But what about the games we did play? And who did we play them with? Joe hosted, with Katy, Ben, Martin, Andy and me the early arrivals. Ian and Adam were expected later. We began with a short roll & write game called Twenty One. In it each player has a unique score sheet showing a number of rows of coloured dice, each with a value. Working from the top, each player has to use the similarly coloured dice rolled that turn to write in number on these dice, with the proviso that that number must be lower or equal to the one on the sheet. Direct hits will score you a bonus when you complete the row. You can fill in as many as you like, but you must fill in one, even if it is to cross one off completely when the dice roll means you have no legal moves.
Joe had played a few two player games recently with one of his daughters, but I think the overall conclusion was that it doesn't work well with so many players. It's a bit of a luck-fest, since there's no way to keep tabs on what everyone wants.
Katy started well and probably thought she had it in the bag until Ben started cranking out rows in the twenties and thirties. And then Andy snuck in at the end to grab second.
Not sure why it’s called Twenty One, though.
At this point we set up Santo Domingo, only to be stopped by Adam making his way slowly down the stairs. This gave Katy what she'd been begging for all evening: someone who'd support her request for Ponzi Scheme. "It's been six weeks!" She cried, trying to appeal to our better natures. With Adam on board, Ben followed and Joe agreed to be rules explainer. They set up at the bottom of the stairwell, for a change, and got to work.
New gaming table arrangement
Martin, Andy and I pondered about a quick three player, and chose Coloretto. Martin was confused by Joe having two copies. He chose "the nice one" (Joe's words) but got confused mid-set-up by the different designs and put it away and then went back to the classic original. And then Ian arrived.
And so we embarked on the Grand Tour of Flamme Rogue. A three-stage road race that needs an app (or a printed score sheet) to keep track of the placings.
It was great. Among all the jostling in the peleton, Martin's sprinter seemed remarkably prime to exhaustion while my rouler often found himself stuck one space shorter than the card I'd played.
In one example, Ian cleverly put his leading cyclists, two abreast right at the start of a hill, meaning my two cyclists got stuck behind him. I called him "le coq blocquer" for his spoiling tactics, but he seemed unconcerned at my anguish
Ian's two cyclists stop me in my tracks
Talking of anguish, midway through our game, Katy called me over to the Ponzi game to take a photo of Joe losing quickly. I did so, but just as I left, Joe handed a black envelope over to Adam with a gleam in his eye. The game didn't end then, so I assume Joe's secret deal was a success.
Ponzi Scheme did finish before we did, though, with both Ben and Joe going bust in the same round.
Adam 10 points
Katy 6 points
“That was brilliant,” said Katy. They went on to play Animals on Board.
Flamme Rogue was hotting up, with the third stage in full swing. It was a bit of a nightmare, with a long winding uphill struggle towards the end. The final standings across all three stages were:
Martin's unused cards
What an encounter. And really quite tense all the way through. No one seemed happy with their cards at any point. In fact, I seem to recall the moaning beginning at the first corner of the first race! But what is sport without moaning about fate? If you don’t complain, it just means you don’t care!
And Animals on Board ended
Then Ben departed. We tried to convince him to stay with Fuji Flush, but his willpower was too strong. Instead, the remaining seven of us watched as Joe got out the absinthe for our final game of the evening.
I was in a good position for the win fairly on, with three high cards in my hand. But I was thwarted and had to rely on good luck to get me some new high cards. I got a 19, and played it just after the deck was recycled since I assumed that the 20 must still be somewhere inside it. Right? Wrong. Ian had it! Le Coq Blocquer lived up to his reputation as he played the 20 that he’d only just picked up from the reshuffled deck!
But I couldn’t be stopped. Martin played 9 and I joined him. Katy played 11 to try and stop us, but then Ian beat her card. Frustratingly (for them, not us) Adam also had an 11! We would have been beaten had Ian not stepped in. But he did, so we did.
Phew! What an evening. But, then again, aren’t they all?