Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The Curious Incident of the Rat in the Night-time

Eh up, buckos! I know you've all been anticipating this moment. At least since you clicked on the link and were waiting for the page to load. Maybe even since you saw the notification pop up on facebook! This moment is of course when we look with rose-tinted spectacles, or at least innuendo-laden fondness, at the past Tuesday's gaming. And this week I'll be unfairly reporting on the playing of Sheriff of Nottingham, Chaos in the Old World, Noria and for myself, Quadropolis.

A small part of the East Midlands turned up in the Mash Tun for the players of Sheriff of Nottingham which seems to be a game the goal of which is to embarrass Jamie because he's so awful at it. As I arrived, he was asking about the bread situation, but quickly started laying on the accusations, claiming that Gareth was "good at the talking shit game as well" in an attempt to play hardball that backfired. The main mechanic in question here is Cheat-type one where you can call someone's bluff, either penalising the cheater or being penalised if you're wrong. Jamie had either wrongly called bluff ("stop him! he's got bread!") or wrongly accepted a bluff 8 times in a row, so things were looking pretty good for the Merry Men on his watch. Jamie wasn't the only one with problems though, as James in another round had attempted to bluff while accidentally showing the cards in question to everyone. An omnishambles of medieval proportions.

Jamie examines his hand in order work out
exactly how to cock up his next call...
The Sheriff, to put it politely,
is fond of his food.

Next was a pretty chaotic game in the old world, and pretty debauched at that --- as perhaps it is to be expected for a game featuring the Daemon Prince of pleasure and hedonism, amongst others. The game, allegedly, is drawn on human vellum, though I don't think that would be allowed nowadays. When asked for a run-down the players simply said they were "old gods trying to destroy the world with corruption," which sounds like an average Tuesday to me, NoBoG or otherwise. You can win by completing your dial by achieving your God's particular objectives such as seducing nobles or killing people, or you can just get 50 points by whatever means.

Slaanesh and Skaven, sitting right next
to each other. Who'd have thought?
Slaanesh thinks that the objectives are too hard --- "just let me touch myself!" This was avoided at least in part thanks to there being a Skaven token on the board so "no-one was getting here." We were trying to figure out how this worked and hypothesised that nobody would want to get busy if there were rats around. However Peter then dropped the bombshell on us, declaring, "I do remember nearly squashing a rat during intercourse once." When asked what he was doing his reply was simply, "Well we were having sex, the rat was just walking around." I'd add some kind of witty follow-up to this, but I just don't think I can improve on what's already given to me. Peter did clarify that the rat was a pet.

Paint me like one of your French rats.
Next up was Noria which is a still-unreleased, fairly heavy engine-builder. You have a spinny dial (see photo) which rotates each turn somehow, and what is in the bottom section of the dial on your turn is what determines your actions. This means that you can't just plug away at one section of the mechanics and have to adapt and anticipate the up-coming actions. You can change what's in your dial but you have to sink money into doing so, so you can't do it too much.

Things are Pointed At in Noria.
I wish I'd got a close-up of the spinny dials.

There are lots and lots of bits and locations and I didn't get a complete description, but for example you can go exploring in order to obtain resource generation, and you can do other actions which push up the markers on the main tracks, which is what ends up scoring you points.

So then I built some square towns in Quadropolis. It was my first time and I kind of sucked, especially when I forgot that we were on the last round and based part of my strategy around doing something next round... Anyway, if you've not played before as I hadn't, the object is to build up a town by taking and placing various district cards on your 4x4 town grid. You take them in player order from a shared 5x5 pool by placing one of your four selection cards down. Each is numbered 1-4 and you take the card that distance away from the edge on which you place the selection card, meaning your choices become more restricted as the round progresses. You can only place districts in the row or column corresponding to the card you used. This all adds up to meaning you need to be very careful about which of the selection cards you use to get which district, and in what order since you don't some other bugger to nick your district (there's quite some scope for screwing people over if they have a limited number of viable or possible choices).

My quadropolis after one round. Pretty modest.
The districts themselves are fairly straightforward with some nice interactions: each requires a certain resource to run, and may also produce a resource. Typically districts produce the opposite resource from what they consume, and some synergising districts behave the same, forcing you to diversify. Synergies involve making certain patterns, adjacencies and the like, and you can only do a couple perfectly before running out of space on your 4x4 board. There is definitely enough going on to need a few plays before you really work out some the optimal strategies. It feels similar to Suburbia in a bunch of ways — building a town, obviously, with districts that should be placed in certain configurations obtained from a central pool. In Quadropolis, you have far less freedom with where you place things, though, and the resources are quite different. I feel like the small town board might start get a bit stale after a few plays, but there is an advanced mode with an extra round, a whole extra zone to build on, and new district types.

Finished quadropolis, still pretty modest.
Note the neat gap on the top row which could have
been a park adjacent to three residences.

So that's it for this somewhat belated write-up of board gaming beauty. I suspect we'll all never think about rats in quite the same way from now on. Until next time!

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