Saturday, 30 March 2013

It's the game identification game

Today I found some old photographs of us playing board games while still living in London. These rare glimspes of the past are a sort of Dead Sea Scrolls of GNN, hinting at some lost tradition on which our current empire is founded.

El Grande: a timeless classic from the start

A note on the back of the photo said I won this game

My memories of games in London are pretty sparse. I'm fairly sure I wasn't there for the first ever meet, but then again, I might have been. And although I remember El Grande (above) I have no knowledge at all of this next game. Any ideas, anyone?

It's a shame I can't remember because, judging by our expressions, it was the most fun game ever.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Two's better, two's best

And so it just remains for me to finish off the season with the two-player division. I invented this so we could have a leaderboard that included the good people from Bracknell, but in the end they mostly played three-player games so it was up to me and Sam to make up most of the entries onto this table.

Sam comes first in terms of Points and Gold Medal haul, and Chris demonstrates his skill in face to face combat by taking the Points Ratio crown.

And just in case you were wondering, I went through the spreadsheet to find a few more notable events to pad this blog post out a bit that may interest you.

Biggest win was by Sam playing Scripts and Scribes. His score was almost twice his nearest opponent. Biggest defeat, sorry to say, was Joe's score in Santiago. While everyone else scored in the 42 to 37 range, he came in last with 29.

Most valuable win, on the Division, was, of course, Quentin's victory at Eclipse. Winning a three-player, three-hour game netted him a tasty ten points. And we never saw him again.

And the closest game (not including games where you only score a handful of points) was the Bracknell bunch, and their game of Medici which ended 129, 126, 124.

(About the two-player division: to make the spreadsheet work properly, a third dummy score is added, either lowest from the previous time the game was played, or from a session report on Boardgamegeek. That's how it's possible to get a bronze in a two-player game.)

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Canal knowledge

The last week of the season, and it was the core four once again who braved the tediously biting winds to gather round a warm table at Joe's place.

We chose Canal Mania as our main game. Since we were all new to it, it seemed like a fair way to round off the season. It's a little bit Railways Of The World, and a dash of Ticket To Ride, with a hint of Brass thrown in for good measure.

First, you pick up contracts for routes and you play cards in order to build them (a la Ticket To Ride). You then ship goods cubes around the network (hence the Railways of the World reference) and there are lots of fiddly rules that don't make much sense and are easy to forget (a bit like Brass).

Sam's green ship glares at a cube

Perhaps its similarity to other games was Joe's undoing, as he began with the very RotW-style tactic of finding a corner to himself and trying to exploit it. But he did not realise that using other people's networks is not a last resort as it is in RotW, but is a necessary way to score points. He was soon in last place and found himself falling further behind as the game went on.

Sam in 2nd (green) and me 3rd (black) with Joe (red) off in the distance

Adam did well. In retrospect, that was to be expected: if you mix together three games that Adam's good at, you get another game that Adam's good at. Sam looked ill and confused for most of the first half of the game but once Adam was far enough in the lead, he started combining his network with Adams to claw his way into second place.

Adam 68
Sam 57 (wins on tie breaker)
Andrew 57
Joe 38

After this, we chose Call To Glory as a nice way to round off the evening. I wrote about how I thought this would be a different game with two players, and so it was. Certainly, the games were much shorter, meaning that holding onto to your hand was a bad idea. It seemed better to put your cards down quickly and see if anyone would beat you before all nine suits were showing and the game was over. In the end, it was Sam who ruled the roost, with the previous Shogun (me) reduced to the status of a bum. Oh the humiliation!

Sam 106
Adam 84
Joe 72
Andrew 67

Which leads us to the final scores. On the form table, Sam just falls one result short of the perfect five, but his end-of-season form is impressive. Adam rises to second after being stuck mid-table for some months.

