As Ben, Ian and I discussed events of the day suddenly lightening flashed, thunder boomed. Then the doorbell rang: it was Joe, soon followed by Chris, and finally a slightly damp-looking Andrew, who didn't escape the downpour. The rest of us wrapped up our game of Pairs as it stood (Chris won) and went into the front room to discuss options.
I kept mentioning Lancaster, but nobody seemed that interested. However, as the discussion slowly broke down into a kind of collective diffidence, I realized people were weakening: I pushed for Lancaster again, and managed to rope in Joe and Ian. Ben also returned to the kitchen, allowing Chris and Andrew to make the choice for the other game: they went with Castles of Burgundy.
I talked Joe and Ian through the rules of Lancaster, and we were off. Because the heart of the game is worker-placement/bumping, the finesse of it comes in the voting for laws: at the end of each round certain laws reward certain players, so how you spend your votes (you potentially have many) can be crucial. Ian and I didn't manage to prevent Joe from ushering in a 9point swing in his favour, as he was rewarded for battling the French in three different places. In the early rounds I decided against screwy moves, and in the later rounds I failed to stop myself making stupid ones: twice I voted the wrong way on something - after the first do-over, there was no excuses.
Joe sped off into the lead and stayed there. Ian and I battled for second, and during the final round I realized that the strength of my knights meant I was looking at third place - so it ended. I didn't jot down the scores, but Joe was miles ahead on the scoretrack and Ian a solid 8 points or so ahead of me. Joe didn't rate the game though, only being able to raise a shrug of indifference. Maybe it was too easy. Conversely Ian and I liked it; the hidden voting gives it a flavour that Waterdeep doesn't have.
Castles of Burgundy was still ongoing, so Joe dealt out the cards for Money. This was new to me, but the rules are simple enough, as long as you're no fool. I was a fool, however, and had misunderstood the scoring to the point where I was literally throwing away points during the game, allowing Joe to pick them up. He won with a thousand points; Ian had 870 and I - thinking I was about to pull off a debut win - had a measly 520. I wouldn't mind trying this again, but it did feel a little like a mechanic more than a game.
Castles of Burgundy was finally over, and Andrew had pulled off a solid win:
And while Andrew headed off into the night, the rest of us played Not Alone, Joe's new game of alien predation/human survival. Joe took the role of the alien, trying to second-guess our human destinations as we roamed the planet, holding on until the rescue ship arrived.
It was a close thing at the end: we were staring up at the sky, waving excitedly at the rescue ship, when Joe stole in and sucked the will out of Ben in a gruesome end to the evening.