board looking busy
workers looking confused
So in Rajas of the Ganges you are the aforementioned Rajas, seeking to out-Raja all the other Rajas by developing your province with buildings and markets. Designed by Markus and Inka Brand, the couple behind Village and A Castle For All Seasons, it was always going to be as Euro-y as Guy Verhofstadt, and so it proved. It reminded me slightly of Marco Polo too, in that there is dice-rolling, but then dice are spent rather than placed - they don't return to you, so you have to make your workers generate dice for future actions. Yes! It's worker-placement too. It's lots of do stuff to get stuff, and I suppose the only new thing about it is the winning conditions - you're simultaneously pushing your markers along a cash track (counter-clockwise) and a glory track (clockwise). When two markers of the same player meet, the end-game is triggered and the person whose markers are furthest past each other wins.
Inevitably, this person was Stanley, who won in convincing style whilst my markers could barely see each other by peering across about a third of the board. We both loved it, but outside of Martin hating it I'm no longer sure who likes what at GNN. I'm certainly up for playing again, though, and soon.
Theistically accurate depiction of god of Euros
There was now the three-hour cake-throwing interlude...
...after which Joe and Sal pitched up on the sofa to watch Blue Planet while Stan and I played 878: Vikings - Invasion of England. The title does most of the explanatory work here, so suffice to say Stanley was the invading hordes (Norsemen and Berserkers, serving Leaders, of whom one appears per round) and I was the defending Thegn and Housecarl, with occasional feeble help from the Fyrd. Over a maximum of seven rounds the vikings arrive in great numbers, and the English counter-punch as best they can. The vikings win by controlling 14 city shires at the end of a round; the English win by having the vikings control none at all. Or - as with happened to us - you can end the game by forming a treaty - two of the same side need to 'sign' the treaty in order to trigger the game end, at which point the Vikings need to control 9 or more city shires.
Thegn considering movement. Housecarl considering rebelling
With one eye on bedtime I triggered the treaty in round six. Stan had played his Norsemen and I had played my Thegn. With my Housecarl I bombarded into three city shires, and won back just one of them. One I had most hoped to win had been defended successfully, and to my chagrin I realised I'd left an undefended city shire behind!
Coming over here...
Arthur - the only English Leader in the game - just watches on
until round five, when he suddenly gets involved
As it turned out, the Berserkers and Norsemen were in feisty mood, and my treaty-playing lassez faire turned out to be the petard that hoisted me. Never mind! We will fight another day.
It's a more asymmetric game than the predecessor I've played (1812: Invasion of Canada) because as you would expect the Vikings are very much the aggressor here - the English are simply defending, and play very reactively. But there's still room for tactics, and the dice-rolling throws up the odd surprising - and funny - result. Good, solid, pillagey fun.