'Short games' session

Tonight was the 6th and last Formula Dé championship race, with Ben, Chris, Damen, Nigel, Paul B. and Steve playing. Paul had been leading the championship for five races. The last dice rolling gave Chris the victory of the race (10 points) and Paul came second (7 points). This meant Chris won the championship by 1 point! One can't wish for a more dramatic ending than that. Poor Paul... At some point someone said that Damen was about to drop from his 5th position and Peter H. asked to repeat it, just for the pleasure of hearing it again 😊 The bantering, especially between Peter, Damen, and Matt, has been a good part of the fun at sessions and in e-mails for the past months. I sometimes feel it gets too sarcastic, but what do I know about British humour...?

I had proposed by e-mail for those not participating in the F1 championship to do something unusual and play several short games, instead of the usual long game. Only Big Nick took up the idea and brought a whole batch of games. The others (David, Matt, Peter H. and André) decided to go for Pillars of the Earth, which David won with 43 points, Peter and Matt tied with 42 points, and André had 39. Now that's a close game! They then played one of Nick's games, I forgot which.

box coverNick, Peter C. (who came after Pillars had started), and I started with a game of Vabanque I brought. Neither Nick nor Peter knew the game, so I explained the rules. The game involves first betting money at certain casino tables, then playing cards secretly (i.e. face down) to increase the stakes or placing our cheater at certain tables, and then optionally moving our player, preferably to a table with a high payoff but with the risk of a cheater lurking there and taking our earnings away. The game is a constant outguessing of what the others intend to do, which card is where, and how to try to maximize our earnings. Easier said than done. It's the kind of psychological game I enjoy very much (in spite of being rather bad at playing them). It plays relatively quickly, and provides great fun, when the cards are tuned face up and the big payoffs or losses are determined. In the end, Peter won with £310,000 (of which £220,000 won in the last round!), Nick came second with £225,000 and I came last with £215,000. I think Peter and Nick enjoyed the game, but I whether if enough to play it again in the future.

box coverWe next played Eketorp. I was the only one who hadn't played it before. It's a game were Vikings do what they're good at: fighting. In this case, for resources to build walls around their villages. The better the materials used to build the walls, the more points at the end. The game has several interesting mechanics, for example the exchange of cards after a battle. In that way, the beaten player gets the card that has beaten him and can use it later in the game. A very nice balancing mechanism. The rule that in case of a tie both players involved in a battle lose, makes for great fun. You just watch the others fight for a resource, both lose, and the resource becomes yours! I really don't understand why this game has such relatively low ratings on BoardGameGeek. I must confess one of the reasons I liked the game is because I won, with 42 points; Peter had 32 and Nick finished with 26. I managed to collect several walls of grass without battle, while Peter and Nick were fighting for wood and stone. This enabled me to finish my village wall first, thereby ending the game and getting 5 extra points.

box coverNext we played Powerboats, an interesting race game (with 3-sided dice!) where you have some restrictions on the move of your boat, but can somehow control the speed of it by adding or taking away one of your dice and re-rolling a subset of the other ones. Some careful planning is necessary, because you're racing within a lake full of islands, and you don't want to crash into them.  The game consists of three races, each being worth N more points than the previous one, where N is the number of players. Peter won with 8 points, I had 6, Nick 4. Although I liked the game, I don't think I shall play it again: the pleasure/duration balance is skewed towards the latter, i.e. it doesn't provide enough fun for the time spent, whereas in Vabanque or Eketorp there is always tension, laughter, surprise throughout the game, even if you're just waiting for the others to decide.

box coverFinally, at 10.30, we started a game of PitchCar (the mini version) I brought. Peter C. had to leave, so Nick and Paul B. had a go. We were already half-way through the first lap, when the other table (André, David, Matt and Peter H.), finishing their game and seeing us play, decided to join just for the fun. I had started the race and managed to keep my lead throughout the 3 laps, although at times Nick came perilously close. We all had quite good fun, with lots of clumsy shots from all of us — Peter used the word 'pathetic' to describe an attempt by Matt.

I can't speak for others, but I certainly had a terrific session: played four different games, two of them new to me, and won two of them. A great way to finish a gaming year full of good sessions!

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