Sam1 2 1 1 1 6
Adam2 1 2 2 3 10
Steve4 2 1 1 2 10
Hannah41 1 2 3 11
Anja2 3 4 2 1 12
Will1 1 25 5 14
Andrew4 3 3 3 2 15
Joe3 4 5 4 3 19
Jon3 5 15 5 19
Quentin 15 5 5 5 21

And in the Division, it's been a topsy-turvy season, with both myself and Joe in pole position at one point. But as the season closes, we see that Sam wins on both Points and the Medal Table, but there is a new name engraved on the GNN Hall Of Fame, as Anja stakes her claim to immortality by taking Points Ratio with clear blue sky between her and second place.

On the Bracknell front, it was a close run thing but Chris just beats his rival James in terms of points, while James wins according to the medal table. Also, Chris takes the prize for most points scored in a season out of everyone: in the last three months, he has clocked up an impressive 1,799 points in all of his games.

Congrats to our glorious winners! And there's no end-of-season break for us hardy gamers. The whole thing starts all over again in seven days time!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

More shared glory

I decided to give poor old James a break from reading rules to new games this week and declared that we would select from my improving back catalogue of titles. I piled up the most likely picks at the end of the table and revelled in the delicate selection process. To my surprise El Grande was plucked from the mini wall and I couldn't have been happier.

All three of us adopted differing tactics from the start. I spread my men very thinly over the whole board in an attempt to gain influence whereas James hoarded his chaps in court and opted to see how the land lay and Paul banished his voters to the castillo in order to perform his favourite "Shock troops" move. With the usual jiggery pokery taking place over home territories the scores remained close. Paul then pulled a high risk "Jefferies" move where he redistributed all of his cabelleros from one region all over the board. It was something like 8 pieces and neither James or I came out very well from it. When it came to the last scoring round Paul and James had cleverly exhausted their cabelleros whereas I still had a stack unable to be used having played a fairly miserly game of bringing in just what I needed. The upshot of this was James' home region Basque Country being the most congested I've ever seen with at least 20 guys in there. Thankfully the king was on it at the end to prevent anymore being stuffed in.

Paul's air dropping tactic came up trumps this time granting him his first win ages.

Paul - 147
Chris - 141
James - 135

Then on to Medici after Alhambra was craftily discounted by me.

My really boring tactic of winning the boat count saw me coming in first after some tense bidding rounds and out right luck.

Chris - 158
Paul - 153
James - 105

In the next round of Medici James and Paul made sure I paid a lot more heavily for my tiles and my boat tactic went up in smoke. Again some fortuitous final draws from the bag made this an exciting and unpredictable game. James' usurping in me in indigo in his final cargo haul was enough to reel me in and gain an impressive win.

James - 131
Chris - 120
Paul - 117

So we all won a game which was nice.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Shared Glory

Due to unforeseen circumstances, a Thursday night gaming possibility opened up and I sent the clarion call across the rooftops of Bristol; stirring the hearts of men and womenfolk alike, rousing them from their screens and up, out, into the rainy night, to make their way through the darkened streets on a pilgrimage that no God recognises, but a journey that nonetheless ends in the human heart.

At least I imagined it something like that, but in reality everyone was too busy apart from Andrew, so we ate kettle chips and drank whisky while bumping up the 2-player leaderboard stats. 

First to the table was Lords of Waterdeep, a big hit with GNN last year in both Bristol and Bracknell. And as such it needs no introduction. Some games I play and love only to go off fairly rapidly (Dominion) while others are stayers (Tinner's Trail). Waterdeep is definitely the latter. Like any game you can play it too much but it survives the maths trade cull every time.

The threat of the sentient crisps was negated by the magic bowl

One thing I like about Waterdeep is the strategy/luck balance, with the former daintily fringed by the latter. Last time out I just couldn't get the quests my Lord wanted, this time they fell into my lap and as a result I outscored Andrew in the final count-up:

Sam 196
Andrew 179

With statue-placating and owl-bear domesticating in the bag, we moved on to a recent purchase of mine, Call to Glory. This game has a little of gin-rummy to it, but it's one of those where an extremely simple ruleset is abetted by some nice depth of play. The cards represent strata of Japanese society but the theme (though the cards are beautiful) is very light. It's all about collecting sets - but in this instance having a set is not necessarily a guarantee you'll finish the round with the set intact, because there are many of the same type of card so ownership of that particular stratum (from farmers to emporers) can change if and when an opponent gathers more of them than you do.

