This week's regular event saw the final games night of the season. Dizzy with anticipation, eight of us crammed into Sam's kitchen: Sam, Katy, Ian, Joe, Martin, Andy (arriving later), myself and newcomer Matt.
While we waited for Andy, we cranked out a swift game of Fuji Flush. It was new to Matt, but there aren't many rules. So few, in fact, that Martin felt he had time to explain the concept of dick points. During the game, Katy complained about her cards, and that gave us the opportunity to explain to Matt that Katy's level of annoyance is in no way connected to how well she's doing.
As for the game, Sam and Joe crossed the finish line hand in proverbial hand. Furthermore, Sam got most dick points, too. Pity it's not a tie breaker.
By now, Andy was here and with Joe, Martin and Andy bringing new games with a fierce desire to play them, dividing into groups took very little time. Joe, Martin, Matt and Katy set up New York Slice. I know little about it except the basic premise is that you have to share a pizza but you inevitably get last choice, so you have to balance the options, Mammut style. It also looks like the kind of game you don't want to play if you're hungry.
It finished with Joe looking surprised that he'd won.
Ian, Andy, Sam and I went for Flamme Rouge, a cycling game which involves careful deck management as you guide your two cyclists around a course. You have a Sprinter and a Rouler, how each have their own deck of cards. Slightly disappointingly, the artwork is pretty similar, leading to occasional Incan Gold style confusion.
The game itself is rock solid, though. Simple but strategic enough to be exciting. Andy pointed out how well the game recreated the ebb and flow of a real race as we jostled in the peleton, after the leaders.
My strategy was to send one rider off as fast as possible right from the start, to see what happens. Answer: he gets tired.
Sam kept his riders tucked away in the chasing pack, conserving energy. Ian seemed to go from hopeless last to challenging for first and Andy complained about his cards. "It's mostly luck," Sam said, ever the gracious host. Did he mean it?
By now, New York Slice had finished, and they were onto Ponzi Scheme, a game that has the dubious USP of being a fun re-creation of uncontrollably spiraling debt.
They ran the gamut of emotions from agony to desperation, with the only light relief being other players' discomfort. Joe was in trouble early on and somehow kept holding on, stating at one point "I'm extremely soluble right now." He managed to stay afloat until Katy joined him in ignominious bankruptcy.
Katy, meanwhile, rued her chances of stopping Martin. If she'd given a pound to Matt, he could've done something (I didn't fully understand. I wasn't really listening) and beaten Martin. But she didn't.
It looked like hell, but they all seemed to enjoy it. It also seemed quite long, since the four of us where able to squeeze in a game of Tinners' Trail.
It was Andy's choice since it's a game he feels he should play more but doesn't. We didn't need any prompting as it was set up, quicksticks.
Sam went for a new strategy: buying poor but well-placed mines for cheap. I used the tactic of bidding on empty and distant parts of the map, hoping no one would bid too much against me. Ian put all his energy into taking over Land's End and Lizard Point, while Andy took over the south coast.
By round three, with prices low, we were all hoping for a bumper crop in the final round and the board was still replete with cubes. But Andy's dice rolling let him and all of us down.
Prices stayed low, which goes some of the way to explain the low scores. Ian regretted an adit, Sam miscalculated how much money he'd need and Andy had too much ground to make up. I can't complain, though.
And now, we were all together again. Katy was keen on Dead Man's Chest and so Matt got the dubious delight of having rules explained to him by people who didn't fully remember the rules themselves. But once we'd all reminded ourselves of how to play, we were off!
Katy struck upon the tactic of always calling low (3-1) as a safe strategy. I looked back in the GNN archives, and the only other person who did that came last too. It seems like it’s only safe for the person you’re sitting next to.
And with that, we were done. After an evening of all last places, Katy still seemed happy and as she, I and Joe walked home, we discussed Gold West and wondered what the opposite of a point salad would be. I suggested point custard, but they said it had to be something you usually eat by itself. Katy thought of point blancmange, which I liked but Joe didn’t like crossing over from savoury to sweet. He came up with point pie or point sandwich before texting me late at night with his eureka moment: point smoothie! The debate may never be resolved.
On the division, Ian wins the season! Hurrah! Meanwhile, Adam takes points ratio and Martin win the medal table. And that’s it. Phew. See you all next week!