Monday, 30 July 2012

London 2012 (it was nearer 20:30, actually)

It's a little known fact that when Mitt Romney dismissed a certain venue's preparations for hosting games, he was in fact referring to my new flat, which is still largely unfurnished and devoid of cutlery or crockery, leaving its hosting abilities in doubt.

However, I do have two chairs and a stout table and so I was able to accommodate Sam in a test run of my facilities. Fridge? Check. Roof? Check. That's all we need, isn't it?

We played Biblios at first, hoping to unlock its enigmatic strategy. We played two games. Sam won the first and I won the second, and neither result threw any more light on what we were supposed to be doing.

Then for our main game, we rolled a die to chose between Lords of Waterdeep and London. It chose London, and so this old favourite (then fallen out of favour and so about time for a revival) returned to the tabletop.

No chest of drawers, but I do have a Dreamcast. Oh yeah!

It had been a long time since we'd played London. So long that rules were frequently checked, forgotten and then rechecked. We were both quietly proud of our lack of poverty as we played, but I thought I was in the lead halfway through, with money in the bank and boroughs on the map. Sam suddenly placed three big-scoring cards, and then activated them for a final burst of victory points. He admits it was a bit of luck, since all of those cards arrived in his hand at the same time, but points are points. And what do points make? Winners.

Sam 99
Andrew 85

A pleasant return to game which is much improved by not knowing the winning strategy, and a successful trial of my hosting abilites, and once I get some more furniture in a couple of weeks, it may become a suitable venue for GNN's refined tastes.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Hey that's my stock card!

Another Monday and this time a quick scoot with my split bag-for-life full of games over to James' s house. Amongst the collection was my two new editions Hey That's My Fish and Nexus Ops. After a quick study of each Nexus was put away for another day and HTMF was unpacked. There's not much to say about this game that hasn't been said before, and both games finished with me winning by point. I adopted a strategy to limit James's penguins then hopefully clean up at the end. It worked but only just.

Death to the Emperor

Our main game was Airlines Europe. After making the early running by having stock of nearly all companies as opposed to James focused approach I found myself pegged back by his resurgence and a number of fortuitous card draws. Then in the middle passage I made a classic mistake. Thinking I was ahead in the green stock I forged ahead to complete the licences to score the bonus, only to realise a few turns later that James had plonked 4 cards down and was in the lead. Sure enough the remaining green cards turned up for him to whisk away. The wasted time and effort on my part meant that the scores finished 99 to 93 in his favour. Although we both thought he was miles ahead.

So it will be Nexus Ops in a fortnight's time and this should be better now I've properly understood the combat rules…...

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Deep Space Nein

With all the gaming over the last few days there was a chance of becoming jaded. Indeed Adam admitted that 12 and a half hours of the weekend had obliged him to take Monday night off. But thankfully by Tuesday he was back, chomping at the bit. Sadly Steve and Anja were late withdrawals but that still left Adam, Andrew, Joe and me (Sam) sat in my kitchen pondering our first move.

Or our second, actually, as while Adam ate his chips the three of us indulged in a game of Biblios, the game where you discard resource cards to pick up gold in order to buy resource cards. It is kind of counter-intuitive and for our second game (Joe's first) we still didn't really have a clue what the best strategy was. I was trying to collect just two resource colours, but whether that was decisive in my victory only the Lord knows. I think we were all under the impression we'd done badly, but I'd done less badly than the others. It's that type of game.

Sam 9
Andrew 7
Joe 2

That 20 minute warm-up back in the box, and Adam's chips making their way safely along various intestinal tracts, we moved on the the first big (ish) game of the evening: Hab and Gut. This had gone down well last night and Adam was eager to try it. We all sat stunned at his capacity to take in the two racks of secret cards without moving his head from side to side like human beings do. He merely let his eyes twitch, lizard style, as the resource markers trundled up and down the value tracks. Maybe Tom Cruise is right after all.

Hab and Gut feels like a gem; quite a find by Joe. A little like High Society, the player who donates the least cash to the church is out of the running, even if they're the richest, which put paid to Andrew on this occasion. I managed to wangle first place due to my unrelenting passion for rubber and coffee:

Sam 1130
Joe 670
Adam 580
Andrew OUT!

