Monday, 27 February 2017


Last night Andrew and I had a stab at two-player Panamax, with mixed results.

As previously mentioned, the game has you loading ships and traversing the Panama Canal in order to generate profit for your company, and/or yourself. Ultimately the richest CEO (player) wins - and the richest company is irrelevant.


My copy of the game only has a faded black and white print-out of the rules, and no appendix at all, which would have been handy for a few of the game's finer details, such as what to do with a Stevedore. But having negotiated the set-up, play is pretty straightforward - the basic options are contract and/or load, and ship movement. The sting in the tail is the narrow sections of canal, where you can park your own ships and force your opponent to shunt it along for you. When ships arrive at the other end, you and the company both get paid.


There's only three turns to the whole game, so even with our struggles with the rules the whole thing was barely 90 minutes. We played a couple of things fast and loose, but the basics were right. I think I may have made a mistake on the amount of dice we used (which determine available actions) for executive actions (the best ones) as the mathematics of it meant Andrew seemed to always have access to them and my role was simply to reveal them by taking the last basic action!

But outside of that, Andrew just made a better CEO than me. He ended the game with his company paying him massive dividends whilst my guys still resembled a nautical start-up.

Andrew 102
Sam 76

We packed away with the jury seemingly undecided. But I would definitely like to play this again - I think it's probably much better with 3 or 4, and ironing out the small rule issues we had can only help.

Andrew perused the alcove and picked out Pyramid Arcade, as we had another stab at Colour Wheel. This is possibly the simplest game I own, but I love it. Group the colours by swapping same-colour or same-size pyramids, until they are all clustered into their own colour-groups. We succeeded twice, with turns to spare.

Andrew and Sam: win
Pyramid Arcade: loses

We stuck with Pyramid Arcade for our next game: Tree House. In this game you're trying to match the three pyramids in front of you with the three pyramids in the centre of the table: same placement, direction, orientation, etc. On your turn you roll a die and take the appropriate action: Tilt means knock a standing pyramid on its side. Aim means change the direction a sideways pyramid is pointing. Dig means a sideways pyramid can 'dig down' and resurface upright - either in the same place, or elsewhere in your row. And so on.

If you can take the action, you must, and if you can't you have the option of applying it to the 'treehouse' in the middle of the table instead. I think we won a game each - it's ok, but at the end there's that slightly flat feeling that you've just been a grease monkey for the shenanigans of the game itself, rather than the players engaged in it.

As Pyramid Arcade was out on the table though, we tried out another of its 22 games: Looney Ludo. Despite the multiple boards (that move, rotate, swap positions etc during play) this felt surprisingly similar to Tree House. Your goal is to bring all your pieces 'home' to your own board, but doing so involves negotiating the ever-shifting landscape and the possibility your opponent will move your pieces for you. To be fair it's supposed to be fast and silly, but it felt to me like a random abstract with 'fast and silly' foisted onto somewhat.

Sam: wins
Andrew: doesn't

A few games in and I'm still rather ambivalent about Pyramid Arcade. It looks so lovely from the box to the pieces, but out of the games I've played so far only two have really struck me as ones I'd be keen to play again: the silly stacking of Verticality and the co-operative puzzle of Colour Wheel... which is what we finished with, completing our challenge again with just one turn to spare...

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Coppers and clowns

After last week's romantic interlude for many of our regulars, we were back to a full complement this Tuesday. Sam was hosting and Ian, Martin, Joe, Katy, Andy and myself were guesting.

When I arrived, there was a game of Fuji Flush already underway. It was a family affair, since Sam, his sons and his wife were among the competitors along with GNN regulars Ian, Martin and Katy. Even with the language toned down it was still plenty fierce. Katy won it, with her final card linking to a bunch of fives. With everyone else on one card, except Sally and the Sam & Joe team. There was also the matter of an early game of Herbacious in which Sam lost to both his sons, 49-49-47.

And now, with the young ones in bed, and other GNNers arriving, it was time for the juicy part: the games. Martin caused some surprise when he brought a game that lasted longer than 30 minutes. It was called Circus Train, and he'd mentioned it recently on the blog getting some interest so he brought it along.

The other game had also been written up for the blog, Copper Country. This was one of Sam's oft-considered-but-never-chosen games that he's working his way through.

We split into two: Martin, Andy, Joe and Katy played Circus Train while Ian, Sam and I chose Copper Country.

