Our Friday night games group is a weird beastie.
It is very informal, alternating between our house and our friends’ house. They have two daughters who are not much younger than Biggie, who come over every second Friday and go to sleep on our spare bed, then are woken and taken home at the end of the evening.
We have tended not to go to games at their place on the intervening Fridays, for a couple of reasons:
- Our kids aren’t great at going to bed (and get really cranky when they are woken to be moved).
- Otto is still beyond terrified of animals, and they have a cat and a dog. It feels rude to expect them to shut their animals away or put them outside when we go over, but it is the only opportunity.
Despite this, we decided to give it a go this week.
They were expecting 8 or 9 people this week, so asked us to bring some games that would be suitable for a biggish group. That really means lighter fare from our collection, which suits this group anyway – half the night usually goes in chat before we get a game out. As it happened, there were only 5 of us, but the mood there was firmly in the light camp.
We started out with a game of Incan Gold. Druid and Jane have played this before as Diamant, but it was new to Dave.
Game 1 went quickly (and disastrously for me – but it is one of those games where, once you get behind, you often stay behind). In the final round, I was 5 gems behind Jane and was sure I only needed one more room to equal or better her score – and of course fell victim to the scary voodoo doll.
Jane 41 (winner)
“Let’s go again!” said Dave.
Game 2 was very tight, with Fraser and Jane matching pace with each other right through, and Druid and I valiantly bringing up the rear. At one stage, I commented that he had double my score; “triple!” he replied. We were both still on 0.
Fraser 41 (winner)
Time for one more game before we go on? Of course!
The Druid got a great head start on this cave, scoring about 25 gems from his first foray. By cave 4, we had lost two of the giant spider cards (which led to the third one being mocked by Dave when it came onto the table). Cave 5 – where we all needed desperately to get some points on the table – was sensational: Snake, 2, Rockfall, 5, emasculated giant spider, 1, voodoo dummy, 15, 13, 5, voodoo dummy. Of course, I was still in there till the end – my Diamant strategy usually relies on getting the 17 after everyone else has left. It’s almost as good as the “leave as soon as you get any gems at all” strategy.
Druid 32 (winner).
Our next game was Pickomino, which we bought at the Australian Games Expo last weekend. The game was disastrous as we all lost tiles and worms left, right and centre, and competed over small and relatively valueless tiles. The best moment – described by Dave as a glory of “arse beats class” – was when the Druid was down to 1 die, needing a worm, and managed to roll it. Actually, I lie. The best moment was when Fraser rolled lots of 5s, then a 3, then only 3s and 5s and went bust.
It really was not my night. Everyone enjoyed this one a lot, though, with some surprise at just how nasty it could get.
Dave’s wife and kids arrived to pick him up while we played Pickomino, so we waved him goodbye before sitting down to a final game for the night.
The chosen game was Stack Market, Z-Man’s rerelease of Gra-Gra Company. I played this at Expo, and thought there wasn’t a great deal to it, but it was one of those “fun with the right group of bastards – oops I mean people” games. And it was only $30 so what the heck.
The first thing I noticed was that we – or at least I – played this wrong last time. While you have to set the order for putting the dice on top of the stack, you don’t actually have to put them all on in one go. It’s quite possible that I just missed that rule on the first play.
Important house rule: You may not lick the dice to make them stick. Because, eww.
We had fun playing this game, but there seems to be a lot wrong with it.
- There are some ambiguities in the rules. If there are not enough cubes in the supply, do you need to stack them legally (ie not stack all of them) or can you just stack them in any order? And do you have to stack as many as you can, or can you just put 1 on top and then cut & run?
- It’s too long. One round is not bad, but going beyond that would have felt like 3 separate games. The length doesn’t fit the weight.
- There are too many rules for “a silly dice game”. Maybe that will get better if we play it again, but we all felt that 4 pages of rules is too many.
- The scale marker is wrong! We found that the divisions were bigger than the actual cubes used – we had to count cubes, not use the paper.
We also wondered whether using one hand to steady your arm counts as using 2 hands. Especially when trying to rebuild the 16 or 18 storey skyscraper.
The game (well, the round) finished one Jane’s turn. She and I were in purple company, and our building was now 18 storeys high. Checking the rules for mergers, she quickly decamped to Fraser’s brown company (the smallest company) – a clear vote of no confidence in me.
I made it, though, stacking the 3 little cubes on top of my building. Unfortunately, Jane had collected so much money during the game that she was unbeatable.
Druid rates the game a 4, Fraser a 5-6. I think I’d give it a 6, but not really any higher. That said, it was fun to play.
That was it for games night, so we loaded the girls into the car. It’s incredibly foggy here tonight – on the way out, we drove down Gatehouse Street with Royal Park on the right – knowing that the Children’s hospital was just ahead, but completely unable to see it. Coming home, we came along College Crescent with Princes Park on the left and the Melbourne Cemetery on the right, and estimated that we had between 25 and 30 metres’ visibility.
A game night like this is a bit like fairy floss – fun at the time, but insubstantial. I feel vaguely dissatisfied, and would have liked to play something a bit meatier, even if it was still only light-medium. Still, we have a date for Die Macher on Sunday – so by next week I will probably be craving the light filler games again.
And now? I should probably get to bed. Mum is back in hospital, so the agenda for the weekend is fuller than usual:
- am – get up, go over to parents’ house (20 minute drive if not foggy) to supervise dad having shower & dressing. I’ve had to pike on a BSW double-date for Thurn und Taxis, which sucks rocks. I was looking forward to playing it.
- 11am – gym, training
- Buy pasta for Sunday lunch
- home, housework (house is a disaster, die Macher will be here). Buy a birthday gift for Otto to take to party on Sunday morning. More housework, including investigating why all the clothes that were in the dryer smell burnt (oops!)
- Post jacket to sister-in-law
- 7pm babysit baby niece. No wireless internet, but at least I should be able to get some work done – assuming she really does sleep 🙂
Sunday is not much better.
- Otto is at a birthday party (15 minutes or so away) from 10-12; one of us will really need to stay with her.
- 12.00 is when the die Macher players are arriving (so we can be lunched & set up ready to go by 1).
- Grocery shopping (at some stage).
- Laundry etc – all the usual getting-ready-for-the-week stuff. Having no heating in the bathroom/laundry is a bit of a problem when it comes to drying clothes in winter.
And I really need to catch up with some work this weekend – hopefully Saturday night will be enough.