German stock-market engineering out of the way, we decided to finish the night with Adam's choice of Galaxy Truckers. This game of puzzle-solving against the clock, with a smidgen of strategy and a veritable cheese wheel of luck hasn't been out of the box in a while, but we were familiar enough with it - barring Adam's aliens-in-round-one faux pas - to start constructing our ships as if we'd been in space all along, adding our battery packs to our lasers in the much the same way they do at NASA, I imagine.

Adam made the early running and was in a strong position in round two. Then in round three, despite building the most ramshackle spaceship on show I hit a lucky streak a mile wide: shunted to the front in space I picked up a series of charitable cards and collected about twenty credits and 7 or 8 bits of cargo. Joe then sped past me in time to take all the crappy cards before I hit another slab of jarlsberg on the last card (open space) when I powered back into the lead and took the spawniest victory since... probably the last time we played Galaxy Truckers:

Sam 98
Adam 64
Andrew 41
Joe 30

So another fine night comes to end with Adam and I tied on the leaderboard as Joe and Andrew drop below Steve and Hannah. But it's tight.

Sam1 1 1 3 3 9
Adam23112 9
Hannah 21232 10
Steve 1 2 1 2 5 11
Joe 4 2 3 1 111
Andrew 34222 13
Anja 2 2 1 4 514

Guten Tag, Hab unt Gut

Perhaps jealous of our nine-hour game binge this weekend, Joe suggested we meet at his place for a little pre-games night gaming. Perhaps unsatisfied by our nine-hour game binge this weekend, Sam and I agreed.

It was just the three of us. We began with Hab unt Gut, a game set the exciting world of the German stock exchange. In this game, one has to buy and sell shares to make the most money, but beware! Are you bewaring? Good, because you also have to donate money to the church. The player who donates least automatically loses, no matter how much money they have. Of course, donating to the church lessens your overall score, so it's a delicate balancing act between cold-hearted greed and trying to buy your way into heaven.

In the end, Joe miscalculated how much he needed to donate and game in last, giving Sam and I first and second respectively.

Sam 655
Andrew 525
Joe OUT! (but for the record, he had 1,160)

Next to the table was Manila. Another game involving the value of goods, but this is more to do with the black market and a bit of pirating. At one point Joe was almost broke and only had two shares in front of him. It looked like another bleak evening for this season's kicking boy.

But then, a miracle occurred! Joe's pirates got hold of a ship and netted him a handsome return. Suddenly, he was Mr Moneybags, and Sam and I were the ones facing a stint in the poorhouse. We never recovered from that, and Joe made his advantage count, running out as the winner in a close game.

Joe 77
Sam 72
Andrew 68

The night was still young (about half past ten) so a quick game of No Thanks was suggested. This game of bluff, risk-taking, and counting is always a favourite.

I was a bit thrown by Sam and Joe making noises of disgust whenever I sent a card I wanted round the table to pick up more chips. They seemed to think it was ungentlemanly. Not that it made much difference.

Joe 37
Andrew 57
Sam 62

We went for one more game of No Thanks, and the pattern was pretty much repeated. Cards we wanted never turned up or were taken by other players. 32, especially, was noted for it's absence in both games. Especially by Sam.

Joe 59
Andrew 75
Sam 84

A sterling performance by Joe, hurling himself up the form table.

Adam1 1 2 1 1 6
Andrew22323 9
Joe 11134 10
Hannah 2 1 2 3 2 10
Steve 1 2 1 2 511
Sam 33213 12
Anja 2 2 1 4 514

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Nine hours of games

While Sam's family were away, he took the opportunity to host a day-long games night. Sadly, Joe was unable to make it but Adam and myself arrived at Sam's at three, eager to take advantage of the good weather by sitting indoors all day. Anja, Steve and Hannah were all expected in the early evening.

The first game brought to the table was Toledo, in which you have to forge swords and collect art in an attempt at getting prestige points. In this game, the players create the board and move along it at the same time. The game begins with a featureless street leading up to the palace on the hill. Placing shops along the street gives the characters a place to stop, and the playing cards in your hand allows you to move multiple times each go, but only if the value on each card is the same.

It's a bit like Ludo according to Wallace, since landing on another character sets off a duel, and the losing piece goes back to the cathedral. The game ends when one player has three men in the palace. It was okay, but I found I didn't get the cards I needed to progress how I would've liked. But isn't that just like life? Adam and Sam had no such problems.

