Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Below Zero

Tuesday at Joe’s. Six gamers sat around his kitchen table: Joe, Andy, Martin, Katy, Matt and myself.

With six at the table, with Sam absent, there was talk of giving I’m The Boss an airing. But first, we decided to bring back an old favourite: Midnight Party. Strictly speaking, this game is banned for being too rowdy, but Joe figured it’d be okay at the start of an evening.

It was almost too sedate, in fact, with Hugo hardly moving at all. This lead to a bit of a bottleneck near the top of the stairs.

But, despite all this tension, round one was quite peaceful with only three guests being eaten. Hugo woke up a bit in the next two rounds, but not enough to outwit Katy who managed to clock up a non-negative score in this most unforgiving of games.

Katy 0
Joe –19
Martin –22
Matt –23
Andrew –28
Andy –44

Then we played team Push It, despite Andy’s protestations that he was terrible at it. Katy assured him that she was bad at it too. Perhaps she didn’t expect Andy to go for the puck so aggressively. Perhaps it was a strategy to get the puck nearer to Katy, making it an easier target. Or perhaps he didn’t know his own strength. Unfortunately it lead to a couple of occasions when the puck went clean off the table for –2 points.

Matt and Martin made the early running, and after six rounds it was 4, 0, 0. Then Joe and I clawed back into contention and after round eleven the scores were 4, 4, -1. Then, a few rounds after that, a mis-flick from Andy meant that Joe and I scored two points in one round to steal the win! Poor old Katy got that negative score that she’d worked so hard to avoid.

Joe and Andrew 7
Matt and Martin 6
Katy and Andy –1

Once again, I’m The Boss was discussed, along with a chance to play Winner’s Cirlce. But Martin steered us towards his new card game Mai Star (舞星 – Mai meaning “dancing”). The aim of the game is to be the best Geisha. The theme of the game did not sit well with Katy, especially after last week’s pure capitalism of Marracash.

Nevertheless, the game was simple enough. You have to discard cards in your hand to win the round. You can use a card as an advertisement (in which case it is replaced) which increases your reputation. And you can use a card as a guest (if you have enough reputation to attract him) which you don’t replace. Almost every guests allows you to do an action against another player, such as forcing them to lose a guest or advertisement, or pick up some cards.

It was fun. Nothing amazing, but each geisha in the game (there are six) has their own back story so, you know, they’re more than just cards in a game.

Martin 26
Andrew 19
Katy 15
Joe 8
Andy 8
Matt 7

Andy had started Mai Star strongly, but then scored minus points in rounds two and three. Put this together with his performance of the evening, and six sevenths of his game time so far had been spent scoring below zero.

Luckily, there would be no minus points in our final game: Winner’s Circle. I was too tired for the high tension wheeler dealing of I’m The Boss, and so the high tension betting and fixing of Winner’s Circle was chosen instead.

Katy noted that she wasn’t keen on horse racing either, but even she couldn’t resist the attraction of hand painted model horses. This attraction didn't last long as she failed to back a winner in the first two rounds and should’ve lost money for backing the last place, but there’s no negative points in this game so she stayed on zero.

No such trouble for Andy who finally showed what he was capable of, with one successful bet after another. I kept trying to appeal to everyone’s sense of romanticism by betting on the horse that starts last but no one joined me. Except Katy did, in round one, but my bet on that horse was a bluff, so the horse never stood a chance. Sorry, Katy.

Matt started by always choosing the option that would benefit his own horses but at some point during the game he switched to hindering his opponents. Joe, meanwhile, admitted to not understanding some of the finer details of the game.

But I loved it, and Joe’s wooden money made it that little bit more special.

Andy 2150
Matt 1200
Martin 1150
Andrew 1100
Joe 700
Katy 500

And so we left another games night, weary but satisfied.

On the Division, Katy edges up one spot, but otherwise it's all about Martin as he tries to win as much as possible before the baby arrives.


  1. I've actually had Mai-Star for years but hardly played it. I think "It was fun. Nothing amazing" is a fair assessment.

  2. Yeah it didn't strike me as a particularly 'clever' game, MaiStar.
    Winners Circle is clever, nice to play that again - I had a terrible third round that ruined my chances, but no one was going to catch Andy, that was clear after round two.
    The point that had escaped me is that the horses at the back are naturally handicapped by needing to break through the pack at the race start. Obvious, but then I had been drinking. I liked the sound of Andy's equitable variant.