We began with Pairs, with Sam's son Joe telling his father what to do. With four players, it's quite a different game to what we're used to. Very cagey, with people preferring to stick in second rather than risk one more card.
Joe got hit by a lot of low pairs while Sam & Joe were in pole position midgame, just four points off the target of fifteen. But, they couldn't score again and Ian took first place.
Sam & Joe 11
And then came decision time. Since we didn't have to share the table with another game, our choices were limitless. We struggled to make a choice. Joe said he'd almost brought Brass, and I wished he had. Great Western Trail? Feast For Odin? But after Viticulture had been mentioned several times, it was brought to the table.
Joe had recently been introduced to the game by Sam, but had found his first attempt rather frustrating.
Round one:everyone training new workers
For the rest of us, the rolling hills of Tuscany were as familiar as the garden path to Sam's door. We set up with Ian having a rare luxury of an extra worker thanks to his Papa card.
Interestingly, the extra worker option at the end of the Player Order Option Track was barely used. With four players, spaces were likely to be filled so an extra ordinary worker wouldn't be much use.
Halfway through, I asked Joe if he was enjoying it more and he said no, it was still frustrating. Which is true, but that's part of the joy of the game. This was especially true for me in the last round, when my plans of a double-order fulfilment were scuppered. I'd been holding on to my Grandee, hoping for a stroke of luck to allow me to fill an order, and I was sorely chagrined (© 18th century England) when Sam played a card allowing you to take back your Grandee and use it again.
Then again, so was Sam when he saw Ian take his back and then use it to fill another order and make sure of his victory in this close game of Viticulture.
After this, we wound down with lighter fare: Dicht Dran. The 6nimmt-ish game is high on frustration but not so much that you feel completely in the lap of fate. For the first time at GNN, Sam handed over the rules explanation to a YouTube video.
The idea is to get your hand size down to zero, while also picking up the cards dealt in the middle. However, increasing your hand size means you're more likely to have a card that'll win one of those cards in the future. It's a fine balance.
We played two one-round games. In the first, Sam was never in danger of not winning while Ian stayed true to his stereotype of being bad at 6nimmt style games.
In the next game, I got off to a flier picking up one card after another. And while I ran dry later on, and didn't discard all my cards, I still had enough to win.
Finally we ended with good old High Society. My early tactic was to pick up a bad card for cheap while everyone else got stung. However, no one else seemed terribly annoyed at their lack of funds and I ended up off-setting my 1/2 card with a x2 card, bought for top price. Along with my basketball team, complete with woman lying down.
Joe had a wide selection of scoring cards, but only one money card in his hand. In the end, he went out with least money, despite his potentially winning 16 points.
And so we were done. Another week ticked off the calendar, another grey hair sprouting from all of our bonces. As for the Division, I decided that this week, I'd replace all our numbers with a sentence invented by my phone whenever you start with someone's name and keep choosing the middle option that it suggests. Since I write GNN reports on my phone, it seems to have learnt a bit of my style.
Well done to Sam for reaching top spot. Oh, and, Laura, a "Knizia" is a games designer: Reiner Knizia. I've obviously written "It's a Knizia!" so often that my phone thinks it's a noun.
See you next week (he said, optimistically...)