The odd thing about bank holiday weekends is that just as the quiet weekend finishes, you’re thrown straight into the scorching underbelly of competitive turmoil. Or "Martin’s house" as some people call it.
This week, there were seven of us: myself, Sam, Joe, Martin, Katy, Ian and Andy. We began in two groups, both playing games which involve spice trading. Ian, Andy and I played the very-very-imaginatively titled Spice Merchant, a simple card game where you can either put goods into a market or put goods in front of you. If the goods in the market match those in front of you then you win points! Hurrah! It sounds simple, but there’s the risk that another player may be trying to close the market quickly and ruin your plans. Plus, there’s the little matter of your secret trading choice. Perhaps this will save your day? Or perhaps not.
It was okay. I think it needs a couple of plays before the balance of when to do what becomes clear. For me, anyway.
Joe, Martin, Katy and Sam where having a jolly old time with Safranito, a game that involves throwing chips across a board where they might end over a picture of a plate of spices. I didn’t understand much more than that.
But Spice Merchants is a much shorter game than Safranito so the three of us tried another new game: Villa Paletti. This is a dexterity game of tower building, with a winner at the end.
It was fun, but I was amazed how many rules they packed into such a simple game. I think it’s ripe for house variants. Anyway, we completed the tower, with Ian winner due to having more point-scoring columns on the top floor.
Then we played Raj, while they finished off Safranito. It was the usual tale of cruel ties and tense bluffing, which Ian did best at.
While we played Raj, the other four squeezed in two games of Villa Paletti. Both were shorter because the tower collapsed both times.
At this point we were all together again, so we divided into new groups. Joe, Andy and Katy played Was Sticht? and Sam, Martin, Ian and I tried yet another new game K2.
K2 is a mountaineering game where you can either move, acclimatize or build a tent as you try to scale the second highest mountain in the world. Weather is a major feature and most of the game was concerned with getting our mountaineers out of the areas where the cold hit hardest, like someone ducking into a coffee shop out of a sudden downpour.
It was simple but fun, perhaps helped by our choice of summer and good weather, which helped us keep all our meeples alive.
For the second time this evening, Ian proved himself a friend of high places. After winning Villa Paletti, he scaled K2 and scored a deserved win.
Was Sticht? ended :
And once again we seven were free at the same time. Two rousing games of Pairs were played to finish the evening. This evening’s deadly foodstuff was blueberries. A pair of these proved fatal no less than four times (Ian, Sam and Joe twice).
Andy went through both games with only one bust hand, raising cries of “He’s unbustable!” He sailed to an easy win in game one
But victory was taken from him by Martin. In the last round, if Martin had stuck, Andy would have won since Martin was beating Katy. But Martin was rather taken by our newly invented rule that getting a hand with each fruit or vegetable in it would automatically win the game. Since that was his only chance, he went for it. He didn’t get very far.
What larks! And if that weren’t enough, Joe gave a quick demonstration of his own home-made dice tower for those who weren’t early enough to see it before.
What a shame such dedication and creativity isn’t rewarded on the Division.