There were nine players at first: me, Sam, Martin, Matt, Steve, Ian, Katy, Joe and our hosts, Adam and Hannah. Although, to be exact, the offer to meet up at A&H’s came from Katy’s email. On our way, we did wonder if perhaps tonight was a huge practical joke by Katy, and that actually Adam and Hannah weren’t expecting us at all. But it was all kosher in the end.
We decided on a rousing ten-player game of 6nimmt to begin the evening. Steve hadn’t arrived yet, but we dealt him in anyway, choosing random cards for him as we played without him. In the end, he didn’t turn up during the single round that we played (although we kept checking the front door, thinking we heard someone knocking) so we awarded his position to our imaginary player, Dirk.
1. Adam 0
2. Martin 1
2. Katy 1
3. Joe 3
4. Hannah 13
5. Sam 19
5. Dirk 19
6. Matt 24
7. Andrew 25
8. Ian 45
Then we tried a new game, Pairs. So simple: a deck of cards has values one to ten. Each value has the same number of cards as the value (ie, there is one 1 card, two 2 cards, three 3 cards, etc). Each player is dealt one card at the start and then a player can either chose to stick or twist (get a new card). If they get a pair of anything, they are out. Highest points according to values on the card wins: eight points for first (because this was an eight player game: Dirk bowed out and Joe was dealing), seven for second, etc. No points at all if you had a pair. First to 21 points wins.
It was a fun game of pushing your luck and then cursing it when it let you down. Katy and Matt both scored nothing in three out of the four rounds we played. I stuck early, hoping that other people’s greed would improve my rankings. As you’d expect from such a timid technique, I finished more or less in the middle.
During Pairs, Steve arrived and we split into three groups. Four played Potato Man (Martin, Joe, Hannah and Katy). Three played Casltes of Mad King Ludwig (Adam, Matt, Steve) and the final three played Rialto (Sam, Ian and me). We were in the kitchen, while the other seven went into the front room. Judging by the amount of chatting and laughter, they had a high old time. Apparently, though, they were all briefly distracted - and amused - by Sam yelling “Bridges!” at a moment of high tension.
As for Rialto, I found it less intriguing this time. My initial impression, that there were several ways to win, took a knock. Sam bought up three buildings that helped increase his hand size, and when one player has seven cards while another has eleven to choose from, it becomes almost impossible. Maybe it’s sour grapes as I clock up my second last place in a row, but unless I’m missing something, it’s not as deep as I’d thought.
After this, people in the other room were still knee-deep in their respective games, so we played Tinners’ Trail, convinced we could squeeze it in before it was time to go home. Speed Tinners’ Trail, we optimistically called it.
My Little Kingdom in Cornwall
It all went surprisingly well for me. I established a little network in the south west of Cornwall, while Sam and Ian fought over the same areas, bumping up their costs for mines as they did. The prices of tin and copper, too, seemed to suit me when it mattered.
In the other room, the Potato Man people had finished:
And had also completed another quick game of Pairs...
This was Hannah’s last game of the evening, as she retired to bed. The remaining three on that table tried Trump Tricks Game! A card game that Martin often brings along, but has never appealed to me in the same way that a TV show called “Endless Laugh-a-thon Chuckle Show” would make me run the other way. I’ll leave it for them to describe its charms, because they seemed pretty impressed with it once it had ended.
Castles of Mad King Ludwig had also ended by now. No danger of Explainer’s Curse for Adam here. But it was close. Mighty close.
At this time (this blog post is a bit like Pulp Fiction how it plays with chronology, don’t you think?) we were still finishing off Tinners’ so, after Steve went home, the five of them played No Thanks, with Adam getting the first negative score since Joe managed it in the pre-blog days.
Joe is upset at having to share his claim to fame with Adam
Finally, we were all together again. Sam went home, but the rest of us clung on for one more game of Pairs. At first, Adam bowed out. We asked why, and he said he had to wash up the bottles in the kitchen. He also added, foolishly, that he’d just won four games in a row. Of course, now we all insisted that he join us for one more game. History beckons! We cried (even though Adam has already achieved a Perfect Five).
Of course, one of the secrets of a Perfect Five is to hope that no one else notices that you’re about to achieve it. Ian knows this, Steve knows this. So why did Adam announce it? We will never know. Maybe he was drunk. Either way, trying to finish a Perfect Five on such a luck based game when everyone wants to stop you was a hopeless cause.
Finally, it was over. What a roller coaster of an evening. Ten whole games. Some people managed to squeeze seven into one evening.
The form table looks like this after a brutal evening. I have two sevens and Matt has three sixes! Adam missed out on his Perfect Five (and we all apologised afterwards), Katy worked hard to get rid of the seven she got at the start of the evening, and with good results.