We began with Chocolatl, a recent purchase via BGG. The theme of the game is competing to make chocolate, but the theme is as light as an Aero with it's casing stripped away - this game is all about the mechanics. Luckily, the mechanics were pretty neat. The preparation of chocolate comes in a series of bidding rounds with each chocolatier starting with an identical set of cards. You bid on getting the Chocolate Man (helps you bid) and if your bid is rubbish you end up with the old man, who hampers your bidding. Then you bid on points, then the option of +1 on every bid or a die to roll to increase your bid, then points plus end-game points, and so on, until the last bid which is over high-value bidding cards to add to your hand for the next round.
I really liked it, and I should add that despite winning both games I expressed the same opinion when lagging miles behind the others in game two. It's not hugely unlike Yspahan, but easier to pick up and play and is over much quicker. We didn't keep track of the scores but I romped away in game one with Andrew second and Chris third, then staged an end-game recovery in game two for a narrow victory over Chris, with Andrew third.
image courtesy JackytheRipper on BGG
We moved on to Africana - new to Chris, but relatively straightforward to pick up. It was nice to play this again, and I'd love to say I operated as shrewdly as the scores suggest. But really, lady luck smiled on me repeatedly as adventures and expeditions just seemed to fall into my hands at the right time:
Finally, we saw off the night with Take it Easy. I began the calling with Phil Collins songs. I ran out about halfway through, which is possibly a good thing, and changed to Peter Gabriel. We all agreed the tiles improved at this point.
Chris called the next round and went for people he "hated at college". This stream of names could have been unnerving on another night, with the volume of the detested alarming enough without the fact Chris could recall all their names with minimal effort. Luckily, Andrew and I were quite drunk. We only protested when Chris called the name and didn't actually mention the numbers, seemingly lost in reverie.
Andrew then gave us a treat by calling Japanese TV dramas, giving both title and précis in the most culturally elevated round by some distance, after my 80's pop idol and Chris' psychopathy. I won, but the battle for second couldn't have been closer:
Thanks guys, a great warm-up for Novocon!