To fill the time until their arrival, rather than talking to each other, we thought we should play a game, even if it meant Adam reaching awkwardly over his plate of chips and between various condiments when it was his turn. We chose No Thanks, because it’s a good game. I poo-poohed my “take the lowest card” strategy in favour of a “take a fairly low card” strategy. Not much of an improvement. Me, Martin and Adam were swept aside by Sam’s high-card tactics and by Joe’s joining of cards 28-24, with plenty of chips in reserve.
There was still no sign of Anja and Steve so we played Timeline. An excellent game (if you know history) and a perfect excuse to see Joe’s automatic shuffler in action.
Once the game got going, we placed our bets and showed our ignorance. Wrong guesses were, for the most part, only out by a decade or two. I think I made the least accurate guess of the evening: Apparently, microbes were discovered in the 1500s, and not in the late 1800s as I had thought. But I still battled back to run out joint winner with Joe and Martin. Sam came second with Adam in third, having made one correct guess.
From the invention of writing to
walking on the moon, in one evening
By now, Steve and Anja were here. The seven of us decided to split into two groups of four and three. Adam, Sam and Joe went for Russian Railroads. Me, Martin, Anja and Steve chose A Study In Emerald. This had been mentioned in emails before the evening, and I’d got the idea into my head that this was some kind of cross between Mr Jack and Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective.
My discovery that the storyline included giant octopuses and was based on a short story by Neil Gaiman was offset by the fact it was designed by Martin Wallace. But my initial doubts grew into convictions during the game. It crammed into one game the secret identities of Revolution, the rule of avoiding last of High Society, the deck-building of Dominion, the sudden endings of Palaces of Carrara, and the area-control of, oh, lots of games.
A country called "Gary"
The secret identities bit didn’t work at all, as I accidentally attacked my team mate, and then the next go, before I could undo my mistake, Martin saw which way the game was going and chose an option that luckily allowed him to end the game. A bit of an anti-climax, frankly.
We were in two “teams” but since the winning team came first and second, I’ll just put the points as we ended.
After this, Steve and Anja went back home. The game of Russian Railroads still had half an hour to go, so Martin and I sped through a game of two-player Agricola. We scooped up wooden meeples like poker chips, and before you knew it, I’d lost again 52-30, despite Martin’s disgusting battery farming of horses. There must be a law against this.
Finally, RR came to an end. Martin and I marvelled at the final round scoring of 100+ points, and that’s before bonuses. It seemed like one opportunity after another to add to your score. In the end, Sam won, using an improved version of the strategy he used last time. The first time we played, the three of us ended 14 points apart. That didn’t happen this time:
By now it was almost eleven. We drew this evening’s entertainment to a close. Joe insisted he could clear away the bottle-strewn, meeple-infested table after we’d gone. And so, we went.
On the form table, while Gonz is away in Spain, Sam takes the opportunity to steal top spot. It’s a narrow margin, though. Only the "best most-recent score" rule separates them. Despite coming last, Steve actually improves his score. But the big winner tonight is Joe, who replaces two “6”s and a “1” with two “1”s and a “2”, sending him up from ninth to fourth.