Sarah was out of town for the day and I'd made contact with some Bristolian Pax Porfiriana fans on BoardGameGeek. Since GNN seems to have shunned this marvellous game of Machiavellian machinations, it seemed like a good opportunity for me to give Joe's playmat a workout.
We'd arranged to meet at the Barley Mow near Temple Meads at 2pm, but just as I was about to set out, I got a text to say that it was full to bursting. I proposed Roll for the Soul as an alternative, but when I got there I found that it's closed on Sunday. But gamers will game, despite the obstacles thrown in our path, and it turns out that Stuart is a member of a Bristol war gaming society that owns a room above the Old Duke pub.
He ushered us in through a side door, entered a passcode and led us up to a strange gaming den full of large tables and war game paraphernalia, and completely empty of people. After popping out to the nearby Co-op for some Old Speckled Hen (yes, you can even bring your own booze!), we unfurled the playmat to the soundtrack of jazz percolating through the floor.
The game itself was as engrossing as ever. We slumped into an early depression that lasted for more than half the game, but I just about managed to sustain myself on the income from a casino. Gambling never goes out of fashion. Meanwhile, Chris had been quietly accumulating mines, and when the depression finally ended, he launched a profitable business empire. So I wrecked it with robbers and rebel troops. Just before the second Topple card dropped out of the market, I was able to put together a winning sequence involving Henry Ford and the Porfirian Army. All hail the new Dictator.
Next we made it an Eklund double-header with Greenland, flipping the playmat to its appropriately-coloured reverse side. Stuart targeted iron from the start and eventually converted to monotheism when all his elders were wiped out by a particularly cold winter. Chris went whaling and bagged two monster trophies, leaving Stuart's only hope to convert him to Christianity too. I was the Tunit, and my colony in Markland kept me well-stocked with energy for the whole game. But every time my band of hunters grew to a decent size, they seemed to get decimated. I did eventually bag a couple of minor trophies and I just edged out Stuart for second. Chris remained unconvinced by Christianity, with Stuart's final-turn roll of a single die failing to achieve the "1" that would have leapt him from last to first.
These men of excellent taste are Chudyk fans too, so we finished the afternoon off with a bout of Impulse. I started with a Sabotage as my home card, and then proceeded to miss with my first eight bombs (that's 1 chance in 256, probability fans). Fortunately, the others weren't progressing particularly fast either, though Chris had a nasty looking mine-and-refine cycle that was just about to kick into gear. I managed to finish it off by moving a fleet of four transports into the sector core for 3VP, trading for one more and just getting over the line with a single sector core gate occupied.
As we were leaving, I asked whereabouts the guys live. Where else but Easton, Bristol's gaming Mecca? Chris is a stone's throw from Adam & Hannah's place, as will I be if my house purchase ever completes...