While waiting for Andy, we began with Go Stop (or Ghost Op, as some of us thought Martin said when he suggested it, perhaps expecting a Tom Clancy style strategy Black Ops game with a supernatural theme).
This card game resists any attempt at working out how to put it on the leaderboard. Adding up the scores doesn’t make any sense because this is a game where winning with a one (as Matt did) is far more impressive than winning with a high card. We will have to leave it as non-leaderboard.
Any way, we played three rounds, and we scored (winning scores in bold):
Sam 0, 0, 0
Ian 3,0, 0
Martin 9, 7, 0
Joe 0,0, 0
Matt 0, 5, 1
Sam's tactic of going Dirk in rounds two and three badly went wrong as both times he shuffled his cards, played them without looking at them, only to discover his only scoring Stop card still in his hand when the bets had been placed.
Then Andy arrived and we split into a group of four (playing Africa) and a group of three (playing Darjeeling). Africa is a new game to GNN, and Joe explained the rules to me, Martin and Ian while Sam explained Darjeeling to Matt and Andy.
Africa is all about exploration. You might find animals, jewels, nomads or monuments. Each one can be used in a different way to score points either when you find them, or later in the game if you find yourself next to them and can move them to a more suitable place on the board. With all of Africa to explore, you’d imagine it would be quite a solitary game, but in fact we spent most of the game in a group, moving from one area of the board to another like herding animals. How apt.
As you’d expect from a Knizia, it’s a bit thinky and strategic, but it also seems a lot more luck based than usual. It got a rather guarded appraisal of “I’d play it again” from us. Maybe we were missing something.
Over in India (confusingly, set up on the table to the east of Africa) I noticed that new boy Matt had a huge lead halfway through the game, and he did enough to hang on despite a late push up the score chart.
However, at this point we got stuck in a bit of rut of games that never seemed to end at the same time. Sam, Andy and Matt played Koryo, a card game. I know nothing about it.
We played Die Dolmengötter, a game with a singularly uninteresting board. I noticed that the borders had a bit of grass on it, showing that they had made an effort to make it look nice. Joe said it looked like pubic hair. I’ll let the reader decide.
First impressions were not helped by some very ordinary game pieces. But once we got going, it had a certain charm. Place your stones by moving your men around stone circles. If you have a majority, you can place a scoring tile of your choice (face down) on top of the stack. If you draw then you can put a tile at the bottom of the stack. The further up a tile is in the stack, the more its value is multiplied for points.
Four stages of indecision
Quite clever and cunning. Joe clocked up his second win of the evening.
On the other half of the table, Sam was teaching Matt and Andy the joys of Bullfrogs. It ended:
While those frogs battled it out, we played a couple of games of Qwixx: a dice game which showed Das Exclusive off to its fullest potential. Finally, a game where its stadium-like dimensions are a bonus, not a hindrance.
By now we had all ended at the same time, so we decided to finish with the closest thing to Ghost Op that we had: Midnight Party! Or Fuck Off, Hugo as Martin dubbed it after some bad luck with the die. It was a very close game. Clearly, we’re all getting the hang of it. Still, it gave us enough anguish as we Self-Hugoed our own pieces and Martin uttered the line (immortalised in this blog post) to describe the very special cruelty that this game demonstrates.
And that was that. We set out into the warm summer rain, invigorated and alive.
The Division currently looks like this: