Ben Bateson(ousgg)United Kingdom
Ross-on-WyeOi! Hands off...
Apparently I get accused of letting the side down when I don't write my blog every week, so here's the traditional quickfire Herefordshire double-offering.
My plans to introduce Anne and Sam to Saint Petersburg tonight were substantially enhanced when Bill turned up out of the blue and made a happy foursome (Becky being down with the lurgy, Tony being in Essen, and John being mysteriously elsewhere).
Bill had played before, so my need for another rules explanation was lessened, and we dived in. Anne and Sam both took heed of my strategy advice ("whatever you do, for God's sake don't run out of money") and were looking competitive. Bill loaded up on aristocracy, but I had a fast run at a couple of Hospitals early and strolled out. Anne put together a balanced layout, just to be pipped at the last by Bill's drawing room full of snobs. And Sam had the worst of the layout and was unlucky not to see more affordable cards. All pronounced themselves pleased with this staple favourite of the Ross-on-Wye table.
Having re-acquainted Sam - and indeed ourselves - with the English pub classic of pork scratchings, we de-boxed Cuba, a game with which everyone had small experience which needed to be expanded upon. And indeed, what a cracking game we had. Other than Anne's blunder in the first round ("What? These crops go off?"), it was lean and tight and a thoroughly fine gaming experience - once we had recompensed Anne with a couple of lost tobacco hexes as a Beginners' Bonus!
Sam went for the pure VP route, raking in at least three from every Foreman. Anne went heavy tobacco, based on the early ships, and - despite being sat to her left, so did I. Bill generally pottered about and made agonised thinking noises, which we've found are a constant source of high-quality entertainment when playing Cuba. I thought I had it sewn up with a couple of neatly-timed plays in rounds 3-5, but it all unravelled somewhat in the final round, and Sam picked up some excellent Law cards for a win by a point or two.
This was as fine a gaming experience as I've had in the White Lion all year, and to think Cuba only cost me £7.99 in last year's infamous 'The Works' sale. It really does come highly recommended.
Time had ebbed away once again, and we just had time for a short closer, my choice being the lovely Der Weg Der Steine which we had christened a few weeks earlier and which was still in residence in my games caddy. Perhaps it was a mite more silly with four, but everyone still had plenty to do and difficult decisions to make. As expected, Sam proved to have the right mathematical mind to penetrate a Knizia, and walked away with an economical two-stack win.
Two great games this week, plus one pretty good mini-game. Who needs Essen?