Owing to a slight misunderstanding, I thought Andrew was running late, so Ian and I played Hive whilst we waited for him. The last couple of times I played this game I've been trounced, by Adam and Andrew respectively, so I tried to get on the front foot early and keep Ian on the defensive. Ian felt a little rusty - he needed a rules refresher in fact - and I managed to get on top early. In the middle of the game Andrew arrived, fashionably 5 minutes late rather than the half-hour we anticipated, but fortunately he'd got my message about chips. In the time it took us to eat them I managed to wrap up the game.
We moved on to the main dish of the evening, game-wise. Nobody was angling for anything in particular, but after a short discussion Ticket to Ride made its welcome return to the table. I think this has been seen in Bracknell periodically, but in Bristol it hasn't been sighted since the early days of Roll for the Soul, back in 2013. In part I suppose this has been down to the popularity of Railways of the World, the one game that seems to unite almost everybody at GNN (with the exception of Anja).
It's no RotW, that's for sure, but playing it again made me appreciate its easy accessibility. And we had a really close game: Ian made the early running - in fact he led for the first three-quarters of the game. But toward the end he seemed to run out of steam (ha) and both Andrew and I overhauled him in final scoring. After we'd counted up routes both completed and uncompleted, Andrew was one point ahead of me. All we had now was the longest-unbroken-route reward of ten points. We counted up our trails of trains and it was tense: Ian had thirty-four, Andrew had thirty-six... I had thirty-seven! I don't have the final scores with me as I type in deepest Devon, but hopefully Andrew can add them later:
Ticket to Ride doesn't take long, so with the clock still closer to 9 than 10, we set up Castles of Mad King Ludwig. This is another easy rule-set, albeit with more thought required as to what you get up to with them. With Ludvig wanting to see a lot of cellars, we all built staircases early and started something of a downstairs-room cold war. The first two downstairs rooms were dead-ends, which would have meant building more stairs if you wanted more downstairs rooms, but Andrew bit anyway. He shot off into an early lead, I surged ahead of him mid-game, and Ian lagged behind with the same air of fatalism he last displayed when he thrashed us at Concordia.
Though Ian didn't win this time, he did still stage an impressive comeback with his endgame bonuses, which was enough to catch me and put us joint second behind Andrew, whose bonuses were also vibrantly rewarding. I think I might have won on the biggest-castle tiebreaker, but neither of us could be arsed to work it out, so we celebrated in our joint defeat!
I still had the dregs of my cold to deal with, not to mention the portents of a hangover, so we called it a night.
The Division for Castles of Mad King Ludwig