Had the gang over for gaming back on the day before Memorial Day. We actually had five over (me, Dave, Mark, Jason, and Patch), which is everyone at the moment. After some indecision, we’d gone for a day of smaller games, though we only ended up playing two moderate-sized games.

First up was Circus Maximus, which I like to start with on these days, as it generally takes us right up to lunch. Lunch ended up being slightly late as we needed to refamiliarize ourselves with the game after the last couple years of minimal gaming. With five of us, me, Dave, and Jason ended up with second teams to keep the field properly crowded. I went for an all speed design on my primary (Red) team (+2 driver, max team speed), and a high endurance team for the other (Yellow; max endurance, light chariot). I’m not sure what everyone else took, but I know there weren’t any heavy chariots in the field.

My Red team got a good start, and mostly stayed out of trouble as the lead slowly lengthened. There wasn’t a lot of combat this game, though there were a couple of incidents. I had planned on being more aggressive with my Yellow team, but they ended up out of the running, and never had a chance to do anything for the last lap. I did push the cornering a fair amount. Dave has long since mastered the idea of ending at the start of a curve at the innermost lane, which will get you exactly through and out it with no strain. My red team managed about three curves with similar placement on the 15 lane. By straining the corner at 17, you can do a similar trick, and have more options if someone’s ahead of you. With the -2 to the roll (for the good driver) I didn’t have too much to worry about, though I did injure a horse on one flubbed roll.

Everyone else was speeding around the corners too, and the dice were nice and friendly about it for the first lap or so. After that, things got a bit more exciting. There was a couple of horse injuries, and a fair numbered of ‘jostled’ results that caused trouble since it put people to negative driver modifiers, and you can only do things like strain once your modifier hits zero again. Going into the third lap, I got a SS, ‘double sideslip’, result as my Yellow team tried to speed through the turn, which was annoying enough, except that I had nowhere to go, with two other chariots in the way. This injured a horse, and shifted my result to a double jostle, putting my current driver modifier to -5! It took five turns to get back to 0, and with the speed problems that also caused, put me a turn behind everyone else.

Patch’s Purple team had a run a poor luck, with a couple of different jostles keeping him from straining, and then jostling again as he tried to make up time. However, in the same corner that I had trouble, he rolled an 18, and the chariot flipped. The driver managed to cut himself free a couple turns later and escape over the wall. There were a number of people who could have tried running him down, but it would slow them down, and no one wanted to do that. If it had been some sort of campaign, I think it’d be more likely.

My Red team ended up finishing two turns ahead of everyone else, though as the lead team was one space shy of finishing the next turn, it’s not quite as bad as it sounds. However, the rest of the pack was very close together (see the table below to see the number of spaces past the finish they made on that second turn), with Jason’s Black team coming in a turn after that, and then my Yellow team.

Final placing:

1 James
2 Dave +20
3 Jason +19
4 Mark +18
5 Dave +15
6 Patch +6 [horses only]
7 Jason
8 James

I was a bit late getting back after lunch, and was a bit surprised to see Candidate being laid out; I hadn’t thought it was a leading contender. Its only the second time we’ve played it, and last time was with four, so it was Mark’s first time with the game. There was a long time of getting a grasp of what was going on again.

I don’t have any detailed notes of who ended up with how many votes or anything. But in the second round, I managed to take Texas (and the bullseye) with use of Favored Son, which gave me a nice lead in votes for a bit. Patch started getting a nice collection of states, along with Mark, while Dave and Jason struggled to get past about two states for a long time. Mark was in the lead by mid-game, and I handed him Favored Son on a small state so he couldn’t use it to win something bigger later.

By the end of the Primaries, Patch and Mark were in the lead, with me in a close third, and Dave in fourth. There were about 4-5 states unclaimed including California (thankfully Deadlocked, as I’d had no chance at it). Jason was in last, but had done well enough that he could still turn things around. I had another poor hand for the start of the convention, and took a chance that someone would use a scandal to force a second round. I thought that Dave (going first), had played one card (which would presumably be a Scandal), but it turned out he’d used three, they were just stacked so I didn’t make them out. Mark (going second), had put down a couple cards, but that was a bluff, and one was a Scandal. I used mine in the second round before using my low-value cards for the third round, and managed a win.

After that, Jason was out as the lowest candidate, and I forget who manged to pick up his votes (it might even have been me). After that, Dave was eliminated as the #4 candidate. The annoying thing was that at this point I was the front runner, and if I’d won Dave’s votes, I would have been about four off of a majority. But I didn’t quite have what I needed, and they went to Patch. Mark was eliminated as the #3 candidate… and I still couldn’t get a good hand. I didn’t even have a Scandal to try and hold him off with, and Patch took the nomination (and his third win out of four for the last couple of game days).

Given how poor my hands tended to be for the entire second half of the game, I’m surprised I did so well. I managed to leverage a poor hand going into the convention, but couldn’t get any more tricks up my sleeve after that.