Ben Bateson(ousgg)United Kingdom
Ross-on-WyeOi! Hands off...
JP and Ben were first setting-to tonight, and we opened with a brief Pocket Battles, which Ben was forced to concede after the brute force of John's Romans overwhelmed him in the centre. Bill had arrived by then and after a little dabbling trying to work out whether Tony would show up (he didn't), we decided to cross another game off my New Years' list.
Royal Palace was our choice, and what an inspired one it turned out to be. The lesser-known previous work from the designer of Troyes is stylishly decorated, and deceptively simple. But keeping your aristocrats in the right place at the right time is tricky work, and the fact that the palace tiles can be randomly distributed adds a whole load of subtle twists. We thought John had pinched this one after we didn't block him from the tie-break space quickly enough, but I made a thunderous double-purchase near the end and hung on through card-draws for a win.
There was a lot of enthusiasm for this one, and I'm sure it's going to hit the table again soon. John thought it would be excellent with four, but I suspect it might make a very substantial two-player game. I enjoyed it more than Troyes (which, don't get me wrong, is a very fine game on it's own merits) as well.
With Becky expected back from duties at the theatre (dramatic, not surgical) any time, we attempted a filler in the shape of Haste Bock: the sophisticated twin brother of Shear Panic. The swiftness of this filler wasn't really helped by the fact that I'd forgotten nearly all the rules and the booklet was in typical Fragor 'unhelpful but amusing' style. It went down better than I thought, with much delight being expressed at the sheep figurines. Bill played something of a coup de gras* in Phase 3 and was uncatchable thereafter.
Becky sighed her way through the latter half of this one. She doesn't like any games that remind her of chess, so it's not easy to get this one off the shelves. I'm glad I did; it deserves the occasional outing and plays reasonably swiftly too.
To finish off (and let Becky play something), we dug out the little-known card game John Silver. And it proved to be yet another searching challenge. Rather similar to Turn The Tide, it has an interesting twist which means about a quarter of your scorepile has to be passed left before scoring, and that you can dump bad cards on other people with a bit of foresight. Sounds confusing? Well, it wasn't to Bill, who proceeded to thrash us. But it was the third straight game which appeared a great deal more unprepossessing than it actually was: definitely a night for big games in small boxes.