The reason for the get-together was my dad, Mo (Mervyn Oakman Robinson, to give you the full nomenclature) was over from America. And in-between some cliff-top walks we of course squeezed in some games!
On Friday I introduced Mo and my brother Marty to Timeline. I'd borrowed Joe's set, and as well as having more cards, the card size made the game more accessible to three optically-challenged men. My own cards are tiny, maybe purely to meet the remit of games-that-don't-need-a-box-as-big-as-that. Marty especially liked it, and I think we all won a game apiece. Then after a breather I introduced them to Age of War, which was fun but not as big a success.
Saturday morning dawned about two hours earlier than was strictly necessary, so while the others slept, Little Joe and I took a stroll down to the beach. Upon our return we played Age of War with Marty's youngest, Betty. Nobody won as the appearance of bacon sandwiches meant all the cavalrymen went AWOL to the breakfast table, requesting ketchup.
Sally and Florrie discuss Martin Wallace's penchant for industrial age gaming
Our first walk of the weekend was to Shaldon, 3 miles as the crow flies along the Devonshire coast path. Possibly more like 5 miles as the Morrisons stagger, though, and only some heroic singing by me about men going to mow meadows and baked bean tins not making it into heaven got the boys up the last big hill.
After a perambulation around Shaldon and a stay on the Ness Beach (accessed via a Smugglers Tunnel!) we returned to the hut, and as the children played loud and frankly appalling music loudly in the hut, the adults sprawled in the grass outside. After another game of Timeline (I forget who won) I set up Fauna, and Marty and Mo were intrigued enough to play. Sarah was intrigued enough to come and watch and then team up with Marty. This was new to everyone including me, but as those who have played know it's extremely simple, and lots of fun. The only criticism we had of it was scoring adjacent regions on the map, especially for animals in lots of areas, took quite a bit of time and felt at odds with the light game-play. But overall it was a hit, and it did get played again on Sunday morning with me and the kids.
Meantime Saturday day had turned into Saturday night, and the main event was Poker.
I used to have a half-decent pedigree at this game, way back when we played regularly I often finished runner-up and once or twice even won. But the last two or three years whenever I've played I've always been first out, and this event was no different, as I chased a couple of hands and folded what would have been my best hand of the night pre-flop.
Mo followed me out a while later, then Sarah too, leaving Marty and Sally facing off to claim the £50 at stake. Sally claims to not being completely sure what she is doing, but perhaps this seam of randomness helps her game. She was certainly not cowed by Marty's famous 'poker stare' that he picked up in Vegas. The final hand, though, was a doozy.
Marty, needing to build up his chips and keep the pressure on Sally, went all in with about £9. Sally met him and the cards were flipped:
Marty A, 10
Sally K, 7
The flop came and Sally picked up a King!
K, 9, 9
Sally's kings and nines now beat Marty's nines with ace kicker. But the turn came and ka-boom: it was an ace. Marty now back in front with aces and nines. "The only thing that can save you is a king" said Mo. And sure enough, almost as if Paul Jefferies' ears twitched in Croydon, the third king came up on the river. It was brilliant for Sally, brutal for Marty, and the only thing that could follow that was two games of The Resistance.
Perhaps underlining why I'm so bad at poker, I decided from the outset that Marty was a spy in game one, and he wasn't. Sally, who spent the game telling everyone I was clearly a spy, was. The spies won - but only in part because Mart had misunderstood the final goal of the game, and thought it was about categorically identifying who the spies were by the time the fifth mission was completed, rather then preventing them from sabotaging three missions. Which to be fair, he did. Mo was the second spy.
In the second game Marty and I were the spies. After a successful first mission we weren't involved with, we found ourselves both on mission two. We both hoped the other would Fail it, and both returned Success cards. Now the Resistance were only one mission from winning! Again we were both chosen to go, and this time I actually said aloud "I'm putting my fail card in the discards" - ostensibly to assert my resistance membership, but covertly as a signal to Marty, who twigged and sabotaged the mission. It's not exactly Derren Brown, but I was pleased with it.
All we had to do now was Fail the deciding mission. Fortunately I was chosen to go and the spies won again! There was just enough time left to drive to Castle Drogo and go on a three hour walk before heading back home...