Tonight we had some friends come over, organised rather at the last minute. One of them lives abroad and was only back for a few weeks, and this was her last weekend before going back.
As is fairly often the case when we meet this family, we played games, and as is also fairly often the case, some of them we hadn’t played before.
When playing games, often the first time you play one, it takes longer, and isn’t the most interesting or fun time that can be had playing it. Not all of these we got to play a second time.
First up was Coup. You have two cards, that can do certain things. On your turn you can choose to do one of those things, one of three other relatively safe options, or one of the special abilities on a card you don’t have. If you get caught using a card you don’t have, there are penalties.
Seems like one you need to play a few times to be familiar enough with the cards, so you can lie more easily. In this game you’re supposed to lie. A lot of us didn’t, and it probably would have been more interesting if we did. Still interesting.
The second game we played was No Thanks!. There are cards numbered from 3 to 35, 9 are removed (at random) before play. You are trying to get the lowest number of points. The top card of the deck is revealed, players decide whether they want it (take it), or pass (put a token on it). Each token is worth -1 point, which can offset high-point cards that have been passed on by other players. Of course, you have a finite number of tokens, so after you use them all, you must take the card. If you have a run of cards, then you only score for the lowest-point card in the run.
I did relatively well at this one, in the couple of rounds we played of it.
The cards have two attributes: a colour and a number. There are 7 colours and 7 numbers. There’s a Canvas pile (which dictates the rules you’re currently playing by), and your own “palette”.
The overriding rule is that you must be winning at the end of your turn. The Canvas pile dictates what constitutes “winning”, and your Palette is what you’re judged on.
For example, the Red rule is that you must have the highest card. Looking in all the players Palettes, the winner would be who has the highest number (7 beats 1), and if multiple people have that number, you go by “suit”: Red is the best, Violet is the worst. And rainbow order in between.If you can’t win at the end of your turn, you’re out. But he round goes pretty quick, anyway.
Then we played Harbour, which I brought to the table (figuratively, not literally: I got Oldest to fetch it to show people, then my wife kindly brought it to the right table when it was time to play, ongoing leg pain and all that).
This one was a bit more complicated, particularly for peoples’ first times, and I did play, so I tried to be helpful with suggesting things that would be good for the newbies to do (which stepped on the toes, a bit, of one of the players, because I suggested to other people moves that she was considering for herself).
I still won, quite convincingly: I saved up so I could sell all the resources for $5 each, and the Library appeared early on, which lets you buy twice in a turn. I used it to buy a 9-pointer and 11-pointer (similarly costed), and later used it to buy two 10-pointers. As those points were at the upper end of the game, and other people only had two buildings each, they declined to take their final turns (foregone conclusion, and all that), and declared me the winner.
After some hanging out, the last game of the night was Love Letter.
This is an absurdly simple one to set up: deal each player one card, and set one card aside to retain an element of doubt.
After having to lie in Coup, you absolutely must tell the truth in Love Letter.
Each turn, you draw one card, and play one of the two cards you are then holding. There are ways to get other people knocked out of the round (the rounds are quick, and the player is back in for the next round). The winner of each round is either the last one still in t he round, and if there’s more than one at that point, then the one with the highest-scoring card in hand. The winner of the game, is the first one to win four rounds.
This game almost played itself, but not quite, sometimes due to luck, sometimes to deduction. (For an example of a game that really plays itself, think of Snakes and Ladders. The humans are only needed for rolling the dice, in that one.) Had fun playing Love Letter.
Of the games I hadn’t played before, I think I liked Love Letter best, followed by Red 7, Coup then No Thanks. I think more plays could improve my enjoyment of Coup, I’m not sure No Thanks would benefit the same way from that method.
I had fun playing hte games, and a great evening visiting with friends.