With it being summer and all sorts of things going on, it was only Timm and I last night. Well, more than that if you include Mr. Modelo and his Texan brother, Shiner Bock. Timm and I immediately decided on playing The Castles of Burgundy, the new Alea Big Box game (that I just received in trade). We had already played it on Sunday and both of us loved it. There is a ton of different ways to go. It's a tile laying game, somewhat, that uses dice to use actions (two of them per turn). But it's not lucky that way. You can modify your dice with workers and pretty much do what you are wanting to do. Timm stomped on me on Sunday but last night, it was I who pulled out the win, 185 to 182. He let me gather up the "piggies" and I scored HUGE in the last phase of the game, squeaking out the win. There are many paths to take and you need to be flexible in that regard as it can be as tactical as well as strategic. As far as I'm concerned, another winner for Alea and another winner for Stefan Feld.
We next broke out a classic. It had been awhile since Samurai hit the table and neither of us had played online for a long time (and it's not available anymore on mabiweb). So, we blazed through a two player game of it. We both are experienced players and we play random start so it was no time where we were battling for buddahs, helmets and rice patties. My mistake was I started forcing the game to end but forgetting I needed to have a second majority. I had the rice patties, but I needed to get more buddahs. I realized too late that I wasn't going to get them. I almost had a very key buddah when Timm placed a 3 buddah to send the piece off to Tieland. I *really* needed that one. I had to hope he didn't notice that if he took the last rice patty, he would win as he would have the majority. After a turn or two, he did notice and won the game. I love this game...so intense and quick.
Another game that can be very intense and quick is Big Points. This one is a bit under the radar but I love this as a two to three player game. It is a stock type of game. There are five colored discs that form a snake like path to a final winning staircase. Each step is a number for points at the end of the game, 4,3,2,1,0. There are also five pawns of the same color as the discs. The game is you move any one of the colored pawns to its own color and then take a disc either before or after it. The first pawn to make it off the track, goes to the four point level and now, every piece of that color is worth four points. The next color to finish would be worth three, and so on. There are black and white discs as well. A black disc allows you to have an extra turn to move a piece forward or backward. The white piece is worth one point for each different color you have. If you end up with all five colors, each white disc is worth five. At the end, you tally up your points. It's abstract, but I love abstract games. Timm won this one 58 to 52.
The last game of the evening was another new Alea called Artus. If you collect Alea games, or are interested in these, you need to get them now as they come with English rules (which to me means Rio Grande will probably not release the game). Artus. It's a very tactical card game. We jumped into the advanced rules (adding scoring cards). Well, the game is okay. The premise and how it works is cool (it has a Suckling Pig!) but actual play it was all right. I'd want to give it another shot. I could see this morning that there is some strategy on how you group your knights together to work towards certain scoring scenarios. Looks nice and it's okay. Well, Timm won this one as he knocked me off the red carpet where instead of having something better of a score, I lost 25 points because I couldn't get two on the carpet. Timm had 94, I had 72.
This just reminds me to get more of the Alea games out to the table. I still have a bunch I need to try. Fifth Avenue is one that was talked about and Chinatown has been on the list of getting to the table for awhile. Want to wait to have five for that one.