Three shoguns, all called Dirk

There's also a key aspect of which card to discard and when, exactly, do you play your sets? We both hoarded in the first round, played much more liberally in the second round, and struck some sort of balance in the third and final round (officially you play 4 rounds but we plumped for 3). In every event Andrew outscored me, however, pushing his results up each time as mine deteriorated. Final reckoning:

Andrew 191
Sam 128

It's a very nice game and one we both look forward to playing with more people. Even if the tin it comes in looks like an over-elaborate chocolate box...

Just as a fight to the death started, the doorbell went

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

All the way to Santiago

Tuesday night rolled around again like a collection of cardboard looming over the horizon, and Joe, Andrew and I (Sam) joined Steve and Anja at their house for pleasures of the abstract. With Anja's bump also looming over the horizon, there was much anticipation of a future GNN recruit before he was even out in the open. But he'll probably rebel (and play Warhammer instead).

We began with a very abstract game indeed - Scripts and Scribes (the dice game, apparently there's a non-dice version) a companion piece to perennial GNN stalwart Biblios. As explained in unnecessary detail in a previous comment by me last week, players are trying to get the most of five different resources, and the play proceeds through dice-rolling and passing the dice around the table until they're all used up. Joe was unconvinced, stating that "it's not Biblios" while Anja liked it for the same reason. What a rich tapestry us gamers weave! In any event my wheedling into favour with the abbot did me well, as did a sudden discovery of three green books near game end:

Sam 62
Steve 39
Andrew 39
Anja 38
Joe 33


Now what? After surprisingly little debate we conclusively went for the oft-unplayed Santiago, a game of irrigation and bribery. Players are trying to raise crops but to do so they need the water to come their way, and that's where the canal overseer/master/captain - I've forgotten the correct term - comes in, and the canal overlord is the player who bid the least that round (and hence picks up the crappiest field to place). How well the players are doing is evident on the board if you care to add it all up, but there's so much going on that we never got around to it until the end. As it was my last round role of canal despot proved enough to squeak a narrow win:

Sam 42
Anja 41
Andrew 40
Steve 37
Joe 29

More cubes!

Though neither game felt particularly long we realised 11 o'clock was fast approaching, and the expectant parents elected to call it a night.

Sam1 1 1 1 3 7
Steve4 2 1 1 2 10
Andrew3 3 2 2 1 11
Hannah41 1 2 3 11
Anja2 3 4 2 1 12
Adam2 2 3 2 4 13
Will1 1 25 5 14
Joe5 4 3 3 2 17
Jon3 5 15 5 19
Quentin 15 5 5 5 21

Monday, 18 March 2013

When Wallace is not Enough

Railways of the World had sat in my cupboard since it arrived as a birthday present from my mum. We've played (Big) Joe's copy recently of course, but knowing it was there, unplayed, a world of track and trains waiting to be discovered, meant I kept thinking that perhaps I could play with Stanley one day. And so yesterday afternoon we did. We also roped in Sally and (Little) Joe, who agreed with varying levels of diplomacy and enthusiasm. I set up the Mexico map and attempted to explain the rules - a simplified version, not including cards - and, hoping to avoid getting into bonds, gave each team $30,000 starting money.

Joe fairly quickly lost focus and spent his time doing some reasonably gymnastic wriggling on Sally's lap, calling out random words from a language of his own devising. Sally was dumbfounded by the idea that you could only ship one cube, so for the sake of expediency we said it could be as many cubes as you want, as long as they were the same colour and making the same journey. She also thought it was weird you couldn't build over existing tracks, a criticism I ruefully admitted was fair, but I wasn't going to budge on that rule.

