We split into two groups. Those at the mean end of the table chose Sons of Anarchy, Men of Mayhem, a new game of rough, tough, gravel-throated, mean-spirited fightin’ talk. However, I wasn’t won of those four gamers. Instead, I was at the civilised end of the table, playing Istanbul. Ian, Martin, Katy and Joe were the respective leaders of their gangs, while Andy, Sam, Chris, Adam and me sauntered around Turkey’s capital, selling our goods and wares.
Istanbul was new to Adam and Chris, so they got a guide to the rules, and we were off. There must be something about being new to this game, because since my initial good form, I have steadily got worse and worse at the game. Meanwhile, newbies have clocked up wins with apparent ease.
This time it was Chris to benefit. He may have had only a loose understanding of the rules, but his awareness of strategy was as keen as it ever was. He quickly got a fifth assistant, and never went to the fountain. Andy went for money in a big way, clearly keen to never loose another tie-breaker like he did last time. Sam was hit by explainer’s curse. Adam, who I’d persuaded to play by telling him he’d be great at it, seemed confused a lot, but at least ended with a decent haul of gems.
Andy 4 (plus 24 lira)
Adam 4 (15 lira)
Well done to Chris and Adam – I think five-player Istanbul isn’t the best place to start, although it does scale up better than most games, but they’d played very well. Back to the drawing board for me.
Once that had ended, the riots in gangland showed no sign of abating, so we dug out a new, simple game to fill in the half hour that they said they needed to finish the game. We went for one of Andy’s: Piranha Pedro.
The game was simplicity itself. You have cards that control a fisherman as he walks across the water. Everyone plays their card face down at the start of the round, and then, one by one, the fisherman is moved by the cards. This means it’s a bit of a crap shoot where he is when it’s your turn. As long as he’s on land, or you have enough stones to support him when your card is played, you’re fine. If he falls in the water, off the board, or walks into a piranha, he’s dead. First to kill the fisherman twice loses.
I enjoyed it. Very simple and fun (although we were getting distracted by the increasingly silly conversation from the other game, with Joe insisting that “you have to respect the heat limit” with a straight face and Katy begging for someone to buy drugs from her. Only a dollar, apparently) and definitely one for the end of an evening. I also approve of the real stones that come with the game.
2. Sam, killed him once
3. Andy, killed him twice.
By now, it appeared that the Crips and the Bloods across the table still needed half an hour to settle their little disputes, so we chose 6nimmt to play next. Chris had played it once, a long time ago, so he got a quick rules refresher. But while Istanbul has all the opportunities laid out in front of you, 6nimmt keeps its secrets in dark corners of your opponents minds. Chris threatened to crash out after two round, but played the next two well enough that he lasted for a full four rounds before the inevitable happened. Just in time, too, as Adam’s collapse in form threatened to send him into last if the game went on much longer.
Of course, Sons of Anarchy ended as we were halfway through 6nimmting. The scores were
The grotesque pile of money at the start of Sons of Anarchy
And then they began a rollicking game of Indigo. I didn’t pay much attention to that, because after we’d 6nimmted, Adam went home and the remaining four went for 7 Wonders. While we were playing that, Indigo finished...
Ian 9 (6 gems)
Katy 9 (5 gems)
There seemed to be a lot less gem destruction than the last time we played it.
And with half an eye on the clock they began a game of Love Letter, first to two, before Martin’s bus home. Katy said she didn’t like Love Letter, but was persuaded. And she didn’t have a great reintroduction to the game, as she was immediately knocked out of the first round before she’d even done anything.
As for us on 7 Wonders, I’d drawn the Mausoleum, which allows you to build discarded cards for free. Tricky to get right, but powerful if you do. Sam went for side A of his monument, and focused on blue buildings. Chris went for a little bit of military and Andy had a few sciences lying around the place.
It was a low scoring game. I used the mausoleum’s power to build a final card, and I went for a military (to tie with Chris, denying him five points and saving me from a minus one) instead of a Guild (giving me three points) and it turned out to be the right choice (otherwise we'd have tied on 47).
Fascinating though 7 Wonders was, that was nothing compared to the shenanigans of Love Letter. Joe, in a rare moment of lack of clarity, saw that I was watching the game and his showed me his hand of two Soldiers.
“Which should I chose?” he asked, ironically.
And then, once he’d played a soldier, he realised he’d pretty much given away that his other card was a soldier too. He was out before his next turn.
Also, Love Letter lasted longer than anticipated, and Martin had to leave for his bus with the scores tied at 1-1-1-0. Once he’d gone, there was a little period of confusion and debate, before they decided to play on without him, just to finish the game.
But then, Martin came back! He’d misread the bus times! He had another thirteen minutes! Quickly they dealt out another hand and the first thing Joe did was play a soldier and ask Martin if he was a Baron. He wasn’t.
That was a shame, because if he was, then he would have been out and he may as well have got back up and made another dash for the door. That would have been quite some sight: a man running from a bus stop just to play one card before he had to run straight back again. Martin's commitment to the gaming cause knows no bounds.
Katy won the round, giving her the overall win. I think the scores were...
Looking forward to more mayhem tomorrow!