Since Copper Country has already been described in detail on GNN, I won't go over it again. I will say that I found it a very pedestrian affair. Very little spark and, apart from a small episode between Ian and Sam, not a great deal of interaction. I found myself repeating the same actions over and over with little joy to show for it.

At first I jealously looked over at Circus Train, with its Colosseum type theatricals and the many songs the players had come up with to accompany various aspects of the game.

But as our game headed towards a conclusion, they were still scrabbling together enough horses, human cannonballs and freaks to put on a show.

Copper Country came to a halt just as I was starting to see the point, and I was enjoying our grimly blasé attitude to dead miners. I thought Sam, with his early flurry of mining, had won it, but it turned out otherwise.

Ian 39
Andrew 37 (wins tie breaker)
Sam 37

The tie breaker was a new one: remove all your copper cards where miners died, and then calculate your score again. I didn't get it at first, but then I realised that penalising the player with the highest mortality rate probably made sense.

Since Circus Train was a long way from finishing, we got out Quantum. With three of us, we set up a tight nine-tile play area with lots of eights and nines to be won. Sam did not do well, spending the first three rounds with a resolutely low-value fleet of ships.

I got very lucky, rolling two fours for my starting fleet. Since they have the ability to change to three or five for free, I was able to put a cube down on a nine, then an eight, early on. I also got two good cards to aid me. The most important of which was one that allowed me to adjust one die up or down by one. In this game of small margins, that was pivotal.

As I became a clear leader, Ian found himself in a dilemma. Attack me, and prolong the game, possibly to Sam's benefit. Or attack Sam, effectively giving me the win but claiming second place for himself. He did the decent thing and went after me, although I snuck a win anyway with a nice move (deploy, free warp, then place cube) which I didn't see til the last moment.

Andrew 0 cubes left
Ian 2
Sam 2

Circus Train still hadn't ended, so we broke out Push It. First to seven.

Ian's propensity for scoring doubles continued at the start of this game. Meanwhile my recent poor form remained as well. In attempt at making things difficult for Ian, Sam tried knocking the jack towards Circus Train, but this just made the other players nervous, fearing that one of the many tiny game pieces might be dislodged.

In the end, it was not a successful ploy anyway.

Ian 7
Sam 4
Andrew 2

And by now, Circus Train had finally rolled into the terminus. As they counted up the scores, there was a dawning sense of amazement as to how close the scores were.

Andy 49
Joe 48 (wins tie breaker)
Martin 48
Katy 47

Katy was not a happy bunny. To end the game in last, after all that time and effort... As they packed away (a marathon effort in itself) she vowed to never play the game again.

Finally we were all back together so we decided to end on 6nimmt. As one of Katy's favourites, we were amazed that she complained. She said she was too exhausted for a game as stressful as 6nimmt. Her complaints fell on deaf ears, and we dealt her in.

After an early mix up when she picked up when she felt sure she was safe ("I can't even count to six!") she decided to go Dirk. And say what you like about our lovable imaginary friend, he doesn't usually play a winning game. Ian did, though. And Martin took great pride in being the only player to play a clear round.

Ian 13
Andy 28
Martin 32
Andrew 35
Sam 39
Joe 46
Katy 83

And so we were done. Good night all. Thanks for hosting Sam, and happy birthday. In the meantime, the Division is back to normal this week. Ian continues his march up the table.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Driven to Extraction

Last night as part of the new disciplined gaming strategy, I bashed through a game of Copper Country with myself and Dirk. 'Bashed' is probably putting it a bit strongly - it took a while. I find the only way to avoid glazing over whilst reading rules is to read them aloud, so that's what I did.

In Copper Country the players are squabbling over the metal in question in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, starting in 1840 and continuing up into the 20th century. The by-product of mining in Tinner's Trail is water, but here - I guess things are geologically specific - the by-product is poor rock. A track of poor rock runs around the board which slowly is added to the board, revealing certain progressions in the game - new eras mean more advanced buildings can be built, and card-hand size increases, representing your growing company.

Mine, all mine

Each turn is pretty simple - take two management actions and one labor action. Management actions are (broadly speaking) about gathering resources and building buildings, whereas labor actions are mostly about mining.

The game reminded me just slightly of Beowulf. Miners (and buildings) minus poor rock equals how many shifts you can work in a mine; each shift represented by a production card being flipped over. If you have all the resources to take the production card, you pay them and take it. Or you can pass, or you can stake a claim - taking the card, but not the copper until you meet the requirements at a later date.

