After a couple of glasses of wine we began playing Love Letter. Simon, despite to-ing and fro-ing to the stove, picked up a win. I was knocked out three times by the guards. Marieke, who had just been describing how her daughter was a dreadful cheat, was a dreadful cheat. But the first sign that all was not well was Sally professing to be confused by the game, despite playing it only two nights ago. We were all being a little liberal with the wine, but I didn't realize until later that Marieke and Sally were also drinking port. The whole thing took place over a rather busy festive tablecloth:
spot the lady
After the meal Marieke and Sally both chose Carcassone. But Simon's passion for Cornwall overrode everything as he insisted we play Tinner's Trail. And he had a willing accomplice in myself.
Before describing what followed I should clarify I have been patiently biding my time with Tinner's Trail, wanting to introduce it at the optimum time to Sally to maximize the admittedly minimal chance she'd like it. It's been months, years, and I've rarely suggested it and never insisted. However all my careful plans were to fall into tatters, because frankly I was drunk. Gripped by a mad optimism, I told myself what could go wrong? We're all here having fun! Now we can have fun playing Tinner's Trail!
We set up and embarked on a 2-hour journey of confusion. Despite my insistence that it was straightforward, it wasn't. I'm not the greatest explainer at the best of times, and apparently cheerfully saying "You'll get it as we go on!" does not a self-fulfilling prophecy make.
Marieke regularly looked me in the face to say "I'm not being funny or anything, but I don't like this game". Sally simply stared at the board before muttering that she didn't know what was going on. Essentially I was playing for three people. Simon was a beacon of light, however. He got it all and threw himself into it with abandon. "This is great!" he exclaimed. "It all makes sense!"
I love you, Simon.
An extra spanner in the works was that Cornwall was drowning in water. There were only three territories with less than four blue cubes in them, and nobody was picking up adits as we didn't have adjacent mines. Every time someone tried to buy a new territory Marieke banged her fist on the table and yelled "Five pounds!" meaning everybody was soon completely broke. It became a game of competitive pasty-selling.
Then Sally, in a moment of tin-lust, knocked her wine over the board. In her haste to clear it up, she knocked it over again. There was wine on my trousers, the meeples... the lizard was swimming in Rioja. We executed a real-world rescue and play continued.
But Sally was fading. "I think I need to lie down" she croaked bleakly, "It's the wine"
"It's Tinner's Trail!" I shrieked, staring accusingly at the board.
"It isn't" Sally tried to reassure me, but I knew it for a tissue of lies.
"You haven't had your Viennetta yet!" Simon pointed out.
With the aid of coffee Simon persuaded her to stay up for the last round, which was nearly over.
Marieke bought another mine she couldn't afford to extract anything from, and Sally insisted on mining tin when copper was more valuable. Marieke accused me of helping Sally more than I was helping her. She disappeared for several minutes and Sally insisted she was going to return in her underwear, which made it quite hard to add up the scores. After we invested for the last round I put Marieke's investment cube in the column for round three - we think - but it didn't matter - we think - because I would probably have won anyway. Simon came last, which was far less than he deserved.
As we packed away, tin and copper scattered itself over the room after Marieke attempted an adventurous bagging technique, and I found Simon's investment cubes nestling in some slices of oxidised apple. We hadn't eaten apple all evening so it was rather baffling. I wondered what else was hidden in plain sight in the festive tablecloth...
We ate Viennetta as I bagged up the slightly-red yellow mines. Then we went to bed.
It was 11.20.
Happy New Year, Wallace!