Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The Lords of Midnight

Nearly, anyway. One week after the shortest GNN, our thirst for games suddenly explanded again as if it were a spring that had been squashed and held down for seven whole days.

Joe hosted and I, after texting him to say I’d be late, arrived one minute early. I got a sneak preview of Joe’s medieval GNN money.

Then Ben, Ian and Katy arrived soon after.

We began with Junk Art, a game not dissimilar to Bandu, but with added rules. In the first round, for example, instead of choosing a piece for the next player, you are dealt three cards with pictures of the different available blocks. You keep one for yourself and then give the other two to your two neighbours. Then everyone adds that block to their tower.

There’s a whole stack of potential rules to fill a three-round game. Our other two rules were “Speed building,” and “Everyone building the same tower.” Doing best of fulfilling certain objectives gets you “fans”: either a black counter (five fans) or a white counter (one fan). Katy was overjoyed that the black fans were better than the white ones. She cried out “black power!” and raised a clenched fist in salute.

Despite being last in the first round, Katy fought back to take the most fans by the end of the game. Ben dazzled with his creativity in round one, but somehow didn’t attract much of a following.

Katy 9
Joe 8
Ian 6
Ben 4
Andrew 4

With Ben saying he was going to leave early, we decided not to play anything too epic and instead went for another new game: Land Unter. This is a game which is very difficult to describe. Us five players were dealt the whole of the 60-card pack (numbered one to sixty).

These hands contained a number of life belts on them, and when we’d worked out how many we had, we were given that number of lifebelt cards as sort of “lives”.

Three lives left!

Then cards (from a deck of twenty-four, numbered 1 to 12) are revealed two at a time. This is the water level. Everyone plays a card, and the highest card gets first choice (of course, the lowest) of these two water cards. Whoever’s in second gets the other one. Then the player with the highest water card loses a life-belt.

This leaves some 6nimmt-ish agonising as you try to second guess what others might do. Katy proved to be an expert at just undercutting whoever was in first so she rarely picked up a water card at all. After two rounds, her lead was insurmountable: 13, 2, 2, 2, 1.

The clever thing is, at the end of a round, everyone gives their hand of cards to the player on their right. Then another round is played. This means that every player uses everyone’s hand, so there’s no chance to blame a lousy deal for your poor performance.

Towards the end of the game, Joe attempted a stunning comeback, but just fell short.

Katy 19
Joe 13
Ben 10
Ian 7
Andrew 6

Then Ben set off home, and he mentioned that he had a Mah Jongg set and maybe we could play it sometime. We must sort something like that out someday.

So now it was only 9.30 and in the pile of games that Joe had brought in at the start of the evening was Lords Of Vegas. We suggested it first as a joke, then we thought we could get it finished by 11.00. And so it was that the four of us, drunk and sugared up on Skittles, set up the evening’s main event at 9.30! Crazy days.

And Lords of Vegas did not disappoint. Katy got an early three-point casino thanks to a lucky re-organise. I got three lots near each other and then bought one from Joe to link them up. Joe went big on gold and silver. And they lived up to their reputation as rare materials: he had not scored a single point by 1 hour 15 minutes. I made a note.

Joe bides his time

There was controversy and double-crossing and undercutting and gazumping and probably some grouting in there too as we all struggled for more than our fair share. Ian rolled a re-organise and as the dice left his hand he says “It doesn’t count.” Then he saw that he’d won, so he said “It does.” Shameless.

Joe's scoring chip is hidden behind the pretzels

Katy was threatening to join up two casinos to build a huge eight-tile complex and swallow up Joe’s gold casino when Joe offered to buy a vacant lot off her. She accepted, needing the money, but then Joe built on it, using up the last gold tile. Her plans in ruins. Joe was rewarded for this tactic by Lady Fate, as his casinos started to pay out and he powered his way up the score track. Ian’s game, though, fell away, and he ended up with no casinos at all.

At the very end, I joined the gold casinos together (making a nine-tiler), and reorganised, taking control. But it was not enough to get me past more than one five-point barrier and Katy held on for another win.

Katy 54
Andrew 49
Joe 40
Ian 29

Katy’s 54 score being a tie for highest score. A title she shares with Joe, Martin and Gonz.

It was now 11.40 and no sign of any need for a little game as a night cap. Certainly not for me, having long ago run out of alcohol and relying on the kindness of Katy and Joe to keep me feulled.

What an evening. Lords of Vegas, complete with appropriate music, was an event as always. But Katy was unstoppable: Lords of Vegas was her fourth win in a row.

Here’s the Division for the season so far...

And here’s the Division for Lords of Vegas...

(Sorry, Ben. Lost the first letter of your name, and am too lazy to make a new one.)

1 comment:

  1. Ian is a Lords of Vegas machine!

    I'd be up for some Mah Jong, if we could decide which of the billion different scoring variants to play...