There were three of us tonight: myself, Ian and Martin. Martin arrived with a requested selection of games, cheekily slipping Palaces of Carrara into the line-up, hoping to bring it out of retirement.
First, I asked for Port Royal. This card game, quick but deep, is a great way to start a games evening. I went for +1 gold ship bonuses early on, but they never paid back their investment, and I watched as Ian and Martin fought for supremacy. And I ended up watching for longer than I thought, as both players found themselves becalmed on eleven points, unable to make the winning move due to going bust with ships. I was even able to raise my pitiful score from five up to something more respectable.
But Ian was able to close the game, having slowly built up cash reserves every time someone went bust, when he was able to grab a 2-point victory card, he did, leaving Martin with no response.
After this, Palace of Carrara made a glorious return to the table (complete with Italian soundtrack). Martin explained the rules to Ian, but there would be no Explainer’s Curse tonight. No beginner’s luck, either. Just a slow, steady progress until you suddenly realise that Martin was about to end the game. He actually kept the game going two more rounds than he needed to, just so he could accumulate more points.
Ian said he hadn’t played with much of a plan, so I suppose I should be disappointed that he came so close to me, with all my experience. But oh wells.
After this, it was still only nine o’clock. I considered something meaty to take up the rest of the evening, like Castles of Burgundy, but in the end we chose Abluxxen, a short trick taking game. Since it had foxes in it, we listened to Fox Confessor brings The Flood.
It was mostly between me and Martin, as Ian had a nightmare first round (no points at all) and couldn’t catch up. Highlight was Martin’s seven sevens which no doubt helped him win the round, but it wasn’t enough to win the game.
So, with everyone having won one game, we considered a decider match. And then we thought about Hanabi. Wouldn’t that be lovely: everyone wins, and we end with a lovely co-op game about fireworks.
Ian was a newcomer, but Hanabi doesn’t need much explaining. I put on some Japanese music (mostly music from different film soundtracks) and we set off, our logical minds loosened by some soju (a Korean wine) which, despite being described as “mild” on the bottle, was 16.8%.
Things were going smoothly, but we were running out of time. As we got desperate, mistakes were made. Plus, we had some poor luck with the cards, starting with mostly fours, and having to patiently wait for the ones to come out. In the end we scored 17 out of 25. As firework displays go, it was no Bristol Harbour Festival closing ceremony, but it would do as a finale for us.