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.


  1. Great fun, with the exception of Chris's cold, unfortunately for him.

    I was enjoying pooling about with my two dwarfs in Caverna and had a happy image of this thriving smallholding holding its own whilst surrounding farms started implying the likes of Monsanto (I exaggerate for myself). But as well as I did for the first half of the game, I totally plateaued in the second and I think - unlike the wheelbarrow in Istanbul - expansion in Caverna is a non-negotiable option in terms of winning!

    Despite winning Concordia I felt a little underwhelmed by it - I love the card selection and I think Concordia does it better than, A Castle For All Seasons. But the pushing stuff around Europe felt a bit bland.

    My favourite game of the weekend was Black Orchestra, for the reasons Andrew states above. Tinner's Trail, Push It and Codenames probably share second place. It was nice to win although the planets definitely aligned for us. Today (following a conversation about Donald Trump) Stanley and I played. Hitler's military strength shot up to seven very early and we'd just managed to get it back to a manageable three when the Gestapo appeared and arrested us both - game over!

    Thanks again to our hosts Chris and Jacs and also to the kids - Ashton's artwork is stunning and they also laid on a Saturday night play for us!

  2. Great weekend guys, thanks for coming over. Shame I was stuffed with a cold but it didn't affect my enjoyment.
    Really pleased to play 5 handed Caverna. Opportunities for that to happen don't come round very often.
    I also was a bit surprised about how that Condordia game went. Normally I like it but it fell a bit flat and I was wondering if it was losing it's shine.
    Black Orchestra didn't break the co-op problem for me I'm afraid! I did like the theme though and the opportunity for amusing commentary.

    1. After Tinner's Trail and Caverna we probably should have done a few little games on Saturday night rather than another heavy Euro. I think that may have coloured our experience. But all the same Concordia may go in the current purge!