In Lancaster there's worker placement (your knights, going to the aforementioned courts/battles) but there's also worker bumpment, as your knights have levels from 1-4 and a more experienced or highly regarded knight can kick a lower-level one back home. Lower-level knights can counter this by bringing squires as their wing-men, but squires are a flighty lot, and will bugger off after one use.
The courts bring you little tasty morsels (more squires, gold, votes) or a nobleman to eat at your table, reflecting your increasing political clout. Or, if you have a few coins to pay, you can take both. Heading off to battle the French gets you an insta-reward from the King, plus 'power points' (points) if and when the battle is won. Making sure you win the battle is also, like life, a better outcome than losing it, points-wise.
my unavailable Knights
What gives Lancaster intrigue though is the laws. At the end of each round players vote on three new laws, a majority or tie meaning that law comes into effect - bumping an old law (the King only likes three laws at any time) and potentially rewarding everyone, or more likely, only one or two. Getting a law passed is a way of pushing your points up - the law that rewarded knights battling the French got me 15 points all told - a big swing.
After the laws the courts and battles are resolved and you get rewards from your hopefully expanding castle. And after five rounds the jig is up: everyone scores points for the values of their knights, castles, and something else I've forgotten. We didn't write down the scores but the places were
Having foisted Lancaster on them, I stayed out of choosing the next game, pouring myself a large glass of celebratory wine. They returned from the cupboard with Ascending Empires, the space-subbuteo mash-up. I'm not sure what the choosing mechanic was, but Matt didn't know the rules so I talked him through them, and we were off!
Matt builds a city
As ever with Ascending Empires, the early hours are marked by cautious expansion and developing tech for the inevitable punch-up to come. To mix metaphors slightly, I was first out of the blocks when I blew up Andrew's ships, and following that both Matt and I came lurching into his territory: I was after the silver planet - I'm not sure what Matt was after. Matt's flicking was reminiscent of Joe Berger's: time and again he flicked too hard, or (more likely) rather gingerly, as though he was trying to bump-start a galactic Ford Anglia.
Andrew got his purple tech up to maximum (stop sniggering) and began ramming our ships to pick up victory points. This collective suicide by his people did enough to give him a convincing win, despite having to cope with Matt and mine's shenanigans.
I poured a glass of consolatory wine. Then we played Cosmic Run! This seems to be the new Biblios - our go-to game for the last half-hour of the evening. And kudos to Matt for agreeing to learn yet more rules!
Give Matt a space game though, and he consumes rules like a sponge. I forsook my usual tactic of playing reasonably safe and went for several optimistic moves, none of which I recall paying off. It was a battle between the others, and it was Matt that won it by the finest of margins:
We night capped the evening with Push It. I have no idea what the scores were because my glass of optimistic wine had by this point been consumed, and although I think I won, I can't be sure. The boys headed off into the night as Sally returned, and I stumbled into bed with the age of Henry V now seeming a long time ago...