Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Hothouse Flowers

Not the kind of flower that grows out of the ground, but the kind that flows. Tonight’s name is in honour of three brave gamers who chose to play Manila twice! And also in honour of Joe's kitchen being quite warm

But tonight was a historic night for many reasons: Three new names on the leaderboard. Three games running concurrently! Seven games in total! And one retirement! And Fursty Ferret ale in a can! So many things never before seen.

It was also the first night of the Game Of The Month. Russian Railroads was given pride of place on its own table, with Joe, Martin, Sam and myself seated around it. On the other table, while they waited for Anja and Steve, they played Incan Gold. We four looked on with jealousy as they played out a game that was actually fun. Adam, Matt, Hannah and newbies Ian, James and Joe’s wife Charlotte set out to plunder five Incan temples. The first one of which was so evil that Adam wondered if the pack of cards was missing some treasure.

At the end, Adam won with Joe’s visiting friend James in last. He’d been introduced by Joe to the wonderful world of board games previously and he must’ve enjoyed Incan Gold, since he stuck around for the next game. Charlotte, however, could not be tempted. After coming fifth in a game she says she hates, she seemed only too glad when one of her daughters called down to her to watch some TV together.

Adam 39
Matt 34
Ian 34
Hannah 31
Charlotte 29
James 28

We ploughed on with Russian Railroads. Martin made an excellent start on the industries and looked to have the whole game sewn up after two rounds, with Sam languishing in last.

On the other table, they made the best of what space they had by splitting into two groups and playing Colosseum (Adam, James, Ian and Matt) and Manila (Steve, Hannah and Anja). Theatre larks and ship-gambling, right in front of me? It was almost as if they’d chosen those games to torture me.

But I’m being harsh to Russian Railroads. The fact is, I never really got going. I began by starting on all three railroads, but this game does not reward diversifying. Joe began to power away in round three, with Martin trying to keep up.

Joe was first to hit 100 points

Meanwhile the first game of Manila ended. We’d heard moans from Steve throughout. In particular, we all heard a very jaded “Well, that’s another shit round from me” from Steve at one point but at least he didn’t come last. Anja, Queen of Pirates, came out top by a significant margin.

Anja 127
Steve 70
Hannah 66

They enjoyed it so much (at least, Anja did) that they started on a second game. Also because it was clear that neither of the other games was about to end any time soon. In fact, this was so clear that James retired from the game of Colosseum.

We finished Russian Railroads, and saw that Sam very nearly used his multipliers to their best effect by rocketing up the scoretrack in the last two rounds. Not enough to overtake Joe, but a valiant effort.

Joe 377
Sam 363
Martin 329
Andrew 215

Joe pointed out that I’d won Russian Railroads on my first go, Sam had won it one his second go and Joe had won it on his third go. Indicating that Martin would win it on his fourth go. We shall see next week.

After all that thinking, we broke out Raj, just to show the other table that we knew how to have fun too! Oh, how we laughed as a three-way tie gave Martin a high-valued tile for next to nothing. How we gasped as the game began with Sam turning over four negative-value tiles. No point in going to detail, though. The anecdotes of Raj are very much of the “you had to be there” type.

Sam won convincingly. To give you an idea of how easy it was for him: In the final round, he came first with 34 and I was second with 6!

It was also notable as being the second game that evening when two players had tied on 34 points.

Sam 71
Martin 41
Joe 34
Andrew 34

Manila II and Colosseum still hadn’t finished, so we leapt into 6nimmt: The 20th anniversary edition! The came with “jokers”, in the form of decimal places that you always got to place first, either replacing a row, or adding to it, as you wished.

I still found it a frustrating and baffling game, but this time, I squeaked through for my first win at 6nimmt! There was some debate that we should finish the game properly (ie, once some gets 66 points) but Colosseum and Manila were both packing away after round three, so it seemed sensible to me to end. And I had suggested we finish after round two, when I wasn’t winning, so my conscience is clear.

Andrew 33
Martin 36
Sam 48
Joe 54

Colosseum finished like this:

Matt 82
Ian 73
Adam 62
James 25 (retired)

And the second game of Manila was a closer affair:

Hannah 86
Anja 83
Steve 78

After this, we set off, very grateful to Joe for his capacious hospitality. Twelve people in attendance. Thirteen if you include Hannah’s and Adam’s little meeple who is due any week now!

The form table has transformed after all this activity. Sam is still top, but Anja, Hannah and Matt all make great strides in an upwards direction.

Sam3 1 2 1 1 8
Anja2 1 2 3 2 10
Hannah1 3 3 2 2 11
Steve3 2 1 4 1 11
Matt 1 2 2 5 2 12
Gonz2 3 1 2 4 12
Adam3 1 1 4 3 12
Joe4 3 1 3 1 12
Martin 2 2 3 4 2 13
Andrew1 3 4 5 3 16
Ian2 2 5 5519
Will3 2 5 5520
James4 5 5 5524
Charlotte4 5 5 5524


  1. Well, I really enjoyed Russian Railroads although we were all guilty of ruminating ourselves while hurrying others along - and a good thing too, otherwise we'd still be there now. I think if I played next week I'd still be trying to perfect that enormous railroad method that has served me a 1st and 2nd position. What I like about it is that if options close off there's almost always another way to go. Though I agreed to Game of the Month with some hesitance, and as a default prefer the variety we've had in the past, it's a very interesting experiment.

    Lovely to see Charlotte at the table too, and nice to meet James. And Ian as well! GNN swells....

  2. It didn't feel like RR bogged down too much, particularly since there was a fair amount of distraction from elsewhere. We did it in under 2 hours, and I reckon we could get it down to 90 mins pretty easily.

    For me it's got a similarity to Caylus, without the brain-melting issue of pre-planning your entire turn. Similarly no luck, open info, with the only variety from the engineers, though I can see that having a fair impact on the shape of a game.

    What a great turn-out - whilst cooking supper and waiting for James to arrive I was getting worried, but it was a great evening, thanks to you all. And to Andrew for a first class write-up, as ever.

  3. This morning, while getting ready, I found myself going over the game, and trying to work out where I went wrong. That shows the game has got under my skin. Looking forward to playing it again next week!

  4. I definitely found myself thinking about it too, though I wouldn't go so far as to say I liked it :)

    It will be good to get another play soon though, now I know some if the pitfalls.

  5. should Joe be on 12 points, and Martin 13?