It rains on every other Thursday in Bristol. Of course, it rains on lots of other days, too, but in particular: every other Thursday. So it was that this evening, I walked through the rain to Roll For The Soul. I was not expecting a huge turnout, but our new leader Martin (since Adam now has family business to attend to) and his friend Andy would be there.
And so it was. When I arrived they were playing Hana-bi, and it was a world apart from the first time I played it. When I play, it’s all about the inflexion of the voice, but these two actually seemed to be using logic. Amazing. They didn’t succeed, though.
Then we played Divinare, and I got soundly thrashed, ending with 9 points to Andy’s 10something and Martin’s 20something. The game was notable for each round having almost all the pink cards in play.
By now, Andy had his eye on the clock, since he had to get a bus home. To fill the time, we played Love Letter, first to four cubes. Martin won the first two rounds and it looked like it would be a walkover. But then he didn’t win again for ages and I was first to get three red cubes. But then I stopped scoring, and Andy stole the win, minutes before he had to leave. Well played and well timed.
Then, as Andy got ready to leave, some women arrived at the next table and started putting board games on the table. At first we wondered if they were here for games night, or perhaps they’d just come from the charity shop and were looking at what they’d bought. Unfortunately, we had no board games on display for the sake of space, so we just looked like a bunch of guys, one of whom was about to leave. So our new leader Martin spoke to them, and got us invited onto their table. It was a bit of a relief to get off the sticky table, too.
There were four of them. Venus and Mira are the only names I heard (or half-heard). I’d met one before, at football or somewhere and the name of the fourth one escapes me. They had a game I’d never heard of but, unsurprisingly, Martin had played it before. He even helped Venus explain the rules.
It was called Wildlife Adventure, and it involved building communal routes across the world (three routes that anyone could use) to link up the endangered species that you are dealt at the start of the game. It was interesting. A bit like Trans America, in a way, but what was most interesting was watching other people play a game that they knew really well. They even admitted to having little songs for certain cards, like “Monkey-eating Eagle”.
As for the game, I was helped by other people building tracks to my animals for me, so I was a comfortable winner. However, I was a little self-conscious about taking photos of the board during the game, so I nabbed one off Board Game Geek.
Once that had finished, whatever was happening upstairs at the café had ended and more people came down, looking for a game. One of them was semi-regular Katy, who insisted that we play Fauna since she’d had a dream where she was at a games evening and other people (including Martin) were at another table playing it and having fun while she was stuck with a really boring game.
But first, the six or seven of us who were currently around the table, decided to play Dobble. It was quick-paced, fun and very loud.
And so, she, me, Martin and Owen decided to play Fauna. We had to decamp to a new table, since our numbers had increased dramatically, and no table is big enough to contain the twin world maps and collected rare species of Wildlife Adventure AND Fauna.
At first, I was a clear leader and I started thinking, maybe nature likes me! But then I scored badly in the last two rounds, and Owen won by a large margin, despite having to deal with the metric system. Being an American, he’s more used to furlongs and hundredweights or something. In the last round, we had to guess where a particular type of Lemur came from. We guessed Asia-Pacific, we guessed South America, but with the last cube of the game, Owen went for Madagascar, and he was spot on.
By now it was ten o’clock. We dispersed into the night, dreaming of endangered species.