In keeping with the laziness theme, I packed Fresco away again when I realised there were extra rules to learn for two players, and we set up Ascending Empires instead. Ian was new to it, but had been present during the historical occasion when Katy christened Martin "space c**t" due to his incessant attacks on her, so he kind of got the idea. And the rest of the game is fairly straightforward to explain.
There was no such badinage last night, however, as Ian and I cagily explored the firmament in a kind of overlapping solitaire, moving around the board with - aside from the odd underwhelming shuffle - the confidence of space pilots who are never going to fly off the edge of the universe and onto the tablecloth. But eventually, space was inhabited, and it was time to kick the shit out of each other. I started proceedings by attempting to blow up Ian's city but having flown in two starships successfully, my third one didn't quite make it into orbit.
just like NASA
Ian countered, and the rest of the game became a battle royal around the centre of the galaxy, as we flew back and forth, successfully demonstrating the pointlessness of war (unless you count victory points). Ian provided a moment of genius when, having realised his ship's route was blockaded by a planet, he deliberately tried to ricochet off another planet and into firing range - and pulled it off! Now he just needed to bring his other ship into play - unfortunately it cannoned into both my ship and his own, wiping all three out, but a memorable bit of derring-do nonetheless.
Ian had managed to build up his 'grey' technology to the point where he had four movement points and another turn, as long as the free turn was not a move itself. We both thought - as Andrew had a while back - that it seemed overly powerful, as Ian kept on moving and recruiting to bolster his defences and take the odd point off me. As the game ended, he had the larger stack of chits and we'd both built cities in every quadrant. I thought he'd won. What saved me was my own level 4 technology (brown) which had allowed me to recruit on unoccupied planets. Stuffing four guys on shitty asteroids in my last move meant I led the occupied worlds 17-9 and overall, I'd done just enough:
Though we both agreed the board seemed too big for two, I'd forgotten what fun this can be.
As I'd chosen Ascending Empires Ian chose next, and elected to stick with the space theme in Quantum. No introductions needed! We went for the 'circular' set up that I thought I'd played before, but now I'm not sure. Apart from your starting worlds all the planets have a value of eight, and I was given a huge advantage by fate: rolling a mathematically advantageous five and two threes. Ian had low value dice, and kept rolling more low value dice when he reconfigured, so I simply ploughed my way around the board to the point where I had one cube left and Ian was forced to defend the available planets to try and hold me up.
Having flirted with high value dice he was back at the ones and twos though, and I managed to sneak around the other way and finish the game.
Sam - no cubes left
Ian - three cubes left
We reckoned Ian had been dealt a shitty hand so quickly set up and played again. This time it was closer - Ian went on the attack early, and even though I managed to get the first cube down, the game swung to and fro like an excitable pendulum. Ian got his dominance up to five quite fast, but luckily my redeployed ships were low value and I counterattacked, knocking him back down again. Crucial to my success this time was picking up Agile, which let me move all my ships an extra space. And just as in the first game, the warping power of the three-pipped ships proved invaluable:
Sam - no cubes left
Ian - two cubes left
We'd bashed through two games of Quantum in under an hour, so there was still time for whisky and 7 Wonders. I picked up Babylon, the sciencey wonder, and decided early on to go for sciences in a big way. I'd never attempt this in a four-player game, but I was pretty sure Ian wouldn't go for them and just hoped Dirk would keep his scientists in check too.
I'm not totally sure the sciences justify the amount of cards you have to spend to make them worthwhile; though I managed to pull off a win it was in the end down to the last card I built for Dirk - a military building, which meant he took 5 points away from Ian and I squeezed past him, scoring 36 points for science and not a whole lot else:
With space conquered and wonders built, it felt like a bit of an epic evening. But maybe that was the whisky talking.