That’s what played this evening at Roll For The Soul, more or less, and not in that order. There were four of us at the start: me, Adam, Joe and Martin (Gonz couldn't make it. Something about a "birthday". Not sure what that's all about). Tonight we were banished upstairs because there was a gig downstairs and I suppose the owner of the cafe thought that a group of people yelling “Here goes his funny bone!” at sensitive moments of the set wouldn’t go down well with the artist.
Of course, we didn’t play Operation. Instead we played Black Spy. A rather feeble makeover of Hearts, the famous card game. The difference here is that the cards have illustrations of spies on them, they only go up to eleven (with a lot of sevens), and there are five suits instead of four. I have little to no patience with games that are just new versions of old favourites and this is no exception.
We played the first round with a fundamental rule wrong: we thought the player with most points won. I won. Then we looked at the rules and saw that we should be aiming for the lowest points. We played a second round, and I came in last by miles with 70+ points, while everyone else scored in single figures more or less.
After this, Katy arrived and we all played Kakerlakenpoker. This is a pure bluffing game. In a pack of 64 cards of eight types of animal (rat, cockroach, bat, fly etc) the rule is simple: pass a card to an opponent face down and tell them what it is. They can either say they believe you or not (if they’re wrong they keep the card, face up, in front of them. If they’re right, you keep it) or pass it on, having looked at it, to someone else and the bluffing begins again. The first person to have four cards of the same type loses.
So simple, yet so cunning. And, luckily for me, not an “improved” version of poker (although I did inwardly wince when I heard the name). It’s all about the bluff, the nerve, about having the chutzpah to look your opponent in the eye and say, without laughing, “That’s a frog.”
There is only one loser in this game, and it was me, hoisted on my own petard of confidence: five rats were out (three in front of me) and I thought I knew where the others were but Martin blind-sided me, and I confidently said “That’s not a rat!” to his card, but it was. My second last-place of the evening. Suddenly, everyone’s eagerness to have a RFTS leaderboard was looking like a trap!
Finally, it was a second appearance for The Palaces Of Carrera. This game had been a cautious hit the last time we played. Katy bowed out, and the four of us set up and Adam got an introduction to the rules. I played with half an eye on the time. I remembered how quickly the game can end, with little warning.
I bought up expensive white and yellow marble, so I could build in the highly desirable residences. Martin bought dirty dirty black marble, keeping his buildings at the lower end of the market. Joe and Adam went for cities in the middle.
During the game, Martin admitted that he still didn’t know the right strategy for this game even though he’d played it six times. Certainly, I was feeling the pinch from spending so much early on, and I thought I'd made a terrible mistake. But then, we all seemed a bit skint. We’d begun with a spate of buying marble. So much so that we ended up with no blocks left in the bag! An event so startling that Martin reeled back and accidentally knocked his pint glass off the table in such a way that most of the glass went under the table. Physically impossible, you might think, but anything’s possible at Roll For The Soul!
As for the game, Adam picked his way through the rules gingerly, like a cat unsure of the surface it’s about to jump on. I went for money, mostly. Joe had started building up resources in readiness for a big push when once again Martin closed the game suddenly. The thing about this game is: after that happens, you only get one more go, maximum. And there’s not a lot you can do in one go. If you don’t have some nice buildings ready to score at a moment’s notice, you can be left scratching your head.
However, I had used up all my bad luck earlier that evening, and my investing in the two highest echelons of Carreran property was just enough to get me bonus points for both (I tied with Adam in one, and with Joe in the other). This sped me off around the score-track and I ended comfortably in first, with Martin second, cursing my luck.
I left after this, but I guess they others stayed for one more. I await more news...
By the way, what about this leaderboard? Any ideas? Something serious like The Division or something a bit random and silly?