk of playing for higher stakes and for me I think that would be a no-no. 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Games night - with added drama!

In a change from my gaming group host's favourite game of Talisman, we played a game that was new to our group. It was one that our host picked up at UK games expo called the Fires of London. The board was really lovely, with a drawn map of London and wooden pieces. 

To begin the game it said that the first player was the one who had been most recently to London. We sat around...we were in a kitchen in London! We agreed the host could go first as he had been to Soho that afternoon, and this counted as being more "in London"  than the 
area that the flat was in.

It took a while to set up, with stickers to fix to wooden pieces, and I had the strange occurrence of picking 5 starting cards which were all exactly the same. The game specifically states that you should swop if this happens, so i swopped two cards with another player and managed to get exactly the same two types of cards back!
A second attempt and I got some cards of different types.

We played a round or so and then...disaster! With an outflung hand, the host knocked a glass of water all over the board. There was a mad scramble to try and save the board and cards. I suppose that's one way to put out the fire of London!

We set the board up again and gave it a good go.

We gave it a good go, but I think we must have been doing something wrong, as the fire didn't really spread very far and it seemed a little simplistic and very quick in comparison to the amount of time it took to set it up.

To round off the evening I proposed a game of Cards Against Humanity.


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Ingress Week 3

I think this is now week 3 on Ingress? I got out and about with my other half on Saturday, turning a few portals from blue to green. He doesn't really get what I'm doing, and prefers geocaching. I do enjoy geocaching, but somehow I always seem to end up rootling through bushes and having to put on latex gloves. It's a look anyway!

Sunday was a trip to Ramsgate and Kent. The Kent countryside is really beautiful.

, and i hacked a few local portals down there before battery and data allowance ran out. Almost immediately I was contacted by a local, I love how people are so friendly in this game! I don't htink they have too many players down there, and it's not the sort of place where people pass through frequently, though I know Margate has had a bit of a resurgance recently with the art gallery and the high speed train.

Sometimes though it's the simple things in life that you enjoy. No need for games on phones, just fish and chips by the seaside.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Ingress Week 2

So Saturday I headed into London to see an exhibition at the British Library, and I knew that there would be Ingress portals along the way to hack and own and generally just try and a get a few points so that I could level up. The people that I've met told me that ti's not worth trying to take down portals until level 4, and I was so close.

I hacked a few whilst on the tube coming in, most stations seem to have a portal and most were blue, so that gave me nice little bits of easy points. 

The British Library is a short trot from Kings Cross station and I was there within a few minutes. I hacked a few portals along the way and then went into the Library.

I was lucky to get a left-over concessionary ticket to the exhibition, which saved me a few quid. and i have ot say i was glad i didn't pay full price as i was a little disappointed with it. There were far too many people there, and you had to stand with your nose against the glass as the comics were not always that close to the front of the display cabinets and I found them difficult to read. There were too many people, and it was almost constant queueing for the hour and half that I spent in the exhibition. I would have liked to have seen some of the images blown up larger to give some visual variety.

The theme was art and anarchy, and there were a lot of indie and boundary pushing publications there, but i'm not sure that an illustrated copy of Lady Chatterley's lover really counts as a comic, to be honest, but i saw the point that they were trying to make.

Anyway, back to Ingress. The British Library has around 4 portals within a short area, so i hacked them all and linked a couple. Then i decided to go to the Southbank. a friend of mine had posted on instagram about lobster Mac and Cheese from B.O.B.'s lobsters. It looked delicious, so i knew i would have to try it.

The southbank is such a vibrant place, and i'm hopeful that even when i move out of London, i'll still head into London by train, get off at Waterloo and stroll around there. The mac and cheese though, what a disappointment. For a start it was covered in fried onion, which i loathe, but that is a personal preference so i don't do them down for that. But for a tenner, i expected more than just so-so mac and cheese and the lobster was realy hard to eat with the utensils provided. I think i could make a tastier mac and cheese, and flake some crab into it for cheaper, and i think it would be more delicious. 

I headed out to the back of the Royal Festival Hall, and picked up some salted caramel brownies to take home, and a frozen plain yogurt with "Eton mess" topping. It was pretty tasty, although it melted quite quickly in the heat!

My phone had run out a long time before, so no chance for some cheeky portals on the way back.

One thing i have learned is that if i'm going to be doing this regularly, i'm going to need a backup power supply. I did bring my charger with me, but it was too warm and sunny to look for a spare socket inside the Southbank centre.

Sunday, I decided to head out locally. I live not far from the very pretty village of Pinner. I knew by looking on the intel map that there were some portals in Pinner Memorial Park. I knew roughly where it was, but hadn't ever been in it.

What a surprise, the entrance i went into had tall trees, which reminded me of parts of France and it felt so cool after the hot days we've had recently.

There were also wooden sculptures

And some kind of house that appeared to be serving afternoon tea.

and an expanse of grass, which some people were using to picnic on.

It was a really lovely place to spend an hour or so, and I would have never gone there if it hadn't been for Ingress!

One things I have learned over the past couple of weeks is that if I am going to make the most effective use of my time playing Ingress, then I need to plan. You get more points for creating control fields (linking 3 portals together), then just linking two together. The scanner (the map that's displayed on the app) is pretty small, and you can't always see the nearest portals, or see the most efficient way to link them together. So on the Sunday i went out with the details of the portals that I wanted to link together.

For the most part it was effective, although in between me creating this plan and me going out, someone had linked a couple of portals together! I'd also slightly misunderstood how it worked, as some of the fields that I wanted to create, i couldn't as they already had links running through the area that the control field would have been in. At least, i think so!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Games night... on a Wednesday?

In a slight change to normal routine, games night was held on a Wednesday. The usual mob turned up, plus the oldest friend of the host. Everyone was up for a good laugh and a good game. Since it is the host's favourite game, Talisman was on the cards. This time with the dragon expansion.

It's not one that i'm familiar with, but i'm pretty easy going and up for giving any game a try. I decided to play the Warlord. A new character for me, and one I hope i'd be able to make a good bit of headway into the game with. My friends prefer spell-cycling, but I haven't completely got the hang of doing that yet, so i usually stick with the bashing aspect of the game.

Well, having to pull dragon tokens and perform whatever actions were necessary as well as having a standard turn really lengthened the game. Good job i was by the Rolo cookies and hummus.

With 5 of us, at the 2 hour mark, none of us had really made any head way at all. Then i pulled a card which meant that dragon cards had to go onto almost every space in the outer region.

I was so low powered that every turn I lost a life, and within a short space of time I was nearly out of the game. It was 22:00 and given that I had work the next day I called it a night. 
I think everyone agreed that this was the most dull and frustrating game of Talisman we had ever played. It's doubtful that we'll play it again. I can't help but think that maybe we had misunderstood the rules in some way. Or perhaps it's more suitable to 3 or 4 players?

By the way, this is what happens when Death goes to the Tavern and gets drunk...