But the other thing that can happen - and happens more the longer the game continues - is that the pass option is no longer available, and if you can't meet the resource requirements your miners either go on strike, or die in a horrific underground accident. Neither is good for business.


Fortunately there is a constant stream of immigrants arriving in Michigan willing to risk their lives for you, so you can replace dead miners quite easily (one management action) or negotiate (also one action) to get the striking miners back to work. Tired miners also take an action to get them ready for another shift.

perky miner, ready for his demise

So it's pretty simple up to a degree. New eras and business and event cards triggered by the poor rock track are straightforward, and give the game extra replayability. But the way the buildings work is more complex - there are three types, each of which can be built from a particular era onwards. The first (company houses) allow you to take more shifts in adjacent mine spaces, and give you a little bonus depending on how many you've built. After that the buildings (shafts and hoists) begin to combine together: as long as one vertex of the hex they are adjacent to joins with one vertex of a hex the other building is adjacent to, then all the hexes any one building is adjacent to receives the benefit of those buildings ...It's a little more fiddly than Tinner's Trail at this moment.

you can't build these until you can

When the poor rock track is totally empty, the game is over.  I didn't get as far as the third era though, as having started just after 9pm, I quit at 11.30. I never built a hoist house or indeed use the shaft house I'd constructed. I did kill off about three miners, alienated a couple of others, and - as always happen when I play for myself and Dirk - I lost to my imaginary German friend.

I'm not totally bowled over by that first play - but I am intrigued enough to play it again. I could see that with more than two players opponents would start to get under each others' feet - you can nip in and mine where an opponents miner is based, filling up the space with poor rock and, essentially, pissing on their fire. You can also mount hostile takeovers - stealing an opponent's company card (which work the same way as a claim) before they secure it for themselves.

And I have to give kudos to the detail here. The designers have even included a history of Copper Country in the rulebook, which includes a list of the all the deaths by country in an industry sustained almost entirely by immigrants. Wouldn't happen now, of course - they'd all be plotting to blow up Finland.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Double Ore / Nothing

Last night we broke out the game that "started it all" - Settlers of Catan. Back in the mists of time this was, at one point, the only game I ever played - having been introduced to it by Chris. I introduced it to Joe many years later, and the rest of Joe's downstairs alcove is history.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The evening began much earlier, with just Andrew and myself facing off over herb gardens in Herbaceous, the game that crosses Biblios with Cottage Garden. The rules are very simple - on your turn, you may pot (moving herbs from gardens into pots) and then you must plant: flipping over two herb cards, putting one in your private garden and one in the community garden.

Everyone has four pots they are trying to fill (all the same/all different/pairs/three of any type, including the special herbs) and when you pot, you can take the cards from your own and/or the community garden - so there's a bit of push your luck: hoping nobody will grab what you'd like for yourself, and hoping you don't pot a herb only to flip over cards that would have helped you. Also, if you pot special herbs 1, 2 and 3, you get a biscuit.

No, I don't know either - but it's worth five points.

Sam 61
Andrew 54

And with Ben and Ian still en route, we played again:

Andrew 56
Sam 54

Then Ben arrived, and we played as a three. He took to it pretty well:

Ben 55
Sam 49
Andrew 37

Ian also turned up during the game, so it was time to think about what to play as a four. Panamax had been floated (by me) but also vetoed (by me) as I wasn't sure I was familiar enough with the game to facilitate a four-hander. After some rumination, we settled on Black Orchestra, the game of co-operative assassination attempts. Ben and Ian took on Wehrmacht roles, I was part of the Abwehr, and Andrew was a civilian.


The game began with a air of mild menace, but nothing too dramatic had happened when everything suddenly went terribly wrong. With three of us at Extreme Suspicion (- if the Gestapo raid, you are arrested) Andrew took efforts to lower his own suspicion score to medium. Then Ian, on the subsequent turn, decided to conspire: it went badly wrong, and Andrew (in the same location) saw his suspicion go back to Extreme in an instant. It was the equivalent of handing Andrew a fizzing cartoon bomb, and then running out the door.

Then the Gestapo turned up! All of us but Ben were arrested, and when Ben came to spring us from jail, he was arrested too. Game over, and Ian couldn't apologise enough.


Or not enough for Andrew, anyway, who kept mentioning his error during our next game: Quantum.

