We began as a seven, bashing out a quick Fuji Flush while we waited for late arrivals Chris and Matt. I was too sober to keep track of Dick Points, but there were plenty. I got lucky, picking up a 20 when I was on my last card.
Andrew 0 cards left
After that, with everyone assembled, we split into three groups of three. Sam, Martin and Matt chose a new game, King of Siam. Since it was a small game, they set up Joe's rickety card table and started playing.
Joe, Katy and Ian instantly formed a cabal of Lords of Vegas players, leaving Adam, Chris and I to decide what to play, given the space limitations. We perused Joe's wall of shelves, finding reasons not to play most of them. Finally, we chose Castles of Burgundy, since we all knew it (Chris a bit less) and had to get cracking.
King of Siam looked, as Chris (I think) pointed out, like a game based on the Intrigue option in El Grande. I know nothing about it, other than the groans of analysis paralysis that drifted over from time to time. It seems to be a game with no score, only a winner.
Martin and Matt not 1st
Lords of Vegas started with Joe speeding into an early lead ("But only on points," he modesty insisted, as if the game would be decided based on happiness). The early stages saw a lack of conflict, leading Katy to invent a new word: Harmogenous. A mix of harmony and homogeneous, we assumed.
On Castles of Burgundy I sped off, Joe-like, into an early lead. Picking up small areas quickly gave me a considerable advantage. Adam was offering occasional rules explanations to the inexperienced Chris and as they closed the gap midgame, and I became paranoid that Adam had a master plan to make him first, Chris second and me last.
Mid-game, my lead is seemingly insurmountable
On the card table, Sam, Matt and Martin had started on Hit Z Road, Martin Wallace's atypical apocalypse game. When I asked for an update midgame, Sam insisted he was surely at death's door, but in the final reckoning he held on long enough.
Matt 0 (ie, dead)
Lords of Vegas was next to end. The feeling of harmogeny had evaporated after Ian and Joe locked horns over a mega casino on the Strip. It had grown from a curious set up, which I thought looked like those Chess puzzles you see in newspapers, like "How should yellow play to maximize chances of success?"
What would you do?
With some sprawling and a lot of reorganizing, the casino changed hands many times. Katy got in on the action, too, when she claimed a plot that had been sprawled into.
At the end, though, it was in Joe's hands when the Strip paid out for the last time. Enough to get him clear of his rival Ian. Meanwhile, Katy's unchallenged six-tile Casino simply didn't bring in enough punters.
Castles of Burgundy was still some way from being over, so the six of them played Insider, the cunning game of trying to look like you have no idea what is going on. Unsurprisingly, the dark horse Matt won since he was the Insider but was not discovered.
Finally, Castles came to an end. Adam had taken the lead, and I was desperate to finish my seven-tile city. In round four, Chris had (unwittingly) taken the building that would've ended it for me, but as the tiles for the last round were dealt out, I was relieved to see three tiles that would save me and, since I was going second, victory was assured.
They've almost caught me!
The other six kindly waited for our game to end, so we finished the evening with a nine player game: 6nimmt.
We dealt in Dirk, to bring the number of players up to the maximum ten. And we made a vow that if Dirk finished in first, we'd immediately give up board games forever.
A vow that caused concern when, during round two, Dirk was actually in first place. Luckily as time went on, Dirk's supernaturally prescient game play left him, and by the end of round two he was joint sixth with Chris and Matt.
Joe, though, was having a nightmare. Two rounds left him teetering on the brink, with 65 points. The end of the game was all but assured. Adam's clear final round tied up the win.
Beaten by Dirk. How annoying. But, thanks to the auto suggest option on my phone, we can ask Dirk what he thought about the game by typing in "6nimmt" and seeing what happens:
"6nimmt you so bad for her birthday."
And that was it. Thanks to all for an unforgettable night!