We began our evening with new arrival, Versailles. This game pits players against each other to build the best bits of a communal castle. The motive for all of this is to please the king, who dawdles aimlessly towards the castle as if he really didn’t want to visit at all.
The whole board is basically one big rondel, which you move your meeples around, activating actions (with the proviso that you cannot do the same action twice in a row) and collecting materials, buying sections of the castle and then placing those sections.
It’s a very dry game. No sense of theme at all, and the strategy seems to be pretty one-dimensional: get the bonus action that lets you take an action whenever someone else does. Job done. With no story and no engagement, there wasn’t much there to entertain me. Except the nice artwork.
We managed to get the castle complete, though.
After this, I got choice of next game and I went for the least Versailles-like game I could think of: Age of War. This dice-rolling game is pretty much all luck, with a few decisions thrown in to make it look like you’re influencing it. While it’s funny watching Sam struggle to roll anything but some swords and a bow and arrow when all he needs is a horse, after a while I felt this game also started to outstay its welcome. We reduced the deck by one set. Maybe we should have removed two.
Finally, we played Castles of Mad Ludwig. Sam insisted he was happy to play something else, having initially suggested it in jest, but I wanted to play a proper game where you can see what your opponent is up to and try to stop him with exploitative costs.
My far-too sensible mad castle
And it was fun. A far better castle building game than Versailles, with some bluffing and spoiling tactics thrown in for good measure. Sam was cash-poor for most of the game, and I tried to exploit that by keeping what I thought he wanted out of reach. Didn’t always work, and he got his hidden bonuses to work together well.
And with that, we were done. It was still only ten o’clock, but it had been a long week, and I set off home through the thick drizzle outside.