Nov 14, 2019: Win

Once more, circumstance conspires against us and we cannot muster the troops for games night. We toy, albeit incredibly briefly, with still going and – shudder – mingling with the other nerds.

But it’s cold and wet, and we have a sexy table we should be using.

We took it for a spin with a game of Lords Of Waterdeep which is probably one of my favourites. It’s basically worker placement and resource management, like Charterstone, but I’m good at this one.

I won. Big style.

I scored some ridiculously high scoring quests, and managed to manage my resources into a stack of points at the end which leapt me up the scoreboard.

It’s a blip, obviously. Because me winning is not a thing that normally happens. At all. With anything. But there we go. Carole didn’t even get herself one of her patented game-breaking points for everytime I touch the table cards this time round, which was unusual!

We’ve branched out as well, tonight, ordering ourselves an escape room experience in jigsaw form. It sounds intriguing. Whether it will be, or not, remains to be seen.

But hey, when you’ve got a table you can protect things from cats in, what else is there to do than everything you can think of.

For research purposes, obviously.

Nov 13, 2019: Rooms

I went with the boss, and another local escape room owner, to play a couple of new-ish rooms in Huddersfield to see what they were like.

I hadn’t heard good things, in all honesty. So I was expecting bad things. And things were bad. Maybe not as bad as I had expected, but still pretty ropey. People have told me about the rooms, and the general consensus is that the owner’s a nice guy. Which he seemed to be, but when you just hear about the owner you have to wonder about the rooms…

There were puzzles that required huge leaps of logic, furniture that just moved if you tried to open things and stuff just looked tired. And it’s only been open for about six months or so. It was one of those places that makes you pleased to work where you work, but also that you could far exceed that with any room plans you’re currently working on.

There were two rooms we played – a haunted house with a missing documentary team (an almost carbon copy plotline to a room Carole and I played at Moviescape, even down to a skeleton in the wardrobe) and an entirely ripped off Stranger Things themed room which didn’t even pretend to be something else inspired by Stranger Things. It just was Stranger Things. But, you know, unofficially. In case the lawyers are watching.

Playing one room helped to identify the puzzle types in the other, as there were many repeated themes or ideas.

My favourite thing had to be the magnet maze which had almost zero maze properties to it whatsoever. You find the stuff, you read the blurb, you look again because surely you’ve missed some directions. No, you just move from one end of the table to the other. That’s it. Just dodge a few things which were stuck on the table anyway, so you had to avoid them.

I think the haunted house was better than the Stranger Things room, but even then I’d be heaping too much praise on something which was looking like it was falling apart already. There was so much that could have been done. Even just fixing things to the walls would have made a difference. But instead if you went to pull on something that was locked or screwed shut, the whole unit would slide across the floor. And also, cupboard doors that won’t stay shut in a room that is dark – with two torches regardless of team size – is a bit of a shin-basher.

But hey, we set two records. We’re top of the leaderboards in both rooms. Smashing the previous times by several minutes.

And, I have to say without putting too much air into my own trumpet, that’s partly due to me making wild leaps of logic – particularly in the Stranger Things room when some of the clues were so obscure that you expected to open the next thing and find some straw inside that you’d then be asked to clutch at.



Nov 12, 2019: Later

The doorbell went today, mid-way through a game. Generally, we don’t answer the door if we’re not expecting a team, or someone’s let us know they’re coming for a specific reason, because it’s usually some scallywags being arseholes – we get there and there’s nothing.

But we’ve had a couple of “could not deliver” slips for something we’re not expecting at all so I thought it might be that. So I went downstairs.

I wish I’d not bothered.

Not because there wasn’t anyone there, but because there was.

A man, clutching a clipboard. Wanting to see the manager because he wondered if we’d want to advertise in some sort of tiny little student book. We probably would, to be fair, if the rates were right.