Adam 22
Sam 19
Andrew 12

Then we went back to an old familiar, Alhambra. We considered playing with one of the extensions, but no one seemed terribly keen when we looked at them, so we stuck to the original, pure and simple. It's definitely not a very sociable game, and there were a lot of tense silences as we all weighed up our options. In the end it was very close with me just squeezing past Adam by the slenderest of margins.

Andrew 126
Adam 125
Sam 121

Then we went outside! First we played headers and volleys. Sam's passing skills were a little wayward, and he explained that he was used to passing into space for people to run on to the ball. He then demonstrated this by passing into the ample space of next door's garden.

This was followed by cricket, which wasn't leaderboard since we were making up the scoring system as we went along, but Adam kept mentioning it throughout the evening when he was asked how many games he'd won.

Adam 19 not out
Sam 10 out (B.O.F. – ball over fence)
Andrew 4 not out

Back inside, we sat down for another new game, Biblios. This is a card game, where you collect books of a certain type (including mucky books – or Forbidden Tomes as they're called in the rules) which then score you points at the end of the game. It's a case of choosing a category or two and then trying to push up the scores for them by using special "church cards" and hoping no one is also collecting the same things. It's okay as a game. I didn't really get what was going on,though. Adam did.

Adam 9
Sam 5
Andrew 2

Then reinforcements arrived, in the shape of Anja, Hannah and Steve! Sam took the opportunity to start making some pizzas, while the five of us played Trans America. It was apparently Steve and Anja's first time playing the vexation rule but they seemed to take to it very quickly.

Adam 4
Steve 6
Hannah 7
Anja 9
Andrew 15

And so, having eaten well, we split into two groups of three. We insisted that Steve finally play Stone Age, and he joined Sam and Adam for foraging larks. Hannah, Anja and myself chose San Marco. I can't remember why. Hannah and I explained the rules to Anja, and then watched in helpless bemusement as Anja took us to the cleaners. In the final round I think she scored in every region.

Anja 78
Hannah 57
Andrew 34

Meanwhile, Steve seemed to be getting on fine with Stone Age. He was a long way up the score track and was even calling the starting player marker "Brian Blessed". It was if he'd been playing it all his life. And there was no last minute sprint up the score track from Sam or Adam, so it ended:

Steve 214
Adam 169
Sam 161

Those two games ended at similar times, so there was a brief period of discussion before we split into groups of four and two. Anja wanted something a bit more thinky, so wanted to play Ponte del Diavolo, while I wanted something silly and decidedly not thinky, so I suggested Mord im Arosa.

So Steve, Adam, Hannah and myself went looking for (and hiding) clues to the murder of two small red cubes. It's a game that requires listening skills and, most of all, a good memory. Something that Steve insisted he didn't have. But he still came second. Sort of.

Adam 11
Hannah 11
Andrew 21
Steve 21

Meanwhile, Anja's lack of experience with the scoring system on Ponte del Diavolo was surely an aspect in her defeat.

Sam 21
Anja 10

By now it was half past ten. Usually the time of the evening when we consider a quick game to finish, or maybe even calling it a night. But not tonight!Tonight is a special night where push towards midnight with a Martin Wallace double bill! Toledo returned to the table, and Tinners' Trail, too, was chosen.

I was up against Hannah and Adam on the Tinners' Trail half of the table. They'd recently bought this game as a joint birthday present to themselves, so they clearly had an affinity to the game. Certainly, Adam cleverly played it so that he ended the first and second rounds in a position to buy a cheap mine. I never really got going, with my mines all over Cornwall. And Hannah was hurt after putting money into buying a new mine, only to discover an underground lake.

But no one could have foreseen the crash in the market in the last round. For me, it meant that mining copper would just break even. I may as well sell pasties

Adam 131
Hannah 104
Andrew 92

Grr. Adam again!

Over in Toledo, Steve and Anja showed Sam that experience is no substitute for beginner's luck.

Steve 23
Anja 19
Sam 17

All of which makes the Form table look very different. Unfortunately, I played so many games that my early win of the day has already been replaced by other, more recent more regrettable results. Adam, meanwhile, equals the best ever score.

