I came down from bedtime reading for the boys to found the unexplored universe ready for plunder, and we were away. With two or three recent plays under our belt, our decisions were faster: we knew what we were doing, and all of us set about creating monstrous war machines in a sad reflection of humanity's true nature. I went big on plasma missiles. Andrew built a fleet of wasp-like interceptors. And Ian built the Eclipse equivalent of a massive hammer hitting you over the head rapidly until you expire.
But the first big battle was me against the ancients GCPD or whatever it's called - the central hex, with rewarding planets and points. However Ian - up until this point rolling appalling dice for his own ships - rolled for the aliens and obliterated me in short notice. I retreated, tail between legs. In the following round Ian moved in himself and despite an initial hesitancy, took the hex and set about reinforcing it. Andrew and I circled warily, but in the end Endersby chickened out and left me to surge in, fuelled by a ludicrously vain optimism. He made the right decision:
Andrew (yellow) cleverly decides not to get involved
Andrew's cautious expansion and Swiss-like stance on the big battle worked well.
We still didn't have it quite down to the alleged 30 minutes per player, but we'd knocked a whole hour off our last playtime (33.33 mins per player!) , and it was barely 9pm. There was talk of Tinner's Trail, but as it currently resides at Adam and Hannah's house we played Istanbul instead. I think the set up and pack away took longer than the game: we all raced to four gems and I nabbed a fifth as Andrew pipped Ian to second on a tie-breaker:
Sam 5 gems
Andrew 4 gems, lots of money
Ian 4 gems, not much money
Then we intended to play Love Letter - but a visit to the cupboard reminded me this is also currently holidaying in Easton, so instead we set up the rarely-seen Mord Im Arosa. For those unaware, the unusual mechanic at play in this game is listening: trying to work out first where the bodies (red cubes) are in the Hotel Arosa, and then attempting to either implicate your fellow players (their investigators (or cubes)) or clear your name (your cubes) by guessing those colours will be on a certain floor. But: get your guess wrong, and you've made a sloppy investigation. You now have to add another of your own cubes to the hotel and the risk further implications...
I don't know how Ian did it, but over halfway through Andrew and I were implicated all over the shop, whilst Mr Hickman never seemed to get his accusations wrong. As a result, his investigators remained back in the station, drinking tea:
Ian's unused investigators massively outnumber my guys
A lovely thing to revisit - thanks Joe, who bought it for me many moons ago. We must play again!
Andrew here: I couldn't help but notice the sexy lady having a shower on floor five. How very risqué.