Jim spoke of experience with Agricola and Settlers, and so he, Sam, Ian and Matt embarked on a four-player game of Macao. Martin had requested that Sam bring Five Tribes so he could try it again, so he, me and Joe set up on the rickety card table.
Joe started, and immediately left Martin with a move that got him the fifteen point tile. I sighed and grimly started wondering how I was going to make up that deficit. I went for resource cards, Martin built up his stock of viziers and djinns while Joe relied on his djinn’s special power to get him out of a tight spot. He was able to put three random meeples on an empty square. Unfortunately, twice near the end, the meeples he drew were the wrong colour for what he wanted and they ended up being wasted moves.
The defining characteristic of the game, it seemed to us, was that it’s not enough to maximise your points, you also have to leave nothing behind for the next player. We were all guilty of accidentally leaving the board in a state that another player could exploit for profit.
A discussion about Five Tribes amongst everyone later that evening prompted Sam to suggest that a timer would make things better, but Martin thought that this would just mean that players made mistake more frequently. Perhaps, he said, the only way for the game to improve was if we all got better at it.
By the time we’d finished, Macao was still about halfway through, so we thought about what to play next. Joe insisted on Wizard. Martin wasn’t keen, and I didn’t know it, but Joe was so excited about the idea that we agreed.
Wizard is, basically, Contract Whist with eight extra cards: four Wizards that allow you to win any hand, and four Jester that allow you to lose any hand. Now you might think, looking at my performance, that what I’m about to say is sour grapes but I’ve never liked card games that are merely tweaked versions of games that already exist. The new cards don’t seem to add anything except an element of unpredictability. Especially if you don’t have any in your hand. While it was fun while it lasted, there really is no reason for this variant to exist and it certainly shouldn’t be pretending it’s a completely different game.
Andrew 0 (yes, zero)
We ended our game of Wizard to coincide with the end of the epic game of Macao. They told me the scores, and Jim made sure to tell me that, while he came last, he enjoyed it.
Since we were all ready for a new game together, we chose 6nimmt. Jim sat it out, saying he’d prefer to watch. We explained the rules to him anyway, so he could at least understand what was going on.
It was a typical game of 6nimmt, with people dodging cruel fate or, more often, running straight into it just as it's looking for a fight. In the first round, Joe picked up 40 points, and in the second round Sam did the same. As we entered the last round (the 66 point rule dropped due to time constaints) it was between Martin on 13 and Ian on 14 points. But this time, the hands on the clock of doom were pointing to Ian o'clock, and he picked up 31 points while Martin escaped with a clear round (as did Joe, by the way).
On the form table with barely two weeks to go until the end of the season, Martin replaces Joe at the top.
But hey, I hear you all cry out, isn't there a division for 6nimmt we can all gawp at? Sure there is. Sam comes first on the medal table and is top on points, with "Silver Specialist" Steve taking points ratio. Well done, all.