Border Reivers by Jackson Pope
‘Blooming Gardens’ by Ragnar Brothers
Games night....... 30th January
Michelle and Robin arrive. Dicken is beaming broadly, Kendall rubs his hands with glee. Good news! ‘Funagain Games’ have just ordered a consignment from the Ragnar Brothers. Only another few £ thousand to go and the Ragnars will be back in the black. Time to celebrate with beer, Pringles and a couple of rousing games. Spiller arrives and adds to the festivities by supplying chocolates from Cuba. What an exotic life the man leads. Actually, he too is bemused as he purchased said chocolates whilst skiing in Italy.
First up tonight is another Reiner master-piece (Michelle and Robin have played ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Modern Art’). ‘Merchants of Amsterdam’ was reviewed not many weeks ago, so you’ll have to make do with edited highlights here:
- Kendall and Spiller try to tell the rules as a double act.
- Robin and Michelle try not to look worried.
- Spiller sets the bidding at around the 140,000 Ducat mark
- Kendall bids a bit higher
- Dicken reckons the bidding is too high
- Robin gets the hang of the bidding and starts slamming his hand down on the timer thingy.
- Dicken has yet to bid
- Spiller asks about bidding more than 200,000 Ducats.
- Spiller ensures the bid is more than 200,000 Ducats
- Spiller has got the rule wrong
- Michelle helps Spiller out making a bid of 300,000 Ducats! (a record and her very first bid!)
- Dicken has yet to bid
- Robin bids particularly hard
- The timer thingy stops working.
- Dicken fixes the timer thingy – he has his uses
- Kendall races ahead in Spices
- The Pringles arrive – Hot and Spicey, of course
- Robin finds he can’t make a play on his turn – the world is full up
- Dicken is accused of ‘not bidding’ – true enough.
- Kendall finds he can’t make a play – the world is still full up
- Everyone has a good time – even Dicken
- Dicken wins
Perhaps a rule got missed somewhere, but the report has to be that this feels less convincing as a five player game. And as for winning without once making a bid .... a bit rich, indeed. Maybe the Ragnars are losing their sense of values.
Onto ‘Blooming Gardens’ then. And no trouble here in explaining the rules – or blowing our own trumpet. Actually, Kendall is so merry that he can’t recall how many cards to take out and how many to deal out for five players. After exhausting his finger calculating skills he resorts, shame-faced, to the rule book. ‘Nice Clip-Art !’ exclaims Robin (always helpful for the review).
Kendall moves effortlessly between the kitchen and playing his hand as the game gets underway. That will be four coffees and a hot chocolate, and two Chrysanthemums for two Fertilisers. Spiller, meanwhile is fuming.
The beauty of ‘Blooming Gardens’ (apart from the gorgeous card art-work, courtesy of the Royal Horticultural Society – no less!) is its simplicity and its neat association with the world of gardening. Two Flowers are planted in each of six months. Flowers are worth 1 – 3 points. The player with most Flowers of a type scores double points. Put a Fertiliser in a bed and the Flowers are worth double. Play Pests onto other people’s gardens to kill a Flower for each Pest played. End the game (if you want to) when the draw pile is ended. Place any remaining Flowers if they have a Flower Pot symbol. Add up your score (using the score pad provided). Highest score wins.
There you are, simple and all to do with gardens.
Spiller is claiming to have a mild form of turettes syndrome. No-one is convinced. His is major or nothing. He simply can’t pick up the Flowers he wants to. Dicken and Kendall meanwhile go to war, decimating each others prize Peonys and Geraniums with suicidal Pest attacks.
Robin has got the hang of it. Play out as many cards as possible each turn and make sure you cover all the months (-15 points for a Missing Month). Simple, but not as obvious as it seems. In a five player game it gets tough getting all the months. With less players the emphasis shifts to winning beds and quality of Flowers. And Pests are always important, from 2 to 6 players.
The draw pack is denuded. Time for Robin to make a decision – play or end the game. He decides to play and ruins Kendall’s Geraniums (again!) with a couple of Pests. ‘Thanks, Robin’. Kendall plays and fills a missing month. Spiller ends the game – the turettes has calmed down.
Out come the Flower Pots and ‘Hey, hasn’t Spiller got a lot of them!’
Michelle has two Missing Months, everyone else has got one, bar Spiller who has beds for all six months. Spiller scores 57 points and wins (‘It was the Roses what won it, guvnor’), Robin pips Kendall into second place with 48 points. Michelle has been having a rough time and scores minus 6 points. Another record! No chance of a game sale there then.
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