Yesterday was Andrew's birthday, and would you believe, he initially refused my offer of a game. But one doesn't turn 43 having a quiet night in, and when I waved Fresco under his nose, Andrew's gaming gene kicked in and he succumbed.
Hopefully he feels it was worth it. I really liked the game. Each player assumes the part of a painter, collaborating on a fresco in some cathedral or other. As you paint, you send your assistants off to market to buy paints, to the workshop to mix them, or occasionally sell a painting for a bit of cash. And there's a Bishop wandering around in the cathedral - if he witnesses you doing a particularly handy bit of the fresco it's worth a little extra on the victory point track.
Fairly straightforward then. Only there are a couple of teeny twists. One is that each player chooses what time to get out of bed - get up early and you get first dibs on everything, but the market is more expensive and your assistants can get in a bad mood - potentially bad enough for one of them to abandon you. Get up later and everything's rosy - but that green paint you wanted from the market may have gone.
The other twist is that everyone chooses where to send their assistants secretly before revealing. I think this would be more nail-bitey in a 3 or 4 player game; in a two player (as it was our first game we ignored a dummy player rule) it didn't affect us too much - until the last round when suddenly it was really tense! I loved the ramping up - not too brain-burny at the start, but not a stroll through the end.
Great game. I'll bring it tonight.
As it was still early and we were flushed from our experience, we decided to try out our long-mooted idea of the 2-player variant of Tinner's Trail (Wheal of Fortune) from the geek. Unfortunately it wasn't a great success on this occasion - there's a dummy player who is basically a spoiler for your best-laid plans; dice are rolled for him, and usually he sinks a ship or throws a miner into the sea. He spoiled Andrew's game more than mine, and I nabbed a win.
I felt we couldn't end Andrew's night on such an underwhelming experience, so we chose our cars and played Monza. This little game comes in a little box - you rolled coloured dice and move little cars as far as they'll go. But about a year ago we (me and the kids) played it so much we made our own Monza track, with room for Matchbox cars to career around it.
Andrew rolled well and despite rattling around the track in a camper van he took the win from my sportier car. Nice way to end the evening... Andrew left for home with three more games in his belt for his 43rd year.