Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Murder most hurried

Tuesday night games was thrown into upheaval when a late cancellation due to illness was announced by potential hosts Adam and Hannah. Suddenly the full force of modern communications technology shifted into hyperdrive as a new venue was arranged. Or rather, Joe said he could host and everyone else seemed okay with that. We were six in total: Joe, Sam, Ian, Matt, Martin and myself.

We began with Kobayakawa and, while we all enjoy this slimmed down betting game, the last round does seem overly powerful. Once again, the player who won the final round won the whole game.

Joe 15
Andrew 5
Sam 4
Ian 4
Martin 4
Matt 0

Next we split, not into the more usual 3 and 3, but into 4 and 2. Martin was keen to play Witness, a game for four players only in which each game has a new brief scenario and each player is given a piece of evidence. We then whisper this evidence to the person beside us, who then has to whisper what you said AND their own piece of evidence to the person next to them. Very simple and very confusing as we try to remember what everyone said.

As me, Martin, Joe and Matt were setting this up, Ian and Sam went for a game of Letters from Whitechapel. Ian managed the best performance yet as Jack, lasting into the third round before being caught, leaving four dead bodies in his wake. Well done, Ian! But, technically, it’s a victory to Sam.

Board games! Such fun!

As for Witness, each case is solved by each player successfully answering three questions. The team needs to get 9 out of 12 or more to succeed. We played three times, solving a murder (9 out of 12) despite one piece of information getting lost somewhere, then we failed in our attempt at helping some people out of a maze of tunnels (6 out of 12, but Joe got all three of his right) and finally we opened up a combination lock with a five-letter word. 12 out of 12! Excellent. Although Joe took a surprisingly long time to work out the word from the letters C, E, H, I, N. (answer below the Division, if you want to work it out yourself)

Mortimer seems appalled at our deduction skills

After Witness, Jack the Ripper was still at large on the other table, so we played Potato Man. This superb trick taking game starring Evil Potato Man, Super Potato Man and Sexy Potato Lady is always a favourite. Especially with Martin. I can’t imagine why.

Martin 17
Andrew 15
Joe 13
Matt 10

By now Letters from Whitehall was over and Ian and Sam had begun on another two-player game, Lost Cities. I kind of recognised it, but didn’t pay much attention to it, I’m afraid.

Ian 71
Sam 56

Then just to fill in the time for Sam and Ian to finish off Lost Cities, we played Rattlesnake, the clever game of placing powerful magnets on a board on a rickety table. More challenging than usual. Martin was first to put down all of his egg magnets.

Martin first to have 0 eggs left
Matt second to have 0 eggs left
Andrew 1 egg left
Joe had lots left

Finally, we were all as one again, so we chose a couple of six-player games to round off the evening. First was Skull and Roses, the simple bluffing game that I’m really quite bad at. Boldest move was Joe who correctly guessed that there were 8 roses out of a possible 9 cards placed face down. Equally impressive, especially since it was for the win, was Sam’s guess of five roses out of six. It was correct, got him first place, and Joe revealed that his card (the one Sam hadn’t chosen) was a skull. It’s a game of fine margins, is Skull and Roses.

Sam 2 correct
Joe 1 correct
Matt 1 wrong
Martin 1 wrong
Ian 1 wrong
Andrew 2 wrong

Finally, Pairs was put to the table as a nightcap. On my way to the toilet, I heard someone suggest Timeline, but Martin firmly demanded Pairs. A decision he may regret. By the way, I recently picked up a handylittle cheat sheet for Timeline.

Pairs remains full of queer coincidence and strange self-defeating predictions as each player tries to avoid picking up a pair of any fruit/vegetable. Martin is an expert at this: his first was expertly aimed at Sam. Martin boldly said “There’s no way a lemon can kill anyone in this round” seconds before Sam was dealt a lemon to go with his other lemon, sending him out of the round.

But Martin didn’t learn his lesson, and his powers flew back in his face in the next round. Buoyed up by a first place in the last round, he optimistically said “I could get back in this!” just before being dealt his second cherry. Poor old Martin went bust four times out of five. I, on the other hand, didn’t go bust at all.

Andrew 21
Sam 20
Joe 17
Matt 9
Ian 8
Martin 6

And with that, the emergency games evening was over. It was just left for me to negotiate a tricky hill start crossed with a three point turn to take Sam home, and the tension and excitement was done for another week.

The five letter word was niche.


  1. Sorry we had to cancel last night. The whole family was tucked up in bed by half eight, so it would have been a strange games night had you still come round. Hooray for Joe!

  2. Why was the five letter word not chine?

    Hope everyone's germs are soon departed.

  3. Gosh it was a chore, Hannah :)

    I think Sam's win at Skull & Roses was the highlight for me - I couldn't believe it when he didn't flip my card. It subsequently occurred to me that the strategic move would have been to bid six and take the fall, since I had all four cards (and could have ensured I didn't lose my skull); but I didn't. And it was a most deserving win.

    Witness was good fun - I had said I didn't feel like learning new rules, and it didn't have many, it's true. But it did require an enormous amount of information to be held in the head and (mis)communicated to the other players, which was very much the equivalent.

    Fun though, I'd like to play again - logic puzzles with chinese whispers.

    Potato Man is great, Rattlesnake may be my favourite dexterity game. With no planets in. And magnets.

    The eggs feel truly alive, and with enough caution and a super steady hand, it feels possible to place almost anywhere. I need a replacement 12th magnet - it fell on the floor at a neighbours house and disappeared for ever.

    Great to play a smorgasbord of games, and a lovely evening.

    BTW I think Kobayakawa has to be played for place - Martin if you hadn't bet in that last round you'd have been in comfortable second, I think.

  4. Yep hope you're all better soon, or better-rested. Lots of fun, I particularly enjoyed chasing Ian over Whitechapel and Skull and Roses. Thanks again for the lift Andrew. See you all soon... And we must discuss the NSPCC thing before it's upon us!

  5. Yeah, I guess that like Poker, Kobayakawa would work better played for money.

  6. I really didn't get on with Witness when I played it. I find it hard to remember stuff like that and it reminds me that I'm old and losing my faculties.

    And I think you have to like logic puzzles to really enjoy it. In my second game I was really please with passing on correct info only to be undone by the puzzle!!

    1. That makes sense. I think the puzzles appeal to the crossword-solvers amongst us.