Adam1 1 2 1 1 6
Hannah 2 1 2 3 2 10
Steve 1 2 1 2 511
Sam 3 1 3 2 3 11
Anja 2 2 1 4 514
Andrew3 2 3 5 3 16
Joe 4 4 3 3 4 18

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Rubium with a View

Bracknell Branch Reports:

Due to silly work commitments the regular Tuesday nights games session had changed to Monday night. Sitting at my dinner table in the day a thought popped into my head that I hadn't bought any new games recently. After a brief unsatisfactory interaction with the resident game board geeks in my local games shop I returned home with GNN favourite "Hey that's my fish" and new title Nexus Ops. I'd had a hankering to obtain a direct conflict game to offset all these lovely balanced euro games where everyone/thing gets on fabulously. There are plenty out there but it's sci-fi theme appealed to me. The reviews highlighted that it might not be everyones cup of tea, as it involved a fair amount of dice rolling and was played over a hex board, but coming from a war-games background this was no put off for me.

After two quick fun games of HTMF where honours were equal (Chris 53 Paul 46, Paul 50 Chris 48) the main feature of Nexus Ops was broken out. At first the box size seemed at odds with the contents as three sheets of game board and chits, two packs of cards and six dice spilled out. However after further inspection a satisfying wedge of playing pieces was stored under the insert. My worry of this game being a rule fest was quickly eased as we discovered them to be very well thought out and easy to take in. There are a lot of variations to this game but they can be mixed and matched to taste on top of the classic game. The basis of Nexus Ops is to achieve either the annihilation of your opponents or to gain a set number of victory points. The confrontation takes place over an ugly changeable hex board where you deploy either your warriors to win battles and collect victory points or miners who collect the mineral Rubuim which can be exchanged for more troops or miners. There are a bunch of restrictions and advantages for every unit and all of them can fight. It plays a little like the best elements from Small World and Risk; although that might not be a favourable comparison.

Pros - Fast play, easy rules, nice components, lots of variations.
Cons - Ugly board, dice (although not masses), can get a little repetitive, a little bit of referring each turn to start with. 

Anyway with a late start we had to bring proceedings to a close early with me winning 8 VP's to 6.

I liked it. It was what I was looking for when I bought Small World only to be disappointed by its awful conflict and deployment mechanic. Apparently it really comes into its own with 3 or 4 players, but I don't have those, so sucks to be me yeah?

Mutiny, plagues and dragons

All in an evening's work for the core four members of Games Night News. Sam, Adam, Joe and me arrived at Sam's place for the night's cardboard entertainment.

We began with a board game without a board, if you can imagine such a thing. I think they're called "card games". However, this game straddled the world between the two. Some of the cards acted as the board, while other cards were... cards.

The game in question was Mutineer, a game in which players have to choose their role each turn in the hope that this will maximise their returns for that round. If you're captain (or a successful mutineer) you can get points for controlling the ship as it comes into harbour. A merchant gets favourable results if there's a tie in the trading section. That guy who carries things around (I forget his proper title) gets a wider choice of cards for the next round. Meanwhile, the Ships' Mate and the Cabin Boy are basically hangers-on, hoping that they can get points for helping the captain or mutineer respectively.

As we sailed around the table, we noted that this is a very social game, with a lot of opportunity for discussion and coffee-housing. The rules are confusing at first (there are no less than ten phases to a round) and it certainly needs a handy summary for each player. We did have one, but it was in German.

I liked it. As I said, a lot of banter, and there's certainly room for bluffing and counter-bluffing. I'm still not sure of the correct tactic, though. The trading bit is a little confusing, but I'm sure it'll become clearer with practise.

Adam 35
Andrew 26
Joe 25
Sam 21

After this, another new game was brought to the table. It was another card game, but this was simpler due to the fact that each card told you what it did. It was Plague and Pestilence, a silly game of disaster management in the face of everything the Middle Ages could throw at you.

Mongol hordes, Wars, Crusades, Floods, anything you can think of. Even the Pied Piper turns up to annoy people. In the first part of the game you roll dice and play cards to increase your population (while trying to stem the growth of others) and then the plague ship arrives, and then game changes. Although, frankly, with a name like "plague ship", I'm amazed they let it in the harbour. But I digress.

After this point, the dice rolls take population away, and it's a case of who can last the longest. Joe succumbed first to the plague with me in third. By the end, only Adam had people left alive although he wasn't sure why. It's another game that involves a lot of interaction, even if most of that is inflicting terrible things on your opponents.

1. Adam
2. Sam
3. Andrew
4. Joe

One last game was suggested, and then Joe remembered he had honey-roasted pretzel pieces! Was it too late for such a treat? Let's decide after we've eaten them! We chose Tsuro as a nice quick game to end the evening. This timeless classic of ancient light cycles is still a favourite of mine. But myself and Joe blundered desperately as we drew ourselves into the same corner with no hope of escape. After a few rounds of running parallel to each other, I was able to dispatch of Joe first, but only slightly before I feel off the edge myself.

