Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Bitte, Lemon

This Tuesday was a mild November evening, and Anja and Steve hosted for the first time in a while. Ten gamers were present in total: the two hosts and Chris, Ian, Matt, Martin, Katy, Joe, Adam (making a welcome reappearance) and me.

We split into three groups. On the coffee table sat myself, Anja and Martin, ready to be introduced to Pax Pamir, an exciting recreation of the political upheaval in Afghanistan in the nineteenth century. On one half of the dining table, Ian, Joe, Katy and Matt were introduced to The Last Spike – something to do with railroads. At the far end of the table Chris was delighted to discover that Steve owned a game of Keyflower, and explained the rules to Adam and Steve. Soon the room was humming to the sound of three simultaneous rules explanations.

The first game to finish was The Last Spike: the shortest and simplest of the new games. In fact Joe said he’d been hoping to finish before Pax Pamir had even begun.

Ian 150
Katy 125
Joe 99
Matt 93

On our table, Martin explained the rules to us. The game is set during the time when British, Russian and Afghan forces were battling for control of Afghanistan and aim of the game is to be the one who is most loyal to the strongest army when a Topple card is played.

We were going along quite nicely, Anja and Martin practised their counter-espionage skills on me, and I assassinated one of Martin’s cards to try and gain favour with the Afghan forces. But then, just as Martin was cursing my move for ruining his chances of a win, he realised he could do it anyway. And so he did. After only about maybe forty minutes of play, our epic came to an abrupt halt. It was over so quickly, that I forgot to take a photo of it.

Anja said it was a bit of an anti-climax and Martin later admitted he wished he hadn’t won the game. At least, not so soon. There’s only winners and losers in Afghanistan so, although I was also loyal to the winning Afghan forces, while Anja was cosying up to the invading Russians and British, I can’t claim second place. Joint second, though.

1. Martin
2= Andrew
2= Anja

When we’d finished, Joe, Matt, Katy and Ian were having a rip-roaring game of Can’t Stop. In this game, you roll die and move meeples along a track until (a) you decide to stop or (b) you can’t move and you go back to where you started. Get your meeple to the end of the track and it’s yours to keep. The winner is one who has claimed most tracks. Something like that, anyway.

Joe 3
Ian 2
Katy 1
Matt 0

At the far end of the table, Chris, Adam and Steve were deep in thought over Keyflower. We on the coffee table, though, began another game. This time: Sticheln, the trick taking card game that changes every time you try to pronounce it. It’s like trumps, except that not following suit turns your card into a trump card. And there are ‘0’ value cards, which never win and, most importantly, each player nominates a suit whose cards count as negative points when scoring.

Anja had trouble with the rule about not having to follow suit since it’s so different from the norm. Martin was doing okay, but misjudged the very last hand of the last round. He still had a red seven which would be minus seven points if he won it. He was confident that he wouldn’t since I was going first, so imagine his annoyance when Anja changed the trump suit to red. He got stung as he won the trick with his suddenly very strong trump card.

Andrew 28
Martin 21
Anja 16

By now, Can’t Sop was over, Sticheln was done and finally the scores for Keyflower were being totted up. Adam was absent by now, having left in the final stages (having left instructions with Katy as to what to do) because of family business.

Steve 48
Adam 42
Chris 34

Finally we ended with Pairs, as you probably guessed from the blog title. Nine of us, clustered around a table, getting all excited about the prospect of blueberries.

Matt started badly, being killed of by two peaches, and his luck didn’t improve. Anja, too, faced down Lady Luck and came off the worse for it.

Chris could’ve won, but didn’t realise we were playing until 21 points (the last game he played lasted until 33). Joe, in a moment of melancholy reflection, asked that when we’re all playing Pairs in an old folk’s home that, if he should die before us, that we deal him in anyway and decide amongst ourselves whether Joe would stick or twist. That’s one way to gain immortality, I suppose.

On a lighter note, a mention of the catchphrase “That’s Numberwang!” gained approval, but for some reason gained an increasingly German accent, ending up as “Das ist nummerwang!” while people who could speak the language gave our their scores in German.

In the final round, Martin and I were first and second. Just before Martin was dealt a card, the deck needed replenshing, so Martin shuffled and handed the cards to me, the dealer. I didn’t want Martin’s shuffling to decide his fate so I cut the deck and dealt him the next card.

He was out.

Such drama! And I won, with Joe making a late charge into second.

Andrew 26
Joe 22
Martin 17
Steve 17
Chris 16
Katy 15
Ian 12
Anja 0
Matt 0

On the Division I'm first on points ratio for perhaps the first time ever. Well, that's me done for the season. See you in January!


  1. The Sticheln situation was actually that I was leading the last round, so I thought I would be guaranteed to lose it. But you had a zero and Anja had a lower red than mine.

    I hope we can get Pamir played again soon, as that one definitely left me wanting more!

  2. PS I'm not sure what order the division is supposed to be in, but it doesn't seem to be anything obvious :)

    1. Boo, my spreadsheet didn't do the ordering like it usually does. How annoying. In that case, it's in the order of placings from last week.

  3. Sounds like a cracking night! If anyone fancies a double dose, my doors will be open from 7pm Friday.

    1. I'm probably up for Friday. I can get my umbrella too :)

  4. Chris! What happened? I really liked Keyflower, but you may have to explain it all over again next time...

  5. Ah jeez, Adam, Everytime I play Keyflower I seem to get a little worse. My problem was that my plan failed due to lack of meeples. getting those two 3rd placed ships damaged my chances. I also stupidly opted for a narrow scoring option. If I had got the tool I wanted I could have upgraded more tiles.... There, a complete answer.

    My explaining must be good because you both scored well.

  6. Plus a large dose of explainers curseChris, surely?

    Thanks for a lovely evening S&A, great to see you both even though we only got to play Pairs together.

    Last Spike was fun - very light and straightforward, with interesting decisions - which stocks to buy, and when to hold back crucial tiles. As Ian pointed out, different games might play out very differently - ours went to the wire but I expect there's some strategy in forcing the game end much earlier if you're edging ahead.

    Can't Stop contained all the highs and lows we've come to expect, defeat snatched from the jaws of victory etc etc.

    Great fun evening, thanks all.

  7. I really enjoyed Keyflower. Which is good, because it's my game. Thanks Chris for saving me the trouble of having to read the rules. It was worth waiting almost 2 years to play it!

    Adam. It was me stealing your Catherdral at the end whilst you were busy leaving the room that did it. I'm sure you wouldnt have let that happen if your patrenal duties hadn't taken precedence.

    By the way Andrew. I don't appear to be on the scoreboard. I know it's been a while but, y'know...