The game itself was similarly odd, with hard-to-distinguish fruit suits haunted by a ghostly pineapple, and a donkey and cart meeple trundling around a central area changing the trump cards. If you lead, you can move the donkey. If you lead the first card, everyone must follow suit, if they can. Unless of course they fling a barrel on one of the central cards, which bring you points through majority-scoring when someone runs out of cards. I got rid of my cards quickly, but it wasn't the greatest strategy:
just like being there
We'd already agreed it was non-leaderboard as Joe walked in as we began the first (and only) round, but the rules do specify that in the event of a tie, the game designer wins. So well done Peer Sylvester, who - apart from Wir Sind Das Volk! - I don't think has been seen at GNN towers since the slightly-underwhelming appearance of Singapore, three years back. Surely there's a better photo of Peer than the one someone has seemingly photocopied into the rule book?
...before breaking into groups of three for the main event. Joe only had to mention Lords of Vegas for Ian and Ben to jump in; Martin and I roped Chris in for a game of Mexica. I'd traded for this some time ago after being very enamoured of it at Steve and Anja's place. But we all - Chris especially, seeing as he'd never played it - needed appraising of the rules before cracking into it. The game is about area control but in a more reactive way than the likes of El Grande - you're moving your Mexica around the board, building temples and basically being a sneaky shit. Martin rhapsodized about the potential for "being a dick" so much, in fact, that it became my default position.
Chris in charge
I didn't know what to do at the start, but when Martin left a space for me to take advantage I didn't hesitate, and a serial swearathon began with most of the cursing coming from Martin's corner. The game is all about establishing areas (score points) and building temples there to control them (score points) which is all facilitated through your mexica, who trundles slowly across land but hurtles like a jet-skier through water. Despite Martin's intermittent apoplexy, he still finished second:
The others were just finishing up Lords of Vegas, which gave the three of us time to play FUSE, the ten minute game of bomb defusal. We went for the standard setting, which was perhaps overly ambitious seeing how we regularly fail the training missions. Things started badly when Chris spotted the timer wasn't running, then we hit a mid-game patch of rolling several dice two of us couldn't use... we failed eventually, though not without a surge toward the end. On the other side of the table, Ian brought home a substantial victory in Lords of Vegas:
Las Vegas Das Eng
I'll leave the details to the comments, as all I heard was the occasional plaintive wail of a failed gamble. With the six of us back in a group we repeated our team Pairs game, with the individuals shuffling around to mix things up. Martin and I ran out reasonably convincing winners:
But kudos must go to Joe for his almost metronomic insistence on following every appalling shot with a brilliant one, and vice versa. It was almost eerie. Chris went for a kind of bludgeoning approach, scattering opponents - usually Martin - far and wide.
We finished off our sextet with Pairs, as Ben had to exit pretty soon. Chris and I were both on 17 points (Joe was too, but he'd bust) and needed to win the round to win the game with everyone else bust already. We pushed and pushed, twisting like Chubby Checker, but someone had to eventually succumb to fate. It was me:
Sam /Joe 17
Ben headed off and we rounded off the evening with Timeline. There was a flurry of pretty bad guessing if I'm honest, with none worse than my own. Hardly anyone seemed to know anything. We were piling up the redundant cards far quicker than extending the timeline, but Martin quietly depleted his own cards until he had the appearance of homo sapiens to get rid of...
Ian 1 card left
Chris 2 cards left
Joe and Sam 3 cards left
Finally finally, as the regular GNNers left, Sally and our friend Katie returned from the pub, and we bashed out yet another game of Push It! Sally thought it should be leaderboard, but I'm not so sure. Besides, she said that before I won:
It was now midnight, and another stitch in the GNN tapestry was complete.