This week's regular event saw just four in attendance. The host, Joe, and Ian, Katy, and me.
This was the sweet spot that Katy has been waiting for for so long: four players meant Isle of Skye followed by Lords of Vegas. It seemed like a good idea, and we couldn't disappoin Katy's enthusiasm, so Isle of Skye was first on the table.
Katy and I needed a rules explanation, which Joe did with his usual aplomb. The game is a clever balance between pricing your tiles at a price that makes them attractive, but not so much that it'll be too beneficial for them. If you're lucky, you'll be able to place three tiles in a round (the one you bought and the two you couldn't sell) but that would be an expensive round, and leave you in a tricky situation for the next round. See how it all balances out?
As it was my first go, I kept things nice and relaxed. Of the four different scoring criteria, I ignored one and didn't do too well at another. Everyone else picked up several scoring tiles while I got just one. Ian's island started out nice and orderly, but soon became more disjointed, with one its notable features being a road that lead to a cow.
Katy was all caught up in the agony between risk and reward, and she spent a lot of time fretting over her move. Perhaps she fretted too much, since she planned her last move based on the idea that no one would buy her two tiles for sale. As it happened, both were snapped up and she was left with a tile with three sheep on it when she really needed a lighthouse. A common dilemma for a clan leader from the Hebrides, I believe.
After this, Katy was so frustrated at how badly she played her last more that she seriously considered playing it again. But the lure of Vegas was too great. Nevertheless, she plans on playing it again soon and Isle of Skye has been added to the itinerary for our “playing games at the location in which they’re set” holiday.
Lords of Vegas is, of course, already on that list. But could Las Vegas really hold a candle to Joe’s kitchen? I doubt it. We set up at about nine o’clock, which is early for us (ho ho). As we played, the cards came out in an interesting fashion, with our vacant lots dotted around the place, and no clear route to a huge mega-casino.
Ian started well, getting a casino in each colour quickly. But then when he needed more points, he began to find his wide portfolio difficult to handle. And by the end he was ruefully declaring that his winning-streak on Lords of Vegas was over.
I got a strong presence on the Strip, with three casinos and a useful empty lot that stopped Katy from making a six-tile casino. Unfortunately the Strip cards didn’t come out, no matter how long I waited.
I should thank Joe here for telling me how I could take over Katy and Ian’s two-tiler with my two adjacent casinos. That became a huge target for re-rolls but neither Katy nor Ian were able to displace me.
Joe, as usual, started slowly and then picked up steam towards the end. He was given a last-minute boost from an unexpected source. After a series of complicated sprawls and redecoration, Katy had finally made a four-tile casino on the Strip and she sat back satisfied.
At this point, Joe pointed out that the casino actually belonged to him. We all looked and, sure enough, none of Katy’s three dice had more than Joe’s single die which was a five. And she didn’t have enough money to reorganise. What a body blow. She took it in good grace and didn’t take the go back, and then the Strip paid out for the last time (twice in the whole game! Tsk.) to end the game.
Ian 23 (wins on cash)
Finally, there was room for one more cash-based game, and it was For Sale. I was quite drunk by now, but I do remember a lot of early hands where the lowest card was a good pick up for free. This left everyone cash-rich in the later rounds, and Joe paid over the odds for the twenty.
During the second half of the game, Joe spent a 27 card but only got a $0 cheque in return, but then got $11,000 with his 1 card.
As we walked home, Katy remarked on how much she’d enjoyed the evening despite having not won a single game. She then qualified her statement by adding that it helped that we shared our wins between us, instead of one person taking it all.
A look at the division shows that she has a point. Despite no victories this week, she has increased her lead at the top of the pile.