So Many Games, So Little Time

Martin Wallace, the noted board game designer, stopped by this week. Martin comes from Manchester and now lives in Australia. After he emigrated to the southern hemisphere I'd see him every couple of years, as he blagged an overnight stay with us whilst visiting UK Games Expo or Essenspiel. Due to COVID it turns out I haven't actually seen him for five years - the period, in fact, when I published my Edgcote book and all of my rules sets. How time flies.

Any way, it was good to catch up. Martin is a board gamer rather than a figure gamer, testament to the fact that WD is a very broad church, as I met him at COW and have played a lot of his games in the design phase. 

On Monday evening we initially played a fairly lightweight game together with Mrs T which Martin is co-developing with the theme of drinking lots of coffee in order to get jobs done. Martin then whipped out the the latest in the Brass family for a playtest, and Mrs T retired to the lounge to watch some Gallic noir detective programme leaving the pair of us to slug it out. 

I've never played the original Brass or Brass:Birmingham, despite their amazing reputation (the later is now the top rated game on BoardGameGeek link) so it was an interesting session, with Martin remarking that he hadn't had to teach anyone how to play a version of Brass from scratch for a long time. The new version is Brass:Scotland, and is about making the industrial revolution work in Scotland. You build factories, shipyards, mines and distilleries(!), connect them with railways and build a business empire. I must have been lucky as many reviews say Brass games are "hard work" and only become fun after half a dozen plays. I didn't pick up all of the nuances (like the effect of railways at the end of the game) but despite what some people say a lot of it is intuitive. Investing in R&D enables you to build more effective operations and generate more products and identify opportunities to exploit demand in the market place. There's a lot going on, and Martin helpfully reminded me every so often, but it all seemed to make sense. After a couple of hours Martin won by a single point when we both had VP totals in the 180s. I didn't find it hard work, and really enjoyed it. I probably won't be investing in a copy as I'm VERY unlikely to play it with anyone locally (Mrs T certainly wouldn't like it), but I wish Martin the best of luck with it.

Tuesday morning we fitted in a run through of the Sheriffmuir scenario  for Tricorn and Bonnet.

I won't post a full game report, but suffice it to say I got beaten both ends up by MW playing the Redcoats. It was close at times, but his infantry held their nerve and drove me off the table. I had some success with my Lowlanders, but the Highlanders mostly failed to perform, and if I hadn't had some real luck against the Government cavalry it would have been over very quickly. Useful discussion on the system afterwards, as you might expect, with some criticism of the way the combat system doesn't produce a standard distribution of outcomes. It isn't really intended to do that, as I want a catastrophe mechanism, so I'm good with it. It is useful to have such things pointed out so the design decisions are informed and not made in ignorance.

In the afternoon we headed down to Delapre, where I took a first year course group from the University of Northampton on a battlefield tour, before discussing board game interpretations of the Wars of the Roses, and then watching one of the Uni staff run Kingmaker as a mini-megagame. This saw the students having one or two noble cards each and having to build factions and work together. It seemed to work out okay.

Having said good bye to Martin I was able to nip out to Shedquarters and set up the Sheriffmuir scenario again ahead of the regular evening's meeting. Chris, Phil and Tim were able to join in, and I shared the Redcoats with Phil.

This encounter gave the closest ever to a historical outcome, in that I got pasted on the left by the Highlanders, and Phil broke Chris with the Lowlanders. It was helter-skelter stuff and we got a result in about two hours. I have an issue with the effectiveness of the Jacobite cavalry - historically they were really reluctant to get engaged, but in this case even with very poor confidence levels they were able to attack in pairs, causing mayhem. I need to sort that, but otherwise very pleased.

Phew! What busy day or so.