Southampton On Board - 14 April 2014 - Belgians, Zombies and Cowboys

Right now we're on the streamlined format for me doing session reports. I was doing a report every time I went to a club and that frankly was too much for me with all of the other stuff I do on my blog as well as work, my non-board gaming life (which is pretty much gym, cooking and movies to be honest), and of course, playing games! Now I'm alternating the reports. Portsmouth will get a report on the week the club is on and Southampton will get a report on alternating weeks - that way I never have to write more than one report a week. As for Chichester which I'm testing soon . . . . no reports, sorry but even though I can play games for 32 hours straight, even I have limits.  
Games had already got under way by the time I'd arrived (stupid roadworks) with our newest couple to the club testing each other's bluffing abilities in Android Netrunner. A cool game, one which I desperately need to play more, but one tip, never try to be deceptive against your other half, THEY KNOW YOU!
Across the table was a maxed out 7 Wonders game, only the third time I've seen one in action, though a personal viewpoint is that I wouldn't ever play with that many players unless they all knew what they were doing. Here there were a lot of new players for Jacob to teach. Brave man, but then he's used to teaching Race for the Galaxy at BoardGameExtra demo days so this is easy in comparison!
"7 Wonders"
So that left 5 of us to try a new game by Z-Man that has got a lot of buzz among Euro gamers in the US so that alone means I have to at least try it, although I'm always a little wary about games that are simply just a date with a place name from some random point in history. This was Bruxelles 1897, which I'm sure is famous for something but being a person who gave up History after Year 8 with extreme delight and relief, hell if I know!
In this game you are doing about a dozen different things. You place out workers on a weird coloured board for taking actions and area control, you're buying and selling works of art, you're bidding on action cards (not in a typical auction style though) you're building houses - essentially you get the impression that any time the designer had an idea, it went in the game. That's not to say it's convoluted though, the mechanics work fairly smoothly even if the art sale mechanic is clunky and practically ignored by everyone. 

"Bruxelles 1897"
The theme doesn't grab me though. This is a typical Euro game where it's mechanics over theme and I tend to prefer the opposite in my games. I do love some really theme-less Euros (hello Terra Mystica), but I like to immerse myself in the game and escape from reality. It's called Bruxelles 1897 but it might as well have been called Rome 20 BC for all it mattered to the game. You're playing the mechanics, not the theme here. And Euro's can have theme too - take Agricola/Caverna and to a lesser extent Le Havre and even Robinson Crusoe for example.
For the most part the game appears balanced although a clear giant point lead by the winner who focused solely on constructing buildings quickly seems to suggest there might be an issue here. More games would need to be played to validate this, but they're unlikely to be with me. It's fine, works smoothly, but it doesn't stand out from the crowd as anything unique - it's another "meh" Euro.

"Android Netrunner"
By this point the 7 Wonders gang had split off into two groups. One to test out some expansions to Last Night On Earth and the other to introduce newbies to Race for the Galaxy (have a guess who was teaching that one if you've been paying attention). Thankfully the Orb expansion was NOT included. . .
Now Last Night On Earth I don't mind, but I did put it on my Overrated Games list recently as I felt I preferred an all-out carnage zombie fest like Zombicide provides and some rules in this game don't make thematic sense. But the expansions look like they make a difference here in improving the game - providing you get the rules right! I heard there was one or two misinterpretations that made life difficult for the zombie players, but hey they pulled out a win in the end, om nom nom!
"Last Night On Earth"
Once the Race for the Galaxy tutorial was over, they went for something a damn sight lighter in Smash Up! I really enjoy this game as something different to the whole King of Tokyo craze, even though I like and own that one as well. Just mix two factions together and go nuts. Can't wait for the Geek Box to come out so I can get the newest expansion and have a ton of Smash Up cards easily stored.

"Race For The Galaxy - sorry for poor pictures the lighting was HORRIFIC tonight"
"Smash Up"
For us though we'd spent so long on the Euro game, that we could only manage a quick filler game for the last part for 5 players. Instantly I reach for my bag to pull out Bang: The Dice Game. This has got a lot of plays since I bought it so it's more than made up it's cost in spades. Everyone else was new and some die-hard Euro players at that so I wasn't expecting great feedback, but I thought the games played out well and there was definitely some good laughter back and forth as we all pleaded to not get shot and gang up on others, etc. Yes the game is far better with 6+ or even the max of 8 players, but even at 5 it's still a good laugh. Managed to crank two games out and score two wins, one as the Deputy and one as an Outlaw, though only just, it was down to the wire hoping to avoid any more Indian attacks!
"Bang! The Dice Game - Psst, I'm an Outlaw!"
So not my best night ever, but glad to try something new for a change and I always like to at least experience games that are talked about a lot to see what they're like. But I'm known online as a gamer that goes against the hype, so don't think that hype alone can buy me into a game! Hopefully lots of games will get played on Bank Holiday Monday when we will be playing for most of the day however don't expect a report for that, Portsmouth is getting next week's slot! Photos and Twitter updates however, that's another story!
Games Played
Bruxelles 1897
Race for the Galaxy
7 Wonders
Last Night On Earth
Android Netrunner
Smash Up
Bang: The Dice Game