Present were Matt, myself, Ben the Taller, KC, Dave, and Carey (representing the newer generation!). Everyone but Carey joined the group before the 21st Century, and therefore are allowed the respected title of Old Fart within the group. Heady days, those were, full of not only the newness of the hobby (in the States, at least), but also the newness of each other. Community is like that, it goes through phases not terribly different from those of a marriage or a rock band, both of which I have some experience with.
In fact, there was a comfortableness present that got us all to agree when Dave (with much prodding to choose a game) suggested Shadows Over Camelot. A semi-cooperative game with what I like to call "micro-turns". You don't do that much during your turn, but much can be made about deciding what you *should* do. Made much more entertaining by the very real possibility that one of you is playing against the others in the shadows. Otherwise they'd call it "Clear Skies Over Camelot" I guess.
Normally, I'm hoping like crazy that I'll get the traitor, probably because it goes so much against my grain. Screwing up the good works of others is something I try not to do too much in real life, so I suppose it's a cathartic experience for me. Dave, however, knows when I'm the traitor within seconds, another reason why I don't play poker, and insisted that I draw my card first to minimize the possibility that I'd be the traitor. Silly Dave, the odds don't change that way! ;-)
Sadly, I was loyal, and he knew that too. Me, I was guessing it was Dave about half way in. Of course, there was much joshing that "I'm a deputy" reminiscent of similar mechanisms in Bang!, a game that was sadly good once, and everytime someone put a card face-down to collect an extra white card there were calls of "Traitor!" around the table. I think it's a flaw of the game that you aren't encouraged to pretend that you're a traitor if you're loyal, it would make things particularly entertaining.
We made decent progress early. KC and I made some serious headway in the Grail quest, which while it was never finished did quite a bit to stave off defeat in that potentially critical arena. However, Ben and I were able to stave off the Picts together, and he generously gave me all of the award cards, *and* the life point for success. We pretty much ignored Lancelot and the Dragon, but there was good success on Excalibre and Matt ended up with the +1. He and Carey did a great job of holding off the catapults around Camelot that started springing up like weeds once Excalibre's quest finished up. Strangely, the Grail cards dried up, and it was clear that the traitor was hoarding them.
However, at some point we had gotten so that there were four black swords showing, and if the traitor hadn't been caught by the time we had 12 swords on the board, two of the white ones would switch over and the traitor would win. Assuming there was a traitor, of course. Thus, at four swords, it becomes more important to start thinking about who it was. Dave had, of course, written down who he thought could be the traitor, starting with the most likely and working his way down. I was below the possible line. I am *so* transparent. After a little agonizing, Dave decided to go for it, and called out Ben.
And it was Ben.
There was much high-fiveing. Except for Ben.
Who had all of the Grail cards. He did a masterful job, but I think that the Grail Card Hoarding Strategy has the drawback of eventually you just can't play many cards, and thus as the game goes on someone is more likely to notice that you aren't, you know, playing cards. Me, I was playing *lots* of cards.
We eventually won, even though the Black Knight added one more black sword, and I had the honor of finishing off the Saxons before they finished us off. Ben drew one card off of the final card I played, but in the end, when I laid the last Progression of Evil card face down on the Black Knight area, my reward was another 5 card. It was Fate, pure and simple.
HilArious. The best game of SoC I've played, and (given past history) almost certainly the last good one. This, my friends, was a game for the ages, and I'm certain it's what the designers hoped for. Of course, it's all about who you play with.
Carey had to go pick up his in-law(s) at the airport at 9:45 (funny how he had "Highway to Hell as the alarm tone for that), so we pulled out Frank's Zoo. I love Frank's Zoo. A bad hand can ruin your chances, and I had two of those, but the game rewards those who know how to leverage the cards they have through timing. Got three elephants? Save 'em for the three Lions someone plays down. On one hand, I had four (including a joker and mosquito), but I had to play two of them to prevent Ben, who was in the lead, from taking a couple of lions and increasing his chances of winning on the final hand, and I went down in flames as a result.
Nothing like laying down a set that you think no one will beat, only to have the guy to your *right* beat you on it. Except, of course, when you've set that very play up for failure by being able to beat *it* in turn. Which I did once. Both kinds, that is.
Ben ended up winning rather handily, taking four lions, a hedgehog, and the first guy out of cards bonus in the final round. I think he had something like 25 points, which is just ridiculous. The net result is that everybody wins. Both in games and in company. I drove home to Wilsonville about as relaxed as I've been in months. Thanks, guys, for a truly great night of gaming.