On Saturday we hosted long-time occasional gamers Katie and Mark. After the remnants of curry and chips were cleared from the table, I asked what everyone fancied playing. Katie, as she always does, suggested Carcassonne, but unfortunately for her my copy had been leant out to a fellow parent from school. I perused the cupboard and suggested Black Orchestra, but Katie's reluctance to learn new rules meant the Fuhrer got to live to see another day. It's attitudes like that that saw Poland annexed.
Instead we played Riff Raff which I won (twice!) by shucking off my long-held habit of finishing last. Mark was on the verge of winning the first game, but all the pieces fell into the sea before his turn arrived, meaning he could only place one piece, rather than his planned two.
Mark had expressed an interest in Pyramid Arcade, so next we had a go at Colour Wheel. This was a big hit with Katie, and we completed our challenge with turns to spare twice. In the second game we threw caution to the wind and started grouping different colours at the same time! It could have been a disaster, but it was a triumph. Everyone was so pleased, I was instructed to take this photo.
With Pyramid Arcade still on the table, we kept things pyramidy with a game of TreeHouse, which is very simple. I took possibly the worst GNN photo ever (and tweeted it).
at the time I really thought this was in focus
Mondo was next, but we found it a rather underwhelming experience overall. "There doesn't seem to be much depth" Sally complained, as her internal gamer broke to the surface of reality for air. The evening was getting blurry at this point, but I think Katie won. Or Mark.
We finished the evening with Push It, returning to the game's recommended method of play: teams. Out of happenstance we ended up as boys v girls. I'd forgotten how good team play is in Push It. There's more tactics on the table, and you remain invested in what's happening even after you've done two crappy flicks.
Mark developed a technique of always hitting the jack and pushing it towards my discs, and Sally developed a technique of flicking her discs into Katie's lap. The boys won the first game, but the girls took the second game with an extravagant three point flourish at the death.
On Sunday my mum came over to see the boys and then have some grown-up time in the evening. We had a little game of Tsuro which Stan won, then the boys showed Crysse what they'd built in the world of Minecraft: a floating house complete with balconies and a roller coaster. My mum is never one to get too excited by computer games, so when she responded with a slightly flat "Wonderful" Stan replied "Mmmm. A little bit sarcastic there".
A lovely family moment.
Later after tea and bedtimes and chats, I got the green light to set up a game. Because my mum's become more curious (maybe indulgent is a better word) of games that aren't necessarily Scrabble, I eyed up Orleans. No! said the voice in my head. Remember Tinner's Trail!
But sometimes I just have to ignore that voice, and run the risk of ridicule and loathing. So - with Sally still upstairs reading Harry Potter to the boys - I set it up and talked my mum through the rules.
Sally entered the room and almost did a comedy double-take when she saw the game laid out on the table. "I'm not sure I can go from stories to... this" she said, but I assumed a casual welcoming air that hid my mounting panic and rising temperature. I also took off my thermal leggings.
Then a strange thing happened. Despite our continued confusion over the difference between scholars and craftsmen, mum began to overtly relish playing. "I love this game!" she said, at least three times, then at the end she said it was the best of the games I'd introduced her to and I should bring it over next time I visit. Sally didn't quite reach the same levels of enthusiasm, but she did seem to enjoy it... The board and pieces are now slightly wine-stained, but never mind.
I think Tinner's Trail is actually simpler
As for the game itself, we missed out (deliberately) one thing, which was the events that define the passing of time in each round, but otherwise played accurately. Sally came to the map belatedly, whilst Crysse kept forgetting you can't move wheels. -The very idea; that a wheel would move!
They both built new buildings for themselves with my mum making a winery and emptying the game's supply of wine, which felt appropriate. I built a biblioteque, and kept joking about how I would go there in the evenings to let off steam - but it was a tough crowd. They were too focussed on other things, I suppose.
You can probably work out who's in the lead at any one moment, but for us it was all a surprise at the end. Sally scored 94 and Crysse and I tied on 120. She didn't want me to find out what the tie-breaker was in case she lost, so we celebrated our shared victory.