Wednesday, 30 April 2014


Despite being only two days since the GNN weekend, Sam and I threw ourselves headlong into the board game maelstrom once again, this time at Joe’s house, not a cottage in a village. There were five of us: myself, Sam, Joe, Martin and Ian. And since five is considered perfect for a number of lengthy, strategic games we spent some time wondering what we should play. But instead, we went for several short games that really put the emphasis on fun.

First up was Abluxxen, a German trick-taking game which is based on you placing runs of a certain number (ie, four sixes) to ruin the chances of anyone else who put down a run of the same length but of a smaller value (ie, four threes). If you do this, they either take their cards back into their hands, or draw the same amount of new cards. The first to get rid of all the cards in their hands ends the round, and then scores are counted up.

Maybe it was beginner’s luck, or maybe it was because it seemed like a simple version of President, but I did well, scoring well in the first two rounds and doing enough to stay ahead in the third and final round.

However, modesty prevents me from describing the frequent (and often unintentional) double entendres caused by the terminology of the game. Stealing cards from an opponent was called a “snatch” which prompted all kinds of merriment that falls firmly in the “You Had To Be There” category.

Andrew 30
Martin 21
Ian 16
Sam 16
Joe 8

After this we perused the games cupboard. I vetoed Take It Easy, since I’d had quite a lot of that recently. We debated the ethics of playing 7 Wonders when Gonz wasn’t there to join in. In the end, Joe suggested Igloo Pop. I was doubtful at first, but once he explained it was a game about guessing how many items were in a tiny plastic igloo by shaking them, I was an instant convert.

Only one of these igloos has eight Eskimos in it, though

Each of us picked up an igloo, shook it next to our ear and (if we thought we knew how many were in it) we put the igloo on a card with the corresponding value on it, with our counter stuck in its door.

What was the right tactic? Quickly guessing so you can claim more igloos than the others, or take your time over each one. You’ll have fewer igloos, but feel more certain about your chances (perhaps). I went for option two, which seemed to work okay. Sam seemed confused about the nature of the game, referring to the Eskimos as "astronauts."

Martin 29
Andrew 21
Joe 17
Ian 16
Sam 14

After this we tried another new game: Port Royal. This one is a simple game of building up victory points by buying cards. But each time, you can reveal as many cards as you want (unless you go bust). More cards is better for you, but also better for your opponents, since they can buy whatever is left over from you.

It’s a simple mechanic, and it certainly had people invested in the actions of other players, yelling at them not to turn over another card in case they went bust and all of the cards on display would be discarded. First to 12 VPs triggers the end of the game.

Joe and Ian had an early lead, having completed an expedition (5 VPs each), but I kept buying victory points whenever I could afford them, and built up my points that way. And it worked. Sam never got started, having seen his early fortune cut in half by a tax inspector, and never managed to recover.

Andrew 13
Joe 11
Ian 9
Martin 9
Sam 4

Finally, with the big hand past ten and the little hand on four, we chose our last game. I suggested Skull and Roses, and was very happy to see it accepted. It’s been a while since this game of bluff (and very little else) was played, and it’s odd that such a perfect filler - or nightcap - should be so often overlooked. It was quickly explained to Ian and we were off. Turns out that Ian is something of a natural as he (and Joe, too) ruined Martin’s predictions with their skulls.

1. Joe
2. Andrew
3. Ian
4. Sam
5. Martin

On the form table, Gonz remains safe at the top of the pile while I climb to second. Sam is tonight’s big loser, dropping to the bottom of the table.

Gonz 1 3 1 1 3 9
Andrew2 1 2 1 3 9
Joe 1 2 3 4 2 12
Martin5 3 1 2 1 12
Matt2 21 55 15
Ian3 3 4 3 3 16
Will2 4 23 5 16
Sam4 4 5 3 4 20

But on the monthly division, Sam is top of the pile: his early good form is enough to carry him through today's drop in form. Plus, he (and I) have played more games than anyone else. But that’s life: play more, win more.


  1. Great night, thanks all! I loved Port Royal - nice and snappy, and very engaging. Instantly clicked for me.

    Abluxxen less so, but that may just be me. You know how sometimes you play a new game and can't quite see how things fit together (even when it's dead simple and patently obvious to all the other players)? I think I may have had that reaction to 6 Nimmt on a first play too though, so I'd happily play it again.

    Igloo Pop is very silly and fairly unique - played it a couple of times with the family after getting it in a maths trade a few years ago, after which it took up residency on a quiet shelf. Charlotte suggested it recently for Martha's party, and while teaching it to six 10 year olds I realised how much fun it would be with a bunch of 30 - 40 somethings.

    And Skull and Roses is a stone-cold classic; the simplest possible distillation of bluffing. For me it's totally replaced Perudo - which hits the same spot a lot more noisily. Although even as I write this I'm thinking Perudo has merits of its own.

    Thanks for coming along all, great night..!

  2. Odd "nice to see you, to see you nice" top and tailing in the above comment, heh...

  3. On the way home I for the life of me couldn't remember the third game we played, so I would argue that either Igloo Pop was a forgettable mishmash of other game's mechanics, or possibly that Polish beer was stronger than I realised.

    Very enjoyable night - I liked all the games, albeit Port Royal in the sense I could see people were enjoying it. I went bust early, accrued some cash only to get by taxes, then got myself into a position to buy a mission only to go bust again and watch Joe buy it. Frustrating. I enjoyed Abluxxen more... but it shows to go ya, you can't judge a GNN night on the games alone. A lot of fun, thanks guys.


  4. By the way did someone take Skull & Roses for Roll for the Soul? If so they forgot the 6th player matts which were on the side. I'll pass them along to Martin today or tomorrow . . .

  5. A great night of games with no 'main course' - what I refer to as 'tapas games' :)

    Already looking forward to introducing the Roll for the Soul crowd to the joys of

  6. Wow, Ian has a lock on 3rd place finishes!

  7. Now I am envious! Sorry I couldnt tell I wasn't going, my phone died. And its nice that you thought of me and did not play 7 wonders...I want to play the Eskimo game!

  8. I think my favourite moment of the evening was Sybil wandering out of the room muttering loudly during Martin's explanation of Port Royal.

  9. btw Andrew I'm pretty sure Gonz's points add up to 9? (sorry Gonz)

  10. Yes, they do. He's still top, though. I'll change them tomorrow.