Saturday, March 18, 2006

A quiet night at Gamers@Dockers or the night Twonky got his guns

The spectre of street closures and parking chaos due to the Commonwealth Games meant that numbers were down compared to usual, although local readers should note that there were no particular transport problems at all. Note to American readers - the reason that the English threw the American War of Independence was so that you would not get invited to the Commonwealth Games, which is basically the Olympics for old English colonial countries who did not fight wars of independence.

First off was a three player David and Goliath with Tim, Greg and myself. Tim said he had played it once or twice before. They way he casually destroyed us time and time again implied that either he is a natural at the game or has played it a few more times than he admitted. To add insult to injury on those rare occasions that Tim deigned to let us build a legitimate scoring pile he gave us 1's or 2's from his seemingly limitless supply of low cards.

Luckily for Greg and I, Ben arrived and we switched to four player where despite a concerted effort by Greg and myself Tim still did very well.

We were now up to five people and broke out Paul's Avalon Hill version of Robo Rally. By the time we had decided what board or boards to play and had almost set up we were up to seven players.

I have played the original Robo Rally quite a few times over the years, but this was my first time with the new version.

The addition of the player mats and the starting board are very useful. I am not entirely sure why the virtual bots were removed, but I can live with it. The opinion of the table was that the 30 second timer was useless. If it is to be started as soon as the penultimate player has finished then it should be only 10 or 15 seconds, alternately you could make it 60 or 90 seconds and start it before people look at their cards.

We played that nobody started with any option cards (I am not sure what the standard rules for this actually are).

We had two or three newbies and played the board that has four square fast conveyor belts, quite a few rotating gears and a number of lasers. In fact it looked almost exactly like this except that the main board was rotated 90 degrees and the third flag was one square closer to the start board.

The start was peaceful enough, but by the third turn things started getting hectic. Most people had cleared the starting area and encountered either each other or the speedy conveyors which general played havoc with their programmed movement. With seven bots in play the most direct route to the first flag soon became crowded and naturally a lot of pushing, shoving and shooting ensued. It was rare for anyone to be positioned at the end of the turn even remotely near where they had planned to end up.

The first deaths were quite early, Paul pushed Ben off the map and was moving so fast that he followed him off. The mayhem continued with a large number of power downs required for people to keep moving in a vaguely controlled fashion.

Paul was the first to reach the first flag, Frank was very close behind after being pushed and having a locked register due to accumulated damage he found himself careering off the edge of the board the very next turn.

Having taken the long way around to make a pass at the first flag I (Twonky) got pushed and found myself on a speedy conveyor belt and waving bye-bye to the flag in a fairly damaged state. At this stage I decided to power down whilst enjoying the ride around the conveyor belt. When I powered up again my cards were not going to help me reach the elusive first flag, so I decided to visit the repair place and pick up an option card. I did this and got the howitzer (five optional shots which push the target bot one space in addition to the normal damage). My next pick up of cards had all turns except for a Move 1 and a backup. I wasn't going to be able to get near the flag, but I could return to the repair spot and pick up a second option card, so I did and got Fire Control (instead of causing damage you may choose to lock a register of your choice on the target bot). It is worth pointing out, that I was the only player to get any option cards during the game. They did give me an advantage, however it had cost me two full turns to pick them up.

With some new cards and my newly installed weapons I was now ready to strike out towards the first flag and possibly cause some havoc along the way. By this stage Paul had already left the second flag behind and three others had completed the first flag and were heading there way towards the second flag. A few more deaths had occurred by this point. Paul had pushed Frank off the board and soon after he had been caught in the crossfire of two other bots and been shot to pieces.

Unlike my first attempt at the flag, my second attempt was successful, avoiding being pushed by the other bots and getting there with nothing other than a few laser hits. As I left the first flag, Paul was zooming up the edge of the board towards the third flag. I decided I may as well move out and position myself for some opportunity fire towards the third flag, especially since I only had two Move cards to play that turn.

As my luck would have it, the instant I turned towards the third flag Paul appeared in my sights. He was on the edge of the board about to win the game, what is a poor young bot with a brand new howitzer meant to do? Fire One! Yes, I shot him with the howitzer, pushed him off the board and he was eliminated from the game.

During the this time, three people who were new to Gamers@Dockers had arrived. Greg explained David and Goliath to them and helped them play in between his turns.

Quite a bunfight was brewing around the second flag. I couldn't resist the opportunity to shoot Tim with the howitzer to push him into Greg who was then pushed off the board. During another entanglements Frank ended up being eliminated.

After David and Goliath finished, Frank and Paul started up a five player game of Ra with the new people.

Tim made it to the to second flag as I powered down just near it and then he made a good run towards the third flag. On the way towards the third flag, I irritated any other bots that got into my sights by using the Fire Control to lock one of their registers, usually a fun one like U-turn or Move 3.

It was a race to the third flag between Tim and I and Tim was a fair way in front. I positioned myself to be coming up the map on the speedy conveyor belt that had direct line of sight with the third flag. The phase that Tim reached the flag, I had just come around the corner of the conveyor belt and had a shot lined up, so used the howitzer and pushed him off the flag. The next phase Tim turned and I was still on the conveyor belt facing the flag and Tim. This time I used Fire Control and locked his first register, which was Move 3. His final card was a turn that left him facing the edge of the board. He was now two spaces away from the edge with a locked Move 3 as his first card and thus went sailing off the edge to return to flag two. I had the right cards to sail off the conveyor belt and straight on the third flag to claim victory in a damage filled game.

The game of Ra was continuing at the other table, so the surviving bots (Tim, Ben, Doritos and I) broke out Alhambra. Neither Ben nor Doritos had played before, however in a tight finish Doritos pipped Ben by a point who in turn pipped me by a point. Tim was a bit further behind, but he had a very symmetrical palace, which may have been worth a few style points, but no victory points.

A very pleasant eveing, no problems with the Commonwealth games, three games played and three new people to Gamers@Dockers. Thanks as usual to Frank for the lift home.

No comments: