This was our first meeting back at the Jockey after the fire, so some of us met up before the start to try their new menu. The first to arrive we’re early, so played a quick game of Hive. This is a game we’ve messed about with before, but not actually played within the group (though the players this evening were quite experienced). The game is often compared to Chess because the pieces are Black and White and different pieces have different characteristics in the way they move. Although much of the thinking is similar, the theme is insects and there is no board, so it is perfect for transporting and playing in the pub. The first game was won by Black, so a rematch was called for. This time the Ladybug expansion was added, but the result was the same – a second win for Black.
By this time, more people had arrived so orders were placed and food arrived and duly consumed to everyone’s satisfaction. We were still expecting more people, so after food we had a quick game of Marrakech. This is a strange little game about carpets, played on a board made of a grid with coloured strips of fabric representing carpet. Basically, on their turn, players can choose to rotate the wooden character called Assam by 90 degrees, before the roll the die and move Assam the appropriate number of squares. Players then lay a piece of their coloured fabric covering two squares, one of which must be adjacent to Assam. When Assam moves, if he lands on a square covered with carpet, then the active player pays the owner of the carpet; the amount paid is dependent on the contiguous area covered by that colour. The nature of the game means it swings to and fro, however, it felt quite tight, so much so that when two players finished with the same score, it seemed they must share victory, until Blue reported her score that is…
Next up was Mammut. This is a funny sharing game that (amongst other things) features the incongruity that is the sabre-tooth duck. The idea is that on their turn players can either take any number of prey tiles from the central pool or take all the tiles from one other player, retuning at least one to the centre. Thus, you have to be careful what you take because if another player thinks you have been greedy or you have tiles they want, they may get stolen! The round ends when everyone has tiles and there are no tiles left in pool, and players score points depending on who has the most or least of the different types prey. Yellow and Blue made a good early showing, but Blue soon struggled and Red, Green and Purple all began to compete strongly. Coming into the final round Yellow was clearly in a good position with Green and Blue languishing at the back. With the final round of scoring, Blue surged forwards only to be overtaken by Purple who picked up a lot of points. Despite her valiant efforts though, Yellow just pipped her to the win by just one point.
The last game of the night was our “Feature Game” which was Mascarade. This is a relatively short game of bluffing that also challenges the memory. Each player is initially dealt a character card face up. Players study the cards and try to remember who has which card before they are all turned face down and play begins. Players take it in turns to either swap cards with another player, look at their own card, or declare their character in a bid to perform the associated action. Since swaps are done in secret under the table, all certainty quickly goes, so when a player declares their character it is not always obvious whether they are right. If a player is unchallenged, they perform the associated action without revealing their card. If, on the other hand, another player thinks the declaration is incorrect, they may claim they are that character instead, in which case, the cards belonging to all claimants are revealed and anyone who is wrong pays a fine.
This was a new game to all of us, but once we got going it was a lot of fun with a lot of confusion as cards were swapped (or not). At one point, Green bought Yellow’s dummied swap for Blue’s “Cheat” card and decided he also fancied the “Cheat” so traded with Yellow. Blue then traded with Purple, so when Green declared he was the Cheat, Purple challenged – the confusion on Green’s face was a picture! In the confusion, Blue capitalised and collected the last three coins she needed to win.
Learning Outcome: Don’t try to cheat a Cheat!