Damn Fine Coffee

coff

Nigel : “You’re all about coffee aren’t you?”

Vic : “OH YES!”

Nigel : “There’s a place in Dublin that does the best coffee in Ireland, it’s near enough to Gaelcon, fancy a coffee break during the con?”

Vic : “Game On!”

So it was that Nigel and Matt from  NWG and my good self set off for  3fe  (Third Floor Espresso) to have afternoon coffee last Sunday. WOW! They make good coffee.

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Nigel is a bit of a coffee buff and Matt is French so he has a robust, march in the street opinion on most things and I just like coffee.

They were right, it was good, in fact it was very good. The place itself was full of people when we arrived, but they knew their business and served us up our coffees pretty quick.  For what you got it was good value compared to a lot of coffee houses.  The place reminded me of Starbucks a little but with a much more raw feel to it.  They do food too, but it’s not about that it’s about the coffee experience.  They don’t (which was a surprised) have sugar or milk, oh no no this is about the coffee and the stuff was good, I went back for seconds.

As far as atmosphere went it was pure hipster, I was probably hip for a good ten minutes because I was so out of touch and then we went back to not being hip at all.  Everyone who didn’t have a book had an apple mac and I wouldn’t have been surprised to see USB ports on every table (there weren’t).   I liked the coffee a lot, I liked their setup, I’d like some of their coffee now.  If you’re up that way I recommend a visit, just for the experience. Wear any old thing you’ll more than likely be hip

Huzzah!

Vic

 

as a PS here’s where they are

 

https://www.google.com/maps?q=32+Lower+Grand+Canal+Street+Dublin+2+Ireland

 

Kneedeep in Seamen

On The Town 1

Having played Serenissisma a number of times I thought I had heard every possible Seamen joke, I had been misled….

We had a big group on Thur night and we tried our best with an eight player game of Tsuro but when it’s that size the only thing to do is split into two groups.  Our group played this.

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/232/serenissima-first-edition

Serenissisma is a nautical game of trading in the Mediterranean in the 14th Century.  Integral to the operation of your fleet are your seamen.  Being a group of 16yr old schoolboys at heart and mind, the game very quickly became a series of jokes about the aforementioned lads.  So what follows now is review of the proceedings liberally infused with seamen ‘jokes’…..

 

“Let’s not beat about the bush (you see what I did there), I’m a big fan of Serenissisma, My copy has been knocking about for a long time and only occasionally do I get to whip it out and play with it with unsuspecting gamers”

The game is played out on a map of the Mediterranean with up to four players taking control of a major power.   The map is made up of a number of ports that each supply one of seven goods Wine, Iron, Wood (of course), Cheap Plonk, Knock off CDs, (well maybe not but you get the idea.) and around 30 or so sea square   Each of these ports that produce a particular good want goods of the other types so you’re job is to zip around in your ships full to the gunwales of goods and seamen and drop them off like a merry postman, sticking your flag down to claim ports as your own and getting into or avoiding fights with other players doing the same.  A Pat Mustard of the waves if you will

There’s a limit of five spots in a ship, so the balance (and there’s always a balance in games) is between how many goods you stick on board and how man seamen you ram in there.  More seamen means more protection and speed for your ship but less space for valuable trade items.   Even more fun as you probably guessed it is to attack other players ships and take their ships and goods as prizes.

In all the games you’ve played THIS is the most unforgiving of plays.  You build up a fleet of ships, buy some goods are thinking about your Ferengi profit and BAM! some savage steams in, pistol whips your swimmers and gets all familiar your very expensive goods and ships, THEN to add insult to injury, sails off and sells your previously owned goods.  Pirate code me hoop.  This is not a safe game, once you get tangoed like this you’ll never forget it so guard your stuff well.

“The key to the game is your seamen… (waits for laughter to subside), you need seamen, lots and lots of seamen, if you’re going to succeed (oh err missus) and come out on top, you’ll need more seamen than the other fella (canned laughter). “

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Once again the old puzzle, which comes first the chicken or the egg problem is evident here.  You can’t afford lots of seamen if you don’t sell lots of goods, you can’t protect your goods without lots of seamen.  So you do you’re best.  A Gamer worth their salt does this sort of thing the whole time.  Still hurts when you get holed below the keel and your plans evaporate.

