Wednesday, 10 August 2016

In Vino Veritas

This week’s GNN was another slimline affair. Just five regulars huddled around Sam’s kitchen table, eager for their fix of gaming crack. We were, in total, Sam, Andy, Ian, Ben and myself.

After a brief opener where we (Sam, Ben and me) entertained Sam’s kids (Joe and Stanley) with a rousing game of Paraoh Gulo Gulo. The kid’s had a clear advantage with their little fingers expertly plucking the spheres from the bowl, but it was Ben who timed his game to perfection. He burst into the mummy’s lair after Stanley had opened it and Sam had failed, and successfully overcame the mummy’s curse. It wasn’t leaderboard, though. I didn’t even note down the positions of the other players. Also, we learnt that we’d got some rules wrong on the mummy’s movement. Oh wells.

After this we thought about the next game of choice. Glen More was considered, since Andy had played it on an app and so he kind of knew the rules. But we were also drawn to Viticulture. Andy looked at the time needed on the side of the box and optimistically said “We can probably play both!” And so Viticulture was chosen.

The game was laid out and explained to newbies Andy and Ben. They seemed to get the gist of it pretty quickly.

The usual pattern of slow start rising to tense climax was repeated here. In fact, Sam was still on zero points after one hour of play. Ben had taken a hefty hit early on, sacrificing three victory points for a stash of money. He then played a series of cards, giving us the chance to take advantage of certain opportunities to do things for cheap, in an exchange for a victory point for Ben. Before we knew it, he was out in first.

Ian horded wine and looked like any second now he would unleash a series of orders. He also kept taking the bonus spaces for actions, and then not using the bonus taking great delight in ruining it for the other players.

The risk of cards being too powerful was counterbalanced by everyone using lots of cards. So we all raced down the score track (even Sam, eventually) pretty much neck and neck for most of the game. In the end, it looked like it was either me or Ian who’d hit 20 points, since I was only three points away and Ian had a cellar full of excellent wines to sell, but in the end Sam snuck through the pack to trigger the end of the game with him in first place.

Sam 20
Andrew 19
Andy 18
Ben 17
Ian 15

After this two and a bit hour epic, we decided to end on something a little less substantial. Any thought of trying Glen More was forgotten about and instead Dice Heist was chosen, with Ben saying his goodbyes and going for his bus.

This game of art theft is a lovely slice of push your luck. The poor old Hermitage was a favourite target. I suppose they can’t afford decent security because they keep having to buy new exhibits. Andy picked up the Mona Lisa early, and after that was in pole position for paintings. Ian and Sam managed to tie for last place in paintings and so were both hit by the –4 point punishment.

Andy 22
Andrew 15
Ian 15
Sam 10

And with that, we were done. Thanks to Sam for hosting at the last minute and thanks to everyone for another great night.

I lead the division without having won a single game! Some form of history is being made here, surely. Points ratio and medal table stays the same.


  1. I like the sound of Viticulture from the description in this post. But I seem to have lost my appetite for learning new heavy games. Maybe I'll get my mojo back soon - I hope so!

  2. Well, we played Nippon tonight and I think it's rather more accessible than that! Essentially Viticulture is worker placement, Joe, although spaces are limited and turn order is crucial.