LoBsterCon X: Mini reviews from London on Board’s latest trip to Eastbourne

LoB Eastbourne X02

Impossible mission: Gee contemplates imminent disaster in a gravity defying Hamsterrolle.

Twice each year 100 members of London on Board (the world’s largest board game group) head down to York House Hotel on Eastbourne’s seafront for a weekend of drinking games.

This time I managed two full days of gaming, the highlights of which you’ll find below (games not discussed will be reviewed soon).

Thanks to everyone who taught be games, suffered through my rules explanations, or who just sat down for a pint and a chat – it was great to see you all!

Friday: Burying bodies & winning the war

Having stayed in Eastbourne the night before (thanks Lauren!) I was able to get my game on very early. I also took very few breaks, which is rare for me. I just seemed to wander from game to game organically until it was suddenly 2.30 in the morning…

  • Quartermaster General (x2): This WW2 themed six-player game was probably the most played game last Eastbourne, but I missed it every time. Luckily, shortly after I arrived this time it was suggested and we had back-to-back plays. It’s a light logistical game with snappy turns, so the high player count isn’t a problem. It’s also a team game (3 vs 3) so you always feel involved; while each deck of cards plays very differently. I was the UK and luckily the allies won both our games, but importantly they both played out very differently. A game I’d like to play more.
  • Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game: This really isn’t my sort of thing, but I was in good company so gave it a go. It was actually surprisingly good fun for a boy’s own fantasy co-op dungeon delve, but I wouldn’t care if I never played again. It has all the dice and sheen and mini cards you’d expect from a Fantasy Flight game, but was more fun than Imperial Assault et al. You have just as many decisions to make without the minis and map that make that game feel like work.
  • Andromeda: Comfortably my worst game of the weekend, but even this wasn’t that bad – just boring, really. Oddly it screamed ‘Kickstarter!” without being one: generic sci-fi art, gaudy plastic minis and a complete lack of anything even verging on originality. Move dudes, try to control areas, get points. The theme couldn’t have been more thinly painted on. A complete waste of time and cardboard.
  • Race for the Galaxy – Xeno Invasion (x3): As a big fan of Race, and having played all the expansions, I approached this with the customary scepticism – and was sadly proven right. Xeno Invasion, the module, forces you down the military route to win; which negates half the fun of Race. The cards are also programmed for this eventuality so if you don’t use the module you have a lot of rather pointless military cards in the deck. Not an expansion I will be purchasing, I’m afraid. That said, it’s still Race – I had a good time playing, but would rather have played any of the previous versions. Footnote: I got a win over Kester!
  • The Bloody Inn: This was number three on my Essen wish list so, having failed to pick it up then, it became my number one Eastbourne target. The game is totally in my wheelhouse – cards which have multiple purposes, a tight economy and never enough actions to do everything you want to do. Add brilliant artwork and an original theme, and I was totally sold. Definitely my highlight of the weekend, this game has rocketed to the top of my wishlist. It feels like the game Bruges should’ve been, and I enjoyed Bruges a lot.  And I won. Twice (we also played Saturday).
  • Hamsterrolle: I’m rarely one for dexterity games, but this looks so fantastic (pictured) I had to give it a go. It’s a balancing game – nothing original there – except that you’re balancing the pieces inside a wheel. A genius idea, really well executed and with fantastic components. Highly recommended if you like that sort of thing.

Also played: Codenames (x2), Die Portale von Molthar, Sarkophag & 3 sind eine zu viel!

Saturday: Indiana jonesing & being the bard

LoB Eastbourne X01

Not for the hard of thinking: Ann and Rachel were our spymasters in game two of Codenames.

With Friday’s excesses adding to Thursday’s hangover, Saturday was never going to hit the same heights in terms of plays – but it was still a good day’s gaming.

I had a massive late breakfast, took a big afternoon break for the football and was in bed not too long after midnight, but there were some notable gaming highlights in between the laziness.

  • Shakespeare: This was my number two Essen 2015 target, and another I’d missed, so it was great to also tick it off the list here. I really enjoyed my play and again it was right up my street: worker placement this time, but again with a tight economy and with that feeling you could never do all that you wanted to. This was my second favourite game of the weekend behind Bloody Inn, but I don’t think I’ll look to buy it: it doesn’t quite do enough that’s original to really stand out. That said I hope to get more plays in future.
  • Karuba: Like Andromeda this had gone beneath my radar; but unlike Andromeda had plenty of redeeming features. Each player sets their individual player board up the same way as everyone else – with three adventurers and three temples around the edge in identical spots. These are in three colours, so you need to get each meeple to its corresponding temple while picking up goodies along the way – the trick being you will each be placing identical tiles each turn (which have roads and occasionally jewels to grab). Two of us started placing almost identically, but once we started to deviate it was a fun, fast and light game. Not a keeper for me though.

Also played: The Dwarves, Celestia, Antarctica, Lignum & 3 sind eine zu viel! (again)

The aftermath: What I missed out on

Inhabit the EarthTalking of my Essen 2015 wishlist, both numbers four and five were also in attendance at Eastbourne and saw a bit of table time – just not with me! Meaning ‘Inhabit the Earth’ and ‘Isle of Skye’ now move to the top of my ‘must play’ list.

I didn’t see copies of either ‘Steam Works’ or ‘CVlizations’ though, both of which I also still want to play.

It was hard not being there with Zoe, but my first Eastbourne without her was always going to be difficult. But on the plus side it reminded how many lovely people are part of the London on Board group and that I really need to make a resolution to get to more normal London events in 2016.

To end on a slightly sour note, someone managed to knock a drink over my copy of Antarctica – which resulted in one set of the cards being damaged enough to very much wipe out any real resale value. While the offender apologised profusely they didn’t once offer me any kind of compensation, which left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m not sure what I would’ve said if they had, but not to offer seems pretty mean spirited.

If it had been me, I would’ve offered to take the damaged copy and buy them a new one. I’d have thought the least they could do would be to offer me something – a pint if nothing more. Any thoughts?

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