First was a new game, the poorly-spelt Mascarade. It’s a Coup-esque game of bluff, except while Coup has two cards and you can look at them, Mascarade has one card, which you can’t look at it. Well, you can, but that’s your go for that turn.
The game begins with everyone being dealt a card that is then placed face up in front of them. Then they’re turned face down, and the general gist is that you can swap (or pretend to swap) your card with another player, look at your card, or perform your card’s special action. However, if another player (or players) think that they have the same card face down in front of them, then they can challenge. If there’s a challenge, then the players involved turn their cards face up and whoever is the real card-owner gets the benefit of the action, and the liar has to pay one coin to the court. First to 13 coins wins.
It’s a test of memory, really, as to who has what card or, more precisely, who you think has what card. Joe said afterwards that he went through the whole game mistaken about what his card actually was. And he came second. There was an air of cautious praise once we'd finished. I think this is one of those games that you can’t be sure if you like it until you’ve played it a few times.
After this we debated our next game. Railways of the World Great Britain almost made it to the table, but Gonz is allergic to train games, so it went back in the box. Instead we chose 7 Wonders, but this time with the Cities and Leaders expansion packs. Gonz explained them, and there were rule book in both Spanish and English, so we set off into battle, fully briefed and prepared for anything!
I have to admit, though, I did not have fun. Maybe it was my choice of leaders at the beginning, but my distaste of game expansions remains undiminished. It felt like we were playing all the bits that had been removed while they were play-testing the original. I found it fiddly and tedious. Others seemed to enjoy it more, though. Gonz went for sciences again, but found himself beaten by pacifist Adam who diversified, winning on only two categories, but coming second in three.
After this we went for Ra. It was new to Gonz and we decided to share rule-explainer’s curse by all of us taking turns in telling him how to play the game. Then off we set! However, I soon found myself falling behind and, not knowing what anything was worth, Gonz was also struggling. The other three, though, were having a titanic struggle. Sam hoarded gold, Joe used Gods, and Adam gave the proceedings a Vegas sort of feel, when Hannah came and sat on his knee like a gangster’s moll. To complete the effect, because he couldn’t lean over any more, he had to throw his tiles onto the board like a bored millionaire putting a cool grand on red 34.
But the game was slow going. There were plenty of toilet breaks, and Anja and Steve also arrived midway through to talk about babies or something. At one point, the games table looked like a lonely place to be. Poor show, chaps....
In the end, it could hardly have been closer. Adam, Joe and Sam took their places as New, Middle and Late Kingdoms (yes, I looked up “Ancient Egypt” on Wikipedia) while Gonz and I had to made do with pretending to be the shitty Old Kingdom and the Early Dynastic Period.
A bad evening for me, and not so great for Sam either.