Wednesday, 25 September 2013

If Bruckheimer played Santiago

Tonight saw an attendance at the regular weekly meet that would put Roll For The Soul to shame! The two newcomers from the Thursday meet arrived, Gonz and Martin. Along with Joe, Sam, myself, Quentin, Adam and Hannah, that made a healthy eight players.

At first we all played Incan Gold since that’s a game that works well with some many people. Although we were frustrated when turning over high cards, only to have to share all that treasure with plenty of other players. It was all about getting out while the getting was good. Sam played it cool at first, nipping out of the first two temples early on, and picking up what hadn’t been shared out. But Adam faced down fickle fate and stayed in a temple until he had it all to himself, including two relics.

Adam 43
Sam 40
Joe 27
Andrew 19
Martin 18
Quentin 15
Hannah 14
Gonz 12

After this we split up, with three playing Agricola (Adam, Gonz and Quentin) and five of us choosing Santiago (me, Joe, Martin, Hannah and Sam). We even had to go into different rooms, there were so many of us.

Santiago may be visually bland but with five it’s at its best. There always someone who suffers and that’s what games are all about! And that’s how it was from the beginning. The canal overseer may have been the guy who got the worst tile in the bidding round but, more often than not, there were few bribes on the table to fill his or her pockets in recompense. It was harsh. Sometimes the bribes were so low it was more like an insult. Like a Hollywood version of Santiago where mean-looking guys in dramatic lighting slap down single notes and yell “This is what I think of your stinking irrigation system!”

Martin played a tough game, but he was stymied when his field of choice didn’t come out when he needed it. Plus, he was the only one not to use their emergency canal. But Joe played it cool. Neither tortoise nor hare, he diversified, picking up scores for every crop. Santiago as it should be played.

Joe 73
Martin 63
Hannah 59
Andrew 57
Sam 55

During this game I often popped in next door, partly to admire Gonz’s laminated cards and partly because they still had crisps on the table. It seemed close halfway through, but Gonz ran away with it at the end with his extra family members. Adam ended in last, muttering something about having forgotten how to play.

Gonz 44
Quentin 36
Adam 27

While they finished off Agricola, Sam set off home and us four had a quick game of Timeline. The game of historical fun! It was short and sweet, and I do know enough about history that I feel at least fairly confident when I play this. I knew that the diving suit was invented in the 1600s, for example. Meanwhile, Joe’s last card was The Formation Of The Earth, which obviously came before everything.

1= Joe
1= Andrew
2. Martin
3. Hannah

After this, we wended our weary way back home. The end of the season draws near. Not completely near, though. There are a few days left, which leaves the Division in a precarious position...

I’m top in Points and on the Medals Table, which is nice, and the gap is big enough that I hope I’m not in danger of being overtaken. Currently Joe is second by a knife edge. But the Points Ratio also delicately poised. Adam leads at the moment, but will the Thursday meet at Steve and Anja's be leaderboard? Will he risk it, since James from Bracknell is hot on his heels? Did the Berkshire bunch get together for a three-player evening? Is there one more twist to this season? We await news from both camps...

On the form table, it’s a hard introduction for Gonz, with that eighth place in Incan Gold weighing him down. But hats off to Joe who timed his run of form to perfection, as he glides into first place.

Joe1 1 3 1 3 9
Adam3 1 1 3 2 10
Andrew1 4 4 3 1 13
Sam 5 2 3 2 2 14
Steve2 3 3 3 4 15
Anja3 2 5 1 5 16
Hannah3 3 7 2 1 16
Martin2 2 5 5 5 19
Quentin2 6 3 3 5 19
Miles2 3 5 5 5 20
Jonny1 5 5 5 5 21
Lizzy2 5 5 5 5 22
Gonz1 8 5 5 5 24

A great season (if it is over. There may be more.) and hopefully we’ll see plenty of you next week for the start of another exciting new season! No break for us hardy gamers. Those cubes aren’t going to push themselves.


  1. Andrew, James and I played Monday night for the missed Wednesday and all three of us are playing on Friday when Paul gets back from his holiday. I'll be sure to mention to James the potential ratio points win in hope that it might put him under pressure :)

  2. Ooh I get to be on the points table, how exciting! Too bad the last Roll for the Soul evening didn't count though, I did much better there :)

    That was a close game of Santiago! Sam, who ended up last, might well have won if the last round had worked out differently.

  3. Well that's what I claimed last night Martin but I think I may have been deluding myself. If I'd passed (12 points saved) and taken the canal overseer then I may have picked up some extra money - no matter how low the bribe it would probably be more productive than paying myself to place elsewhere. But Joe would still have had enough money to go first (or second) so would still - I think - have finished in first place.

    But if I'd passed Andrew may have gone first. Who knows? The unbendable rules of cause and effect mean we'll never know. But certainly bidding first in the last round is not a great place to be!

    Sorry to bail before the last game guys I was exhausted. I can't make tomorrow either but can I moot Friday Night Games at mine on 11th October?

  4. Bidding first in that last round was very tough for Sam - particularly with your generous canal placement from the previous round Martin. Had he held on to his cash, it would have ben down to Hannah to set a high bar for bids - if she didn't we'd have probably all paid much less, so Sam wouldn't necessarily have swung it.

    It has an incredible fragile economic system, Santiago. It makes me think of a first person shooter (no really) where the joystick calibration is over-sensitive - a little nudge sends you swinging one way and then you over-compensate, swinging back the other. But that's what makes it so interesting - Hab & Gut is a more robust system, but much more linear, and needs the artificial church donation thing to spice things up.

    Great to have such a good turn-out, and thanks for the loan of CIA v KGB Gonz - I shall grok it and then you can beat me when we next meet...

  5. It would have been interesting if I'd placed the previous round's canal so that there was only one 'free' sugar cane spot. I think I had more cash on hand than anyone else, so I would have got it. But then 2nd place would have got the other sugar cane unwatered and had to try their luck with a juicy bribe to the overseer.

  6. The general criticism of Santiago on BGG is that, if you can be bothered, you can calculate exactly what a tile is worth to you, particularly towards the end. But such criticisms seem to ignore the human element, which is huge - as evidenced by the number of alternative outcomes we've been exploring. A very clever, brutal little game...

  7. @Chris: Excellent. Looks like this'll go right down to the wire...