There was no meeting last on 6 January due to the weather conditions. I did take the bus down on the off chance that someone else would turn up, but (not much to my surprise) no one did. When I looked at the Weather last night, things seemed to be, if anything, worse than the week before, so this time I stayed at home. I was a bit surprised to learn later that 3 hardy souls had been in attendance.
The game played was Louis XIV, game I remember there being a bit of a buzz about when it first came out, although I have to say what I read did not enthuse me enough to do much investigating at that time. Mike has now picked up a copy and it sound as though a good time was had with it. Mikes notes are as follows.
First released in 2005, I've no idea how this slipped under our radar until now, but it really got 2010 off to a good start. At its heart is an area control game, where the areas are diagonally touching (like a small draughts board) tile portraits of court characters, each of which can give players various benefits, into which you place and move your meeples. There are three different types of scoring however when everybody has finished their placements : some characters only give a benefit to the player with the majority of meeples, some characters give the benefit free to the majority player but the losers can pay for the benefit, and some give everyone the benefit as long as they place enough meeples. The winner in the first two scoring types thus gets a clear advantage - but a nasty after-effect. They lose their meeples to a central stock, from which they'll have to retrieve them (which wastes valuable time), but the losers get theirs back immediately. The character tiles can get flipped over after scoring, to give a completely different way of gaining the benefit in the next turn, and this makes the placement tactics tricky every round. Winning benefits can give you shields (worth 1VP), benefits for future rounds, or mission chits, pairs of which are needed to fulfil missions, which not only score 5VP but give the owner advantages which can usually be used in every subsequent round (there are always 4 rounds). Sounds a bit complicated, there's a bit of extra chrome, but the learning curve finished after the first turn and soon we were discovering what a cleverly designed, meaty game this is. It's also, if the first game is any indication, a game where losing players can catch up - I must have been 12 points behind at the end of 3rd round, after winning rather too many scorings outright in the 1st round leaving myself short of meeples for rounds 2 and 3, but because the other two then concentrated on fighting each other I scored impressively in the final round and nearly caught them. I want to play it soon with 4, but I think it's probably better with 3 to give players more feeling of control during the meeple movement, when I'm guessing subsequent plays will clock 80-90 minutes.
The weather seems to be scheduled to improve over the next few days, so hopefully we'll have a better turn out then, although I get the impression from forecasts that we may not have seen the last of it yet. But then what do weather forecasters know?