So the Greens (Sally and Joe) immediately built an enormous track down the East Coast, costing them $17,000. Stan and I went small and local, building to Mexico City through the mountains. We were off!

However because of the nature of the game and the players in this particular instance, play proceeded as an elongated explanation of rules, punctuated by Joe deciding that flicking cubes across the room was more entertaining... and I sort of agreed at this point, and the game continued with a large degree of unthematic child wrangling.

As Mexico started to take on a raggedy look and various cubes made their way under the furniture, we decided that Sally would take Joe elsewhere and Stanley would swap sides, taking over their green trains. I realised at this point though I hadn't taken a single bond I didn't have much left to ship, whereas the expensively assembled green tracks (now with added bond) were ripe with unflicked cargo. Stanley at my suggestion upgraded his engine several times and shipped it all. Though he understandably didn't fully comprehend the Wallace-isms of the rules he did get into the track laying and liked finding a way to ship his yellow cargo a full seven links.

Joe occasionally wandered back in to examine to track hexagons, but on the whole it was a more sedate affair, and we ended with 9 empty cities with Stanley well ahead on the track (albeit both of us probably missing points in haphazard scoring). However I still didn't have a single bond - could I edge it as his investing took its toll? - No. When Stan's 11 bonds were counted up, he remained a single point ahead of me.

Stanley (plus Sally and Joe) 54
Sam (plus Stanley) 53

Perhaps I pulled this one out a year or so too early, but Stanley seemed to enjoy it. And when Sally dropped out she made biscuits.

Friday, 15 March 2013

I focking love Dirk Henn

An unusually late start to a games night this week, as official leaderboard games didn't begin until 8.45 due to a late Joe. I arrived at Sam's at (a still relatively late) 8.15 and he and I filled in the time by giving Sam's newest purchase a try. Scripts and Scribes: The Dice Game is based on the game which eventually became GNN favourite Biblios. While there are similarities to Biblios, especially with the value of five dice affecting your final score, it lacks a certain something. It's not as pure as Biblios. It is like comparing Tsuro of the Seas to Tsuro. They're both good, but the simpler game somehow has something special about it. But we shall see. I don't recall being amazed by Biblios on its first try either.

Joe arrived, looked over the potential choices we'd placed on the table, and instantly plumped for Ra. We soon began and I thought I'd blown this in the first round, when I was already far behind when it came to monuments. Sam had a very strong round and looked good for the win right from the start.

Luck fell into my lap on the last round, however, when I managed to get a complete set of five civilisation tiles for fifteen points. Joe ended round three by pulling tiles from the bag, hoping for a jackpot, but instead found nothing but disasters and plagues.

Sam 60
Andrew 43
Joe 29

Joe rued his choice, saying that he usually won against the computer, but neither Sam nor I are computers as I think we proved this evening.

Next up came Alhambra. By now, Sam was ploughing through his high-alcohol ale and the whiskey was out so we started the game in bullish mood, setting up in the style of football hooligans who had, for some reason, given up an evening of attacking Chelsea fans in favour of Dirk Henn's finest. And this is where the title for the blog comes from.

Alhambra is a cruel mistress and it's not much kinder as a card game either. I constantly found myself out of sync with the cards and while Sam and Joe were picking stuff up for exact money, I was floundering. Changing our comedy voices from hooligans to Jewish mothers a la Seinfeld didn't help matters. Joe lead right from round one, and Sam looked like he might stage a late attack, it never appeared and my wall kept things respectable.

Joe 151
Sam 139
Andrew 133

By now we're really quite drunk, so there was no chance of going home without squeezing in another game before the day was done. Sam decided on a snack of pre-cooked pasta eaten out of a mug and after a little debate Coup was brought to the table as a nightcap.

