We began with Zooloretto: The Dice Game. Joe explained the rules to me and then new boy Martin arrived. He knew Joe because he’d once bought a bespoke Pax Porfiriana baize playing area from Joe, which is enough to make him best mates for life, so Joe invited him along to a games night. He seemed nice enough, and Joe explained the rules to him too and we began.
Zooloretto with dice is a shorter and sharper version of its big brother. I enjoyed it a lot more, and it seemed easier to set up trucks that would annoy other people. Maybe that’s because there were three of us instead of four. I got the lions bonus, and no negatives so I won. Hurrah.
During this game, a Spanish guy,
Well, he said he knew it well, but he didn’t know about the “two actions per turn rule,” and he thought that each player only had one. However, he adapted quickly and soon became the person to attack. Despite all that, he still ended as a clear winner.
It was much more fun this time. I knew what the signs meant and what the cards did. It all seemed to make more sense this time, even though I came last by a mile. I was also a little put out by how quickly Martin learnt to read the symbols on each card, suggesting that my initial bemusement was more my failing than the designers.
Then we set up a new game. A brand new game that Martin had brought, that needed the cardboard pieces popped out of their boards before use. This is usually one of the best bits of any game, but I felt a bit self-conscious doing it in public. Unfortunately, there are no curtains on the windows at Roll For The Soul.
The game was The Palaces of Carrara, and Martin (who’d played before) suggested we dive in with the advanced version of the game, even though the advanced rules come in an envelope with a sticker that says not to play this version until you’ve played the basic game at least twice. It's not often you see rules with a health warning. But Martin thought we were up to it. He set the game out, explained the rules and we were off. On the table, it’s a bit of a beast, and has all the appearance of a lengthy strategic battle. So I began with buildings that would score money, which I could use later to build buildings that would score points.
Except, I never got the chance. Just as I was getting going, Martin ended the game. Each game has a different set of criteria that needed to be filled by one player for the game to end. It just so happened that in this game, they were all quite easy to achieve. We all had one turn left before the game ended, so the best we could do was to score what buildings we had available. And then in the end of game scoring, Martin sped off further around the score track, seriously threatening to lap us.
After this, we chose Las Vegas as a nice antidote. Random, silly and confrontational in a way that Guildhall isn’t: You can always blame the dice. Two remarkable rolls will live on in the memory. Joe’s final neutral dice that, if it were a four, would ruin Martin’s $90,000 haul. It was a four. And also my roll of three dice (two mine, one neutral) that came up all ones, and somehow knocked out Joe while giving me a quite undeserved win in his place.
But Vegas is like that. Every roll of the dice tells a dozen stories. Martin came first again, with me in second. I left after this, but the three of them carried on, with some card game about storming Hadrian’s Wall. I’m sure Joe will fill us in.
A good evening, with some exciting new people arriving at the GNN Mansion. We must welcome them and make sure they never leave.
I mean, that they stay here happily. Not that we kill them.