Been wondering what Winter Retreat is all about? Wonder no more, and read instead this report from our club President, Keith Done:
I’ve always enjoyed every Winter Retreat I’ve attended (even the one on the Northside we went to one year with the crappy caterer). It’s a great time to play games that you don’t usually play and to play them with people you don’t usually get to catch up with at LXG meetings.
This year I loaded up the car with a heap of club games and headed up at around 9.00am, taking Alex (my son) and Nigel Bell with me. We got to the Leslie Dam site around midday, taking note of the new, shiny Hungry Jacks that had just opened in the middle of Warwick.
We found Eddie Crompton and a few other LXGers were already there and that the site manager was on lunch, so nobody could get into their rooms yet. Deciding to follow the lead of the site manager, we headed into Warwick and descended upon Hungry Jacks. It was packed (even the staff from the local McDonald’s were there for lunch) but we had plenty of time to spare and settled down to sample you typical HJ fare. Once back at the Leslie Dam site, we stowed our gear in our rooms and headed off to the central dining hall, where we unloaded the games and began the gaming orgy.
The first game I played in on Friday afternoon was Twilight Struggle (not Imperium – that was reserved for Saturday). I played against Sean Serin, who wiped the board with me as the USSR. My USA went down during the Cuban Missile Crisis and never recovered, with Sean dominating Europe and Asia.
Dinner was pumpkin soup and lasagne (with salad and garlic bread).
After dinner, I played Ticket to Ride: the Nordic Countries, with Megan Buckley and Damon Jones. This is a very different game from the standard version. It has lots of smaller tracks, ferries, tunnels and a single 9 piece (27 point) mega track. You tend to be able to cut off other player’s lines easier than in other versions of the game. Alas, I wasn’t good enough at laying tracks and Damon won by securing the big 27-pointer.
I then went on to play
I woke up with a terrible sneezing hangover from the dust on my blankets – my wife had provided me with a blanket that had never seen the light of day for 10 years. I trotted off to the dining hall and played a new game called Kablammo. This was basically Russian Roulette, with cute little revolver chambers and bullet tokens. The game involved loading your gun with bullets drawn from a bag and hoping that guns didn’t get swapped (the bullets were either live rounds or had conditional wording like “swap gun with the person to your left). I died from someone’s misfire!
Breakfast was served (lots of bacon, eggs, hash and pancakes) and then I settled into Twilight Struggle, the FFG stellar expansion game, along with Darren Catton, David Morton, Liam Polkinghorne and, newcomers,Vanessa Tierning and Andrew Betts. It was an epic game, as always. I drew the Clan of the Saar, which was quite novel, as I usually become the ‘space pirates’ by having my Homeworld taken. The Saar have no permanent Homeworld as their space docks can move – so effectively, I began the game as space pirates instead of ending the game as them!
The game went for a good two hours without a blow being struck, although I managed to annoy everyone by playing ‘sneaky git’ cards against them. David especially resented the assassination of this scientist so he couldn’t build technology in one of the rounds. Eventually, I drew first blood when I attacked Darren and the game began to heat up with Liam, encroaching on David’s worlds and Vanessa putting the squeeze on Darren as well. David captured Mecatol Rex for a number of turns until everyone else decided to try and grab it off him. The great assault on Mecatol Rex saw no less than four players take and lose that world over two turns.
After 6 hours of play, the end game started to kick in. It was obvious that David was winning on victory points, so a few other players started to get a bit more aggressive (including me!). I destroyed the bulk of my fleet on David’s War-Sun that he had proudly built. Knowing it was unlikely I could come back from that position, I made it a point to at least attack everyone. David triumphed a few rounds later and I came in at 3rd place. I had lost 8 hours of my life.
Twilight struggle was interrupted by copious amounts of pikelets, scones and sandwiches (and Terry, who kept visiting us and saying what losers we were for playing the game).
The Magic:the Gathering Grand melee kicked off just as we finished TI. It was massive, with about 16+ players. The deck theme was all one colour but unfortunately I had forgotten to pack a deck, so I missed out. Dinner (roast lamb, followed with apple crumble) was served and afterwards, I ran the Viewpoint Tournament for 12 eager players. Alex won on 270 points, followed closely by Leanne and Damon Jones. I have registered the game with the national leader board and Alex has stormed to the top again.
Shortly after, the traditional game of C’thulhu Worshippers took place with lots of ritual killings, accusations, hangings and shootings by the vigilante. I watched this one and then finished off the night with a game of Pictionary with Damon as my partner. At last, I triumphed, beating my arch-nemesis, Nigel Bell, who had Alex as his partner.
Then it was off to bed, leaving many others playing on until the wee hours of the morning.
Breakfast was sausages and scrambled eggs, followed by a round of Kablammo. After this, Adam Hauldren introduced me to Through the Desert, a great little game with plastic camels and palm trees, in which you staked out territory to score points, with lines of camels. I played two games of this one.
I must also mention the epic Lord of the Rings (Reiner Knizia) game I played. Courtney Jones, Callum Spinaze, Megan Buckley, Leanne Jones and myself valiantly tried to beat the game system again – anyone who has played LOTR will know how difficult this is!
Everyone except Courtney fell under the Shadow of Sauron by the time we reached the Mordor board. Courtney, playing the fifth optional Hobbit, Fatty Bolger, sallied on alone and managed to get to the Crack of Doom. There was much cheering from her ex-team-mates. In rolling the die to cast the Ring in the volcano, Courtney rolled ‘advance two spaces toward Sauron’, which unfortunately placed her on the same space as the Dark Lord. she had used up all her favors with Gandalf to get to the volcano and, alas, met her demise on the brink of victory.
Great game Courtney – one of the highlights of the weekend!
After morning tea, I played in a game called Midgaard, with Adam, Nigel and Sean. It was an abstract Eurogame with a theme of Viking raiders. I really enjoyed this one and managed to win it as well! I’m looking forward to playing this again at LXG. Following Midgaard, I joined in playing Kingdoms with Ken Rimminigton, his son Nicholas, Jason Cooper, David Kay and Adrian Roberts. This is a tile placement game with an Arthurian feel. I had played this a few times before at the club but that did no good – I still lost miserably! After Kingdoms, it was hamburgers and wedges then time to go home.
Reflecting on what was being played on the weekend, there seemed to be a lot of games of Chaos in the Old World and Dominion, however the big surprise hit was Power Grid, which was getting a flogging equally by board gamers and miniatures enthusiasts.
There was some talk about going to Storm King dam next year, but in the end, the feeling was, why fix it if it isn’t broke. I didn’t hear any negative comments so I’m all in favour of going back to Leslie Dam in 2011. In fact, Eddie is already making plans to book the site!
Thanks to all those who played with and against me at Winter Retreat and I hope to catch up with those I didn’t get to play with at the club.