It was only once we were all assembled; Andrew, Ian, Matt, Gonz, Martin and I, and I went to dig out the game, that I remembered I'd loaned it to Sam on Sunday for set-dressing on Box Fresh, the board game sitcom he's currently shooting. Bah!
So we played Igloo Pop to warm up. This was new to Gonz and Matt, and it seems one's ears need time to attune - Ian had no such issues, presumably having used a Tibetan ear candle before his arrival in preparation.
We then split in to two groups of three, and performed the obligatory 15 minute discussion about what to play, eventually arriving at Lords of Vegas and Manila, by way of Vikings anda brief flirtation with Mars, Red Planet.
Andrew, Ian and Matt set up Manila, and Martin and I brought Gonz up to speed on Lords of Vegas. We had a custom dice-arena, poker chips and even proper Vegas-style dice for gambling; we were all set.
|Vegas as seen from the shores of Manila|
Half an hour in, and I was absolutely dead in the Vegas dust. I often find with LoV, much like Settlers of Catan, one player is shut out early on, with no hope of catching up. Tonight this seemed to be my lot, as Gonz and Martin sped off up the scoreboard,and I languished at three points. It seemed to be a two-horse race, despite Martin's reassurance that the game has more swing than Sinatra at the Oasis. But two things happened that turned my game around. First Gonz reorganised a 6 point green casino on the strip, and after three re-rolls for conflicting bosses, I came out on top.
It was agony to watch, but the end-result was my first real showing on the board. And the second piece of luck was that my new shiny green casino paid out on the next three turns, or thereabouts. It was unbelievable, but I was suddenly back in the running. Coupled with this, Martin's game had stalled, after he painted several of his casinos a dodgy shade of pink, which resolutely failed to pay out. As soon as all the greens had come out, the game ended, which was frankly the perfect point of me, and after the strip paid out, we were tied for points, meaning money in hand was the tie-breaker. It was one of the highest scoring games I've played I think; and had I not wrestled control of that green casino, Gonz may have achieved the mythic insta-win of 70 points.
|The amazing three-way tie.|
Earlier in the game, when I had no chance of catching up, I'd counselled Gonz on the importance of holding onto some money at the end, as in my experience there was often a tie for points. That came back to bite me, as Gonz had a healthy stack of chips for the win, and I came second - I have never been happier to come second. It was an awesome, epic game, though had Lady Luck not shined on me in the second half it would have been an enervating 90 minutes that left me cursing the game. But that's Vegas, baby.
Meanwhile, Andrew had taught Ian and Matt Manila, and these were the scores - shaping up to be a good night for Ian:
They moved on to TransEuropa, the sequel to TransFattyAcids, and these were the scores:
|The birth of the railways|
Andrew, exhausted from his part in shooting Box Fresh, wandered off in to the night, and we remaining five had a quick game of Port Royal. Except we discovered that a five player game of Port Royal is not so quick. I think it took us about an hour. It was fun, as always, but my mind was still on Vegas; I was proudly standing in front of my huge 9 point emerald green casino, Danke Schoen by Wayne Newton ringing in my ears. When the music faded, Port Royal was over and Ian had his third comfortable win of the evening.
Matt 8 (most money)
Everyone wandered off in to the night, and I settled down to consider a title for the blog. Yurt Cobain had come up in conversation last time we played Igloo Pop, in considering possible sequels to that game. It fits the bill particularly well I think, but if successful, the franchise could run and run: Tent Reznor? Marquee Mark? Caravan Morrison?
In the end I went for something a little more cryptic - there's a prize for the first person who can explain the relevance of word Aisha to the evening's proceedings.
Meanwhile, let's all raise a glass to a new name to top the form table: Ian's recent run of good form mean that he's the man of the moment right now.