Pasta night has still been happening, with a succession of games as the mood and the voteamabob takes us.
A few weeks ago I persuaded Paddy to bring Stone Age along, and played a 4-way game with Louise and Jonners as well. I find it's a very mathematical game in a way - it's all about playing the odds of the different resource sources and working out what on the board is most likely to be achievable, and what to have as a plan B or C if the dice don't go the way you want. I generally concentrate on gifts of civilisation cards and tools which tends to work out in the end. The gifts of civilisation build up quite nicely (you score the square of the number of unique cards and there's eight to collect) and the tools are overpowered combined with bonus multiplier cards... but on the flip side I do tend to be struggling for food in the late game while my opponents have usually built up on the agriculture track. Perhaps I'll experiment with a different approach next time?
Last week I played Ticket to Ride on the US map. I (in yellow) started with a set of high-value tickets that happened to mostly line up and somehow achieved all of them, though my resulting network was a bit more branched than usual due to conflicting on routes. This meant I missed out on longest route, and because I didn't draw more tickets I missed out on most tickets as well... while I think it was Jonners who got incredibly lucky with drawing tickets and completed masses of them, passing 100 points on tickets and bonuses before the trains were totted up.
And this Monday just gone, the Reduced Pasta Night Company numbered exactly 6 and so we dug out Settlers of Catan with the 6-player expansion. We played a slightly house-ruled version (open hands, no hand limit from rolling a 7) with the 6-player special building rule (at the end of each player's turn, all other players have an opportunity to build) and the game came right down to the wire. I (again in yellow) was in position to win on my next turn by claiming largest army (with two knights played and a third in hand), Louise (in green) was a settlement or two away from a win thanks to longest road, and Jonners (in brown) with three victory point cards in hand only needed one more point for the win. Martin (white) was getting close after recovering from a disastrous starting position and Matt (blue) and Vicki (red) were out of the running. And victory ultimately went to... Louise, by squeezing in one more settlement for victory!
The 6-player game changes things up a bit, especially with the special building rule - this lets one build before rolling and so take advantage of adding more possible resources to the dice roll. The larger map helps a lot with finding good starting locations and didn't feel quite as cramped as a 4-player game on the standard map does.