Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Hip Hip Hoo Raj

At first, today’s attendance at games night threatened to peak at nine. In the end, two people bowed out at the last minute and so we were seven: Sam (the host), Joe, Martin, Gonz, Matt, Steve and me. While we were waiting for Steve (minus a poorly Anja), the six of us played Tsuro. This game gets very difficult very quickly with six players, and I was first to find myself boxed in with no hope of escape. Sam had the chance to get both Gonz and Martin out in one go, but though the will was there, the tiles were not. He bumped of Martin, but Gonz escaped to safer parts of the board and, eventually, to victory.

1. Gonz
2. Joe
3. Sam
4. Martin
5. Matt
6. Andrew

The oft-discussed Game Of The Month did not happen this week, mostly due to a freakish occurance: while debating what we all wanted to play, we happened upon an agreement after only a few minutes! Amazing. Before anyone could change their minds, we split into two groups.

At one end of the table was myself, Gonz and Steve. We didn’t have the nerve to learn anything new so we chose Village as our evening’s entertainment. The others went for Municipium, the Reiner Knizia game set in Rome. I know nothing about it, except that the meeples can gain tiny green circles that sit on top of their heads, like laurel wreaths. Martin likes this and he proudly demonstrated it for everyone.

In our Village, we needed a little refresher of the rules before we set off. My initial plan was to try and maximise Politics, but it wasn’t quite the advantage that I remember it. I did a bit of everything, and this is not a game that rewards diversification.

Steve played his game, as usual, with all the bemused confusion of a man who’s just wandered into a room full of optical illusions and disembodied voices. But I wasn’t fooled. Behind every tentative move was a sharp and cunning mind.

Gonz, meanwhile, seemed to know what he was doing. He barely killed anyone at all, and by the end hadn’t used a single third generation meeple. The game was a long and thoughtful one. I looked across the table, a little jealous at Municipium and how relatively quickly it passed by. Although I wasn’t sure what to make of the rule where you get bonus points for being second in the bath when the prefect arrives. Kind of hard to visualise that, thematically. We were still mid game when they ended.

Sam: 5 coins
Martin: 4 coins, 4 workers
Joe: 4 coins, 1 worker
Matt: 3 coins, 3 workers

They then chose a Tournament game of Raj, the excellent game of bluffing and luck. We ploughed on with our game, made all the more difficult by the fact that, after two hours of play, the score was Gonz 10, me 7, Steve 4. I know that there are big end-of-game bonuses, but after all that time, it felt like a very small return fro all that effort.

Before long, they had finished their four-round game of Raj. It was noted that, despite everyone starting with the same cards, the results were so different. Sam played an excellent third round to put himself in pole position but Martin still had enough gas in the tank to push him into first. Joe and Matt finished some distance behind them.

Martin 69
Sam 61
Joe 23
Matt 17

We were still knee deep, wading through Village. We began one round, quietly convinced it would be the last, but then we couldn’t kill off enough villagers and so we had to begin another round. Then the game ended and the points were added up. Steve’s presence in the market saw him past the well-travelled Gonz.

Steve 62
Gonz 57

Even at this late stage, the other four had squeezed in another game. This time, it was Love Letter.

Martin 3
Matt 2
Sam 1
Joe 0

After this, my brain was completely fried, so I got lift back while the remaining five played Take It Easy. I got a text later telling me the scores.

Sam 473
Martin 473
Matt 444
Joe 381
Gonz 358

On the form table, several players hit the reset button, being able to play five games in one evening. This means Joe’s table-topping form has now vanished. Also, Adam is getting perilously close to being in last place. Is the world coming to an end?

Martin 1 1 1 2 4 9
Sam1 3 2 1 3 10
Steve 1 4 1 3 3 12
Hannah2 2 1 3 4 12
Gonz4 2 1 1 4 12
Joe3 4 3 3 2 15
Anja2 3 2 45 16
Andrew 3 6 3 3 1 16
Matt 2 2 4 4 5 17
Adam 3 3 3 3 5 17
Will3 2 5 5520


  1. I'd totally forgotten we played Tsuro until I read this. That kind of sums up how I feel about it really.

    Raj was brilliant! I regret trading away the copy I owned years ago now.

  2. I'd forgotten that too Martin! Thanks again for lugging Amerigo all the way from London.

    Raj is great - Matt said it was his favourite of the evening and I feel the same. Tense but also funny. Thanks all.

  3. oh, Municipium. Very Knizia-ry: a puzzle of a game. Your aim is to get five coins, and you do that by collecting 1 each of the four different types of citizen milling around town.

    You collect citizens by either having a majority (or second place) in one of the buildings when the praefect visits, or by actioning a building you own: they all come with special powers. Last night I thought it was okay, not amazing, but today NDR (next day re-evaluation) has kicked in and I wouldn't mind trying it again.

  4. yup Raj was ace - so simple! There's a bit of 6 Nimmt in the simultaneous play, but with more room for calculation - also reminded me of those moments in Incan Gold where you need to be the only one leaving . . .

    I liked Municipium too - very tactical and interesting. Would happily play that again. I too forgot Tsuro, which stopped me swan-diving further down the form table.

  5. Oddly the game I was developing (admittedly in my head) called Small Print, or possibly Contract, is not far removed from Raj, with a little of Vegas thrown in. Here's the idea - each player starts with 7 'Share' cards and three 'Contract' cards - the contracts have a percentage value of 100%, 60% and 40%. Share cards are all identical, and both Share and Contract cards have identical backs, but in a different colour for each player. Everyone also has three 'contract markers' which would just be a wooden disc in their colour.

    In each of a set rounds (possibly seven, but less then ten) a set of Product cards are turned over (how many will vary depending on the amount of players). Products have varying values and not all cards will come out in each game, so you can't be sure that the best product will ever be available. Products have a value, of say, £10k up to £100k.

    Players then place a card face-down beneath the product they are interested in. If it's a contract then they get the contract value (100, 60 or 40%) of that product. If it's a share then they take a share of whatever remains, if anything. They may choose to add a contract marker on top of their card to warn the other players they've played a Contract, or they may conversely use a contract marker on the back of a Share card as a bluff. Either way, if the contracts add up to more than 100% when the cards are revealed they are declared void, and the players who played share cards under the product split the value between them.

    I think it could be quick and fun but I need to work out the math of how many product cards/how many cards allowed to be bid etc.

    At the start of

  6. I don't think I made clear that all players can be bidding for the same product...

  7. no idea what that last sentence was either

  8. yeah, our village game dragged a little at the end....maybe its my fault, for my willingness to keep my people alive!
    I have to say, I didn't suffer so badly during my second session of Take it easy, another hundred games and I think I will be able to play averagely.
    BTW, have a look at the lovely game I just kickstarted! cant wait to bring it to the table...

  9. That guy unnerves me Gonz. I think he's trying to hypnotize me through the screen.

  10. Kickstarter eh? I look forward to playing it in about 18 months' time ;)

  11. i blame his shirt, sam
    Don't jinx it, martin!! My other kickstarter (the agents) arrived in perfectly condition and in time!