Perhaps wanting to shake off the experience of In The Shadow of the Emperor, or energised by the subsequent non-travails of Cube Quest, Andrew and Ian came to my (Sam's) house this evening for another wee games session before the next week falls upon us.
Nobody was really angling for anything, and for a few minutes we actually sat at an empty table talking, almost as though Settlers of Catan had never happened. But of course the talking stopped, and we went and chose Macao from the cupboard. What can be said about this game that hasn't been said already? It's Stefan Feld's slightly unpredictable offspring, who a few people (I count myself among them) love, and many more say it doesn't measure up to his other offerings.
What I like about Feld games are the neat mechanics - but unlike, say, Castles of Burgundy (also great, but abstract) or Bora Bora (I can't even remember what it's about) or even Rialto ("about" influence in Venice, but essentially a double-bluffing bidding game) Macao does kind of hold onto it's theme after you open the lid of the box: establish a presence in the city of Macao in order to trade with far-distant climes.
We all got off to a slightly cagey start, but before the early rounds move quickly, and before long Ian had a whopping chain of activated cards working their magic. In fact there was so much for him to do each turn as they game closed out, there was time for me to go to the toilet and write a couple of emails before he timed out. Andrew muttered into his cards whilst I, courtesy of activating the Idler card early on, spent a few rounds avoiding trouble and concentrating on my end-game plan - grabbing a big chain of city quarters. In the end it was enough:
We elected to finish off with Take It Easy, which Ian hadn't played in a while and Andrew and I are always up for. Part of the appeal, perhaps, is the GNN meme of calling the tiles with a subject of the callers choosing. Ian pulled off an impressive array of Game of Thrones characters, Andrew displayed incredible knowledge of Japanese pop culture, and I let the side down with a series of Genesis and Phil Collins songs. Sorry everyone.
On the board however I was more cultured, and whilst Ian and Andrew struggled (Ian's opening round was a spectacular 48) took control early on and even the mention of Whodunnit couldn't sway me. Meanwhile Ian, previously staggering around the Take It Easy arena like a man incapable of putting three sevens in a row, pulled a great round out of the fire near the end to make his score more respectable:
The whisky had been flowing already, but I had a bit of a cold and fancied a cup of tea in front of the telly, so as the curtain came down in the weekend, we also drew the veil on our night.