I got there a little early, and found Ian, Martin and Joe (the host) trying out a new game that Joe picked up in a charity chop, called Stack. In this game, everyone has lots of dice, that they roll at the same time (try to avoid the “dice everywhere” effect, the rule book warns) and then you have to stack the dice, without them falling over, with each die going on top of another die of the same value. Anyone who successfully stacks four dice gets to keep them, and scores that value.
We were halfway through when my deliberately wonky stack of three collapsed under Martin’s fourth dice. We checked the rules to discover his forfeit. We discovered that he had to miss a turn and maybe roll a die to see how many points he lost. We also saw that anyone attempting to use an opponent’s die would be penalised.
We weren’t sure when you would want to do that, unless you’d forgotten which colour you were. We suspected that some of these rules had little to do with strategy and more to do with padding out the rules to cover at least one side of an A4 sheet of paper.
During the game, Sam, Gonz and Matt arrived, and Martin suggested that if we stopped now, we could pretend it never happened. Still, at least Joe got some nice dice for only a pound. So the seven of us discussed what to play. Russian Railroads returned to the table as Game Of The Month. Me, Joe and Martin said we’d be happy for another go. Then, after some debate, Sam joined us too, while Gonz, Ian and Matt chose Kingdom Builder.
By now, you would think that a winning strategy would have been found, but not just yet. Matin, who’d won so easily by using industries decided to mix things up and try building a railroad. Sam went for his classic tactic of a railroad plus multipliers, and I ended up going for a bit of everything. I had wanted to try industries, but everyone else got in on the action, too.
Martin cursed Sam’s ability to go where he wanted to go and, later in the game, my habit of picking up multipliers, apparently for no reason (I had an end-of-game bonus related to how many I had, though).
Joe, meanwhile, played smart. He maxed out industry and Kiev and St Petersburg and he got the 9-level train as a bonus, which I had my eye on. It was to prove a successful combination, as he broke the 400-point barrier and during the game he lapped first Martin and then me. Sam kept his dignity intact by only a few points.
Sam (yellow) in second just avoids being lapped by Joe. I'm further back, in third.
On the other table, they’d managed to squeeze in two games of Kingdom Builder. The first saw Gonz hit by Explainer’s Curse, as he lost to two newbies.
Or maybe he was just trying to lure them in: make them think they stood a chance and then, once they’re addicted, hit them for all they’ve got. That’s my theory, anyway. Gonz managed to win the second game by a narrow margin.
We were still midway through Russian Railroads, so they began on a game of Trains. This time it was Matt’s turn to explain, as Gonz and Ian were playing the Dominion-esque game for the first time.
The four of us decided on a game of Quantum. This dice-based space-opera is “all about the fighting,” as Martin reminded us. Indeed, Sam needed no reminding after one brutal round which ended with him having no ships at all on the board. Joe’s tactic was to act like the school snitch, telling everyone when someone was about to place a cube, hoping to start an intergalactic war between his rivals. I didn’t work. Martin managed to close the game up nice and quickly, before the rest of us had really got started.
Trains was still rolling along, so we dug out 6nimmt. It remains a chore and a joy. You face down impossible odds, placing hopeless cards, only to be saved by another player’s worse fortune. At least, you do if you’re Martin.
Woah! Super space age filters!
And the game of Trains ended
After this, we set off into the night. All of this activity leaves the form table looking like this: