Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Roman Holiday

Tonight was supposed to have been the first evening of the Game Of The Month program. However, with two regulars (Sam and Gonz) away there were five of us in attendance. Since Russian Railroads was four maximum, this meant a split of three and two. This seemed a bit mean-spirited, so the whole GotM experiment was put back a week.

I arrived a little late, and found myself dealt into a game of 6nimmt. The other players (Joe, Adam, Martin and Matt) gave me a score that was the average of the then current scores. Thanks to an excellent round by Joe, the average actually put me in second place! It was to be my best position in a difficult game.

One round ended with Matt one point away from the magic 66 points that triggers the end of the game. But time was moving on, and we were keen to begin our five-player feast of the evening. Despite Martin’s eagerness for one more round, we agreed to end it there, giving Joe first place.

Joe 29
Martin 33
Andrew 51
Adam 58
Matt 65

After this we stared at Joe’s wall of games, and decided on Colosseum as our Russian Railroads substitute. I was overjoyed. This is one of those games which can’t help but be funny and I love it. The whole fabulous atmos of putting on a show is just totes adorbs!

Matt and Martin were new to it, and we tried playing the auction with the official rules: with only one player at a time allowed to trade. It was okay, but I missed the chaos and the confusion of our all-at-once method.

Since no one else was going for boats, I decided to focus on shows that used them. Joe pointed out that the title of one of the plays, Mare Speilbergus, is clearly a reference to the film Jaws. This gave rise to some “You’re going to need a bigger boat” quips when my fleet didn’t quite match the required amount.

But the final score was desperately close. Only one point separated third and first!

Adam 88
Matt 87 (wins on money tie-breaker)
Joe 87
Martin 79
Andrew 74

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the game was Adam’s last roll. There was a cluster of dignitaries near his theatre but, as Martin commented, he needed two sixes to get the two big-scoring meeples into his theatre.

Just as those words left his mouth, Adam rolled the dice, and in the kind of twists of fate that can make you think you’re in a badly-written episode of The Twilight Zone, the dice came up with two sixes. Just for show, he used two tickets to get two consuls into his theatre too, even though it made no difference to the overall score. A beautiful, yet somehow tragic, scene.

It was a great game, and it’s my nomination for a possible future Game Of The Month. I do worry, though, that it might not stand up to repeated playings in a short period of time. I may have to reconsider my nomination.

In the meantime, the form table resembles this...

Sam1 1 3 2 1 8
Martin 4 2 1 1 1 9
Steve 1 4 1 3 3 12
Hannah2 2 1 3 4 12
Gonz2 3 1 2 4 12
Adam 1 4 3 3 3 14
Joe3 1 3 4 3 14
Andrew5 3 2 2 2 14
Matt 2 5 2 2 4 15
Anja2 3 2 45 16
Will3 2 5 5520


  1. Good blog title Andrew!

    Game of the Month, otherwise known as Russian Railroads, shall return. Oh yes.
    Despite the general mocking and mutterings of spreadsheets and abacuses. Abucii?

    Lovely to play Colosseum again though. It gets some flak on BGG with people saying it's all about the final round - well, yeah. That's what's so good - you need to pay enough attention to the previous rounds to not run out of money, but building up to a stonking final show, pulling out all the stops and making sure everyone's there to see it - that's show business! The business we call show.

    It's just got a great balance - it doesn't feel too heavy and thinky; as Martin pointed out it feels quite complex for Days of Wonder - well maybe pre Small World etc.
    But I think it's a real high point.

    Thanks for playing chaps.

  2. Poor Joe, desperately trying to rustle up more players to keep his Russian dream alive.

    I enjoyed Colosseum but it felt a bit long with 5 players. I'd be tempted to go for the fast & furious trading next time just to speed things up a bit.

    There's also an interesting sounding official variant to the auction. Instead of players only being allowed to buy one set of tiles in the entire auction phase, it lets them buy one set per initiating player. So if you had loadsamoney, you could end up buying 5 times in one turn! Sounds like it would make money a lot more important, but it would also slow the game down again...

  3. I think I'd be happy to play Colosseum four times in a row. As was pointed out at the time (a bit strongly I think) I had a bit of luck at the end, but I love the balance between needing money to buy your big last-turn extravaganza and wanting to come last in earlier rounds to steal tiles off the competition.

    That variant sounds interesting - it would mean that launching into big shows early on could pay off, but whoever got stiffed for tiles would have a pretty rubbish game.

    How about a slight tweak to the game of the month rules: We have two games with different numbers of players on standby so that one of them at least gets played...

    I'll be ready for those railroads next week Joe.

  4. Yeah, I was in front for most of the game, and it didn't get me anywhere. I ended with lots of cash, which is not what the game's about. Should've bought a season ticket.

    And I did enjoy the imagery that we conjured up as we tried to build our colosseums (colosseii? That doesn't look right at all.) in the way of the passing dignitaries, as if that's how things really were in Ancient Rome. Just stick a doorway in front of him and then build around him once he's through.