Wednesday, 25 November 2015


Games never stop, as the old saying goes. And so, for a few hardy gamers, the recent weekend away was followed up by the regular Tuesday meet for Katy, Sam (hosting) and myself. We were joined by Ben, Andy, Chris, Ian, Joe and Martin.

Early arrivals, Katy and Ben played Sam at Verflixxt. While the rest of the gamers came in, having done their best to avoid the football traffic.

Katy 20
Ben 19
Sam 17

Martin was keen to play Twilight, the non-franchise card game of moon cults and bad art. “Look,” he said, as he drummed up support for the game, “they’re burning a chicken on the cover!” Well, that seemed to swing it, and he, Joe, Ben and Katy adjourned to the front room.

Meanwhile, the five remaining players gave Chocolatl a spin. Chris looked offended when Sam started to explain the rules to him, forgetting that they’d played it together less than a week before. Andy listened to Sam’s explanation of the rules, and then double-checked a few things in the book, for good measure.

As for the game, there was bidding, as you’d expect, but I’m not sure it’s at its best as a five player. There was a lot to take into account. So much so, that it wasn’t worth thinking too much. Sam went for the +1 tiles in rounds one and two and, almost by chance, Ian was usually second in the city, so he ended up with a healthy collection of bonus dice to roll at the end. Neither tactic was enough to win the game, which went to Andy and his softly softly collectee pointy approach. What I mean was, it was hard to see his tactic, except avoid losing points. Maybe he didn’t have one.

Andy 54
Chris 46
Andrew 44
Sam 43
Ian 43

During this game, Twilight ended in high drama. Joe and Katy made up the Moon Cult, against Ben and Martin in the Sun Cult. At the end of the third round, the Moon Cult lead 386-91. Amazingly, by the end of the fourth round, the tables had turned completely thanks to a total shut out by the Sun Cult.

Martin & Ben 397
Joe & Katy 386

Since we were still knee deep in Chocolatl, they began Can’t Stop, the fun dice rolling game. Katy managed to go through the whole game without getting a single meeple on the board.

1. Joe
2. Martin
3. Ben
4. Katy

And now our game timings were overlapping, so since they were halfway through Can’t Stop, we cracked out Samarkand. This is a game where your meeple moves around a board following arrows, having to trade with nomads, buy cards or trade cards for points. The trick is arriving at the nomad camp when the camp is full, so that you get all the cards. And then hot-footing it to the right city to sell those goods before anyone else does.

The most notable aspect was some confusion about one small icon in particular: a tunnel entrance. Was it a burnt mushroom? A man? A tunnel? Of course, it was swiftly dubbed the burnt mushroom man tunnel, and cue childish giggles every time someone went to exploit the man tunnel.

Sam didn’t seem to get to grips with it and gave a poor judgement of it by the end. Ian seemed much more favorable but, then again, he did win. I’m sort of in the middle, as my placing will testify.

Ian 510
Andy 405 (possibly more, can’t read my writing)
Andrew 380
Chris 375
Sam 145

In the other room, The Last Spike was now on the table, with Katy seemingly taking her revenge for those two last places she’d had to endure.

Katy 133
Joe 91
Ben 75
Martin 36

So, with that going on, the five of us went for Celestia.

Sam 52
Chris 51
Ian 46
Andy 45
Andrew 39

And with that, we were all together again, for a hearty game of 6nimmt (chosen in favour of Pairs, despite Sam’s new fruit version).

Cue the usual cries of agony and woe, as one piece of shitty luck gave way to something even crueler. It was close for first place, though with four players tying for first and second. (Or first and third, if you prefer).

A particularly nasty situation

Ian 33
Katy 33
Andrew 35
Martin 35
Sam 36
Andy 49
Joe 50
Ben 62
Chris 63

On the division, Katy regains points ratio and top spot, while Martin keeps hold of the medal table.


  1. With apologies to Andy, who bore my overt disdain cheerily, I must make a small correction - I disliked Samarkand pretty much from the get-go. It's one of those games where the sands continuously shift and (a couple of glasses of wine to the good) I found it very unintuitive and abstract - and it looks horrid! At least Chocolatl has a nice board...

    Nice to play That's Life again. I'd like to try Last Spike, I think Martin's brain would have coped better with Samarkand - we should have swapped at that point!

  2. Looking at the table, my ability to come second a lot doesn't seem to have declined.

  3. Twilight was ace - I can't think of another game to compare it to. A partnership trick-taking game in which you can request any other player play for you. Quite bizarre but somehow it works.
    I really like Last Spike too - I think Martin must have had an unusually bad run of tile draws to end up in the situation he got into.

  4. Thanks for letting me christen my copy of Samarkand. I really like the game, so expect it to make a reappearance soon, though not when Sam is looking for a game. :-) And yes, Andrew, that was indeed my score. At least as far as I remember it.

    My ploy in Chocolatl was not only to avoid minus points, as Andrew speculated, but also to try and pick up small point scores for not too high card play. If you can be trying to win the areas that everyone else is not interested in that round then you stand a good chance of winning. The game itself was OK and I wouldn't be trying to avoid playing again, but I certainly wouldn't be suggesting a game.

    I do like Celestia, though, so happy to play that every week.

  5. I looked at Samarkand today on BGG and was surprised to find it's perceived as a light family game! Personally I found it a bit of a struggle but thinking back, maybe it was the wine.

    I still like Chocolatl, despite coming last! But I can see I'm in the minority. I think a house rule of doing all you bids at the same time was/would be a good call. Quicken the game, for a start...

  6. I enjoyed Chocolatl *and* Samarkand, and I'd be happy enough to play either again.

    I felt like my victory in Samarkand was down to picking up some very lucky cards from the oasis. If we had been shuffling the cards back into the deck more often I might not have been so jammy, but that would have been a lot of shuffling.

    On the other hand, I did win so it must have been down to pure skill.