Andrew arrived promptly at 7.30pm, and since we knew no-one else would arrive before ten, we scoured the cupboard for two-player main event games.
I had assumed that Castles of Burgundy would be high on Andrew's wishlist, having dipped his toe into the murky medieval French waters at Septcon; but no, something else had caught his eye. Something called 1960: The Making of a President.
I had practically forgotten I had it. I'd acquired it thinking it might be the one; the game to turn Charlotte's head. But it had failed in that regard, failed hoeplessly, and had since lain quietly in a corner of the games cupboard, awaiting its inevitable dispatch. Too time-consuming, and standing too far back in the queue of enticing two-player games to make a showing at GNN, it was waiting for me to spot it and put it on a a maths trade. And then Andrew picked it up and waved it around. And I thought - why not.
So Andrew was Kennedy, and I was Nixon; the rules are very straightforward, and gameplay is smooth and relatively swift - but it isn't until the very end of the first game that you see how certain bits fit together. We had a thin grasp of the benefits of advertising, the importance of issues became clearer as we went on; but debates? No idea until they happened. And endorsements? We couldn't even find a reference in the rules.
We squabbled over the east and the south, we quibbled in the mid-west, and towards the end of the game, we took the gloves off and had a slap-happy bitchfight over California. But this was all misdirection - the real battleground was Delaware. This penny-ante 3 point state south of Massachusetts caught Andrew's imagination early on, and it became a point of honour with him that it remain blue - it was his famed No Thanks strategy all over again. It swung back and forth like the child of bickering parents, until finally, election day rolled around, and Delaware was red.
The cards we'd put aside for Campaign Strategy were resolved - I had a better grasp of what these did, and had stored cards that help me swing a few smaller states my way. Andrew's cards made little difference, except in the case of Delaware, where he managed to remove my red cube, leaving it neutral.
And then we finally discovered the purposed of endorsements; all the points I'd pumped into these little red discs meant that I could swing undecided states my way, and on the whole board, that amounted only to reclaiming Delaware. Sweet victory was mine.
I won, and had that win been with a margin of less than three points it would have been pure poetry, but it was a little more cut and dried. I've heard there's an app that keeps score for you during the game, and that would have made the action much more tense.
Joe (Republican) 313
Andrew (Democrat) 224
Despite Kennedy's failure to achieve his historical victory, the game was a hit with Andrew. We'd played against the clock, knowing that Sam was due at 10, and hit it pretty much bang on - he only had to bear witness to election day. It could have lasted three hours if we hadn't had a deadline, but I don't think it's a game that needs to be pondered much - even in a first game, the main thrust is instinctive; clear your opponent out of a state, or bolster your own support.
With Sam in attendance, we settled on High Society, a game that only the three of us seem to like. It lasts only until the fourth red bordered card is revealed, and in all previous games I can remember, that has happened well before the stack was exhausted. For once, last night it went the distance, and the final few rounds were agonising, as all the negative cards came out and none of us had money to bid to keep from picking them up. In the final reveal, Andrew and I had $3M left, and were both eliminated, leaving Sam the winner - he would have won on luxury points either way, as I recall.
I persuaded Sam and Andrew to stay for just one more round, which turned out in my favour; not as long, but still enough cards for each of us to have a tidy sum of luxuries in front of us. Andrew had been winning on this count for most of the game, but I felt sure that behind the glittering facade lay a fiscal disaster waiting to happen, and it turned out I was right - he was eliminated from the running. Sam I think had the same instinct, but of the two of us I had amassed more extravagant luxuries, or at least a card to multiply my extravagance, securing the win.
High Society is a classic Knizia title; almost impossible to fathom strategically, but highly intriguing nonetheless; Steve hisses like a vampire when he sees it, and Adam is disdainful, but perhaps they need to play a three player game - it felt more controllable, the players' spending that little bit more trackable.
And 1960 was great - it has moved from possible trade to GNN two-player option, thanks to Andrew's willingness to give it a spin.
A lovely evening, thanks guys. TD (Tricky Dickie)
Andrew here... And so it's the end of the season. And this time, it's crept up on us unawares, since we were all giggly and excited over the games weekend in the country. Nevertheless, these are the final tables...
Adam wins on the Form Table, just falling short of the "perfect five" once again. Joe is in a comfortable second, with the rest of us squabbling over scraps.
In the Points table, Sam takes the win with Adam claiming the Points Ratio crown for himself. And as the medal table shows a similar tale, with Adam ("I'll be yellow- no... gold") sitting atop the pile.
Well done, Adam. A pretty comprehensive display. And well done Sam, for enusring it wasn't a clean sweep. And congratulations to everyone for making it to the end of another season. It was special. See you next week!