Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Manila favoured

This week's gaming was hosted by the ever genial Joe. At first we were six (Joe, Sam, Martin, Katy, me and, making his debut for 2017, Andy) with a seventh (Ian) coming later.

As a six , after initial greetings and conversation, we got down to the nitty gritty of deciding what to play. This process was made a little more difficult by the fact that the bulb in Joe's utility room had gone.  Lack of visibility aside, Joe offered up Dream Home. No one seemed keen and, for myself, I have difficulty with the rather prim artwork. Joe's sales pitch that his daughters liked it didn't sway me. Instead we went for Team Play with Sam graciously not vetoing the choice. He is not a fan of the game and by the end he was thinking of variants.

Joe and Andy sped out of the blocks, looking to end the game quickly by finishing off some cheap and easy objectives. Sam and I went for the opposite: high scoring but difficult. Not that we had a great deal of choice, it was just what we were dealt. I ended the game with the same mission card in front of me that I started with.

Katy and Martin, the two doctors, also went for quality albeit a little more efficiently than Sam and I did. They won, despite having two fewer mission cards than Andy & Joe. Plus, their average points per mission was the same as ours.

Martin & Katy 20
Joe & Andy 19
Sam & Andrew 16

After this, we split into two groups of three. Sam finally got his introduction to Imhotep, along with fellow newbie Andy being taught the rules by Martin.

Aware that Ian would be arriving at some point, Katy, Joe and I went for a co-operative game, Colour Wheel from the games compendium Pyramid Arcade. I explained the tiny amount of rules and we were off. We didn't play in silence, and a couple of moves raised some eyebrows in puzzlement, but we refrained from telling each other outright what to do.

During this game, Ian arrived and he was quickly enrolled on to the wheel. Perhaps too quickly, as he stared, baffled at the multicoloured pyramids for a good couple of minutes before he passed, saying his brain wasn't up to speed yet. Then he sat down. For the first time this evening. Sorry, Ian. Should've given you time to at least get your feet under the table.

Finally, Colour Wheel came to a close, with all of us confidently saying it could be done in two moves. All of us except Joe, whose go it was.But despite the last minute pressure, we cleared the challenge with two moves to spare.

We win!

So,with Imhotep still mid-game, the four of us chose our main course for the evening: Manila. A lovely game. Perhaps one of my favourites, as I somewhat oversold it as the board game Grand Theft Auto. I was asked how and I said, well, you can deliver goods or be a pirate or...

Anyway, the game involves betting on the arrival (or non arrival) of boats laden with goods. And while dice make move them along, being the Harbour Master allows you to alter the starting position.

The bidding for this privilege was harsh. I think it never went for less than ten, and sometimes as much as twenty. Also pivotal was the pirate option. Ian took it twice, with no reward while my two attempts both ended in success.

Joe went for shares and played, as I recall, quite a sensible game. Apart from when he started babbling about selling his bum at the harbourside. Not sure what prompted that. Also we discussed the unit of measurement known as the fuck-ton, and decided it was probably equivalent to five shitloads.

Around this time, Imhotep ended. Sam's mid-game bout of analysis paralysis perhaps pointed to a difficulty with the game, but he wasn't too far behind. Martin, meanwhile, loses at Imhotep by one point again.

Andy 46
Martin 45
Sam 35

Then they played Eggs Of Ostrich. All I remember about this game is whenever I looked over, they were all playing the same card.

They played two rounds:

Martin 11
Andy 9
Sam 7

Sam 11
Martin 4
Andy 2

Then, while we four were still bickering about silk and ginseng, they began a game of Cottage Garden. This passed me by as I was deep in the grip of Manila-fever, trying to squeeze profits out of the final rounds.

In the end, I went for the pirate route and it came off dramatically. I got a whole boat to myself and steered it in to port. As the final count was made, Katy seemed confident. You can imagine her dismay at the final reckoning:

Joe 145
Andrew 143
Katy 132
Ian 72

Cottage Garden, too, ended about now.