The other thing I like about this game is you don’t really have time for vengeance.  Go after someone who’s wronged you and you’ll probably lose the game.  You need to pull up your big boy/girl pants and get your house back in order and then ON YES then you get to exact a revenge on them IF you have time.  So in essence get your vengeance in first and make sure you do it so they never recover.

The game ends after eight turns (more if there’s less players) and rattles along for a good 2+ hours depending on players.  There’s a good range of decisions to be made each turn and there’s very little downtime as everyone else’s move can have a big impact on you.  Some of the mechanics like getting a monopoly on certain goods and setting the prices for them can really rankle players so if you’re militarily weak it’s often a case of appeasing other players but ultimately if you don’t hire seamen and plenty you’re goosed good and proper.  As the game progresses it becomes more and more crowded with ships and it’s very much a powder keg waiting for the spark that’s most beneficial for you.  This game can be very tense at times, mostly towards the end.  It’s also possible to be really petty, sacking a person home city just because, even though you’ve got them on the ropes already.

Is it any good? Yes.  It is.  Iv’e got an older copy, a new revamped version two came out and I haven’t tried it but I understand it’s a bit different from the original but opinions are divided as to which is superior.  Will I play it again soon?  Wellllllll… probably not.  I’ve played a good bit of this game and whilst not bad it’s not as good as some newer stuff out there.  Worth getting.  Welllll again there’s better out there but that doesn’t make it bad.  Try it at the next Knavecon.  I’ll bring it along and you can join in a chorus of comments about seamen.

Don’t get me wrong I like this game but if you get overrun by someone else seamen, it can leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Sorry.

 

More of that next week

Huzzah!

Vic

 

 

 

Back to Thur – Being a Drax Report

blacula-2

I was THIS close to winning Dracula, damn those meddling kids (and by kids I mean a bunch of old blokes and one young fella)

We didn’t get to game last week so it was great to get back in the saddle, meet some good* friends* and try out a few new games.  First up was a polish special.  A favourite of this blog

“Rycerze I Zamki”.  (I reckon Countdown would have been a very different game in Polish.  “I’ll have a Consonant Kharol, and another Consonant, and another Consonant”). This is the the fourth gamephoto 4

I’ve played from this games company and they’re all great fun, also cheap as chips.  €5 for a game is just wonderful.  I suspect our man in Poland will get asked to smuggle back in several more games the next time he goes home.

Rycerze I Zamki which means Knights and Castles (My google is strong) is a very simple game, you have a set of three castle types which can be made of Wood, Brick or Stone.  Everyone starts with a set number of cards (Knights, Catapults, Archers and so on) that have a value from one to ten in these three elements.  Some better than others in the three different categories.  Each turn you draw a castle which is worth 1 or 2 points and players secretly pick two of their cards and reveal them.  Duplicates between players are removed and the combined value of both cards in the element for that castle wins it (the points value of which are totalled at the end of the game).  A few other rules like one castle being randomly removed at the start, being able to draw back some of your cards and so on make for a very interesting and very fast little game.  It’s lite, it’s fun, it’s a great filler.  All hail Rycerze I Zamki and the Polish game industry. It has yet to turn in a dud

.photo 5

Next up was something I’ve wanted to played for a few weeks now. El Grande (pronounced “Y Grande)” and featuring a Castillo (Castiyo) and a bunch of Caballero (Cabayero).  So Spanish music channel and “we don’t like your type around here” jokes were the order of the day.  El Grande is a worker placement game which came out nearly 20 years ago.  It rates high on Boardgamegeek and…. we’ll I didn’t win it, I didn’t come close, but it’s still a fine game.  Spanish music was stopped after a bit.  It was like being in a taxi to your hotel on holidays and didn’t add to the 15th century vibe.

photo 3

El Grande is set in the 15th Century funny enough where Grandes (large coffees from starbucks I assume) vie for power and more importantly score around the edge of the board

It’s all about placing your Caballero on the board and gaining dominance (biggest numbers) of as many provinces as you can come the scoring rounds, of which there are three.  Unlike life there are prizes for both second and third place when a region is scored, but any number of cards and cock blockery can affect things.