Ben was new to this as well, so Andrew and Ian talked him through the rules while I had a call with the absent family. When I returned, we were ready to go, and as it often the case in Quantum, we all got a cube down within our first two turns. After that, it turned dark. Ian and Ben both homed in on my ships and I was blown off the board. Whilst that melee was taking place, Andrew was making hay elsewhere, establishing a cube lead and getting four ships on the board, clustered together.

Dick moves began in earnest. Ian somehow ended up with 3 value three ships, which for whatever reason he decided not to change, but instead embark on a galaxy-wide marathon relay of moving and warping, to get one ship miles from the others. Ben pulled off the move of the game with a two-cube-placement, getting one down via his ships then another through dominance.

I played a sneaky game which was sort of dictated to me by the cards - I could construct from corners, deploy anywhere on the board, and best of all, I was Resourceful: if I removed a ship from the board, I got an additional action. This meant it was hard for the others to predict what I would do, and I nabbed the win:

Sam 0 cubes
Andrew/Ben 2 cubes left
Ian 3 cubes left

We returned Quantum to its box, and as it was only just gone nine, decided to introduce Ian to Settlers! The rules explanation took about 90 seconds, and we were off.

It was nice to revisit from a nostalgic point of view, but I must say we felt the age of the game now. So many turns were an exercise in rolling dice, not getting anything, then passing them on (the blog post title comes from what Andrew / and I picked up every time a six was rolled.)

Gotta love Ian's optimism!

I spent much of the early part of the game either cursing the dice for not rolling 8's, or cursing the others for putting the robber on my 8. As with Quantum, Andrew's blue pieces looked to be in a strong position: as Ben grabbed the largest army and Ian and I fought over the longest road, he spread himself over the island and picked up the odd development card - at one point he was on nine points and just needed a Chapel or University to win. But he got a soldier instead, and I - to my literal surprise, as I thought I'd reached nine points myself - snuck the win from under him:

Sam 10
Andrew 9
Ben 7
Ian 4

Ben called it a night, and - unable to find Push It in the cupboard (despite the recent purge!) - we finished off with Love Letter. It was a slightly chaotic Love Letter, with all of us making basic errors. But Andrew saw off belated challenges from Ian and I to claim the win:

Andrew 3
Ian 2
Sam 1

Herbs, Nazis, Spaceships and Renaissance Romance. A lovely way to start the weekend.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Just Divine

Whoever decided to schedule Valentine’s Day on a Tuesday this year needs, in my opinion, a good talking to. Due to this special day, there were only three of us this week. Me (the host), Ian and Katy. Katy brought as many games as she could, plus we all brought snacks, meaning the snack/player ratio was an impressive 1:1.

Our first game was Isle of Skye, which Katy tried her best to convince us she was bad at. She mentioned how much she struggled with money last time, and Ian had to remind her that she’d actually won that game.

"It's very zone-y."

I haven’t played in a while and, boy, did it show. Once again I ended with lots of money, but any tiles I wanted either vanished or were bought before I could get them. Luckily Ian and Katy set up a close finish to add a bit of excitement.

Ian 57
Katy 55
Andrew 17

Next up was Divinare. As I explained the rules to Katy, she kept asking if there was another game like Divinare that she thinks she played ages ago. I said I didn’t think so, but she insisted there was. Then I remembered I’d brought it to Roll For The Soul once and the mystery was solved: Divinare is the game that’s like Divinare.

It’s a fun game: a bit luck based and there’s a bit of screwage in there too. I should bring it to games nights more often. Katy proved herself to be best psychic.

Katy 17
Andrew 11
Ian 11

This was followed by Verflixxt (or That's Life), which now comes in its own bespoke carrying pouch since Katy was appalled at the oversized box that originally housed it.

As for the game, we all got two of those clover tiles (complete with illustration of a dog in a parcel) to turn negatives into positives, but Ian also got an armload of positives too. I was doing okay until right at the end when I rolled a bunch of ones, stealing last place from Katy who – up until then – had been the unluckiest roller.

Ian 27
Katy 11
Andrew 9

Next up was more dice! This time, Roll Through The Ages. This was new to Ian and Katy but it didn’t take long for them to get the hang of it. Katy loves a scoresheet and wrote “Dr Katy” at the top of hers, causing Ian and I to add “BA (Hons)” to our names, keen to show our higher education credentials too.

Ian soon had four developments and it looked like he was about to end the game, but he couldn't get enough money together to buy that last development. My joy was short lived, however, as he used the people he got instead to finish off monuments that I had already started.

