Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Thrice Upon A Time In America

The last Tuesday of the season and what a festive end to the season it was. Well, not really. Katy wore a red tracksuit top that had white fleece trimmings which she said made it Christmassy. At least she made the effort.

The rest of us (“us” meaning: Adam and Hannah (hosts), Ian, Ben, Andy, Katy, Joe, Martin, myself and then, later on, a friend of Adam/Hannah/Katy’s: yet another Andy aka AW) were dressed for games. We began with an eight (or nine)-player game of Panic On Wall Street. In this game, investors buy shares in four different products from the managers. The aim is to be the investor or manager with the most money. Effectively, it’s two games in one.

We played a couple of rounds before deciding that another three rounds might be a little too long, especially now AW had arrived and Arthur had been put to bed. Hannah had meant to join us in the game, but was called away by her son’s distant cries. To reward her efforts, I decided to keep her score as the amount of money she had when she’d started.

So, the final reckoning after three rounds was:


Adam $180,000
Andrew $160,000
Joe $160,000
Hannah $120,000
Martin BUST!

Yes, poor old Martin was cleaned out when he went big on reds, only to see them crash from highest to their lowest possible value thanks to a –7 roll on the red die. It was a galling defeat, as he had carefully calculated the odds and any other roll would have got him a win or second.

And as for the managers:

Andy $395,000
Ian $300,000
Ben $285,000
Katy $285,000

Ben went for a huge portfolio to try and bring in as much as possible. Ian, perhaps by choice or perhaps by Ben buying everything, had a very small portfolio. The eventual victory, Andy, had a medium sized range of shares but which, crucially, included those tempting reds.

Next we split into two groups. Joe mentioned casually that he’d brought Lords of Vegas with him, and Martin and Ian instantly volunteered themselves before volunteering Ben to make up the quartet. They set off for the front room to make their fortunes on Sunset Strip.

As for the rest of us, there was some idle talk about splitting into two groups of three but Andy had brought Colt Express with him so we decided to stay together for the third US-themed game of the evening.

This time Katy was Belle, whose beauty was so great it could stop a bullet. Or at least, divert it towards someone else. I was Ghost, the mysterious enigmatic bandit who always starts in a tunnel. Or something.

The game’s notable event was the Marshall’s sudden rampage along the train. During a tunnel round (when all cards are played face down) four people chose to move the Marshall, and so he stormed his way along the train, shooting anyone he saw, sending them scuttling up to the roof. Where there wasn’t any loot. Oh, how we laughed.

Katy played a perfect game, nabbing the suitcase and then an armful of gems while the rest of us shot and punched each other in the middle of the train. This game did not favour people whose name begins with ‘A’. Poor old Adam was today’s target of choice in most gunfights.

Katy $3,010
Hannah $2,550
Andy $1,550
Andrew $1,550
AW $1,200
Adam $800

Lords of Vegas was still nowhere near finishing, and Andy had another six-player game which caught our eye: Between Two Cities. This is a game where you built two cities: one with each of your neighbours. You get a number of tiles and, like 7 Wonders, you pass them on after each turn. Then there are the cunning double tiles before returning to drawing single tiles again.

At the end of three rounds, you should be sitting next to two 4x4 cities, complete with parks, factories, offices, houses, shops and pubs/hotels/venues. Each one has it’s own way of scoring points. The trick is: the lowest scoring city you’re next to is your score, with the other city acting as a tie-breaker.

It was all very civil, as we collaborated to make our little creations. Hannah and I built a green capital, with two three-tile parks (12 points each) while Adam and Katy created Smog City, stuffed full of factories (4 points per factory if you have the most).

It was almost too nice, and I wasn’t really paying attention to the other cities. Like Takenoko, it lulls you into a false sense of tranquillity before the end of the game looms and you have to make some decisions fast. Of course, the best decision is to sit between Andy and Katy, so well done to Adam!

Adam 56 (61)
Katy 56 (60)
Andy 54 (61)
Andrew 54 (60)
Hannah 53 (54)
AW 53 (54)

As we packed that game away, Lords of Vegas was coming to an end. All I’d heard from it was the occasional groan of disbelief and Martin’s loud assertion that “This is bullshit!” at one point. I watched the final round as Ian spent big to reorganise two casinos (one went to Joe, though) before the Strip finally paid out again. It was to prove a winning move as he leapfrogged Martin and Joe. Meanwhile, it was tight for second.

Ian 44
Martin 40 (plus $47m)
Joe 40 (plus $45m)
Ben 18

It must have been tough for Ben playing against such seasoned professionals, but he said he enjoyed it on the journey home.

Finally, there was time for a quick two-round game of 6nimmt – Adam’s zombie version. I know some poo-poo this design, but I think 6nimmt’s relentless onslaught of a mindless enemy and a desperate sense that you can’t possibly escape quite fits the zombie motif.

At the start of the second round, we decided that Adam's dealing was too slow, so AW helped deal from the other half of the deck! Two dealers for one game. It was madness, I tell you! My phone didn't know what to focus on.

AW 9
Adam 12
Katy 13
Joe 15
Martin 17
Ben 26
Andrew 26
Ian 33
Hannah 42
Andy 65

And with that we were away. Four of us packed into my tiny car. As we went down Devon Road (the somewhat seedy back street made up of garage doors and graffiti) Katy missed a call from Hannah. Thinking we must have forgotten something she asked me to stop so I did, engine running and lights on, while she called back.

This must’ve been disconcerting for the lone cyclist who was coming the other way. Especially when Katy discovered that Joe had left his glasses behind, and I pulled away again just as the cyclist had gone past us. Whatever must he have thought?

But to more pressing matters: the Division. Alas, there were no last minute twists of fate: Katy and Adam take the plaudits as we thought they probably would. But how remarkable to see a dead heat (in points) between two of the newcomers. Well done Tim and AW.

See you in the New Year for the next exciting instalment etc etc...


  1. Love that dice-rolling action shot!

    1. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that after Lords of Vegas, the players all stood around for several minutes, saying things like "what a game!" and reminiscing over what had just happened.

  2. It was a particularly great game of LoV, even by its own high standards. Ian was loaded with cash from early on, so needed a robust opposition to not run away with the game. Martin provided most of that, but at one point Ben and I chipped in £10m each towards a 7 casino reorganise which Martin only had one die in.

    We also realised that the game really needs a built in dice rolling 'runway' down the strip - I fully intend to spend most of 2016 making one...

    Thanks Hannah and Adam for hosting, and Merry Christmas all x

  3. Meanwhile in deepest Dorset we played King of Tokyo, Looping' Chewie, Pairs, Spyfall, Hugo and Codenames. The kids all loved Chewie but for the grown-ups Spyfall and Codenames were the big hits.

    Merry Christmas all! Hope to see some of you on the 2nd x