My mother’s being on the road to recovery is, of course, a Good Thing, made even more good by the fact that we can now squeeze the occasional few hours of babysitting out of my parents. Add to this our friends’ daughter who was a flowergirl at our wedding now being in her final year of school & wanting to earn some cash (oh, we are getting old) and my brother and his wife looking for a babysitting swap so they have someone to mind my niece, we actually might start to be able to pretend to a social life soon.
Or, in fact, already.
On Friday night, said ex-flowergirl babysat the girls – we had tickets to see Ying Tong, a play about Spike Milligan’s battle with depression and with his relationship with other Goon Show cast members. I didn’t grow up listening to the Goons like Fraser did, but did read a lot of Spike Milligan’s work and was interested enough to see the play.
I found the first half pretty uninspiring – maybe I am a tough audience (I realised this was the first time I have been to the theatre for at least 3 years) but it seemed that the cast were trying too hard to be the Goons – I was very conscious that they were acting rather than being the characters. After the interval, it was better – possibly because the subject matter was more fanciful and so less tied to ‘reality’. Jonathan Biggins as Peter Sellers really was outstanding.
Verdict: worth seeing, probably more so for die-hard Goons fans.
Celebrating our new-found social whirl, we managed to leave the girls with mum and dad for a few hours on Saturday afternoon so we could go to Eurogamesfest.
Getting there quite late, there were already a few games in session, but Gregor was looking to try the SdJ-winning Zooloretto which (what a coincidence) we had bought and brought. We played a very quick 3 player game which was all over in around half an hour. Gregor squeaked in the victory by only a point or two, thanks mainly (I think) to his over-sexed pandas and consequent filling of all his animal pens.
Verdict: Fun. A good solid family game – it’s easy to see why the SdJjury liked this one. Biggie will enjoy it and I suspect Otto will too. Not one we’ll play consistently with our adult friends but that isn’t what the SdJ is all about. The animal/zoo theme works well.
James and Euan were looking for a game when we finished, so we broke out Notre Dame, still smoking hot for me. This was Fraser’s 3rd game and Gregor’s second, and a first for James and Euan. Naturally, I whipped them.
OK, that last part was wishful thinking.
We all really enjoyed this game, with the threat of rattage hanging over us all. As each round started, someone would excitedly announce that we were at “RAT FACTOR FIVE!” (or three, or four, or whatever) before we started drafting and passing cards. It made for a very fun, friendly and social game – although possibly it was a little noisier than the people at neighbouring tables would have liked. Euan wowed us with his mad coach-moving skillz but sadly failed to adequately staff his hospital, getting plagued several more times than his Parisians would have liked. Gregor exterminated rats like they were carrying disease or something, and Fraser cruised to a convincing victory by balancing his actions and managing his resources. It would have been nice to have beaten him at this game once.
Verdict: Still as much fun as I expected, although I need to concentrate more on the interface after so many online plays. All agreed that Notre Dame is a game that feels heavier than its relatively short playing time – rating high on the game satisfaction meter.
Lastly, we broke out the thematic game of the day. The BGG Gnome is in town, so to make him feel welcome Fraser and I took the Gnome Sex game with us. We played this once (with a friend’s copy) in Albury in 2006 and it had been waiting for its moment.
First off, let me say that anyone who says this game isn’t about sex (“it’s about breeding clay garden ornaments”) is wrong wrong wrong. Whether you are sending your gnome out to stud or seeking a (temporary) mate, this game would be completely socially unacceptable with a different theme. Fortunately, there were gno gnomes to be embarassed so we were free to pimp our gnomes to the highest bidder with abandon and those gnomish shacks were rocking.
The game played quite quickly and was a heap of fun – perhaps more due to the theme than to the (overly complex?) rules. I squeaked in a win by winning a contest with a green gnome and then adding some lucky breeding to trade two green gnomes for the coveted golden gnome.
Verdict: Definitely a game for the weird shelf – a keeper, which will be taken out and played at (in)opportune moments – preferably when the children are out of earshot!
Last game activity for me for the weekend has been translating (for GeekGold) the additional rules in the ProLudo Princes of Florence release. (Translation has been uploaded to BGG and should appear soon).
There are three new sets of rules:
- an official 2-player variant (I think this has unofficially been being played for some time);
- the Muse and Princess rules, which purport to make the game even more strategic and evil; and
- the co-operative building rules, which purport to make the game more friendly.
I’d love to try the two-player set but I’m still making my mind up about Muse and Princess. The new character cards seem to me to have a touch of the Cosmic Encounter about them – when in doubt, add ridiculously overpowered new options – and I’m not sure how they’d affect play. Princes of Florence is so nicely balanced anyway that I tend to think these cards are unnecessary. They add complexity to the game – but part of what I like about Princes is that it is such a simple, elegant game already. Do I really want to add in the chaos factor?
As for the co-operative building rules, I find these a little more intriguing. They’re certainly not just a “nice” way to play Princes of Florence – there’s plenty of nastiness still available there. These might make the game more accessible for some players or game groups – again, I’d like to give them a try. I have a suspicion that they make it easier for an experienced player to dominate over players with more moderate numbers of plays under their belt.
My money (and perfect 10 score) is still on the base game.