At the end of the game, when adding up our scores for developments and monuments, we all scored nineteen points! As such, it was down to who had least disasters.

Andrew 19
Katy 15
Ian 14

Then finally, with Ian keeping an eye on the clock for his train home, we played Push It. Or Speed Push It as it might have been called. Only up to seven and, on my small table, we got it over and done with in double quick time with Ian scoring two-pointers three times. Ever the gracious host, I decided not make the game last any longer by staging a dramatic comeback. And that’s the story I’m sticking with.

Ian 7
Katy 3
Andrew 0

And so the evening ended at a sensible 10.25pm. Thanks guys. Hopefully we’re a bit more populated next week.

On the Division we have points along the x-axis, points ratio up the y-axis and the size of the bubble indicates the average complexity of the games played by each player, according to Board Game Geek. Ian is now second, while only a few weeks ago he was back in sixth!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Elementary Canal

The games collection is undergoing a purge: I'm shedding games that don't get played and trying to make front room of our house looks like it belongs to a reasonably sane human being rather than a meeple-obsessed hobbit.

Tangent to that is the idea that I actually play the games I've bought and work my way through the guilty dozen (probably more than a dozen, I imagine) or so games that are sitting lovelorn on the shelves. Recently I've blitzed through A Feast for Odin, Black Orchestra, Euphoria, and Trajan. Feast is now a firm favorite after a shaky start, and Black Orchestra seems to have hit the right spot with myself, Andrew and Stanley too - the pair of us played again last night, and although we didn't get arrested the curfew Nazi curtailed our fun.

 Bedtime for Hitler

After Stan and Joe were settled I duly put on my specs and set up Panamax, the game of shoveling ships though the Panama canal. If that seems an odd choice of verb, just you wait! Ships get shoveled.

"Just push him out the way!"

Despite the location, the theme is very Euro-y, with each player the CEO of a shipping company that is loading ships and taking their cargo through the canal in question. But after that it gets more interesting. For a start, the winner is decided not on the most valuable company, but, in a celebration of rampant capitalism, the richest individual. The straightforward route here is to develop your own company and take payouts from it, but you don't have to do that. You could be a little more creative and, in a celebration of rampant capitalism, let your company go to the dogs whilst you load your cargo onto other players ships at opportune moments and buy shares in their companies instead. Let them do the hard work! As long as you get your money, right?


The only thing is, the more shares you buy in your own company, the more likely you are to get the 'best CEO' bonus; just like the way those rampant capitalists love to reward themselves for dicking people over in the most anonymous possible way. Plus - the more your company is worth, the more dividends you get...

This meddlesome intrigue gets thicker still when we come to the movement of ships. Each lock in the canal only has a certain amount of space, so any ships coming in behind a full lock will shovel everything forward to the next space in the canal - meaning you can just get in someone's way and have them do the hard work by pushing your cargo forward!

The dice bubble continues to grow

All of this stuff has a random generator too: available actions (12 each round, over 3 rounds) are decided by 12 dice being rolled at the start of the round, and on your turn you take a die, activating the action: get and load an order, move ships. When your ships reach the far end of the canal (routes go in both directions) both the company and you get paid for delivering it. The company gets the pip value of the dice, and you get $2 per die, or you can sacrifice this income to hire some kind of specialists - the stern-looking captain (movement!), the walkie-talkie-wielding stevedore (loading!), the big-chinned financial advisor (money!)

The big-chinned financial advisors are important because they define what you earn at the end of the game by giving you a set of criteria to aim for (you get one at the start of the game too) and make no mistake, these are not optional bonuses á la most-euros you can think of - they really define your plans for the whole game. Like if a real financial advisor tells you to ship goods from China, are you going to start loading a cargo of bratwurst and croissants? - Of course not.

three men called Max

Turn order is important here because going first puts you in the box seat - you have more chance of getting in someone's way and forcing them to move your boats for you. But by the same token, there's an element of risk in this - if nobody takes the plunge then all ships occupying space at the end of each round has to pay for the privilege. So there's a bit of brinkmanship too.

As well as the player ships there are also Cruise ships and military ships that zig zag back and forth - the cruise ships will take a little cargo for you, whereas the military will - potentially - pay you when you shovel them forward. This seeming afterthought makes for a canny tactic, as if you've shipped lots of Chinese goods then the Chinese military adore you and will give you a big payment every time you shovel their ship forward.

