Oi! Hands off...
As a festive treat, a quickfire double-blogging from the Marches.
With space at a premium, we found ourselves re-positioned to a chilly window-side table this week, although the apparent unwillingness of anyone to come through the doors of the White Lion after - say - about 9pm meant no-one was shivering too much.
Four again this week, with Dave supplanting Becky: again down with the dreaded winter virals. High Society was my selection to start, mostly because JP seems to enjoy it so much while being completely and utterly useless at it. Dave and Gordon crinkled their brows through the explanation, but settled into playing like the seasoned pros they undoubtedly are. The first game went right through the deck, John spending ludicrous amounts of money to disqualify him from winning, and handing a close-run thing to Dave. Playing again seemed like an obvious idea, and once again John spent nearly all his money straight away. And once again, Dave won.
This was looking like it might get monotonous, so we opted for heavier fare in the form of Troyes. And what a great game it was: Dave found a bijou little combo in building the cathedral for lots of points early on, although he repeatedly found himself on the wrong end of having no influence, John beat up all sorts of event cards for a consistent flow of points, Gordon pottered about doing bits and pieces, and I sacrificed men in the buildings for men on the event cards (going down to a ludicrous 2 dice at one point). With a fairly benign set of events, we were blessed with enough money that the stock ran out at one point and were all free to pursue assorted strategies. However, the secret character cards were a decider, John picking up the maximum bonus off my 'King John' card, after I had been forced to abandon it. I tied for second with Gordon, with Dave not too far behind after we had all had a go at disrupting his white-dice engine. All told, it was another thoroughly enjoyable, interactive and intense game of Troyes, and I may have to be looking at up-rating it again soon.
To close out the night, we had the perfect number to investigate my latest home-made project, The Big Time. For those who are unfamiliar with it, and I expect it will be many, this is bafflingly brilliant take on a blind-bidding game, where the players take the roles of music-hall owners from the 'golden age' of theatrics, and send their agents out with some cash to pick up some jobbers and a premier act (the jobbers go on stage once before being shuffled back into the deck, but the headliner stays in your 'Hall Of Fame' and earns points throughout). The various types of acts are adjusted upwards if they appear in the best show, and downwards if they appear in the worst show, and then everyone scores their playbill (the cards do actually form a proper playbill on your play-mat) and Hall Of Fame. Rinse and repeat a few times. Oh, and the (allegedly genuine historical) acts are mostly hilarious and delightfully illustrated...
We really enjoyed The Big Time, which is unusual, because home-grown affairs are normally met at our table with suspicion, even if it did involve letting John get an unassailable lead during Round 1 while we were still finding our feet. This is one I hope will see the table again.