Not Bash 2014

For the last few years Anery has run a not bash. Which is to say it isn’t a bash, but a few of us get together to have drinks, play some board games, and wag some chins. Only three 5punkers made it this year, Anery, Pnut and I, but there isn’t the room for more than four or five anyway and Anery’s better half stepped up for some of the games. For those who weren’t there but were interested in the games we played or the rubbish we talked, read on.

Consumables for the weekend.

Consumables for the weekend.

The weekend began on Friday afternoon, when I arrived after a three hour drive and immediately ripped the splash guard off the underside of my car while reversing onto Anery’s drive. So far, so good. We only had time to greet before Anery and I had to scoot off to pick up Pnut from the train station, and on the way back we stopped for consumables (see above). I’m sure there must have been something other than beer in that trolley, but if there were I can’t remember what it was.

I’m not sure we got any real gaming done on Friday night. Plenty of drinking was done, and more talking as the night went on. We tried a game of Relic, Fantasy Flight’s Warhammer 40k based adventure, but as the empty bottles accumulated our concentration waned. We gave up not long after the blurry picture above was taken. That’s not because of the game though, Relic is a great ride, with tactical decisions and risks every turn, and with the way we play it at least, small opportunities to screw over the other players. At its basic level it’s essentially a race to the centre of the board, but every square on the way wants to eat you and in a fair proportion of them, they can very well succeed.

Relic. This game seemingly never ends.
Relic. This game seemingly never ends.

After giving up on gaming the night poured into conversation about music, mainly, but the introduction of a fine bottle of single malt as Pnut crashed for the night saw Anery and I putting the world to rights for another few hours, and led to some very sore heads the next day.

I think Saturday began with bacon and caffeinated beverages of our preference, but crawled on to a game of Discworld. For more information on that refer to last year’s entry. It’s good, and it fills the small gaps with short and simple fun. I think we then went on for some Relic. I remember this because we were fed delicious BBQ by Mrs Anery while we played. The onions on the smiley burger above were also done in the BBQ and were amazing. Back to the Relic, we actually managed to finish the game this time and as is not unusual it was a sprint finish. I think Anery Pnut won in the end.

This burger knows what's coming, and remains resolutely happy.

This burger knows what’s coming, and remains resolutely happy.

Next Anery talked Pnut and I through the tutorial games of X-Wing, as I controlled said ship to successfully escort a shuttle past Pnut’s TIE Fighters. Next Anery played me at the same mission with me as the Empire, and I wrecked his stupid shuttle. My luck ran out after that though. First up Anery and I teamed up our TIEs against Pnut’s stranded X-Wing, but we couldn’t prevent it from jumping to lightspeed after a deft feint manoeuvre by Pnut, and then finally we Pnut and Anery ganged up on my Rebels in a freestyle using custom squadrons and some of our more interesting ships. I thought I’d be clever and use a B-Wing and Y-Wing combo to swing round and brawl with Pnut’s formation of four TIES, while my X-Wing would draw their attention while crossing over to attack Anery’s Firespray (aka Slave 1). This worked about as badly as it possibly could have. Pnut hammered the X-Wing before it could even start to support my other ships, and while the B- and Y-Wings evaded the cumbersome Firespray they found themselves surrounded and blasted into debris without scoring a  single kill.

With the time getting on and the beer flowing free we unwisely attempted a game of Arkham Horror. I think we managed to set the board up and play one turn before we gave up in drunken confusion and spent the rest of the night rambling on about nonsense.

Photo actually from Monday's game, but you get the idea.

Photo actually from Monday’s game, but you get the idea.

Substantially clearer heads on Sunday brought another attempt at Arkham Horror. This time the four of us managed to mostly work it out after half a dozen turns or so. I’m pleased to say it proved to be a difficult game, relying heavily on cooperation to even stand a chance of winning. By the time we worked it out and started to make progress it was too late though, and we were all eaten by Nyarlathotep. It is an excellent game though, and winning is going to feel like a real achievement.