Martin 57
Sam 53
Andy 46

So with all seven of us together, we decided on Fuji Flush to end the evening, accompanied by some whisky from Lidl served in hot glasses straight from the dishwasher. Katy also wanted to play Dead man's Chest, but when Joe went to get it, the lack of light meant the box he chose was actually Hanafuda. A great game, but only plays two.

Anyway, Martin wasn't keen on DMC, so we charged through three raucous rounds (maybe a bit too loud) of Fuji Flush. As an addition, I also kept track of those infamous Dick Moves, when a player ruins other players' chances of success by only a single point.

Andrew 0
Sam 1
Ian 1
Martin 3
Katy 3
Andy 3
Joe 3

In this round, we started with six cards each which Andy pointed out was wrong: for seven players it should be five. We were all stunned by the sight of Martin getting a rule wrong. Sam seemed happiest as he sat back in his chair and said “Welcome to the club, Martin.”

And then...

Katy 0
Andy 1
Joe 1
Martin 2
Sam 2
Ian 3
Andrew 3

And finally, what a finale! Four of us checked out at the same time by playing four 10 cards!

Sam 0
Martin 0
Katy 0
Andrew 0
Joe 1
Andy 1
Ian 1

Phew. And who played the most dick points across the three games?

A photo of a dick, mid-move

Katy 7
Joe 6
Andy 6
Sam 5
Martin 5
Ian 4
Andrew 1

Oh, Katy, you're so cruel. Good thing dick points aren't Leaderboard.

Talking of which, this week's Division is full of treats and surprises.

Let me just explain these new categories. In Best Sport, a player gets a point if they agree to play a game they're bad at (“bad at” defined as: their average score is only one half or less of the leader's score). Cup Upset is when a player who until now was especially bad at a game (average score one third or less of the leader's score) actually wins it. And Total Dominance is awarded to a player if a result pushes or maintains their average score at 80% or higher of the leader's score.

Just for the record, Martin's points in Total Dominance come almost exclusively from Eggs of Ostrich, but also from Imhotep too. Even though he hardly ever wins it. Ian's comes from Eggs of Ostrich. Joe's is from Manila. And Sam's comes from Fuji Flush and Rolling America.

And the Cup Upsets were: Katy (Eggs of Ostrich and Fuji Flush); me (Imhotep); Sam (Mamma Mia and Eggs of Ostrich); and Matt (both from Eggs of Ostrich)

Hmm, Eggs of Ostrich seems to be quite a swingy game.

Anyway, thanks all. It was a pleasure.


  1. Thanks Andrew, a very fun night. I was almost speechless when I found out I'd come 3rd in Manilla and by this I actually mean I swore, a lot! I'm proud to be queen of the dick points :D Well done all and I look forward to an intimate gaming session next week.

  2. I didn't think Cottage Garden was a patch on Patchwork, but I didn't hate it :)

    I'm really destroying my points ratio with all these short games!

    1. I think Cottage Garden is a nice one to play with the kids or casual gamers, but on Tuesday it did feel a little bland. Patchwork is certainly more interactive.

  3. My lasting memory of the night is Martin, absolutely beside himself with joy/amazement/whisky at that four-way crimp that ended the last game of Fuji Flush. He was having quiet hysterics, as only a doctor of statistics could, at the insanity of four players each playing a 10. Very funny to behold!

    Manila was lovely, probably because I won. It is rather brilliant anyway, though.

    Team Play was great, probably because I thought we'd won.

    Colour Wheel was interesting, but perhaps the whole pyramids thing is a bit too abstract for me. I should try a few other games before dismissing it - it's certainly a beguiling package.

    Thanks all for a splendid evening.

  4. I love colour wheel! But I'm not sure absolutely it Pyramid Arcade as a package yet. Played a couple of the shorter games at the weekend and they weren't amazing. We shall see...

    I enjoyed Imhotep without loving it, but liked Eggs of Ostrich- good silly fun. Fuji Flush is def the new Pairs it seems....