Thursday, 15 August 2013

A Day (or Two) of Games

Here at Games & Tea we're regulars at our local hobby store Titan Games, and over the course of Tuesday 13th and Wednesday 14th August they were kind enough to let us use their store to host two days of board and card game goodness.  The main reason for this event was to try and introduce players to games they hadn't yet experienced (or in some cases hadn't even heard of!), but to be honest we were just thrilled to be able to spend two days playing some fantastic games with new opponents!  We took every game in the Games & Tea arsenal down to Titan with us, and some extras were brought in by some of the other regulars, which meant that even we were able to experience something new.

Day one started with a round of Felinia, the spice-trading cat-based game which has become a cult hit amongst Titan regulars, and a firm favourite here at Games & Tea.  We were more than happy to sit this one out, allowing four brand new players to experience the joys of this game, as we guided them through the turn sequences.  In an exceptionally close-run game, victory ended up being snatched by The Caustic Triton from fellow gaming blog The Hobbynomicon.

"Spice must flow..."

The day continued with a round of Letters From Whitechapel, an amazing game from Fantasy Flight in which one player takes on the role of Jack the Ripper and the remaining players must work together to catch him before his murder spree is complete.  Dark subject matter aside, Whitechapel is an exceptional game, with very tense gameplay and some seriously strategic thinking required (a full review will follow soon).  The game takes place over four turns, and in a dramatic turn of events, Jack was caught at the very end of turn three!  He could have made it back to his hideout, but one last attempt to throw the police off the scent was his downfall, and his reign of terror ended.  Once again we sat this one out, hand-holding for a new Jack player and taking the police through the motions at the same time.

"Did anyone hear footsteps?"

Iello's King of Tokyo was a new discovery for us, courtesy of another Titan regular.  Each of up to six players takes on the role of a monster movie archetype (or sometimes far-from-archetype!), and each must compete to become the greatest monster in Tokyo.  It's a game with very basic mechanics and a simple premise, but is a very good wind-down game, and falls very much into the light-hearted category, along with the likes of Looney Lab's Fluxx.  Sadly our Kraken became a little too ambitious, and was the first monster to die at the hands of its peers.
Speaking of Fluxx, a few rounds of Star Fluxx found their way into the afternoon's play, which were especially good as we were once again introducing new players to the game.  Star Fluxx has a general sci-fi theme running through the game, with references to Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who and Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy in amongst the deck.
Keeping with card games, an epic five-player game of Atlas Games' Gloom was possible, thanks to the fifth family added by the Unfortunate Expeditions expansion.  The stories flowed thick and (occasionally) fast, with some compelling (again, occasionally) narratives.  There was love, a cruise, game-manufacturing apes, spice-cat expeditions, and a cannibal cookery course... everything you could want from a tale of death and woe.  Not to mention a very eventful dog.
On a less sinister note, time was found late on in the day for a round of Dixit, from Libellud.  Once again, two of the players were brand new to the game, keeping Games & Tea's mission profile of bringing new game experiences to the masses right on track!  The game ran very closely up until the very final round, where we just managed to scrape a victory by 2 meagre points!

Day two took off very quickly, with a game of Fantasy Flight's Relic, a game based on the Talisman system, but based in Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 universe.  This was a slow-paced game as we needed to brush up on the rules, having left it gathering dust for some months.  This isn't because Relic is a bad game, but it is extremely complex and requires a lot of time and effort to play through to the end.  Even on the beginners' mission this game lasted around 2 hours, with a Sister of Battle just about snatching a victory after the Sanctioned Psyker looked as though he had it in the bag.
With the Felinia crowd busy playing Magic: The Gathering, a round of Wyrd Miniatures' Puppet Wars was set in motion; a 'shoe box' sized game with Lady Justice facing off against Pokey Viktoria.  The game got off to a slow start with both players advancing cautiously to the neutral workbenches, both wary about drawing first puppet-blood.  Lady Justice's crew looked to take the upper hand quickly, by shredding the heaviest hitter in Pokey Vik's crew, but this only seemed to enrage the latter master, as Lady Justice suddenly found her crew dropping like flies.  As Lady J's numbers started to dwindle and Pokey Vik began to gain the upper hand through workbench possession, the Justice crew went on an all-out offensive, targeting the opposing master relentlessly, and eventually managed to pull a victory out of the bag.


With the war for the workshop over, it was time for a new war to be fought.  We've recently been pulled into the world of Fantasy Flight's X-Wing Miniatures game, and were curious to see whether it had to be played as a full on tabletop gaming system, or if it could work straight out of the box (containing one X-Wing and two TIE Fighters).  A starter set was cracked open, the pieces assembled, pilots chosen, and the basic quick-start scenario was played.  It was a short-run game, but the two Imperial pilots were able to outmanoeuvre the lone Rebel, and the wreckage of a solitary X-Wing was left drifting through the asteroid field as the TIE pilots reported back to base.

"I can't shake him!"

With it firmly established that X-Wing does work as a standalone game, the table was reset with two large-scale opposing forces to see how the small-scale skirmish compares to an experience of X-Wing as a full tabletop system.

"There's too many of them!"

The game got off to a very close start, with early losses on both sides.  Both forces demonstrated some excellent piloting skills, with ships weaving closely in and out of eachother, working together to take down enemy targets.  The occasional glaring pilot error did start to creep through after the first few turns though, most noticeably in Boba Fett's three-turn streak of crashing into meteors.  Towards the end of the game the Rebels began to gain the upper hand, and when the dust settled Han, Luke and Biggs were all soaring off, undoubtedly heading back to fanfares and medals.
After the Galactic Empire had held a memorial service for Darth Vader, Boba Fett and the legions of nameless pilots, doom and gloom returned to the streets of Victorian London as Letters From Whitechapel unfolded on the table once more (or twice more, in fact).  Again we were pleased to introduce two new players, as well as allowing an experienced player his first taste of playing as Jack.  The first game ended half way through night 2, with some lucky patrol work and excellent deduction leading to a sneaky arrest on the Ripper.  The second game saw another player take their first taste of Jack, but sadly closing time meant that the game was abandoned at the end of night 2.  The police had a rough idea of the location of Jack's hideout, but without those other two turns we'll never know if he was ever caught.
We were able to round things off with a bit of board game rambling, as our Hobbynomicon friends were recording their second podcast, which even included a brief recap of our little event!

Overall the event was a lot of fun, but so many games were brought down by ourselves and others that some sadly went unplayed.  Zombicide, Bugmans, and three different Fluxx varieties never made it out of their respective boxes, so we're certainly hoping the guys at Titan will let us run another such event in the near future.

We hope you've enjoyed this recap of our little games extravaganza!  Normal service will now be resumed, so come back next week by which point we'll hopefully have a full review of Letters From Whitechapel up and running.

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