RogerBW's Blog

Boardgames in the Brewery 23 November 2014 24 November 2014

Daryl of the Reading Boardgames Social organised a day of boardgaming at the Siren Craft Brewery, on an industrial estate in the middle of nowhere south of Reading.

It was a wet and chilly day, and as it turned out we were setting up in the beer store (which obviously doesn't get heated). Had I known this I'd probably have worn something warmer. Still, it made a change for me not to be too hot.

It appears that they use old whisky barrels.

My beer day began with Calypso, a Berliner Weisse style with heavy hopping and a distinct citrusy, grapefruit-ish, flavour. Meanwhile the gaming day got started with a five-player Firefly session, including Blue Sun. The story card was Desperadoes: everyone starts with a warrant, Harken isn't in the game at all, Illegal jobs pay extra, and the goal is to make $15,000 before anyone else.

This was the first time I'd got my new storage solution to the table, and it worked reasonably well. The lids of the card cases ended up being used for the discards, not as convenient as it might be but this really is a game that expands to fill the available table. (And then a bit more.)

Everyone mostly managed to avoid the Reavers, even with three of them on the board.

As it turned out, I won this quite handily, mostly by being unreasonably fortunate with the Misbehave cards: I think there were two Botches, and everything else just worked for me. I had the Walden, but never got far enough ahead of anyone else in skills and equipment to find it worth going out pirating (indeed, one of my crew got poached for a bounty); but I also managed to avoid the Alliance even after several runs across core space. Player number two was on around $10,000 and had he managed to pick up Fancy Duds at the right moment might well have beaten me in a turn or two. Alas, one player managed to end up with less money than he'd started with.

The next beer was Undercurrent, another fairly citrusy beer but with a very pleasant bitterness. We moved on to Dead of Winter, one I haven't had out enough recently. By dint of a ruthless focus on just the specific things we needed to win, we managed to pull off a victory with one turn left to play: enough barricades, just barely enough morale, and (as it turned out) enough people that my secret victory condition was also achieved (a joint win with one other player). No betrayer, and we were never seriously suspicious of anyone. I think the odds are kind of low (just under 50% that there's one in the game) but this can be a pretty brutal game even without that option.

Some people managed to get a Paranoia session going. I drank When the Light Gose [sic] Out, a darker beer but still with a strong citrus note (several of the brewers are American and it's clearly an approach they like).

Three quick six-player games of Avalon came next, with a mix of the Reading Boardgames Social regulars and the brewers who'd come to join us. I will admit I was quite happy with an understated performance as Merlin which led to a third-mission win for the good guys and the wrong person being assassinated by the traitors. To stay with the Indie Boards and Cards theme, we had a quick three-handed Coup (not at its best with just three, but still enjoyable, and oh dear I won it, mostly by never bluffing – a policy I follow about half the time).

My final beer was Liquid Mistress, a lovely burned dark West Coast IPA with chocolatey notes. The last game of the day was [redacted], a somewhat stylised espionage game: everyone is a spy moving around an embassy, trying to get the opposition's secrets to their helicopter. The board isn't as clear as it might be (especially in terms of showing which doors are locked and which have X-ray sensors). Nobody knows which side anyone else is on.

As a British agent, I picked up the American secrets very early on, but then had endless trouble actually doing anything with them. One of the brewers followed a policy of fighting everyone he met, and (using slightly modified rock-paper-scissors card play) beating almost all of them; he ended up getting the win for that team.

I can see the appeal, but it seemed just a bit too random and keen to deny information to be really fun. Might still give it another go if it comes my way.

Overall an excellent day, and there are plans to have another (though probably in warmer weather). My thanks and congratulations to Daryl and to the Siren crew for sorting it all out.

[Buy Firefly at Amazon] [Buy Dead of Winter at Amazon] [Buy Avalon at Amazon] [Buy [redacted] at Amazon] and help support the blog.

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