Oi! Hands off...
This week was 'cheer up Tony' night. The poor old fella had been looking a bit down in the dumps recently, what with a near car-crash and a whole bunch of games which he found merely humdrum. So, tonight, we pledged to play whatever he wanted. In fairness, the prospect of a forthcoming EssenSpiel had cheered him up somewhat, but I'd like to think that Ross-on-Wye's good old brand of cheeriness helped send him on his way.
Bill and Ben were in before Tony, and with all goodwill, we embarked on a game of Coppertwaddle. Our first game was a bit of a flat affair, and because Tony still hadn't arrived, we sought the more reassuring arena of San Juan.
I really like this scaled-down Puerto Rico, not least because there is a lot of cleverness attached to the timing of various roles, and it tends to go down well on all occasions; in fact, I may well recommend this as a perfect gateway game. Leastways, I got a Chapel built early, and Bill's desperate building rush failed to dent it. And, more importantly, our minor-celebrity of the evening had arrived.
After a brief and involving chat on the nature of Dominion, CCGs and TCGs, we embarked on a teaching game of Coppertwaddle, and one at which Bill drew the cards to win emphatically. I'm not denying there is a lot of clever card-comboing and hand-management to Coppertwaddle, but it does seem to be draw-reliant and more importantly dependent on your deck knowledge and experience. The game has got undeniable draw appeal but isn't accessible enough within the first half-dozen games to be a hit. Sorry, Tony.
Familienbande seemed to be a suitable filler before Becky turned up from her bellringing practice. It proved to be a suitably frustrating game, with Ben holding back his best cards in a deductive effort and ultimately edging the win. All parties agreed this was the sort of game we should play more of.
With Becky's impending arrival, Tony surprisingly turned down Agricola in favour of Modern Art, a real class act which he doesn't get the chance to play enough elsewhere. I really lament the lack of popularity of this classic game, even to the extent of it recently dropping out of the Top 100: it is difficult to name a game with the similar blend of tension and economics. Personally, I still prefer my slight variant, playable with the Modern Art card game, but the full version is awesomely full of tension. Tony won this one with a good market manipulation in round 2.
Being in the mood for light, simple games (a mood to which we all subscribe on Friday nights), Tony opted for Gargon, a curiously oblique and awkward card game at which he did uncharacteristically badly. This one came down to a close-run thing between Bill and Ben, although Ben's pick-up of a great deal of the zero cards led into an inquisition of the fairness of the game in general.
Finishing off with Braggart, this proved to be a game at which Becky is far too naturally adept. Amid tales of dressing up as three wizards (simulataneously?) and making sex toys for the King, she emerged as the class act as telling lies to three men. There may be a lesson to be learned here...