It wasn't planned as such, but it ended up being the Christmas edition of GNN as most players won't be around for next week. There were snacks and mulled wine and mince pies on hand! A lovely cosy winter's spread.
As for the games, Andy and me went for Lewis and Clark, while Joe, Katy and Martin chose Ascending Empires. On the coffee table at the far end of the room, Sam, Ian, and Anja chose a new game Olympos with the option for Steve to join a game when he arrived.
All of which meant that every game needed a rule explanation, and the whole room hummed with the noise of criteria and options being described. By 8.50, Steve had arrived and no one had actually started their game (a situation that Martin found appalling). He chose Olympos, because there was enough space around that table.
Since I was sat at one end of the room, I can’t say much about Olympos, except that there was the occasional exclamation of “Fuck Zeus!” And, I have to say, my neighbouring game of Ascending Empires was every bit as foul-mouthed. Martin played an aggressive game, as he and Katy fought over one half of the galaxy, leaving Joe's half nearly untouched, with Katy using her very best swearing to try and ward Martin away from further attacks on her quarter. Joe, meanwhile, continued to have the yips, mis-flicking almost every move that meant anything.
As for Lewis & Clark, compared to the other games, it was relatively sedate. There was a bit of worker placement, and a bit of hand management. This sounds like a euphemism for a quick wank – what it actually means is that we were trying to build up a strong hand of cards that would allow us to win the game. Each card has a historical character and a vaguely related action. I was amused by Big Horse, who allowed you to turn two Native Americans into a horse: I imagined it being a pantomime horse, carrying your supplies through the mountains (“Oh no he wouldn't!”).
But Andy had a couple of cards that allowed him to build canoes for cheap, and then combine them with food for an extra two spaces. This was enough to beat my cards that got horses for cheap and then gave each one an extra space on water or land.
When we'd finished, no one else seemed close to winning. So we started on a quick game of Red7. It was a close game, with the scores at 33-31 as we went into the last round. But Andy's attempt to wake the forces of darkness must have been enough to get him some luck.
By now, games were entering their final stages, so we were able to watch the scores being totted up. In space, Martin had won by a very comfortable win, and his merciless aggression gained him the title of Space Cunt.
Finally, the scoring for Olympos was worked out. There were plenty of different categories and it all looked very complicated.
Sam 48 (wins on tie-breaker)
The overall impression seemed to be that learning the game with four players was a bit of a bump to get over. When I came over to watch the final stages, Ian looked like he'd just spent the evening doing squat thrusts since he was slumped back in the sofa, absently clinging onto his beer. He may have been shaking slightly. I didn't check.
Then we discussed whether or not to bring back the Game Of The Month, or have a system where the host gets the privilege of choosing one of the games to be played that evening. Something to slow the relentless march of progress as new games are brought to the table about once a week. I'm all for this, and I'd also like to suggest we play more two-player games. It would give us a little bit of flexibilty, at least.
I've been thinking about this for a while and I've put together a new two-player division so that two-player games aren't forgotten. Nothing like the old one that I tried about a year ago: this is based on football divisions. Three points for a win, one for a draw and none for losing. Then multiply this by the game length, and finally add one (so the person in last gets at least a point). This is what it looks like right now for this season.
It doesn't need points, just a winner and a loser. We could even play Chess!
And, of course, there's our old pal, the Form Table which looks like this. Martin maintains pole position, while Matt has been away so long, his score has started to decay.