After three rounds all players sell their shares and receive cash, plus whatever bonuses their financial advisors bring them. Richest capitalist wins!

just pushing this Military ship through a lake

These are the designers who did the perfectly-serviceable but not that exciting Nippon - on a first impression I think this is streaks ahead of that game. The theme comes through strongly - you're literally pushing boats along the canal. The goal is more disgustingly evident. And the player interaction, which is minimal in Nippon (take an action before X does), is much more present here. I can see quite a few GNNers getting a kick out of this - and getting a kicking too!

Panamax survives the purge.

Sunday, 12 February 2017


By curious chance, four of us GNNers have birthday’s close enough to each other that we can organise a games weekend on the flimsy pretext that we have successfully circumnavigated the sun again. Me, Sam, Chris (all February birthdays) and Paul (March) all gathered at Chris’ house on Friday evening for a couple of days’ worth of board games.

Sam and I arrived at about quarter to eight, too late to join in with the earliest games: two rounds of Heck Meck between Paul, Chris and Chris’ wife and recent convert to (some) Eurogaming, Jacquie.

Paul 12
Chris 6
Jacquie 0

Jacquie 9 (highest tile)
Paul 9
Chris 0

Once us two latecomers had got settled in (and Sam had played against Chris’ kids at Rhino Hero), our first game was Las Vegas. A nice light, jovial game of dice-rolling to get us started. Chris had a poor last round to drop back into third while, as I recall, Sam picked up some choice wins due to a number of draws.

Sam 520
Andrew 390
Chris 340
Paul 260

After this Sam suggested Black Orchestra, the co-op game of killing Hitler. Chris is not a fan of the co-op style of gaming, but I thought this game might be one even he’d enjoy. It has a sort of Escape From Colditz vibe and an accidental dark humour to it, as the game instructs Hitler and his deputies to amble around Germany, stealing cards and items from you.

But best of all, we finally succeeded! We carried out a coup d’etat in the Gestapo HQ, with all of us present along with Hitler and a whole bunch of dice. Just as Chris was about to roll to see if we were able to finish him off, Paul yelled out “Wait!” freezing Chris mid-shake. Paul then checked a few of his cards before saying actually, no, it’s fine, carry on. After that moment of high drama, Chris rolled the dice and the plan worked perfectly.

We win! Hitler is dead!

Then we got out Istanbul for our next game. We laid out the tiles according to the quick set-up, and Sam certainly lived up to that. He used the Sultan’s Palace to great effect, while the rest of us wandered around warehouses.

Sam 5
Chris 3 + cash
Andrew 3
Paul 2

After this we got out an old familiar: 7Wonders. This favourite never ceases to amaze with its new ways of winning. This time, Paul came away the clear victor thanks to his four (yes, four) guilds netting him thirty points by themselves.

My losing tableau

Paul 61
Chris 47
Sam 47
Andrew 43

This was followed by Biblios, which Sam won more or less with the hand he had at the end of the draw phase, hardly buying any cards in the auction phase.

Mmmm, Biblios....

Sam 6
Andrew 4
Paul 3 + brown
Chris 3 + blue

Interesting fact about Biblios: I haven’t scored over five points for almost two years.

It was by now the end of the evening, so we finished on Push It, giving our colours new and exciting names: Chris was callisto, I was brusque, Paul was octavio and Sam was vongeburp. Chris sealed the win thanks to me hitting the jack neatly between his two pucks.

Chris 12
Paul 6
Sam 6
Andrew 2

Saturday morning and I popped back into Bristol to turn off my heating and pick up Concordia from Sam’s house. I was back by mid-morning, and we picked up where we left off with Tinner’s Trail.

Sam’s monopoly of the Lizard was enough to see him into first place. Chris controlled the eastern part of the board while Paul and I fought over the middle.

Sam 106
Chris 85
Andrew 63
Paul 55

Then, after lunch of pizzas (bought by Sam and prepared by Jacquie) we all sat down for a five-player game of Caverna. None of us had played with more than three players that we could remember, so it was a new and exciting experience for all of us. Especially Paul who’d never played it at all.

It turns out he did pretty well, coming in second just by playing the most Agricola-like bits, and ignoring anything new. He also kept slashing and burning when I wanted to, leaving me seeking other options and ending the game with six unused spaces on my board. Even Sam’s two dwarfs did better than my three.

