Flash is the thing. I've forgot all nonsense about faster lenses. Flash (and particularly bounce flash) is the way to get nice photos in bad light. I took the Speedlite with me today and it worked well, now that I had an environment with a low white ceiling.
Age of Steam Expansion: California Gold Rush & Underground Railroad
The second photo has a little too short depth-of-field. I was shooting in P mode, so no control over aperture or shutter speed. I should probably give manual mode a go with flash, because this photo could've used more area in focus. Still, it's not bad. The first one gets some nice facial expressions.
Not a particularly excellent shot, but overview shots of String Railway rarely are. Just wanted to document the game...
The first one uses the Toy Camera effect that's so popular these days. I'm a bit conflicted about the effect, but here it gave some oomph to a photo that has a nice idea, but was a bit flat. The guys still lack some contrast, so it's not as good as it could be (but I'm not sure if it could be much better without some Photoshop work). This photo took the longest to pass by GeekMod, by the way.
I like the second photo a lot, I think it has a nice atmosphere. I gave it some vignetting, too. It looks much better larger on a black background, like here.
The rather awful wall works well as a background for the first shot. The second is more documentary - look at the humongous tower we built. The 2:3 dimensions (as opposed to 3:4 of non-wide screens and compact cameras) are an advantage here. Both photos are of course cropped from originals - just about every published photo gets some cropping and Aperture's Auto-Enhance, they rarely make a photo worse - and actually the first photo was a landscape photo before cropping (that's why you always shoot the most megapixels your camera can get, I can crop a lot and still get 10 megapixels or so).
My lens plans are now back to square one. I don't need a faster lens, instead I'll try to learn some flash technique.
My next lens purchase is most likely the Canon EF-S 10-22 mm. It gives me interesting focal lengths I don't currently get, and I've heard rave reviews of it from many sources (Ken Rockwell, for example). It's of less interest in board game photography, I guess, except to take oddly distorted photos of everybody playing the game. That just might be fun.
Later on I probably want a f/2.8 zoom lens, but Rockwell just reviewed the cheap Tamron f/2.8 lens and he claims the VC in the lens doesn't work in fast action (like when photographing kids, which is my other main photography interest), so it'd probably have to be the Canon lens, which costs about 1 000 euros. It's darn expensive, even though I can avoid the VAT if my company buys the lens (and it sure does).
I suppose I should get a telephoto lens at some point as well, but which one and when are very much open questions at this point.
I do realize putting more money in better optics isn't going to pay off as much as focusing on improving my skills, which is another reason why I'm not rushing to buy that f/2.8 zoom lens.