On 13 November 2008, Matt brought Le Havre and played with Ben, Manuela and Keith for the whole evening, while Nigel, Ian, Damen, Peter H. played Sword of Rome. Simon and André played Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers and then had to wait for Peter C., David, Steve and myself to finish Modern Art.
At that point, we played a game built by Peter C. and developed at the Dunstable Generals wargaming group. It's a race of 4 creatures per player, with everyone throwing debris, stones, and skulls at the other players' creatures, in order to capture them to gain victory points before they finish the race, which also brings in VPs. Good fun! Only André managed to finish the race (with the 1VP figure), but Steve collected the most enemy figures and won (with 18 or 14VP, I can't remember). Then came David and André with 12, Peter C. with 8 and finally me with 7. I had some bad luck with the dice, but I also wasted 4 throws in a row in mid-game: I should have instead waited for the valuable pieces to go through.
Coming back to Modern Art, which I had brought: it's considered one of the best bidding games ever devised and it really drives home the point that things are only as valuable as people make them through supply, demand and... expectations. Basically, each player is a gallery owner putting paintings of different artists for auction. There are different auction types (simultaneous hidden bids, once-around open bids, multiple-round open bids, etc.) and part of the skill in this game is to put the right painting at the right time for sale, using the right auction mechanism. For example, if a certain painter is in high demand, you should offer one of their paintings in a multiple-round open bid (i.e., goes on until all but one player pass) to drive the price up. Each player can buy back the paintings they offered. At the end of each scoring phase, only the 3 most sold painters will get their paintings valued, bringing in money for their owners. The value of each painting will be accumulated with its value in previous phases! The game allows for several clever twists. For example, at one point Peter cunningly played a single double-auction card, in which two paintings of the same painter are simultaneously for sale. Nobody else wanted to add the 2nd painting because it would be the 5th paiting on offer from that painter and, by the rules, that would finish the round, too early for the rest of us. So Peter got the painting he played for free, of which he already had 2 or 3! In the end, he won with 484 monetary units, I came second with 473, Steve had 439 and David 363. To sum up, a very good, tense, exciting, fun game with quite simple rules. Highly recommended!