Game night at my place again, and again we broke the ten person mark. Relatively rare appearances were made by Matt Riley and Laurent, and Peter showed up on time! Squeaky Wheel - it just works.
I'd brought up a wide variety of games, and El Grande got pulled out on the "main" table, with Peter, Alex, Liz, Tim, and Laurent competing for the king's favor. I think that Tim and Alex tied for the win, and from what I hear it was a close game. They played pretty much all night, as at least two people had not played before.
On the teeny tiny card table in the salon (the living area in the same space), we crammed six in to play our first game of Iliad. Thank God Mike had played before, as I missed several rules in my reading of the teeny tiny type. Iliad is a hand management game where you get 10-12 cards, then add in another three cards every round. If you find yourself playing a lot of cards to win a round, you will get nowhere fast in the next round. As such, it's a good idea to not win with a ton of cards, but instead with just a few. I did not learn this lesson early on, and Matt and I went down in flames, while Chuck and Dana were edged out by Ben and Mike thanks to the sequencing of victory points on the last hand. A very cool game, although a bit long with six people. I did like the partnership version, but it may be better with four. Some felt that the cards didn't cycle enough, or cycled too much, which I really didn't understand, but I didn't think that was as much of a problem as simply using too many cards.
The other folks were still playing, and it was already nine o'clock, so we got out Zircus Flohcahti, the brilliant card collecting/press your luck game where you try to build the best flea circus you can. I myself have never seen an actual flea circus, and wonder if they still exist (I think that it was a scam/joke because you'd have a circus set up, but you couldn't see anything happen because the performers were, you know, fleas). I have the German version, which is apparently quite different than the English version published by Rio Grande, and I would get the latter version were I playing with non-gamer friends. And make no mistake, this is a great game for non-gamers. Aside from the occasional "one-card-down, draw-one-of-the-same-color" that Ben seemed to run into a string of in the third hand, the game is a scream. My favorite part is the "isn't it about time we picked on Chuck?" part. We got in three hands, and I came very close to winning two, but had the part about playing down a Gala (where you have at least one card in each suit), thinking you had to do it at the *start* of your turn, and passed on a chance I had a couple of rounds before the game ended. I am fairly sure I'd have beat Dana's 53 points, as I had 43 of my own at the end after losing a 5 card and later replacing it with a 1 (and not getting the ten gala points). Regardless, it's a game of fun and luck as much as anything else, and the fact that we played three hands in a row speaks to what a great game it is.
Thanks to all for coming, and we'll see you next week at Matt's!