But trying to explain – while I had a team playing upstairs – that the manager, boss, owner or whatever wasn’t here and didn’t work out of the premises is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

We’re only in work if there are bookings. We don’t hang around all day on the off-chance someone wants to play. Sometimes it would be easier to do that, but it’s not viable as there’s not much to do that can’t be done between games on a normal day.

I told the man his best bet would be to ring and discuss it. He looked at me like I’d asked him to poo on his children. And then said, again, that he wondered if we’d want to advertise in this booklet. To which I, again, said we possibly would but he’d need to phone.

“So if I pop back later?” he asked.

I mean, he could. Nothing would be any different. He’d still be better of phoning or emailing the details.

Oh, chances are no-one would be there at all.

I said all this and he still looked bewildered. And all the time I’m conscious of the fact I have three people in a room upstairs playing a game.

I explained I couldn’t stay and talk two or three times and that he would be best phoning.

Which started to make me think maybe we wouldn’t want to advertise in this thing after all. And that he wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

I almost had to shoo him away so I could shut the door.

I think he’ll be back.

Nov 11, 2019: Dark

It’s been like an evening in the Dark Ages tonight as the broadband cut out for a couple of hours. The router just sitting in the corner taunting us with its orange light of non-connectivity.

And as you sit, cut off from cat videos and news of YouTubers fighting, you think, “Oh I could…” and then you realise you can’t. Because in some way it’s need an internet connection.

Even diagnosing the fault needs an internet connection. You have to go online to see if there’s a fault which is preventing you going online.

So I did. I logged in. I ran the first test. And it came back and said, it looks like your router isn’t connecting. I knew that. I worked that out myself. Primarily from the fact that the orange light on the BT hub means that it’s not connecting. But also from the fact that it wasn’t connecting. I had to run two further tests to be told there was a problem. And then the results of the problem showed that it was BT titting about with something and it should be back soon.

So, basically, wait and see. Which is what I was going to do. But the initial status update thing told me there were no issues.

And in the back of my head I was just thinking it was all like that time that I rang Sky because the remote wasn’t working and I’d be buggered if we were going to pay for a new one and they asked me if it had batteries in it (i.e. was the red light on when I pressed a button) and then asked me if I was holding it so the buttons were on top of the remote rather than underneath (!) and then if I was POINTING IT AT MYSELF.

But then, as I know from having to adapt health and safety briefings for escape rooms based on prior customer activity, people are fricking stupid. That is why these questions have to be asked. That Sky had to ask that means that at least once, but probably more times to make it onto the checklist of questions, someone has pointed a remote control at themselves.

So I guess BT have had the same issue with people ringing up to ask what’s wrong with their hub and being told it’s not connecting. Even though it’s the most obvious thing.

But these things end up in checklists for a reason. You only have to watch one or two episodes of Air Crash Investigators to know that most of the checklists pilots have to go through in planes have come from, essentially, pilots doing the flying equivalent of pointing the remote control at themselves, upside-down.

Still, at least the internet’s back now.

There’s nothing I really want to do on it, though. Now I have it…

Nov 10, 2019: Finale

Well, that’s it.

We’ve completed the campaign in Charterstone. Everything is done. The Forever King lives on, and our story is complete.

We’re absolutely playing again, though. Not just the stand alone play-to-win unique village we’ve created – that’s a given – but the campaign. Our ending was the bad one, and we’d had so many bad outcomes throughout playing that we definitely need another crack at it to see if we can do any better and see how the game plays out next time.

And then again after that.

And so on and so on.

Not to mention Thursday night game group. Because we need to see how good it is with five of us going at it.

Obviously I lost. Dramatically.

And I’m sure I will again. Every time we play it. And definitely when it’s five of us, and three aren’t familiar with the game!

But it’s been great. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it, even though I have screwed up so much this weekend. Not that it cost me the win, but still I royally screwed up some stuff in these last two games.

Still, it was a great christening for the table. It’s sitting empty now. It needs something in it.

What shall we play next?