Ben Bateson(ousgg)United Kingdom
Ross-on-WyeOi! Hands off...
The same trio as last week, and those expecting us to only manage two games again will be sorely disappointed: this time we got through fully six games and still got out the front door just before closing time.
We opened up with Finca, something which had not seen good table time for far too long. Much more benign with three than in head-to-head play, I nevertheless got the opportunity to rob the other players of lemons early on, but nearly got myself in a troublesome donkey situation, which is not something you should count on doing on the continent these days. In my keenness to avoid taking the last donkey, I overlooked an important play in mid-game, which let Becky through for the win - her first in about 10 plays of this game!
Aspiring Finca players should note that our favoured house rule (for best screwage potential) is to remove from the supply three of each fruit in 3P games, and six of each fruit in 2P games.
'Winner chooses' was unofficially deemed the thematics for the night, and Becky promptly requested Vikings. Neglecting the advanced version (simpler is better is very true here, and the basic Vikings game is far superior), we set about our piles of tiles and paws of Norse. I went in for Big VP early while the other two panicked about their start-island-tile situation, but things were looking precarious near the end as I ran worryingly short of cash. In the end, I missed out on a final boatmen and ran into John's last-minute overfeed which earned him the points he needed for victory.
John's choice was Acquire, a classic of gaming which none of us had played before. Thankfully, the rules made for simple explanation and we dove in headfirst, not knowing what we were getting into. The Tower chain quickly established itself as dominant and sold out of shares shortly afterwards. Sackson stagnated in a corner, and Intercontinental and Festival led brief, unfulfilled existence. John bought shares at double-speed and had no difficulty tying this one up, to the extent that Becky and I didn't bother with the final count.
Admittedly, there's quite a lot of room for improvement in our strategy, but I couldn't see all that much to get excited about in Acquire. It's clearly the forerunner of majority-control games, notably El Grande, but I can see the constant need to keep tabs on everyone's share holding would quickly become wearisome. I'd play it again, but probably not with three. Four or five sounds like fun.
Thanks to my habit of packing smaller card games inside bigger boxes to save shelf space, we had about twice as many games to hand as we initially suspected. The first small one to hit the table was Die Fugger, a game which belies the fact that it sounds like an Arnold Schwarzenegger catchphrase by being a tidy little valuation and market-manipulation game, not dissimilar to Modern Art (or its bastard card game son). And today's was a market that proved remarkably open to manipulation. From me, leastways: I shot past the 100-point finish-post in just four rounds, and flipped over two concealed goods which I had worked 'around the clock' back up to a value of 8. 124-91-88 was a pleasing margin of victory indeed.
The small card games continued with Metallurgy, a real hidden gem (and also my day job!), which I will continue to bang on about until other people see its true genius. OK, its not mould-breaking, but it is pretty low on luck and high on strategy, and there's not a lot more to ask for. I defied the odds by drawing two gold off the top of the deck (not great when any other card would have given me a scoring combo), and John swept this one up after a deserved 3-metal combo on the last turn of the game. Excellent stuff, really.
Last on our list, the standard end-of-night closer at the White Lion (and one which will make Tony feel remorseful that he buggered off to Cheltenham this week), Braggart. While John did unspeakable things to princesses in the queen's bedroom and wrestled a cat on the back of his horse covered in oil (no, really), we went digging for the Liar cards which had all hidden themselves at the bottom.
John pulled the ultimate Braggart masterstroke at the end of the game by claiming that he had scored 124 points to my 62 and Becky's 59. Thankfully, I still had an Outrageous Liar card left in my hand, so I'm claiming a moral victory on that one.