On Saturday I once again got down to Beyond Monopoly. I got there a little later than planned, as I had to finish Andy's copy of Border Reivers before I left home in the morning, and swing by the post office to post a couple of copies to North America on the way in. I also had to detour via a chemists, as my cold was developing, and I was going to need a lot of tissues to last me through the games and the following train journey. Due to The Wife having the camera in Canada with her, there's no photos today I'm afraid.
On arrival Andy introduced himself, and I handed over his copy, and then I was introduced to Dave - who disappointed Jon by failing to salute me! This was right and proper, for Dave is actually in the army, whereas despite my moniker on BGG (CaptainJax), I have never put my life on the line for anything - I'm very selfish in that regard, but who knows when I might need it?
First game of the day was Leonardo da Vinci by the consortium of Italian games designers Acchittocca. This is a real gamers' game, in the vein of Puerto Rico and Caylus. Each turn is a difficult decision as you try desperately to determine which of the thousands of possible moves will do you the most good. Coupled with the fact that you are in competition with your opponents to see who gets to perform actions for the least outlay of florins (which also count as your victory points), guarantees a game of continual swearing as you realise that either you've stuffed it up, or an opponent has shafted you. Paul A, Mason and I sat down, and after a long time setting up and pouring through the rules, Andy joined us. Andy had played before, so things set off at a faster pace after his arrival. I enjoyed the game, although I have to admit that I had very little idea what I was doing. I couldn't seem to get the resources I needed, and was very short on cash throughout the game. Paul had a strategy of getting loads of resources, which did him proud, as he could then afford lots of inventions. He managed to get one of each of the five types for a hefty bonus, and won the game be a large margin: Paul 75, Me 48, Mason 32, Andy 27.
Just before we finished Leonardo, Becky (a new member) turned up with her young son Ally. We offered them a game, and chose Niagara by Thomas Liesching as it's good for kids, and fairly fast. It's also appropriate as The Wife has visited Niagara Falls this weekend as part of her Canada trip - although I hope she faired better than some of my canoes. This was a fun game with some really nice mechanics. You set the board up on top of the box lid and tray with the waterfall hanging off one end. Each turn the river (represented by large, transparent plastic discs moves a variable amount, pushing some of the plastic discs off the end to be replaced at the front. Each player has a pair of canoes, and if they happen to be on a plastics disc that goes over the edge you lose it, and have to buy a replacement. I liked this game a lot, it's simple and fun, and the pieces are really nice (especially the plastic gems). After Leonardo it was a pleasant change of pace. Becky won the game by collecting four blue gems (one of the three victory conditions).
I was fairly pushed for time, as I had a train to catch, so we chose Saboteur by Frederic Moyersoen as a quick game to round off the afternoon. We were also joined by Andy's brother Alan for this game. We played three rounds, in each of which every player was assigned a character, either a good dwarf or a saboteur. The good dwarves won the round by reaching the gold (under one of three hidden destination cards), while the saboteurs win by stopping them. I wasn't so keen on this despite it being a regular at Shire Gamers in Stoke, it seemed to heavily weighted in favour of the good dwarves, and the saboteurs are fairly quickly deduced and then get continuously lamped. At the end of the three rounds Alan won: Alan 8, Becky 5, Ally 4, Me 3, Mason 2 Andy 2.
It was another great day of gaming and getting to meet gamers, and yet again I got to play entirely new games (to me at least), which I think is important in my quest to become a better (and more successful) games designer. Also, Mason ordered a copy of Border Reivers :-)