7 Wonders was chosen. I thought “This is possible.”
I was given the Mausoleum at Harlicarnassus. This one gives the player the chance to build a discarded building for free when they complete a part of their wonder. A tricky one, easy to get wrong. But play it right, and it’s pretty powerful.
The game was new to Ian and Matt, and Sam explained the rules to them. Considering it was their first time, they did pretty well. They focused on armies, facing off over a steadily increasing pile of blood red cards. Adam went for sciences but found that he couldn’t build his science-friendly wonder because of a lack of wood.
I kept my wonder unbuilt until the very end of the second round, when I thought there may be some decent buildings in the discard pile. And then in round three, I was able to build three guilds and a last minute army (to stop Adam’s sudden conversion from non-violent research to blood-thirsty warlord. No doubt driven to violence by the lack of wood) to assure a comfortable victory and my very own Perfect Five!
After this hands were shaken, celebratory texts were sent out, and I could finally relax as I basked in the glory of only the second ever perfect five!
Then Hannah came down from putting their baby to bed, and we split into two groups of three. I found the Japanese stylings of Takenoko (which I guess is 竹の子, Child of Bamboo EDIT: I was too literal. It means Bamboo Sprout) irresistible and so Adam and Matt joined me in the front room, while Sam, Ian and Hannah chose Concordia.
Takenoko is a lovely game to look at, with tiny but perfectly formed Panda and Gardner pieces to move around. The rules are simple: you have two actions and a random action decided by a die each move. The aim is to score points by achieving particular formations of tiles (coloured pink, green and yellow) on the table, or particular combinations of bamboo that the panda has eaten, or particular heights of bamboo that the gardener has grown. You find out these criteria according to cards dealt to you at the start of the game, but you can pick up more cards as you go.
The first player to successfully complete eight (me) gets a bonus of two points, and the other players get one more go to try to finish what they can.
And I’d won my sixth game in a row! An occasion so rare, that it doesn’t even have a name! The Splendid Six, perhaps? Although the Smug Six might have been a more accurate description of my attitude once the scores had been added up.
We’d finished but Concordia was still in full swing. When I went in to check, Ian had France all to himself, and there was still a largeish pile of cards to be bought. We went back into the front room and decided on Galaxy Truckers: a game that Matt actually owned but hadn’t played yet.
Adam explained the rules to him, but it is simply a game about a bunch of unlucky jigsaw puzzles. Once put together, they are beaten up by cards and dice. My fate was sealed in round two: I had looked at the cards beforehand, and had planned accordingly. But a mistake in my ship meant that one of lasers fell off immediately, and before long a stray meteorite had removed a second, leaving me at the mercy of the same pirates and slavers I’d seen earlier and had been so confident of beating. Instead I was desperately trying to slow my ship down, and let Adam go first. Cowardly, but necessary.
But my shoddy engineering left me in a distant second, my dreams of a seventh win in tatters. Adam added insult to injury by hitting three figures.
The last round of Galaxy Truckers was played with an audience, as Concordia had ended and been packed away, so the three of them watched us rush through our final round of meteorites after meteorites. Adam remembered a rule that allows sideways facing lasers to shoot either side of their level, but he described it so badly that no one believed him. In the end, he found it in the rule book, allowing him to reinstate his previously destroyed engine.
But as for Concordia, Ian's Francophile approach did not pay dividends. Sam said that if Hannah had been fully up to speed on the tactics, she would have won. Hannah expressed surprise at how easily Sam had spread his influence across the map. He explained that he’d just moved around a lot. Ah, such depth.
All of which leaves me at the top of the form table, but more importantly, it welcomes two familiar faces back to the world of games. Cross fingers that they can come again soon.