Wednesday, 18 January 2017

All the fun of the Pharaohs

This week, Adam and Hannah were hosting, but unfortunately Hannah came down with a migraine and not even Caverna could convince her to join us.

"Us" meaning Adam, Joe, Sam, Ian, Katy, Martin, Matt, Anja, Ben and me. Martin was running late and had sent a text asking that we not start a big game without him. However, Katy had already requested that Joe bring Lords Of Vegas as part of Ian's (last Sunday) birthday treat. So it was that four of us (Katy, Ian, Ben, and Matt) sat down to play, with the option of a fifth of Martin fancied it.

Sam had brought A Feast For Odin, and opened the box, just to show Adam. He then seemed interested enough and, with Anja, the three of them set up to play in the front room.

This left Joe, Martin and me with an acute lack of table space. In the end, after weighing up the possibilities of various occasional tables, we squeezed into an unused area next to Lords of Vegas.

Our first game was Eggs of Ostrich, which was such a big hit last week. We sped through three games of the super simple bluffing game. I won the first solely due to picking up some amber in the final round. Joe didn't seem to get the hang of it and ended the game with three last places, notwithstanding his steady improvement in points. Mind you, that final six we mostly due to apiece of amber.

Game 1
Andrew 1
Martin 4
Joe 1

Game 2
Martin 10
Andrew 5
Joe 2

Game 3
Martin 15
Andrew 10
Joe 6

I popped in to see how A Feast For Odin was getting on and they were just about starting.

And to my left, Lords of Vegas had begun quietly but ominous clouds were looming for Katy, as she found herself with some prime property on the Strip, but not enough money to build on it.

The three of us decided on an Egyptian theme to our next two games, with Ra followed by Imhotep.

Ra began oddly. I thought Joe had played it all wrong by buying stuff early and leaving himself with low tiles for round two. Instead, it turned out to be the best choice as a wave of Ra tiles left Martin and I making panic buys on next to nothing. Martin tried to win big on the auction track as last player standing, but the last Ra tile took away his dreams.

In the second epoch, Joe remained in a distant lead. His dominance in Pharaohs was briefly threatened, but before long he had re-established a decisive majority. Once again, Martin was last player in the epoch and once again, the auction track filled up before he could get anything.

In the third epoch, I tended to call "Ra" a lot, hoping for something nice for my 1 tile, but was outbid too often. All Joe had to do was avoid any minus points while adding to his array of buildings. Martin insisted it was the worst game of Ra ever, and after Joe and I finished our tiles, he was alone with four spaces on the auction track. It wasn't enough and, for the third time, it closed before he could grab the loot.

The worst game of Ra, ever.

Joe 51
Andrew 41
Martin 25

By now Lords of Vegas was growing in all kinds of interesting directions. Most astonishing was Ben's blue die: a lonely outsider in Ian's nine-tile mega casino.

Whatever possessed Ben to try and reorganize with such poor odds, I don't know, but he did and he won. Outright. No ties, no re-rolls, just one blue six among the reds and yellows and a purple.

Ian looked aghast and Ben looked pretty shocked too. Ian took little consolation in the fact that it would "only" cost $26 million dollars to reorganize again. It would be Ben's for some time.

As all this was going on, Katy was still stuck in last place, on eight points and seemingly unable to get control of a two tile casino long enough for it to pay out.

As for Imhotep, it was Joe's first game and he seemed to take to it pretty well. He pretty much monopolized the market and had best obelisk, while I went for pyramids and plonked a single stone in the otherwise empty Temple. Martin focused on the burial chamber.

All of this lead to some pretty even scores, as I got a satisfying win by the slimmest of margins.

Andrew 34
Martin 33
Joe 28

We went to see how Feast For Odin was doing, and although I'd read the rules, it all seemed very dense.

Lords of Vegas was coming to an end. Ian had finally got enough money to reorganize, but the gods were not on his side tonight and against all the odds, Ben plucky lone die won the day again. It would be much cheaper to reorganize again, though, and the next chance he got, Ian rolled the casino once more and this time probability behaved itself and he finally regained control of the casino that he'd done so much to create.