Next up we played Relic again, this time with  the Nemesis expansion. The differences here are that if players pick up certain items it gives other players the opportunity to  attack them, and it also introduces the Nemesis of the title – a player controlled bad guy whose mission is to gain points by attacking and disrupting the others. The idea is that the Nemesis drives the game to be played faster, forcing the players to push to the centre before it becomes too powerful and wins on points. In our game, though, we randomly chose a scenario which teamed up a player and a Nemesis. This had the opposite effect – the Nemeses had only one target instead of four, leaving them woefully underpowered and at the mercy of the players, and the players spent the game screwing each other over. This in turn weakened both so that neither could get to the final confrontation. We packed it in after something like five hours and no sign of breaking the stalemate.

Time was getting late and we were all a little fried after our marathon Relic session, so we chilled out with a few games of Zombie Dice. Zombie Dice is a quick and simple game of odds and risk. You win by rolling (eating) thirteen brains before your opponents. Each die has a different number of brains and shotgun blasts on it, and you roll them three at a time. You can keep rolling as long as you like for more brains, but if you accumulate three bangs you lose any you’ve collected that turn. There’s a bit more to it than that, but they’re the basics. It’s about pushing your luck. We had to play four games in the end to break a three-way tie, and I won. As with previous nights, we then degenerated into beery conversation.

Arkham Horror. Scarier than it looks,

Arkham Horror. Scarier than it looks,

Monday came and Pnut had to catch his train not long after lunch. Anery and I had time for one more game of X-Wing, and we were both itching for a freestyle Rebel Vs Imperial duel. We were both ready with cunning tactics – Anery with a TIE swarm and cloaking Phantom TIE, myself with a variation on a well documented Rebel setup called Biggs Walks the Dogs, consisting of an X-Wing, two B-Wings and an A-Wing.

Both of us were relying on some tight formation flying. Anery’s TIEs got a bonus to their pilot skill, while my X-Wing drew fire from the B-Wings, if they were close together. We’d found out in previous games that formation flying without crashing into each other is tricky. In fact, not flying into anything at all required skill and judgement we hadn’t possessed up to that point. At one point the day before we collectively crashed three ships into the same asteroid. Two at the same time. With that in mind we both dropped some asteroids right in the flight path of the others’ formation. With Anery’s TIES and my X/B combo facing off on one side of the field, and the Phantom TIE and A-Wing on the other, we set off.

It was clear from the beginning that the A-Wing and Phantom were going to be jousting down the very edge of the table. The formations took a different approach each though. Anery skilfully swung his diamond of TIEs into a square, slipping diagonally through the gap, while I judged the distance to get close then accelerated over them. By the time we’d negotiated the obstacles we were pretty much in range. The TIEs made straight for the Rebels in a game of Space chicken, while the B-Wings barrel rolled in parallel to cover the X-Wing. The superior guns of the B-Wings blasted one of the TIEs and damaged another before they clashed, while the Imperial fire was mostly ineffectual, forced as they were to aim at the hard-to-hit X-Wing. When collisions inevitably happened the strong shields and hull of the Rebel ships took their toll on another TIE.

By this point I had the game tied up.

By this point I had the game tied up.

On the other side of the asteroids the Phantom TIE was having trouble. The A-Wing was proving to be unpredictable and agile, able to roll and boost after movement, and cutting a tight turn to catch the beleaguered TIE flight side on. More of a problem was the complexity of the Phantom, which Anery had underestimated. Tricky rules about when it could fire and cloak, combined with forced movement when it uncloaked, led to it cantering off in unexpected directions and struggling to stay on the battlefield. The A-Wing, outgunned, danced out of reach and got a few hits in, then scampered off after the fighters.

The main battle had turned into a brawl. The B-Wings’ lack of manoeuvrability had almost taken them out of the fight as they tried to wheel around and keep the remaining TIEs in their sights. Fortunately for me the A-Wing made up the ground quickly and took out one of the fighters, while the trailing X-Wing took out the other. The Phantom TIE valiantly fought on, but by the time it managed to engage the B-Wings had come around again and made short work of it. A victory for the Rebels with only shield damage to show for it.

And with that the not bash ended. Thanks Anery and Pnut for an entertaining and enjoyable weekend, I look forward to the next one.

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