Oi! Hands off...
Well, no new Dorns, really, but a couple of real classics tonight and a chance for me to sing the praises of my favourite Euro-designer.
Everything Rüdiger Dorn has produced has brought nods of appreciation and contentment at Ross-on-Wye. Whether it be the intricate and beautiful Louis XIV, the beautiful 2-player economy of Jambo, or the crazy card-battling of Gargon, he has never failed to delight. Tonight's main events were to play host to his undoubted masterwork and a secondary but no less clever and intelligent game.
Having been moaned at in the past for not properly waiting Boydell's arrival, Ben Aly and JP opted for the quick starter of Skirrid, one of the multitude of unremarkable abstracts released during the dinner-party craze of the 1970s. Skirrid bears more than a passing resemblance to Blokus, but with the added strategy twist of additional blockage. I suspect three players was one too many, but the final scores were more than satisfactory, finishing 162-161-160 in my favour!
With Tony safely instilled into the pub, we broke out an ongoing favourite, and my all-time Number One, Goa. I can see where the naysayers might complain about Goa's multiplayer-solitaire aspects, but that is virtually negated by the gorgeous economic and spatial battle which takes place during the auction phases. Aly quickly latched onto some deep strategy by denying Tony colonies in certain colours as well - all most satisfactory.
The game went this way and that: Tony gobbling up Actions that he didn't know what to do with and Aly producing a veritable conveyor of spice production. But experience does tell with this one; I shelled out a small fortune on the '3 expedition cards tile' and capitalised on being allowed two cheap purchases on the final auction by wringing 7 more VPs out of them. I barely needed the set of four expedition cards which I had been patiently building since round one.
With Tony receiving a premature bidding to expulsion (Karen tells me this is not unprecedented), the rest of us took to Arkadia. I've not played this Tetris-cum-stockmarket game anywhere near as much as Goa, but it is fast becoming apparent that it is every bit as clever; the levels of manipulation are massively interactive, and even with a moderate level of AP it plays out in well under an hour. In the fullness of time, I can see this game being a contender for my Top Ten.
No matter what my level of appreciation, I lost by an absolute country mile, the final scores being something like 118-116-76 in John's favour. I'd tried to play a bit too clever and predict the long-term market: a move which blew up spectacularly in my face, especially when allied with my failure to cash in my banners fast enough.
Arkadia is remarkable, interactive and subtle; Goa is rich, economic and absorbing. I can't think of a pair of games which would pass three hours more satisfactorily. And the fact that they're both from the same designer, a designer who gets in touch with his fans, answers questions and provides updates on BGG on a regular basis, is the coup de gras*.
Let's hear it for Rüdiger Dorn!