Ben and Mun came over for games today. Mun arrived earlier so while waiting for Ben, I whipped out High Society which I obtained recently for a first attempt. It was typical Knizia - interesting mechanics especially with the twist of having the player with the least money being eliminated but came across slightly dry due to its abstract nature. Nonetheless, it seems like a keeper for my purpose of serving as entertainment for guests when I'm not able to join them. The short play-time and simple rules fit the bill nicely. Only question in my mind is whether For Sale would be a better option but that's a moot point till I'm able to get my hands on a copy at a reasonable price (which rules out the reprint :P)
Van took the first game and Mun the second. I couldn't make up for the negative cards I took in the first game while I overspent in the second. The feel of the game reminded me of a simpler form of Modern Art. For some reason while I usually do reasonably well in Ra, I don't seem to have a good sense of how to do well in this alternate form of auction games.
Seeing that it had been awhile since we had four seasoned players, I took the opportunity to bring our my newly acquired copy of Princes of Florence. Still prefer to play with the maximum of 5 but seeing that it was a rare opportunity, I decided 4 wouldn't be too bad either. First play for Ben. I made a couple of bad mistakes and so did Van but we still emerged on top, with me losing to Van by a single point. Could have taken it if I didn't miscalculate my finances, failing to outbid Mun for the last Forest. The extra 3PP from what would have been my fourth forest would have won me the game. After the play, I made a mental note to upgrade my rating of the game from a 9 to a 10. The fact that such varied strategies (banking on multiple prestige cards instead of producing works) were viable added a notch for me. Looking forward to my next play.
There were some calls for Glory to Rome but figured we should instead have a go at another old favourite, El Grande. It was previously my no.1 game but in recent months, it has fallen behind Glory to Rome and Princes of Florence in my book. Still rate it a solid 9 nonetheless. Van took the win by virtue of a strong early move where we allowed her to score close to 20 points by scoring the six and seven regions. I learnt today that defense was just as important as offense in El Grande and sometimes cards need to be taken not for personal benefit but rather to block an opponent from gaining an extreme advantage. The three of us failed to do that today and Van took the win easily. The issue however is that there is general reluctance to sacrifice as the blocker for it often means forsaking a card providing personal benefit to do so.
Mun had to make a move and with the time remaining, I decided to show Ben the mechanics of Red November since he queried about it. I decided to play a 2 player game with each controlling a single gnome. As expected, we both survived in view of the limited event cards we were exposed to. The game is clearly easier with fewer players even with the attempted scalability of starting further down the track with more players.