Games, beer and blokes in Brum

A long standing tradition is my attendence at a small gaming gathering that coincides with the the American Football Superbowl. Normally alternating between Byll and Pauls respective domiciles, at least until I can get my arse in gear and buy a house, this year we were PSR's lucky guests for the weekend.

Post February Hobbymeet meant that Byll was in Bristol for the Friday evening where we ran into Pete Groome, Bidz and RME for beers and conversation. Some TERRA NOVA, our big wargame baby was discussed, with Star Trek, children's fiction, points of law, making boardgames and work type stuff all added to the mix. No games this month as the usual catalyst, Mr Johnson, was otherwise engaged.

A Mammoth GameIn the morning I was picked up by Byll for the run up to Brum. Given the storm warnings we were very lucky with the weather, while Byll found the new road system around the M4/M5 frustrating. We got to Paul's around 1230pm, where after a light lunch we got down to gaming. First off was the christening of my new 'Valley of the Mammoths' set, the new 2nd edition with english rules. Weplayed advanced with fire, and modified combat using the old french rules. Very good game rediscovering how much I do enjoy this one. Game took about 2 1/2 hours, Paul claiming the win with a strong performance. Played a new 'filler' game that could become a HobbyMeet classic. 'Munchkin', designed by Steve Jackson. Taking all the power gaming qualities of a well known role-playing game and turning it into a tongue-in-cheek fast-paced card game. So your 6th level halfling wizard with boots of butt kicking and sneaky bastard sword can have a go at the wannabe vampire. Part of the fun is the strange cards you can play on your opponents so the game cannot stand up for constant play despite how much fun some of your group are having. Luckily there is an expansion set out called 'Un-natural Axe' to vary the card mix.

engame of MaginorA break for dinner and a look at the demo for 'Time Crisis II' on the PS2 then we watched a DVD film called 'Evolution', a David Duchovny vehicle which was a fair filler. As the evening wound on we played a new Kinzia game called 'Maginor'. A wizard council needs to vote for a new leader and the head wizard wanders from enclave to enclave counting votes. The players use a mixture of dierolls and special cards to influence each enclave before the wizard maginor visits to see how they voted. The enclave either grants a spell or throws it's weight behind the contender so the winner choses one or the other, then the second placed get whats left, and 15 enclaves to score. It took a while for me to warm to this game, but I think Reiner may have brought us another great game. Respect to Byll who sneaked past me for a win. A bit more Munchkin and Time Crisis II and then bed.

Great big fry-up for breakfast and then a traditional Merchant of Venus game. Paul was anxious toMerchant endgame status try out a new turn structure, and Byll and I get to be the guinea pigs. 'Buy-Move-Sell' is the name of the game requiring a new mindset at least for this old lag. While useful for e-play I feel it adds little for F-T-F and new players would have difficulty. Gamewise I found my early turns frustrated by penalties and going backwards along a trade route. Paul pursude an aggresive policy of factory building that paid dividends. Byll managed to keep up for a while but ran out of steam towards the end. I think we played 'Last Paradise' a very early Reiner Kinzia game that showed. Biding for plots of land on an island and the average mechanics didn't do a lot for me may improve with more plays but he's made better bidding games since (RA) so I may not play this again. I badgered the boyos and we played 'Illuminati' next, adding the Y2K expansion pack for a huge deck. This means that the game can drag when a glut of weaker groups populate the uncontrolled area, and an old variant from the Space Gamer called death to deadheads is recommended. Byll (Gnomes) grabbed the Defence Contractors early (the irony was not lost on us), Paul (UFO's) tipped his hand early going wierd while my own power structure (Bermuda) was left cash strapped trying to frustrate Byll's push to victory. I failed. EAT THIS SAURON!We finished off with a game of Lord of the Rings, and I am pleased to say that WE WON! SUCK ON THAT DARK LORD!!! Our victory was orchestrated by myself as 'Posh' Peregrin Took. I think Frodo and Samwise got involved at some point ;-)

The bowl was good! Our spritual support for the Pats well they came from the same confrence as our favourites overcame all the pre-game hype. I managed to jinx it in the third when I told my collegues that it was all in the bag, but a last play 48yd field goal gave the Patriots victory. And at 245am we turn in. With a lie in and late breakfast from the fair hand of Paul it came round to noon on the monday where we bade a fond farewell to Paul as I de-trained back to Bristol and Byll took the long way round to Malvern.

Thank you gents for a great break and some good gaming. Commiseration to Don who was hoping to join us, and see you all soon.