Oi! Hands off...
With no Becky this week, JP and Ben opened up with a game of Innovation, and by the time we reached Age 5 we had no fewer than four spectators, with Anne, Sam, David and Bill all trying to comprehend the rules. It was about this time that I conceded, after losing all decent 'Scoring' cards on my tableau.
Games for six, hmmm? I had only anticipated five, so my bag full of Princes of Florence, Puerto Rico and Chinatown was next to useless. But luckily, there was one solution lurking near the bottom of the bag: the hitherto-unplayed Eketorp. Wishing I had swotted up on the rules more thoroughly, I dished out the starting pieces, and the opening round resulted in little more than some cynical raised eyebrows. But this is a cleverly emergent little game and it soon became apparent that our men would spend time out of play, resource fields needed second guessing, and that manpower had to be spent on attacking others' castles, and defending our own. Sam won this 38-37-36-27-23.
Flaws? Well, there are some. At 2+ hours, it's much too long with six players, and you can effectively be eliminated if you make a tactical error, as John did about two-thirds of the way through. But Eketorp is perhaps a little more than it first appears - the way that the fight cards gradually improve over the course of the game; the choosing of conflicts alongside your hand-management; and the need to apply forethought to the construction of castles are all indicators of clever design. I would certainly give it another go with 4 or 5.
We still had a goodly hour left, and while foraging about for a decent closer, I tripped over No Thanks, and was frankly amazed to find that no-one else had even heard of it, let alone played this little gem.. I'd never played it with more than five, but there didn't seem to be any reason it couldn't be done. We rationed the 11 tokens each down to 9, and dived straight in. Unnecessary caution meant that I won the first game without having to take a single card, but the rest caught up pretty damn quick, and Bill, Anne and Sam all took a game each.
Six is always a tricky number on game night, and I was certainly ruing not having the opportunity to re-visit Citadels or 7 Wonders. But Eketorp proved there could still be some good games on the bill for a sextet. And No Thanks shows that a bit of improvisation is worthwhile too.