Inside: even lovelier
There were eight of us. The co-hosts, Adam and Hannah, and the co-guests, Sam, Joe, Ian, Katy, Martin and me. Before Joe and I arrived, the others (minus latecomer Martin) were introduced to Passe Trapp, and game that's short in length but high in tension. It became a feature of the evening, as the go-to time-filler for the waiting gamer.
But first, we had to decide what to play while we waited for Martin. We chose 6nimmt, inviting Dirk along too so Martin could jump in if he arrived mid-game.
The first round began in a strange fashion: the four cards showing were 3, 4, 6, 101. A pattern soon emerged, whereby everyone would play high cards, but lower than 101, which would quickly fill up any potential places to play. A peculiar situation, and one in which Adam thrived, picking up no points at all. Dirk did okay, and was placed fourth. Ian came off worse, with 49 points.
All bases loaded
Round two was more typical and poor old Dirk struggled, as did Hannah who got caught in a dreaded spiral of death. In round three, Martin arrived and took over from Dirk, arresting his slide. In fact, Martin won the only round he played, and he extrapolated his score of 2 across an entire game giving him a hypothetical victory. In his mind. Adam and Katy, though, had a collapse in form, and Katy crashed down to last.
After this, we split into two groups of four. Katy, Ian, Joe and Hannah chose Ascending Empires while the rest of us went for a pot pourri of shortish but devilish games. First was Flamme Rouge. It was Adam's first go, but the rules aren't complicated and we were off before too long.
It was a cagey start until Martin broke away from the pack. After that, Sam and were mostly blocked by Adam's two riders and Martin's second cyclist. Adam could've won right at the end, if he'd drawn a five to get him over a small mountain. But he didn't, so the game lasted one more round and Martin edged ahead in the final reckoning.
Then we played, at Martin's suggestion, New York Slice. It was new to all of us except Martin but, again, the rules aren't massively deep although the strategy is. Can't say I was too impressed, though. I felt that, like King Of Siam, the last stage see your options shrink dramatically. Nice, though. It does make you hungry, so the strange cheesy crisps were much appreciated.
Next up was Dicht Dran. Adam and Martin got rules explanations and we began. It was a two round game, and Sam's quick and effective win in round one was enough to see off Adam's surge in round two.
By now, Ascending Empires was almost at an end. After repeated comments about how civilised it had been, Katy turned on Joe with all the rage of a woman who didn't want to come last twice in a row. She got a five point swing from him to her, changing the standings significantly (but not the winner).
While the final stages were played out, scores totted up and the game packed away, Passe Trapp was brought out again. Sam and Martin had an epic battle, with Sam repeatedly crying "Martin, stop it!" which made Joe comment that it all sounded a bit non-consensual. When Sam finally won, he lifted both arms up and gave a full blooded cry of joy and relief. And then apologised, because there was a young child asleep upstairs.
Other games were played. Martin got his revenge on Sam. Then Martin beat Adam twice, and then Adam beat Sam. There may have been other games, too. I’m not sure.
Now we were all together again, it was time for some big group fun. Except for Hannah, who bowed out at this point, preferring to head up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire.
First we played Dead Man's Chest. Sam was out first on an ignoble manner. He called Dead Man, and Ian challenged. It turned out to be 3:1. Sam had mis-read the dice. There was quite a lot of blind bidding going on, around the 6:X range, as people gingerly edged from Safe Bet to Unlikely Bet in tiny increments.
Finally, it was against Katy and Adam, both with two gems. Adam made sure to tell everyone that Katy was bound to win, and then he won the next two rounds. His victory came when he bid 1:1 and Katy challenged... it was Dead Man!
What a way to win!
Then we played Fuji Flush. I kept track of the Dick Points this time, and good thing too since Joe came close to an early Big Swinging Dick when he cleared the whole table (but not every player by one point. Ian had preferred to go home, since he was very tired but we bullied him into a final game. His fatigue showed, when he played the 20 card, thinking it was a 2. Sam, meanwhile, played nothing but sevens for most of the game.
Adam and I got down to our last cards first, the others did everything they could do to stop us. When I jumped on a series begun by Martin and Katy, Katy implored the remaining players to beat them, in a scene reminiscent of that bit in Aliens when someone in the wall of alien gunk suddenly comes to life and begs the marines to kill him.
But no one could. And, at the risk of being targeted for the rest of my life in Fuji Flush, I feel I should point out that this was my third win in a row in this game. (Adam won dick points: Adam 3, Joe 2, all others 1)