Chris was getting ready for Essen, and Mike had a couple of things to do, so Laurent thoughtfully offered to host. However, Laurent lives about as far south as it's possible to be in the Portland Metro area, so I ended up as the only person to attend. This was a good thing, as it gave me a chance to play some of the 2-player stuff that has sat on the shelf for me recently.
First up was Carcassone: The Castle, the 2-player version. The differences between this and the regular version are pretty small: a constrained board, rewards for being the first person to end on specific spaces on the scoring track (which encourages going for specific scores), points for having the largest keep (like castles, but fewer VP at finishing time), double points for roads with wells, and farms that score based on special Market icons rather than tiles.
I had a strong start, but when I couldn't get the 20 point road that I'd been working on for the entire game finished off (and I had the chance to do it in the midgame), and Laurent did finish off his huge castle worth about the same, plus smoking me on Markets at the end, he won by about 10 points.
Laurent had wanted to try out the Settlers Card Game that I brought, so I taught the game and off we went. I have the expansions, but as this was new to Laurent we left them out. Someday I'll get to try more than just the Wizards expansion.
Again, I had a strong start, but try as I might (and I had the buildings that double ore and wheat production), I simply couldn't get a city built for the longest time. I did manage to get the extra settlement up, but Laurent had gotten so many windmill tiles that I never had enough goods to build cities until late in the game. Laurent won handily.
SCG has some great close results, but 90 minutes of being this far behind is too similar to Settlers of the Stone Age, where a few poor rolls at bad times (like when I had enough to build a city, only to have the Brigands show up) or outright statistical flukes (20 windmill rolls and 1 tournament roll, and you guess which I was rooting for) can really make the game seem interminable.
Of course, this all may just be sour grapes, but I'd much rather lose a close game than win a blowout. However, I'd much rather win a blowout than lose one, so there you go.
Thanks for hosting, Laurent!