Let me tell you that drunk Coup is a very different game. Decisions about bluffing that take nanoseconds when sober suddenly take about half a minute of baffled consideration, which is a bit of a giveaway. As such, in the first game, we were all quickly down to one card each before we knew it and it wasn't long until the game played itself out.

1. Andrew
2. Joe
3. Sam

The next two games were much that same: worst liar loses. Joe found that being the first one to lose a card attracted further attacks and he was out quickly both times. It turns out that Sam is Best Liar.

1. Sam
2. Andrew
3. Joe

1. Sam
2. Andrew
3. Joe

And we stumbled away, into the night which somehow didn't seem as cold as it did before. Probably due to the excitement of playing five games in an evening, I expect, and nothing to do with the alcohol spinning round our systems.

Sam leaps up to the top of the form table, although how much he'll remember about how he got there is anyone's guess.

Sam1 1 3 2 1 8
Steve1 1 2 2 4 10
Andrew2 2 1 3 2 10
Hannah41 1 2 3 11
Anja4 2 1 2 2 11
Joe3 3 2 1 3 12
Adam2 2 3 2 4 13
Will1 1 25 5 14
Jon3 5 15 5 19
Quentin 15 5 5 5 21

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

3 Wonders

We three of Bracknell sat down again to play another of my new birthday games 7 Wonders. Even though Paul has played twice before it is not one that will stick in his memory and, as the last two times, spent the entire first game saying "I have no idea what I'm doing"

James though, had come prepared as he had spent the afternoon boning up on the rules. I remembered that I had always done fairly well by being ahead in military and picking a few technologies and true to form thats what I did. There's something about those military cards that brings out the belligerent in me. All those shiny swords and polished shields...I don't know... Anyway whilst I was flexing my muscle admiring myself in the reflection of my gladius James had gone all hippy on us and had a incredible stack of culture cards. Looking at it I considered it might become a problem. In the meantime Paul scratched his head and looked on.

And all so quickly, as it always does, the third age finished and we began the exciting totalling up process. James and I tied for first place but due to my greater money total I squeaked into first.

Chris - 55 - 3 money score
James - 55 - 1 money score
Paul - 41

The second game flowed a lot more naturally with everybody now accumulating the correct resources and markets allowing us heightened purchasing power. James once again ate up all the culture cards, I grabbed military and guilds, and Paul went all sciencey. James won with a flourish and posted a reminder to me to not let him get all those culture cards again. They really score big!

James - 53
Paul - 45 - 5 money score
Chris - 45 - 3 money score

We finished up with a hotly contested game of Medici which saw the result come down to what tiles came out of the bag for James' last cargo hold. A 0, 1 , 2 would have seen me win the "biggest boat" score but it wasn't to be as nice plump 4 rolled out.

James - 145
Chris - 135
Paul - 102

Friday, 8 March 2013

Girls, girls, girls

Three of them! At a games night! Tonight Joe found he was babysitting his own kids while his wife was away, and so he decided that a game of Long Shot with his charming offspring along with his charming off-centre friends would be an ideal evening.

Long Shot is a horse racing game, in which ten horses race around a track spurred on by dice and action cards. We bet on them, and buy them, and hope that our choices earn us money in the end because in this game: prizes makes places.

There were six of us around the table. Me, Will, Bea, Martha, Matilda and Joe. Dice were rolled and horses slowly edge their way around the oval track. It was a lot of fun, and the interaction between cards and dice is nicely done. Obviously you end up supporting your own horse, but the ability to bet means you inevitably end up helping your opponents.

The dice were not kind to Matilda who found herself on the receiving end of having to give away a card four times. Although once she did convince her youngest sister to take a card that she herself chose, which is strictly against the rules of the game, even if it follows the rules of sibling rivalry.

It went on for quite a while, and I started to suffer a case of the Pax Porfirianas, in which I had a card which would have been sensible to play, but also would have extended the game, so I didn't. Quite a lot of the delay was caused by the Berger clan who, like a genteel Marx Brothers, caused havoc by accidentally throwing mini-cornettos across the room, inventing new things that the action cards say, and generally needing encouragement to concentrate on the game by their father.

