It all began rather innocuously with a couple of games of Raptor, a two-player battle between scientists and raptors. One side is trying to capture raptors, the other is trying to eat the scientists. It's rather fun - the basic mechanic at work is the playing of cards - players compare value of cards and the person who played the higher number gets action points to spend. The person who played the lower number gets one special action. It allows for table-talk and bluffing, as well as raptor capture and scientific ingestion.
Mummy Raptor, pissed off
On a crazy whim I then suggested Nippon, which is a fairly heavy game about Japanese industry I've never played before tonight. Japan, of course, is Andrew's sweet spot, and, aided by the early hour, he was immediately intrigued.
We busted it out and tried not to be alarmed at the number of bits. The rulebook seemed fairly light too, compared to something like Eclipse, but the game was quite complicated.
On your turn you take a worker from the board, and in doing so take an available action. The first action we read in the rulebook (Industry) almost stopped us, but we ploughed on. And a good thing too, because what at first appeared like a unintuitive point salad (not helped by the desire to make it language-independent) revealed itself to be a neat combo of engine building and luck-pushing - trying to time your moments of 'consolidation' for maximum return and minimum cost.
I am about to consolidate
Before long we were building factories, running them, generating income as well as knowledge and coal and developing influence all over the place. There was a whole bunch of stuff that made sense. We broke a couple of rules and had a couple of do-overs, but actually the game was over quickly - we finished just after 10pm having played a longer version than the official game!
It would of course have been substantially longer than that with more players. Writing this now I'm not convinced it would be a GNN hit - certainly not one for Martin or Katy, though others with a more Euro bent (Andy, Chris, Adam...) might enjoy it.