Saturday, 4 April 2015

King of the Castle

Easter Friday, and the games began early. My mum had visited the night before, and having stayed over she joined me and the boys after breakfast for Keltis: The Dice Game. I think the last time this was played by any GNN member outside the Morrison household, it was Andrew and I watching Everton in a pub, back when they were a half-decent team. Long time ago.

It's a really simple game - you have four stones and you're pushing them up different tracks. If your stone stops on an emerald, you pick up an emerald. If it stops on a clover, you get to push any stone up an extra place. If it stops on a leprechaun, you get another turn... it's the sort of thing the Irish tourist board probably have nightmares about. As soon as five stones go past a certain point on the tracks the game ends. Stan and Joe played as a team, and with zero help they wiped the floor with us:

Stanley/Joe 22
Sam 14
Crysse 11

Crysse then headed home and Stan and I played Black Fleet. More easy-going stuff, albeit with the slight edge of getting your pirate ship sunk (by the navy, to stop it stealing goods) or your merchant ship stolen from (by the pirates, to gain doubloons). The game is super-simple: play a movement card and move three ships (both your own, plus one navy ship) and if you choose to, play a fortune card as well. Fortune cards do various bits and bobs. Your aim is to get enough doubloons to flip over all your cards in a tableau in front of you - and as each one is flipped it gives you a special power.

One such power for Stan was the ability to sink my merchant ship with the navy, a politically incorrect move he emptied to effect on his winning turn:

Stanley: all cards flipped
Sam: one card unflipped

In the afternoon Katie and Mark joined us with their kids Peppa and Lula. After a stroll around Narroways in the afternoon, an Easter egg hunt, and several unintended interactions with the mud, we returned for a roast tea.

Whilst Sally began working her magic in the kitchen (Mark and I washed up later, honest) myself, Mark, Katie and Peppa began playing Trans America, the game of semi-cooperative track-laying. We only managed one round before the food arrived, but with a bit of help from Mark on her final turn, Peppa won it. I don't recall the exact scores but I think I was back in last place.

Next we played Linkee. It's a quiz game where four usually-easy-to-answer questions are linked in some way, so the game is really about that bit of lateral thinking. If you get the link you win a card, and normally you play until you have managed to spell Linkee, as the letters are randomly distributed on the back of the cards. We found at Christmas though this can take hours, so just played until someone had five cards.

Mark won every single time, with the rest of us usually back on one or no cards at all. I'd like to say I didn't win because I was questioner, but Peppa took over this role and I suffered the same fate as Katie and Sally before me.

About nine Sally managed to get the kids both into bed and asleep courtesy of a sedate reading of The Secret Garden. Downstairs I'd managed to get Castles of Mad King Ludwig set up and explained the rules to Mark and Katie, so when Sally reappeared we were ready to go.

Sort of.

King Ludvig wanted kitchens, gardens, exits and corridors, and my bonus cards rewarded bedrooms and corridors. So for reasons I haven't really fathomed, except perhaps mild drunkenness due to my inroads on a 5-litre keg of Gem, I started building cellars and utility rooms. Sally, as revealed at the end, was after one of every type of room, and like others before her fell agonisingly short. Mark built a string of gardens - broken only by a large meat locker - leading to a confection of living rooms. And Katie stared at the choices before her, seemingly more bewildered by every passing turn. I watched the equally bewildering sight of Sally explaining a game to somebody, as we chipped in to help.

I lagged behind early on, and lagged behind later too. The other three took turns in the lead, but toward the end Mark and Katie surged ahead of us and clearly wouldn't be caught. When we added up at the end, my bonus cards did was get me from a horrendous fourth place to a mildly embarrassing one. Katie's bonuses took her momentarily into the lead, but when Mark turned his cards over he overtook her again to claim the win:

Mark 96
Katie 90
Sally 73
Sam 70

With the clock approaching eleven, we broke out one last game - Timeline. New to Katie and Mark but as ever, very easy to play. Sally made the early running with her historical knowledge leading to educated guesses - possibly too educated, as Katie speculated on the privileges of private schooling. But Mark and I managed to catch up and at one point the three of us were hovering over a single card. Katie meanwhile was hampered by her rather ambitious card placements - going for a ten year gap in one turn and a three-year gap in the next. Unfortunately neither paid off.

Mark got his card down and as last player to his left, I had one chance to force a tied win. Could I determine the development of Euclidean Geometry? It was definitely after ceramics, but was it before the cork? I managed to get it down and we celebrated in our joint victory:

Mark/Sam: all cards down
Sally: 1 card remaining
Katie: 3 cards remaining

Including Linkee (with a joint second for the rest of us), it was still a clean sweep for Mark though, meaning he cleans up on the hugely-seldom KMSS leaderboard. Sally also sweeps past me, though The Chiseller, Katie, remains back in fourth place for now...







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