Towards the end the youngest sister went to get ready for bed because she was getting bored, so Sam (who'd turned up mid-game) took over her place. For someone who didn't know the rules, and whose horse was a long way back, I'd say he coped quite well.

In the end, it was horse number eight that came in first. It belonged to Bea, who also had the foresight to bet on it heavily. I spread my bets across the leaders, plus my horse made its fifty dollar bonus by coming in third. This gave us first and second respectively. Will tried his best by spoiling other people's races, and Matilda had a hand of cards that got her money, but didn't move her horse. Not sure what Joe was doing. Maybe he was distracted by something.

Bea 390
Andrew 350
Will 270
Matilda 265
Martha/Sam 205
Joe 155

After this, the young section of the group went to bed and the four of us set up something a little more mature and thoughtful. The Downfall of Pompeii! What could be more fun that throwing your opponents into a volcano while darting between streams of lava?

Joe explained the rules to Will, and he picked them up pretty sharpish. He even encouraged us to chuck his meeples into the volcano, if he thought it was the most sensible move for us.

Sam 9
Will 8 (wins second on tie-breaker)
Andrew 8
Joe 7

After this, with neither Adam nor Steve present, we broke out the High Society, like recovering alcoholics having a swift one while no one was watching. It may be a love or hate thing, but Reiner Knizia's cunningly structured game of bidding and hoping on the next card is a tiny classic. Will took the first game by a country mile.

Will 22
Sam 11
Andrew 7.5

After this, Sam had to go home and Will, Joe and I played one last game. Once again, Will played like a master. Towards the end, he was left with one card and was cursing his luck, so we thought he was left with a mere one million or something. In the end, he had the $25m card left, which mean that first-placed Joe suddenly crashed out of the game.

Will 12 (wins on tie breaker)
Andrew 12

Was Long Shot leaderboard? Anyway, it's Joe's turn to suffer an evening of last places, which hits him hard. Will makes an impressive entrance.

Steve1 1 2 2 4 10
Andrew 2 3 2 1 3 11
Hannah41 1 2 3 11
Anja4 2 1 2 2 11
Sam2 1 4 4 1 12
Adam2 2 3 2 4 13
Will1 1 25 5 14
Joe3 4 4 3 1 15
Jon3 5 15 5 19
Quentin 15 5 5 5 21

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Railways and building

It was the core four inna house! The house in question being Joe's. Himself, myself, Samself and Adamself all arrived, eager for the renewal of Tuesday's hostilities.

Sam was a little late, held up by the train, so Joe, Adam and I began with a little non-leaderboard appetiser, Timeline. In this game, players have four cards describing inventions/events, laid out for all to see, and they have to place them alongside or inbetween other inventions/events, according to their year. I enjoyed it, with my recent interest in history, and I came first. Joe came second and Adam came last, foiled by not knowing that the first crop circle was in the seventeenth century.

Then Sam arrived, still unable to shake off his cough, and we decided on Railways of the World. We chose the Mexico map because it encouraged conflict, and the evil glint in Adam's eye told us he was in no mood to discuss it. Plus, it fitted on the table.

Sam spent big early on, and shared the south with Adam. Joe and I had a corner of the north each. My best move was the first thing I did, as I picked up a card giving me a point whenever someone delivered goods to Mexico City. It must've got me twelve points during the game.

Joe's cunning move came midway through the game, when he started to upgrade his train far in excess of the number of tracks he actually had. Adam and I said we thought this strategy was a bit strange, but it paid dividends for him, as he shipped his cubes around his and Sam's network. Sam was too far back to be a rival, and so it proved to be an effective strategy against his main RotW nemesis, Adam.

