Erkka and Robert were first to arrive, so we kicked the session off with two games of Da Vinci Code. It’s a good game and really a good choice for the club. It’s easy to learn (even learning by reading the rules is quick and easily done), plays fast and despite being kind of lucky, offers some thinking, too. It’s kind of cerebral quickie, really.
We played two games and unfortunately I didn’t win either one. Erkka and Robert both won once and I think they liked the game. However, at least Robert felt the dashes introduced too much luck. While they make cracking the code a little bit harder, they might give too much benefit for the lucky player who draws them. Perhaps they shouldn’t be used.
As I didn’t have Geschenkt yet, I had to improvise. I took cards from 6 Nimmt and some glass beads and hey, off we went. We played a three-player game and then Ilari joined us, eager to try the game. Everybody liked it. I just wish I’d get a proper copy, I’d prefer that to a "pirated" copy. Playing with hidden tokens, by the way, improved the game. I think that’s the official rule, too — we had that wrong in HelCon. It doesn’t matter much, I like the game both ways, but hiding the tokens adds to the delightful uncertainty of the game.
Next up was the only new game this time: the infamous Intrige. Others hadn’t heard of it — pity them — so everybody was willing to play it. I told them it is called one of the most evil games in existence, but only after we had played a while. We had a full set of five players, which I think is necessary to play the game.
Oh boy it was fun! I wasn’t sure if it’s my kind of game, but it was. I just love the trash-talking involved. In general it’s not good to offer too much advice to other players (especially if the advice is also helping the adviser), because that turns every game to Diplomacy and that just isn’t fun, unless everyone likes it. Most games are much better if they’re not made into negoating games, really. That’s why it’s so fun to have a game, where all that advising and talking rubbish is actually encouraged.
I managed to annoy Ari right away. He gave me a 10k job, when I promised him the same treatment he would give to me. Well, I did give him the 1k job, but that’s because he was planning to stab me next turn, giving his 10k job to Erkka. Turn two, and I already have a mortal enemy. It didn’t go much better for the rest of the game, really. That can be seen in the results: I had 80k, others had 110k, 118k and 124k while Ilari got 171k — his last two income phases brought in 42k each. There was some last-turn kingmaking going on, we had a healthy beat-the-leader attitude throughout the game (and very unhealthy beat-Mikko attitude in the early game).
Even though I lost by a large margin, I had lots of fun. Intrige is a very good game, but it takes the right crowd. If people are prone to bear grudges or take nasty game moves personally, Intrige is the wrong game to play. At least these guys kept all the hatred inside the game, which is the right way to play the game. Actually, I’d find it quite immature, if someone would get mad at me because I betrayed them while playing Intrige. Intrige might be nasty, but such things happen in other games, too, every now and then.
The worst thing about Intrige is, come to think of it, the way how you can get screwed for really no reason at all. For a whim. When you are stabbed in Diplomacy, it stings, but if it’s well done, it’s easy to take; you can even admire a skillful stab. Then again, pointless stabbing just makes the other guy look bad. In Intrige, the reasoning behind a betrayal is less substantial. There are no armies on the map conquering supply centers — it’s just someone’s conception of who’s leading the game or what’s his or her best choice. Good positions in someone else’s palace, future job applicants, history of betrayals, all the fuzzy things that matter. It’s much harder to say if a betrayal was a good move or not. It’s immediately a lot more personal.
And if you can’t handle that, you won’t enjoy Intrige. It’s that simple. Even if you can handle it, it might not be fun. Ari didn’t like the game, that was obvious. I’m not sure if he would’ve played the game, had he known what was coming. Robert also said it was the last time he would play the game, but he found the experience interesting. Don’t know about Erkka, but Ilari enjoyed the game and will play again, I believe. And I’m certainly looking forward to playing the game again and I’m quite happy to have the game in my collection.
After that we went Mafia and played Don. After my bad experiences in Helcon, I wanted to try it again. Now we had four players and correct rules and it was much better. We actually played two games in a row, which is fairly rare (but not this time, for we had several good, short games). I still won’t rate the game higher than seven, but that’s a steady improvement. Actually, if I ran into it with a good price, I might buy it. The nice coins alone are a good excuse to buy it.
Then we played some more Geschenkt with different people and belive me I did well! In the first game I scored -10, which in my experience is a very good score. But it was the next game that really blew the top off: I had just one card (26) to score and 40 tokens! 14 points, positive! Amazing. I did have luck with the cards — in the end I had a straight run from 26 to 32. I made good fortune while taking those cards! Usually such a long run is cut short, but with such large numbers, nobody was willing to take the hit for common good. Just one card off my series would’ve dropped me to negative points. Still, it was a wonderful game.
I took my El Grande, which I hadn’t played in ages. Robert had similar revival feelings and we got a game going on. We had just four players, but hey, it’s a good game with four as well. With three, it’s charm begins to diminish. Now, it was great fun, especially since it was such a long time from the last game. Robert got a lead in the first scoring round and pretty much kept it throughout the game. Not enough beat-the-leader, I suppose. The struggle for power was fun, even though I came in third. At least I had a healthy margin over Erkka… Small comfort.
To close the evening we played a game of St. Petersburg. Olli hadn’t played it before, so he was eager to try it. I think he played really well for a newbie, he wasn’t even last. I was. But it was close! Three of us were within five points (70, 73, 75) while Robert got amazing 103 points. Collecting lots of aristocrats, as usual, made the difference.
Summa summarum, it was a very good afternoon. Lots of good new games (very fresh, if not completely new) and a good oldie. What’s more to ask?