Anticipation was high, Tension was higher as David and I sat down to continue our epic and long standing Brass rivalry. We both realised before a card was played that it had been some time since we last played and we were thus feeling a little nervous about the opening exchanges.
Brian joined us for his first ever game and numbers were completed by Bez, David and I both silently pondered if one of us would benefit from the presence of a less experienced player - noone could have prepared us for the chaos that followed.
I won the toss on turn order and the usual first move AP kicked in, should i grab the £2 development option or guarantee turn order by taking an early loan. I decided to risk an opening which had a decent chance of paying off, I opted to build a Coal Mine in Wigan. Wigan is a strategically important slot in Brass as it links to two iron works for the second round and is a cheap opening move. In normal circumstances this -Kasparov - opening is usually countered by a similar build in Bury - The Fisher Reply - or the aforementioned Loan/Develop choice
David looked concerned as he had come fourth in random turn order selection, this could/should have resulted in having to take 2nd or 3rd in turn order for the next round. Unfortunately for me, David gleaned the early initiative as Brian's Coal Mine in Bolton, allowed Bez a first round Iron Works - unheard of in professional circles. David was thus granted two free developments and turn order, two more developments for free and two for £2 gave David the early initiative, at this stage i was uber-concerned that I wouldn't catch this early advantage. Brass really is this tight and the cash saved could prove to be crucial.
By three rounds in, I had formed a strategy - Coal, Canals and Cotton Mills would be my early attention and I'd look to cash in on the Iron, later when the demand diminished.
Brian had by now grasped the basic principle but was not seeing the bigger knock on effect of cooperation, Bez was having a slightly erratic and indecisive game, lots of take backs and rethinks.
Having already fallen behind David, I was fearful that any misplaced token could spell disaster and then .... it happened!
After a series of frantic card shuffles, tile placements and take backs, Bez lunged at the table and in classic Gilmour style toppled one pint of water all over my taken display. Panic ensued, I ran for Towels, Bez began drying off the Wooden money with his shirt, David and Brian quickly grabbed the board to prevent further destruction.
I returned from the kitchen, David and Brians quick thinking had saved the game but alas my tokens had now disintegrated into warped mush - my heart sank and with it my concentration.
Bez looked forlorn, I was less than understanding. We considered abandoning play but decided to continue.
The board was returned, I took apart my destroyed markers and air dried the remaining transfers. We began collecting our cash and cards. Suddenly I was faced with choosing one of three piles of cards, none had the right number present. Finally a set of 6 cards was passed to me and we moved on, it took a full two rounds for my early suspicion to be realised ... I was playing with the discard deck and not my own cards. Now not only was I using warped tokens, I had built a network to which I could now not connect. The Canal phase ended with me 11 points off the lead and a further 5 behind on tile placement.
Brian actually had the highest points total but as all his tiles were removed for the start of round two, his joy turned to dismay as he realised he had been well and truly wallaced!
By the second or third round my game was a mess, David was relentlessly charging towards victory, my only hope was to use the massive cash pile I had to build Shipyards and hope I could flip big cotton mills at the end.
Bez commented upon the enormous stack of wooden cash that both David and I had acquired, i explained that i was merely constructing pillars upon which I hoped to place the game board, in order to avoid future water logging, Bez didnt laugh!
I built Shipyard 1, David winced, I built shipyard two, David winced big time. I paid for my shipyard and watched as David made his next move.
Bez who by now had been christened Poseidon, was frantically playing with money to my right, it took me a few seconds to realise that he had 18FLed the money! 18FLing the money involves a player tampering with the bank and making change during play resulting in chaotic recalculation of payments and change.
This was the final blow, somewhere within the mass manipulation I - at worst - paid for my shipyard twice or at best - paid for a level 3 coal mine and Iron twice.
I was done for, wet board, the wrong cards and missing about £20.
David looked deeply disappointed, how could he relish the inevitable victory if his key opponent had been so systematically raped by "Bez has got talent"
My only hope was to claim a respectable 2nd and it looked possible, cash to build two more cotton mills and a couple of unflipped Harbours ready and waiting, I could conceivably score another 20 points or so and perhaps only lose by 10-15.
Then Brian stepped in on the fuckage, by selling cotton to all the unflipped mills, he left me no option but to try and sell to the distant market which was sitting at the last space available. I tried, I failed and with that my disasterous game ended.
David - who had played impeccably stormed to victory by around 40 points, Captain Nemo pipped me for second by a further 10 and Brian realised that Brass is not for beginners storiming in a distant (but dry and financially correct) 4th.
There is only 1 thing for it, I demand a rematch, I demand we waterproof the board and I insist that Bez plays in a different postcode!