Joe 50
Adam 48
Andrew 40
Sam 28

After this, it was still (relatively) early and so we contemplated one more sizeable game. Kingdom Builder was a new game to the GNN table, from the designer of Dominion. This game involves building up chains across a hexagonal landscape. It reminded me of Hacienda, with multipliers and such like to boost your score. A score that is impossible to add up until the end of the game. There is a special score track, but it is pretty redundant until the game ends.

Any idea who's won? Nope. Me neither.

Turns out, I did okay. Not sure how, but linking buildings seemed to help. And so did, according to Adam, my low-alcohol ale.

Andrew 51
Adam 44
Joe 43
Sam 41

During this game, Joe's small yappy dog came downstairs and started clawing at the door wanting to go out, making curious mewing and growling noises. Charlotte explained that the dog had been upset by something she'd heard on TV. We wondered what it could've been. The death of the Venezuelan president perhaps?

All of this conjecture is second place, however, to the news from the form table. After two fourth places, Sam takes an almighty tumble and was heard to bemoan his insistence on moving GNN back to Tuesdays.

Steve1 1 2 2 4 10
Joe3 1 2 3 2 11
Hannah41 1 2 3 11
Anja4 2 1 2 2 11
Andrew 1 3 4 4 1 13
Adam2 2 3 2 4 13
Sam4 4 1 3 1 13
Jon3 5 15 5 19
Quentin 15 5 5 5 21

Friday, 1 March 2013

Merry Princes, Mr Florence

You know, there's something odd about Thursdays, Joe and I remarked as we took the long route to Steve and Anja's. It almost as if they come around a lot slower than Tuesdays.

But this week, after colds continue to play havoc with the fixture list, five of us convened in Easton with Adam making up the numbers, and Sam absent having only just recovered from illness.

We began with a new game, given to Steve by his workmates as a leaving present. Apparently, buying thee board games involved a non-gamer going into Area 51, which seemed to be a bit of a traumatic occasion for them. One game, Spartacus, was too complicated and hadn't been learnt, so instead we went for a card game by Uwe "Bohnanza" Rosenburg, Sole Mio.

Anja had read half of the rules, so we set off, not entirely sure what we were doing but nevertheless enjoying calling out the cards we were playing in an Italian accent. But then, as more rules were read, we learnt that we'd been playing the rules wrong. Not slightly wrong, where we could stumble on and make do, but really quite wrong, needing a whole new start.

We didn't start again. We were too keen to begin tonight's main event, namely Princes Of Florence. I haven't played this game since the pre-blog days, and Joe and I needed a reminder of the rules. Steve went into this game complaining how bad he was at it and how he was bound to finish last.

He got off to a lightning start, leaping into an early lead with his jesters. But as was often noted, this is a game that doesn't take kindly to errors. We allowed Joe and Steve to take back their goes once they realised they'd made a mistake, although Joe decided that on reflection, his mistake was probably what he wanted to do all along.

I made a spirited attempt and wasn't far off the pace halfway through, but I ran out of options by the end of the game, and found myself with nothing to do in the last round. Anja saw both of the prestige point bonuses go up in smoke as she failed to achieve either of their criteria. As such, we both came last.

Rival bars of chocolate stare each other down over a game of "Princes...

Adam came in third, but it was a tussle at the top between Steve and Joe. Steve the pessimist just nabbed a win on a money tie-breaker.

Steve 61
Joe 61
Adam 55
Andrew 53
Anja 53

On the form table, Steve gains a "1" and loses a "6" and so, like a spaceship catapulted around Jupiter's field of gravity, he's launched up the the table to take top spot with just one month to go until the end of the season.

Steve1 1 2 2 4 10
Sam1 3 1 2 3 10
Joe2 3 2 3 1 11
Hannah41 1 2 3 11
Anja4 2 1 2 2 11
Adam3 2 4 2 2 13
Andrew 4 4 1 3 2 14
Jon3 5 15 5 19
Quentin 15 5 5 5 21

And on the monthly Division, we see that Sam has taken first place from me in terms of points, while Joe has gained top spot in points ratio from Anja. James holds onto his first place in the Olympics table.