Fun and Games

Last night, I went with gwilk and Mrs gwilk to a games evening hosted by one of the other women in the film club (which is to be officially known as “Chick Flicks”). I haven’t been to a proper games evening in years, and had forgotten how much fun they can be. There were eight of us there, and we played all sorts of weird and wonderful games, most of which I’d never even heard of before, and none of which I’d ever played.

First was “Apples to Apples”, which is a nice simple card game. There are red card and green cards. Everyone gets a hand of red cards, which each have a word or name on them, and then the dealer randomly selects a green card, and reads out the adjective on it. You then have to select a card from your hand that most closely matches that adjective (e.g. for “frightening”, the cards people put down were things like “Americans”, “homework”, “Oprah Winfrey”, “my bank account”), and the dealer judges which of the cards put down is the best (or funniest) match, and that person gets a point. The first person to 5 points wins. There’s an element of speed introduced by the fact that the last person to lay down their card in each round has their card disqualified, so you don’t have much time to think, which sometimes leads to some weird card choices, when someone panics and just throws down anything – and of course then tries to convince the dealer that their card is perfectly appropriate and should win “What do you mean, you don’t find lollypops frightening? How would you like to meet one late at night in a dark alley?”

Next we played “Alhambra”. Eight was too many to play it, but luckily two people had brought their sets, so we just split into two groups for two games. That was a tile game – you had to build a palace by collecting money to buy tiles (each of which represented a different part of the palace). There were rules about which tiles could go next to other tiles, so there was quite a bit of strategy in how you laid each tile, to leave your options as open as possible for the next one. There was also quite a bit of strategy involved in the money collection, because there were four different currencies, and to buy a tile you had to not only have enough money, but it had to be in the correct currency (and by the time you’d collected enough together, someone else had usually already bought the tile you had your eye on!). I was just starting to get the hang of that game by the end, so even though I actually ended up coming in second place (due to pure luck) I would really have like a second game of it, just to have the chance to play properly.

Then we all gathered back together again for another card game, “Category 5″. The rules sounded incredibly complicated, but I got the hang of it reasonably quickly. Basically, it involved laying down cards in rows in numerical order, and once any row reached five cards, you “won” that row (which was a bad thing – the objective was to end up with as few cards as possible). Complicated rules covered where you had to place each card, so that all the strategy was in selecting which card to play. A few of the others playing complained that chance came into it too much, but I found it very strategic – it was all about probabilities, and predicting which cards everyone else would play.

There was a bit of dissent over which game to play next, with some people wanting to play an old favourite, and others wanting to try something new someone had brought along, so we again split into two groups, and I ended up in the group playing “Settlers of Canan” (which is an alternative version of “Settlers of Catan”, which I had at least heard of). That was seriously strategic – you have to build settlements and roads to control resources which allow you to build more settlements… it’s a bit like a board game version of “Civilization”, really. Like “Alhambra”, it’s one I was only just getting my teeth into by the end of the game, so I think I would have enjoyed a lot more on a second playing.

Anyway, a really fun night, and from the sound of it they have these evenings quite often, so hopefully I’ll be invited along to some more of them.

Oh, and just to get a mention of Bookcrossing in here ;-), I gave gwilk The Adventures of Professor Challenger by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.