That done, I returned to Joe's on games night proper to find Brass set up and ready to go. Adam had chips, Joe had pretzels. I had chipsticks, which I felt were thematically resonant with an industrial age game, as they appear to be a confection of factory floor sweepings and animal glue.
Although Joe had finished ahead of me on points on the previous nights run-through, I felt equipped enough that I could compete with two old hands. Who knows, maybe I could even pull off an unlikely victory?
For those unfamiliar with Brass, players are taking the role of unabashed capitalists intent on sullying the hills of north England. They mine, they build factories, they build ports, they build canals (in the first half of the game) and railways (in the second). They spend a lot of time shipping goods and taking loans. It's not a simple game but, one or two rules aside, it is (as I was promised) a more intuitive affair that Last Train to Wensleydale, where you can feel like you are being phased into an early grave*. Though there are a heap of options generally your choice will be guided by either a. what gets you victory points or b. what gets you money, which could get you even more victory points, if you use it wisely.
I felt I hadn't built enough canals on Monday so I was much more active establishing connections. Joe, too, was busy with the shovel. But Adam pretty much ignored the canals, focussing on developing (discarding cheaper, less rewarding buildings) and building handsome buildings, using our connections to get around. The strategy looked a sound one as the halfway scoring round saw him take the lead. Despite trying to keep abreast of the others, I realised I had about half the amount of buildings on the board that they did - not a good state of affairs.
The second round saw things become a little more combative as Joe and Adam knocked each others buildings to the ground in order to establish their own. Though I managed to create a bit more of a foothold on the board, it was clear from the lack of wrecking balls swinging my way that the others were in a battle for first place.
So it proved, though it wasn't as close between them as I anticipated. Despite Joe's multitudinous trainlines, the explosion of yellow pieces over the south Pennines made it look like someone (guess who) had struck gold - or possibly custard.
My personal verdict on Brass is that I liked it a lot. I don't think it's a game I'm likely to win, especially playing Adam and Joe - but I really enjoyed the variety of options and the theme. I struggled slightly with when you're allowed to build what, where... but that's a minor reservation. The only thing that'd stop me playing it again soon is the sheer length - three hours plus playing time for three people. That said though, it didn't drag at all. So - I'm in the fan club! Join me. Join me.
On the form table it's a bit of a one-horse race at the moment, with no-one able to challenge Adam's supremacy. In fact the person who is nearest him hasn't even played for two weeks, as Andrew moves into second by virtue of the 'most recent result' rule. Joe stays in fifth thanks to Brass - it gave him a very respectable 2nd place, but because we didn't have time for another game he hasn't shaken the 5 yet.
*on a first play. Andrew and I found it relatively straightforward second time around.