Monday night I finally managed to get to Paul's games night. He's cancelled a few weeks due to illness, and on the occassions that he did hold it, I've had to cry off for various reasons. It was great to be back. Paul's still not back to his usual self, and due to new babies and various other reasons we were down a few regulars, so it was just Paul, Greg, Vin and I.
While we waited for Vin to arrive, we played a couple of games of Hey! That's My Fish! with Paul's wife Lisa joining in. Lisa, is very much in the vein of The Wife, i.e. she won both games convincingly. Still, despite being soundly whooped, I love this game. It's so quick and simple, and yet there's a surprising amount of strategic depth, with every move from the initial placement of penguins onwards being a wealth of options, and each of those options begetting more options in a very wide decision tree. Once you factor in the chance to screw your opponents out of fish, and the gut-wrenching decisions caused by only being able to move one penguin each turn, it's a fast and very fun game. The only real downside is the ludicrous box size in relation to the contents. It's a very wasteful box, both in terms of raw materials and space, and with my environmental concerns and tiny flat that might be enough to put me off buying it.
When Vin arrived we had another quick game of Hey! That's My Fish! This was the scene of two awful puns:
He's really ice-olated
I'm hard of herring
These set the scene for the rest of the evening - silly and entertaining :-) Coupled with Vin's choice of music (he had DJ rights due to his imminent birthday), I also received an education - even if none of us could agree on the genre of the bands. Final scores for H!TMF!: Lisa 29, Paul 28, Greg 21, Me 20; Lisa 34, Greg 23, Paul 21, Me 18; Me 29, Greg 22, Paul 20, Vin 20.
The second game of the night was Masons. This was the second time I had played, but that didn't help much, after a slow start for Paul, I soon dropped into last place, but through frantic swapping of cards (a catch-up mechanism only available to the losing players) I managed to get a couple of decent cards for the final scoring round, and ended up acquitting myself respectably, if not admirably. I like Masons, but it doesn't grab me as an excellent game - it'll be interesting to see how that changes with more plays. Final scores: Greg 147, Paul 137, Me 133, Vin 121.
We wrapped up the evening with a game of Niagara. This was only my second game of Niagara, and again I really enjoyed it. Very quick and fun, with some really innovative mechanics and gimmicks. This time I could play more strategically, and I really enjoyed trying to second guess my opponents. I nearly won, but Paul managed to stop me by stealing my gems. In the next turn he had to do it again to Greg to stop him winning, but then Greg won the turn after anyway. Final scores: Greg one of each, Paul 6, Me 4, Vin 4.
Another great night of games - no new games this time, but some really good ones I'd played before, in the company of friends - an evening well spent. Plus, as an added bonus, I scrounged a lift from Greg this week, so I was able to have a beer - bonus!
In other news, Yehuda recommends a very interesting article on The Journal of Board Game Design considering Board Game Designers as auteurs. I can say without a doubt I don't consider myself an auteur - with a body of work of one published game there's no opportunity for common themes, mechanics or artistic statements throughout my output. Or 100%, depending on your outlook - either way I'm not one.
In addition, last night Dave came round for games again last night. We played the first public game of his game design, plus some more Space Hulk. Session Report up tomorrow.