This Tuesday was a grim looking one, with grey skies and vague suggestions of rain. But that wouldn’t stop seven gamers of dreaming of capping their season with a glorious run of form on its final day: Sam (the host), Joe, Katy, Ian, Martin, Andy and me.
I arrived bang on time, but found the fun was already underway, with Ian and Sam going head to head in NMBR9.
Katy was there too and before long, the rest of the gang had arrived. We split into two groups. At one end of the table, Sam, Martin, Joe and I began with NMBR9. This was mine and Martin's first go and, having watched baffled as other people played, I was keen to learn the secrets of this game.
The rules are very simple: just build up layers without overhanging or covering gaps. The shapes of the numbers, though, must've taken ages to get right during playtesting since they often seem to hint at a winning position without it ever really coming to fruition. This explains Martin's comment "It's already annoying.'
Sam mused on the role of the four: a low value, an awkward shape, but such a nice colour. I thought I'd done badly but I was quite pleased to have beaten Martin, whose maths skills are so strong he was able to tell us what he'd scored just by glancing at his tiles.
"Right," said Martin in a tone of voice usually used before spitting on both palms, grabbing an axe and chopping down a tree, "we have to play again."
So we did. Sam had daddy duty to attend to upstairs, but we had no trouble remembering the few rules. Martin did slightly better this time.
On the other half of the table, Andy, Katy and Ian began with For Sale. I was too engrossed in my game to pay it too much mind, but I did notice that Katy picked up both zeroes and lost a low bidding round with a decent highest card.
Then they dug out Port Royal which I think was Ian's suggestion. If so, it ruins my recent theory that the player most keen on a game does worst.
Then they whipped off a quick Beasty Bar. The scores, according to Katy's notes, were:
Andy 4 - 32
Katy 4 - 33
Katy left a note of explanation: "[Ian] went to the pub, night club too noisy!"
While this was happening, the four of us were knee deep in Montage, the crossword game from1973. It was Joe and me against Martin and Sam. Just like last time, I was very quick to get Martin's clues. For example, "every colour has one," I correctly guessed as "Vowel" because in the game, each of the five coloured tiles has a vowel. Both Sam and Joe complained that was far too meta.
In the end, though, Joe and I had enough of a connection to take the win. The general consensus was that it was a fun game, but very stressful.
Andrew & Joe 4
Sam & Martin 1
Then the trio broke out Flamme Rouge. The course (chosen at random) was completely flat: no hills at all. And while Katy and Andy set up, Ian took one of the little plastic cyclists, placed it on the neck of a beer bottle, stared at it, and then put it back on the table. Oh, the mysteries of Ian's internal workings.
Katy had an interesting strategy: one rider sped off ahead (using all three 9 cards in the first three turns) while the other lagged far behind in last. Andy was the only one to cross the finishing line, leaving the other two to rejoice in their shared defeat.
While this was going on, the quartet were playing Barenpark, the game that’s apparently impossible to play without saying it’s better than Cottage Garden.
Finally we’d all finished together. Katy and I swapped seats and the gaming madness continued. The four of them launched into Cobras while Ian, Andy and I chose Hit Z Road.
I know little about Cobras, except for a dunken note of “stale peanuts” next to the results on my scrap of paper. However, Joe kindly gave Katy and I a lift home afterwards and he explained how satisfying the game was, especially since he always seemed to have the card that Martin didn’t want him to have.
Hit Z Road offered up the usual crazy and impossible escapes that your typical zombie movies have, complete with the ending of one guy still alive with no hope of escape as the credits roll. Ian rolled five targets to wipe out five zombies in one go, then Andy rolled four targets agaist five and later I rolled four against four.
Most impressively, though, was Andy’s last stand as his final survivor with his final die rolled one target after another and picked off six zombies. But then another six turned up and he died immediately.
I won merely by being last man standing.
Andy & Ian: both dead!
Then we were all together for a game of Fuji Flush. I was too lazy to take note of the dick points but if memory serves, they were pretty rubbish, with 3s knocking out 2s and the like. Only Martin impressed, removing five 2s with an eleven, even though he could have joined in with a 2 of his own. Classic Martin.
And that was that! We all sped off, eager to be back home far too late for a weekday evening. As for the Division, despite Katy’s poor showing, no one else was able to put together a challenge to unseat her from the top. Adam’s points ratio is invincible.
And I think I’ll rest the Division for the summer months, since attendance gets a bit sparse and it becomes, dare I say it, a bit silly?
But that’s for the future! Next week, to be exact.
See you then!