Sam's stash of stone

Chris 72
Paul 64
Jacquie 61
Sam 50
Andrew 44

We all agreed that with five players, it’s more of a bun fight, with fewer options available. Chris and Jacquie were even forced to go adventuring, which they hardly ever do in their two-player games.

After this, Sam went off somewhere (to call his family, I think) and the rest of us played Heck Meck. Jacquie told us that she’d asked someone to translate the German phrase on the front of the box, “Heckmeck im Bratwurmeck” and the closest they could get was “Hullaballoo in the sausage worm area”.

Most of the hullaballoo in this game involved passing round the 21 and 25 tiles. I got an high tile early on and tried my best to defend it, but to no avail.

Paul 6
Chris 5
Jacquie 4
Andrew 3

After this, the kids Ava-Rose and Ashton joined me and Chris for an exciting game of Outfoxed. I explained the rules, but got one wrong (I forgot you had to announce what you wanted before rolling the dice) but it hardly mattered. We turned over an number of suspects early on and each clue seemed to point to Ingrid as the pie-thief! Eventually, we were certain of our convictions, so we accused her and we were right!

We win!

This was followed by the adults sitting down to play Love Letter to fill in the time until lunch. Ashton asked why it was called Love Letter and I had to admit there was no real reason, despite the first three pages of the rule book trying to convince you there is.

"Are you the handmaid?" Chris asked...

Chris 3
Andrew 1
Sam 0
Paul 0

After this came supper followed by a couple of games of 6nimmt. In the first, a four-player game, we all suffered one bad round:

Chris 50
Paul 63
Andrew 68
Sam 73

During the next five-player game I suffered from a lack of attention, playing cards I thought would be safe, missing the fact that they picked up all the cards from a different row.

Paul 16
Sam 27
Chris 36
Jacquie 39
Andrew 74

Now it was half past eight and if we were going to play Concordia, we would have to do it now. Paul was given a summary of the rules and we found out we’d got another rule wrong with our version drastically increasing the number of movement actions each piece should have. Oh well, c’est la vie.

I started feeling ill halfway through and missed two whole rounds while on toilet duty. Also, Chris’ cold, a bother for him for the whole weekend, seemed to get worse. On the other hand, Paul seemed to get the hang of the game quite quickly. There were moments of AP for everyone, and by half past ten we had reached the end.

Sam 91
Chris 87
Paul 78
Andrew 77

Next up was Codenames. Another new game for Paul, but the first round (with Chris and I as spymasters) was relatively straightforward.

Chris & Paul wins!
Andrew & Sam loses!

In the second round, with roles reversed, Paul & Chris shot off into an early lead, meaning Sam had to take a few risks with his guesses. Luckily, Chris mistook Paul’s clue of “Country Club” (“Is Country Club okay as a clue?” he asked. “It has to be, now” replied Sam) to mean “millionaire” and in that moment, Sam & I snatched the win as I finally understood Sam’s cryptic “Snow White” clue from earlier in the game (“poison” and “mint”).

A bad start

Sam & Andrew wins!
Paul & Chris loses!

The last of the biggish games to be played was Medici. This old favourite needed barely a breath of rules explanation, as we set up and sorted things out. Sam spent most of the game berating himself for spending 9 on two tiles (a five and a one, not matching) in the first auction of the game. He seemed to recover quite well. Other notable events: the gold tile was the very last to be drawn in both rounds two and three, and I filled up my final boat for the princely sum of £3!

Sam 134
Andrew 109
Chris 103
Paul 97

Finally we ended on Push It. Or, in this case, Extreme Push It. Usually, extreme sports are invented to increase adrenalin and push the body to its limits. Extreme Push It came about due to a reluctance to move our chairs. Instead, we stayed where we were and placed the jack in the middle of Chris’ extended dining table, meaning we all had to negotiate two small ridges in the table top where an extra middle bit had been slotted in to lengthen the table.

Oh, how we laughed as our pucks jumped and skipped about. Would the result have been any different in a normal game? We will never know. But it ended (with bespoke colour names in brackets)

Sam (Tacitagreement) 7
Chris (Clunge) 4
Paul (Pastiche) 1
Andrew (Louvre) 1

And so, to bed. Our game-athon finally drew to a close. Sam and I set off early Sunday morning. Many thanks to Chris and Jacquie for hosting and thanks to Paul for making the trek across England to join us. All that’s left is the division and it’s nice to see three different winners for the weekend.

Congrats to Sam, Chris and Jacquie and thanks to all. It was a blast.