Friday. Owing to tragic confusion, Chris was not sitting at the table with us as Andrew and I (Sam) went through the rules to The Voyages of Marco Polo. I can précis them here though: if you've played Alien Frontier you'll be familiar with the idea of rolling and assigning dice to do stuff. And if you've played any number of headfucking Euro games you'll be familiar with the multiple routes to victory.
The board shows - I assume - some of the paths Marco Polo roamed, with links between cities. You have a bunch of dice and on your turn they can do a bunch of things - get you camels (great for travelling) or money (ditto) or silk, pepper and gold (great for fulfilling contracts). It's actually surprisingly straightforward and quick moving - Andrew and I got through two games which took less than an hour each - but there was that familiar Euro-y sensation of not being able to do everything you want to. If you travel about, you establish trading houses, which means you have an extra option to spend dice on. But if you forego travelling in order to concentrate on fulfilling contracts, as Andrew did in out first game, you may find staying at home is rather rewarding:
Because there are bonus points to do so, I'd made my way across the map to Beijing, but in doing so had neglected the contracts which not only scored big for Andrew, they also gave him a 7 point reward for doing the most of them.
We set up again and I was all set to explore the contract angle myself, but something changed my mind. At the start of Marco Polo players are given a role that gives them a unique benefit. In the first game I had the seemingly huge advantage of choosing my dice numbers rather than rolling them - not as good as I thought, at least not in my hands. (Andrew had an extra die and some free contracts). But in the second game I had an extra traveller on the board and an endless supply of camels. So once again I went travelling. This time Andrew joined me, and we fought it out on both fronts. Andrew would have won again, but he had forgotten to travel to a particular destination. We'd both made it to Beijing through, and this time I nabbed the reward for most contracts:
It was intrigued, it played fast (in a good way) and there's definitely a lot of replay value - there's just so much going on and the character cards you start with can really define how you play. There's also - we realised late in the day - a fair amount of screwage room, if you really wanted to be an asshole. But I didn't get the sense either of us were bowled over by it. We both agreed it might be better with more players and we should revisit one Tuesday reasonably soon.