Finally in, there was some further comedy - less Michael Crawford, more Friday Night Dinners - about getting the heating working, before we finally stood perusing our options. I was keen to play Rajas of the Ganges, Stan suggested Pulsar, but Joe proposed we begin with lighter fare in the form of Majesty: For the Realm.
Each of us has a tableau of cards forming key buildings in a village (Inn, Barracks, etc) and on your turn, you simply add a card from the display beneath one of the buildings to gain points and sometimes some other benefit. But claiming the cards uses the same economy as Tribes or Firenze - the further up the display you go, the more expensive the card is.
Joe focused on his castle and the chaining of this rewarding multiplier offset the attacks from Stanley (via Barracks) and my mish-mash of different cards. If Stan had managed to get himself a single castle card he might have claimed a debut win, but as it was the host's calculated castling got him the victory:
It was quite a sweet game, and I definitely prefer it to Splendor. And with the palette-cleanser out of the way, I suggested Rajas of the Ganges again, but no joy. Joe was keen to play The Quest for El Dorado though, and this was met with murmurs of approval from Stan and I.
forgot to take a photo
If only we'd known then how Joe was going to show us a clean pair of heels and sail off to the most convincing victory I've seen yet, with both Stan and I miles behind him. Stupid game!
Sam probably second.
Stan most likely third.
With time on the afternoon session running out, the possibility of playing Rajas of the Ganges looked remote and so we had a few rounds of Zendo, doing the easy and figure-able-out rules.
Katy arrived at the tail end of it when I was master, and guessed the rule before either Joe or Stan did. Then it was time to take Stanley home for tea, which I did, hoping that when I returned, perhaps we'd play Rajas of the Ganges! We bumped into Andrew arriving as we left, and it is he who will now tell you the story of What Happened Next.
I arrived at around five o’clock, just in time to pass Stan and Sam leaving the house. Inside I found Joe and Katy about to embark upon the grand tour of Joe’s parents’ house. Soon after this, Adam arrived so Katy and I decided that now would be the best time to go and get chips. We set off, with promises to get Adam some chips too.
But the chip shop was shut so we went walking to find other food establishments. We looked in the local shop, but did not fancy limp sandwiches and crisps. Instead we found a “multi-cuisine” place that did wraps. And fries too, so we were sorted.
We returned and ate while we watched Adam and Joe play Azul.
“And that's the only time I will ever beat Adam at Azul.” said Joe, referring to the fact that it was Adam’s first game.
We were still waiting for Sam to return for the evening session, so we decided to start playing a game of Tichu. The last time I played it was a while ago, and I didn’t care for it (I don’t like old card games given a few new game-breaking cards and then sold as a brand new game) but I was happy to try again.
We split into teams according to how we were sat around the table, and began. There were a few occasions when I sighed at Tichu's fiddly rules, and Katy kept playing a card or set of cards by mistake and then putting them back into her hand meaning that we all knew what she had. It didn’t seem to help us, as Joe completed an early Grand Tichu and put them into an early lead.
Katy and Joe 295
Adam and Andrew 105
Then Sam returned and we finished off the hand we were playing while he satisfied his curiosity by investigating the cellar. Once we were all together we decided to play a five-player before the inevitable split into smaller components. Five players is a tricky number and, in this mostly gameless house, our options were more limited than usual. But Sam had brought The Godfather: A New Don so we set it up and he explained the rules for the newcomers.
It was fun, and there was a nice amount of muscling in on each others’ patches but there was confusion about when you can re-roll and, like the last time we played, the grimy pastel colour scheme lead to some confusion about where the boundaries were.
Adam won, despite having never been the Godfather while Joe came pretty close despite having only a handful of soldiers on the board. Perhaps there are hidden depths to this game under its murky surface.
Nice, but a bit too long with five.
So now we split into two groups. Katy cradled Yokohama in her arms long enough to tempt Adam into a rematch. The board looks tiny when it’s set up for only two players.
Sam, Joe and I played Paperback since Joe couldn’t find his copy of Movable Type that he thought he’d brought with him. Paperback is a word building game.
I found it a bit dry. You make a word that gets you enough money to buy a new letter card which, if you use that in a word later on gives you even more money to buy cards. It was a “get stuff to get stuff” mechanic pasted onto a word-making game.
Yokohama was still in full swing, so we played Azul. Such a nice game, with opportunities for evil. Sam told Joe to “stop looking at my board!” But I got two columns completed for a win.
As for Yokohama, Adam didn’t score any points at all while Katy raced into a 44-0 lead. Adam said he was “trying something”.
Whatever it was, it almost worked. I remember him making a long and complicated mega-move near the game end and, during the final count up, it was quite close.
In the after game discussion, Adam worked out that he could’ve won if only he’d played his last turn differently.
Then Katy neatly put the game away. Into the box lid. She just closed it anyway, and flipped it over so it was the right way up again, to Joe's appalled wails of dismay.
Than Sam decided he would probably go back and, in indecent haste, Joe said “We can finish Tichu!” before he remembered to thank Sam for joining us.
Katy was not keen, preferring instead Divinare but Joe had already said he wasn’t in the mood for new any more rules. She was also unwilling to lose their 295-105 lead. "Come on, we'll take it home!" said Joe, encouragingly.
So we recommenced our game. It was an epic. Adam and I came out of the traps running, winning the first two hands in first and second for two 200-point bonuses. Then I got cocky and failed a Tichu, allowing J&K back into the game. Joe Grand Tichued again, under extraordinary circumstances. When he picked up the card given to him by Katy, he pointed out that if your partner declares a Grand Tichu it’s usually the done thing to give them your best card.
But despite Katy’s lack of help because she wanted to keep the two straights she had (we later found out she’d given him a five) and despite having no aces in his hand, Joe still managed to complete his Grand Tichu to edge them back into the lead.
Later Adam put down a 12-card run, which was nice.
Soon after that I noticed that midnight had passed and, since this was the closest to a New Year’s Party that I was going to this year, I wished everyone a happy new year!!
Katy was keen for the game to end, and seemed disappointed that Adam and I, regaining the lead, ended a round a mere ten points off the game-ending 1,000 point mark.
Surely it would end in the next round. And it did, but only just, as a lone king in our stack of tricks gave us the ten points we needed to close the game as winners.
Adam and Andrew 1,000
Katy and Joe 800
And so we were done. Phew, what an evening. What a year! Well done everyone for getting to the end. Let’s do it all again next year.
Happy New Year!