Despite having come back from a four-day gaming glut this weekend, I found myself itching for another game when Joe’s email popped into my inbox offering to host for this week.
It seems I was in a minority, as there were only five of us: Joe, me, Katy and Ian, with Martin expected at eight.
The four of us began with Not Alone, an exciting semi-co-op game with one player as the alien hunter, trying to assimilate the band of unfortunate Terrans who’ve crashed on the alien’s planet.
Joe was the alien, and Katy, Ian and I as the apparently easy-to-predict stranded space travellers. It looked close for a while, but Joe was able to predict our movements with enough accuracy that we couldn’t hang on until our rescue ship arrived.
Martin arrived punctually on our tragic demise, and we sat down to play Fuji Flush, an oddly named card game in which you have to get rid of your cards. It’s almost co-operative since the deck is built such that there are multiples of the lower cards and far fewer of the higher cards.
The trick to this non-trick-taking game is that as each player lays one card at a time, higher cards eliminate previously laid lower cards (these are discarded and replaced from a draw deck) but also when a player puts down a card of the same value as a previous card, they add up. In other words at 3 followed by a 3 would count as a 6, and if another player wanted to beat these two they’d have to play at least a 7.
It all seemed like a bit of a luck-fest with limited options and afterwards I likened it to me watching myself play a card game. Katy got, I think, only one card above 10 which meant she was relying on others to put down the same value cards as she had. This caused some frustration for her.
In the end, Martin won, and he decided it was an interesting idea for a game.
Martin 0 cards left
Joe 1 card left
Ian 1 card left
Andrew 1 card left
Katy 4 cards left
After this, Martin noticed Hollywood Blockbuster in among Joe's collection and suggested it. I'd pretty much forgotten about this game, played once over two years ago, but I quickly remembered its main mechanic: that people who win auctions evenly share out the money they paid to the other players.
No one finished a film in round one, so it was all hands to the deck in rounds two and three. I became a veritable dream factory, churning out film after film. My epic comedy Gopher Shack won best film, but Ian and I tied for Best Director which meant neither of us got the points.
My cheap and cheerful conveyor belt of films didn't beat Martin's thoughtfully put together canon of work.
And so Martin left at this point, practically ushered out of the door so we could get cracking on the next game. It was only just past 9.30 but none of us had the strength for Lords Of Vegas. Instead we went for two short games, the first of which was For Sale.
I started badly, paying too much for a twenty, and I never recovered. I don't remember much about what happened (no notes, you see) apart from one particularly nasty range of cheques on offer in one round, but it finished:
Next up was Land Unter. This game of saving drowning sheep has a clever twist in that the hands of cards are dealt out at the start and these hands are passed from player to player at the start of the round so everyone plays one round with each hand. Ian started with a terrible round and got eliminated. When I saw what he had, I could empathise. And I empathised even more when I was eliminated too.
When Joe saw the cards, his initial reaction was the same as ours but when he played, he avoided the pitfalls that we fell into. While Ian and I got -1 with those cards, he scored 5. This put him joint first with Katy after three rounds, and she hadn't had the shitty hand.
But they hadn't reckoned with her gaming nous. She also scored five while Joe looked on in annoyance that his gaming miracle had been replicated. He only scored one that round, leaving the points at:
And so we were done. Technically there was time for more games, but we thought an early night would be sensible.
Nothing much changes on the Division, with Sam and Katy holding onto their respective titles.