Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Of mice and meeples

With the election campaign well underway, but no sign of any party wooing the influential, affluent (if they stopped buying board games) gamer vote. Undeterred by our anonymity, nine of us met at Steve and Anja's house for the first evening of a new season. Apart from our two hosts, we were: Sam, Martin, reigning champion Katy, Andy, Adam, Ian and myself.

We split into two groups. Sam, Martin, Andy and Ian went for pastures new, with one of Sam's recent acquisitions, The Golden City.

The other five game (minus Anja, who was putting Baby Lu to bed) went through the usual motions of debating a game. Steve suggested 7 Wonders, and pulled it from the games cupboard, only to see a peculiar substance smeared across one corner of the box. Further investigations revealed the truth: they had mice in there! Plenty of tiny droppings were perhaps meant as a damning comment on our hobby. Steve got the vacuum and did a brief stint of housework. He then left the vacuum cleaner out, clearly with intentions to finish the job later.

So, with 7 Wonders no longer an option since no one wanted to touch it, we went for an old familiar: El Grande. It was new to Katy but, frankly, El Grande doesn't need a great deal of explanation, and once I'd removed the expansion pack bits from the main game, we were ready to go.

I got off to a flier, using a “Score the region(s) with the least meeples” card, and then putting one meeple in three regions and scoring them to leap into an eighteen point lead. A killer move! And one that convinced everyone to gang up on me. Then Adam took his go, and the next thing we knew, his phone went and he had to go back to look after his poorly baby.

So we were down to four players. This turned out to be a blessing, as El Grande grew into an epic. At one point Steve took so long over his turn that I had to do something: he was leaning over the board, cube between his fingers, holding it pensively above a region while he thought. I swiftly slapped the back of his hand so he dropped the cube onto the board and that was his go!

Meanwhile, on the other table, they'd sped through The Golden City (relatively speaking). During the game we had heard plenty of swearing from Martin, so we foolishly thought he was doing badly.

Martin 62
Andy 54 wins on a tiebreaker
Sam 54
Ian 51

Since we were nowhere near finishing, they started another new game Tower of Babel. I did have a look at the board mid-game, but didn't understand any of it. I did approve of the comedy placing of one of the game pieces before they began.

They ended before we did. The scores were:

Andy 86
Martin 80
Sam 73
Ian 57

And as they ended, so we too, entered the final lap. After my initial burst, Steve and Katy were playing catch up and a few times they got pretty close. But, like a man in an Audi teasing a hitch-hiker, I managed to pull away just in time. Anja said she was just glad she wasn't lapped.

Andrew 136
Steve 116
Katy 114
Anja 78

Finally, here's the division which I wasn't going to post (because it's so early in the season) but I like d the way the two groups of gamers intertwined.


  1. The Golden City was nice, if nothing new. And Tower of Babel was as baffling as ever.

  2. I played The Golden City with Stanley today, who gave it 8 out of 10. His favourite games are Railways and Lords of Waterdeep.

    I enjoyed Golden City a fair bit, though Martin's summary is accurate. Tower of Babel I was slightly less enamoured of, but maybe only because it took 2/3rds of the game to understand it.

  3. The Golden City was enjoyable. I was concerned when I took an early lead as it's usually a sign I've neglected something, which proved to be the case. Though I think the single biggest error I made was when I tried to push the auction price up towards the end of the game, and ended up with cards that weren't that useful.

    Tower of Babel totally befuddled me, just couldn't get my head round it at all. It's a clever game, I'll give it that.

  4. Oh by the way, I realised that all players are supposed to draw a card after every turn in Tower of Babel. That would have meant we didn't need to pass quite so much!

  5. In that case I would have definitely won. Can we rejig the scores to reflect this travesty?