Carey and Tim joined me at Mike's for an evening of close calls. For me, anyway.
First up was Quo Vadis, a game I've never been fond of. As the baby in my family, I tend to avoid confrontation, and negotiation often feels very confrontational to me. I really hate buying cars. In this game, however, I felt less threatened by the particular mix for reasons I'm not clear on myself.
In this game, my third playing, I had an actual plan: focus on the lower right side of the board (there's a committee of three in the corner), start working up the path of singles just to the left, and try to clog up the single path out of the lowest "five" committee (which worked really well). I was very aggressive in getting the first piece into the top committee, and was successful when I'd put Caesar in the path from the rightmost three committee feeding into the top slots and everyone else apparently had other things to do. At that point it was all about getting laurels, and I felt that I was doing well catching up to Mike and Carey, who had the tallest stacks of counters.
In the end, everyone had gotten someone into the top committee, although Carey got there last. We didn't need the tiebreaker as it turned out, darn it, as Carey edged me by a single point, with Tim and Mike right behind. The final scores, IIRC, were 35-34-33-30. A very tight game, certainly a "half-turkey" if you are using the Dave definition.
Next up was Evo, Joe Steadman's favorite game. Tim got off to a very strong start in this game, getting the first egg and thus the only one to produce two dinos per turn for a while. I went for a balanced strategy, ending up with three legs, two fur/parasols, two eggs, and a long tail. I also had one of the two horns (the other showed up at the end of the game), which I used my card that forced people to pay three more mutation points to keep bidding, a ploy that worked.
Sadly, I was paying one or two more mutation points and not getting extra dinos early on, so I was falling behind. Also, I wasn't being aggressive with my horned dinos early, and on my second attempt I lost a dino that shouldn't have been moving anyway (I ended up screwing up the move and losing an extra dino to climate). Getting knocked down to four dinos at that point ensured that I needed to hope for a long game.
Indeed, I did a good job of coming back, being within two points of my closest competition and six behind Tim when the meteor got to the 1-2 space. And, of course, it hit the planet. Carey had a +2 point card to give him second. I think I'd have been right in it had I not made that one poor decision in the midgame.
Also odd in this game was the climate: other than a single roll that moved things backwards, and a couple of climate cards that skipped over the beach or mountain climates, everything went like it was supposed to. Every other time I've played the game there were as many wacky climate changes as normal ones, but this one went in the right direction.
Having made it this far to be thwarted in my efforts to win a game, we next tried out a wacky little title Mike got in Essen called Fruit Thief. I could be very wrong in remembering this title. Clearly a very light title (each player turns over one of their set of 10 cards, then secretly choose which of the cards you want to visit, then get points based on who went where). That's the whole game. It was cute, and very light, and would be a good family game. I was once again within a point or two of winning (IIRC, the scores were almost identical to Quo Vadis), but Carey edged me again. Damn you, Carey!
We had time for a couple of hands of No Thanks, also called Geschenckt. This is another very light game, but one that requires a certain amount of triage, which I really like. This is the game I am most likely to teach non-gamers to play, as it teaches very quickly and plays fast as well. In our first hand, I started out with a lot of almost-neighbor cards, and managed to get a few of them connected up to save points, but more important was not running out of chips. In the second hand, I ended up with one of the 30 cards early, then proceeded to draw a few more in sequence - guess I should have shuffled better! I let one go around the table a couple of times before raking in the chips and the card, but decided to just take the next two in the sequence. There was one more card that I nearly took later in the hand, but Carey had run out of chips just before I was going to pick it up. I ended up winning the two hands by about 10 points. Finally!
The whole key to No Thanks is simply not to allow yourself to run out of chips. Taking a few larger cards early actually gives you a little flexibility, not to mention chips that give you time as well. Light it may be, but there is enough depth, suspense (you never know what cards aren't available), and speed to make it perhaps my favorite quickie game, certainly better than For Sale.
Thanks to Mike for hosting, as always.