Mal's down for the weekend, and the first order of play was some Border Reivers. Mal has played the game more than anyone but me, we had a series of games over several weeks in 2004 where we must have played nearly 20 games against each other - he knows the mechanics very well, and knows when to use the subterfuge cards to cause the most carnage.
I was keeping an eye on the length of the games to check that the time estimates I have are realistic, and I was also interested to know whether the game was usually won by one of the two mechanisms (by collecting cash or by annihilating your opponents).
We played four games over the afternoon, ranging between 20 and 45 minutes in length. Mal and I each won two and we each won one by accumulating cash, and one by annihilation :-).
I think I was most pleased with the variety of the games, we laid out 4 very different boards, and the resulting play was very different as we choose new strategies to capitalise on the board layout and the unexpected ploys of our opponents. We had some great battles to control the mine, and yet in other games the mine was hardly used. In some games the really nasty 'Insurrection' card came out, in others we used less aggressive cards like 'Reiving Party' to lure our opponents into the jaws of a trap. The card that got the most usage was the 'Market' which we agreed (and Mal had spotted ages ago!) trumped the 'Military Academy' and 'Guildhouses' cards. With that in mind, we discussed some new rules for the 'Military Academy' and 'Guildhouses' which makes them a more attractive proposition, I'll need to play test those new rules soon, but conceptually they sound like a winner - bringing some interesting new decisions to the reinforcements phase.