Wednesday, 21 December 2016

(Mince) Spies Like Us

The last games night before Christmas was a special night, not just for the festive season, but mostly because Adam and Hannah were hosting, meaning a rare trip past the M32 for many GNN regulars. We met in their newly Guinea-pig-free living room which now looked very grown up with a sofa in the corner and a coffee table.

There were seven of us which was, once again, one short of the eight needed for the optimal game of Captain Sonar. We texted Martin, who had said he'd be popping in later, to see if he could make the magic happen but he replied saying it would only be a fleeting visit. Once again Captain Sonar narrowly missed out.

We (Adam, Hannah, Sam, Katy, Ian, Joe and me) began with a big seven player game: Top Secret Spies. In this game, everyone has their piece, but no one knows which one is yours. You roll a die and then you can share out its value among any pieces. If you roll a six, you can move one piece six spaces, or six pieces one space or anything in between (that adds up to six). The trick is to disguise which piece is yours. You score points by being on certain squares when someone reaches the safe. Then there’s a scoring round and the safe is moved. You can also score points by guessing at the end of the game which player had which colour.

Adam won thanks to passing the game ending 41 points and guessing a couple of players right. But Hannah won everyone’s admiration by correctly guessing the colour of four of us. If we had been playing by official rules, she’d have got 5 points for each guess (which we'd lowered to 2) and would’ve been joint third with Katy.

Adam 56
Sam 49
Katy 47
Ian 38
Andrew 37
Hannah 35
Joe 35

Then there was a brief interlude for mulled wine and mince pies before we split into two groups.

Adam's blue table made my camera think everything was yellow

Ian, Katy, Joe and Hannah played Isle of Skye while Sam taught Adam and me Coal Baron: The Great Card Game. As in: The Great Big Card Game. It’s a set-collecting game at heart, but one where you use workers (a hand of cards numbered between 1 and 4) to pay for actions or to pick up cards which hopefully will work together to allow you to make deliveries. There are other point-scoring opportunities sprinkled on top, but the general jist is to gather cards of a certain type to meet certain criteria for points.

For what it is, it’s a very big game, covering most of Adam’s coffee table. Halfway through the game, Sam was checking the rules and realised that some cards we had in our hands should be on the table for everyone to see. It was hard to find a space.

Sam won, after predicting throughout the game that he wouldn’t, using his end-game bonuses to push him past Adam by a single point.

Sasm 56
Adam 55
Andrew 46

Around this time Martin came in to wish us all a Merry Christmas and to watch Coal Baron long enough to decide he wouldn’t enjoy it.

Isle of Skye ended at the same time. Not sure of the in and outs of the game itself, but Katy took quite a lot of delight in seeing Joe go from second to last at the very end of the game due to money bonuses.

Katy 84
Hannah 69 + money
Ian 69
Joe 66

After this, despite talk of a big game of 6nimmt, we split up again. Ian, Sam and I went for Heck Meck. The version was the one with the extra bits (a raven, a hen, a weasel etc) which I don’t think add to the game at all. It falls foul of the problem of taking a simple game and “improving” it by making it more complicated. Like how Red Dward got worse when they introduced more characters. Same principle.

Sam 14
Ian 8
Andrew 5

On the other table, Adam, Hannah, Katy and Joe played Land Unter. Katy expressed dissatisfaction with Joe’s use of a phone app to keep track of the scores, preferring the old-fashioned ways of pen and paper. At this point, Sam and I left since Sam had an early morning the next day so Adam texted me the scores. In a lovely, family-centric, Christmassy finale, Adam and Hannah came joint first.

Adam 11
Hannah 11
Katy 7
Joe 1

I asked Adam if Katy had been upset at losing, and Adam told me she said she wasn’t but he annoyance could’ve been offset by watching Joe struggle.

All of this ends the season. Nothing changes from last week, with Katy and Martin taking their titles as predicted.


  1. Thanks for blogging Andrew. What a lovely way to end the gaming season, thank you for hosting Hannah and Adam. I still owe some of you a Christmas hug, leaving whilst I was not winning Land Unter (about time), meant some of you escaped! Looking forward to seeing some of you next week :D

  2. Yes thanks to Andrew for blogging our regular Tuesdays and for hosting/pies last night Adam and Hannah.

    Sorry about Coal Baron - somewhere in there is quite a decent game but it's just lost in the cards, unfortunately. I was certain Adam was going to win though; until the last couple of rounds where I worked out I could get exactly three deliveries and just had to maximise the use of my other cards. Adam scored more points through deliveries; but I'd made up enough ground for my 'Objective' cards to push me past him.

    Top Secret Spies was fun, and I quite like the Heckmeck expansion; though I'd agree with you Andrew they don't "improve" the game. It's a classic as it is.

    See you on the 30th - some of you at least!

  3. Aye thank you Andrew for your continued stalwart blogging and adding up.
    I think I started relatively well thus season, but it all fell apart on Tuesday - three last places! Including Isle of Skye, a game I like to think I'm all right at. I was hampered by my desirable tiles this time - a problem that Andy found in the last game. But it doesn't diminish the game for me, I just panicked and played the last round very badly. Desperate to hold on to my tiles I made thm each 20 money, to ensure they didn't get bought. Had I thought a little more about it, I'd have realised they weren't worth the 8 points I would get for keeping the cash, plus the likely 5 for having most money. Doh!

    Not that I would have caught Katy, she played a very good game.

    I liked Heimlich & Co too - if only someone had choked on a peanut during the game..!

    Thanks H&A for hosting, and see you all soon - have a lovely Christmas.