Tuesday, 30 May 2017

All you guys care about is the Picts

I arrived at Joe's late to find a cupboard kitchen almost bereft of gamers - with hardy stalwarts Andrew and Martin not attending, and frequently-spotted peripherals happening on a collective absenteeism, there was just Joe, Katy, and Ian. Joe had no music playing and no offspring present. Even Sybil's tail seemed to wag with less mania than normal. But this was merely the calm before the storm...

They were playing Sheep and Thief, a new addition to Joe's collection. Because I only caught the end of it I can't give an entirely accurate description, but there was 7 Wonders-style drafting aligned to card-laying along with sheep moving, road and river building, and sheep rustling by virtue of a fox.

I know the latter because Katy stole three sheep from Joe, who was suitably unimpressed. The game did appear to fit the wolf-in-sheep's-clothing description, as it was feisty enough for a variant on the classic Dr Wall insult to come out more than once...

Katy 36
Joe 29
Ian 23

"At least it's more than zero" Ian said, heroically channelling Eeyore.

We debated what to play next, with Istanbul and Orleans both mentioned before settling on Jorvik, Stefan Feld's game of spiteful Vikings.  Well, they're not really spiteful, but it can sometimes feel that way. Like Beowulf it's a game whose mechanics fly in the face of its theme: this is a bidding game where however many people bid decide what the 'winner' - not necessarily the person who bids most - has to pay. What you're bidding on is cards, and they do various stuff in the way of point-scoring, but really the game is all about the bidding, broken up occasionally by raids from the Picts, who I usually saw off (for points) as Joe disdained mine and Ian's efforts at defending the collective - see post title.

We all enjoyed the swingy, screwy nature of it - but agreed the game is probably a little too long for what it is. Personally I felt an hour would have done it justice, but it took two. However repeat visits would probably bring that down substantially.

I didn't really play with a long-term plan, and went for short-term gains in the main, bolstered by my cards that gave me points for string (?) and one completed order, whereas the others each had at least two orders apiece. And Joe had a bit of string too. But my in-game chiselling had built me enough of a lead that I couldn't be caught:

Sam 52
Ian 41
Joe 29
Katy 25

We then blasted through a couple of attempts at Magic Maze, which has been explained in the previous post. Playing with Katy was a new experience - having grasped the logic of it all in our first (failed) attempt at pulling off the heist, she pretty much co-opted the Do Something piece and dictated events in the second game. It's supposed to be a co-operative really, but I think Katy won.

Then we played Perudo!

Ian needed a little convincing this was the best choice, so I offered him a lift home, and Joe broke out the dice. He also insisted that the cup lid could easily hide 19 dice underneath it, which brought much scorn from Katy and I. Oh, Joe, you hopeless optimist!

Katy was out first when she put too much faith in everyone else's numbers. It looked like Ian or I might be next, but then Joe got caught in a death spiral and went swiftly from the only person with five dice to the next one out!

At that point Ian was still palafico and I had the advantage of three dice. I played cagey with a low bid on twos and Ian - not unreasonably - gambled on a dudo - giving me my second win of the night.

I like these 4-player evenings!

All that remained was for Joe to prove that the cup lid could easily hide 19 dice, at which he failed miserably. Katy's opinion on fellatio, which came out candid and unbidden during Jorvik, is probably best left a mystery.


  1. Jorvik is a remake of Speicherstadt, which did take an hour and was quite fun. They included the expansion which doubles the length though. It's possible to play the original game with Jorvik and that's what I would suggest in future after an experience like yours.

    Sorry to miss it but Huddersfield in the Premier League and our wedding anniversary was enough excitement for one week!

  2. I like Jorvik - it doesn't seem to drag too much for me, but perhaps that's being aware of the overall length. I like the table-talk and beastly screwage.

    Funny you should mention Beowulf Sam, it reminds me of that game too - both games feel a tad long for the simple bidding structure, but for me they both offer enough space around the gameplay to remain fun. I think what I mean is neither game has a heavy cognitive load, perhaps.

    Thanks for indulging me in Perudo, despite the hour - it didn't take too long in the end. And ok ok, I concede that the dice fail to fit under the lid. Funny, I've always played with that set thinking that's what the lid was for, but of course it's actually to put on the cup of lost dice, so players can't peek at them. But what if you play with six players?

    I liked Magic Maze - it must sound really weird to those not playing - frantic, urgent rhythmic tapping... riiiight.

    But as you said in your last post Sam, it's very hard not to cheat.

    Oh and I liked Sheep and Thief - nice mix of drafting, tile-laying with some dastardlyness.

    Thanks for coming along, and for blogging up Sam. I'll save that popcorn til next time Katy - it's hidden in a decoy game box (necessary subterfuge in our house).

  3. Yeah, I liked it too. I didn't think it dragged either; I just felt that it wasn't a two-hour game. Hard to articulate why, because we did have fun with it!

    Magic Maze is fun, but it's a very particular type of fun - for masochists, maybe? Or people who enjoy being silently harassed.

    Perudo was great. It is a classic.

    1. I rather agree. Jorvik didn't exactly outstay it's welcome, but I think I'd enjoy it more if it was a bit shorter.

      And I enjoyed Magic Maze more this time, as I didn't feel quite so knackered.

  4. Sounds like fun. Sorry I missed it, but my body made it perfectly clear that two games nights in a row is no longer an option.

  5. Sheep Thief was really fun, I especially enjoyed placing the sheep on the green baize! Jorvik I'm not convinced, but I don't usually like bidding games, although I do like Beowulf. Having said that I'd play it again to see how it is on a second play. Magic maze, thinking about it I did use the 'Do Something' piece a lot in the second game, but I did want people to do things and we did succeed, but maybe not as cooperatively as planned; apologies! Perudo was not my game this week; there's always next week though :D Thanks all, see you soon x

    1. re Magic Maze: you definitely took the bull by the horns. No problem though. The spatial awareness of four different adventurers was mighty impressive.