Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Take the Fifth

I’m sure I’ve used this before as a title, but never mind.

Today we congregated at Martin’s house for our GNN weekly. There were just five of us: the host Martin along with Ian, Katy, Joe and myself. Joe and I arrived last, after Joe took a diversion for Piri Piri chicken. When we got to Martin’s house, we found Katy cradling Effie in her arms, glad to have properly met the tiny baby outside the confines of Martin’s papoose. Ian, meanwhile, was cradling a huge glass of lager. Who was the happier? Perhaps we’ll never know.

We considered what was best with five players. Winner’s Circle was mentioned, which I was keen on but Katy wasn’t. Then Beowulf was suggested. We all seemed happy with this suggestion, and Katy was open to learning new rules.

Martin taught her while trying to rock Effie to sleep. This was surprisingly successful. The rule-teaching, I mean. Not trying to get a baby to sleep.

Beowulf started out with some big battles very early on. Bids up to seven symbols were seen as early as round two, as Ian and Katy raised the stakes and got away with it thanks to some luck with their risk taking. Joe and Martin, however, had the worst luck imaginable. I trod a middle path: safe but unprofitable.

It got to such a point that Katy started apologising for her luck. Meanwhile, Joe happily accepted risks, saying “My luck’s gonna change, right?” before he learnt that it would do no such thing. He kept getting kicked out of bidding and was forced to take the fifth choice token (hence the blog title). My tactic (successful in previous games) of saving up until the final round was undone with an unlucky risk, meaning I ended the game with a whole bunch of unused helmet/wild cards in my hand. What a waste.

Katy strode to a clear victory, but perhaps most impressive was Martin who, despite his poor luck, managed to gain second. Ian, after looking so good for much of the game and entering the final stages with a huge hand of cards, might have been disappointed with third. Joe actually scored 18 points, but was hit with a last minute third wound, giving him a –15 punishment.

Katy 35
Martin 21
Ian 14
Andrew 12
Joe 3

After this, with one hour left on the clock we chose Blockers as our next five player battle. Again, this was new to Katy, but it’s so simple that it didn’t take long to explain.

By now, though, Effie was in full grizzle-mode and would not keep quiet for long. She’d seemed quite occupied by watching Beowulf from her father’s arms, but Blockers – despite the brighter colours – didn’t seem to captivate her.

With this distraction, Martin wasn’t at his best. And with Katy perhaps on full-on win mode after being robbed of her favourite colour (I was purple, she had to make do with sky blue) (or cyan, if you like) maybe the result was a foregone conclusion.

The game progressed with plenty of captures and cursing other players for not being in the right places so we could steal from them without damaging our score. Again, right at the end, Joe saw his plan foiled as Ian stole from a group that meant that Joe couldn’t steal from it (since it would split a group) and this apparently took the win from him. It’s a game of fine margins with five players, and with some lengthy pauses for thinking in between goes, even with Effie’s wailing, it took up the final hour.

Katy 5 (and 5 tiles captured)
Joe 5 (and 7)
Ian 5 (and 8)
Andrew 6 (and 9)
Martin 6 (and 13)

With that, we were done. And it was still light outside! “What kind of a games night was that?” asked Joe, amazed at the early hour. It was an evening full of epic tales and abstract reasoning, that’s what kind it was.

Normally, there’d be no point in putting together a leaderboard for week one, but I though Katy would like to see that she’s already scored more than twice as many points as her closest rival.


  1. I may have to take a break from hosting until Effie settles back down to being asleep in the evenings. Nice to see you all though! :)

  2. Great to be there, and Effie was perfectly behaved (for a months old baby!). She's completely lovely. Sorry I left my piri piri chicken bones - meant to take them and stick them in my own bin. Manners.

    Was deeply shafted by Beowulf - I'm not going to any more of his shitting parties.
    No, I should have spent the two victory point tokens to heal a wound near the end. That would have cost me at most five points, so I'd have ended up with 13 rather than 3 points.

    I really like Blockers - it occurs to me the capturing and group-making work the same way. Once you've committed to a minus point you give yourself some flexibility - the difference is that with the capturing that point isn't ever going away; with the group there's always a chance that it will be captured by someone else. It's a neat game - Sam have you played it with Sal and the boys yet?

  3. Me and Stan had a two-player. It didn't really grab him though. He does like theme, hence Caverna, Railways etc