We three arrived at Adam’s in time to watch him finish cooking his supper, and while he ate his risotto, Sam, Joe and I played Biblios. It was an odd game, with plenty of church cards that allow you to adjust the values of dice. More often than not, we just readjust those dice that another player had just adjusted. Joe and I expressed our bemusement at how Sam could afford to discard cards to pick up money during the auction round.
It worked, though. Sam is still (mostly) Mr Biblios. My plan to win three dice had to be revised down to making do with one. Joe, too, ended with a soliatry cube in front of him. A sterling performance from Sam.
By now, Adam had eaten, and we pondered our next game. We had a tower of seven or eight games to chose from, but our minds kept wandering back to Joe’s Railways of the World in Sam’s car boot. We couldn’t resist it, and in less time than it takes to feed a guinea pig, Sam had popped out and brought the game in.
We went for the UK map since it’s perfect for four players and for Adam’s table. The board was seeded with cubes for each city, and that’s when things started to go wrong. There were no sweet spots, no easy winnings around a particular city. The cubes couldn’t have been more awkward if we’d chosen them on purpose.
Joe began by taking the Hotel London card, hoping to pick up some points on other people’s shipments. Or did he? We all stayed well away and before long he was building his own South-East network, keeping the home counties, London and Kent all to himself. Maybe that was his plan all along.
Adam clearly had the baron that gave him the bonus for least amount of bonds. It’s either him or Joe who gets this whenever we play. No one knows why. He played like a skinflint all game, building small but profitable links in the Midlands. Sam started big on bonds, and I wondered if he was going back to his bad old ways of spend high, score low. But no, he was going for a network that included two point-scoring links.
I went for easy pickings, keeping my engine upgraded one more than I needed. You see, I had had Joe’s RotW for a week, and I’d played a couple of games solo (rules: no cards, but see how high you can score in ten rounds) and I’d also made a network and tried to work out exactly where I had been going wrong. I realised that it was foolish to spend too much time on low-scoring links, even if they were already built.
But surely the main appeal of Railways of the World Great Britain is the opportunities it affords each player to insult various parts of the country. Carlisle came in for some stick, as did Joe’s express route from Ipswich to Bournemouth.
Joe lagged in fourth from early on. I made a slight faux pas when, after Joe had completed a route for bonus points, I noticed how far behind he was. “Has anyone added on Joe’s bonus points?” I helpfully asked. They had. He really was that far behind.
I got a huge stroke of luck when a card came up with a bonus for delivering to Hull, since I had that city (City of Culture 2017, by the way) all to myself. I cut a swathe down through the spine of England towards Bristol to complete my baron’s bonus. Sam had Wales all to himself, and Adam exploited his network to it’s maximum.
At one point Adam fell into deep thought for a long time and, at the end, he shipped some goods using part of my network. That must have hurt. He did this twice, giving me two points. And the final scores were:
My first win on RotW, and it felt good. I had tamed the beast! Although it was only 10.10 on the clock, the game had exhausted us. We finished up at an unusually sensible time, and we took Sam’s games back to his car and chucked them in the boot. Not Railways, though. That was privileged enough to share a back seat with Joe. As it should be.
On the form table, little changes
And on the mothly division, Adam still remains top of Points, Points Ratio and the Medal Table! He’s well on his way to the treble as we enter the final month.