Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Snakes on a game

A week. It's a long time in politics, especially this past week, but it's an age and a half for the GNN regulars eager to match wits over Sam's kitchen table.

We began as a two, with Sam showing me (Andrew) Mint Works. It's a worker placement game in a tiny tin box. We didn't get anywhere near finishing a game, but I played enough to recognise the familiar "Get stuff to get stuff" mechanic at its heart.

First, Matt and Joe arrived and Sam invited his son down for a couple of rounds of Insider. For these, little Joe was always the Master.

In game one, Sam guessed right (ruler) but was not voted as the Insider. Instead, suspicion fell on me since, according to Sam, I had my funny face on. But it wasn't me either. It was Joe, who none of us had even considered!

In game two, Katy was now present and involved. Katy guessed right (the World Cup) but wasn't voted as the insider. Instead it was between me and Matt and a 3-3 vote meant that the Insider won. It was Matt.

I am yet to be the Insider.

Now we were ready for a real game so, with little Joe back in bed, we chose Cobras, a new trick taking game. The game is loosely based on a real event: in India, during the British Raj, there was a problem with a large cobra population, so the British offered a bounty for each dead cobra. Thus lead to the locals breeding cobras just for the bounty. When the British found out, they dropped the scheme, so then all the suddenly worthless cobras were released into the wild, leaving them worse off than when they started.

The game itself is a card game where losing tricks allows you to collect cobras and winning a trick allows you to sell them. But there is an optimal amount. More than that and the value of your pile of cobras suddenly drops in value.

It's all about timing. Losing and winning to maximize your potential. Any unused cobras you have at the end of the round count as negative points. Technically, Matt ended round one on -6 but we allowed him to stay on zero. We're so generous.

Then Sam got stung at the end of round two with fourteen unsold cobras. Neither of them recovered before Katy hit 75 and triggered the end of the game.

Katy 75
Andrew 64
Joe 49
Sam 44
Matt 44

Next up was Blockers! Rarely suggested but always enjoyed, this Knizia-ish game (but not by the great German, as I wrongly assumed) is an underrated gem.

Having said that, I did badly. I'm reminded of Ian's recent poor performance at Railways Of The World after he was so keen to play it. Maybe there is such a thing as Chooser's Curse, whereby those most excited to play a game are least likely to do well.

It was Katy's first game, I believe, which would explain why she couldn't tell how well she was doing. She constantly bemoaned her fate right up until the moment the scores were added up.

Katy 5
Sam 6 (fewest tiles)
Matt 6 (fewer tiles)
Joe 6 (most tiles)
Andrew 7

Katy did, at least, look a bit embarrassed when she discovered how misplaced her pessimism was. Talking of pessimism, Joe announced near the end of the game he'd split his tiles into two groups: "Can't play" and "Will lose me the game."

As for me, well, I entertained the crowd with my straight line right across the board, but starting in the centre meant I was quickly surrounded. Not a good tactic.

Next up was Perudo. So long it remained unloved and alone until its sudden and welcome revival.

In this game, Katy got into an early death spiral, followed by Sam, but Matt was first out. At the end it was between me and Joe, with three dice each. Not a good time for a death spiral, but that's what I got. Joe ended a comfortable winner.


Finally, there was time for two games of Fuji Flush. I was too lazy to record dick points, but had to make a note when Joe pulled off his big swinging dick! All of us had played twos, and he swept them off the table with a nine. Well played.

In the first game, I won again! At the time, I said it was four wins out of five, but I was wrong: it was four wins in a row! I really must do a Fuji Flush division.

Andrew 0
Sam 1
Matt 2
Joe 2
Katy 3

In the second game, Katy got off to a flier, managing to push through twice in the space of playing two cards! Classy stuff. Not enough to steal first place from Matt, but worth a mention.

Matt 0
Andrew 1
Katy 1
Joe 1
Sam 3

And so we were done. We set off back home, happy and enriched. Thanks all!


  1. I very much enjoyed all those games.

  2. Sounds fun! Pretty sure that in a tied vote for Insider the correct guesser gets casting vote.

    1. does that apply if the Insider guessed it themselves also Martin? Intrigue upon intrigue...

    2. No, because if the Insider guessed it, it can't go to the second vote. Follow the flow charts, it's all perfectly clear ;)

    3. Sorry, I didn't have them on me

  3. Wow it's a revelation seeing the time-lapse of Perudo - I had no idea winning made me look so pleased with myself! Perhaps that's what made me pull off my big swinging ... ok ok.

    A lovely evening, thanks Sam and all. I really enjoyed Cobras - wanna play again.