Sunday night, and I (Sam) found myself facing off across the table against Andrew and Ian. We'd chosen Five Tribes, the game Ian suggests almost out of habit, and I was struggling. Mitigating factors were attempting to get the music working and two rapscallion children calling for the odd sortie upstairs. But mainly, the problem was Five Tribes.
In some ways it's so good - the moving and dropping off of workers takes that Mancala thing and does something more interesting with it than going in circles. The different coloured workers do different things which is neat. Taking ownership of a tile you empty is neat. But when you add the fact the tiles themselves have an action, and you can buy resources to sell or sacrifice elders for Djinns that add more rules to the game (a lá Alien Frontiers) it starts getting complicated - which I don't mind, except you can't plan your turn until it arrives, as the board is constantly changing complexion, and it feels like there are quite a few more tribes than you'd like. As the others seemed to pull off one shrewd move after another, I struggled with both the game itself and my plan - I didn't have one, until I decided to try and collect a shitload of resources to stay competitive.
The game closed out with Andrew winning reasonably handsomely, and me sneaking past Ian into second:
Nice to play it again, but I think we might be done with Five Tribes. At least, I am!
We needed something comparatively light, so I taught Ian and Andrew the hit of my holiday in Wales - O Zoo le Mio, the game that crosses Carcassonne with blind-bidding. We all enjoyed this - it plays in less than half and hour but packs a lot into that time.
With our gaming juices flowing again, we played a game designed for six-year-olds: Outfoxed. This pie thief-identification game can be tweaked to entertain grown-ups by simply speeding up the rate the fox runs back to his or her den, as your time to solve the mystery runs out.
We had no room for failure left when Andrew mooted that the culprit was in fact Gertrude: she had no top hat or umbrella, which is in the world of Outfoxed tantamount to smashing your bloodied/pastried hands on the desk and screaming "I did it!" There were still other foxes it could have been though. was it right to single out Gertrude like this?
Gertrude stole the pie!
Next up was Codinca, which Andrew and I had found reasonably entertaining as a two-player. You're shuffling tiles around trying to form patterns, and the first to complete all their (four) patterns wins. However, like Bullfrog (as Ian noted) before it, what was a sweet and canny two-player is transformed into a cognitive evisceration with three. At least, it was for us, with Five Tribes still fresh in our minds. We abandoned it after we realised our plaintive yelps were outweighing any snickers of delight.
Instead we played Knit Wit, flying from one end of the gaming spectrum to the other. Although I suppose their is some head-scratching in Knit Wit, it's of the creatively thoughtful variety. Andrew's silent, creepy and found inside was a slug in a flowerpot. Ian conjured up at least one apocalyptic vision involving people falling into crevasses. As far as I can recall the whole game only saw one call of Knit Wit, when Andrew and I contested something of Ian's. But what it was now escapes me.
There was just time for one more game - Push It. We dived straight in without a single warm-up flick, and it proved to be a mistake, particularly for Ian. Whilst Andrew surged off into a healthy lead we lagged behind, with Ian unable to score at all for several rounds. More than once our discs limped feebly puck-wards only to fall despairingly short of anything that could be considered a threat. Despite Andrew's mid-game slump where Ian and I both feigned competitiveness, he walked away with the win:
Emboldened and refreshed by the classic game of flicking bits of wood, we decided on one more game to really finish - Biblios. Or Extreme Biblios, as Andrew and I, lacking any sophistication worth the name, like to call it. In Extreme Biblios gold isn't a tie-breaker at the end, you don't shuffle the cards after the gift phase, and during the gift phase if you hand out a single gold tile you get to say "eat shit". There wasn't a lot of the brown stuff around though, and despite hopeful enquiries as to whether anyone ate their own it was a game with a dearth of frustration, though - as always with Biblios - there was plenty of tension and second-guessing. I'm not proud of our scatalogical humour, but at least I can say I'm Mr Biblios: