Sunday, 9 February 2014

Saturday Night Clever

While the cat’s away, the mice will play. And when two cats are away, the mice all get together and play games until the early hours of the morning! The combined absence of Joe’s and Sam’s wives meant that a big sleep-over was arranged by the two husbands, with the clear aim of playing lots of board games once the little ones were in bed.

First, though, was the delicious meal of chili and burritos laid on by Joe. The six early arrivals (me, Joe, Sam, Martin, Adam and Hannah) all happily ate our way through Joe’s generous offerings. And it was his birthday recently! We should have been treating him! Maybe next year. At least Gonz was thoughtful enough to bring a cake when he arrived.

We discussed what to play and we soon split into two: Martin, Adam, Hannah and Sam chose Discworld:Ankh Morpock. Joe, Gonz and I chose Caverna, an Agricola variant which is apparently much easier to play despite coming in a far bigger and imposing box.

Both games needed rules explaining and, in the case of Discworld, some pieces added. Gonz had brought it in a Kingdom Builder box, and somehow while transferring the pieces across, some things got lost. As such, one player had to improvise with sheep from Agricola for their meeples. I’m sure Pratchett would approve.

I’m sure this only added to the fun. Meanwhile, we were making our way through the rules which was not so difficult thanks to our familiarity with Agricola. I was impressed with the wooden pieces, but it does take up a lot of space. I even took a photo of the game board, so I could look at it on my phone rather than leaning over the table, squinting off into the distance.

My strategy was single-minded and perhaps foolish. It was also the least Agricola-esque way to play the game. While Gonz bred animals and grew crops, I went on a rampage, giving both my farmers weapons and sending them out on expeditions every chance I got. Joe went for ruby farming, no doubt helped by the fact that neither Gonz nor I really bothered with them.

It’s a slow game. We sped through the first few rounds, but before long things started to slow down. Over on Discworld, things were slow but faster than us. They finished first.

Adam 100
Sam 92
Hannah 66
Martin 59

Martin clearly got a bad case of explainer’s curse. We on Caverna still had about half an hour to go, so the four of them played 6nimmt.

Sam 36
Martin 45
Adam 52
Hannah 79

By now, Hannah’s recent good form on Roll For The Soul was obviously at an end. After this we were still wading through the final stages of our game, so they were able to squeeze in one more game: No Thanks.

Adam 13
Sam 13
Martin 50
Hannah 78

By this time, Caverna had finished. In the end, while my tactics were solid, I was undone by not having any children. I still had the same two farmers/adventurers that I started with, while Gonz and Joe had four or five each. Joe really benefitted from his ruby monopoly, since he got about 20 points alone from his stash of jewels

Joe 88
Gonz 67
Anderw 49

Now that all seven of us were free at the same time, we chose a game we could all play. After some discussion and voting by pointing to our favourite choices, Incan Gold was chosen.

Hmph, "Incan Cold," more like. None of us had ever seen anything like it: zombie ladies, spiders and snakes were piled up against the entrances of each temple. You either got out quick or ended empty-handed. Sam did just that, and ranked a respectable third. I won, simply by fluke. With five of us eyeing up an artifact, four of us left in the same round to try and take it. Only I was left. I stayed for one more card (a lowly two) before I, too, ran away. It was enough to give me the win in a very low scoring game.

Andrew 18
Gonz 14
Sam 13
Hannah 8
Adam 5
Joe 4
Martin 4

Now, Adam and Hannah left and Sam went upstairs to take care of his kids. This left the four of us to discuss and debate almost endlessly over what to play next. Sigma File or Kingdom Builder? Africana or ten Days In Africa? 7 Wonders or Hab and Gut? Finally we took a secret ballot which at least narrowed it down to three. The first one we played was Dixit, the game of describing pictures so that only one person chooses it.

And what a controversial game it turned out to be. Joe tactic of saying something that only one person would understand was challenged by Gonz. The phrase in question was “It must be lunchtime.” And the target picture was a man with a newspaper. Martin chose it, because he and Joe sometimes met up at lunchtime to do the crossword. Gonz was not impressed, saying it was too exclusive and not everyone would have a chance. Joe agreed to drop this strategy.

It’s a great game. Another relaxing game, all about looking at pretty pictures and making connections. Another game we should play more often.

Gonz 31
Martin 29
Joe 28
Andew 26

Finally, the evening ended with Las Vegas. Dice! Casinos! Whiskey from a plastic bottle! IN other words: the perfect way to end a Saturday. Joe brought out a couple of dice arenas for the occasion. It’s always good to see Das Exclusive, even if it is so big it doesn’t leave much room for the game.

Las Vegas is a great game, full of excitement and crazy stories. Unfortunately, mostly of the “you had to be there” variety. Anecdotes about people rolling dice never impress. Although Joe rolling all ones, and thus prematurely ending his round still makes me chuckle when I think about it.

Gonz won on a tie-breaker. I never even knew Las Vegas had a tie-breaker.

Gonz 370,000 (won with more cards)
Andrew 370,000
Joe 260,000
Martin 220,000

And with that, it was heading toward one a.m. and we set off into the rain. A great evening. Thanks to Joe for hosting and feeding us.

Gonz rises to the top of the form table after a good performance. Sam climbs to second.

Gonz1 1 2 21 7
Sam3 1 1 2 1 8
Steve1 3 31 5 13
Andrew2 4 1 3 3 13
Adam5 1 3 1 3 13
Martin4 2 6 2 2 14
Anja3 2 45 519
Joe3 3 6 1 6 19
Hannah4 3 4 3 5 19
Will3 2 5 5520
Matt5 5 5 5525


  1. Nice write-up Andrew. And thanks again to Joe for the awesome food and hospitality!

    It was an odd game of Ankh-Morpork in that it only very rarely has positions from 1-4 at all - normally there's just a winner and three losers.

  2. It was a great evening, thanks to all of you for braving the wind and rain.

    Lovely to revisit Dixit - you all should try my cheating variant it's really good (glad I didn't win though, that would gave been a hollow victory).

    Vegas is just brilliant, the perfect end of evening game. And Caverna? Mmmm, I like it more and more. There's such satisfaction in building up your caves and pastures, and since I prefer Agricola without the randomness (and brain burn) of the cards, I don't miss them here. Epic dwarf-farming!

    That last temple in Incan Gold was hilarious - artifact, artifact, snake, snake. Game over, man!

    Lovely write-up Andrew.

  3. Great night, thanks all - especially Joe for hosting and cracking food. Sorry I didn't reappear - by the time Little Joe drifted off I was halfway asleep myself!

    Not putting Ankh Morpork on my wants list but it was fun all the same. I'd play it again.

    Cheers! (Sam)