We split into two groups. Anja, Ian and I lounged casually on sofas as we played Istanbul, while Sam, Steve, Matt and Martin sat up straight at the dining table for a sensible game of Mexica.
Anaja was new to Istanbul, so I talked her through the rules. I have to admit, there were a lot more than I’d remembered. But Anja seemed to take them all on board without any problems, and we began playing with the recommended “short game” layout.
Everything seemed to be going smoothly until about a third of the way through, when Anja (red) realised that at some point she and Ian (green) must have swapped their pieces, since she was now moving green and he was red. We pondered what to do. Retracing our steps was impossible because it had happened several turns earlier, and starting again wasn’t too popular. In the end, they just decided to change colours.
Molly the cat, aghast at the developments in Istanbul
Apart from that, the game went pretty smoothly. I was the last to pick up any gems, but I had a “Use Gemstone Dealer twice” card, so I soon leapt back into contention. In fact, I was fairly confident of a win, and I was just three moves away from the last gem, but Anja swooped in to the Sultan’s Palace to pick up her fifth and final gem.
It was interesting how different this game was to previous games. The Black Market was hardly used to get blue goods, since we preferred the smuggler who was usually quite conveniently placed, or bonus cards/actions. A pretty deep game which changes even when the board stays the same.
Meanwhile, Mexica was entering its last stages, so we had enough time for another quick game. We went for Timeline. I managed to be accurate, but only to a +/- 4 years gap and mostly on the wrong side. Anja and Ian sped away from me, and Anja was the smarter of the two in the end.
Anja 0 cards
And finally, we watched the final stages of Mexicana. It seemed completely incomprehensible to me. They just seemed to be doing things at random while counting. And then, at the end, they moved a bridge. Anyway, at the end Martin came away a winner, having withstood the last round of scoring where Steve and Sam (briefly in the lead at one point) mounted a spirited last gasp attack.
And with that, the evening drew to a close. We separated happy, with Anja perhaps happiest of all.