Ben Bateson(ousgg)United Kingdom
Ross-on-WyeOi! Hands off...
The usual four faces this week - indeed Tony wondered if ANYONE else was ever going to come and play games with us again. If you're reading this in Hereford, Malvern, Monmouth, Ledbury or Gloucester, c'mon - have a drive up to Wilton Bridge one week and at least introduce us to some new faces!
Lacking any other suitable 'opener' material, Becky, JP and I kicked off with Can't Stop, the interminable dice-rolling 'classic'. John promptly put himself out of contention by failing to get a piece on the board in his first three turns, and Becky threw 11s all game to sew it up.
Boydell had by now arrived and was ruminating on pork scratchings and the possibility of playing Divinare. Selling it to Becky on the basis that 'it's a bit like Fiji and Botswana' was a no-brainer, those being two of her favourites. It didn't help her gather more than a paltry six points, though, as Tony narrowly pipped John 18-17.
I like Divinare a lot. Yes, it is more than a little derivative of those other two great games, but it's a happy and logical theme with quite gorgeous presentation. I can't see it working with any fewer than 4, though.
Moving on, Tony's boxes'o'prototypes hadn't had a good dusting off for several weeks, and Guilds of London won out over Snowdonia. I suppose we can barely even call Snowdonia a prototype any more.
Guilds is an intriguing combination of area control and hand-management, all centred neatly around the historical Livery Companies of Olde Londonne Toun. Like Snowdonia, the game will go to the player who best synergises their end-game bonus cards, and these are mostly gained by controlling guilds or exporting your liveryman to some godforsaken plantation. It's a game I've enjoyed very much in the past, but not tonight, where a combination of freakishly bad card draws and not changing my plans in about round 3 when Tony started blocking me meant that I spent three quarters of the game not doing very much. I'd say myself, Tony and the cards split the blame about a third each, which - given that Tony designed the cards - means he's about 66% responsible for boring me silly for an hour and a half. But, given that I got JP to make concessions that Cuba might not be all that bad, and Tony had admitted that Elfenland could be worth another play, I shall gladly accede to more games of Guilds in the future, and this time make sure I am more flexible with my strategy.
Competing by this time with Danny Welbeck's goal, and a party of itinerant women who were playing some god-awful version of Fish with the deck of cards I'd loaned them, we moved onto John's offering: the little-known German oddity of Eschnapur. It's an odd thing: part free-for-all auction, and part Tikal-like treasure recovery, but despite a lot of randomness and a quite silly catch-up mechanism, it is quite fun. After a couple of re-readings of the endgame rules, I discovered I had won this, which eased my Guild-induced woes and made it one game apiece for the night. Fair do's. Fair do's.