The main tussle was between Sam and Adam. They had more space to play with, and as options ran out for Sam, it looked like Adam would take a third win of the evening. But no! He put down the wrong tile on his penultimate go, and was left with no choice but to send himself to his doom! Sam won!

1. Sam
2. Adam
3. Andrew
4. Joe

All of which sees a familiar face back at the top of the form table.

Adam2 1 1 3 1 8
Sam 1 2 4 1 3 11
Andrew3 3 2 2 2 12
Hannah 2 15 5 518
Joe 4 4 3 3 4 18

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Pillocks of the Earth

It was a balmy Sunday evening and Sam and I met up for a brief game of Pillars of the Earth. A new game. New vistas, new adventures. And new bloody rules.

Pillars of the Earth is a nice game, but the rule book makes it far more complicated than it is. It begins by saying the winner is the one with the most victory points, but then doesn't say how to get those victory points until about three pages in. Actually, until then it doesn't even mention them, making the rule book feel like one of those "clever" films which suddenly includes a minor character from the very beginning as a pivotal point at the end and you're supposed to remember them and if you don't then that means you're stupid.

I hate that sort of film.

But once you start to play it, it starts to make more sense. First, workers go to collect resources or buy craftsmen. Then master builders go to get extra powers like "get more workers", or "avoid taxes", or "go to the market". Not really super powers, but powers nevertheless. And then finally the craftsmen give you victory points according to the resources you've got, and the cathedral is built.

By happy chance, in one pile of cards (out of four different piles needed in this game) the last two cards turned over involved a bonus due to the cathedral being nearly finished, and a bonus due to the king visiting to see the cathedral. Total luck - there's nothing to stop these from being the first in the pack - but it did give a lovely ending to the whole evening.

We weren't at all sure we'd got the tactics right, but Sam got a healthy 58-ish, to my 35-ish, even though he'd spent most of the time in poverty compared to my gold-rich lifestyle. It was an interesting game of worker placement. Like a Cuba-lite or half-Stone Age/half-Agricola, but perhaps not as good as that might sound. It's definitely a game to be played twice, and I'd be up for that, since I never have to read that rule book again.

But, honestly, Joe: you need to write something about how to explain rules properly. You owe it to the gaming community.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Sam, the man-who-ver y nearly beat me at Manoeuvre

Whilst other GNN gamers Andrew and Adam were busy pogo-ing to Bucky at Cafe Kino (how was it chaps?), Sam and I convened for a spot of two-player cardboard, erm 'mayhem'. If that sounds tame, I can tell you there was also some plastic involved. You could have an eye out with those Ingenious tile racks!

I finally got a chance to introduce Manoeuvre, my favourite short two-player direct conflict game, to Sam. Sam, Manoeuvre; Manoeuvre, Sam. Cautious handshakes, muttered pleasantries.

After Andrew's problems galvanising the Dutch-Belgian English regiment last time we played, I offered Sam the French, as a slightly more reliable starting army.
The game usually starts gently, with lots of quick turns as both player's units head for prime positions on the middle of the board, ready for the mid-game stand-off. Except that as soon as my Cavalry arrived Sam punched them in the face. A rookie error, I thought - not waiting to build up a co-ordinated attack.
But it set the tone for the whole game; lots of opportunistic attacks, whittling down and battling back units, though Sam definitely had the edge, having taken one of my cavalry units and two infantry against my prize of a single French infantry unit. It became clear that neither of us was likely to win by attrition, so we both did a last minute dance to get the best position on each others side of the board and claim the nightfall victory. In the end it was so close we thought it was a draw, but I pipped a win by a single VP.

It wasn't the best iteration of this lovely game with which to woo Sam - a little more bitty and indecisive than usual, but I think he quite enjoyed it - no doubt he shall tell us in the comments. Still, he grasped the fundamentals (ouch) with ease, and dominated my side of the battlefield well into the second half.

It was only nine, so we cast about for a shorter two-player game, settling on perennial fave Ingenious, a Knizia classic. We played two games, Sam winning both - several times I had to refresh my hand, and in both games I realised my opportunities for scoring a particular colour were dwindling fast. There's a very steep drop-off once the board starts filling up, and in the second game we were both being far more circumspect in placing each tile, looking for ways to keep colours open and close others down.
It's a deserving classic - but I do wish the tiles and board were prettier. God I'm shallow.

