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So this weekend I went to play board games in Marlow at my friend Martin’s. This was the first time in over three years – the first time, I think, since Furtle and I got married, so probably four years.

These are weekends I used to attend rather more often – two or three times a year, for many, many years. A bunch of friends would descend on his house for the weekend and we would play games. In later years this normally meant one of the 18xx train variants and they always took ages to play. Far longer than the designers intended, simply because more than one of the people there would analyse each move as though their life depended upon it. My preferred tactic was to make my move and then wander off into the living room and, depending upon circumstances, chat with the lady of the house, read a book or nervously track the football scores – or, indeed, and combination of the three. Between times we would play shorter, less complicated games, but Saturdays were nearly always set aside for THE game, a big game.

My attendance has fallen off to zero in recent years for a couple of reasons: it is an absolute bloody bind getting between Ilford and Marlow by public transport – though this tends to be the Sunday travail (!) as I go direct from work on the Friday; and over the past few years nearly every games weekend has been unerringly set on the one week in five that I have something else to do. That said, there was one, which when it came to it, I simply couldn’t be arsed.

Anyway. This weekend we played Civilisation. It’s a long way from being my favourite game. It is one of those that with seven players is expected (even by the designers) to take about twelve hours to play. That wouldn’t be so bad (though bad enough), but it is also the same kind of game where you can realise a third of the way in that you are losing and that there is no way back. Eight hours of losing ever more badly is not my idea of fun. I don’t mind losing games. If I did, I’d almost never play them, but usually they are either short games, or you can retrieve a poor situation for most of the game, or both. This is not possible with Civilisation.

We hadn’t played (or at least I hadn’t played) for at least fifteen years. Martin wanted to play it and we grudgingly agreed. It wasn’t as tedious as I’d remembered, but I was aware that I was getting nowhere after about four hours and despite having more victory points than two other people in the game, the odd faction rules (which are different for each civilisation) meant that I came a resounding last. Still. It’s played now, so we can put him off for another fifteen years or so.
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