Wednesday, 12 August 2015

The Gin Genie

A new venue, a new era. Tonight saw the inaugural GNN meet held at Katy’s. We were five in total: our new host, Martin, Andy (who both supplied the games, otherwise it would have been Deep Sea Adventure all night), Ian and me.

After a brief spell of chat while Martin went to Sainsbury’s to get beer, we began with Why First? The racing game of coming in second. It was pretty difficult to describe, since Katy had difficulty with the fact that winning didn’t mean being in first. The game was played over five rounds, with only the person placed in second getting any points. At the end of five rounds, the person who came in second overall is the winner. So it doesn’t even reward who was best at coming in second!

The game is simple, hand cards ranging from -5 to +5 to other players or yourself to push meeples up and down the track. Whoever’s in second gets the points according to the space they were on at the time. I got picked on for no reason, allowing Andy to deftly get himself into a joint second place. By which I mean joint first place. Other places were decided according to how far away they were from second place (or first place, if you prefer).

1. Martin 6
1. Andy 6
2. Katy 5
2. Ian 7
3. Andrew 0

After this, Martin introduced us to his compendium of Riener Knizia games Neue Spiele im Alten Rom. This is a compilation of 14 admittedly abstract games which have all been given an Ancient Rome theme. It comes complete with a huge rule book and a flattering picture of Reiner Knizia as the Roman’s might have drawn him. Sort of.

We played Circus Maximus, the chariot racing game. Each player has cards from 1 to 5 to share amongst their three chariots, but you have to take care: you can’t barge into other chariots, meaning that it’s possible to get stuck in a position where you can’t move and a card is wasted.

We did our best to get in each others’ way, but it was Katy who won the day, deftly guiding all three chariots back to salute Ceaser. The rest of us got two back, with Andy getting his second in before us, giving him second place.


It’s a great addition to the collection, and perfect for when we want a quick Kniz Fix.

Katy now offered her selection of flavoured gins, which we all indulged in. Very nice they were too.

Then we played Deep Sea Adventure. Martin and Andy seemed doubtful that it would be much fun with five players, but I don’t know what they meant. I had a great time. Not many people drowned (to Martin’s disappointment) but Katy did get two zero treasures.

Andrew 43
Andy 36
Martin 32
Katy 31
Ian 15

Next we played Mamma Mia. This swift memory game of card-counting and pizza making is a rare sight, but always welcome. Katy had bad luck again in this game, going through the final two rounds without picking up a single olive which was especially unfortunate since she was the player that needed olives in their pizzas.

Martin 6
Andy 5
Ian 5
Andrew 3
Katy 2

Finally, to finish off the evening, we went for Raj, the fun yet painful game of bluff. Katy came out top this time, thanks to the rest of us drawing a couple of important hands in round two, allowing her to pick up some cheap points. Most notable when Ian and Martin tied 15-15 and Andy and I tied 3-3 allowing her a big tile for just her 1 tile.

Katy 39
Ian 32
Martin 24
Andrew 20
Andy 11

And after an evening of short, sharp and silly games, it was time to head out, leaving Katy to explain to husband and housemate about her strange new friends.

On the leaderboard, I appear to still be top. Not sure how.


  1. I found 'why first' one of the most brain bending, impossible to strategise games ever. You kind of just get on with it and see what happens.

  2. Knizia looks like a Colombian drug baron...

    Happy to see I'm (at the moment) leader on points ratio! A rare honour. I may have to skip GNN for September to keep it intact.

  3. I fear Circus Maximus may suffer from the same problem as Atlantis; there's too much benefit from getting your first piece home quickly. It was one of the three games from Neue Spiele that were packaged together for the only English release of these games, Rome. On the Rome page on the Geek someone has suggested the rule change that we talked about last night - "When a chariot finishes, the last card that the player used to park his chariot in one of the finish hexagons, is taken out of the game and it is not available anymore to the player for the rest of the race."

    I enjoyed Why First? and loved the chaos and trying to work out who might move which piece where. I'd like to try the tactical variant sometime, but worry that the game might lose something without the chaos.

    Katy needed us to be playing Solo Mio! rather than Mamma Mia! In the former, going clockwise around the table, you can request help to fulfil your order. If someone provides you with the missing ingredients then they get to complete the top order of their order stack, so it's a win-win situation. Unless the person who can help you was already winning the game, of course.

    Anyway, thanks to Katy for hosting, and everyone else for playing. Here's to the next time.

  4. I enjoyed all the games, and it was nice to break in a new venue too :)