Katy, though, had only just managed to squeeze past the ten point mark (at one point her score was just one fifth of Ben's) and her frustration with her lack of luck was shown in her annoyance at Ben's skill at rolling dice in such a way that one would finish leaning against something at an angle, meaning a re roll was required.

Matt's audacious double-sprawl casino

But when the Strip paid out, she came good. Well, if not good then, at least, respectable. In fact, she scored more in the final scoring round than she had all game. Ian, too, was able to steal second place from Matt who had been stealthily whittling away at Ian's place on the score track.

Ben 49
Ian 32
Matt 26
Katy 23

At this point there was only one round left in Feast For Odin, so the rest of us joined together for a rousing game of Fuji Flush. Or "Fudgey Floosh" as Joe called it.

We played twice and the first game in particular was notable for"dick moves" in which a player outbids lots of other players' cards by a single point. It wasn't until afterwards I thought this should be accompanied by the cry of "eat shit". Extreme Fuji Flush, anyone?

Game 1
Martin 0 cards left
Ben 3
Andrew 3
Ian 4
Joe 4
Matt 5
Katy 6

Game 2
Andrew 0
Katy 0
Joe 1
Ian 2
Ben 2
Matt 2
Martin 3

And finally A Feast For Odin was complete. While Anja can be pleased with avoiding negative points on her first game, Adam demonstrated once again his unequalled aptitude at Uwe Rosenberg games.

Adam 61
Sam 36
Anja 7

All of which brought us to the end of a lovely evening, and into the arms often all new, ever changing Division. This time, I looked at the amount of time we've actually been playing and work out some stats according to that, along with the usual points and points ratio. And Victoru Points is just a tally of points scored in games, as opposed to points given on the division itself. I hoped this would uncover some new winners but instead it just made Martin look even more dominant. Oh well. I’ve done it now.

There's still the loser's boost which makes a difference this week: thanks to Joe agreeing to play Eggs Of Ostrich, it actually pushes him up two places. And if you’re wondering how Ian only has six victory points, it’s because most of the games he’s played this season have scored negative points (ie, points are bad) such as Fuji Flush and Rolling America.


  1. A Feast for Odin was a Beast for us, but we knew at the outset if we played it, we were playing if for the evening, despite playing the short (6 round) game.

    Thanks to Adam's scrutiny we cleared up a couple of rules regarding the Occupation cards and their heavy presence in the box now makes a bit more sense. It was my third play though and I still had the same sense as Anja at times; that unsettling feeling you don't truly know what you're doing.

    Adam needless to say had no such trouble! But we all enjoyed it and this time the theme actually came through a little more for me as well. Thanks for hosting, and I hope Hannah is feeling better!

  2. I like the new stats! How did we end up with fractions of minutes in time played though?

    1. Because on the spreadsheet I track the length of the game by hours, such that a twenty minute game is given 0.3333. I decided (don't know why) to convert them to minutes for this division and those recurring decimals must've caused some bits left over.

  3. Lords of Vegas was as outstanding as ever. Massively luck based of course, but still.

    I'm just a bit miffed at how long Ben kept hold of that casino! If I had kept hold of it I still think Ben would have won, he had taken over a number of casinos elsewhere, but it would have been a lot closer.

    Katy's comeback at the end was impressive though, and considering Matt hadn't played for a while and had to endure our woeful attempts at explaining the rules he put on a fine showing, almost snatching second place.

    Thanks all!

  4. A lovely evening, despite me not getting to play Caverna or Arle as I'd hoped.
    I couldn't quite bring myself to learning a new Uwe, and in any case, 4 player Odin would probably have caused some sort of space/time rift. So that was the 'short' game, eh? Oh boy.

    Eggs was lovely, as was Imhotep, though I let myself down in both with a lack of grasp of the basic strategy. And I'm sorry to say Andrew that wasn't my first game of Imhotep, I played last summer at Adam and Hannah's. I know it was summer because we played in the garden.

    At least I have Ra to feel superior about. I love Ra.

    Because it loves me.

  5. Epic write-up Andrew! I did like Odin, but it feels like Uwe is getting closer and closer to replicating the complexity of real life in game form. I'm not sure how far this can continue...

    Re: the division. If negative points in points-are-bad games are dragging Ian down perhaps they should be inverted before adding them to the scoreboard?