Tonight was only meant to be a first play of Rialto, a game that Sam’s had tucked away in his cupboard for a few weeks now. This game of area control and building bonuses is set in Venice and, as such, reminded us a lot of San Marco, simply because the names of the different areas were the same.
The game itself is quite different. While the initial aim seems the same (get more meeples into each area than anyone else) the way it’s done is quite different, using a hand of cards to activate different actions, and then having buildings to boost these actions. Plus, you can influence how much each area is worth by building a high-scoring bridge to it, or a low-scoring gondolier.
It was new to all of us, but I showed the greatest lack of understanding when it came to getting meeples on the board. My presence on the map by the end of the game was so sparse it would make even a Liberal Democrat laugh. Ian, though, won handsomely, despite having only a few buildings.
Ian and I were especially impressed when Sam, unable to find the elastic band that held the cards together, fashioned a quick and efficient solution: just throw enough string at it until it works.
By now it was half past nine and we thought we could squeeze in one more game before it was too late. Then again, if we chose 7 Wonders, we could squeeze two games in. And so that’s what we did. It was an odd game of 7 Wonders, with no one specialising in anything, really. I, at first, cursed my stupidity in building a parchment card when my wonder already produced parchment.
But then, I used a parchment card to build part of my wonder, which gave me a monopoly on this resource. Excellent. Maybe I’d stumbled upon a new tactic. It was a resource-lite game, too. But despite that, Ian came through with a little bit of military, a science guild and a bunch of blue buildings.
Meanwhile, I remain very impressed by the artwork on even the most insignificant cards.
And then we played Biblios. I tried so hard at this, and fell on my face. A pretty galling experience. I was especially upset about not winning the blue dice, and allow me to explain why in detail. At one point I had 17 points of blues in my hand. Since there are only 25 in the pack, and some cards are discard at the start, I thought it was unlikely that the other eight points would all end up with one player. As such, I discarded my blue cards until I had eight. When it came to adding up, Ian had eight! And he won the dice on the letter tie-breaker! And he won browns from me! Two dice that I had boosted during the auction round!
Oh well, you live and learn.
By now, the chance of Ian getting a Perfect Five had occured to us so we thought we should keep going. I guess the whiskey macs helped fuel our enthusiasm. So we dug out another quick game to see if Ian could maintain his good form. It was Timeline, but it was not to be. The details about when the cork was invented escaped him, and he ended in third.
Sam 0 cards left
Andrew 1 card
Ian 3 cards
I was ready to go, and I was getting my stuff together while Ian and Sam debated what they should play next. Someone said No Thanks, and I was persuaded to stay. Ian has taken my tactic of taking low cards and, even more annoyingly, he’s managed to win with it! I was stung by a late 33 that I had to pick up.
So, four wins out of five. So close, yet so far away. All of this leaves Ian on top of the Form Table, but still dreaming about what might have been...