The evening began early with Sam, Stanley and Ian fighting it out over That's Life, and it's only right that the player with the most life ahead of him should end the winner.
After that, it was Stanley's bed time. Meanwhile, three more gamers arrived in the shape of Martin, Andy and myself. We pondered on what to play, before agreeing on Klunker, a new game that Martin brought with him. In this card game (has to be a card game if Martin bought a copy) you have to collect sets of four of a type of jewellery. Once you have four they instantly turn into money. But if you receive less money if you have any unfinished sets. You collect cards by being dealt them or by buying from other players. Martin noted that it was basically a card management game with three hands of cards.
It's not very intuitive. You'd be hard pushed to come up with a winning strategy on a first play. I think it needs a few plays before it's secrets come out. I can't say I had much fun, though, spending the last two rounds with a hand that contains one of everything isn't a good way to build sets. Sam got off to a flier, being dealt a set of four at the start. Any hope Ian had of winning was doomed when Andy bought some jewellery just to stop Ian from picking it up and scoring seven points.
Next we considered more five player options. Ra, Colossal Arena and Taj Mahal were all brought to the table, but Condottiere was choice de soir. I was glad that this tiny game was getting some proper attention, and not stuck on the end of an evening in the mistaken belief that small box equals quick game.
Andy said he thought he hadn't played it before, and Ian needed a refresher, so Martin went through the rules for them, helpfully pointing out the differences between this version and the original version.
During the game, Andy realised he had played it before, and the fact he'd forgotten about it tells you all you need to know about how much he enjoyed playing it again.
Condottiere is a tough game to play when dealt a shitty hand. The best you can hope for is that the other players cancel each other out and maybe you'll pick up some cheap territories. Luckily for me, I got a hand in the third round with a key card (that allows me to end a battle when I chose) and two adjacent territories on the board. When my chance came I took it, using my key to finish a battle with me in the lead. I got my third adjacent regions, ending the game in my favour.
But what about the rest of the placings? Martin was convinced that he was joint second, and he greeted the news that he was third (because he had no adjacent territories) with a hearty bout of well-chosen expletives. But a rule is a rule, even if it hasn't been used since its invention, over three years ago.
Andrew 3 adjacent cubes
Sam 3 cubes, two adjacent
Ian 3 cubes, two adjacent
Martin 3 cubes
Andy 2 cubes
Finally we chose Abluxxen as our fun way to end the evening. Our third card game of the evening! Are we indulging Martin too much? He needs to play more worker placement games – something a bit more point-salady. Do we still have Ora et Labora? Anyway, I have a pretty decent record on this Roll For The Soul favourite, and I maintained that tonight. I lead from the start and took the win. Sam was second up until the last round, when a hefty negative score knocked him back two places. Harsh, and not terribly fair: that's Abluxxen.
Finally, here's a Division. Since the number of games played is so lop-sided, it's a bit silly. Nevertheless, Sam is top on everything except points ratio, which goes to Adam.