A good combo of games for a thursday night, and nice to get a chance to play Manoeuvre again.
If we can get the other GNN-ers to learn the rules, perhaps we could have a Euro-style competition - all eight armies playing each other over several rounds, quarter and semi-finals, and then we could all stand around watching two people play the grand final. Hmm, maybe not.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The Empires of the Vanities

Joe hosted the core four: himself, myself, and Sam and Adam's selves. He also supplied honey roasted pretzel pieces, which put the Pringles and Roast Beef Monster Munch to shame. We ate them all, though.

Sam came straight from London, and needed to freshen up and put on new clothes before he joined us at the table. After the usual "no, you choose" shenanigans, we decided on Age Of Empires III. This worker placement game is themed around the exploration of the Americas. Each round has a number of options, and each player has access to different characters who subtly alter those options.

These options, and options for options, left Sam struggling at first as he prevaricated and retook goes. Joe, too, seemed to struggle with some of the rules, especially regarding war which was a disadvantage since Adam was gunning for him for most of the game. However, he kept Adam at bay by simply putting lots of his settlers in the line of fire, hoping Adam would get bored or try shooting at someone else for a change. I kept it simple, going for money in the first half of the game, and then victory points in the second half.

I think the key to my game was my successful pirating career. Getting money from each player every round helped a lot (even if Adam did insist on throwing his coins down in a sign of defiance against my brave Jack Tars). In the end, we were mixed in our opinion of the game, trying really hard to like it because, after all, the box was so big. Sam said although he had reservations, he would play it again... if forced to.

Andrew 108
Adam 83
Sam 80
Joe 66

When we finished, it was late, but Sam was keen to play another quick game, just to cleanse the pallet before going home. No Thanks was chosen, since it's been a while. I decided to forsake my usual tactic of picking up low cards, and it seemed to work. Who'da thunk it?!

Adam 14
Andrew 32
Sam 37
Joe 60

Sam suggested once more around, and so we did. Joe went for the high risk strategy of picking up high cards and hoping to join them together. It almost worked, too. But even when linked together, high cards are still high.

Sam 27
Andrew 31
Adam 58
Joe 58

Andrew2 2 1 14 10
Adam3 1 2 33 12
Sam 1334 2 13
Hannah 2 15 5 518
Joe 3 4 4 5521

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Venice Envy

Well, I hoped you all enjoyed the break, as we return fresh for a brand new season. Due to scheduling issues, this week's games night was brought forward to Monday, and four of us were able to gather at Sam's for an evening of table-top tactics and a chance to sample Adam's delightfully arranged Pringles. They were in a circle, and it looked like the ruff of an Elizabethan nobleman. Until we started eating it.

I arrived last, and San Marco was already set up, ready for play. It was a first time for all of us, so we picked our way through the relatively simple rules and got stuck in. The game involves using your aristocrats to gain influence in Renaissance-era Venice. This involves moving coloured cubes around a nicely designed map (not sure why there's a cat in it, though).

The main game mechanic is that one player gets all the cards, and then splits them into groups for the opponents to chose. Once the choice is made, each player has to action all the cards in their hand. Obviously, this means no group can be too awesome, otherwise they'd be picked up immediately, meaning there was a lot of Analysis Paralysis to try and work out how to make one group look good while secretly wanting the other group.

There was a lot of downtime between goes. Enough for me to start describing the action in the style of David Attenborough and for Finn the cat to get more attention than usual. Perhaps it was because we were new to the game that we took so much time over our decisions. Or maybe as we become more savvy, those pauses will get longer. As the game closed, Hannah come out a clear winner.

Hannah 78
Sam 71
Adam 59
Andrew 53

Then we chose a quick game to round of the evening. It was either Poison or Trans America, and since Hannah was keen, the train game was chosen. Sam had reservations, but he brought it to the table. As it turned out, his fears were justified. I'm usually far more drunk when I play this game, so I did well. I was helped by tonight's lucky combo (the three-colour neighbours: Santa Fe, Phoenix and San Diego) which, by chance, Hannah also got too.

Andrew 5
Hannah 8
Adam 12
Sam 13

Hannah215 5 518
Andrew145 5520
Adam335 5 521
Sam425 5521