Oi! Hands off...
Given that today seems to be 'think up a dumb-ass variant for a game you clearly don't know very much about day' (a trend sorrowfully profligate on the Agricola and Domnion fora that I frequent), it seems like a good time to be writing the blog. And, to be honest, it'll need some stretching out after last Friday was unfortunately curtailed by the whimsies of the South-Western electricity board.
It all started amiably enough: JP, Gordon and I declared our ambitions to celebrate St Andrew's Day with a Scottish game. We mistakenly passed over the excellent Glen More for a lesser offering, that of Highland Clans. This was a game that almost definitively failed to excite any of the three of us, with the rounds of meaningless cube-drawing, inconsequential actions, and card-driven combat. Tony, as is his wont, turned up too late to get involved at the beginning but not early enough for us to jack it in and play something else.
The finickity scoring for Highland Clans is something of an inconvenience, but it was made all the more so when we were plunged into darkness during the final round. After ten minutes of banter, it became clear that power might well not be regained any time soon, so we retired initially to my house (2 minutes up the road) and then shortly - once I realised that Becky had locked me out* - to John's (another 20 minutes up the road). Our main event thus kicked off a little later than planned, at about 9:15.
But a main event is always worth it when some Agricola is involved, and the occasion seemed ideal to christen my new (thanks Santa!) copy of the Belgium Deck (mixed 50-50 with vanilla E-deck).
I wasn't terribly impressed by the Belgium cards on first flick-through, but I happened upon two pretty strong ones: the Chaplain (place a family member out of turn when someone else takes family growth) and the Travel Agent (take 1 Grain/Wood/Clay/Reed/Sheep off this card when the Start Player changes hands). The real spoiler, though, was the Educational Building, which raised some eyebrows when I used it once in round 6 for 4W3S and brought positive howls of dismay when I used it again in round 9 for 3W2S. No acknowledgement of the fact that it had cost me 2C1R AND two action placements, of course.
Meanwhile, Tony built up his usual Kitchen Showroom, fuelled by a Grocer and a now-predictable Grain-baking strategy, but bottled things when faced with a food crisis. JP found a strong card or two but was held back by a lack of fences at the end, and Gordon did pretty well for a self-confessed 'beginner who hasn't played for 18 months', although a general unwillingness to play occupations didn't really help.
My 'obviously stronger' combo brought me an 'obviously a better player' win of (somewhere in the region of) 36-33-31-24. And that was pretty much the night over - everyone fancying some early leave in favour of warm beds: my unaccustomed chilliness being a forewarning of the bout of salmonella that struck about 24 hours later. Now THAT's a door you don't need to open on the 1st of December...
* Not due to any impending marital crisis, but more due to the fact that she had dropped me off at the pub and taken her keys elsewhere, leaving mine impotently dangling from the key-hook in the kitchen.