The game has got elements from Eight Minute Empire in fact Eight Minute Empire is like a lite version of El Grande in every way.  It also borrows a tiny bit from a Study in Emerald (or maybe I just really Like ASIE and I want to work it into every blog) The Caballero work in a similar manner where you have a two stage staging area where you firstly draw them into your muster point from the void (provinces) then use another action to place them on the board.

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The game plays out over nine rounds after 3,6 and 9 there are scoring and that’s it.  You do you best.  A clever mechanic is your power cards which are finite and dictate your play order.  The earlier you play a round based on your power card the less Caballero you get to bring to bear on the board so it’s a juggling act.  Going early gets you an early pick of the action cards which do things like, score certain areas once off, move existing pieces, move the king who exerts power on a certain area and everyone fawns over him by only deploying men in adjacent regions.

It’s a nice game.  It’s also medium fast so it should be possible to get it all done and dusted in ninety minutes I would guess.  It plays five which is sort of a magic number for gaming and it’s close and fun throughout.  I started scoring early on and looked good but got caught up mid game and was left coughing scoring dust late game.  There’s a bit of a pattern here but, we need to play more of this.   All in all I like it.  I’m still a bit unsure of it but it’s definitely good, not stellar but good.  Maybe replays will make it stellar.  Who knows

Having finished this fairly quickly we had to play something else of medium length.  Some of the lads hadn’t played Fury of Dracula (or Furry Dracula if you prefer) so they got introduced in quick order.  To paraphrase Mannequin there are two things I like doing, fighting and playing Dracula.  I got to play Dracula again.

Fury of Dracula is like a more complex version of Letters from Whitechapel, which is itself a more complex version of Scotland yard.  Before we go any further let me declare my interest before the right honourables.  I LOVE this game.  I loved it from day one and still love it now.  It’s stupendous.  One person plays Dracula and the other four players play various vampire hunters who must work together to flush him out and stake him good.  Dracula who steals the show must spend his time sneaking around Europe, setting traps, avoiding pursuit, hiding during the day, attacking hunters at night and leading the hunters a merry dance.  It’s all good.

Fights ensue, Dracula is more than a match for hunters at night but weak and mortal during the day.  He had a limited amount of blood points that get whittled away from fights, spell casting and sea travel and when it’s down to zero it’s photo 1

good night Vienna.  The Hunters have only six days to find the fiend, less if he starts killing them off and gaining bonus points that way.  But enough about the rules, more of the merry dance.

I started off as far away from the hunters as possible and slowly ambled my way up from Greece while the aforementioned scratched (amongst other things) their heads trying to find me.  It was day two before I popped up and I quickly disappeared again.   I bumped off Nina Harker (oh err missus) and it was looking rosey until the hunters started to successfully second guess me.   A robust exchange happened in Prague and there were wigs and fangs on the green and shillelagh law ruled the day.  Dracula just about survived as did one of the hunters so he was in trouble BUT close to getting his six points and winning.  Then disaster struck, I took the group for fools (and I was right) but they stumbled onto me anyway and like the scene in Full Metal Jacket with the bars of soap in the pillowcases I got seven shades beat out of me and died my undeath again.  THIS CLOSE I was THIS CLOSE to winning

Great game and of course we got a rule or two wrong even though we’ve played it several times before

More of this next Thur

Huzzah!

Vic

 

 

The Coffee Has Landed!

pon

I’m delighted to announce that Pónaire Coffee will once again be the official coffee supplier for Knavecon.   Based locally in Annacotty these guys know their beans.

The other thing people remember about the last Knavecon was the coffee, fresh, strong and sharp (just like myself boom boom).  I dropped into the guys at the weekend to pick up a Large batch of coffee for next weekend they’d been specially roasting for the event.  I just finished a few cups of it and I have to say it most definitely passes muster.

We’ll be serving Pónaire coffee all day Saturday so your sleep is now invalid.  Make it your business to call into us in the Kilmurray lodge on the 1st March.  Even if you can’t stay for gaming, drop in, have a GOOD coffee and a look around.  See you on the day.

coffee

 

Huzzah!

Vic

 

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