"What does Sam want to play?" Andrew wondered aloud, but as I had no agenda/idea, after discussions we returned to the idea of Great Western Trail, and ended up setting it up. Having done so - we were off!
This was my fifth play of GWT and you'd think that might give me some small advantage, but I remain inscrutably bad at it. I decided early on to try and build a hand of good cattle, but doing so costs money, and it's cheaper if you have more cowboys, but cowboys cost money... and so on. I pictured Martin doing some sort of Stewart Lee-style comedy routine based on the diminishing returns of plaintive optimism... although the game experience is far from that. Every turn has the potential to be lucrative, but I found myself making largely sub-optimal moves to a great degree, with the exception of the turn when I hired three (three! count 'em) workers, causing Joe and Andrew to make impressed noises.
The noises were mostly cowboy based though, as Joe started something of an accent theme to the evening. He was taking long enough over his turns that we - or I - felt obliged to rib him about it, but secretly I was worried that he might know what he was doing.
In fact in mid-game I thought it was a battle between me and Joe - Andrew had almost no workers and seemed to be dawdling on a scenic walk rather than driving cattle. But at the game end he sped up, hurtling his train down the track and delivering to the well-monied distant climes of Sante fe and so on... the 24 points he got from cattle delivery delivered him to a very convincing first place.
Despite my crestfallen and slightly ruddy face come 10.45, I really enjoyed GWT - like Railways of the World, it's game you can have fun losing - and unlike Railways, you can delude yourself you're doing better than you are.