At first, we were six because Hannah was putting baby Aurthur to bed. We filled in the time until she could join us with Timeline. Inspired by Chris’ mixed set, Sam bought a new deck of cards, and wanted to give them a test run. The theme was scientific discoveries, and there was some concern over the wording on some of them. For example, the first calculation of the distance from the Earth to the Moon. Is that the first accurate calculation?
Reservations aside, it was still an educational game, and it got the evening started.
After this, we split into two. Three of us (me, Joe and Martin) played Greenland, Phil Eklund’s new epic of obscure but accurate pieces of history. In this case, something to do with surviving on Greenland. The other four went for Amerigo. And I’m glad to say that us playing Greenland were sitting to the North-east (just about) of those playing Amerigo. It’s these little details that make it all worthwhile, isn’t it?
Being in different rooms, I only caught a glimpse of their progress of Amerigo when I went in to get another can. I did notice that Ian had made an early dash for the big island in the middle. I thought he had it sown up, but maybe he’d made his move too soon, since the scores at the end were:
As for us in the other room, we spent a peculiar evening in the company of Phil Eklund’s latest. Our early suspicions that we were about to have a unique gaming experience was supported by the baffling slogans on the box. No eye-catching commercial-friendly words to tempt you into buying the game. More like impenetrable one-sentence explanations of certain rules (what is a "biome", anyway?) and an illustration of a typical playing card with the words “Put husband here” next to a big red arrow pointing to a woman on the card.
After a rules explanation, we had to go through ten turns (each one a generation (not literally)) and at the start of each turn there is a random event that we all have to deal with. Our first event was fairly benign: Beaver Pelt Fad. But as the game came to a close, we were all struggling to keep our number of meeples up. Even Martin.
The playing area is made up of two rows of steadily shifting cards. You can place meeples on them to hunt there (using dice) and if you’re very lucky you may get three-of-a-kind (for example) that lets you keep the card, either for victory points or as a bonus action you can put in your hand for later use.
Joe had a very up and down game, going from a hopeless situation to sitting pretty and then back again during the ten turns. I started brightly but went into a slow decline thanks to being particularly prone to shark attacks. Martin had a bit of a benefit in that green get to start of a part of the New World with plenty of wood to burn to get energy.
My tribe, the Thule (hence the hilarious blog title) are great at kayaking, but I found little opportunity to exploit this. Joe’s tribe began with a domesticated animal: a pony. Before long he found it too expensive to keep, so he killed it, only to realise the next go that he couldn’t travel as far, and he regretted his rash decision. Maybe he should have kept the pony and let an elder die instead.
We ended with the event Dense Summer Fog, complete with bland illustration. I’ll say this much: Greenland is a game which offers experiences that no other game does. Martin ran away with the win, while I just about scraped second thanks to me killing a polar bear in the second round.
It was fun, but I couldn’t tell how much of that fun was due to the absurd events and cards that come up throughout the game. I’m sure we skipped over a lot of the rules. There was very little fighting or marriage. I’m sure there are greater depths to this, and the dice rolling certainly livens the game up, especially as you can collect cards that influence the dice results in your favour.
I hope we play it again, since it would be stupid to only play it once and base your decision on that.
Amerigo and Greenland both ended at around the same time, but after an evening as intense as this one, there was little chance of one last party game to finish off the night.
It’s close at the top of the form table, with just four points separating first and fifth.