I had just finished explaining the rules to Age of War when they finished (I didn't pick up who won) and joined us, making it the first 5-player of the evening.
It's a simple Knizia game; rethemed from an earlier title based on Risk (which was called Risk Express). Several cards are laid in the centre of the table - these are castles, and in order to capture them you roll a set of seven dice. If you can fill one of the "battle lines" in a chosen castle, you do so. If you can't, you have to sacrifice a die before rolling again. Fill all the battle lines, and you claim the castle for your own.
As well as claiming castles from the centre you can also grab them off the other players (although this is harder) and - as the castles come in certain colours, representing tribes - if you gain all the castles of a certain colour, you can flip the cards over, giving you a twofold benefit: firstly they can't be stolen from you, and secondly you gain a points bonus.
We all liked it I think, even Hannah, who fate shat on from a great height as she continuously fell short of the necessary dice icons needed (there's cavalry, bowmen and so on) and having finally captured a castle, had it nicked from under her nose. In the end it was a close run thing between myself, Adam, Joe and Martin. To win I'd have to steal a card from someone, but also hope nobody would steal a castle from me and the last castle in the central pool would still be available on my next turn. Coupled with the fact there were concerns over how long the game might last, I decided to grab the final castle to claim second place:
Sam 8 (2nd on most castles)
Martin 8 (3rd on most castles)
After a debate over whether to play Railways of the World or not, we finally settled on Ra, the game that even my electronic devices have no auto-correct for.
Martin, unaware of the Ra-ing he was about to receive
This game needs no introduction, and we began like a bunch of old folks settling into a comfy chair. Although Adam and Hannah had to share a chair, as they played as a team. I bailed early on the first round, picking up a decent bunch of monument tiles and covering the bases elsewhere. It was a tactic I tried to continue throughout, despite picking up crappy bidding tiles, and it just might've worked if it hadn't been for that pesky Martin picking up a shitload of Pharaohs in round two.
Martin's Pharaohs stretched on into the night
That loss of 5 points was enough for monument king Joe to sail past me:
Adam and Hannah 34
There was little debate over the next game. Joe pooh-poohed playing Port Royal, as he has played it so much recently, and I pooh-poohed it too as I think it's kind of pooh-poohy. Instead we played Red, the game of completely confusing rule-changing. Like Age of War, I believe we all liked it. Unlike Age of War, sitting at the end of the table where me and Hannah were made it very hard to tell the difference between indigo and purple. "Just like real life" as Hannah philosophically noted.
"The colour's written on the cards!" Martin pointed out, in-between thrashing us all (except Joe, who in the early running looked like the likely winner).
Adam and Hannah 0
By now we were all, as we collectively confessed, 'pooped' - but as Martin and I had cups of tea to finish, we broke out the classic No Thanks. Joe and I both took calculated risks in putting together runs, and they both paid off. Martin ran out of coins. Hannah, perhaps sensing leaderboard implosion, let Adam go this one alone:
Arthur is there in spirit for the family portrait
A very enjoyable evening that couldn't even be spoiled by me knocking my cheap Spanish wine over. Fortunately I'd just enough left to spray the table and chair, but leave the carpet and guinea pigs completely unsullied. Now that's a games night.