Monday, 7 March 2016

Do Fields Yield?

Saturday night, and at 7.30 Sally announced she was going to bed! I was tired, but not that tired, so I invited Ian and Andrew over for a bit of impromptu gaming.

I've still got quite a pile of unplayed games but I didn't want to subject Ian and Andrew to more new rules, especially when I have a habit of getting them wrong anyway. So with Andrew's acquiescence we set up Caverna, with Ian hopefully (and fatefully) amenably en route.

Haven't played Caverna? It's rather like Agricola, except the tension of feeding your family is somewhat eased by the fact they can eat almost anything. If they're hungry enough they'll eat rubies. Haven't played Agricola? It's a simple worker-placement game where you're expanding your farm (in Caverna, you have a cavern too) and the most industriously diverse player tends to win. The difference in Caverna is the option to send your guys off adventuring, where an investment in ore (to arm them) basically gives you multiple returns.

In the past I've expanded my farm early to get animals rutting and fields growing - probably a hangover from my Agricola days. Each time I've witnessed those who expand their cavern early and get to their fields later have won. So when Andrew began planting pumpkins and putting up fences I took to cavern-building instead.

However, 2/3rds of the way through the game, with Ian and I both adventuring and Andrew by and large ignoring it, Andrew looked to have the game sewn up. Both Ian and I assumed we were duking it out for second.

Andrew's busy farm. Mine and Ian's were comparatively bereft at this stage.

But it turned out that the farming-early option is still to claim a win at GNN, as I raced past Andrew in the final scoring (I don't remember what it was). It must be possible, but the benefit of caverning (if that's a word) early on means the comparatively more straightforward chopping down fields can be done quickly as the game closes out - there's only two spaces to hollow out your mountain and three to make fields.

With Caverna eventually packed away (we remarked it must be the only game that could justify a bigger box rather than a smaller one) we embarked on a series of smaller Saturday-night style games.

I won No Thanks and a very swingy Heck Meck where we all took turns leading. I was pleased as punch to win Timeline getting all six cards down first time. I've never done that before and never will again. My secret - if you can call it a secret - was slapping the cards down with a confidence in my history knowledge that was entirely unjustified.

We finished with Love Letter, which obviously Ian won. I didn't pick up a single cube, and consoled myself by eating a large slice of lemon tart.

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