I got to Roll For The Soul at seven o’clock only to find all the places at the table taken and a game of Fauna in its early stages.
I sat it out and watched the six players (Joe, Adam, Katie, Hannah, Martin and newcomer Andy) make their best guesses about obscure mammals and lizards. It turns out that Hannah’s strategy worked best: she would weigh an invisible version of the animal in her hands, thoughtfully miming out how heavy it was. We laughed, but she scored an average of over 20 points per round and ended far in first place with 87 points after the fourth round. The rest spread themselves out equally, from Katie in 2nd place to Martin in last, cursing his luck at only ever scoring for adjacent guesses.
After that, Hannah and Katie thought about leaving, but were persuaded to stay with the promise of a game of Take It Easy. Now I was allowed to play, the seven of us drew tiles and laid tiles and moaned and fretted and cursed in the by-now familiar Take It Easy way.
Once again, Hannah took top spot, and in doing so takes the crown for highest single score: 211. Katie came in second, once more leaving the chaps to fight to claim the lower places. I came last with a dismal final couple of rounds.
Then the two overlords of tonight’s GNN decided to leave. Hannah and Katie were clearly satisfied with their evening’s work. The five remaining guys debated what to play. The only five player options were Ra or Modern Art. I’d never played Modern Art, and I was happy to try something new.
The game is simplicity itself. Buy art by four particular artists and at the end of a round, sell them. Its value depends on how many of a particular artist were bought that round: the more, the higher their value to anyone who bought them.
It’s a fun game. I’m not sure it’s meant to last one and a half hours, but by this time it was late and Joe was drunk, and some auctions were almost Pinteresque in their long silences before someone blurted out a new bid, triggering a spell of quickfire bidding before we fell back into silence. As we played, the cafe staff mopped floors and put chairs on table around us but they insisted we didn’t have to leave just yet.
In the end, Martin won. This came as a relief to him, since he claimed to have never won it. I came second and was pleased with my performance. Joe came last, and was appalled since he’d thought he was playing a really clever game.
We left the deserted cafe and walked out into the fine mist of rain, another evening of high anxiety and coffeehousing behind us.