Wednesday, 20 January 2016

All the way up to eleven

Today I was bothered by a slight cold but couldn’t bear to miss a second Tuesday in a row so I arrived at Joe’s, slightly croaky, ready for some gaming glory. I was last to arrive, since I’d forgotten all the short cuts I usually take to Joe’s, and I found we were six in total that night: me, Joe, Katy, Martin, Ian, and Sam.

They were discussing potential six-player games for the night but, instead of walking into the next room and looking at Joe’s collection, Joe was looking on his phone for six-player suggestions on his and Sam’s own website. I can’t tell if this is extremely lazy or the perfect use of the internet.

Martin suggested we try his new acquisition: Deadwood. It was an old Cheapass Games game, and he found it on a wall! He said it looked good and, if it wasn't, he can just leave it on another wall.

How odd, then, that we should begin with a five-player game: Fuse. This bomb-busting dice game was introduced by Sam and he acted as the compare: explaining the rules and dealing out cards as the game progressed.

We began slowly, all too polite to take the die we needed (“No, really. I’m happy with anything.”) but we got up to speed and were able to defuse the bombs with 49 seconds of the 10 minutes remaining. This gave us a high score of 74 points!

After this, another team game: Codenames. We played one round in which cryptic crossword experts Joe and Sam as spymasters. But having experts on one side is only good if you have experts on the other. As it was, Katy and I could only get two of Joe’s audacious “Camelot, 5” clue. Sam struggled, beginning his game with a clue for only one card, just so he could get it out of the way.

The game was remarkable in that out of all the many wrong answers, none benefited the other team.

Joe, Katy, Andrew 8 (all clues cleared)
Sam, Ian, Martin 8

Finally, we did the decent thing and split into two groups of three. Sam, Ian and I returned to the vineyards for another bash at Viticulture, while Joe, Katy and Martin chose Castle Crush.

In Castle Crush, as far as I can tell, each player builds a little town to protect two little meeples, which then are subjected to the whims of a toppling battering ram. Martin noted that the table held two of the most opposite games it could possibly host. Thinky Eurogamer worker-placement next to tactile physical bludgeoning.

Us wine-growers set up swiftly, and were off to a flier. Ian and I went for early cheap deliveries just to get some money coming in. I pretty much ignored cards, though, which Sam and Ian profited heavily from.

It was a close battle, with the three of us leap-frogging each other up the score track. Halfway through, Katy looked over from her half of the table and remarked to Sam how well he was doing. “But look at all the wine Ian’s got,” Sam replied, as he poured himself a real glass of the stuff for himself.

A close battle

Castle Crush ended soonest, with Martin coming out a clear winner.

Martin 85
Katy 69
Joe 64

And they followed this by the card game 99, which Martin also won.

Martin 77
Katy 76
Joe 51

By this time, Viticulture had ended and, once again, Ian took top spot.

Ian 25
Sam 22
Andrew 20

Next up was another team game, Push It. By combining Sam’s and Martin’s sets, we were able to have a three two-player team battle around Joe’s circular table: perfect for the game.

Ian & Katy got an early lead, but then became stuck on four points while the rest of us caught up. Then Sam & Martin put together some good moves while Joe & me sort of made up the numbers.

At first we thought we should just play until seven points, but we were enjoying it so much that it was extended to the usual eleven (hence the blog title). Sam & Martin crashed through the winning line with a neat two-pointer.

Sam & Martin 12
Ian & Katy 7
Joe & Andrew 5

And we finished the evening with Skull and Roses, the simple bluff game. It was quite a short game, since Joe’s ability to read the table was second to none. He was only wrong once, and that was when he tried to bluff, but no one followed and he had to reveal his own card: a skull. He made up for that immediately afterwards by guessing seven roses out of eight. Ian managed to also get a correct call in. After that, it was just a case of who had the most cards left.

1. Joe
2. Ian
3. Martin
4= Katy
4= Andrew
5. Sam

And with that, we were done. We set off with Martin saying he’d thoroughly enjoyed every game he’d played that evening.

A glimpse at the division will only increase that contentment.


  1. Yes, that was a great night. Dice-rolling, clue-guessing, castle-smashing, trick-taking, puck-flicking, bluff-calling and absolutely no worker placement!

  2. The only reason Martin and I won Skull and Roses was Martin's flicking... I got close occasionally, but just as often I flicked my disc about halfway to the puck before it gave up.

    Enjoyed Viticulture much more this time: I pulled a few sneaky moves to trigger the last round, before Ian sailed serenely by. On a barrel, as I imagine it.

    By the way - finally got a rule correct first time! I checked this evening and it says "Martin must ridicule the game every time workers are placed".

  3. You mean Push It, Sam, rather than Skull. Although imagine a hybrid of the two!
    On second thoughts I can't.

    I enjoyed all the games immensely too - though we played a rule wrong in 99 - if you fail a declare or reveal your opponents get the points instead. Harsh but fair.

  4. I can't even get the right game now!